Category Archives: Entertainment

Thanksgiving Day Programming on KACU

We hope that your celebration of Thanksgiving this year is wonderful, and we hope that our special programming provides a great addition to your day.  With the exceptions of Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin this evening, our complete selection of programming today is special in honor of the holiday.  Below you will find program information on all of the special programs and music heard today on 89.7 KACU-FM.


9AM–A Thanksgiving Celebration with Garrison Keillor 2011

From American Public Media, a broadcast of “Gratitude, Gravy & Garrison,” VocalEssence’s celebration of all things Thanksgiving. Keillor performs his signature monologue and contributes comic new lyrics to familiar songs and hymns.

10 AM-Noon-Giving Thanks with John Birge

From American Public Media, with music and stories for Thanksgiving, host John Birge creates a thoughtful, contemporary reflection on the meaning of the holiday. For listeners in the kitchen, on the road, or relaxing after the feast, Giving Thanks provides the perfect atmosphere for Thanksgiving: the warmth of great music, and truly memorable words.

Noon-Thanksgiving with Cantus 2011

From American Public Media, Alison Young is joined by Cantus, one of America’s best all-male ensembles, for singing and story telling about gratitude and what it is to be thankful.

1PM-A Thanksgiving Celebration with Garrison Keillor 2011 (repeated)


2PM-Special Daytime Music Mix


Lean Into The Light/Iron & Wine/Kiss Each Other Clean

Sound of the Bells/Jill Andrews/The Mirror

1234/Feist/The Reminder

Please Stay/Mindy Smith/Long Island Shores

**Earth & Sky**

What If The World Stops Turning?/Mindy Smith/Long Island Shores

Fly Away/Rosi Golan/Lean Balloon

Bittersweet Melodies/Feist/Metals

Looking Out/Brandi Carlile/Live At Benaroyal Hall

Before It Breaks/Brandi Carlile/Live At Benaroyal Hall

Angel/Dave Matthews Band/Everyday

Nothing At All/Madi Diaz/1% For The Planet-The Music Vol. 1

Let’s Go/Madi Diaz/Far From Things That We Know

Looking For You Again/Matthew Perryman Jones/(Single)

Come Monday Night/God Help The Girl/God Help The Girl

Mat Kearny/Where Do We Go From Here/Nothing Left To Loose


3PM-Special Daytime Music Mix


Winter Song/Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson/The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs

Someone To Love You/Matt Morris/When Everything Breaks Open

Lungs Speed, Lungs Sped/Brooke Waggoner/Heal For The Honey

**This Week In Abilene**

Turn em Loose/Bigfoot Wallace/Malleable

Turn Of The Season/Amber Oak/Your Missing Piece

How Sweet/Leona Naess/Leona Naess

White Winter Hymnal/Fleet Foxes/Fleet Foxes

What You See In Her/Trent Dabbs/Noisemakers Sampler

Will You Be/Folk Of Flight/(Single)

It May Be Late/Harper Blynn/Loneliest Generation

**Star Date**

Rare Triumphs of Love and Fortune/The Rocketboys/20,000 Ghosts

Stella The Artist/David Gray/Draw The Line

Happier/A Fine Frenzy/Bomb In A Birdcage

Walking Far From Home/Iron & Wine/Kiss Each Other Clean


7PM-9PM-Paul Winter Solstice 2011

The holiday tradition continues with Paul Winter’s Winter Solstice Celebration. A dynamic musical celebration in the extraordinary acoustics of the worlds largest Gothic cathedral – New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine.  Hear a unique exploration of the solstice tradition in cultures near and far. The Paul Winter Consort is joined by musicians from all over the world, including Russia’s Dimitri Pokrovsky Ensemble and gospel singer Theresa Thomasson. John Schaefer hosts the production from Living Music and Murray Street.

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Wall Street vs. The NBA

As it’s been reported for the past several weeks, people are pissed at Wall Street.  Or at least that’s the perception.  The claim is that the Wall St protestors are angry at the wealth injustice in America and how people in the financial sector continue to give themselves raises, increase profits and benefit from others’ hard work while at the same time cutting back their work-force, laying people off, or not hiring new employees even after their companies produce profits in the millions and billions.  There’s merit to that, no question.

One thing I have continued to ask myself and my circle of friends since earlier this year is, why do we point the finger in anger at only some people in American society who are wealthy and not the more prominent people?  I’m namely referring to politicians and professional athletes.  In the spring, the NFL went into a lockout where multi-millionaire owners and players argued over who would cash in on TV contracts worth $9 billion.  Yeah that’s a lot of money.  Did anyone offer to give that money away, contribute it to the unemployed, create jobs for the jobless, or any endeavor to better our damaged economy?  No, they argued over who deserved what, what richness could be added to the already rich.  Where was the upset there?  I (sort of) hate to pick on the Dallas Cowboys but Jerry Jones is one of the wealthiest men in America (a billionaire I believe).  While he may be a stock-holder who has some investment on Wall Street, he also has pretty deep pockets and makes tons more money than the average individual, employed or unemployed.  Who stood outside his corporate office this off-season and protested the incredible amount of money he and his company (team) has made in a down economy?  Not to mention a third string player on his team who makes more money in one month than most of us have made before taxes in the last 2-5 years.  Where’s the protest?

