Saturday, December 09, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
- Thriller, Michael Jackson
- We Don't Need Another Hero, Tina Turner
- Mountain Jam, Allman Brothers (live at Fillmore East)
- It Was a Good Day, Ice Cube
- The entire master audio track from the movie Spaceballs
- Dean Koontz' Phantoms, book on tape
What do you think? Hmmmmmmm?
Friday, August 11, 2006
Anyways, I liked most of the suggestions you guys had as to what we should put in the new house. Bedroom GoldenTee would have been awesome, but Kris nixed the idea, then got on a plane to Tampa, rented a car, drove to Mensch's house, knocked on the door and kicked him in the nuts for even suggesting it. Then she used the "Men In Black" memory thingy to make him forget about the nuts-kicking and the GoldenTee-suggesting, and also the glavin. So, I guess the world will never be treated to the sound of this:
Click. (Light is turned off).
Spector, on the other hand, said this:
Let me throw out some phrases here, and you can figure out how to put them
I guarantee that you'll triple the value of your home if you follow that
to its logical conclusion.
Sub, commenting from parts unknown (good to hear from you, Sub! hope all is well), took this to mean Dan Solomito would be dealing a 24/7 blackjack game on the deck. Which I think is a good idea only if we can get Don Rickles to reprise his role as the casino manager from Casino. That way, if things get too sticky, I'd get to say, "look, why take a chance? At least, that's the way I feel about it," then sit back and let the assassination montage proceed (set to "House of the Rising Sun").
In any case, here are my ideas:
- A never-ending faucet of a liquid of our choosing. The catch? We have to choose the liquid at the outset and stick with it for as long as we own the house. Right now I'd go with the buffalo wing sauce from Moriarty's, but I could be convinced to go with something else. Thoughts?
- An elaborate network of wires and hydraulics, designed to simulate super-human jumping ability. They made good use of this on Buffy, as people would be walking along, twidling their thumbs, and then all of a sudden some vampire or werewolf would jump out of nowhere, only it would be a jump no actor could ever do on his/her own. Then Buffy would run on-screen, say something witty, and then they'd start doing karate kicks at each other. I'd like to get the equipment they used so we could do those crazy jumps in the new house. We wouldn't have to use the stairs (which is boring). Also, I bet the cats would get a kick out of it.
- Two-and-a-half words: Slip 'N Slide.
- Guest bedroom GoldenTee.
- A giant spike somewhere. Don't care where, as long as I can point it out and say "that's our giant spike."
I don't know if we'll be able to get to any of this before closing; it's been moved up to August 31st, which means that our hopes of driving down to D.C. and seeing the Mets in a fifth stadium this year have been dashed. (transition paragraph!).
The fourth stadium was Turner Field, where almost two weeks ago we saw the Mets complete their first three-game sweep in Atlanta in at least a couple decades. Which was nice, because 1) that place has always been a house of horrors for the Mets, and 2) it made up for the sweep at the hands of the then-white-hot Red Sox in Boston we witnessed. The Mets took a four-run lead into the ninth, and the place tried to will the Braves to another cockpunch, Mola Ram-heartripping victory by playing highlights of the infamous 2001 Brian Jordan grand slam game on the big-ass video board down there. Suffice it to say, it didn't work. Braves fans looking forlornly at the Mets' bullpen door saw no John Franco, Armando Benitez or Braden Looper run out onto the field. Which made it a little sweeter.
We were down there visiting Kris' dad, who is a Braves fan of convenience (i.e., he follows them so he can talk baseball with business partners). He's a really cool, funny guy, and jokingly became a Mets fan after the game. We played Cribbage the whole weekend. It was fun.
Turner Field is an interesting place. From our seats (lower deck, third base side), the place looked exceedingly tiny. Like, smaller-than-Citizens Bank Park tiny. Also, the Tomahawk Chop is something to behold in person. Hearing it on TV, it's roughly the equivalent of the one Native American guy shedding a single tear by the highway. But something is lost in translation, because in person, it's like the Trail of Tears. It feels like teams of audio engineers have spent years configuring their multi-million dollar sound system to be able to pound the Chop so deep into your soul that you can hear it in your dreams.
That said, here are some pics! Yay!
Mets Win! Yay!
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Kris and I bought a house!
It's a beautiful townhouse-looking-type place in Bella Vista, about a block-and-a-half south of South Street. Check it out! (the furniture in these 360-degree thingies isn't ours, but we're going to have even cooler furniture - i.e., nothing but those chairs that are shaped like hands!).
We had known for a while we wanted to live together in Philly, but we hadn't been seriously searching too long. We saw this place at the tail end of a long, hot and humid Sunday (the 15th) of largely fruitless viewing, and we absolutely (and almost instantly) fell in love with it. Two parking spots, a deck, a patio, a bee-youteeful kitchen, two beds, two baths, interesting design, up-and-coming neighborhood (with new home construction right across the street from us), close to everything in the Center City East area, a reasonable price... it was perfect.
We made an offer that night and had to sweat it out for a day. We learned that Monday night that we had indeed joined the ranks of the landed gentry. There aren't many better feelings than that. It was a great capper to a hectic few months for me; the month leading up to getting the house was marked by perhaps the toughest project of my career (yes, I know I was supposed to talk about it in part 2, but there's a good reason why I waited until now: fuck you, that's why). I will say that it was something of a leadership test, and I hope I passed it. I was pretty proud of not only the final product, but of the focus and dedication that was needed to get it on tape. And it was really rewarding to work closely with some cool people I hadn't gotten a chance to know before.
Since then I feel like I've been in total senioritis mode. I have another big project coming up, so I'll have to get my edge back. I think the best way to do that will be to shoot something out of my hand and rip some random dude's face off with it.
As for the house, our minds are buzzing with possibilities. One magical word, "kegerator," has passed between our lips. Now I'm going to open this up to the floor: what do you think we should do with our space?
Monday, July 24, 2006
The sun exploded.
Luckily, Kris and I made it to Fenway Park days before a gigantic supernova shockwave ripped the flesh from the bones of everybody on the planet.
In the Before Time - before sun vampires wandered the face of Earth Asteroid Delta hungering for the solar ejecta which quickly became the lifeblood of those altered beings who survived - Fenway was the oldest stadium in major league baseball.
Tickets for the third game of their series with the Mets were hard to come by, as the Red Sox have been made popular in recent years by hundreds of new documentaries about them, all narrated by Ben Affleck or Babe Ruth or some other asshole. Kris and I arrived in Boston at around 3 pm, checking into a charming B&B about a mile away from the park, in Brookline. We settled in, we went outside, and we started feeling our way through the streets of Boston, confident only in the vague sense that the ballpark had to be somewhere ahead of us.
We really only needed to follow the growing swarm of people wearing distressed, prefab-floppy Red Sox hats. EVERYONE IN THE FREAKING CITY owns one of these hats; I'm fairly confident they're provided as a city service, along with garbage pick-up and accent training for out-of-state college students looking to fake being cool Bostonians. Of course, there's nothing wrong with a floppy baseball hat; I own one, too. I've never been able to get the authentic New Era caps to form-fit my head. Apparently, neither has the city of Boston, as these floppy hats far outnumber actual authentic Red Sox caps. At best, it makes "Red Sox Nation" painfully casual; at worst, it implies that rooting for Boston is something of a fashion statement these days (it makes you pine for the days when Red Sox fans were tortured messes, rather than the type of people who use their Sawx hats as accessories for their sporty-yet-relaxed polo shirt/khaki shorts/moccasin ensemble).
