HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!
This is a day that's always associated with sweltering heat,
barbecues, and fireworks for me. Everybody gets into the act
of blowing things up, even if it's just a few bottle rockets.
For several years, it was also associated with the birthday
of Ms. Rosa Jackson, a girl I dated a few times in high school.
4th of July is a holiday that's resistant to hype. A lot
of people thought they were going to make a mint on the Bicentennial,
but folks mostly stayed home with their own grills, and didn't
bother to buy the T-shirt either.
It's a funny holiday, because in a way it's perhaps a bit
more contrived than most. There are several dates that could
have represented the "birth" of America - from the signing
of the Declaration of Independence to the day that the Brits
retreated. The 4th is also a day that's celebrated in much
the same way, no matter what your station in life. It's not
an expensive day. It's not a gift or card day. It's a knock
back some brews and eat some chicken / hamburgers / hot dogs
with friends kind of day.
It's also the day that a bunch of crazy people try to wolf
down as many hot dogs as they can in Coney Island. Last year,
a 131-pound Japanese kid consumed 50
hot dogs in 12 minutes. I wonder how you prepare for an
event like that, although I think it's stretching a bit to
refer to hotdog eating as "athleticism"... Considering that
one of the prizes is a year's supply of hot dogs, I wonder
if the Nathan's people base the idea of a "year's supply"
on a higher-than-average rate of consumption.
Here's hoping you enjoy your Fourth, however you celebrate
I also associate the 4th of July with the start of one of
the most amazing sporting events in the world - the Tour
de France. 2500 miles on a bike in three weeks. Teams
compete for position. The person with the shortest overall
time wins, and no one can win it on their own.
year the course
features a week of racing on the flats in the North of France,
followed by two weeks of mountains of the South (the Pyrenees
and the Alps).
If you have cable or Satellite TV, OLN has good
Even if you've never watched, there's a good chance you know
who Lance Armstrong is. His chances
for a 4th straight victory are good. Not many men have
won the Tour more than once, and there have only been five
"hat trick" winners.
Another American, Greg
LeMond, did win it three times against incredible odds,
just not three times in a row. Greg has retired from bike
racing, but has taken up auto racing, and started several
business ventures, including a fitness
company, a bike
manufacturing company, and a chain of bagel shops. The
company page lists many of the racing innovations contributed
by Greg LeMond. Among those innovations, Greg pioneered the
aero bars that are now standard fare for time trial riders.
Now that Lance has won three times, the next plateau is matching
the record of Miguel "Big Mig" Indurain, who won the race
an incredible five times in a row. There were other five-
timers, including Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, but Indurain
is the only consecutive 5-timer. BBC News has an interesting
"Clash of the Titans" piece on Armstrong
Even though Lance points out clearly that "it's
not about the bike", there is a lot of interest in the
tools these elite athletes use to give them even the slightest
edge. BBC has a good piece on the
make-up of a Tour de France bike. Of course, it's in UK
English: "tyres" instead of "tires", and pounds instead of
All this talk of the Tour, which always finishes in Paris,
has me thinking about places
to see in Paris. If you're into cams, you might be interested
On a related matter, you've probably seen one of those pop-under
ads for the X10 wireless security camera. If you haven't,
it's probably because you don't get around the web much
they're seemingly everywhere! Two interesting things about
these ads: X10 pioneered the pop-under ad technique, which
generates an outrageously effective "click-through" rate (something
advertisers care very much about now, everybody's doing
pop-unders ) AND these ads are dripping with voyeuristic sexual
innuendo. Is X10 really advertising security with their
"tiny wireless remote camera"? Their site
seems to indicate that, but the ads really seem to appeal
to another crowd.
Apple's XServe ships
it's a big deal: "... even now, several days removed from
Steve-speak, I remain impressed with the server and with its
potential for both improving Apple's future and making Unix,
finally, a tool for the masses...."
What's in a name?
I always thought that the name "Buttafuoco" was an unfortunate
name, although in Joey's case something like "Adulter-Pedophilio"
would have been more fitting. Standing on the corner the other
day, I could have sworn I heard a mother address her son more
than once as "Lucifer." I tried hard to imagine she was saying
something else: if his name was really, perhaps, "Mustapha",
that was a really odd pronunciation (moo - stuff - a). In
the bodega on the corner, a father clearly addressed his daughter
as "Genesis." There's a lot to live up to in that name. Grace
Slick of Airplane / Starship fame bowed to eithr pressure
or clarity, when she renamed her recently-born child. At first
she'd dubbed her offspring "God." It's a little like walking
around with a sign on your back that says "Kick me." Activist
/ Comedian Dick Gregory named one of his daughters "Miss,"
so that "...people would always know how to address her properly".
Then last night, I went to the movies. The woman behind the
concession counter was wearing a name tag that read "Pernice."
I don't know if she pronounced it "per - niss" or "per - nees,"
but I think it has to be one of the all-time unfortunate names.
One glance at that tag, and the first word that came to mind
was "pernicious." Interested in a definition? Here are a few:
a. Tending to cause death or serious injury; deadly: a pernicious
b. Causing great harm; destructive: pernicious rumors.
2. Archaic. Evil; wicked.
Middle English, from Old French pernicios, from Latin
pernicisus, from pernicis, destruction ? per-,
per- + nex, nec-, violent death...
L. perniciosus, from pernicies destruction, from pernecare
to kill or slay outright; per + necare to kill, slay...Having
the quality of injuring or killing; destructive; very mischievous;
baleful; malicious; wicked.
...exceedingly harmful [syn: baneful, deadly, pestilent] 2:
working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way;
"a subtle poison" [syn: insidious, subtle]
... so by her name, the lady behind the counter seemed to
be advertising herself as a subtle killer: an understated
Nikita of sorts...
The 2.0 version
You might be wondering what we saw at the movies last night:
"Men in Black II." It was a good sequel, and an enjoyable
popcorn movie. We had a number of good laughs. The Baha Men
may be one-hit-wonders, but they've done wonders with their
one hit. The song has a prominent part in one of the movie's
All of my favorite characters from the first movie (except
the under-used Linda Fiorentino and,of course, "the bug")
are back in this movie. The combination of quirky characters
and out-of-this-world plot make this movie work well.
There was a missing ingredient - novelty. In the first movie,
Will Smith's character was essentially a stand-in for us in
the audience. He didn't know what was going to happen next,
and our amazement was reflected on-screen in his face. In
this movie, we know the parameters of that world, and Will
is downright jaded.
The plot has enough twists, turns, and bumps to keep it interesting
to the end, but there wasn't as much to sink your teeth into,
as the first movie. Still, we didn't feel cheated when we
left, and that's a lot to say about the sophomore offering
of something that has all the earmarks of a Hollywood franchise