In keeping with the "Bad news, good news" theme, two related CNN stories:
Bad news - Apparently George Orwell was off by about 18 years. Turns out, his prophecy involves another guy named George.
Good news - Dropping the charade of party loyalty in the name of logical, independent thought, a majority of senators rejected the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act. This battle's far from over, though.
Friday, December 16, 2005
In keeping with the "Bad news, good news" theme, two related CNN stories:
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Too bad, because I'm ready for all four episodes of Chappelle's Show next year, thanks to this trailer that had me laughing out loud. Love the Cribs parody's T-Rex ridiculousness and sparkly garnishes.
Other things I'm looking forward to in years to come, as mentioned in my Elephant Larry Group blog post comment from October:
• The Sopranos (2006) - Come ONNNNNNN already!
• Yankees spring training (2006) - Featuring a roster costing an estimated $2.6 billion.
• Spidey 3 (2007) - But it'll never top 1 or 2, especially since a "Wings" cast member is involved.
• My marriage to Kate Bosworth (2009) - Although she's more excited about it than I am.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
A single MSN article bummed me out and psyched me up at the same time:
Bad news - Varsity Basketweaving fave Rachel McAdams appears to be close to marrying Notebook costar Ryan Gosling*.
Good news - McAdams is purported to agree to a Vanity Fair photo shoot, posing "skin-to-bare-skin with Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley."
Considering I'm now taken and never really had a shot with Ms. McAdams anyway, I'll consider this a victory for everyone.
*This picture is not actually of Ryan Gosling, who seems to be a cool enough guy.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Favorite obscure line from Anchorman: Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) flicks his head toward the news camera and declares "PANDA WATCH!"
Monday, December 12, 2005
On Saturday night, I had a vivid dream that I cohosted Saturday Night Live with another sports columnist, Bill Simmons. Because the show's writers had either taken the week off or were on strike, I improvized the monologue, which started off slow but picked up steam after climbing a ladder to the top of Studio 8H for some reason with fellow Boston College alum Amy Poehler, leading to a rowsing ovation. I then told the crowd that the "Very-Big, Very-Big Bosstones are here," because the censor warned me that the growingly imposing FCC would not allow the repeated use of the word "Mighty" on the air. Sting made a cameo in a skit that involved me and Simmons and some faceless cast member as construction workers in cherry-pickers. Oh, and the four of us sang for some reason. With the dream imitating life, the show got worse as it went on and the audience laughter was nonexistent toward the end as me, Simmons, the Very-Big Very-Big Bosstones and Sting joined the cast for the Goodbyes.
The dream sequence carried into the next day, when JumpTheShark.com was inundated with angry users who declared it the worst SNL episode in history and that I was its worst-ever host.
Ouch, my subconscious is a tough crowd.
Still, when I awoke, I was more impressed that I theoretically was picked to cohost the show than upset by the terrible reviews. Go me.
Friday, December 09, 2005
With the first significant snowstorm of the year, I took the train to work rather than risk getting into a car accident. As I trudged through heaps of snow on my way to the office, I wondered if I actually had it better than drivers navigating similar conditions.
OK, Basketweavers... time to vote: Assuming your travels would take you 20 minutes in two to four inches of snow that would be cleared at times and clumped at others, would you rather:
1. Walk or
Things to consider: Heat, Sitting, Icy patches, Accidents, Slipping, Skidding, Other people's driving, Burning calories, Cardio, The ability to make out in the back seat.
Hmm... I think I just answered my own question. Then again, there's always a third option:
3. Stay inside and watch cartoons
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Really, really bad day. I'd go into detail, but I can't just yet.
It does not involve death of a loved one or a difficult relationship, but my feelings are almost like my reaction to the former.
Quoting John Lennon's lyrics on the 25th anniversary of his death:
You know how hard it can be.
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I got a new cell phone.
I tired of people fawning over my new nephew, so I got this phone to overcompensate. (Kidding, Thomas!)
In reality, my old flip-phone broke to the extent that when it was open all the way and I'd try to talk to someone on the other end, I often couldn't hear anything in the receiver. The weird thing is I'd actually get some reception if the phone was open at about a 90-degree angle -- versus its normal mouthpiece-to-earpiece angle of 135 degrees -- which did little for comfort or performance.
This ridiculousness went on for about a month until Verizon allowed for a contract renewal and the purchase of a new phone for a discounted price. Yesterday, I opted for this puppy: the LG VX9800. Full keypad for text messages and other uses; a camera; AOL, MSN and Yahoo messenger built-in; legit ringtones; Bluetooth; et al.
"Noooo good?" you say? Well, I think it's hella tight. Warning: Immediate Sound.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Admittedly, this short film goes on about two minutes too long, but here's the premise: Dude in creepy Burger King mask expresses his feelings about his competitors through mime and interpretive dance. Warning: Immediate Sound.
Oh, and you reeeeally shouldn't watch this at work unless you have headphones and five minutes alone.
All things considered, this is a decent compromise.
Comedy Central Prez Doug Herzog: "We thought it was time to start unearthing the material we had. It's kind of like Bob Dylan's 'Basement Tapes.' "
I don't think that comparison is that much of a stretch, considering "Chappelle's Show" has been the seminal TV comedy of the new millennium.
Friday, December 02, 2005
The Baseball Gun.
Ooooh! I want one. Not to fire baseballs at anyone's head, but just to have mounted on the wall and admire.
Wellllll, maybe I'd use it to fling whiffle balls at people. Or to run beer-league batting practice with it (but not while under the influence). Or to launch rotten produce at hack comedians.
So how did I find this thing? While referencing a recent blog post, I was explaining to my friend Rachael about how Google Images easily helped me find a picture of a guy firing a gun while holding a football, using only football and gun as criteria; that pic was the first result. After explaining this, Rachael told me that hockey and gun didn't come up with anything nearly as cool. But boy, oh boy, did baseball and gun ever!
I'm often a Blue Stater, but a beautifully sung national anthem will always give me goosebumps.
Now I feel better about telling you that I found this link while searching for the botched "Star Spangled Banner" lyrics Leslie Nielsen sang in The Naked Gun.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Here's The Hollywood Reporter's 2005 list of highest-paid movie actresses, estimating their salary demands per film:
1. Julia Roberts - $20 million
2. Nicole Kidman - $16 million to $17 million
3. Reese Witherspoon - $15 million
4. Drew Barrymore - $15 million
5. Renee Zellweger - $10 million to $15 million
6. Angelina Jolie - $10 million to $15 million
7. Cameron Diaz - $10 million to $15 million
8. Jodie Foster - $10 million to $12 million
9. Charlize Theron - $10 million
10. Jennifer Aniston - $9 million
Drawing from only these 10 actresses, here's how I'd rank them, based on talent and personal preference:
1. Angelina Jolie - Smart, talented, drop-dead gorgeous, mysterious and kooky. I'm a big fan.
2. Charlize Theron - All of the above, except she doesn't have the kook factor going on.
3. Reese Witherspoon - A solid actress who's easy on the eyes and is a proven box office draw.
4. Cameron Diaz - A much better actress than most people give her credit for.
5. Jodie Foster - Awesome and sneaky hot for those who like sexy librarians.
6. Nicole Kidman - A bit overrated, but is a reliable go-to actress for roles with gravitas.
7. Julia Roberts - Quite overrated, but still likeable enough to send legions to the theaters.
8. Renee Zellweger - A decent actress, but I'm not ever compelled to see a movie because of her.
9. Drew Barrymore - Next.
10. Jennifer Aniston - I've never understood America's fascination with her.
I'm hoping Scarlett Johannson, Rachel McAdams and Kate Bosworth jump way up this list in the near future.
Last night, I'm in New York City rehearsing for a show my group has this Saturday. Famished, I head over to Wendy's in a specific quest for two Bacon Mushroom Melts and a Big Bacon Classic with no onions. (What can I say? I love me some burgers.)
So it's late -- about 12:15 a.m. -- and I'm waiting behind just one person on line: a construction worker. Nothing inherently wrong with that, except for the fact that he's ordering dinner for his entire staff on a piece of cardboard filled with black magic marker scrawl.
I try not to get too upset. After all, he's working late at night; I'm not. And upon realizing that he had an order to feed what seemed like eight to 10 people, I could have strolled next door for a shorter wait at McDonalds, whose burgers don't compare. And sometimes I've been the one in the office to do the occasional fast food run, ticking off the people in line behind me. But I am trying to catch a 12:30 train home.
