Saturday, December 30, 2006

A blog post about itself

This will be my last Varsity Basketweaving post of 2006. Check back next year*!

*In a few days.

Who needs championships when you can celebrate capitalism and mediocrity?

In the Sports Guy's weekly NFL picks column, ESPN Page 2's Bill Simmons rightfully poked fun at the Indianapolis Colts' "AFC Finalists" banner, the Washington Mystics' "WNBA attendance leaders" banner, and Hartford's parade for the Whalers for going only so far in the playoffs.

While reading this, I was reminded of two more atrocities: the 2001 Atlanta Braves' slogan, "10 Years of Great Baseball" and the Cleveland Indians' retiring the number 455 to honor the number of consecutive Jacobs Field sell-outs.

As Jim Caple wrote about the Braves' slogan, it's conveniently "ignoring nine of the Octobers."

And Cleveland's retirement of No. 455 is even sadder. Not only is no Indian clamoring to fit three fat digits on his back, but also it's as if team officials and marketers said, "Well, we haven't had any really special players in the last 20 years, so let's retire a number that celebrates our ability to take people's money."

If this trend continues, a Major League Baseball team's seventh-inning stretch could include the unveiling of a "Most Peanuts Sold" graphic on the center field wall, and the Memphis Grizzlies in a pregame ceremony could hoist an "NBA Team" banner to the rafters.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

But how good is Danny Tanner at Plinko?

My girlfriend Casie is brilliant. Want proof?

When discussing Bob Barker's pending retirement from "The Price is Right" -- we only talk about pressing matters of international consequence -- I had told her that there had been rumors of CBS just pulling the plug on the show, temporarily or permanently, after Bob called it quits.

Then she suggested that another Bob might be a worthy successor to Mr. Barker. I'm looking at you, Saget.

I've heard other names bandied about, including current "TPIR" announcer Rich Fields and former "Double Dare" host Marc Summers, but Saget makes perfect sense. Think about it.

  • As Casie noted, Saget has mainstream appeal, as evidenced by his appearances on "Full House" and "America's Funniest Home Videos," but also seethes with the snark needed for 21st-century game shows in "The Aristocrats" and, more recently, that surprisingly funny Jamie Kennedy music video, "Rollin' with Saget."
  • He's already hosting a game show on NBC, "1 vs. 100." I'm not sure how well it's doing in the ratings, but even if it were faring well, I doubt Saget would pass up a chance to host daytime TV's most successful game show. Also, I've seen "1 vs. 100." Its format gets old faster than Uncle Jesse's hairstyle.
  • Saget would be charming enough to nice contestants, but wouldn't be afraid to mock a loser or dumb sponsor in the process, making the show a must-watch.
  • Not only could Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen be among Saget's Sweeties (as opposed to Barker's Beauties), Saget could call all of them "Michelle" and no one would flinch.
  • A clip of Stephanie Tanner's voice uttering "How rude!" could be played instead of that dissonant tuba/trumpet bum-bum-buh-BUM (WOWWWWW!) sound effect whenever someone loses.
  • Dave Coulier could be the new announcer. Let's get that man a steady job that doesn't involve Alanis Morissette. (Zing!)

Boosting her energy and credit line while arranging freshly baked bread

While watching TV over my mini-vacation, I believe I discovered that the same stock footage of a woman in a bakery is being used in current commercials for both 5-Hour Energy drink and AmeriMerchant credit services. It's only a matter of time before the Kenmore and Land O'Lakes ad people jump on the bandwagon to put the half-baked "roll" back in B-roll.

Neither YouTube nor the companies' Web sites has been of any assistance in my quest to prove this theory, but I can only surmise that said bakery owner crashed financially and physically before reaching out to these boosters.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Now I got that feeling once again/I can't explain, you would not understand

"Hello, hello, hello, is there anybody [out] there?"

Now, I'm usually very harsh on musicians covering classics, but if you know what's good for you, you'll download Dar Williams' goosebumpy cover of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb."

Her track retains the integrity and soul of the original, but Williams is so smooth, expressive and clever with both the established vocals and her own original descants and harmonies. It's the best cover I've heard since Eva Cassidy's take on Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time."

My apologies for the late notice, as I heard the Williams version of the song for the first time just this week -- more than a full year after its Sept. 13, 2005 release date. But, wow, it was worth the wait I didn't even know I was waiting.

Year in Review: Celebrity Haiku

As I've promoted to death on this blog, I also write for Suburbarazzi, a Journal News blog about the celebrities that have some connection to the northern suburbs of New York City.

The head blogger asked us to do some year-in-review material, so I opted to do it in the form of Haiku. I'll update this post as I add more, but here are my first five:

Bill Murray
Keith Olbermann
Hayden Panettiere
David Letterman

Update! • John Schneider

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Putting the 'Ow' in 'Meow'

Cats In Sinks and Stuff On My Cat will have to raise white flags up their wagging tails. Behold the grudge match that is KittenWar! War has never been so cute, furry or full of hairballs.

So are you with Farley or Lili? Because it's about to go DOWN!

Best part: Winningest kittens. (Tough to beat Barlow, no doubt!)
Worst part: Losingest kittens. (Aww... I feel bad. C'mere, Oliver.)

The real war's bumming me out, so forgive me if I prefer the nonviolent fuzzy kind.

Waiter, I didn't order the self-esteem cookie with my Beef with Hot Pepper and Peanuts

With 2007 rapidly approaching, I couldn't help but wonder what sort of future I'll face in the year to come. Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?

So forgive me for my vigor and subsequent disappointment when I cracked open the fortune cookie that came with Combo Meal No. 64.

:) You are gifted in many ways. :)

Uh, thanks. Evidently, this cookie is gently telling me that I have no future. So excuse me if I appear distant today; I'm on the look-out for falling anvils.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More fun than any Chia Pet

Still looking for a last-minute holiday gift? Vintage "SNL" has a suggestion.

Makes a great gift! Four quick thoughts:

1. Watch it again, listening only to the background music. How great is that?!

2. Since I first saw this sketch in 1990, I've always loved how Mike Myers totally hams it up with only four words with which to work. I also remember the first "SNL" skit that my siblings and I took notice of this Myers fellow: "Ten Beatles Classics You Kind of Know the Words to." In that one, he does a great air-bass-guitar riff for "Get Back."

3. More than 16 years later, "Happy Fun Ball" is surprisingly timely with references to a war in Iraq (albeit Desert Storm) as well as a list of medical disclaimers about product use -- an ironic predecessor to today's commercials advertising prescription medication. I picture one of the comedy writers back then saying, "Hey, let's have one of the potential side effects be 'an erection lasting four or more hours!'", only to be shot down by another with, "Nah, that's too over the top. Who'd believe that?"

4. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

Public television is not just for old people. (Either that's true or I'm old.)

I'm not sure if a grant from the Helena Rubenstein Foundation helped fund the three consecutive PBS shows I watched last night, but I'll still thank it for being "a long-time supporter of outstanding children's television."

I watched three one-hour documentaries about Niagara Falls, advertising, and the history of Second City improv. I was pensive about the economic disparity of the Canadian and American sides of the falls; intrigued by advertising execs' attempts to solicit our attention; and touched by Jennifer Candy's pursuit of comedy at Chicago's Second City stage in the wake of her late father, John Candy -- at the time of filming, she was even living in the same apartment building where he lived when he performed there!

The "Frontline" advertising documentary also featured the most distinctive regional PBS station ID in history, which one YouTuber correctly dubbed the "Flash of Doom":

PBS, regardless of how I felt as a child about your pledge drives or how I feel as an adult about your extended commercials, you do not suck. As Ralph Wiggum might say, "I'm learnding!"

MySpace invader

I want to protest this question I found in a MySpace banner ad, because Nicole Richie is not an actress. At best, she was at one point a reality TV show personality, and now she's, um, an underweight defendant?

Some might argue that reality TV stars and actors are one and the same. I would not, however, as the majority of my friends to appear on reality TV weren't and aren't acting in any sense of the word.

