Wednesday, April 30, 2008
No more pencils, no more books! No more ... of this rhyme lest my teacher wife beats me to death with my own book-bag.

Yes, I am now done with my second Final Exam ... and the semester. Having a slow morning here to enjoy the freedom (obviously, as I just spent an hour looking up pop culture from the early 1990s and bad minor league baseball logos on wikipedia).

So now I have finished ten out of the twelve classes for my MBA. Yes, I am 83% done!

Anyway, we have a week and a half off before the Summer Semester starts, then it's crunch time again. This weekend Liz and I are going to Al Aqqa for a long weekend. You'll remember we went there this same time last year (see Fujairah Photos).

You'll be happy / saddened to know that the Emirate of Fujairah hasn't updated their tourism website since then, either. Making fun of them was just about the meanest thing I've ever done here (see Fujairah Tourism website a/k/a Touristic Learnings for Make Benefit Glorious Emirate of Fujairah).

Okay, time to go start my day. See ya later.
 
posted by Josh at 10:03 AM | 2 comments
Weezer Pork and Beans SingleHey, so if you came of age in the 1990s you probably like at least ten of the following: Pulp Fiction, The Hudsucker Proxy, the Professional, PCU, Mallrats, Space Ghost, Friends, ER, Seinfeld, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Oasis, Counting Crows, the Smashing Pumpkins or Cracker ...

So go download Weezer's new (somewhat un-Islamically titled) song Pork and Beans.

Long live the 1990s!
 
posted by Josh at 9:51 AM | 1 comments
Blue Jays old logoQuick baseball note - does anyone else think that Toronto Blue Jays First Baseman Lyle Overbay's name sounds like pig-latin?

What would that be if you reversed it out?

"Bover"?

And now that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are just the "Rays" and the Blue Jays have been using just the "Jays" logo, when the two meet is it really the "Rays versus the Jays"?

Hey hey hey!

I like that the Blue Jays have gone back to the powder blue uniform of the 1970s for "Flashback Fridays", though. Like when they played the Sox back in the beginning of April. I was always fond of the logo above, maybe just because it was the logo when I was a kid.

Although this logo from 2003 has a special place in my heart as the worst baseball logo ever (and yes, I'm aware of the Carolina Mudcats, the Montgomery Biscuits, the Lansing Lugnuts, the Modesto Nuts, the Savannah Sand Gnats, the Rochester Red Wings and the Arizona Diamondbacks).

The best baseball logo and name ever? The Albuquerque Isotopes. (Guess why ...)
 
posted by Josh at 9:08 AM | 0 comments
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Okay, so I think I did okay on the Final Exam last night, but today I've been swamped studying for the Final Exam tonight. It's over something like 11 chapters of this trudgingly boring Marketing. And I actually like Marketing!!

Anyway, of no relation to my Final, I just found a T-shirt that I should have brought with me to Dubai: check it out.

More tomorrow when I'm done with the semester.
 
posted by Josh at 4:48 PM | 3 comments
Monday, April 28, 2008
I haven't talked about the Palm Jumeirah lately. But as you might recall, we kind of live near it (see way back in Our relation to the Palm).

Well yesterday I was at the Hallmark store in the Mall of the Emirates, and I saw this postcard of the Palm, and you can totally see our house!

Not sure when the photo was taken. There are (obviously) lots of buildings missing, so I'm thinking 2004 or 2005?

Anyway, here's a photo of the postcard (I was too lazy to go to the library to scan it) and a close up of our place (we're under the soccer field, facing the tennis courts):

Palm Jumeirah and AUD


Palm Jumeirah and AUD
 
posted by Josh at 12:04 PM | 0 comments
One last post about our late, not-so-great, Orbit ESPN sports channel on the Orbit satellite television mess (see Orbit ESPN is officially gone).

I forgot all about taking this photo out the back window of our apartment about two days into the whole Orbit ESPN debacle.

Maybe someday we can find humor in it, but right now all I see is pain ...



(Get it? "Orbit Movers"?)
 
posted by Josh at 11:59 AM | 0 comments
Friday, April 25, 2008
... he's walked all over Hollywood for thirty years, now Hollywood can walk all over him!

Yep, this has nothing to do with Dubai or being married, but I have to mention that today Michael D. Eisner, former Chairman and CEO of Disney, is getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Special guest?

