Friday, January 30, 2009

Handicapping Puppy Bowl V

I'm not ashamed to admit I'm a big fan of the Puppy Bowl. I mean let's face it, when it comes to diversions during the Superbowl, few can match the brilliance of watching a bunch of puppies jump on top of one another and trip in the water bowl every so often.

Seriously, who doesn't like puppies?

If you're unfamiliar with the whole concept, basically every Superbowl Sunday, Animal Planet ( a cable station you hopefully have) airs a 2 hour special of a bunch of puppies running around a box designed to look like a stadium, with a number of different cameras set up to catch all the action. Occasionally, chew toys will be introduced into the mix, and these baby dogs will do goofy things.

Still have no idea? Maybe this will help...

And that's pretty much it. On the surface at least.

Because there is more to it. First of all, Hall of Fame announcer Harry Kalas provides the play by play. Actually, if I had to guess, Kalas went into a studio 6 months ago and canned a bunch of corny, dog related puns which some 22 year old production assistant will then play during opportune times during the broadcast, but that's neither here nor there. The allure of the Puppy Bowl, aside from watching cute puppies is the absolute randomness of it all. Puppy Bowl is not designed for people to sit in front of their tvs for 2 hours straight watching nothing but miniature dogs frolick on astroturf. Puppy Bowl is simply meant to be an enjoyable diversion during dull moments and bad commercials of the Superbowl. And it succeeds in spades in that capacity.

But enough about that. Let's move on to handicapping this thing.

The hardest part of handicapping the Puppy Bowl is trying to figure out what there is to handicap. With no competition, goal, or objective of any kind, one might say it's impossible, silly or stupid to even try.

But that has certainly never stopped me before.

Look, I'm not going to sit here and pretend to do real work while I write this and tell you to use and of the following information if you and your friends have concocted some way to bet on the Puppy Bowl. What I will do is ask if I can get in on the action. But until you respond in the comments and invite me into your Xanadu betting parlor, I will forge ahead and create some sort of guidelines to use while you're flipping back and forth between PB and the SB (actually - you could watch both as Animal Planet runs the Puppy Bowl before the game, but whatever).

Let's say, for enjoyment's sake, the "winner" of the PB is the dog that shows the most friskiness. The one that most mixes it up with the other dogs...the one that sprints around like a maniac while the other dogs simply look for a way to get off this Truman Show stage they've been thrown onto...the one that gets the most flags for shitting in the water get the picture.

So, with the definition clearly explained, let's move on to your favorites...

Now, I don't have the ability to limp up to the paddocks with a Daily Racing Form in my hand to get a good look at the demeanor of these dogs the way I do at the horse track. Christ, we're not even given the luxury of knowing the gender of the dogs, aside from sly hints within their names. No, all we have to go on are age, breed and a photo, which makes it tougher, but by no means impossible.

The other wrench thrown in here by Animal Planet, is the huge number of dogs that are classified as "mix" breeds. Now how is any competent handicapper going to be able to do his job without knowing the bloodlines of these dogs? It almost makes you think Animal Planet isn't endorsing gambling on the Puppy Bowl.

There are 30 dogs this year which sounds borderline unmanageable, until you realize they won't all be out on the field at once. Which is an opportunity missed in my opinion, but no has yet to ask me how to run this. Had they, I guarantee bigger ratings than the Super Bowl. And possibly an moderate increase of blood. But you have to give the fans what they want. Before I drift too far out on this tangent, let's go to the puppies...

Smart looking, fit. The classic pose. Probably a great example of what a doggie Hitler would like to see all breeds become. That arrogance can go against him however. Pick him though and you have to feel good about your chances.

Sure, the "pit bull" might have you thinking about mortgaging your house to get action on this dog, but hold the phone (I can't believe I just used the phrase "hold the phone") - pit bull doesn't mean "crazed attacker." It might have a propensity for that, but at 12 weeks, I'm thinking it will be a little more timid than you think. Call it a gut feeling.

First of all, the name scares me. Braedyn? But these smaller type breeds can get in there and think they have something to prove with the larger dogs. Of course what happens next is the larger breeds lay down the law so risk it if you want.

Brandy looks like the "Life Goes On" version of Bradyn. I'd stay away.

You can't hide the Beagle in the "hound" name from me Animal Planet. Buster has some huge potential here for mischief.

Candy Apple
Don't let the name throw you off. Candy Apple looks sleek, fiery and ready to poop in a dog bowl.

Candy Corn
Same with Candy Corn. These two have to have the same owner right? The awfulness of these names can't span households.

Charlie Brown
Don't let the name fool you into thinking this dog is a loser. This dog has the look of a killer in his one eye. The other eye is just along for the ride.

Way too high maintenance to do any real damage. Stay away. Especially if he's named after the Giants QB.

The mottled look...the focused eyes...the playful pose...the big boobed horror hostess she's named after (I just wanted to type out "big boobed." Try it, it's fun.)

He's got lab in him, but looks so angelic sitting there. Tough to handicap. I think the field is too strong to get sucked in by this one.

Cocker spaniels will mix it up no matter what. Don't let the size steer you away. One of the best values on the board.

Way too gentle looking.

Issac and Jacob
11-1 (each)
At first, I thought Animal Planet had made a mistake by putting the same dog up twice. Of course, I'm not sure how easy it is to tell miniature pinschers apart in general. They look feisty. Size might be a factor though.

I love German Shepherds, but not in the Puppy Bowl. Too intelligent, they'll mix it up but not enough to factor in the decision.

There's that Beagle again. Beware the Beagle.

See Madeline.

This Aussie looks like he/she came to play. Intense eyes and alert pose make it a favorite.

Everyone at your party will enjoy Moose's looks and hijinks, but at the end of the day he won't be on the field enough to warrant consideration. His owner probably has stipulations in the contract to keep him off the field...that coat gets dirty easy I bet and no one wants to brush it out. The T.O. of the Puppy Bowl.

