Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Summing up 2008 in one word

Thanks, Wedding Bobby:

Monday, December 08, 2008

Hooray for cute redheads selling stuff

Don't get me wrong, it's nice to be a blonde or brunette, but here's a shout-out to two eye-catching redheads doing their part in pitching goods to consumers.

Exhibit A:
Product: Weatherproof garments.
Name of redhead: Unknown.
Most prominent appearance: Times Square billboard.
Attire: Weatherproof jacket. Heels. Possibly nothing else.
Attitude: Overly pleased by jacket.
Result: I am equally pleased.
Bonus points: The billboard changes on a regular basis -- I'm guessing every few months or so -- giving pedestrians a bit of a fashion show from said redhead.
Potential downfall: If, like fellow redhead Shirley Manson, she's only happy when it rains.
Random tangent: If I ever understood what the "for days" part of the phrase "Legs for days" meant, that would probably apply here.

Exhibit B:

Product: Bud Light.
Name of redhead: Christina Murphy, it appears.
Most prominent appearance: Frequently airs during Sunday NFL football games.
Attire: Snug No. 22 t-shirt, skinny jeans.
Attitude: Snark for days.
Result: I'm a sucker for a pretty girl with a bit of sarcasm.
Bonus points: Her comfort with a football makes it seem like she'd be up for watching the game. Or at least talking about beer.
Potential downfall: If she follows everything you say with a 30-second diatribe about how you're exaggerating. "You think the wait at the dentist's office is too long? Really? The wait at the post office is too long. The wait at the DMV is too long. The wait for Halley's Comet is too long...."
Random tangent: "Drinkability" might be the dullest ad pitch ever, but the casting agent was at least smart to land an attractive woman to pitch it.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The right and wrong way to sell your luxury vehicle this holiday season

For once, I'm not going to dump on Toyota for an awful commercial campaign. Instead, I will rag on its more luxurious affiliate, Lexus.

Let's look at the way two luxury car companies handle a simple concept: Buying our vehicle will make you feel like you were when you were a kid getting the best holiday present ever.

Successful attempt by Acura:

Why successful? The kids are cute, the joy is palpable and you don't want to smack the adult customer as he drives away in his new toy.

Horrendous attempt by Lexus:

Why horrendous? Only rich and/or spoiled kids got ponies as presents, immediately alienating most TV viewers. And while rich kids shouldn't be inherently punished for being born into wealth, they should be called out for taking joy in the jealousy of their less-fortunate neighbors. So how does karma kick in for this little brat later in life? Her sugar daddy gets her a Lexus for Christmas.

Um, yeah. I'm liking my Hyundai more and more.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

In Defense Of ... Katy Perry, Brett Favre, Frank Caliendo and Robin Williams

There are some folks out there that don't need some tool with an erratically updated blog to defend them. But every now and then, when haters gotta hate, bloggers gotta blog in response.

I'm not sure why I feel it's my duty to stick up for the people who are targets for whatever reason, but I am posting these defenses without any intended irony. Plus, I'm sick on a Saturday night and looking for something to do, so now's as good a time as any.

In Defense Of... Katy Perry
The haters say she's one-dimensional, ditsy and overproduced. And yeah, she flopped onto a giant cake overseas. But the easy thing to do would've been to dismiss Perry as a one-hit wonder after "I Kissed A Girl," the catchy yet gimmicky lipstick-lesbian tune. To the credit of Perry and her A&R rep, her follow-up single of "Hot N Cold" is the real deal. She showcases her voice on the latter hit and has an underrated set of pipes (among other things). During a recent appearance on Howard Stern's radio show, she turned what I thought was going to be an awful acoustic rendition of "I Kissed A Girl" into a surprisingly nuanced and controlled performance. Plus, I think she's embraced her tongue-in-cheek style in a way that's refreshing in a world of narcissistic "talents" in the music industry these days.

In Defense Of... Brett Favre
The guy who just couldn't do anything wrong in the eyes of the media while playing for the Packers pretty much ruined that sentiment when he retired and unretired every 14 seconds. It was pure torture for not only Green Bay fans, but also everyone else in the country who just wanted to read about anything else on ESPN.com. And when NASCAR almost becomes a more relevant story, that's a bad sign. But thankfully, once Favre was traded to the Jets, he brought a ton of buzz to a franchise that hasn't felt it since Broadway Joy came through on his Super Bowl guarantee. And despite the off-season drama, it's easy to see why the rejuvenated Jets have responded to him: He loves to play the game and makes everyone around him better. If he can avoid another postseason meltdown, he might just become the Mark Messier of Gang Green.

In Defense Of... Frank Caliendo
We go from Favre to the guy who made a name for himself parodying John Madden's unhealthy undying affection for Favre. Haters say the "MadTV" alum wore out his welcome not only for beating the Madden impression to death but for being involved in "FrankTV," the TBS sketch comedy series whose aggressive ad campaign turned viewers off to the show before they ever thought about turning it on. On top of this, some of his impressions are at best mediocre (Jerry Seinfeld) and as ESPN's Bill "Sports Guy" Simmons pointed out recently, all of them seem to involve people over the age of 45. While I won't defend "FrankTV" -- it's at best inconsistent, at worst a snore -- Caliendo himself is, dare I say, "very funny." His stand-up is artfully well-crafted and requires a precision that many stand-ups either don't or can't pull off. The way he shifts from character to character both in terms of voice and body language within fractions of a second is nothing short of astounding.

In Defense of ... Robin Williams
Now we go to the inspiration of one of Caliendo's impressions: Haters say the often over-the-top Williams steals material from other comedians and plays the same character in all of his comedic movies. And while I can't possibly know if or how much material Williams has stolen from other comics, I believe it's more about his incredible retention of all things funny and less about malicious intent. Besides, his delivery is one of a kind. One of the best stand-up sets I've ever seen was his 2002 HBO special, "Live on Broadway," which had my sides sore and my eyes tearing upon multiple views. And while one could make the argument that many of his cinematic characters in comedies are regurgitations of his schizophrenic act, his dramatic work is outstanding outside of the occasional "Patch Adams." (Then again, what dramatic actor hasn't had a clunker now and then?) He's a legit Oscar-winner, after all. Plus, the guy earns bonus points from me for showing up unannounced on multiple occasions at Manhattan's Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre to perform improv with house troupes. From what I've read, the performers and audience members had nothing but raves to say about not only his comedy but also his team-oriented approach.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

No, this wasn't performed by Cornell's Do-Re-Amigos

Even if you hate a cappella, you'll still love this. How can you not?

- Michael Jackson's "Thriller"? Check.
- Sung with a French accent? Check.
- Performed a cappella (without instruments)? Check.
- Arranged in SIXTY-FOUR PARTS that can be viewed simultaneously? Check.
- Mind-blowingly amazing arrangement once Vincent Price's voice-over kicks in at the 4:24 mark? CHECK!