But the construction worker, well aware of the huge line that has developed behind him, figures it won't be too much trouble to ask for napkins, which the three hard-working Wendy's workers provide after spending more than 15 minutes hustling to fill his order.
Oh, but another thing, he remembers. He needs barbecue sauce, which the Wendy's workers also provide as they ready to take my order.
But wait, that's when he says, "Gimme more barbecue sauce."
That's when I let out an audible groan -- and nearly flinch in anticipation of the roundhouse right that never came.
Just so you know, the pet peeve is not necessarily with the person who orders dinner for a small army; it's with the aloof person who must have every last garnish and special sauce taken care of when a massive line has snaked behind him. So, thank you, Construction Worker Man, for ticking off a legion of colorful New Yorkers, who did everything not to rip that helmet off your head and demonstrate their field-goal kicking skills, perhaps for an audition with the Giants.
- Yes, I missed the 12:30 train and had to take one that left 50 minutes later.
- Yes, waiting for those burgers was worth it. I inhaled all three in about six minutes.
- Yes, a homeless man cut in front of me, too. But that doesn't bother me nearly as much.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
I was reading an uplifting Sports Illustrated story about a Texas high school football coach who turned things around for his team and guided them to unprecedented playoff success after a life-threatening encounter when I came across this quote:
"Jeff is a real kind person with a real big heart. He was a sweetheart if he was your friend, and he was your friend to the end."
Here's the catch: Jeff Robertson isn't the coach. He's the guy who gunned down the coach, Gary Joe Kinne.
Nonetheless, Charlotte Richards -- the woman quoted above -- felt the need to defend Robertson. And evidently, she wasn't alone.
At a September hearing at which a judge refused to reduce the $1 million bail, [Robertson's attorney] submitted to the court more than 60 letters written by family members and friends of Robertson.
It's not often you have five dozen community members defending a guy who admitted shooting someone, but then again, we are talking about football in Texas. And hey, Kinne had the nerve to start his son at quarterback over Robertson's, so he practically had it coming.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Blondie, Black Sabbath, The Sex Pistols, Miles Davis and Lynyrd Skynyrd were just voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Solid, but not quite as cool as the Class of 2003: AC/DC, The Clash, Elvis Costello & the Attractions, The Police and the Righteous Brothers.
In September, I cast my worthless ballot on all the nominees for the Louvre of Cleveland. At that time, I endorsed all of the eventual recipients except for Davis, who just missed my cut because I argued his greatness didn't really fit into the "rock and roll" category. I stand behind my claim, but I'm not upset with his inclusion.
At that time, I also lobbied for John Mellencamp and Cat Stevens, but in retrospect, I'm OK with their not making it. One could argue that the five latest inductees changed music significantly. I'm not positive of the long-term impact of anyone going by the name "Cougar."
Friday, November 25, 2005
I've downloaded exactly 3,500 songs to my iPod since August 2004. One feature I am completely obsessed with is the iTunes Play Count, which I believe can be the ultimate indicator of what my favorite music is. Numbers don't lie, do they?
So with 15 months of music activity recorded, what are my Top 5 most played songs as of Nov. 23?
MOST-PLAYED SONGS SINCE AUG. 2004
"Wonderwall" by Ryan Adams - 44 times
"Somewhere Only We Know" by Keane - 37 times
"Broken" by Seether featuring Amy Lee - 36 times
"Ride" by The Vines - 36 times
"The Widow" by The Mars Volta - 32 times
Hmm. Not exactly the artists I anticipated at the top of my list. In fact, I bought all these songs as singles on iTunes. In addition, they are the only songs I have by these artists, unless you count Amy Lee as a part of Evanescence.
So, I got to thinking. What's the best indicator of overall achievement? I went to my "10-Time All-Stars" Smart Playlist -- which includes only songs I've played at least 10 times -- and I counted the number of unique songs by a single artist. The results appear to be much more reflective of my overall favorites in the last 15 months:
NUMBER OF SONGS PLAYED 10+ TIMES SINCE AUG. 2004
Stone Temple Pilots - 15
Linkin Park* - 14
U2 - 12
Sting - 10
Foo Fighters, INXS - 7
The Beatles, The Killers - 6
Alicia Keys, Audioslave, Green Day, Led Zeppelin, The Police - 5
*Not including 4 tracks from Linkin Park/Jay-Z's "Collision Course" album.
Notable omissions of artists I consider myself a fan of: Garbage, The Bravery, Billy Joel, Radiohead, Eminem, Evanescence, Jay-Z, Coldplay, R.E.M., AC/DC. I'm guessing these I've listened to these artists more in years prior to owning an iPod.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
My buddy Chris found this astounding and hysterical Salon article about the marketing nuances of famous cartoon advertising icons. Here are some of the best quotes Ruth Shalit purged from these ad agency reps:
"We have to be careful that you never see the whites of [the Pillsbury Doughboy's] eyes. ... It's just that when he looks straight at the camera, so his eyes are dead center -- well, let's just say he has a tendency not to look as, uh, lively."
"[Chester the Cheetah]'s head still spins around. His eyes bulge out ... Everything's dangerously hot, dangerously cheesy. But then, somehow, he pulls it back into control to say -- Chee-tos."
"The Colonel [Sanders] is portly, yet energetic, and can perform feats that belie his age and physique. For instance, he can slam-dunk a flaming basketball."
"There aren't a lot of 'can'ts' with Tony [the Tiger]. He can do pretty much everything. Except for putting on a woman's dress. That's the one thing he can't do."
"No, [Grimace] does not have special needs! He's just a simple guy. His job is to present situations for Ronald to solve ... He serves a wonderful purpose."
Still, the greatest revelation in this article is on page 1: The ad exec's repeated reenactment of the Pillsbury Doughboy jump:
"So I sat up on a table, and I told the animators: 'This is how he would do it.' And I actually jumped off the table." Lewis was not happy with the first round of sketches that came back. "It was like, no, no, no. And I got back on the table. And I said, 'I want him to be a little happier. There should be that moment of surprise before he squinches up his eyes and pushes off. Like this. And I pushed off. And everyone instantly said, 'Wow, that's our guy!'"
That's poppin' fresh.
The only thing the article appears to gloss over is the Trix rabbit. In most of the cases mentioned in the story, ad execs are careful to make sure that none of the cartoon pitchmen appears to be bumbling or foolish. Yet the Trix Rabbit failed so many times in his quest for Trix. Except I do remember that sometime late in my childhood, he got to eat the Trix in one commercial campaign. Silly rabbit, Trix are for... you.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Not to equate blogging to jail time, but I'm going to pretend that the birth of my nephew warrants a one-week hiatus from posting on this site. And you will nod and not question this logic in the slightest as I gracefully segue to the next paragraph.
In reality, I had a busy week at work compounded by early deadlines and a three-day trip to Boston. So today is really the first day I could catch up, albeit with a cold.
And now I present to you five things I thought about on my Boston trip. (Applause)
1. I saw a Boston Herald newspaper with the headline "Get Out Of Jail Free" on Sunday. I have no idea what the story was about, but I thought about what other Monopoly terms could make for good headlines. The first thing I thought of was "Do not pass 'Go'" which could be a movie critic's review of the Katie Holmes-Jay Mohr movie. But then I got to thinking that that would be an ambiguous sentence. "Do not pass 'Go,'" meaning "Don't miss it"? Or "Do not pass 'Go,'" meaning "Give it a failing grade"? I started confusing myself again so I went back to thinking about beagle puppies. Aww. Beagle puppies!
2. Pasta with sausage can sometimes look like someone decapitated a pig and tossed it on a couple of noodles. Just ask my friend Dennis.
3. The Boston College Acoustics are rock stars and their show Saturday night was fantastic. And their new CD, Fake Instruments, is ridonkulously amazing. I can't pick a favorite track, but I will say that you haven't lived until you've heard Billy Hurley's rendition of "Life Is A Highway" while coasting a mile or two over the speed limit on the Sprain Brook Parkway.
4. A lot fewer Red Sox hats in Boston these days. Always a good thing.
5. I realize that I haven't been keeping up with my Obscure SNL Skit of the Week series. In fact, I only did one. In the meantime, please accept this gift of Wikipedia's solid rundown of some of the most memorable commercial parodies. Although the lack of Velvet Jones commercials is just an atrocity.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
... to congratulate his sister and brother-in-law on the birth of Thomas Michael Carmody at about 2:15 p.m.!
Ah, the joys of being a first-time uncle. Here's to spoiling Tommy Boy rotten!
