Thursday, December 28, 2006
Ah, 2006. The Year of the Dog. The 100th anniversary of the birth of the guy who discovered Asperger's Syndrome and the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Motzart, the guy who inspired that song by Falco.
This year saw the beginning of the construction of the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero in Manhattan. It saw forceful anal sex enthusiast Kobe Bryant score 81 points in a game and 12 miners die in West Virginia.
Scientists predicted it will end as the third warmest year on record, behind 1998 and 2005.
Hamas won an election. Rick "frothy mixture" Santorum lost one.
"Crash" won the Best Picture Oscar for depicting the most obvious lessons in crashingly obvious ways. Someone allowed Robin Williams to continue making movies.
I think Michael McDonald won "American Idol."
There was a military coup in Thailand and Slobodon Milosovic died in his cell. Ariel Sharon left office in a coma, and Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death. As for the rest of his country, the jury is still out.
Americans argued about Iraq, immigration and equal rights for homosexuals. Sean Hannity continued to push for sane, tolerant attitudes and peace on Earth.
There were earthquakes in Greece and Indonesia, mudslides in the Philippines, tornados, floods, volcanic eruptions, stiff winds, and sunny days. There were bomb attacks in India and celebrity births in Namibia.
Vince Young just won games, Rutgers football rose from the ashes, Roger Federer failed to excite Americans with one of the best years ever, and a cheater won the Tour de France.
Planes crashed, a popular painting was stolen, and a stingray killed a crocodile hunter.
The U.S. population hit 300 million, and the only thing all but four of them knew about the World Cup was that the bald French guy headbutted the Italian guy.
Science magazine predicted 90% of maritime lifeforms would be extinct by 2048. The Democrats took over Congress.
Iran worked on nuclear devices and denied the Holocaust. North Korea set off a nuclear something or other. Wilson Pickett, Coretta Scott King and Byron Nelson died. Carson Daly continued to live.
I got a headache. Happy New Year.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Two quick items to talk about:
1) As I'm watching the 11 o'clock news last night, one of the lead stories was the WTC rebuilding story - Actually, it was a side story that got me. Apparently, another bone fragment was found on the site, and the on-site reporter quips: "And some are wondering now if the priority should really be rebuilding" - at which point I shouted out "YES!!!" at the TV screen.
Of course the priority should be rebuilding. It should have been the priority for the last 5 fucking years! Not to sound insensitive to the victims' families, but do you really need a bone fragment to honor their memory, or to "get closure"? If you haven't been able to move on at this point, I don't think a bone fragment is gonna do it - how 'bout some counseling and a prescription for anti-depressants, perhaps?
Look - if you're husband left for work on 9/11/01 in NYC and never came home, do you really need a piece of DNA to confirm what happened? And if the bastard used 9/11 as an alibi to run off to Mexico with that whore in Accounting, maybe you're better off believing he's dead.
2) Stephen Mara, son of Wellington, tackled and choked a fellow NYSE broker (who also happens to be an Eagle fan) after the guy taunted him with that "jump shot" dance that our defense does after a big play.
As Giant fan, all I can say is "Cool! Fucking asshole deserved it". You gotta love a ba-zillionaire owner who can still get that fired up over their team, instead of just treating it like another investment in their portfolio.
And it's nice to see someone on the Giants make a sure tackle these days.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Yesterday, the whole family drove into NYC to see the big tree in Rockefeller Center.
Everything was great until the security guy came up to me to tell me I needed to take my daughter down off my shoulders. Apparently they don't wont to get sued if she falls and gets hurt.
What Rockefeller Center and my kid possibly falling off my shoulders have to do with each other is completely lost on me.
First of all, short of the whole fucking tree suddenly falling right on top of us, I am NOT going to let my little girl get hurt.
Second of all, how can some security guard have the right to tell me how to hold my fucking child? Next I suppose they'll be telling us to make her wear a winter hat so they don't get sued for a case of the sniffles.
Can we just kill all the lawyers now?
Monday, December 11, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Back from vacation, and you just can't beat those Disney imagineers, manufacturing a picture-perfect rainbow for our amusement.
And here for further amusement, a list of the Top 10 Disney heroines. Sorry, Arielle. Your girl barely squeaked onto this list. Apparently because she might be underage (though I imagine she's legal now, if a bit fishy).
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
The 3 Whores of the Apocalyse ride into town.
If you look closely, you can actually see Nicole Ritchie sitting right there between Lindsay and Britney.
After the paparazzi photographer took this photo, his brain shrunk so much that his head simply imploded.
The GPS Navigation system in the car would only give them directions to an abortion clinic.
The rental car company refused to take back the car until it was tested for STDs.
The only reason Britney looks shorter than Paris is because she's mounted the gear shift.
If Britney had remembered to wax her upper lip beforehand, there would have actually been 6 exposed hairless pairs of lips in the car instead of just 5.
If anybody's out there, feel free to add some more - they're easy (adding captions, I mean!)
Monday, November 27, 2006
From today's NY Post:
"Three weeks ago against the Texans, Mathias Kiwanuka was called for the first roughing the passer penalty of his career. At the time, the rookie defensive end said he'd have to adjust to the way quarterbacks are treated in the NFL. Yesterday, that memory came back to haunt him and sink the Giants."
Don't get me wrong - this is not why the Giants lost yesterday. And secondly, the Giants are officially done this season, and I don't pretend to believe otherwise.
But I've seen enough "roughing the passer" calls this year to wonder if the whole "protect the quarterback" thing has gotten out of hand again. Remember "in the grasp", people! Back then, you could get a sack while lying flat on your back as long as you could grab the QBs ankle for a second.
Nowadays, you get flagged for anything that doesn't look like the kind of takedown move you would use on your 5-year-old nephew in the backyard.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but these aren't fucking punters, here. The prototypical QB in the NFL today is about 6'5" 250 lbs, right? I think these guys can take a hit. These guys have been taking hits every game of their football lives before reaching the pros. How many options do you think they ran in college - they're essentially another running back out there. Until they're drafted, that is. Then they become this untouchable, fragile, and, most importantly, EXPENSIVE commodity that must be treated with kid gloves on the field - as long as those kid gloves don't actually follow through on their tackles.
Let's do some comparisons, shall we? According to NFL.com:
Shaun Alexander: 5'11", 225lbs
Ladanian Tomlinson: 5'10", 221lbs
Tiki Barber: 5'10", 205lbs
Payton Manning: 6'5", 230lbs
Tom Brady: 6'4, 225lbs
and yesterday's hero, Vince Young: 6'4", 228 lbs
Think about the amount of abuse Tiki Barber gets on each carry - that's about 20-25 times a game that he is slammed to the ground by multiple tacklers. And how often does a QB get sacked/knocked down/hit per game? Maybe 10 times on average, and usually just by one guy's glancing blow.
The fact that a defensive player had to completely alter what his natural instincts and years of coaching had taught him to do, because he might be legally tackling (in all OTHER senses of the term) the guy WITH THE FUCKING BALL IN HIS HAND, who just also happens to be the guy who throws the ball from time to time, is a fucking disgrace.
The Kiwanuka play should be a wake up call to the league.
Otherwise, why don't we just let all the QBs wear flags on their belts?
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
You know what that means, Perl. Better pick up the slack to slake the thirst of our four regular readers for that Rolling Bones tonic.
"Goin' home/ goin' home/ By the riverside I will rest my bones/ Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul" -- R. Hunter
Friday, November 17, 2006
On Nov. 27, Fox will air the first of a two-part interview titled "O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here's How It Happened.''
No, you are not reading The Onion. No, I'm not making a joke.
O.J. Simpson, a man who murdered his wife and her friend, will be on TV explaining how he would have killed his wife and her friend if he hadn't killed his wife and her friend.
Simpson, you may recall, was acquitted of the 1994 murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. In 1997, he was found liable in a civil lawsuit brought by the Goldman family for the wrongful death of their son. The Goldmans have yet to receive more than a pittance of the $33.5 million decision Simpson owes them.
In this country, fair-minded, sincere Americans can disagree about how our government should treat abortion. We can disagree about the best way to fight terrorism or cope with the war in Iraq.
