Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Classic Video: (Sigh)

Wow, has it been a busy week, what with all this constant posting and whatnot. My fingers feel like they're about to fall off! OMG LOL!

Sorry 'bout that. Moving on, many of you know that it's been a particularly tough week to be a Mets fan. So I figured I'd take a classic movie and use a few clips from it to help work through my feelings. Please feel free to suggest other scenes and how they might relate.

Feeling #1: Suicidal. I thought Tuesday's game was bad. Then Wednesday happened. And finally, there was the Katrina-sized debacle that was yesterday. (I know this is really crappy quality, but you remember the clip. If you know somewhere that has a better version, let me know.)

(Here's the full scene, in better quality if you really want to see the whole thing now.)

Feeling #2: Rage. This is what would likely happen if Billy Wagner were to find himself in a room full of Mets fans.

Feeling #3: Oh fuck it, let's just have a laugh and remember that there's plenty more season to go, right?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Things That Are Overrated: The Breakfast Club

I saw this movie again about two days ago, which is what spurred this post.

The Breakfast Club is regarded as the quintessential '80s movie by the quintessential '80s director, but it's not that great. John Hughes was onto something when he wrote and directed this movie. It's a great idea, and I really like movies that run as if they were plays. This one is enterttaining because you can imagine yourself sitting in an auditorium watching this story that takes place in basically one room. (side note: another movie that runs like a play is "Two Girls And A Guy" with Robert Downey, Jr. and Heather Graham and someone else I forget who plays the second girl. I enjoyed that film, too.)

The basic idea is that he gets together 5 kids who have nothing in common on the surface, but come to realize that they actually have more in common than they would have thought. I think this is an really deep idea that should be mined for as much as it's worth. There's a lot of material here to mine out. The probalem I have with this movie is that it's just really disjointed and it's not executed as well as it should be. It's good, but it could be much better. So the reason it's underrated is that the potential for a classic movie is really there, but instead it's sortof a pedestrian affair.

The main problem I have with the movie is that the kids just go back and forth between liking and hating each other without any real reason. Judd Nelson is very good in the role, but his character just jumps between having sympathy for the others and then outright hating them within seconds. And then in the end, he's basically just like "I was just kidding, Molly Ringwald, I liked you all along." And then Emilio Estevez is like, "Gee, Ally Sheedy, you're pretty cute, lets make out for a minute or two." And Ally Sheedy is like, "Well, I've developed this image as an outsider and even though I'm pretty I'm gonna wear black eye makeup and not wash my hair so that I have copious amounts of dandruff, but since Molly Ringwald wants to put eye liner on me, I guess I'll abandon everything I've got going here and make out with Emilio Estevez for a minute or two."

Basically, the ending is kindof hollow for me because we really didn't get deep enough into the characters. Also there isn't really a moment when any of these relationships really form. Again, the groundwork is there. And the idea of the things they have in common slowly coming out through the course of the day is interesting. The little speech that each of them makes about how they really view themselves is pretty good. I can buy that all of them are friendly afterward, and the best part of the movie is when Molly Ringwald says that she probably wouldn't be friends with any of them on Monday. There just isn't enough there for these relationships to have formed at the end. Also the indecision through the course of in terms of liking and hating each other really bothers me.

The iMDB page for the movie says that the original cut was about 150 minutes and was trimmed down to an '80s style 97 minutes for theatrical release. So I'm guessing...I'm hoping, that the original cut wasn't quite so abrupt in dealing with these kids feelings, but the existing fils leaves me just a little bit hollow.

For the record, I do enjoy the movie and there are certain parts that are really powerful, but I felt like the whole thing could have been that powerful, rather than just a certain few minutes.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Classic Video: Triple-threat match!

All right, so I thought I'd do a little something special today. Three videos!!! (And three exclamation points!!!) I know, amazing, right? But since none of my other cohorts decided to bless our blessed blog (Mrs. Twombly is loving my alliteration.) this week with a...what do you call it? Oh yeah, a POST. Yeah, that's it. Anyway, here are three clips which I hope you will offer your opinions on. (Rock on with the dangling prepositions!)

Number One: In all honesty, should "Mexicans" be counted as "Real People"?

Number Two: We've all been the first to pass out, but have your friends ever done something quite like this to you? (WIN IT! GET THE BALL! GOOD SHOW!)

Best Prank To Do When Passed Out - Click here for the funniest movie of the week

Number Three: (Disclaimer: If you've recently lost a loved one, this may be difficult to watch. So if you're particularly sensitive, then I'd say don't bother watching. Either way, the real question comes after the clip.)

So, is that real? (For the record, I only posted that to address the ongoing question of whether or not any video you see on YouTube or wherever is actually real. Whereas it's very easy to claim that some idiot face-planting while trying to breakdance is fake, is it just as easy seeing something like this and calling "Bullshit!"?)

In case that depressed anyone...

Here's why I miss college:

So which one is best?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Study by NASA says: Doing three things at once less convenient than doing each one at a time

I don't normally like to use this space to blatantly bitch about things, but there is one thing that happened once again tonight that has bothered the crap out of me for so long, I can't even remember the first time -- or even the 405th time -- it happened.

Let me set the scene:

You enter your local grocery mart and proceed to pick out the various items which will comprise your dinner, along with tampons (if you've got a wife), granola bars (if you've got a kid, or you're a stoner), or some Astroglide (if you're Michael Vick. What? Too soon?), etc...

(Ha, remember the name of the Jetsons' dog? Astro! I just made a double entendre! Prison rape and dogs! Beat that, James Bond!)

