Thursday, April 26, 2007

TRAILERS FROM HELL

There are some horrible movies coming out this year--this is not a shocker. But what's shocking is these awful trailers, which are theoretically supposed to contain some GOOD PARTS of the movie that would make me WANT to go see it, yet they fail in every conceivable way. I chose the ones that make me shudder in fear, while simultaneously weeping for the future, the most. I can't really choose a winner; it's like choosing your favorite terminal disease. (I only linked to the trailers and didn't embed them; I was afraid the blog would never come clean afterwards.)

The Hills Have Eyes 2
They have eyes to . . . what? To see you with? Oh, so these hills also have eyes? Good to know, next time I'm in the desert. Seriously, what is this Wes Craven endorsed crapfest? And who chose the O Brother, Where Art Thou song that plays halfway through?

Delta Farce
Sweet Jebus, who greenlights this miserable shit? Instead of making aggressively unfunny comedies, can't someone figure out a real-life situation that actually sends Larry the Cable Guy to Iraq? Rednecks, gay jokes, Mexican jokes--are there any other stereotypes we can lazily cram into this steaming pile of fucktardation? I'm secretly hoping they all get killed out in the desert by those hills who also happen to have eyes. Fast Track

Fast Track The Ex
This one is more disappointing than anything else, since I like Zach Braff and Jason Bateman (the latter's comic timing on Arrested Development was outstanding) and I even like Amanda Peet. So why does this trailer make me hate everything? Huh, the YouTube commenters who like this are all between 14-18, it seems. Fabulous. This movie has already been renamed and its release date moved around several times, and that can't be good.

Lucky You
Drew Barrymore tackles the no-longer trendy world of high stakes poker, with some guy who looks like the 21st century answer to Andrew McCarthy that I sort of recognize and . . . Robert Duvall? Good god, this is looks bad. Do people really talk to each other in cliches like this? ("What goes around comes around", "It's dangerous to be around you.") And is anyone else bothered by Drew's "hit in the face with a frying pan" profile? Or is it only me? They obviously never heard the saying: "What happens in Vegas should never be filmed and shown to audiences outside Vegas."

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
It's the ultimate wedding crasher! Ugh. I hate all these movies that take place in New York City and end up destroying everything: X-Men, Spiderman, Heroes--I'm sick of it! Go fuck with St. Louis or Atlanta instead, you bunch of dumb superassholes.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
Here it is, the coup de garbage: an Adam Sandler movie! And it's about a gay couple who aren't really gay! And it co-stars the insufferable fat guy from King of Queens! I don't know where to start with this, so let's just say that's Rob Schneider impersonating a Chinese guy at the beginning and leave it at that. This is the last time I'm going to say it: Adam Sandler, please fuck off forever.

Coming soon: John Rambo: Pearl of the Cobra, Live Free or Die Hard, and that Robin Williams movie where he plays a wacky reverend! Thanks Hollywood!

Friday, March 09, 2007

THURSDAY TIMEKILLER™: THINGS YOU ALWAYS KNEW YOUR CELL PHONE COULD DO

It's been a long time between new posts here at the Eye-Opener, but it was worth the wait.

Started by Karl, this one is inspired by the not-at-all-helpful e-mail, THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW YOUR CELL PHONE COULD DO. Rob, Jeff, Shawna and brash, sassy newcomer Nicole joined in.

So kill some time with us by reading "THINGS YOU ALWAYS KNEW YOUR CELL PHONE COULD DO".
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1. Have a Mexican -or Asian- bring you an authentic Italian pizza and a coke. (kw)

2. Take pictures of Guinness pints. (kw)

3. Provide reasonable doubt as to your whereabouts the evening the young intern disappeared (rv)

4. Make painstakingly produced multichannel music sound like it was recorded on gramophone in a public storage facility. (rv)

5. Remove $67.05 from my checking account each month in exchange for not having to walk all the way across the living room to my land line. (rv)

6. Not actually "ring", yet helpfully inform me that I "missed" a call. (jk)

7. Drop the call just when she's getting to "the good part". (jk)

8. Go directly to voicemail so your wife cannot find you when you are having beers with friends or moving fish tanks. (sw)

9. Cell phone text messages can actually let your boss know you're out sick, without having to sound sick which no one does well, and you can send them while you're hunting!! (kw)

10. Rob, you don't even need to get up and go across the room to check your answering machine, you can call it from your cell phone. (kw)

11. You can call Jeff and tell him to bring beer. (kw)

12. Make everyone within earshot drool with envy when they hear your rare Men Without Hats ringtone. (jk)

13. Be universally referred to as a "camera phone", despite not being able to perform either function adequately. (jk)

14. Come in contact with water and cease to be called anything except paperweight. (rv)

15. The vibrate function of the phone allows you to all use it to 'massage' yourself. (nm)

16. Spark the Divinyl's renaissance with "I call myself, I want you to call me". (kw)

17. Travel forward in time then bring back the technology that allows cell phones to work. (rv)

18. Instead of calling someone directly and using 1 minute of airtime to say "I'm running late", you can waste 4 minutes awkwardly typing the same message into a tiny keypad and sending it as text (for an additional fee for both of you). (jk)

19. Makes true "toll-free numbers" a thing of the past. (jk)

20. Keep you up to date on 'currant' affairs. (kw)

21. Allows you to tell people you were using your Bluetooth enabled phone when in fact you were just walking around talking out loud to nobody like the lunatic that you are. (rv)

22. Allows you to use the speakerphone to let everyone in your presence know what you are talking about. And then talk louder to the people you can't hear instead of turning up the volume or putting the damn phone to your ear. (nm)

23. Really caters to drunk dialers . . . (kw)

25. Enables you to miss/skip 24. (you can watch it later on Vcast). (kw)

26. If you press the keys 5-8-0-0-8 and hold the phone upside down it looks like BOOBS. (rv)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

THINGS YOU WON'T HEAR US SAY IN 2007

Rob actually started this with the statement, "I was watching the OXYGEN network the other day . . . " as an example, so I sent it around and got some pretty damn funny responses:
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"Man, I can't get enough of those 'reality TV' shows." (jk)

"Now that I have a big HDTV with a DVR, I think I could live without it." (kw)

"Chicks dig me because I'm a great dancer." (kw)

"I'm on a health kick." (kw)

"Nah, I think I'll just have a Corona with grenadine syrup in it." (jk)

"I was listening to NASCAR on the radio the other day . . . " (Or any sentence with "NASCAR" in it.) (jk)

"Chicks dig me." (jk)

"Getting a psychic reading would be an excellent way to spend time and money!" (rv)

"Can anyone recommend a charity to donate to?" (tb)

"I'm tired of eating steak." (tb)

"I do." (tb)

"I knew I should have bought a HUMMER." (jk)

"I'm tired of constantly shooting under par." (jk)

"I have so much money, I don't know what to do with it." (ks)

"Do you want fries with that?" (I hope) (ks)

"Great idea, Mr President!" (rv)

"I’d like a years subscription to the NY Post." (rv)

"My customer focus could use some improvement." (rv)

"Fill up, 93 octane." (rv)

"I’d love to spot you on the bench press." (rv)

"I'm moving to France because of the job opportunities there." (kw)

"Put Elmo On." (kw)

"Sure, I'll get your cat out of that tree." (kw)

"C'mon!!! I'm buying!!" (kw)

"I can't decide between Applebee's, T.G.I. Firday's or Chili's--they all feature excellent cuisine!" (jk)

"That club music can't be loud enough for me! Why can't all bars play this stuff?" (jk)

"I'm really interested in what Paris Hilton is up to." (jk)

"My Mets Season Tickets." (kw)

"Snail Mail." (kw)

"I'm so happy with my job right now." (kw)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

WHY TAKE DIET PILLS WHEN YOU CAN ENJOY AYDS?

The unintentional humor of this ad is off the chart.



AYDS was an OTC appetite suppressant "candy" popular in the 1970s. Of course, sales dropped off significantly in the 80s because of the unfortunate name. Personally, I think they should have sued the creators of AIDS for copyright infringement.

THANK GOODNESS FOR AYDS!
(TRY NEW PEANUT BUTTER AYDS!)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

ALCOHOLICS UNANIMOUS

It's that time of the year again: to get drunk off your ass! For some reason, the guy at Starbucks made a face when I asked him to put rum in my holiday egg nog lattes. But be careful out there, because things aren't what they seem. Yeah, that's right: I'm talking about the evils of marketing. Even worse: marketing ALCOHOL. Hold on to your livers . . .