But after more than 10 years since the verdict, can't we agree that O.J. Simpson is a murderer?
A Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll from 1995 showed 33 percent of Americans agreed with the not-guilty verdict, including some polls that showed up to 78 percent of black Americans supported his acquittal. Ten years later, an NBC News poll found 12 percent of whites and 70 percent of blacks still think Simpson is innocent.
I won't get into the galaxies of evidence against Simpson here. People can only see the world through their own eyes, drawing from their experiences to help them reach conclusions. When I see a proven wife batterer drip his own blood and the blood of two separate victims all over the crime scene, his car and his home, that's all I need to know.
So I'm looking forward to the interview and Simpson's charming new book, ""If I Did It,'' to be released Thursday. Fox knows people will watch. And they should, if only as a lesson in American injustice and the gall of deep self-delusion. The fact that Simpson would even entertain a book with that title and premise should convince any sensible person of his guilty conscience. But there is one man who knows the absolute truth, and I direct this to him.
Because you, Orenthal James Simpson, didn't just hypothetically kill two people. You butchered them with an awfully big knife. And killing with a knife isn't like pulling a trigger as you drive by, is it? No, I figure you needed to get in pretty darn close and deal with some awfully violent squirming and defensive thrashing while you hacked away and sliced as the life you clutched spurted blood and agonizingly jerked from frantic panting to gasping anguish to lifeless stillness.
And that's just the first victim. The other one was stronger, yet ultimately just as helpless. After all, even in your advanced age and with arthritis, you were a Heisman Trophy-winning, hall-of-fame professional football player with surging adrenaline pumping slash after slash in a supercharged rage.
Despite Fox's sick spectacle, you likely have no book-ready recollection of that evening. At least no memory that your conscious mind will permit you to recognize. But don't tell me that the horror doesn't claw at you in the stark darkness of your sleep. Those nights when maybe the coke isn't plentiful or powerful enough to bury your worst instincts and pain. Because memories that intense never really fade. They just become harder to access and retrieve. Kinda like your once-exalted place in society, eh?
So peddle your lies and fantasies. Play your public golf courses and complain about the tee times while searching for "the real killer.'' Use your poor, motherless kids as sympathy crutches and ready-made excuses to exploit anything, anyone, anytime.
Walk through life like the pathetic ghost you are. Insignificant and starved for attention. Almost too sad to be truly evil. And try to keep pace ahead of those hellhounds on your trail.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I figured it was my turn to chime in on TV, especially since I spend so much time watching it.
Between Playhouse Disney (Handy Manny is our current favorite show, which is to say my 3-year-old loves it) and all of our animated films on DVD (Cars is already on its 15th viewing right about now), here's what I've been watching these days (not including sports):
Heroes - First of all, I am huge fan of the X-Men movies, and it probably explains why I like this show so much. Although I never really got into "Lost", I think it's unfair to make any comparisons to that show at this point. Clearly there's a plan for this story (at least for this season), and the creator has made a point of stating that in each episode he does NOT want people to be waiting for something to happen - and I'd have to say that he's been true to his word so far.
Studio 60 - Funny in a West Wing kinda way, but did you expect anything else? I don't understand the criticisms about how unfunny the "show within the show" is - if those skits were really that good, they would've been on the real deal: SNL (and we all know how unfunny most of that shit is). And the fact that I don't see "Chandler" every time Matthew Perry is on screen is a credit to either the writing, his acting, or both.
Friday Night Lights - Two words, kids: Minka Kelly. Also, I agree with Bones about the story and the characters feeling very real - and this coming from a guy whose high school didn't even have a football team (Go Bronx Science!).
Law & Order: SVU - Always solid, even in reruns. Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni are a great duo. Mmmmmmmm, Mariska...(drool)
Professional Poker Tour (Travel Channel) - Not to be confused with the WPT. I can't seem to find any other "go-to" show on Wednesday night right now, but at least I always have the PPT. And just like the name suggests, no amateurs in this show except for the occasional exemption for celebrities. The poker is great (obviously) and the stats that flash on the screen are always relevant and add to the game.
My Name is Earl & The Office - A great block of TV for me. I think Earl has not been as funny this season, but still enjoyable. But without Jamie Pressley, this show would be nothing - she is consistently the best part of the show, and deserves all the praise she is receiving. The Office is still fantastic - and I don't even mind the Jim/Pam romance thing, and it seems like they're going to do the right thing and not make them get together.
I finally caught a couple of episodes of 30 Rock, and I'm now a fan.
When Scrubs finally returns on Nov. 30, my TV Thursday will be complete.
And I haven't watched ER in like 5 years. Does anyone?
Law & Order - Horrible move putting this on Fridays, but hey where am I going anyway? Gotta love the "ripped from the headlines" storylines. Still, I'm always waiting for those great Lenny Briscoe one-liners that are only available on TNT nowadays...
Other shows that may stop my remote as I flip around (some are good, and some are just filling airtime it seems):
High Stakes Poker (Game Show Network, Tuesday & Friday?) - This is more than just a televised poker game, and I recommend this show to anyone who likes watching any of the other poker shows out there, including Celebrity Poker Showdown. This is a table of eight of the best players in the world playing a high-stakes CASH game, with some of the bigger pots reaching well over 100 grand (that's 100 grand of THEIR money, not a stack of tournament chips). There's no tournament, no waiting for the "final table", and no bullshit. All the great characters of the game are usually playing - Mike "The Mouth" Matisow, Sammy Farha, Phil "The Unibomber" Laak, Daniel Negranu, etc. These guys are playing to win, and they don't hold back on the swearing, trash-talking, and funny banter. Add in commentary by AJ Benza and Gabe Kapler, and how can you not be "all-in" on this one (Can I be any cornier)?
World Poker Tour (Travel Channel, Sat night)- If my wife doesn't let me play on Saturday night, at least I can pretend. And yes, I realize this is the third poker show I've mentioned so far.
The Simpsons - I usually miss it cause we're putting the kids to bed, but I still look forward to watching it on DVR.
Deal or No Deal - I still can't figure out why I can't stay away from this one. Maybe because it seems like it's ON ALL THE FUCKING TIME!
1 vs. 100 - Why don't they just call it "Mob or No Mob", since it's trying so much to be like that other gameshow. The only interesting part of this show was that Ken Jennings was part of the first Mob - and I assume the show creators thought he'd be their anchor in case anyone got close to the million dollars, but he got knocked out on like the third show. This is another one where I wish I could somehow turn the TV off, but something pulls me back. Please help!
Biggest Loser - Fat, sweaty, people in tight, revealing clothing - What's not to like? But the female trainer this year is MUCH hotter than the last one, mostly because she doesn't look as much like a man with breasts. I think I like this show because of its inspirational stories, and how these people don't just lose weight but really turn their whole lives around. Either that, or the female trainer.
Las Vegas - The antithesis to the fat and sweaty people. They should just call this show "Breasts, Breasts, and More Breasts. And a casino." Although it's rare that I'll watch a full episode of this show, it's obvious that the plot is always secondary to all the eye candy on this show.
Interestingly enough, there's a fellow on pajiba.com called "The TV Whore" who's writing a similar series of posts this week. I thought I watched a lot of TV until I read what this guy watches just for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. So I guess I'm not a full-blown TV whore - perhaps just a TV slut?
How does "TV Skank" sound?
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Screw the Democrats. The wave washing over the country this week is not donkey blue but scarlet red. Jump on the bandwagon America. The team that invented college football is 9-0 and ready to beat the world. (Though probably not Ohio State or Michigan.)
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
In case you missed it, Season 1 of MTV's The State is now available on itunes. This was one of the funniest sketch comedies ever, and luckily for me it was on MTV during my prime stoner years.
Now I can attempt to relive those days on my ipod - Ah, I can almost smell the bongwater now.
If you don't feel like shelling out the $1.95 per episdoe, YouTube has plenty of low-video-quality sketches that you can view for free, like the one above. The key part of this clip is the credits at the end, where they do a spot-on impression of the outtakes shown during the credits of Cannonball Run.