This August the NFL players and owners came to some sort of agreement and they started their season on time.  So maybe that’s why there weren’t protests.  We now have pro football every Sunday.  I do know that whole sha-bang upset a few sports fans who were on the fence about whether they’d tune in for games this season. But I still see sold out arenas, people spending $90 for a Romo jersey (and after last week, last season, the season before that…I have to ask “Why?”), and fantasy football being played all over the place.  The lockout didn’t lose the NFL fanbase.  It’s alive and strong.  And each of those guys we cheer for makes more money than most of the people on Wall Street who are being terrorized by protestors daily.  I don’t want to necessarily defend the Wall Street people.  There’s a lot of greed, selfish ambition, and bad ethics going on there worth talking about.  I do want a more just form of protest.  If we’re going to cry out for equal pay for people in the work world, what about returning professional athletes to a pay scale similar to the 1950s and 1960s, where players on teams made an average wage versus the GDP of most 3rd world countries?

And what about politicians?  The GOP wants to have a debate every 2 weeks so a group of 8-10 people can tell you why they deserve to be the President of the USA a whole 13 months or more before the election takes place.  Is that healthy for the economy?  These people aren’t currently working for anyone.  Unless you count their campaign contributors.  But where’s the cry out for justice there?  Sarah Palin, whatever job she might have, is basically a political Snooki or Kim Kardashian, with her road trip around the country in the name of conservative politics.  Is she doing a documentary on how the average American is trying to budget themselves through this economic turmoil?  Is she doing research from business owners on what actual businesses need now to survive instead of what our political leaders have instituted that’s hurt the economy?  I don’t think so.  Is Rick Perry the current governor of Texas?  Doesn’t Texas have a budget deficit that needs fixing, hence the cuts of $400,000 to arts funding in Tx schools?  Should he be working to fix the state’s current problems before he tries to be an expert at solving the nation’s issues?  And not to only pick on the Republican/Conservatives as being guilty of this.  Last time I checked Barack Obama is the current President.  So why does he need to campaign for a job he already has?  Shouldn’t he be working more on fixing the country’s problems and (trying to) work with Congress on solutions to our current issues.  I know that takes time, energy, and patience.  It doesn’t take campaigning.  These people live off of someone else’s money.  They supposedly represent us, the people.  When was the last 9-5 job they had?  Who was the last boss they had who put real job expectations on them that they had to meet or else face getting cut (like you and I have)?  Yet politicians are some of the wealthiest people in the world, let alone in the country.  Where’s the protest?

Let’s just be fair.  We as Americans are constantly crying out for fairness, even if fairness is a concept that can’t be made into a reality in all situations.  We still want it.  If we the people really want an equal playing field, then why aren’t we there people lined up in front of the enormous houses of NBA players like Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and Lebron James?  Why aren’t we constantly demanding owners of these teams to do more for communities and participate in the betterment of our country more than just being ridiculously wealthy?  And let’s still be upset at the NFL players and owners.  Just because they solved their $9 billion squabble doesn’t mean that they’re suddenly immune to public scrutiny, especially in the realm of fairness for pay.  If I had the chance to work for 8 months out of the year and have a 2 month off-season that included holidays, all for the guaranteed salary of over $1 million for 1 year, or a multi-year deal worth tens of millions, I think that’d be a pretty good deal.  However, I get about 2 weeks vacation with my job and roughly $30K/year.  I’m not complaining, I enjoy my job and the role I play in the community.  But the pay scale and the perks aren’t in different worlds compared to pro athletes and owners and politicians, they’re in different universes.  In the name of fairness, I’d like to see some of these Wall Street protestors walk to a different street and demand that maybe Lebron James and Michael Vick are incredible athletes, but they make too much money.  And let fairness speak to that real issue.

Quick! Write the Headline!

I never like to admit it, especially being a journalism major at Abilene Christian, but I don’t read newspapers for conventional reasons. In fact, unless I’m reading the sports page, I’m hardly ever actually reading news. I’m looking for other things.

I have a guilty pleasure.

Let me make something clear before I tell you what I read the paper for. News is extremely valuable. Journalism has given me a great appreciation for hard news, soft news, storytelling, writing and everything that goes along. I’m not downplaying the significance journalism plays in our world. In fact, I hope to see if anyone can identify with me.

I look for mess-ups in newspaper headlines — funny mess-ups.

Inadvertently funny newspaper headlines are what make the weightiness of news worth sifting through. Hypothetical situation; you are a journalist. You’ve been laboring on a news story all week and the five o’clock deadline is fast approaching. Time is ticking, five o’clock is moments away and you’re tweaking the last sentence of your article. You feel good about this story. You’ve interviewed the right people, gotten great quotes, your rhetoric is flawless and your editor is stunned with your skills.