I have to admit, Jay-Z is nothing if not a smart businessman. Announcing his "comeback" album via a Budweiser commercial? Brilliant! In fact, I think A-B made him change his name to Jayweiser-Zelect. But this "dissing Cristal and switching to Armand de Brignac champagne" thing seemed like a calculated marketing move when I heard about it. As for his "choice of a drunk generation", no one I know has even heard of his new "brand", and it didn't even have a website until--surprise!--the Jayweiser video came out. Kris "The Biggest Sabres Fan In France" Salo says they don't even sell it over there, and it's not even listed on the French Wikipedia site (which a suppose is just a lot of pages about wine, cheese, and fashion). He made a great point: "No one is so small and unknown that no documentation exists on them before some giant star with Billions of Dollars in purchasing power signs with them." Exactly. This whole thing smells bad, like a chunk of Camembert left out in the sun for a week.

It turns out that Armand de Brignac is a dormant brand of champagne by French winemaker Callier, and despite what their distribution company, Sovereign Brands LLC, tells you about its status as a "premium high-end brand in France", it didn't really exist until it was featured in Jayweiser's video. This Business Week article (and the ones that it links to) did some great investigative work to determine that the name hasn't been used by the company in decades, and the company has already its 3 Vodka brand endorsed by a rapper (who is now a partner/owner). No one will admit it, but it would make sense that Mr. Zelect has dumped money into this dead brand and relaunched it, because there's no reason for him to market this stuff otherwise. In other words, it all adds up to a product placement scam: a "new" champagne (or just pretty golden bottles filled with Bud Select) that's being marketed to Americans as the new fashionable hip-hop alcoholic beverage. Basically, if you're stupid enough to buy this stuff for $150 a bottle, or three times that in a nightclub, you are a moron and deserve to go broke.
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Speaking of morons, A-B is trying to pull a fast one on beer buyers in New England and elsewhere. My brother in law bought something called "Stone Mill Pale Ale", touted as an "organic" brew (meaning no pesticides or chemicals are used on the grains). Okay, fine, what does it taste like? It honestly wasn't too bad, with a moderately hoppy bite, but nothing to write home about. The label said: "Brewed by Green Valley Brewery, Merrimack, NH". Well, that's the town they live in, but it's a very small town and the only brewery I know of . . . is A-B. So, sure enough, I looked it up online and it's "an organically certified brewery of Anheuser Busch". So basically, it's just an A-B product in disguise with some made-up name.

This bothers me on several levels. One: they know there's a small segment of the population that won't buy anything that has their name on it, so they put these out there without the A-B name on it anywhere. Two: they are completely capable of making good beer when they feel like it. Three: they can't just make their mass produced rice water beer and leave it at that, they have to try to cut into the microbrew market. Seriously, go fuck yourself, A-B. Leave the bastardization of the microbrew sector to the 12 Greatest Brews of the World.
_______________________________________________

The states of Maine and New York are trying to ban the sale of several beers because of their label illustrations. One of them is (pictured at right) Santa's Butt English Porter, and the claim is that the depiction of jolly ol' Saint Nick on its label "might appeal to children". The Maine Civil Liberties Union consider the illustrations "undignified and improper". One of the company's other rejected labels features the topless woman from the famous French painting "Liberty leading the people" (which I saw in the Louvre). That's right, not only are they uptight about art, but the MCLU is against LIBERTY. Shelton Brothers, the importers of these beers and others called "Seriously Bad Elf" and "Winter Warmer Nut Browned Ale", are fighting the ban. If these states are so worried about products that might appeal to childen, what about calling your alcoholic malt beverages "lemonade"? What about banning McDonald's, who sells horrible food to kids using A CLOWN IN ITS COMMERCIALS? What a joke.
_______________________________________________

Closing on a positive note, we've already established that the best show about drinking on INHD is not Beer Nutz (I can't stand the two hosts). Instead, I hereby bestow that honor to THREE SHEETS. Hosted by comedian Zane Lamprey, this is more like a combination of Dave Attell's much-missed Insomniac and the Travel Channel: while the host gets drunk, you learn about the drinking customs around the world. I've seen the episodes in Costa Rica, Jamaica, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Belgium, and they've all been very entertaining. The last country on that list found him visiting Delirium Cafe, which is home to a world-record 2,600 brews (including Delirium Tremens and Nocturnum, both excellent beers). They also showed him a bottle of Westvleteren, but they couldn't drink it or even MENTION THE NAME because of the monks' strict reselling and distribution rules. Very interesting. If he ever needs someone to replace him as host, I volunteer.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

OH WHAT A (NAUSEATING) FEELING! TOYOTA!

When my trusty 1999 Nissan Pathfinder's transmission crapped out a couple of months ago (with 146K miles on it!), I knew I had waited just a bit too long to buy a new car. After spending over 2 grand to get it fixed, I ramped up my search before something else went wrong. (Are the brakes going? Is that awful noise coming from the rear shocks? Is that gasoline I smell?) But what exactly did I want to buy? I had no idea. I'm not a gearhead, so I wasn't looking for anything flashy. I like my 4x4 (the higher driving position, interior space, adverse weather handling), but I didn't want a huge hulking behemoth with low gas mileage. And I'm not a millionaire, so I needed something affordable and reliable. Most of all, I had to fit in the driver's seat comfortably (not a gimmie when you're 6'4"). So what would give me biggest bang for my buck?

I first thought about getting another Nissan, but I just don't like their current offerings; the new Pathfinder is way too big for me and the XTerra is not good on gas. I couldn't in my right mind plunk down my hard-earned cash on a Ford or Chevy, I'm not impressed with Hyundai, Jeep or Mazda's SUVs, and Saturn doesn't really sell anything I like. Honda seemed to be a logical choice, and the redesigned '07 CRV is nice, and even the boxy Element had grown on me. I was all set to test drive the two and eventually planned on purchasing the one I liked more. How I ended up with a 2007 Toyota RAV4 is anyone's guess.

I've never even considered buying a Toyota before; I've never even walked into one of their showrooms. Their salespeople have a reputation of being "uppity", with less haggle room and more pressure to make you buy a car with unnecessary options. And quite frankly most of their cars just don't excite me (TTAC would call them "bland"), and their SUVs just screamed "soccer mom". But I found that I really liked the new RAV4. First of all, they expanded it in every direction in 2006 to make it more roomy (but still smaller than my Pathfinder). Second of all, they offer a V6 engine that also gets great gas mileage. So I walked in there one day for a test drive, and realized that this was a car I really liked.

I loathe the whole car buying process, and can't wait for car salesmen to go the way of the Yugo. My experience with Fockland Toyota (name changed to protect the idiots) made all of my fears a reality. I don't know what's happened since I bought my last car 7 years ago, whether my bullshit threshold has decreased or salespeople have become more devious, but I've never had to put up with as much drama and frustration as I did with these salespeople. Right off the bat, they do their best to overstate the MSRP and undercut your trade-in, just to see if you did your math homework. Fortunately for me (and unfortunately for them) I arrived armed with a fistful of printouts and a target price in mind, so I wasn't falling for it. Though I was considering walking out about 14 times during the ordeal, I figured it was going to be the same no matter where I went. As is their custom, they make you wait, they talk with you about options, you refuse, they make you wait some more, and then they send the manager out to talk with you; it's all a big dumb game. But this general manager was an interesting character: he was as tall as me and built like a truck (Tacoma?), about 300 pounds with a bald head and a no-nonsense attitude. Basically, he was pretty intimidating, but I had to stick to my guns. After our haggling hit a minor impasse, I made them wait for a while I got a cup of coffee (it's only fair). I eventually came back got a deal somewhere between the invoice and sticker prices that I was happy with, and they gave me a more reasonable trade-in price. Afterwards the manager said, "You got a good deal", and when I retorted with, "Come on, you still made plenty of money off of me", he said "Yeah, but not as much as I had hoped to." Ha ha, all in a half an hour's work for this guy.

They began to search other local dealers for the car I wanted, which is harder than it sounds since apparently there aren't that many Base V6 4x4s with minimal options, and they use some byzantine process to "swap" cars between dealerships. In the end, they produced a car in the color I liked (Nautical Blue Metallic--hello, sailor!) and I arranged to pick it up on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the whole car buying drama was far from over. My preapproved auto loan from CapitalOne came with a "Blank Check", which I'm supposed to make out to the dealer for the amount I wish to finance ("The dealer gets their money in 24 hours! It's like having cash in hand!"). Naturally they refused to accept it, saying that they needed a certified check. They brought in the cavalry to deal with this, but no one would even talk to CapitalOne to confirm my loan status, nor would they wait a week for the check to clear. I assumed that all this nonsense was just a way to force me to finance it through them. I was furious, and without another alternative I put on my jacket and started to leave. The enormous manager reciprocated by blowing up and telling the lady preparing the paperwork to not sell me the car. Since I didn't tell them what rate I was preapproved at (6.35%/48 mo), I figured this was my one bargaining chip; I convinced them that I had a 5.99% rate, and ended up financing through Toyota. In the end I saved myself a couple of bucks a month, but not without a headache.

