Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New music from The Bamboos - King of the Rodeo

If anyone ever tells you deep funk is a dead genre, simply point them in the direction of this band. Hailing from Australia, The Bamboos, kick it old school funk style, laying down some cool grooves and create a great sound that you would swear was coming out of some dingy back alley club and not the sunny outback.

This song, King of the Rodeo, featuring Megan Washington, is a cover of a Kings of Leon tune, done only as The Bamboos can. Enjoy, and if you like what you hear, seek them out. Though they're from Australia, you can find their albums on Itunes.

On the flip side, the original by Kings of Leon (which isn't too bad itself)...

Links of Interest 9/30

Being a pirate these days is a dangerous job.

Rock posters are amazing. Here's the best of the best. Even if you don't like the acts, you have to appreciate the art that goes into promoting the shows.

Back in middle school, we played an assassination game. Pretty sure I won at least once. One kid tried to take me out with a "letter bomb," disguised as a note from a girl dropped in my locker. Please, like I'm going to fall for that. Girls didn't talk to me in middle school. So now you have enough information to decide who is nerdier: me or the people in this article.

I like to make sure you readers are prepared for emergencies. So print out this no frills guide to landing a 747 and keep it on your person.

Are the Polish that much of a powerhouse that they are stealing American secrets?

The Good...the Bad...the Beautiful #16


A Michel Gondry production. Watch the landscape change as the beats in the song change. Something tells me that wasn't by accident.

Bad and beautiful on the flip side...<


Yes, I know it was a joke, it's just not a very funny one. It's very difficult to go out and make a cult movie - I'd say one of the most successful ones is THe Big Lebowski. I'm hoping the makers of this movie tried and this isn't just supposed to be a straight up comedy. Otherwise I'd list this as "Worst." Why can't people just put a little more effort into the writing of these things?


It's like a Sprint commercial, but good. Plus, it's got Radiohead.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Good...the Bad...the Beautiful #15


I'm a big fan of Whose Line is it Anyway. I liked the spontaneity of it and it was funny more times than it wasn't. This clip has Richard Simmons subbing in; not sure if the cast knew he was coming or not. But I love the way they keep taking turns throwing each under the bus to have to deal with him.

Bad and beautiful on the flip side...


The Popcorn Trick goes political! Actually, I just included this to see the guy flip out and make awesome statements. I especially like the fact that he dismisses the father of the kid as "a hockey player or something." It know it's long, but please try to stay (or just fast forward) up to 6:30 when he starts calling Wolf Blitzer's daughter the spawn of Satan.


Diesel SFW XXX - Watch more free videos

Alright, though labeled "safe for work," I'd probably wait until everyone went to lunch at the very least to take a peek, unless you have your own office and then you're cool. But if you have your own office I assume you're already watching things and running batches. The first few seconds will give you all the information you need. I don't think I'll ever look at a koala bear the same way again. How's that for a teaser?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Talking NFL with the Popcorn Trick – Week 4 (Goose Picks)

Remember when the Sports Guy was funny?

Ok, that was a low blow. I believe ESPN does censor him a lot and takes away a lot of his bite. Whose fault that is, I’m in no position to comment on definitively. What I can say is I miss his golden era of writing, when it seemed like he had a real passion for sports.

What does this have to do with a post about picking NFL games? While I don’t have the talent or ability to match his old school writings, I do have the desire to at least make an attempt. So not only will this post include mediocre football picks for week 4, it will have a number of arcane references, silly ramblings and stuff that makes no sense to more than 6 people.

Everyone – welcome to the The Popcorn Trick’s NFL Week 4 picks!

If you haven’t been following the hotbed activity of the comments sections, you may have missed that The Popcorn Trick is no longer simply making NFL picks. The two main authors (more like the one main and the coattail hanging on guy) have chosen to go head to head with their picks. Beer and sushi (yeah we’re that nouveau – but don’t worry, it’s cheap sushi) are on the line. After trying to bamboozle me and include my earlier picks in the total, we hammered out a semi-cohesive challenge. Honestly, it’s a lot more inane than even this paragraph, and hopefully (don’t count on it) next week we’ll make things a lot easier to follow.


Since there is now something to play for, you’d think I would start putting some research into these picks. Remember, this all started because I wanted to show that research didn’t really help when it came to the NFL.

Not the case.

Honestly, before Friday I don’t even look at the matchups. I spend about 6 minutes making my actual picks. I barely follow any other football (other than the Eagles) on Sunday. I’m the one guy that isn’t involved in a fantasy league.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I’m confident that even though I do less preparation than Scott Linehan I will still beat Cline and enjoy free beer (Schlitz – the beer that made Milwaukee famous) and cheap sushi.

So without further adieu (and that’s a WAY inside joke), the picks…

(My choices are BOLD and CAPITALIZED)

CLEVELAND +3.5 @ Cincinnati

Does anyone outside of Ohio care about this game? Does anyone in Ohio care about this game? Picking this game is like choosing whether you want to be stabbed repeatedly or torn up by wild dogs. Of course, either is better than having to watch this thing. Has the Ocho Cinco thing been resolved? That’s the only reason I would tune this game in – to see what name Chad Johnson wore on his back. I heard he couldn't wear “ocho cinco” until he bought all the old jerseys back with Johnson on them…seems a little steep, but apparently it’s in the collective bargaining agreement? If I were him I’d get out a calculator, do a little number crunching and see if that would be more or less than the fines he would incur every week for wearing Ocho Cinco. But I’m spiteful.

Minnesota +1.5 @ TENNESSEE

Speaking of bad matchups – Gus Frerotte vs. Kerry Collins. Neither coach can be happy with their spot in life when they have to trot these options out there. If the Titans win, they would be 4-0! Do you think the old Dolphin players are getting nervous? Do they still get nervous? Or did last year’s Giants victory give them something to hold on to? I’d love to be in the room where they have to decide whether they should still meet and toast champagne after the last undefeated team loses, or if that tradition is over. Just one more thing the Patriots messed up when they lost to New York. Thanks fuckers.

Denver -11.5 @ KANSAS CITY

This is where I get into trouble. I see a double digit favorite playing a division rival on the road and figure there’s no possible way they can cover. Then Monday rolls around and the score will read Denver 74, Kansas City -12. But I’ve got one thing to hang my hat on:

Don’t think KC would get fired up having Tony D’Amato as coach? Heck, at this point I’d take Al Pacino as coach over Edwards.

SAN FRANCISCO +3 @ New Orleans

Mike Martz turned Kurt Warner into A Quarter Back, and now he has superstar JT Sullivan to work with. Listening to the radio this morning (First team on FOX with Steve Czaban – I’m going to be honest, I think it’s decent) someone on there suggested the 49ers are doing well because Alex Smith refused to 100% buy into Mike Martz system, and therefore got into his doghouse. Apparently Sullivan buys in. It sounded like logical advice, so I’m going with it. And because we’re on the subject of San Francisco, I’d be an awful person if I didn’t tell you to eat here when you're there.

Don’t look at the menu, just tell them it’s your first visit. In a couple of hours you’ll be drunk and have no idea what you ate, but it will have been good.


Wow, are these games uninspiring. Let’s go with the Cardinals because Favre is hobbling around apparently and the Jets stink. At least I think they do. I think I heard somewhere too that since the Cardinals had two east coast games (last week Washington, this week Jets) that they stayed out here the whole time instead of flying home. Insight like that has to account for something.

