Monday, December 28, 2009

What a Christmas haul for me and mine

2009 'twas a good year and it ended with a great Christmas. I have a lot to be thankful for, in many, many ways ... some of which may not seem obvious or out there for all the world to see (or read about on this raggy little blog o' mine).

Now for some good old consumerism: wow, I thought last Christmas was awesome! This year was just as electrifying: a new HD Sony Videocamera, awesome Wii and Xbox games, plus tons of Blu-rays. The kids got great toys and my favorite gift of all: footie pajamas. Wifey gets her shopping spree and all should be right with the world. Perhaps the funnest part of all the greedy consumer-mania is bundling together all the after-Christmas-returns of the stuff you aren't thrilled with for schwag you can really use.

Return policies are our best friend, true believers! Get out there and support the economy with those gift cards and gift receipts. Here's one of the prizes I netted during happy returns:

Some Cap movie news ... more like crumbs


Captain America Targeted for a June Start (From Superherohype.com)
Source:Fangoria December 28, 2009

Director Joe Johnston, whose next film The Wolfman hits theaters on February 12, revealed to Fangoria that Marvel Studios is planning a June start for The First Avenger: Captain America. The start is mentioned in an article on Johnston taking over as director for The Wolfman:

Principal photography was now less than four weeks away. “By the time I got on a plane and arrived, it was three,” recalls Johnston, speaking from the art department of THE FIRST AVENGER: CAPTAIN AMERICA, which he’s readying for a June start."

Paramount Pictures will distribute The First Avenger: Captain America on July 22, 2011. No cast members have been announced yet.

###

O-dogg says: cast the character already ... unless of course they're thinking about some 40-yr old burnout like Matthew MacWhatsHisFace ... in that case take your time, Marvel. Pick the right guy ... a young guy somewhere in the 20-28 yr old range that can truly play Steve Rogers as closely as he is supposed to be in the origin story.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My 400th Post: Man, I LOVE Christmas Break

I'm floating on a cloud right now. The Christmas tree is lit, Star Wars is on TV, gifts are being wrapped and I have a the lastest Captain America comic book in hand. I'm sipping orange-flavored Sunkist soda with a splash of my favorite spirit (to add some holiday cheer to the mix, true believers).

Earlier, my daughter and I had a lightsaber battle with my life-like Force FX lightsabers (I had red, she had blue ... then we switched and she demanded that Princess Leia is allowed to use a red sword, so I allowed it). After that, I read her a new comic book version of Alice in Wonderland and she was off to bed.

I'm having my cake and eating it too. I had a good day at work, tied up a TON of loose ends and got out of there early enough to beat the insane mall traffic that jams up the parking lot in my office complex. It feels like a weight is off my shoulders and I can enjoy the next 10 days to eat, drink and be merry without work, e-mails, voicemails and everything else that comes along with a corporate gig.

Tomorrow I'm free to enjoy Christmas Eve with just my immediate family ... it's what I've always wanted. My parents have to wait till Friday, the inlaws get Saturday, then I get Sunday for my boys to come over to eat, drink and play with all of our new videgames and Blu-ray movies.

To top this off, I'm ONE WEEK AWAY from being able to exercise again, after an unexpected surgery and recovery. All is right with the world ... thank you Baby Jesus, 3 Kings and dude that allowed Mary and Joe to stay in the manger.

Here is my gift to you, friends. Check out the AWESOMENESS of this fan-made Star Wars video told by some random chick that has kind of, sort of seen Star Wars ... but not really. May the FORCE and CHRISTMAS be with you!

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas, True Believers



'Tis the season for Mexican hot chocolate and store-brand Oreos dipped in fudge.

Yummerz.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jon Gruden: All (The Raiders) have to do is ask


So, I hear that former Raiders coach (and current ESPN Monday Night Football rockstar) Jon Gruden was back in Oakland yesterday to host a reunion for players and staff from his era (1998-2001) at Ricky's Sports Bar.

Supposedly Ricky himself asked Jon if he'd ever consider coaching the Raiders again and Gruden replied "all they have to do is ask." You heard it here first: if Al Davis brings Chucky back, I will have a heart attack. I don't think it'll ever happen due to the largess of Davis' ego against the popularity of the snarling Chucky-look-a-like Gruden.

Here's to a silver & black fantasy: a second time around would be sooooo sweet.

Dream about that, true believers.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Balloons make me happy - THE POSTMARKS

As seen on TV's Yo Gabba Gabba!, the Postmarks with a nice little pick-me-up tune, "Balloons."

I couldn't find the full-on video, as I suppose it's too recent. Oh well, this is better than nothing.

Enjoy.

Heisman Hoax


What a joke. Stanford's Toby Gerhart should've won the Heisman. I'm no Stanford fan, either - I love me some Cal Bears.

I take nothing away from the kid from Alabama, but just look at the stats: Gerhart led the NATION in yards, touchdowns, runs over 10 yards and basically did his biggest damage against the biggest and best opponents. Ingram is from Flint, Michigan, and back in the day, he'd have been a Wolverine ... but there's not a prayer of that type of running back coming to Michigan to play in Rich-Rod's spread offense. Too bad, Michigan used to run the Oakland Raiders offense: power running with two backs, deep passing on the outside with WRs, hit the tight end on 3rd down, move the chains by hitting a full back in the flat with an outlet pass. Now it's all WRs with virtually no room for Tight Ends and Full Backs on the roster.

But enough about the woes of my Wolverines. Here's a hearty congrats to Gerhart, who came in second in the closest race in the history of the Heisman Trophy. Too bad there is so much voting bias around the country, otherwise whe would've won ... and deservedly so.

The rise and fall of N.W.A. - the world's most dangerous group

VH1 is running the dopest documentary about the rise and fall of N.W.A - The World's Most Dangerous Rap Group. Fascinating stuff about the humble beginnings of N.W.A. and how unlikely it was that they came together ... and how they eventually fell apart. Sadly, the documentary ends on the sad note of Eazy E's death from AIDS. It's worth a watch, true believers.