So, uh, check it out:

The only complaint I have is that the lead vocal uses falsetto as a crutch as much as I do, but really, that's nit-picky considering just how fun this video is.

Via Michelle Collins at BestWeekEver.tv.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

R.I.P. My Casio SK-1, 1985-2008

This baby lasted me 23 years and was seriously used during every year of that span:

I bought a "real" keyboard today -- a no-frills Yamaha YPT-210 -- but it's not nearly as fun when you don't have the "sample" feature that allows you to play dog barks (or fart noises) in different pitches.

And for you hard-core SK-1 fans, I give you this:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I Can Has CheezStatler

This is my first-ever submission to I Can Has Cheezburger, which has a pretty solid on-site program for assembling your own LOLSTUFFZ and submitting them. Click on the pic to rate it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pouring one out for Paul Newman

I had some salad tonight, opened a new bottle of Newman's Own dressing and poured some out for a fine philanthropist and one of the greatest actors in American history.

I didn't pour any on the ground, though. That stuff's way too yummy and oil tends to stain.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Pendulum's 'Propane Nightmares' sounds like a tricked-out Final Fantasy fight sequence on acid and might just be my favorite song of 2008

If the last four minutes of this five-minute, 13-second song doesn't motivate you to burn hundreds of calories on a treadmill or award you triple-digit hit points against a Chimera, I don't know what will:

Seriously. Whoa.

UPDATE: I just realized Pendulum's lead singer has a pure energy reminiscent of Information Society's Kurt Harland. I want to know what you're thinking. Tell me what's on your mind.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Ranking the theme songs from 'The Wire'

Initially intimidated by the complexity of "The Wire," I finally decided to suck it up and watch its fifth and final season earlier this year. Helping sway my decision was the fact that it would delve into the world of newspapers, which intrigued me as a reporter.

After being blown away what I saw, I immediately stocked my Netflix queue with the first four seasons. A couple of months later, one DVD disc at a time, I'm now finished with the first three episodes of Season 4.

Maybe one day I'll rank my favorite Top 10 "Wire" characters, but that's much harder than I anticipated due to the sheer army of players and likability of so many. But at this point, I do feel like I can properly rank the theme songs of each of the five seasons. All are versions of Tom Waits' "Way Down In The Hole."

5th place: Season 4 (kids from a Baltimore Boys Choir):

Not terrible, but one of these themes has to finish fifth and this one's the least engaging of the five. I find myself fast-forwarding through this version most frequently, possibly because the lead vocalist isn't connecting with the lyrics. Likeliness to fast-forward: 8/10.

4th place: Season 2 (Tom Waits):

Huge jump in quality from Season 4. Obviously, the lyrics connect more here with the original artist, and Waits earns the highest marks for the way he wails every time he sings the song title. But I start to fatigue from his gravelly voice and minimalist style at the 1-minute mark of the 90-second intro. I give him props as a lyricist and I won't reject him outright, but he's definitely one of those critically acclaimed musicians I just don't "get." Likeliness to fast-forward: 4/10.

3rd place: Season 3 (The Neville Brothers):

The pace picks up a bit for Aaron and whatever his brother's name is. Also helping to set the tone are the soulful vocals and an overall vibe that makes me feel like I'm in a smoky Bal'mo jazz club. It loses a bit of steam, however, when the vocals cut out and the sax solo kicks in. Likeliness to fast-forward: 3/10.

2nd place: Season 1 (The Blind Boys of Alabama):

I'm sure a lot of people were upset when they heard this theme would be replaced by another version, albeit the original. It has the best qualities of the two subsequent themes: Tom Waits' brooding and The Neville Brothers' pacing. There's a reason "Wire" actor/director Clarke Johnson hearkened back to this theme for the final season's montage; it in many ways defines the show just as much as its characters, writing and acting. Likeliness to fast-forward: 2/10.

1st place: Season 5 (Steve Earle):

Maybe I'm influenced by how the show gripped me the first time I watched it, or because Earle holds his own playing a recovering drug addict on the show. But even as someone who bristles against anything resembling country music, I most love Earle's take, whose plucky guitar, popping percussion, smooth strings and spoken refrains convinced me to buy the track on iTunes and blast in my car to help me get in touch with my inner Bunk. Likeliness to fast-forward: 1/10.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Buying fake chips for Facebook Texas Hold'Em is wrong in so many ways

So I love me some good ol' Texas Hold'Em, to the point that I was genuinely excited to spot Howard "The Professor" Lederer in person from afar during the World Series of Poker when my buddy Mark and I sojourned to Vegas a few years ago.

I've even befriended a couple of people in the flesh through Facebook's Texas Hold'Em application. I don't play as often as I once did, but it's a good way to maintain some level of skill without going broke. After all, while I covet the application's chips for the purposes of pride, I have nothing to lose other than productivity because they have no monetary value.

Tonight, I figured I'd get in a game before bed. That game never took place because I was so compelled to document the idiotic elements relating to the second-to-last option on the application's menu bar:
Yes, you read that right. "Buy Chips!" Meaning you'd pay real money for chips with no monetary value; for a game that yields no actual cash, no matter how often or many chips you win; for an application that GIVES you chips every time you sign on, albeit a small number of them.

Curious about this monstrosity, I clicked the "Buy Chips!" tab. And this order form popped up:
First came the shock that, with your credit card of choice, you could spend $100 a pop for fake chips that, once again, you could compile at no cost with just a bit of patience. Then there was the realization that the first option is described as a "better value." A better value than what, exactly? Paying $20 to get stabbed in the face with a rusty screwdriver? Not by much.

Upon closer inspection, some fuzzy math made me wonder if the person describing these "values" was ridiculously stupid, incredibly savvy or both:
For $50, you can get 300,000 fake chips -- supposedly the "best value." Mathematically, that's patently false, because with the "super value," you'd get more than twice the number of chips while only paying twice the exorbitant dollar figure.

But then kicked in my cynical side. Since only stupid people would pay money for free, worthless chips, maybe the application salespeople count on buyers who will just accept the "best value" as truth, blindly pay the $50 amount on a regular basis and never realize that they're not getting the best rate.

It's so crazy and evil, it's genius.

Monday, September 01, 2008

'The Simpsons' nails the only thing wrong with 'The Departed'

With the exception of the excellent movie version of "The Simpsons," I don't watch the series much these days. But thanks to Hulu, today I caught a particularly good recent episode, "The Debarted."

It does an outstanding job parodying one of my favorite movies, but it also skewers the only problem I have with the Oscar-winning film:

Thanks to Ralph, we're all learnding (sic).