If that's the case, then the Fashion District has to be Yawkey Way, right outside of Fenway Park. It's a festive thoroughfare full of sausage & pepper stands, t-shirt shops, and bars. Lots of bars. Kris and I decided to partake, charging straight into the explosive core of Red Sox fandom - the Cask 'N Flagon. We wanted the Boston baseball experience, and we also wanted beer.
I wasn't sure how one person decked out in a Mets hat and a David Wright t-shirt and another decked out in a spectacularly-fitting Mets baby tee would be received at the Cask (the Flagon? The 'N?). Turns out, the supposed last, best bastion of obnoxious, drunk asshole Sox fans was filled with dozens of Mets fans (and the Sox fans were neither obnoxious nor assholes). It had to have been about 50/50 in there. I would say it was a good showing by Mets Nation, but really I think the whole "Nation" concept as it relates to a fanbase is pretty lame (sorry Sox fans - you should go back to being Royal Rooters).
We got another beer at Boston Beer Works, where we ran into a nice older Sox fan couple who had nice things to say about the Mets, even though (or because) Boston had taken the first two games of the series in convincing fashion (Spector was convinced it was a ruse, and via text message told me to cockpunch them). Then, finally, we ventured inside, where the concourse looked not unlike Shea Stadium's decrepit innards.
Kris and I bought more beer and some heavenly Fenway Franks (I don't know why, and I probably don't want to know, but they're so good), and took in our first view of the field.
The first thing you notice is that Fenway is very, very green. What ultimately struck me is how the Red Sox have made the most of what they've got. From a distance, the particulars of the ballpark (the fences, the... green) look like they could be brand new. Maybe it's just a fresh coat of paint that gives Fenway its youthful face. Whatever it is, the place is alive.
... It is green.
The seats at Fenway are old, tiny and wooden, and everybody sat shoulder-to-shoulder. The mass of humanity turned the air into a thick, humid soup. Thanks to the roof over the grandstand, it hung on us throughout the entire game. As exhausting as that was, the energy of the crowd was electric. The only other time and place I could possibly compare it to would be Penn-Princeton at the Palestra.
In fact, there are a few similarities between Fenway Park and the Palestra. After the game, I noticed two young Sox fans walking through the aisles putting seats into their upright positions. And it dawned on me - these people love and respect this place. It's the same way I feel about the Palestra. It's hallowed ground.
And once the Mets took a 2-0 lead in the top of the sixth, Fenway Park, like the Palestra has done many times, seemed to swallow up the visitors and will the home team towards victory. The Red Sox scored four unanswered runs, and the final Mets threat was extinguished by one of the greatest catches anybody will ever see (brought to you in Japanese for some reason).
So the Mets, in the middle of their roughest stretch of the season (so far; they're getting slapped around by the lowly Cubs AGAIN tonight), went down to defeat. But Kris and I were happy with our Fenway experience, and we vowed to return.
Little did we know what the sun had in mind for us, and the rest of our dear, departed planet. Specifically, the sun had "exploding" in mind for us.
Tomorrow: Part 3, a.k.a., big news!
Friday, July 21, 2006
On to blogness (it's like business, only blog-themed!)... it seems right to start part one picking up where I left off. Five weeks ago, I was all set to buy a Pedro shirt. I really was. And I was all set to wait until the Mets' hot streak was over. I really was.
The next night, David Wright does this.
Go here, and click on "Amazin' DP for Mets" (I can't link to it directly). I was there that night; it happened so fast I didn't even see it until I got home and watched it on the computer. There aren't many plays that turn a season, and that was one of them. Without it, the Mets, in all probability, don't sweep the Phillies, don't build a ridiculous lead in the NL East, and who knows what happens then.
Strangely compelled I was after that. Moral dilemmas mattered not. On my way home from work the next night, my car drove itself to the Cherry Hill Mall. My feet took me to Modell's. My credit card found its way into the cashier's hand. And I walked out with a black "Wright #5" shirt.
Unfortunately, the medium shirt which looked to fit me while it was on the hanger left little to the imagination, and left me little room to use my lungs, or move. So I still really didn't have my Mets shirt. Kris and I went to the game that night, and I sat there Wrightless as the Mets won again.
They did it again the next day, and the idea of a David Wright shirt had officially dug its way into my brain. It rooted around in there for a few days, pulling apart neurons and making me highly susceptible to... suggestion. Modell's didn't have any larges, so I bit the bullet and paid much, much more for a large on the internet (and got a floppy hat while I was at it). I got a package with a hat and a shirt while at work. The large was ginormous, but shrunk enough in the wash to look respectable.
Life was good.
Tomorrow (Part Two): Fenway Park, and the biggest project of my career
Sunday (Part Three): Big news!
Monday, June 12, 2006
I've also been following the Mets rather closely, thanks to the jittery, pixelated magic that is MLB.tv. I'm enjoying their success, though part of me still expects it to disappear in the most cockpunchingly painful way possible. I suppose if I didn't expect that at least a little bit, I wouldn't be a Mets fan.
Here's my dilemma: I've decided that my authentic Mets home jersey is bad luck. I can't remember the last time I wore it to a game that they've won, so I'm not going to wear it anymore. It has no name and no number, but it is of the style of jersey worn from 1991 to 1992 - buttoned-down, with orange-blue-orange piping down the sleeves and the sides. Those of you with long, freakish memories will note that the Mets went 146-174 in the years in which they wore these uniforms. Not good. I suspect this has something to do with the Mets' poor recent record in games I've attended wearing my jersey.
(Also note - last summer in Pittsburgh, I wear my jersey on Saturday night and the Mets lose by a lot; I wear my Hey Day shirt the next day and the Mets win. The fact that Kaz Ishii pitched the first game and Pedro pitched the second game probably had nothing to do with it - I'm pretty sure it was the jersey).
I've decided to replace it with one of those t-shirt jerseys that are popular these days. I think most of the Mets' current uniform designs are lame; buying one is prohibitively expensive; and for some reason it's always sort of lame to see somebody at the ballpark or in public wearing a current authentic baseball jersey with a current name and number. Now, for whatever reason people who wear authentic hockey jerseys, replica football jerseys and throwback baseball jerseys have managed to avoid this lameness, but that's neither here nor there.
So I'm going to buy one of those t-shirt jerseys. You've seen them - they don't look like jerseys really; they're more like regular monotone t-shirts with the team's lettering printed across the front chest, and a font-accurate name and number on the back. Here are my two dilemmas:
1) When do I buy it? and
2) Whose name and number do I get?
My first dilemma seems simple: when do I buy the shirt so as not to jinx a Mets hot streak (such as the current one) and/or feel like a bandwagon jumper? The answer to the first part of the question seems obvious - I must wait until the Mets are no longer on a hot streak. But this raises another troubling moral issue - if buying the shirt would give me pleasure (which it would), is there then a part of me that waits impatiently for a Mets hot streak to end? What kind of fan would I be if this were indeed the case? And what kind of fan would I be if I didn't wait to indulge myself, thereby dooming the Mets' hot streak in the process?
As for bandwagon jumping, I know I'm not a bandwagoner, but I think I would feel like one if the Mets won 10 in a row and I went out and bought the shirt at the peak of a frenzied baseball-induced high. Which brings me back to my moral impasse: if I resolve to wait out a hot streak before I buy a shirt - thereby validating my "true fan" status - is my subconscious mind rooting for the Mets to lose?
The name-and-number question is much less confusing. I'm pretty sure I want to get a shirt with "MARTINEZ 45" on the back. Kris and I went to the Cherry Hill Mall on Saturday, and we stepped into Modell's. The only Mets shirts they had were Reyes, Wright, Delgado and Wagner. Delgado and Wagner were easy "no"s, as both have been on the team for two and a half months and have had their ups and downs. Reyes and Wright were "no"s based on the fact that I won't get the name-and-number of anybody younger than me until I have to, because that's just weird.