Here's a sneak peak from VH1:



Can't forget about the timeless spoof from Dynamite Hack:

New STAR WARS Game: The Force Unleashed 2


Just as I finally took the time to finish and beat 'The Force Unleashed,' I caught the world premier video for the sequel on Spike TV's Video Game Awards.

Can't wait. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Raiders defeat Steelers 27-24

Eat the Silver & Black shorts, all of you annoying, band-wagon Pittsburgers!

It reminded me of the good old days; the glory days when the Raiders/Steelers rivalry dominated the NFL for years and years. A nice bit of living in the past today ... I'm going to savor every delicious memory.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Saturday morning cartoons and afternoon matinees

When I was a kid, getting up on Saturdays to watch cartoons was like the proverbial fruit at the bottom of the yogurt cup. Nowadays, cartoons are on 24-7 on cable, not to mention OnDemand and the advent of the DVR. So, cartoons as a Saturday treat has really gone by the wayside.

But every now and again, I'll stumble upon something that reminds me of what Saturdays are all about. Take today for, example. I caught one of my all-time favorite flicks from childhood, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure on cable, in HD no less. In the words of first-time director Tim Burton, "it's the perfect movie to watch on TV on a Saturday afternoon." The movie is packed with Burton's signature aesthetics - a make-believe fantasy world full of wonder and all things fantastic. Burton's vision is so clear and well defined, that within 10 minutes, one of my kids asked "Are all the grown ups really kids in this world?"



So, with that, I salute you, Tim Burton. Thanks for making such an enduring classic to be enjoyed while snuggled up on the couch on a Saturday afternoon in December.

With that, I also salute the obscure Captain America cartoons from the 1960s. I used to watch these at 6 am on an even more obscure Asian-language UHF channel back in the 1980s ... and that was long before cable and the VCR (or Beta-Max)!



Just for good measure, here's Hulk and Spidey too:





Ahh, what the heck, here's Iron Man and the Fantastic 4, for your Saturday Morning Viewing Pleasure:





If you really want to dig around, you can find similar YouTube videos for Sub-Mariner and Thor ... meh.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The GREAT Christopher Walken performs "Poker Face"



The man is pure genius, plain and simple. Now that I'm laid up for a week, I'm totally catching up on the gold of the Earth, such as this video and Season One DVDs of: The Transformers, Voltron, Ultra-man, Mad Men and Sons of Anarchy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Appendix Episode


So, it was Black Friday, and there I was at Toys R Us, standing in a line that wrapped around the store. All morning my stomach wasn't quite right and by 2 pm it was getting pretty uncomfortable. Surely, I thought it was just a passing situation due to Thankgiving, beer and playing football the day before.

Not so fast, said my appendix - a part of me I'd never considered until Black Friday.

Needless to say, it needed to get removed, with the quickness. I was admitted to emergency about 9 pm after having spent most of the evening dry heaving and sweating from that funky freezing/burning fever that usually comes with the flu. Anyway, by 9 am Saturday, I was on the operating table and going under. I was on so many meds, all I remember was waking up and they said, "you're all done."

I took a peek down and saw that they took the liberty of giving me a little shave job just below the belly button. I don't know how I feel about that ...

Anyway, I have 3 band-aids, 3 prescriptions and 3 days since I've had a shower. For someone that is used to showering twice a day, I am miserable about it. Oh well, doctor's orders ... which includes no work for a week and no exercise for 30 days! True believers, please pray for me that I don't balloon up to the weight I was carrying before I started working out regularly 2 years ago.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Free at last ...

Today felt like the first day of the rest of my life. I am so at peace and so calm with the positive vibes in my new environment. It's amazing how one change can make such a difference in the quality of life - and it's a change I would make 100 times out of 100.

Today felt so perfect, so picturesque. The sun was bright, and the sky was a perfect blue, not a cloud in the sky. I walked around outside with no jacket, no hat, no scarf, no mittens and without my signature ear muffs. The air was brisk, but not too cold. It was a glorious East Bay day ... just a few days away from Thanksgiving, but it could have passed for Labor Day anywhere else in the country.

Walking around the office today was awesome. The sun seemed like it was shining in on me no matter how much, or where I walked around the building. My mood was uninterrupted all day long. When is the last time that happened? I've been trapped in a negative cacoon for so long, that today I felt like a butterfly breaking through for the first time.

To top it off, the Raiders won yesterday! If only Michigan had beaten Ohio State, I might've taken my chances with the California Lottery. Ahh, who needs the lottery, I feel like a million bucks today - and I think it's going to be that way for the forseeable future.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

'Kick Ass' movie teaser trailer



My guess is 1 in 4 movies are now based on comic books/graphic novels, or cartoons, or toys, or videogames. It's a golden era for geeks, that's for sure.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The airport of life


I am sitting at the far end of Terminal B at the airport. I'm not even sure anyone or any airline flies in and out of this empty, desolate corner. I am lonely ... my soul seems to crave the usual hustle and bustle of a crowded airport ... but there is no one around.

After a week of intense corporate training classes and camraderie, I am drained. Both my mind and body are ... just ... empty. I am 3 hours seperated from being in a room full of 30 type-A personalities. I am 3,000 miles away from my wife and kids. I am in between ... in the solitary void of a New York airport. It feels like pre-holiday purgatory.

I sit in the middle of a long row of non-descript, black airport chairs - you know the type. I stare out into the deep, lifeless void of Terminal B. It stares back. I marvel at the massive, wide, empty space in front of me. The deep, yellow glow of the late afternoon sun highlights my body with flecks of warm light and casts long shadows on the tiled floor.

