Thursday, July 30, 2009

Of Course, Of Course

  • The Monologue:
    • The president got together with Crowley and Gates for some beers this evening. They sent an intern out to grab the drinks, but the intern was only 19. Luckily, Tokay Liquors was only a few blocks away.
    • They must have had a lot, because Crowley ended up peeing behind a tree in the White House garden. I mean, who does that?
    • The best joke name for the meeting that someone submitted to Cilizza yesterday, by the way, was "Yes, Three Cans!"
    • A man in South Carolina was arrested for having sex with a horse. To be fair, he only saw it from the front. He thought he was having an affair with Matthew Broderick's wife.
    • No, that was mean. Let me try again. A man in South Carolina was arrested for having sex with a horse. He only saw its huge muscles and thought he was having sex with Manny Ramirez and/or David Ortiz.
    • One more time. A man in South Carolina was arrested for having sex with a horse. He was really eager to become a member of the Canadian Mounting Police.
    • A man in South Carolina was arrested for having sex with a horse. They caught him as he was trying to get the horse to talk dirty to him by lining the inside of its mouth with peanut butter.
    • Okay, last one, I swear. Police in South Carolina today arrested a man when neighbors called in to complain of someone down the street yelling, "Who's Wilbur?!? Who's Wilbur?!? My name is Rodell!"
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Erin Andrews called 911 because of some paparazzi outside of her house. Not really notable, except for the comedy of her insisting to the operator that she's become very famous lately and the operator not knowing who she is.
    • Sorry about the Chipmunks last night. Hope this much better news makes up for it. My favorite network sitcom and my favorite cable sitcom together? Awesome.
    • As I continue to work on the list that will become next week's posts (I've so far ranked 100 of the 383 possible contenders), let's think about other great movie decades. The '90s are obviously great, but I'm going to throw out the '70s as maybe the best. The two good Godfather movies, Patton, The Sting, Star Wars, Jaws, Annie Hall, Rocky, and more.
  • Random Movie Scene:
    • You know this one will be on the top 100. Can you imagine how that horse must have felt after it was molested? His sad eyes. Lifeless. Like a doll's eyes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

C Is For Cookie, It's Good Enough For Me

  • The Monologue:
    • Microsoft and Yahoo are joining forces to try to take down Google. The internets are abuzz with word of the impending conflict. We haven't seen nerds this worked up over a battle since Viggo Mortensen was at the gates of Mordor.
    • Kevin Federline has a new reality show and people were shocked when he showed to film having gained a lot of weight. Employees do get McNuggets for free.
    • Tomorrow is the day when Obama is going to sit down with Crowley and Gates to have beers together. It will be a regular Menage Stella Artois.
    • (I wrote that joke earlier today in response to a question by the Post's Chris Cilizza over Twitter about what the meeting should be called. He liked it, broadcast it, and it got re-tweeted by a few people. Hardly viral, but I'm still proud.)
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Thinking about the top movies by decade and a discussion arose about the 1990s. Let's say you wanted to do a list of the top five movies of the '90s. Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, Pulp Fiction, and Shawshank Redemption are no-brainers. Doesn't leave room for much of a good argument.
    • Yeah, they went there.
    • First three episodes of Lost season two today on the rewatch. The Swan orientation video in episode three. They sure did drag out answers on the "Incident".
  • Story of the Day:
    • Decided to eat out tonight and went to Cosi. Next to the registers, they have a mock setup of their s'mores, so you can see what it looks like. The graham crackers and Oreo cookies are real, but they've been sitting out for months. We're standing at the register when all of the sudden the cashier looks to the side and freezes. She leans over to the cashier next to her and says in a low voice, "That woman just took a cookie." My wife and I and the other cashier all gave her a funny look. "That woman just took one of the Oreos, she has it in her pocket. Go tell her she shouldn't eat it. It's been sitting there for months." The other cashier didn't want to do it, because the woman was obviously hiding that she stole it. So we stared, until the woman, with her back to us, very quickly put her hand in her pocket, broke off a piece of month-old cookie, and popped it in her mouth. That's when the laughter began. To be fair, none of us ever laughed loudly enough to alert or embarass the woman, but we sure as hell laughed hard.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What's A Slobo?

  • The Monologue:
    • Judge Sotomayor was approved by the committee and she'll be approved by the Senate. A new woman on the Supreme Court. Word is that Clarence Thomas is taking better care of himself and he'll be showing her the pubic hair on his Diet Coke in no time at all.
    • Wait, tanning beds can be unhealthy? Couldn't see that coming! Haven't you seen Final Destination 3?
    • Michael Vick, reinstated to play in the NFL. Fake sightings of him all over DC, as Redskins fans go a little (more) nuts (than usual). He supposedly showed up in so many places that he must have spent more hours in DC yesterday than Bush did his whole first year as president.
    • Speaking of football, Brett Favre decided not to sign with the Vikings at all. He's going to retire. He's already down a little money since Corey Webster took away his first pension check.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • I'm sure most or all of you have not seen this, but Kate Gosselin is moving to Rockville Town Center. I like going to the movies, to Gordon Biersch, to Gifford's, to Five Guys, to Potbelly. I can't wait to fight the paparazzi to do all those things.
    • If this has been invented, then you know they got the whales back to the future and saved the world. As with most of my references, I expect you know what I'm talking about or else the previous sentence really makes no sense at all.
    • Why? Why, why, why? Why, why, why, why, why? This is absolutely unecessary.
    • RIP, Jim Johnson. Great coach.
  • Random Music Video:
    • For some reason, I had an urge to put up a song by a Scandinavian band from the '90s. I imagine that none of you would care to see Aqua, so I went with this one. I remember liking it a lot and it holds up okay.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Shake It Up, Whatever I Do

Trying out a new format for at least a few days. We shall see, let me know what you think.

