Thursday, October 30, 2008

Barack Obama - American Stories, American Solutions

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lou Gehrig Sports Awards Benefit

We had a fundraising dinner on Monday for The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, where I work. Our benefit, the 14th Annual Lou Gehrig Sports Awards Benefit Dinner is a high profile event in Manhattan where we honor some sports celebrities and someone in business or politics. This year we honored Sandy Koufax, John McEnroe and Denis "DJ" Carey, a prominent Irish-American and activist, who has ALS. Carey's uncle is Hugh Carey former NYS Governor. DJ Carey gave a great acceptance speech making some pretty witty jokes about his diagnosis that helped ease the severity and grimness of his recounting of how doctors eliminated other potential possibilities, such as Lyme’s disease.

Sandy Koufax’s honor was unusual because, according to his agent, he never does these types of appearances. His friend, ALS Poet Laureate, Noah benShia, helped convince him to come out that night in support of ALS. BenShia’s father died of the disease in 1990 and Koufax had a friend who also passed from ALS. It was a rare to have met Sandy Koufax in this capacity, but unfortunately I wasn't able to get his autograph. In the VIP room I had the pleasure of chatting with Mr. Koufax for a few minutes, asked if he needed me to help fend of some unauthorized autograph seekers and even offered to get him a drink. In the end he got the drink himself and he kept signing autographs, almost continually the entire night. As you can imagine someone of Sandy Koufax’s legendary status is much sought after by sports celebrity hounds, especially since he’s a bit of a hermit when it comes to these events.

McEnroe was pretty much like I expected him to be, a little grumpy yet with a pretty good soul and very self-aware about how he comes across. He met some ALS patients at the even, which he said touched him very deeply and put his own persona in perspective. He spontaneously decided to donate a very large sum of money to us and announced the gift at the dinner. I think his wife Patty Smyth (former 80's rocker and front woman of the band, Scandal) had a lot to do with it. Patty and I spoke while I helped arrange the celebs for photos (not an easy task, I might add) and she was a sweetheart. She told me she's "working" on John, meaning trying to tone down his temper. She said he stays in shape by working out for hours everyday, playing tennis and such. Smyth said McEnroe would explode if he didn’t, which I thought she meant that he’d gain weight but she explained that it meant that his intensity is so high he needs a physical outlet for it. Explains a lot about him and imagine if he didn’t have Tennis to direct his energies. We had some laughs and she was totally genuine from as far as I could tell. No I did not geek out and tell her how much I loved Scandal as a kid and make some lame "Goodbye to You" joke when we parted company. (Though I really, really wanted to.) Standing next to her I kept trying to imagine what she looked like in her black gown with the make up from her “Warrior” video on. I amuse myself in this way to help get through the day.

We also honored Chris Chambliss but he couldn’t attend because of a family emergency. His former Yankee teammate, Graig Nettles showed up to accept the honor for him. Among the other celebrities to attend was former Yankee pitcher, Tommy John, who did a fantastic job of running our live auction along with Q104 DJ Ken Dashow, who is a long time and very loyal supporter of our chapter. Former members of many New York teams were on hand including, Dave Herman who played on the Jets, most notably for the 1968 World Championship Team that defeated the Colts to win Superbowl IV. Herman was also gracious enough to come to our Long Island Walk to Defeat ALS this fall, signing autographs to help raise money. Also there was Rod Gilbert, the first NHL New York Ranger to have his number (7) retired, and Howard Cross, who played for the NFL New York Giants and helped them win Superbowl XXV in 1990 against the Buffalo Bills.

Giving out the awards was none other than sports journalist, Bob Costas, honorary Board Member of the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter. Helping to emcee the benefit was author, sports writer and television reporter, Jeremy Schaap, son of award-winning journalist, the late Dick Schaap, a huge supporter of the chapter’s efforts.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Comparing Apples to Apples or ACORN to Acorns.

I Read this article about voter suppression. People were comparing voter suppression to the situation that came up about ACORN and equating them to each other, saying if they are both true, it’s a wash.

Actually that's not true. If voter suppression is taking place, it's much worse than ACORN. What happened with ACORN was that the group was paying people to go out and REGISTER voters. Those fake voters they registered were never going to vote for anybody. It was the people ACORN hired to get the voters registered that falsified the records. If Mickey Mouse and Batman came to the voting booth as registered voters then that might be worse than voter suppression, but it's not happening. In the case of this article, actual legitimate voters (and the article implies that it is registered Democrats that this is happening to) are having their right to vote in this election revoked because of some scrub list and that fraudulent activity is taking place for this to happen. If true then it's disgraceful. But it's probably happening to both Dems and Repubs. Either way, it's a travesty for our nation and Democracy in general.

Read the article.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fly Them To Mars, And Leave 'Em There, Says Buzz Aldrin

That's easy for Buzz to say. Wonder how he'd have felt if they said that when they sent him to moon! I think we could eventually put up permanent residence on Mars but there's a lot to contend with first before it becomes a life long adventure. Also, when the Europeans came to America they had something that Mars lacks: Natural Resources and other humans living here first.