Here's my favorite random scene from the episode, which for whatever reason I believe my friend Nate Johnson would find particularly amusing:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Obscure SNL Skit of the Week: Iconoclasts with Charles Barkley and Björk

This newie and goodie, featuring the underrated Kenan Thompson and the always hilarious Kristen Wiig, popped up toward the end of one of this most recent season's episodes. I think I watched it about a dozen times in a row when I first saw it on DVR.

"Hahaha! Oh, Bork...."

Related: Obscure SNL Skit 1, Obscure SNL Skit 2.

What a surprise! Another awful Toyota commercial!

I know Toyota is a Japanese car company, but despite the fact that their American commercials are made in the good ol' U.S. of A., there's still something lost in translation with so many of their idiotic ads.

It's a special brand of hate, really. I don't like many car commercials to begin with. At all. They're rarely original, often jam-packed with numbers and percentages and stock footage of vehicles driving in scenic locales. But I've always spewed the most venom at ads for Toyota, which ironically makes really nice cars.

There was the 2007 Camry ad that makes men look spineless and women look insane. And the Tacoma ad that unintentionally praises a competing truck.

And then there's this newer one that I should like because it offers a car with good fuel economy, but loses all credibility at just the 3-second mark with the dopey deejay who asks his supposed listeners about gas prices by asking if they "love 'em (or) hate 'em":

Clearly that radio station has call letters of WTF on the east coast or KRZY on the west. Unless the station is exclusively pumping the show into the ears of ExxonMobil employees on an oil rig, I highly doubt anyone's calling in to celebrate gas prices that make my face melt.

So what's more likely/offensive? That Toyota just got lazy with writing the copy for the deejay? Or that some ad wizard suggested that "love 'em" be added to the line so that the 0.0000000000001 percent of us who actually profit off high oil prices will consider buying a Toyota?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Why you should sing neither "Ice Ice Baby" nor "Under Pressure" at karaoke

Everyone at the bar is going to secretly wish for the other one.

Just think about it. The crowd buzzes upon hearing the "doom doom doom do-do doom-doom" of the bassline and wonders if pressure's going to come down on you or if you're going to stop, collaborate and listen.

And once you reveal your selection, there's the automatic let-down: You're either doing the original, which, while superior, has far inferior goofy ironic value, or the ripoff that every drunk flock of girls or frat boys has bludgeoned to death.

But gun to my head, if I were a tenor, I'd pick "Under Pressure." Straight-up rap songs without some kind of melodic vocals to break up the spoken word just don't work well at karaoke. At that point, it's basically glorified TelePrompTer reading.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Perhaps my favorite Ronald McDonald commercial of all time other than the holiday one when he picks up the sniffly kid who can't ice skate

Back in 1991, America was facing turbulent times. Mired between the neon '80s and the dot-com '90s, we as a society were battling recession, the Rodney King aftermath, huge pants and a whole lotta blah. (Had a whole lotta blah! Nyerrrr!)

But one man had the courage. The courage to transform beatboxing into a 4-year-old's impersonation of exploding bombs. The courage to possibly add "Fuh" as a prefix to the word "cool," making it sound vaguely dirty. The courage to shield himself from the trends of the era -- whether they be flat-tops or mohawks -- and just be himself.

I think Jesus Jones summed it up best that year when they sang, "I was alive and I waited for this."

If Mr. McDonald hadn't already earned the title of "Sir Ronald," then certainly this contribution to Madison Avenue warranted knighthood.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pucker up

An online chat, held moments ago:
Christina: and i had a brownie and a lemon square ...
Me: funny... i had a lemon and a brownie square
Christina: hmmm most people dont eat lemons
Me: well i do. and my mouth hasn't unwound itself from a pucker position since
Me: total strangers think i'm trying to kiss them
Me: and i am, but that's besides the point

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And the winner for best-chorus/worst-everything-else song of all time is...

Gary Wright's "Dreamweaver."

Seriously, from the spacey, endless clashing intro/outro to the ball-less snoozefest verses, the non-chorus cacophony is pretty much the worst thing ever compared to the catchy, groovy, chewy nougat center:

There's a reason "Wayne's World" only uses the chorus the first time Wayne Campbell sees Cassandra.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Facebook Status Updates: Part I

And now some of my best Facebook Status Updates from the last month, in reverse-chronological order:

- Chris is a 100-meter butterfly that has nothing to do with swimming.

- Chris is torn; China's gymnasts were no older than 16 COMBINED, but they still won the Gold. Technically, isn't that more impressive?

- Chris is dressed to maim.

- Chris thinks gold-medalist Natalie Coughlin is cute but looks better with wet hair.

- Chris is Michael Phelps except for all that swimming.

- Chris just saw one of his old high school yearbook quotes was from "Night Court": "It's so hard to say au revoir, so let's just say au gratin."

- Chris has little to no voice left from last night's Police concert, which at one point also featured actual police on stage playing along to "Message In A Bottle."

- Chris is Synchronicity I ... and II.

- Chris is not your name/He knows what you're up to just the same/He will listen hard to your intuition/He will see it come to its fruition.

- Chris caved and uploaded the "legit" Scrabble application. Ugh.

- Chris fears hygiene and plot issues when it comes to traveling pants.

- Chris shouldn't be surprised that ignorant people hate teachers, but he's disappointed nonetheless.

- Chris has the wussiest injury in the history of everything: A sore left hand from hitting it too hard with a tambourine at post-wedding karaoke.

- Chris now knows that at least 23 of you have iPhones because you've installed the Facebook application to them. And, yes, he's jealous.

- Chris will never not find Steve Carell in "Anchorman" hilarious.

- Chris thinks the words "Spuyten Duyvil" shouldn't exist, let alone be flaunted on a Metro-North sign.

- Chris reminds you that the National League sucks.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Vermont hates Michael Phelps

According to today's main ESPN.com SportsNation poll, Vermont is the only state whose majority of Internet voters thinks American swimmer Michael Phelps won't win eight gold medals in the Beijing Olympics:
Even the rest of the WORLD -- except for maybe, well, France -- agrees there's no stopping Phelp Phever. But don't expect Ben & Jerry's to start shipping out mass quantities of Phelpraline Delight anytime soon.

It's probably because Vermonters are voting with their minds instead of their hearts, but part of me wishes that it's because they're all walking around with Mark Spitz mustaches that scream Ron Burgundy.

And in case you're wondering, Spitz is from California, making this voting trend even more baffling.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nick Di Paolo is awesome. I talked to him about stuff and a camera was there and everything.