GREEN BAY -3 @ Tampa Bay

If you’re a quarter back on Tampa Bay, I feel sorry for you. I’m guessing Garcia slept with...well depending on what rumor you're likely to believe I'll simply say a member of his family, because to start Brian Griese…well…

Atlanta +4 @ CAROLINA

I have absolutely nothing to write about this game, so I’ll instead ruminate on the David Blaine special from Wednesday. First of all, dive of death = LAME.

Here’s video shot from the crowd. Stay with it for the audience's reaction:

Second, did we really need John Saunders announcing this? We couldn’t get someone else with ruined credibility already? They had to go and ruin his now?

HOUSTON +7 @ Jacksonville

Houston has to show something at some point, and Jacksonville doesn’t feel like a blowing-out-the-opponent kinda team to me. With a huge win last week, coupled with a Houston team they probably think they can beat easily, I’m going with the Titans here.

SAN DIEGO -8 @ Oakland

My total befuddlement with Oakland continues. I'm just throwing darts at this point.

Buffalo – 9 @ ST. LOUIS

9 points is a lot for a team to cover. And last week I picked them to cover big at home, and they didn’t, so I’m obviously going to make a rash decision and go against them.

Washington + 7 @ DALLAS

Huge NFC East game. I remember when Dallas stunk, hadn’t won a game and went into Washington and won for their only victory on the year. If it had happened last year I would say Washington would be playing for revenge. But it was close to 20 years ago so I doubt either team cares.

Philadelphia -7 @ CHICAGO

I certainly don’t blame Kyle Orton for last week’s loss. Heck, I’m absolutely stunned by his performance. No, I blame the defense, and maybe the refs a little bit. Anyway, the Eagles are banged up, and while I think they’ll win, a touchdown is a lot. Look for Orton to keep it close.

Baltimore +1.5 @ PITTSBURGH

Apparently Philly figured out how to beat the Steelers – blitz 15 guys every down and hope the refs don’t count. Unfortunately, it probably won’t work 2 weeks in a row, so Baltimore will have to figure out something else. Are they up to the task? It’s Monday night, and even though Pittsburgh is banged up and Walker isn’t playing, I don’t see them dropping 2 in a row.

As it stands right now...

Cline: 11-5
Goose 9-7

Thursday, September 25, 2008

NFL Picks from The Popcorn Trick - Week 4

OK, so this has nothing to do with the NFL except that Moreno's gonna be a stud NFL back and Musberger used to be great on the CBS NFL pre-game shows. Also, I think he banged Phyllis George during commercial breaks.

But beyond the sick leap into the endzone, check out the chick in the red tank top's reaction, Musberger's slyly lecherous, yet professional reference to it, and Kirk Herbstreit's inability to avoid the giggling.

But enough jocularity, let's assume that my record last week was a fluke and I will come crashing to earth this week. It's the only plausible explanation.

Here are my picks (in CAPS) for Week 4 in the league where they play...


CLEVELAND at Cincinnati (-3.5)

Too bad the Chiefs and Cardinals Rams aren’t playing so we make sure Ohio & Missouri each have a win. I predict Anderson struggles in the first quarter and the Brady Quinn era by throwing 4 TDs to Braylon Edwards. The fact that Edwards is key member of my Fantasy team has almost nothing to do with that prediction/wish.

In reality, this will probably be a 6-6 tie.

Minnesota at TENNESSEE (-1.5)

Tennessee’s recycled QB is better than Minnesota’s, so I go with them at home.

DENVER (-11.5)at Kansas City

Making another Thigpen joke would just be piling on.

San Francisco at NEW ORLEANS (-3)

One of my favorite all-time names, Hokie Gajon is an announcer for the Saints. That’s now why they’re going to win easily, but it doesn’t hurt.

Arizona at NY JETS (PK)

If I applied my “Awesome Announcer” theory from the previous game, I’d have take the Cards. Why? Ron Wolfley, announcer for the Cardinals. Goose & I got to partake of his genius riding back from Sectionals a few years back. Phrases like “Spankety-spank-spank” and “... got lit up like Bin Laden at a Bar Mitzvah” were used. Genius.

But when in doubt, take the home team and never bet on the Cardinals.

GREEN BAY (-3) at Tampa Bay

No way Griese has another day like last week. Also, any reason the Pats wouldn’t offer TB a conditional pick (Rd. 2-4, maybe) for Jeff Garcia?

Atlanta at CAROLINA (-4)

Not saying the Falcons won’t be frisky this year, but not on the road against a good team.

Houston at JACKSONVILLE (-7)

I miss the days of Smith & McCardell, especially Smith. If he had a better name, he would have been a huge star. Just saying.

SAN DIEGO (-8) at Oakland

Could the Raiders be rallying behind Kiffin? Nah.

Buffalo (-9) at ST. LOUIS
BIG DOG COVER SPECIAL: Nailed the Bengals last week, and this week I’m going with the to-this-point-putrid Rams to gather their pride, put it into a pile and remember that they still have Stephen Jackson & Torry Holt. Plus I don’t necessarily buy the Bills to cover a big # on the road when they barely beat the Raiders at home last week.

Washington at DALLAS (-7)

LOCK OF THE WEEK: Even if Washington makes a game of this, Dallas has too many weapons to not tack on a TD to cover this late.

PHILADELPHIA (-7) at Chicago

I’ll take the Philly defense vs. Kyle Orton, plain and simple. Especially since he doesn’t have the neck beard, but does have Brandon Lloyd who suddenly looks like he’s capable of all that he wasn’t in SF.

Baltimore at PITTSBURGH (-1.5)

Roethlisberger & Parker injuries aside, there’s no way Joe Flacco’s going 3-0. Not happening.

The records and profit/loss so far:

Cline: 11-5 (.688) and $440 in the black*.
Goose: 15-15-1 (.500) and $300 in the red*.

*Note how I tie it all back to Georgia.

Battle of the Network Stars - May 1978

If one were to believe Battle of the Network Stars ever jumped the shark (and I want to make it painfully clear that I don't believe that in any way; sure I might be disappointed with some of the directions they chose to go during the years, but I understand a format for a show like this can't be set in stone) one could argue that it happened when some idiot decided not to do everything possible to get Telly Savalas back.

The repercussions of this decision are twofold. The viewer missed out on subtle, biting commentary, and also got stuck with his replacement, Suzanne Somers. Nothing against Somers; she's easy on the eyes and does a serviceable, if vanilla job. Had she been cast as a color commentator at the beginning of the BotNS run, there obviously would not have been a high water mark to compare her to. But because Savalas left his mark both competing and providing color commentary, we are left only with "what ifs."

And those what ifs hurt this battle.

Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do. We must live with the banality that is Suzanne Somers, and devote more of our our attention toward the competition. As always, it enthralls and infuriates; makes us laugh and makes us question many actors' athleticism. It's the Battle of the Network Stars May 1978, and the formula hasn't changed a bit...

Let's meet the competitors:

Team ABC

Gabe Kaplan (captain)
Debbie Boone
Daryl Dragon (better known as "The Captain")
Kene Holliday
Parker Stevenson ("The Ivy League Hustler" as Cosell refers to him)
Toni Tenille
Cheryl Tiegs
Steve Landesberg

Team CBS

Tony Randall (captain)
Kevin Dobson (like a pimply-faced college frosh being passed a bowl packed with Acapulco Gold for the first time in his life, this is a new Kevin Dobson stepping onto the field of competition for CBS)
Denise Nicholas
MacKenzie Phillips
Victoria Principal
Bo Svenson
Jimmie Walker

Team NBC

Richard Benjamin (captain)
Rhonda Bates
Jane Curtin (playing the role of Loretta Swit)
Dennis Dugan
Melissa Gilbert
Arte Johnson
Lance Kerwin
James MacArthur
Larry Wilcox

At first glance it looks like an underwhelming bunch. Repeated glances don't help. I mean I had to look up Richard Benjamin, and I still don't know who he is (ok, yes I recognized him from Saturday the 14th, but I'm not sure who else would). And he's a captain? Anyone think NBC might be phoning this one in? Aside from Kaplan, Stevenson (probably there to score Hollywood ass), Randall and Jimmie Walker, the personalities stayed away from the Pepperdine campus this year. Somewhere Robert Conrad punches a wall not knowing why he's so angry (well, angrier than usual).