Monday, November 14, 2005
Yes. Yes. And more yes. Behold the glory that is Onion Sports. Although it doesn't boast the expert opinions of ESPN Page 2, it more than compensates with its lack of censorship.
Want some headline samples? How about "Apparently Soccer Player Just Did Something Really Good" and "Vikings Quickly Sign Released Panthers Cheerleaders." Yeah, I thought so.
If you're all Peter Frampton-like and feel like I feel, check out the stock car photo and caption at the bottom of this week's page.
According to CNN, Bush's approval rating is at an all-time low. An interesting sidebar lists the lowest Gallup poll approval ratings for recent presidents: Truman (22%), Nixon (24%), Carter (28%), Papa Bush (29%), Johnson (35%), Reagan (35%), Clinton (37%), Ford (37%), Dubya (37%), Eisenhower (49%) and Kennedy (56%).
Not surprising: Kennedy. Surprising: W tied with Clinton and still 8 percent better than his daddy.
Back in my Boston College days, I obsessed over four groups on campus. As a singer, I was a huge fan of my own two groups: the Boston College Acoustics and the University Chorale of Boston College. As a heterosexual male, I appreciated the talents of the Boston College Cheerleaders. And as a huge comedy buff, I was enraptured by My Mother's Fleabag improv, with whom Amy Poehler performed and for whom I auditioned my senior year. I was such a fan of Fleabag and their members that in 2000, I helped relaunch the annual FleabAcoustics show, which continues to this day.
But now I must add another group to the list, one I had never seen prior to a week ago: Asinine, an improv/sketch comedy group that brings us the awesomeness that is The BC.
First, I found their genius while tooling around on Facebook. Within days, my BC friends Christine and Dennis alerted me to the same link. It's just quality stuff, perfect for procrastinating at work or for memorizing between shots of Jagermeister.
For non-BC alumni, clicking on The BC (a parody of The OC) might be a good starting point. For those who bleed Maroon and Gold, check out this parody of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire," which includes a singing priest and a shout-out to the Acoustics! The song parody has gotten so huge, they play it on the Jumbotron at BC football games. Rock that.
Friday, November 11, 2005
I'm battling the blues today, but Strong Bad's commentary about this collection of Homestar Runner-themed Halloween costumes done cheered me up.
It all culminates with Strong Bad torturing himself over whether the final costume of his fiercest rival is hot or not. Decide for yourself, sweetie.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
I realize that CNN often is criticized for spinning stories in liberal fashion, but I nonetheless was annoyed to discover yet another problem with national politics in a lead on the front page of the news provider's Web site this morning:
Fireworks started early today at a Senate hearing into high oil prices and record industry profits as Democrats and Republicans sparred over whether energy executives should have to swear to tell the truth before the panels.
Guess which side each party is taking!
Senate Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens rejected calls by some Democrats to have the executives sworn in, saying the law already required them to tell the truth. "There is nothing in the standing rules to require that witnesses be sworn," the Alaska Republican said. "These witnesses accepted the invitation to appear before the committee voluntarily. I shall not administer an oath today."
Stevens seems to love truth that lacks accountability. Maybe the two parties will reach a compromise and wind up asking one of the executives, "Do you kind of swear to tell the truth, sorta the truth, so we'll help you, Todd?"
Why did baseball players have to swear under oath over an issue that involves a game? They didn't volunteer; they were subpoenaed. So oil executives get a free pass over something that heavily impacts the U.S. economy, environment, political donations, and domestic and international policy? Why do they get to volunteer?
In a related story, we've never gone to war over steroids.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Sadly, Pedro was not on my ballot when I voted this morning. Some town and county politicos, however, offered their protection and have hairstyles similar to Pedro's fluffy coif. This one guy kept wanting me to vote for him because he's pretty good with a bo staff.
What I didn't vote for were several state propositions that I had intended to weigh in on but were not in my line of sight in the booth. A couple of my coworkers forgot or couldn't find them either. If only one tally determines the fate of those props, I'm going all hanging-chad on the Board of Elections' metaphorical keister.
I'm working the night shift here at the paper, covering said elections. Like any good Wendy's establishment, I'm here until midnight or later! The only difference is "what tastes right" here is delicious, mouth-watering journalism. Mmmmm.
As for who I want to win, my vote is fiercely loyal to any party that has food. Go Banana!
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Kevin Federline. Luciano Pavarotti. The talent spectrum defined.
Taking a cue from his wife, Kevin Federline is poppin' a cap in music's ass. K-Fed's unreleased rap record (yes, rap record), "Y'all Ain't Ready," was leaked on the 'Net and (unintentionally?) summons the name of opera singer Luciano Pavarotti:
Until then all these Pavarottis followin' me
This might be the funniest thing involving an opera singer not named Enrico Palazzo.
What's even funnier is that some Web sites are claiming his idiocy with Italian people and phrases is intentional. "Pavarottis," these sites claim, are his nickname for the paparazzi. Right. And Jessica Simpson's initial quips about Chicken of the Sea and Buffalo wings exhibited her mastery of deadpan humor.
Quoting Lloyd Grove, who reported the story for The (New York) Daily News: "To be fair, 'paparazzi' if a very difficult word to pronounce if you're an unemployed backup dancer from Fresno." Zing!
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
So for a while now, I've wanted to take some space in this bloggeroo to talk about some of my favorite obscure Saturday Night Live skits (and not just because I've inadvertantly become an NBC blog lately.
I'm taking about the skits that were once-and-done, not involving a recurring character like "It's Pat" or "Wayne's World" -- just smart (or hilariously dumb) dialogue with a few brilliant facial expressions and unusual comedic payoffs. Maybe they're not terribly funny or hold up that well over time, but something about these skits cracks me up to this day. So here goes nuttin'.
Obscure SNL Skit No. 1: The Whipmaster (1992). (Transcript.)
The skit involves a television show about a Mississippi whip expert who hands out his own brand of justice. The only problem is the skillful actor who plays The Whipmaster is negotiating a contract with the television company and a nervous stand-in (played by the always-brilliant Bill Murray) must fumble his way through the action sequences.
Great set-up here, as explained by the voice-over artist and the scrolling text to open the show: "The producers would also like to point out that proficiency with a whip is very difficult to achieve and takes many years, and it is hoped that viewers will bear that in mind."
First of all, anytime Murray is prominently involved, the overall score ratchets up by 1,000. Supporting performances by Chris Farley, Phil Hartman and the fetching Julia Sweeney keep the laughs coming.
Farley, playing a bartender, asks Murray to prove that he is, indeed, The Whipmaster, by knocking the cigar out of his mouth. Murray repeatedly thrashes around the piece of leather until the camera finally cuts back to Farley, which scars all over his face and the cigar falling out of his mouth. Farley remains true to the line given to him, but utters it in pain and with ironic deadpan: "Wow! That's really amazing! You really are the Whipmaster!" I love this because lost in all the "Farley's funny because he's fat" commentary that followed SNL, you get an excellent sense of how he could work "small" in just this one snippet.
Then Hartman, always an excellent villain, struts into the bar and taunts Murray and pulls a gun on him. Murray, aiming for the gun in Hartman's clearly outstretched hand, misses badly and the whip strikes Hartman in the groin. (Yes, an easy groin joke... but wait for the payoff, please.) Murray, also remaining true to his script, utters in matter-of-fact fashion, "I guess he won't be using that gun for a while." That line in almost anyone else's hands might get a cheap laugh, but Murray delivers it with such (un)intentional nuance that it works. And Hartman's squeal as he's hit in the most sensitive of areas is just priceless.
Sweeney walks in as the token hot character Becky, whom The Whipmaster evidently has stood up for a date. As she's walking out the door, he cracks his whip at her legs. He pulls at his whip, tied to a dummy that barely resembles Becky, thereby knocking the dummy to the ground, then yanks the lifeless dummy toward him. The camera cuts to him reaching over to pick the real Becky up. "That whip is one smooth talker!" Becky proclaims.
Just classic. I'm guessing Tom Davis, who plays the cowboy in this scene, wrote the skit. If so, thanks very much, TD. It's one of my all-time obscure favorites.
Friday, October 28, 2005
At one point, you could have been Creepy Burger King guy this Halloween for the cost of two Angus Steak Burgers through BK's Web site.
But now, this fall's burgeriffic costume is sold out and routinely resells on eBay for over $100. A victory for fast food fans and alternative ad campaign supporters everywhere, right?
