What Does it Take to Get a Menu Around Here?

Is there anyone else out there that has a gripe about this?

At Christmas, we purchased a Blu-Ray player. I suspect that we aren’t the only ones to do this and while still relatively new, there is enough content out there to justify having one (although I will admit that the discs are still too pricy – thank goodness for Netflix!).

So I decide to rent one of my more recent favorite movies, the remake of “Casino Royale” starring Daniel Craig as James Bond. I’m excited because, unlike a lot of movies that are being released in the BD format, this was filmed with high-definition cameras, making it a true high definition picture on the smaller screens that can handle 1080p resolutions.

The problem that I seem to run into has been an age-old one since commercial VHS tapes were introduced to the consumer: the movie studios insist on placing trailers for either upcoming new films or soon-to-be disc releases. Disney, in the past, was particularly guilty of this practice with their tapes and DVDs, and it seems that the other studios have begun embracing it on a more prevalent frequency.

You WOULD think that it would be as easy as depressing the “Disc Menu” button or the “Title Menu” button on the remote to bypass this. Foiled again! All I get in response to this is the little red circle with a slash through it in the upper right corner of the screen. So I have to plod along, using the “Forward Skip” button five or six times until the main menu finally appears and I have wasted a microscopically (but utterly irritatingly) small amount of time to get to where I want to be.

I’m not sure if this is the studios way of being “in control” but come on, already!

First off, I will usually view the trailers that are available on a new disc, when I get them, but 2-3 years down the line, when I want to watch the video again for my own enjoyment, I have no desire to re-watch those damn trailers! And then, half the time, they are for movies I have absolutely no interest in, which makes this all the more irritating!

So I put it out there in the electronic universe: To all movie-releasing studios! PLEASE stop this inane practice! I’ll watch your trailers on the “special features” part of the menu, but I abhor being “force-fed” this stuff when I pop the disc into my player! Gimme my menu!

Or else…check please!


Bloggers…Bloggers Who Need Bloggers…Are We the Luckiest?

This blogging phenomenon is pretty damn cool!

Just give people a forum to express themselves and you’ll find that there is a whole new world of…well, for lack of a better word, entertainment out there. And I don’t use the word to belittle or besmirch (hehe—THERE’S a $3 word for ya!) those that take the time out of their day to put thought to the virtual page. In a way, it sort of validates who we are as an individual and I’m finding it so very liberating.

Of course, there is a lot of pure rubbish out there too. Some people are truly out of their minds with the stuff they fill the internet with. Cyber-trash. I suppose it’s no different than surfing the almost 200+ channels of satellite television just to return to the same 5 or 6 channels that I used to watch when I only had 20 or 30 to choose from in the first place. I’m sure it’s very easy to get caught up in it all too.

When I was first made aware of MySpace, I thought “Wow! That is such a cool idea!” A place where I can literally make my own site, fill it with all kinds of decorations and goodies and things, but mostly just junk! I made some new friends there, I learned about old friends there and I reconnected with people I hadn’t even THOUGHT about in years—maybe even decades—there.

Then people started talking about Facebook. It was a more simplistic device; it had a more intuitive ability to connect the people, places, events and hobbies together, but in a form characteristic of CNN’s Headline News rather than The Situation Room. And jumping into the fray, I too, connected with more people, my family, my long-ago friends, my newly-met friends and people with similar interests.

Somewhere in the past year, though, it has evolved into something a little more like banner ads and pop-ups on the web, rather than real information I cared about. Who gives a rat’s ass that Susie planted a new virtual flower in her new virtual flowerpot in “Gardenville” or that Rickie became a level 59 vampire in the continuing saga of “Sucker Wars!” I mean, come on people!

That’s not to say that I am not guilty—I am, but I have become ever sorrier that I am these days. I still use the old Facebook (I even advertise my blog on it, to the chagrin of probably everybody I know there, but whaddyagonnadooo?

Don’t really know why Twitter is gangbusters at the moment. To me it is a twisted combination of cell phone texting and the old “ticker-tape” stock quotation machines…and everybody is just keeping close tabs on Ashton Kutcher’s every move…like he’d have any idea who any of the over one million Twits he boasts are following his every move, hanging on his every word. As my friend Michele would say: Really? (Insert a huge dose of sarcasm to that “Really” and you’d know what I am talking about!)

I’m not sure I am smart enough to answer that question to any degree of accuracy or expertise. But I think that we, as a society, may be evolving into a new species. Technology has forever altered not only what we say and when we say it, but also how we express it, where it gets heard…and interestingly, we have no idea who is “hearing us.”