It feels like I'm staring at the rest of my life - a wide open space to do whatever I want with. What shall I do with this long journey in front of me? Where will I go? When will I go? How will I go? Will I kill some time on the Ms. Pacman arcade game to my right? Will I eat at the pizza place and have a beer? Will I try on some sunglasses? Will I buy a travel pillow for my neck? Will I walk on the conveyer belt on the ground to get to my designated gate just a little bit faster? So many choices ... and nothing but time and space to ponder them.

The more important questions bubble to the surface of my jumbled mind. Will I fulfill my destiny on this Earth journey? Will I ever get to travel into outer space? Will I make it to the dimension most commonly referred to as Heaven, as I've always thought I would? If I do, will all of the secrets of space, time, and the infinite be revealed to me by my Creator? In my heart, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding yes. Every fiber of my being is telling me that if I can just attune myself to the power of the universe, I can unlock whatever destiny I choose.

God has given me many treasures on my journey up to this point - and I have felt his guiding hand throughout life. I may not always understand why some things happen, or don't happen ... but I trust the mystery of it all and look ahead to the future.

Suddenly, I don't feel so alone, knowing that there is a plan for me - and I am complicit in that plan. The wide open space and the light of the setting sun feel comforting now. I'm 30 minutes away from boarding an airplane full of people heading back to California. Back home - home to their loving families and friends. Back to the places and people that make them feel welcome.

I'm now digging around in my pocket for some quarters. I prepare to end this electronic journal entry. Ms. Pacman, here I come ...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Snakes on a plane? Try FISTS on a plane!

I have just witnessed my first fist fight aboard an airplane. To borrow from Peter Griffin: freakin' sweet. The plane landed and there was the usual uncomfortable anticipation before you can wiggle out and grab bags from the overhead compartment. It's a delicate dance to time it just right - you don't want to stand up too quickly, especially if you have the window seat. People get visibly agitated waiting for their turn to grab their stuff and get off the plane ... it's kind of amusing actually. This time, it was extra amusing, to say the least.

I guess quarters got too close and two groups of travelers got on each other's nerves during the overhead compartment tango. A dude and his woman started throwing down with two guys - all the brawlers probably between the ages of 25-35. The less-than-masculine airline attendants were powerless in stopping the battle-for-the-bags. The JFK melee seemed to last longer than the Pacman vs. Cotto title fight last night, it went on for a good while.

What a way to start this trip! It was 7 am Eastern, but still 4 am Oakland time. It got my blood pumping and ready for some sausage and pancakes, mmmm. To borrow from Homer Simpson: mmmm, syyyyyrup. I'm starving. This shuttle ride to the hotel can't go cast enough. Although the Connecticut landscape is fun to look at - all the leaves are red, orange and yellow.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

No one said this would be easy



Today's good o-dogg music brought to you by ... THE POSTMARKS, as seen on TV's YO! GABBA GABBA. Very James Bond, very cool ...
Look 'em up on Facebook, Twitter and all the rest, true believers. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Raiders must fire Tom Cable ... NOW


Perception is reality. Whether these women are out to get Tom Cable or not, court documents and police reports going back 20 years do not paint a pretty picture. Domestic violence is just not acceptable, and this seems pretty damning.

The Raiders will surely lose to San Diego today and then are off for 2 weeks with a bye. It's the perfect time for a clean break and to put an interim coach in place. My goodness, how the mystique of the renegade, outside-the-law Raiders just continues.

Al Davis needs to take control of this situation and then cede control of the team's day to day football operations to a younger, more legitimate football man, such as John Madden. What say you, Raider Nation?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

HBO's BORED TO DEATH ... hardly boring



Love this show. How can you not love it? It's on HBO and features the comic stylings of Jason Schwartzman - the star of one of my all-time favorite flicks, RUSHMORE.



Episode 6, where George and Ray help Jonathan spy on a hooker from craigslist, was pure genius. Where else can you find funny adventures that tie in comic book art, pot, spy gear and prostitution with the comic delivery of a Schwartzman? No where but HBO, I tell you, true believers.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Alien Abuctions ... of THE FOURTH KIND



I am there opening weekend. Can't wait.
Good feature if you have 5 minutes to watch:

Voltron: down with the ro-beast!



Good stuff, true believers.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My life is now almost complete ...

... all I have to do is live another 70 years with my wife, see the Raiders win another Super Bowl, travel to outerspace, and dote on grandchildren as beautiful as my two little munchkins.

Other than that, now that The Sounds have been confirmed to be on Yo Gabba Gabba!, I am fulfilled.

If only they made adult shirts and hoodies of my favorite Yo Gabba monsters ... if only ... //sigh//.

THE SOUNDS in concert = Kick Arse



I saw The Sounds at the historic Warfield Theatre on Market Street last night. The good news was, it was right off the Powell Street BART station, so it was a nice ride door to door from Pleasanton, practically to the front porch of The Warfield. Weather was perfect, as it usually is with the gorgeous and warm Octobers we get here. The bad news was, frakkin' BART runs the last direct train back to Pleasanton at 12:15 am and we had to leave the show early. Oh well, at least we left on a high note: the last song we saw before making a mad dash for the BART station was my all-time favorite electro-pop-rock song, aptly named "Rock and Roll."

The first two opening acts left a lot to be desired. Foxy Shazam was all gimmicks and no substance; the lead singer danced around like a monkey, ate a cigarette, kicked water bottles around and generally made an arse of himself. Semi Precious Weapons was a grown up version of Foxy Shazam, with less gimmicks, but a lot of 70s glam rock schtick including sheer, golden tights and diamond-studded high-heeled boots. It was very "Battle for Milkquarious," and "Velvet Goldmine," to say the least (both flicks worth watching, btw).



Then, Shiny Toy Guns came out and saved the day with a professional set of legit rock songs, including "Le Disco," which was cool to hear in person. If you ask me, "Major Tom," blew the roof off the place and that's where the show really got religion for the crowd. The lead singer's rendition of this classic gave me goose bumps; she sounded like an inter-galactic pixie, belting out the lyrics Earth below us, drifting falling, floating weighless, calling home ... hoooooome ... ho-oo-oo-oo-ome!