It is time to turn in the article when you realize there is no headline! How can such an awe-inspiring newspaper article not have an astounding headline? You panic, deadline was thirty seconds ago. You quickly scan your wits to come up with a solution to your dilemma when you write this:

Oblivious to your unintentional pun, your story and your inspiring new headline run in the paper the next morning for the entire world to see.

It’s okay to laugh. I’ve learned that laughing at myself and my work has pushed me to become better at what I do. Enjoyment is something many people go without while on the job which is a saddening thought to me. Laughter is a line that can disconnect a job from enjoyment if we make a big deal out of ourselves; I pray that you cross it.

Here are some more funny newspaper headlines with Jay Leno!

Enjoy your day.

Predictions For NFL Season Pt 2

Funny how less than a week goes by and a slew of changes take place, and the NFL season hasn’t even started yet. But that’s the nature of this season, as I said before.

In the previous post I gave my take on the NFC for the 2011-12 season, who I think will do great, who could be sleeper picks for the playoffs, and also why I believe a few teams will do very poorly this year. In this post, I want to cover the AFC, give my predictions for who’s going all the way to the big game, playoff locks, sleepers for the postseason, and who is certainly not going to fair well.

First, I’ll start at the top. The Patriots have been one of the best teams in football for over a decade. This year marks the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 as well as the 10 year mark of one of their biggest Super Bowl wins. In the offseason (just after the lockout ended) they landed some controversial players, namely Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth’s bad attitude during his tenure with the Redskins and disrespect of coaches made him a big enemy of most observant franchises, regardless of his talent level. The preseason seemed to indicate that the attitude was still there, that little had changed. This is something getting a little press here and there, on top of the signing of former Bengals receiver Ochocinco. You know, I don’t think either athlete is going to be the difference maker this season. I pick the Patriots to have a good year and go to the playoffs yet again, but only make it all the way to the Super Bowl if they can jive well on offense and get some better protection for Brady. And defensively they will have to play more like the Steelers to really have a chance.

James Harrison attacks offenses

Speaking of Pittsburgh, they’re another lock for the playoffs, barring an injury to Rothlesburger or something similar. They have had the components for championship runs for the past 5 years or more and I think they’ll continue to be a wrecking ball in the AFC. Plus, James Harrison has an even bigger chip on his shoulder than normal, with having to answer the constant questions of the media about his defense being “too old.” I think that label will make him a more ferocious player and probably lead to some other sanctions by the NFL for hard hits and maybe even some punches thrown during games. Harrison is a fairly dirty player anyway, so who knows.

The other AFC team who has been solid for the last decade is the Colts, led by one of the all-time greats Peyton Manning. This year, however, will be a very bad year for them. As ESPN’s Colin Cowherd said yesterday on his radio program, this is a poorly managed team built entirely around Manning. Without Manning they might win 4-5 games in a season. With him, they win 11-12. He’s the difference between a great season and a horrible one. They had 2 backups that coaches didn’t have any confidence in so they go out and hire a 16 year vet (Kerry Collins) with little understanding of their playbook and their offense. And he’ll start Sunday against Houston. I’m actually very glad they aren’t starting Manning this Sunday. Houston’s 3-4 attack with Mario Williams at LB would put Manning out for the rest of the year, leading to a 1-3 win season for the Colts. This way, Manning gets maybe 2 games to rest and recover and then come back week 4 at the latest and save the day. But still, they lack the offensive and defensive weapons to be true contenders in the postseason.

Manning and Joseph at their press conference after signing with the Texans

Houston will go to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history this year. There I said it. They should have gone last year but they couldn’t finish a game. They’d build a 2 score lead and blow it in the 4th quarter. Not this year. Again, that rebuilt defense will get better and better as the season goes on. Their D-line and LB core should be scary in weeks 1-4 and terrifying by week 5. JJ Watt, Demeco Ryans, Mario Williams, Brian Cushing, and the other guys in the box will wreck havoc on O-lines this season, starting with the Colts. The secondary is much improved from last season with the addition of Jonathan Joseph at CB and Danieal Manning at FS. I predict Manning will have a Pro-Bowl year. And let’s not forget the offense, led by Schaub, who has some excellent targets in TE Owen Danieals, Jacoby Jones and Andre Johnson, arguably THE best WR in the AFC. Oh yeah, and they have Arian Foster at RB. Their starting lineup is a fantasy football owner’s dream.

I’m reading online that the Jaguars cutting of David Gerrard guarantees a solid year for Houston. No, I don’t think so. An improved defense, and an offense that continues to put up points guarantees a good year for Houston. Cutting Gerrard only guarantees a rough 2-4 weeks for Jacksonville, a team that already didn’t have much going for it. Sure Gerrard is inconsistent, but in October and November he does well, he wins games, and that’s something the Jags should prize. I think they’ll have at best an 8-8 season. They just don’t have the personnel to do any better.