I also wish to protest my getting worked up over any advertisement that appears on MySpace. I mean, I should just be happy that all the words in said banner ad are spelled correctly. Why do I care so much?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Silly Rabbit, tricks are for ... you?

I hate most Internet ads, but this Volkswagen one is Rabbit-acular.

Rap lesson No. 935, followed by a secular morality play

Do: Release the year's most culturally, socially and musically relevant rap.

Don't: Be a wuss of a music station that forces Nas to replace the song's "murder the DJ" lyric with "wreck the DJ." Is it really that much better to wreck a DJ?

Wheel of Morality, turn, turn, turn;
Show us the lesson that we should learn

Music Executive One: "Oh, no, these rappers are talking about violence again!"
Music Executive Two: "Yes, disgusting, yes."
Fan: "Um, excuse me, but I believe Nas is being ironic."
Music Executive One: "Hey, who let you in here? You wouldn't know what ironic was if you listened to Alanis Morissette's song of that name a million times."
Fan: [after a beat] "Actually, that's true."
Music Executive Two: [pressing intercom button] "Deborah, please activate the trap door."
Fan: "What trap dooooooooo..."
Music Executive One: "That's better. [Dull, echoey thud heard in distance.] Now where were we?"
Music Executive Two: "I was about to suggest censoring the horrible concept of murder."
Music Executive One: "Sounds good to me. Let's just have the rapper promote beating the DJ into submission instead."
Music Executive Two: "Perfect."
[Both dive into piles of money a la Scrooge McDuck. Fin.]

Monday, December 18, 2006

Rap lesson No. 934

Do: Enjoy Nas and's "Hip Hop Is Dead."

Don't: "Roll to every station, murder the DJ."

Unvictorious Victor posing as Victoria?

Indian track runner Shanti Sounderajan was stripped of an Asian Games silver medal after it was discovered that the runner "does not possess the sexual characteristics of a woman," according to The Times of India.

And yet the runner's camp claims to have a birth certificate that proves she's a girl, adding that the runner "hasn't attained puberty yet."

Puberty's hard enough. It must be even harder not going through puberty when you've more than twice as old as the age it typically starts -- as well as that whole winning-a-medal-for-running-really-fast-with-an-androgynous-physique routine.

Chrysler comes with Hatervision standard

Time magazine named "You" person of the year.

Evidently, Chrysler is in denial and/or wants a recount.

(Link courtesy of GorillaMask.)

I told you so!

Just yesterday, I warned you about the potential impact of Larry King's quotes posing as those of a genuine movie critic in movie commercials.

Well, tonight, my prophecy came true.

Refresher: I complained after seeing an ad for "The Good Shepherd" that King's words are not only meaningless (because he likes everything and isn't an actual critic), but also manipulative, because his raves butter up potential guests for his show.

His CNN guests tonight? None other than Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro and Matt Damon. The three stars of "The Good Shepherd."

Now's the time to assure you that, when I wrote the previous rant about King's quotes, I had no idea those three guests would be on his show. Scout's honor.

Sometimes, I hate it when I'm right. (But not often.)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

In addition to a bow and arrow, Legolas picks up Santa's slack

In honor of Elephant Larry's outstanding Caveman Christmas show last night, here's a fine clip of holiday hilarity, complete with adventure and impalement:

Worse than any fake movie critic ever could be

Hey, remember five years ago, when Sony got busted for inventing a movie critic named Dave Manning, just so the company could use the phony critic's rave reviews in ads for their movies, like Rob Schneider's "The Animal"? That was embarrassing, no doubt.

But while watching an ad for "The Good Shepherd" recently, I remembered a trend that I find far worse: Using Larry King's quotes in movie ads.

For the record, I have nothing against the guy. I just want movie companies to stop showcasing his rave reviews.

For starters, Larry King likes everything -- seemingly even more movies than Ain't It Cool News and Rolling Stone's Peter Travers combined. One key difference is that, even if King actually hates the movie, he could just be buttering A-listers up so he could interview them on his show.

In adition, -- hmm... how should I phrase this? -- LARRY KING IS NOT A FREAKIN' MOVIE CRITIC!!!

Really, what other talk show hosts' quotes routinely appear in movie ads? There are at least 20 other hosts' opinions I'd rather hear over King's, including some who no longer are on the air or breathing it. Wouldn't you think Oprah, in all of her Winfreynetic glory, would get more movie ad mentions than the man who suspenders [sic] disbelief? Arguably Gayle King's got more media cred than Larry King.

And even when ads for an awful movie reference a rave review from a tasteless critic from a small newspaper in the middle of nowhere, that opinion's coming from someone whose primary job it is to gauge movies' quality.

At least Dave Manning reviewed movies for a (fake) living.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

In defense of Jim Gray

It's no secret that ESPN reporter Jim Gray is a controversial journalist. Most sports fans will tell you he was not the most popular of people in 1999 after he asked Pete Rose, at a very public ceremony honoring the baseball player, if Rose would confess to betting on the sport. I'll admit that at the time, I didn't agree with Gray's decision, but even then I admired his ability to ask the tough questions. And with 20/20 hindsight, Gray appears to be more in the right than Rose, who later admitted to baseball bets.

Fast forward to this week, when I was set to jump all over the eight-time Emmy winner for reporting that he had spoken on the phone with Philadelphia 76ers point guard Allen Iverson, only to find out later that that person was an Iverson imposter. On the surface, that kind of reporting seems sloppy and inexcusable.

But what I find interesting about the Philadelphia Inquirer's take on the situation is what's reported in the 10th -- 10th! -- paragraph of this story:

"Gray said he received the phone number from Iverson last month. The only problem was that it wasn't Iverson's number, according to a source familiar with the situation."

Wow, so many things to say here if those facts are true:

1. From the public's perspective, the story here is that Gray messed up. But as a reporter, I am more peeved at Iverson if he intentionally passed along fake digits. If that's true, Iverson lied to him and deliberately screwed him over. Imagine the controversy that would develop if Gray lied about how to reach him for comment if ESPN were going to broadcast a damning story about Iverson; Gray might have been fired.

2. Of course, a reporter should be sure he or she is talking to the source in question, but I'm surprised this alleged deception hasn't happened more often. I interviewed stand-up comedian Kevin Meaney last week for Suburbarazzi, and while I contacted his publicist and spoke with a guy on the phone who sounded just like Meaney and knew very specific details about his career, I could never be 100 percent sure that it was him without conducting the interview in person. I'm certainly not implying that Meaney or his publicist would be deceptive; all I'm saying is that one never truly knows who's on the other end of the phone. For sure, this serves as a journalistic wake-up call, no pun intended.

3. If the Inquirer was confident enough to publish the possibility that the phone number was wrong, why does the newspaper place Gray's reasoning so low in the story? For the first nine paragraphs, it appears that Gray doesn't have a legitimate reason for what he did, but suddenly in Paragraph 10, the reader hears his side of the story. This information should appear far earlier in the story, at least somewhere in the first five paragraphs. Poor editorial judgment.


The conclusion of VH1's "Best Year Ever" last night was surprisingly moving.

Little Richard introduced himself with his trademark "WOoooOOOoooOOO!", an innocent and predictable enough opening.

Then he unleashed shock and awe on an unsuspecting audience with a genuinely moving, subtle and understated rendition of "Auld Lang Syne," complete with closed eyes, normal facial contortions and soft vibrato. Goosebump-worthy.

But because he's Little Richard, he had to follow that quiet ballad with another "WOoooOOOoooOOO!" Oh well.

Thanks, Quiznos, but I'll pass on your creamy meat

Dear Quiznos ad people,

Please stop mixing gross food metaphors in your TV commercials for the Prime Rib and Peppercorn sandwich.

On its own, the sandwich looks rather yummy, but describing its meat content as the "crème de la crème of steaks" makes me want to vomit. Especially because then I perceive the sandwich's peppercorn sauce to be some kind of meat cream, oozing from the top steak slices. Blech.

