Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Year in Review in Links - PART 2

Part 2 contains famous chefs, famous directors, and infamous pratfalls on home shopping networks. You won't want to miss them.

For part one, click here.

On the flips side - the link train continues...



Eric Ripert, one of the top chefs this country has, agrees to see what he can create with ingredients bought at a .99 cent store. Pictures here to document it!

If you're going to be convicted of child molesting, and going away for twenty years for your deeds, you might as well go out with a bang and give an awesome excuse.

Terry Gilliam is one unlucky guy. I appreciate his vision and his passion, but at some point you have to look at things and wonder if maybe you're going about it all wrong. Especially after looking at this rundown of problems he's had on his productions.

The Beastie Boy's Paul's Boutique is a masterpiece. It was back in 1989 when it came out, and it is today. Setting the stage for sampling in rap music, it really knows no equal. And now you can get every sample they used in the production of the album, right here.

I'm not going to say I wouldn't be a little weirded out going to a cock fight, but I'm not also going to say I wouldn't jump at the chance to go to one.

Television reporting is dangerous!

And so is selling things on TV! This in fact might be my favorite link of the year. The guy collapsing on the ladder, the guy who may or may not have stabbed himself, and yes, the guy who can't tell the difference between a moth and a horse. This has got it all.

No chance I wasn't going to bring up the Quincy theme song with lyrics in it. Please.

Fugu is a poisonous blowfish that is also a Japanese delicacy. This writer goes in search of it.

Atari was a huge part of my childhood. In fact, I'm not ashamed to say I still own an Atari 2600. I'll put myself up against anyone in plaque attack. This article talks about the triumphs and tribulations of the company.

Stay tuned for even more coming soon...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Year in Review - in links!

In addition to this dazzling blog, I sent out a daily collection of links I find interesting/amusing/insert your own adjective to a small group of people with mixed results.

The "Links of Interest" thrown up here randomly is a small sampling usually of what comes from that day. Anyway, recently I've been going through them, culling my favorites, and I've decided to share them. I hope you enjoy...

On the flip side: the first batch!



Michael Ian Black is a funny guy.
This proves it.

Drugs are bad. Drugs are good. Whatever your stance is on them, this article is a must read for everyone to see just how fucked up our government is when it comes to how to handle the problem. Rolling Stone really outdid itself.

Zach Galifinackis is funny. So is Michael Cera (unless he doesn't do the Arrested Development movie in which case he's painfully unfunny). The two of them together gave us this. I wish Between the Ferns was a real television show.

It's been described as the longest unedited fight scene from a movie. And I read that on the Internet, so who am I to argue? It looks like the movie is called The Protector (USA translation) or Ong Bak 2 (the Thailand title).

3 guys go about creating the D-Day battle using costumes, props, computers and themselves.

Whether you've recently been convicted of a sex crime, or are just simply interested in prison life, this article is a good read.

Could you bask in the waters at the top of Victoria Falls?

It's fun to go back now and see what was included and omitted from Indy IV in these script speculations. I especially enjoy the author's distaste for the refrigerator/atomic blast stunt.

This happened. In the United States. Within the last two years. It's frightening to think how difficult it could be to prove your innocence of a crime if the police/district attorney think you're guilty.

This might be my favorite story of the year. When ships capsize, the cargo becomes a treasure. And there are people out there willing to take huge risks to get this treasure. Read the tale of some of these men here.

I will always love me a good
con story. Especially one involving the Kennedys - however indirect that link may be.

A Japanese version of "We are the World?" Yes please. I've gotta go with Lauper as being the best here.

Lee Marvin is a badass. 60's movies are badass. Put them together and you get badass.

It must have been cool to simply learn something and then get hired by a super rich company (at the time) and told to work on a super cool project. In fact, just read this to see how cool (and uncool I guess at the end).
Link
I always knew Corey Feldman was insane. Here's proof. Stay for all 6 parts. It's worth it to hear about how awesome Lost Boys II is (was?) going to be.

What's it like in the Skywalker ranch? This guy got to find out.

Jackie Chan was not much more than a pratfall actor when he finally came over to the US with his movies. By then, too old and broken down to show off his ingenuity, he got a moderate level of success before fading away. Fortunately, we have the Internet to see just how legendary some of his work was.

Stay tuned for more end of the year links - coming soon!

Real Superheroes?

And we all thought it was a brief moment of humor in The Dark Knight, seeing people dressed as Batman, fighting crime. A clever scene from a movie showing idol worship gone wrong.

Apparently it's a whole lot realer than we thought.

This article goes into a little detail. This one from Rolling Stone goes into it a little more.

What am I talking about?

Real life superheroes.

You didn't think we could pass this up, did you?

On the flip side - a look at the more "interesting" ones...



It's not often something on the internet surprises me. I have a decent amount of experience with the wide range of unusual themes/concepts people come up with and then publish out there for the world to see. I even lump myself into that category due to this blog, and would never hold myself above the weirdness that swirls around the cable and DSL modems for people to peruse.

That said, I got taken by surprise by real superheroes. And I shouldn't have, because it's not that crazy enough not to exist. And there's plenty of weirder things to find out there. I guess it caught me because of the size of what's going on out there, in different cities. I mean, there's a directory that you can go and look at (which kind of defeats the purpose of secret identities really, and speaks more to the idea that these people want some level of fame, but that's a discussion for therapists and sociologists, and not me).

I get that people want to go out there and stop crime. I get that many people think they can help the police in certain situations and patrol areas. I don't get the need for dressing up and taking on a superhero's persona. I can honestly say I'm not sure what to do here. On one hand, I want to make fun of them like crazy. On the other hand, I mean, this is just too weird. I think many of them should get at the very minimum, some counseling. Seriously. I can appreciate that many of them know not to intervene during an actual crime, but still. This person, the Queen of Hearts, patrols Jackson, Michigan (which apparently has not one, not two, but three actual "superheroes" patrolling the streets, which leads me to believe that Jackson, Michigan either has A LOT of crime, or there really isn't much to do there. I don't plan on visiting to find out).