Another big item in the press is the Chris Johnson contract deal, which he finally got last week. Congrats. Now I hope he can manage to not get injured in the first 3 games and actually do something. The offense is on his shoulders anyways. They had one of the best WR in the history of football last season and didn’t utilize him. Yes, I’m talking about Randy Moss. Johnson will get 20-30 carries a game and if his body isn’t ready for that kind of work, watch out. That contract won’t be sweet for anyone in TN if he can’t stay healthy. I see the Titans at best winning 7-8 games, which could put them in the playoffs, but only if some other big AFC teams do really bad.

Like the Chiefs. Matt Cassel was great with the Patriots as the fill-in for an injured Brady, winning 10 games and making him a star. Last season with the Chiefs, not so much. He does have a great WR in Bowe, and an solid run game. Their defense could be great or mediocre. We’ll have to see. I’m thinking that they make the postseason only through the wild-card race and then bow out in the first week of the playoffs. But that’s if they play without drive and heart, which it seemed they did towards the end of last year. If they turn around and play with a fire in their chests, they could be a great team this year.

Oakland will be horrible again. You knew that whether you watched the preseason or not. Whoever thought Jason Campbell would ever be a game changer wasn’t watching real life football. He has a good game every once in a while. The rest are bad. Very bad. Their running game has to be the saving grace and that defense has to look like something more akin to the Steelers than what they have. I place them at the bottom of the AFC bin.

Colt McCoy

The Chargers, the Jets, and the Ravens will have good seasons, and be playoff contenders. That’s a given. What isn’t a given is the Browns. I pick these guys as sleepers. Colt McCoy is the real deal and he’s going to lead this team to great things. Plus, their other intangibles at RB and especially on defense make this team a solid choice this year.

However, on the other side of the state, the Bengals will continue to be bad……really bad. Another very poorly managed franchise as evidenced by the decision-making of the front office. We can start with Cedric Benson, who has the potential to be a great RB. But off the field he enjoys driving under the influence, repeatedly, and punching old roommates in the face. He also seems to enjoy doing this in the same place each time (in TX). The Bengals have depth at RB with Bernard Scott, who really should be given the starting job. With limited carries he’s done a considerably great job moving the ball. Plus Brian Leonard and Larry Johnson give them a consistent attack on the ground. But then there’s also the issue with not trading Carson Palmer. Trading him would have opened up the bank more to spend on areas of the team that need depth, like WR and TE, or on defense. But they didn’t. So instead they settled for a young QB with limited experience who looked very bad in the preseason. The Bengals will spend this season in the gutter unless their run game makes them shine, which is still a possibility. But on defense they won’t be able to hang with the power players of the league.

Lastly in the AFC east, the Bills and the Dolphins should go either .500 or worse. I say worse more for Miami than for Buffalo. Fitzpatrick and Jackson will lead the offense to some big wins. In Miami, the lack of a steady QB will limit them early. But if they can jell together by week 5, they could become a sleeper team by midseason. I just don’t think they have the intangibles to pull off a playoff birth. And Reggie Bush will be a bust wherever he is. He’ll have a good fantasy game here and there but he is NOT the playmaker he was billed as in the 06 draft.

Oh, and one note about my NFC predictions post, anyone catch the further developments in Chicago with Lance Briggs wanting out of Chicago, and Matt Forte not happy with his contract. Upset and angry players have a tough time producing on the field, especially when they’re your stars. Management should take note. And Seattle should great Gerrard while he’s available. They don’t have a better player at QB.

Shaq and Real Legacies

I know there’s a ton of other news going on right now, but the retirement of one of the NBA’s best players this week is something that’s been on my mind.  In between analysis of tonight’s Game 2 Final matchup of the Heat and the Mavericks, sports talk has been limited to the legacy of Shaquille O’Neal and where he stands in terms of the best players of all-time.  Some say he’s one of the 5 best centers of all-time, others that he’s one of the 5 best PLAYERS of all-time.  I’m not a sports analyst but certainly a sports fan, so here’s my take on Shaq, his legacy, and the legacy of athletes at the top of their game. It might seem like I’m trying to besmerch the career of one of the best players in NBA history in the following comments.  That’s not the case.  Shaq is one of the best entertainers the game has experienced, both on and off the court.  He prowess was unmatched during the peak of his career and he was almost impossible to guard.  That’s a dominant player.  But I want to add to the conversation taking place now in the sports realm about what is greatness, and where the road to establishing your legacy can take you in the eyes of different people.

Shaq played with over 5 teams during his 16 year career.  Sixteen years is a long time to play professional sports, especially basketball.  It’s a long time to be one of the best in the game as well.  But we honestly can’t say that Shaq was one of the dominant centers in basketball for all 16 years can we?  Do many people even consider this past season a part of that greatness when he spent most of the season on the bench for the Celtics?  What about his brief stint before that in Cleveland?  I honestly had forgotten that he played along side Lebron James.  Most people have too, because his performance then wasn’t memorable, it wasn’t great.

