28 June 2006

A red (white and blue) letter day!

Thursday -- 29 June 2006 -- marks the 50th anniversary of The National Defense Interstate Highway Act, signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on this day in 1956.

Yeppers, our wonderful interstate highway system turns 50. While serving in his capacity as a General during WWII, Eisenhower saw the impressive network of superhighways the Germans had built, and envisioned a similar system of roads for the United States. Sure, we love to rag on our interstates, and you won't find an argumentative peep from me that many are as boring as one of those old B/W school classroom films. Especially I-16 between Savannah and Macon.

I should know; In the nearly six years I've been living in coastal Georgia, I have been making trips to Alabama to see my son Tiger at least once a month. Trust me when I tell you that Talmadge Gleck is intimately familiar with every bridge, every curve, every crack in the concrete slab, every bloody inch of Interstate Highway 16, a/k/a Jim Gillis Highway. I can practically drive that @#$%ing road with my eyes closed!

But as much as I like to diss the Sominex Slab, I don't know what I'd do without 'em. Without I-16, the trip over toward Alabama would be more interesting, yes, but would YOU want to go back to the old two-lane slab, the original US Highway system ... originally designed so that a given route was Main Street through the heart of every cotton-pickin' Boo Foo Egypt. Speed limit 25. Traffic lights. Trains. Fools and drunks aplenty. Accidents. Gloom, despair, agony and bloodshed on the bituminous pavement.

Ya know, for all the pining I do for "the old way of doing things", I like the convenience of the interstate when I need it. Sure, I sometimes wish I could go back in time to 1955, when Georgia's main arterials were such US routes as 41, 80, 19, 29 and 301. To be able to count the creative billboards ... the barn roofs with the South's most famous three words: SEE ROCK CITY .... the original Stuckey's stores along the way ..... all the roadsides had to offer. Making a trip was certainly more fun back in 195x.

However, admit it (and I do!): if you had to make the same two-lane trip, slowing down for every little bleedin' town between point A and point B (some of which propped up their town budgets through well-oiled speed traps), and do this more than once a month, you'd go plum' crazy. Six hours to Montgomery or Troy, Alabama is long enough, goodness knows ... but what if that monthly trip were more like 8-10 hours?

Kinda puts a little perspective into those boring concrete slabs, yes?

Happy Birthday, Interstate Highway System. Friday, I'll have a Coke and "Nabs" at a rest area along I-16 in your honor. And although I probably won't be able to drive my favorite of the Birthday Boulevards, I-65 in Alabama, this go-round ... I'll be thinking about her.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Road Scholar" Gleck

22 June 2006

It's Music Merger Mania!

Inspired by our local JACK-FM station having spent at least 30 minutes this afternoon playing two songs at the same time. JACK FM. PLAYING WHAT WE WANT. HOWEVER WE WANT. AS MANY AS WE WANT.

Seraphim alerted me to their glitch this afternoon, and told me about this neat song they were playing, "You Make My Rocks of Ages Dream Come True" by Oates & Hall & Lef Deppard.

Which triggered a response reminding my sweet wifely one about the other songs in O&H&LD's discography:
"Your Love Bites Are On My List"
"Did It in a Minute (And I Have a Photograph To Prove It)"
"Armageddon It From A Rich Girl"
"Bring On The Heartbreak, She's Gone"
"M-E-T-H-O-D O-F Pouring S-U-G-A-R On I-T!"

Oh yeah, and the immortal #1 smash "Animaleater"!

It led me to wonder what would happen if music groups began following our corporations and started merging. I mean, fewer artists would result in a more efficient way to deliver streamlined music to the hungry masses, trained to like nothing but the same top 10 hits over and over from the same three corporate radio groups, and 29-year-old Leno-hairs from American Idol who already are whoring themselves out to corporate shilling. It would mean fewer royalty checks for the big labels to have to dole out. Which will free up financial resources for further pursuing lawsuits against eight-year-old Limewire jockeys.

Following in O&H&LD's success are a fivesome we know as Crosby, Stills, Nash, Simon and Garfunkel ... sometimes made into a sextet when Neil Young's in town.
"Suite: Cecelia Blue Eyes"
"Mrs. Robinson (Teach Your Children Well)"
"Just a Song Before I Southern Cross the Bridge Over Troubled Water on the Marrakesh Express, Wasted On The Way to My Little Town" (ahem)

I think I'd better, uhhhh, "Carry On" before people realize I'm only "Fakin' It"...