It also looks as though Doctor DiscorD went to the trouble of trademarking his name, unless he believes that simply putting a "TM" next to his name is cool/considered a legally binding agreement with the reader. The jury's still out on that, and it's not worth an email to ask really.

What I think I've decided to do is perhaps attempt to get an interview with one of these people and see if they will answer some questions about the nature of their actions, and what they want to get across other than the obvious "fighting crime" answer. I'm not sure I'll be 100% successful, as I'm sure the popularity of that site (which has hit recently around the net) will have others clamoring for the same information.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Good...the Bad...the Beautiful #38

THE GOOD:



I will laugh every time at this video. And I can't pinpoint my favorite part. It might be his nonchalant response.

Bad and Beautiful on the flip side...



THE BAD:

Think they try a finger? Watch the video...



THE BEAUTIFUL:



Richard Pryor and Star Wars? I have no idea where this is from.

The best hook-up moment possible...

What's yours?

I'm not talking real stories here either - unless you're totally awesome and banged Bo Derek after the beach scene from 10.

No, I'm talking about the best possible scenario you can think of that you would tell your friends about years and years from now... A story the Native Americans would sing about around a campfire... a time when if death was the next thing after the hook-up, you'd be ok with it.

This idea was spurred on by a question from Sports Guy's mailbag from last week:

Q: I dare you to think of anything better than taking a girl home from the bar on Halloween and watching her put on her costume as she's leaving the next morning. Yeah, can't be done. Hands down the best hookup moment possible.
-- Adam V., Hibbing, Minn.

SG: I mean, it's not the BEST hookup moment possible, right?

I immediately started thinking about what I thought would be the best - or at least something better than this scenario (which, admittedly, is awesome).

Here's what I came up with:

Hooking up with your celebrity partner after taping the final episode of you winning it all on 100,000 Pyramid. Think Markie Post at the height of Night Court fame to get a clearer picture.

I'm sure I'll come up with some others, but I beg you to leave your own in the comments and see if you can beat either of the two laid out before you.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Week 17 NFL Picks with Goose - Now or Never

It's true, things look grim. 8-8 last week helps me not one whit; and other than a complete Cline collapse means I will be doling out sushi and delicious beer.

Of course, I still have one day left - a day of mediocre football games and questionable effort - to make up the ground and come out of nowhere to take the crown.

And because I still have that one chance, I unleash the full power of the underdog on all of you, in an attempt to taste the delicious nectar of the gods on my lips freely while increasing my mercury levels. Hopefully not too much so that I have to pull a Piven, but we'll see how it goes.

On the flip side the underdogs and the picks...



As always, picks are CAPITALIZED and bold...

ST. LOUIS @ Atlanta -14.5

St. Louis has been playing for "pride" for weeks now - Atlanta has no idea how to beat that, right? Actually, I think St. Louis might simply be playing just for half time before they simply just give up and roll...kinda like what the allies thought about doing in Victory. Hopefully, the Rams have a Caine-esque leader among them that will urge them on to go out and take the field, forgoing offseason freedom...



JACKSONVILLE @ Baltimore -12.5

This could be a pretty hard hitting game, right? Two physical teams going up against one another. Jacksonville definitely feels like Danie LaRusso, don't they? Sweep the leg!



(Quick note: I never liked the about face Johnny does at the end, handing LaRusso the trophy and telling him, "You're all right." He went from an illegal move (dropping the elbow on Danny boy's leg) to giving him the ultimate respect by handing him the trophy in like 8 seconds. That's now way a Cobra Kai should act. C'mon.)

Oakland @ TAMPA BAY -13

A game with huge implications for a number of teams in the NFC. If Tampa Bay loses, it opens the floodgates for possible playoff scenarios. Jesus, I kinda hope Tampa Bay simply wins so we don't have to see the idiots on all the post game show collectively jizz on one another trying to explain what it means for certain teams. Speaking of jizz...



I mean seriously - Biggs getting Elizabeth? No chance Vegas has odds for that on any board.

Cleveland @ PITTSBURGH -10.5

Is Dorsey still leading this bunch? I'm thinking the group of guys I played football with in college could beat Cleveland tomorrow, and one of those guys lost a toe! (PSA - Never play football in the snow with a sneaker you've duct taped together) Speaking of the cold, and ice and insurmountable odds, what better place to show the Mighty Ducks taking on Iceland?



(I'm guessing Julie "the Cat" Gaffney got pucked like crazy after that save. Even if she does show good sportsmanship at the end.)

New England @ BUFFALO +6.5

No idea how Buffalo wins this game, but I can't take New England and gain any ground. And that line is suspiciously low... It's almost like the Bills are playing for an entire country against a robotic opponent that shows no fear.



KANSAS CITY @ Cincinnati -3

Bengals a favorite? I know they're at home and they're playing the Chiefs, but still... As for this upset, say what you want about the Matrix films, but the freeway scene is a work of art:



DETROIT @ Green Bay -9.5

There has to be some element of pride the Lions are playing for today, right? Right? Them winning would be a miracle...



(The way sports are played now, something like this simply can't happen. And that's a shame.)

CHICAGO @ Houston -2.5

Chicago has something to play for still, and while Houston has been hot of late, I still think the Bears show up and give it their all. I'm not saying Houston is Buddy Revell or anything...



(Guy just doesn't like people touching his jacket. Seriously, after seeing your principal get laid out, could you still fight? It might have some psychological significance.)

Tennessee @ INDIANAPOLIS +3

I'll take Indy plus some points at home. Why not? Also, while I'm not sure there's an underdog in this fight, I'm not going to pass up the chance to give you this video - especially when the fight begins with a guy pornographically licking a knife:



GIANTS @ Minnesota -6.5

I think resting players is a mistake - especially when you have a bye already. Takes them longer to get into the game and messes things up. Giants ran right through the playoffs last year, barely making it and look where it got them. And I think Coughlin knows that so he's not going to give a sideline ticket to everyone. This one ends closer than you'd think.



Why this video? Well, it's a major upset for any guy being able to make it through the entire 1:36 even with the allure of women kissing women. Wow, was that tough. Fitting for a Giants game however.