  • The Monologue:
    • Michael Jackson, yes, Michael Jackson, remember him? Michael Jackson's hair is going to be turned into diamonds. He's gone right past white and he's headed for clear.
    • Okay, I was totally wrong last week when I said that the Skip Gates thing was racism. I admit it. I guess I just see racism everywhere. Like Kim Kardashian broke up with Reggie Bush? I don't know. I'm fearing she's this close to making a sex tape with Joe Jonas.
    • Comic Con just wrapped up. Geeks from all over descended on San Diego. I'm sure it was a lot of fun for them, but you have to question the organizers' decision to have Don Gibb get everyone's attention for announcements.
    • Finally, today is former CBS sideline reporter Jill Arrington's birthday. She used to be considered the most attractive sports reporter. Remember her? No? Rumor is that she's started drilling holes in the walls of her hotel rooms for some reason.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Getting very close on the list of my top 100 movies. I expect to roll it out throughout next week.
    • Weak episode this week, Entourage. Very weak. Not as bad as it's been, but not nearly as good as the first two of the year.
    • It's as close to confirmed as you're going to get for now: Tony Kornheiser will almost definitely be back on 980 AM on September 8. Pretty psyched.
    • Just a tiny Lost snippet? This and this are two of the videos the producers showed at the Lost panel at Comic Con. Very interesting.
  • Random Movie Scene:
    • I love the Casablanca one and I figure this can alternate with the music videos every so often. Pick me out a winner, Bobby.

One Down, Four To Go

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Watched the initial miniseries that became the Transformers TV show. It's a bit cheesy, as one would expect, but I also forgot how much Soundwave kicked ass in the old cartoon.
    • Still holding off on the Mad Men post. Hard to wait. Not too much out there that approaches actual perfection, so it's hard to not gush about it. But I didn't get antsy. It never happened. It will shock you how much this never happened.
    • Put off Hung and Entourage for a night to finish season one of Lost. You have the opening of the hatch, the first time you actually see the monster, the introduction of The Others as a tangible group, the Black Rock, the introduction of Ana Lucia, and more. Lot of stuff. What stands out? The monster grabs Locke and pulls him into a hole (familiar from this past season, no heiroglyphics obviously) and Jack saves him by having Kate throw dynamite in the hole so the monster leaves. Locke gets angry, says that he would have been fine if the monster had pulled him under. It was a test. The island was testing him, it had called them all there for a specific reason, it was destiny. As far as we know up to the end of the penultimate season? There's the explanation of what's going on in this show, with "the island" as a substitute for "Jacob". It all just sounded like some of Locke's "Man of Faith" mumbo-jumbo back then.
    • Coming next: naked Scotsman runs through woods, brutha.
  • Random Hatred and/or Love:
    • A beautiful day in DC just seems prettier than the same day in a lot of other cities. Because of a snafu with my SmartTrip card and my unwillingness to fight a million post-Nats game Metro riders to get it figured out, I walked a couple of miles this afternoon around Capitol Hill. Upper 80s/low 90s, lazy Sunday afternoon, walking past the Capitol with maybe five or six tourists strolling around and some cops hanging out. Worse places to be.
  • Random Music "Video":
    • New Pearl Jam, no video yet, just the song. Pretty good.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Movie Night

Home alone for the night, I took the opportunity to watch a few movies. The first was Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which made for good background while I ate and looked at baseball scores. I remembered not thinking it was so great when I first saw it and its weaknesses were even more apparent on second viewing. It's okay, just very uneven and not all that funny. Of the Freaks and Geeks crew, it's amusing that Seth Rogen would be the no-doubt leading man at this point, with James Franco and Jason Segel better as supporting actors (yes, Franco is a better actor, but he's really great in ensemble or supporting roles like in Pineapple Express or Milk).

Second was the film Girlfight, which won the Grand Jury prize at the 2000 Sundance Festival. It's about a troubled high school girl who finds solace in the world of amateur boxing. It has everything that's good about indie films and is paced by a powerful performance from Michelle Rodriguez. Very good movie, particularly of note are the opening and closing shots -- it opens on Rodriguez with a menacing look in her eyes and closes on her eyes again, but this time as they are filled with emotion. Good acting job.

Finally, I am ashamed to admit it, but I had never watched Casablanca all the way through. Yes, that destroys what little credibility I may have as a self-appointed movie buff. That was remedied tonight, as I caught it on Netflix's Watch Instantly. What is there to say? I'm an idiot for never having the patience to stick with it before and it is... iconic. You know a movie had an impact on culture when you've never seen it yet you can basically recite all of the lines anyway. I don't think it has the best quote of all time -- AFI had "Here's looking at you, kid" as the #5 with #1 (with which I agree, given the context and delivery) being "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." It doesn't have the greatest last line of any movie -- "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" -- because, I think, the line isn't as powerful as "We'll always have Paris," and I prefer a number of others including, ironically (considering where the movie's title came from), The Usual Suspects' "And, like that, he was gone." It probably does have more great quotes than any other movie, befitting of its iconic status. It's hard to fit this movie into any category -- I think I would still consider An Affair to Remember the foremost romance film because it is just that and nothing else -- but it certainly belongs near the top of any movie list.