Last but not least, The Sounds came out and rocked the bacon, looking, acting and sounding like a legit headliner. It was sweet while it lasted. We went out on a high, having seen "No One Sleeps When I'm Awake," "Midnight Sun," and "Rock and Roll" all in a row. What a show. Too bad we had to cut it short. Thanks BART.

I gotta feeling that I don't belong



Another winner from Apple iPod's line of catchy TV ads, this tune courtesy of Miss Li & Amanda Jenssen's "Bourgeois Shangri-La."

Enjoy.

New Levi's TV Ad Campgain



This is really good stuff. Very inspired effort from Levi's ad agency, whoever they are. I just bought a pair of GAP jeans, but now I'm inspired to make my next pair Levi's because I like what they stand for in these ads: THE PIONEERING SPIRIT OF FREE AMERICANS.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Meet Me Halfway



Wow. A perflect blend of a great song and an awesome Science Fiction/Fantasy video. Fergie's voice is amazing and the space-age visuals are mesmerizing.

Can you imagine a secret portal where you could meet someone "halfway" between your reality and theirs? I just read a book that suggests the human consciousness can actually transport itself outside the body to wherever it wants ... anywhere in the galaxy. The CIA has supposedly been working on this as a form of "remote viewing" for espionage purposes.

Where would you go? What would you do if your consciousness could seperate from your body and go wherever to see whatever?

Who is Dick Whitman?



I propose he is the shadow. Faceless, nameless, lurking deep down where no one can see him - not even his wife, Betty. I wonder if in the work place we are all Don Drapers, hiding and supressing the Dick Whitman of our true being for the sake of corporate decorum. Think about the happy face you put on at work ... just to get through the day, while the Dick Whitman inside you is screaming to get out.

Invest in AMC's Mad Men if you haven't already - it truly is a corporate catharsis of sorts.

Claremont Hotel & Spa Pix

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We are not alone ...

More to come (once I have the time to get deep & philosophical) ...

My 366th Blog Entry: CruZader #2 in living color!



Wow, now I have 1 whole year, plus a day, worth of blogs ... too bad it's taken me like a handful of years to reach this milestone. I know, I know, I've been absolutely sucking at posting updates lately ... not that anyone reads this dreck.

Hopefully I'll have more time to get my blog on in 2010. Happy Holidays, TB'z.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy B-Day To Me (and the munchkin)

My son and I have birthdays about a week apart, with a 30 year gap in between, and yet my little buddy and I are one in the same.

Haven't had any time to blog these days and I certainly don't now, as I'm typing from a phone ... Quasi-tweeting, I suppose.

Oh well, no cake & punch for me, I guess.

Toodaloo, true believers, thanks for checking in.

O-dogg

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Michigan 38, Notre Dame 34 - welcome to NCAA Football, Tate Forcier


Man, I thought Miami beating Florida State on the last play of the game last week was the best game I've seen since Boise State's upset of Oklahoma years ago. Of course I am biased, but Michigan upsetting ND was even better for me.

Freshman QB Tate Forcier was awesome and has probably cemented the job for the next 3or 4 years ... or however long he wants the job. I thought I was amazed by Miami's sophomore QB, JaCory Harris, who is about the same size and just as skinny as Forcier. Both are calm in the pocket and can flat out play the game of football, they both remind me of Jeff Garcia in a way. If only the Raiders' manchild, JaMarcus Russell, had some of the natural instincts of Forcier and Harris ... probably too much to ask for from our 300-lb Baby Huey.

Well, in summary, it's been an awesome ride in college fb, starting with Miami, then followed up with an Ohio State loss, a Cal win and a huge MICHIGAN W!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Happy Anniversary





I haven't been back to the historic Claremont Hotel Resort/Spa since my wedding night. I'm very much looking forward to a relaxing 3-day weekend at this absolute Bay Area treasure, nestled in the foothills between Berkeley & Oakland.

This will be a nice bookend to the visit we recently made to the nearby Dunsmuir Historic Estate/Mansion where we were married. Dunsmuir photos to follow on a future blog entry ...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Disney buys Marvel Comics (aka. Marvel Entertainment)

Wow. I guess it wasn't enough that Mickey Mouse owns ABC, ESPN, Hockey's Mighty Ducks and Major League Baseball's L.A. Angels - now he owns the Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk.

I don't know how I feel about this. On the one hand, would I love to see Marvel characters all over Disneyland, with Marvel-themed attractions and rides? Yes, I would. Would I love to see Pixar pump out some sweet CGI feature films about my favorite comic book heroes? Yes, I would.

On the other hand, do I want to see the Disney logo replace the famous Marvel logo on comics, t-shirt tags and the opening credits of movies? No way, Jose.

We'll see how it pans out ... I just hope Mickey leaves the Marvel brand alone, as they have done with ESPN. Please Uncle Walt, no crappy cross-overs where you use our beloved characters to market to tween girls with some drek like "Wolverine meets Hannah Montana." Gag me ...



Disney to Acquire Marvel for $4 Billion! From: Superhero Hype.Com

Building on its strategy of delivering quality branded content to people around the world, The Walt Disney Company has agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment, Inc. in a stock and cash transaction, the companies announced today.

“This transaction combines Marvel’s strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney’s creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories,” said Robert A. Iger, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. “Ike Perlmutter and his team have done an impressive job of nurturing these properties and have created significant value. We are pleased to bring this talent and these great assets to Disney.”

“We believe that adding Marvel to Disney’s unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation,” Iger said.

UPDATE #1: In a conference call, the companies said that the deals for movies for characters at other studios (Spider-Man, X-Men, etc.) will stay in place under the terms set by Marvel and the other studios.

UPDATE #2: John Lasseter met with Marvel last week about a possible team-up between Marvel and Pixar and got "pretty excited, pretty fast." They say there's definitely an opportunity there.