CAROLINA -3 @ New Orleans

Inter-division rival with two teams that I assume don't like each other. I mean who knows? Regardless, I think it's going to be close - each team loves the weapons they have.

Speaking of weapons - powdered glass to the face... I don't care who you are, that's going to hurt. I know I've linked to this before, but I doubt I'm going to get any complaints - especially when one guy uses his own guts to try to strangle another guy. That's dedication.



Miami @ JETS -2.5

I don't like hitching my star (or anything else) to Brett Favre, but he might feel he has something to prove here. Although if I were Mangini, I think I'd throw the game as an ultimate fuck you to Belichek. Let's hope he's not thinking like me.



Upset here? This is Rik Ocasek's wife. Yeah this guy:



Dallas @ EAGLES -1.5

Eagles win this game after it's determined it means nothing. In a way, it's the ultimate fuck you to the fans. Luckily for us, the greatest upset in the making already happened this season:



No, not the actual world series - the fact that the media didn't drown us in stories about how awful the fans were during the celebration. I'm still shocked.

SEATTLE @ Arizona -6

You telling me the Seahawks aren't going to be charged up to give Holmgren a win on the way out?



Denver @ SAN DIEGO -8

Eight points be a lot. Especially for a game that has ridiculous playoff/division implications. Good to see a team that could go 8-8 will make the playoffs.



WASHINGTON @ San Francisco -3

Anyone else think Singletary acts like the guy in 300 during half time? Uh, me neither.






Friday, December 26, 2008

Week 17 NFL Picks With Cline -- I Miss Steve Bartkowski

It's really too bad this isn't closer. I almost wish Goose's blitzkrieg counter-attack was a little more successful than 2 games in 2 weeks.  Week 17 is, in a word, wacky.  Some teams have everything to play for, some have nothing, some want to impress their coach or prospective new employers, some are already planning their off-season.  It would've been interesting if this competition were actually, you know, interesting.

Since I only need to go 4-12 to guarantee a victory, I'm feeling pretty confident.  Also, I'm happy there's no oddball games. All 16 take place on Sunday.    

In honor of the New Year's Eve happening next week, for each of the games, I've attached some NYE goodness.  Most of them are musical, but not all.  For example, in case you were wondering the best way to torture a fly this NYE, here you go:

 

 

Now on to Week 17 in the league where they play... FOR PAY!

Week 16 Records:

Cline -- 8-8 (-$160) (LOTW=L -- BDCS=L)
Goose -- 8-8 (-$160)

Overall Records:

Cline -- 117-88-4 (.571) +$810 (LOTW=6-7 -- BDCS=7-6)
Goose -- 107-98-4 (.522) -$1190

Picks:

St. Louis at ATLANTA (-14.5)

I don't love this line, since I could see Atlanta winning by 14, but I'm going to keep riding them. 

And heeeeeeeerrrrreeeee'ssssss ABBA:

 


Jacksonville at BALTIMORE (-12.5)

I have zero confidence in Jacksonville at this point, and Baltimore needs this.  The only way the Jags cover is if Baltimore doesn't get a defensive TD and it's a low-scoring 13-3 type game.

Here's a hot chick who is trying to teach us the meaning of the word "Resolution". I think.  I can say for her sure that she's hot:

 

 

OAKLAND at Tampa Bay (-13)

My theory on this game?  Tampa Bay knows that a win by them will eliminate from playoff contention the very team they need to win to get them into the playoffs (i.e. the Eagles).  So their heart won't totally be in it, and Al Davis hates Jon Gruden (not the guy I know who looks like Jon Gruden, the real Jon Gruden).

CIMG3287  NFL-Awards-Jon-Gruden_opt

That all adds up to my last Big Dog Cover Special, which I neglected to pick in last week's post. Ditto my Lock of the Week.  Though I did make them in the Excel sheet I use to track my picks, both lost (Detroit & Denver).  So here's your last Big Dog picture of the year:


To make up for my neglect last week, here's the worst MMF in history: Sinatra, Dino, & Ruth Buzzi.  Hang in till the end for a little Charles Nelson Reilly:

 

 

CLEVELAND at Pittsburgh (-10.5)

Pittsburgh is locked into the #2 seed, and I think they'll be resting some players.  Cleveland will earn a victory of some sort here, whether it be moral or actual. 

And speaking of moral victories not at all, here's Jeff Mangum at New Year's show:

 

 

NEW ENGLAND (-6.5) at Buffalo

Despite Buffalo winning last week to make the SD/Denver tilt mean something this week, I have no confidence in them.

And since Buffalo is the closest city to Niagara Falls, here's Loverboy performing there at a recent NYE celebration.  New York & Times Square gets Christina Aguilera (ooh... foreshadowing), Niagara Falls gets Loverboy fronted by Cartman.  It's just not fair.

 


Kansas City at CINCINATTI (-3)

Cincinnati has not been terrible recently. That should be considered high praise for them.

And I have nothing but high praise for this guy, especially when he shakes his head and pretends to be electrocuted:

 


Detroit at GREEN BAY (-9.5)

I've been trying to inspire Detroit to get their first W, or at least cover the last few weeks with mixed success. This is not a good recipe for them to do so.  A probably-not-as-bad-as-their-record Packers at home in the cold.  And there's rumors of the Packer Bikini Girls showing up:


I feel for the Lions, but they just don't stand a chance.  Maybe if they were getting another point, I could be tempted to throw my support behind them.  But alas, no.

Speaking of tempted, I'm tempted to get this guy do do a workout video focusing on the upper body.  Though he may have to stop talking about how much he likes candy.

 


Chicago at HOUSTON (-2.5)

I watched too much of the Bears/Vikings game last week to ever pick the Bears again, even with a playoff spot on the line.

I've never been to a Flaming Lips show, which is a sin.  Normally their concerts are ridiculous affairs, but on NYE they probably do everything short of animal sacrifice.

 


TENNESSEE (-3) at Indianapolis

It's a damn shame these teams are locked into their respective playoff slots.  As it is, I'm assuming Dungy will continue his practice of resting starters.  This is basically an anti-Sorgi pick.