Just me and Nick Di Paolo, having a chat at a diner. Oh, don't mind the TV camera, Nick.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Trapped In A Cell: Part 1

And now the latest in a series of surely doomed regular features on Varsity Basketweaving: Collections of my own cell-phone photos with commentary, conveniently assembled in a feature called Trapped In A Cell. Enjoy.

i. Wendy, fast-food pitchwoman or psycho killer (qu'est-ce c'est)?
Date taken: 11:39 p.m. July 20. Location of photo: DVR freeze-frame of TV commercial.
In the latest ad campaign for one of my favorite fast food chains, an animated Wendy looks like a cute little girl until her pupils practically disappear, making her look like a satanic extra from another unintentional creepfest, "The Polar Express." OK, I'll eat a Spicy Chicken Sandwich! Please don't eat my soul!

ii. Condensation or Religious Experience?
Date taken: 11:31 a.m. July 11. Location of photo: Movie theatre restroom
I added the arrow for clarity, but this otherwise undoctored and unstaged photo features a Seth Rogen lookalike crying a single tear of joy on my Coke cup. Yes, it's only a perfectly coincidental drop of condensation, but faux-Rogen's 3D impression of a mournful Harvey Dent scared the crap out of me for a split second right after a viewing of "Hancock." If a crying Jesus reinforces faith in Christianity for those who witness it, does this mean I must worship Apatow for the rest of my life? I mean, he's OK, I guess, but I'd sooner kowtow to Scorsese.

iii. Well, hello my name is Simon and I like to do rehabiliation
Date taken: 9:17 p.m. July 10. Location of photo: Metro-North train car vestibule.
Yes, a train passenger was looking at me confused, perhaps trying to figure out which addiction demon I was trying to exorcise. (Answer: All of them.) At first glance, this just appears to be another eye-catching ad for the Canterbury Institute's rehab clinic. But upon further review, shift the circle 90 degrees clockwise and you have the exact color scheme for a childhood staple:

I guess the ad's primary demographic is children of the '80s who have replaced one increasingly frustrating addiction with a more destructive version. Almost any of these vices in extreme cases would pretty much ruin your chances of even turning the power switch on Simon, much less advancing past two moves. But maybe the right amount of cocaine would actually have you so wired that you'd not only win but also outlast the game's triple-A batteries before crashing in a heap of despair.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I don't know this much is true

Please settle this minor dispute between me and my friend Christina.

When you read "Ha ha ha HA ha," do you hear:

A. The Woody Woodpecker laugh


B. The chorus of Spandau Ballet's "True"?

And before you ask: No, no other pop culture reference is an acceptable answer.

Related tangent: I like how Woody's hair fits right in with Spandau Ballet's '80s coifs. A Flock of Woodpeckers, if you will.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

This Bobby Murcer video made me laugh and cry at the same time

Sunday, July 06, 2008

I'm on a John Legend album. (Kind of.)

Kanye. Jay-Z. Lauryn. Fergie. Serico?!

Ten years after the fact, I just learned that I'm singing on the same album as John Legend. Follow along, friends.

My college a cappella group, the Boston College Acoustics, made the cut for the 1998 Best Of College A Cappella (BOCA) album. Despite poor production quality, Fran Gendrano's powerful lead vocals and Matty Lane's classic arrangement for our rendition of Paula Cole's "The Ladder" helped make it the penultimate song on the 18-song compilation. My buddy Matt Havens and I are the two guys singing the bass line on the track.

BOCA 1998's opening cut -- and rightfully so -- is a University of Pennsylvania Counterparts song inspired by Prince's R&B reinterpretation of Joan Osborne's "One of Us." Soloing is John R. Stephens, the man who would change his name to John Legend.

One of only about three dozen a cappella songs comprising the 2,301 in my regular iTunes rotation, I've been enjoying the Counterparts' version of "One of Us" for more than a decade. But while researching the origins of Osborne's biggest hit for work, I learned only today via the song's Wikipedia page that Legend was the vocalist I'd been admiring all along. Not relying on Wikipedia alone, I was able to confirm that fact here and here.

So yeah, John, call me. Let's do lunch and another collabo soon.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Something tells me Burger King did the Indiana Jones scratch-off game on the cheap

My winning scratch-off treasure: "Knowledge."

Hey, lemme add your number to my phone. And by 'add your number' I mean 'accidentally delete hundreds of numbers instead'

Thankfully, the title of this post hasn't come true (yet), but I wouldn't be surprised if a drunken and/or soberly spastic version of me does just that, thanks to the genius software designers for Verizon's Voyager phone.

For those who don't know, the Voyager is Verizon's supposed response to the iPhone -- a touch-screen gadget that's far inferior except for GPS Navigation and, y'know, actual phone service.

So say I'm fortunate enough to add the phone number of a pretty young lady to said phone:
Make that another pretty young lady, as you can see the lovely and talented (and engaged) Abbi Crutchfield is already in there. Anyway....

Let's take a closer look at my only two options on this menu, shall we?
So with one slip of the thumb, not only can I say good-bye to the supermodel's number I'm trying to add, but also those of every friggin' number I've collected and not yet deleted during a fit of rage, apathy and/or depression.

Can you hear me now? No, I can't hear anyone on the phone because the phone numbers of anyone I'd be talking to have been deleted.

I mean, hypothetically. But still!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Something not-so-special in the air

I recently took a mini-vacation to Chicago. It was pretty much amazing and has now become my second-favorite American city. Perhaps I'll blog about that some other time.

Not so amazing, however, was my experience with an airline -- I'll call them Zmerican Zairlines to protect the very few innocent -- on what was supposed to be the last day of my trip. Instead of returning to New York on a Sunday night, I got back in the middle of the afternoon Monday. Assorted thoughts on my lost day:

1. After canceling a flight and realizing there's no way to board your passengers on a flight the same day, comp them outright with a hotel voucher and/or future flight instead of acting like you're doing them a favor by giving them a "reduced rate" at a hotel in scenic Airportanapolis.

2. You know that episode of "The Sopranos" when Tony lives out his coma as a hotel patron with seemingly nothing to do? It was basically Purgatory; nothing too good or too bad about it, but kind of lonely and sad. That's what my Sunday night stay in Nowheresville was after my flight was canceled. After a couple of overpriced snacks, a poor night's sleep and more than $100 worth of unnecessary hotel expenses, I was back at O'Hare attempting my trip home again.

3. There's probably no way of pulling such a thing off without lawsuits aplenty, but I'd be willing to pay up to $30 more for a flight to guarantee no kids under 10 are aboard. Even if it flies at an odd hour, I think airlines would make a killing this way. I'd definitely fork over another Jackson and Hamilton to ensure that no kid of careless parents kicks my seat, cries on the tarmac or repeatedly asks dumb questions at a volume that drowns out the engines. (Related.)

4. I really do think the TSA's decision to ban liquids that are in larger than 3-ounce containers is less about staving off terrorism and more about forcing patrons to spend money on overpriced airport beverages and toiletries. Because let's face it, that 20-ounce Mountain Dew that was evidently bottled by the Taliban is going to do far more damage to your liver than it would to a Boeing 747.