You approach the checkout lines, try to guess which one will move fastest, and inevitably choose the one where the guy in front of you can't figure out how to swipe his credit card and, after that, the cashier chick types in the wrong code for green peppers and has to call her manager over for a "void." You smile, trying to cover your frustration, thinking, "Haven't any of you idiots ever done this before?"

Finally, all your items are bagged by that odd-looking guy who creeps you out when he smiles, almost as if he's asking you to congratulate him on such a magnificent accomplishment. The cashier says, "$23.78." You brought three quarters along, just in case that amount of change would cover it, but you're three cents short, so you hand over a twenty and a ten. She opens the register, and very carefully (read: slowly as fuck) counts out six dollars and twenty-two cents. It's just a five and a one, and two dimes and two pennies, but she concentrates on this like she needs to get a 5 on the A.P. Calculus exam to get that scholarship.

Now what does she do?

She has the 22 cents in one hand, the bills in the other. She watches the receipt print out -- which is always inconceivably long, considering you only bought about five items. Then she grabs the receipt with the hand holding the bills, hands it to you, and pours the 22 cents in change on top of it. Then she gives you that smile that isn't really a smile -- it's just the face that she knows she has to make because her manager told her to do that so the customer will think he received good service and then leave promptly.

So there you are. In your hand, from the bottom up, are a five-dollar bill, a one-dollar bill, a giant receipt that for whatever reason requires several pieces of paper, and topping it off are two dimes and two pennies.


I don't know about you, but I put my change in my right front pocket. I put my bills in my wallet, which I keep in my back left pocket. Receipts? I usually put them in the bag.

Here is what upsets me. That cashier clearly thinks she's just done me a favor by handing all of this to me at once. That bullshit smile confirms it. This could not be further from the truth. Rather than grabbing my bag of groceries and leaving, allowing the person behind me to more quickly make his way through this same process, I'm stuck there. Stuck, as I have to take the change off the top, then place it in my pocket; then take the receipt and throw it in the bag of groceries; then I have to open my wallet and put the bills back in there. Only then, after this three-step process, can I grab my bag of groceries and leave the store.


Do you think it's convenient for me? "Oh here, I'll give it all to you in one motion, that's easier, isn't it?" NO. NO IT FUCKING ISN'T. How about this: Instead of waiting for the receipt to print out, why don't you hand me my coins first, which I will then put directly into my right front pocket. After that, hand me my bills, which I will place into my wallet, which I will then place into my left back pocket. Then, when the receipt has printed, how about YOU put it into the bag?

It's gotten to the point where I will deliberately prevent all the other people in line behind me from moving forward because I insist on taking my time as I put my change in my pocket, the bills in my wallet, and the receipt in the bag. "Oh, am I holding you up? Sorry. Blame that bitch behind the register."

I cannot understand how this technique has spread everywhere, from the D'Agostino where I buy groceries, to every Duane Reade, and on to basically any store that produces receipts. There isn't much you can do, either. I've tried telling the cashier to do it one at a time, but when I do, I'm met with that look that means either:
  • "Are you, like, one of them foreigners or something?"
  • "How could you possibly ask me that?"
  • "Okay, retard alert, MANAGER!"
I don't know if this bothers you at all, but fuck all, does it feel good to get it off my chest.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Big Fucking Lebowski

On this, the third Friday of August 2007, I bring you a clip of two of my favorite things in the world: The 'F' word and The Big Lebowski - combined.

This clip tells the story of the move The Big Lebowski but in only (almost) one word, Fuck, or as that Amish pansy-ass Side Bar would say, F*ck.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Real Pizza Vs. Fake Pizza

This is a question for people who live in and around New York. How is it that pizza places like Domino's Pizza and Pizza Hut and Papa John's stay open for business in New York city? New York City is a town that has essentially perfected the pizza. If you live in the New York Metro area, then you live very close to a pizza place that makes very good pizza. Some are better than others, but all of them are beteter than Domino's et al. Why would one choose to order from one of these national chains that uses ingredients that aren't fresh and subpar sauce and so forth if you could instead have a real slice of pizza?

I would think that Domino's and the others would just not have a really big market share in a place like New York. I gather that this isn't true all around the country, and good pizza is hard to find in other places. And if that's the case, then I guess Domino's isn't the worst thing in the world, but shit, it's not like a real pizza costs all that much or anything. There's really no reason I can see to get a fake one.

Incidentally, the best pizza I've ever had anywhere was at a place called Bella Napoli that was on Madison Avenue in the vicinity of 26th or 27th street. It was perfectly made and what made it the best slice ever was the sauce. Something about that sauce was addictive. I used to work on 23rd and Madison and then later I worked at 34th and Madison, so I would go there a lot. I would walk from 34th street past like 4 or 5 other pizza places to go to this one.

Friday Classic Video: Who is a drunken profane asshole who hates the crew?

A few years back, I had a nightly ritual of watching ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, followed by Jeopardy. (Actually, it may have been more like "bong hit, Peter Jennings, bong hit, Jeopardy, bong hit, bong hit, etc..." to be honest.) I would watch it with a good buddy, the original Shreck (proper spelling), and we eventually came up with a theory that between the two of them, Peter Jennings and Alex Trebek knew absolutely everything in the world. The hourlong block from 6:30-7:30 could teach you more about the world and history than three years of high school.

Then, sadly, Peter Jennings died, leaving Alex Trebek as the lone purveyor of the world's wisdom. I've always admired him, and not just because he knew everything (yes, I do firmly believe he not only knows all the answers on Jeopardy, he writes all the clues himself 5 minutes before each show), but I always felt there was something else. Something more, that we didn't get to see every Monday to Friday on that soundstage in Los Angeles.

Now, my intuition has been proven true. Not only is he Socrates-smart, he's everything a real man should be: an alcoholic, vulgar, arrogant bastard who treats his inferiors LIKE THEY DESERVE.