John Travolta.

?!?

Okay, okay, I guess Eisner deserves a star more than some people (Billy Dee Williams, Charlie Sheen, Chuck Norris, Dudley Moore, Jamie Foxx, Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck and Kirstie Alley, I'm looking at you). He did some good things at Disney ... for the first decade. Then, somewhere in the mid-1990s, he lost it.

My personal theory is that former Disney President and COO Frank Wells kept Eisner in check. Then he died in April of 1994, and everything went downhill at the Mouse.

(Well, except for Eisner's pay. In 1997 he took home somewhere around $550 million in stock options).

I'll bore you with one real-life interaction I had with the Eisner from my days at Walt Disney Feature Animation. On days when the big man was coming in for a meeting, my job was to greet Eisner in the lobby of the animation building, walk him to the elevator (about twenty feet away), push the third floor button, then walk him to whichever conference room the creative executives were meeting in, then go back to my cubicle and lament ever getting a degree in film. (Which is really only useful in one specific situation).

Anyway, this particular day was a week after Disney corporate announced the closure of the Florida animation studio (the one that used to be in the Disney-MGM Studios Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park).

Hundreds of animators were being thrown out onto the streets. And in Florida, no less. On the streets of Florida one's likely to get run over by a sports car with neon 'underlights' in some kind of Fast-And-Or-Furious related accident if one isn't careful. And animators? Not careful.

Anyway, in effort to make the 30-second elevator ride to the third floor more interesting, Eisner asks how the morale is, you know, in the building.

Um, Roy E. Disney, nephew of Walt, publicly resigned as board member and chairman of Feature Animation AND sold all of his Disney stock and now 250 animators and production people are getting fired, and you want to know how morale is?

I said, through gritted-teeth, that everyone was looking forward to Home on the Range. Which was a complete lie, as everyone in the building knew was horrid.

But hey, he's a billionaire, and I'm ... what am I?

I dunno, but it sure doesn't include a star on Hollywood Boulevard ...
 
posted by Josh at 3:53 PM | 3 comments
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Variety LogoI love the odd news we get around here. Check out this article from the Hollywood trade magazine Variety about His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai:

(I took the liberty of linking to translations of Variety-ese Slanguage - you know, "boffo", "pix", "bow", "distrib", etc.)

Variety
Dubai ruler's poetry inspires 'Struggle'
Shooting wraps on expensive historical epic

By Ali Jaafar
April 18, 2008

As if overseeing the development of a booming metropolis isn't enough, Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed is trying his hand at another skill: scriptwriting.

Lensing has wrapped on "Struggle on the Sand," a $6 million 30-episode skein based on Sheik Mohammed's poetry.

The historical epic, the biggest budget yet for an Arab TV skein, is set in the 18th century and follows feuding Bedouin tribes during the occupation of the Arabian Peninsula by the Ottoman Empire.

Hatem Ali, the Syrian helmer who scored one of Arab TV's biggest hits last year with historical biopic "King Farouk," about Egypt's last monarch who was deposed in a 1952 coup led by future prexy Gamal Abdel Nasser, is taking the reins on the skein.

It is believed to be the first time an Arab ruler has had such close involvement with a dramatic production in the region.

"Sheik Mohammed not only brought about a miracle by transforming the desert into an urban destination but also initiated a cultural and artistic giant leap in the region," says Ali.

Lensing took place in Syria, Morocco and across the United Arab Emirates, with a supporting cast of a thousand extras to fill out the battle scenes.

"Struggle on the Sand," co-produced by governmental TV web Dubai Media Inc. and Ali's shingle Picture for Media Prod s., will form the linchpin of Dubai TV's sked during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which begins in September.

Ramadan is traditionally the busiest and most lucrative season for Arab TV execs, akin to the sweeps in the U.S., when Arab satcaster roll out big-budget skeins as families across the region gather around the tube every evening after breaking their daily fast.

High up on Arab TV execs' priorities is attracting ad dollars out of the Persian Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia, which can account for anywhere from 30%-40% of a channel's ad revenues for the year. Dubai TV execs are hoping that Gulf auds' fondness for their Bedouin origins will make their blockbusting show a hit.