But during the years of his greatness, obviously his time with the Lakers from 1996-2004, he won 4 championships and a number of MVP awards.  He also had Kobe Bryant, arguably one of the greatest players of all-time.  That’s part of the reason why some feel that he wouldn’t have been able to acquire those championship titles had the weight of winning been exclusively on his shoulders as a dominant player.  Even Jordan had Pippen, Kerr, BJ Armstrong, and others to help bring championships to Chicago.

There wasn’t a place or time in the career of O’Neal when it came down to Shaq alone for the NBA finals to be won.  Actually that’s not true, there was one point but it was early in his career, during his tenure with the Orlando Magic.  I remember this mainly because the team they faced were my beloved Houston Rockets.  Shaq was the main attraction, everyone had been talking him up on every sports outlet in the country.  The Rockets had played great ball, and their center Hakeem Olajuwon, had dominated everyone in the playoffs leading to a repeat shot in the finals.  What happened in that series?  The Rockets swept the Magic, Shaq learned quickly that power is good, but sweetness is better and there is no defense against the Dream Shake (anyone remember that other than me?).  Had O’Neal been older, had more reps and experience under his belt and been able to adjust quickly to what Houston threw at him, the outcome might have been different.  Perhaps Shaq wouldn’t have been swept in 4 games.  But I think ultimately the finals would have ended the same.  He was a dominant, powerful athlete on the court, one that was nearly impossible to guard or defend.  But look at the stats, the numbers, the team mates, and the other power players of his era and you’ll see what I see: a great player limited by his own concept of greatness.

He one of the NBA’s all-time scorers.  Leader in rebounds and blocks.  That’s great.  But as <a href=””>Doug Gottlieb</a> has said these past few days, he’s not a good as he could have been, and that’s tarnishes his legacy, at least in the eyes of some people.  Because he didn’t keep himself in shape, he rode the bench during most of the last years of his career due to injuries.  He was a nonfactor this year and last year.  Some sports fans thought he retired years ago.  That says something.

In my book, the all-time greatest centers are Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Shaquille O’Neal (top 5 if you will).  David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, George Mikan, Bill Walton and Robert Parish round out the top 10, but these guys had everything, especially when you break down the numbers.  Chamberlain, Russell, and Abdul-Jabbar need no explanation.  Olajuwon though is a player that doesn’t get the respect I feel he deserves in the memory of all-time greats.  Here’s why, he only had 2 championships.  Shaq had 5, one of them with the Heat.  Ultimately, it’s the number of rings you have that determines for most people what your legacy is as an athlete, and then that’s the measuring stick for where you stand on the all-time greatest list.  The Dream (Olajuwon’s nickname for those who didn’t know) played his entire career in Houston, where he won his championships and frustrated players and coaches with his smooth and graceful playing style and shooting ability, as well as his keen defensive instincts.  He was an amazing rebounder and shot blocker.  He’s on the all-time list in those two categories.  For those following stats, you would know his name, but those who only follow championship rings might not recognize him.  He also didn’t have an all-star cast around him during the championship years, not to say that Kenny Smith and Robert Horry were not integral parts of the team in ’94 for the championship.  But they hadn’t peaked in their careers yet.  Smith was certainly not Kobe Bryant in his prime, nor Dwayne Wade. Clyde Drexler was a big part of the following season’s championship, not to take anything away from him or Sam Cassel.  But much of the load for the title was on the Dream.

So had Olajuwon chased after championship rings to further establish his legacy as one of the greatest players, he probably would have signed in free agency with the Spurs and set up a center/power-forward tandem with Robinson similar to what the Pistons did years back with Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace.  But he wasn’t chasing championships, he wasn’t trying to prove to be one of the greatest players.  He was more interested in playing with his team, more interested in continuing to invest in the players and coaches he’d been with (though he did finish the last year of his career in Toronto which was more of the franchise screwing him than him wanting to leave), and the city that he called home (where he still lives I think).  For people who consider a great legacy to be something that deals more with your character than the number of championship rings you have, you won’t find as much stock in Shaq or Kobe as you might with Olajuwon.

Or maybe that’s just me. But probably not, since the greatest player of all-time Michael Jordan said in his mind, Olajuwon was the best center of all-time.

If you want to see for yourself, check this out

Facebook-holics, Twitter-heads, and other internet obsessions

Everyone has those few websites they visit everyday (okay, more like multiple times a day).

Of course there’s Facebook, Twitter, and other social network phenomena.

And you can’t forget that mandatory e-mail check, then a couple of Skype sessions. Oh, and then you browse over to YouTube to check out the latest laughing baby video.

I have decided to break out of the internet rut, and you should too. With millions of websites in existence, there are certainly other websites that are worth our spare time. **Important disclaimer: There are many websites that are not worth our time, as well**

As I set off on my quest for and internet goldmine, I thought I would share some of websites that are worth checking out, that you might not have known about.