And the addition of Randall is a subtle slap in the face of all Savalas fans. I apologize for continuing to harp on this, but it's obvious Randall's involvement is the producers' way of trying to replace the Savalas wit everyone has come to enjoy. I like Randall as much as the next guy, and appreciate his tireless work in the role of Felix Unger, but he doesn't carry the same panache as Savalas.

Part of me hopes he gave the producers a list of demands to appear on the show, and that there was a crazy argument about him needing to be captain or he wouldn't do it. Could you imagine that conversation? Or the conversation between the producers and Jimmie Walker, stripping him of the C? Ok, I might be reading a little too much into this right now.

Enough - let's get on to the competition...

Event #1 - Swimming

Right off the bat, it's easy to see the fix is in. Bo Svenson clearly false starts, hitting the water before the other teams are introduced. The Captain does pull a cagey move in the pool though(strange he went with the nickname Captain, when the grand slam choice is sitting right there. "The Dragon and Tenille?" That's not a 70s soft rock act - that's a decade defining supergroup that sells out arenas) after losing his hat in the water. Somehow he knew he would most likely lose his hat during the race, so he had Tenille at the other end of the pool ready with a replacement as soon as he got out of the water. There couldn't have been more than 2 seconds of hatless Captain. I can't tell if it was for schtick or vanity.

CBS wins in a snoozer.

Results after swimming:

CBS - 100
ABC - 75
NBC - 50

Event #2 - Rowing

It's simple...if you have a former Ivy League crewman on your team, you're going to have a stranglehold on this event. ABC wins the race before it begins. CBS doesn't help itself by putting Jane Curtin in a boat for this race. I would be willing to bet the only reason she's there is she needed some extra coin that month.

At the end of the race Randall makes some half-assed protest (poorly echoing some of Savalas' earlier, shrewder tactics) and uses a bunch of big words posturing a bit for the cameras, enough for the commissioner of the competition, Mickey King an Olympic diver - allegedly) comes out and assesses no penalties. Of course not.

So after the rowing...

ABC - 100
NBC - 75
CBS - 50

Event #3 - Frisbee

A new event to BotNS, the game is played with teams of two facing each other and throwing the frisbee back and forth. 2 points are rewarded per catch; 1 point is rewarded to the opposing team for a miss. And reading that description was more exciting than watching it. Because of that, we get a slow motion montage as a Cosell voiceover gives us the results. Included in the montage is a nice slow motion shot of Bo Svenson trying - and failing - to catch a frisbee with his teeth.

Frisbee results:

CBS - 100
ABC - 75
NBC - 50

Event #4 - Obstacle Course

Making up for the poor frisbee event, the producers give us an early heat of Cheryl Tiegs vs. Victoria Principal, and I'm going to call it the most attractive matchup in BotNS history (at least so far). It's almost enough of a distraction to make me miss hearing Cosell mention that Bo Svenson hurt his shoulder in the frisbee event. Almost. Strangely we get no slow motion of that, which leads me to believe, "hurting himself in the frisbee event," is code for "hitting on Pepperdine coeds on the other side of campus."

It didn't however, distract me from hearing Cosell use the phrase "Oh Good lord, how terrible" to describe Rhonda Bates effort going through the course. Bates, a tall, lanky woman who apparently was on a television show in the 70s loses to Melissa Gilbert.

But nothing beats the Larry Wilcox/Kevin Dobson race, where Wilcox, forgetting that Dobson has the determination of a pitbull on crystal meth, eases up right before the end to give the Kojak star a chance to fully layout at the tape in an attempt to steal victory. Looking at the photo finish , I'm still not sure it showed conclusive evidence of Wilcox winning the race, but I'm sure Micky King was right on top of things.

But don't let him be the judge. Take a look for yourself...

Women's final heat gave us Melissa Gilbert vs. Victoria Principal. Gilbert wins easily. The mens' heat has Lance Kerwin vs. Kevin Dobson, which doesn't make sense to me, since Wilcox beat him...unless Micky King made a mistake and tried to correct it. It's never made clear. I don't care though because I'm fully enjoying the Kevin Dobson era.

Unfortunately, his terminatoresque drive betrays him at the wall, where he awkwardly slams into the wall at full force, tangling himself up in the ropes, giving Kerwin an easy win. Something tells me that lapse will not sit well with Dobson, and he'll come back strong...

Obstacle Course results:

NBC - 100
CBS - 75
ABC - 50

After 4 events, CBS holds a 25 point lead over ABC, with the Conradless NBC somehow stumbling into 275 points.

Event #5 - Running

Much like the rowing, ABC dominates the running. Except where a ringer gives ABC the edge in the water, Kaplan's guile and craftiness lead the charge on the oval.

This race is no different.

Kaplan sets his runners up perfectly, matching his strengths up against the other teams' weaknesses. Even when Jimmie Walker gives CBS a large early lead, ABC chips away. The competition's biggest moment is when Parker Stevenson, in the middle of his lap, turns his ankle yet still holds his lead.

It also doesn't hurt that Kenne Holliday, running anchor for ABC looks as though he would be comfortable chasing down Usain Bolt. I'd also like to openly question CBS' decision to have Arte Johnson participate, who, up to this point had been doing nothing but cutting "humorous" segments in the pool. He must have seen Billy Crystal's reel from battles' past and wanted to copy his success.

Running results:

ABC - 100
CBS - 75
NBC - 50

Simon Sez

I realize that many people loved the Simon Sez competitions, fondly remembering the hijinks "master Simon Sez guy" Len Goldstein from some resort in the Catskills would get the celebrities into. If only the memories were as good as the actual event. Labeled "non-competitive," the only thing the Simon Sez game was good for was to see how creeped out Cheryl Tiegs was when Arte Johnson (definitely not creeped out) fell onto her.

Event #6 - Football

Again, I question the strategies of the teams, namely CBS' decision to use Tony Randall in the football event. That seems like an idea Dobson would squash immediately. In fact, I would have loved to have been there when Randall told Dobson he wanted to play football. Even the new Dobson had to have a moment of murderous rage pass through his head before collecting himself and giving the thumbs up, and heading back to the players' lounge to hastily come up with a new gameplan. Serious as a heart attack, we later see Dobson giving teammates some last minute pointers; his teammates too afraid to do anything else but nod along. This is the Kevin Dobson I'm used to!

During one of the matches, Cosell utters the phrase "Good defensive play by Toni Tenille!" and promptly sets himself on fire. Or at least wishes he could light himself on fire. CBS is given a lot of camera time in this event, which leads me to believe they will win the whole shebang. First, we're given highlights of Dobson throwing strikes to his receivers; later on we see him hauling in hail marys from James MacArthur. While not quite a Jordan-like performance, it is impressive. Let's say it's Dana Barrosesque - when Dana Barros played for the Sixers in the late 90s with a bunch of guys that also cleaned the arena after the dozens of fans left. It's at this point that I fully believe Dobson has continued acting primarily to compete in these Battles.

