Friday, May 30, 2003

    Again, my apologies for the lack of updates lately. I've been pretty busy this week, and haven't had much time to put up content, and I've actually got a decent amount of content to put up in the next few days.

    The article I'm putting up today is special to Written by Joe Avella, Remembering "B" is Joe's look back at jazz great Billy Mitchell, his discovery of jazz, hearing for the first time what he thought was "just another sax player", and his relationship with the musician.

    As for other articles, I know there are three in the works; another by Joe, one by myself, and the return to of Chris Buse. I've got a few rants in me too, but I'll save those until another time.

    Until then, enjoy Joe's article.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

    Well, here it is. The new layout has arrived, and I must say, I like it quite a lot. I will say that I had very little to do with it. This is mostly Tara's doing, the creative webpage designing half of Black Sunshine Computer Concepts. I just took the site and sanded a few of the edges (mainly my webcounter tags, which had to be changed now that the frames are dead), but the little lady is responsible for the changes. Now, without the frames and a few size constrictions, this should be good in 800x600 resolution, for whomever still uses that.

    Anyone who spends a decent time around me knows I like to read, but have this inability to read just one book at a time, leaving me reading several books at the same time. Well, I managed to finish two this week. The first, Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, is probably better known by the movie it became, Field Of Dreams. Being a fan of the film, I always meant to read the book, as I have this almost morbid fascination with seeing how badly movie adaptations are from their original novel. As adaptations go, Field Of Dreams wasn't a bad film version. The film lacks certain characters, some somewhat major, and one major change. The character of Terrance Mann, played by James Earl Jones, doesn't exist in the novel. The character of Mann replaces that of J.D. Salinger, author of Catcher In The Rye, among others. Salinger was reportedly furious about being in the book, and threatened legal action if he were part of the movie. The book, although fiction, uses many real characters and coincidences, including the character of "Moonlight" Graham, whose portrayal in the novel (and the book) was very much true to form (with the exception of the coming back to life part). A Salinger story did include a character named "Ray Kinsella". It's an interesting piece of fiction using true characters, and I highly recommend the book.

    The other book I read was Moneyball by Michael Lewis. This book totally pulled me in, and while I've stated I usually start books and wander off to others, this I finished in less than a week. I plan on doing a review of the book for the site, so I'll save comments for later.

    Expect a rant tomorrow. Memorial Day in the Hamptons... sigh.

Friday, May 23, 2003

    Two things... it's a short update.

    First off, Owen Hart died today, four years ago. If you don't have an interest in pro wrestling, I understand why you wouldn't know who he is, but if you followed pro wrestling, you know exactly who I'm talking about. Anyone who knew Owen outside of what they saw on TV knew how good of a person he was. Always the practical joker who made a backstage area a little more comfortable to be around. Owen's first love wasn't wrestling, but he was blessed as a great wrestler, possibly better than his brother Bret. After wrestling for a period of time, Owen wanted to retire and become a fireman in Calgary. However, when he was unable to become a fireman, he ended up going back to wrestling to support his family, the very thing that killed him.

    In a profession that has been dulled by death within its ranks, Owen's death was especially tragic, because he didn't die because of his vices or addictions or out of glory. He did what he was instructed to do, and it went tragicly wrong.

    It's no secret that wrestling pretty much sucks now. What's ironic is that if you took the wrestlers who have died or been killed together over the last 10 years, you'd have a damn good company that could outproduce anything out there right now.

    Anyway, second thing. I wouldn't feel right if I didn't plug the Bridgehampton Fire Department website. Black Sunshine Computer Concepts has been working hard on it (with limited resources) and it doesn't look bad. It's going to look better once we get more infomation, but I figure I'd plug it anyway.

    That's it for now. The new look for the site should arrive in the next day or two.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

    Sorry about the double update. Black Sunshine Computer Concepts is currently working on the page(s) to give them a more "clean" look. I was going to hold off on updating until the page design was done, but I'd rather post updates (especially Griff's article) as stuff is fresh in my mind, instead of waiting and forgetting stuff (as I'm sure I'm doing even now).