I'm a fan of scenes, the sort of scenes that stick with you for a long time as tiny pieces of a film and help you remember a movie. It's Bogart's monologue at the end of The Maltese Falcon; Crowe's revelation of who he is in Gladiator; Bardem stalking Brolin in the hotel in No Country For Old Men; Shaw, Dreyfuss, and Scheider drinking and singing in Jaws. I think this might deserve its own post. Anyways, you want a great scene and great acting? This is it, right here. Bergman delivers the line and then that wistful look in her eyes, leading up to Bogart storming in and then seeing her. It freaking melts me. I'm ashamed I had never seen this.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

They Did It. They Actually Did It.

I could tell you about how I accompanied my wife to see The Ugly Truth, Katherine Heigl's new film, tonight. But what would there be to say? It's basically the same plot as the great film The Tao of Steve, but it has no subtlety, very poor writing and acting, and a remarkable and unnecessary amount of profanity. The hour-and-forty-five minute Cosmo article does end the same way as The Hangover did (in that the Flo Rida song is playing over the credits). I almost rooted for Gerard Butler as the brutish man until I realized that, by the end, they would be emasculating King Leonidas. So instead, I sat back, enjoyed the cheesiness, and mused over the inexplicable giggles of delight coming from the young women peppered throughout the theater.

Rather, I'll point out a video from, entitled "Black Eyed Peas Have Officially Written The Worst Song Ever". And indeed they have. It makes "You're a Jerk" from the other night look like... Well, okay it still looks like garbage, but not as bad garbage. Maybe a rotted banana peel that can be used nicely for fuel in your Mr. Fusion as opposed to the Black Eyed Peas' diaper full of Indian food. I bet few people have ever been daring enough to work Back to the Future and Anchorman references into the same sentence. 60% of the time it works every time, Marty. So, please to watch the actual video of the song (for as long as you can stand it) and then go to Cracked's analysis.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


My wife, a regular winner at radio contests, today opened up a package to find that she won a copy of Season One of Transformers on DVD. She's awesome. She's going to regret having won that when I watch it until it burns a hole in our DVD player.

Anyways, I was going to put up a video of the opening credits of the show, but I would be neglectful if I didn't post this video instead of Chicago outfielder DeWayne Wise's catch this afternoon . Is it the greatest catch I've ever seen? Maybe, but probably not. Is it the greatest catch I've ever seen, given the circumstances? The only one that rivals it on that account was
Endy Chavez's grab in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. Problem is (sorry, Marissa) the Mets lost that one. Buerhle took this one home.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Horseshoes? Horseshoes!

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • I'm dying to write in depth about the perfection of Mad Men. Only halfway through the second season, so I'll save it until right before the third season premiere next month.
    • This trailer, for a 1974 movie starring Sean Connery, came to my attention today and is long and incomprehensible. I added it to my Netflix queue.
    • I think it's cheesy to mark anniversaries of blogs because you're only congratulating yourself, but I did screw up by not marking that three days ago was our 666th post. I'm sure I could have found an Iron Maiden (excellent!) song to play instead of writing my 666th Lost analysis.
  • Random Hatred and/or Love:
    • Because the president's news conference got moved up an hour, the on-screen cable listings had not all caught up with the schedule change. So when I was watching a bit of the Obama show on NBC, I hit the "guide" button to see "America's Got Talent". Hehe.
    • Oh, and health care reform is coming. It's been too discussed since the primaries last year to just fade away. There have been a lot of things in American history that have needed to change that have taken too long. But they all change at some point.
  • Random Music Video:
    • So I'm still trudging through my Civil War book, reading all about how Grant made his name by taking a small army in Ohio/Kentucky and working his way south into Mississippi until he took the Confederate railroad hub at Corinth, MS by winning a battle fought next to a stone church called Shiloh. Thinking about the river he went down and the state he fought through, coupled with the fact that I gave you such a crappy song last night? You're welcome.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Proof: Why The World Sucks

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Here's a good example of why a sports talk station just doesn't work in a town where you don't have teams in at least three of the big four sports. Last night, Manny Ramirez hit a home run to pass Mickey Mantle on the all-time list. Every show today on ESPN or elsewhere (I didn't listen to 106.7 today, but I assume it happened there) had a discussion between which player is/was better. Who cares? I'm as big a baseball fan and as big a fan of baseball history as you'll find, but it's a dumb discussion. They are/were entirely different players.
    • I'm glad that Facebook poker has a tournament to win a ton of chips that lets you get into the second stage and get a huge chip lead then kicks you off. I know Microsoft has issues, but if you have a program that doesn't work well with IE, you may want to fix it, because most of the world isn't using Chrome.
    • Good to see that racism can show up even at the most storied of Ivy League schools. Not racism? Just mistaken identity that got out of control? Okay, sure, the Harvard police don't have a history of this, right?
  • Random Hatred and/or Love:
    • I was ready to just do an essay tonight. Something along the lines of, "Leave Sarah alone! Leave Sarah alone right NOW!" But I just couldn't work up the patience, the humor, or the passion to commit to it. I mean, seriously.
  • Random Music Video:
    • You know how music sucks now? Both because we're old and because music sucks? Exhibit A: "You're A Jerk" by New Boyz. It's all about how they're a jerk and how being a jerk means they're "jerkin'". The downfall of society, ladies and gentlemen. And the song is horrible.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Andy, Did You Hear About This One?