How about a musical marriage of our now-divorced Swedish quartet ABBA ... paired with Aussie musical mirth makers AC/DC. We'll call it: ABBA-C-D-C

"Take a Chance and Have a Drink On Me"
"Does Your Mother Know You Shook Me All Night Long"
"For Those About To Rock, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do Salute You"
"Dancing Queen's Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"
"Waterloo Made Who"
"The Winner Takes All the TNT"

Or, perhaps, the ultimate merger - pairing the greatest hard rock band of all time with the greatest musical ensemble of all time. Meet The Beatzeps!
"I Wanna Hold Your Lemon"
"Martha, My Dear Black Dog"
"Can't Buy Me a Whole Lotta Love"
"The Fool On the Hill In the Rain"
"The Long And Winding Stairway To Heaven"
"Livin' Lovin' Maid (She's A Woman)"
"A Hard Day's Night Flight"
"Boogie With Sgt. Pepper"
"All You Need Is Custard Pie"
"In My Yellow Submarine Down By the Seaside"
"With A Little Help From My Dazed and Confused Friends"
"Trampled Strawberry Fields Under Foot"
and "Hey Hey, Jude (What Can I Do)"

Don't hate me, Birdman..........

Want to add more? Have any more ideas? I'm ready.

You say Goodbye, and I Say Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Rock 'n' Roll Genetic Engineer" Gleck

20 June 2006

I am so incredibly blessed and lucky...

I just had one of those moments where my contentment jumps off the chart. I have a name for such moments: "giddy spikes" ... those brief feelings when something reminds you how on top of the world you really are, despite all the PITAs around ones' self (e.g., wiped out hard drive at work ... speaking of which, I think I've written another automation template that'll work ... wish me luck, as tomorrow we'll find out)

I sit here with our dog Puddy sprawled out on the floor beside me. I hear Seraphim in the kitchen, busy with yet another cake. I heard her comment out loud about a commercial on the TV, and for some reason the sweetness and warmth in her voice caressed my ear more than usual. Seraphim's been my wife for going on 5-1/2 years now, and for reasons too far beyond any rational explanation, neither of us have turned tail and run, screaming for what's left of our sanity. She came in here earlier and bellowed out "You suck!"..... and my loving response? "You suck, too." A kiss, and a moment of sweetness. To explain our brand of affection and interaction -- which never involves any belittling comments, only those in jest -- would only leave folks more confused than they were before.

Are there soulmates? Ten years ago, and in a marriage which never should've happened were it not for our son, I would've scoffed at the idea. Today -- with Seraphim at my side not just as my wife, but as my best friend -- I'm a believer.

Not everyone is fortunate to have their soulmate, or maybe they're still searching. If you share your life, home and heart with such a person, count your every blessings. If not, I pray for you that the fates and life throw you those curves that lead you toward a more "psychologically prosperous" existence.

And the love of my life just called out to me, "Come eat some food!" So I'd better close this.

I love you, Seraphim. Since May 3, 1998 - if not before. How did I get so damned lucky?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Mush Moron" Gleck

17 June 2006

Ready to kill.

It's rare that I'll ever post something relating to work on this blog.

But today I'm making an exception.

Two people from our home office's IT department came to town yesterday to install and configure our new satellite receivers (called, strangely enough, "content depot"), as well as upgrade our audio storage and automation software. That was supposed to be a simple software upgrade, nothing affecting the integrity of the hard drive's contents.

I had no idea they were also upgrading both our production and master control boxes from Windows 2000 to XP. They didn't tell us this. Had I known this ahead of time, I would've backed up crucial files, i.e. automation playlists and our generic promos, module programs and such.

My station manager called me a few minutes ago. When he said "Are you sitting down?", I knew what came next would not be good.

You guessed it. Our Keystone IT Kops wiped out both hard drives. Everything. Gone. Buh-bye. Seeya. Ciao for niao.

I want to kill. Kill!! KILLLLLLL!! KILLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!! (apologies to Arlo Guthrie)

@#$%@#$%!

The small silver lining is, at least I can start downloading some of our modules and promos from here via FTP. I can then hit the ground running.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Not very happy and content at the moment" Gleck

16 June 2006

Old Country Buffet

Three words which strike wistfulness into my gastric area.