A pekingese? The Chad Johnson of Puppy Bowl.

Terrier mix, and it looks like the mix part is the stuff needed to win this shit. A huge favorite. Won't win you a lot of money, but it's a safe pick.

Pretty, strong lines. One to watch. But I think in the end he might be overwhelmed by the talent out there.

Sarah Jessica Barker
I'm not sure how they did it, but the producers found the absolute perfect analogy to Sarah Jessica Parker in the dog world. Kudos.

Has to be the favorite here. Playful look, an exotic breed (Jindo Korean) and a cool name. The references to Lost are off the charts for this one, so don't be surprised if he keeps disappearing and reappearing throughout the broadcast.

A cool looking dog, but that's not going to do him any favors in the competition. Could be a nice little darkhorse pick though...

Sugar will have the energy, but her size is going to be her downfall. Can she shine through and be noticed amongst the bigger dogs. Her ugliness won't help either.

Sugar Rush
Don't be fooled...Sugar Rush is listed as a Weimeraner mix, but there's more mix than Weimeraner in this little guy. Not a lot of value at 3-1, but look for him to do some damage.

Don't sleep on Tricks. Dachsund's can get tough...they burrow and hunt more than the Viet Kong. Great value here.

Everyone likes to see a pug, but there's a reason you never see them chasing frisbees. Their breed is prone to all sorts of problems, and I'm guessing he's not going to be on the field very long.

So there you have it. If it were me I'd box Tricks, Sugar Rush and Schroder and hope for a huge royal rumble with them coming out on top. But then again, the Eagles lost a couple weeks ago, and I could give a shit about either the Cardinals or the Steelers.

Go puppies!

Links of Interest 1/30

Cool celebrity photography. Photos of celebrities, not celebrities taking photos. Because I'm not sure how cool that would be.

Wouldn’t’ you fake your own death to get out of a marriage with Olivia Newton John? She probably sang those Grease songs ad nauseum.

All you Saved by the Bell fans - whoever wrote this, blows you away.

Board games have gotten a lot more complex than you might think.

For your public health - a list of the ten dirtiest hotels in America. Good to see Wildwood making an appearance.

By the power of Grayskull, I can't imagine this is going to be any good.

Rock bands will no longer exist by 2016. Well, none of us will because of 2012, but that’s another story.

This is the most awesomest guy ever.

You're telling me Iron City can't beat chili beer here? What is this, amateur hour?

We may one day rely entirely too much on robots to do our bidding.

And here's something that's sure to make you feel good about 2009.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Links of Interest 1/29

Watchmen is considered the bible of comic books. Which gives many people a sense of excitement and anxiety for the movie. Let's see what the director has to say about it.

Where did that Blossom go?

Anti-heroes as heroes apparently have become cliche.

What we can do to help keep bee populations at healthy levels.

Just how much of an impression did The Satanic Verses leave on society?

Stuff men really should have never ever thought about buying.

Leaders accused of being the antichrist.

Cool pictures of lightning.

What is the best fast food out there? The answer shouldn't surprise you.

Probably best to read this at home...with your pants off. You know, just in case.

An argument not to cancel our space program.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Let's rename Wednesday to "Lostday"

Tonight is Lost. I apologize for not writing about my thoughts on last week's season premiere, but let's be honest, I did way back when here. Ok, so that might not be exactly what's happening, but it should give you enough to see that I'm a seer. Or lucky. Or an idiot. Decide for yourselves and what else is going on on the flip side!

The other reason I didn't write is because seriously, could anyone wrap their heads around exactly what happened in those 2 hours. While we got a ton of answers (or at least some explanation leading us down a specific path) there were still plenty of questions raised. Quick comments about what we saw...

  • I'm calling that the reason Locke was so all knowing in the first 2 seasons is that it will be revealed it was future Locke, or that he had already lived through it once and hte second time around he knew what had to happen.
  • Charlotte seems to be having some time sickness issues. I have heard (and there are some clues alluding to it) that people seem to think she may have been born on the island, which is affecting her. That would go against my theory that people born on the island don't get bothered by time travel (see Richard Alpert), but we'll see. My theory then puts a lot of stock into Aaron. It's your call whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.
  • Anyone else think Miles Straum (I get it!) knows a lot more than he's letting on. How did he get that boar so quickly? Hmmm.
  • Hey Hurley. You're an idiot. Seriously, I realize Ben is a shady dude, but at what point are you going to see that he really does have a plan and getting on his side, at least a little is beneficial. It's like my Nerds movie Axiom. At what point in the series do the jocks concoct an completely ridiculous scheme to get back at the "nerds" and get their chicks back?
  • Jack, you're taking a lot at face value. I'm hoping you have a plan at least formulating a little in the back of your head like you did when you had Ben's spine spliced open on the table.
  • Seriously, Faraday, after your spiel about not being able to change the past, how is it you could speak to Desmond, thereby, in affect, change the past? Were you lying to Sawyer, or is this going to pay off later?
  • Opinion about the season premiere? Loved the first hour. Liked the second hour. I'm all about the schemes, scams and weirdness of what's going on on the macro level and could care less about the relationships. Seriously, the Kate/Jack/Sawyer stuff is silly to me. But if you gave me an hour of Ben and Widmore playing chess in a jail cell and talking I would sacrifice an animal. So all the Hurley lies/truth blubber and going against Ben is kinda meh with me. I did like to see Cheech getting work though, so I guess I'll put up with it.

I'm also bringing back the list of people I want to hang out with based on what's going on.

1. Faraday
Based on his knowledge of time travel and the fact we saw him actually working with the Dharma Initiative leads me to believe he knows what he's doing. Also, I predict he's dead by the end of the show, sacrificing himself somehow.

2. Ben
Not sure I have to explain this one. He's got so many schemes going on and thinking 18 steps ahead of everyone (except Keamy, RIP) that he's going to be on top at the end with everyone else on the bottom.