5. Here's a great way to punish passengers in unexpected fashion: Tell displaced passengers who didn't have the chance to pick the row of their new flight that they're allowed to fill a carry-on bag full of food, an iPod and reading materials to stow under the seat in front of them, but when the supposed seat in front of them is actually the wall that separates them from the first-class section, threaten them with an FAA fine if they don't immediately place said bag in an overhead compartment three seats away. And certainly don't think to allow the passenger time to take a few items out of it first before stowing it. That'll teach them to prepare for a flight without electronic entertainment or free food of any kind.

Oh, yes, an angry letter is being written to appropriate personnel about points 1, 2 and 5. Results, or the lack thereof, will be posted here in the future.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Bon Jovi's seen a million faces

But I've only rocked several dozen.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Three years ago yesterday, Varsity Basketweaving began as a hobby -- a venue for written rants that I found interesting but didn't seem to fit into any work-related niche.

It's come to mean different things to me over the years.

The first time I tried to define it, I was chatting with David Scharfenberg, a reporter from The New York Times. Although I hadn't planned on a pithy way to describe my blog, he correctly quoted me as saying that VB is a venue for "the ridiculous and the mundane." That quote worked for both of us; Scharfenberg chose to use it in his story and I got to cite the Times in a way that both accurately described my blog and allowed me boast about the newspaper's documentation in the VB masthead.

Over the blog's first 18 months, it became clear to me that VB was a general-interest blog. As I joked to fellow bloggers at NBC's inaugural blogger convention, that meant I was "the only one who's generally interested in it." But that wasn't always the case.

As noted in the right margin of this blog, The Apiary, Best Week Ever, Brooklyn Vegan, Comedy Central, Cracked, Gawker, GorillaMask, Gothamist and Stereogum are among the high-profile blogs to cite VB for many a reason, ranging from John Mayer's stand-up comedy pursuit to Reading Rainbow's flamboyant music video about teamwork.

The last 12 months have been no exception. A day after celebrating VB's second bloggiversary, I published "Tetris pieces: Metaphors for the seven kinds of people at your college party," one of the most-viewed posts in VB history, thanks to linkage by GorillaMask. My year-end post about the Top 10 Top 10 Numbers of 2007 was referenced by both Best Week Ever and The Apiary. And documentation of a semi-close encounter with comedian David Cross warranted additional linkage from The Apiary.

Faithful VB readers might realize that the frequency of postings declined in the blog's third year, which has been somewhat transitional. And while "transitional" is often a euphemism that sports franchises use to describe a team that will be indefinitely sucky, in VB's case it means the blog stylings developed here parlayed new levels of success on other blogs and media.

Because I write extensively for The Journal News' enteratainment blogs -- the television-themed Remote Access and the celebrity-centered Suburbarazzi -- most things that fall under the categories of TV or regionally relevant celebrities get posted there if I'm going to write about them.

For Remote Access, I took on covering a third show ("Chuck") and wrote more than ever about "American Idol" and "Top Chef." This included a controversial 23-part series on the "Top 20 'Idol' Contestants of All Time," which likely will be revisited and revised in January now that Season 7 has concluded. I also cohosted weekly podcasts about "The Office" and "30 Rock."

For Suburbarazzi, I've continued to write about celebrities who have connections to New York City's northern suburbs in any way, shape or form. It's also enabled me to appear on a biweekly basis as an entertainment analyst on RNN-TV and co-host an Oscar special (part 1, part 2).

As for Headline Punchline -- my other personal blog with "actual headlines, marginal punchlines" -- well, that's taken the biggest hit among blogs to which I contribute. But perhaps it'll be revived in the near future.

In the meantime, thanks for reading, referencing and posting comments on Varsity Basketweaving. It's helped me professionally, creatively and therapeutically. And hopefully, for you, it's occasionally transcended the ridiculous and the mundane.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Further proof that Stevie Wonder is a genius and that I am an idiot

For years, I've loved listening to Stevie Wonder's song "Lately," a stunning ballad about a relationship falling apart before his eyes, which as many people know, can't see.

The power of his vocals, musicianship and songwriting on that song lulled me into such a trance that only last week was when I realized that when he sings, "Lately I've been staring in the mirror," I'm the one slowly picking him apart.

Why? Because Stevie Wonder staring in the mirror likely yields the same result as say, staring at a wall, or staring at a box of Corn Pops. Because, again, he is blind (but not, evidently, to the evidence of a philanderer).

But before you make fun of him for writing that line, make fun of me for glossing over it after listening to it literally hundreds of times. And credit him for writing lyrics that are so transcendent and ironic that even HE can see why this relationship is doomed.

Also, before you make fun of him, remember that he's FREAKIN' STEVIE WONDER and is a genius.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Shut Up and Take Me Out (Hey!)

Thank you, YouTube, for your telepathy.

I was thinking about how perfect a mash-up would be for The Ting Tings' "Shut Up and Let Me Go" (a.k.a. "Oh, yeah, that song from the latest non-Coldplay iPod commercial") and Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out."

Thankfully, someone else had the same idea (and the audio editing software I lack).

The result a little skimpy on the Franz Ferdinand side of things -- a full "Take Me Out" verse with the Ting Tings' instrumental would have balanced the mix out better -- but it still captures the essence of what I was hoping for:

Particularly nifty is the way the two songs work together lyrically as well: The Ting Tings' demand to "Shut up and let me go" is followed by Franz Ferdinand's admission, "I know I won't be leaving here with you."

And, for the record, The Ting Tings' similar-sounding song is original enough to be cool, unlike Finger Eleven's "Paralyzer," which is a lame "Take Me Out" rip-off.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Chicago Sun-Times dabbles in Basketweaving

Found this on the Chicago Sun-Times' Web site yesterday.

In fairness, unlike The New York Times piece that actually profiles Varsity Basketweaving, I think the Sun-Times reference was generated because that news service and VB subscribe to the BlogBurst network, which tries to pair blogs with news content. Here's the original VB post.

As a thank-you, though, I will say that Richard Roeper is one of my favorite movie critics. (But I would have said that anyway.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

AcipHex? No, seriously, though. What's the name of your prescription medication?

There's got to be a branding agent who was fed up with one of his clients to such a degree that he named the pharmaceutical company's product "AcipHex" (pronounced "ass effects").

Are you kidding me? To answer a rhetorical question, no. I watched this commercial during a recent Yankee game and was floored it wasn't a joke. See and hear for yourself:

I'm guessing possible side effects include diarrhea, constipation and people incessantly making fun of the name of your medication.

The stuff is allegedly for heartburn, but I'm not buying it (literally or figuratively). My thought is that with a name like that, it was meant to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome but wound up being more effective halfway through the digestive system.