This post and - yes - rant (surprise, surprise!) was inspired by tonight's visit to a buffet restaurant in Savannah.

Old Country Buffet is a chain of "all you can eat" restaurants, based in Minnesota, which used to have a modest presence in the Southeast. Montgomery had a really good one, which I frequented when I lived in the area. Birmingham also had an OCB located just up the way from Eastwood Mall and Century Plaza. My brother lived in Birmingham back then, and we ate there a few times when I made visits.

The food was always fresh, never did one find dried-out dregs like some AYCE places have -- their cavalier and rather elitist assumption that everyone does lunch from 12-1 and if you don't, you should. Unless you come back at dinnertime, you'll have to eat that warmed-over piece of dark meat chicken. I'm serious - one such place actually told me, when I said my lunch hour was 1-2, "you need to change it to noon, then." I replied, "Not everyone can eat lunch at noon." "Well, everyone else in this town does." I'll name this place, too: Julia's Restaurant in Troy, Alabama. I think the woman was missing half her teeth, too, if memory serves.

But Old Country Buffet pulled out of Alabama ... or, to be precise, were bought out. By Pensacola-based buffet chain Barnhill's. Talk about an outfit that goes on the cheap. Remember how small the breast pieces were at Kentucky Fried Chicken years ago? Barnhill's are smaller. Everything's shoestring-run. Old Country Buffets in the state were rebadged as Barnhill's, and suddenly the chicken became smaller. The food became less fresh. The options more limited. (I think OCB's fried chicken just might be my favorite, come to think of it)

Take a look at Barnhill's website. Look at those flimsy, tiny-ass pieces of chicken on the main page. Those are, more accurately, breaded chicken bones with small slivers of dark meat attached.

Imagine my delight when I learned that the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC were teeming with Old Country Buffets. While up there in November '03, you bet we darkened the doors of one. Good as I always remember.

Charleston, S.C. had an Old Country Buffet until not too long ago. Seraphim -- who liked the size and options on their salad bar -- and I made more than one 120-mile pilgrimage to the one in North Charleston. We made just such a trip in December 2004. Then we returned in May of '05, only to find it .... closed!

So that leaves me only one option if I crave some OCB fried chicken: take a long drive northward on I-95 until I start feeling the hot air of Congress! So, is this a message from our Yankee culinary brethren? "Ha, ha, you Southern Bumpkin -- we DO have some good cookin' up here. And we're not letting you have it until you unbathed inbreds let go of that unpleasant little marital tiff back in eighteen sixty-odd."

But back to our visit to one of the all-you-can-eat places in Savannah. Seraphim and I tried out the new Fire Mountain Grill. It used to be Ryan's, but the FMG is just a new brand and concept ... in fact, the check card receipt still read "RYAN'S"

I've come to the sad realization that there's no such thing as a good all-you-can-eat "home cooking" style restaurant in Savannah, Georgia. Sure, we have Ryan's-cum-Fire Mountain and the ever-present Golden Corral. Golden Corral is special for us, 'cuz back in the dark days of our courtship ... dark in that we lived 93 miles apart (Seraphim in Columbus, Ga.; I in Troy, Ala.), and had to meet in out-of-the-way locations just to see one another during the week. Wednesday night was our night, where we'd meet in Eufaula, Ala. We always had supper at Golden Corral. And when I'd drive to Columbus for some weekends, GC was on our to-eat list. Ditto for Albany, which to this day has a super, well-operated Golden Corral. Fresh food and lots of it.

Would that Savannah's Golden Corral evoked the same reaction. It doesn't. I'd say it's closer to the Julia's concept. "If ya can't be here for supper at 6, the leftovers will be under the hot lights 'till 9. No fresh food, it costs us too much money." Phooey!!!

And Fire Mountain Grill? Better than Golden Corral here, but it still lacked. The veggies were lacking. The butter beans tasted as if they simmered in onions -- ecch! The fried chicken, though, was fresh ... I give 'em that. And I like their breading much better than GC's. But dammit all to hell, it still ain't Old Country Buffet!!!

Okay, it's here that I get to the heart of this post. The very reason I started this whole thing to begin with. These steak-house-turned-buffet chains and even current-day jokes like Barnhill's have one thing in common: YOU'RE AT THE MERCY OF A SERVER WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR DRINKS.