"This is all about love and war in the time of the Bedouins," says Dubai Media Inc. managing editor Ali Jaber. "We think it will be popular and maybe even steal the show this Ramadan. It has the branding of Sheik Mohammed all over it, which adds substantial value to the show across the region."

Dubai TV has already started promoting "Struggle on the Sand" on-air, an indication of their confidence behind it, although the pressure is on to make sure they deliver the boss -- Dubai Media Inc. is owned by the ruling Maktoum family -- a hit.

"Failure is not an option," quips Jaber.

The competition for Ramadan ratings is increasing each year.

Dubai TV also has a legal drama with popular Egyptian star Yousra in the pipelines and is in negotiations to acquire a historical biopic about legendary Egyptian prexy Gamal Abdel Nasser, who drew regional adoration for his espousing of pan-Arab nationalism throughout the 1960s before falling from grace after the resounding defeat of Egypt, and other Arab states, in the 1967 war against Israel.

Leading pan-Arab satcaster MBC has a sequel to last year's breakout Syrian skein "Bab Al-Harra" in the works as well as a historical biopic of its own "Asmahan," the tragic tale of the beautiful singer who died mysteriously in 1944 amid conspiracy theories she was a British spy during the second world war.

© 2008 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.
 
posted by Josh at 4:14 PM | 0 comments
5th generation iPodEver since we got back to Dubai in August we've bought the Daily Show with Jon Stewart on the iTunes Store and played it through to the television using the iPod (see iPod, TV and Me).

Until last week.

I mean, we paid for the video, downloaded it - which takes forever now, thanks to Du's cleaning of the internet (see Dubai Media City Internet Blocked, and fun stuff like that) and then we tried to play the video ... and it wouldn't work. Same thing the next day. And the next.

The crazy thing was I hadn't updated iTunes, or my computer, or the iPod, or anything. I did nothing differently.

Now I read online that other people are having the same problem - iTunes vids failing on 5th gen iPods.

Apparently Apple "hasn't offered an official explanation or solution to the problem" yet.

But I found a solution. Instead of legally buying the show (which won't work), we can illegally download it faster and cheaper (even free-r).
 
posted by Josh at 4:09 PM | 2 comments
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
So the guy who co-wrote and co-directed Lilo & Stitch (and also provided the voice for Stitch) has a website and a blog and a comic strip. I mentioned it on the other website a few months ago (see Chris Sanders' Comic Strip).

Well now I'm mentioning it here because the last few issues (episodes? installments?) are about naming this cat. And, as you know from our adventures here in Dubai, we have a somewhat unnamed cat as well.

So check out Chris Sanders' Kiskaloo when you have a free minute.
 
posted by Josh at 2:49 PM | 0 comments
Messing around on Wikipedia the other day I found a new (I think) page - List of tallest buildings in Dubai.

I love Wikipedia. I know it's not a properly scholarly resource, but it's still great.
 
posted by Josh at 2:38 PM | 0 comments
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
20080422_earthday120.pngHey it's Earth Day. To celebrate, I just took our recycling to be recycled!

Today I planned on telling the story about my history of recycling, but it turns out I already told it last year. Good thing I went back into the archives to double-check. Huh.

I might as well just recycle the post anyway - so go check out Earth Day Dubai and have a happy Earth Day!
 
posted by Josh at 5:19 PM | 0 comments
Monday, April 21, 2008
Finally! I got off my duff and put the Cairo Photos online! Check out the Cairo Adventure!

 
posted by Josh at 10:46 PM | 0 comments
Boston Marathon logoSo in Boston and Maine and other New England-y areas of the States today is a public holiday known as Patriots' Day - which is a totally different day than the relatively new Patriot Day.

Patriots' Day (the third Monday in April - today) celebrates the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War.

Patriot Day? Memorial for the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Anyway, today (Patriots' Day) is also known for the running of the Boston Marathon. Traditionally the Boston Red Sox play a morning-ish game, so it'll end as the marathon is ending, and Kenmore Square is flush with all sorts of sports fans.

Makes me miss Boston, too.

I mean, not that I'd ever run the marathon, I just like having the day off and having a legitimate reason to start drinking before noon.