The bottom line is that I got a good deal, I love the car and I'm happy with my purchase. But I would avoid dealing with Fockland Toyota, if you don't have to. Hopefully (knock on wood) I won't have to go through this nonsense for a long, long time.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

FRIGHTENINGLY BAD HALLOWEEN COSTUMES

That magical day is finally upon us -- IT'S HALLOWEEN! Scary children roam the streets looking for fattening treats . . . even MORE SO TODAY! It used to be ghouls, ghosts and goblins, but nowadays it seems that most of the costumes out there are horribly unfunny novelty costumes. Let's take a look at some!

KUNG FU LOU


What the hell is this supposed to be? A fat guy doing karate? I don't get it. FUNG YOU! Let's move on.

ROYAL FLUSH


Ugh. Didn't I click on the "humorous" section? Because that's not the least bit funny. Unless this guy actually gets pissed on.

FART-O-METER


Great. You can wear something that is going to make guys fart in your face all night. That could backfire on you--LITERALLY.

SPANISH FLAMINGO DRESS


The costume itself is okay, but it's a "flamingo" [sic] dress under the "Oriental and Ethnic Costumes" category. That's wrong on several levels.

FRANKENBERRY


Frank, you look FAAAAAAAABULOUS! Couldn't you just DIE? I mean, can you BE more pink? I just want to cover you in milk and eat you!

MAGNUM P.I.


If you're a private investigator, wouldn't explicitly stating that on your hat blow your cover? Not a wise move, Magnum.

THE GOVERNOR MASK


There are caricatures, and then there's this. Why does it look like his face is about to explode? Is this from the scene from Total Recall where he's struggling to breathe in Mars' atmosphere? And I don't know what Governor this is supposed to be, but it sure doesn't look like George Pataki.

DR. SEYMOUR BUSH, GYNECOLOGIST


Wait a minute, I've got plenty of lab coats, I could EASILY throw this outfit together in no time! Of course, none of them say "Seymour Bush" on them. But how can I convince women that I'm a gynecologist? I know: I'll wear it AFTER Halloween, that way they'll never suspect a thing!

PROM NIGHTMARE


"Ohhhhh SHIT! I KNEW we shouldn't have tried opening that bottle of merlot in the limo. Baby, I'm sorry about that. Do we have enough time to go back home and change? We could only afford to rent the limo for 45 minutes? I'm so sorry. Stop crying, I bet no one will even notice!" (I guess I can forget about getting to second base tonight. Man, what a prom nightmare.)

HOLY SHIT


Oh man, that's stupid. Never mind, check out these classic 70s costumes instead!

HONG KONG PHOOEY


Now we're talking! HONG KONG PHOOEY, #1 SUPER GUY! HONG KONG PHOOEY, QUICKER THAN THE HUMAN EYE!

WELCOME BACK, KOTTER


Were kids dressing up as Gabe Kaplan? That's sad.

H.R. PUFNSTUF


Forget drugs, kids! This costume is a WALKING ACID TRIP!

Crappy Halloween everyone!

AND CHECK OUT RETROCRUSH'S COLLECTION OF CLASSIC COSTUMES!

Friday, October 27, 2006

PS3 COMMERCIAL: NIGHTMARE FUEL!

This ad for the SONY PlayStation 3 aired last night.



That is just plain creepy. What is wrong with advertising agencies? It seems as though it's not about the product anymore, it's about getting a reaction from people. Who cares if they're frightened? Why bother giving any relevent information about the product? All you need to know is that the PS3 is coming soon!

Now, the old 80s ATARI commercials were fantastic:



There was never a bigger disappointment than the ATARI 2600 attempt at PAC-MAN. Hoo boy. Okay, never mind, that was horrid. Bring on the creepy babies!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

FRIDAY THE 13TH TIMEKILLER: HORROR MOVIES

This is a thread I started on Friday the 13th to try to come up with some new horror movie ideas.
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THE GRUNGE. The ghosts of Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, and Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood haunt record executives, killing them off one by one for making millions and millions of dollars at their expense, and simultaneously destroying the Seattle music scene in the 90s. Soundtrack by former Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil (whom I think is sitll alive). (JK)

THE TEXAS LONGHORNS MASSACRE. By now you would think the students at Rice University would know Not To Go In There, but they do, and as usual are slaughtered by the UT football team, 63–0. (RV)

THE EXERCISE.
After spending decades eating nothing but heavily processed fast foods, an ordinary man decides to take up jogging. Little does he know that his heart is possessed by an evil demon, and every step he takes COULD KILL HIM! (jk)

ARBOR DAY. Someone is killing children when they are in a place that there parents can't protect them: the treehouse. (rv)

GREMLINS. In the 1970s, the American Motor Company unleashes on an unsuspecting public the most hideous vehicle ever designed by man, so shocking it sends other motorists screaming! Even more frightening is that they seem to be everywhere, multipling at an alarming rate as if they are being mass produced in some evil factory. Scarier than gas rationing and President Jimmy Carter combined! The disco soundtrack alone will leave you shuddering with terror! (Available on K-Tel 8-Track tapes and long playing vinyl records.) (jk)

SWAMP BLING. A popular rap star buys a mansion in the Florida Everglades previously owned by one of his musical rivals who mysteriously went missing while jogging one night. However, after throwing a party one night he comes face to face with a creature from the swamp . . . and he's sorting an even bigger diamond than him! (kw/jk)

A NIGHTMARE FOR HUSTON STREET. The Oakland A's relief pitcher can't wake up from a terrifying dream: he keeps giving up the walk-off home run to Magglio Ordonez in Game 4 of the ALCS that ends his team's season and sends the Detroit Tigers to the World Series. (kw/jk)

Friday, September 01, 2006

MILK HUNTER

Amazon.com started off as an online book store back in 1934 (or so). Success over the years has allowed them to branch out and sell a larger variety of products from VHS, DVD, CD, and various other acronyms. Today, they are linked up with thousands of retailers across the country, making the choices for the online consumer nearly endless!

Yesterday evening I realized I was out of milk, and I certainly didn't want to "get up", "find pants", "drive to a store" and "stand in line to pay for it", etc. So where could I turn? Amazon, of course! Wouldn't you know, they now sell milk in their Gourmet Foods section! So I clicked on Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz by Tuscan. Not familiar with their products, I decided to click on the ever-informative customer reviews to help me make an informed decision. While it didn't rate quite as high as David Hasselhoff's best-of import CD, I was merely moistening my cereal with it so I didn't need "5 star gourmet milk". (Italian cows produce great shoes, so I would assume that Tuscan cows make decent milk.)

Now that I had been convinced that this was a good purchase, I added this to my "shopping cart". Hey, this is just like being at the supermarket! Except it's better, because I don't have to mess with that shopping cart with the one wheel that won't move, and has a handle coated with some horrible communicable disease. Not wishing to drink used milk, I decided to "Buy new" for $3.99. Now I would just have to get it sent to me somehow, and the only choice available was "expedited shipping" (which makes sense, since it will spoil, and I was planning on having cereal over the long weekend anyway). Thankfully, this was being sent from Gristedes Supermarkets of New York, so it wouldn't have to be shipped all the way from Tuscany! Relieved, I clicked through to proceed to the checkout (free of impulse items, gossip rags and people with too many items in the express line, mind you), only to see the following total cost:

Order Summary
Items: $3.99
Shipping & Handling: $26.25
Total Before Tax: $30.24
Estimated Tax:* $0.00
Order Total: $30.24

Not only would it not arrive at my doorstep until Monday or Tuesday (!), but it would set me back $30.24. Oh well, such is the cost of convenience! (Query: Since when did Ticketmaster start selling milk?) Anyway, I willingly gave them my VISA and completed the transaction. I cannot wait to eat that granola! Thanks, Amazon! Oh wait, I think I'm out of Oreo cookies too . . .

