Monthly Archives: June 2008

Wii Fit Jams: Music to sweat by…

OK, let me start by saying that the one and only complaint I have about our belovedĀ Wii Fit so far is that several of the workout “games” don’t have any musical accompaniment. Sure, the hula hoop workout has some music and the yoga has some dreamy sounds floating by in the background, but the jogging is totally devoid of music.

Now, the visuals on the island jog are gorgeous and the sound effects are awesome, but I like me some music when I jog…so rather than dash off an angry letter to Nintendo, I made an iPod playlist especially for my Wii Fit workout!

These aren’t the best songs on my iPod — and lord knows they aren’t the worst! — but if they get me moving and get the old blood pumping, then, good, bad or totally cheesy, they made the list. That said, I’m warning you ahead of time that this is definitely not the kind of music I recommend blasting from your car stereo as you cruise Hollywood Blvd. with your homies.

But if you’re working out in the comfort of your own home in the middle of the night, then have at it, amigos. This Wii Fit playlist is for you!

Before I list the songs, I should also add that this list is by no means permanent. I dumped about 5.5 hours worth of Wii Fit worthy music into the playlist and really only use the first 42-45 minutes worth of tunes, so, needless to say, I change the list up a lot. But as of right now…this is my list…

Since I usually start with about ten minutes of hard core hula hoop-ing — don’t laugh, that shit is harder than it looks and man, does it make you sweat! — I begin my workout with Van McCoy’s roller rink classic “The Hustle” (3:47). I know what you’re thinking, but trust me, disco and hula hoops are kind of like peas and carrots…they just work.

Next up is another glittery, disco-era jam, Sister Sledge’s “He’s the Greatest Dancer” (3:25). I know it’s lame, but when I’m mid hula, it’s fun to imagine that the Sister’s Sledge are singing about me. That’s right, for a little over three minutes…I am the greatest dancer! Or, you know, hula hooper…

From here, I transition to classic, mid-60’s Elvis Presley for 2.07 minutes of “Bossa Nova Baby”. Dying for the hula hooping to end, I finish up the session with 2.38 minutes of Neil Diamond’s jangly, and, dare I say, “cracklin” good, “Cracklin’ Rosie”.

This next song was tricky as I needed something to bridge the hula hoop workout and the jogging program…music to put your jogging shoes on to. So, what better transitional tune than The Doors’ “Break on Through” (2:27). It doesn’t really take me that long to tie my shoes, but since pressing all the buttons and stuff does burn up some time, I figured, why not have some music to do it by? Right?

Now, the first song in the jogging program is the one I have changed the most. It’s hard to get the right balance of a great song and one that offers a nice, slow-build to the workout. So, as of right now, that song is Barbra Streisand’s “This is One of Those Moments” (4:04) from “Yentl”. I know it’s a pretty gay-ass jam, but hey, it does build up momentum and that’s all I was looking for.

Following “Yentl” is Mama Cass’ rocking “Make Your Own Kind of Music”. I have had that song on CD for years but only started really enjoying it since it was used on “Lost” a couple seasons back. If you haven’t heard this song yet, you’re missing out, amigos. Mama Cass rocked as a solo artist! Too bad they didn’t have Wii Fit in her day…know what I’m saying?

Next up, I am loathe to admit, is another embarrassing song: Alanis Morissette’s “Front Row” (4:13). Yes, it’s true…deep down I am a sulky twenty-year-old Liberal Arts chick with a Lilith Fair fixation. But seriously, despite the cold, disapproving glares from my wife and friends over the years, I have always dug Alanis. So…suck it, haters.

By this time, my heart is pumping and it’s time to turn up the volume, and since nobody does that better than Courtney Love, the next song on the playlist is Hole’s “Violet” (3:23). This song is like smelling salts to me…seriously, I could be out cold, hear those opening chords and be totally revived in seconds. It’s that good! And speaking of good, next up is Ben Fold’s equally-jamming “Zac and Sara” (3:10). What can I say? Nothing keeps fatty jogging more than some sweet, smoking, Southern piano! Go, Ben!