Enjoy your time, my Bostonian friends, and good luck to the runners and the Sox.
 
posted by Josh at 9:51 AM | 0 comments
Friday, April 18, 2008
DU sucks my assSo our internet these last few days has been downright spotty. I wasn't sure why, if there even has to be a reason, but in a moment of internet access yesterday I tried to watch a comedy video of that cheerleader from Heroes doing a fake 'Sexual Harassment at work' PSA.

And it came up blocked.

Now, we get our internet from Dubai Media City, and in 20 months and five days (um, not that I'm counting or anything) I've never had my internet blocked before. I've even touted the all-access ability here before (see Blocked!).

But not any more.

Super. Just one more reason to <sarcastic>love</sarcastic> Dubai!!!

Anyway, here's the screenshot of the blocked website. I love how it makes mention of "our fellow users", because really Dubai is at most only 15% local who'd be offended by a comedy skit starring a blonde chick from a hit TV show.

DU can bite me


Photos of Cairo when they can get the freakin' internet back on.
 
posted by Josh at 8:12 PM | 0 comments
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
So a sad animation bit for you today. As you might know, I did a few years stint at Disney Animation in 1998-2004. Over the years it's gone by several different names, back then it was "Walt Disney Feature Animation", today it's called "Walt Disney Animation Studios". Either way, these are the people that made 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs through 2007's Meet the Robinsons.

Yeah, a little bit of history with those people.

Anyway, yesterday Ollie Johnston passed away. He was an animator of quite some regard. His work spanned four decades and covered some of the most famous Disney characters ever. He shared with Frank Thomas the credit of Supervising Animator on the lead characters in in both Pinocchio and Bambi, he was the Directing Animator for the three fantastic animated sequences in Song of the South, with Thomas he was the Directing Animator for most of the characters in both the The Wind in the Willows and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow segments of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, the Directing Animator of the Stepsisters in Cinderella, the Directing Animator of the Mr. Smee in Peter Pan, the Directing Animator of Lady, Jock and Trusty in Lady and the Tramp, with Thomas the Directing Animator for most of the three fairy characters in Sleeping Beauty, again with Thomas he was the Directing Animator for the two lead dogs in 101 Dalmatians, the Directing Animator of Merlin and Wart in The Sword in the Stone, the Directing Animator of Baloo, Bagheera, Mowgli, and The Girl in The Jungle Book and Directing Animator for Prince John, Sir Hiss, Robin Hood, Little John, Maid Marian in Robin Hood.

Johnston retired from animation in 1978 and was named a Disney Legend in 1989.

In 1995 Frank Thomas' son made a charming documentary about his father and Johnston's work together and their seventy year friendship called Frank and Ollie. If you have any interest in animation it's a great movie.

Anyway, Johnston was part of what Walt called his Nine Old Men - in reference to what Franklin Roosevelt called his Supreme Court Justices of the 1940s.

In fact, Johnston was the last of the Nine Old Men.

when I started at Disney in 1998 there were four left - Marc Davis (with whom I shared a birthday), Ward Kimball, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

Ollie was the last ... now there are none.

Sure, we have the Andreas Dejas, the Mark Henns, the Dale Baers, the Duncan Marjoribankses and the Glen Keanes.

But Ollie Johnston, he was the last of a kind.

But although he's gone, his characters live on.
 
posted by Josh at 11:29 PM | 0 comments
Do you ever get the feeling you're being stalked?

I do. But it's not you fine people who are after me. (At least, I hope not.)

No, the people at the New York Times are following me around. I'm serious. Whatever we do, they follow with an article a week or two later. The last time it happened it was about Khasab, Oman (see Khasab in the NY Times!).

So wouldn't you know that today we have an article about Cairo:

Sounds about right to me. (Get it? "Sounds"?)

But seriously, Cairo photos tomorrow. I promise.
 
posted by Josh at 4:44 PM | 0 comments
Monday, April 14, 2008
Emirates Airline LogoThe last news tidbit while we were gone - Emirates Airline is going to start nonstop flights to San Francisco starting on October 26.

This comes after the recent announcements that in September Emirates will be flying from Dubai to Los Angeles (see Los Angeles to Dubai non-stop) and in October Emirates will be flying the new honkin' Airbus A380 to New York daily (see A380 from Dubai to New York).