God bless him!

(originally seen at the great Deuce of Davenport)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A truly awesome commercial

Geico has clearly been the best commercial producer the past few years, but Skittles is making a serious run at the title. This one has more emotion than every episode of "Entourage" put together (Oh God, how I hate that frackin' show.). Better special effects than Star Wars. And "Tim" evokes the voice and pathos equal to that of the Rockbiter in The Neverending Story. ("They look like big...strong hands...don't they?)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I'll Go Out To The Movies, And Buy Myself A Snack

Ok, this post is for those of you with social skills. I am not among those blessed members of society with social skills, so maybe I just don't understand.

One of the things I like to do best is go to the movies. And if I happen to have a few hours to myself, then I'll often go to the movies alone. And then when I talk to people and tell them I went to a movie they'll invariably ask me, "who did you go with?". And when I say, "no one. I went by myself," they say, "Really?!?", as if I just told them I fellated Dave in Times Square.

How can it be that people don't go to the movies alone? I mean, it's probably the least social thing I can think of to do. You sit and watch. You're not supposed to talk or really interact or do anything other than watch. That's not to say that I don't got o the movies with other people, but it's certainly not a requirement for me to go see a film. Why do others feel the need to make movie watching a social activity?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Are You a Bigot?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all (straight) men are created equal....

The democratic candidates had their LBGT (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender) and they all seemed to dance around the issue of gay marriage (except Kucinich).

Should homosexuals be allowed to marry? I don't see how you can say anything but "yes, of course".

The conservative opposition, seems to have these basic justification for not allowing it:

  • If we allow that, we have to allow polygamy and bestiality, it's a slippery slope.
  • If we allow gay people to get married, our kids will all turn gay.
  • God doesn't like it.
In a country, where we purport to believe all people should be given basic freedoms, the bar ought to be set pretty high in order to deny rights and I don't think any of these quite measures up. And by quite, I mean whatsoever.

The democratic position seems to be, "well, they should have all the rights of married people but we shouldn't call it marriage" (except for Kucinich). Why not just call it marriage? It's kind of like saying "if interracial people get married, we should just give it another name".

In my opinion, government sponsored (for lack of a better word) same sex marriages should absolutely be legalized and it should be called just that. I don't think you can force individual religions to recognize them, however. That's their call - although if they get any sort of public funds, they probably shouldn't anymore as long as they practice discrimination.

I think if I were trying in a gay marriage movement, I'd have to think about taking the "Civil Union" deal as opposed to holding out for the term, marriage, and figure it would be a slippery slope and in a few years that would follow. At the same time, though, I'm not sure - it is degrading to say you can sort of be married.

All in all, I think if you're against gay marriage you're a bigot.

Old Skool Saturday: A Dooo Rearrrrr Dooo Rearrrr A Dooo Rearrrr Dooo Rearrrrr

For many of us that grew up in the 1990s, this song is an integral part of the soundtrack of our youth.

Yes, The Humpty Dance by Digital Underground - for my money, one of the most fun rap songs of all time.

You cannot not sing along. I dare you to try. I don't think I've listened to this song for a year or so and I still remember almost all of the words. I bet you do, too.

(It's kind of odd to think that this Tupac was in this group.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, The Humpty Dance:

All right!
Stop whatcha doin'
'cause I'm about to ruin
the image and the style that ya used to.
I look funny
but yo I'm makin' money see
so yo world I hope you're ready for me.
Now gather round
I'm the new fool in town
and my sound's laid down by the Underground.
I drink up all the Hennessey ya got on ya shelf
so just let me introduce myself
My name is Humpty, pronounced with a Umpty.
Yo ladies, oh how I like to hump thee.
And all the rappers in the top ten--please allow me to bump thee.
I'm steppin' tall, y'all,
and just like Humpty Dumpty
you're gonna fall when the stereos pump me.
I like to rhyme,
I like my beats funky,
I'm spunky. I like my oatmeal lumpy.
I'm sick wit dis, straight gangsta mack
but sometimes I get ridiculous
I'll eat up all your crackers and your licorice
hey yo fat girl, c'mere--are ya ticklish?
Yeah, I called ya fat.
Look at me, I'm skinny
It never stopped me from gettin' busy
I'm a freak
I like the girls with the boom
I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom
I'm crazy.
Allow me to amaze thee.
They say I'm ugly but it just don't faze me.
I'm still gettin' in the girls' pants
and I even got my own dance
The Humpty Dance is your chance to do the hump
Do the Humpty Hump, come on and do the Humpty Hump
Do the Humpty Hump, just watch me do the Humpty Hump
Do ya know what I'm doin', doin' the Humpty Hump
Do the Humpty Hump, do the Humpty Hump
Verse Two:
People say "Yo, Humpty, you're really funny lookin'"
that's all right 'cause I get things cookin'
Ya stare, ya glare, ya constantly try to compare me
but ya can't get near me
I give 'em more, see, and on the floor, B,
all the girls they adore me
Oh yes, ladies, I'm really bein' sincere
'cause in a 69 my humpty nose will tickle ya rear.
My nose is big, uh-uh I'm not ashamed
Big like a pickle, I'm still gettin' paid
I get laid by the ladies, ya know I'm in charge,
both how I'm livin' and my nose is large
I get stoopid, I shoot an arrow like Cupid,
I use a word that don't mean nothin', like looptid
I sang on Doowhutchalike, and if ya missed it,
I'm the one who said just grab 'em in the biscuits
Also told ya that I like to bite
Well, yeah, I guess it's obvious, I also like to write.
All ya had to do was give Humpty a chance
and now I'm gonna do my dance.
Oh, yeah, that's the break, y'all
Let me hear a little bit of that bass groove right here
Oh, yeah!
Now that I told ya a little bit about myself
let me tell ya a little bit about this dance
It's real easy to do--check it out
Verse Three:
First I limp to the side like my leg was broken
Shakin' and twitchin' kinda like I was smokin'
Crazy wack funky
People say ya look like M.C. Hammer on crack, Humpty
That's all right 'cause my body's in motion
It's supposed to look like a fit or a convulsion
Anyone can play this game
This is my dance, y'all, Humpty Hump's my name
No two people will do it the same
Ya got it down when ya appear to be in pain
Humpin', funkin', jumpin',
jig around, shakin' ya rump,
and when the dude a chump pump points a finger like a stump
tell him step off, I'm doin' the Hump.
Black people, do the Humpty Hump, do the Humpty Hump
White people, do the Humpty Hump, do the Humpty Hump
Puerto Ricans, do the Humpty Hump, just keep on doin' the hump
Samoans, do the Humpty Hump, do the Humpty Hump
Let's get stoopid!
Oh, yeah, come on and break it down
Once again, the Underground is in the house
I'd like to send a shout out to the whole world,
keep on doin' the Humpty Dance,
and to the ladies,
peace and humptiness forever