Though Aldrin makes a case for it, at this point, we need to concentrate on getting there and establishing a base of operations before we set up an old-astronaut retirement community. Rotating workers into and out of a Mars base would make more sense with tours of duty lasting from 2 – 5 years instead of say, forever.

Though I did agree on one ideological point Aldrin made. While the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS) have probably provided some scientific and even commercial value, they “were a disappointment” as the article says.

In the story Aldrin is quoted as saying that the shuttle “has not lived up to its expectations, neither has the space station.”


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Loren Feldman Yammers About Twitter & Britney Spears

Gotta love this crotchety old guy with puppets who claims he was born in 1938. You just gotta. Props to the Feld-Man.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Jewish Mother Now Guilts Me Virtually So I May Write A Book...

"Virtual nagging," not to be confused with "virtual guilt" or "virtual kvetching."

All this and more is a part of the new New York Times Bestseller, "The Jewish Mother's Guide to the Internet." Jewish Mothers can learn how to nag, kvetch and guilt from anywhere at anytime to any one of her children no matter how far away they move. Learn how to leave emails, text messages and comments on status updates on your children's Facebook page. Long distance nagging is a thing of the past. Rambling kvetch sessions left on answering machines have proven ineffective. If you think the M in IM stands for Mishugaas then you need this book!

No more waiting days or weeks for a response! The internet has become the YENTA-NET.

Listen to what Jewish mothers are saying:

"I read the whole megillah and I didn't understand a word of it." - Sadie from South Beach.

"My son's a mensch but he's a bit nebbish so I hacked into his email account and sent invitations to dinner and a movie out to all the nice Jewish girls in his address book. This computer hacking is a mitzvah!" - Celia from Cedarhurst.

Call now!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Obama & McCain In Elections 2008, A Parody

A friend of mine just sent this to me. An obvious attempt at marketing a viral video, but it's so funny it just might be as big as 2004's JibJab video of Bush vs. Kerry.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The New Star Trek Movie - New Pics

I'll watch the new Star Trek movie when it comes out of course, but I am fearful of the pretty boy looks of the cast. Spock and Kirk look kinda, well, gay... And not the good gay with leather and spikes and whips like Rob Halford of Judas Priest type of gay but the fluffy, pretty, boys that Richard Simmons dreams about. Did any men get hired for this movie? Sheesh...

On the other hand Eric Bana looks kick ass as a Romulan named Nero. Can only guess that he has aspirations to conquer the galaxy setting us up for a really epic film or a cliff hanger (which would be awesome!)

My biggest problem with the Trek series of films is that they are never "big" enough. A movie has to go someplace and Trek is notorious for the reset of its episodes on TV. In the Original series it worked because the characters and situations were so original for the time and in TNG, they attempted some character growth and some sort of over arcing stories at times (Q, Borg, etc.) But it still fell a little short. Despite that both TOS and TNG were great TV shows.

When the original cast moved to the big screen (after the first movie which other thought was no-so-great but I thought was pretty OK, even when I saw it originally in elementary school) the biggest problem was that most of the movies were over blown episodes. Wrath of Kahn had a great storyline with major change to the characters and the galaxy but after that they kind of meandered until the Klingon movie, which I liked. Other than those, the movies seem like they'd have done much better as TV shows. And TNG never translated well tot he big screen at all - no matter what my cousin Mike thinks (a true Trekkie if I ever saw one).

I have high hopes for the Star Trek reboot. I always wanted the original characters recast. But I have to saw, if J.J. Abrams doesn't treat this like a MOVIE and not a TV show, with characters and situations that present real danger and growth/change, then the movies will be just as much of a joke as the others. Reboot = Reboot, not a rehashing of the same old thing.

Yet, I have high hopes for this film. I fully expect to boldly go where no Star Trek movie has ever gone before and deal with the personalities (and flaws) of the original characters as they never had before. But in Hollywood they tend to disappoint as a rule and Star Trek has rarely been an exception to that rule.

Check out an interview with the producer of the new Star Trek here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Robert Sawyer's Flashforward sold to ABC for series development

I sat in on a group that author Robert J. Sawyer spoke with during the 2001 Philcon (got my copy of Calculating God signed by him there!) and we spoke briefly about Calculating God being a movie. Not sure why we got on the subject but I always had hopes ever since then to see it. Might work as a limited series better. But, this news about Flashforward being sold as a series to ABC is just as exciting. Congrats to Robert and good luck. Can't wait to see it.

Where The Cars Are: Meschutt Beach

(My article at about Meschutt Beach in Hampton Bays and the classic car enthusiasts who gather there.)

Want to know where the girls are? Sometimes they're on Jobs Lane in Southampton shopping. Sometimes they're having lunch in East Hampton at Cittanuova. And sometimes they're on Meschutt Beach, next to an open hood showing off the engine of a muscle car.