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • I love this website. One view of the embedded video or some searching around reveals that it is a very well-done joke. Very well-done. Fish time is success time!
    • Listened to thirty minutes of the Mike Wise Show today and ninety minutes of the Lavar Arrington Show. Arrington and co-host Chad Dukes are way better than Mike Wise, but sports talk is pretty boring if you listen to it for a while, especially when nothing is going on. Maybe I'll check back with Arrington when the football season gets closer.
    • Finally caught up with the premiere of the new Comedy Central show, Michael and Michael Have Issues. Very, very funny. Big fan of their style of humor: The State, Wet Hot American Summer, and so on.
    • Weeds is legitmately better. The scene with Celia at the cosmetics presentation was really funny, but it's hard to imagine anything topping the adjective, "rapy." Or is that spelled "rapey"?
  • Random Hatred and/or Love:
    • Today is the fortieth anniversary of the moon landing, but more importantly it is the fortieth anniversary of one of the great baseball urban legends. And this one might actually have been true! Hall-of-Famer Gaylord Perry, the walking argument for Steroids-era-players in Cooperstown, was not a great hitter. In 1963 or 1964, someone asked about his hitting prowess and either Perry or his manager, Alvin Dark, said, "They'll put a man on the moon before he/I hits a homerun." At 1:40PM PDT on July 20, 1969, the Eagle landed on the moon. Around 1:45 PDT, Gaylord Perry hit his first career homer.
  • Random Music Video:
    • What else?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

End Of An Era

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • 6AM marks the official end of local DC radio station WJFK. I've listened to WJFK since very soon after its inception in 1991, when I was fourteen years old. For all of that time, the station has been a constant, every weekday. Times change, business is business, I understand. But I still lament its passing and I'm a free agent for the afternoon drive home. The upside of personality-driven radio is that you create rabidly loyal listeners. The downside is that when those personalities go away, the listeners go just as quickly.
    • Watched the most recent X-Files movie this morning. The play between Duchovny and Anderson was strong, but the movie focused on that to the detriment of everything else. The plot was entirely unintelligible. They show a newspaper at the headline to let you know what the bad guy was up to, but I'm still not totally sure.
    • Man, Entourage is at the top of its game, as good as it's ever been. Great writing, great acting, continued development of characters that would be fine as static caricatures. It's on fire.
  • Random Hatred and/or Love:
    • As I continue my Civil War reading, I like to think about the various characters' personalities in terms of what it would be like to play poker with them. George McClellan you could push around -- he was extraordinarily timid and perpetually overestimated his opponent. The South's PTG Beauregard would be easy to trap -- overconfident, lying to his superiors and to himself about his (wrongly) perceived success. But Grant? I wouldn't want to sit at a table with him. Unaffected by any craziness going on around him, always thinking levelly, and always extremely aggressive strategically, Grant would be my least favorite kind of player to match up against.
  • Random Lost Question:
    • Still going with the rewatch and nearing the end of the first season. I think of it as such a good show because I'm so invested in the mysteries, but I forget that it really is a very good show. I still have most of a season of Mad Men to catch up on by the middle of next month, but we keep watching old episodes of Lost that we've already seen instead. So the question that occurred to me regarding the season five finale. Jack, Kate, and Sawyer are the "chosen ones," so to speak. They were on Jacob's list, they (Jack and Kate) flashed back to 1977 (along with Hurley and Sayid, who had both been visited by Jacob during their Oceanic Six time), they are likely the subject of the, "They're coming," that Jacob whispered at the end, much to his adversary's apparent shock and horror. Makes sense, since they were visited by Jacob before they even got to the island. You can make the case that John, also visited early, wasn't kidnapped because he holds a different special role, whether it's as Ben's successor or as the evil pawn. But, Sun and Jin also met Jacob before they got to the island, at their wedding. So why didn't Sun go back to 1977? Why weren't she or Jin on Jacob's list?

Potter? I Barely Know Her!

Saw the new Harry Potter movie today. It, like the book it was based on, is more or less a setup for the ending. I think the series was basically three books of Act I, three books of Act II, and Act III was all contained in the best and last book. This movie is pretty good, not great. It seems to skip details here or there, so I wonder if someone who hadn't read the book could totally follow everything. Don't know, since I can't unread it. It's got some good dark parts and a really good scary part. The acting is decent, though I feel like Daniel Radcliffe gave a better performance in the fifth movie, The Order of the Phoenix. The two-part seventh movie should be really good since the book was really good. If that's the case, this movie, as setup, will likely look better in retrospect. As it is, I have it as the third-best Potter movie, behind #5 and #3 and ahead of #2, #1, and the not-so-good #4.

There weren't many better bands in the 1970s than Heart, one of America's truly underappreciated acts. I was going to show you a live performance of "Magic Man", but then I came across this one that I had seen a month or so ago when Bill Simmons sent the link out via Twitter. Nancy Wilson used to be kind of hot and the band just freaking rocks so much.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Accidents Will Happen

Fell asleep watching a movie last night before I was going to post. In Beneath the Planet of the Apes, which is much better than I had expected, how are the underground people able to chant and sing their entire prayer service to the bomb when their prayer book is only one sheet of paper? Too obscure?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