    Remembered now what I wanted to say for this update. However, it got so damned long it became a column! After seeing the Academy of Country Music Awards last night, I felt the desire to write Dumbass Country Music for It touches on the Dixie Chicks situation, but mainly about how country music carries itself.

    My dear friend Mark Warren (The 16th Parallel) has his own story about the Chicks, but more importantly, he's a kickass web designer and father. Feel free to check out his site.

    And don't forget to scroll down a little bit and see that Griff has written an article for us. Scroll, or he won't write more! Ah hell, I'll just link it again. Another One of Those Stinkin' "Buffy" Recollections

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

    Today's going to be an interesting day around the offices (ha!). Well, moreso this evening, when the final episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer shows on UPN tonight at 8PM (EST). Buffy is one of those few shows I can manage to get into, partially from it being a good show, and partially because Tara's a really big fan. It isn't too often we both can watch something and totally be interested in the show. When it ends tonight (and I've intentionally tried to stay away from any Buffy fansite or Buffy related info just to keep any kind of spoiler away), that's just one more reason I don't watch too much TV (and I never thought I'd say that.)

    Buffy is a well written show, has good characters, and manages to throw a little bit of something for everyone in the shows. They seem to be written for the short attention span, with several things going on at once, comedy mixed with horror mixed with action mixed with drama mixed with romance. Maybe that's what attracts me to it.

    Anyway, if I can be thankful for anything that the final episode will bring (outside of allowing me to live life without hearing Michelle Trachtenberg's screech weekly), it's a new article from Entertainment Editor Adam Griffin! Griff's given us Another One of Those Stinkin' "Buffy" Recollections, his latest article showing his feelings towards the end of BTVS, and his memories from the show.

Friday, May 16, 2003

    Maybe it was the interview.

    I'm not sure, but for whatever reason, Tara's second order from J-List disappeared. All the processes were gone through, and she got her notification that the order was places, and that she's be receiving a confirmation email within 24 hours. 24 hours passes, and no email. Tara contacts J-List, which tell her that it's odd that she never received a confirmation email. They tell her to order again.

    Herein lies the problem.

    J-List keeps a revolving stock of their products. Everything that they keep in inventory is in a "limited quantity", which is something I've found to be a plus and a minus for their site. It's relatively smart, since they constantly bring in new items without having to have a massive inventory or have to have people scrolling through hundreds of items to see what's available. It's not as smart, however, when you run out of a product that people have a demand for, and you don't know when you can get it back in.

    Tara ordered a lot of stuff from J-List this particular time; not enough to even put into memory, so replicating the order would have been tough enough as it stands. Add onto that the fact that a decent percentage of items that Tara did know she ordered aren't on the site anymore, and are therefore not available. It was bad enough waiting for a package that had to come over from Japan and go though cutoms; add onto that waiting for J-List to determine when (and if) they were going to restock the products we wanted, and you start to get into a serious wait for what you're looking for. That's just bad business.

    It's becoming more evident that Peter Payne did study too much Japanese (as he said in his interview) when he went to Japan, and not enough business. Most companies that sell products (especially online) stop selling the product when their stock gets very low, but not zero. This assures that in a worst case senerio things can be replaced (if broken or lost), and more importantly, will keep customers happy, because the product that they ordered will be received. J-List, instead of trying to make a bad situation better, took an "oh well" approach, and never took any action to correct it.

    Well, needless to say, Tara's had it with J-List, and I can't say I'll recommend them again. If you want Japanese porn, they seem to be the place to go (since Peter seems to take a great interest in it), but outside of that, it's a crapshoot. Damn shame, is what it is.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

    Well, my car is in serious trouble, and it's gotten to the point where I don't feel comfortable driving it anywhere (even the Blazer didn't get to that point). I actually went down to the place that's handling the transmission repair today (it was supposedly fixed yesterday, but no one told the car that) and told them about the problems that are currently there. The people, who swore up and down that their work would be covered and they'd fix any problem, proceded to tell me that since I've "got the new transmission", I should "take the opportunity to sell it or trade it in now, before it ends up costing any more." Point taken, guys, but the idea is to make the car dealership think that the vehicle is worth anything, and giving them a car that may lock up mysteriously driving down the road probably isn't going to get me top dollar. They referred to all the problems the car currently has (some of which I already heard), but the point remains that before the transmission went down the tubes, it ran well. I just want it back to the point where it was before the transmission died. If they can't give me that, that's their problem, and has to do with their work, regardless of other problems the car may have. The problems were there before, and the car was "fine". Now I can't drive it.