Total scores after Football:

CBS - 500
ABC - 475
NBC - 375

Event #7 - Tug o' War?

It's possible my bootleg DVD copy skipped over some events (what - no dunk tank?) but I don't think so. The Tug o' War certainly snuck up on everyone in this broadcast. I thought the Cheryl Tiegs profile midway through the show seemed like longer-than-normal filler, but I didn't fully put it all together until this point. Regardless, CBS and ABC are facing off in the tug o' war. Kevin "Karl Malone" Dobson is licking his chops looking over at the scrawny ABC lineup for this event, realizing he can finally get his ring. Here are the teams:


Landesberg (the guy from Barney Miller; not this guy; this guy)
The Captain
Kaplan (the anchor)



Alright, so maybe Randall and Walker aren't helping much here, but Svenson is a big boy and Dobson is closer to victory than ever before. He's not letting his team lose. Those two alone beat any lineup ABC throws at them.

Somers shows her bias by siding with the scrawny ABC team, while all the smart money squarely resides on CBS. It doesn't hurt that apparently everyone on CBS is wearing football cleats for the event. For whatever reason, Lynn Swann, the referee (Mickey King had a diving meet?) allows it.

I think it takes CBS 90 seconds to get their flag across the water, and that even seemed a little long. Kaplan, humble as always walks over to Svenson (hey he knows who tipped the scales) and tells him the deserving team won. If I were Carter (Jimmy not Linda - lord knows what she offered Kaplan back when she was on the team), I would have immediately offered the Secretary of State position to him after watching that. Oh well, there's a reason he was only a one-termer.

And so ends the 4th Battle of the Network Stars. Dobson got zen on us (or at least just grew a beard), got the monkey off his back, and carried CBS to victory. Randall might have been the captain on paper, but Dobson was the captain in all their hearts. I feel good for him, and feel good for his Kojak cast...I can only assume the set became a little looser after May of 1978. Congratulations Kevin Dobson and the CBS team!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Deciphering the Microsoft ad campaign

Recently, I admitted my enjoyment for the latest Microsoft ad campaign with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld.

Apparently, I'm in the minority.

And that's ok. I'm not here to tell anyone they're stupid or "don't get it." I just thought these commercials began to lay the groundwork for something original, fresh and interesting in the advertising world - a notion that isn't always embraced. Advertising rarely rises above mimicking others' success. Mostly because to try something different is to take a risk, and that risk can backfire.

Which is exactly what's happening with the Microsoft campaign.

Here's the first commercial, about the shoes...

Gates holds his own with Seinfeld, gets the ad's biggest laugh (being a cardmember of a shoe store) and comes across as a normal person. Not laugh out loud funny (and the computer as a cake is a misstep) but it gives us a yin and yang...both Gates and Seinfeld are different, but can easily coexist. That's a direct knock against the (now) classic Apple ads that pit "pcs" against "macs." Because, let's remember, Microsoft is a software company first and foremost.

Here's the next, commercial (the extended version):

Now it's the yin and yang trying to live in the real world (the house with the family), dealing with real world problems. Sure, they get thrown out, but they learn valuable lessons on along the way.

Ok, maybe that's bullshit. Maybe it's just supposed to be funny. Because it is. Take away all the weird undercurrents that come with Seinfeld and Gates and Microsoft, and it's funny on its own. And it's unique. And the ads have built up a buzz (not entirely positive) about what direction Microsoft will go.

But now, with a lot of backlash toward this first phase of the campaign including news that the campaign will be prematurely halted, it seems as though Microsoft bowed to the pressure of the negative response.

And that's too bad.

So now, what are we left with?

Ok, these are cute. They get right to the point, and are direct. Unfortunately, they also directly respond to the Apple ads, which suggests that those spots got under Microsoft's skin. Not so good.

Of course, they also look a lot like every other commercial montage that's supposed to feel inspirational out there, and that's a shame. In a word, they feel "quaint." So they had a great opportunity to really carve out a cool, unique vibe (much like Apple did) but got scared and decided to go the traditional route.

Fair enough.

But why? Why respond to Apple's commercials. In fact, why create ads that need the competitor's ads to make sense? Aren't you indirectly admitting that they're a major player now?

To me, that's the bigger risk than making an ad campaign that at first glance causes confusion. I'm certain that whatever ad agency was doing them had an ultimate answer and goal with the Seinfeld/ Gates ads.

Now, if it were me tasked with creating ads to promote Microsoft, I wouldn't respond to the Apple ads. I would join them. This is Microsoft! I'm typing this on Microsoft Word - for the Mac! Embrace the ads and say of course Apple is great, we've known that for a long time. We're the company that doesn't divide computers into categories, we're the company that embraces all technology. We're on the cutting edge of everyone's technological development!

To me, it's a no brainer.

Links of Interest 9/24

No real big surprise that we're constantly being brainwashed by the imagery around us, but at least now we can be aware of it. Though I doubt everyone wants to be aware of it. Complacency is the government's biggest weapon.

It's easy to say you hate Weird Al Yankovic. But it's not easy to actually hate the man. Read the article.

Jack Handey is an actual person. It's hard to believe but it's true. And occasionally he writes for the New York Times.

The Darien Gap seems like a place you might not want to be stuck. Personally, I think it sounds awesome. But I bet this National Geographic guy doesn't share my same thoughts.

What would you ask Alec Baldwin if given the chance to ask him 10 questions? My first one would be, "Alec, how'd you get to be so handsome?" and I'd go from there.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fall Television Preview - Raising the Bar

TNT has been in the business of making series for awhile now, and I have yet to find one I enjoy. Now, I haven't seen Saving Grace, so I'm not saying I'm being completely fair, but The Closer and Now Raising the Bar have yet to capture my attention beyond a show or two. Back in the days of three networks that wouldn't be a problem; shows could stink for entire seasons before hitting their groove and still find an audience, because there were only 2 other options, or UHF (not the movie), which really had limited options aside from the occasional pirated transmission. These days, shows don't have that luxury. If you aren't good in the first 30 seconds, I'm switching to one of my nine hundred other entertainment options - including the old pirated transmissions I missed during the three network era.

Raising the Bar did not give me a good first 30 seconds. In fact, it didn't give me a good 30 seconds at any given point during the show...

Following a group of lawyers who (and I'm speculating here, the show wasn't entirely clear) graduated in the same class, Raising the Bar gives us the stereotypes right away. The ambitious prosecutor who thinks she's ready for the big case; the passionate defense attorney who fights for his clients and gets thrown in jail for perjury after sass talking judges and grandstanding; the hard nosed judge who takes no guff; the district attorney who cares more about convictions than justice; and so on. Honestly, after watching for a bit I thought this was going to pay off in a huge satirical way at the end, but I was wrong.

Law shows on television aren't rare and new. They've been done before, and they've been done well before. So it's disappointing to see such a generic, cliched approach, especially from a producer (Steven Bochco) that should know better.

Unfortunately, it seems that a significant portion of the viewing audience disagrees with me, since it received decent ratings, and has been renewed for a second season already. Which is fine - I hope they can mold it and make it into a better series. But I'm not going to hold my breath.

For your enjoyment, a peek at what you're missing (if you're not watching):

The Good...the Bad...the Beautiful #14


Oh sure, no one would ever admit it, but Zachariah is singing about something all full blooded males have thought about. Honestly, there isn't much Zachariah can do that I won't find amusing. He got jobbed on ESPN (definitely should have won that stupid anchor competition) and he was great doing the announcing on Dodgeball with Bil Dwyer (who can do no wrong in my eyes either).