Some of us place our hearts on our sleeves and expose our inner selves for the entirety of humanity to ingest, unaware of any unintended consequences that might result of it. Others have really nothing at all to say—they just want to be heard and will say anything to accomplish it. Still others try to educate; to contribute to the ever-expanding human consciousness and knowledge of pretty much every subject imaginable. It boggles the mind because it truly is the absolute definition of the human species—to create and be creative.

Imagine what our lives would be like if no one imagined anything new…!

So why do I blog? It’s a pretty basic premise for me. This is where people will truly learn who I am. While I may post moronic, sophomoric rubbish from time to time—that’s me (I get this from my family—if you ONLY knew!)—this is where I can create, dream, relish, long, hope, cherish, despise, abhor, admonish—this is where I can be real, and therefore validated.

I blog…therefore, I think I might just really be!

All hail…Conan…the Conqueror?

Sadly, it’s the end of an era in late night television in the United States…at least it is for me (I can’t speak for the rest of America tonight).

I still remember my curiosity the night I first watched this “so-called” replacement of David Letterman, who left the NBC network when he was passed over for the “Tonight Show” gig for stand-up comic Jay Leno. Conan O’Brien?? Who the…what the…huh? I can still remember Conan’s first shows and how uncomfortable he seemed, but he usually ran with it, no matter how bad things seemed. By the end of the first year, I was hooked.

Over time, his signature bits (“In the Year 2000,” “Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog” among others) always made me laugh, and made it worth waiting up for. Although his humor was pretty much lost on my parents, to me, he was fresh, original and it always made me wonder what he was going to do next.

So as I sit here watching his final “Tonight Show” performance, I feel like something is really over. Although Leno makes me laugh, his kind of humor is more “yuck, yuck, yuck” and not the true “belly laugh” humor that I tended to get from Conan’s sophomoric slapstick and self-deprecating barbs (I think my sister Susan would agree!).

So I wanted to just take a few paragraphs in my personal blog tonight to say “Thanks, Conan, for making me laugh, for putting a smile on my face pretty much every night and congratulations for sticking it to NBC!”

I’m looking forward to his next project when he’s finally allowed to take off his legal collar and start up the REAL “Tonight Show” in the fall.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Fog…

Commuting to work is usually a hassle, and sometimes it can be a real nightmare.

That was my day today. But in the midst of all the commotion, delays, flight cancellations and the public bouncing off the walls and each other, an odd, but humorously ironic thing happened that I’m not sure many people even noticed.

I don’t have to tell you that the people of Southern California have been hit hard these past few days with Amazonian-style rainfall, thus the reason for all the airline problems. Normally, I would just fly straight into San Francisco (where I am based) from Salt Lake City, but on occasion, I am faced with being a bit more creative in my routing, especially since my own airline has drastically reduced non-stop flight frequencies to SFO. So tonight, I was forced to use my SLC-LAX-SFO routing. And getting the connection to work was starting to get really hairy, since the aircraft I was taking to LA was delayed coming in from Chicago.

Needless to say, I got on the flight and upon arrival to LAX, we were forced to sit in the “penalty box” (as they call it – an area where the plane is forced to await further movement instructions from Air Traffic Control [ATC] due to an unavailable gate, or simply congestion). Our gate was occupied and there were no others available. And it was obvious why – everything there was soaked and it was still coming down.

At last, our gate opened up and we snaked our way through the throng of other planes waiting for the same thing. Lucky for me, my next flight was scheduled to depart out of a gate just adjacent to the one I had arrived at. I walked over, snatched my seat assignment from the CSR and then waited for boarding to commence (it’s also delayed because the crew arrived late, which has been the story of the day in LA). As is typical with the very quirky Los Angeles scene, the gate area is filled with businessmen and women, executives, and of course the very self-important “Hollywood-types” all buzzing around on their iPhones or Blackberries, speaking louder than is necessary, either working some deal or complaining about the airlines.

As I stand to the side, I am watching everyone in the area and no one is just listening. How can you really, with all the PA announcements and the iPods and the cellphones and the yakitty-yak-yak-yak of the people…but no one is just listening—except me.

Los Angeles International Airport, terminals 6, 7 and 8 are blessed to have music pumped into its airspace by the silky-smooth sounds of MUZAK. Any and every song imaginable can be heard from those speakers—I swear, I have even heard the Stones’ “Start Me Up” AND Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” in orchestrated splendor from this innocuous company! But tonight, someone over at the “Elevator Music Capital of the World” must have been trying to send a little smile across a listener’s face—and their mission was accomplished with me.