Has anyone had a weirder career than David Johansen?  New York Dolls, Buster Poindexter, Scrooged, Let it Ride, etc.  Kinda reminds me of Kerry Collins.

 


N.Y. Giants at MINNESOTA (-6.5)

The Vikings need the game, the Giants don't.  It's that simple.

And speaking of simple, this song is simply brilliant:

 

 

Carolina (-3) at NEW ORLEANS 

I got burned by my Lions love last week, and forgot about Drew Brees' campaign to break Dan Marino's record. I'm going to try and get on the right side of that action.

Speaking of which, check out the action in a pale imitation of Tyray and his Big Ticket Living (NSFW!) crew.  If you have Comcast digital cable, check BTL out.

 


MIAMI at N.Y. Jets (-2.5)

 
Here's a prediction.  Favre gets injured and doesn't see the second half.  Madden then drives his RV into a wall in a futile attempt to kill himself.

This clip goes from creepy to annoying to hot (i.e. Dick Clark introducing Seacrest introducing Miss Christina Aguilera):

 

 

DALLAS at Philadelphia (-1.5)

I honestly have no idea what's going to happen in this game.  I was ready to get back on the Eagles bandwagon until that sandpaper handjob of an effort last week.  But Dallas will most likely be in a situation where a win gets them in the playoffs, so I'll unconfidently go with them.

Apropos of nothing, here's a montage of clips from a NYE Government Mule show.
 
 

Seattle at ARIZONA (-6)

Seattle had their feel-good game for Holmgren last week. I think the Cardinals are tired of hearing about how bad a playoff team they are.  Also, I may have flipped a coin.

In somewhat surprising news, Mariah Carey can count down from 10.  She's also apparently friends with Snoop from The Wire.

 


DENVER at San Diego (-8)

I'd feel better about this pick if the game were at home, but there's no way a game for the division between an 8-7 team and a 7-8 team isn't close. I'll take the points.

Pearl Jam's "Leash":

 


Washington at SAN FRANCISCO (-3)

Two words: "Team Mustache". If it worked for us, it can work for them.

 

 

And finally, isn't every year the Year of the Mustache:

 

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Week 17 NFL Lines

I'll use this space to echo Goose's wish that you enjoy whichever regional/ethnic customs you celebrate at the end of the fourth quarter.

Here's another Xmas song that doesn't suck.  It wasn't around when I made the compilation in this post, but it easily would've made it if I had.

It's a collaboration between (surprise) Marah and author/NPR contributor/Pixar voice artist/Naughty Nottie Sarah Vowell.


She wrote the lyrics and Marah did the rest.  It's a weird mix of treacle, patriotism, and gore as they recount the struggles of the American forces during the Revolutionary War and tell kids today that they don't have it that bad in comparison.  Even cheesesteaks get a shout-out:

Christmas in Valley Forge

Week 16 Records:

Cline -- 8-8 (-$160) (LOTW=L -- BDCS=L)
Goose -- 8-8 (-$160)

Overall Records:

Cline -- 117-88-4 (.571) +$810 (LOTW=6-7 -- BDCS=7-6)
Goose -- 107-98-4 (.522) -$1190

Schedule/Lines:

  • Sunday, Dec. 28
    • St. Louis at Atlanta (-14.5)
    • Jacksonville at Baltimore (-12.5)
    • Oakland at Tampa Bay (-13)
    • Cleveland at Pittsburgh (-10.5)
    • New England (-6.5) at Buffalo
    • Kansas City at Cincinnati (-3)
    • Detroit at Green Bay (-9.5)
    • Chicago at Houston (-2.5)
    • Tennessee (-3) at Indianapolis
    • N.Y. Giants at Minnesota (-6.5)
    • Carolina (-3) at New Orleans
    • Miami at N.Y. Jets (-2.5)
    • Dallas at Philadelphia (-1.5)
    • Seattle at Arizona (-6)
    • Denver at San Diego (-8)
    • Washington at San Francisco (-3)

    My Thursday Pick:

    STUFFING (-3.5) at Mashed Potatoes

    I love both teams, but when Stuffing is on their game, they can't be touched.

    Ephemera:

    110 years ago, some English guy made this film in a weekend.  Not bad:

     

     

    My Christmas present to Goose, some Kwanzaa Afro-funk:

     

     
    And my present to myself:
     
     
    Hanukkah Harry!
     

    My favorite holiday song of the moment

    It's been documented that neither Cline nor myself particularly enjoy holiday music. But I've gotta say I'll make an exception for this song...



    Created by a listener of the Ron and Fez show (geniuses on satellite radio - it's too much to explain here) I think it perfectly encapsulates everything about the holiday without sounding pretentious, overly joyous, or silly.

    Happy whatever you want it to be out there from the Popcorn Trick!

    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    Hidden Hollow Files: You want me to do what?



    The Hidden Hollow Files is an attempt to recount the golden era (1991-1994) of Hidden Hollow Swim Club, a pool facility nestled in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

    For previous Hidden Hollow Files, go here, here, here, here and here.

    Here's a nice little fictional story about what could happen if someone fictionally did something and needed a fictional solution to fix it. Also FICTION!


    Digger X and Digger Y (why sully actual names - even in a fictional story? The chosen aliases will become clearer as the story continues) sat in the office, on break from the lifeguard stand, annoyed they couldn’t hang out on the porch, a popular destination for guards on break. In actuality, the porch was not really a porch at all; it was technically the roof of an old spring house that sat on the pool grounds, that was used as a type of “way-station” for the chlorine needed for the pools. Every so often a truck would deliver a shipment of chlorine into two large storage containers buried beneath the parking lot. These containers connected to a few slightly more manageable barrels in the spring house. A pump then took the chlorine from those vats and dispersed it throughout the pools, working on a time release system.

    Theoretically of course. The times this system ever worked could be counted on a finger. So the pool routinely had to employ another time release method, explained in slightly more detail here.

    None of that had anything to do with why Digger X and Digger Y couldn’t enjoy their break on the porch though.



    For whatever reason, the owners of the pool currently had a backhoe down at the swim club, digging the ground around the pipes that connected the large storage chlorine containers and the spring house. None of the guards really knew why, but they certainly did know not to poke or pry into the situation. At least not while the owners were down at the pool. The owners never liked seeing guards not working, and so the less contact between the two parties, the better for both.