Bad and beautiful on the flip side...


Going into this, I thought I was going to get a whole lot of awesome. Instead I got potential contestants acting silly and 8 seconds of Bob Barker looking bored. C'mon!


Watching this is hypnotic. Her bum...her moves...her hat. Not sure if the outfit was purposeful or not, but if so it's a brilliant choice. She gives just enough so that you want see her in something more attractive. I like to call it "peekaboo cute."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Put down the remote - it's time to review commercials

It's not a huge leap of faith to hate on commercials. It's probably one thing most people can agree on. They interrupt our beautiful television watching and force us to waste our disposable income on fancy toothpastes and magic towels.

To be fair, some are decent. In fact, although I think I'm one of 16 people that enjoyed the Seinfeld/Gates ad (go here to see what I said - and recognize my fear they would quickly soften the message and therefore weaken their overall campaign - exactly what they're doing by going away from the original ads). I will (and do) admit when I like an ad and think it's effective.


Recently, I've seen two ads that I would probably rank as two of the worst ads in the history of television. One for it's attempt to pull at syrupy sweet heartstrings while at the same time be maddeningly hip, and the other one for using the stupidity of humanity as a marketing tool.

Check them both out on the flip side...

Eating McDonalds makes you a winner!

The sheer audacity of McDonalds airing this ad during the Olympics is mindboggling. It's bad enough to showcase poor sportsmanship at a pee wee soccer game (regardless of who gets their comeuppance in the spot) but to position the team of 8 year olds as "winners" because they received a bunch of happy meals and greasy products that the FDA has questionably categorized as food should be your quick ticket to Hell. And the other team that drops the trophy because they aren't currently scarfing down meat things and fried lard sticks shouldn't be depressed; they should at least now know why they won the soccer match. They weren't weighed down by fast food!

To use the Os Mutantes on the soundtrack works on a much more devious level in my opinion. As we all know soccer is beloved in the Latin and South American countries the song connects with all our Spanish speaking brethren and gets them to place at least one foot closer to the golden arches, not to mention the fact that it's trendy to have a hip soundtrack for commercials now.

But to play it during the Olympics has to be the cherry on top of the float. Yes, I am familiar with Michael Phelps billion-calorie-a-day diet which probably includes McDonalds from time to time. But if you think other athletes make McDonalds an essential part of their diet, like this ad subtly implies, well, then you are probably better off eating there.

As good as it gets...Pizza Hut Pasta

If I were from New York I would sue Pizza Hut immediately after seeing this. It uses stereotyping and stupidity to favorably compare Pizza Hut pasta to a neighborhood restaurant. I wouldn't be surprised if the mob already had a hit out on the makers of this commercial. On the flip side, what sane, rational human being would fall for this gimmick, see it played back, and then willingly sign a release form? I would say no one, but apparently there were enough to make this campaign.

None More Black

Just like PBR, aviator sunglasses, and dating Lidsay Lohan's sexuality, bands putting the word "black" in their title has become a massive trend. Strangely enough, I blame the White Stripes. I'm guessing people wanted to mimic the popularity of that band, but using white would be seen as a rip off, so they went the complete "opposite" by choosing black.

Regardless, even though the trend is annoying, it isn't a reflection of the quality of music. Below is a decent sample of songs from groups with the word "black" in their title, ranging from the current critics' darling (Black Mountain) to the ones that started it all (Black Sabbath).

Please enjoy...

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Good...the Bad...the Beautiful #13


It starts off pretty much as a lame used car commercial, but then it slowly gets better. Warning, I would recommend ear phones or watching it in the comfort of your home. Some of the language is saucy.

Check out the bad and beautiful on the flip side...


Rolled up white sports jacket? Check.
Thin tie? Check.
Iconic actor over emoting before he was famous? Check.
Over hyped product that failed miserably? Check.

Yup, we just had an 80s flashback.


Charlie Kaufman movies always leave me depressed. I'm not sure if that's the point or not. I know they're usually labeled comedies. Synecdoche is his directorial debut. It looks, cool, and I'm sure it will be a mindbender; I'm just not sure I want to make myself so sad watching it.

NFL Picks from The Popcorn Trick - Week 3

So, what did we learn from week 2 other than so far, I have given you no reason to seriously look at my picks?

We learned Kurt Warner is still awesome.
We learned St. Louis is awful.
We learned the Jets can't beat the Patriots.
We learned no matter what, I will never be able to truly handicap the Raiders. Seriously, the Raiders have been my nemesis since college. I'll never get a beat on them. Remember that.

Regardless, I went 6-8-1 last week. Not a Herculean effort on my part, and I make no excuses. But not to worry, I did the same amount of research for this week. Couple that with what we've learned in week 1, and I think I have a pretty good chance to right the ship.

Also, every week, I'm just trying to make a profit. I don't care about the overall season record. So assume that $100 is wagered on each game, with a 10% vig. That means I have to go 9-7 to come away with a profit. Last week of course I would have dropped $340, if you're keeping track. Right now, I hope you're not.

On the flip side, the picks for Week 3...

As always, picks are bold:

Kansas City +4 @ ATLANTA

Kansas City is bad. I'm just talking about the city at this point. You have the Chiefs and the Royals. If I lived there, I would move.

Oakland +7.5 @ BUFFALO

I'm still living off my beautiful upset pick of Buffalo last week. Hey, it was a small bright spot. I figure Buffalo seems to be able to beat the bad teams, and at home they're going to want to do it with style. But remember, I have no idea how to pick a Raiders game.

Tampa Bay +3 @ CHICAGO

3 points at home seems easy to cover. Still not sold on Tampa Bay. Of course, that means I am technically sold on Kyle Orton as QB. And it looks like he has trouble just growing a beard, so betting on him seems a bit risky. But I'll stick with it.

CAROLINA PK @ Minnesota

I calling it now - Carolina makes the playoffs. Though I'm not supremely confident they go into Minnesota and win, I do like them for the whole season. Plus, Minnesota is in all kinds of weirdness right now. With Ferrotte leading them now, and Adrian Peterson doing his best Mr. Glass impression, I'll take Carolina here.

MIAMI +10.5 @ New England

Yes, they stink. Yes, they go smoked by Arizona last week. But let's for a minute pretend that last week's game was a result of them looking ahead to a division rival game? Now the pick doesn't look so stupid. It's still stupid, just not AS stupid.

Cincinnati +10.5 at NY GIANTS

Ok, the Bengals are terrible. The number's high, but the Bengals are terrible. Marvin Lewis fired after this week?

Houston +4.5 at TENNESSEE

I waffled a bit here. The Titans are the better team, but Houston has had more time off (due to Hurricane Ike). Still, I'm going with the home team here.

Arizona +1 @ WASHINGTON

As any of my friends will attest, I'm a huge Warner fan. I even have a Warner Iowa Barnstomers jersey. So I love to see this resurgence of his. However, doing it at home against the Dolphins isn't the same as doing it against the Redskins.

DETROIT +2.5 @ San Fran

Detroit put some points up last week, right? And San Fran is still coming off the high of beating the Seahawks. That's at least something.

St. Louis +6 @ SEATTLE

Steve Largent is probably waiting for his phone to ring to suit up at receiver for the Seahawks - and the Seahawks would be stupid not to at least consider it. Well, they can at least wait another week to make that decision as they won't need Largent to beat St. Louis.

