Whatever happened to the Showbiz Pizza robots

I grew up in Lynchburg in the 80's, and one of the best things we had going for us was Showbiz Pizza. Pizza + videogames + animatronic figures = a great time for ten-year-old Sean Tubbs.

Flash forward however many years, and the place is out of business, and then I read this on Boing Boing. Some guy bought one of the sets, somewhere, and then reprogrammed them to perform new styles of music.

To me, this is absolutely hilarious.


What can widgets do for you?

In my RSS reader (Bloglines, by the way), I have saved a lot of articles on widgets. Widgets are supposed to be the next wave of online advertising. To the uninitiated, widgets are little pieces of code that bloggers place in their sidebar to do something useful. Blogger allows its writers to add these pretty painlessly.

All of the stuff to the right (if you're on the site, of course, as opposed to an RSS reader (bloglines, by the way, but I click-through a lot) is powered by a widget. The ones at the very top here aren't formatted properly at the moment, but they're put together by Feedburner (which Google owns now, by the way) as a way to boost traffic to individual entries. For me, they're convenient little tools which can at a moment's notice scroll through the latest offerings.

But, will they boost traffic for the various offerings of the Charlottesville Podcasting Network? Will they add more subscribers?

I'm writing to hopefully begin a conversation among those of us who are collected through cvilleblogs.com and other Charlottesville aggregators. I want to know what you all think about these widgets. Have you considered using them? Would you be opposed to seeing them in individual posts? Would you place a widget on your blog that links to others, similar to what you might see on the right if you click-through to here? Is there a blog that you like that you would like to highlight by placing a widget which displays the last five posts?


Went to see the Simpsons movie

The wife and daughter were at church, and I decided to go ahead and catch one of the early morning shows of The Simpsons Movie at the Regal downtown. It was the first time in a very long time that I went to go see a movie by myself, and I thought it would be worth the trip.

I've been a fan of the Simpsons since the first season. I never really watched it on the Tracy Ullman show. In recent years, it's no longer necessary for me to watch every new episode, and I almost never watch it in re-runs anymore. So, why pay money to go see the movie?

For one, I thought it would be nice to see it in an actual theater for a change. The last movie I saw was Hot Fuzz earlier this year. I've not really wanted to see much of anything, as I've been busy with work-related things.

But, I think I might have been the only person in the theater by himself, which made me feel very self-conscious. When I was single in the late 90's, I saw everything that way, and didn't really mind sneaking in. Thankfully they had started the advertisements before I got there, missing a couple of fingers after purchasing popcorn. I was able to pick a spot right in the middle, not restricting myself to the aisles.

The previews beforehand were absolutely ridiculous. A sequel to Daddy Day Care. A remake of Alvin and the Chipmunks starring Jason Lee, featuring a pretty disgusting poop joke. Some other retread that I can't quite remember off the top of my head, but there really wasn't an original idea in the four previews. Odd that it took a television show to get me into a theater.

And then the movie. The reason I went on opening weekend because I was wondering if there would be any milestones in the movie. Would a character die? Would something different happen? How would they sustain the narrative? I was curious, so it was worth it to see it on the big screen without being spoiled.

Well, I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but the experience makes me wonder if the studios could make a lot of money off of people like me who would likely pay $9.99 on opening weekend to watch it in a one-time viewing on my computer or through pay-per-view.

The theater was maybe a quarter-full, and no one really laughed. There were a lot of kids in, and it was kind of embarrassing to laugh at some of the more adult jokes that got inserted into the film. It is a movie, after all. I was a bit self-conscious, and there were kids on either side of me, so I restrained most of my chortles and guffaws. I can imagine some of the parents were likely doing the same.

I'm not sure if it was worth it, but I did have fun, and it was a nice little distraction. A pure spur of the moment kind of thing, helped by the fact that I was able to get a space on Water Street (despite the Jeep thing eliminating over a hundred parking spaces) just outside the Regal. That alone made it something memorable!

But, was it Simpsonesque? If you're a fan of the show, go see it, and go ahead and spend the cash to see it in a theater. But, go see a late night version so you can really relax and enjoy it.


My appearance on the Newsplex

I was interviewed recently by Newsplex reporter Mark Tenia for a story on Charlottesville Tomorrow's Election Watch page. Here now is a link to the piece.


Places29 video on Channel 10

Charlottesville Tomorrow has placed its first video on Channel 10, one of the City's cable access channels. If you tune in at this moment, you'll see our video of John Giometti's presentation of the transportation study that's part of Places29.

They will be running this periodically over the next two weeks, and we'll be giving them more content as we film other events such as this.


Ten things I learned from the L.A. Galaxy/Beckham press conference

I was just watching the press conference at which David Beckham was introduced as a member of the L.A. Galaxy.

It's about sixteen and a half minutes long, and was kind of entertaining. But, as I'm sure you're not really going to watch the whole thing, I thought I would provide ten things that I learned while watching.

1) Alexei Lalas seems well-groomed to play the role of booster for this team.
2) The sponsor of the L.A. Galaxy featured on the jersey is Herbalife. That's an odd choice for a main advertiser.
3) L.A. doesn't much care for their mayor. When Antonio Villaraigosa took the stage at the end, he was booed. The article goes on to say it may have been because the Mayor is a Chivas supporter.
4) Beckham almost called his sport "football" but corrected himself quickly. He said he'd get used to it.
5) Speaker after speaker makes reference to how this will build the sport of soccer in the future. I will likely watch a few matches. I also like how MLS teams seem to be building relationships to English teams. That's not really mentioned in this press conference, but the fact that the above video is from Sky Sports shows that they're going to cover MLS, at least in the short-term.
6) Really, Herbalife? It looks very odd. But according to Wikipedia, they have a "five-year deal worth between $3.5 million and $5 million a year through 2011."
7) The moment where the confetti comes out and Beckham gets his jersey is kind of entertaining, and happens after ten minutes. Dramatic. If this were a movie, we're soon going to enter the period where the team doesn't live up to expectations. Beckham clashes with the rest of the team, etc. Then there would be many montages, before they go on to win the U.S. Open Cup, or something similar.
8) Beckham said he was looking forward to the challenge. Will he last the whole five years?
9) There will definitely be a lot of culture clash, but I'm looking forward to watching to see how this will play out. I'm sure many of the games will be televised. ESPN is committing something like 20 cameras to the his first match next Saturday.
10) "Good luck and keep supporting us" Beckham told the crowd, who then erupted into chants of "One of us! One of us! One of us!"


Thoughts while doing maintenance

It's Saturday, and I'm feeling lazy, but I have at least eight projects to get to at some point over the weekend. But, my three computers are so laden with sound files that I don't really know where to begin in terms of organizing them. I've got audio from the last eight years waiting to be archived.

It's amazing just how much stuff is on the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. I currently have audio files on three servers, and I'm trying my best to consolidate them to one place. This is a grueling process, but it's necessary so I can save a little bit of money on my server costs. Right now, I'm paying way too much.

I've forgotten so many of the stories that I've posted the site. As you may recall, the original idea was to have the site be a place to go for original stories. Since getting out of the radio business, it's been harder to be efficient in terms of getting new things posted to the site. I've still got a large backlog of things to go through.

But, when I go back and hear things like the preview of Chad Day's Charlottesville Sports and Social Club, I wish I had the resources and the time to do more things like this. Or, the interview I did with the folks at Virginia Integrative Medicine.

Now, I was able to get these stories on the website because I was able to get them on the air on WVTF. I have not had the chance to file a story for WVTF lately. Part of the problem is that I've got so much audio I've got to sort through.