    Digger X and Digger Y simply loafed about, dreading the idea of going back out on the stand, under the hot sun. To them, even though it was the main reason they were hired, sitting on the stand and ensuring the safety of the patrons in the pools was boring, unfulfilling work. They enjoyed doing other jobs around the pool, no matter how bad, simply because it meant they didn’t have to sit in the sun all day doing nothing but be paid to be a voyeur. So whenever something needed to be done, from cleaning filters to moving picnic benches randomly around the pool, they eagerly volunteered. Some jobs weren’t great (removing the grease from the grill), some were fantastic (anything involving the flatbed trucks) but in the end, they all beat big brothering the pools and making sure kids didn't run.

    And, as luck (or extreme unluck) would have it, one the most interesting jobs ever was about to fall into their lap.

    Apparently, digging a backhoe near thin, plastic underground pipes sounded much easier than it actually was. Because, within only a few short minutes of beginning, a vicious, yellow liquid began to fill the recently dig hole, emanating a fierce, strong, pungent, unmistakable odor that everyone familiar with the swim club knew immediately.

    Chlorine.

    The backhoe, diving too deep, (or not deep enough? who the fuck knows...), hit one of the flimsy pipes, rupturing it. Chlorine immediately began to seep everywhere, drifting off into the environment to do its damage. And because the nature of this chlorine system relied on gravity to deliver the chlorine from container to container, the hole sat pretty much in the middle of a slope, and everyone watched as the chlorine trickled down, toward the pools and beyond (beyond being a small secluded pond nestled on the extreme south part of the property, obscured by trees and overgrowth, but teeming with creatures that one would traditionally find around and in ponds. The equation of chlorine plus pond shouldn’t be difficult to figure out). After a few quick, silly attempts to dig the pipe up with the backhoe, the driver cordoned off the area, (the smell growing stronger as the chlorine bubbled up, mixing with the fresh dug dirt) and a new "plan" was developed.

    * * *

    The swim club manager walked into the office and saw Digger X and Digger Y doing much of nothing.

    “I need your help.”

    Purposeful or not, this choice of words the manager used had a magical effect on the two. It immediately got their full attention. Of course, that phrase only piqued their interest, it was the next phrase that sealed the deal.

    “And I need you guys to keep a secret.”

    At this point, the two guards would have had no problem getting rid of a dead hooker. A secret job was simply too good to pass up. Not knowing what the next day had in store for them, they eagerly pledged their secrecy to the manager, and got the scoop.

    Because it was rather late in the day already, attacking the problem would wait until the next day, when there were less people around. So, told to come back at seven in the morning, a full hour before the normal early shift made it down to the pool, the guards happily accepted their assignment. They were going to find a buried, broken chlorine pipe. What could be more fun?

    The next morning the sun came up, revealing a beautiful day for two guards with no training, qualifications or safety equipment to deal with a hazmat spill and clean up this mess. Digger Y stopped by Digger X's house, picking him up for their clandestine mission. They made it down to the pool bright and early, and along with the manager stood over the caustic, deadly mud hole. The odor caused tears.

    “Take as many breaks as you can, as far away as you need to. As soon as you find the pipe, let me know.” With that, the manager walked off, his figure blurred and wavy seen through the vapors.

    Armed with shovels and t-shirts tied over their faces, Digger X and Digger Y dug in.

    To imagine the slow process of digging that day, imagine trying to scoop sloppy water out of a small child’s bucket. Now imagine trying to do that stoned out of your mind.

    It was slow going.

    Slippery traction... the heat of the day... a steady constant murder of brain cells... all these factors contributed to the slow, methodical digging. But none of them matched two incidents that at the end of the day, defined the dig to an imperfect “T.”


    Incident 1 or, Hey you where are you going with that gun in your hand?


    About 2 hours into the digging, a car pulled up and parked in the lot. Digger X and Digger Y both glanced up and saw a uniformed figure slowly step out of the car and casually glance around. Resembling a park ranger of some sort, the person began to walk toward the two. Coming closer, Digger X and Digger Y now saw that this person was female, and had holstered firearm by her side, ruling out park ranger and mall security.

    The chlorine continued to fill the air surrounding all of them with its odor.

    Standing on the outside of the fence, (or what was left of the fence that had been torn down in the back hoe’s wrath) she inquired as to what the two diggers were doing. They could now clearly see the EPA patch sewn on the dull green, short-sleeved shirt she professionally wore.

    Told to keep a secret, the two realized the inanity of making up a cover story, given the current situation. Here, an EPA agent, apparently tipped off to an environmental disaster in the community came around to investigate. The situation was no longer simply a pool matter; in one brief instant it became a federal matter. What were the charges for lying to a government agent? Could Digger X and Digger Y get in trouble for lying? Could they get in trouble for not whistleblowing? These were the thoughts that ran through both their heads as they faced an armed, government agent.

    “Digging.”

    The response was short, to the point and above everything else, the truth.

    Leaving without a word but a slight smirk on her face, she continued down the road, toward the pond. About fifteen minutes later, a ranch hand (as lackey just seems like such a negative connotation here) that sat close with the owners of the pool ambled down the road and addressed the two diggers. That he was the one immediately responsible for the chlorine leak the day before may or may not have had anything to do with his presence there presently. He slowly walked down the hill, his gullible confidence preceding each step. Both Digger X and Digger Y saw their dirty, tired, hallucinating selves reflected in his rainbow flavored Oakley Razors.

    “You guys happen to see someone walk down this way?”

    Digger X said nothing and simply pointed down toward the pond. Digger Y left him with a parting warning.

    “Dude, be careful, she has a gun.”

    He continued down the road, waving his hand above his head as a loose goodbye and followed the same path the EPA agent took minutes before. Whether he intended to seduce or kill her neither Digger knew, and would never get the answer because of the second incident.


    Incident #2 or, You sir, just got an eyeful.

