Monday, December 31, 2007


Free Music in 15 Minutes

I've recently come up with the most complicated way to steal music from the Internet. The music industry people are dicks and I'm tired of their bullshit. Even though the recent news that they are trying to make it illegal to rip your own music from CDs to your computer for your own use ended up being false (story here) they still don't play nice with their customers. With the demise of Napster and, where is one to find free/cheap music? I've come up with a way. It requires YouTube and Mac with iLife.

Step 1, install and run TubeTV.
It is freeware. It is a nifty little program that you can use to copy videos from YouTube. This is how I justify talking about this on my TV blog. I picked the early 90s song Unbelievable by EMF to test this out. It ranked #98 on VH1's top 100 songs of the 90s. It took about 3 & 1/2 minutes to download this to my desktop.
Step 2, extract the audio. Using iMovie, import the m4v file to a new movie project. Drag the clip to the project area. Under advanced menu, select Extract Audio. When this is done, drag the audio segment to you desktop. Total time importing, extracting, and exporting, about 5 & 1/2 minutes.
Step 3, create playable file. The extracted audio is some weird aiff file type. Open GarageBand and drag the extracted audio file to your new project. Trim off any blank space at the start or end of the file. Click Share-Save Song to Disk. You can save it as a mp3 or m4a file.
Step 4, add to iTunes. Drag the file into your iTunes library. Open the song options to change the song name, artist name, album name, year, genre, and track number. This information is almost certainly available on Wikipedia.

Your done! In less than 15 minutes you have a completely free song ready to upload to you iPhone or iPod. You don't have to deal with BitTorrent, which I can never get to work right anyway. Of course it isn't great quality, but if you cared about quality you'd go by the CD. This also works as a way to unlock protected files. Add your m4p file to an iMovie project and share it out as a full quality movie file *.dv. Then start back on step 2.

When I was in high school I used to keep a blank tape in the tape deck of my stereo in case a song I liked came on. Later, Napster and the KaZaZ and similar services allowed me to get songs without paying for them. I never used Napster but I didn't use KaZaA. My roommate downloaded so many viruses through this website on my computer. I'm amazed at his ability to find viruses. Most of these songs I really like I've since bought through iTunes. I had a bunch of CDs stolen about 5 years ago. I used the Russian mafia online mp3 store (which has since shut down) to replace most of these. I paid for them once so I don't have any problem with replacing them through less than conventional channels. Now in 2007 I spent more on music than any year in recent memory. I bought nearly 200 songs off iTunes. But occasionally you just want to listen to a song a couple times and then delete it, or have one on a party mix for single use. Here's how I do it.


Sunday, December 30, 2007


Sheinhardt Wig Company

I just rewatched the second episode of 30 Rock's season 2. This is the one wear Jack battles with GOB to look good in front of Don Geiss. Geiss is the CEO of The Sheinhardt Wig Company which owns GE which in turn owns NBC. Of course that is only in the absurd reality of the 30 Rock universe. In reality, Jeffrey Immelt is the CEO of GE which is the second largest company in the world. It owns an 80% share of NBC Universal which runs the various television networks, studios, and themeparks associated with the brand. But this absurdity is one of the reason 30 Rock is the best sitcom on TV right now. The hilarious cut away jokes are also great. In this episode Tracy flashed back to his hit party song, Werewolf Bar Mitzvah. "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah, spooky, scary. Boys becoming men, men becoming wolves." I also love whenever Dr. Spaceman shows up. This time not only did he try to get Jenna to go on Crystal Meth to loose weight, he also showed off some of his celebrity clients which include, ALF, the unibomber, and John Ashcroft.


Friday, December 28, 2007


Pushing Daisies - As Good the Second Time Around

I watched a repeat of Pushing Daisies 1.02: Dummy and it is still enjoyable the second time around. The second episode set the standard for the crazy world they live in, where cars run on dandy lions and Olive hears music in her head.

This episode was what I call a "Cookie Episode". A Cookie Episode is the direct opposite of a Jumped the Shark episode. It's the moment a show goes from a show you watch and enjoy to your favorite show. These are very precious. The Simpsons episode 21, Bart the Daredevil was that episode for that show. The very first episode of LOST was a Cookie Episode. Motherboy XXX was the Arrested Development episode that had me hooked for life. Sadly it's life was only 53 episodes.