That's A Fact, Y'all

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • First and foremost, The Mike O'Meara Show is running a taped farewell tomorrow at 3PM, 5PM, and 6:25PM. I don't think they're finished forever though.
    • Meanwhile, O'Meara replacement Lavar Arrington was on the radio this morning and referred to himself in the third-person twice. Also, he's a huge Steelers fan and also a Redskins fan and a Giants fan. I think good sports talk is possible (cough, Kornheiser, cough) but I don't think it's coming from Arrington's overconfident mouth.
    • We're just four days away from the fortieth anniversary of NASA getting Armstrong and Aldrin into a TV studio. But analog is so 2008; they got Hollywood to make an updated version!
    • Family Guy became the first cartoon since The Flintstones in 1961 to get nominated for Best Comedy Series at the Emmys. How distraught is Matt Groening?
  • Random Hatred and/or Love:
    • Judge Sotomayor looks like she'll be confirmed quickly, but you have to wonder about a lot of the questioning she's been facing. I agree with the Supreme Court's overturn on the New Haven firefighter case, but anyone who has read anything about it can see that it's a case about whether a municipality or company can change the rules just to avoid lawsuits, and it has nothing to do with Affirmative Action. So why bring out Frank Ricci, the plaintiff in that case, today? For the same reason the Republicans have grilled her on whether she'd be impartial for a Latino or a woman: racism. There's no other way to read that. Do they ask white candidates if they would favor a white person in a decision? 'Cause guess what, the white justices do! And they've been doing it since before Dred Scott. It's a time-honored tradition in the United States. So the next time you hear Pat Buchanan yelling about Affirmative Action or how nobody in history has done more for the black man than the white man, you have to think to yourself: has Pat Buchanan -- or any white person you may know or be -- ever gotten anything simply because of the color of his/her skin?
  • Random Music Video
    • I'm loathing my white self right now. One of the two rap acts in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, performing on Soul Train. Awesome.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In The Lioness' Den

Before we start, I have to give you this one all-time classic link. Nigeria's national oil company and the Russian oil company Gazprom created a joint venture a week or two ago. What could possibly go wrong?

Today is boring. The day after the MLB All-Star Game is the most boring day of any year. People are on vacation, so work is pretty slow and there aren't too many people around with which to talk. There's no major planned news because too many people are on vacation for it to make an impact. The sports world is entirely barren; the days before and after the All-Star Game are the only two days of the year without a game in one of the four major sports leagues, but at least the day before the game has the Home Run Derby and All-Star hype. Nothing's happening today, ever. So how do you spice up a boring day? You have to go look for comedy.

Enter the Romance Writers of America convention. Held this week in Woodley Park (Northwes DC), writers from around the country gather for workshops, presentations, and book-signings. The major signing event was this evening, as all of the attending writers gathered in a huge conference room to sell their wares and greet their fans. My wife, a romance novel fan, wanted to go to see three particular writers. I, bored all day, wanted to go to see what the crowd would be like.

We entered this massive room and my ears were struck by the racket of hundreds of women all talking at the same time. I was immediately scared and uncomfortable, but it was time to soldier on and do some people-watching. The authors were at tables, with the big names around the outside so there was room for lines, none bigger (name and line) than Nora Roberts who was right at the front. Skipping that line, we walked to some other shorter ones and while my wife waited, I stood to the side and looked around.

Of the hundreds of people in the room, probably 95% or more were women. There were a few men who were walking a step behind their wives/girlfriends. But then there were the men who were there by themselves. They creeped me out. It's possible they were big romance novel fans, in which case, I didn't get it. The other option, the one I had been dying to see all day, was that they were there to meet what they thought to be desperate women (in fact, as you might expect, pretty much every woman there looked really, really happy; I was the same way in Cooperstown or at the All-Star Fanfest I attended).

Indeed though, I wonder if some of the women expected a lone guy to be doing exactly the latter. As I stood to the side, staring at my phone and tweeting every joke I could come up with, women kept passing me and giving me dirty looks. I realized that I was the lone, creepy guy! I also realized that if I was single and had no shame -- none whatsoever -- it would have been a breeze to pick up a girl. The demographics were remarkably mixed, women of all ages. It was a Texts From Last Night entry waiting to happen.

When I was in business school, I was given an assignment that I had to go to an international grocery store, somewhere where I would have a very low comfort level. The point was to see what it feels like to be on the outside, see if I can deal with an entirely different cultural situation. Completing that assignment was the first time I had ever been to a Korean grocery store and it was great. I learned how to find more diverse produce and fresher fish. I'm all about this kind of thing. Challenge my comfort level, find a little comedy, liven up a boring-ass day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fried Chicken? Fried Chicken.

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Great All-Star Game. Everything you'd want in the Mid-Summer Classic. Here's the catch that made Carl Crawford MVP.
    • Funny article ranking the six most dysfunctional state governments. I had no idea about New York. Dueling legislative sessions?
    • With California mentioned, it reminds me of a conversation in which I participated today. Who's better between Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger? Stallone's best movies -- Rocky, First Blood -- are better than any of Arnold's, but Arnold has fewer really awful movies. I think I'd rather watch an Arnold movie, such as those below.
  • Random Hatred and/or Love:
    • Michael Steele doing what Michael Steele does best: embarassing himself and everyone around him by trying to act cool. Of all the jokes Obama told at the Press dinner, my favorite was the one where he acknowledged Steele with something like, "Michael Steele is in the house. Or as he'd put it, the heezy. Wassup."
  • Your List Sucks!: Top 5 Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies
    • 5. Total Recall -- Remember when Paul Verhoeven was cool for having made Robocop, but not yet a pariah for having made Showgirls?
    • 4. True Lies -- Maybe controversial to put this ahead of the #5 film, but in terms of action-comedies, it ranks closer to Die Hard than just about any other movie.
    • 3. Terminator 2 -- I've decided it's not as good as the first.
    • 2. The Terminator -- The story was so original and the special effects were strong for such a low budget. It's really a pretty remarkable piece of independent film-making.
    • 1. Predator -- I really, really love this movie. It starts out as a good jungle/hostage film but then the alien gets involved and you get the thrilling mano-a-mano hunt between the Predator and Arnold. I think it's one of the more underrated action films.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Back From The Edge