    Digging continued, amidst the speculation of what might be happening down near the pond. Digger X and Digger Y reenacted the violent and sexual scenarios their minds (and possibly fumes) concocted, all the while still searching for the broken pipe in the slop. Through roots and stones and shale and mud they cut with their sharp shovel blades, paying more attention to the possible ecological disaster at hand, and less attention to the task at hand.

    Until the explosion of chlorine.

    Actually it wasn’t necessarily an explosion, though that’s what it felt like in the eye of Digger X. Digger Y in a common moment of not thinking about what the fuck he was doing, jammed his shovel down repeatedly against a tough, gnarled root, in an attempt to slice through it to get more leverage. The action of this rhythmic, repeated chopping sent muddy chlorine spattering through the air landing everywhere, and ultimately into the face of Digger X.

    Ever been swimming in a pool for so long that your eyes get red and blotchy and irritated enough that you realize it’s time to stop swimming for a bit, and you look up and see a faded, hazy rainbow fuzz halo around all the lights?

    It felt nothing like that.

    Digger X shrieked. The shriek had to reach the office at least, as the manager came running, to find Digger X writing on the ground holding his face in obvious pain. Digger Y stood by guiltily. Without a second thought (or perhaps the second thought was of criminal charges and lawsuits), the manager scooped Digger X up and carried him off to the swim club’s office.

    Being Whitney Houston to the manager’s Kevin Costner wasn’t one of Digger X’s prouder moments in life, but there was little he could do. While it’s probably true the one eyed guy is king in the land of the blind, Digger X didn't want to find out. The manager threw him down in the back room on the ratty, unclean prison cot illegal Mexicans sometimes used to sleep when down at the pool as a deterrent for kids trying to sneak in late at night to go swimming.

    (Had Las Vegas been asked to create a line for people to gamble on whether or not the swim club had first aid for this particular emergency situation, many oddsmakers probably would have refused, suggesting (and rightly so) it would be next to impossible to make the number high enough to cover all the action people would have put on "not" to have the book break even and collect their profit on the juice (the 10% everyone who bets is forced to pay.))

    In an '85 Villanova upset, the manager not only quickly found the first aid kit in the back room, but immediately put his hands on a bottle of eye wash. Furthermore, the found a (presumably) clean eye cup, also in the first aid kit. Grabbing the bottle, he filled the cup and held it up to Digger X's now bloated, reddened eye. Digger X could feel nothing other than the intense burning in his whole face. Apparently deciding this method wasn't working quick enough, the manager discarded the eye cup and began to liberally squirt the eye wash directly into the eye. With laser like precision, the hard stream of fluid splashed against the eyeball.

    After the steady 30 seconds of eye flushing, Digger X tried and succeeded in opening the eye in question for a second or two. It took another ten minutes or so of wiping, tearing, and rubbing before it could be consistently held open for more than a minute. Through red, puffy and all around sickly looking, it miraculously seemed that was the worst of the damage, and better yet, nothing seemed permanent. As the day wore on, the eye made improvements and any evidence of a foreign substance dissolved by shift's end.

    Though that was not the end of the dance Digger X shared with the harsh mistress of chlorine that day.

    Feeling good enough to for whatever reason continue working, Digger X returned to the hole with Digger Y, and in a fortuitous stroke saw they had uncovered the pipe. Their work done, they returned to their normal pool responsibilities since by now it was close to opening for the day. Digger X felt no real adverse effects of the eye incident, other than a few streaks of tears throughout the day. Workers materialized later that day to presumably fix the pipe, but even that was done Men in Black style (the actual Men in black; not the crappy Will Smith movie that destroyed the creepy lore of men in black) and no one really said anything more about the incident. Digger X and Digger Y were even left to speculate what happened to the EPA agent and worker that was sent down to "sidetrack" her. The worked showed up days later, seemingly no worse for wear, going about normal business. Though both Digger X and Y wanted nothing more than to ask him what happened, they also didn't want to involuntarily become accomplices to a crime after the fact, so they begrudgingly let it go, content enough to fill in the blanks of this event with wild stories involving pistol duels and elaborate conspiracy theories.

    5 o'clock ambled by, signifying the end of the Diggers' shift. A long day came to an end. Digger X, who now realized he had no ride home, figured he would simply walk home. Cutting through some woods and backyards, the trip wouldn't take more than 20 minutes.

    The walk went by uneventful, and Digger X found himself opening his back door and walking in. The next thing he remembers is opening his eyes to see the blinking cliche of his VCR's clock in the living room of his house. Laying flat on the carpeted floor, twenty minutes had passed since he opened the back door - twenty minutes he tried but could not recollect. Shaking the cobwebs and uncertainty out of his head, and trying hard to not let panic gasp him, Digger X turned the tv on to lose himself in a Cheers episode.

    Fortunately, that was the last, lingering effect of the chlorine dig (up to this point at least). on everyone. Because of the stealthy nature of the dig, few guards even knew about it even happening. The scar in the earth where the hole had been faded from the involved peoples' psyche shortly thereafter, and few, if any known repercussions trickled down to the common guardfolk. Other than the story Digger X and Digger Y had now to revel the younger guards with, no evidence even remained of the incident. And while the story was a classic that had people laughing routinely, people eventually turned their attention to the next great pool catastrophe.

    After all, they happened about once a week.

    Links of Interest 12/23

    I'm a sucker for cool photography. These photos are from the air!

    Ahh, yes. The Star Wars holiday special. I remember watching it back when it first aired. Don't remember too much. And now, even though it's available in places (like maybe here), I can't bear to sit through it and further ruin my memories of Star Wars. (Seriously, I just watched about 5 seconds and had to turn it off.) (Vanity Fair)

    Life can be so cruel when your next door neighbor is Wendy's.

    Remind me to avoid Wisconsin for a little while. You know with its killer cults and murder for hire plans.

    I bet Dan Brown thinks he's the shit right about now.

    Monday, December 22, 2008

    More 'Arrested Development' movie news



    How do you get information on a much (relatively speaking) anticipated movie quite possibly in the works?

    You go to the source.

    And that's exactly what Fancast did when speaking with Mitch Hurwitz, creator of Arrested Development.

    Some of the more interesting tidbits...