3. Miles
If for no other reason he seems to be able to get food at the drop of a hat.

4. Desmond
Every time I see him on screen I feel he's about to take a flaming arrow to the chest. He and Faraday will probably be hand in hand in that sacrifice. Also apparently has some weird ability to move through time, so that's kinda nice.

5. Sayid
At least smart enough to pair up with Ben a little, even if he doesn't completely trust him. Also can fight more after being hit with tranquilizer darts. That has to be a important skill.

6. Sun
Off island Sun is waay different than on island Sun.

7. Locke
Though he's currently in a coffin (and "currently" kind of has a strange definition in the Lost universe), he also is rapidly bouncing through time. And he has a compass.

8. Jack
Currently a druggie doctor, that has finally admitted to himself he had to go back to the island for some reason. Plus, he couldn't get all indignant with you when you asked for his prescription pad to write some oxycontin prescriptions.

9. Juliet
Sure, she's bouncing through time on an island that no one can find with a bunch of people that want to kill her or something, but she at least knows some secrets of the island, unlike...

10. Sawyer
Who stepped on something that the camera lingered on entirely too long for it to be just some splinter. Look for Sawyer to be limping for the rest of the season. Which is still better than...

11. Charlotte
Who not only is bleeding out of the nose, getting severe headaches, but is also forgetting common things in her life. On a time traveling island with a number of groups fighting with one another and not too many modern amenities, it can't be too great.

12. Kate
Schlepping around Aaron to gas stations and getting dressed down by Sun...yeah not so much fun.

When will you realize when you start thinking for yourself, especially when dealing with Ben, you will lose?

List will be updated based on what happens this season. So check back regularly.

Daily Links 1/28

Another great has died – John Updike. Somewhere my high school English teacher I sweeping.

I love it when a plan comes together. I present to you, the A-Team movie.

What's your favorite debut album?

A collection of the personals from the NYT Review of Books.

An article about Mt. Everest.

A more serious look at food.

India is building a superhighway that will not only connect cities, but entire cultures.

Another reason not to go into the ocean - immortal jellyfish.

This stupid Snuggie thing is really getting out of hand. Tell you what – you send me a blanket and five bucks and I’ll cut holes in it so you can change the channel without fidgeting underneath your blanket.

LinkIt’s innovation like this in sports I can appreciate. It’s only a matter of time before it’s deemed illegal.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Daily Links 1/27

The 80s are making a comeback. At least with shitty remakes on TV.

Here's an argument that maybe you don't want your kid playing Candy Land.

Errol Morris, photographers and George Bush.

The feasibility of deep space travel. Not to be confused with the feasibility of deep dish pizza.

Don't ever think marketers aren't doing everything they possibly can to make sure you leave the lot in a cool red sports car.

Just in case you run into one of these guys, you at least know maybe it isn't such a good idea to help them move that couch into their van.

The 9 most extreme places on the planet. I want to visit every one of them.

I came out with 25 but I really think I could take more. I know this is supposed to be humorous, but now I want something to accurately calculate how many I could take. I’m thinking at least 75.

The google drive. Not to be confused with the event horizon drive that turned everyone inside out on that space station.

Out on a floating island in the middle of the ocean, monkey knife fights are not only legal, they're encouraged.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Good...the Bad...the Beautiful #41


Dean Martin, John Wayne, tuxedos, probably a gallon of gin and song. You're welcome.

Bad and Beautiful on the flip side!


So a porn movie needs a disclaimer like this? Talk about killing the mood. Although, it can only increase the sexiness of whatever comes next.


Chris Elliot's Fugitive Guy from Letterman. It's beautiful to me dammit!

Daily Links 1/26

Radiohead playing the Grammys - hip or trying to be hip and failing?

Does Billy Joel get a bad rap here? I mean, he only wrote the late 80s and early 90s college student's life soundtrack.

Saw Che and still wanted more? How about a Q & A with director Steven Soderbergh?

Ranking the Beatles songs. I'm sure there will be no arguments about this list.

Tips on how to get your island dream job.

What do you think the world's worst smell is?

Slot machines are designed to make you fail. Or something like that.

Want to have your real life close encounter? Scientists peg these areas as the best for having alien life.

I would have loved to ridden shotgun on this roadtrip through the Arctic Circle.

Of music criticism and grunge music in Seattle.

The Ring of Fire, as it pertains to astronomy.

How the "day the music died" really came to be.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Superbowl and the Boss

Recently I asked my friend Steve to breakdown Bruce Springsteen's possible setlist for the upcoming Superbowl. You see Steve is a huge Boss fan. I am not. So my Springsteen setlist for the Superbowl would have been, "Born in the USA," "Pink Cadillac," and "the one where he talks about Jersey." Since my last choice encompasses roughly 80% of his catalog, I decided to forgo a post and call in an expert. Here's Steve...

My good friends here at the Popcorn Trick have awakened me from my winter slumber with a challenge based upon this Sporting News blog post. What songs will Bruce Springsteen play during the Super Bowl halftime show? As a go-to Springsteen “expert,” I’m at least as qualified as Donovan McNabb is to lead a two-minute drill. But I am not devoid of Springsteen-cred either. So while you never really know what to expect from a Springsteen setlist, I’ll try to venture an educated guess.

First, let’s take a quick look at halftime shows since the return of the focused, single-act performances – basically the past four years. Post wardrobe-malfunction, if you will. We’ve had McCartney, the Stones, Prince, and Tom Petty each playing 3 or 4 songs over about 15 minutes. Macca went all classics, but he didn’t have a new album to push at the time – same thing with Petty last year. The Stones played their two biggest hits sandwiched around one new song from the album they were promoting in ‘05. Prince being, you know, Prince, went with a medley of his own hits and oddly chosen covers (CCR, Dylan, Foo Fighters) in what somehow came together as probably the best halftime show in recent memory.