I don't patronize a buffet restaurant to have to be dependent on a server (and having to tip 'em afterward). I'm getting up to procure my own vittles .... WHY THE BLOODY @#$% CAN'T I ALSO GET MY OWN FRIGGIN' COKE??!!??!!

Seraphim, God bless her tortured soul, can vouch for how positively pissy I can get when I sit down, plate full of fried chicken and veggies, ready to dig in. But my Coke glass is empty and has been that way for at least five minutes.

Sometimes -- especially at our most recent trip to the Golden Corral in Albany -- a server is very attentive, even on Sunday afternoon rush (when we were dining), and never let my glass get more than halfway empty before she put another one in front of me.

Unfortunately, those times are outnumbered by waiting as my glass sprouts cobwebs. Most of the time I have to grovel for drink refills. Look, you people, I get my own food ... why not my own soda, too? Heck, this evening at Fire-Is-Cool Grill, I got up and -- like an old girlfriend did one time when we were eating at Red Lobster (she went into the kitchen when the server never came back with the pepper mill) -- went to the source and got it myself. Because of that, her name has become a verb in my slanguage, many years later. Therefore, I "DeAnn'ed" myself some Coke this evening.

OLD COUNTRY BY-GOD BUFFET doesn't operate that way!! Along with all the buffet islands, there's also a drink island, with plenty of glasses. You get your own drinks. When I'm there, I usually get two glasses of Coke, that way I can go for longer between trips (by now, I'm sure you can tell that I tend to inhale Coca-Cola at places like this).

What's more, at OCB you pay one price for the whole shootin' match, too. And that price is LESS (!!!!!!!!!!!) than what GC or Ryan's or Fire! Fire! Fire! (Beavis, that's so cool!) charge for just the buffet alone! The drink sets you back an additional $1.50-$2.00. Talk about highway robbery.
And at OCB you don't have to tip anyone. I don't mind tipping ... if it's an actual sit-down restaurant, when servers bring your meal to your table and are, for the most part, your mealtime concierge. But after paying several dollars over and above what I would've paid for the same meal at Old Country Buffet, I resent the hell out of having to leave some presidential flash cards on the table. I DO ... when the service is excellent. I mean, it's not the server's fault the restaurant has that format. But when my glass stays empty, so does my table afterward. Simple as that.

Old Country Buffet, please come back!! If anyone down here ticked you off, I apologize for 'em on their behalf.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "More Coke, please!" Gleck

14 June 2006

...and here's YOUR credit card, little lady.

Found while looking through my old gas station road map collection for information about a long-gone roadside chain:
SKELLY was the name of a regional gasoline brand which marketed in the Midwest states (I vaguely remember seeing some in Missouri and Arkansas once upon a time). Like most other "earl" companies, Skelly also had its own credit card program, which it pitched on the back of their road maps (oh, for the days when gas stations gave those things out for free).

[Side thought: I wonder if Skelly had a grudge against Michigan and Ohio ... they seem to be missing from the U.S. image above.]

Skelly, though, had to be different. Unlike Shell, Texaco, Chevron, et petrolius al, Skelly issued not just one credit card. No, siree. Our Fine Skelsters had two of 'em up their corporate sleeve! First was their "regular" card, but evidently that one was available only upon proof of a functioning penis.

But what if you weren't talliwackily equipped? Fear not, Miz Running-On-Empty! Should this have been the case, Skelly would bestow the other card on you. It was called, as you can see above, the Ladies' Credit Card. It even appeared in a faux-elegant script style font, too. How ... feminine?

My question is, WHY? Were the Skelly people sexist little oinks? Or were they forerunners of the current-day Southern Baptist Convention ("Women, be graciously submissive to your husbands.") Heck, it makes me wonder if Skelly didn't also issue a Skelly Colored Peoples' Card back in the '50s? "Honored only if The Man lets you use it."

What if a lady drove over the ding-ding hose out front in her '71 Plymouth Fury Station Wagon, the attendant came out and pumped 15 gallons of Skelly Premium into her car, and - upon time to settle up - she whipped out .... the REGULAR Skelly card? *GASP!!!*

Would the entire gas station fall more silent than an E.F. Hutton commercial? Whispers aplenty --- "she used a MAN'S card." "What a dyke." "What kind of man is her husband? He oughta set her straight!" "How DARE she?" "Next thing you know, the dame's gonna want to vote."