This website is dedicated to recipes, party tips, and all things “foodie”. Now, we aren’t talking the frou-frou foods that take hours to make, and ingredients  you have never even heard of, much less pronounce. For example, they have a section dedicated to rainbow foods. Rainbow cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and the list goes on. Rainbows make me happy, cake makes me happy. Rainbow cake, I’m pretty sure that’s the answer to world peace. They also have some offbeat recipes that make even the worst cook pull out the pots and pans. I’ve already started planning my dinner plans after coming across a recipe for red velvet-coated chicken fingers. Sounds interesting, they are supposed to be delicious. As my dad used to say, “Don’t knock it, till you’ve tried it.” The recipes are accompanied by step-by-step instructions, AND pictures, for the culinary-challenged. There are also links to other great food blogs. Definitely a must see.

2. Unusual Things

I came across this blog a couple of days ago. I haven’t read much of it, but it seems pretty interesting. There are some very unusual things discussed on this site. For example, a bean bag chair that looks exactly like a sleeping brown bear, a roof for your bicycle, fruit carvings… I’m sure you get the idea. A good website to learn about some very unique subjects. A lot of archived posts too, the site goes back to 2007.

3. The Daytripper

I couldn’t resist. This is one of my favorite shows. Texas is a huge state with so many things to do. Each episode of this show features the crew visiting a Texas town packing as many fun activities as possible into one day. And in true Texas fashion, most episodes involve a large plate of BBQ. You can catch this show on KERA on Saturday mornings, and also on other cities public broadcasting channels.Their website has a lot of great Texas information and more information about this show, another must see.

4. The Appetizer

I can’t forget this one. The Appetizer is a locally produced radio show featuring a wide array of music. Each episode features tracks from musicians you’ve heard of, but songs you haven’t indulged in. Also, music from up-and-coming artists. AND, interviews and exclusive sessions with many talented artists. The website has links to The Appetizer blog, Facebook, and the brand-new YouTube channel. In fact, an exclusive acoustic session with William Fitzsimmons has just been posted!

So what are you waiting for? Your email and Facebook page could use a quick break.

Know some other great websites? Fill us in, we’d love to hear them.

Don’t Copy That Floppy! Or Cartridge…

The war on illegal software piracy and copying is as old as computer software itself. “Don’t Copy That Floppy” was the big PSA campaign used by the Software Piracy Association (now known as the Software & Information Industry Association) in 1992, when copying a computer game was literally as easy as 1, 2, 3. Today we have DRM, Digital Rights Management, which uses a variety of methods to make sure you’re playing a game or watching a movie you legitimately paid money for, and didn’t just download or torrent from someone. It’s a whole lot harder to get away with piracy today than it was 20 years ago, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Even when it seems like a software company is a step ahead, hackers always find a way to break their new encryption technique. And over the years, some of  these techniques have been very creative.

On the home console side, Nintendo was the leader in the fight against software piracy. In around 1994, the illegal copying of Super Nintendo cartridges was on the rise. The standard in the industry at the time was to use a bit of code called a “checksum.” This is a check that happens usually when you turn on the console. (Much like the region check I posted about earlier.) It adds up a block of code in the game’s memory and checks the sum of that code with a defined number of what it should be. If the sums match, the game runs. If they don’t, it means that something has probably been modified, and it stops the game from functioning. But most software pirates had easily figured out how to bypass that check. So Nintendo decided to try something different this time around with a new game they had coming out: EarthBound. On its own, it’s a remarkable RPG, and probably one of my favorite video games of all time. But even more remarkable is the many anti-piracy safeguards that, in some cases, play tricks on the would-be software pirate.

Nintendo’s first line of defense is a few bits of code that, on startup, checks the SRAM of the cartridge, which is the part where your progress is saved. An official, Nintendo-produced cartridge has 8 kilobytes here, but many copied cartridges have more. So, if this check finds the cart has more than 8KB, it displays the screen on the right and doesn’t allow the game to go any further. Should that test pass, the normal checksum check I mentioned earlier will take place, and if it fails that, it’s back to that blue-orange screen again. If it passes both of these checks, the game boots up normally.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. As I mentioned, software pirates are able to get through these initial checks with great ease. So Nintendo’s next line of defense comes up once you load up your saved game file. It runs another modification check,(Not a checksum, though. It just seems to be checking one variable to make sure it’s zero.) and if this test fails, it doesn’t stop the game, but instead it makes WAY more enemies appear! (See image to the left.) It’s a unique effort, to say the least. It makes the game very difficult and ultimately unenjoyable to scare off the software pirate. But hey, some gamers enjoy a challenge, which is where Nintendo’s last line of defense comes in.

When you get about halfway through the game’s final battle, the game performs one last checksum. But this time, if the test fails, it crashes the game. The screen freezes, and all you can do is turn the game off or press reset. But when you turn the game back on, you confront every gamer’s worst nightmare:

It wipes out your saved games! All the game progress you spent months or even years on goes down the drain and you’re forced to start back at square one! It’s a harsh move by Nintendo to stop cartridge copying, but in a way, shows what piracy does to a software company: it makes all their hard work count for nothing, since they won’t get any money from the illegal copies sold. Unfortunately for Nintendo, the software pirates found a way to track down all the anti-piracy checks and disable them. Copies of the game’s ROM (read-only memory) with crippled anti-piracy codes have been discovered around the internet.