Well, I thought so. Until I read that the marketing firm that's in charge of the BK campaign might have been sending out annoying and misleading e-mails to hype the masks. (By the way, Seth Stevenson's Ad Report Card is a Slate must-read for anyone who enjoys analysis of commercial marketing strategy.)
I'll forgive you for this, BK, but only because I wouldn't mind answering the door for trick-or-treaters in this mask. I'd get to eat every piece of candy I bought because of all of the kids (and some adults) running away screaming.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Borrowing a line from an old Drew Carey stand-up special -- in which Carey refers to drive-thru liquor stores as "almost a good idea" -- I present to you the excellent new cell phone with the ambiguous brand name: The Motorola ROKR. The first time I saw this, even with the understanding that it's an iTunes-compatible phone, I sounded out the product name as "Roker."
For someone who claims to be a music fanatic, I am perplexed that my first instinct involved a cheerful weatherman who's had memorable interactions with Seinfeld's Elaine and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.
I'm assuming features for his phone would include frequent weather updates, ringtones that sound like the NBC xylophone and, of course, ads for his mugs, books and bibs.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Quite simply, the funniest eBay post I've ever read.
Leather pants are funny enough, but these pants' backstory and eBay Q&A easily make them my Links of the Week.
With an opening bid of $5, these pants eventually sold for $102.50. It obviously pays to be a convincing comedy writer. Because, really, what sane man would buy these things?
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
That's the headline that appeared on CNN's Web site.
Curious (and male), I clicked on the link. The person could have been any number of winners whose "talents" transcend acting. Perhaps Charleze Theron? Jennifer Connelly? Kathy Bates?
But even with a high-speed connection, I knew as the page was loading that it was going to be Roberto Benigni. I since have decided that life is not that beautiful.
I haven't been this disappointed with publicized clothing removal since Kitten agreed to a wager involving University of Kentucky football.
Monday, October 17, 2005
National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern says a dress code for "inactive players on the bench and players at team functions and road trips" won't be as strict as some players and owners feared.
I personally am a fan of the idea of players dressing up when they travel because it's professional and looks cool, although I'd probably complain quietly if I were subjected to the same rule for cross-country plane flights.
Although I don't agree with Allen Iverson's choice of clothing for my own wardrobe -- or agree with some of the other things he does off a basketball court -- his point is a good one that "I dress to make myself comfortable." Nonetheless, I like Stern's idea here as far as trying to keep the game professional on all levels. I'll respectfully disagree with arguments from Iverson and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban that the dress code is unfair for any number of reasons.
However, Marcus Camby's comments in this Washington Post article are a bigger problem (bold emphasis mine):
Nuggets center Marcus Camby, who will earn $9.3 million this season, suggested the NBA provide a stipend to help players pay for their dress clothes. Duncan told reporters he didn't plan on buying a suit, "Don't own one and never have."
Somehow I doubt this, unless he rented a suit for NBA draft day.
Earth to Camby: Basketball is your job. Most CEOs don't have a choice in the matter for business attire when they conduct business around the country, but they do it anyway to appear professional (and keep their jobs). But in Cambyland, bank tellers should ask Chase to pay for their Armani duds. And I should charge my bosses for my next spree at Banana Republic -- ideas made more ludicrous if bank tellers and reporters earned almost eight figures a year. Camby's certainly not helping to alleviate the "pro athletes are selfish" stereotype.
His quote might be the dumbest money-related comment uttered by an NBA player since Latrell Sprewell spoke last Halloween:
Sprewell, who was in the final season of a $62-million, five-year deal he signed with the Knicks, said he was insulted by Minnesota's offer of a contract extension that was reportedly worth between $27 million and $30 million for three seasons. "I've got my family to feed," he said.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
With the Yanks out of the playoffs, my rooting interests have shifted 1,430 miles west-southwest to Houston. The Astros have grizzled veterans (Including "Killer B's" Lance Berkman, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell), the out-of-nowhere Chris Burke (who hit the 18th-inning-NLDS-clinching home run) and former Yankee icons Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens.
So, in honor of my adopted baseball team for the remainder of 2005, here's a very cool story about a fan who caught not one, but two Astros home run balls in the same playoff game, including Burke's walk-off. According to ESPN, Shaun Dean "never considered selling the balls," instead opting to donate them to the Hall of Fame.
And if behind-the-plate tickets for the NLCS and bringing your 3-year-old son with you to meet and accept autographs from Roger Clemens weren't enough, he gets to be in an ESPN headline that reads "Dean, balls to be part of Hall of Fame exhibit."
I live for this.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
"Who doesn't love the Smurfs?" asks Anderson Cooper in a video on the CNN Web site.
I don't. I've always been Smurfing annoyed about the Smurfing Smurfs. (Come on, you have too.)
Along with "Soul Train," they signaled the end of my childhood Saturday mornings with one to two hours of boring blue blah.
But now, the blue buggers star in a Belgian UNICEF commercial campaign, designed to raise awareness and money to rehabilitate children exploited as soldiers in Africa, according to CNN.
Normally I'd be against using Smurfs to promote anything. But the Belgians seem content to blow up the Smurfs for the cause.
Yes, blow up. As in pow, bam and kablooey.
I'm thrilled with the concept, although not necessarily the execution (pun not intended). Great cause notwithstanding, I'd be content if said cause were to rid Saturday morning of tedious programming and tiresome verb supplementing, such as "I'm totally Smurfed out," "I'm going out of my Smurfing Smurf" and the Missy Elliott classic, "Get UR Smurf On."
I'm usually a pacifist, but theoretically any end to the Smurfs is a good end. And I'm ready to pitch another cartoon the UNICEF people can drop bombs on when all the Smurfs have Smurfed.
If you're worried about Brussels babies, the commercial only airs after 9 p.m., which realistically means that most kids will only be tormented and scarred four or five times before each bedtime. As for the public service announcement's intended audience, adults appear to be appreciating the campaign -- a few of them for darker reasons.
Said CNN: The commercial begins with the familiar image of the Smurfs joyfully frolicking and singing their theme song with birds and butterflies. Then, planes appear and rain down bombs, setting the houses ablaze. Smurfette is killed and the others go running. Baby Smurf sits crying at the edge of a bomb crater.
Yikes! Okay, on second thought, maybe this whole concept is a bit extreme, even for a Smurf-hater like me. Maybe the Smurfs could just be refugees for a while and allowed back onto TV in an Adult Swim makeover after a few years.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
As this Larry Johnson cartoon from ESPN Page 2 shows, the Yankees (and Red Sox) have been knocked out of the playoffs, with Major League Baseball's front office cringing at the prospect of an Astros-Angels World Series. I'm disappointed that the Yanks just didn't seem to show up for the playoffs, with the exceptions of Mariano Rivera, Shawn Chacon, Derek Jeter and Gary Sheffield (Robinson Cano was brilliant sometimes and awful others).
While fellow Gannett employee Ian O'Connor makes good points in his column, I think it's unfair to place that much of the blame on A-Rod. As someone who has always considered David Ortiz to be this year's MVP, I am blaming the collapse on the entire team. Mike Mussina (who, I'll say again, is NOT a big-game pitcher) and Randy Johnson are most responsible for the collapse. They both looked timid in their starts for games 3 and 5. Wild can be explained and excused. Timid cannot.
My friend, Chambo, is a Sox fan who blamed A-Rod more than Big Unit for the series collapse. But while Johnson's pitching in Game 5 kept them in that game, he had multiple opportunities to come up in the clutch on his own terms -- Game 3. And he blew it. Unlike last year, A-Rod had a great regular season. This year, nearly everyone in the Yankee lineup faded in the clutch, too, so it's not just Rodriguez's fault. Even the normally dependable Hideki Matsui was invisible. And that hurts to say because he's usually one of the Yankees' top three clutch hitters (Sheff and Jeter being the others).
I have to blame Torre a bit, too. I don't understand why Chacon didn't pitch Game 2. He was only their best pitcher the entire year, with an American League ERA half-a-run lower than 10-0 Aaron Small's (something like 2.7 versus Small's 3.2). Firing Torre, however, would be a massive mistake, because anything short of a World Series title without him would be considered short-sighted and a public relations nightmare.