But the origin of the term Cookie Episode comes from episode 3.20 of Remington Steele called Steele in the Chips. Remington and Laura (with guest star the then unknown Geena Davis) invest the death of a cookie maker who made the most advanced diet cookies before his murder. Ray Romano's mom eats most of them with extreme guilt not knowing she wasn't cheating on her diet. The episode was the classic madcap pursuit episode as the characters ran all over trying to find the cookies. Easily the best episode of the series.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007


Cookie Party

As I do this time of year, I spent most of the day baking cookies and delivering them to past and current clients. All day I kept thinking about Cookie Party from The Sarah Silverman Program. I googled Cookie Party and was surprised to find a bunch of funny Cookie Party cartoon shorts. And I mean funny strange, not funny haha. Here's episode one:

If the animation looks familiar that's because it is from the same warpped mind of Mr. Sprinkles from the one season wonder Acceptable.TV Mini Coffee is one of the strangest characters of modern television. I love her.

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Go Team Venture

Stop what you are doing right now and put The Venture Brother’s on your TiVo. Then come back and read the rest of this post to understand why you should watch this show.

Ok, now that you are back let me continue. About a month ago I was having lunch with my friend Sean and he told me I needed to watch this show. Since both seasons are on DVD I put them on my Netflix queue and bumped disk 1 to the top. I watched a few episodes on the plane ride back from DC and was pleasantly entertained. However when I got to the yard sale episode, I was hooked. This episode is on tonight so don’t miss it.

The Venture Brothers is about two boy adventurers, their super scientist father and his bodyguard. It is a spoof of Johnny Quest but much more adult. Dr. Venture was himself a boy adventurer but is not a very good super scientist unlike his deceased father who was the true renaissance scientist. Dr. Venture also has an arch nemesis called The Monarch who is always out to destroy him. He’s got a trust fund he can afford to be an arch villain. Arch nemeses and henchmen are so common they use the verbs “arching” and “henching” to refer to them.

The yard sale episodes, called “Tag Sale, Your It” is the best episode of the first season. Dr. Venture is not very good so he has to do silly things to supplement his income. He’s not made of experimental jet fuel. In an earlier episode he rents out a wing of the Venture Compound to Orpheus who becomes a regular character. Here to raise more money he decides to sell off some of his dad’s old gadgets. Of course all the super villains show up to buy stuff. With so much costumed villainy and the absurdity of haggling over the cost of a shrink ray gun, this is a perfect episode. Don’t miss it.


Friday, December 14, 2007


Kathy has been renewed

Kathy Griffin's Schmemmy Award winning reality show, Life on the D-List has been renewed for a 4th season. This time she got a commitment for 10 episodes instead of the usual six. Yay for Kathy!

Speaking of Kathy, tell everyone to watch my Kathy on The View YouTube clip. When you type "Kathy Griffin" in the YouTube search, it is #2 in relevance ranking and #4 in the view count ranking. I recently passed the Anderson Cooper clip which pulled ahead of mine a while ago.

Send it to your friends, link to it, do what ever. And don't miss the great comments these freaky people have been leaving on it. There's a mini religious debate going on.



Best Year Ever

If you watch Best Week Ever, don’t miss the annual role up of Best Year Ever tonight. This will not automatically record with your season pass since it has a different title. Tonight’s special is 90 minutes, 30 minutes longer than previous years. Here’s a review of this year’s Best Week Ever winners:
January 19, 2007 - Bindi Irwin
January 26, 2007 - Old Ladies
February 02, 2007 - Daniel Radcliffe
February 09, 2007 - Self Absorbed Celebrities
February 23, 2007 - Ester Tognozzi
March 02, 2007 - Girls with Great Personalities
March 09, 2007 - Frenchie Davis
March 23, 2007 - Phil Spector's Hair
March 30, 2007 - The Great American Dream Vote
April 06, 2007 - Alanis Morissette
April 20, 2007 - Shaun Ellis
April 27, 2007 - People Who Didn't Deserve the Spotlight
May 11, 2007 - Summer Reality Shows
May 18, 2007 - Kelly Clarkson
May 25, 2007 - Heroes
June 08, 2007 - Phillip Wellman
June 15, 2007 - Bob Barker
June 22, 2007 - Star Parker
June 29, 2007 - Dramatic Prairie Dog
July 13, 2007 - J. J. Abrams Fans
July 20, 2007 - Dogs
July 27, 2007 - Filipino Prisoners
August 03, 2007 - Tay Zonday
September 14, 2007 - Chris Crocker
September 21, 2007 - The Censor Ball
September 28, 2007 - Boner Killerz
October 12, 2007 - Soulja Boy
October 19, 2007 - Overly excited people
October 26, 2007 - Anderson Cooper
November 9, 2007 - Midget Mac
November 16, 2007 - Moral Bankruptcy (2 girls 1 cup)
November 30, 2007 - Aspiring MC's


Thursday, December 13, 2007


Check out these Golden Globes

While I hate award shows, I do love to look at the lists of nominees and winners and look for trends. Once again the cable networks have hit big with 40% of the comedy nominations and 72% of the drama nominations. The odd thing about the drama nominations is the number. There were six series, five actors, and seven actresses nominated. Why not just pick five? Be decisive! If they can limit the comedy category to five, they should limit the drama category. CBS got no nominations. All the comedy awards were limited to shows on ABC, NBC, HBO, and Showtime. I may be wrong, but it looks like the most number of non-premium cable channels got nominations. Among that group are Damages, The Riches, Mad Men, and The Closer. I watched the first two and I'd love to catch up on Mad Men.