New Orleans +6.5 @ DENVER

I heard Hoculi is reffing this game.


The Eagles offense seems to be clicking. Sure the Steelers look good too, and will probably run a lot more since Ben's shoulder is sketchy at best right now. Take the Eagles at home to win the battle of the keystone state, and get ready to listen to Pittsburgh fans curse themselves for not voting enough times to get Lynn Swan into office.

JACKSONVILLE +4 @ Indianapolis

Jaguars have Indy's number. They always play them tough. And Indy doesn't seem like the Indy of old anyway.

CLEVELAND -1 @ Baltimore

My "what the fuck game" on the schedule.

Dallas +1.5 @ GREEN BAY

Dallas and Philly really got jobbed early on the season schedule wise. This is a tough game. I don't see Romo being able to deal here and give the Packers a squeaker win.

NY Jets +6 @ SAN DIEGO

Speaking of tough schedules, the Jets can't be thrilled with theirs right now. Though they might not have to face LT. Unfortunately, I don't think that will matter.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hip hip Brazil!

Ok, so maybe there's no Lambada on here, but still, I'm guessing you're unfamiliar with a lot of Brazillian music - and that's a shame. That's why I cobbled together this (very) incomplete list of artists and songs from Brazil. I'd be willing to be you'll find something on here that you enjoy.

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Links of Interest 9/18

Top 10 criminal organizations...it seems like this is just the top 10, and they're not ranked in any way. Maybe we should rank them. You telling me these organizations don't want the one spot? They'd take each other out clamoring for the top!

I had no idea the idea of these even existed, but now that I do, I'm thinking about naming my kid after them.

I really think Mystery is one of America's unsung heroes. For both genders. Everyone wins with Mystery's guide to picking up chicks. Guys get chicks and chicks don't have to be bothered by horrible pick up lines.

Gaping plot holes...like how did they get the flyers down in the Bellagio vault in Ocean's 11?

When I win my Oscar...

We all have dreams. They're what make us continue this meaningless existence, instead of offing ourselves in hopes of receiving those 77 virgins.

One of my dream has always been to win an Oscar. Most likely for writing/directing/producing and not acting, since well, sure Marissa Tomei won an Oscar so there's a chance, but seriously, I think since then, they've gone back to giving the award to people that give good performances. So that avenue has pretty much been closed.

Regardless, in case it happens very suddenly (I'm not 100% sure how it works - is it like a lottery?) I've made sure I'm ready with an acceptance speech. And I've included it here, on the flip side...

Excuse the eye patch. It's a long story.

I have a couple thank yous that I would like to just get out of the way right at the start here, so if I may get right into it...

I'd like to thank my parents - if dad hadn't thought Saran Wrap would be a good enough condom, well, I probably wouldn't be here right now.

I'd like to thank my second grade teacher for having such a fantastic rack. Seeing those boobs everyday gave me the chutzpah and erection I needed to make it through this shark infested industry - even more than when my uncle and I would play "Hooker and the angry John," when he used to come over during his furloughs. Thanks Dukakis!

I'd like to thank my college film professor, for refusing to cooperate with the police after viewing my senior snuff film project. And they said circumstantial evidence was enough to convict!

I’d like to thank my college roommate as well for giving me a helping hand with that problem I had that one night. And to think, you said there was no reason to carry a shovel in the trunk!

In closing I'd just like to say it's amazing to me that with this award, I am one step closer to realizing my life long dream of filming myself bang a porn star. Hell... last night, right before she stole my wallet and her pimp beat me up, I actually thought I had accomplished that dream. Oh well, at least I've explained the eye patch.

Again thanks to everyone, and we're in room 206 over at the Ramada if any of you lovely ladies want to stop by and put the "ouch" back in "casting couch."


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Good...the Bad...the Beautiful #12


I never thought the coolest thing I was going to see today was a guy changing a tire on a moving vehicle. This almost made me want to buy a Hyundai.

Check out the bad and beautiful on the flip side...


Dear lord what kid in their right mind would want one of these? It's demonic sounding greeting of, "Hi there...my name is Teddy Ruxpin," had to dole out nightmares to unsuspecting kids stumbling across this commercial looking for the Care Bears. It's funny, I always remembered Ruxpin's greeting as simply, "Hi...I'm Teddy Ruxpin," which while not dramatically different, still invokes fear in me.

And what's with the juxtaposing a talking teddy bear with one of the scariest literary figures of our time in Dr. Frankenstein? Or with the good doctor actually taking the pulse of a stuffed animal?


Adam Kimmel presents: Claremont HD from adam kimmel on Vimeo.

I appreciate these guys get dressed up to go skateboarding. Ok, so the credits at the beginning are a little annoying, and they most certainly need a writer to script better dialog, but stay with it - it's worth it. I haven't seen such crazy camera flipping since the movie System to Get Down.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Links of Interest 9/16

Oh sure, the Hadron Collider might be good at defrosting a pizza, but do we really want to get into a war with our dimensional doppelgangers every time we get stoned and want some Elios?

I'll go to my grave defending Baywatch Nights. That it's on this list is reprehensible.

I thought this would be kinda obvious, but whatever - the stuff you put on the Internet can be used to track you down.

Who doesn't love tacos except for the stray lactose intolerant person? I don't know, but I never want to meet them (which is why I always carry a glass of milk around). Here's information I doubt you knew about the crunchy (or soft!) hand held delicacy.

Givin' a little love for the ladies...

Today's music setlist features women singers/rockers/vamps - a whole smorgasbord of styles that you won't be able to pigeonhole. Because that's what we try to do here. Zag when a zig is called for. Make a roscoe when the majority is hanging a louie.

Please enjoy this mix of names you've heard before and others you thought may have handed you your coffee this morning. Hopefully you'll like at least something you hear...

SeeqPod - Playable Search

I chose to keep the more of the pop artists today's kids are so impressed with off the list, so you won't be hearing the Gwen Stefanis, or Madonnas of the world.

Pick the song that's in the top 25 of my 1000 favorite songs, and I'll give you a chance to choose a musical musing for the blog. If that doesn't spark the comments section into war, I don't know what will.

And please feel free to leave some suggestions for female performers while you're there.

Monday, September 15, 2008

It's time for Movie Trailer Reviews

It's funny - I've yet to run into a person who doesn't enjoy a good movie trailer. Showing up to a movie late and missing the trailers is almost a criminal offense. It's certainly the go to line when trying to decide on when to leave for the theater.

It's easy to explain - since movie trailers exist solely to get people into the theater, it makes sense to show the best parts of the movie in the trailer. Think about it - no one cares what you think once the ticket is bought.

Anyway, we thought it would be a great service to every so often take a look at some upcoming movie by way of their trailer, and give you a heads up on what you're going to get if you buy a ticket.

On the flip side, the journey begins.

Fast & Furious

I have no idea how they got the original cast of Diesel, Walker, Rodriguez, and Brewster back together! The trailer starts off with an action scene completely ripped off from the original (the absurd crossbow shooting into the trucks to steal stuff) only because it's 2008, the makers wanted to stay timely, so now everyone is stealing gas. And look! Someone is standing on top of a truck and getting shot at and things explode.

I am a little curious to see how the story evolves to get Diesel and Walker on the same side, being that one was a criminal and one was a cop. At least in the first F&F. It's possible in the sequels, stuff happened...I almost don't want to admit I haven't kept up with the series.

Rock 'n Rolla

Hmmm...I think I saw this movie when it was called, "Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels." Then I saw it again when it was called, "Snatch." Then I got smart and stopped seeing Guy Ritchie movies.