UPDATE #3: The deal with Paramount Pictures to distribute five films--"Iron Man 2," "Thor," "Captain America," "The Avengers" and "Iron Man 3"--stays in place as well, but Disney would like to self-distribute down the line. "When the time comes we'll take a closer look at it."


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sons of Anarchy Season 2 - coming Sept. 8th on FX


Three words: East Bay Grease.

Hellz Yeah, these are the type of dudes that would roll up to Ricky's Bar in San Leandro to watch a Raiders game or a PPV boxing match. No doubt.

Love the municipal name dropping on this show: Oakland, Hayward, Stockton, Lodi ... they all get love from these leather-clad bikers out of the fictional East Bay town of Charming, Calif.

Got my tickets to THE SOUNDS ... and the Raiders!


I ... am ... pretty ... excited. On this fine Sunday morning, tickets went on sale for The Sounds at the historic Warfield Theatre in San Francisco and I snatched up a pair of duckets with the quickness. Happy belated birthday to me.

In happy-early-birthday-to-me news: I also got a ticket for the Raiders season opener vs. the Chargers on ESPN's Monday Night Football. I can't wait to see Oakland's AFL, throw-back legacy uniforms that will commemorate 50 years of Raiders football here in our fair city.


Woo-hoo, two things to look forward to that will act as the bread of my birthday sandwich. Go Raiders ... and Go Sounds (that sounds funny, no pun intended).

Mad Men on AMC: the secret, tortured lives of Barbie & Ken


I caught the very last episode of AMC's Mad Men Season 2 last year, and found it intriguing enough to watch lask week's Season Premier of Season 3. Can't wait for tonight's Season 3, episode #2.

Through the magic of Comcast's HD OnDemand offering, I'm now enjoying each and every episode of Season 2 ... and golly-gee-whiz, how it all makes sense now. Having watched the last show of last season, I was left wondering how and why Betty Draper cheats on her husband, Don. Noooooooow I get it. Wow.

There is an old saying that men "lead lives of quiet desperation," which is very true of the lead character Don Draper. What becomes painfully obvious is that his actions lead poor, quietly suffering Betty down a dark path of lonely desperation. This show makes ABC's Desperate Housewives look like a crappy, cartoonish soap opera.

Mad Men, set in the glory days of 1960s Madison Avenue, chronicles the lives of prim and seemingly proper advertising executives, including their dark and complicated love lives. Imagine an x-rated, technicolor version of Leave it to Beaver and you have Mad Men ... sans swearing and nudity, plus cigarettes. Trust me, this show doesn't neeed swearing and nudity, otherwise it would be on HBO on Sunday nights - it is plenty graphic and yet exruciatingly subtle.

If you subscribe to the addage "misery loves company," then tune in and jump into the lives of this cast of beautiful 1960s characters that are so full of pain and suffering on the inside.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I AM NOT A ROBOT

This, from Marina & the Diamonds.



This song/video fits in really well with my current obsession (and re-obsession) with "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep," by one of the original titans of Science Fiction, the great Philip K. Dick from right here in Berkeley, Calif. I'm currently reading the 24-part comic book adaptation, which isn't really an adaptation, but a literal word-for-word re-telling of Dick's seminal book. The words are paired with sequential comic book art to complement the story, which is spread out over 24 glorious installments.


The reading of "Androids" has me watching the 1982 film Blade Runner with whole new eyes ... dare I say more vividly open, human eyes now that I have read Dick's brilliant source material?

Here's another vid from Marina & the Diamonds that has nothing to do with Dick, or Blade Runner for that matter, but everything to do with obsessions. Enjoy:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Not much Captain America movie news, but this will have to do ... for now


Louis Leterrier Talks Captain America, Avengers
Source:Los Angeles Times August 10, 2009


The Los Angeles Times recently spoke to The Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier and got quotes about what he's seen of The First Avenger: Captain America and his dream for The Avengers. Here are several clips from the article:

LL: ...I have seen some of the design work they’re doing for Captain America and it looks amazing. It’s a period piece and it’s like “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and with more gadgets...

GB: Well that makes sense, I know Feige and his team turned to Joe Johnston because of his art direction work on “Raiders” and the fact that he directed “The Rocketeer.”

LL: Yes, exactly, so it’s “Raiders” meets "Rocketeer” and “Saving Private Ryan.” It’s going to be so cool.

LL: ...You know, you asked about my dream, I’ll tell you my real dream: To work with Joe Johnston and [“Thor” director] Kenneth Branagh and Jon Favreau and make like a triptych. We do four movies. We release them one a month for the summer. Or even every two weeks or three weeks. And the whole summer would be Avengers summer. So we do it the way they make television shows. One story arc but told in installments by different directors. So all of the directors that touch part of the Avengers world would do a part; we could make the movies shorter, maybe less than an hour and a half, and we use the same sets and save Marvel money. I would love to sit around a table with all of them a kick around the story. That’s my dream.

###

Werd up, Louie. Avengers summer ... schwing!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Phantogram: MOUTHFUL OF DIAMONDS



UPDATE #2: LYRICS (partial anyway).

You've got a mouthful of diamonds
and a pocketful of secrets.
I know you're never telling anyone
because the patterns they control your mind.
Those patterns take away my time ...
Hello,
Goodbye.
(Chorus)
Pack your bags and leave.
I wish i could believe.

UPDATE: After succesfully e-mailing the band, an EP CD is on the way to Casa de O-dogg. Tight ...

SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK! Enjoy the Phantogram beats & lyrics, true believer. You can find this dynamic duo on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and all the rest. Look 'em up & hook 'em up, along with the Noisettes. O-dogg recommended.

My new favorite brand/fashion/Blog/Web site: OAKLANDISH


In summary, Oaklandish represents what I've been struggling to properly express my whole life: an intense sense of pride in the City of Oakland and its surrounding East Bay suburbs.

See for yourself at the Official Oaklandish Blog and Web site.