So, here's the thing that upsets me most: Although The Yankees deserved to lose -- and I'm not making excuses for them -- why the frig does home plate ump Joe West make a phantom outside-the-baseline call in such an important game and situation? At least with the Chuck Knoblauch play a few years ago, he was outside the baseline, but that's something that is almost never called. In this case, if Cano were outside the baseline, then about 95 percent of all runners are outside the baseline on any play running to first base. Just a stupid, inane call; Cano and Torre have every right to be upset. I'll be the first to say that the Yankees would have popped up harmlessly in the next at-bat, but at least give me that chance to blame the players instead of the umps. Normally an outstanding umpire, West should be suspended with pay for the remainder of the playoffs.
I'll be rooting for Houston the rest of the way. I dislike Ozzie Guillen (Have you ever seen so many sportswriters overcompensate for his "colorful" quotes?), am bored with the Angels, and don't want to give the Buck-McCarver tandem the chance to skew yet another broadcast in favor of the Cardinals. Plus, I love Andy Pettitte and the feel-good Houston vibe.
I'm more annoyed than angry at what should have been a phenomenal season, but at least now I can return to semi-normal sleep patterns.
Bonus thoughts! MLB should schedule an extra day between playoff series to compensate for rain; it is October, you know, and teams should not be penalized for Mother Nature's crankiness ... I want managers for the teams with the best league records to pick their opponent for the first round; it would make for awesome theater and give teams with the best record an additional advantage while giving the "chosen" team additional motivation.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Wearing "SP" bling, a man who may or may not have been reggae sensation Sean Paul in front of the Times Square W Hotel, where I've definitely seen this guy and that guy in the last four months.
Mystery Man was accompanied Sunday night by burly men and two skinny girls, and (mis)identified by tuxedo-clad revelers, who had just left a wedding afterparty at the Living Room.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Fantastic U2 show at Madison Square Garden last night. While I stall to find the set list, here's the U2.com take on last night's show:
Original City of Blinding Lights
The first of five nights at Madison Square Garden in New York City and from the opening chords of City of Blinding Lights to the closing notes of With or Without You, this was one special night.
Being in the Big Apple, it was no surprises that the joint was jumping with the glitterati: Ralph Fiennes, Denis Leary, Gina Gershon, Chelsea Clinton, Natasha Richardson, Liam Neeson, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Ed Burns, Heath Ledger, Gavin De Graw, David Gray, Frank McCourt, Jann Wenner. (The U2.Com head nearly swivelled off completely with all the rubber-necking.)
Vertigo, Elevation, Cry/Electric Co... the band were on fire, the show was racing by. "See the stars and stripes. See the stars and stripes..." ad libbed Bono, draped in a flag, thrown on the stage at the beginning of Sunday Bloody Sunday. "Jesus Jew Mohammed/It's true/All sons of Abraham."
The stars and stripes were hung on the mike-stand as Miss Sarajevo was dedicated "to the United States Military." (That went down well!)
"Its kind of odd," explained Bono. "We actually got to play in Sarajevo. We met this girl there who had organized a beauty pageant..."
Little did she know that she was inspiring a little piece of rock'n'roll history and while we kinda knew that Pride and Streets and One would follow (and we wouldn't have it any other way) after that it was anyone's guess.
The First Time opened up the encore performance number one (no-one laid odds on this becoming a standard at the start of the tour), followed by a haunting Stuck In A Moment, which, after its appearance on the TV special last night, may be staking its own claim for a regular place in the show. It was dedicated to supermodels Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and, of course, the late INXS singer Michael Hutchence, for whom it was written.
And then Fast Cars was back with a rather dazzling cameo performance . It went like this: Bono asked for his black cowboy hat to be brought onstage and then invited onstage a woman in a bright yellow shirt with 'Jamaica' printed on the front. The stage was evidently her second home and she arrived from the ellipse as if some sixth sense had told her this was to be her night.. What a mover, felt like the whole of Madison Square Garden fell in love with her.
With the whole band out on the end of the ellipse stage for Yawheh, we thought we'd had the closing benediction... but we didn't factor in With Or Without You. What a way to close a show!
Update! Here's the setlist from this show:
City of Blinding Lights
Cry / Electric Co.
I Still Haven’t Found What I'm Looking For
Beautiful Day / Blackbird
Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
Love And Peace Or Else
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bullet The Blue Sky
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Where the Streets Have No Name
Stuck in a Moment
All Because of You
Crumbs From Your Table
With or Without You
Friday, October 07, 2005
While waiting for the U2/Conan spectacular last night, I caught Jon Stewart on Letterman for what was perhaps the first real sign of the passing of the "Late Show" torch.
Stewart seemed comfortable and particularly chummy with Letterman as the two exchanged cute punchlines about their young children. But the highlight for me was Stewart's swipe at Tom DeLay. I have to paraphrase here, but it was something like:
"His face says innocent; his body language says not guilty; his hair says, 'What do I have to do for you to leave in this Buick LeSabre?' "
Nice. I then flipped over to NBC for Conan's fantastic U2 show, which featured solid (albeit overplayed) recent U2 songs and actual attempts to speak with Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton. There was even an "In The Year 2000" skit with The Edge and Bono each donning the requisite black frock. The Edge said that in the year 2000, it would be revealed that "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" was inspired by the band's failed supermarket search for Boo-Berry cereal.
A good night for late night comedy. But then I started to bum out upon the realization that I'd have to pick between the two if there were a O'Brien-Stewart showdown in 2009, when Conan is expected to succeed Jay Leno as host of "The Tonight Show." Unlike the easy comedic choice to pick Letterman over Leno, choosing between Stewart and O'Brien makes me sad just thinking about it.
On top of all this, a feud appears to be simmering. Check out this segment from page two of an Oct. 3 New York magazine story:
[If] you want to get on O’Brien’s good side, do not bring up Jon Stewart (who failed at his own late-night show in 1994), as it makes him bristle at the unfairness of Stewart’s comedic hegemony—he won two Emmys last week—for a far less complex, toilsome, and popular show, at 1.4 million viewers per night. Stewart’s contract is up in 2008 (though Viacom could conceivably move him from Comedy Central to CBS whenever the need arose), setting the stage for a potentially sensational grudge match.
Gun to my head, I'd probably pick Conan. Although Stewart's political commentary is more biting, I probably prefer Conan because of his consistently edgier, more out-of-the-box comedy -- ironically, more like Letterman in that respect than Leno.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
You gotta love any band that reduces the hot and normally unflappable Amy Poehler to tears when the lead singer cradles her in his arms.
U2 is the guest on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" tonight, featuring live songs, an interview by the Cone-Dogg and merriment for all. Good luck getting stand-by tickets, people!
Tomorrow, Casie and I will experience more U2 rockitude live at Madison Square Garden. (Thanks go to my supercool brother-in-law, Matt, for securing the tickets!) I've never seen a band play MSG, so I'm psyched. It'll be awesome to see U2 (likely) perform "City of Blinding Lights" there, because that song is about New York City.
I saw U2 on May 26 in Boston, with "Running To Stand Still," "Vertigo," "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "Bad" among many highlights.
As for (Who's Going To Ride Your) dark horses for tomorrow night's show, I'm hoping Bono and Co. unleash any number of "Achtung Baby" cuts, especially "So Cruel," "Love is Blindness" and "Mysterious Ways."
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Between Ozzy Osbourne and Kermit the Frog, the smaller of these animals turns 50 this year. Ozzy's 56.
This is a good opportunity to give Kermie props for his genuinely funny, and sometimes downright edgy, quotes for VH1's forgotten "I Love The 70's" series. Plus, as "70's" points out, he sings the all-time greatest song about rainbows. (Not Ozzy. Kermit.)
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Friday, September 30, 2005
I wanted to use this space today to talk about how emotional this weekend's Yanks-Sox series will be, but I just am not up to it at the moment. I think I'll wait until tomorrow to offer my witty commentary. In the meantime, enjoy this wee beagle, who's definitely rooting for the Yankees.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Reminded of an Elephant Larry gameshow skit as I write this, it's time to play, "How! Much! Would! You! Pay! To Laugh?!" All you have to do is think about how much you would pay for these gateways to hilarity:
1. Two "Saturday Night Live" tickets on eBay, with the entire bid amount benefitting Hurricane Katrina victims
2. The Complete Monty Python: The 16-Ton Megaset DVD collection
Before revealing the actual costs, I will offer my personal answers:
If my friend wanted to sell me SNL tickets that he/she secured for free (and, really, that'd just be rude and I'd question his/her friendship), I'd probably pay $150 for two stubs, assuming the quality of this season matches its previous. (During the Myers-Hartman-Farley-Spade-Sandler era, I'd have paid $200.) Why those prices? I liken these tickets to those for one of my favorite all-time bands or artists: I'd pay between $75 and $100 for one ticket to see 90 minutes of a favorite band I've never seen perform. So, I'd consider the current SNL product to be on the lower end of that scale. For the eBay bid, I'd have gone no higher than $200.