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH

I usually like to keep it light and airy on this blog, but I just had to mention this particularly scary topic concerning the North Pacific (Subtropical) Gyre. Gyres can be thought of as "ocean deserts", giant areas of the ocean surrounded by swirling ocean currents and dominated by high pressure systems. They take up about 40% of the world's oceans, are low in biomass, and largely avoided by sailors. This particular gyre, however, is also known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch", as by all accounts it includes an area that is a huge vortex filled with collected garbage. In past years this flotsam would biodegrade, but now its filled with photo-degrading plastic, which cannot be naturally recycled and contains toxins like PCPs. One study in the gyre determined that the plastic bits outnumber zooplankton (the ocean's most prevalent animal organism) by a ratio of 6:1. Over the past few decades, Nike shoes, hockey equipment, and bathtub toys have been spilled into the Gyre by passing cargo ships, and washed up onshore years later. Numerous sea birds around the world have been found dead with plastic filling their stomachs and intestines as the plastic has entered the oceanic food chain. This phenomenon is only going to get worse, as plastic usage is increasing and billions of tons of plastic pellets are created every year.

Now that's scary.

[Don't worry, I'll have some dick jokes for you later.]

North Pacific Gyre [Wikipedia]
Trashed - Across the Pacific Ocean, plastics, plastics, everywhere, by Charles Moore [Natural History Magazine]
Beachcombing Science from Bath Toys [Beachcombers.org]
The Problem with Plastic: Waves of Junk Are Flowing Into Food Chain [The Seattle Times]
Plastic in the Plankton [ACF]
Plastic Pellets in the Aquatic Environment [EPA]

Thursday, August 24, 2006

IN DEFENSE OF PLUTO

In a stunning announcement sure to be made into a blockbuster Hollywood motion picture, a bunch of scientists somewhere have determined that Pluto is not a planet. This demotion has sent shockwaves throughout the solar system. Now considered a "dwarf planet", an offensive term which will no doubt be replaced by "mass-challenged planet", this celestial object has fallen on the hardest of times with this announcement.

Pluto was thought to be first discovered in the roaring 20s, when some guy with a telescope believed he saw a planetary body beyond Neptune, which turned out to be his own cataracts. The following year, 1930, an actual astronomer found it. People from all over the globe were fascinated by this icy remote world, as they yearned for a planet where the days lasted for 6.4 Earth days, where one could enjoy 6 full Earth days of vacation for every Pluto workday. Dirigibles and flapping-contraptions were fashioned out of canvas and cornhusks by those who one day dreamed to live on its frozen surface and breathe its nitrogenous wonders; cartoon animals, dances and songs ("Oh My, My Ninth Wonder In The Sky!" was a #1 hit for Cyrus K. Skywatcher in 1931) were created in its honor; President Hoover famously invited it to the White House for a special coronation ceremony (until it was explained to him that this would be impossible). In the time of great global depression, what was more romantic than a planet with unlimited amounts of green cheese to eat, lovingly named after the Roman god of the underworld? The possibilities seemed limitless.

Pluto seemed to take its 9th-man-in status in stride; however, in the late 20th century, Pluto began to fall even further out of favor. Once considered an ideal candidate for a new space colony, it was determined to be a very inhospitable planet; not only is it smaller and colder than the United States, but there are considerably less Wal-Mart Supercenters dotting its surface. This sent the planet reeling, and it began orbiting erratically around the Sun, even veering into Neptune's lane for 20 years and coming dangerously close (tens of millions of miles) to colliding with it. Pluto was then placed under 24 hour surveillance by astronomers worldwide. In 1999, it meandered back into its proper place as the most distant planet, but it had cemented its fate as the black sheep of the solar system.

Pluto has had well documented ups and downs over the years, but this latest announcement is surely its nadir. The entire argument is based on the definition of a "planet", which is a target of debate, and surely ridicule should you argue this topic aloud. "Planet" is defined as (by Merriam Webster):
1 a : any of the seven celestial bodies sun, moon, Venus, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, and Saturn that in ancient belief have motions of their own among the fixed stars b (1) : any of the large bodies that revolve around the sun in the solar system (2) : a similar body associated with another star

Whoa, hold on. Since when is the Sun a planet? Okay, Merriam has clearly been drinking the hard stuff. Screw her, instead let's consult the experts (or "people who spend way too much time pondering such things"). "Planet" is currently defined as:
a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a ... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.

(Cleared the neighborhood? What the hell does that mean? And what's wrong with not being round? Hasn't the Earth been determined to be not actually round, but rather an oblate spheroid? But I digress.)

Today's announcement that Pluto no longer is accepted in the planetary community hardly seems a surprise, especially when you consider that the hearts of these astronomers are as cold as Pluto's icy, rocky surface, and not coincedentally, most of these scientists reek much like its methane-rich ice chunks. However, I refuse to listen to the same people who nickamed planetary candidate 2003 UB313 "Xena", a 20th century television character popular with insufferable geeks. (Actually, I test drove the 2003 UB313, I'm not sure why they discontinued it.) I, for one, am willing to overlook Pluto's transgressions and reinstate its status as a planet. The world must realize that no solar system body is perfect, and I feel this plucky little planet has paid its dues for billions of years, and has the ability to straighten up and fly right. Personally, I have no problems as pertains to planet Pluto, and if you have any sense, you won't either. As long as it doesn't touch Uranus.

So vote now, and make your voice heard all the way to Pluto!

(Before I get thousands of e-mails, yes I am aware that since there's no atmosphere that's technically impossible to hear your voice in space; it was just a play on words.)

UPDATE: With over 25,000 responses registered, 51% agree that Pluto ROCKS! In your face, space dorks!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

DRAT! FOILED AGAIN!

Whew, that was close. But I feel safe now that a genuine terror plot has been foiled, with British-born Muslim extremists planning to blow up planes with liquid explosives, or something to that effect. I've been told this was "the real deal", that they were really going to do it. Hey, since I don't have all the information, how can I not believe it? I'm just thankful that all these alleged terror threats have been foiled. See also:

The foiled terror threat in Toronto (6/3/2006)
The foiled terror threat to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago (6/23/06)
The foiled terror threat to blow up New York's tunnels (7/8/2006)
The foiled terror threat in Australia (11/8/2005)
Let's not forget the foiled terror threat in L.A., which was planned in 2002, which Bush only told us about on 2/9/2006.
Oh, and the other 10 foiled terror threats that were announced back on 10/7/2005.

Man, that's a lot of foiling! I really think we are going to win this war on terror!

Remember, people, our current airline terror alert level is CODE ELMO, REPEAT, CODE ELMO!!!



Terror Alert Level
Elmo: Flights from the UK
Ernie: All commercial flights
Bert: Everything else

Thursday, August 03, 2006

-----Original Message----- GREAT WAYS TO BEAT THE HEAT

We're in the midst of a brutal heat wave here in the Northeast, with temperatures here in New City of 100.6° (8/1), 101.3° (8/2) and 100.3° (8/3) the last few days. Being a scientist of some sort, I prefer Celsius except when it comes to weather. There's nothing quite like the announcement that we're going to have TRIPLE DIGIT TEMPERATURES. "100" is such a cool, deadly round number, and sounds much better than "It's going to be 37.5° out there, so be careful."

Karl got the ball rolling, and Rob, Kris and I came up with some ways to beat the heat of summer '06. Enjoy.
____________________________________

Wear a testosterone patch on your privates during long bike ride. (kw)

Sneak into country club, play 2 through 17, then take a swim in the pool. (rv)

Donate a pint of blood, replace it with freon. (jk)

Gin, with tonic keeps ice colder longer. (kw)

5 pound bags of ice in your underwear. (ks)

Instead of deodorant, slather Ben and Jerry’s Hazelnut Gelato under your arms. (rv)

Your air conditioning doesn't need to be turned on while you're at work. So stay at work later than usual. You don't actually have to DO work. (kw)

Schedule that business trip to Antarctica. (kw)

Rent out a prostitute to follow you around with a hand-held fan. (jk)

If you're fortunate enough to have a sunroof, put a hose into it to flood the interior of your car. (If not, at least you can fill it to the window.) It's like having your own moving pool. (kw)

Lots of visits to local morgues. (ks)

Earwax is SPF 20. Apply generously. (kw)

Drink liquid nitrogen martinis. (jk)

Before you go to bed, take your pair of underwear and socks for tomorrow, and put them in the freezer overnight. When you put them on, they'll keep you cool all day long. (kw)

Wear your labcoat to the supermarket and when no one is looking, sneak into the meat locker. If questioned, pretend to be running the bone saw. (rv)

Wear a down parka, wool hat, gloves and scarf while walking around outside. When you take it all off, it will feel really cold by comparison. (jk)

Take a shower in Gatorade, film it, sell it to Gatorade's commercial company, and take use the money to go to Alaska. (kw)

Two words: creamsicle suppository. (jk)

Avoid sweatstains by completely prewetting all your clothing. (kw)

Fill your waterbed with the contents of a Slurpee machine. (jk)

Wear a dampened turban on your head. (ks)

Tear a huge hole in the crotch of your pants for "circumvention" (kw)

Listen to your Vanilla Ice, Ice T and Ice Cube records. Also, pretend Bo Bice is actually Bob Ice. (rv)

Wiffle pants!
(jk)

Friday, July 28, 2006

WHAT I LEARNED IN CHICAGO

Chicago is a great city. Unlike New York, LA, Boston, and Philly (and from what I've heard, Atlanta, Houston, et al.), you can actually drive around without too much hassle. It's a "manageable"
city.