My own private Oaklandish fashion show is coming soon to the O-dogg Blog, true believers. If you enjoyed the Rorschach fashion show, you will love this one. Adios Amigos.

Bad Veins - GOLD AND WARM


Even if you don't like the song, the video is interesting to watch.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Noisettes: NEVER FORGET YOU



This is different. It's like 1960s Detroit MoTown meets modern-hipster-indie rock.

Much like Phantogram, the record has been released outside of the U.S., but we are stuck waiting for a domestic offering that is affordable.

Oh well, thank gooTness for YouTube (and its parent company Google, and its possible parent organization THE NEW WORLD ORDER, which is secretly run by really rich dudes that belong to a Web of secret societies featured on such bastions of truth like The History Channel, available in HD!).

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Raiders Training Camp Notes from Napa, Calif.

Darrius Heyward-Bay is sucking it so far ... big time. Javon Walker looked sharp in rehab drills after looking like a dud all of last year. Between these two guys, if we can get 90 catches, 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns, I don't care who steps up and who gets relegated to the role of one-dimensional WR, ala James Jett.



Walker ascends, DHB struggles

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

Wide receiver Javon Walker, who two days before talked talked with unbridled optimism about his health and claimed to be in the prime of his career, looked to be at least something approaching that as he put on a show with a member of the Raiders athletic training staff.

Walker ran at what looked to be full speed with an effortless glide. He ran short and intermediate patterns, at one point reaching back on a short crossing route and snatching a pass with his left hand without slowing down.

He ran patterns 25 to 30-yard downfield, reaching out and catching the ball at his highest point with good acceleration. Walker dropped exactly one pass that I saw during a drill in which he ran directly forward at the passer on a controlled run.

After the pass-catching was done, Walker was jumping over a series of obstacles set in his path with explosive leaps, showing no sign of a limp. He then jumped and twisted over each obstacle, a drill which would surely cause some pain to a defective knee.

Instead, Walker appeared buoyant as his session concluded, taking off on a run to join his teammates on the field for the end of practice.

When it comes to Walker, I’ve been one of the biggest skeptics since the moment he signed during free agency last year. Now I’m curious and cautiously optimistic.

If the Raiders suddenly have a physical veteran receiver who could get 50-plus catches, 800-plus yards and get in the end zone, it’s a huge bonus. And frankly, a bargain, considering he renegotiated his contact downward to $4.6 million over the next two years.

– Meanwhile, rookie No. 7 overall pick Darrius Heyward-Bey struggled to catch the ball, at one point leaving three catchable passes on the ground, one time punting a drop into the air in frustration. Keep in mind none of these plays came against defenders. That won’t happen until Monday’s first padded practice at 3:30 p.m.

Heyward-Bey gave his Rickey Dudley impression in the presence of Al Davis, who was driven over in a golf cart to talk to Heyward-Bey afterward. Also present was wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal.
###

The Dragonettes: FIXIN TO THRILL

Fixin To Thrill


Here's a funky new one that's sure to thrill.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Sounds: HOME IS WHERE YOUR HEART IS



LYRICS from THE SOUNDS

There was a place in my hometown where I use to wander
Above the trees I saw a big black cloud of thunder
Summer rain in my face like snowflakes falling from space
It was so beautiful, and then I passed the mountains
I went coast to coast, and from star to star
That's how you learn, just who you are

[Chorus]
Home is where your heart is
Find where you belong, start to take control, show a little soul
Then you feel who you are
Home is where your heart is
Find where you belong, start to take control, show a little soul
Then you feel who you are

There was a time I couldn't see myself growing older
But then I went for a walk when I came back I was so much taller
Maybe try to find something that I could be part of
But I decided to leave, and then I crossed the river
I went coast to coast, and from star to star
But that's how you learn, who you really are

[Chorus:]
But I leave you with a kiss, there's so much more than this
When you know who you are


Oh, what you know, stop to think
Start to feel, and then you'll heal
You got to rise to the occasion, you got to read between the lines
Then maybe you'll find, who you are inside
When I look into your eyes, I feel what you feel
Come take my hand, let's go for a swim

[Chorus:]
But I leave you with a kiss, there's so much more than this
When you know who you are

New music from: the MAGIC WANDS

WARRIOR



BLACK MAGIC




The hits keep coming, true believers. This is the blog that pays you back with the gift or bacon-rockin' music, not that Top 40 **** found on the Ryan Seacrest radio show, or playing over the Muzak system in your local hair salon. If the O-dogg Blog was a live music bar, you'd be shakin' it here every Saturday night. What? Just like Milli Vanilli: you know it's TRUE.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Into the time warp with: THE MUTT HUT




I'll make this quick, because it's almost Saturday night and I've got stuff to do!

As you may know, I am absolutely fascinated by timeless places. The types of places that have been around for decades without remodeling or keeping pace with modern times. The MUTT HUT in San Leandro is just such a place. It has been selling hot dogs near East 14th St and Washington Blvd for decades without a single re-model, paint job or change to their business model. It is a funky little place with outside benches that has been slangin' dogs the same way forever.

Other places like this include Val's Burgers in Hayward, Fenton's Ice Creamery in Oakland and that old, brick McDonald's on Thornton Ave in Fremont.

Here's a toast to old-school places that refuse to go all Twitter with their way of doing business! May you find your own local time warp and reminisce about the days before texting, mp3s and mindless blog chatter.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Watchmen Exhibit @ SF Cartoon Art Museum

And now for some happier news in the land of O-dogg:


I got to see a WATCHMEN exhibit at the SF Cartoon Art Museum. It was SO sick! Not only was there original pencil sketches, thumbnails, pin ups and inks from artist Dave Gibbons ... there were TONS of movie props and full size costume exhibits. There were three mannequins sporting the official costumes of Rorschach, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre.


