Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Breakfast Technology Is Failing Us!

I have been keeping odd hours as of late, and my body has been reacting in a number of odd ways. While driving around late this afternoon, I found myself craving McDonald's breakfast . Sure, I can do to Denny's or IHOP or some other hash house connected to a national chain that caters to folks who are contantly on the lookout for breakfast food (I figure, old folks, truckers and stoners mostly). But, I don't want to go to a sit down restaurant to have breakfast. All I want is a Sausage McMuffin with egg at 2pm. Why is that so hard to achieve? We can put a man on the moon, but I can't get a breakfast sandwich after 10:30 am?

Although I have been eating much healthier lately, I do have the occasional desire to eat something that would be so incredibly bad for me. Every so often, I crave that feeling of decadent naughtiness that accompanies eating something you know is going to start clogging your arteries. It's like giving Death the middle finger. My dream is to have a Quarter Pounder with Cheese topped with one of those egg and ham thingies from an Egg McMuffin. I want a Buger King double cheeseburger served on a croissant from a Crossanwich. No matter what time of day it is, they've got all the necessary ingredients in the kitchen somewhere. But, no, I can't have that, becuase they don't serve breakfast after 10:30.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Robot Chicken - Season 4.5

I was watching the mid-season premiere of Robot Chicken on Adult Swim last night, and all I can say is what.....the hell......was that?

I didn't laugh once. Thank God for Season 1 and Season 2 DVDs.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Yo Muerto Taco Bell

I knew that I had been craving a chicken gordita supreme (no tomato) for a reason. It seems that the chihuahua made famous in the "Yo Quiro Taco Bell" commercials passed away on Tuesday. The dog lived to the ripe old age of 15. More shocking than the death itself (yet another July celebrity death....this has been a horrible month to be famous) is the fact that the Taco Bell dog's real name is Gidget. Gidget!!! I had always thought the dog was a male.

Michael Vick could not be reached for comment.

All dogs go to Heaven, right?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Beastie Boy Has Cancer

The Beastie Boys have recently announced that founding member, Adam "MCA" Yauch is suffering from cancer. In a video announcement, Yauch reveals that he noticed a lump in his throat, which, rather than being an indication of pent up pathos, has instead turned out to be a tumour.

I've got fond memories of the group. Back when I was in eighth grade, our school newspaper voted "Licensed To Ill" as album of the year. Our faculty advisor (and, thus, editor) refused to run the album as titled and insisted that it be referred to as "Licensed To Be Ill". It was one of those rare albums where every track was a solid one.

Still, I can't help but poke a little fun at the poor guy. This is, after all, The Virtual Sink. It's what we do.

"Now, my name is MCA, I got a license to kill. I think you know what time it is, it's time to get ill (with Cancer)".

"You gotta fight.....for your recover from Cancer".

Okay, I think that's enough. Feel free to leave your own.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wolfenstein 3D for the iPhone

I feel like it's 1993 again. Back in those days, I was working three nights a week plus every-other-Saturday night in a university computer lab. One particularly slow and irritatingly sober Saturday night, I was mired in an empty lab. Somehow, while searching for yet another copy of Commander Keen, divine Providence led me to discover a little game called Wolfenstein 3D. It popularized the first-person shooter genre. Subsequent games like Doom and Duke Nukem built upon what Wolfenstein had already done and added their own unique style and content.

I found that I had emitted an embarrassingly girlish squeal of delight when I happened upon Wolfenstein 3D in the App store on my iPod touch. It wasn't long before I was downloading the app and preparing to kick Nazi butt back to the stone age. The controls take a little getting used to. You'll have to use both hands to move the shooter around and have him fire upon those Nazi bastards. You'll get used to it soon enough, because there are several levels of gameplay. In fact, it looks as each level has been faithfully restored from the original PC game.

If you buy one iPhone app this year, then make it this one.

I'm coming for YOU, Nazi dog!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Brief History Of The Sink

I have gotten a lot of e-mails over the past two months asking me various questions relating to what the purpose of this site is, what it's connection to the entertainment industry is, what its history is with FM radio and how it evolved over time. The following is the "short version" of the story.

It was in 1997 when post-college binge drinking ceased to be entertaining and I decided that I should take up some kind of hobby. Painting proved to me that I had the artistic talent of a three year old with cerebral palsy while roller blading brought back terrible memories of Tanya Harding. Being a mobile DJ worked for a period of time, however, I soon noticed that the people were more interested in me teaching them the "Macarena" than they were in hearing my sarcastic comments on current events. Not long after turning in my DJ equipment, I was informed by my brother, Mike, that he was leaving "The Kitchen Sink", the radio show he helped create at WXAV 88.3FM Chicago. His co-host and longtime friend, Jim, was remaining. Opportunity knocked.