The next spot on the playlist is another one that has been changed several times. I think I started out with some Nick Cave and Avril Lavigne but have somehow ended up with Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell’s one solo hit “Look at Me” (2:44). I know, cheese-tastic. But I’ll tell you what, that zippy, UK trash-pop ditty keeps me moving, baby. So, rock on, “girl power”!

By this point, my little Mii has already made several laps around the Wii Fit island and is desperately in need of some inspiration to carry him to the 30 minute mark. This time, that inspiration comes from The Killers’ lush, almost insanely beautiful “Read My Mind” (4:06). Wow…this song shimmers almost as much as that virtual surf in the distance of Wii Fit island…amazing!

With the Wii FIt finish line in site, I segue back to The King for Elvis Presley’s kick-ass cover of Chuck Berry’s jaunty “Memphis Tennessee” (2:10). Wow…nothing like an ice cool song to counteract the sweat rolling down my shiny forehead! Yee-haw!

And then, as the clock ticks down the minutes in the upper right hand side of the screen, Neil Diamond returns to play me on home with “America” (4:17). When I have timed everything just right, I actually sweep across the finish line just as Neil belts out that “My country tis of thee…TODAY!” action. Man…what better way to end a workout? Thanks, Neil.

And just like that, it’s time to tally up my 42 Wii Fit fitness points — you get one point for every minute you work out — and hit the showers. Like I said, my playlist is a strange and ever-evolving beast right now, so if you have any cool tunes to add or, more likely, subtract, please, feel free to leave me a comment…

In the meantime, que viva los Wii Fit jams!

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Gore endorses Obama!

Sure we saw this one coming when Hillary finally dropped out a couple weeks back, but hey, that doesn’t make it any less cool. Endorsements from former presidential candidates are nice and everything, but in my book, an endorsement from Mr. Greenjeans himself is pretty stellar. Wow…

And while I can’t speak for Senator Obama’s carbon footprint, I’m pretty sure his political footprint just got a whole lot bigger. Go, Obama!

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Morgan Spurlock’s “30 Days”

Ever since we first saw his Oscar-nominated documentary “Super Size Me”, Christine and I have been huge fans of writer/director Morgan Spurlock. So much so that when the third season of his kick-ass show “30 Days” premiered on FX two weeks back, we were kinda glued to the Tivo.

If you haven’t watched yet, the concept is deceptively simple, each week someone is chosen to live in another person’s shoes for 30 days.

Spurlock has appeared in several episodes himself — most recently in this season’s first episode which found him working in a Virginia coal mine for 30 days — but usually he picks someone whose lifestyle and belief systems are exactly opposite of the life they will be living for 30 days.

Previous seasons have seen a born-again Christian living in a Muslim household, a homophobic straight man living with gays in San Francisco, an outsourced American tech worker living in India and working in a call center, and a hard-core minuteman from Texas living with a family of illegal immigrants in Los Angeles. If you think that sounds like a juicy set-up for a show…you’re right!

But while most other networks would tart everything up for the sake of the drama, FX has pretty much given Spurlock free reign to make “30 Days” into something truly unique. Not so much a show as a series of insightful, funny, and sometimes enormously-moving one hour films, “30 Days” is not to be missed.

Some people have criticized Spurlock for injecting himself into the drama too much and becoming kind of a Michael Moore-lite, but I could not disagree more. I mean, sure, sometimes Moore’s presence in his own films is distracting and tends to turn the proceedings into the Michael Moore show, but Morgan Spurlock has the exact opposite effect onscreen.

Whether it’s his goofy, everyman quality, or the fact that he just seems more likable than Moore, Spurlock has way more soul as a “character” and lacks the obvious political agenda that drives Moore towards some of his more outlandish stunts. That’s not to say Spurlock doesn’t try to steer the proceedings a bit — which of course, he does — but the thing I like about “30 Days” is that it just feels more heartfelt and real than anything Moore has churned out in recent years.

And better yet, Spurlock never tells you what to think, but rather presents the information to you “as is” and lets you decide what you think, which, hello, is kind of what a documentary is supposed to do, right?

Future episodes this season tackle such hot-button issues as gay families, anti-gun activism, life on an Indian reservation and this Tuesday’s episode which finds a hard-core hunter from Chapel Hill, NC moving into a home of Peta-loving vegans for 30 days.