This is clearly one of the funniest bits I've ever seen - not so much because of the impressions of the actors (although the Dom DeLuise is good), but just for having the balls to do something that only a small minority will ever recognize and appreciate.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
OK. I admit that voting is important. I admit that even if the vote you cast won't ever turn an election in any direction, it's the best way to participate in the system and send a message. And the message to send this year is that we will not stand by while our government reduces The Constitution into a soggy piece of toilet paper. We must refuse to be scared. We must refuse to accept incompetence and arrogance. We must vote.
I'll join you guys next time.
Monday, November 06, 2006
The kid in question, Walter Petryk, had been booted from his Brooklyn high school after arriving on Halloween dressed as Adolph Hitler. He had even grown an adorable little black mustache to complete his swastika-adorned outfit.
The New York Post reported that the principal removed Petryk from his second-period English class at Leon M. Goldstein High School when he refused to take off the outfit, citing his constitutional rights to free speech.
His mother — married to a Jewish man who reportedly had relatives die in the Holocaust — then delivered him the outfit the following day so he could pose, arm-raised, for photos with local media. I caught up with the story while watching Bill O'Reilly's show Thursday night.
O'Reilly, taking pains not to be perceived as bullying a kid, calmly asked Petryk why he chose to wear that particular costume.
"Why not?" Petryk, an honors student, answered.
O'Reilly then asked if he understood how his portrayal of a man responsible for World War II and the systematic extermination of six million Jews might offend some people — perhaps some people at a school named after a Jewish educator. Perhaps some of the people in Brooklyn who have tattoos on their wrists to remind them of their time in camps with family members who were gassed to death and burned in an oven by Hitler.
Petrtyk admitted that he figured some people would be offended, but they should "lighten up," because he was just making a joke. He wasn't really espousing Nazism or advocating the death of Jewish people.
His mother said she had initially tried to dissuade him from playing Hitler, but relented to his "artistic freedom," suggesting he was following in the comedic tradition of Mel Brooks' "Springtime for Hitler." It was Halloween after all, she said.
This isn't new territory. England's Prince Harry bombed with a similar sartorial joke at a party a few years ago, and Cartman, the cartoon Id on "South Park," succeeded in pushing these same buttons with his own school-worn Hitler outfit. Cartman's joke — or actually, the show's writers' joke — worked because he's a fictional character on a satiric TV show. Mel Brooks delivered his joke to a paying audience in the context of a play-within-a-play, intending to provoke and offend by portraying Hitler as a flamboyant goofball to deflate the dictator into the butt of a joke.
Prince Harry and Petryk had no such well-conceived motivation. A Halloween costume is not a comedy skit with context and an easily shared point-of-view. People see something and react. Pertyk said he did it only because he could. It was his right as an American to dress and speak as he pleases.
True. But we Americans must also endure the consequences of our freedom. And when someone — even a kid who acts dimmer than his GPA might suggest — deliberately and publicly offends people, he deserves derision. Loud and long.
On Halloween, Petryk rode the subway to school dressed as Charlie Chaplin, donning a bowler hat and top coat to conceal his real costume. He knew he would upset people and likely provoke confrontation.
There are many things our freedoms allow us to do. It is Petryk's First Amendment right to mock blind people behind their backs or lead a Ku Klux Klan rally in Harlem.
Petryk wasn't just randomly exercising his freedom of speech. He was intentionally acting in a way he knew would upset other people. And it is my First Amendment right to call him and his excuse-making, wrong-lesson-teaching mother exactly what they are: jerks.
Try that one on for Halloween.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Friday Night Lights
Watching TV these days can be a real chore. There aren't many great shows, but even if you stick to the very best and dutifully record them on your DVR, there just aren't enough hours in the day to watch them all. And I'm a guy whose girlfriend lives two states away and who hardly lifts a finger other than the one that presses buttons on the remote control.
So as a service to the refined TV-viewing sloths out there, here are the essentials as I see them.
- "Friday Night Lights" -- Better catch this one before it's gone. The movie, based on an exhaustively researched book by Buzz Bissinger, gave us a season in the life of a Texas high school town that, like every other town in Texas, worships football above all else. The TV show, using a fictional Texas setting, allows an even more detailed look into the lives of each character. Every scene rings true. It's heartbreaking, honest and inspiring. There are characters to puzzle over, to hate and to root for. It's all that's great and horrible about sports in America. And it's all that television should aspire to be. Which is why it will likely get canceled before the season ends. Maybe you should wait for the DVD release.
- "House" -- Back after the baseball playoff hiatus, no other show depicts as likeable an anti-hero. Gregory House is the perfect lout, the disgruntled, impossible-to-hate hero. He plays God with an attitude and hidden softness, and in doing so becomes far more worthy of worship than the dude that supposedly rules over all humanity without ever bothering to even send a postcard.
- "30 Rock" -- Tina Fey's take on the behind-the-scenes of an SNL-like live comedy show allows her to vent all her years of frustration against television executives and everything else that gets under her skin. But unlike Aaron Sorkin's preachy and smug "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," Fey doesn't get bogged down in anything so lofty as The Future of Television or The American Culture War. It's a comedy show about a comedy show, more in line with Sorkin's brilliant "Sports Night" but with it's own edge and lunacy. In last week's episode Alec Baldwin's meddling network exec channels Hannibal Lector to intimidate a clueless NBC page, whom he claims is destined to either one day run the network or "we will all die by his hand." No other sitcom has been worth watching since "Seinfeld."
- Of course, there are the Comedy Central staples, "The Daily Show," The Colbert Report," and "South Park." They remain as biting and hilarious as ever. Last week's "South Park" was about Satan holding a "My Super Sweet 16"-style Halloween bash at the W Hotel in Los Angeles. The only thing funnier is an episode of "My Super Sweet 16" on MTV, which I catch from time to time as a way of feeling good about my own privileged position in life and thanking my parents I'm somehow not a raging, spoiled brat.
- I started watching "Heroes" on NBC, one of the more popular break-out hits among the kiddies this year. It's well-conceived, but somewhat obvious in it's plotting. I watch it in fast-forward, more curious about how and when the writing will derail like on "Lost."
- I was somehow able to convert a football-ignorant Rolling Bones blog contributor to the sublime pleasures of "NFL Films Presents." Almost impossible to find without an extra smart DVR, this ESPN regular breaks down the league into its most curious stories with the best behind-the-scenes footage and in-game audio of any sport. So far there have been pieces on the municipal ownership of The Green Bay Packers, the 24-year career of Morton Andersen, ordinary people who share names with NFL legends, and the peculiar popularity of Phil Collins "In The Air Tonight" during pre-game warmups. All perfectly edited and narrated by Steve Sabol.
- The Cartoon Network's "Robot Chicken" is consistently surprising and hilarious in sending up pop culture with stop-motion animation of action figures doing naughty and sick things.
- And "The Office" on NBC might not have me rolling off the couch so far this season, but they have succeeded in keeping the romantic plot to the sidelines while offering cringe-inducing moments like Micheal (Steve Carrell) proving his tolerance by kissing a homosexual employee.
There's plenty more out there, but those are the essentials. And we've all got to save some time for football games. And human contact.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Twyla Tharp bring's Bob Dylan's music to Broadway in "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and she gives us all a taste of the revolutionary power of a preening dufus parading around with a giant glittered novelty guitar and crooning "Like a Rolling Stone."
Oh, good grief.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
The following aren't the most memorable movie quotes, but ones that I personally find my myself quoting often for whatever reason. So I figured, why not make a game out of it here on "Rolling Bones". The only clues I'll give you is that each quote is from one of my favorite movies of all time, and each movie is only represented once.
1) “In fact, I was a member of the board when we drafted it, so quite the opposite.”
2) “Best damn chicken in the state.”
3) “Are we…black?”
4) “You overcook it, it defeats its own purpose.”
5) “I’m stayin’. I’m finishing my coffee.”
6) “He’s gone. And we couldn’t do nuttin’ about it.”
7) “No, thank you, I take it black, like my men.”
8) “I locate mandolin strings in the middle of Austin. I prize the rent out of the local Hebrews.”
9) “Why don’t you have the steak? Then maybe I can get a little surf-and-turf action.”