The fight continues in the present day as software developers come up with new, seemingly foolproof ways to safeguard their hard work, but at the same time, software pirates will work just as hard to circumvent them. The war on software piracy continues, and most likely will as long as computer software is around.

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Top 5 iPhone Games You Should Be Playing Instead of “Angry Birds”

At the beginning of this year, Angry Birds was knocked off it’s perch at the top spot in the iPhone App Store after months and months ruling the roost. Of course it’s presence (which includes the original Angry Birds and a few of it’s many variations) in the App Store Top 25 lists, smartphones of all shapes and sizes, and now in children’s board games is still extremely strong. I’ve tried it, and I think it’s alright, but certainly not one of the best iOS games out there. Here’s a few of my picks that I think shoot Angry Birds out of the sky!

#5 – Fast Striker – $.99

NG:DEV.TEAM has been credited with keeping now obsolete consoles like the Neo-Geo and the Sega Dreamcast alive years after they were discontinued by their respective companies. “Fast Striker” is their first game on the iPhone and their first foray into mainstream gaming. It’s a port of their Neo-Geo game of the same name, (also available on Dreamcast) which pushed the 20-year old console to it’s limits. Of course, the iPhone has no problem keeping up, and it looks gorgeous! It’s a shoot-em-up in the same vein as “Star Soldier” where the goal is to score as many points as possible. With four game modes, this game has plenty of replay value long after you make it through the game’s 6 challenging stages. Using pre-rendered polygonal models, the game creates a metallic landscape with tons of enemies shooting hundreds of bullets, which all move smoothly on-screen. It’s definitely something that the simple screenshot I posted won’t do justice to. At 99 cents, it’s easy to see this for yourself, and hear the rocking techno-trance soundtrack that’s sure to make people want to look over on your iDevice’s screen. It might take you a few tries to really get the feel for this shooter, but give it a chance you’ll be blasting entire armadas of ships in no time!

#4 – The Texting of the Bread – $1.99

This game is, in a sense, a parody of “The Typing of the Dead,” which itself was a parody of “The House of the Dead,” a series of zombie shooter games by Sega. In this game you must fend off wave after wave of evil zombie-like gingerbread men by typing the words that appear above their heads using the on-screen iPhone keyboard. Sounds easy, and if you’re a fast texter you’ll breeze through the first few levels, but then you start encountering the enemies that take two or three words to kill, followed by the giant gingerbread boss that takes a short paragraph to kill! No one said surviving the gingerbread apocalypse was easy, right? After getting through the story-mode, you can see how long you can last in Survival Mode, where they literally just… keep… coming! This game from ScrewAttack is a must-have for the txt savvy iPhone gamer.

#3 – Bit.Trip: BEAT – $.99 

When this game by Gaijin Games first hit WiiWare, it won tons of indie game awards. A jump to the iPhone, which at the time was a growing platform for indie developers, seemed like a match made in heaven. If you owned an Atari 2600 or played some variation of Pong or Breakout, you’ll feel right at home with this game. Using you paddle, controlled by tilting your device for that nice retro controller touch, you have to hit back the incoming bits. It starts out easy, but gets mind-blowingly challenging towards the end of the game! To help you out, the bits come in time with the music, that you’ll probably find stuck in your head hours after you’ve played this game. (The soundtrack, believe it or not, is also available on iTunes.) Like most games of this sort, it’s easy to learn, difficult to master, and you’ll find yourself trying to beat the scores on the game center leaderboard. You can also co-op with up to three people either locally or online. This game brings back the fun of yesteryear, mixed with a bit of modern flair to make a game you’ll be coming back to a lot!

#2 – Chu Chu Rocket – $2.99 

10 years ago, Sega released Chu Chu Rocket on the Dreamcast as the one of the first console games to feature online multi-player. Since then the servers have closed, but the game received new life when it hit the App Store last Fall. This is a complete port of the Dreamcast game, but with the newly implemented touch screen controls, this game feels like it was made for the iPhone! The goal is simple: you need to direct the ChuChus (mice) from their hole into the rocket, but at the same time you must avoid the evil orange space cats! You do this by placing arrows with a swipe of your finger to direct them around the game’s 500 mazes and challenges. But this game really shines in the multi-player modes. It’s fast-paced, frantic action that you and three others can enjoy, by either local bluetooth or online. Sega designed this to be a party game, so this means the tables can turn at the drop of a cat… err, hat. When you get this game, you’ll be partying like it’s 1999!

#1 – Street Fighter IV – $4.99

Truth be told, this isn’t the best version of Street Fighter IV, but for an iPhone game this is one of the best looking, and one of the case-makers for the iPhone as a serious gaming handheld. As I mentioned in my review of Capcom Arcade, one of the biggest obstacles in the way of iPhone gaming is the fact that it has no buttons, but finally, someone did it right! The onscreen controls work extremely well. As a veteran Street Fighter, I was able to jump right in and hurl a few hadokens at my opponent! For new players, the game is inviting with special move assists, but still has the depth of a Street Fighter game that experienced players should enjoy. The animation is extremely smooth, perhaps not as much as its XBOX360 and PS3 counterparts, but for iPhone standards, this works great. If you’ve wanted to get into the Street Fighter franchise, this is a great place to start.