The props were amazing: the heroes' weapons, framed newspapers, medals of honor, books, Kovac's "The End is Nigh" sign and the infamous Tijuana Bible featuring Sally Jupiter. There was cool concept art for the movie and posters/paintings that were featured or supposed to be featured in the open credits of the film. I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot, but man was it sweet. Glad I caught it in time before the exhibit leaves town.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Where are they now? Jake Lloyd - aka. young Anakin Skywalker from Episode 1



TEN YEARS LATER.

Poor kid. I do have some sympathy for him - the maturity-level of the script, dialogue and direction were not up to par in The Phantom Menace. Especially when you contrast Episode 1 with like, The Empire Strikes Back or Revenge of the Sith.

Anyway, I've been reflecting a lot on my life in 10-year increments and this seems to fit my nostalgic mood of late. Ten years ago I was fresh out of college, living in Texas for a short time as I tried to launch my TV News career as a sports reporter. In the summer of 1999, Star Wars Episode 1 mania was in full swing and I was full on into it, just like all of the other hardcore fans.

I feel like I finally grew into manhood that year I was in Texas. I was on my own for the first time, much like when young Anakin left his mom to become a Jedi, and I was struggling to figure out who I was going to be for the rest of my life. A decade later, after many Star-Wars-like adventures, I think I finally have it figured out! And yet, as I write this blog, I look down and I am wearing the very same Darth Maul t-shirt I bought way back in 1999, when Star Wars came back to theatres with a vengeance.

Some things never change ... wonder where I'll be in 2019 ... perhaps blogging about Star Wars and wearing a 20-year-old Darth Maul t-shirt?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Here I come again, Battlestar Galactica



I never thought I'd be interested in owning Battlestar Galactica on DVD. But now that they are offering the entire series on BluRay disc, with over 70 hours of extras and some unrated special episodes ... I am very tempted to revisit this saga.

The perfect quality of BluRay and widescreen viewing will be so huge compared to those first few seasons I watched on standard definition before SciFi broadcasted in HD. That alone would be worth it. It's a pretty safe bet I'll be diving in head first again.

BSG for frakkin' ever!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Get well, MCA - I hope the Beasties come back stronger than ever

Beastie Boy MCA (Adam Yauch) has cancer in or near his throat, forcing the b-boys to cancel their concerts and delaying the release of their newest album, The Hot Sauce Committee. I am bummed that I won't get to see them at the Outside Lands Music Festival in S.F. next month, but hey, it's not a matter of life and death. Much love to MCA and I hope he heals quickly.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

LESSONS LEARNED: Want what you have, nothing more


It's funny how a few deep breaths can change your whole disposition and outlook on life. I recently decided to take some time to calm down and level-set after stressing out over some huge challenges I will face over the next 60-90 days.

I took my determined [child] out for a doughnut and chocolate milk. We sat there on the bench outside of the [grocery store] and just ... sat there. [The child] ate and enjoyed. I just ... enjoyed the perfect blue sky, warm weather and soft breeze. It was so rare an occasion ... I was doing nothing, and enjoying it.

I was relaxed and I harkened back to some recent lessons I'd learned in a book called "The Book of Secrets" by Deepak Chopra. I kept telling myself "I want nothing more than what I have right here, right now, in this moment." In those moments I didn't think about promotions, and money, mortgages and new cars. I simply was.

One of the many tenants in Chopra's book is about the prisons of suffering we all build for ourselves based on past experiences and belief systems that hold us in a virtual vice grip. The book recommends to simply take life as it comes and react moment to moment, rather than rely on pre-programmed responses and reactions. It's tough to do, believe me. Sustaining peace 24/7 is a state of grace only God can achieve ... not even our crusty friend Yoda can maintain a permanent level of serenity.

So, I was tested in my moment of temporary serenity. I went home and discovered that I'd left my wallet at the grocery store, probably on that bench. The first reaction was panic and self blame for allowing myself to get too relaxed and distracted.

Then I remembered Chopra's lesson about not allowing things to define us - things like i.d. devices and crutches like driver's licenses, corporate security badges, credit cards, cash and all other things found in a wallet.

I tried to calm down, but I've lost my wallet before and it sucks. I've lost my credit card like 4 or 5 times in the last 9 months and that has sucked too. Although I was racing to get back to that parking lot and that bench, I tried to slow myself down on the inside.

As if controlled by karma and good vibes from my calmness earlier in the day, a magical scene unfolded in front of me as if in slow motion: the store manager at the grocery store walked right at me, wallet in hand, and before I could finish my sentence about "did anyone turn in a ..." he handed me my wallet, smiled and kept walking.

99 times out of 100, that doesn't happen to me. Why did it happen this time? Me thinks it was the power of the mind and allowing life to come to me. 'Nuff said.

NO ONE SLEEPS WHEN I'M AWAKE


Our good friends, The Sounds, also performed this on Letterman. Metric is scheduled to appear on Letterman this Friday as well, as I think they taped their performance yesterday. Lookin' forward to it, true believers.

LYRICS

I've seen people losing all of their faith
before they knew what they were looking for
I swore I'd never ever do it again
till this day

Words are all I have to give to you
you never seem to see it my way
Standing in the shadows I hear
people say

I've got confessions to make
listen up
no one sleeps when I'm awake

The dreams I dream
the song I sing for you
they're coming from my heart
is my message getting through?
You know it hurts so bad
just like i knew that it would
but I'd do it again
do it again if I could
do it again if I could.

I don't think you know what it's like
you should be careful what you're wishing for
and try to set your ego aside
you will find
a false piece of mind
you fall behind
and everybody's getting tired of you
standing in the shadows i hear
people say

I've got confessions to make
listen up
no one sleeps when i'm awake

The dreams I dream
the song I sing for you
and they're coming from my heart
is my message getting through?
You know it hurts so bad
just like i knew that it would
but I'd do it again
do it again if I could

Hey heeey heeey
i want you to know (know know know...)
hey hey heeeeeeeeeeeeey heeeeeeey

Cause the dreams that i dream
and the songs that i sing
when I lost myself and a different meaning
Shot down and post, imagine although it's
hundreds of dreams
Taking place around you

It hurts so bad
just like I knew that it would
but I'd do it again, I'd do it again if i could.
but I'd do it again, I'd do it again if I could.