10) “Where’d you get this jacket?”
A shiny new donkey to whoever gets the most movies correct (extra points for naming the character and/or actor who said it). So I just want to wish you all good luck - We're all counting on you.
WARNING: ALL ANSWERS ARE NOW PROVIDED IN THE COMMENTS SECTION
Friday, October 20, 2006
Way to go, Sal! You popped your sports talk cherry! Now go stick it back up your ass.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Long before "The Daily Show" and while "Saturday Night Live" floundered in irrelevance, there was HBO's "Not Necessarily The News." Flashback to 1987, and admire the brilliant editing. Ah, Reagan, threats of nuclear armageddon and Communism. Those were the days.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
If A-Rod (and the other overpaid, past-their-prime all star hitters in the Yanks lineup) had actually done their jobs in the ALDS against Detroit, maybe Cory Lidle would have been at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday afternoon getting ready for Game 2 of the ALCS instead of flying a plane along the East River.
By no means am I trying to make light of this tragic accident, but can you really argue that I don't have a valid point?
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The first vote I ever cast was an absentee ballot in the 1992 presidential election for H. Ross Perot. If there could ever be a better indication I am unfit to select my leaders, it alludes my imagination. (Mostly, I was pretty baked at the time and thought it would be funny. It was.)
I didn't vote in 1996, and in 2000 I voted for Rick Lazio in the New York Senate race against Hillary Clinton. Not because I like Lazio (did anyone?) but because I despised Clinton's entitled, shrill, grating persona.
I voted for Gore and Kerry, and look how that turned out.
So now I'm returning to my roots. And judging by the 63 percent of eligible voters who routinely do not vote in mid-term elections, I'm not alone.
I won't vote in this midterm election because my vote simply won't count, in the sense that it can't possibly decide the outcome. Added to which, gerrymandered districts trick you into thinking you are a member of a representative republic when you are merely a cog in a cynical machine set to a pre-determined outcome.
There are plenty of good reasons not to vote. And appealing to my patriotism or willingness to commit a symbolic act ain't any kind of temptation. I prefer to act realistically and leave the symbolism to poets.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Greetings, blog reader,
Notice anything about today?
Yes, October 10 happens to be the birthday of Thelonious Monk, Peter Coyote, Bradley Whitford, David Lee Roth, Tanya Tucker, Brett Favre, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Chris Penn, Svetlana Bakhridinova, and the nation of Fiji.
It's also the anniversary of the Hurricanes' defeat of the Devils for their first-ever post-Hartford regular season win, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton's second marriage, the deaths of Orson Welles and Christopher Reeve, and Rush Limbaugh's announcement that he was addicted to painkillers and hitting the rehab.
It is also World Mental Health Day.
Yep, today is full of great things!
Oh right. It is also the birthday of one D. Bones. That's right: 32 years of OJ-hating, goatee-wearing, Paris Hilton-slandering, morbidly bad football-watching, apocalypse-forecasting, Billy Joel-mocking, God-denying, right-wing talk radio-listening, Flanders-quoting, Bruce-loving, occasionally complaining, neurotically cleaning, pineapple juice-guzzling, soy milk-sipping, vocabulary-flexing...well, you get the point.
Happy birthday, Bones!
Now you can get back to "Nanny 911" and celebrating your youth.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Bones and I are stumped, so I'm turning to you, remaining 1.5 blog readers, for help on this important quandry.
We're told these crazy terrorist hijackers are blowing themselves up for, among other things, the promise of 72 virgins. Well, who exactly are these virgins? Are they women (or more likely, young girls) being punished for something they did in life and sentenced to a hell that involves being loveslaves to hairy, socially inept terrorists? Do the terrorists get to pick which 72 they get, perhaps one or two they had summertime crushes on during Jihad camp? Or are they just afterlife nymphs who don't really exist?
I can't imagine there are really enough dead virgins for each one of these deluded "martyrs" to get 72. Or is that why their version of god kills so many innocent people, to restock the virgin supply every so often?
(Disclaimer for the obvious-challenged: No, I don't think these virgins really exist, or that these terrorists actually qualify as martyrs, or that their concept of heaven is even remotely close to what really happens when you murder thousands of people. But if these guys are staking their (in many cases, once-promising) lives on those 72 chicas, don't you think they might have some conception of who they'll be dealing with?)
Monday, October 02, 2006
Friday, September 29, 2006
Now I hate terrorists as much as the next guy. And don't exactly care how they are treated if caught. Peel their eyelids off and make them watch film of Barbra Streisand dancing nude, I say.
But see, the whole idea of the rule of law is not only to punish the guilty, but to protect the innocent. And just because the government says someone is guilty, doesn't make it so (see: I don't know, tens of thousands of courtroom acquitals every year; or, if you are in a war-on-terror frame of mind: this).
This is a dark time for our country. Not only has our president thrown out the writ of habeus corpus and attempted to justify torture (which doesn't produce reliable information and creates nothing but new terrorists). But I'm actually finding myself cheering for Hillary Clinton.
Damn you, George Bush!
Monday, September 25, 2006
We're glad football is back in New Orleans. We're glad $185 million put the SuperDome back together. We're even glad that UPS is sponsoring the Monday Night Football broadcast.
But did anyone consider that the company's slogan might not be the best image to run over a shot of the SuperDome on the way to commercial?
Friday, September 22, 2006
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
Keith Olbermann makes me proud to be a Cornellian. And an American. And someone who thinks.
I'm not exactly sure if it's fair to blame the Bush administration for the development gridlock at Ground Zero or the Clinton-bashing miniseries "Path to 9/11." But what the hell. A real leader would have found a way to unite this country instead of rending it in half and shitting on the Constitution.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
The question on everyone's mind is a simple one, though difficult to answer: Are we safer today than we were five years ago?
I'd say it's hard to argue we are not safer. I mean, just by virtue of being hyper-alert and taking all threats seriously. No matter how incompetent and aloof you might think our president is (and for me, that's plenty), I doubt he'll be clearing brush and contemplating stem cell research the next time he gets a daily briefing titled "Osama bin Laden Determined to Attack U.S." (He'll more likely be ordering torture and violating civil rights willy nilly, but that's another topic.)
So maybe if we were completely clueless and unprotected then, we have a smidge of a clue and some defenses today. And there is something to be said about providing a convenient target in Iraq for those Middle Easterners who want to kill Americans. I'm pretty sure this wasn't the plan (didn't really have one of those), but for an Iranian, Iraqi, Saudi or Pakastani who wants to blow himself up and take some infidels with him, it's a lot easier to hop over to Baghdad and strap on a ready-made go-boom suit than spend years plotting in New Jersey.
But of course, we are not safe. Our borders are porous, our airports like sieves, our ports unprotected, our power plants unguarded, our Homeland Security funding distributed like pork, our intelligence community dysfunctional, our military stretched and undermanned, international nukes unnaccounted for and on and on and on.
There is much work to do even if we never will be perfectly safe. An enemy set on killing Americans with no value on his own life outside his ability to carry out his mission is not one that can easily be foiled. And if we've learned one thing from al Qaida, it's that they take the long-view and have patience to spare.
So take some solace with a pinch of vigilance on this day, our Sept. 12. We are still alive, if also still under attack.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Not sure why this thought came to me. And all apologies for its misogynistic tone, but...
Have you ever used the word "gi-normous"? Obviously it's a hybrid of "gigantic" and "enormous". But there's only really one word which always seems follow it. And that word is "breasts". Think about it.
And while I've seen many lists of all the different words used for the noun (jugs, funbags, bombs, etc.), I never hear about all the wondrous adjectives that usually precede it.
There are many such adjectives which also seem to be almost exclusively reserved for a woman's upper torso -- here's what I came up with so far:
bodacious (as used with "ta-tas")
Have a ginormous weekend, everyone!
Monday, September 04, 2006
* - With contributions from D. Bones
In each of my summers as a camp counselor, I found myself suffering through my campers' musical "tastes." One year it was Britney. Another was boy bands (98 Sync'in Backstreet Degrees or something like that). And one year it was Rent.