Though this flight will be on the Boeing 777-200LR, using the same 266 seat arrangement as the flight to Los Angeles.
 
posted by Josh at 6:50 AM | 0 comments
Hard Rock Cafe LogoSo you know that we have a Hard Rock Cafe around the corner from us, right?

Well, maybe I should say had.

See, sometime around my birthday the Gulf News reported that the HRC land was sold out from underneath them.

Now I see the Malaysia Sun (isn't that were you get all of your local news?!) is reporting the beer has run dry at the old Hard Rock.

Granted, as we reported last November, Dubai is getting a Hard Rock Hotel (see Hard Rock Hotel Dubai). But that's not until sometime in 2010 or 2011.

It looks like Dubai could be Hard Rockless for the next three years ...

Malaysia Sun
Hard Rock Cafe in Dubai runs dry
April 13, 2008

Dubai's Hard Rock Cafe has run out of beer, and cannot buy any more.

The popular haunt is getting by selling cocktails (many of which are non-alcoholic), spirits, and soft drinks.

The beer taps are now permanently shut off, and the last of the wine has been sold.

The Hard Rock Cafe, a landmark in Dubai since it was completed in December 1997, has fallen victim to the country's liquor laws, and a classic real estate squeeze.

Despite a lease until 2010, the Hard Rock Cafe trades off the liquor license of the adjacent Palm Hotel. The only establishments in the UAE authorised to serve alcoholic drinks are the accommodation hotels. The Hard Rock is unique in that it is not a hotel, but because it has been owned by the same owner as the Palm Hotel, it has had access to the Palm license.

However two weeks ago the Palm Hotel and the land on which the Hard Rock is built was sold to a developer who plans to build two towers on the site.

While Hard Rock has a valid lease, the Palm Hotel it seems has withdrawn the use of its liquor license, leaving the popular restaurant cafe without a right to buy alcohol. The Hard Rock continues to trade but stocks of alcoholic drinks are running low. On Saturday night customers could only have a whiskey, rum, gin, cocktail, or a soda. No beer, no wine.

Dubai locals are up in arms over the situation which threatens to see the Hard Rock have to close. If it does it is almost certain it will reopen in another location. In the meantime customers are taking up petitions and going online to voice their protests.

When the cafe was built it was a lone landmark in the middle of the desert. A little over ten years later it is surrounded by the Dubai Marina, Jumeriah Beach Residence, Dubai Media City, and Jumeirah Lakes developments, encompassing tens of thousands of apartments, villas, and office complexes.

The only relief it appears would be if the government gave the long established enterprise special dispensation, at least until its lease runs out in 2010, which would at give the HRC time to relocate.

In the interim however it appears the cafe, its management and staff, and its customers, are between a rock and a hard place.
 
posted by Josh at 6:47 AM | 0 comments
Dubai World LogoSo lots of wacky news while we were gone. First up we have news just this side of shocking, that Dubai World is getting their gamble on.

As part of their deal with MGM Mirage (see Dubai invests $5 billion in Vegas) Dubai World needs a gambling license in Nevada.

Of course in Islam gambling as well as any form of business activity where monetary gains are derived from mere chance is forbidden (Haraam).

I've even read that the mere invitation to gamble is such a serious sin as to warrant atonement.

Sounds like someone at Dubai World needs a catchup of Maisir.

The Associated Press
Dubai World files for Nevada gambling license
April 10, 2008

CARSON CITY, Nev. - Nevada regulators have begun what's likely to be a lengthy review of a bid by Dubai World, investment arm of Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, for a state gambling license required if its ownership of MGM Mirage's outstanding stock tops 10 percent.

State law requires shareholders with more than a 10 percent stake in a Nevada gambling company to be licensed. The application was filed in December with the state Gaming Control Board, although it's not clear yet whether Dubai World will boost its interest in MGM Mirage.

Dubai World already has committed $5.1 billion for a 9.4 percent stake in MGM Mirage plus a 50-50 ownership of CityCenter in Las Vegas. CityCenter is owned by a joint venture formed by MGM Mirage and Dubai World last year. Both entities must get separate gambling licenses to own and operate CityCenter.

Michigan casino regulators on Tuesday authorized Dubai World's request for approval to increase its MGM Mirage stake to 14.75 percent. MGM Mirage's holdings in Michigan include the MGM Grand Detroit casino, which opened in 1997, and its permanent casino, hotel and entertainment complex, which opened in October.