So, that said, let’s say that Bruce has 15 minutes maximum to work with. He will be pushing a new album, Working On A Dream, which drops just a few days before the Super Bowl. The “chatty” aspect of Springsteen espoused by The Sports Guy and Grzegorek is overblown. While true of a full Springsteen show, Bruce also knows how to get down to business and I expect him to fully maximize his allotted time with music, not talk.

Overall, I see this playing out in one of two ways. One is the traditional set, a la McCartney or Petty, with Bruce rattling off three or four bangers with possibly a new song thrown in. But I wouldn’t put it past him to go the Prince route either and bust-out a raucous non-stop 7-or-8 song medley with some R&B covers and some originals – maybe some hybrid of his famous “Detroit Medley:”

I think there are some songs that are easy to eliminate no matter what format he chooses. The sweeping, lengthy epics are out – Jungleland, Rosalita, NYC Serenade, Kitty’s Back, Incident, etc. All too long on their own and not conducive to a medley format either. The biggest 80’s hits are out too: Born In The USA, Dancing In The Dark, Glory Days, Brilliant Disguise – these just don’t feel like where he’s at these days and while they still pop into the occasional setlist, I don’t see any of them fitting into the halftime show format.

I do agree with Grzegorek that “Born To Run” is almost a sure thing, and I’ll go a step further and call it almost the guaranteed closer. It’s not only his biggest hit, but it is energetic and iconic enough to get even the corporate boxes and the 6 Arizona fans up on their feet. I even see it playing out as it does at every Springsteen show – house lights on full blast and at a rapid-fire pace:

I don’t think one of the new songs is as sure a bet as it would be with some artists, but I’m going to lean toward him playing a cut off the new record. I don’t think it will be the title track, though, and so my pick would be “My Lucky Day” – it is the best and most upbeat of the three tracks that are already in wide circulation and, well, it kind of fits the Super Bowl mood, no? I mean it’s sure as hell the Cardinals’ lucky day, right?

Figure on those two tracks consuming slightly over half the time and that leaves room for two more quick ones. I think both will be classics from the back catalog, eliminating newer material from The Rising and Magic. I think “Badlands,” “Prove It All Night,” and “The Promised Land,” all from Darkness On The Edge Of Town, are possibilities as are a couple tracks from The River such as “Hungry Heart” and “The Ties That Bind.” I think he’ll try and touch on as many different albums as he can here and avoid a double-shot off the same record. So my official guess at The Boss’ playlist is:

1. My Lucky Day
2. Prove It All Night
3. Hungry Heart
4. Born To Run

So there you have it. An over-analyzed stab in the dark that will probably be completely wrong. What if he came out and went 180 degrees the opposite way and just brought the whole mood down with, say, “Nebraska,” “Wreck On The Highway,” and “The Ghost Of Tom Joad?” That would throw the place for a loop. Incidentally, my dream 15 minute setlist would probably go something like: “E-Street Shuffle” > “Jungleland” > “Ramrod,” though that would be pushing the time limit for sure. Anyway, enjoy the Super Bowl (can we use that term legally or do we have to pay royalties to the NFL), the halftime show, the commercials, puppy bowl, the beer, the food, and whatever else gets you excited on a February Sunday evening.

Agree? Disagree? Have your own fantasy Springsteen setlist in place? Let us hear about it in the comments!

Links of Interest 1/23

If you're thinking about getting involved in a fictional fight, don't use any of these fictional weapons.

It's kinda like that submarine movie with the black guy and the white guy that gets totally racist at the end with the horses, except much more serious, and sans the racism.

Scientists are suggesting present physics principles will not be able to define the universe as we know it. That's easy to wrap your head around.

We're five minutes away from the world ending. According to a large cardboard looking clock and a bunch of people that apparently have nothing else much to do.

There have been a lot of apocalypses recently. Luckily, this guy has survived them all.

I'd rather they rename this list as the top 20 delicious foods of 2009.

Who knew traveling in and around the Sahara could be so dangerous? I mean aside from normal, sane people?

In tough times we still buy certain things.

Newspapers faced extinction before. War helps.

Crazy large photo of the inauguration. You can pan and zoom if you want. It takes awhile to load though.

What does a TV station put on TV when it doesn't produce a lot of television. Apparently anything.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Links of Interest 1/22

“Vomiting birds save icebox pair adrift for 25 days.” With a headline like that, I have to know more.

Sometimes, a meeting can be counterproductive. Learn why here.

It seems that there is more marketing behind the hysteria of 2012 then actual science, if you can believe that.

I'm going to guess the website that produced this list of dangerous college courses has a conservative slant. Just to give you fair warning.

In addition to the new digs, Obama gets a new ride. And it's not like the rides you and me get. Unless you are Obama reading this. In which case I'd like to give a shout out to #44.

Death's at the door - quick how do you react?

Apparently that whole Bank of America/Merrill Lynch shebang didn't go according to plan. If there ever was a plan.

People will put a jet rocket on anything these days.

Like to read? Better get cracking, because there are 1000 books you should have.

Turning the presidential speeches into word clouds and comparing them. Interesting and thought provoking if not scientific in any way.

The increase of privatized armed forces.

Argentina could have almost been considered Germany lite at one point.

Using the latest technology to let everyone else know where you always are.

Your Guide to the Idiosyncratic Vegas

This upcoming weekend will be my saddest weekend-before-the-Super Bowl in 4 years.  The casual reader might casually assume that this is due to the Eagles Butterface Cinderella season coming to an end.  The business casual reader would smooth out his Dockers and know that what I’m mourning is the absence of an annual January Vegas trip.

Denial, Anger, & Bargaining are in the rear view mirror, and now I need to nudge the needle from Depression to Acceptance. 

So here’s a guide to some of my favorite spots in the meanest town on Earth.