Rent troubled me. Here were a bunch of 12-year-old girls singing on about their stashes being pure and dancing at the Catwalk Club, and some sort of goddam candles that would never stay lit. I'm no prude, but it struck me as odd that a group of teenybopper suburbanites would have such a longing for the lives of AIDS-stricken squatters in Alphabet City.
But then I figured, I've never seen the show. Who am I to judge?
Well, now I've seen the movie. Man, that was terrible.
Granted, I've never seen the play, so perhaps I'm not in any real position to judge. But I'll take those odds. I mean, how can you take seriously any work of art that includes this impassioned line, sung at the tail end of one of the key songs: "I've been trying/I'm not lying/No one's perfect/I've got baggage!"
(Answered a few lines later with: "I've got baggage too." And something about an AZT break.)
I figure this is roughly the same as Hamlet saying "I'm going to take some 'me' time, pop some Zoloft and see if we can't just work it out over malteds."
I suppose I could forgive some of the odd lyric choices (is it really fair to include Maya Angelou in the same stanza as mutual masturbation? I mean, really?) if the music seemed to have been written by anyone who could carry a tune. Maybe dissonant tones were in keeping with the squatter lifestyle (oops, sorry - la vie Boheme), but I suspect not. The only thing worse than music that doesn't resonate in any kind of soulful or even melodic way is music that doesn't resonate soufully or melodically, but still gets stuck in your head. Fucking "Seasons of Love."
One of the characters, a budding rocker named Roger, seems hell-bent on writing one good song before he dies. (I don't know about you, but if I were a rock musician and had still not completed an entire song, I might consider other career options.) Sorry for the spoilers, but Roger (singer/perpetrator of the "I've got baggage" line) falls for, but loses, a junkie named Mimi (who has baggage, too). When he finally decides he really needs her, he ends up writing his one great song.
Here are the words:
If this were my one great song, I'd kill myself.
As We Said Our Goodbyes
Can't Get Them Out Of My Mind
And I Find I Can't Hide (From)
The Ones That Took Me By Surprise
The Night You Came Into My Life
Where There's Moonlight
I See Your Eyes
How'd I Let You Slip Away
When I'm Longing So To Hold You
Now I'd Die For One More Day
'Cause There's Something I Should
Have Told You
Yes There's Something I ShouldHave
When I Looked Into Your Eyes
Why Does Distance Make Us Wise?
You Were The Song All Along
And Before The Song Dies
I Should Tell You I Should Tell You
I Have Always Loved You
You Can See It In My Eyes
Perhaps this was an intentional choice by songwriter Jonathan Larson, to make his plot-hanging, poignant song (sung to a dying, though not really dying, Mimi) a really bad song. After all, it was Larson who penned this, not Roger the unsuccessful rocker. Surely he could have written this dude a quality rock song if he wanted him to have one.
Then I considered the rest of the soundtrack. Maybe not.
Granted, there were a couple good songs. And I was excited to see it, having lived on Avenue C for a year or so (though it was in 2004). I figured I'd at least see some images of the old neighborhood, and, heck, maybe even end up finding this to be something of a guilty pleasure. But for this once, my curmudgeonly self was proven right.
Even if you find some appeal in the music, there's the whole concept of the play/movie, the idealization of life in Alphabet City, circa 1989. I've never understood why it held any kind of allure for the people I assume went to see Rent (or even the main characters of the film, the suburbanite kids from Scarsdale and Miss Porter's who ended up living there).
Ok, maybe I can sort of understand that as a form of rejection of the oppressive confines of suburbia. What I can't understand is anyone wanting to pay money and spend a couple hours of their lives watching it.
What are these characters fighting for, exactly? What sort of noble battles are they waging? The right to continue squatting, shooting up heroin and creating bad performance art in abandoned buildings on the Lower East Side? They didn't seem to be contributing much, culturally, to anything. (One character seems to be an ousted professor with a theory of "actual reality" that no one endorses, but the rest don't seem to be doing much intellectual heavy-lifting.) I'm all for art, and I'm all for affordable rent (an oxymoron now in most of the East Village/Alphabet City). But are we supposed to feel bad for these kids from Scarsdale who were apparently driven to destitution out of a desire not to spend Hannukah with a loving, though perhaps overbearing, family?
Aside from having AIDS, these were not the people who were actually suffering during the 1980s or on the Lower East Side, as made perfectly clear by a homeless woman who gets captured on camera by Mark, the budding filmmaker from Scarsdale who believes that ever having his work circulated in the media is tantamount to selling out. The homeless woman becomes enraged when she sees Mark filming her, saying she doesn't want to be part of his movement. And she asks him for money -- which he either doesn't have or doesn't want to give her -- before she knowingly moves on.
Having grown up in a city, I would have found it much more entertaining to have someone set up a camera at one of those suburban high school drinking-in-the-woods shindigs, and watched that. It's the same thing, essentially, just with rhyming music.
Maybe I'm not giving enough creedance to a meditation on life with AIDS. (I was born the same year AIDS was discovered, so I can't say I have much memory of those days.) It did have a couple of moving scenes dealing with the idea of an impending death and potentially being alone for it. But if you're looking for that topic, why not stick with Angels in America?
Of course, seeing Rent made me glad for one thing: the ability to more thoroughly enjoy Team America's parody of it (Lease) and the genius song, "Everyone's got AIDS!"
Friday, September 01, 2006
I'm not gonna bother with a full recap of last night's MTV Video Music Awards, assuming most of you out there aren't 12 years old and infatuated with Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance (neither of which I'd even heard about before yesterday).
Instead, I offer this handy list (complete with YouTube evidence) of Cracked's "Five Most Absurd Moments in VMA History." It's not exactly complete, and it sure doesn't go back far enough (who the hell was really taping the show in 1986?). And it neglects Axl Rose's supposed "Guns 'N Roses" comeback from a couple of years ago when he showed up looking like Manhattan plastic surgery cat-lady Jocelyn Wildenstein and playing with a dude whose head was covered by a KFC bucket.
But it's entertaining. Far more entertaining than anything I fast-forwarded through last night.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
My summer beach reading this year has been a little depressing. I probably should have figured this out when buying a book on the history of al-Qaeda and the plot that led to 9/11.
But it did reveal a few enlightening tidbits about just who these guys determined to kill us in the name of 72 virgins are, exactly.
Take, for example, Osama bin Laden. In his pre-psycho-terrorist, pre-Whitney Houston fantasy days, this jolly jihadist could often be found watching American television classics like "Bonanza" (his favorite) and "Fury," which was apparently about a boy and a silky black stallion. He was one of the few bin Laden boys (he was the 17th of 54 kids born to his father's 21 wives) who didn't get sent to Lebanon for schooling, and this made him stand out as one of the less worldly ones. A former childhood pal described him as "almost girlish."
After he became a scary, creepy radical fundamentalist teenager, he still found time for extracurricular hijinks, like cutting records about jihad:
"Although he was opposed to the playing of musical instruments, he organized some of his friends into an a cappella singing group. They even recorded some of their tunes about jihad, which for them meant the internal struggle to improve themselves, not make holy war. Osama would make copies and give them each a tape."
Later, when he became serious about his religion, Osama had four wives and bought a four-unit apartment building so he could keep one family in each.
When he and his cohorts decided to make the foray into Afghanistan to help fight the Soviets, they were so inept at fighting that the Afghans asked them to leave. (It's not particularly useful when you're trying to fight an invading army and the guys helping you are really just obsessing about martyring themselves, after all.)
But they stayed. And they built caves using the excavators and other heavy machinery owned by Osama's daddy's extremely wealthy construction company.
And then there's Sayyib Qutb, the exiled Egyptian with a Hitler mustache who spent a few months in the United States circa 1948 and ended up turning his poor temper into the intellectual basis of today's fundamentalist movement.
As far as I can tell, this guy was just a hugely repressed fuddy-duddy. He traveled around New York and Colorado and a few other places and wrote angrily about the people around him, turning pet peeves into an intellectual exercise. He was particularly repulsed by women and how...oh god...they tried to corrupt the men around them. Oh!