    Also (yeah, I update this late), it appears the Lakers lost tonight, and are out of the playoffs. I really don't like pro basketball anymore (I was never really a big fan), but I do enjoy seeing teams like the Lakers lose, especially since they're a major team (like an LA or New York) that just begs for bandwagon jumpers. It's one of those things that made me dislike being a Yankee fan. Once the Yankees started winning, every New Yorker jumped off the Mets bandwagon and suddely became a Yankee fan, despite the fact they couldn't name four players on the team. If you want my NBA pick though, I guess I pull for San Antonio, for two reasons. One: they have on their roster Craig "Speedy" Claxton, the only first round NBA choice out of my beloved Hofstra University. Speedy gets playing time too. But the main reason is the fact that it's San Antonio. It just says something about the NBA where their world champion can be from a city that has no other major sports franchise. San Antonio! Home of the NBA World Champions, and AA Minor League Baseball!

Monday, May 12, 2003

    Brand spanking new at is our first interview (of many). I had put off interviews for a while, because I wanted to establish the site more before I started asking people to take time out of their schedules to answer stupid questions that I threw at them. But, then I decided to just do it anyway. Posted right now is interview #1, with J-List's Peter Payne. If you have ideas for future interviews, or somehow think that you're interesting enough to be interviewed yourself, email me at

Saturday, May 10, 2003

    Got a present waiting for me on the front step when I got home today. Yes, dear readers, my care package from J-List arrived. I'd link it, but it's linked twice below, so figure it out. It was a box full of Japanese snacks; stuff that you'd only find in Japan. Tara picked them out for me as a "surprise", but she couldn't keep the secret that she bought stuff a secret for long. She did keep what she bought a secret though, until now. A quick rundown:

    Every Burger - These are small hamburger-looking cookies, which consist of a sugar cookie-like bun (complete with actual sesame seeds) and a chocolate filling made to look like a hamburger. Very tasty, and in the true Japanese style, "cute food".

    Hi-Chew (Green Apple) - Hi-Chew is a taffy-like candy which comes in several flavors. Tara knows my love of green apple flavor (actually, sour apple), and picked this up. Surprisingly, not only did this have a nice tart flavor (many American Green Apple candies tend to be very sweet), but this did not stick to my teeth in the slightest. As you chewed, you'd think that it would, but absolutely not. Why can't they do this with American taffy?

    Sake Candy - I didn't like sake the first time I tried it, but this would be one of those things that is truly Japanese, so Tara picked it up anyway. The candy is very similar to the type of ribbon candy that you'd get at Christmastime (the kind that your grandma sticks in a bowl and it all sticks together), and has an unusual flavor that isn't bad... it's unusual. It may taste like sake, I really don't remember. I wouldn't say it's delicious, but it's interesting.

    Black Black Gum - This stuff seems to have a following outside of Japan, but it's still relatively unheard of. Black Black gum has a strong mint flavor (think Altoids) and is loaded with caffine. The gum is black (well, gray), and according to the label, has "hi-technical excellent taste and flavor." Word.

    Pocky (Choco Banana) - There's about 18 million kinds of Pocky. Pocky is a non-salted pretzel-like thing which is dipped in a coating 3/4 of the way, which gives the Pocky whatever flavor it has. The chocolate banana flavor here is very good, and the part that isn't dipped allows you to hold it, as to not get the coating on your fingers. Pretty smart. Not overly sweet, which makes it even better.

