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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.

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Goodbye, privacy. Hello Facebook!

by Brandon May 27, 2009 01:00 AM

facebook-small-logo

 

(Sigh?) So, I did it. I've been on the fence about Facebook and similar services when it comes to their privacy issues for a few years now. I figured "Oh, what the Hell?" tonight and created my profile.

FB isn't my first foray into social networking, however. I used to have a Friendster account back in the day, but, let's face it, Friendster just hasn't had the success of MySpace (which trumped Friendster) and Facebook (which has trumped MySpace, in many people's opinions). I quit Friendster years ago because of the constant porn spam and didn't feel like signing up for MySpace at the time.

So is Facebook the ultimate social networking site? It was pretty easy to set up my profile, add a few friends, add a few apps, etc. I think it's ok, so far. Let me know if you've had any bad experiences with it. Oh, and if you're on there and you know me, feel free to request me. Sorry if I missed you? I am new to it, you know smile_tongue

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General

Blahg Updates!

by Brandon May 26, 2009 02:37 AM

Remember these annoying animated .gifs from the 90?s?construct2_e0 Adding one to your website pretty much doomed it to a lonely obsolesce, preserved only by The WayBack Machine.  Lucky for me, I was never that bad. I made some back end and minor cosmetic updates to the ?blahg? this weekend and thought about these as I was writing this post. The Internet sure has come a long way since animated .gifs were cool.

After integrating the latest BlogEngine updates, I made some CSS changes (most noticeably to the comments and image albums), made the image pop-ups (Lightbox) larger, added an AddThis image link to all posts and added the swirly rotating tag cloud you see to the left, BlogCumulus.Net.

AddThis claims to be ?the #1 bookmarking and sharing service, served over 20 billion times per month?. Now, I don?t doubt them one bit. I stuck this button on my posts primarily because the links included in my BlogEngine theme weren?t anything I would use. I think I?ll be lucky if one person out there uses the button for its intended purpose. Since my site is (currently) hosted on a old Pentium 3 in my garage, four or more visitors at once would probably kill the site completely.

BlogCumulus.Net is based off of a WordPress plug-in created by Roy Tanck. The creator of the BlogEngine plugin has website problems, but you can still get the plug-in from Google's Cache. Props to my friend Nick, since I saw a version of it on his site first. It?s a gee-whiz eye candy gadget, for sure, but much more attractive than most standard text-based tag clouds out there. I?ll see how it goes and will take it down if it gets too unruly.

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The Blahg

Rod Blagojevich Superstar

by Brandon May 21, 2009 11:56 PM

Rod Blagojevich Superstar Logo

Do you like musicals? Are you just not into live theatre? If not, you've really missed out on something awesome. June and I saw "Rod Blagojevich Superstar" on May 16 at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

This is a performance put on by cast members of The Second City, which has served as a starting point for many of the famous "Saturday Night Live" of years past and today. The last performances in Springfield (as of this writing) were the 16th and 17th. We attended the 7 p.m. show, which sold out (I believe all of them did).

The show, of course, is about the rise and fall of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The cast of five includes portrayals of Rod Blago, Patti Blago, U.S. Sen. Roland Burris, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Chicago Alderman Richard Melland U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. This is one of those shows where there aren't really any stage settings or props to slow the action down. You have to use your imagination, but you don't have to stretch it too hard. You'll be too busy laughing.

The story starts out with "innocent" Rod, a real scrapper, meeting Patti and her father, Richard Mell. The story continues on through recent history, with Blago spiraling down the corruption hole the entire way. The play covers many of the smaller Blago scandals while leading up to the climax of Blago allegedly trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat, followed by the appointment of Roland Burris and Blago's arrest soon afterward. The version of the play we saw was slightly updated to include mentions of Blago's TV and radio appearances.

This is one of the best comedies I've seen in a very long time. The silly songs, witty exchange and fact intertwined with slight fiction kept us ROFLing the entire time. It's been almost a week later and I still find myself humming tunes from the show, such as the main theme, "I'm a Scrapper," and "Pay to Play." Each member of the cast was terrific. I especially enjoyed the performances of Kristen Ferilich (Patti Blago), Randall Harr (Rod Blago), and John Hildreth (Roland Burris). Things that made me LOL the most were the times Burris entered the set ("Hello ? Roland Burris"), Blago's hairbrush and Patti's potty mouth.

The show is great, yes, but don't take your small children to see it. Like I hinted in the last paragraph, Patti keeps it real by dropping f-bombs and other dirty words left and right. Take your teenager, though, because they've heard it all from either you or their friends already. I don't think there will be any more Springfield performances, but you can still check them out in Chicago at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre until June 14.

The images in this post are from the press kit provided by Second City. These aren't the actors in the show we attended, but you get the idea?