    • Contrary to some belief, Will Arnett is not a hold-out and is "gung ho" to get started.
    • There's no script yet.
    • Ideas for the movie include, picking up right where the show left off, becoming a "film within a film," or possibly being a prequel.
    • Even if a film doesn't happen, it doesn't mean the end of the Bluth family.

    For a complete look at the article, click here.

    My thoughts?

    I don't like the idea of a prequel - I never think it's easy to reverse time on characters we already know. A film within a film is rife with potential and could be mined for comedic nuggets for years. But I'm still not sure that's the direction it should go either. Feels almost too much like a one note joke.

    I had never heard that Will Arnett was possibly holding out. In my mind, his involvement is more important than Michael Cera's, though I'm sure some of you would disagree. But GOB was the perfect foil for Michael, and was also the reason for many of the family's mishaps. Glad to see Arnett is on board.

    As for Michael Cera still holding out possibly, I hope he finally signs on. While I think he could be "off at college," and not hurt the movie too much, I'd still like to see all my favorite characters back for the movie.

    Thoughts? Post 'em if you got 'em.

    24 (Mostly) Good (Christmas) Songs

    So I wanted to share some of my favorite Christmas songs. Easy, right? Nope.
    See how I did it after the jump.

    My Philosophy

    I'm not the biggest fan of Christmas music. No, I wasn't one of the kids in the awesome photos Goose dug up being abused by a mall Santa. And no, I'm not Jewish or Kwanzish. No, my reasons are much more pedestrian, unoriginal, and obvious to most people with a good ear for music and a healthy cynical streak. 

    Most Xmas songs are over-played, overly-sentimental, or just plain annoying. Rather than following the their muse the way they do the other 11 months of the year, they sound like they are fulfilling homework assignments. But instead of grades, they get bags of cash. Which leads me to The One And Only Rule You Need To Find Good Christmas Songs:

    A good Christmas song needs to be a good song that just happens to be about Christmas.

    It's that simple. You can add Christmas lyrics to a shit song, but it's still going to be a shit song.


    Back Story

    This is a collection of songs made in that spirit. It was a mix made just after the turn of the most recent century. It was a heady time. 9/11 was less than a year away, Trapped in the Closet was even farther down the road, and I was coming down the home stretch of an unhappy marriage. Luckily there was a dial-up modem and Napster to keep me preoccupied. 

    Yes, I'm old, and no, I wasn't in college with a faster connection. I would start downloading 5-10 different songs before I went to bed and when I woke up, 2 or 3 of them (on a good night) would be waiting for me. But I persevered.

    We decided to give this away to our music-loving friends as presents that year. The goal was to alternate song choices between each of us, and that's kinda how it ended up. I picked all of my songs, she chose some songs, and I filled in the rest of hers from artists I knew she liked or at least didn't mind being associated with. The odd #s are "hers" and the evens are "mine".

    It's a mix I still distribute, and I still give credit to the ex for her choices. It was a product of that time in my life, and it still holds up for me. 


    Stupid Technology

    Some of these songs are obscure or are live radio recordings, so no luck using Seeqpod or Imeem. Muxtape would have been perfect, but of course the RIAA made sure an awesome, simple interface for people to check out other people's music would no longer see the light of day. Ditto some other Muxtape replacements like Mixwit. There's OpenTape which seems like it would let you do what Muxtape did, but you needed to upload software to your web server and my hosting account wasn't compatible for reasons I won't bore you with.

    I considered just posting a ZIP file of the MP3s, but it's a huge file and it's not streaming.

    So eventually I found Fuzz. The interface tries too hard to recreate an actual cassette tape. And songs you upload are only available for a couple of weeks. But since this is a Christmas mix, that's fine. After I set this up, I found SoundCloud, which looks more promising and less restrictive. They'll probably have to be shut down soon too. Thanks major music labels. Love ya.


    December 2009 update: So those sites are all done with. So's Imeem. So's Seeqpod. And Grooveshark which seems promising has it's Upload feature undergoing "Maintenance", which is probably code for "legal review.

    Let's try this again with Lala. To play all the songs, I think you have to have an account with Lala. It's free and this playlist is good enough to be worth the hassle. Let me know if you have any technical problems.



    December 2011 update: Lala is dead too. Email me at absentcommish@hotmail.com if you want a copy. 

    December 2013 update: Created a YouTube Playlist that has most of these songs on it. Still need to add "Beer in a Bar". I tried to find videos that were the intersection of weird but true to the version on the CD. Enjoy.

    Less Talk, More Rock

    Enough with the chatter, here's the tunes. Some one-liners and vids for each song down the page.
    If you dig this, let me know and I'll get you a copy. And feel free to add your suggestions for good holiday songs in the comments.

    Press the Play button to open the case and start the music. If you have any problems viewing the embedded player, you can check it out here.


    1. Hava Negila (Live) -- Ben Folds Five
      • So even though I went on and on above about Christmas songs, this mix was intended to include other holidays in a chronological manner. First Hanukah, then Christmas, and finally New Year's. Clever? Hardly. But I was (and am) a big BFF fan and this tune will get even your Gentile toes a-tapping.
      • Here's Ben Folds' ghost doing the song live:


    2. Silent Night (Live) -- Bad Religion
      • The one time a year I didn't mind going to church was Christmas Eve. The sermon was short, there was lots of music, and the service always ended with Silent Night sung a cappella with the lights out and everyone holding cameras. It's hard not to feel something in that moment.
      • This, however, is not that moment. This is Bad Religion blasting their way through your ear drum, stopping only to break out a little My Sharona. Badass.
    3. It's Christmas Time, Pretty Baby -- Elvis Presley
      • Not the biggest Elvis fan, but this is a sexy little number that makes you think of coming down someone's chimney. Or maybe that's just me.
    4. Beer in a Bar -- Marah
      • A well-structured straight-ahead rock song filters the Christmas spirit through that guy at the end of the bar who's always there.
      • This embodies the rule I described above. It's a great song. It could be about sport-fishing off the Keys and it would still be a great song.
    5. Merry Christmas Everybody (Live) -- Oasis
      • I didn't realize this was a cover of a Slade song until I looked it up on the Wiki. It's a recording of a live version that Noel Gallagher did on a British radio station.
      • Apparently this song is as ubiquitous in England as Jingle Bells is over here. Who knew?
      • There are a few skips and the sound quality's not great, but it reminds me of when Oasis was still good and when I used to record songs off the radio by putting a tape recorder up to the speaker.
      • The original version by Slade (I can see why they influenced both Kiss and Spinal Tap):