I'd do it again
I'd do it again
I'd do it again
I'd do it again if I could!

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Beasties and [me]: S.F. Concert locked down

Oh yes, gots my tix for the Beastie Boys @ Golden Gate Park for the Outside Lands Music Festival at the tail end of summer. It is going to rock the bacon!

Last time I saw them was at the Oakland Coliseum Arena way back in like, 1999 or 2000. I can't wait to see my boys doing their thing live. Hopefully they will bust out everything from Licencse to Ill all the way up to their unreleased Hot Sauce Committee.

Two things are for sure, 1) this show will be anything but weak sauce and 2) my love affair with these three [religious ethnic group] rappers continues.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Metric: GIMME SYMPATHY



I can't believe this song, as well as 'Sick Muse' and 'Help I'm Alive,' all came off the same album. Enjoy:

Get hot, get too close to the flame
Wild, open space
Talk like an open book
Sign me up
Got no time to take a picture
I'll remember someday all the chances we took
We're so close to something better left unknown
We're so close to something better left unknown

I can feel it in my bones
Gimme sympathy
After all of this is gone
Who'd you rather be?
The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
Oh, seriously
You're gonna make mistakes, you're young
Come on, baby, play me a song
Like, "Here Comes the Sun"
Come on, baby, play me a song
Like, "Here Comes the Sun"


Don't go, stay with the all-unknown
Stay away from the hooks
All the chances we took
We're so close to something better left unknown
We're so close to something better left unknown

I can feel it in my bones
Gimme sympathy
After all of this is gone
Who'd you rather be?
The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
Oh, seriously
You're gonna make mistakes, you're young
Come on, baby, play me a song
Like, "Here Comes the Sun"

Gimme sympathy
After all of this is gone
Who'd you rather be?
The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
Oh, seriously
You're gonna make mistakes, you're young
Come on, baby, play me a song
Like, "Here Comes the Sun"
Come on, baby, play me a song
Like, "Here Comes the Sun"
Come on, baby, play me a song
Like, "Here Comes the Sun"
Come on, baby, play me a song
Like, "Here Comes the Sun"

Be My Lover ... or Beat My Lover?



Wow, this song is a lot more violent than I thought it was. Ouch:

This night calls for another man's death
Imagining things I'm a paranoid mess
Breaking down in a place like heaven
Got a call for a drinking lesson
Need some time to wake up
Time to clear your mind
Time before you erupt
Need someone before you screw up

Oh mother please let me know
I'm calling home from way up the road
I need my pride by my side
I need my pride by my side

I know you wanna to beat my lover
I know you wanna beat, beat my lover
you've nowhere to go
Now you're bleeding through every door

Symbolic gesture for a card in your hand
Shake it up with the cake in the sand
I want more money than a bank can hold
And all the things I've already sold
Need some time to wake up
Time to clear your mind
Time before you erupt
Need someone before you screw up

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Captain America says: Happy 4th of July

Does anyone care? Does anyone care that it's Al Davis' and George Steinbrenner's birthdays today - probably not? Will anyone actually eat hot dogs and apple pies today? Will anyone tip a 40 oz beer to the fallen soldiers in the Middle East? Does anyone agree that Obama needs to grow a pair and put Iran and North Korea in their places? Does anyone miss the America of generations past, where borders, language and culture were more clearly defined and embraced?

Does anyone need an excuse to drink a cold one today? If so, think about the price paid for the freedom to drink that cold one - the price paid by the founding fathers and by the vets of WWII and the Gulf Wars.

God bless, true believers ... wherever or whoever you are.

Here comes the sun ...


Metric keeps banging out the hits with "Gimme Sympathy."

Anyway, this Web site says it all, I LOVE METRIC.COM. Enjoy, true believer. Better yet, get out and buy the newest album, Fantasies, available in stores or at the aforementioned Web site, which offers exclusive bonus tracks, downloads and art. Killer.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Imperial Death Star sighted over streets of San Francisco

Death Star Over San Francisco

This ... is ... awesome. [Me] likes very much.

I ... give ... up ...

Snoop Dogg says it best (with a minor edit from [me]): Too much drama in the L-B-C, it's kinda hard being O-D-O-DOUBLE G!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Captain America: REBORN #1 is off-the-charts good

Wow. I am still reeling from the sit-in-my-car-and-read-a-comic-book-during-lunchtime exercise I just finished. Normally, I wait till I get home at night, or even a few days before I read new comics. Not today. Reborn #1 waits for no man, the O-dogg included.

Let's just say the last two-plus years of writer Ed Brubaker's boring, drawn-out conspiracy theory storylines on the flagship 'Captain America' title have finally paid off. I give credit to the story jumping off the pages of Reborn #1 to artist Brian Hitch, who draws the most beautiful, photo-realistic art you will ever find in a comic book.

I could go on and on, but I'll summarize my enthusiasm for Reborn #1 like this: the appeal of Captain America has always been that he is a man out of time. He's a WWII legend that gets frozen in time, frozen in ice, for decades, and awakens in modern times to a new world he doesn't understand and a cynical world that doesn't understand him and his 1940s values. The more recent incarnations of Captain America have him waking up around the year 2000 - after almost 60 years of inanimation. So, in the current storyline, Brubaker hatches a plot twist that is the literal inverse, the absolute mirror image of the classic man-out-of-time plot device. If you understand what that means, sorry to spoil it for you - if you don't, then do not Google the word "reciprocal."

Reborn is frakkin' brilliant and it finally has me intellectually aroused and ready to embrace anything that brings Cap back from the dead. I am so ready for a re-birth and life after two years of yearning. 'Nuff said.