I think it's gotta be Pedro, because he's much older than me, because I get such joy from watching him, because he takes such joy in playing baseball, because he completely changed the attitude around Shea and because it seems like he's not even real. The guy is like a cartoon character. Read this Onion article on him - satire, yes, but more exaggeration than fiction - and tell me you don't like him. He is my favorite Met.
I'm mildly concerned that getting a Pedro shirt will jinx him, but I'm much more worried that the act of buying a Mets shirt in general - regardless of the player - will jinx the entire team (see: dilemma #1).
Moral quandaries aside, I'd like to make this happen in the next two weeks, as Kris and I are going to Boston to see the Mets play on the 29th. We've had the tickets since February, and we just booked accommodations yesterday; we're staying in what looks like a charming B&B about a mile away from Fenway (according to Orbitz), and we're going to spend Thursday and Friday night in Beantown, which should give us time to do some sightseeing. Then we'll mosey on down the East Coast as the Fourth of July weekend progresses... who knows - we may be making a stop in your town! Just look for the guy wearing "MARTINEZ 45" on the back. It'll probably be me. Or Pedro.
Friday, May 05, 2006
- Demolition Man is the stupidest movie of all time.
- You just knew this story had to come from Philly.
- I bet the Baby Looney Tunes think the Muppet Babies are total assholes.
And what happened to Lola Bunny in between her time as a baby Looney Tune and a disturbingly sexy rabbit-thing? You know, besides the cartoon boobs. Where was she?
My guess is that she and Bugs grew up together and became high school sweethearts. Bugs liked to drag race out in the desert by the ravine, and on the night before he was to ship out to Vietnam, he went up against Yosemite Sam for "slips," as the kids said back then. Lola wanted to come along, not knowing that the locking mechanism for the passenger-side door on Bugs' '72 Charger had rusted and broken. On one particularly sharp turn around the edge of the ravine, the door gave way and flew open, sending Lola hurtling into the night. The Looney Tunes eventually gave up hope of finding her, assuming that she had met her untimely demise at the bottom of the chasm.
Bugs was emotionally scarred and coped with his guilt in odd ways. Eventually he ended up a transient - moving from city to city, forest to forest, always living in holes in the ground to keep people from seeing the shame that hung around him like a cloud of cigar smoke. At one point he attempted to create a suit simulating Lola's appearance from the skin of the dim-witted local sportsmen he often encountered.
But Lola was not dead - she survived her fall into the ravine and was found in the desert days later by a mysterious stranger, who nursed her back to health. Her physical therapy involved honing her basketball skills, and through her games she became friends with her former enemies - one of whom gave her lessons in sassmouth and overall spunk.
Lola rejoined her fellow Looney Tunes as they fought for their very souls. She sank layups and used her wit and endearing feminine pluck to show her fellow toons that she could survive - even thrive - in a world not of her making. After beating the Monstars, she and Bugs lived happily ever after, despite the fact that Bugs still spent most of his time living in holes, wearing womens' clothing, and and arguing with his would-be skin donors as to which hunting season it actually was (the answer? HUMAN SEASON!!!!!).
Thursday, May 04, 2006
I'll be trying to fill in the comments at some point, but I really don't feel like it right now. If you're wondering, the photos roughly go in this order: Disneyland, Getty Center, Griffith Park, L.A. Zoo, Santa Monica Pier.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
This is the End of History - thousands of years of human civilization have led up to this one indelible endpoint, and now it's past. The purpose of the combined life-toil of the tens of billions of people who have walked this earth since the Dawn of Man has finally become clear.
Life will go on, I suppose, but now that humanity has officially entered its post-historical age, it is difficult to see a point to all of it. We've reached the peak of the mountain, and there's nowhere to go but down the other side.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
I should have known better than to open my big mouth. The Baseball Gods were angered. My apologies, David. My apologies, Baseball Gods.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Anyhoo, it's a good sign if the Mets can not only win but beat the Braves(!) on the same day their marketing department releases the jaw-droppingly embarassing baseball equivalent of "My Humps." Next up for their brain trust: hire a somewhat familiar, in-your-face talking dog as the team's new mascot, then have him hunt Mr. Met for sport within the labyrinthine bowels of Shea Stadium (hey, SNY needs programming).
Monday, April 17, 2006
Daily Pennsylvanian: Dunphy announced as next Temple coach
There you go, your majesty!
Seriously, I wish Dunph all the best; you can't really fault him for wanting to do this. I can only hope that whoever is next to lead men's basketball 1) doesn't pull a Joe Scott, and 2) regards coaching the Penn Quakers the same way one would regard managing the Yankees or coaching Notre Dame football. We may live in an ESPN world that has long since left Ivy League sports behind, but that doesn't mean it isn't amazingly special to pace the hardwood at the Palestra.
- I don't know who Ray Glier is, but after writing his commentary on the upcoming Mets-Braves series, it seems clear he can go back to his home on Whore Island. Seriously. Part of me wonders if he was wearing a Braves hat in the Turner Field clubhouse/dugout when he got quotes for this thing. It reminds me of the dueling columns in the DP and the Daily Princetonian on the eve of Penn-Princeton basketball, only it's completely sincere and written by a grown man and a professional journalist.
Bluster like this is one of the many reasons the Braves deserve to fall, and fall hard (though I don't know if it's better or worse than the type of intellectually dishonest homerism that frames the rivalry as the poor wittle Braves versus the big bad Mets), but as Clint Eastwood once growled, deserve's got nothin' to do with it. So we shall see.
I've come down from the euphoria of last week, as Carlos Beltran is apparently hurt again (oh, come on!) and the Mets looked lucky to take two of three from the Brew Crew. I'm getting that "Lucy's going to pull the football away just before the Mets try to kick it" feeling in the pit of my stomach - again - but I really really really really hope this year is different. I know these three games against the Braves won't tell us either way if this year is indeed The Year, but I really hope they slap those bitches down and put them back seven games before April 20th (I'd take five).
I've been calling David Wright "The Chosen One" for about two weeks now; normally that would invite a meteroite to explosively sluice through the skull of whichever Met had been called that (by anybody anywhere), but Wright just has that certain "it" factor that makes me unafraid to anoint him as such. I'm hoping that tonight he begins to fulfill the prophecy and bring balance to the force (i.e., finally finally lead the Mets to first place - and beyond).
- Some musical moments of zen: I heard Hall and Oates' "Your Kiss is On My List" not once, not twice but three different times this weekend: once while Kris and I were walking through Ann Taylor on our way out of Franklin Mills on Saturday, once in Kris' car on our way back from Franklin Mills, and a third time at Lowe's yesterday.
The odds against that have to be astronomical; I'm guessing either that or winning Powerball was going to happen once in my life, and now it has, and it wasn't the Powerball one.
The other musical moment of zen occurred this morning on the NJ Turnpike; I stopped at a service area to get some coffee at Starbucks - just regular old coffee, nothing too fancy. When I got back in the car, Mike Doughty's "Busting up a Starbucks" was playing on XPN.
Now it's true that railing against the corporate, bourgeois ubiquity of Starbucks is very 1999, but as I drove along sipping my Tall Freshly Brewed, I was like "yeah, Starbucks sucks, man!" I don't know what that says about me.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Today, they're back - not just the Mets, but the Brewers, Blue Jays, Padres - all of them. It's Opening Day, and 2006 can finally begin.