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Classic Video: Lions and Water Buffalo and Crocodiles, Oh My!

This is a popular video going around the internet these days.

Some water buffalos were walking around and got attacked by lions, who caught one of the babies. The lions proceed to start trying to eat the baby water buffalo, when out of nowhere an crocodile (or was it an alligator) pops out of the water and tries to steel the lions soon to be lunch. A short scuffle ensues and the lions emerge victorious.

In the meantime, the water buffalo seems to have gone off and rounded up their friends and come charging back to rescue their young friend.

Pretty entertaining viewing, enjoy.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

You know what's fuckin' awesome? America. Part II

So I'm riding shotgun as Hollywood Squared (you remember him from the PCH, right?) and I are driving down the Blue Ridge Parkway (pictured, above), curving through the western mountains of North Carolina, and I can't help but be reminded of our last road trip (the aforementioned PCH ride). Here I am again, marveling at the beauty I see on either side of the road. No Pacific Ocean this time, but the mountains on one side and the valleys on the other certainly qualify as "Shit y'all gotta see sometime." Ever see Last of the Mohicans? Remember the last shot, of the beautiful Smoky Mountains?

Yeah, it looks like that.

As anyone who loves New York as much as I do knows, it's always great to get the hell out, even for a weekend. A nice 11-hour drive to Banner Elk, North Carolina (just outside of Boone, home of Appalachian State University, defending Division II football champs!), seemed the perfect idea, and boy is it turning out great.

We check into our hotel and, since neither of us know where the hell we are, decide we might as well take a drive. See the area. Maybe check out one of those amazing scenic overlooks to view what would surely be an amazing sunset. You know, something like this:

On our way there, though, something appears.

"Whoa! Check out that chick in the red tank top!" I say, subtly.

She walks on the opposite side of the road and turns, heading up some road we can't see since we've just driven past her. As I think of the Michelangelo-esque painting I will someday draw of her from memory, the other side of road -- which had previously just been thick woods -- suddenly opens up into a clearing, revealing a large pond and an even bigger open area. It is filled with tents and lawn chairs and tables and all kinds of genteel-looking Southerners. And is that a stage? But before we know it, the thick woods return, and we can't see a thing.

"What was that?" says H-Squared.

"I dunno. But we're going," I respond.


We quickly turn around and head back to where we saw the gorgeous red-tank-top girl entering. We turn in and weave our way through a tiny paved road which, upon straightening out, reveals a security guard at his gate. We slow down and notice a sign to the right describing some event we've (obviously) never heard of, but the kicker is: "Tickets required."

"Just go, man," I say.

We go. The guard, an elderly gent whose few remaining strands of pure white hair stick out beneath his standard security-guard hat, raises his hand. We stop. He approaches my window.

"Where can we get tickets?" I ask, before he can question us.

"Y'all don't have tickets yet?" he says, with a smirk. It is clear that by not having tickets, there's no way in hell we should be here. But then, he looks out toward the pond, now slightly visible a few hundred feet away through the thinning trees. He looks back at us and says something marvelous.

"Just go on ahead, see if y'all can get in."

We thank him and do as he says. As we continue, the woods disappear, and we can see the whole scene. And then I hear it.

"Is that an orchestra?" I ask, as we roll the windows back down.

Sure enough, there is a full 90-piece orchestra on the stage we saw earlier. And what are they playing? Struass's "Thus Spake Zarathustra." You know, the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Or Ric Flair's entrance music, for you wrestling fans.) Perhaps this evening could be...interesting

"Where the hell are we?" H-Squared asks, smiling the kind of grin you can only get when you know you're about to dive in head-first with a fuck-the-consequences attitude.

But we still don't know where the hell we are, who the hell these people are, or what the hell this "event" thing is. We manage to drive on past the next wave of security, which apparently thinks we must have tickets, having gotten this far. So we park and get out and start walking around. Everywhere we look, there are people of all ages walking around. There's a bunch of big tents set up, each with food or trinkets or something underneath -- whether they're for sale or what, we don't know -- but it seems like you have to know someone to get something, know what I mean? We walk along a path along the rear of the celebration-type-thing. In front of us are the tents, then the large open area -- now filled with people on their lawn chairs listening to the orchestra, about 200 feet farther ahead -- and the pond to our right, near where we drove in.

What should we do? Get drinks. Now.

We spot a tent which displays all sorts of beer and liquor (and a cash bar, apparently), so we march over and buy a few Michelob Lights. We walk down a small hill in the direction of the orchestra and find a small patch of open grass, and sit down.