For amongst all the droning and whining and yapping all around me, the sultry, reticent melody of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” gently swept the airwaves of LAX. And though I looked around and noticed that no one else had taken notice, a tiny smirk appeared on my face and I looked out the window, grateful they hadn’t played Albert Hammond’s “It Never Rains in Southern California!”


Do you speek “Gleek”?

Over the past few years, I have only gotten just a little bit excited about very few television shows. Most of my current TiVo regulars are guilty pleasures comprising (mostly) of reality TV: Project Runway, Biggest Loser, So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Got Talent, American Idol and most recently, Bravo-TV’s Tabitha’s Salon Takeover. Of the mainstream episodic genre, very little has piqued my interest since Friends and Will & Grace left the small screen. Some of the hopeful shows that I showed interest in have sort of vanished, like Flash Forward, V, and The Vampire Diaries.

Since I don’t subscribe to Premium Networks, I usually have to view shows like The Tudors, True Blood and Dexter through Netflix or borrow a friend’s copy. And about the only other show I watch with any regularity is Family Guy (“something…something…something…Dark Side!”).

Enter Glee.

The cast of Glee as 'New Directions'

This show, unlike so many others, grabbed my attention the first time I saw a teaser trailer for it during 2009’s American Idol contest. Then Fox pulled a genius move! They screened the pilot episode immediately after the AI finale. I was drawn in, thinking this would be a new breakout show to help ease the pain of the dreadful summer TV doldrums. Not so fast, suckers! Watch for new episodes starting in September! You bastards!

The road to “Sectionals” was fun, exciting, and it kept me wanting more…with “Sectionals” over, now wait for April for the next installment! You bastards!

Ok, so you won a Golden Globe for Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy! Now I guess I have to give you some slack for that body blow that is the almost 4 months I have to wait for a new episode to air. But, undaunted, I scour the web looking for hints and tidbits of what’s in store for the journey towards “Regionals!” And today, I wasn’t disappointed!

It seems that, upon his win at the Globes Sunday night, Executive Producer Ryan Murphy let it slip on some very interesting insights. I’m sure he’s just bursting to let the cat (or cats, perhaps) out of the bag, especially since Glee has been picked up for Season 2 this coming fall. And, not surprisingly, Fox TV has kept a very tight lid on the entire show, seeing as how the buzz for the show is growing exponentially!

Jane Lynch as 'Sue Sylvester'

Due to some very slick questioning of Murphy, Entertainment Weekly’s Michael Ausiello is reporting that Madonna has opened her catalog to the show and they are currently filming a “mega production number” show, with upwards of TEN musical numbers, including a performance by Coach Sylvester (Jane Lynch) doing “Vogue!” Speaking of Sue, she is also slated to do something with Olivia Newton-John and “Physical.”

Apparently Glee is the darling of Hollywood and everyone is having their agents contact Murphy to be a part of it, including Jennifer Lopez (Murphy says she’d be perfect as a “lunch lady” in the school cafeteria!). And it seems that Co-Executive Producer, Brad Falchuk, is dying to get Bruce Springsteen involved in some capacity, although there is no “official” talks between Glee and the Boss at the moment.

Lea Michele & Mark Salling as 'Racheal & Puck'

Apparently too, to the great surprise of the entire production staff, the coupling of Rachel (Lea Michele) and Puck (Mark Salling) produced so much positive feedback that the writers are working to bring them back together, perhaps in a more serious take.

Chris Colfer as 'Kurt Hummel'

And speaking of tie-ups how’s this for a huge change from the typical stereotype: Kurt (Chris Colfer) will find true love and he and his new love interest will be the Power Couple of the show, or as Murphy puts it, “Prom King & King.”

The great thing about this show is that there are so many different storylines and dynamics hitting you all at the same time that you are constantly going, “okay, now I wonder what they are going to do to solve THIS issue!” AND you look forward to how they deal with it! How will Quinn (Dianna Agron) deal with being thrown out of her family’s house AND the rejection of Finn (Corey Monteith) who she’s currently living with, and will she keep the baby after all? How will Will (Mathew Morrison) and Emma (Jayma Mays) deal with their newly budding romance, while Will’s soon-to-be-ex-wife Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig) struggles to deal with losing her “meal ticket?” And probably most of all, how will Sue (Lynch) deliver on her promise to destroy Will and get back her beloved Cheerios?

It’s gonna make for a great second-half of Season One and April seems like light years away! Until then, I’ll have to make do with American Idol, the Winter Olympics and Project Runway.