In this context, the literal translation of the French phrase conjures up images of the creamiest of meats. And as much as I love steak, "creamy" should never be a superlative associated with steak.

Side effects include dizziness and a loss of appetite,
Varsity Basketweaving

Gosh darn it, Kate!

There's fandom, there's geekdom, and then there's the ultimate convergence of the two when Joe Howard (George Frankly from "Mathnet") answers questions on a "Square One TV" message board!

Five highlights:

- On getting the role: "Since the creators of Mathnet were the creators of 'Sesame Street,' my wife thinks I had an edge getting hired for Mathnet because I look like a Muppet when I grin."

- While James Earl Jones was on the set for a week, Joe Howard quoted one of Jones' obscure movies to Jones, who was pleased and "lovely to have on the set."

- He organized a Mathnet reunion about seven years ago.

- His most amusing fan encounter: "I was walking down the street and three people in black leather, chains, green spiked hair, and piercings gathered round me, and I thought I had trouble on my hands. Turned out they all were Mathnet fans and they could not have been sweeter."

- Since the late 70's, he has known Dennis Haskins, the actor who played Mr. Belding on "Saved By The Bell."

Want a REALLY geeky admission to top this all off? I found this in a Google search to try to find out if Weird Al has any geographical connection to my newspaper's coverage area, so I could ask him Six Stupid Questions.

(Adjusting my calculator holster.)

Friday, December 15, 2006

30 Rock(s)!

After being too cool for school in rooting for "30 Rock," but not actually putting forth any effort to watch it, I got home just in time to see an episode from beginning to end.

I laughed out loud at least eight times at jokes that included references to college a cappella, race, bad relationships, karaoke, politics, Alec Baldwin acting like a fool, Tracy Morgan acting like a fool and Tina Fey acting like a fool. Solid writing, great delivery, fun cast. Good times ahoy-hoy.

It reminded me of the best days of SNL, except all the best moments from a 90-minute show are streamlined into 21 minutes of nummy-nummy goodness.

Now, will I actually be around and/or motivated to watch it again? Hopefully. Good stuff, Ms. Fey. Good stuff.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

No word on if/when Johnny Damon plans to sign his future baby's head with a magic marker

According to the Peter Abraham's Yankees blog on, New York Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon (still love the sound of that!) ended a baseball writers' conference call with "Peace out! Shake 'n bake!"

I'm Wondering if when he drives to Yankee Stadium, Damon's got a cougar in the passenger seat.

Go Google yourself

As of this moment, Google lists 737 hits for the quoted search term "Chris Serico," yet still asks "Did you mean 'Chris Serino'?"

The number of hits for the Merrimack hockey coach? Only 509.

Mr. Google, it's time to ask Chris Serino stalkers if they really mean to look for me.

I'm so humble.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What makes Stephen Colbert tick (with laughter)

Nation, if you want to make Stephen Colbert break character on "The Colbert Report," I have two words for you: Shout. Out.

The show's "Shout Out" segment not only gives him a chance to interact with viewers, but also features a sound clip of Colbert shouting "Hey!" while crude animation between two Colbert photos depicts the shout at the bottom of the screen.

The only thing more jarring to the viewer than the sudden "Hey!" outburst is watching Colbert smile or giggle upon hearing it. He did it last night, and I've seen him do it at least one other time, and each time, it fills my heart with laughter and/or cholesterol.

And that's tonight's W∅rd.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

CNN asks if you are a racist or possibly a racist

While avoiding a tired Michael Richards joke, I want to mention a poll published on CNN's Web site today: "Do you like people of your own race more than people of other races?"

The answer options? Just "Yes" and "No."

Now a vote for "Yes" holds at least some degree of racism, but a vote for "No" could as well, depending on how you answer the question. If you like other races more, you're a self-hating racist.

As of about 4 p.m. today, 48 percent of 34,813 CNN voters said "Yes," while 52 percent said "No." Draw your own conclusions, now that I've ruined the integrity of the question.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Debra's Believe it or Not

OK, I'll admit it. I watch "Celebrity Paranormal Project." On a regular basis.

The show's been reasonably tame for a few weeks, with a couple of fun cameos by Gilbert Gottfried and Ernie "Remember me from Ghostbusters?" Hudson.

And then there was last night's episode, featuring MAD TV's Debra Wilson, who seems like a bright, stable person when she's not (allegedly) possessed by an unhappy spirit, as seen at the 4:10 mark of this video:

I'm not sure if I believe her, but dude, when Wee Man's freaked, you know some serious ish is going down.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

They sign off their funny newscasts with 'That's news to me' and 'That's what's happening'

Last night in Times Square, Kevin Nealon and Robin Quivers were on opposite ends of the chat spectrum.

10:30 p.m.: I'm heading south en route to an ATM, when I see Nealon on a break from filming something in front of MTV's headquarters at 1515 Broadway. I decide to offer him a conversational, non-shouty "Kevin Nealon rules" as I walk past him. No reaction.

There are many reasons I don't blame the former Saturday Night Live star for not responding. Perhaps it's because he can't hear me. Perhaps it's because he's getting his makeup touched up. Perhaps it's because about 1.2 million people are walking and gawking right by him. Perhaps it's because the pressing flow of pedestrian traffic pushes me past him before I have the opportunity to say something else. Or perhaps it's because saying "(Celebrity name) rules" is the most uncreative thing to say to any celebrity. I blame all of the above.

10:37 p.m.: With cash in my pocket heading back north toward the W Hotel, I read a couple of lines that are on Nealon's TelePrompTer. So if you happen to see a bit featuring him in Times Square saying something to the effect of "Now let's go back in time. Let's say, oh, about 1 million years," you can say, "Hey, Chris was there when that was being filmed." And you can send me royalties.

10:41 p.m.: So I'm approaching the W Hotel at 1567 Broadway, where it's fun to unwind at the seventh-floor Living Room bar and people-watch. On occasion, I've also spotted my fair share of celebrities hanging out there. So as I reach the main entrance, I see Ms. Quivers wrapping up a conversation with a woman and we make eye contact as we both head for the entrance. I smile and show her my Sirius S50 (Fred Norris would probably play a "boing" sound effect for that remark -- but for those not in the know, the S50 is a portable radio), and tell her everyone on the Howard Stern Show is doing an awesome job. She's very pleasant and cordial and she looks beautiful.

Immediately trying to find something more creative to say than "Robin Quivers rules," I ask her to tell notoriously bizarre show writer Sal the Stockbroker to calm down. She laughs and I wish her well as she takes one of three elevators up to the seventh floor. I could have gotten in the same elevator, but I opt for the next one as a courtesy.

The Howard Stern Show itself actually taught me how to approach Quivers. Basically -- and obviously it's different for everyone -- I totally understand and respect the philosophy of that show's entire staff: It's OK to say something nice, but don't invade space, don't ask for a picture or autograph, and let them get where they're going.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Smells Like Shark Sandwich

Via, I learned about The Brickshelf Gallery's collection of rock bands replicated through Legos.

So, OK, I'm game. Who do you think of when you see this picture?

Most of you probably answered Nirvana. I answered Spinal Tap.

As much as I dig Dave Grohl, I still like my answer better, especially since Kurt Cobain played guitar left-handed.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

That's not riiiight!

For Suburbarazzi, I interviewed comedian Kevin Meaney today at 5 p.m.

Hilarity ensued.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Me 1, TMZ 0.

Within five days of becoming Suburbarazzi's newest celebrity blogger, I scooped famous gossip site TMZ by five minutes in reporting the DWI charge handed down against Rip Torn. And according to early Google News data, I'm probably the first newsie to report the story overall.

Winner: 3:40 p.m. EST.

Loser: 3:45 p.m. EST.

Note: TMZ has since updated that page several times, but both that site and I had similar information when the stories broke.


It all adds up

I collect portions of a police blotter every Monday for my job, and I found the following local item to be particularly amusing:

"Complainant reports the theft of calculators. Value of the missing property is $211.46."