Entourage last night made me think about shows that have been right on the precipice of shark-jumping, but have somehow found their way back. I've touched on this before, but only in passing. I can think of a number, including some of my favorite shows. Here's my quick list, where I think they went wrong, and what saved them. Any others?
  • Lost:
    • Where It Went Wrong: The mini-season at the beginning of season three, when Jack, Kate, and Sawyer -- the people on Jacob's list -- were kept at the Hydra station and we only followed them and the Others.
    • What Saved It: "Flashes Before Your Eyes", the episode where we learned that turning the fail-safe key gave Desmond the ability to see the future. We were introduced to Eloise Hawking, Charles Widmore, and Penny, and the show went down the path to get us where we are now.
  • Entourage:
    • Where It Went Wrong: Nothing ever went wrong, that was the problem. Everything just got better and better for Vince and company. The show lost whatever intrigue it may have ever had.
    • What Saved It: Martin Landau. Sure, the plot part of it turned around when Medellin sucked, but it finally stopped being boring in the Martin Landau episode and all of the trouble started thereafter. If I were to tell you that a show you were just about ready to stop watching would have a character so funny that you'd immediately change your mind, is that something you might be interested in?
  • 24:
    • Where It Went Wrong: Graeme Bauer. Ugh.
    • What Saved It: A total reboot of the series. A change of scenery. The addition of Renee Walker. We'll see if they can keep it up next year.
  • Heroes:
    • Where It Went Wrong: They couldn't follow up the first season. Lack of new ideas, too many characters with too much power.
    • What Saved It: The end of the "Villains" season going into "Fugitives"? I think it's better than it was. Probably because Peter's power lessened and Hiro lost his for a time.
  • Grey's Anatomy:
    • Where It Went Wrong: Everyone got even whinier than usual, including Derek and Alex. A ferry crashed and Meredith died and came back to life, seeing ghosts in the meantime.
    • What Saved It: They got back to basics and relied more heavily on Derek and Sloan to balance out the whining. Until...
    • Where It Went Wrong: Izzy started having sex with the ghost of her dead fiancee who she barely even knew anyway.
    • What Saved It: Izzy almost died -- unfortunately, it doesn't look like it's going to take -- and they ended the season with the great "007" twist.
  • Weeds:
    • Where It Went Wrong: The show was about the suburbs, so they burned down the suburbs and completely changed the scope of the show. Good idea.
    • What Saved It: Not saved yet, but it's been looking upwards after the last few episodes. If that's the case, it will be because they just let Andy carry the show.

Why South Carolina Creeps Me Out

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Caught up today on one of the movies I've been meaning to see for a while, Waltz with Bashir. It's an Israeli film that is basically an oral history of the Israeli attack on Beirut in 1983, specifically the massacre of Palestinians at the hands of the Lebanese Christians. The director, piecing together his army service at the site of the massacre, taped interviews with people with whom he served as well as a journalist who visited the scene. The catch is that the movie is animated -- both the interviews and the the stories of war. The interview format means that the dialogue -- what little of the Hebrew I was able to understand -- has a natural cadence to it that makes the movie that much more realistic, even with the animation. It's not a feel-good movie, obviously, but it's recommended.
    • I was overjoyed that Entourage returned tonight after last season's very good season finale and the dearth of watchable TV right now. It did not disappoint. All you want out of an Entourage episode is good back-and-forth between Eric and Vince (check), Lloyd to get screen time and Ari and he to play off of each other (triple-check; that's shaping up to be the strongest story of the season), Turtle and Drama to not get in the way too much (check), and something that isn't 100% perfect to happen to Vince (check with the loneliness thing and I think he's going to get in trouble over telling the bribe story on Leno). So, great stuff from the episode.
    • One strike against it: at the beginning, Ari talks about how excited he is that Miller/Gold got Greg Garcia as a client and talks about having My Name Is Earl in the fold. Whoops.
    • Hung, the new show with Thomas Jane that airs before Entourage, is also really good. Really funny and does a good job of being a show about sex that doesn't overdo the sex stuff.
    • This is a good opinion piece by Peggy Noonan for the Wall Street Journal about why the GOP should move on and away from Sarah Palin. I'm not a Republican, but the arguments seem very reasonable to me. (Although I hope the party doesn't follow them.)
  • Random Hatred and/or Love:
    • Still reading Battle Cry of Freedom and on page 234 of 862. Lincoln has just been elected and the South is just about to secede. So let me go off about the Confederate flag again and the romantic ideas that Southerners have about the Confederacy. I can't put this any clearer -- The Confederacy was about slavery. It was only about state rights in that they wanted the right to have slavery. It was only about romantic aristocracy in that they wanted to feel supreme as white people over their slaves. The Confederacy was about slavery. It was the major plank in their platform, the reason they threatened to secede for a decade or more before they actually did. The next time you see someone with the Stars and Bars or you hear someone refer to the "War of Northern Aggression", think about that. They can romanticize it all they want. The Confederacy was solely dedicated to the idea that black people could not be citizens and were born to be owned. The Confederacy was about slavery. Period.
  • Oh, And By The Way:
    • The Confederacy was about slavery.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Don't Use Tissues

Saturday night. Out late. Major allergies. Benadryl coma coming on. Probably posted this before, but just enjoy the Flaming Lips, kids.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Funnyzeit Mit Bruno

What is the funniest movie of the past five years? There are only a handful of candidates. The Hangover, Role Models, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and, of course, Borat. So how does Sacha Baron Cohen live up to what might very well be the top of that list? By not trying to make the same movie over again.