Blago Superstar Cast 1 Blago Superstar Cast 2

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Entertainment | LOL

Pied Piper Tour Post Updated

by Brandon May 21, 2009 03:18 AM

I've updated the Pied Piper Tour post with some information provided by the tour guide, Anthony Rubano. Go and check it out!

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General

Meiko @ Blueberry Hill

by Brandon May 20, 2009 10:44 AM

meiko_album You may have never heard of self-made singer/songwriter Meiko. I hadn’t, until June bought her CD and played it for me. You may just well recognize her music, though. We recently had a chance to see her perform at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis, MO on the 14th, along with opening act Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons.

We arrived in The Loop a little after 6:30, which gave us plenty of time to grab a bite to eat at Blueberry Hill before the show. I had the Hickory burger (mmmm soooo good!) and June had the fish ‘n’ chips. The show was in the famous Duck Room, where Chuck Berry performs once a month. The doors opened at 8 p.m. and we went downstairs. The Duck Room was a lounge-type setting, with tables and chairs near the stage and a bar in the back. It was the perfect kind of venue for a show like this.

I’m usually not that into opening acts, but Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons got my attention early on and held on tight. Their style is Americana and folk-rock. When the band first got onto the stage, I really had no idea what to expect. Cory Chisel is a tall, skinny white guy probably not too much older than myself, but, by the sound of his voice, you’d think he was someone totally different … kind of like how you never expected Rick Astley (“Never Gonna Give You Up”) to be a skinny, red-headed British dude until everyone started RickRolling each other. This is meant in a good way! Having an opener I could get into was a nice bonus. They played songs off their album Cabin Ghosts and a few more that will be released on their next one. You can hear a few tracks of the album on their Web site and it’s available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon. I didn’t catch their name at the show and had to look it up when I got home. I enjoyed their act so much that I bought the album online immediately. ZOMG! Yes, not all computer geeks are pirates … mostly (yaaarrrr!!!). I gladly support artists and software creators that I enjoy.

Next up, after a very short set change, was Meiko. You should check out her Wikipedia page to learn a little bit more about her. The story of how she made it this far on her own is pretty awesome and it proves how the Internet is enabling all kinds of talented people to successfully reach a type of audience that hardly existed just 10 years ago. Her style is folk rock/indie/pop and was different enough from the opening act to keep the show highly entertaining.

She’s very laid back on stage and kept us captivated not only with great music but also through hamming it up with her band and sharing some of her experiences along the way. This is her first headlining tour, and you can tell she’s definitely excited about it. Her sense of humor is witty and she certainly doesn’t pull any punches, at least for a 21+ show. She’s an excellent stage performer, because that’s where her roots are. One of the stories she shared with us on stage was how she moved to California, became a waitress at the Hotel Cafe, and, eventually, began playing there.

You know how I mentioned you may have heard of her music in the first paragraph? If you read the Wikipedia article like I suggested, you’d find out that several of her tracks have been featured in shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Ghost Whisperer,” and “One Tree Hill.” Some of my favorite tracks were “Boys with Girlfriends,” “Under My Bed” and “Piano Song.” You can hear her entire album online for free on her MySpace page, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and tell you to buy it because you’ll like it that much.

Check out the photos from the show below, along with some video we shot on a Sony DSC-T100 point ‘n’ shoot digital cam. You can also see her for yourself on June 10 at Pop’s in Sauget, IL.

[PicasaAlbum:MeikoBlueberryHill]

I found another review of this very show after some quick searching. I’m pretty sure this person must have been sitting right next to us. What a small Interweb after all…smile_regular

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My Videos | Entertainment

LOL Whut? Pet Massage?

by Brandon May 18, 2009 03:22 AM

The Healing Hands Massage logo

Late last month, I was pulling into the Target parking lot like I do all of the time. As I pulled into the parking space this time, though, I caught a glimpse of an ad on the car parked next to mine. The sign on the back window made me think "Ummm what?". When I got out, I LOL'd and snapped a pic with my phone. I then forgot about it until tonight while going through pictures on the phone.

Ahhhh massages?for dogs and cats? Was this for real? As the Internet has proven time and time again, yes, it is definitely for real.

The owner, Dianne, is certified, bonded, insured and the whole nine yards at pet sitting and massaging you dog, cat or other small animal. I had no idea anything like that?existed. While walking into Target, I started thinking of slogans that could accompany the ad. Things like "Give us money to pet your animals." or "Providing your pets with the love and attention that you're too busy for." smile_wink


Ok, so yes, I thought the idea of it was funny. Do a Google search for Pet Massage, though, and you get over seven million results returned. I do live in a cave, so maybe that's why I haven't heard of this clearly established industry. I don't have any pets, either, so that could be part of it. Dianne, if you're reading this, I'm sure you've become a good sport about people ignorant to your profession, like myself, doing double takes and expressing funny looks when you tell them what you do. As an avid supporter of Springfield's local businesses, I only poke fun, in fun, and wish you nothing but success. smile_regular

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LOL | Springfield