Hmm... I might have stuck around that day to see if 10 calculators fell to the floor when that cop took off his hat.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Red Bull can only do so much

I think if I ever resorted to medical testing to make an extra buck, scientists would discover a new affliction known as Weekly Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, because I find myself taking a three-hour nap every Sunday.

Either that or I should just go to bed earlier every night. (Nahhh.)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay bad

I had a "Curb Your Enthusiasm" moment a couple of weeks ago when I was at the gas station. Mr. David, if you should want to include this in your show at some point, feel free, as long as I receive a guest spot on your show in return. (You're welcome.)

So on my way home from work one night, I pull into one of those gas stations that's exclusively full-service. When I have the option, I always prefer self-service to avoid incidents like the following.

The gas station attendant fills up my Tiburon's tank at a cost of $30.50. Being the anal-retentive freak that I often am, I give the gas station attendant exact change while sitting in my car. During this transaction, he drops one of the two quarters and the fallen coin rolls around on the dark pavement to parts unknown. The attendant kindly says, "Don't worry about it." His response annoys me.

In reality, I drive home at that point without incident. But here's how I picture the scene unfolding with me/Larry David in the car and special guest star Paul Scheer as the attendant:

Me: "Uh, aren't you going to pick that up right now?"
Him: "Hmm?"
Me: "The quarter. Aren't you going to find it?"
Him: "Nah, I'll find it later."
Me: "Huh. (Tilts head during three-second pause) Okaaay."
Him: "What?"
Me: "So, the quarter'll just sit there."
Him: "I'll
look for it later."
Me: "No, you won't. It's pitch black out! Tomorrow morning, someone else could take it."
Him (miffed): "What's it to you? You paid in full."
Me: "But I didn't pay for someone else to walk by and pick it up! That's a waste of my money!"
Him: "Look, buddy, whatever happens to that quarter is my business now."
Me: "Not if you never see it again!" (Gets out of car.)
Him: "What are you doing?"
Me (Palm outstretched): Give me that other quarter back."

Him: "What?"
Me: "You heard me. If you aren't going to use that quarter you won't bother to find, I'll use the other one. Give it back!"
Him: "That's ridiculous! That gas cost you $30.50, and that's what you gave me! Get off my property!"
Me: "Not until you give me that other quarter!"
Him: "It's. A freakin'. Quarter!"
Me: "But it's my quarter!"
Him: "No, it's not!"

A scrum unfolds, and a cigarette lighter that carried some mildly amusing significance earlier in the episode falls out of my pocket and ignites a pool of gasoline next to the pumps. Seeing this, the attendant and I bolt off the property just in time to watch the entire gas station explode. We look at each other silently, mouths agape.

(BUM, BUM, BUM, dadalada-da-dadalada-da-dun-dun-dunnn, dun-dun-dun dadalada-da-dadala-da, da-dun! Whee! Boom!)*

*This was my sorry attempt at the show's opening/closing theme song. Preceded by my sorry attempt to write a script for a show that's supposed to be improvised. My apologies.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Reverse the (Campbell's Soup) curse

Call me crazy, but I'm guessing before Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck agreed to an endorsement deal with the Campbell's Soup people, he asked them to wait until he got hurt before releasing the ads to prevent more serious injury. I hadn't seen any of his ads prior to this week's Monday Night Football game, when he returned to play after missing a month with a knee injury.

You think I'm kidding? Witness the brothy burdens placed upon fellow Campbell's Soup pitchmen, Donovan McNabb (torn ACL, out for the season) and Ben Roethlisberger (appendectomy/motorcycle accident without a helmet), whose ads appeared before their more serious injuries.

I mean, "Soup is Good Food" and all that, but it won't help you when you're on Injured Reserve.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bringing a little Basketweaving to the tri-county area

Thanks to my Gannett colleague Ted Mann, I am the newest contributor to The Journal News' entertainment blog, Suburbarazzi. Basically, it covers any news involving celebrities who have a connection to Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties.

Take a looksie at my first Suburbarazzi contribution as well as my quasi-professional bio for that site!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Who's got the best faces this fall?

If the year is 1988, the answer is Balki, Roseanne and Columbo:

Gotta love the emotional, soulful solo at the end, complete with piano vamp.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Maybe I'm just bitter I never made it past the New York City audition to be one of those "Reading Rainbow" book reviewers. But here's some sweet, sweet revenge that takes the form of a "music video," whose lyrics I still know verbatim some 20 years later:

I'll attempt to pick 10 sequential highlights from the infinite options:

1. Wow, where to start? OK, how about the skintight florescent green and pink outfits? Also, those girls don't have a lot of, um, coverage on the lower half. Thank you, Public Broadcasting!

2. At the 52-second mark, you'll see a random finger-pointing action, which makes no sense unless you remember the whole episode. If I recall correctly, earlier in the show, video director Sammy Dallas Bayes was looking for a way to pep up this sequence, so music director Steve Horelick agreed to add a spiffy drum riff to the score. So the finger-wagging was a cue to the viewer: "Hey, remember that part we added?" Yes, and that has made all the difference.

3. At the 1:13 mark, the waitress/dancer on the right makes a phenomenal one-handed grab of three falling paper plates. It would have been even more impressive if the plates weren't taped or glued together in some way, as closer inspection appears to reveal. But still, nice grab there, Alice!

4. At the 1:20 mark, is it just me, or does the chef look a lot like Clayton from "Benson"?

5. At the 1:55 mark, check out the last leg of the human-made fire engine. Just how exactly is the piggybacking woman contributing to said teamwork?

6. At the 2:02 mark, LeVar Burton's attempt to help with the ladder is weak at best, a nuisance at worst.

7. From the 2:22 to 2:46 marks, well... there are no words. Bonus points for a basketball backboard that looks like it was a fourth-grader's art project.

8. Some totally rad Van Halen-esque guitar licks from the 3:16 to 3:25 marks. It's seriously impressive. PBS seems to understand that even as an 8-year-old, I WANNA ROCK!

9. At the end, I love how all of the dancers get so excited. But what are they excited about, exactly? And yet, it's quite endearing.

10. LeVar gives us sage advice. LeVar is the greatest. I'm not joking.

UPDATE: Thanks to GorillaMask and Cracked for the awesome linkage action! That's what happens when we work together... as a team!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Thanks to the 6,000-plus(!) people who visited this blog post on Nov. 22! That's teamtastic.

'Avenue Q' meets 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?'

As someone who takes improv comedy classes, I know how difficult it can be to be funny in front of an audience without a script. But I'm not lugging around a piece of felt while I'm doing it.

So, of course I was taken aback Monday night when I was flipping through the channels and found the choreographer from Showgirls on TBS, taking audience suggestions for improv scenes featuring foul-mouthed comedians strapped to carefully constructed pieces of felt.

Hand-happy hilarity, thy name is Puppet Up.

I'll say this much, as many scenes flopped like Snuffleupagus' nose, but others were really, really clever and amusing. The level of difficulty, of course, was unlike anything I had seen in the world of improv, so even when I didn't laugh, I admired the unbelievable multitasking.

No pressure or anything: Just stick with the audience suggestion, be funny, synchronize your off-the-cuff words and defined expressions with those of the puppet, be funny, interact with other puppets, keep it aligned with live cameras that crop you out of the picture, and be funny. Otherwise, it's totally easy.

If these guys ever gig in New York City, I'll definitely be in the audience.

If the concept of R-rated Muppets sounds oxymoronic to you, just remember that Jim Henson's creations were supposed to be a prominent part of "Saturday Night Live" when the show launched. So hearing his puppeteers, more than 30 years later, cursing up a storm isn't too farfetched.

Somewhat related: I'd just like to give a shout-out to any celebrity who's ever been on "Sesame Street." You earn automatic cred with me. (Remember: Put down the duckie if you wanna play the saxophone.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

My iPod's ancient

But, really, what's my incentive to get a new one? Every six months, Apple releases better, smaller and sleeker models with video capabilities and other party favors. I'd have wasted thousands of dollars at this point if I bought every upgrade.