Taking the CTA from O'Hare to my friend's apartment was a breeze, and only cost $1.50. The same trip covering the same distance in New York would have been more expensive and would force you to change trains at least twice--a complete pain the ass.

Since Chi-town is a midwestern city, the people are a little more laid back. But that can also mean they have no freaking idea how to drive.

There's a lot of young female ass walking around the city. One particular bar, Kincade's, was stocked to overflowing with it. It was the same the last time I was there, in 1993 (when the Knicks' Charles Smith was having point-blank shots blocked at the end of that Game 5 loss to the Bulls). Only the problem is that I keep getting older, as they stay the same age. I felt like an old pedophile just having a couple of beers there.

Whole Foods has a great beer selection. I just don't know if I'm ready for the Golden Shower.

If you walk into a massage parlor with another guy, there's a good chance the receptionists will look at you as if you're a couple. Not that there's anything WRONG with that.

A lot of people were wearing those annoying Bluetooth hands-free earpieces for their cell phones. All I can say is: get used to it, because everyone will have these within a year.

Northside Bar in Wicker Park, is exceptional, with a nice inside/outside setup, cute female waitstaff, decent prices, and HD screens. But the Map Room on Armitage had the most incredible beer selection, with countless beers on tap and in bottles. (Actually, "countless" is not a correct term, since there was a finite number of beers; I just didn't feel like countning them. It was a whole lot.) I think I had the Ayinger BraĆ¼ Weisse, but I can't be sure . . .

Band of Horses is an excellent band, with a bad name. They're not from Chicago, I just wanted to mention them since I first heard them on my friend's iPod on the flight over.

Cardinal Zin, a zinfandel from Bonny Doon Vineyards ($18), is an excellent wine for the money. Again, not from Chicago, but I drank a lot of it there. This was the first bottle I bought that had a Stelvin enclosure (it sounds much cooler than 'screw cap'), which helps prevent cork taint. Hey, anything that helps you get women drunk faster, I'm all for it. Oh, and I just wanted to say 'taint'.

A simple brunch can cost $40 a head, if you order the most expensive champagne. Twice. Yeesh.

Finally, never take a trip to Chicago with a vegan. I made the mistake of going with a friend who is a semi-vegan (doesn't eat meat, but some dairy and fish), and all that time in Chi-town without eating a steak was really a bummer. Plus, the menus filled with "tofish", "seitan" and "eggz and hamm" just pissed me off after a while. It's too much work being a vegan. I ate a turducken, with veal and pork stuffing, and a taco salad as soon as I got home.

Favorite T-shirt: "OZZIE [GUILLEN] IS MY HOMEBOY".

Monday, July 10, 2006

REASONS WHY I'VE LOST INTEREST IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

MLB has decided that the use of human growth hormones is not a problem.

Mets fans who boo Carlos Beltran after recording an out on his first AB, and chant stupid crap like "Bring back Benson"; Yankees fans who boo MVP Alex Rodriguez after every at bat during which he doesn't hit a walk-off HR.

Fans who truly think that the song that a relief pitcher uses is an important issue.

ESPN News tells me it's "breaking news" that Bonds is 1-3 with a BB, as if anyone gives a flying fuck.

Fans who buy tickets and sell out stadiums just to taunt Bonds, which only makes him and MLB richer.

They feature big money pitchers who can't pitch more than 6 innings.

People who root for their fantasy team players instead of their own team.

Jason Giambi, who admitted he cheated.

Pedro Martinez, who is a selfish asshole in any uniform.

The Cincinnati Reds have a cheerleading squad this year. I have a feeling Johnny Bench wouldn't have put up with that.

ESPN, YES, and FOX Sports coverage of the games sucks.

Playoff games don't start until 8:52 PM, and end at 1 in the morning.

Bud Selig, a neutered commissioner who cannot control the powerful players union and even-more-powerful owners, has singlehandedly let the game get out of control and eventually run itself into the ground.

In the only sport where numbers matter, they don't matter anymore. Bravo.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

MODERN ROCK 500

The WOXY Modern Rock 500 from this past year's M-Day weekend has a lot in common with my Top 500, especially the first song. Here's the Top 20:

1 The Smiths / How Soon Is Now?
2 Joy Division / Love Will Tear Us Apart
3 Sex Pistols / Anarchy In The UK
4 U2 / New Year's Day
5 Nirvana / Smells Like Teen Spirit
6 The Ramones / I Wanna Be Sedated
7 Jane's Addiction / Been Caught Stealing
8 Violent Femmes / Blister In The Sun
9 Radiohead / Creep
10 The Clash / London Calling
11 Pixies / Monkey's Gone To Heaven
12 Sex Pistols / God Save The Queen
13 The Stone Roses / I Wanna Be Adored
14 Beck / Loser
15 Television / Marquee Moon
16 R.E.M. / Radio Free Europe
17 Pearl Jam / Jeremy
18 Talking Heads / Psycho Killer
19 The Replacements / Alex Chilton
20 The Breeders Cannonball / Last Splash

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

SONGS I HATE: ELVIN BISHOP'S "FOOLED AROUND AND FELL IN LOVE"

Here's a new feature where I break down the lyrics of a song and explain why I have such intense hatred for the songwriter responsible for it. Here we go!
_______________________________________________________

I must have been through about a million girls

Oh really? A million, eh? Hmmm, that sounds like an awful lot. I noticed he says "about", so I suppose this is a conservative estimate. Even so, the claimed number of sexual conquests is approximately equal to the number of females aged 18 to 65 in the entire state of Utah. So if we assume that the author began dating at age 15 and wrote this song at age 29, that's 15 years, or 5480 days (with leap years), meaning he would have to "gone through" almost 183 girls a day. No one can go through that many cigarettes in a day. Of course, if his name is to be believed and he is truly an "elven bishop", it's possible that he is a magical immortal being who is also the leader of a Mormon church, thus making his claim more plausible. Let's move on.

I'd love 'em and I'd leave 'em alone

If his definition of "lovin'" and "being through" various women actually consists of sex with each and every one of them, we're talking one girl every 9 minutes, without sleeping. At this rate, I'm not sure that most of them would even realize that he "left 'em alone".

I didn't care how much they cried, no sir

It would be hard to build an emotional connection to anyone when your world is moving at 8 girls an hour, but this seems particularly heartless.

Their tears left me cold as a stone

This line proves that he is merely a sex machine with no soul (which is the polar opposite of James Brown).

But then I fooled around and fell in love
I fooled around and fell in love
Since I met you baby


This song took a dramatic shift in subject with the chorus. When the word "love" is in the title of a song, we have to ask "Who is this written to?" Clearly, this song is written for a woman that the author "ended up with". That's a hell of a way to start off a love song. Plus, all of that bragging is lost on a woman; all it says to her is that you're a walking STD that has probably fathered 10,000 illegitimate children (assuming birth control is 99% effective).

I fooled around and fell in love
I fooled around and fell in love

Free, on my own that's the way I used to be


Bad move: you will NEVER score points with a chick by stating how much you miss your freedom.

Ah, but since I met you baby
Love's got a hold on me


Instead of blaming the woman, he's blaming his loss of independence on a completely obtuse notion of "love". Scapegoatism at its finest. Pure transference.

It's got a hold on me now
I can't let go of you baby


I'm thinking that there must be some sort of blackmail involved that does not allow him to "let go", but he doesn't elaborate.

I can't stop lovin' you now
'Cause I fooled around, fooled around, fooled around
Fooled around, fooled around, fooled around, fell in love


Wait, so is he going to whip out this song for their 40th anniversary? I hope to God that doesn't happen. If there is any God, this chick would have left him after this song came out.

Fooled around, fooled around, yes I did
Fooled around, fooled around, fooled around
I fell in love, yes I did


Yes. Indeed. How fucking romantic.

Monday, May 01, 2006

-----Original Message-----

In an ongoing spectacular Eye-Opener blog comedy series now entitled "-----Original Message-----" (at least this week), Rob got the ball (eventually) rolling on Friday with this e-mail:

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob V
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 10:41 AM


Your choice
1)      Is the phrase "chronic clock watcher" redundant?
2)      What used to be considered funny but isn't so funny anymore?  Example: Mr. Bill from SNL
3)      What is still funny?