As for the Monty Python DVD, I watched almost all the episodes about 1 million times as a middle- and high-schooler and, honestly, I'm kind of burnt out on them. Still, I'd probably appreciate the jokes more now than I did as a teenager. I'm hoping the price comes down to about $100.
Okay, think about your answers.
Think hard now.
Think some more.
Okay, go ahead and check out these links for proof:
1. Winning eBay bid for two free-but-nearly-impossible-to-acquire SNL tix: $2,076.00 (link courtesy of The Apiary).
2. Monty Python DVD collection list price: 199.99 (Borders price as of Sept. 29: $179.99).
*Incidentally, this is my 100th Varsity Basketweaving post! Woohoo!*
Monday, September 26, 2005
I have seen actor Christopher McDonald, far more often than I realized before meeting him Friday night.
Before McDonald sat next to me and my friend on an extended leather sofa at the Living Room lounge (where I had another celebrity encounter in June), his friend Stan informed me that he had just wrapped up his run in the Broadway production of Chicago. Stan also informed me that he had played Shooter McGavin in the Adam Sandler movie Happy Gilmore, which I've never seen. This is the extent of the information I was able to acquire before "Chris" sat to my right and introduced himself. Very nice man, although -- because I hadn't been aware of his extensive body of work -- I was limited to discussing his role in Happy Gilmore and asking him about his next project (four weeks of filming in Nova Scotia).
Fast-forward to today, when I realize, to my embarrassment, that he stole his scene in none other than Broken Flowers, which I had seen not a month earlier. I've also seen McDonald play Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen in 61* and Jack Barry in the super-awesome Quiz Show. According to his IMDb.com profile, he's appeared in no fewer than 82 movies and 50 television episodes, including "Requiem for a Dream," "The Perfect Storm," "Nurse Betty," "Terminal Velocity," "Thelma and Louise," and the Norm MacDonald-Artie Lange classic, "Dirty Work."
Also, after the fact, I remembered his amusing Happy exchange with Sandler involving eclectic breakfast delicacies.
So all I could do was discuss my sparing knowledge of a wacky golf comedy. Ugh. Where's that Life Rewind button when you need it?
Whiny teenagers rejoice!
Here's the scoop about an upcoming video game based on "The OC":
Gameloft president Michel Guillemot said the property will allow players either to assume the role of one of the four main characters from the show or to create their own original character.
Even though I've never seen more than two minutes of this show, I like this concept tremendously. I could be Chris, the emerging alternapreppy writer with a penchant for breaking hearts, escaping trouble and struggling with my new addiction to In-N-Out burgers.
"The game was designed with the intention of capturing a realistic and true environment that mimicked the show, yet provide new elements to it that was specific only to the game," [Guillemot] said.
Good to see that programmers will incorporate the realism of 20-something, acne-free, homework-less actors playing high-schoolers.
Speaking of realism, I'm hoping the creators of "Grand Theft Auto" are somehow involved in this project.
Friday, September 23, 2005
... till it's over, which is why I'm not cocky or even confident about the Yankees' chances of making the playoffs, despite a one-game lead in the AL East.
But it's also why sports columnists should be wary of making bold and volatile predictions:
It's OK to say it. Don't worry about jinxing them. The 2005 Red Sox are going to win the American League East. By a landslide. - Dan Shaughnessy, June 26.
Today, the Boston Globe columnist made a quasi-apology.
This reminds me of when I asked Mike Lupica about the column he most regretted writing; he recalled the time he blasted the Yanks for hiring Joe Torre.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
My colleague Sean, who sits nine paces away from my news desk, reports today in The Journal News that (my) wild nights out in New York City soon will last 20 minutes longer as of Oct. 2:
The last trains out of Grand Central Terminal now leave around 1:30 a.m. Those trains will depart around 1:50 a.m. next month.
Since it takes me about 20 minutes to down a beer in social settings, I'll be one drink closer to nirvana while the train shuttles me home.
Although, I have to say, I still think it's odd that any train service in and out of The City That Never Sleeps takes four hours off every day.
Update! I just checked the MTA Web site, which now says the last Harlem Line train will depart Grand Central at 1:53 a.m. Twenty-three more minutes of nutritious levity!
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Beer commericals are very much hit or miss, but one campaign that consistently makes me laugh is Bud Light's Real Men of Genius campaign, including "Mr. 80 SPF Sunblock Wearer," "Mr. 'Kiss Me I'm Irish Pin' Wearer," and "Mr. King of the Karaoke Mic."
But the true attraction of this site is the Real Men of Genius vote section, which features deliberately lame Flash videos to correspond with the radio copy that salutes "Mr. Overzealous Foul Ball Catcher" and "Mr. Ceremonial First Pitch Thrower Outer." Drag the mouse arrow over the REAL MEN OF GENIUS the menu at the top of the page and click RMOG VOTE to get to these nuggets of video Zen.
Although both made me tear up during my spasms of laughter, I'm partial to the First Pitch Thrower Outer because of the re-enactment of the fastball "clocked at a breathtaking eight-and-a-half-miles-an-hour." Judge for yourself.
"Musicians, industry professionals and journalists" will vote on the following nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and although I marginally qualify as all three, I was not invited to participate. Yet here are my votes, from most to least deserving:
Blondie - Debbie Harry is phenomenal and the versatile band maintained credibility shifting from punk to disco, rap to reggae.
Black Sabbath - Because AC/DC's in there (and they should be), these guys are a no-doubter.
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Turn it up.
The Sex Pistols - I hate them and think they're overrated. But there's no doubt about their influence and their place in this hall of fame.
John Mellencamp - Not a huge fan of him, but an excellent storyteller. His Middle America anthems appeal to Blue Staters, too.
Cat Stevens - Extremely annoying and politically frustrating, but prolific and among the best of the folk-rock singer-songwriters.
Miles Davis - First-ballot Jazz Hall of Fame. But does he really "rock"?
Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five - First-ballot Rap Hall of Fame. Same question as Miles Davis.
J. Geils Band - (to the chorus melody of "Centerfold") Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-NO.
Stooges - I've heard of them, but know nothing about them. So they'll have to pay for my ignorance.
Chic - Awww, freak out! Nice try. Oh, wait, they're really nominated?
The Patti Smith Group - Meh.
Dave Clark Five - Who?
Joe Tex - Who?
Sir Douglas Quintet - No, really. Who?
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
I'm not saying police didn't have the authority to do what they did, but the situation that unfolded here continues to define a country that's only comfortable listening to one side. The story reminded me of another recent NYC controversy involving politics and protestors.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Some thoughts about the Emmys, or at least the parts I watched before and after viewing "Rome" on HBO as well as "Best Week Ever" and "Breaking Bonaduce" on VH1:
TOPIC A: HOT GIRLS!
Appearing in a five-minute span, Alyson Hannigan, Kristin Bell and Rachel Bilson won the Emmy for Redhead-Blonde-and-Brunette Actresses Chris Foolishly Believes He Could Have Dated in a College Scenario or Made-for-Television Movie.
Fun Bonus Fact No. 1! Hannigan apparently appeared in two episodes of "Veronica Mars," starring none other than Bell.
Fun Bonus Fact No. 2! Bell might be my favorite actress I've never seen act. I'm basing this on on critics' reviews and her feminine charms. (I missed her on "Deadwood" because I never saw the first season. My bad.) Also, showcasing her midriff didn't hurt during her Emmy Idol performance of "Fame." I'll conveniently ignore the likely lip-synching she did for that one.
Fun Bonus Fact No. 3! Evidently, Rob Thomas took enough time off from matchbox twenty to create "Veronica Mars." Oh, wait, this Rob Thomas created it. Never mind.
TOPIC B: FUNNY PEOPLE!
The funniest part of any Emmys broadcast is always the nominations for writing in a variety or talk or something something comedy show. Here's how each writing staff's video presentation ranked on the Funny Meter, with the funniest at the top:
"Late Night With Conan O'Brien" (Credits of all the writers except Conan quickly ascend on a black screen, then the audience sees a closeup shot of Conan's profile in front of a lush green field with a large subtitle "CONAN CHRISTOPHER O'BRIEN." He mugs for the camera for a good 10 seconds thereafter. Classic Cone-Dogg.)