So for now, I'll stick with my glorified Walkman. Even if the music, screen and backlight like to freeze while I'm listening to Destiny's Child's "Bootylicious." Not embarrassing at all.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Evidently, it's not enough for me to want shows to succeed if I don't bother to watch them.

Call me a lazy American -- at least when it comes to trying new network TV shows. I prefer to root for some TV shows, rather than actually taking the time to watch them.

I really wanted "Arrested Development" to succeed. But I never watched a single episode, despite the fact that friends and family are convinced I'll be hooked on the DVDs.

I liked the premiere episode of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," but haven't watched it since.

I've always laughed at the comedy stylings of Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan and Rachel Dratch. But I've yet to catch "30 Rock." I mean, the guy who brought us Astronaut Jones alone should be enough incentive for me to watch, no?

And yet all of these shows are struggling to retain viewers on a weekly basis. Especially "Arrested Development," which is, um, not on TV anymore.

Maybe all of this has to do with the karmic implications of my rooting so hard against "Dancing With The Stars."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Enough about me. Let's talk about me.

Want to learn more about me? Here's a good way to do so.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate

You can now get to this page via the more recognizable and more-annoying-to-type

You can still get here the old way, but I figured landing the domain name would be a great way to solidify my blog identity. Or something.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Honoring the Man In Black who never used a Neuralizer to erase people's memories

Found this spiffy black-and-white tribute video to Johnny Cash on's site today:

Some thoughts:

- This video's jam-packed with A-list celebrities who have made a name for themselves with years and years' worth of work -- and Corinne Bailey Rae. I like her one song and all, but jeez, even Lisa Marie Presley has more of a right to be in this thing.

- Also, perhaps my favorite part, keep an eye out for the Bill Parcells look-alike at the 2:18 mark.

- Chicken vs. egg debate: Was Cash's version released first, or was Moby's "Run On" the predecessor? Both very different, both very cool.

'I'm crushing your head' meets 'Krush Groove'

While reading the display on my Sirius satellite radio this morning, I deduced that Dave Foley had found work in between seasons of "Celebrity Poker Showdown."

I quickly realized that rap duo Kidz in the Hall, with a subtle change of one letter, had employed the services of neither a Foley nor a McCullogh.

Fun fact! I wanted to rip into the Kidz for their blatant name rip-off, but they're actually pretty good. Reminiscent of Kanye West and OutKast, but a bit more old-school.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Nerd alert!

Let's hear it for the first movie franchise that will force me to go to the theatre on opening night for the third straight time.

Thus breaking my current record of two, held by, um, the Spider-Man franchise.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Because it's crucial to know which crooked logo belongs to Yahoo!

I love logos. You should too.

That's why you should take this test. It's timed, so you have to be fast, be accurate and avoid productivity.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Star Wars: A New Hope

After two years that tore America apart, hope returned to our nation with Election Day results.

And I hear there was some kind of votey-type thing yesterday, too.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Yo Momma's joke is so old, it's got an autographed copy of the Bible

With the exception of its use by MasterCard advertising executives, I am demanding immediate cease-and-desist orders for any conversational set-up that lists various goods and services and their corresponding costs, followed by the punchline "Priceless."

This joke format got tired about two or three years ago, but seeing it dragged out a week or so ago for MTV's "Yo Momma" marks the official -- and long overdue -- end of the trend.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The funniest movie title since "Snakes On A Plane" has to be...

"Let's Go To Prison." And the trailer's funny, too!

Honorable mention: "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan." And the movie's funny, too!

Five signs you're a Boston College football fan

1. Your team is ignored and unranked in preseason polls, despite holding the active Division-I record for consecutive bowl wins.

2. Your team fights its way into the Top 25 rankings, only to lose a game to an embarrassing opponent.

3. Your quarterback is good, but not great.

4. Your team climbs back up to a teen ranking in the polls, only to lose the most significant regular season game of the year.

5. At the end of the regular season, your team is ranked between 20th and 25th, and your team is dispatched to a glorified away game for a postseason appearance, while other teams reap millions more dollars for their bowl participation. (Pending.)

Friday, November 03, 2006

An open letter to the people of Alabama


Please refrain from shooting at "Dukes of Hazzard"/"Smallville" star John Schneider. He is just a Good Ol' Boy who happens to be one of Superman's legal guardians.

Plus, Schneider was born in Westchester, which you and I know is the best, Chester!

Trust me, you don't want to make Clark Kent mad. He'll write a really scathing column about you in The Daily Planet.

Thank you,
Varsity Basketweaving.


Thoughts had while watching the final installment of VH1's '100 Greatest Songs of the 80's'

Last night, I spent another hour of my life watching yet another VH1 top 100 show that hooked me with a death grip and wouldn't let me go. Here were my musings:

- I have no issue with VH1 online voters (more about them later) ranking Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" at No. 19. What I nearly flipped out over was the fact that the special named several "artists" who covered the song, including the legendary Joey McIntyre, but omitted the gut-wrenchingly beautiful Eva Cassidy version that might be better than the original. That's like mentioning Roseanne's cover of the national anthem but ignoring Whitney Houston's. Reedonkulous.

- Panelist Darryl McDaniels has always been my favorite member of Run DMC. Maybe because he's the bespectacled Simon to Jam Master Jay's Alvin and Reverend Run's Theodore, but he just seemed to me to be the coolest, most down-to-earth member of the group.

Also, a propos of nothing, I saw Run DMC open for Guster once at Boston College. Strangest concert pairing I've ever seen.

- Now 28 years old, almost two decades after U2's "With or Without You" came out, I had always thought of it as a breakup song. While explaining its No. 13 ranking on the list, VH1 made me realize that the song might also be about God. Now I realize that "see the thorn twist in your side," "you give yourself away" and all subsequent lyrics might have metaphysical connotations. As a college English and Communication double-major, I should have been the first to overanalyze this song and adopt the out-there interpretation.

- Panelist Mike Mills (of R.E.M. fame) seems about as accessible as Michael Stipe doesn't.

- Hmm... "Come On Eileen" at No. 18? Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know" at No. 12? And "Like A Virgin" at No. 8? I guess all the men were busy voting on Maxim and ESPN's online polls instead.

- Now, Hall & Oates are pretty cool, but "I Can't Go For That" is the 6th-best song of the 80's? Really? I don't even know any lyric from that song other than the title! Let's face it: "Maneater" was a better song, but even that should peak on this list at like No. 42, tops.

- Props go out to two panelists in particular: deejay Chris Booker (formerly of the formerly awesome 92.3 FM in New York City, now on mornings in Philly) and comedian Godfrey, both of whom I've had some pleasantries with in the last couple of years.

Explain your answer:

For a couple of days about two years ago, I was very briefly in the running to be Booker's on-air Sports Guy correspondent, doing snarky sports reports for his afternoon show. That is, until a genuinely funny and talented guy by the name of Nick Stevens took that spot and ran with it. I called into Booker's show a couple of times after that while he was still on the air in NYC, and Stevens is hilarious as well on the New York comedy scene. Both seem to be nice guys and it's sweet to see them fare well for themselves.

While I was on a date a couple of years ago, I caught Godfrey at the Comedy Cellar. When he asked me where I was going to school, I explained to him that I was 26 and a journalist. He picked up on the fact that I had a low, resonating voice and from that point onward referred to me as Stone Philips. He spent the next five minutes setting up my hypothetical reporting from Iraq, which was hysterical. At the end, he said something to the effect of, "Oh, no, if you're a reporter, you're probably going to write about how much I suck now." Just the opposite, man, you were awesome.

- Promo time! I have to say, my interest in VH1's "Totally Awesome" was totally nonexistent until I found out that Neal Brennan -- who cowrote and cocreated "Chappelle's Show" -- was involved. That, combined with the clips of Tracy Morgan that I saw, might just suck me in. Or it might just suck.

- The top 3: "Hungry Like the Wolf" gets the bronze (meh), "Pour Some Sugar On Me" gets the silver (nice!) and "Livin' on a Prayer" wins the gold (shrug). I grew up hating Bon Jovi, but I'll admit now that they're good musicians with some catchy tunes. I think I hate to love them. Or the other way around. Still can't make up my mind.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Might as well jump (JUMP!)