It's beautiful. About 7 o'clock or so in the evening, a few clouds in the sky, the sun beginning to set, a nice breeze, beautiful symphonic music playing, and about 1,000 people there who we don't know. We look around, and no one seems to think we're intruders (despite our blatant underdressing). But wait -- there's one person who smells something fishy. A 12-year-old girl is eyeing us from about 10 feet away. No one else seems to even notice us, but the look on her face is clear: What the hell are you two frauds doing here?

Coincidentally, we are just finishing up our beers, so we decide to get up (and run away). I don't look over at the little girl, but I can feel her icy stare as we hurry off, trying to be discrete. We get back to the first path we were on, when it becomes clear to me.

"Okay. Time to score some free booze."

At all the tents, wine is being served. There are bottles everywhere. At a huge gathering like this, which local businesses have clearly sponsored (hence all the tents serving food and hawking products, etc.), you just have to know someone and you can get a drink, right? At this point, H-Squared and I wish we were John and Jeremy from Wedding Crashers. They'd be drinking with the town mayor in an hour, for Christ's sake. Whereas we...stand there, clueless.

H-Squared has an idea. We go back to the car and retrieve from the trunk two lawn chairs that we can carry in bags over our shoulders. This way, we can "fit in," right? But we momentarily debate whether these props will ruin our "mystique," as up to this point we have clearly looked like a few oddballs -- and drawn some unlikely stares from several young beauties. We decide that fitting in is better for getting booze, and that is the priority ("Sorry, ladies!"), so we go get the chairs and head back to the party.

At this point, the orchestra starts playing the theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I love it. H-Squared isn't quite as familiar with it, but if you know the movie well, then you remember those key five notes that were so important, right? We walk around for awhile, unsure how to act. It's the South, right? So who knows? As the great Stanley Rothenstein

once said, "The laws are medieval down here."

The orchestra wraps up its first set. During intermission, we walk around "casing the place." There is clearly free booze to be had, we just have to find a way to get it. As we stand there pondering our options, a woman approaches us.

"Excuse me, but will you take a picture with my niece?" she says. H-Squared and I look down, and there's an 11-year-old girl smiling up at us. The older woman who approached us continues, "She thinks you guys are cute, but she's embarrassed to ask."

"Sure!" I say. And this adorable girl in a cute little white dress comes over and stands between us. We bend down and her aunt takes the picture, and the girl prances away giggling. All you can say when something like that happens is, "Awwwww..."

CRACK! Thunder strikes. Out of nowhere, dark gray clouds start closing in. A man gets up on stage and announces, "The next set will be starting momentarily! Please don't say the 'R' word!" ('R' for rain, in case I was unclear.) But no one seems to care. People start packing up their lawn chairs and heading for cover.

This is perfect. In the chaos of everyone moving around so suddenly, I simply walk over to a tent where I see ample bottles of red and white, and I ask for a glass of red. The woman whom I ask -- who may or may not have worked at the tent -- clearly just saw us getting our picture taken with the darling little girl, and simply says, "Help yourself, hon." So I do. Two very tall glasses for me, two for H-Squared. Now, not only do we have drinks, we have an "in" at that tent. As I said, perfect. Finally, free booze!

Now with drinks, we once again wonder, "Where the hell are we?" Smiling, we start to walk, cutting straight in front of the stage with the intent to head back up to the path, when -- without any sort of further announcement -- the orchestra starts up again. And what do they start with?

The "Imperial March" from The Empire Strikes Back, one of the most badass pieces of music ever. Hell, it's Ramon Castro's entrance music when he goes to bat! Immediately, we decide to sit down and listen. Thank God we brought those lawn chairs! And hey, why not sit right smack in the middle of everything, right?

So there we sit, drinking our hard-won free booze, sitting on our lawn chairs, as this orchestra goes through a whole series of amazing pieces of music. And throughout, some distance away, we can hear thunder. As was hinted at by the earlier Close Encounters piece, the conductor eventually announced he was a good friend of John Williams. Whether or not you know him by name, you know his music (every Spielberg movie you ever seen). We go from "Imperial March," into the theme from Superman, into some Mozart (he's good, too), into Star Trek IV. This is all pretty goddamn amazing. Meanwhile, far back behind the stage, seemingly across the far-away street, we see a few guys with flashlights fiddling with something. We have no idea what this is. (HINT -- this will come back later.)

Finally, the conductor announces that this next piece will be the finale. And what is it? More Star Wars! First the Princess Leia theme (eh), but then we get the grand overture from Episode IV, the one that always opens every installment as the crawl plays.

Then God enters.

Just as the orchestra begins playing, literally right over the stage, lightning explodes. (It's a bit off in the distance, I don't mean to imply it hit the stage or anything.) Imagine this with me -- sitting there right in front of a giant orchestra playing a hugely dramatic piece you're totally familiar with and love, and BAM! BAM! BAM! Freakin' lighting provides a perfectly natural pyrotechnic show.

The orchestra finishes, and H-Squared and I stand up immediately -- unintentionally leading the crowd in a standing ovation. After the applause dies down, we start to pack up our chairs when some guy comes on stage and announces something rather...interesting.

"Thank you all for coming. Please stick around for a bit longer and enjoy the fireworks!"

We're both out of booze now, and not particular eager to watch some meager redneck fireworks show that lasts all of five minutes. I mean, we live in New York City. Ever seen the Fourth of July display on the East River? But we decide to sit back down and give it chance. Who knows?



Wow. This is off to a helluva start. But nothing I haven't seen before. As I said, I'm from New York -- I know what a real fireworks show is. However, it turns out those guys we saw with the flashlights were setting up the real finale.