From: Jeff K
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 3:31 PM

>2)      What used to be considered funny but isn't so funny anymore? 
Guys who do impressions, like Rich Little.  He must have been on "The Tonight Show" 4,000 times back in the day.  And how about that guy from "Police Academy"!  A laugh riot!
>3)      What is still funny?
Making fun of hippies.

From: Rob V
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 3:33 PM

Good ones.

Not so funny anymore: Steve Martin's "King Tut" bit.  Was that ever funny?  Someone must have thought so.
Still funny:  Ralph Kramden's "Man from Space" costume.

From: Jeff K
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 3:46 PM

"King Tut" is just incredibly dated (he's my favorite honky?).  I dug it when I was 7, but it's easily the worst part of the "Wild and Crazy Guy" album, the vast majority of which is still funny. 

No longer funny:
"The Streak" by Ray Stevens.  This was a novelty song that sold MILLIONS of copies back in the 70s.  I can't believe that was ever considered funny.
"Good Morning, Vietnam".  Okay, maybe I'm being rough on Robin Williams, but I don't think so.  This was even considered one of AFI's Top 100 funniest movies, but it's virtually unwatchable.
The Chipmunks.

Still funny:
"Some Like It Hot"
"Airplane!"
(Other) guys getting hit in the groin.
Richard Pryor. 

From: Kris S
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 3:49 PM

American's Funniest Home videos is no longer funny; Wait, maybe the correct sentence construction is American's Funniest Home video is still not funny...

Slapshot is.
From: Jeff K
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 4:17 PM
AFV is still on the air.  My god, I've always hated that show. 

I'm wondering which list "Office Space" will be on in about 10 years, it's still pretty damn funny.

Everyone still thinks the original "Producers" movie is funny, but it's hard to sit through because it's so dated.

No longer funny:
Prank phone callers, like "The Jerky Boys".
"Cops"
Jim Carrey
The flapping dickie

Still funny:
"Dr. Strangelove"
"Airplane!"
The pie in the face
The French

From: Rob V
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 4:25 PM

Not funny:  "Smokey and the Bandit" movies.

Still funny:  Burt Reynolds' attempts at serious acting.
 
From: Jeff K
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 4:32 PM
No longer funny: Chevy Chase, Billy Crystal
 
Still funny: Bill Murray, Bob Newhart
 
From: Kris S
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 4:57 PM

I don't know, I'm on the fence about "Cops." Drunk rednecks are surprisingly durable on the funny factor in my book

From: Jeff K
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 5:00 PM

It was funny at first, because you think that these people are an anomaly.  But after 10 years of the show, you realize that this represents the VAST MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION OF THE UNITED STATES.  Like how NASCAR fans outnumber hockey fans and baseball fans COMBINED.  Not so funny NOW, is it? 

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

CHUCK KLOSTERMAN'S TOP 10 OTHER THINGS THAT MATTERED (JUNE 2005)

Chuck Klosterman is an uber-geek-hipster, and I mean that in a good way. I'm currently reading his collection of essays called Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, which is so jam packed with pop culture that the milk spills out of the bowl as you try to consume it. In other words, it's right up my alley (after skipping the sections about the Real World). Not for the faint of heart, but very, very witty. He writes for SPIN and Esquire magazines, and also has a pretty well thought out article about baseball and Bonds on ESPN Page 2, the most telling quote being: "The end of numbers -- in the only realm where numbers matter".

Anyway, in the grand tradition of the blog (if it has any tradition at all), I decided to steal one of his SPIN articles verbatim and post it here, because I thought it was funny, and because there seem to be a lot of "lists" on the Eye-Opener lately.

_______________________
Forget the top 100 albums. Here are the top 10 other things that mattered.

Off the Record
By: Chuck Klosterman

June 20, 2005

For 20 years, Spin has saved your life. Are you interested in modern-rock bands like Nirvana and Kula Shaker? Read Spin. Did you once suspect that AIDS is not caused by HIV? Spin understands you. Are you being attacked by snow leopards and/or leprechauns on a daily basis? A Spin editor will personally come to your home and exterminate them. This is what we do.

As part of our ongoing messianic duties, this month's issue examines the 100 best records of the past two decades. I know what you're thinking: "But there must be more to life than mere albums, right?" Right! And maybe someone needs to rank those things, right? Perhaps! So here they are: The Ten Best Proper Nouns of the Spin Era That Are Not Albums (or EPs), as Selected by People Who Are Currently in My Office.

10. "Paradise City," Guns N' Roses (rock video, 1988) Dressed like a glam-metal Tom Wolfe and chucking his sunglasses at no one in particular, Axl Rose came dangerously close to making GNR the new incarnation of the Rolling Stones. Which was what everyone was hoping would happen, and (obviously) didn't happen, or even come close to happening. But this video could not be any better than it is, particularly when Steven Adler points at New York City from a boat, unconsciously implying that this place is, in fact, where the girls are pretty.

9. Slacker, Richard Linklater (indie film, 1991) If you watch this movie today, it feels cliche; so many people have copied Linklater's aesthetic that the novelty is gone. But there was a time when Slacker seemed profoundly weird, and when the idea of telling stories without narrative was mildly revolutionary, and when the people living inside this movie were alien hipsters who looked like all the people in your life whom you'd never actually met. The first time I watched Slacker was the summer of 1992. My friend and I kept waiting for the characters to eventually collide with each other. They never did, so we immediately watched it again. They didn't collide the second time, either. But they kind of do now.

8. "Cut Your Hair" video, Pavement, as critiqued on Beavis and Butt-head (mixed media, 1994) Beavis frenetically implores the band to try harder, and they do not respond. Retrospectively incisive!

7. "Setting Sun," the Chemical Brothers with Noel Gallagher (single, 1996) After this song came out, everybody was supposed to start listening to electronica because it was going to be the new rock'n'roll. I spent a lot of intellectual energy preparing for this, and I was pretty stoked about the potential drugs. As it turns out, electronica was the musical equivalent of New Coke. But "Setting Sun" was rather mind-accelerating (both then and now). Also, I miss coming home from the bar during telecasts of MTV's Amp.

6. Mike Tyson (force of nature, 1986–1990) Before he became a self-destructive, sociopathic cannibal (or more accurately, before he became a public self-destructive, sociopathic cannibal), seeing Mike Tyson punch people in the rib cage was like witnessing the 1945 atomic-bomb tests in rural New Mexico. In the early '90s I once watched a highlight reel of Tyson knockouts with a roomful of intoxicated medical students who punctuated every blow with phrases like "Ooh! That's gonna generate some pancreatic inflammation!" and "Oof! I can't believe that dude's sternum didn't just collapse." Those were good times.

5. Mitch Hedberg (comedian, 1968–2005) The funniest comedian of the past 20 years, dead at age 37 (for no goddamn reason). And Jimmy Fallon will probably live to be 110.

4. "All I Want for Christmas Is You," Mariah Carey (feel-good hit of the Advent, 1994) Definitely the best Christmas song since "Christmas Wrapping" (the Waitresses), possibly the best Christmas song since "Jesus Christ" (Big Star), and arguably the best Christmas song since "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (various artists).

3. The first episode of Freaks and Geeks (doomed TV show, 1999) This pilot's closing scene (set at the high school homecoming dance, featuring "Come Sail Away" by Styx) is better than 90 percent of what's been on network television since 1986.

2. The S1Ws (paramilitary hip-hop accoutrement, 1987–1990) It's hard to imagine a better job than being an operative in Public Enemy's "Security of the First World," an occupation that primarily involved marching around like a Black Panther while a man wearing a kitchen clock bemoaned the response time of EMTs. However, this vocation required more versatility than I realized at the time; in the recently released PE documentary, It Takes a Nation: London Invasion 1987, Professor Griff mentions that the S1Ws were also available to provide crowd control at random social functions (although I assume that did not include bar mitzvahs).

1. The "J Mascis Is God" cover of Spin (magazine, 1993) How crazy was that?

_______________________
Chuck Klosterman is the author of "Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story" and is a senior writer for Spin magazine and columnist for Esquire. He writes once a month for ESPN Page 2.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

THURSDAY TIMEKILLER: KINDERGARTEN APTITUDE TEST

Karl started this Eye-Opener timekiller this afternoon:

Currently, there is an admission test that a student must pass in order to get into kindergarten. In your opinion, what should be on the test?

From: Rob
Sent: 04/20/2006 02:07 PM

I think potty training needs to be on there. Also, the child should have to demonstrate some proficiency with small firearms, for public schools at least.