An agreement between MGM Mirage and Infinity World, part of Dubai World, allows Dubai World to acquire up to 20 percent of MGM's common stock.

---

On the Net:

MGM Mirage Inc.: http://www.mgmmirage.com

Dubai World: http://www.dubaiworld.ae

© The Associated Press
 
posted by Josh at 6:42 AM | 0 comments
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Cairo LogoHey, we're safely back from Al Qahirah, or "Cairo", if you're not cool like me.

What, you're not?

But seriously, we had a great trip, a little harrowing in the taxis, but we made it.

In a day or two we'll get you some stories and pictures of the Egyptian Museum, Khan el-Khalili, the Nile, and, oh yeah, those pyramids, too.
 
posted by Josh at 4:41 PM | 0 comments
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
we'll be back soonHey, so tonight we're heading off to Cairo for a few days.

And no, this isn't like the last time we said we were going to Cairo (see Mission: Christmas).

Check back this weekend to hear tales of the trip. Later!
 
posted by Josh at 4:23 PM | 0 comments
NCAA 2008 LogoWow, so it doesn't sound like we missed anything good in the NCAA National Championship Game. Nope. Nothing at all.

Argh!

I guess the online ESPN Play By Play is almost as exciting:

0:09 Mario Chalmers made Three Point Jumper. 63-63

Whhoooooo! Move over Dick Vitale! Columns of text and numbers are awesome, baby!

But seriously, in the final seconds of play Mario Chalmers makes a three point shot to send the championship game into overtime for the first time in a decade, then Kansas goes on to stun the pundits with a win over Memphis? And I don't have a sports channel on my satellite television?

I've got eighty-three channels of reruns of The Nanny and Married with Children (seriously) but I can't get a sports highlight to save my life.

Well, other than the entire channel devoted to the NBA (which, honestly, is a bit much).

And ... today is the home opener for the Red Sox, where they're getting their World Series rings, and I don't have a SportsCenter to catch a clip.

Gosh, it's so difficult to be me ...
 
posted by Josh at 4:17 PM | 5 comments
The LEGO store in Ibn Battuta Mall that I was so happy to find (see Cameraphone Photo round-up) about fifteen months ago is closing.

I don't know if this is a happy sight (LEGOs on sale!) or a sad sight (soon to be no LEGOs!)

Ibn Battuta Mall LEGO Store
Ibn Battuta Mall LEGO Store
Ibn Battuta Mall LEGO Store


Yeah, I think it's sad ...
 
posted by Josh at 6:49 AM | 2 comments
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Orbit logoEarly this week my Orbit ESPN sports channel disappeared from my satellite television (see Where the Hell is Orbit ESPN?!?).

I vowed to find out the what was going on, which proved to be somewhat challenging (see Orbit ESPN is still missing).

All of a sudden other concerned sports fans in the Middle East got involved as well, and provided rumors that ESPN had jumped to another provider (see ESPN now on ART?).

But finding someone at Orbit with a brain in their skull to answer our questions turned out to be impossible. So I went the other route - I turned to ESPN.

I found in an article from last September about the promotion of Lynne Frank to the position of Managing Director of ESPN International for Europe, Middle East, and Africa. I confirmed this all via her biography on the company website.

So, knowing the way that Disney does their email addresses from my time at the company, I sent off a pleasant email to her, asking for clarification.

Immediately I got an "out-of-office" reply, so I knew I was on the right track. In her mechanized message it named another person in the office who might be able to help with any questions.

I emailed this other lady with the same question.

Finally last night I got a reply from a third person - this time a VP of "TV Sales EMEA" who said, and I quote:

I received your request for information regarding the Orbit ESPN channel. ESPN's agreement with Orbit expired on April 1st 2008. The ESPN channel is available through ART in the Middle East. I apologise that you were not able to receive good information from Orbit and I shall make sure they are aware of this and we will endeavour to make information available regarding our new agreement as soon as possible.

So there we go, official word.

Now my challenge is figuring out if we even get ART in Dubai. They have a website sure, but it's only in Arabic, which is awesome and super-helpful to all of the American and European expats who, you know, might be interested in an American and European sports channel.