To retaliate, the people at EsophoFix are going to have to make prescription-strength hemorrhoid cream.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Yesterday, for the first time ever, $40 failed to fill my gas tank

May 2004: Regional gas prices top $2 per gallon -- "Jeez, this is inconvenient. I can barely fill my tank with Andrew Jackson's trading card. I feel like punching the passenger seat."

January 2006: Regional gas prices top $3 per gallon -- "Wow, suddenly this photo is more quaint than funny. I'm spending more money on gas than on some nights out in New York City. I feel like punching oil company execs in the face."

May 2008: Regional gas prices top $4 per gallon --
"[Expletive]! [Expletive]! [Expletive]! [Expletive]! [Expletive]! I feel like a [expletive gerund] punching bag."

So yeah, I'm a little punchy.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Yes, your 38-pound, 64-year-old physique and girly voice are the very definition of macho

In the Rolling Stones' "Beast of Burden," does anyone else find it a little ironic that Mick Jagger's inquiries of "Ain't I rough enough?/Ain't I tough enough?" to the object of his affection are sung in the girliest of falsettos? Especially with the way he squeals "Ooh!" between those lyrics?

The falsetto's not exactly conveying tattoos, Harleys and a monster truck rally. And yet it still works. (I think.)

Judge for yourself. The part in question's at the 2:34 mark of this YouTube video:

More of my commentary about rock music and supposed masculinity here.

Monday, May 05, 2008

My future is broken

I opened a fortune cookie last night. Rather, the floor did it for me when the inedible novelty food fell and shattered.

"The skills you have gathered will one day come in handy," the fortune read, but motor skills probably won't be among them.

Does dropping a fortune cookie open negate its no-longer-concealed premonition? And must one actually eat the surrounding tooth-chipper for the fortune to come true? And why do I care so much about fortune cookies, anyway?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Spotted: Clive Owen in Grand Central Terminal

To be fair, Mr. Owen (in the suit, partially obscured by the man with the bald spot) was filming a scene this morning for the movie "Duplicity," so he wasn't exactly inconspicuous.

I've never been so content to wait 40 minutes for a train.

Security was tight but I was able to snag a peak at the monitors to see multiple takes of one uncut scene, slickly filmed with a crane: At first focused on the clock in the middle of the concourse, the crane's mounted camera swooped and zoomed in on Owen, who strode past the clock; as he came to a halt, the camera sank even lower to the ground and focused on his hand, which flicked a dangling trinket of some sort -- a pocket watch attached to a fob, maybe? -- into his palm. And ... scene!

Also in this movie's killer cast, but not seen by me on site: Julia Roberts, Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson, the last two of whom respectively played the title character and Ben Franklin in the HBO miniseries "John Adams."

Here's the "Duplicity" plot synopsis, according to IMDb.com: "A pair of corporate spies (Owen and Roberts) who share a steamy past hook up to pull off the ultimate con job on their respective bosses." It's slated for a March 20 release. Count me in.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Musical Nuance, Part II: Radiohead's "How To Disappear Completely"

(Part I: Toad the Wet Sprocket's "Walk on the Ocean.")

I'm a generally happy person, and I've rarely used VB to delve into downers, but I've been meaning for months to blog about the brilliance of Radiohead's "How To Disappear Completely."

The fall of 2000 through the summer of 2002 were the roughest in my very fortunate life. In my regular album rotation was Radiohead's "Kid A," one that's still difficult for me to listen to without reliving the emotions I was feeling at the time.

The most cathartic and wrenching track from this album, "How To Disappear Completely," is a haunting six-minute anthem of loneliness, whose refrain of "I'm Not Here/This Isn't Happening" broods among a sullen, meandering baseline and dissonant strings.

Shortly after the five-minute mark, when the string section clashes in chaotic cacophony as Thom Yorke's falsetto repeatedly drops from A to F#. The strings are the musical equivalent of shrieking Valkyries or, to use another Scandinavian metaphor, Edvard Munch's "The Scream."

But just when the stringed siren reaches the peak of crescendo, Thom Yorke's vocal drops from the high A to resolve on G#, cuing the suddenly quiet strings to ascend and swell with heartbreaking harmonies; the moment showers me with goosebumps and often blurs my vision with its beauty. The strings and Yorke all but drop out of the mix for the last 20 seconds of the song, letting the guitars and drums finish the song with aching simplicity.

That moment of clarity after chaos is one of the reasons I find "How To Disappear Completely" so beautiful. The overwhelming sadness (the clashing string section) suddenly makes sense (harmony) and turns into a thing of beauty, bringing brutal closure -- but closure nonetheless.

Here's an unofficial corresponding music video that a YouTube user created. The Munchian strings start at around the 5:05 mark and their suddenly harmonic swell starts at 5:23:

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I'm on Wikipedia! (Sort of.)

One day, I hope to have a few choice credits on Internet Movie Database. In the meantime, I'll have to settle for a passing reference on Wikipedia. But at least it's an accurate nod, and fun one, at that.

While I don't yet have my own page on the ubiquitous site, there is a Wikipedia reference to a one of my favorite stories from the 1,400 or so I've written for The Journal News.

Fans of "The Simpsons," take note and rejoice; Whacking Day is based in fact:

"A 2003 article in the The Journal News reported that records show genuine 'Whacking Days' having taken place in Eastchester, New York from 1665 onwards: 'That one day every spring be chosen for the destroying of rattle snakes.' The article quoted showrunner Al Jean as saying: 'I agree with the premise of the episode: leave the snakes alone. They didn't hurt anybody.'"

My phone chat with Jean -- one of my first celebrity interviews -- took weeks to coordinate and about 5.2 minutes to conduct. He was gracious and informative, but I found myself plum out of related questions after that time frame. You see, back in 2003, it was a few years before blogging about entertainment was popularized at The Journal News, so I had to stick to my questions relating to the local story.

It's just as well, because I might have otherwise pulled my own version of the recurring "Chris Farley Show" segment from "Saturday Night Live."

"Hey, Mr. Jean, remember that time Homer said 'Mmm... donuts'? Oh, right, he does that all the time. Stupid! Stupid! But still, that was awesome. Hey, I can do impressions of eight 'Simpsons' characters! Wanna hear? Hel-- hello? Mr. Jean? You there?"

I loved writing this history article so much, especially because my editors approved my lead of "Mmm... historicalicious." Here are the next couple of paragraphs from that story, which I fear reprinting in full due to legal implications:

In an episode of “The Simpsons” that debuted on Fox television stations a decade ago, Homer Simpson and other cartoon residents of the town of Springfield chased and killed snakes to celebrate an annual holiday known as Whacking Day.

So what would Simpson say if he discovered the tradition — so distinctly Springfield — was shared by real-life communities, including the Anglo-Saxon founders of Eastchester? Perhaps the patriarch in history’s longest-running sitcom would repeat his assessment of stereotypical stand-up comedy: "It's funny because it’s true."