The show resumes, and just keeps getting better. Every time I think they've done their best, they up the ante. Fireworks are innately amazing, as Chuck has pointed out, and once they start, it's impossible to look away. But this show is starting to blow me away. They literally do everything I've ever seen at the big New York Fourth of July extravaganza, and then they pull something out that I haven't seen before.

They shoot up about seven or eight in a row, which each end in a huge eruption of sound, but you can't really see them -- they don't have the typical huge explosion of light -- but the little POOF and spark leave behind a huge, growing smoke trail as it slowly falls to the ground. Now, individually this would not be impressive, but when all eight smoke trails slowly begin to merge and flow with each other, it's transfixing.

It becomes not eight different smoke trails, but one beautiful, ever-changing "smoke being" (or something). First it's a palm tree; then a multi-headed snake monster; then an octopus; then a weeping willow tree; then, as it fades, it becomes whatever you want it to be. It's like your own personal skyborne Rorschach Test. For the first time tonight, I really wish I was tripping on some serious mushrooms.

This incredible display finally ends after 20 minutes of pure amazement. After another standing ovation, we pack up our lawn chairs and start to leave with the crowd, feeling more fulfilled than we could possibly have imagined back when we were simply looking for a sunset and spotted some girl in a red tank top.

After all that, I once again ask, "Where the hell are we?"

Ethnic Jokes For Thursday!

Q: Why doesn't Mexico have an olympic team?

A: Because anyone that can run, jump or swim is here already!

Ethiopian Joke! Ethiopian Joke!

Mainly to get that nauseating picture LJT put up in the post below the hell off the top of the page, I thought I'd pass along a good joke I heard from my buddy who's that guy playing golf in the new Domino's "Brooklyn!" "Philly!" commercials. And it's an Ethiopian joke, too! Who doesn't love those?

What do you call an Ethiopian with a yeast infection?

A quarter-pounder with cheese! Zing!


I was dropping the Cosby Kids off at the pool this morning and was quite annoyed when someone chose the stall directly next to mine, especially because have not two, three, four or five, but six stalls in the bathroom.

I work in an office with seemingly well groomed, professional people and yet they the bathroom looks like it could be a petting zoo.

Here are the official LJT rules of using the office restroom:

  1. If you are the only one in the bathroom, the stalls are yours for the choosing.
  2. If someone else is there, choose the stall as far away as possible from the second shitter. An exception can be made for a handicap stall, however, my legs fall asleep because they are so much higher than regular toilets. Why are handicapped people so tall anyway?
  3. After wiping, check the toilet seat. It's disgusting to find little pieces of toilet paper and hair on a toilet seat when you walk in.
  4. Courtesy flush. No one wants to see your leftover turds. Yes, even yours.
  5. Piss in the urinal. With more than one pisser, apply rule number one to urinating as well.
  6. If there are two urinals next to eachother, you may still use the second urinal but it is acceptable to drain your Johnson in a stall, however:
  7. Pick the fucking seat up and if you don't - you pig - at least fucking wipe the seat. I don't know if it's more than one person in my office pees on toilet seats and it's completely and totally disgusting.
  8. Wash your hands.
Follow these rules and you will be a courteous and responsible office shitter.

Got More Hits Than The Mets And The Yankees

Just felt like giving a little bit of a mid-season baseball recap.

National League
The Mets have the best record in the National League and are matched in wins, somewhat amazingly, by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The D-backs have a young team who is playing well in a tough division. It will be interesting to see if they can hold on.

As far as the Mets go, they seem like they're playing just well enough to hold on to their first place lead. They give the other teams hope, and hten go on a run to bring their lead back out to for or 5 games. Currently it's 4 after a win last night that really served to encapsulate their season. They came from behind to take the lead from the Braves, who they can't beat traditionally, and then held on to their one run lead despite having the bases loaded with none out in the top of the 9th.

I think we're forgetting that their outfield has been in disarray all season. Every one of their ourfielders, Beltran, Alou, Green, Chavez, Milledge, and Gomez, has spent time on the DL this season; some far more than others. I think we shouldn't unerestimate the impact that Endy Chavez has on the team and his absence hurts their bench and their defense. Lastings Milledge has been great recently. I think his time on the DL actually helped him in cooling him down a little bit. I hope he can keep it up. Carlos Gomez is a nice player who swings a little too hard. If he can rein that in a little bit, I think the outfield is looking good for the next few years. Imagine Beltran, Milledge, and Gomez in the outfield (3 natural center fielders) with Chavez on the bench (another center fielder).

Also as a tangent, I would really like to see David Wright stay in the the 3 hole and Beltran move to 2 when he comes back, but I know that there is no chance in the world that would happen. Also Castillo, the new 2B is a pretty good 2 hitter, so it's almost a guarantee that D-Dub is moving back down to 5.

I have a feeling that they're really not playing well at all, but the other teams in the National League are not really playing any better. On top of that, the Mets have room to improve whereas the Diamondbacks, Padres, Brewers, and Cubs are playing up the their ability. I still think the Phillies are dangerous, but they strike me as a team built in the same vein as the Mets, but just not as well. I think the Mets will hold them off. You have to worry about the Braves, but Chipper and Smoltz are aging, and Andruw Jones is the biggest waste of talent in the league over the last two seasons turning from Vernon Wells into Jeromy Burnitz. Can you believe that Andruw Jones is only 29 years old? He's been in the league since 1996 as a 19 year old rookie. That was about 100 pounds ago, though. Today he just looks like a fat guy trying to hit home runs in his beer league. His swing is gross. Anyway, save for Andruw, the Braves may get their new chemistry working and we might have to look out for them.