One of my favorite actresses got nominated. Christina Applegate was nominated for her new show Samantha Who? She was previously nominated for a Golden Globe for Jesse. I was one of the few people who watched that show. She was nominated and won an Schmemmy for her guest spot on Friends as Rachel's sister. I love her and love her show.

Both 30 Rock and Pushing Daisies picked up one nomination in each category. I'm very pleased. I've been worried that ABC wouldn't appreciate Pushing Daisies. My friend Lorna refuses to watch it because she doesn't want to get attached to the show only to have it get canceled. I hope now she will go back and catch up. 30 Rock continues to be the funniest show on television and despite my love for Pushing Daisies, this should win.

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Wonder-wonder-wonder Falls

I love Pushing Daisies. It is the best new show of the fall. It’s not just that it is a fun and quirky detective show. It’s all the other absurdities. Like the car the runs on dandelions. Or the aunts who were synchronized swimmers. Or the windmill village. Or the pop-up book store. So I love this show and it got picked up for a full season. Although with the writer’s strike that could be only nine episodes. Last night was the last new episode until the strike is over. There was a surprising twist revealed at the end which was obviously planned from the onset of the show. Dana Delany said on The View this week that Marc Cherry is confident the strike will be over by Monday. Let’s hope.

Since I love Pushing Daisies so much and so immediately, I checked out the other shows created by its creator, Bryan Fuller. Dead Like Me ran for two seasons and is currently in my Netflix queue. The short lived Wonderfalls only had 13 episodes and was fantastic. I think the main reason that show didn’t make it was due to unrealized expectations. That show appeared to be about a girl who inanimate objects would talk to and tell her to do things. This is true, but the show was about much more. The more was her crazy family, including Pushing Daisies Lee Pace as Jaye’s brother. The stuff would tell her to do stuff which would lead her to misadventures with her family. After only a few episodes these incredibly rich characters were starting to overshadow the Wax Lions and Barrel Bears. I don’t think FOX ever understood the show and they cancelled it after four episodes. Luckily all 13 are available on DVD. Be sure to watch the finale episode opening credits with the commentary track to hear several of the cast members singing along with the theme song, “I Wonder Why the Wonder Falls.”

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Daniel's Guide to Time Travel

Time Travel is one of those overused plot devices, along with amnesia or serial killers. Time travel stories are still quite popular as it puts new characters into familiar historical settings or brings future technology into the easy to film modern times. Doctor Who does this the best. I’ve always been very interested in time travel stories, even after Star Trek ran the concept into the ground. There are many different theories on how time travel plays out.

Theory #1 – The Christmas Carol format or view only. The easiest way to get over the inevitable paradoxes (paradoces?) is having the time traveler not be able to interact with anyone. The ghosts of Christmas Past and Future took Scrooge through time in this way. This was also the first occurrence of time travel in literature.
Theory #2 – The Terminator #1 format or cyclical timelines. In the first The Terminator movie, had Arnold not come back to kill Sarah Conner, Reese wouldn’t have come back to save her. Had he not come back, there wouldn’t have been a John Conner the machines were trying to eliminate. No paradoxes or re-written history happens since all the time travelers were integrated into the time line. Babylon 5’s story of the disappearance of B4 fit this model.
Theory #3 – This theory was here all along. It has no effect on the past for some reason that doesn’t need to be explained, just enjoy it.
Theory #4 – Alternate Timelines = Alternate Universes. This is sometimes discussed in Stargate, or maybe I just infer it. The idea is when you go back in time, you spawn off an alternate universe where the timeline is different than the one you came from. Since even the smallest of changes to anything leads to a big ripple effect which puts the birth of the time traveler in peril. Or at least it puts the circumstances in which he travels back in time in peril. With the alternate universe theory each time travel is now self contained and thus no perilous paradoxes. A short lived show in the 90’s called Time Trax ran on this theory.
Theory #5 – The Back to the Future format. This is the one most often used. Small changes lead to small improvements in the future where the time traveler remembers the original time line to the one he changed. This makes great stories but is the least likely. If Marty grew up in the functional household at the end of the movie, would he been hanging out with Doc Brown? Not likely. This is also the idea behind Quantum Leap and my childhood favorite, Voyagers! Small changes make the future better/right. This could lead to the biggest paradox, multiple versions of the time traveler. In the casino time line of BttF 2, there were theoretically two Marty’s: the one who returned from the future and the one away at boarding school who never went into the past. The impossibility here is the conservation of mass. Bringing things through time and creating an alternate timeline where they didn’t go through time creates a copy of the person/object and breaks a fundamental law of physics. For some reason I have a big problem with this, unless it is used humorously.
Theory #6 – The Year of Hell format or “It was all a dream”. The biggest middle finger to the audience is when the writers pull a Year of Hell ending out of their ass. This idea is the time traveler goes back in time to stop some horrible thing. This creates (or restores) an optimal timeline in which the characters never experienced the events causing them to go back in time. While this is more logical than the Back to the Future format, it is incredibly unsatisfying since none of the character development carries forward and so it was all a dream. I’m still bitter at Star Trek: Voyager for this.