Use it to get psyched for your upcoming Vegas trip or to get psyched for your trip to the pawn shop to pay for your upcoming Vegas trip.  Either way, it’s cool.

Why is there bacon in that bottle, and why does it make a cocktail I would describe as the most necessary of evils?  Find out after the jump.

Yet More Background

The impetus for going to Vegas the last 3 years was an Ultimate Frisbee tournament called Trouble in Vegas, whose motto is “The Best & Worst Idea, Ever”.  Like most tournaments, the games only serve to get in the way of other pursuits.  But the tournament is important for several reasons:

  1. If I tried to get 20 people to go to Vegas for a long weekend, it would be tough as hell.  Human nature dictates that there are always reasons to not do something.  But as soon as there’s an event to build the weekend around, I’m turning people away.
  2. Spending the better part of 2 days at the fields helps to cut your losses.
  3. If it weren’t for the tournament, we never would have met an awesome guy with a Mohawk who hated shirts and carried his gear (i.e. human heads) around in a trash bag:


All of the places listed below can be found on this map

The Major Destinations

“The Happiest Place on Earth” (Double Down Saloon)

That’s their motto and it’s not hyperbole.  It’s a short cab ride from The Strip, but it may as well be a thousand miles away.  Tucked into a seedy looking strip mall near UNLV, it’s dark, covered in graffiti and gloriously grungy.  It feels like a locals bar, which is always a good thing.

There’s a jukebox full of punk music, pool tables that have seen better days, and a couch that may or may not have been purchased at a CDC yard sale.  And they have an excellent selection of good cheap beer (Schlitz, PBR, etc.)  They have live bands in most nights, but I’ve only been there during the day.

But aside from the refreshing change of ambience, the Double Down has 2 big, big, BIG things going for it.  And both are largely liquid in nature.

First, there’s the Ass Juice.  While the name doesn’t bode well for your taste buds, they will send you flowers for letting this nectar pass over them.  And the beauty of the drink is that it’s different every time.  They take all the nearly empty liquor bottles, mix them together with varying amounts of fruits and juices, and what comes out is pinkish brown and delicious.

Second, there’s the Bacon Martini.  This does not taste, in a word, good.  But it’s bacon in an alcoholic drink.  You are obligated to try this if you’ve ever contemplated cooking and then eating a ball of bacon.  Or if you think this is a landmark moment in human history. 

Be forewarned, it’s not a sipping drink.  The longer it stays on your tongue, the longer you’ll be tasting it (i.e. the next day). 

My recommended course of action is (1) Bacon Martini, (2) Ass Juice + Schlitz, (3) Repeat Step 2.

Even Anthony Bourdain has been there (starting about 3 minutes in), though he somehow ignores the Bacon Martini:

“If Dunkin’ Donuts Served Liquor and Encouraged Elderly Gambling” (Gold Coast Casino)


This is where we stayed the first year we went to Vegas, and it will forever hold a place in my heart for several reasons. It’s a solid, no-frills value for one.  It’s off the strip, but there’s a free shuttle bus that will take you there.  For some reason, it’s very popular with the Asian community.  I’ve seen Taiwanese Social Clubs that had a lower Occidental representation.  And a restaurant that has excellent Gravedigger’s Specials during certain hours of the evening. And they have a cart in the sports book that sells $0.75 hot dogs.

We moved onto other hotels to (sporadically) lay our heads.  But we returned to the Gold Coast like junkies to their favorite corner for one reason:

Bingo.  With Donuts.  With an open bar.  And a clientele that drifts about aimlessly like Brimley before the alien pods landed in the pool. 

Someone had done his research about the Gold Coast that first year.  Booze & Doughnuts Bingo became an impromptu end point for a night of gambling, drinking, and odd sights.  We decided to stay up all night and make the 9 AM session.  We did it, and then we did it every year afterwards.

By 9 AM, you’re still wired from the ongoing evening to morning transition.  But when you finally slow down long enough to throw back a donuts and wash them down with your choice of beer or mimosa or bloody mary, you can almost feel the adrenaline collecting in a pool at your feet. 

But the prospect of winning some sweet, sweet bingo money is enough to keep you going.  And the prospect of an elaborately choreographed victory celebration is even more enticing.  Sadly, the only people who won in our numerous trips here did so with annoyingly quiet grace.  Personally, I was envisioning an homage to the last 10 minutes of Blazing Saddles. 

The options are a bit dizzying, but everyone is very nice in their efforts to explain things.  It also helps that you have the option of using their version of a laptop which will wirelessly track your cards’ progress.  It’s strangely enthralling, though you are in no way an active participant. 

This encapsulates much of what I’m talking about.  The Bingo board, donuts, Goose, the guy who discovered the bingo in the first place, and beer.


You also meet some interesting people who are, in no way, the stereotypical picture of a bingo fan.  I mean, this is probably the first time this lady has been in a den of bingosity.  Notice that she’s using the laptop AND playing by hand with the blotter.

The downside to staying up all night in the soft lighting of Vegas casinos?  Exiting in the harsh daylight.  Our reactions here are not exaggerated.  I love the composition of this picture. So many good things going on, especially on the part of the jaded gentleman nonplussed by our histrionics.  That’s Goose miraculously lifting his head off the ground, and that is me with my sweatshirt gallantly protecting me from a migraine.  And the foot belongs to Steve Allen.


What I Imagine Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf Is Doing in Heaven” (O’Shea’s Casino)

O’Shea’s is an anomaly on The Strip. 

There’s a food court AND a Vince Neil-endorsed tattoo parlor.  There are beer pong tables a few feet away from the poker room.  You get free t-shirts for getting blackjack with a black jack.

It’s cheesy, but in a refreshingly anti-Vegas way.  They seem interested making sure you have fun while they take your money, not just taking your money.  I’m pretty sure they still have reformed card cheats with binoculars in the walkways above the tables instead of some high tech camera system.  It’s the little things that make the difference.