"Da Ali G Show" (A series of still photographs juxtoposing writers' announced names with contorted facial expressions of adult film stars. In the series of nominees read by the presenter, this one came first. So to speak.)
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (The staff doing wacky things on a computer. Some moments were funnier than others. Stewart's credit proudly subjects the audience to a self-described "Anticlimactic Punch Line." To no one's surprise, this show won the Emmy.)
"Late Show with David Letterman" (While an announcer reads writers' names, Regis Philbin tussles with a bear, shoves it into a closet, then proclaims the studio is safe for another night. Not bad, not great.)
"Real Time with Bill Maher" (A montage of... ah, who cares?)
TOPIC C: THINGS NOT EASILY LUMPED INTO ONE CATEGORY!
Donald Trump was intentionally and unintentionally funny, and dare I say endearing, with his Emmy Idol performance of the "Green Acres" theme song with Megan Mullally's "Karen" character from "Will & Grace" -- although Trump's becoming more and more like the Darrell Hammond impression of him ... Doris Roberts being escorted by her grandchildren was adorable ... Letterman's tribute to Carson was classy and evocative (and I'm glad he did it instead of Leno, likely because CBS broadcasted the ceremony) ... I fear, without proof, that Paul Newman's unexplained absence from the ceremony means he's not doing well physically ... I enjoyed the tribute to Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather and the late Peter Jennings. I definitely enjoyed elements of all three and they deserved the recongition they received ... Tyler James Williams, the child actor who plays Chris Rock as a kid on "Everybody Hates Chris," was the most genuine person of the night and did a beautiful job with his Hurricane Katrina segment.
TOPIC D: WHO WON AND WHO SHOULD HAVE WON?
I'm tired of Brad Garrett and Tony Shaloub winning the comedy awards. Bring on the Bateman-Braff era! And the Piven-Tambor regime! Garrett, while amusing, was always the least funny on that show, let alone among the other nominees. And while I admit Shaloub's good at what he does, who the heck still watches "Monk"?
Anytime William Shatner wins an award for acting, you know the whole night's a joke. And am I the only one who finds James Spader creepy? Give the best actor in a drama to the deserving Ian McShane of "Deadwood" and give the supporting actor trophy to... anyone but Shatner.
I've never seen "Lost," and while I would have preferred "Six Feet Under" or "Deadwood" winning for best drama, I'm glad "The West Wing" didn't win ... I like reruns of "Everybody Loves Raymond," and while my friends obsess over "Arrested Development" (still haven't seen it yet -- please don't cancel it!), I'm glad "Desperate Housewives" didn't win ... Although I enjoy reality TV, I'm surprised Emmys are given out to those shows ... Frances Conroy, and the entire "Six Feet Under" cast for that matter, got jobbed.
And you've fallen asleep. I think I shall do the same.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
As Sports Illustrated reported this week, a Kentucky rock radio station is using a ploy likely inspired by Major League to motivate a college football team.
WKQQ-FM, "the station that puts a new meaning to winning streak" and boasts a busty on-air personality by the name of "Kitten," is offering the Kentucky Wildcats incentive in the form of good ol' fashioned nudity. Evidently, Kitten has agreed to peel off an article of clothing for every win the they peel off this season.
For most red-blooded heterosexual males, who temporarily abandon the "Is this really a good thing?" argument, this is a tremendous idea. However, I'm firmly in the camp of "This isn't a good idea" -- mostly because Kentucky sucks. You're telling me there's no gorgeous and kinda-sorta-desperate SoCal "personality," who wouldn't be willing to do the same thing for (last year's national champs) USC? Just think of the cross-promotional marketing scheme they could do with Trojan!
Although the Wildcats won Sept. 10 against pushover Idaho State, resulting in the tragic loss of Kitten's button-down shirt, they were defeated the previous week by No. 12 Louisville 31-24 and drubbed 38-14 tonight by unranked Indiana.
The good news: Kentucky has eight games remaining and, by the looks of the billboard, I doubt Kitten's wearing seven shirts. The bad news: Kentucky still sucks and must play at least three more ranked opponents -- No. 5 Tennessee, No. 6 Florida and No. 7 Georgia.
Since Kentucky is well established as a Red State, I'm obviously curious to see what happens if the Wildcats just happen to roll off eight straight victories. I'm guessing it'd be the equivalent of when teenagers play strip poker for the first time; it's all talk, then once the shoes come off, someone undoubtably bails or says, "Yeah, I'm gonna take my watch off now." And then a parent or program manager knocks on the door and everybody scrambles.
Still, I wish my second-favorite college football team luck in the next two months. Not since Varsity Blues has a blonde been this much of a motivator for a quarterback wearing a blue jersey.
Sept. 24 Update! Kentucky lost to Florida, 49-28. The only reason Kitten's breaking a sweat is because she's still wearing too many clothes for early fall.
Oct. 8 Update! After a bye week that had no stripping implications, Kentucky lost (yes, again) to South Carolina, 44-16. Kitten might have been a little nervous with a 10-10 halftime score, but let's face it, she might as well start putting clothes back ON at this point.
Oct. 22 Update! Yawn. UK loses again, this time to Ole Miss by a 13-7 score. And that Wildcats touchdown was scored with only 2:36 remaining. Unless Kitten changes her wager terms by removing an article of clothing for each UK point scored, she's going to be quite comfortable as fall changes to winter.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Before sharing commercial campaigns with the D-O-Double-Jizzle and around the same time the man who would be George appeared on a seminal NBC sitcom, Jason Alexander showcased talent in the West Side Story of hamburger ads. Warning: Immediate Sound.
Here are some other McDonald's commercials of yore bound to make you cringe, scratch your head or, actually, feel really embarrassed about getting a little choked up (scroll down one-third of that page).
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
I'm all for making victims' lives easier after Hurricane Katrina, but something about an item about the NCAA in this ESPN story really annoys me. Note: bold emphasis mine.
The NCAA said last month that it would bend some rules to help students and schools deal with the hurricane, including letting students compete without attending classes.
As opposed to...?
Student-athletes get another break? You don't say! Oh, wait, so because they generate revenue, that lets them -- and not, say, a dance team or an a cappella group or a service organization -- off the hook for academic responsibility?
Not once, but twice, on my drive to work today I was reminded of one of my all-time pet peeves: Luke Slowwalker.
Today's otherwise pleasant commute was interrupted by the teenagers, who were literally too cool for school, preening their way across the street; and the lethargic soccer mom, glued to her cell phone at a busy intersection and oblivious to the green light and snarling traffic on both sides of her. They just made me want to floor the gas pedal and pick up the spare, to use a bowling analogy.
What infuriates me is not the wait but the amount of effort (or lack thereof) displayed by Luke and Laura Slowwalker. I'm totally okay with letting people walk in front of my car if they first look at me, wait for recognition and sprint or jog across the lanes. And I don't blame senior citizens or disabled people or small kids who don't know any better for taking their time because many of them don't have a choice.
But all remaining pedestrians who are meandering in nonchalant fashion just a foot or two away from the double yellow lines should become fair game for hood ornaments. At that point, my cartoon crush and her cohorts should cut car insurance costs for patrons who knock out the 10-pin in Darwinian fashion.
And you know the problem's bad when all of this comes from a man who had to go to the hospital after being hit by a moving vehicle.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
I've been a big fan of Mike Birbiglia for a few years now. Just really smart, funny stuff. Plus, both he and my brother won Georgetown University's Funniest Person on Campus competition (although not at the same time). Gotta love that acerbic Jesu-wit.
Click "Jazz" here to watch one of his best riffs: a rant about Kenny G.
Monday, September 12, 2005
SNL decides to keep its basic cast intact and import Bill Hader and Andy Samberg for the 30th anniversary season.
Honestly, aside from two of the repertory players (you know who you are), I don't think the cast is the problem. The writing needs to improve most.
Why not go public with my two least favorite cast members? Because I might work there someday.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Sept. 11, 2001. We miss all of you.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Although my dating patterns of late have indicated otherwise, I've always had a thing for pretty redheads. But I'm not exactly sure what to make of my crush on a pinkhead named Erin.
Yes, I'm talking about Agent Erin. Yes, I'm talking about the Esurance girl. Yes, I'm talking about a cartoon.
I've had vehement arguments with male friends of mine who claim they do not find cartoon women attractive. Call me crazy, but Erin's not too shabby. Clearly, she's in phenomenal shape, runs away from unsavory men, doesn't overstay her welcome and knows how to find a great deal. That puts her ahead of most of the women I've dated in the last year. (If you're a recent ex of mine reading this, of course you aren't inferior to a cartoon; I meant all those other girls, honest.)