Bruno is very different from Borat. Yes, it involves Cohen doing a funny foreign character that plays off of people's stupidity and, yes, he travels the country (and the world in this one) to find the right situation. The main difference comes in the style of comedy. Borat made us laugh out loud continuously and gave us a few moments of squirming. Bruno goes the opposite way. It is very funny and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, but the comedy here is driven by shock and discomfort. A lot of critics said that Borat pushed the envelope. In Bruno, Cohen rips the envelope open, drops a nuclear bomb on it, and then has sex with its ashes.

I went to a late afternoon showing, so it was fairly empty. That was lucky for me, because I put some popcorn in my mouth as the movie was starting and immediately did a spit take. Very little, if anything, offends me, but going by the accepted norms of society, there are going to be a lot of people (mostly those who are homophobic or squeamish about seeing simulated gay sex) who are going to walk out of the theater very unhappy. In fact, I'm going to search the web for people who had exactly that experience and laugh at them.

If you are not squeamish -- and I'm not going to say what the movie portrays, but it's a lot more than you think it does -- go see it. The last twenty minutes are worth the price of admission alone.

I might be offended by stupidity... This is one of the trailers that ran before the movie. Worst movie ever? All you need to hear is: "From the director of Wild Hogs".

Thursday, July 9, 2009

One, Two, Freddy's Movie Was Poo

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • I'm thinking Bruno tomorrow night. Review to follow.
    • It's fun to hate Michael Bay. This piece from killed me. My office door was open when I was reading it and I had to keep pretending to cough because my laughter was uncontrollable.
    • I'm done with Michael Jackson, he's buried, let's move on. But today, on the ride home, I blasted "Human Nature" and "Pretty Young Thing". Couldn't help myself.
    • The more I get through Lost's first season, the more I'm convinced that Locke was possessed or something similar the whole time. You have all of the black and white imagery: the backgammon pieces, the stones held by "Adam and Eve" in the cave. What pushed me over the top were two scenes. One was the dream that Claire had right before she was taken by Ethan -- Locke is dealing out cards and when he looks at her, one eye is a black backgammon piece and the other is a white one. Second, when Sayid stumbles back into camp after escaping Rousseau, he talks about how there are other people on the island; Locke is shown specifically, looking very menacing and standing outside of the circle of people helping Sayid. Was he possessed all along by Jacob's adversary? Was he being tested by both Jacob and the enemy? Probably not evil all along, because it took his death for the enemy to truly take over. If he was the major pawn in the game, or at least the major pawn among the castaways, then it all began when the monster came to him and it calls into question whether the monster is working for Jacob's adversary or whether it's neutral, or was neutral at one point.
  • Random Hatred and/or Love:
    • I think a fair question is: What did Steve McNair do to put himself in the position where his twenty-year-old mistress killed him? Obviously, he didn't deserve death, but what warning signs of an unstable person were there and how did he make himself vulnerable?
  • Overrated/Underrated:
    • Nightmare on Elm Street is severely overrated. Gremlins continues to be underrated.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Hyper Bowl

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Watched a bit of the Jackson funeral and heard a lot about the rest of it. Good musical performances, even though Usher was a bit creepy in singing to the casket. Al Sharpton said that Michael Jackson's success made it possible for Tiger Woods and Barack Obama to be successful. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
    • The cover of the Washington City Paper is so funny that as soon as it was released on their website, their web servers crashed. Here it is. Very NSFW.
    • The Jordan Crawford storm is pretty amusing.
    • Continuing to re-watch Lost and got to Charlie's first flashback episode. There are some pretty interesting parallels to be drawn between Charlie and Mr. Eko, in regards to older brother-young brother relationship, drugs, and Catholicism. Too many to be coincedence, though I never noticed them before now.
  • Random Hatred and/or Love:
    • One of our cars broke down and I ended up having to push it, by myself, up a slight grade to get it into a parking spot. I feel like a caveman.
  • Underrated Historical Figure of the Day:
    • Let's give it up for Frederick Law Olmsted. The book I'm reading mentioned him a bit in regards to his travels in the South in the 1850s and his anti-slavery writings. I recognized the name from his place in the design of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, thanks to Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City (one of the must-reads of the last five years or so). He designed Central Park. As we Jews say around Passover, dayenu (that would have been enough). But he also designed the U.S. Capitol Grounds, the National Zoo, college campuses from Stanford to Yale to Cornell to Michigan State. He designed many, many more notable parks and campuses around the country. The list is in the Wikipedia article.

We're An American Band, Cont.

Looking at the comments today, I have to throw out Guns and Roses. They were only really at the top of their game from 1987 to 1991; Nirvana's Nevermind came out exactly a week after the Use Your Illusion double album. I do have to look at Van Halen. My problem with them is that their sound was so drastically different with Hagar that they almost don't feel like the same band. We're going to throw the Gary Cherone "era" in with Rocky V and Superman IV in the dust-covered trunk of things that never happened.

The Beach Boys were great, but they don't hold up as an epic band, with all due apologies to John Stamos. Dude, the fat kid from Stand By Me is sleeping with your ex-wife (I stole that joke).

We all sleep on Chicago a bit and the Jimi Hendrix Experience gets discounted because they're hardly remembered as a band, but it does bring me to one that we completely overlooked: The E Street Band. Do they count as a band? I think Springsteen is generally considered a solo act, with a back-up band, but that band has been together for a really long time.

All in all, I think I have to agree and stick with Aerosmith. Long career, ups and downs, the epitome of rock stars. Even with the crappy Armageddon song, they have to be it. Where would they rank on the British list? With Led Zeppelin? Right below them?