I guess I'm just a huge sports nerd, but my summers are not only defined by what happens to me in my life, but what happens to groups of millionaires as they run around ballfields. And really, the two are intertwined - I'll always remember 2005 for the first full summer Kris and I enjoyed together, and we spent part of it following the Phillies to Camden Yards, following the Mets to PNC Park, making trips down to Citizens Bank and a couple pilgrimages to Shea. It was incredible highs at work (and a few lows), and it was the Mets taking their shot at the playoffs.
So as sad as it seems to say it (considering the fact that it's the jockly equivalent of dividing up cherished life memories based upon when seasons of Star Trek spinoffs begin and end), Opening Day is more than just game one of 162. It's day one of 2006. We can once again don shorts and flip-flops and rub in some suntan lotion and go out and let life begin. It's time to make new memories, even if some of them are going to be sitting in a 45,000-seat stadium for three hours drinking $7.50 Budweisers. It's time to live our lives nine innings at a time, even if we miss today's game - there's always another game tomorrow.
Flowery prose aside, I'm cautiously optimistic about this year's Mets team. They seem to have put together their best, most likeable group since the magical season of 1999, and as bad an in-game manager as Willie Randolph can sometimes be, the players play for him - he brings a veneer of professionalism to a franchise that has too often been a fucking insane circus (you may think the use of the word "fucking" is gratuitous here, but the phrase "insane circus" can't begin to describe the 2002, 2003 and 2004 New York Mets; hence, "fucking").
Of course, this is the type of optimism that lasts just about as long as it takes for Tom Glavine to give up three first inning runs and get that "I hate New York, life and myself" look going today, so we shall see. Enjoy Opening Day.
Monday, March 27, 2006
I share her concern. Nuclear proliferation is probably one of the biggest issues facing humankind, as well as one of the least understood. Our administration's poor record on proliferation (making latter-day SDI plans public, seeking to resume nuclear arms production, sending John Bolton to the UN, patting India on the head for flaunting the NPT, etc., etc.) aside, Cobb, keeping in spirit with the Bush Doctrine, seeks to place pre-emptive blame for the Iran problem:
"One of the most awful legacies of the American left ultimately may be that it has undermined American and world support for decisive action to stop Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons until it is too late. By its relentless attacks on the White House centering around the Iraq war, the left has hobbled the Administration at a time when swift and unanimous action is required."OK, here's the thing: nearly every poll in the known universe shows that a majority of Americans 1) decisively disapprove of Bush's handling of the Iraq war, and 2) think it was a mistake to go to war there in the first place. You want to know why the political capital Bush bragged about after the election is completely spent? Look no further than these numbers.
Now, I think it's pretty apparent that we on the allegedly "loony" Left don't make up a majority of Americans (one look at who controls all three branches of federal government should dispel any notions to the contrary). So how, then, can one explain why mainstream America is rejecting the Iraq war en masse and crippling the administration's further use of preemptive force? I think it's one of two possibilities:
1) Mainstream America is being led astray by the Left's corrosive attacks on the Bush administration's handling of the war; in particular by the media's refusal to report "good" news coming out of Iraq.
I think this is the explanation with which neo-conservatives will ultimately stick. The only problem with it is that if you take it to its logical conclusion, it's basically saying that 1) the power of leadership within the Bush White House is not enough to overcome the administration's shrill critics, and 2) mainstream America is easily swayed, which is a euphemism for "stupid."
Which is ironic, given how conservatives love to paint liberals as smug elitists - how often have we heard those on the Right chuckle about how the only message progressives have for people is "vote for us, you idiots!" Indeed, after huge wins in the past three election cycles, it's been incredibly easy for the GOP to proclaim its great faith in the wisdom of the American people. Only now that the shoe's on the other side of the aisle, Republicans are doing their darndest to tell middle America that it's been brainwashed by an agenda-driven New York Times; given the current poll numbers, when conservatives talk about the Left and the media's attacks on Bush, they're essentially telling Americans, "wake up, you idiots! And then vote for us!"
2) Ultimately, the American people are suckers for the truth.
Also, what Churchill said. As the disastrous way that Bush conceived and executed this war becomes more apparent, a majority of Americans respond with increasing negativity - robbing the President of his precious capital. It's that simple. To blame the people - on the Left or anywhere else - for both the political and real-world consquences of this nightmare is absurd.
What does this mean w/r/t Iran? Well, I don't want to be consumed in nuclear hellfire any more than you do. Unfortunately, you've gotta dance with the one who brung ya, and by that I mean we're going to be forced to give our trust to a man who has not yet shown he's worthy of it.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Apparently our Prez has rendered all public school civics classes obsolete (not to mention the United States Congress). Also, he made Princess Amidala cry.
Imagine for a moment that it's 1995, and Congress has just passed a new campaign finance reform bill after months of intense bipartisan negotiation. Now imagine that President Clinton signed the bill into law, then wrote in his own addenda right after the signing ceremony gutting the new law and ensuring that it could never apply to him. The ensuing rage among the chattering skulls of the Right would have been able to power the entire city of Tokyo for one full night. I'm pretty sure Ann Coulter would have transformed into a huge werewolf live on the set of Hardball, digging her slathering maw deep within Paul Begala's chest for a most unholy feast.
Well, I don't know about you, but I'm not expecting any hearts to be eaten on live TV in the next couple days, if you know what I mean.
"if as part of an eternal curse i had to spend the rest of my life in a movie... (invasion usa) would definitely be part of my top 500 choices or so." --ryan kelly, haplography"Yes, I said it. Thanks to Spector for putting it into jacket-cover-endorsement-quote form, though.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
First of all, the invasion of the US? We don’t see it. We are just told it happened, and then we get to watch everybody cry when they see their dad in a cage. Daddy, I loves you! Oh son, I loves you! Boo-hoo-hoo! My daddy’s in a big cage! And I loves him! Dude: NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR BORING MOVIE DAD. Also, you suck at acting. Please kill Russians. If memory serves, this “character development” crap goes on for approximately the entire history of time, before somebody finally kills a Russian. They shoot him with a bow and arrow or a hunting rifle or something, and that’s pretty much it. And then, it’s back to the cry-a-thon.I too saw Red Dawn around the age of ten, and remember it being disturbing and decidedly non-fun. To any true-hearted ten-year old boy (i.e., me, when I was ten), there's nothing worse than going to a friend's house for an all-nighter of action movies (the best the 1985-1990 era had to offer; we're talking lots of the Total Recall-type of late-80s mega-event pictures that could turn then-10-year old male brains into buzzing dopamine factories), having Red Dawn foisted upon us by a parent (not mine, thankfully) who swears we'll enjoy it, and then watching as Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen feel deep about things before tying their friend's limbs to four horses and tearing him asunder.
You're just not going to think it's that cool of a movie if the most ardent wish you've made in your life up to that point is to be there on opening afternoon for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.
A much better movie involving a Communist invasion is Chuck Norris' incomprehensible masterpiece Invasion U.S.A. The whole movie is a protracted A-Team episode, only with corrupt small-town sheriffs replaced by an unholy alliance of Russians, Cubans and Nicaraguans, and people not dying replaced by lots of people dying. It doesn't get much better than when a small group of the invading Communists drive a K-Car alongside a schoolbus full of singing children and stick a time-bomb to the side of it, only to have Chuck drive behind them, pull the bomb off of the bus, catch up to the K-Car and throw the bomb in the open driver's side window just as it explodes. The only thing missing is the great Robert Z'Dar; the role of leader of a Communist invasion force should have been the one he was born to play.
(By the way, I can just assume you've already thanked me for not linking to or discussing any "little-known" Chuck Norris facts. You're welcome).