I can't believe how happy I was just last week (see Live Red Sox in Dubai!).

I'm so ready to be done with Dubai.
 
posted by Josh at 10:15 AM | 7 comments
Friday, April 4, 2008
Okay, so you know our infatuation with that TV show Lost, right? Well last week I was googling something - I don't recall what - and I ended up on a blog called Dispatches from the Island. It turns out it's Jorge Garcia's blog - the guy who plays Hurley.

So I just went to check it out for the week, and in the post from Wednesday there's a photo of Jorge at Palaau State Park ... wearing a t-shirt from my buddy Joe Moshier's company, Conduct Happiness!

Now actually Joe's pretty famous, he's a character designer at Disney - he designed all of the characters from The Emperor's New Groove, Home on the Range and, to a lesser extent, Chicken Little and Meet the Robinsons. But still, he's nowhere nearly as famous as Hurley. I mean, shoot, he's one of the Oceanic Six ...
 
posted by Josh at 2:19 PM | 0 comments
Arab Radio and TelevisionSo apologies to my American readers, but for us here in the Middle East, this is big news. We need our sports. The Major League Baseball season just started, the Final Four is this weekend and the NBA Playoffs are in two weeks - and Orbit ESPN is still missing from my satellite television.

And worse off, I've got no information. Well, no new information.

I've searched around and the only thing I've found is a press release from October 06, 2003 saying that Orbit and ESPN International had just negotiated a new five year contract.

Uh-oh.

2003 + 5 = 2008

I bet that's it - their contract just ran out. And we all know that in the States ESPN charges the most per subscriber per month of any cable channel. One article I found says $3.00 another says $3.25 - either way it's still a cash-cow for Disney.

I bet ESPN raised the price, and Orbit balked.

Of course, that's just speculation. Right now I'm looking for someone with a brain (i.e. someone at ESPN, obviously nobody at Orbit) to clarify the situation.

But rumors have it that ESPN will join ART - the Arab Radio and Television Network - soon.

Probably not soon enough for college hoops tomorrow, though. Dammit.

SportsCenter logo


If anyone has any solid info, please post a comment.
 
posted by Josh at 10:13 AM | 7 comments
So yesterday I was almost driven off the road. Now, that's not really a new thing for us here in Dubai, especially those of us who drive little Toyota Echos.

What was different, however, was who was trying to drive me off the road.

It was a Chevrolet Spark!

Now, we have lots of cars here in Dubai that don't exist in the States. But mostly they're Toyotas or Nissans, "foreign" automakers. To see a American Chevrolet that I've never heard of before ... that's weird.

Also it's a freakin' tiny.

Tiny.

It's not even 11 1/2 feet long (3495 mm) and not quite five feet wide (1495 mm).

Tiny.

Apparently they're big in India and made in South Korea by Daewoo (which is owned by General Motors).

Why anyone would want one in Dubai ... that's beyond me. This is a land of H3s, Land Cruisers, Escalades. To have a Chevy Spark is even goofier than driving a Toyota Echo!

Chevy Spark
 
posted by Josh at 10:12 AM | 0 comments
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
This afternoon after work I was in the Mall of the Emirates grabbing a few groceries, and I passed by the Orbit satellite television kiosk.

I had to ask the sales representative why Orbit ESPN has gone missing from my dial.

He said he didn't know - he thought it was still available.

That'd be rad if Orbit and ESPN have parted ways, yet the sales reps are still selling the service like it was still included ...

Now I'm really intrigued. I'm going to get to the bottom of this ...
20080402_orbitespn.png
 
posted by Josh at 5:16 PM | 4 comments
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
So I got a comment on yesterday's post from Henrik in Yemen (see Happy Birthday to Us) . Apparently our website comes up when you google Orbit ESPN - which he was googling because his sports channel is not working today.

Now, I feel Henrik in Yemen's pain (even if he is a New York Yankee fan) but I never thought to check my Orbit ESPN.

Until now.

And yeah, it's missing.

DAMN YOU ORBIT!

I un-say all of the good things I said about you the other day (see Live Red Sox in Dubai!).

Yep, I'm back to my old self again (see I hate Orbit ESPN).

Orbit ESPN, you're evil.

Please come back to me ...
 
posted by Josh at 5:53 PM | 3 comments