I wonder if the interest rate was higher or lower on the Ladies' Credit Card? (Probably higher. Much higher. This was the early '70s, after all. I don't think women were even allowed to be out after 5:00 p.m. yet) Did all the bills go to the Family Patriarch to scrutinize?

"Hey, June, explain this one - $4.72 on March 4th. Almost FIVE DOLLARS!!"
"Ward, I let The Beaver, Larry and Whitey each have a Coke when I stopped for gas."
"Not on the Ladies' Credit Card. Don't let that happen again, you understand?"
"Yes, sir."
"Now go put on your pearls and chiffon dress and fix me some supper."

"Gee, Dad, you were a little hard on the Mom, weren't you?"
"SHUT UP, Wally."

*********

"DONALD! My very own Skelly Ladies' Credit Card."
"Yes, Ann. Now don't go gassing up in one place."
"I promise, Donald. I don't even own a car."

*********

"Aw, cheez, Edit' ... stifle yourself and go get gas in the '62 Dart."
"But Ah-chee ... you have the Skelly card."
"Why can't she have a card of her own, Archie??"
"Because women can't handle real credit cards, Meathead!"
"THAT'S NOT TRUE, DADDY!!!"
"Now little girl, you give the dames real cards, then it doesn't stop there. Next, they'll be voting for McGovern. Burning their bras. Practicing lesbianism, witchcraft and leaving their husbands. All because they couldn't take their Ladies' Credit Card and stay in the kitchen."

*********

Today, on The 700 Club ... Pat Robertson traces the downfall of American civilization to the day Skelly discontinued the Ladies' Credit Card. It was the reason Skelly disappeared from the roadside. And it's the reason women have become 'uppity.'

*********

In all seriousness, I have a feeling my best friend, soulmate and sweet wifely one Seraphim would gladly accept a "Ladies' Credit Card" if it would mean she could gas up at 1972 prices. 12 gallons to fill up the Element at 32.9¢ a gallon .... $3.94! If only!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Don't forget my S&H Green Stamps and candy box with fill-up!" Gleck

13 June 2006

Alberto by the numbers

Maximum wind gust in Savannah this evening: 41 MPH.
Winds currently (as of right now, 1120 PM): ~20 MPH, gusts to 30.
Amount of rain today in our backyard gauge:
4.9 inches.
Number of times Talmadge was almost blown off the road: at least half a dozen.
Number of tornado warnings issued today: 9.
Number of close calls: 2.

Yes, two (2). One of the tornado warnings was for Chatham (Savannah), and one actually touched down on Whitemarsh Island .... an area just a mile or two from work as the crow flies.

Also, there were reports of a tornado late this afternoon in Rincon, but it turned out to be toward Guyton, just 10 miles or so from here. There were a few hair-raising squalls within this system, to be sure.

Well, according to weather guru Pat Prokop, "the worst of this is over." Good ... this one was a bit mean. Here's hoping it isn't a harbinger for what's to come.

Ciao for niao.

--Tropical Talmadge

12 June 2006

Now and ZEN

I start with a question, after more than a month of owning my newest MP3 player: Why does it like Don Henley's "New York Minute" so dad-blamed much?? It's come up on shuffle at least half a dozen times. What gives?!?!

Allow me, please, to get all of you up to speed on my MP3 situation ("all of you"?? *snort*, as if I'm addressing a large group of folks hanging on my every typed word....).

In case you don't remember, let me refer you to a past quote from The Gleck Blog Archive (imagine reverb here, as if talking in a long, dark and dank hallway):

"I'm not sure I'm happy with this player, if truth be known. If it weren't this close to our trip to Arkansas, I'd go ahead and return it to Best Buy and change it out for another model (iPod, maybe?). The player delivers great sound and does very well in shuffle mode .... we shall see how it does for the big trip." ("At Long Last", 02/21/2006)

The player in question was the Philips GoGear HDD6330 Jukebox -- 30 GB capacity. I bought it at Best Buy with Christmas Wampum back in December.

The sound was pretty good, the shuffle mode worked well, and it had what I needed - 30 gigabytes of storage, which I wanted as I'd spent months on months converting thousands of songs from my music collection into MP3 format in preparation.