This is Qutb on football:
"The foot does not play any role in the game. Instead, each player attempts to take the ball in his hands, run with it or throw it to the goal, while the players on the other team hinder him by any means, including kicking in the stomach, or violently breaking his arms or legs...Meantime, the fans cry out, 'Break his neck! Crack his head!'"
(So horrifyingly violent, this calls for mass murder of an entire civilization!)
This is Qutb on the American woman:
"[She] knows full well of the beauties of her body, her face, her exciting eyes, her full lips, her bulging breasts, her full buttocks and her smooth legs. She wears bright colors that awaken the primitive sexual instincts, hiding nothing, but adding to that the thrilling laugh and the bold look."
This is Qutb on haircuts: "Whenever I go to a barber, I return home and redo my hair with my own hands."
(No wonder they hate us! Jihad!)
I'm not sure exactly the point of knowing all this stuff, except maybe to bring this whole global terrorism thing into an even stranger light. We're at war with a reformed Bonanza lover and failed wannabe mercenary (slash-Bobby Brown rival) who's trying to destroy civilization as we know it. And he was inspired by a sexually repressed misanthrope who hated football and wasted money on grooming.
What fucking assholes.
It would really all be quite comical if it hadn't turned out to be so tragic.
[Author's note: I wanted to wait to post this to avoid blog overload, but I didn't expect Bones to keep cranking 'em out as he has been. So please read the other recent posts as well - I don't want to be accused of "blog-blocking"]
Does A-Rod deserved to get booed right now? I think you'd be crazy not to say yes, especially after that series against the Angels.
But then there's this other question/request going around - shouldn't the fans NOT boo A-Rod, but rather give him their support and encouragement to hopefully help him out of this horrific season-long slump? Obviously, booing him is not going to help matters, and may actually make things worse. Even Brian Cashman has been critical of the fans for such behavior. Let's prop him up rather than tear him down.
Is this what things have come to now? Now it's the fucking FANS' fault A-Rod sucks?
Now the fans are supposed to worry about the self esteem of a guy who can get more houses, cars, and road trip blow-jobs than everyone on the Mets combined (well, except maybe Lo Duca)?
I find it amazing how much we coddle the athletes of today. At least other celebrities have the "stalk-a-razzi" following their every move, fashion, and drunken anti-Semitic diatribe.
But the athletes? Oh - don't boo him. It'll hurt his feelings and he won't be able to concentrate.
This ain't fucking Little League. And this team ain't the Devil Rays. This is the New York Fucking Yankees. And when you come here, you'd better be able to handle EVERYTHING: Fans, media, rush hour traffic, terrorists, runners in scoring position. But all that is just warm-up for the biggest pressure-cooker of them all - October. It's what this team is all about. And if you can't handle everything else, how can you handle the playoffs?
["You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse? You cocksucker? You can't take this - How do expect to take the abuse you get on a sit?" - Alec Baldwin as Blake in Glengarry Glen Ross]
Derek Jeter - A true caption ever since his Opening Day home run in 1996. Booed by Fans? You bet - he was mired in a slump for the first half of the 2004 season, and the fans got on him, despite all his former success. So you know what he did? He went on a ridiculous tear in the second half and ended up hitting just under .300. His postseason batting average is over .300 by the way.
Tino Martinez - took over first base after the retirement of Donnie Baseball, who was perhaps the most beloved fan favorite at The Stadium since Thurman Munson. Got booed mercilessly for every ground out and strikeout for the entire month of April 1996. Then? Then he went on to became "Tino". He did have a rocky playoff start with the Yanks in 96, sharing time with Cecil Fielder. But every Yankee fan remembers his grand slam in 1998 against the Padres that broke open a 5-5 tie in Game 1 - hit into the upper deck in right, followed by the shower of beer cups being thrown in the air as the camera fortunately lingered on the crowd after the ball landed.
Even Jason Giambi had a similar fan experience to Tino, before breaking out of it officially with his walk-off gland slam in the rain against the Twins in extra innings. He's still no Tino, mind you - but I digress.
Even Mo? Well, yes, since even the invincible Mariano Rivera has been booed a few times in the past couple of seasons, especially during one bad stretch where he blew a few saves in the span of a week. His postseason resume speaks for itself.
The point is that the boo-birds HAVE to boo the players, partly since the players can't boo themselves. But basically, we boo because we give a shit, and any intelligent player realizes that. In other cities, maybe they don't do it that way - but in New York we tell it like it is. In a sense, we are going through the bad times along with the players so that the players who can survive it are that much better prepared for the October pressure, and the fan-to-player bond can grow even stronger in the postseason, where our jeers can turn to cheers and we become a true 26th man. We'll quickly forgive a mediocre season for a clutch playoff performance any year.
Then there are the others who couldn't hack it in pinstripes, despite being successful before (and even after) their brief stints with the Yankees: Kenny Rogers, Jose Contreras, Jeff Weaver, Terry Mulholland, Hideki Irabu, Kevin Brown. We boo-ed their sorry asses right out of town and never looked back.
Finally, it's not as if we were booing A-Rod when he got here. And when he comes up to bat, we're still cheering him on to finally get that big hit. But when he strikes out AGAIN with that man on third and less than 2 out, or pops up when he could've at least moved the runner - if you don't boo then, then you're just not paying attention.
And anyone who thinks we should stop should get their head out of A-Rod's ass.
October is one month away - and we, the true fans, still have a job to do.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
But when I was asked recently about the relative merits of his music, it was difficult for me to answer right away.
As a 6-year-old growing up in suburban New Jersey, there was no doubt he was the beginning and end of my musical tastes. The first 8-track tape I owned was “Glass Houses,” and I wore the thing out to the point where it wouldn’t even play.
When I took piano lessons at age 9, one of the first real songs I learned (after “Bone Sweet Bone”) was “Piano Man.” His songs were piano-friendly, of course. And not all that difficult to play.
And looking back, the man has written more than a few undeniably great songs. “Piano Man,” “New York State of Mind,” and “Honesty” are standards -- suitable to be covered by world-renown pop orchestras or doomed to accompanying elevator passengers. It’s hard to resist the charms of “Miami 2017,” “Captain Jack,” “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant,” "Angry Young Man," “Vienna,” “Goodnight Saigon,” and “Only the Good Die Young.”
But here’s the thing. As I grew up, I began to turn to music more and more for something beyond a nice melody or a cute lyric. Which is why my musical touchstone became the far more formidable and enduring Bruce Springsteen.
Billy Joel is a great songwriter, but his songs don’t exactly live beyond the four minutes it takes to hear them. Perhaps the exceptions are “New York State of Mind” and “Goodnight Saigon,” which stir both nostalgia and melancholy. They can be both meditative and rousing.
But if 1,000 Billy Joels toiled on 1,000 typewriters for 1,000 years, they couldn’t write anything approaching the agonizing emotion of Springsteen’s “Backstreets.”
I listen to music for all kinds of reasons, and there is a place for them all. Music can accompany you on long car rides, it can pump you up for a run around the park or a big game, and it can play in the background to help you study organic chemistry. It can also provide emotional sustenance and help teach you more about the human condition.
What do you really get from “Big Shot”? It’s a third hand knock-off of Elton John’s “The Bitch is Back” which is itself a knock-off of countless Rolling Stones tunes, including “Bitch.”
And how many Billy Joel songs even rock? He’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (a fatally flawed institution, to be sure), and so much of his music owes more to Tin Pan Alley, The Brill Building, Broadway and Latin flavoring than “Satisfaction” or “Like a Rolling Stone.”
Billy Joel is to “You Were the One” and “Don’t Ask Me Why” as Paul McCartney is to “Michelle” and “Silly Love Songs.”
And how about “Uptown Girl”? It was once (a long, long time ago) maybe a pleasing update of 1950s “Leader of the Pack”/Frankie-Valli-style pop. Now it is a whiny scourge of soured sentiment, punctuated by a real-life busted marriage.