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame just released its nominees for next year's induction. Here are my (worthless) votes, in order of most worthy to least worthy:

-Van Halen (as long as Gary Cherone is not inducted)

-Grandmaster Flash (I'd say yes, but it is a ROCK hall of fame, after all)
-The Ronettes
-The Stooges

-Patti Smith
-Dave Clark Five
-Joe Tex

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


As a culinery service to my readers, I have ranked candy ingredients, qualities and examples commonly distributed on Halloween:

1. Chocolate.
2. Caramel.
3. Nougat.
4. Rice crisps.
5. Fruit-flavored chewy things.
2,379. Black licorice.
2,380. Nuts that are not peanuts.
2,381. Razor blades.
2,382. Any candy that appears to have been wrapped in 1923. (Mary Jane, Bit O Honey, etc.)
2,383. Severed head.
2,384. Coconut.

Because 100 Grand and Take 5 have all or most of the top four candy qualities, they are the greatest possible candies to find in your plastic orange pumpkin or pillowcase. People, the houses of the people who give these out should be showered with love, not toilet paper.

Anything with coconut in it should be fused to pyrotechnics and launched into the sky on a more appropriate holiday nine months later.


Monday, October 30, 2006

The unnecessarily confusing conclusion of 'The Prestige' could have used some ch-ch-CHANGES!

I don't care who are the alleged stars of 'The Prestige.' If David Bowie has more than a couple of lines in your flick -- and he projects the essence of cool as he always does -- he should warrant a mention or two in your commercials, hrmmm?

He was the best part of the movie, which I thought was just OK.

VB grade: B-

A quote for possible use in my unlikely-to-be-written screenplay

Girl A, comforting Girl B about annoying Boy C:

"That piece of dust isn't worth your Lemon Pledge."

After a few laughs and a couple more drinks, Girl A and Girl B then dance around a living room table to Earth, Wind & Fire's "September."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dan Patrick is en fuego

ESPN icon Dan Patrick is the consummate professional on SportsCenter, handling light features, tragedies and punch lines with dexterous, dulcet tones.

He's also spiffy because he does things like, oh, sit in on the incredibly raw and hysterical Gary Dell'Abate Roast for this morning's Howard Stern Show, during which Patrick professed his Stern fandom of 20 years.

Cooler still is that he's a fan even after gracefully enduring -- and probably secretly enjoying -- a Stern fan's phone prank while Patrick was on the air in 2003.

It was surreal today to hear him explain why he was afraid to shake Sal the Stockbroker's hand, or how J.D. looks exactly like he sounds.

"And the whiffff...."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Boston College is in great shape

Or at least its students are. Men's Health magazine has proclaimed BC's student body the third-fittest in the nation, behind only Dickinson and Colgate. Adding to the integrity of this list is the title of that Web page: "America's Fittest Colleges in America."

I'm guessing Colgate students have the nation's nicest smiles.

Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one?

While walking through the streets of New York City last night, I came across a van belonging to a professional shredding company.

As Drew Carey once said about drive-through liquor stores, "Almost a good idea."

I can hear the pitch now:

"Are you a corrupt CFO who wants to shred those documents that allow you to skim millions while bilking your hard-working employees of their retirement savings? Then call Shreditall*, whose workers will cut up your most sensitive papers and spare you the jail time you deserve!"

Not only does a business like this seem sketchy from a drone's perspective, but also -- why would an executive ever want to turn over incriminating documents to anyone? Wouldn't a company offering to shred your files be the greatest facade for the FBI and IRS?

*Not a real shredding company. I don't want angry legal e-mails.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Vacations are like New Year's Eve

I can't help but think, "Wait, should I be doing something else, somewhere else?"

Then I remember that money (rather, the lack thereof) greatly limits my options, thus rendering my semi-hypothetical question moot.

So much for diving into piles of gold, recording my own version of "Stars Are Blind," beach lounging on a blanket made of endangered yak and upsetting Lindsay Lohan in some way in the VIP room of Marquis.

Friday, October 20, 2006

My friends are funny and hang out with the guy who directed "Animal House," "Thriller" and "Coming To America"

My friends in Elephant Larry and friend Ari in Mark & Ari wrote and starred in sketches directed by John Landis -- yes, that John Landis -- for a competition on JibJab.

Elephant Larry presents "Tall Cop, Short Cop":

Mark & Ari present "Small World":

Do my friends a favor and register at JibJab, then vote for one of these two videos there. The winner gets a $10,000 development deal, so please make your vote count! Also, check out JibJab's amusing biographical videos for Elephant Larry and Mark & Ari!

(Don't ask for whom I voted. It's tough having so many talented friends in comedy.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Jerseys in Jersey

"A, E, I, O, U and sometimes why?" - An Essay About The Names Of Two New York Giants In Three Acts

I. Does one of my favorite Giants, defensive end Osi Umenyiora, happen to have the only last name in NFL history to feature only one of each vowel and one letter "y"? Coolest fact ever if that's the case.

I'd hate to be the non-sports fan on Wheel of Fortune trying to solve his name in the final puzzle. Even with the automatic R, S, T, L, N and E, and the next most frequently used consonants and vowel in the English language (H, D, C and A), the puzzle would look like this:

_ S _
_ _ E N _ _ _ R A


I'd try not to grimace when Vanna only reveals one new letter before my attempt to solve the puzzle. After the inevitable buzzer, I'd try to clap politely as Pat reveals that I just waved $100,000 good-bye. But I'd still feel slightly less embarrassed than those 1983 Wheel of Fortune "winners" who were forced to spend their winnings on things like tacky $300 bunk beds.


II. Another Giant, cornerback R.W. McQuarters, sounds like he should be Scrooge McDuck's long-lost nephew, no? They're both multimillionaires, so why hasn't Disney greenlit this classic animated adventure yet? Look out, Huey, Dewey and Louie; here comes!


III. While we're at it, McQuarters has dreadlocks that are so long, they cover up all but the last two letters of his last name on his jersey. How do we know that the clubhouse attendants don't just save some time and a couple of bucks by not even bothering to sew the other eight letters above his No. 25? Hmmm?

Then there's my even more fun conspiracy theory that the jersey secretly features another 10-letter word or phrase ending in "RS." Since he started his pro career in San Francisco but left after only two years, what's to stop him from wearing the phrase "DUMB NINERS," which would only be obscured by his impressive coif?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Putting the 'Fresh' in Poppin' Fresh

Nothin' like watchin' a slab of dough do the robot. On the official Pillsbury Web site, no less!

Bonus points for how creepy the Doughboy's face gets during said robot.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Signs I expect to see in Grand Central after witnessing a shoeshine station's 'Do Not Sit On Chairs' placard

"Do Not Eat Food In Dining Concourse."

"Tickets Are To Be Purchased Without A Financial Transaction."

"No Boarding Any Train."

"Stop Breathing Air."

"Contact With The Floor Is Strictly Prohibited."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Lost In Translation 2: Euro Trip

Further proof that Bill Murray might just be the greatest man alive.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Stuff and Things, Part IV

Sports Guy has Ramblings. I have Stuff and Things. Again. And again. And again.

- For months, I wondered if Spraychel could hold a candle to Agent Erin's hotness among the cartoon advertising icon set. Since both were fundamentally unattainable (because they're not real), I had decided, why pick?

But when it comes down to it, Agent Erin's way hotter, so I'll pick her.

- When I was younger, when I heard the phrase "post game show," I always hoped it would involve a snarky host, some flashing lights and lots of money. Sadly, it was just a summary of the preceding sporting event. But I'm convinced that Wink Martindale might be able to split the difference every Sunday afternoon.

- Last month, Beyonce released her latest album, "B'Day." Probably not the classiest idea to sing about a hygienic fixture commonly found next to a toilet. Wait, that's not what she's singing about? My bad.