The NL wild card race is tight. The Padres, Rockies, Phillies, Braves, Cubs, and Dodgers are all within 3 games of each other. Not to mention the Brewers, who have a tenuous grasp on first place in the central. So I feel like the Mets are going to hold on to the division, and with a bit of luck one of those other teams will win the wild card and keep the Phillies and Braves out of the playoffs. I don't have supreme faith in the Mets this year, but they are still clearly the best team. If someone gets lucky, they could easily win the NL pennant, however, a la the Cardinals of last year.

Thus far
NL MVP: Matt Holiday
NL Cy Young: Jake Peavy (not John Maine, unfortunately)
Rookie of the Year: Hunter Pence

American League

Dear American League, NL playoff teams, and Yankee haters: Be Afraid. The Yankees are going to win the wild card. It's a bit too late for them to win the division, even though they were as close as 5 games yesterday, but they are going to buck up and make the playoffs. I almost don't believe it myself, but it's true. Those of you who hate the Yankees are going to respond with, "Yeah, but this is by far the easiest part of their schedule. They played the Royals, Blue Jays, Devil Rays, and Orioles, for the past month. Why don't you wait until this upcoming stretch against Cleveland, Detroit, Anaheim (I refuse to call them the LA Angels), and Boston before you start handing out rings?" I respond with the fact that the Yankees are built to be the best team in baseball (they're not, but that's how they're built) and if they start clicking on all cylinders, then you had better watch out. They *averaged* 10 runs per game on their last homestand. The only reason that Bobby Abreu didn't win AL player of the month of July is because Robinson Cano and Hideki Matsui had better months than him. They've finally let Melky Cabrera play every day, and everyone else is in trouble.

I predict that the Yankees will beat up on Cleveland and Detroit over the next couple of weeks, both of whom have been on the slide recently, and put themselves in prime position for the wild card. They're also playing the Angels and Red Sox this month, and that will be the test of their playoff potential. There are two things that might keep the Yankees from success here at the end of the season and their names are Mike Mussina and Jason Giambi. The problem is that both of them suck. If, this is a big if, but if Phil Hughes can pitch well into the end of the season, and Joe Torre can get his head out of his ass, then the rotation in the playoffs can be Pettitte, Wang, Clemens, and Hughes. I have absolutely no faith in Mussina. Giambi might throw a wrench into the recnet Yankee success. They have made intimations that when he comes back next week, he shouldn't expect to play all that much and I hope they stick with that. He could get hot, but I doubt it.

The wild card right now is a three team race including the Yankees, Detroit/Cleveland, and Seattle. Seattle is actually playing well and could get all up in the playoff race by the end of the season. The worst case scenario would be for the Mariners to continue to play well, challenge Anaheim for the division, and get them involved in the wild card race too. The best case would be for them to fall off out of the picture and for Cleveland and Detroit to pull each other down.

Now I don't think the Yankees pitching and bullpen will pull them through a playoff stretch, but it's conceivable that the Yankees take the Phoenix Suns approach to the playoffs and just try to outscore everyone. Plus I would feel pretty comfortable with the Yankee lineup and Pettitte or Wang on the mound.

My prediction is that this is the year for the Los Anglels California Angels of Anaheim to win it. They are just the most consistent team. As a side note, if there is no run-away winner within the next couple of years, then Chone Figgins could very well win the MVP. Not this year, but one year. Boston is just complacent at this point. They won't make a playoff run. Detroit and Cleveland have been exposed recently, I think. It's not out of the realm of possibility for the Yankees to win the pennant, but I don't see it this year.

Thus far:
AL MVP: A-Rod (hard to argue against him, even though Magglio Ordonez is great)
AL Cy Young: Dan Haren (of Oakland. This is a really tough one. You could argue for Sabathia, Beckett, Carmona or a couple others too)
Rookie of the year: Travis Buck (of Oakland. He just has the best name of all the candidates including Dustin Pedroia, Hideki Okajima, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Jeremy Guthrie)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

All the News That Fits In a Little Less Print

For the past six years or so, I have been a daily reader of the NY Times.

Every day, I've gone to the corner newspaper guy or local bodega thrown my dollar down, picked up the day's Times and went about my day, invariably becoming just a little more knowledgeable about the world in which I live during my morning and evening commute.

The Times is great because all of their articles go just that much further than any other daily publication. If you read a news story in the USA Today, The NY Post, The Bergen Record or most other papers, you read about what happened. In The NY Times, however, you learn about what happened, who was involved, their backgrounds and why said story took place, usually with some kind of analysis. In one of my first blog entries on my former site, I expressed indignance at the childish stories in the USA Today.

I chided my roommate Dave for reading AM New York, mocked Lavishing Lewd and Nude Rick Mckay's perusing of the NY Post ('only good for Page Six', I laughed, while pointing out Page Six isn't even on page six) and needled my girlfriend, Ioana, for learning about the world from The Metro.

In return, I have been called obnoxious, smug and a newspaper snob - admittedly somewhat deservedly so. It's not that I thought others unworthy of The Gray Lady, but I wondered, 'why read a tabloid when you can read the Paper of Record?'

Today, I am disappointed in The New York Times.

I blog here today a bit less smug. My high horse is no longer a noble steed.

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger has quietly hit his readers with a doubly whammy.