    Pretz (Ebi Shio) - At the Glico factory, they make these saltless pretzel sticks and send them in two different directions. Half go to the Pocky side, where they become something sweet. The other half go to the Pretz side, where they become something salty. To call these "pretzel" snacks (in the case of both the Pocky and Pretz) isn't overly accurate, at least in the way we think of pretzels. They are more of a breadstick, although the flavor of pretzel is still there. They are very tender, and break easily (as my Pretz didn't do too well in the plane/boat/train/UPS truck ride over from Japan). "Ebi Shio" literally means "shrimp salt", which would explain the little shrimp looking at me on the box. I guess when you're surrounded by water, seafood tends to influence your snack treats. I found these to be really good, as most anything seafood related snack-wise tends to taste like Old Bay Seasoning here, and these actually tasted like a seafood treat. Tara wasn't crazy about these.

    Mill Make (Peach) - Unlike most other products that you can pick up in Japan, this package had absolutely NO English on it, outside of "OK!!" on the front. Apparently, it must be good. What you find inside the package is five smaller packets, which contain a substance that looks closest to peach colored ice cream sprinkles. They smelled very peachy, and are used by kids (and I'm sure a few adults) to flavor their milk. It comes in more flavors, but this was pretty good; not overwhelming, and didn't make me sick like Strawberry Quik used to. Plus, a lot easy to carry around and less messy.

    Watering Kiss Mint Gum (Apple Mint Green) - Watering Kiss Mint reminds me a lot of Trident, although the pieces are a little bit bigger, and last a little longer. It comes in a flip top open box, and has a very interesting flavor; while American gum seems content with just "mint", the Watering Kiss Mint gum flavors their mint with Apple (in this case), Peach, and Lemon (along with "clear). The flavor allows for a miny flavor (and fresh breath) while not making you taste mint for too long, while mixing it nicely with the fruit flavor. I swear, American companies can't "borrow" this idea?

    Chocolate Gummi Sushi - Leave it to Japan to take something like sushi and make candy out of it (again, something you'd think America would jump on, with their desire to gummi-ize "weird" food.) The gummi sushi is pretty interesting, with the gummi part being the "fish" part of the sushi (such as roe or a piece of shrimp), with the "rice" it sits on being a marshmallow with a bit of chocolate filling on the inside. Nothing overly special about the flavor, but pretty cool.

    Pucca (Chocolate) - I list these as "chocolate", although I haven't seen any other type. These are goldfish-shaped crackers (actually, pretzels again) which are filled with chocolate. They look like something you could eat way too many of at one setting. Very tasty, and I'm sure full of calories; they're like Goldfish crackers gone bad (not rotten, but evil).

    Overall, very cool stuff, and all very tasty (although the sake candy I'm still trying to get used to.) I'm impressed most, I think, with the packaging that many of these things come in. Most everything I received came in a box, and all the contents were individually wrapped, wither by the piece, or in packs (like the Pocky and Pretz), to retain freshness. All very cool. I highly recommend checking out J-List (again, I shill) just to try out something different. J-List's snack selection is always changing (depending what they keep in stock, because they don't have warehouses full of the stuff), so things you find on there one day you might not find the next. As it stands, I can't find the Mill Make on the site, but I'm sure it'll be on there in the future.

    As for articles, I've got two in the works, and an interview! More later, but now, I eat.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

    Words words words, as Dave Matthews says in "Pay For What You Get". I spit out quite a few of them in my latest article, talking about my recent trip to a neighboring middle school to take the Suffolk County Police Exam. Yeah, it's been quite a while since I've done an update, but I'm working on a few things at once. The Chinese Buffet article is still being worked on (it may be up Friday night or Saturday, so I can get one more taste of the C-Buff, or it may go later so I can get some photos to go along with the article), so that got pushed to the back burner. I scored an interview with Peter Payne, who runs J-List, mentioned below. That'll be up soon, as I look for a few more good questions. Finally, what was going to be a simple update turned into Takes The Police Test. Hopefully, my seemingly simple experience makes for an enjoyable read, and I can come up with a few more articles in the near future. Until then, hang in there.