If you want to spend some cash and read the whole story, be my guest.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Stuff and Things, Part V

Ah, Stuff and Things. It's been a while.

For those of you unfamiliar -- or just flat out forgot -- Sports Guy has Ramblings. I have Stuff and Things. Here's the fourth installment. And the third. And the second. And the first.

- Random hot women in commercials these days:

3. The fine woman saying words about Mercury vehicles (YouTube says her name is Jill Wagner. Huzzah.)

2. The blonde Orbit girl. Fabulous indeed. (Also gives me an excuse to reference the hilarious "lint-licker" line.)

1. The "Not Brad" lady from that newish Verizon commercial. (Poor Brad.)

- A Mount Kisco pedestrian who was willing to wait to cross in front of my car got the go-ahead from me because he may or may not have been former New York Giants quarterback Jeff Hostetler. Erring on the safe side, I wouldn't have wanted the Super Bowl champ to return late to his hot-dog stand.

- The Yankees have played some pretty awful baseball -- especially with runners in scoring position -- yet are only 2 games back in the American League East. Better than tearing the cover off the ball and being in the same position, I suppose.

- Speaking of baseball, here's a Mets update that appeared on the YES Network scroll last week: "CHURCH 2-5, 2 RBI, R. PAGAN, 1-4, RBI, R." It's only a matter of time before they call up knuckleballer Bill Atheist from Triple-A.

- Ray J has a Top-10 hit on the iTunes singles chart with "Sexy Can I." Can't wait for his next hits, "Duck Duck Caboose" and "Sleaze Tag." Also, if that song is supposed to be a play on the game "Mother, May I?" that's a creepy sort of Oedipal complex. Blech.

- I'm not surprised Howard Stern and the honchos at Sirius allowed Artie Lange to stay on the Stern show after Lange's blow-up. After a heated argument, the Stern sidekick tossed water onto his then-assistant and aggressively chased after him in a violent outburst. Despite behavior that'd get most people fired, Lange is a crucial part of the Stern show and the executives know this. The only person who'd be a decent successor is Greg Fitzsimmons, but Stern fans know before fans can truly accept a successor, it takes the passage of two-and-a-half years -- which is about the amount of time left on Stern's contract.

- Random TV flashbacks: CBS once had a sitcom starring Matt Fruer (a.k.a. Max Headroom) that was called "Doctor Doctor." This show existed for 40 episodes. There was also a short-lived NBC sitcom called "Marblehead Manor," which lasted about one season (if that) and featured Michael Richards as "Rick the Gardener." Ah, '80s TV.

- This Varsity Basketweaving classic has been getting a bunch of hits lately, but I have no idea why. I know this trailer came out recently, but I don't think that's the reason because there was no related surge that coincided with its release. If you have any theories, please post them in the comments section below.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

David Cross thrills fans, confuses old lady at live 'What's My Line?' show

While seeing my friend Patti serve as hostess of a weekly live staging of the classic game show "What's My Line?" at the Barrow Street Theatre, I wondered who would be the week's celebrity mystery guest. I was hoping for someone of equal or greater caliber of LeVar Burton, who was a previous mystery guest for the staging.

After the first three panelists -- a singer/songwriter for "Sesame Street" (Chris Cerf, son of frequent "WML" panelist Bennett Cerf, responsible for the star-studded "Put Down The Duckie"!); a Good Humor Lady who also appeared as a guest on the original "WML"; and a trombonist for the New York Philharmonic -- I anxiously awaited the evening's mystery guest.

Before David Cross could even fully emerge -- I think only his goatee had made it past the curtain -- I tossed my fists in the year and howled. About half the crowd, which skewed older perhaps because they are nostalgic for the original game show, seemed confused about why some of the crowd was going bonkers.

While pinching his throat, Cross answered the blindfolded panelists' questions using the voice of Maple Syrup, the Jheri-curled soul singer he played on "Mr. Show."

One of the funniest moments of the night was when the panelists correctly determined that the sitcom he's best known for is "Arrested Development" and deduced in a conference that he was either "Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor or Will Arnett." Cross threw his head back with laughter. The panelists came close, but couldn't determine who it was after 10 questions were answered in the negative.

Cross said he had to postpone the "What's My Line?" appearance twice because his "girlfriend was having an abortion," which made the miffed old woman to my right ask me "Is this the kind of humor they had on his show?"

He discussed the awkward encounter of working with "Inside the Actors Studio" host James Lipton on "AD," admitting that he still hates what Lipton does but thought he was a nice guy. Cross said that while they were prepping for a scene, a tech guy complimented Cross on his comedy album; according to the comedian, Lipton then asked Cross if he would be making fun of him (again) on his next album.

Cross also said that the blue makeup he wore for "Arrested's" Blue Man Group scenes prohibited him from doing pretty much anything without it smudging. The real BMG guys, he said, wear a unitard and only paint their faces blue; Cross said he had to wear paint from head to toe.

He talked about the new sitcom pilot he's filming for HBO, which he said is being staged on the set of "Everybody Loves Raymond." He said his character lives with two roommates who are "idiots" representing the politically extremist left and right, and he's in the middle. He said he leaves early next week to go shoot it with "Bob" (presumably "Mr. Show" costar Odenkirk).

Cross' appearance was outstanding and "What's My Line" is a lot of fun. J. Keith van Straaten is a hilarious host, who's quick on his feet and a solid interviewer. The panelists rotate, and upcoming notables include John Oliver, Nick Stevens and Doug Benson. The show's run, recently extended, is Monday nights at 8 through May 26. Definitely check it out.

And now for my crappy cell-phone pic of David Cross on the set of "WML," which is why I led off with the photo from "WML's" Web site:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Yes, I'm a Libra. Can we make out now?

For whatever reason, single women are the only ones who talk about astrology to me. My favorite is when they pull the old routine, "Oh, you're a Libra. We'd never work."

No, we'd never work because you put so much emphasis on a glorified witches' cookbook.

I mean, I play along with astrology because it's harmless fun and I read the horoscopes on occasion, but come on, people. Who's putting any credence into this stuff? Especially when every single sign describes someone as "strong-willed yet vulnerable." Does anyone you know NOT fit that description to some degree?

If I just decided "Oh, you were born on a Wednesday, so that must mean you like breathing and fun and not being sad," how is that any different from any astrological profiles you read?

Maybe I'm just bitter because seemingly every Libra horoscope I read that sits between Virgo's promises of riches and Scorpio's assurances of lifelong love seems to be like, "Well, you at least have your health, no?"

Yes, Mom's been writing my horoscopes again.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Perhaps the best part about HBO's 'John Adams' is the random high-pitched fiddle that comes in toward the end of the cool theme song

And that's not a slight to the seven-part miniseries, which is quite entertaining (except for Part 3, which was horrendously dull). Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney are excellent as always.

