The Blob

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Who knew?

I really thought I knew my wife. I really did. After seven years of a really blissful marriage, I'd figured that I knew her every nuance. I was wrong. For I was about to discover something devastating, something for which I'm still trying to comprehend.

My wife is hopelessly addicted to baseball. She's become a diehard Anaheim Angels fan.

It started so innocently at first. Sure, over the years, she'd mentioned that as a young and impressionable child, she was the Batgirl and mascot of her local Little League team. And she'd alluded to having gone to Dodgers and Angels games over the years with her dad. But I figured she did that to be a good daughter. Surely it was something she had outgrown years ago.

Then, last fall, the Angels made it to the playoffs. She showed no visible reaction. When the Angels creamed the Yankees, she commented on it. We all did. Still, I noticed no real change in her. It wasn't until game 5 of the ALCS against the Twins that we actually started watching the games, and I recall saying, "honey, let's watch the game." And of course, the Angels won. By the time the World Series came around, we, along with everyone else in southern California, were watching the action. It was the local team, after all. But she, well, loved it. I mean really enjoyed it. By game seven, which was a total nail-biter, she was all-consumed.

But her baseball addiction didn't become obvious until this season. It was when I came home late from work one night that I knew there was a problem. There she was, totally glued to the TV. It was the Angels, after all. And now? Every night the Angels are on TV, we're there. And when they're not, or if the game is on while she's in the office, my wife tracks the progress of every game on the 'net. I mean, baseball has become her life.

But don't worry. Her newfound addiction has hardly driven a wedge between us. Truth be told, I share her addiction. Our house is littered with Angels memorabilia, a Rally Monkey (a must for any hardcore Angels fan), and anything else that will bring the team good luck.

And to think it all started so do I say it? Innocently. Yeah, that's it. I mean, who knew it would come to this? There's only one thing to do. Wish 'em on. Say incantations over our Rally Monkey, take our Angels baseball hats off when and wave 'em when we need a key hit, and keep praying Brendan Donnelley keeps fanning the other guys.

And to think I used to believe baseball wasn't cool. What was I thinking?

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Yet another Oxymoron

The other day, my wife asked me to "give this letter to the mail lady." Is it just me, or does the sound of the words "mail lady" sound strange to you too?

Pixar does it again

I can't stop laughing. When I went to see Finding Nemo the other night, among the pre-movie trailers was one for a new movie coming in November, 2004 that left me on rolling on the floor: The Incredibles. If it's up to the usual Pixar standard, it will be another out of the park home run. Click on the link above and check out the trailer. (You'll need Apple Quicktime to view it, something well worth your time.) Enjoy!

Monday, June 09, 2003

Steve Jobs is smarter than we are

Steve Jobs. Mention those two words in sequence and you'll either be greeted with smiles and enthusiasm or a scathing response. Steve Jobs helped to create a legend in starting Apple Computer, and perhaps with it, the PC industry. He's known as someone who does not suffer fools, and stories abound that he can be a challenge to work for. I'll leave it to you to decide what side of the fence you're on with respect to Apple Computer. It's another name that either brings smiles or scorn.

What you can't deny is that Steve Jobs makes things happen. He may not be the inventor of technologies or marketing techniques, or if you're a fan of Pixar, his other company, the wonderful animations like their current smash hit, Finding Nemo. What Steve Jobs does do well is sense what people want. Again and again, he's driven brilliant people almost insane with his vision, and given them the license to do, in his words, insanely great things.

Brilliant people don't suffer fools, and have witheringly high standards that they set for themselves and those around them. If not for Steve Jobs and the standards that he sets, we would not have Toy Story. Or the iPod. Or the Macintosh. We might still think that computing with a 5 1/4" floppy disk and DOS prompts would be acceptable. In short, Steve Jobs is an agent of change.

The iTunes Music Store is a perfect example. Since the birth of Napster, electronic downloading of music has been a flashpoint that pitted consumers against the music industry. I found myself not wanting to steal, which is what you do when you download songs through Web sites such as Kaaza, Morpheus or LimeWire. Frankly, I do care that musicians get paid for what they created. But the music industry's response has been ridiculous. Instead of giving consumers a reason to be on their side, we were treated like common criminals. It just did not make sense.

Steve Jobs sensed that. And 18 months ago, he started a project that would render moot all the rancor. If you've not seen the iTunes Music Store, his response, stop by your local Apple Store and check it out. What Steve Jobs' team of programmers accomplished is amazing. Apple iTunes is the nicest music jukebox software to be found on any system today. It's classic Apple: intuitive, easy to use and rewarding. One click at you're online on the iTunes Music Store (iTMS). Once you've set up your account, you can browse through thousands of songs and albums, and with one click, you can instantly purchase and download the songs you want. Everybody wins. I get the music I've tried hard to find, musicians and record companies get their fair share, and Apple makes it happen.

I've often passed on buying a CD because I only liked one or two songs. But with iTMS, I can buy only the songs I want for $.99 each, or if I'm in the mood, the who album. With a fast broadband connection, you can purchase and download in minutes. There is digital rights management, but it's not draconian like that envisioned by Microsoft.

In short, Steve Jobs gets it. Why Apple has such as small market share is beyond me. Quite simply, they make the most elegant computers on the planet. Their software is a joy to use. In a world of beige boxes, Steve Jobs gives us something exceptional. Thank God Bill Gates has not yet decided to clone Pixar ideas and call them his own. Our world would be a boring and lesser place without the iconoclastic passion of Steve Jobs. He may not be an easy person. But we're all the better for it.

If you love music, check out the iTunes Music Store. It's worth your time.