From: karl
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 2:17 PM

I first thought the child should be able to distinguish a corkscrew from a bottle opener, and matches from a lighter.
Now, I think that the child should know that a squared plus b squared equals c squared.
T/F: I think they should be tested to see whether they think there is such thing as the Easter bunny, Santa Claus, and an inexpensive lawyer.
They should be able to construct a well-thought-out essay on what is the most important invention of all time and why.

From: Rob
Sent: 04/20/2006 02:29 PM

Q. Which of these should you kick? (choose all that apply)
a. a soccer ball
b. a stray dog
c. a fire hydrant
d. a $500/day smack habit

From: karl
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 2:40 PM

I want to attend this Kindergarten because: (choose all that may apply)
a. Homeschooling a hippie fraud on the next generation
b. My mom wants to sleep with the gardener
c. I want to be the next JB Hunt
d. I'm under-infected and overmotivated toward learning
e. Otherwise, the lawsuit would be considered frivolous

From: Rob
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 3:01 PM

You are currently $30,000 in debt to the US government - True or False?

from: Jeff K
Sent: 04/20/2006 03:11 PM

Which one of the following is most important to you?
a. Government funding for health care and education
b. Freedom of speech
c. Racial equality
d. "The Wiggles"

From: karl
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 3:16 PM

Which of the following do not belong:
a. vermouth
b. gin
c. olive
d. scotch

From: Jeff K
Sent: 04/20/2006 03:20 PM

How would you describe yourself?
a. "I am an outside-the-sandbox thinker."
b. "I am a proactive potty trainee."
c. "I am in tune with my core nap-time competencies."
d. "I like vanilla!"

From: Jeff K
Sent: 4/20/06, 3:37 PM

What do you feel is the greatest danger to the future of the United States?
a. Obesity
b. Global warming
c. Terrorism
d. Outsourcing
e. The Boogeyman

From: Karl
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 3:26 PM

I would consider myself to be:
a. the luckiest man on the face of the earth
b. likely to win the murder case, but lose the civil suit.
c. unlikely to aspire to the heights of say -a high school guidance counselor.
d. Pretty good at XBOX.

From: karl
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 3:34 PM

These things really existed. True or false:
1. film photography
2. black and white television
3. respected politicians
4. smoking in public buildings and airplanes
5. white NBA players

From: Jeff K
Sne: 04/20/2006 03:51 PM

Which are you most adept at?
a. Singing songs
b. The see-saw
c. Digging
d. Taking orders

From: karl
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 3:55 PM

What's the most valuable item per pound?
a. marijuana
b. diamonds
c. platinum
d. Bill Gates

From: karl
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 4:17 PM

Which of the following is a word:
a. IPOD
b. XBOX
c. IBEX
d. LOL

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

TOP TEN THINGS THAT DIDN'T PISS ME OFF IN 2005

10. Grey Poupon Deli Style Mustard With Horseradish. We all remember the commercials in the 80s, which attempted to give their dijon products a highbrow mystique, only to become the butt of endless "Pardon me" jokes. Well, with this mustard, the Grey Poupon-ers have announced that they are not joking around. This grainy yellow magic in a bottle has a biting horseradish kick gives your tongue a once over, as it gives your palate a bit of a "how's your father?" Honorable mention: Ingelhoffer's Sweet Hot Mustard with Honey has a nice tangy taste, and goes really well with soft pretzels and baked ham.

9. "Extras". Although there are only 6 episodes (making it BBC's longest running series ever!), Ricky Gervais, the creator/writer/star of the original "The Office", serves up another great comedy about a pair of movie extras, one an office worker (Gervais) trying to get a speaking part, and the other a female actress (Ashley Jensen) just trying to get laid. It's your standard British "saying/doing the wrong thing and trying to politely talk your way out of an awkward situation", but it's done with first class panache and humor. And it certainly helps that the actors featured in the episodes, like Patrick Stewart, Ben Stiller and Kate Winslet, willingly take self-effacing shots at themselves in the name of comedy.


8. Brooklyn Beer Party Pack. This is an amazing collection of beers from the best brewery in the state of New York, who have a stable of beers that might even surpass Sam Adams. From top to bottom, this quality 6 x 4 pack is a great way to sample their best concoctions. The Brooklyn Brown Ale is a classic hearty ale that every bar should carry, if they know what's good for them; Brooklyn Winter Ale is a hearty treat, not dominated by the added spices like other winter ales tend to be; few stouts can hold a candle to the roasted malt masterpiece that is the Brooklyn Double Chocolate Stout; finally, the Belgian-inspired unfiltered Brooklyn Monster Ale, only found in this pack, certainly lives up to its name packing a wallop with its 10.2% alcohol content. Viva la Brooklyn!

7. "The 40 Year Old Virgin". Even though it was overlong (which eventually killed "Wedding Crashers", despite its hilarious first hour), this was easily the funniest movie of the year. I laughed when in one of the opening scenes the protagonist's apartment had a "MST3K" movie poster on the wall; this movie had me from the beginning and never failed to amuse me. Being 35 and single, there were way too many dating/friendship/social situations parodied here that I could relate to. It's the rare raunchy AND romantic comedy that manages to hit the nail on the head on both counts, without lowering itself into Rob Schneider toilet humor territory. And on top of that, Steve Carell gives his first "human" performance ever as the likeable lead, and the inclusion of Catherine Keener didn't hurt either.

6. Booker's Single Batch Kentucky Bourbon. Although Basil Hayden's (which should be on the 2004 list) is excellent, it's hard to top this stuff. Although it's 126 proof (!), it goes down incredibly smooth; you want to wait a while for the warmth to seep in before even thinking about chasing it. This spirit will single-handedly get me through another miserable winter.

5. "The Colbert Report". With tongue firmly in cheek, Steven Colbert skewers political opinion shows like "The O'Reilly Factor" on this "Daily Show" spin-off, and does a fantastic job. Whereas his former fake-news show and its host have become a little too whiny and self-important, this show doesn't have an agenda except to deliver top-notch comedy. The low-tech Colbert Nation website is classic as well. Brilliant stuff.

4. The return of NHL hockey. The revamped 2006 version of the sport has turned out to be pretty fun to watch with increased offense, no clutching and grabbing, and the emergence of some exciting young players, like Ovechkin, Lundqvist, Crosby, and Pruchka. The post-OT shootout, initially thought to be just a gimmick to convert non-hockey fans, actually adds some excitement to the end of a tie game. And that cartoonish through-the-legs shootout goal by Malik to win the game for the Rangers after 14 rounds was one of the highlights of the year.

3. Bourbon Street Bar & Restaurant, Nyack, NY. Early in the year, Rob jumped ship from Bruxelles to this establishment when one of their bartenders suggested that he try their food--and he's never looked back. Not only do they have excellent dishes like jambalaya and popcorn crawfish, but they sport the most attractive group of female employees in the area (I must chat with whoever's doing the hiring over there). Add to that their daily 2-for-1 happy hour, which includes the Brooklyn Lager, and you can't miss. It's a totally different place at night when the DJ shows up, but it's hard to beat before 10 PM. (Honorable mention: the closing of Zoo Bar.)

2. Golf. What more can I say? It just keeps getting better. From playing a few rounds in Florida in February, attending the 2005 PGA Tournament at Baltusrol, to the discovery of Berkshire Valley Golf Course, there's very little negative here. I managed to play more golf in one season than ever before (Rob, Karl and I actually played once a month during the middle of the year without even having to say we would). On top of that, the golf season on TV keeps getting longer and longer. This is a trend that I definitely I hope continues into '06. Oh Hensby, you've done it again!
Brandon Claus
1. New kids on the block. After a 7 year hiatus, my sister was back in the baby business this year with the production of Brandon Michael on December 7. Uncle Rob Vertullo also added to his stable of nieces and nephews with the addition of Ava Helen. Scott and Kerry Keenan also got into the act, bringing Sean Michael into the world on December 11. Good show!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

TOP 10 THINGS THAT PISSED ME OFF IN 2005

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Yes, I'm back. I haven't blogged at all in the past two weeks, which I can directly attribute to being quite relaxed and generally happy after 11 straight days of good eating, drinking, sleeping, and 0% work--as a result, I just couldn't work up the energy to rant about anything. However, since we've hit the New Year hard and I'm back to the grind, I think it's about time to clean the snow off the rant machine and get it warmed up. But first, we're going to take a look back at 2005. Although you could just scroll through this blog for the past year's rants, I decided to follow the mainstream media who assumes that we all like Year in Review lists. As I started to draft this, I read The Onion's 10 Top Stories Of 2005 list, which was disheartening as it's surely better than anything I could come up with. In fact, if you want you can stop reading my blog and just visit their site. It's hilarious, especially the White House celebrating the 5th year without oral sex by eating a "perfectly square frostingless vanilla cake".