I had done radio off and on at W-XAV since 1991, so coming back wasn't that big of a deal to me. The two-person show format was a relativly new experience for me, and I enjoyed being able to banter with someone of Jim's caliber. I thought that the show was consistantly funny, goofy, and well thrown together. There wasn't a lot of organization involved, and we never scripted anything ahead of time, but that's one of the things I liked about the show.

The problem with WXAV is that it only had 100 watts of power mounted on top of an old cell phone tower. That obviously didn't give us much in the way of broadcast range. Jim had been experimenting with a way to simulcast The Kitchen Sink over the Internet via Real Server. Jim was using a dial-up connection over a 56k modem, which meant that the sound quality wasn't so great, and the connection often got dropped if some fat old lady in Chicago Heights simply broke wind. At the time though, it wasn't a major concern to us and it seemed like a major technological breakthrough to me.

As all good things do, our pollution of the airwaves was brought to an end and the Kitchen Sink was forced off the air to make way for a bunch of mediocre college student shows. This, again, left me hobbyless. But Jim's hard work on the Internet Simulcast would not be in vain. Soon after our uncermonius removal from WXAV, I was making some clips of the Kitchen Sink in Real Server format when I began looking into doing my own Internet-only show. Since I had a cable-modem, I could offer better sound quality as well as archived shows to whomever dared to endure it.

Jim had decided to focus his talents on other projects, and since I had proven over the years that a one-man show centered around me is a recipe for lethargy, I needed to find a co-host. Thankfully, I had one living right next to me. Keith Pietranczyk was an old college friend of mine whom I had fill in for Jim occasionally on The Kitchen Sink. I then spent a few days producing a theme song for this new show which consisted of various TV and Radio clips set to a RU Paul song. Once this was done, Keith and I were ready to give the World Wide Web an audio enima. Since it wasn't exactly The Kitchen Sink anymore, but in my mind, the spirit of the show was the same, so it was virtually the same show. Thus I christened the show The Virtual Sink.

Keith and I worked on the show together for about a year. Basically, the show was just an excuse for us to drink beer and pontificate. We invited a lot of guests onto the show for variety's sake, and The Virtual Sink was often likened to a Gen-X cocktail party. We developed a good following, though, which included a bunch of nutty girls from Idaho who apparantly had nothing better to do on a Friday night than listen to me and Keith spouting off and playing music. That's a scary thought, but stuff like that spurred us on. It encouraged us to do stupid things like record ourselves calling up corporations and harassing them about their websites.

At the end of the first year, Keith got married and I moved off to Evanston, which meant I would be packing up the show and taking it with me. It took a few months, but I pulled the show back together with the help of my friend and new co-host, WardOfDesign. The show took a different turn. I was relying more on using a portable tape-recorder to record shows on the run. Ward added a good element to the show with his creative suggestions and his general wit. The Virtual Sink now boasted higher production values and actual scripted content. It started to feel too much like a job and not enough like a hobby, though. The show's following dropped off quite a bit and I started losing interest in it. I did an abyssmal Halloween show, and an embarassing Christmas show which dampened my enthusiasm even further. However, I did do some awesome shows, like the one that centered around Keith's Wedding, which I think is the greatest show in Virtual Sink history. Also, the Thanksgiving Video show (featuring Ward, my brother John, and my sis-in-law, Kathy) and The Virtual Sink in Maui were hilarious and technologically interesting efforts.
Ward eventually moved away, and probably took any remaining interest I had in The Virtual Sink along with him. In the Summer of 2001, I once again uprooted myself and headed further South. Ward came up with a brilliant re-design of the site, which would serve as a blog to relay my quirky thoughts on various matters to anyone interested enough to read them. I tried my hand at podcasting, but, again, the amount of production time wasn't worth the end result. And, once I began raising my daughter, the time for a hobby like The Virtual Sink gradually faded away like a cheap vodka buzz.

Years went by. Every so often, I would attempt a Virtual Sink revival only to get sidelined by some other project. I became more interested in crafting Youtube videos. It would happen from time to time that old friends who had been guests on either The Kitchen Sink or The Virtual Sink would ask me to track down a particular audio clip involving them on the show. I decided that I needed to share all of this content. And, while I was sharing old content, I might just get inspired enough to share new content. And, hence, The Virtual Sink rose from the ashes yet again.

Life is still pretty busy these days and, when I am asked if I will ever attempt to get back onto those old FM airwaves, I smirk and brush off the suggestion. But, who knows? You might one day boot up your computer and find out that I'm once again spreading my voice like colby cheese all over your ISP. Hey, it could happen!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I MUST Add This Book To My Reading List

It's not often that I am able take time out to sit down and work my way through a book, but, every so often, a friend will alert me to some sort of tome that I will dutifully peruse. Recently, I became aware of a classic re-imagining of a Jane Austin classic entitled "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies". Folks, if you've ever had the desire to read "Pride and Prejudice", but had previously found it too devoid of the undead to be worth your valuable time, well, your day has finally come. 85 percent of the original text has been preserved but fused with “ultraviolent zombie mayhem.”