The iPhone may not have as good a library as a dedicated portable game console such as the Nintendo DS or Sony PSP, but it’s certainly has some titles not to be missed if you own an iDevice. Games in the App Store are designed for intermittent gaming sessions on the go. They’re easy to pick up and play, and are easy to put on hold. Big name game developers like Capcom, Sega, Namco, and a myriad of indie developers are just beginning to get below the surface of what this device is capable of, and many industry journalists such as myself will be keeping an eye on it for years to come.

* all prices accurate as of the time of writing

Why rumour spreads

The tsunami, earthquake and nuclear plant explosions in Japan are devastating. But some relevant information that is spreading quickly is more shocking to me. The other day, I read an article on one of my net pal’s blog. He forwarded it from a person, declaring that the nuclear pollution is actually caused by Japan’s atomic bomb test. At the beginning of the article, the author gave the source of the news: PhoenixTV.

PhoenixTV is one of the most famous TV stations in Hong Kong which is considered one of the most relatively objective news sources in China. To confirm the information, I searched their news website.

Japan’s earthquake was on the front page and is presented as special coverage with lots of reports. I searched carefully, and did not find anything about Japan’s nuclear bomb test. I searched “Japan’s atomic bomb test” on google and found out the information and analysis of this “atomic test” are all from personal blogs, which none of the mainstream media has reported.

Dongsheng Li, one of my net pals, forwarded the article. “I swear I will never buy Japanese products,” He commented, “I will never need Japanese products, no matter whether I live or die.”

“PhoenixTV never reported that Japan is having atomic bomb tests. The source is wrong.” I texted Li.

“I have knowledge on military affairs. You need to know better.” Li said. He avoided my point.

“I am not a scientist, but I study journalism. I know how to distinguish false news from the truth according to its source.” I replied.

We started arguing. My point was this information is not from any reliable source, and actually, the person who wrote it lied about the source. I didn’t think a person that lied about the source in order to add credibility to themselves could be objective.

Li did not confront my question at all. All he said was that Japan definitely has the ambition to make their own atomic bombs. Li did not argue with me about the credibility of the source, but kept avoiding my question and only focusing on his assumption.

“The information is too sensitive. They will not let journalists know.” This is Li’s most shocking statement about why the mainstream media did not report it.

The article Li forwarded looks rational. The author used a lots of terminologies and pictures to illustrate his opinion. The thing is, ordinary citizens have no idea about these terminologies and science theories. That’s just like fictional story created in a imaginary context. In the context the author creates, things make sense, and yet they are not true.

Japan invaded China during the World War II. China built several museums to remember the war. In China, every student learns about the war in schools. The hatred from history still exists, and that leads to an important reason why rumor spreads.

One reason that rumor prevails is that it gives people what they want, or it confirms people’s imagination. As long as someone presents the information with the six elements of news, and it fits people’s appetite, it spreads quickly.

Critical thinking skills are important to individuals. Unfortunately, most people don’t think rationally and objectively because doing so requires energy, time, and may even cause anguish and exhaustion. However, without thinking rationally and independently, people will be always following their feelings, create false emotions and make bad decisions.

“Nobody puts baby in the corner.”

Read the title? Name the movie….

Duh, Dirty Dancing.

Can you tell that’s my favorite movie? I have every line pretty much memorized and I’ve even been begging my fiance to let us do the famous dance at the end of the movie for our wedding. As most normal people would, he declined.

With any good movie, there comes copycats, imposters, and the inevitable sequel. For those unfortunate souls who had to see Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights, I apologize. Some people just don’t understand the saying, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” No one could tell the love story of Johnny and Baby better than Patrick Swazye (R.I.P.) and Jennifer Grey.

So you can understand my disgust when I found out there was a tv series in 1988 that is based on the movie. Take my word for it, it’s terrible. For those of you who don’t trust me, take a look at this clip of the show’s opening.
That atrocity got me thinking. What other tv shows were created based on movies?

Here’s one that you probably know. NBC’s hit show, Parenthood, is based on Ron Howard’s 1989 film. I haven’t seen the film, but the tv show is hilarious. Perhaps it is worth checking out? Also, another little tidbit about the show, Parenthood, was introduced on NBC in 1990, but only survived one year. I think it is safe to say it is doing much better this time around.
Okay, you want another one? How about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? This movie, also starring Jennifer Grey, was one of my favorite movies growing up. Another thing I am not ashamed to admit. This show, also airing on NBC in 1990, was titled, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. Here’s clip for those that are curious.
I’ll leave you with another one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies, Clueless. Did anyone catch the 1999 tv series of the same name? No? “Oh my gosh. Whatever. As if.”