Maybe I can be accused of unfairly picking on “Uptown Girl.” I mean, Joel has written dozens of songs on about a dozen albums. But those albums aren’t exactly deep with wall-to-wall quality. I like “All for Leyna,” “Close to the Borderline,” "Leave a Tender Moment Alone," “You May Be Right,” “Stilleto,” “The Great Suburban Showdown,” "It's Just a Fantasy," and “Sleeping With The Television On.” But these songs are fluff and filler compared to a guy like Springsteen who holds back more than he ever puts on his painstakingly constructed albums. Aside from some lamentable offerings on his first two albums, the "Dancing in the Dark" video, the mistake of not combining the best of “Human Touch” and “Lucky Town” into one disc, a bit of “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and some of “Devils and Dust,” Springsteen’s core discography doesn’t leave you wondering if he just emptied the vault to complete the project.
And speaking of broken marriages, the bust-up of Springsteen’s marriage produced every song on “Tunnel of Love,” including the downright frightening sentiments of “Brilliant Disguise,” in which a man sings:
Tonight our bed is cold
I’m lost in the darkness of our love
God have mercy on the man
Who doubts what he’s sure of.”
And then there’s “Stolen Car,” in which Bruce imagines a married man so tortured by regret and devoid of an identity, he drives along in a stolen car, hoping to get caught. But he never does, underscoring how hopelessly alone and ghostly insignificant he is.
In comparison, Billy Joel offers us these strained metaphors:
“Well we all have a faceWhat exactly are these leather faces? Is "The Stranger" some S&M freak?
That we hide away forever
And we take them out and
Show ourselves when everyone has gone
Some are satin some are steel
Some are silk and some are leather
They're the faces of the stranger
But we love to try them on.”
“My Life"? It's the theme song to the Tom Hanks-in-drag sitcom “Bosom Buddies,” sure. But, when considered along with “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)", still nothing more than some effete bits of domestic rebellion. Not exactly The Animals’ “It’s My Life,” covered in ferocious fashion by Springsteen during the 70’s in a way you can actually hear the bad blood between a father and son. And nothing like the frayed-nerve yearning for freedom expressed in his own “Adam Raised a Cain” or “Independence Day.”
OK, OK. This is the flimsiest strawman argument ever. I mean, comparing Billy Joel to Bruce Springsteen is absurd. Bruce is an icon. He's a heavyweight. He belongs in the same discussion as The Who and The Ramones and The Band. He followed all those guys and Dylan and Johnny Cash and Chuck Berry, and he saved rock music when it was in dark peril, bringing it back to its roots and taking it to ballsy new heights.
Billy Joel stands perhaps a step or two higher than Jon Bon Jovi and many steps below his heroes, The Beatles and Ray Charles. The obvious comparison to Billy is Elton. But I give Elton the edge because Taupin's lyrics lend him the absurdity of pretension Joel can't afford as a supposedly earnest singer-songwriter. And I'd say no Joel song has ever affected me the same way as "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters," or "Amoreena." Or "Candle in the Wind" did before it abdicated Marilyn's myth to Diana's.
In Billy’s defense, he puts on a damn fine live show. He works hard, sweats, plays to the back seats and invests himself in his vocals. But for the most part, those vocals aren’t worth the investment.
I suppose he manages to evince some of the emotion culled from his romantic escapades and the demons who provoke his drinking and occasionally prod him to steer his cars into various Long Island trees.
But when his outlet for such emotions is “I Go To Extremes,” I think he’s missing the boat. And mostly, he just lowers his voice into that Ray Charles faux-soul drawl. It’s more of a performance -- like putting on a costume for two hours. Bruce, on the other hand, sings in his own distinctive voice and doesn’t try to sound like he’s black, even when covering something like Gary “U.S.” Bonds’ “Quarter to Three.”
A Springsteen concert is part confessional, part political rally, part barroom bash, part church testimonial. Billy’s concerts serve as a jukebox greatest hits parade or karaoke sing-along.
When it comes to social commentary, Billy belts out “Allentown,” “Goodnight Saigon,” or “Downeaster Alexa.”
These are good songs. Some of his best. But do they really stack up to Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” “Atlantic City,” "The River," “Youngstown,” or “My City of Ruins”?
After 9/11, both Bruce and Billy played separate nationally televised all-star charity concerts. These shows served to unite and heal the country as much as to raise funds for the victims’ families. Bruce previewed the desperate fountain of inspiration that would eventually yield “The Rising” with a solemn, rousing rendition of “My City of Ruins.” Originally written for Asbury Park, it was exactly what the country needed to hear in a way we hardly even knew just days after the world changed forever.
In comparison, Billy sang his chestnut “Miami 2017: Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway,” which he told the crowd he wrote as a bit of science fiction in the 1970s during the city’s fiscal crises. “I never thought it would come true,” he said.
And it was fitting, and moving, but still somewhat empty. I mean, what value could be gained from singing about some dystopic vision of the city that never came (and never will come) to be? The devastation he sings about in “Miami 2017” (burning churches in Harlem, aircraft carriers giving The Yankees a lift, the mafia moving to Mexico) was outlandish and self-imposed. I guess we can’t really hold it against Joel (other than for not writing anything relevant for over 15 years), but at least Springsteen had the fortune to have the perfect song all ready to re-dedicate to a more needy cause.
And that’s why I need to listen to Springsteen. Flying to Thailand after living in New York before and after 9/11, I needed “The Rising” to help me stay connected. To remind me what was lost that day. And what was gained.
A fringe but solid band like The Black Crowes might not delve into the same kind of emotional terrain on a regular basis. But they have a soulful white-southern-boy authenticity that allows you to at least imagine they are a younger Rolling Stones/ Faces/ Allman Brothers Band fusion. When they play, you feel like they mean every note.
U2 can offer the same kind of nourishment. They played a concert at Madison Square Garden in October 2001, and songs like “Elevation,” “Beautiful Day,” “Until the End of the World,” and “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” took on a new resonance. These are stirring, tingling, occasionally angry, yet always hopeful songs. They demand and reward faith.
Billy Joel? He’s the guy you call on when we’re all in the mood for a melody.
Monday, August 28, 2006
But according to a new poll, 36 percent of Americans believe federal government officials may have assisted in the 9/11 attacks or intentionally failed to prevent them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East.
In other words, more than one-third of this country is completely, hopelessly, O.J.-jury nuts.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Has anyone been to an airport since the new rules went into effect? I just flew from Newark to Houston for work, and my (severely biased) grades for the airports are: Newark: D, Houston: A-
I decided rather than risk losing my saline solution and other assorted salves, balms, and ointments (actually, I think balms are permitted), I would pack everything in a single bag and check it. That was a big mistake. Got to Newark about 5:15 a.m. on Thursday for a 6:55 a.m. flight. First problem: If you're checking a bag at Continental there's only ONE line for everyone (except First Class). And there's a lot of fucking people at the airport at 5:15 a.m.! At about 5:55 I finally got my boarding pass and a baggage sticker on my bag. 40 minutes gone - at least I had my iPod.
Now problem #2: You'd think they would just take your bag and drop it behind them on that conveyor belt, right? No - they make you stand on ANOTHER line with your "checked" bag so that you can just leave it in front a big scanner-type machine which will (eventually) scan the contents at some point after you walk away. No identity check, no bar code swipe -- just put your bag down and go. What the fuck did I need to wait on a line for! Ten minutes wasted to carry a bag 10 feet.
6:10 a.m.: Now I have to go through security, which thankfully didn't seem to have a long line. But here's problem #3: It starts out as one line (fine, now I'm used to it), but then it inexplicably SPLITS into two lines toward the end (So what, you ask?). Well it turns out that one way takes you a short 15 feet or so to the last security person you'll have to show your ID and boarding pass to before you pick a metal detector line and start taking off your shoes. That seemed to be about a 2 minute wait. Then there's the other way, which of course is where I ended up -- and for reasons beyond comprehension, this line goes PAST that last security person until you hit a wall about 20 feet later, then turns around and takes you back toward the metal detectors again. It was about five times as long as the other way and took about 20 minutes!!! I'm convinced these assholes at Newark did it just to fuck with us.
I got to the gate about 6:30, just in time to board.