And best of all, there’s a midget who works there.  Dressed as a leprechaun. 

I’ll wait while you soak that in.

Amongst his duties are posing with customers (as seen below), working the crowds of passers by to entice them into O’Shea’s, and most importantly scampering down the bar pouring free shots into everyone’s mouths.  Sadly I was never there at the right time to experience that particular miracle.

And according to one fellow, it’s okay to mock him because “midgets don’t have souls”.  While we here at The Popcorn Trick cannot endorse such spurious theological claims, we can and do giggle at them.


The Quick Hits

“The Oddest Alcohol Product Sold by a Major Casino” (MGM Grand)

Delicious $2 Jell-O shots in various flavors at a weird bar/food court-type place right near the elevated walkway to NYNY.   Great place to start the evening. 

“The Best/Only Vegas Strip Club I’ve Been To” (Sapphire)

It was 1:30 AM and there was an impromptu trip to a strip club being organized.  I was about to go to bed, but mustered all reserves of energy I had and joined them.  I was glad, because if I hadn’t, I would not have seen this sight.

Strongly hetero female friend #1 was not having a good time, slumped in her chair asleep.  To her left, female friend #2 was having the time of her barely hetero life.  This was due to an upside-down Asian stripper whose head was buried in FF2’s lap, ass in FF2’s face, and legs spread wide in at least 2 directions.  While the stripper is doing her thing, grinding and flailing about, FF1 slumbers peacefully with the stripper’s boot mere inches away from her face.  It’s an impressive visual, and one I was able to recreate with some help from the boys in the lab:


I’m not going to tell you that Sapphire is the best place to go in Vegas, because I haven’t sampled enough to say that authoritatively. I will say that I had a grand ol’ time.

You should be able to negotiate a deal on the cover charge at Sapphire if you're bringing ladies.  We were.

“The Best/One of Two Vegas Buffets I’ve Been To” (The Rio)

Do you like miles and miles of every imaginable foodstuff? Do you like oversized girl drinks? Then the Rio has your buffet. Much like the Sapphire, I don’t claim to be a Vegas buffet expert. The only other one I’ve tried was the Stratosphere, which was pretty bad. But when you find something as stomach-bursting as the Rio, you don’t stray.

And yes, that is Fun Trey slurping down the Banana Kiss I bought him.  And that was only about 80% of the drink they give you.  Like an oversized milkshake, there was enough left over for another drink.


And to close this out, here are crappy cell phone pics of me with Penn & Teller:


Ask and ye shall receive, Goose.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Lost countdown continues...

Less than 4 hours to go before we all get Lost tonight. For a quick recap of where the characters are, take a look here at my post from yesterday. Or, you can always go here and get a possibly more accurate, yet less humorous recap. Can't wait to get your total Lost fix? Read an Interview with Hurley and an interview with Ben.

An if you really want to dive in, immerse yourself in some of the theories floating around.

Regardless, from everything I've read, tonight's episode(s) should be good.

Links of Interest 1/21

The transition that has to happen when presidents change.

A funny article about wine from the New Yorker.

Methane discovered on Mars makes the potential for life to be there or have been there that much more possible.

Want to read the inaugural speech from Millard Fillmore? Taft? Polk? They're all here.

On a day we move forward, it's still important to not forget the past 8 years.

Now that Mr. Bush is unemployed, here are some possible careers he could pursue.

Caught in a snow storm? I hope you read this then.

Cool satellite photo of the inauguration yesterday.

A disgraced video game champion from the 80s. Is there any other kind?

Civilizations that just weren't cool.

Hands smell like onions? Use toothpaste – just one of the many uses for household items you might not know about.

A cool look at the infinite monkey theorem. I estimate it would take about 3 monkeys a day and a half to recreate this blog. Actually, that's a cool idea for a meme, no? I call dibs.

Like space videos? Then here you go. There's a whole bunch of them. Including one of a UFO.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

LOST countdown started...

Ok, so what do we know?

Other than the fact that the television show Lost is a weird cultlike obsession, not much. We think we know stuff about the island, but that "think" so often is far away from the "know." And that is a major reason so many people love Lost.

Think about it. How much fun is it to discuss theories about the island with your friends in the kitchen at work or over email the day after an episode airs? How excited do you get when you spot a clue or an Easter Egg during the show, hoping no one else caught it so you can drop some Lost knowledge on people?

So, let's rephrase it. What do we assume we know?

Read more on the flip side...

Presently off the island (and yes, I realize using a "time" defined word is just silly at this point in the series, but bear with me):



Now, that's obviously if they pick it up from the funeral home. Everyone else is still on the island.

People on the island:

Locke? (it's based on what time period you want to talk about for the show. Let's just put him here as we know we'll see him at some point on the island running around)
Rose and Bernard (at this point there simply one character)
The group of Others
Keamy? (Ok, I just threw that in there because I wanted it to be true.)

In a raft near the island:


Quite possibly treading water near an very blown up cargo ship, or you know, dead:


Still thankfully dead:


Right now, that's all we know. And even that is tenuous at best.

The big reveal at the end of last year's finale obviously was Locke in the coffin. I really wanted it to be Jack's dad, but since it wasn't I can at least cling to the theory that he's still alive. So Locke (presumably) gets into some trouble on the island after the group splits and "dies." I'm guessing that season 5 is going to explore that and more.

My initial thoughts?

It's not Locke in the casket. I don't know - I don't want him to be dead. And in the ever increasing murkiness of non-linear time lines, it's possible at some point he's not. And yes, that last sentence confused me as well.

The island? It moves in time, not in distance. Think of it as a hub on a wheel where time radiates outward. It can travel to the different spokes' time lines. Yup, I'm confused again.

Desmond: still awesome and his story while seemingly neatly wrapped up last season, I'm sure has a long way to go. Whenever he's on screen I feel he's 3 steps away from death. Though I still think he's the monk with the wine and Desmond actually ran into himself in the futurepresent. Or possibly a different spoke of time.