Let the sun shine…let the sunshine in!

If there is one thing that keeps me pumped up and excited to live in the Rocky Mountain west of the United States, it’s gotta be the weather. I am not a huge winter fan at all, and extended stretches of cold, grey winter days can really do a number on my psyche. But it’s days like today that make it all worth it.

Those who live in the Wasatch Front area of Utah understand days like today. For the last 5-6 weeks, we have been kind of stuck in the typical December-January inversion—the cold air staying on the valley floors, trapped there by the high pressure warmer air; so many folks will spend a day or two up in the Park City area just to warm up and get a breath of fresh air.

When the inversion plagues our valleys, there is no doubt that the air quality can actually get worse than Los Angeles! Those of us with asthma really suffer during this time of year. But 5-6 weeks of this nastiness, compared to 44-45 weeks of pure fresh mountain air is really worth the sacrifice. Last night, a huge wind, rain and sleet storm passed through the area, scrubbing away that awful gunk and replacing the smog with beautiful, crystal clear Rocky Mountain air!

Beautiful Utah Winter Morning

A beautiful Utah winter morning

This photo was taken this morning and for the first time in weeks, I can see across the valley – over 30 miles away to the other end of Utah Lake…all the way to Mount Nebo. And the best part is: Right now, although it’s only 42° outside, I have every window in the house open, every ceiling fan running and the fan function on the central air unit going full blast to recharge the interior air supply.

Take in a deep breath and feel the cabin fever quickly melt away! I gotta get out and walk. Thank the heavens for days like today!

The Got-it-trons

Have you ever played a brand new game with someone who was SUPER competitive? Like, when you open up the game for the first time, this person simply learns the absolute basics of the game, ignoring anything they might consider “trivial” and they do their damnedest to win, conquer or at least control the outcome?

How about this? How many people do you encounter in your day-to-day living that know everything—they already have the answer, they already have the necessary information, they have no time to have an explanation? These are the people that really have no tolerance for anyone else who isn’t up to their speed or reached their level of knowledge and/or their perceived status in the universe and they make no apologies for the manner of disgust, distain and abhorrence they feel for any such people. They live by a completely different set of rules than everybody else. They ignore the status quo or flat out deny that it even applies to them personally simply because of whom they are!

What’s worse is that in a crowd of people, they tend to be the leaders because they simply cannot afford to waste time waiting to see if anybody else will step up, and they will bend or break the rules because in their minds, those were developed for everyone else—for the masses—not for them, and their actions will prompt others without the chutzpah to cross that line independently to attempt the same, usually with disastrous consequences.

In a sometimes chaotic world, these are they that tend to cause the most trouble, be the loudest, cause the most commotion or simply ignore everything entirely and do their own thing, usually when it doesn’t sit right with them or if they feel they are being boxed in. You cannot tell these people “no” simply because they will take it upon themselves to make everyone else’s lives miserable until they get their way and are satisfied in their own minds.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the “Got-it-tron!”

I was thinking about this type of individual today because, interestingly enough, I encounter them more often than not on the road as I am driving. These Got-it-trons tend to be THE owners of the road. They are constantly “behind schedule” therefore they absolutely MUST be in front of everybody else, at whatever expense, so long as YOU are behind them. They will cut you off to keep you from making your exit on the freeway; they will ride your tail if they are behind you until you are forced, in some demented game of “chicken,” to yield to them. They will even drive around you on the right (even on the shoulder) if it gives them the advantage on the road ahead.

My thought was that many of these folks have to be Got-it-trons simply because the rules of the road just don’t apply to them (and quite frankly, I have a feeling that many of these maniacal knit-wits haven’t a clue which road rules and laws they are even breaking!). Haven’t got the time to find out! How dare they lower the speed limit in a construction zone when there is no one working on the road at 10 O’clock at night! Since when have they ever gotten a ticket for using the HOV lane as their own personal speedway?

As a person who truly believes in karmic justice, I have to wonder sometimes “when that wheel finally comes round?” I mean let’s face it, we’ve all been there; we’ve all been caught speeding or running a stop sign. A friend of mine is so often ticketed that I think they may even know his name at the county courthouse! But it never seems to be the Got-it-trons that end up with those red and blue flashing lights in their rearview mirror. There have been very rare occasions that I was ever able to witness the culprit getting his (or her) just rewards.

Now, this is in no way a slam on the police or highway patrol. I know that, especially now with the economy in such flux, it is difficult at best to be everywhere all the time. I don’t know how that can or will change, but somewhere along the road, the Got-it-tron needs to get his “come-uppance!”