If nothing else, Guy Ritchie knows how to make the cool-soundtrack-choppy-edited-funny-soounding-British-people-implausibly-plotted movie. Let's just come to an agreement: You don't make another Swept Away, and we'll keep describing your movies as, "Not as good as Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels," but still pretty good.


Sorry Jim, I already saw Bruce Almighty and no amount of cute babies is going to get me to see it again. In the immortal words of Jake Busey in Road House 2:

"Stab me once, shame on you. Stab me twice...Never gonna happen."

The Death of David Foster Wallace

Apparently David Foster Wallace hanged himself this weekend. He was 46.

Many considered Mr. Wallace one of the greatest living authors mostly for his epic novel, Infinite Jest.

He's one of those writers that hipsters often namedrop to show their superiority over everyone else. I'm not going to use this space to do the same thing. I've written in other places before that I've always wanted to like him as a writer, but never could. That the idea of enjoying his work is more fashionable than actually enjoying his work.

But I will say I love his non-fiction essays. He wrote many, and his buckshot approach to topics is what I find really appealing. From politics to sports, he wrote on a number of different subjects with the same emotional yet analytical approach that I would love to mimic. If there was one topic he seemed to comeback to occasionally, it was the sport of tennis, something I am familiar with as well and therefore enjoyed intimate, detail oriented way he wrote of it. I'll miss that voice the most.

Here are a couple of his essays, just in case anyone else cares...

On lobsters (Gourmet)
On Roger Federer (The New York Times' Play Magazine)
On conservative talk radio (The Atlantic)

I've never read Infinite Jest, but maybe today I'll give it a try.

The Good...the Bad...the Beautiful #11


Wow. What better way to sell malt liquor than to invoke a minstrel show? I have no idea what's going on here, but I do love Schlitz. And is having a bull smash through plate glass considered animal cruelty? I'm guessing it wasn't in the 70s, when I assume this was conceived, produced, picketed and pulled off the air.

See the bad and beautiful on the flip side...


No idea what happened here, I just wanted to point out the idiot drivers still speeding along after a hole opens up and spurts geysers of water in their path. It was good to see that lone figure run to safety though.


This ad campaign is getting slaughtered, and I'm sorry, but I think it's brilliant. Sure, Seinfeld is a little overexposed, and probably a little stale, but I think he's playing into that. And Gates is having fun with it, which is exactly what he needs to do. Will it destroy Apple? No, but there's no snark to it, something that the Apple campaign has been accused of. If they keep it up, and don't mess around with the original vision, I bet it works. But if it gets watered down, forget it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

NFL Picks from The Popcorn Trick - Week 2

NFL picks - Get 'em while they're hot!

Sure, we might not have gold chains, cheap suits, dark sunglasses or gruff dispositions, but that doesn't mean we're not expert handicappers.

Actually maybe it does. We're not sure. But we're willing to find out. And that's why we're starting our NFL picks. Sure we missed week 1, but we didn't have this idea until today. Assume we went 100% last week. I took a look at the games and I think we probably would have.

And now, the picks for week 2...

Picks capitalized and bold:

Oakland @ KANSAS CITY - 3.5

The spread seems suspiciously low, but I'm still going to take Kansas City. They're tough to play at home, and while division battles are sometimes close, the Raiders are going nowhere.

Tennessee @ CINCINNATI -1

I've heard Vince Young might be having some issues. I know he's hurt and won't play, but still there's a distraction factor. Plus, maybe Ocho Cinco will have his name on his jersey, which will make him try harder.

INDIANAPOLIS -1.5 @ Minnesota

Not convinced Minnesota is good, even though they seem to be the analysts' darling this year. And the Colts can't play as poorly as they did last week right?

NEW ORLEANS PK @ Washington

I couldn't care less. Washington probably needs another year before they start to get a feel for Zorn's offense, so I'll take NO.

Green Bay @ DETROIT +3

Another line that's scary. And I'm taking the home dog here. I like Green Bay to come down to Earth after showing the world they don't need Brett Favre. I also don't think Detroit is as bad as they were last week. Of course, hanging your hat on Detroit can easily bite you in the ass, so whatevs.

Chicago @ CAROLINA -3

I like Carolina this year. I think they're going to sneak up on a lot of people. This is one of those games. No way is Chicago as good as they think they are after last week.

GIANTS -8.5 @ St. Louis

Yeah, that's a lot of points, but St. Louis is a lot of bad.

BUFFALO +5 @ Jacksonville

Every week has a game or two that makes you go "what the fuck?" This is one of those games.

Atlanta @ TAMPA BAY -7

Atlanta beat Detroit last week. That doesn't exactly make me feel confident in them. Chuckie doesn't let this one stay close.

San Francisco @ SEATTLE -7

Back at home after a terrible loss, the Seahawks don't let the division fall away. They look to establish dominance.

MIAMI +6.5 @ Arizona

It might be lowly Miami, but it's going to take a lot more than one week before I think Arizona covers 6.5.

NEW ENGLAND -1.5 @ Jets

The golden child might be out, but I'll still give the Patriots respect. Unrelated, wouldn't it be delicious if Mangini started videotaping now?

San Diego @ DENVER PK

Could San Diego drop 2 in a row? I think so. Tough road game at Mile High.

PITTSBURGH -6 @ Cleveland

Big rivalry, but I think Steelers roll. Cleveland has read too much of their own press. Steelers look to embarrass them.

Philadelphia @ DALLAS -7

Hate to do it because I'm an Eagles fan, but I think it's too early in the season for the Cowboys to implode. Look for that to happen in week 9. Unfortunately, I think they're ready to roll here.
I hope I'm wrong.

Baltimore @ HOUSTON -4.5

Other than Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, I doubt I could name a Raven. Of course, that's 2 more names I know than I do on the Titans. Since I know nothing, I'll go with the home team.

So there you have it. Do what you want with the information presented before you. I'd say don't use it to gamble, but I'm egotistical so I hope someone does. Just realize, I used very little research to make my picks. Of course, probably more than I will in the upcoming weeks.


Ever hear of The Faces?

Born out of the comments section of the underrated Beatles songs post, here we have a small sampling of The Faces contribution to the world. It's a shame I have to ask people if they have heard of The Faces, but I've found that few people have. And that's a shame.

Wikipedia will explain the origins about the band better than I ever will, so click here to learn more.

Back? Ok, now give them a listen and now try to tell me these guys shouldn't have a lot more recognition as being one of the better bands of the 70s.

The Faces

The nightmare of watching Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey

I get it. I really do. I know conflict in reality television equals entertainment, and thus, more conflict equals more entertainment and more ratings. It's a simple equation to follow. Bickering breeds ratings.

But it can only go so far, before it becomes a forced farce. And I think I've seen the breaking point - on Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares last night.

I'll tell you all about it on the flip side...

Hell's Kitchen has positioned Gordon Ramsey as a dickhead chef that hates everyone and demands the absolute best quality. Something, I might add, that I want in all chefs that prepare my food. But if you watch him on his original series on the BBC, Kitchen Nightmares, he really doesn't come across like that. He's much more passionate and sensible with the customers he's trying to help. So it's obvious that American television feels the need to titillate and shock. Fine, I'm resigned to that fact. It certainly goes a long way toward painting Americans as assholes that that yell a lot and demand ice in their drinks.

The American of Kitchen Nightmares kicks up the conflict, increases the controversy and makes turns Ramsey into a culinary Morton Downey Jr. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about this. Many of the restaurateurs need this behavior because they're idiots. And none more so than the guy last night...