Oh yeah, Houston Airport? I checked in online before I left. Got to the airport at 11:30 a.m. Dropped my bag off at the "bag drop" (for those who checked in online) and they actually TOOK THE BAG FROM ME. Five minutes. Breezed through security in less than five minutes. Now I had almost two hours before my flight departed. What a huge difference in efficiency. So why the A minus? The minus is because they make everyone enter at Terminal C, yet my flight was leaving out of Terminal E (good thing I had all that time since it was quite a walk). At least I had time to watch the start of the Yanks-Bosox series before boarding -- just long enough to see A-Rod ["The Best (paid) Player in Baseball"] fuck up another opportunity with men on base.
I think I'm done with flying -- it just gets worse and worse. Or I'm moving to Houston. Either way, I guess the terrorists really won after all.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
And just to prove that fact, I'm delighted to announce T-Perl and Arielle as new Rolling Bones guest bloggers. Because talking to each other through high-tech media makes a lot more sense than, you know, actual human contact.
I'm looking forward to what they have to say. And then to complain about how seldom they post.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Joe Scarborough debates the president's stupidity, complete with some video evidence. I think the key to understanding the question lies in the various components that amount to overall "intelligence." There's reading comprehension, mathematical skill, wit, memory retention, creativity, social skill, spacial relations, abstract thinking, athletic intelligence, logic, extemporaneous thinking and many, many others. Mostly, Bush shows a staggering inability to articulate even simple thoughts.
But what Bush lacks, above all, is intellectual curiosity. (The dude never left the country until he became president). Combine this with his insistence every complex problem has a simple solution, his refusal to hold anyone accountable for obvious mistakes and his apparent easy manipulation by ideologues like Cheney and Rumsfeld. And I don't know if he's stupid, but he sure is dangerous.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
In the spirit of Frank Zappa pissing all over CNN's crossfire goons in 1986, here's a clip of Marilyn Manson sparring with Bill O'Reilly. If ever there was a spokesman for "You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover," it's Manson.
Conservative blowhards will never understand the value of art that shocks and disturbs. They are too busy judging other people and affirming their dogma to learn anything new about the world they inhabit.
Anyway, here's my latest opus, depicting the kind of folks who spend their days making kissy-kissy noises at horses on TVs.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
But I was surprised by the limited, measured, thoughtful responses I received. Those responses (and my replies) below:
Nice piece in today's paper--a breath of fresh air in a paper too many of whose other columnists indulge in fatuous pieties....hence this bit of fan mail, to counter some of the negative emails I expect you'll be receiving...keep the faith (unfaith?)...Michael Brailove
Thanks for the kind words, Michael. Your email was actually the first and only response I’ve received today. But it’s early…
Hey Rick: Right on. Witty, true and also very sad. A great book is ”The Born Again Skeptic’s Guide To The Bible” by Ruth Hurmence Green, first printed in 1979 but still completely relevant. Good luck in this random world. Gerry Hubbard
Thank you for your kind words and book recommendation. Although I can’t imagine there’s much more I need to learn about being skeptical, I believe you can never read enough about anything. Take care.
A friend of yours, Marisel, asked us to send you an e-mail to introduce you to the Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotional. Click the link below or copy and paste it into your web browser to view the Daily Devotional online You can also sign up for the Daily Devotional from this link.
Your friend had the following message for you:
Hey there - I read your article in the paper today and it depressed me that you don't believe in God because of random acts of senseless violence that "God allows" to happen. Just thought I'd tell you that God doesn't allow bad to happen. (e.g. why does a barber allow people to not get a haircut? is it perhaps because they didn't make the step and GO to him???)
God created humans with free will. Unfortunately humans, make bad choices and don't "allow" themselves to believe in God. Despite the fact that all the while, God is crying out to them - choose me! Nevertheless, whatever does happen, God manages to work through it for good. EVERYTHING IN THIS WORLD HAPPENS FOR THE GOOD OF GOD'S PURPOSE. so I read this and thought of you. I hope that one day, you decide to choose God and to believe in HIm. It is easy to be mad at him if you don't know the truth, but God will show you the truth, and the truth will set you free. Just read it in his word (below).
I don't normally do this sort of thing, e-mail a stranger and I don't consider myself a freak, but I suppose you can label me a freak if it means I love the Lord and accept Christ as my personal savior. But i guess you can believe whatever you like. I am just doing my job as God's messenger. so - read on and be inspired.. (or freaked out, whatever). :> God Bless..
p.s. you're wrong about the buddhists - they are petrified of death because they are soooooo superstitious.. i should know my husband's family are all buddhists and will not even mention the word for fear that it will bring bad luck!!!!! silly.. I will say this though - you are right in that death is not something to fear-- if you are saved. any questions, feel free to email me back.. or not.. it's ok. no pressure.
I would like to start off by saying that I am indeed a Christian, but please do not assume I am writing this to convert you or change your mind. I just thought that maybe I could provide you with a different perspective.
I just finished reading your article "In a world full of doubt and pain, everyone finds his own truth" from Wednesday's (August 9) paper. I found the article to be very well written in that it was clear and, well, very blunt. As I read it, I remembered when I had thought the very same way not long ago. The line that really struck me the most was this - "So, I figure a God who lets bad things happen to good people is a God not worth worshipping."
At reading this, I immediatly consulted a book I have called "Letters from a Skeptic" by Dr. Gregory A. Boyd. It is a collection of letters from Dr. Boyd (a professor of theology) and his unbelieving father, Edward Boyd. The father writes to his son asking many common questions about God, Jesus, and other aspects of Christian theology. The elder Boyd asks his son this, "If God created this world and cares about it, why is there so damn much suffering in it? (pg. 21)" It seems that you have posed a very similar question.
I am sure you enjoy living in a nation where we are given many freedoms that other countries do not have. America is a pretty decent place to call home. To paraphrase Dr. Boyd, the answer can be summed up in one word; freedom. Dr. Boyd makes the point to his father that God created mankind and gave us free will. This seems to be true seeing that we make decisions each and every day of our lives. We choose what shoes to wear, what to eat for lunch, and which route we will take to work. Personally, I believe this to be true. God gave us the right to choose. He gave us two paths, so to speak. The "right" one, and the "not-so-right" one. I think He makes it clear which is the better way, but does not force you down it. Dr. Boyd writes, "So why doesn't God intervene every time someone is going to misuse his freedom and hurt another person? The answer, I believe, is found in the nature of freedom itself. A freedom which is prevented from being exercised whenever it was going to be misused simply wouldn't be freedom. (pg. 23)" I believe God has given us a freedom that, yes, at times, damages or destroys other people. But without this freedom, we would all just be robots.. right?
I hope you find this in the least bit interesting and take it into consideration. Thank you for your time. -NC
Thank you for writing, NC. One of the many things I would never do is judge someone else for what they choose to have faith in. Especially if that someone has given the matter some deep thought, as you clearly have.
I don't fault you one second for reaching out to share your views and make a pitch (in the kindest sense) for your beliefs. I wrote a column published in a newspaper, which certainly would generate -- if not outright ask -- for responses.
But allow me one reply of my own before we agree to travel down our own paths.
I agree with Dr. Boyd when he writes, "A freedom which is prevented from being exercised whenever it was going to be misused simply wouldn't be freedom." But I don't understand how the choices we make in life have anything to do with death dealt seemingly at random. Natural disasters and illness kill more people each year than people who kill people. What wrong choice doomed them?
If someone chooses God, makes every right choice, gives selflessly to others and lives a completely pious and God-filled life...but his entire family still dies in a hurricane...is his continued devotion to God part of God's master plan? Or is it just the easiest, seemingly sanest way to rationalize the tragedy when he has nothing else to live for?
Everyone certainly needs to make these decisions themselves. And thankfully, I have never been tested to any such extreme. I wouldn't dare presume how I might behave under those circumstances. But I certainly wouldn't blame God. And I don't imagine I'd find much comfort in him, either.
Thanks again for writing. I wish you well.
Worse than the so-called news weeklies' bi-monthly investigations into something Jesus, these self-important traipses through recent history are so wistful, you can't help end up covered in wists.
Now when my generation turns 60, there won't be much need to slap ourselves on the back for having lived in the most tumultuous of times. We will all simply sit around our government-issued two-way television sets and exchange self-assured glances relaying how proud we are of President Jenna Bush.