Wouldn't it be awesome if Charlotte was somehow Rousseau? Yeah, don't ask me to follow that idea through to completion.

Ok, I have to stop before my head explodes. I will leave you with some goodies however to get you moist for the premiere tomorrow night...

TV Guide reviewed the season premiere and, while it certainly pays for them to up the hyperbole quotient, you still can't help but get excited after reading the review.

This person too have nothing but good things to say about the new season.

And finally, here are some clips from the season premiere. Much like the blogger who posted these clips, I can't watch them due to wanting to be nice and clear of any spoilered information.

Have your own theories? Want to ridicule me? Do it to it in the comments!

Links of Interest 1/20

Don't miss the post about Twitter porn right below this one. Seriously.

This guy knows more about Lost than you do. Because he's paid to.

Like singer Andrew Bird? Than I can't imagine you not liking this profile of him.

The Man shuts down a paper mill and destroys a community Damn you Man!

Want to know what it's like to DJ?

How production companies have dealt with stars suddenly dying during filming of movies.

One of my life resolutions is to witness an actual cock fight. Not because I enjoy watching animals kill one another, but just to say I did. Unfortunately, it looks like I'm one step further away from realizing my dream.

Don’t read this if you don’t want to know who the Stig is (hint: It's some British guy). And don’t be upset if you have no idea what the Stig is.

So seriously, how does one go about pooping in space?

Psychotic leisure music.

Grab your camera and leave your shutter open for a long time and see what you come up with like these people did.

Something that was supposed to be totally cool involving hunting down a fictitious international spy in Seattle went horribly wrong back in 2002.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Twitter After Dark

If you haven't heard or read, I twitter. Basically Twitter is a site where you can constantly update your friends with brief thoughts about how your day is going. Or what you're eating. Or reading. Or doing. Each update may only consist of 140 characters, but there is no limit to how many "tweets" you can do in a given day.

Read more on the flip side...

It's safe to say I'm a big fan of it. I can't really explain why, because other than its mobile capabilities (which I don't even utilize), I've yet to find its unique intrinsic value. In fact, it's not much more than a customizable glorified chat room/message board. Still, it's incredibly addicting and I'm constantly checking and updating it.

One of Twitter's features allows you to see specifically who follows you. And because it's a global Internet application, its net has even ensnared a few celebrities, including ShaquilleO'Neal , John Cleese, and possibly Tina Fey, though I can't 100% prove it's Tina Fey. I mean, many of her twitters seem to be in the spirit of Liz Lemon, her character from 30 Rock (ex. "Halloween is good because I can pretend I'm buying candy to give away," and "I'm not ashamed to admit this can of Cheetos has been rolling around my desk drawer since 2006. And they're still good.") so there is a chance it's just a clever fake. Still, I like to think it's her so that I can tell all my friends I'm basically one degree away from Ms. Fey.

Of course, famous sports and Hollywood celebrities aren't the only ones that use twitter. There is a dark, delicious underground of Twitter that I'm not sure too many people are aware of.

I'm of course talking about porn stars on Twitter.

And when you think about it - it's a genius move. First of all, I don't care where you are on the Internet, porn is right around the corner. So it's not a crazy notion to have porn on Twitter. second of all, it makes perfect sense. The chance for porn stars to manipulate the illusion of intimacy can only help their business. And Twitter is a great place to do that. By getting their name out to fans and "updating" what they are doing when they are not "doing it" they are effectively tearing down a wall and giving intimate glances into their lives - but entirely on their terms.

But enough of the psychoanalyzing mumbo jumbo of porn stars and the people who follow them. Let's take a look at what and how porn stars use twitter - and how absurd it can really get.

Jenna Haze

Awesome fact about Jenna: Between 2002 and 2005 she almost exclusively performed with women, out of respect for her boyfriend, a camera operator.

Normal Twitter: "lunch time... breaking from planning shoots to stuff my face. :-)"

Awesome Twitter: "Okay I just spent another 14k on my wardrobe for AVN/AEE! And I still have to get shoes and accessories! Look out Vegas!!"

Jesse Jane

Awesome fact about Jesse: She had a walk on role in Baywatch Hawaiian Wedding.

Normal Twitter: "
just got back from shopping in tampa I got lots of stuff YAY"

Awesome Twitter: "
getting ready to dance at hustler club in baltimore"


Awesome fact about Belladonna:

She was formerly engaged to fellow porn actor Nacho Vidal. In a million years I couldn't come up with as good a name as Nacho Vidal.)

Normal Twitter: Seriously exhausted! But I have plenty of work that needs to be done. 2009 will be my biggest year yet!!

Awesome Twitter: "Eating dinner with my boyfriend Damian and my husband is also here!"

Sasha Grey

Normal Twitter: "
R.I.P. Ricardo Montalban"

Awesome Twitter: "
Waiting shoot a 4 way gg scene! Wooo hoo, only downside is we're outside:("

(I really wish I knew what gg stood for - if you do, please enlighten me in the comments.)


Normal Twitter: "
i don't care what you heard, i did NOT skip through rittenhouse with jess singing musical songs yesterday. okok, so i actually did."

Awesome Twitter: "
oof. managed 20 minutes on the pole before it was definitely break time. i am one out of shape chickie"

There are plenty more on Twitter and it's not difficult to find them once you get on. Take a look around and see if your favorite star is on there and enjoy finding out about both their normal lives and they're not so normal lives.

Links of Interest 1/19

So close to Obama's big day, here's a roundup of Inauguration Day videos from presidents past.

Joaquin Phoenix quit acting to rap?

Check out what the gravity would be in Super Mario Bros.

It's great and all that Change is coming with Obama, but let's not forget about all that bad stuff Bush did.

Scientists can go nuts too.