Okay, if you're still with me, I compiled a handy list of various targets of mine from the past year. Naturally, I couldn't narrow it down to just 10, so there are a lot of things I hate that I didn't mention, like: bald-faced lying steroid-ridden baseball players, the New York Mets, the asshole driver in front of me, dubious marketing practices, any interview with an athlete, record companies alienating consumers with copy protected (and unsecure) discs, lame Hollywood remakes, the idea of paying $156 a year (plus tax, hardware and car/home adapter) to listen to Howard Stern curse and fart with strippers--I've probably blogged the hell out of most of those. So this is what's left, "The Eye-Opener 2005 Year In Review: Top 10 Things That Pissed Me Off":

10. People beating each other up over purchasing Microsoft's XBOX 360. (Actually, I put this at #10, because it kind of makes me laugh.) What's the point of this, when Microsoft doesn't beat themselves up trying to create a secure Internet Explorer, or a competent version of their Office suite that retails for less than $350?. All it accomplished was giving this video game system free publicity, building up the hype even more than necessary, and making Bill Gates one of Time's "Persons of the Year". Well, he might have got that honor for giving away some of his spare billions, or something, I didn't buy the magazine.

9. DVD re-releases. Movie companies have figured out that the best way to bilk more money out of its customers is not by putting out better movies, but by continuingly re-releasing DVDs of existing films every few years. Surely some older movies benefit from advances in digital transfer technology, and certainly sound better with a complete Dolby surround sound remastering for the benefit of home theater fans. But why would I need to re-purchase "Toy Story 2"? The latest re-release of this animated Pixar feature is touted as "the best transfer ever", but this is an all-digital film created completely by computers and put directly onto a DVD--how can it get any better than that? Seriously, how did they screw it up the first time? It's worse when movies are just reissued with "commentaries", "deleted scenes" and "making-of documentaries", which will probably only be watched/listened to once anyway. For instance, I bought the "Office Space" widescreen DVD (released in 2000), only to see the release of the "Office Space: Special Edition With Flair" disc, a mere 5 years later, with miraculously unearthed deleted scenes (from the previous century, no less)! But the most disgusting display of greed has to be by the makers of the "Sin City" DVD. The original came out back in August, but you'd be shit-outta-luck now, as the December re-release (less than 5 months later!) rendered your dinosaur obsolete. From now on, I refuse to buy any movie DVDs until they decide once and for all that it's the last one they produce. Additional note: don't call something the "ultimate" edition if you plan to alter it and re-release it over and over again.

8. The NHL on OLN. No, I don't get this network on my cable lineup, and as it turns out I'm not missing much hockey. Seriously though, their lineup features "Wanted Ted Or Alive with Ted Nugent", "Professional Bull Riders: Total Bull" . . . and NHL hockey? It all seems like a cruel joke. And it gets worse: I found out that they only show hockey TWO DAYS A WEEK, Monday and Tuesday (Wednesday at midnight is an encore game, which doesn't count), for a grand total of 3 (sometimes up to 4!) hockey games. Besides the post game shows, the only other NHL related programming is a half hour documentary called "Homecoming", and something called "Mario Lemieux: Fearless". All told, in an average week (168 hours), only 14 hours is devoted to hockey (8%). Remind me again why I would pay extra to watch this channel? Since ESPN neither covers the NHL nor cares about it anymore, when is this Officially Lame Network, or anyone else, going to step up and show some hockey highlights? Or classic hockey games (meanwhile, ESPN Classic shows "Arli$$", but no hockey)? I would even tune in for the unintentional comedy of Don Cherry on "Hockey Night In Canada", or the occasional playing of "Strange Brew" or "Slap Shot". Is the NHL just temporarily biding its time until its popularity rebounds enough so it can get its own network? Let's hope so because, as the overdubbed clean version of "Fargo" would put it, this is a freezing joke.

7. "Arrested Development" being cancelled by FOX. Yeah, I know, you're probably sick of my griping about this, but why should I get a new TV if they cancel every decent show that's on it, and replace it with the likes of "Trading Spouses", "Supernanny", "Nanny 911", "Out of Practice", "How I Met Your Mother", "Skating With Celebrities", "Dancing With The Stars", and some annoying Freddie Prinze, Jr. show (which I refuse to research the title of, but I'll refer to as "Prinze In Charge").

6. "Celebutants"--just typing out that faux word makes me want to vomit blood. I can't describe to you how much I despise our country's fascination with vacuous dipshits like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, as if they serve any purpose or hold any cultural significance. The sheer amount of time and money wasted on the media coverage of these moronic "heir-heads" is just baffling to me, and I wish it would stop. While we're at it, let's quit caring about celebrity weddings and divorces too. Sweet lord.

5. The NFL. Vertullo put it best: "I love the Giants, but I hate the NFL." It's amazing that a sport with astronomical ratings and even higher annual profits would leave its in-game officiating to clueless amateurs. It's now a given that during every single game there will be at least a handful of questionable or outright blown calls, a moment where half a dozen referees look at each other in bewilderment while not making a call, and challenges/booth reviews that bring the game to a crashing halt. Why doesn't the NFL think that this is a problem? I guess I'm just going to have to wait until a Super Bowl or some other important game is decided by a horrible call. Oh wait, I forgot about the Tuck Rule, that propeled the Patriots towards their dynastic Super Bowl ways. Hmmm, another reason not to buy a new TV, because I'd probably end up putting my foot through it this postseason. Which brings me to . . .

4. TV manufacturers. After getting a defective Philips 30" widescreen HDTV for my birthday (I appreciated the gesture, though!), and shortly thereafter buying a similarly troubled Sony (which crapped out on the 29th day after I purchased it, luckily), I'm beginning to think that the third time may not be a charm for me. I don't know who/where these things are being produced, but I'm thinking they're slapped together by kids in a dilapidated warehouse in some Mexican town, whose citizens are more concerned with rampant poverty, drug gangs and cockfights. Add to this the difficulty in getting HD programming at all where I live, and the continuing demise of TV shows/pro sports/movies in general, and I'm wondering why I should bother.

3. ESPN. The demise of the standard bearer for all sports networks is pretty sad, really. "SportsCenter" has officially become a soul crushing bore filled with overanalysis and the latest Terrell Owens and Barry Bonds news at every turn, with little time for actual game highlights. Meanwhile, every other show on the channel features "sports reporters" yelling at each other, the pregame shows are longer than the actual games are, and the postgame shows feature enlightening insight such as Chris Berman's annoying shtick and ancient musical references as current as "Hotel California". In the network's continuing strive towards complete irrelevancy, they decided to close out 2005 with their very first New Years Eve Show for the Mentally Challenged. I didn't tune in, but from what little I saw it featured (in order of importance): pretty flashing lights, sports highlight clips thrown in at every possible moment (all of them for some reason featuring the Michigan women's softball championship), Stewart Scott, Little Steven, The Troggs--what more could you ask for? Not only that, but ESPN replayed this ponderous piece of crap at 1 AM, countdown and all. Just when I thought there couldn't be anything more useless than that, they upped the ante by replaying the 1996 National Spelling Bee finals the next day. It's official: ESPN is now neither entertainment nor sports. Enjoy your "World Series of Poker", celebrity bowling shows, and "ESPN Hollywood", and Happy New Year from the Worldwide Leader of Shit!

2. Celebrities/movie stars/musicians taking advantage of their names to vocalize their negative political views. This isn't a new thing, it's just getting more and more pervasive and irritating. I'm not a big fan of politicians in general, but my opinion counts just as much as any actor who "once played a politician", or singers who never served our country but wrote fist-pumping rock anthem about the subject. Overall, it's the negativity in their approach that I could do without. It's fine if you don't agree with the current governmental policies, it's not enough to just deride it; how about you suggest a workable solution instead of distilling your agenda down to "Bush must go"? That's the one thing that's refreshing about the approach of Bono (and others): he doesn't just whine about the problem, he actually tries to solve the problem in a positive way. Oh, and the last time I checked, Alec Baldwin still lives in the United States, even though he said he was moving out if W got re-elected. If you're going to be a giant blowhard at least stick to your promises, or you're a hypocrite and a liar just like the politicians you complain about.

1. Pharmaceutical commercials. Ugh, I've had enough already. It's time to declare a moratorium on showing ads for anxiety, cholesterol, and dick drugs on TV. Here's the deal: if you don't feel well, go to your doctor and he'll suggest a proper drug for your aliment, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND! If we can eradicate these commercials and the backwards thinking they've created, all of the major drug manufacturers would be forced to use the billions they spend on advertising and marketing every year and put it back into research. I know, it sounds too simple, it couldn't possibly work.

HAPPY 2006!!!