But came the bad points: no tactile function on the controls. It was slow in response, so when I'd fast forward or repeat a track, sometimes it'd go back several tracks. I like tactile on my devices -- I like hearing that *click* which tells me "Talmadge, you've successfully introduced stimuli into your machine to have it go [back/forward] a track." And the color video display window was awfully tiny. (Click the above link for a visual and user reviews)

The volume control was another matter. You had to have it maxed out to 11 just to get a decent sound out of it, be it through headphones or into our cars (our Element has an onboard aux input, and I rigged one for our Civic Hybrid).

And the battery. Hoo-hooooooooooo ..... rated at 15 hours per charge.

Two words: MY ASS. One did well to get 4-5 hours out of this puppy. That's not enough time to get me from my Effingham County home in Jawja to the wilds of Troy, Alabama ... normally a six-hour journey.

At the time I bought the GoGear, it was the only non-iPod MP3 player with that big a hard drive. And, of course, I was blinded by excitement at finally getting my toy.

As the device's shortcomings began raging, fate intervened as I drove to Valdosta to get my son for his Spring Break visit. While on the way back home with Tiger in tow, the GoGear began displaying a white screen. NO audio, just a white screen. I pushed the small reset button and back to life it came. Then, after a pit stop, I turned it back on. White screen again. Only this time, resetting didn't work. And it wouldn't turn off, either. So it stayed nice and white until its lithium-ion battery gave out less than an hour later (ref. "MY ASS" comment above).

It's here that I thanked all the deitys in the Holy Council for having dropped the $39.95 toward the Best Buy product replacement plan. Normally, I think it's a crock, but with a new technology like MP3 players I thought it a small price to pay for "peace-of-mind."

Sooooooo .... I made my claim, boxed up this vile gangrene'd limb and sent it off. Then I waited in vigil for my Best Buy gift card (an ordeal in and of itself - it took damn near a month). And, once that was in hand, I went shopping again.

Early in 2006, Creative Labs had debuted a beautiful piece of MP3 player magic, the Creative Zen Vision:M. 30 GB. Everything the GoGear wasn't. Bigger screen (2.5"), tactile controls (not counting the touch pad in the middle, but that's workable), and more options as to synching with your computer.

Trouble is, there weren't any. Demand outstripped supply. This puppy was the "Tickle Me Elmo" of 2006.

So I waited. And waited. Trips into Best Buy became exercises in futility. I was starting to be known as "the fat, balding Zen Vision guy" around that department. I was this close to breaking down and, head between my hindparts, drop the Best Buy gift card toward an iPod. (nothing against 'em, honest, but Apple makes you buy all the extras, like an AC cord .... you're otherwise stuck charging the device with a USB port, an excruciatingly slow process)

An iPod would've ended up costing me another $40-50 just to get the supplies normally found in non-iPod players. (side gripe: 99% of the aftermarket accessories are made for iPods only - not the Zens or other PC-based players) Oh, and iTunes - while a great way to buy music - doesn't like the MP3 format too well. And that was my format of choice here.

However, impatience was beginning to win. I wanted another MP3 player -- I had nearly 5,000 songs (4,963 to be exact) waiting for playback outside the confines of our computer.

Fortunately, I didn't have to go that route. The sun finally came out on Friday, May 5. The gods sang in Best Buy at about 3:30 p.m. THEY HAD THREE (3) ZEN VISION:Ms IN STOCK!!!

Make that TWO (2); I exited the store with one of 'em.

I loaded all 4,963 tunes -- ranging from Jack Jones to Judas Priest to Johnny Cash -- just in time for a quick road test to Missouri and back the following weekend. She passed with flying colors. My ZEN has a name: "GleckOla Jukebox" ... or, you can call her my "TalPod."

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways -- you can create playlists, edit titles and add or delete content on the ZEN through Windows Explorer (after installing the drivers and Creative software) ... couldn't do that with the Philips; IT required the use of the bloated Microsloth Media Player, a piece of software I revile. You had to synch the Philips using only the WMP. With the Creative, you have options -- WMP, if you choose, or the Creative software, or my favorite: the tried and true DRAG-AND-DROP. Just highlight any MP3 title(s) on your computer and right click, then select "add this file to Creative Zen Vision:M"

Then, BADDA-BOOM! There it is!

Pictures display beautifully on there -- in it I have a full set of my wife's cake pictures to show off to anyone willing to see 'em (and those not). And it renders video fantastically.

... not to mention the new TalPod has a far longer battery life.