Pretty pictures from around the big blue marble.

Apparently there might be one or two (or 25!) cool movies coming out in 2009.

Some of those nut allergies? Yeah, they might simply be made up.

Work a little, get paid a lot. Like this guy.

Going to American Apparel to see just how they do it.

Lil' Wayne is nuts? And a whole lot more in this interview.

Russell Brand is a comedian in the UK. Well, maybe not now since he's been banned for his actions.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Links of Interest 1/16

Lost is starting up in less than a week. Be prepared for a lot of coverage here at the Popcorn Trick.

There are some blogs out there that have already claimed the new Animal Collective album as the greatest album of 2009. Now you can judge for yourself.

If you like reading about food, you'll love reading about this meal in Venice.

Using robots in war. We're one step closer to fully realizing a Terminator existence.

A paper on the Grateful Dead and how the fans listen to its live recordings.

Why use drugs to hallucinate? Apparently, you can get a similar effect using ping pong balls.

The universe may be one giant hologram. I guess that makes as much sense as any other definition of the universe.

Sit back and enjoy some memorable slam dunks.

More awesome photos from 2008.

I wonder if celery soda tastes as awful as it sounds.

More Star Wars geekery - this time with Legos.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Top Chef - Sorry to see you go?

Though I love Top Chef, and will pretty much always watch it, I have to admit this season has to have the weakest chefs by far. And I think last night a line summed it up best. When the judges were critiquing Ariane's lamb, and they asked about the baby lamb, she suggested she didn't know baby lamb was tender.

Now, by no means am I here to say I'm a better chef than any of these people. Far from it. These people have dedicated their lives to the craft and would own me in any kitchen competition. All of them, including the contestants that didn't get on.


Not knowing a young animal would be more tender than the older version, it seems like something a chef should know.

But I've gotten far ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning.

Quickfire - Make something with canned stuff.

This Quickfire annoyed me for a few reasons. One, it wasted Hung. Why have him on? They made the tenuous connection that since he's fast, you all have to be fast, but if I were Hung, I would have been insulted. He won Top Chef so he obviously is a little better than simply being "fast." Whatever - we see Hung for 6 minutes and he floats out of there like one of Marcel's foams. So long Hung.

Second - nothing they made really looked inventive, well prepared or enjoyable. Seemed like the extent of the cooking was to throw a few different canned things in a blender and heat it up. And I don't think I can even blame the chefs on this one. Because Hung was there, the producers decided to give the chefs only 15 minutes to develop an idea and then cook it. I can't even get dressed in 15 minutes. Why the speed? This challenge was stupid.

Stefan wins with I don't even remember. Spam and something. Hosea is pissed because he gave him Spam. Whatever. I think there were seeds of a cool thing here that got glossed over. Opportunities were missed.

But let's wash that out of our system with a nice little trip to the farm. The nine remaining chefs split up into 3 teams. Each team received a meat (or protein if you're reading this in the kitchen of Nobu) they had to then use in a dinner. Chicken, pig and lamb. The catch? Instead of going to Whole Foods, they went to a farm and could only use what they found.

I think I would see this as an opportunity to be able to cook with some cool, fresh ingredients, but the general consensus seemed to be that it kinda stunk. Obviously Whole Foods offers a larger variety, but still - cooking with fresh, farm raised stuff you pick yourself seems quaint and cool to me. But who am I? Maybe it really does suck. I will say there were some chefs there that didn't seem to have a problem with it (Jamie and particularly Jeff who probably save Radhicka with his use of green tomatoes) but by and large the group seemed lethargic.

And it showed in their food. Even the winners (chicken group of Carla, Jamie and Stefan) had plenty of complaints. The other two teams? What a mess.

And Ariane not knowing how to prepare lamb was the kicker. While it seemed as though Padma really didn't want to send her home, how can you not? If the show is based on the dish in front of you and not past successes, then really, Ariane had to go. She was lost around the cut of meat, not knowing how or what to prepare. Sure, neither Leah nor Hosea helped her out, but by now we all know how cozy they feel with one another, and they're certainly not going to throw one another under the bus in this early stage of woo. Wait until they have to go up against one another.

And that's the other balancing act the chefs have to deal with on the show. When teamed together, sure you want to beat the other team, but first and foremost you go for self-preservation. Leah didn't do much, but her thinking is sound - not doing much means there isn't much to judge. Yes, the judges pointed that out and used it as a red herring to build suspense on who might be leaving, but I never felt Leah was in any danger of "packing her knives."

So Ariane leaves, which I thought was a long time coming. A caterer who came a long way with some solidly cooked dishes, in the end I think her lack of training and creativity hurt her.

Next week - Hosea and Leah get vertical!

Links of Interest 1/15

Amy Poehler recently left Saturday Night Live to create her own show. Should we start calling her the poor man's Tina Fey now or later? Should we wait until we see her show? These are the types of things that keep me up at night.

There's going to come a point in time where the Wire, even though it's probably only been seen by about 3 million people, is going to oversaturate the market. And it's not even on TV any more! Proof? The cast of the Wire as a football team.

Ikea has the greatest food deals - good cheap hot dogs and that delicious Loganberry drink. But what would it be like to shop there for food and use it to cook meals at home?

Dealing with disaster hot spots all over the globe.

You might think twice about carrying out a terrorist attack in these countries. Actually, I hope you just think twice about becoming a terrorist.

The randomness of our existence in space could be in jeopardy by the randomness of these five events.

We really don't know much about our solar system.

Chances are higher than you think that you're being stalked. And it's not by me. So far as you know.

Yeah that Segway inventor? He's a little crazy.

Really cool pictures of the Earth and stuff on the Earth taken from high above the Earth.

So wait – now Cheney did a good thing? Will there ever be one thing we can all agree on?

Jonesin for a McRib but your local McDonalds doesn't carry it? Don't fret, check out this map and hope there's one within driving distance.