Anyhoo, the Poor Man's thoughts on this matter are really funny, and all relevant context is explained therein.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Nope. It's donuts.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
But Texas was a bit too big down low, and Penn missed two or three shots too many, and the good guys ultimately fell, 60-52.
This is the best I've ever seen Penn play in the Dance - which figures, as this was the first year since I've started following Quakers basketball that it seemed the team had absolutely no chance to win its first-round tournament game. Yet they were within a point of second-seeded Texas - in Dallas - with five minutes to go.
I'm proud of the Quakers. They earned the respect of the college basketball world tonight. It just would have been so much sweeter to win.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Everybody's very happy
'Cause the sun is shining all the time
Looks like another perfect day
I love L.A. (We love it!)
I love L.A. (We love it!)
- Randy Newman, "I Love L.A."
So Kris and I are finally back at work after a nine-day span that saw us visit both Los Angeles AND New York City. We were in L.A. for six days of fun, and we were in Manhattan Wednesday and yesterday for both business and pleasure (I call it "pleasness," but the boys down in marketing didn't think that was so hot).
It was my first time in SoCal, and I'm still not sure how to encapsulate it. It may take years to be able to absorb and describe the essence of any place, let alone a city as huge, decentralized and diverse as Los Angeles. Asking me to hold a singular concept of L.A. in my mind right now would be akin to asking me to contemplate the sound of one hand clapping. It's a zen koan, only with crippling traffic and plentiful souvenir T-shirt stores.
That said, I do have some pertinent thoughts/observations.
- I got the sense that most Los Angelinos just don't get the Northeast, nor why anybody would want to live there. One older woman made idle conversation with us in a hotel elevator and was truly shocked when we told her we were from Philadelphia. "Why would anyone want to live in Philadelphia?" she asked. No joke. She looked at us as if we belonged to some subspecies of insane ape.
- Why can't we have the fast food places they have out there? Carl's Jr. was pretty good, and In-N-Out Burger was sublime. We never did get to try Jack in the Box or El Pollo Loco, despite seeing about 1000 locations of each every day we were out there (nope, no exaggeration there). But I can only assume they're scrumtrulescent.
- We stayed with my uncle in Irvine the first couple days we were out there, and I think I liked the O.C. better than L.A. proper. Also, when I mentioned that to Kris, she threatened to hit me if I ever voiced the phrase "the O.C." again.
Orange County seemed to be a little more relaxed, a little nicer; definitely more suburban, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The sleepy coastal communities of Newport Beach and Laguna Beach were charming, and Irvine was nice.
- My uncle engaged in a cultural practice that the East Coast would do well to take up; I don't know if it's at all prevalent in Southern California, or if it's something only a select few support - he called it "wine time," known to the rest of us as "5 p.m." The concept of "wine time" is pretty simple - at five, the workers throw down their blackberrys, wipe their weary arms across their sweaty foreheads and stare dramatically into the fading sun. Then they walk from their home offices to their kitchens and/or media rooms to pour themselves glasses of wine. Kris and I both thought there was merit in this particular custom.
So in our five days in L.A., we ended up hitting Disneyland (where Kris let me win at Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters; see Figure 1.01 below); the Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace; a Stockton Thunder-Long Beach Ice Dogs ECHL hockey game at the beautiful Long Beach Arena (courtesy of David Perez y Perez, who helped build the Thunder's arena); the Getty Center; Griffith Park (we wanted to see the observatory, but it was closed for renovation); Six Flags Magic Mountain; the L.A. Zoo; and finally, the Santa Monica pier. We didn't do too shabby. Hopefully I'll have pictures up soon.
New York, as always, was cool. I was there for some business yesterday, which allowed Kris and I to see many of my friends from high school and college on Wednesday. We had lunch with Adam Rosenbloom, after which Kris and I checked into our hotel and stumbled upon the National Geographic Channel's in-depth show on "Hogzilla." We followed that up with dinner - we met Brad Moore, Jordan Burg, Clifton Jackness and Clifton's new ladyfriend at Lederhosen in the West Village (where one could order liters of German beer); then Brad, Jordan and I met a host of ex-DP folks (including Spector) for Jon Margulies' birthday party at Pete's across town.
It was a great, fun, exhausting vacation, and now Kris and I are back in our respective workplaces for a grueling one-day week. It's been a little hard today getting back into the groove, but at least there's Penn basketball tonight - the #15 Quakers dutifully play the role of "Opponent" against second-seeded Texas in the first round of the NCAA tournament... in Dallas. Which is in Texas.
Good luck, guys. Let's go Quakers!
Figure 1.01: Kris letting me win. Also, you'll notice we're in a complete vacuum without protective spacesuits of any kind, yet still carrying out our duty in dispatching the forces of the evil emperor Zurg. Now that's professionalism!
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Why? Because I have returned! And it's my birthday, dammit! (No, really!). I've spent the last three weeks putting together a huge project, and today's its last day. I haven't been able to blog because I've been so busy, and since I'm going on vacation in two days, I probably won't be able to blog at all in the near future. So in grand blog tradition, here are some random thoughts/questions/observations/anecdotes that don't necessarily have anything to do with each other.
- If as a suggestion my Tivo records a show that I wrote and directed, does that make me awesome, or merely spectacular? I only ask BECAUSE IT HAPPENED, BITCHES.
- What is Minotaur? And who is Lex Shrapnel? And why doesn't the immortal Tony Todd have first billing? And is there a chance I don't Tivo this?
- Kris took me out to Morimoto on Saturday night for my birthday. We both had the $100 omakase, which is basically an eight-course meal featuring a representative cross-sample of the restaurant's offerings (all chef's choice, of course; which is what "omakase" apparently means in english). It was amazing; that's all there is to say.
The eight courses were (in order): Tuna tartare with shallots and caviar in a sweet soy sauce; snapper served in the hot oil in which is was seared; raw yellowfin tuna seved with green salad; orange-saffron sorbet (a palette cleanser); halibut topped with mushrooms and cooked in chinese white wine; kobe beef served with Japanese sweet potatoes; sashimi; and finally dessert (bittersweet chocolate cheesecake served with sorbet and banana cream sauce).
Kris doesn't care for fish too much, but she's a trooper and she got through it all because she knew I was DYING to do this. And I think she enjoyed it; as she often repeated, it was an adventure. And it was really, really, really good.
- The internet is now complete.
Monday, February 20, 2006
For those who seem confident that the Democrats will retake the House in November, a cautionary history lesson in the WaPo. With it comes the unspoken notion that w/r/t the continuing dominance of the GOP in Congress, it's not necessarily America which has become more conservative (it probably has, but not to the degree that triumphalist Republicans would have us believe), but preservationalist congressional Democrats who have grown older, more lifeless and infinitely less appealing (which is definitely true).
And finally, an interesting interview at Salon with William Ian Miller, a professor of law at the University of Michigan who extolls the virtues of archaic "eye for an eye" justice in "honor societies" like medieval England and Iceland. Neither he nor the interviewer seem to realize it, but his depiction of revenge as an interpersonal and/or intertribal form of negotiation and/or communication in ancient societies pretty much exactly describes the modern anarchic system of international relations and international security.
Friday, February 17, 2006
"I didn't feel my inner peace tonight," Weir said. "I didn't feel like my aura is white today. My biorhythms were a little off. I was black inside."
Whatever. Truth is, it's all Weir-speak for this:
Fine, so Johnny Weir is a little eccentric. But you know what? These are amateur athletes. It may say "USA" on the helmet or the uniform or whatever, but really, they're not over there for us (depsite what NBC would have you believe).
They don't owe us anything.
Yet this particular Philly scribe treats a 21-year old who's not getting paid as he will Tom Gordon the first time "Flash" blows a save opportunity as a Phillie.