While those all sound kind of awesome, I have to say that last Tuesday’s episode — which featured retired pro-football great Ray Crockett confined to life in a wheelchair for 30 days — was probably one of the best hours of television we’ve seen in years. If you can find it in repeats, WATCH IT!

Crockett’s struggles adjusting to life in the chair are one thing, but the wheelchair-bound people he met and befriended during his 30 days were just amazing. The paraplegic counselor working with the recently paralyzed, the tough-as-nails wheelchair rugby team featured in the documentary “Murderball” and most poignantly, the young girl recently confined to a wheelchair after a horrible accident.

The look on Crockett’s face as he sits in on the girl’s rehabilitation sessions is heartbreaking, and I defy you not to cry when she pulls herself up in bed for the first time since her accident. I’m not kidding, folks, this is cable television at its finest…really beautiful stuff.

The first two seasons of the show — which I highly recommend — have recently been released on DVD and the third season of “30 Days” airs Tuesday nights at 10pm on FX. Spurlock was quoted recently in Entertainment Weekly as saying that this Tuesday’s episode (the hunter/vegan family) is the best one of the season, so…what better time to check out “30 Days” for yourself?

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Tim Russert (1950-2008)

Just heard the news that NBC’s Washington Bureau Chief and host of the long-running “Meet The Press”, Tim Russert has died today at the age of 58. According to MSNBC, Russert collapsed from an apparent heart attack while recording voice-overs for this Sunday’s upcoming episode of “Meet The Press” and died on the spot. So sad…

Even casual beltway junkies will agree that Russert was one of the coolest, most down-to-earth and totally fair political experts out there. When he said something, Christine and I, and millions of other Americans listened. Russert was real, honest, funny and so smart and savvy he made my brain hurt sometimes. But I loved him for it!

Seriously, Russert was no light-weight pundit, he asked the questions we all wanted to hear answered and he did it with style. Unlike so many of the political bull dog interviewers on cable, Russert was a charmer who got politicians to open up and be themselves. And for that, he will be greatly missed.

While I was never up early enough to see him on the Today show, Christine would always Tivo Russert’s guest appearances for me. And if some juicy political shit went down overnight — and in a roller coaster election year like we’re in right now, that was EVERY night — you can bet your ass Russert had an opinion on it.

I think I’m probably most sad about the fact that Russert won’t be around to comment on all the political drama that is sure to unfold over the next few months as we prepare to elect our next president. In my eyes, Russert was kind of a towering figure in network news and his death today is a real loss for all of us.

I know it sounds cheesy to say, but, really, he really was one of a kind and our thoughts go out to his family and colleagues at NBC during this difficult time.

RIP, Mr. Russert…you rocked our political world.

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UPDATE: Southern Style Chicken Biscuit @ McDonald’s…with honey!

After carefully considering everyone’s advice on the subject, I did finally try improving upon perfection yesterday by adding some honey to my Southern Style Chicken Biscuit @ McDonald’s. And let me tell ya, it was amazing!

Since I wasn’t sure if my local McDonald’s would have honey on hand for the experiment, I brought my own in a tiny plastic container that Christine picked up at The Container Store.

Now, I gotta admit that when Christine bought these little containers a few weeks back, I kinda gave her a hard time about them: “What could we possibly need those for?” Well, now I know what we needed them for…those little guys are the perfect vehicle for transporting my honey to McDonald’s! Yeah! So, I am happy to admit I was totally wrong about your containers, sweetie. Sorry…

Anyway, yesterday morning, while the guys at the register stared and laughed — I try to pretend I’m not a breakfast regular now, but I think they’re on to me — I whipped out my ghetto-ass container of honey and my camera and got to work.

And though it is kind of crazy messy — I had honey everywhere when I left, including the steering wheel of the car and mysteriously, my cell phone! — I gotta tell you, the addition of honey to the mix is pretty damn spectacular! I shit you not, amigos, this is heaven on a biscuit. You gotta try it…

I should also mention that they are now playing cool Stax-style Southern Soul at my McDonald’s in the morning too. Man, they are really selling the Southern experience hard right now…and I, for one, am truly loving it. Yee-haw!