- If I created a birth control pill and wanted to market it to sexually active women, I might not choose to call it Yaz, considering that was the nickname of a gritty, old Red Sox player from yesteryear. Picking a Yankee would have made more sense.

- Within 0.2 seconds of turning seeing a disoriented, disheveled woman on MTV, I was able to identify the program I was watching as "True Life: I'm Addicted To Crystal Meth." Glamorous!

- A couple of months ago, I was in the city killing some time and decided to visit the Sirius Satellite Radio headquarters at 1221 Avenue of the Americas, where a touch-screen monitor directed visitors to the proper floor for radio employees. Since I'm a big Howard Stern fan, I decided to see who was listed in this directory and who wasn't. The results:

Howard Stern: No.
Robin Quivers: No.
Gary Dell'Abate: Yes.
Fred Norris:

I forgot to try Artie Lange. Disgrazia!

- Fall premieres notwithstanding, TV gets a lot less interesting when your favorite baseball team is eliminated from contention.

- From the "We're Just Not Trying That Hard" files, The Federation brings us "I Wear My Stunna Glasses At Night," an uninspired rap remake of Corey Hart's classic pop song "I Wear My Sunglasses At Night." It seems impossible to remake this song in a hip-hop style and lose, but these guys found a way. They dared masquerade with a guy in shades... oh, no.

- Sometimes when I go to the gym (or more accurately, don't go to the gym), I suffer from a condition I've come to label as Reverse Arm-orexia, which results in my comparing my biceps and triceps to superior sets showcased at the gym, on TV, or elsewhere. It's by no means a serious condition, but women should know that men sometimes get goofy about these things too.

- I debated the greatest American-based band of all time over a few brews a couple of months ago. Taking criteria like hits, influence and longevity into account, the best ones we could brainstorm were Aerosmith, Metallica, Eagles, Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I vetoed Grateful Dead (because they not only had too narrow a reach, but also are waaaay too annoying), and declared Aerosmith the winner. But I could be wrong, considering Aerosmith's only number one hit was written by the same same woman who wrote Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me" and Milli Vanilli's "Blame It on the Rain."

Friday, October 13, 2006

Disclaimer about a disclaimer

Last night, I caught a commercial for the DVD release of the remake of "The Omen," which noted that "additional scenes are not rated or closed captioned."

At first the phrase meant the additional scenes were EITHER not rated OR closed captioned, which would be odd considering the two features have nothing to do with one another. The commercial's scribes evidently wanted the word "not" to apply awkwardly to both conditions. The phrase should have read, "additional scenes are neither rated nor closed captioned."

Poorly written, Omen. See me after class. And don't kill me.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

My explanation for how the Tigers eliminated the Yankees from the playoffs:




Friday, October 06, 2006

I was saying Boo-urns

Two things I found insulting about the second game of the Yankees-Tigers playoff series:

- An ESPN sportscaster's claim that Yankee fans were giving Mike Mussina the "Mooooose" call, when they were clearly booing the delay caused by ESPN's interminable sideline report.

- That and, well, the Yankees' pathetic effort in Game 2.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

That's game, Hendrix!

I made it to 28 today, beating out Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin. Certainly none of them had a short-lived humor column on the Buffalo Bills' Web site before kicking the bucket. Suckers!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Go, go, gadget paper towel dispenser!

It's always humbling to wave your hands in front of a paper towel dispenser you've used for months, only to realize that it's one of the old-fashioned models that require the pulling of said paper towel, rather than a new edition that dispenses towels when you activate a motion sensor.

Effort is such an effort.

Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!

The Ghostbusters 3 script explained by the otherwise-brilliant Harold "Egon" Ramis:

When the Ghostbusters step out of a Brooklyn warehouse, "it looks just like New York, but it's hell -- everything's grid locked; no cars are moving and all the drivers are swearing at each other in different foreign languages. No two people speak the same language. It's all the worst things about modern urban life, just magnified."

Oh, and Ramis wants Ben Stiller to join Dan Aykroyd and Rick Moranis for the cast. No mention of Bill Murray means I'm not interested.

As Murray's Dr. Peter Venkman character so eloquently states while trying to flick the slime off his hands in the New York Public Library, "Gah!"

The source of this information dates back to November 2005, so let's hope the idea died and that its spirit is safely contained in the Ecto Containment Unit, well beyond the legal reach of Walter Peck.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Why it's good to dream about failure, loss and frustration

When I sleep these days, the only dreams I remember seem to be the bad ones.

That said, I'd rather wake up to a better life than ruin something that was better in the ethereal subconscious.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Dropping the ball

I was bemused by an ESPN commercial last night that promoted pregame festivities for tonight's Monday Night Football game "with special performances by the Goo Goo Dolls, U2 and Green Day."

That's like promoting a Saturday Night Live episode "with special performances by Melanie Hutsell, Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy."

If the artists were listed alphabetically, I would not have taken umbrage. But U2 arguably is the most popular band on the planet with nearly three decades of seminal material and a Nobel Prize nominee fronting the band. And as punk-pop trendsetters, Green Day is one of the most successful and influential bands of the last decade with the jaw-dropping, Grammy-winning "American Idiot" serving as their crowning achievement.

And then you have the guy who sang the saptacular theme song from that Nic Cage-Meg Ryan chick flick headlining the pregame.

Don't get me wrong. Despite one of the worst band names in history, Johnny Rzezez-aeiou-sometimes-y-nik and company are reasonably talented and can lay claim to at least three bona fide hits. But they're hardly top billing at their own shows these days.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Your bear suit is a wonder, man

I knew nothing of this so-called "John Mayer Has A TV Show" business before watching VH1's "40 Greatest Pranks" (Wait, Mayer's show was on VH1, too? You don't say!), but I have to admit that this makes up for any artist cred he loses in dating Jessica Simpson.

Besides, you have to love anybody who makes a cameo on "Chappelle's Show." (Points off for Dave, though, for admitting in the DVD commentary that he had never heard of Mayer before he appeared on the set for that skit.)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Reason No. 2,381 why I'm a hypocrite

I think it's absolutely insane to put bumper stickers with political affiliations or stances on your car, but find it perfectly normal to use a vehicular forum to pledge allegiance to your sports team of choice.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Rediscover the magic that is Weird Al Yankovic

Raised on "Even Worse" and "Off The Deep End," I've always had a reverence for Weird Al Yankovic. After all, how can you not give props to a guy who proved to be Frank Drebin's nemesis in "The Naked Gun" trilogy and who introduced us to Kramer before he was Kramer? ("My mop!")

Anyway, after those two albums -- and perhaps because I was no longer an adolescent -- I never felt like Al quite nailed any of his subsequent song parodies. That is, until today, when Best Week Ever's blog introduced me to "White And Nerdy," a brilliant parody of Chamillionaire's "Ridin'."

Because Al is so good at mimicing the style of the original artist, his rap skills on "W&N" are actually pretty impressive. So if you happen to miss a few words, check out all the ha-has in the lyrics.

To celebrate this career resurgence, I suggest listening to "Polka Your Eyes Out." Especially if your name is Conor Mulcahy.

Now that's what I call method acting

Someone should tell these wannabe actors that looking the part isn't enough to get on "CSI."

FDA renders Popeye powerless, Bluto unstoppable

TOONTOWN — Deprived of his legendary forearm strength and guttural laugh, Popeye endured a beating by repeat offender Bluto after the Food and Drug Administration warned Americans to avoid all fresh spinach due to the spread of E. coli.

An inconsolable Olive Oyl could only be heard wailing "Oh, Popeye!" repeatedly while seeking comfort in the arms of new best friend, Nicole Richie.

A source close to Mr. Eye, who spoke to the Toontown Tribune on the condition of anonymity, said that when Mr. Eye had learned about the E. coli outbreak, he said, "That's all [the spinach] I can stands (sic), and I can't stands (sic) no more [spinach]."

Police reports indicate that he could still tolerate a "severe beat-down" by Bluto, who was last seen laughing maniacally, with hands on hips. Police Chief Michael Bumbleberger said Mr. Eye's posterior was "literally handed to him," a scene not unfamiliar to residents of crime-riddled Toontown.