So why am I rambling on and on about time travel? Two things recently came out which feature time travel. This first is the highly anticipated Futurama movie, Bender’s Big Score. In this, the evil aliens who took over planet express discover a one-way time travel format which is paradox proof. They send Bender back in time to steal stuff and then he just hangs around for thousands of years to deliver the goods. It was a highly complicated plot that was very funny and satisfying. They basically created their own theory for this which I call Theory #3. I went back and added later even though when I started writing this there were only 5 theories. Theory #3 is really Paradox Proof time travel.

The second time travel show is Life on Mars, season 2. This began last night on BBC America. You don’t really need to know much about this show to jump in. Each episode is a self contained police drama circa 1973 except the main character is from 2006. Detective Inspector Sam Tyler gets hit by a car and wakes up as a cop in 1973. He is a great fish-out-of-water character. In the first season it seems clear that he is dreaming this while in a coma. Everything leads up to the end where he saved the life of a woman whose murder he witnessed as a child at the hand of his father. He thought after that he would wake up but he didn’t. This season it looks like something more is going on after he got a phone call from the future telling him they couldn’t bring him back yet. It looks like someone put him there for a reason but who and why. But it still could be a coma. I wouldn’t be surprised if the series ended with a dance party on the back of a truck, this is British TV after all. Regardless, the changes are making a ripple effect and changing the future for the better just like Sam from Quantum Leap. This makes me wonder if that why they named him Sam. There are only 8 episodes this season and the show is done. No future seasons are going to be produced. The episodes are rather easy to follow for a time travel show and as I said one could pick it up at any time.

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Monday, December 03, 2007


Tin Man

Part one of tin man started last night. Part two is tonight and the conclusion is tomorrow. If you missed last night it is on again before part two tonight. All three are on tomorrow. Tin Man is part of the current trend to reimagine old stories just like the new Battlestar Galactica, Batman Begins, and new Bond in Casino Royale. This of course is the reimagining of The Wizard of Oz. I was worried it was going to be filled with what I call Smallvilleisms. That is when a show uses famous quotes from past incarnations to add extra humor. "Clark, you may be faster than a speeding bullet, but..." Thankfully there do not seem to be that many in Tin Man. They also correct the major flaw in the original story. In TWoO Dorothy is unhappy with her current living arrangement that she longs to go over the rainbow. Yet as soon as she arrives in the ultracolorful Oz, she wants to go back home to live in poverty with her dirt-farming, teetotaling, elderly aunt and uncle. DG of Tin Man has other quests to go on and a much more vested interest in defeating the evil witch. She is in no hurry to get back to her dead end job as a waitress at a Kansas diner and it would be curprising if she went back at the end.

The Tin Man having no heart is this time metaphorical. He was a member of the resistance against the evil witch/queen which lead to the death of his family and his subsequent imprisonment and torture. He has temporarily given up his revenge quest to protect DG. The scarecrow's missing brain is more literal. The witch gave him a lobectomy to remove his memories of working with the previous administration. I would have just killed him, but TV and movie villains always have a flare for the dramatic. The cowardly lion's character is still not fully defined for my taste. It seems like he is just a hairy human who wears fur. He has psychic power but is too afraid to use them, also because the witch tortured him. She's nasty.

Still no Yellow Brick Road (only a brick road), Toto, Ruby Slippers, field of poppies, talking trees, or horse of a different color. Also no sister to drop a house on and it is not certain if the WWotW is meltable. What a world.

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