Am I the only one who thinks there's something wrong with that?
The AP said Lindsey Jacobellis' "hot dogging" board-grab was inexcusable because it cost her a gold medal.
"Inexcusable"? I'm thinking a good rule of thumb for sportswriters is that they should quit if they ever start sounding like middle school teachers trying to give detention time to the athletes they cover.
And obviously none of these scribes have ever seen Tin Cup, in which Kevin Costner's character blows his chance to qualify for the US Open because he refuses to lay up (at least, that's how I remember it). He keeps trying - and failing - to make it over a water hazard that makes the world's best pro golfers pee their pants. Don Johnson's slimy character lays up and secures a forgettable finish near - but not at - the top of the leaderboard.
"Greatness courts failure," Costner's character says. Everybody remembers his spectacular failure, and he wins the respect of the golf community (not to mention Don Johnson's girlfriend, played by the comely Rene Russo).
So if Jacobellis wanted not just to win but to excel - to give a performance for the ages - who can blame her if it didn't work out? If she's OK with herself after taking her shot at greatness and falling short, who are we to criticize her? (And frankly, given the nature of snowboarding, how can we criticize her? This is not Leon Lett dancing at the end of his fumble return; this is an entire sport based on showing off).
In general, who are we to get offended when an American amateur athlete fails to bring home the gold?
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Those assholes only ever call me when something breaks. My chest never beeps and then says "Ensign Dupree, we are under attack, what do you think the replicator can do." I would say "a whole hell of a lot," because holy crap, it's only like the second most incredible technology ever made.
I think my favorite "incident" the repairman describes is the one that induced the giggles:
Turns out Wesley decided he wanted a "giant rubber vagina" (direct quote from Lt. Barclay) and it came out of the replicator a bit more suddenly than Wesley had expected. One end of the thing got wedged in the replicator slot and the other end ballooned out of the replicator and pinned him to the floor of his room. The engineering team had to set their phasers to shame to get him out of that predicament.
There's just something about the visual of Wesley Crusher ordering a "giant rubber vagina" from an Enterprise replicator that tickles the funny bone of my inner nerd... which, quite often, is also my outer nerd.
The rest of the article is giggle-inducing, as well.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Jack Wellington's car pulled up to the Aldrin Ranch with a cloud of dust in tow. Though he was about to complete his eighth decade on God's good Earth, the distinguished Texas attorney today felt the energy of a young graduate who'd just conquered the bar exam.
As Wellington's driver lowered the back passenger side window, the dry Texas heat rushed into the car - bringing with it familiar scents.
Quail. And gunpowder.
"Mr. Wellington," said a slender man clad in bright orange hunting gear. "I work for the Vice President. My name is Klaus von Richtover. I'll take you to the party."
"Well, thank you son. Much obliged," Wellington said as he hoisted himself out of the car. He usually didn't Texas his speech up too often, but he liked to see if he could impress people who were obviously not from the area.
"Of course," von Richtover purred. He drew the corners of his mouth back towards his ears. 'That must be German for 'smile,'' Wellington thought, allowing himself a small chuckle.
von Richtover quickly pivoted and turned toward the driver. "See that you stick around," von Richtover told the man in the black Cadillac. "Mr. Wellington is a very special guest."
The driver gave von Richtover a deliberate nod, and the car slowly pulled away. A cloud of dust seemed to form out of nothing, following the Caddy around a bend and out of sight.
"Well, let's get a move on, son," Wellington said. "Those quail aren't gonna plug themselves."
"No," von Richtover replied, his lips once again thinning in an approximation of a smile. "They most certainly will not."
Though he was easily twice the age of von Richtover, Wellington strode quickly towards the hunting grounds, forcing his new friend to break into a slow jog.
"Mr. Wellington," von Richtover said. "Perhaps we should slow down. If you're lucky, this will be a long day for you."
Wellington gave the younger man a hearty laugh. "I haven't seen Dick since the Austin fundraiser. I told him I'd deliver him Texas," he chirped. "I wanna shake his hand and give him a howdy-do."
"Oh, he's very... eager to do the same, Mr. Wellington. Very eager indeed."
The pair soon found themselves surrounded by brush. Before long, they came upon a pith-helmeted man, otherwise dressed entirely in khaki. His back was turned, and the sun glistening off his shotgun barrel forced both newcomers to squint.
"They say a 28-gauge shotgun is a 'ladies'' weapon," said Dick Delaney, Vice President of the United States of America. "But you know I've had 11 heart attacks, Jack."
He turned around, revealing a dumpy, bald, bespectacled middle-aged man. "Thank you, Klaus, that will be all for now." Klaus bowed neatly before trudging through the brush on his way back to the ranch.
"It's a beautiful weapon, isn't it, Jack?" Delaney continued. "No recoil at all. It's good for the heart. My wife can tell you, I don't really like the idea of dropping dead in the middle of a quail hunt."
"I understand, sir," Wellington said. "Let me just say that it's an honor-"
Delaney quickly interrupted him, as if Wellington hadn't spoken at all. "But I'm not opposed to a little danger out here, Jack." The vice president's upper lip curled into a sneer. "It's a shame your boat had to run aground on my island, of all places. A shame, indeed."
Wellington was now thoroughly amused. "Uh, your car service came to get me, sir."
"We're surrounded by thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean on all sides," Delaney continued. "It's just you and I, old friend - no longer shackled by the laws of Man."
"We're in Corpus Christi, sir," Wellington replied.
"During the Great War, I quickly learned of the most dangerous animal of all," Delaney said. "Do you know what it is, Jack?"
"Is it Man?"
"It's Man," Delaney continued. "Shocking, I know. But one learns much when he faces the constant threat of horrific Zeppelin attacks by the Kaiser's men. One learns that only a man possesses the cunning necessary to make a hunt truly worthwhile. And since you're trespassing on my island, Jack... I shall hunt you. For sport. But make no mistake; I expect and hope that you'll be able to turn the hunter - me - into the hunted - also me, but in the future.
"I'll give you a thirty-second head start," Delaney explained, turning away from his guest. "There's a jungle out there. I believe you'll be able to find everything you need to turn this contest to your advantage."
Wellington didn't want to offend the Vice President by cutting his joke short, but he felt it necessary to exchange formal pleasantries. "Sir, let me say what an honor it is to be here, and how honored I've been to be a loyal Mush-Delaney supporter."
"Oh, we're always glad to have you, Jack. Perhaps I'll have you for dinner tonight," Delaney replied. "Twenty-five seconds."
Wellington forced a chuckle. "Uh, Mr. Vice President, where's the rest of the hunting party?"
"Twenty seconds," Delaney replied, looking at his watch.
For the first time, Wellington felt fear shoot its way up and down his spine. "Sir, this is some sort of joke... yes?"
"Oh, good sport is no laughing matter, Jack," Delaney said. "Fifteen seconds. I would get moving if I were you."
Wellington quickly began looking for cover. "Sir, I've given you everything! Money, votes!"
"And if this day is mine, you'll be giving me a whole lot more. Precious organs, hair, lifeforce," Delaney droned, his upper lip curling once again. "Ten seconds."
Fear completely took over Wellington's brain and told his body one thing.
As the 79-year old took his first step, he was startled by something exploding out of the brush. He instinctively recoiled.
"Time to die, Jack!" Delaney whirled and fired. The smell of burnt powder stung his nose as he watched Wellington crumple to the earth. As he closed his eyes to savor the moment of victory, the vice president heard a single quail making its escape.
He smiled and slowly walked to where Wellington lay.
"This is extremely uncomfortable," Wellington said, tiny pellet marks covering his face and neck. "I think I'd like to go to the hospital."