High-pitched fiddle comes in at the 1-minute, 35-second mark:

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Get confident, stupid!

Moments before using a half-empty cup to rinse my brushed teeth this morning, I was hoping for something specific to work out for me today. Instead of assuming it wouldn't pan out, I thought, "Life's too short to be pessimistic."

Then I realized that even my optimism is pessimistic.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I have 4 songs whose genre iTunes automatically labels as 'Country'

"I'll Stand By You" by Carrie Underwood - Underwood does a fantastic job covering The Pretenders' classic. Purchased after last year's "Idol Gives Back" special, obviously.

"Hurt" by Johnny Cash - Waited far too long (last May) to buy this one.

"What Hurts The Most" by Rascal Flatts - One of the best ballads of the decade.

"Way Down In The Hole" by Steve Earle - The other versions featured as the theme to "The Wire" -- even the original by Tom Waits -- aren't comparable.

I just realized three of these country songs are covers of non-country songs. At least Rascal Flatts keeps me from being shut out from a purist's standpoint.

iTunes labels Chris Isaak's "Heart Shaped World" as "Pop," by the way.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Paranoid road sign

LED sign seen this morning on the Sprain Brook Parkway:


The sign never changed as I drove by at the speed limit.

I kept waiting for it to rotate to another message:


Friday, March 21, 2008

Oh, excuse me, Chris. I think you dropped this. It's another name.

Cool: Enjoying Kimberley Locke's run on Season 2 of "American Idol."
Cooler: Interviewing her yesterday for TV, print and the Web.
Coolest: Possible video evidence of "Cooler" on Wednesday's episode of "Idol." Stay tuned....

(Photo: Tania Savayan/The Journal News)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Having trouble making your NCAA bracket picks? Look to none other than mascotologist Bobby Moynihan

My buddy Bobby's in a new ESPN commercial and it rocks.

I actually wrote a sports column a few years ago, justifying my NFL playoff picks with the same strategy:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hysterical hysteria

I attended last night's epic St. Patrick's Day Drunken Throwdown at New York's Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and I'm still reeling from how crazy it was. And, no, I won't elaborate.

Props to sober hosts and The Stepfathers members Chris Gethard and Zach Woods, who were like tour guides alerting everyone to stay calm at a very drunk Jurassic Park.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Either either

There are two accepted pronunciations for "either."

I use either.

Pizza Hut promotes attempt to make actual pizza

Today during a rerun of Vh1's "Celebrity Rehab" reunion special, I saw a commercial promoting Pizza Hut's Pizza Mia pie, made with "whole-milk mozzarella and sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes."

Makes you wonder what's in their other pizzas, which are more closely related to the biscuit family.

To paraphrase the '80s jingle, "Pizza Huuut... Makin' Me Hate!"

Friday, March 14, 2008

I'd give up cursing, but that's ****ing hard

Among many friends who practice Catholicism to varying degrees, I was raised the same way. Perhaps you wouldn't know that. Sometimes I forget, myself.

A random element of Catholicism that I've adopted is either archaic or old-school, depending on what spin you want to throw on it: I do everything possible not to eat red meat or poultry on Fridays (and Ash Wednesday) during Lent. I've actually been successful at it the last two years and have just one more Friday to go before completing a third.

As much as I've resisted some church edicts (I'll spare you those politics; this isn't that kind of blog), I have serious respect for the discipline inherent in repeated and voluntary sacrifice. That's beautiful, spiritual and transcendent.

So sometimes one of my Catholic buddies will ask, "Hey, what'd you give up for Lent this year?" And I'll frown, because eating meat on Fridays is what I'm giving up for Lent.

Before you judge me, innocent stone-casters, please realize this is rough for a guy who doesn't like seafood except for tuna -- and only when it's from a can and obliterated among mayo, pepper and vinaigrette -- and thinks the four food groups are akin to those mentioned in that old John Belushi/"Saturday Night Live" sketch: "Cheeburger, Cheeburger, Cheeburger, (and) Cheeburger."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dream theater

This morning's sequence of events:

- Dreaming about an elusive, long-lost crush.

- Awakening to Dave Matthews' "Where Are You Going?", whose first words are the title.

- Listening to the next song, John Mayer's "Dreaming With A Broken Heart."

- Focusing on those first lyrics: "When you're dreaming with a broken heart/The waking up is the hardest part."

Clearly, my satellite radio has telepathy.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Six appeal

This weekend, I'm only attending the birthday parties of friends who have six-letter last names.

I suppose I'm a bit biased.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Unpopular ways to die in 'Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell'

- Emphysema

- Food poisoning

- Paper cut infection

- Trampled by elephant

- Those guys shooting at you

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Actual e-mail I received yesterday from my father, recounting information he heard from one of his friends, a fellow retired teacher:

"(His) mother saw today's RNN segment. Among the words she used to describe you were: 'excellent, good looking, and manly.' Combined with (your) grandma's superlative reviews, it looks as though you've got the 'Mature Women' demographic all locked up."

I might just have to perform my act live at bingo nights now. More important, though: Just how many superdelegates does this demographic translate to?

Anyway, have a slice of apple pie and judge for yourself:

Monday, February 25, 2008

I was dreamin' when I wrote this; forgive me if it goes astray

It would have been cool if in 1999, there were an artist named Princess who released a song called "1983."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Bravery continue being infinitely cooler than The Killers

Sure, The Killers are the more successful band by almost every industry standard, but I find The Bravery to be far superior songwriters. Plus, they're just cooler, obviously.

They put on an excellent show on Thursday night at Terminal 5. They rocked out all of their greatest works -- including "Unconditional," "Time Won't Let Me Go," "An Honest Mistake," "Fearless," "Tyrant," "Something To Believe" -- and sounded fantastic doing so. Compared to the Foo Fighters show I saw two days earlier, it was a far shorter set, but I had to remind myself that two-hour setlists are the exception, not the norm. Besides, the ticket prices were reasonable and it's always better to leave them wanting more than to overstay your welcome, right?

If I had to complain about anything, it might have been the decision to do the "reimagined" versions of three of the group's ballads from their tweaked re-release of "The Sun And The Moon." Hitting stores in March, the re-release will present all the songs from the album of the same name in a new way. It was distracting to the audience, particularly on "The Ocean," which lost nearly all of the emotion from its slower counterpart, and "Tragedy Bound," whose alternate version even had lead singer Sam Endicott fumbling for the words at the start of the second verse. The alternate "This Is Not The End," however, provided a cool, stompier interpretation.

Overall, though, a fantastic show. Closing the encore with "Unconditional," such a phenomenal anthem for wandering twentysomethings, alone was worth the price of admission.