  • First, he raised the price for the second time in a relatively short period of time. Two weeks ago it was a dollar and, one day, it was a buck twenty five. Two things are irritating about this. First, it was seventy five cents a few years ago and this is a second increase - on top of that it was twenty five percent! I realize it's only a quarter but what business just increases twice twenty five percent? I mean, cars, houses, bubblegum, Gatorade and postage stamps don't just increase twenty five percent from one day to the next. When asked to comment on the price jump, Ms. Stephanie Tanner of San Francisco California had this to say: Repeating herself seems to be a habit for her, Stephanie 'Two Times', as some call her walked off saying that she was 'going to go read the papers, read the papers''.
  • Secondly, which is really just an addendum to the first bullet point here is that $1.25 is just less convenient thatn $1. I often just walked in the bodega, walked to the front of the line, placed my dollar bill on the counter and left, not even breaking stride except to turn around to walk out the door. Now, the process is just a little less fluid. You either have to make sure you have a quarter or - gasp - get change made. This means, at best, having to wait for change or, even worse, wait on line to get change made. Perhaps you are puzzled at these seemingly miniscule inconveniences but it disrupts the rhythm of a morning commute.
  • Thirdly, and this is the big one, is that the paper shrunk. The Times shaved an inch and a half of their paper today. The content is reportedly the same, but the page is thinner. I bought it today and I didn't like it, the experience has changed. It used to be you got it, snapped it open with a crisp 'thwack', folded it twice, and off you went into whatever story you happened to be reading. Today, I bought the smaller version and the 'thwack' was more of a 'clink'. It just felt different. Holding it, it just felt less important.
Now as I mentioned, I have been a daily reader for the past six years but I haven't been feeling compelled as I once did to buy it every day. Now, I am sure I'll come to terms with the more money and less paper. It will continue, I am sure, to be a great newspaper - probably the best. By Mr. Sulzberger and your times, I must say I am disappointed in you.

Asked about her feelings about the new New York Times, a Florinian woman - who declined to give her name - expressed this blogger's feelings to The Gray Lady herself:

Un-ambiguously Colbert?

Am I the only one who thinks that "Ace" from SNL's Ace and Gary: The Ambiguously Gay Duo sounds exactly like Stephen Colbert? How am I just realizing this now. It is so obvious.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Things that are underrated: The funny fat guy from the '80s

The '70s had John Belushi. Then he died. The '90s had Chris Farley. Then he died. Both of those hysterical fat guys who did assloads of drugs and drank like the Bacchae are held in reverence today, with many of us wishing we could have seen just a little bit more of them before they met their ends.

Only one man deserves to fill the oddly missing '80s slot, and for some reason he is generally not given near as much credit as Belushi and Farley.

That's right. John Fucking Candy.

J.C. began his comedy career at Second City, the same Chicago comedy troupe that also gave us the aforementioned Belushi and Farley, but also Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Mike Myers, Steve Carell, and Stephen Colbert (among many others).

When you think back on movies from the '80s, certain actors pop into your head right away, especially the funny ones. But I really feel like John Candy might be the most unsung comedian from that era. I find it especially odd because he clearly filled the "funny fat guy" gap between Belushi and Farley.

Why isn't he better appreciated? His resume is packed with amazing performances and memorable films. I'd like to single out a few of his performances which I feel would be featured on John Candy's never-filmed episode of "Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton."

1. Ox, in Stripes. Though he played a small part, one scene in particular left a lasting impression on me, and for a simple reason: He mud-wrestled two chicks and ripped their clothes off while doing it.

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2. Uncle Buck, in...I forget the title. Here's a movie that still, to this day, really gets me every time I watch it. A classic Candy role -- he's put in a position where common sense tells you he could never succeed, but he somehow finds a way. And one great little sequence involves a young Macaulay Culkin. Here, take a look:

3. Barf, in Spaceballs. Who didn't love this movie the first time you saw it? And Candy simply owns every scene he's in. He's not a man, not a dog, he's a Mog. And what is Bart short for? Barfolomew, of course.

4. Del Griffith, in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. I'd have to say this is my favorite John Candy movie, and also my favorite performance. Del manages to be annoying, charming, funny, idiotic, name it. At the end, when it's revealed that Del is homeless and his beloved wife Marie died years ago, how can you not shed a tear? The following clip doesn't actually feature Johnny C., but it's still one of the single funniest scenes I've ever watched. And if you're at work, you may want to keep the volume down, as the word "fucking" is used about 18 times.

Get video codes at Bolt.

5. Chet Ripley, in The Great Outdoors. This flick isn't nearly as good as many of John's others, but it does contain one truly memorable scene. If you're familiar with this movie at all, then you surely remember "The ol' 96-er."

He may not have a signature role to compare to Belushi's Bluto in Animal House, or even Farley's performance in Tommy Boy (though I think his SNL parts of inspirational speaker Matt Foley and the guy trying out against Patrick Swayze for Chippendales are far more memorable Chris Farley roles), but I still think we all have a favorite John Candy moment or role or film. Beyond what I've mentioned, he's got Who's Harry Crumb?, National Lampoon's Vacation, Blues Brothers, Brewster's Millions, Little Shop of Horrors, and Cool Runnings under his belt. Not to mention a few splendid dramatic performances in Only the Lonely and JFK.

Perhaps John Candy will never receive his proper due. Perhaps most people will always consider him a second-rate Chris Farley (who was, himself, a second-rate John Belushi, according to "most people"). But he still left some indelible performances for us. Hopefully, as time goes on, he will turn out to be the Van Gogh of the fat comedians -- unloved at the time, but later revered.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A Weird And Awesome Song:
Subtitled, That Guy Kinda Looks Like Me

This guy Tay Zonday has a bunch of weird videos of himself singing on YouTube. Apparently the one that made him an internet superstar is this song "Chocolate Rain".

Joe says he's a grad student fro MN who posted these videos as kindof a joke and then they became popular. I think the songs are kinda catchy. Also I think this guy might be a long lost cousin of mine because he bears a strange sortof resemblance to me and also the songs that he covers are songs that I love, including Never Gonna Give You Up and The Rainbow Connection.

If me and Chris Mitton had a baby, it would be Tay Zonday.