Personally, I can't wait for the film version.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Michael Jackson's Funeral Bill: $1.4 Million

According to the Los Angeles Mayor's office, the Michael Jackson memorial has cost the city $1.4 million. Expenses for the event include police presence, sanitation and traffic control. One of the more outrageous expenditures includes $50,000 to provide meals for overtime workers. The meals were provided by a catering operation located several miles from the city. I don't think anybody would argue that the workers deserve to be fed, but couldn't the city have just given the workers a $10 per-diem allowance and send everyone off to the nearest McDonald's or something?

I don't begrudge the desire to memorialize Michael Jackson. His music holds some special memories for me. "Human Nature" was playing in the background when I first kissed a girl. That same year, at summer camp, my cabin performed a truly pathetic dance routine to the tune of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" for the camp talent show. And, for some strange reason, I often sang "Rock With You" while trying to rock my infant daughter to sleep. Certainly, I have not contributed nearly as much to the world culture as Jackson has, but when my time comes, at least I've provided a means for my family to give me a proper send off without having to stick my home town with the bill.

The city of Los Angeles was in financial dire straights before the memorial, and, now, is so desperate to recoup the funds that they've put up a website begging for donations. First off, why isn't Jackson's family kicking in for this? Okay, Michael's finances were pretty messed up, so they may not have funds immediately available. What about all of those celebrities who took the stage at the memorial? Couldn't there be some sort of celebrity hat-passing to help pay the bills?

Make no mistake, money was made off of this thing. AEG, the owner/operater of Staples Center, where the memorial was held, made some major bank at every opportunity off of of it, to be sure. They even made money by charging media outlets $50,000 to use risers outside the venue. Surely, they can fork over a bit to help cover the cost to the city.

Whatever the outcome of this financial debacle, we can be assured of one thing: Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and even Billy Mays are all rolling over in their freshly dug graves because of all the attention given to Jackson's memorial.

Monday, July 6, 2009

One Baby Bird Survives

It would appear that, out of three eggs laid, only one has hatched. If you look very closely at the picture below, you'll see that the fledgling bird is rested atop another egg. Maybe it's a last ditch attempt to get that egg to finally hatch. Maybe the momma bird just isn't much of a house cleaner.

Taking this particular picture was not an easy task. Momma bird has been very aggressive lately, even going so far as to make a dive bombing attempt on the poor kid who mows my lawn. I happened to find the nest unattended yesterday and quickly grabbed my ladder and camera, managing to get the shot in about 30 seconds. 

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Palin Resigns!

Hey! Take a whiff! Do you smell that? No, nobody cut the cheese. And that's not Mark Sanford's cologne you're inhaling. What you're sniffing is the air of another political scandal on the wind, this time involving former Republican VP candidate Sara Palin. Palin has announced that she will be resigning her position as Alaska's Governor at the end of the month.

With her announcement, conveniently couched in excuses about not wanting to waste time and resources as a lame duck Governor, has fueled rampant speculation that Palin is gearing up for a 2012 Presidential run. While she may want to run for President in 2012, I don't see that being the primary reason for her resignation. If she was going to run for the Presidency, does it not make sense that she would want to keep her Governership in order to continue to build up examples of political experience to trot out on the campaign trail? This resignation opens her up to valid criticism that she stepped down once the going got tough.

No, something else is going on here. She pulled the classic political exit strategy and released her statement on the day before a long weekend, thus ensuring the greatest probability that the story will fade from the front pages in the wake of other news come Monday. Let's open the barn doors wide to rampant speculation as to why she's stepping down:

  • In the wake of all the ethics investigations leveled against her recently, some real dirt came up and she's high-tailing it out before it can muddy her reputation
  • She has agreed to star in Who's Nalin' Palin II: Electric Boogaloo
  • She's taking a lucrative offer from Fox News to anchor her own news show. It'll be called You Betcha, With Sara Palin
  • She is taking time off to read some newspapers (all of them). 
  • Palin wants to be politically quiet so that the public at large will forget about her Dan Quayle-esque gaffes before she goes on the national stage in 2012.
  • It's part of her master plan to destroy the career of Tina Fey. 
  • She's pregnant with Joe The Plumber's love child. The baby will be named "Twitter".

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Goofing Around At Wal-Mart

You are no doubt already aware about the epic adventure we took to Burger King earlier this week. In the middle of putzing around one of the Wal-Marts, Jason and I took some goofy pictures with my cell phone. Here's a gallery of them. Enjoy!