Like anything else, it has its drawbacks (what doesn't), but the advantages far outnumber. I wish this were available back in December.

Oh, and just to be on the safe side, I did get the product replacement on this one, too. :-)

That decision took a New York minute.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Just 37 songs shy of 5,000" Gleck

Tropical madness begins!!!

Yee haw! We're not even halfway through friggin' JUNE and already we have a near hurricane on our hands. ALBERTO is flirting with the 74 MPH threshold, and I guess we'll find out at the 11PM update whether we get our first bona-fide 'cane before Father's Day.

The present track has it whittling its way back to a depression by the time the eye tracks right over our house. These kind of systems I don't mind us getting ... what we'll get from this is nothing more than two bushels of rain and a good breeze to go along with it. The rain we need badly in our happy neck of the woods, as our front yards are beginning to turn brown.

Sunday was a day to stay indoors, 'cuz the mercury topped out at 100. That doesn't happen too often along the coast, as the Atlantic tends to put a lid on those three-digit readings.

Still, I can't help but bite my nails. Savannah has dodged bullets for years, especially the last couple. While big storms have slammed into most every part of Florida and the Gulf coast from Florida to Texas ... and the Atlantic from South Carolina to the Outer Banks, Georgia has been largely spared.

In other words, I feel like a contestant on the old game show Press Your Luck ... even though we have a decent geographical advantage (Savannah and the Ga. coast are difficult to hit directly), one of these days -- and it might be this year (!!) -- we're gonna hit the Whammy.

Keep your fingers crossed not just for us, but for all of us! Please pray, one and all, for a miracle that proves all the "hurricane speculators" wrong.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Wonder if a Flokati Rug would protect us?" Gleck

09 June 2006

Come to Marble-Row Country

Today's post of deep introspection, profound inspiration, and advanced staph infection comes in two parts and was inspired by two things: 1) a brief conversation I had with my son last weekend, and 2) a brief post by Nettiemac about losing a friend to cancer.

First, the convo with Tiger. It was at my mother-in-law's birthday party last weekend over in Albany, a/k/a East Pine Bluff, Georgia.

As we all were sitting in the fellowship hall of the church where Seraphim and I exchanged vows over five years ago, Tiger, my FIL and I were watching a tape of Howdy Doody that was playing on the TV (the overall theme of this birthday was knocking the "0" off her age and making it a "6th birthday party" -- and I put together a tape of classic '50s kiddie shows as visual wallpaper). Tiger was getting a kick out of one of the Hostess commercials, for a disgusting product called "Sno-Balls", your typical sponge cake surrounded by chocolate nougat, which surrounded -- you guessed it! -- say it along with me: CREEEEEAMYYYY FILLING!

After the joke about Hostess products being kindred to cockroaches (both are the only things known to be able to survive nuclear holocaust), that commercial sparked a fun discussion about old commercials ... which led to old cigarette spots, something my kid found hard to believe were actually on TV at one time. From there it went to the "counter-commercials", actually PSAs advocating against smoking. By 1967, the dangers of smoking were beginning to catch on, and prior to their elimination in 1971, the FCC mandated a certain ratio of those PSAs to correspond with the amount of ciggy commercials aired.

And brother, those PSAs (Public Service Announcements) pulled no punches. They weren't like the current-day anti-smoking spots produced by the likes of Philip Morris, and required due to the huge tobacco litigation a decade ago (the one that forced an end to the "Joe Camel" character). The ones you see today are dry, boring and basically say "Cigarettes are for grown-ups. Kids, DO NOT SMOKE. They're for adults only!" And Philip Morris knows damned well the psychology driving that message. Even my 14-year-old son could pick up on the mind-game involved here.

Those late '60s anti-smoking spots were devastating. They caused the smoking rate to go DOWN. They were so effective that the cigarette companies were DELIGHTED (!!!) when the FCC instituted the ban on broadcast cigarette ads. 'Cuz most of those PSAs went away with them.

One I can recall from way back when is known as "Like Father, Like Son" -- depicting a Dad and his young boy frolicking on a nice Spring day. Kid is imitating what Dad is doing. Voiceover announcer: "Like father, like son." Dad sits down against a tree for a smoke break. Kid sits down with him. Dad lights up, then puts the pack of coffin-nails on the ground next to him. Kid picks it up and looks intently at the pack. Voiceover again: "Like father, like son .......... think about it."