On Marissa's comment, this wasn't about influence so much, but Buddy Holly should definitely get the honorable mention. If we're talking influence though, I'll go with a most underrated influential band -- the New York Dolls. They were punk before punk, glam before glam. They bred the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, REM, the Smiths, Bon Jovi, Guns and Roses, and so on. They need to be in the Hall of Fame for their influence alone. From 1973, the New York Dolls (and yes, their lead singer was David Johansen of Buster Poindexter and Scrooged fame):

Monday, July 6, 2009

Grand Funk Railroad Excluded

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Finally read the Vanity Fair article about that chick that used to be the governor of Alaska. Ouch! She does not seem like a nice, balanced person!
    • Annoyed that the one good shot of Tiger on the 6th yesterday has the crowd that was just to our left. A slightly different angle and we'd be right in it.
    • A second consecutive funny Weeds episode. Maybe it's turning around. With Entourage back this Sunday, it could be a nice respite from the boring summer.
  • Random Hatred and/or Love:
    • I'm old. I get almost no sleep on Friday night and then walk around a bunch yesterday and I'm groggy and sore all day today. I used to shrug that crap off with no problem.
  • We're An American Band:
    • Thinking about the acts I saw in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I can pick out the best bands. If the best rock band ever isn't the Beatles, then it's the Rolling Stones. Maybe one could make an argument that the Who belongs close to the top. All British. So who's the greatest American band? Aerosmith? Metallica? None of them seem right.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sometimes It Makes Me Wonder

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Went to the AT&T National today to see Tiger Woods take down the tournament. I could say a lot about the aura of greatness that's obvious as Tiger walks around the course or about how I get the red shirt thing now (it was a brighter red than anyone else's shirt; you could always tell where he was by that red), but I'll stick to my biggest question about Tiger. Why do we so often root for underdogs, yet we root for Tiger? Is it because of the way the sport is or is there something more?
    • Weeds was a lot better this week, a lot funnier. Hopefully that will keep up.
    • Eastbound & Down is back on HBO On Demand. I had only seen the pilot episode, so I'm going to try to catch up.
  • Random Hatred and/or Love:
    • I think I'm going to look for a new job in three years, so I'm going to quit my job now and do nothing until it's time to go for the new one. I'm sure the people making the hiring decision won't bat an eye.
    • F*** it, why be so coy? She's a damn lunatic!
  • Random Music Video
    • In the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, they play music throughout the museum from the artists honored within. A lot of Crosby, Still, & Nash; a lot of Elton John; a lot of Rolling Stones. Surprisingly, they also played the biggest song from one of their two rap inductees a number of times, one of the handful of most influential rap songs, "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (the other rap inductee is Run DMC). Based on "The Message", here's "Close Edge" by Mos Def in my favorite performance from Chappelle's Show.

So Proudly We Hailed

You know how everyone remembers Whitney Houston's National Anthem before Super Bowl XXV as the greatest performance ever of the song? From the 1983 All-Star Game, here's Marvin Gaye. Top this.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Book Recommendation

I've been reading a lot more lately than I had been, but more slowly than in the past. It's often taken me close to a month to finish a book because there are always other things to do or with which to distract myself. Therefore, the highest praise I can give for Sudhir Venkatesh's Gang Leader for a Day is that I read it in one day. I just couldn't put it down. If you liked the chapter he co-authored in Freakonomics or if you're interested at all in anything about the American experience that we middle- to upper-middle-class people don't get to see, you must read it. I also found it to be an interesting companion piece to The Wire. Whereas The Wire deals with inner-city gang life -- and life in the projects in the first three seasons -- from the police and government perspective, this book deals with it from the gang and tenant perspective. This book ends as the projects are being demolished, The Wire continued on past demolition for its more surreal fourth and fifth seasons. If The Wire is the best drama ever produced -- and it most certainly is -- then you can see how highly I think of this book that it belongs in the same company.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Walk out of the mall into Public Square, where the Cleveland Orchestra is playing a free concert for the holiday. It's easy to forgive a city its many faults when, as cold as it is outside, you walk out into this kind of atmosphere. The buildings are lit up and Battle Hymn of the Republic is being played. Cool stuff.

Off My Feet

I'm in a mall, waiting to get into a restaurant that is currently serving a party of seventy-five. There's a woman in the food court who is singing songs with a microphone and music behind her. She's currently singing "The Way You Make Me Feel". Britney was better in that video I posted two days ago.

Update: Now she's singing "We Are The World". Oh. My. God.

Hey, Kids, Rock And Roll

iTunes stupidity aside, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a fantastic museum. It's open from 10AM to 5:30PM; we got there at 11AM and, a forty-minute break from lunch aside, we rushed through the huge Springsteen exhibit and the gift shop in order to get out before closing. The small-in-space-but-packed-with-stuff memorabilia exhibit took us around three hours. If you're a fan of music, it's worth a short trip or stopover in Cleveland just for the museum. $22 to get in and not a rip-off in any way.

The Land That Taste Forgot

Left the museum for a quick second to grab lunch at a nearby mall. Outside of McDonald's, there is no Coca-Cola in this city. None. A Pepsi town? As if you needed no other reason to not live here.

Rock On With Yo' Bad Self

At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Hoping they're smart and have somewhere that you can hook up your iPod and download songs.

Update: They do not have this. I probably would have bought a bunch of stuff. Instead, they have a ton of CDs, which nobody was buying. They do sell vinyl though.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sin With A Safety Pin

On my way to the Mistake By The Lake for a couple of days. Rather than doing a daily post like I normally do -- I think of this as a "bdiary" or "bjournal" instead of a regular blog -- I'll probably just post whatever strikes me. After all, as Ian Hunter sang and the Presidents of the United States of America so poppily covered, Cleveland rocks.