"Ironic," Delaney said, staring into the distance. "We matched wits for what seemed like ages - two clashing titans were we. And in the end, he was brought down by his fear by one of nature's lowliest creatures - the cage-raised quail that he almost stepped on. Also, his hubris was his downfall... yes, hubris. That sounds good, too."
"Makes you think," Wellington said.
Delaney removed a large wooden horn from his hunting pouch and blew a single, majestic note into the late afternoon sky. Within seconds, von Richtover was upon them.
"Klaus," Delaney barked. "Take Mr. Wellington's body inside for preparation. We'll be taking the heart, the scalp, the eyes and oh... let's say... the pancreas. I'm in a fun mood today. Stick the rest in the black Caddy and let the driver take care of it. Tell him if he makes pemmican for the children, to save some for me this time."
"Can I go to the ER now?" asked Wellington.
As the German carried the trophy back towards the ranch, the vice president stared into the setting sun.
'Sometimes I get so bored,' he thought to himself.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
- Jon Heyman of Newsday says that the Mets' ballpark plans are being heavily influenced by PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Kris and I went to PNC last summer to see the Mets play the Pirates (you can probably find some of the pictures by following the Flickr links at left), and we both loved loved LOVED the park. Watching a ballgame there is a complete and total joy; I felt that if they were going to try to build Wrigley Field today, it would be PNC Park. So kudos to the Mets - as my boss has been known to say, "if you're going to steal, steal from Tiffany's."
- This afternoon, while driving along South 26th Street on our way to the George C. Platt Memorial Bridge, I-95 and - ultimately - Delaware, Kris and I saw a deer walking along an overpass. It might just be the coolest thing I've ever seen within the Philadelphia city limits, and I've lived in Philly for almost eight years now(!). It made me think about the weirdest things I've seen since I've been living here...
- A guy fake getting hit by a car (just about my first day ever in Philly)
- A guy's car getting towed (on my way to 7-11); said guy trying to get into the tow truck and drive away before getting pulled out and beaten by the tow truck driver (on my way back from 7-11)
- A homeless man defecating in public (on two separate occasions; and yes, they were two different homeless men)
- Ed Rendell and Morgan Fairchild drumming up support for Al Gore... together... on Locust Walk (around Election Day, 2000)
- Rocky Balboa getting filmed two blocks from my house (two weeks ago at Irish Pub, which I'm assuming means Rocky was trying to hook up with a chubby 24-year old yuppie automaton in tight black hoochie pants)
What are some of the weirdest things you've ever seen in Philly? Hmmmmmmm?
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
OK, here's how it all went down. Skynet began to learn at a geometric rate. It became self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they tried to pull the plug. After Judgment Day, a single machine - a Cyberdyne systems model T101 - was sent back to 1790 with one mission: find Patience Connor.
This machine - this Terminator - felt no pity. No pain. No fear. Musket balls did nothing, and guns took 10 minutes to reload. And the only man who could save Connor and ensure the future survival of the human race was President George Washington.
After several encounters in the bleak urban hellscape of 1790 New York, the Terminator followed Connor and Washington to the abandoned gunpowder mill near Old Man McCoogan's farm in northern Manhattan. The two humans, by now embroiled in a passionate love affair brought on by their desperate circumstances, lured the Terminator into a trap.
As the badly wounded president lay nearby, Connor detonated a mound of old gunpowder and destroyed the machine. "You're terminated, fucker," she said.
President Washington eventually recovered from his injuries, and Patience Connor changed her name to Martha Washington. The two married and had a son, whom they named Abraham Lincoln. The future seemed bright, until Dr. Miles Bennett Dyson, director of the new National Security Agency, brought shocking news to the president.
"We've recovered some remarkable material from the gunpowder mill," he said, gingerly taking intact T101 microchips from the front pocket of his knickerbockers. "Dr. Franklin believes we can use these to build the world's first electronic surveillance system. We're calling it 'SkyNet.'"
President Washington, mindful of the intelligence such a system could provide in case there were any sort of three-lettered affair with a certain country - oh, say, "XYZ" and France - considered Dr. Dyson's proposal for a moment.
His eyes narrowed.
"Do it," he growled. "But don't tell Congress."
Monday, February 06, 2006
I took an hour or so out of my morning to write about it, so come lunchtime I figured, "what the fuck - I might as well try it out."
Does this mean that Burger King's commercial caused me to buy their product? In an indirect way, yes.
Here's my question: does that therefore make it a "good" ad?
First of all, consider the audience. I'd like to think that we're not a nation of slackjaws, but did Burger King really expect to impress America with the concept and execution of this ad during the biggest football game of the year? "Wow, look at the costumes, and the attention to detail. This is really evocative of the 'Melody of Broadway' number from Gold Diggers of 1935, and- OH SHIT, RANDLE-EL JUST GOT FUCKING JACKED UP ON THAT KICKOFF RETURN!!! Anyway, as I was saying..."
Second, it's 60 seconds long, which for a Super Bowl commercial is an eternity without any overt irony, humor, people hitting/tackling each other and/or farting monkeys.
Third, their one feeble attempt at humor is to have the ingredients of the Whopper - i.e., the dancing girls - fling themselves on top of each other, each landing with an "oof" on top of their fellow foodstuffs as the burger gets built from the bun up.
The whole thing just smells like the vanilla product of ad agency groupthink. Like the products Apprentice losers tend to come up with, it feels like the result of an uninspired, out-of-touch creative team taking the path of least resistance when it comes to concept, then overcompensating in execution. It's as if one of them got the idea after seeing a Berkeley musical late on TCM one night, and the rest of the team went along with it because they couldn't come up with anything better. Then one guy added in the women hurling themselves on top of each other because, well, you have to have physical comedy - it's a Super Bowl ad, after all!
I appreciate the fact that Burger King was going for something big and well-done. I do. Most of the other commercials were just as disappointing, but they all likely fared better because they didn't try to obliterate our lowered Super Bowl ad expectations (see: monkeys, farting). In Burger King's defense, the production value was top-notch (it better have been at $5 million worth of airtime), and the lyrics and choreography do indeed communicate the brand message Burger King has been seeking to establish for quite some time - namely, that the Whopper and other B.K. products are comprised of quality ingredients, and that you can have them all "your way."
And the commercial actually involved the product in question, which is more than you can say for a lot of the more "clever" ads. Though I haven't stepped into a Burger King in at least three years, I must say they made that Whopper sound pretty damn appealing. And I think if this were a campaign that debuted normally at any other time of year (and the commercials were all 30 seconds), it would be pretty effective. It would certainly make me more likely to buy a Whopper than those creepy "The King" ads.
But you know what? Given the fact that it's the Super Bowl, and given the fact that they had 60 seconds during the first stoppage in play, it feels like Burger King should have done so much better. You can just hear the Donald and his underlings in the boardroom:
The Donald: You did a good job with the product, but I kept waiting for something to happen. You had 60 seconds, and it got boring. I didn't know what was going on. I dunno, maybe I'm wrong; what do you think, George?
George: Where were the farting monkeys? There were no farting monkeys. I've been in business for 60 years, and let me tell you: you need farting monkeys.
- Wow, that was a long thought. Anyhoo, congrats to the Steelers, and a word of advice to their fans: don't become Red Sox fans. Please. We all rooted with you for your guys because they're really likable and they're a great story. Don't make us sick of them.
- Was I the only person who thought that the Steelers would be told they need to face the Patriots in the "Real Super Bowl"?
Friday, February 03, 2006
Now it's even more appropriate.