Actually that was one of the tamer PSAs.

What we need today are more of the sometimes fun but always hard-hitting anti-smoking spots. Don't be preachy. Be humorous. Be irreverent. I'd love to see one involving middle school or early high school kids ... one lights up and all the girls start going "ewwwww!" and his peers start calling him "Yellowteeth", "Ashtray Face" or some other creative name. Equate cigarettes in these spots with eating ones' own boogers and you'll snuff out (heh ... ahem ...) the teen smoking rate five minutes ago. It's time to make cigarettes a social outcast, not something to do to "act cool" or rebel.

I like some of the anti-smoking billboards I've seen. One, which I saw in Alabama a number of years ago, looked like a Marlboro billboard. Old West sunset, two cowboys on their horses, almost in silhouette fashion. One cowboy's head is turned toward the other ... and in that same bold serif font you see in Marlboro print ads today are the words: "I miss my lung, Bob." Damned creative, if you ask me.

Of course, today that same billboard would probably read, "Tell you what -- truth is, sometimes I miss you so bad I can hardly stand it ... I must have you, Marlboro hard pack."

Anyhoo, those old '60s spots were produced mostly by the likes of the Heart Association, American Cancer Society and [inhale] The National Tuberculosis And Respiratory Disease Association, the latter of which changed its name to the easier-on-the-lowest-common-denominator American Lung Association. Back then, it seems, those organizations were on the cutting-edge and full of piss and vinegar.

Today? I doubt they'd be able to step up to the plate. They've all become bloated, self-perpetuating bureaucracies full of people who care more about padding their resumes than those organizations' purported missions.

Talk about a rant waiting to happen.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "It's a matter of (COUGH!) life, (HACK!) and (WHEEZE!) breath" Gleck

07 June 2006

The Seraphim Method

Hi, I'm Brundidge McClure. You might know me from my previous voiceover work with several SCAD student films, one of which you MIIIIIGHT catch Sunday at 2 AM on IFC, and from my longtime work with Encyclopedia Brittanica Films, a wholly-owned division of Sominex. My professional vitae includes:
* "Algebra, Long Division, and Two-Column Proofs: You Can Do Them!"
* "Impressing Girls With Your Knowledge of Algebra, Long Division and Two-Column Proofs"
* "How To Properly Ridicule Uncoordinated People In P.E. And Why It's Swell"
* "Making Thatched Roofs The Easy Way"
* "Outrageous Leg-Slapping Comedy With Ben Stein"
* "The Exciting World of Drying Paint"
* "Watching Grass Grow"

Well, I'm here not in my capacity as The Dean Of EB Film Narrators. I'm here today to talk about my new employer: Seraphim Cake Classes.

Why should YOU learn cake-making from Seraphim Gleck?

Easy.

She's good. Damned good.

And you can learn her method every Wednesday night, starting tonight. She'll be teaching eight (8) fine Savannahians the art of sugar art, grooming the Seraphims of tomorrow.

And speaking for my boss and slave-driver, Talmadge, Seraphim is ....

Wait. I'm not gonna read this.


Yes you are.

This is just plain wrong, Tal. This is mushier than Food Lion brand corn flakes after 3.2 seconds in milk.

I don't care. Read the damned copy, Brundidge.

I will NOT. I'll have no part of your gooey romance with this Seraphim woman. If you two want to make the rest of us sick with your lovey-dovey bullsheyet, leave me out of it.

You will read it, or else it's back to the school filmstrip salt mine with you!

Oh, okay. [mutters] How the hell did I get myself into this?

WHAT WAS THAT????

Oh, er, ah, um, I loved getting myself the hell into this. [AHEM] Here goes: Talmadge is so proud of you. He thinks you're wonderful. That you're awesome. That you'll knock the fondant clear off your yellow cake tonight.

Thank you. Now that wasn't so bad, was it?

Actually, I think I feel my lunch coming back .... where's the bathroom? .....seeya



Well, my apologies for all that drama. The truth is, Seraphim is now a Wilton Cake Instructor and tonight begins her first cake decorating class, teaching it every Wednesday night. I can't say enough how proud I am ... if I could decorate my way out of a paper icing bag, I'd consider taking the class. :-)

Go get 'em, Seraphim. I love you!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Note to self: draft want ad for new voiceover announcer" Gleck