The first time I ever went to spend a Friday night at Meschutt Beach on the canal in Hampton Bays was about three years ago. The beach on the Great Peconic Bay was still packed with families, the Beach Hut was almost standing room only, and the rumble of the engines from what seemed like a hundred classic cars was mixed with the familiar salt air. It was an endless parade of cars from every era, enough to make even the most hardened gear-head salivate, that passed by throughout the evening.

The 6 Ballsiest Scientific Frauds (People Actually Fell For)

If we can't trust scientists, who can we trust? These are the guys curing our diseases and generally saving the world. But, sadly, even in this field there are those who like to play fast and loose with the truth. And then there are these six guys who are just totally full of shit.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tim Burton talks about Johnny Depp, 'Alice in Wonderland'

I loved Sweeney Todd and was disappointed that more people didn't love it too. It was a much better Tim Burton movie than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was an unnecessary remake of a film that stands as an untouchable classic in the minds of many, many people. Like remaking Star Wars or It's A Wonderful Life. The innocence and naiveté of those films makes them beloved classics. Charlie fell flat in my eyes because the original captured a time when it was made as well as a story. For the most part, a book (children or adult novel both) tend to translate poorly to the screen without major chopping of the story and plot so there’s a reason they gloss over the more complex details and characterization. Novels are a unique format, just like movies, which rely much more on visualization. That said, Burton is the undisputed king of visualization and for as many time that he missed in his remakes (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Sleepy Hollow) he hits big time (Big Fish, Sweeney Todd). His original stuff is extremely creative and classic in their own right and I’d love to see more of Edward Scissorhands and Nightmare Before Christmas. I look forward to Alice In Wonderland but I keep my hopes tamped down a bit when Burton attacks a classic story. That said, he is still a genius. The LA Times story here has an interview with Burton on the set of his new film with Johnny Depp, another talented guy.

read more | digg story

New Star Trek May Boldly Go Where It Has Never Gone Before...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Posters For The Day The Earth Stood Still & New Australia

This was on DIGG. While mildly interesting, it was not DIGG-worthy if you ask me. But Jennifer Connelly is smoking so maybe that's the point? Or the point is that Keanu Reeves is a doofus? Or perhaps there's something useful in juxtaposing the films Australia against The Day The Earth Stool Still? I'm confused on this one. How Keanu Reeves gets himself into the company of the likes of Jennifer Connelly, Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman is beyond me. The guy's a doofus. (Oh wait! I said that already.)

read more | digg story

Saturday, October 11, 2008

NASA Spacecraft Finds the Sun is Not a Perfect Sphere

Turns out our sun is a blob, not a sphere. Amazing. All this time I've been drawing suns as circles with all these little ray lines coming out of it. Next thing NASA will tell me is that clouds aren't shaped like bubbles all stuck together or birds aren't tiny curved letter M shapes. Sheesh. Is there no end to the madness of this universe. From the article: “The sun is the biggest and therefore smoothest object in the solar system, perfect at the 0.001% level because of its extremely strong gravity,” says study co-author Hugh Hudson of UC Berkeley. “Measuring its exact shape is no easy task.”

read more | digg story

World's Loneliest Bug Discovered in South Africa

A bug which lives entirely on its own and survives without oxygen in complete darkness underground has been discovered in South Africa. Desulforudis audaxviator, or bold traveller as it is known in English, relies on water, hydrogen and sulphate for its energy.

read more | digg story

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Brainwave controlled video game concept unveiled

NeuroSky, Inc., has demonstrated a brainwave-controlled video game utilizes the company’s MindSet headset, which reads a player’s brainwave information to register the current state of relaxation or concentration of players, allowing them to perform actions within the game.

read more | digg story

President Signs ALS Registry Act!

President Bush signed the ALS Registry Act into law late today. Our victory is now official! It has been a long difficult fight, and we want to thank everyone who continuously reached out to their Members of Congress throughout the legislative process to make this victory possible.

read more | digg story

Monday, October 06, 2008

Fast Forward 2

Just got Fast Forward 2 in the mail from PYR. It's a book of short stories edited by my all time favorite SF editor Lou Anders. (Hear that Lou? I may have a SF short story somewhere in here myself...)

I interviewed Lou for the British Science Fiction Association some time ago. You can download the entire interview in PDF format here. Since then I have really gotten to know PYR's line and they do have fantastic books. Check them out.

Also, check out the free short story from Fast Forward 2 by Paul Cornell. On the theme of free stuff to read, you can read the introduction to the book by Lou at SF Signal.

I'm also looking forward to Ian McDonald's Cyberbad Days. I read River of Gods and loved it.

About Fast Forward 2 from the PYR website:
Fast Forward 2 is an anthology of all original, unthemed science fiction works, edited by Lou Anders, published by Pyr, and featuring stories from such names as Paolo Bacigalupi, Benjamin Rosenbaum & Cory Doctorow, Ian McDonald, Mike Resnick & Pat Cadigan, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Karl Schroeder & Tobias S. Buckell.