I guess I should continue working out, grow longer sideburns and stay late in the office. Guys who do those things seem to be her type.
Despite the fact that I've been conveniently avoiding "Super Size Me" and "Fast Food Nation," I've made an effort to cut down on my fast food intake in the last year. I'd like to limit it even more, but one thing of late seems to be standing in my way.
It's spicy and tempting and the hotter it is, the better. I started to appreciate it in college. Like most guys, I can't stop thinking about it.
Buffalo sauce. With this (onion) ring, I be wed.
About three years ago, McDonald's came out with a Buffalo chicken sandwich that I ingested practically every sixth meal. Now Burger King has outdone Ray Croc and Co. with their chicken fries -- breaded chicken, shaped like fries, served in a cupholder-friendly carton with a divot to cradle the nectar of the gods.
Of course, I could just order the chicken tenders with the Buffalo sauce on the side. Blasphemy! The crispier coating of the chicken fries and the marketing of the buffalo-sauce-goes-here packaging has convinced the normally savvy me that chicken fries are the coolest thing since (laughing at) Hammer pants.
The good folks at the Mount Kisco Burger King drive-thru sometimes forget to include Buffalo sauce with my chicken fries (although in fairness to them, a sign at the pick-up window instructs drivers to specifically request condiments), so I'll request extra packets. The superfluous sauce comes in handy when the fast food folks forget to drop it in the bag; or if I have some fries and an Angus burger that need a little kick; or if my Snickers bar I purged from the work vending machine is boring me to tears.
So, thank you, Buffalo sauce, for making my lunch, and my life, so enjoyable. If you listen to the whispers and run for president in 2008, consider boneless wings or chicken fries as your running mate.
In the meantime, enjoy your first-ballot induction into my personal Sauce and Dressing Hall of Fame alongside Newman's Own Creamy Caesar, Vodka Sauce, Grandma Rose Serico's Marinara, and Hot Fudge. (But please, don't get too close to all of your peers, thereby founding the Least Appetizing Sauce and Dressing Hall of Fame.)
Friday, September 09, 2005
No, it's not Veggie Tales. Or even Denver, the Last Dinosaur.
It's this freakin' cartoon public service announcement from the '80s that warns kids not to "drown" their otherwise inedible greens in the flavorful crime that is dressing. Warning: Immediate Sound.
Growing up, I can't tell you how much I hated this commercial because of its ridiculous premise. Instead of encouraging impressionable young children like me to eat salad -- even if it means coating it in a gallon of flavor goodness -- these suits have the nerve to imply, "No, no, don't actually enjoy your vegetables. Be sure to keep them as bland as possible so you'll avoid them like the plague at dinnertime every night." This is particularly heartbreaking for fast-food devouring kids who have no digestive problems until their late teens, when it's too late to reach them to say, "Hey, how about salad? Remember that? Yeah, I thought not."
I, a cheeseburger and hoagie connoisseur, was in A&P today, talking to myself aloud like a derelict. "You will have a salad today. Have it. HAVE IT." I changed my mind three times before picking up the little plastic tray and wielding the tongs to craft a custom-made, overpriced salad of three kinds of lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and black olives that was actually delicious.
That is, after I smothered it in Creamy Italian. Take that, Health Board Commies!
Thursday, September 08, 2005
After reading this article about last night's crucial Yankee comeback, powered by Jason Giambi's clutch bottom-of-the-8th home run, I crafted a conspiracy theory that I'll have to pitch to Buster.
On Aug. 24, Major League Baseball announced that the annual Comeback Player of the Year award would be decided by fans' votes.
At that time, Giambi was no doubt in the middle of a 2005 resurgence, batting .273 with 21 home runs and 52 runs batted in -- vast improvements over his entire 2004 season, during which he hit .208 with 12 HR and 40 RBI.
Now hitting .270 with 27 HR and 70 RBI, Giambi is the likely favorite to win this award, especially when the other candidates were already great (Roy Halladay), play in small markets (Bob Wickman in Cleveland and Richie Sexson in Seattle), should have played well in the first place (Barry Zito) or had a dramatic drop-off in the second half (Jay Gibbons).
And, in case you've been asleep for the last year, sources in December leaked that Giambi allegedly admitted a year earlier to a federal grand jury that he had taken steroids and human growth hormone. On Feb. 10 of this year, Giambi held a press conference to make a quasi-apology, but never specifically mentioned steroids. The next day, sportswriters crushed him.
Since then, Giambi's on- and off-field progress dramatically improved, perhaps by default. In the clubhouse, he's made a point to answer non-steroid questions in a pleasant fashion. He's been seen signing countless autographs. Despite a prolonged slump to start the season and his refusal to find his stroke in the minor leagues, he's rebounded admirably and continues to credit batting coach Don Mattingly, a fan favorite, for approaching his MVP form. (Despite these improvements, my friend Valentina -- a Mets fan extraordinaire -- repeatedly has refused to get off her bike at their common gym when Giambi hints that he wants to use it.)
Enter Serico Conspiracy Theory: In late July, MLB officials realized Giambi's rebirth might have force them to bestow the Comeback Player of the Year award to a player connected to steroid allegations. Thus, letting the fans decide the winner allows MLB to avoid a public relations nightmare. Besides, letting fans vote for anything is virtually fool-proof from a PR perspective -- although, from a baseball standpoint, allowing Joe and Jane America to pick All-Star Game starters is downright wrong.
Irony Alert! The Comeback Player of the Year Award is sponsored by Viagra, fostering at least two "comeback" puns and one "player" joke.
Double Irony Alert! Rafael Palmeiro, MLB's biggest star to be disgraced by a failed steroid test, had been a Viagra spokesman. As my friend Brian described him: "He's more like the Go-Away Player of the Year." Perhaps like a balding man selling the Ford Focus in favor of a Porsche 911 to compensate for losses elsewhere, Pfizer is overcompensating for driving a washed-up vehicle by throwing lots of money toward a more appealing venture.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
I've slowed down just a bit in recent years. I can't quite party like it's 1999 anymore. Mostly because it's not 1999 anymore.
As a result of all my friends invariably marching toward (or even beyond) the big 3-0, there's one aspect of my life that's been lacking in recent years. And some people actually consider this drop-off an improvement. Uh-uh. Not me.
Drunk dials. I love getting them. Really!
Why? Because there's no more honest form of communication. Alcohol + repressed feelings + phone calls = awesomeness. And since most of my exes are either friends with me now or have deleted my number, I'm always happy to receive someone's inebriated honesty.
I revel in late-night communications that involve one or more elements of screaming, pining or nonsensical jibber-jabber. I can't recall, off-hand, the most recent drunk dial I received, but I'm guessing it was shortly after midnight on New Year's Day. Early that morning, my friend, who shall remain nameless, decided to call and tell me about every last emotional detail about her very single night out. Which begs the (rhetorical) question: Why was she calling me?
While I'm not always the recipient of amorous, drunken senselessness, it's been my experience drunk dials otherwise provide high comedy. Take this dramatization involving any of my male friends:
"Serrrriiiiicooooooo!!! (cheers, shouts, AC/DC song in background) WHAT UP, SERICO! Dude. Dude. DUDE! You totallllly should be here right now. What the hell are you doing right now? You suck! Why aren't you here? Everyone's asking about y-- wha??? (muffled conversation as phone rubs against shirt-like substance) Tell herrr I'll be right there. Right tharrr. HAAAAAAA. (returning to phone receiver) Dude, Mike, I rotta gun. I rot to, rot to, got to RUN. Dahhh, totally can't talk. Gotta walk, can't talk. Gotta walk, can't talk. Word to yo' motha. SERIIIIICO. Hey, let go of my--END OF MESSAGE."
However, I'm usually not a fan of drunk-dialing friends myself. Especially after, well, the public release of a high-profile journalist's supposed message for a special little lady, which, by the way, is something you definitely should not listen to in the office.
But, as The New York Times points out, if you not only feel the need to leave Natty Light-flavored voice mails for one friend, but for the entire world, you can always call 321-600-1200. After you're done, SlackerTown.com will post it on the Web for everyone's amusement/bemusement. Needless to say that there's lots of stuff on that site you don't want to play in the office, either.
My friend Rach reminded me about drunk instant messages -- a different animal that's a blog post for another time. (And do I even dare consider a drunk blog post? Hmm....)