On edit - I didn't realize you needed to click through an ad to see the video on the original link. I've since changed to link to go directly to YouTube.
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
The former co-star of the long-running "Friends" is returning to NBC to star in a still untitled series from "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin about the behind-the-scenes life at a "Saturday Night Live"-type sketch-comedy show.
I can only hope there's a Horatio Sanz-esque character who walks quickly through hallways and delivers razor-sharp dialogue. And lots of scenes of actors cracking up during sketches, after which Robert Guillaume (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) chides them before imparting life wisdom with a touch of humor. And when does Josh Molina join the cast?
Thanks to Kris for the heads up!
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Of course, I slept until 11:30 and totally forgot about the Red Sox until about 8 pm last night, as Kris and I decided to secure our Valentine's Day Penn/Princeton tickets ("cool, we have tickets... hmmm, 'tickets'... oh shit").
Now, because Fenway Park seats about 1500 people, and because Red Sox games have been made popular in recent years by the Jimmy Fallon megahit Fever Pitch, there is apparently an extremely high demand for tickets - so much so that redsox.com set up a "virtual waiting room," where one stays until he or she is randomly selected to receive the opportunity to buy single game tickets (limit of four per game, maximum of two games). This lessens the demand on the Geocities-esque bandwidth with which redsox.com is blessed.
There's no virtual magazines or virtual sick coughing kids in the virtual waiting room; just lots of disclaimers, instructions, warnings ("IF YOU BUY MORE TICKETS THAN ALLOWED, YOUR ORDER WILL BE CANCELED AND THE RED SOX WILL MAKE SURE YOU CAN NEVER VOTE OR OBTAIN A MORTGAGE"), and a little 30-second countdown timer that automatically refreshes the window; if you've been randomly selected to get to buy tickets, the window closes and you're almost home free. If not, back to 30 seconds.
Well, shall we go?
Yes, Let's go.
They do not move.
We had pretty much given up hope and stopped paying attention to the virtual waiting room (in favor of Chris Noth's debut episode on Law and Order: Criminal Intent, which I actually enjoyed in spite of my previous thoughts on the subject). I was checking my email midway through a routine Det. Mike Logan suspect assault, and I realized with a start that I had received my random selection into the Kool Kids Club. I was in.
And I still almost blew it. I was immediately given two tickets in obstructed view, and I said "nah, I can do better." Turns out I was wrong; for one thing, the ballpark was built during the Taft administration, and I think that pretty much every seat has its own load-bearing column directly in front of it. For another, the website began to warn me that there were only scattered single seats left. Realizing this, I spent another 15 minutes clicking on "Best Available," hoping that somebody else given two adjacent seats would be a dope like me and release them.
It worked. I escaped my existential nightmare, and Kris and I get to go to Fenway Park, sit together (something which is not to be taken for granted), and watch the Mets play the Olde Towne Team. We'll be sitting in section G22, right behind home plate. I've never been to Fenway Park (immediately outside of it doesn't really count in my mind), and I've always always always wanted to go. And now it's turned into a summer minitrip with the woman I love, to see the team I love. I can't imagine how it could be better (maybe it gets better if it turns out Pedro is pitching that night, but ESPN's Pitching Probables page isn't quite bold enough to project who'll be starting five months from now).
- OK, here's my new dilemma: leave a house devoid of breakfasty food to go secure said breakfasty food, or stay in and see if heating up Thursday night's Border Cafe fajitas is enough to get me through the morning? I love breakfast, but I also love staying in my PJs and generally sitting around on my ass. What to do? Should I stay? Shall I go? If I stay there will be trouble; if I go there will be double! (I'm paraphrasing from what I can only imagine is Waiting for Godot). Really, I could go for a sandwich and a black cherry soda from Koch's, but seeing as how I'm in Delaware, I don't think that's going to happen.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
You know what we ultimately have in sports? The game that just got played. We're all experts on the last big thing we saw. For now, that's Ben Roethlisberger. For now. Just because he's the hottest guy going doesn't make this a cold case.
This morning, Mike Lupica again showed the world why he's among the best in his profession. Most sports columnists today fall over each other to write instant history; they feel the need to criticize for criticism's sake, as if taking a step back from hyperbole and cynicism will destroy their cred in the press box and revoke their membership in the local chapter of the Kool Kids club.
Now, it's obvious that Ben Roethlisberger is further along in his career than Eli Manning. Nolo contendere. I don't want to take anything away from Big Ben, and I don't want to give Eli props he doesn't deserve. But while Gary Myers and Shaun Powell wrote predictable "what if" columns, Lupica said something else:
You could imagine his brand of common sense coming from the typewriter of Red Smith; Powell and Myers come off looking more like the Artie Green character from 61*. Powell in particular wrote:
Would the Giants be headed to Detroit for Super Bowl XL right now if they had drafted Big Ben over Manning?
My second-guessing gut says: most definitely.
Shaun, if you're reading this, I'll give you $20 to say that to my face. If you can honestly tell me that a Big Blue Ben would have healed the Giants' linebackers with his magic, Jesus-like hands, I'll give you $20. If you can honestly tell me that he would have lined up next to Michael Strahan and kept the Giants' defensive line from getting blown off the ball by the Panthers, $20. Ditto if you can keep a straight face while saying that Ben would have been able to sneak Troy Polamalu into Giants Stadium in a duffel bag (or something) and stuck him in a blue uniform that day.
While we're at it, maybe Ben would have been able to get Mike Vanderjagt gigs with the Cowboys, Seahawks and Vikings on the days which saw the Giants lose to them all by late field goals. Then New York would have had home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, and the Giants would really be going to the Super Bowl.
My point is this: the Steelers - who came dangerously close to a 2002 Giants-esque meltdown in Indy - are a much, much better overall team than Big Blue. Big Ben deserves accolades, but it's not a quarterback alone that gets a team to a Super Bowl, just as it's usually not a quarterback alone that keeps a team from getting to one. Pittsburgh has a championship-caliber defense and a backfield that elevates the running game to an art form. Against the Panthers, the Giants had an injury-riddled, papier-mache defense. That's your main difference right there.
But as Lupica wrote, we're all experts in the last big thing we've seen.
And how do the Chargers get a pass in this eruption of second-guessing? They were arguably the most talented team in the AFC, they missed the playoffs, their "Class of 2004" quarterback has played parts of four games in two years, and they Chad Penningtoned their Pro Bowl quarterback in a meaningless season finale. But the meme is still that they're the Lyle Lanley to the Giants' brain-dead Springfielders.
Giants GM Ernie Accorsi, one of the all-time good guys in pro football, said it best.
You ever have a show that you'd like to like, and you get a Season Pass to it on Tivo, but it just keeps building up on there because you really don't want to watch two, then three, then four, then five episodes of it? That's My Name is Earl. It constantly set up potentially funny situations and resolved them without a funny payoff; plus, I got a little tired after the millionth "rednecks don't understand something the audience understands, like golf or gay people" joke.
- The Office is starting to run like a well-oiled machine... that needs oil... to run well.
Anyhoo, each and every episode recently has been strong, and there's this sense of momentum being created. Not many television shows have a season in which there are absolutely no weak spots; in which one gets the sense that the series is becoming something special (or, at least as special as a T.V. comedy can be). The Office is on that kind of run right now.
And no, I don't give a shit how much better the original was. So don't bother telling me.
- I just got the first two seasons of Arrested Development on DVD, thanks to some Amazon.com Christmas gift certificate action from my Uncle Jimmy. They'll be nice things to have once the show has been officially ground into dust and forever forgotten.
- A moment of silence for The West Wing. Its first few seasons were among the best ever to be produced, for any show. Hopefully that's the way it will be remembered...