    6. Merry Christmas From the Family (Live) -- Robert Earl Keen
      • This might be my favorite song on the mix (at least until #8 or #18). It's a live version with the crowd singing along, which helps.
      • Yes, the characters that Keen writes about are rednecks of the highest order ("Mom got drunk and dad got drunk...", "I can't remember how I'm kin to them..."). But the characters are drawn with love and without judgement. While the Christmas he describes isn't one that I can personally identify with, it's one that sounds like a shitload of fun.
      • A live version from the crowd:


    7. Christmas Medley (Live) -- Barenaked Ladies
      • Another live radio recording. They mash up "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", "We Three Kings", and some wacky commentary. It shouldn't work, but their harmonies are excellent and every time one of 'em says that "The Stone Cold Tombs" are a band from San Diego, rather than a lyric from "We Three Kings", I giggle.
      • A more serious version with fellow Canuck Sarah McLachlan:


    8. Fairytale of New York -- The Pogues w/ Kirsty MacColl
      • Jebus, where do I start with this one? It's perfect. It's kind of like "Summer Nights" as written by a drunk Irishman dying in a jail cell.
      • It melds Shane MacGowan's rasp and Kirsty MacColl's cool British voice and a swelling Irish tune into a rueful masterpiece.
      • More Christmas songs should include exchanges like "You're a bum, you're a punk... You're an old slut on junk..." and "You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot..."
      • Here's a live version. Try counting Shane's teeth.


    9. The 12 Pains of Christmas -- Bob Rivers
      • Almost all 12 Days of Christmas songs get old quick (there's a reason Bob & Doug Mackenzie's version skips some days). But this one has an Archie Bunker impersonator and a mincing gay voice singing about Christmas cards. That's good enough for me.
      • And here's awesome guy (or maybe 2 awesome guys, tops) acting out this song:


    10. Rock & Roll Christmas -- George Thorogood
      • This was a staple of early MTV Decembers. Just a great Chuck Berry-esque tune.
      • I'm pretty sure I had no idea who John Lee Hooker was, much less that he played Santa in this one. I think I would have recognized and enjoyed the awkward banter that kicks the video off:


    11. Christmas Song -- Weezer
      • This is a pretty generic Weezer song, so it probably fails the rule I laid out at the beginning. But I was starting to run out of "her" songs, so I needed quantity and was willing to concede a bit of quality.
    12. Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You -- Billy Squier
      • Another MTV Xmas staple. It didn't hurt that all of the early MTV talent was in the video for crying out loud.
      • I don't remember liking it much at the time, but it's really grown on me.


    13. Lonely Christmas -- Ben Folds Five
      • It's a Scroogian effort where the protagonist is just trying to eat his Cream of Wheat, and those lousy carolers keep him from that task.
      • This isn't weird or creepy at all.


    14. Marshmallow World -- Darlene Love
      • Phil Spector may be a murderer, but he can produce the shit out of a song. This is one of many killer cuts off "A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector". Instead of hot lead, his gift is 13 tracks of a mistletoe-covered Wall of Sound.
      • The violins kick off the track, but they're a red herring. It's nothing but saxophones and Darlene Love's incomparable voice.
      • This cover makes me want to see what Phil's going rate for contract killings is:


    15. Christmas Time (Is Here Again) -- The Beatles
      • This is just weird. It was originally just released to members of their fan club in 67, and is all over the place.
      • "O-U-T spells OUT"
      • Paul's Xmas wish: "I wish you everything you would wish yourselves for Christmas". Thanks for passing the buck, Paul.
      • It closes with a little Auld Lang Syne and John spouting nonsensical poetry.
    16. Christmas in Hollis -- Run-DMC
      • This was huge when it came out. Fantastic hook.
      • The elf in the video still creeps me out:


    17. Santa Got Stuck in My Chimney -- Ella Fitzgerald
      • This is the one I consistently skip. Too cutesy.
    18. Let's Make Christmas Mean Something This Year -- James Brown
      • Goose, if you're still reading this, you need to listen to this song (if you aren't familiar with it already). 6 and a half minutes of JB laying down the horns and the funk.
      • And he mixes in some spoken word holiday wishes like only he can.
    19. Alan Parsons in a Winter Wonderland -- Grandaddy
      • They cleverly merge a Christmas theme and the cold studio perfection of the Alan Parsons Project. It works.
      • "In the meadow we can build a snowman and pretend that he is Alan Parsons... And he'll say have you listened to my new band?... And we'll say no, but we really like that one song that goes 'Time... keeps flowing like a river'"
    20. Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas -- The Eels
      • A hopeful tune set to a rocking beat. This song should be remembered if only for the lyric "Baby Jesus... Born to rock!" right before a guitar solo.
      • Cracker covering it in a poorly lit room:


    21. Riu Chiu (Spanish Christmas Carol) -- The Monkees
      • I didn't like this one originally, but it sucks you in on repeated listening.
      • A different take on it:


    22. Christmas Morning -- Lyle Lovett
      • Not technically a Christmas song, but it's got "Christmas" in the title and it's sad.
    23. What Are You Doing New Year's (Live) -- Rufus Wainwright
      • I've always had a soft spot in my heart for this song and Rufus' voice.
      • The lyric "here's the jackpot question in advance" always kills me.
      • The version on this mix was recorded off of this Gap TV ad:


        And a live version:

    24. This Will Be My Year -- Semisonic
      • As big as "Closing Time" was, I don't think Semisonic get their due. Feeling Strangely Fine was a really good pop-rock album that still holds up.
      • It seemed fitting both chronologically and thematically to end on an upbeat note as we can all relate with trying to make this New Year's special and a harbinger of better days to come.