Bluto, whose first name is unknown, is a white male listed at 5-foot-10 and 400 pounds, with dark hair and an unkempt beard. He is wanted on felony counts of attempted murder, kidnapping, and criminal possession of a forearm. Seeking tips, Mr. Bumbleberger promised to continue the "tireless search" for Bluto within the extremely small town.

Popeye's demise has wreaked havoc on the Toontown. Tragedy struck this weekend, when foul play was cited in the tragic death of J. Wellington Wimpy. Medics reported finding Mr. Wimpy slumped over his kitchen table, his face buried in a half-eaten burger.

In a statement released the next day, Bluto claimed responsibility for the dastardly deed, admitting to replacing the hamburger's crisp lettuce with nearly indistinguishable baby spinach leaves.

"Hahahahahahaha," he wrote. "Hahahahaha."

Paramedics said Mr. Wimpy had been gasping for breath in the ambulance while uttering his last words: "I never intended ... to pay ... for those [expletive] burgers."

McDonald's will host a reception for Mr. Wimpy at 10:30 a.m., when breakfast is no longer served.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Spam is best served behind bars

I'd like to propose a law that sentences serious spammers to a day in jail for every unsollicited e-mail they send to unwilling recipients.

Under my zero-tolerance international spam law, this guy would get 5,475,701 years and 7 months in jail. Seems about right.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Farewell to a class act

I just found out that one of my absolute favorite college professors, Fr. Frank Murphy, passed away at age 71 on Aug. 28.

Although I was about as likely to be a history major as I was to study rocket science, Father Murphy made every Western Civ class I took fascinating and fun, all while narrating with the most endearing, soft-spoken New England accent. In and out of class, his sense of humor was evident, and he took as much interest in his students as he did his curriculum.

I took Father Frank's classes for two straight semesters early in my college career, including a smaller discussion group that met once weekly. After class one day, Murphy pulled me aside and encouraged me to volunteer to read books for the blind, citing my "mahvelous voice." A few jokes later, we forged one of my strongest student-teacher bonds.

After that second semester's grades were turned in, he invited me and two of my classmates and friends, Conor and Ethan, to an Italian restaurant. The three of us, with a common sense of off-beat humor, clicked with Father Frank and dinner was no different as we exchanged jokes and anecdotes.

I would talk with Father Frank whenever I saw him around campus and would visit him in his office during the occasional break between classes. We'd talk baseball, travel and the future, about which he was always the most optimistic for me, even when I had my doubts. I distinctly remembered one moment in which I was reluctant to take his compliments and he deadpanned, "That's the Irish in you." My Irish-American mom and Italian-American dad got a kick out of that.

During the graduation ceremony for some 2,000 graduating members of the Class of Arts & Sciences in 2000, Murphy was one of many to hand out the fake diplomas, but by complete chance -- perhaps divine intervention -- he was also the one to hand me my replica with a wide smile.

I kept in touch with Father Frank for the next couple of years over the phone, and he always had time for me. When I lost his phone number, I unsuccessfully tried to reconnect with him through Boston College. I was more disappointed when I realized I couldn't find him in the phone book, either. But because of our previous chats, whenever I had doubted myself, I knew there was at least one person outside of my family who believed in what I could accomplish, personally and professionally.

My friend Jeff, who had Father Murphy as an advisor and recommended him to me as a professor, e-mailed me today to tell me the news of his passing. I took it much harder than I thought I would, especially as I realized all the ways The Murph had looked out for me in the last decade.

I will miss his faith that extended way beyond religion. I will miss his quiet jabs at my beloved Yankees. And I will miss a man whose greatness could easily be best measured by the way he made his friends feel, even if they happened to lose touch.

It's been four years since our last and undoubtably fun conversation, but Frank's own "mahvelous voice" will resonate with me forever.

What could have been my last thought while eating a Wendy's Classic Double with extra cheese and no onions

For the half-second that said cheeseburger got lodged in my windpipe last night, I thought people might say, "He died doing what he loved."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Putting the 'ass' in mass transportation

On a somber anniversary in which smiles can in be in short supply, let's take a moment to escape by celebrating the Manhattan antics of Improv Everywhere.

Why, you ask? Consider the following:

- On consecutive subway stops, members entered a car without pants but did not acknowledge each other.

- The group sent 80 agents in blue shirts and khakis to Best Buy, matching the workers' dress code and infuriating management.

- The group also hit up Home Depot, where they proceeded to shop in slow-mo, regular speed and freeze-frame.

- Members repeatedly reenacted the same five-minute scene in a Starbucks, confusing workers and patrons alike.

- The crew gave free "tours of Manhattan" via inflatable boats in tiny Union Square fountains.

- My friend Chad was involved in many of these pranks.

Hooray for IE founder Charlie Todd, who's an Upright Citizens Brigade Teacher, natch!

Here's a great AP article that summarizes Improv Everywhere's awesomeness. It's a safe bet I'll be here on Sept. 30.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Opinions equal facts, right?

On ESPN's Web site this afternoon, fans were asked the choose one of five responses to "My favorite NFL team will ________." Here's how to interpret the nearly 88,000 results that had been tallied as of about 2 p.m. EST Sunday:

Michigan (Home to the Detroit Lions): The only state in which the bulk of the fans voted "Probably done by Week 4." You know your team has been a disappointment if your fans have absolutely no faith before the season even starts. Like Kevin Federline at the Teen Choice Awards, you knew it would bad before the show started.

Louisiana (Home to the New Orleans Saints): The only state in which most of the fans responded with "Not embarrass me completely." Last year's frustrating year was compounded by Hurricane Katrina slamming the Gulf Coast, forcing the Saints to play "home" games as far away as Giants Stadium. (Totally fair!) But at least this year, they have Reggie Bush -- the NFL's most exciting college draft pick since, uh, ever -- so he'll be fun to watch, at least.

Wisconsin (Home to the Green Bay Packers): A tie between "Hopefully will make the playoffs!" and "Not embarrass me completely." In other words, a tie between fans who remember who Brett Favre used to be, and the fans who remember who Brett Favre is now.

Missouri (Home to the St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs), Minnesota (Home to the Minnesota Vikings) and North Dakota (Home to... uh... snow): "Hopefully will make the playoffs!" I actually think North Dakota's snow has a better shot of making the playoffs than the Green Bay Packers.

26 states (Home to a lot of teams) and non-US voters (Home to a lot of political animosity toward the United States): "At least will make the playoffs!" This is probably the healthiest attitude going into a season. Moderate expectations, meaning fewer boos per home game than a Barry Bonds away game.

18 states (Home to some teams): "Will win the Super Bowl!" Wow, 17 states are in for a real shocker. I'm looking in your direction, New Mexico.

Hawaii (Home to a bizarre season of "The Real World"): A tie between "Will win the Super Bowl!" and "At least make the playoffs!" If I lived in Hawaii, the last thing I'd be thinking about is football. Mmm... Hawaii.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

'Want to see proof I was at the no-hitter? Let me print out my ticketFast receipt again. Wait, where are you going?'

For those among the 12,561 some-odd baseball fans who were lucky enough to witness last night's Marlins no-hitter and bought their tickets through traditional means, they can treasure their one-of-a-kind ticket stubs, whose unmistakeable proof of purchase adds value to the stub and legitimacy to any exaggerated stories they might tell about the game.

But for those who were "smart" enough to purchase tickets via ticketFast on the Internet, all they can do is curse the convenience of their easily reproduced receipts, which not only are the aesthetic equivalent of an Excel spreadsheet in a scrapbook but also garner absolutely zero interest from memorabilia collectors.

Unlike traditional ticket stubs, which are only printed once by some fancy machine, ticketFast tickets can be printed an infinite number of times on 8.5x11 paper with an everyday printer and still be legitimate for those seats on the day of the game, thereby making their financial and sentimental value practically worthless.

Curse you, ticketFast. What is gained in convenience and a reduction in ridiculous service charge is lost in beauty.