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Ben & Jerry’s newest flavor: Imagine Whirled Peace

Christine has always favored Ben & Jerry’s over all other ice creams, and even though I must admit to being much more of a Baskin Robbins man myself, I do love me some sweet, socially-conscious Ben & Jerry’s sometimes too.

Their Chunky Monkey kind of slays me…it’s amazing. And Christine actually fought a woman to the death for the last pint of Cherry Garcia at Vons one time. Yeah, um…we don’t talk about that much…

The thing I dig most about Ben & Jerry’s is that they make great gourmet ice cream for a cause, several of them in fact, and yet despite the often serious nature of the causes they morph into flavors, the company maintains a cool, cheeky sense of humor. Who else but those crazy hippies from Vermont could take a cause as noble as ONE.org’s campaign to “make poverty history” and make it into ONE Cheesecake Brownie?

Haven’t tried that one yet, but man, that is just hilarious. So when we heard that Ben & Jerry’s were creating a new flavor to honor John Lennon’s lifelong commitment to the peace movement, we were all over that shit!

Launched in Times Square on May 27th, Imagine Whirled Peace is caramel and sweet cream ice cream swirled with fudge peace signs and toffee cookie pieces. And, man alive, is it delicious!

Even cooler than the ice cream is the way it was introduced to the world. Staging a recreation of Lennon and Yoko Ono’s famous “bed-ins for Peace” with super cool actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, B&J’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield and Jeremy Gilley, founder of Peace One Day, Imagine Whirled Peace was literally launched from bed. How cool is that?

As always, a portion of the profits go towards the Peace One Day foundation, which was started by Gilley to keep the peace movement alive in today’s crazy world. Peace One Day events are celebrated annually on September 21st.

And while she wasn’t there in person to launch the flavor, Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono did provide a statement for the event that supposedly brought down the house…er, bedroom. “Make peace — a dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” Wow, almost me wanna run out and buy more some ice cream…nicely put Yoko!

And while I gotta admit that I was not initially turned on by the actual ingredients in the flavor, one bite of that toffee cookie dough goodness changed my mind immediately. Imagine Whirled Peace is straight-up fantastic! And though I usually find large chunks of chocolate in ice cream to be too hard, those tasty little peace signs literally melt in your mouth. Must be the fudge factor.

So even if you don’t eat it in bed, I urge you to check out the links above, help make a difference and most of all, as Lennon famously encouraged us to do with peace, give this flavor a change, baby. You’ll love it!

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Apple’s new iPhone 3G!

Unfortunately, Christine and I have not joined the iPhone generation yet, but that hasn’t stopped us from following every new release and upgrade with the greatest of interest! So, when we heard that Steve Jobs pulled a lighter, faster and, best of all…cheaper, iPhone out of his pocket at Apple’s WWDC in San Francisco today, we were breathless with anticipation!

Not that either of us are in the market for a new phone right now — and honestly, as long-time Sprint users, we aren’t really looking to upgrade until iPhones are open to all phone carriers! — but man, these things are so damn cool to play with! And with the announcement today of scads of new third-party applications going on sale soon at a separate iPhone Apps Store, well, wow…how can you lose?

Practically everyone on the set in New Mexico had iPhones, and even though the browser was a little twitchy sometimes, it was still pretty cool to have all that power in your back pocket. Need to look someone’s credits up on the imdb? Bam! There you go! So cool…

And now, with a faster speed and even the inclusion of a GPS system, man, that thing is gonna rule the earth! Scheduled to go on sale at Apple Stores nationwide and online on July 11th, the new and improved iPhone will cost $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB version. That’s a pretty huge drop from last year’s original release price of $599 and $499 for far less space.

Though we were hoping to hear that Apple had opened the floodgates and made the iPhone available for use on the cell phone carrier of your choosing, we are still encouraged by the fact that the European version of the iPhone is open to several different carriers overseas.

So, hey, given time…maybe the same thing will happen here! Until then, we’ll just drool over all the shiny new iPhones when we visit the Apple Store…

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