Quick explanation of the show if you've never seen it before. Ramsey visits a failing restaurant, and makes it over so it's more successful. Along the way his "helpers" spruce up the joint (as many of the places he visits have decor that Popeye Doyle would consider dated), and everyone is happy by the end of the show.

In the middle, not so much. Case in point last night.

I won't go into the intimate details of the show, but I will say at one point, the owner was on the phone ready to sell the place. The reason? Because Ramsey called him out on a few things. You see, the guy had recently bought the place, and in 6 months turned had it up and running. But he apparently forgot a few minor things, such as cleaning it, and hiring a competent chef. And Ramsey called him out on these issues, peppering in a few "fucks" for effect.

The owner didn't take kindly to this, and left. Quit.

My problem isn't with the exchange, my problem is with the owner's attitude. What did he think he was getting into when he contacted the producers of Kitchen Nightmare? Because, obviously, there's a screening process...Ramsey doesn't simply choose restaurants at random to go fix up. There's a process involved. Did the owner never watch the show before?

It angers me that there are people in this world that stupid. When the guy wanted to put his restaurant up for sale, I really wanted Ramsey to buy it, turn it around inside of a day and put this guy in his place. Sadly that didn't happen; the wife intervened, listened to Ramsey, cried a bit on the phone, got her husband to buy into everything, and everyone showed up at the place the next night with a new menu, a spruced up place, and Dee Snider.

Apparently Ramsey knows "American rock legend Dee Snider" and got him to show up. I really don't know why, but by then I wasn't asking questions.

Yes, it's possible the entire thing was staged for entertainment value and I've been duped, but I don't want to be that jaded in my life just yet. Reality television's version of the 21 scandal hasn't happened yet, so for now, I'll assume it was real.

Even the Dee Snider/Gordon Ramsey friendship.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fall Television Preview - Hole in the Wall

By now, everyone should know to expect the lowest common denominator from FOX, right? At least when it comes to reality shows. And they don't disappoint with their latest attempt, Hole in the Wall.

Cleverly labeled as a "game show," the object of the show is to get through a moving styrofoam wall as it bears down on the contestant. Each wall that approaches has a different shape, and therefore the contestant must contort his or her body in an attempt to get through the "hole." Failure means the wall pushes the contestant into a pool of water. And that's pretty much it.

Allegedly a huge hit in Japan (FOX continually reminds the viewer of this) it has now crossed the ocean and made it into my living room. I had heard so much about it, I figured I needed to check it out. Am I glad I did?

I'll tell you on the flip side.

Let me start off by saying I believe the concept of the show has some merit. With a skilled contestant, it would be interesting to see how far he could get with different sizes and shapes of hole to test him.

Unfortunately, FOX doesn't agree with me. Their idea of entertainment is humiliation. Unfortunately, it doesn't work.

Yes, at first it's amusing to watch someone poorly attempt to go through a hole and fail, falling into the pool of water. But that can only take you so far. At some point I want to see some skill. And the show I saw was devoid of any of that.

What it did highlight were the pratfalls that FOX reality shows routinely fall into. Large bodied people being made to look like fools. Seriously, I think it's a pre-requisite to have at least one plus side contestant per team. And the teams tonight did not disappoint the producers. It was obvious that neither team was going to make it through any of the walls. So why exactly is that entertaining?

The pace of the show is slow to begin with. I get the fact that it's funny to see suddenly reveal the wall to the audience so they wonder just how the fuck some fat chick is going to get through a round hole the size of a hobbit's door. But why not get a little higher quality contestant, and keep throwing walls at them that increase in difficulty the more they succeed? Is that so difficult?

One of the hosts is Brooke Burke. Nice to look at, she offers little else. I guess one of the producers loved her work on Dog Eat Dog. She didn't even look at the camera while talking most of the time, which was bewildering. The other host doesn't matter. I thought it was Martin Mull when I first heard him, but it's not. Thankfully. I would have really felt bad for Martin Mull if he had to be associated with this show.

Here's a preview of the show. Don't be fooled though. The preview makes the show seem like it has a frantic, crazy pace. Meanwhile, it's maddeningly slow and boring.

Links of Interest 9/11

Years back, my friends and I contemplated a march madness style tournament for men we thought were awesome. There were two problems with this idea; 1. we couldn't limit ourselves to just 64 choices; and 2. we could never clearly define what "awesome" was. What does this have to do with an article about Chris Elliot? Absolutely nothing, other than we did agree he would be a #1 seed. (If this doesn't explain in a nutshell what you should expect from The Popcorn Trick, then I don't know what will).

I won't be as presumptuous as Discover magazine, I'll just say these are some pretty cool facts about the Earth.

Let's hope the trend of doomsdays passing with no doom continues.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy KFC Chicken, but I've also had better. Are there really companies out there willing to steal the recipe? If there are, I'd love to be hired. It would be much more morally acceptable than what I do now.

Rock stars can get away with so much. Ozzy bites a head off a dove, he's eccentric. I do it, I'm committed. It's just so unfair.

The Good...the Bad...the Beautiful #10


A lot Of Hold Steady banter here at The Popcorn Trick. And that's not a bad thing. Check out this video that starts out as a Muppets band performance (and they would definitely play music like this) and then uses the rest of the cast to turn it into a dead on spoof of music videos.

The Bad and Beautiful on the flip side...


Oh boy. I see a lot bad with this. From the beginning scene where I can't tell who the "sidekick" is (Pacino? He barely speaks in this thing!) to the awful bastardization of Sympath for the Devil, I don't have high hopes for this one. When they sat and drank coffee with one another in Heat, all the tension was built in what wasn't said. The same doesn't look like it can be said for this movie. I wonder which one of them is the bad guy. It's shaping up to be Pacino. At first, I thought that meant the director would pull the switcheroo and make it DeNiro. But that would almost be smart, so I'm sticking with Pacino.

The only good thing I saw was Dennehy as a cop. Surprise surprise!


It's funny. While I know nothing about this Bond movie, I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be good. Why? Because they've mixed action with substance it seems. They've given the viewer a reason for all the explosions and violence. The makers don't view the viewer as stupid (aside from choosing the name. What the fuck is that about?)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Links of Interest 9/10

Best/worst case scenarios for the Hadron Collider. Why isn't every worst case scenario, "the world ceases to exist"?

I can't imagine why moonshine is illegal. Aside from the fact it could make you go blind. Regardless, I gots to gets me into this business.

In a weird way, this gives me hope. Not that criminals are continually breaking out of prisons, but that no matter what, human beings will always try to find a way to break free of things. I was struggling to cope seeing the kids of today and their mindless dronelike attitude toward everything.

Weatherperson misconduct. I might write a little more about that Stevens fellow. And keep a closer eye on the Japanese.

I can't argue with anything on this list
. In fact, it might be one of the best, and most accurate lists on the web.

Meet The Beatles...Again

Ask a random person on the street what their favorite Beatles song is, they'll most likely respond with Hey Jude.

Ask a Beatles fan the same question and they'll most likely respond with Day in the Life.

Ask that pretentious ass that works down the hall from you that dresses in women's jeans and hair gel and he'll most likely say Tomorrow Never Knows.

Ask the kid that lives down the street who you suspect dismembered your dog two years ago and he'll most likely say Helter Skelter.

The point isn't that there is no right or wrong answer (though you may want to keep an eye on that kid, especially if you replaced your dog), the point is there are a lot of answers. The Beatles wrote and played a lot of classic songs, and many can be considered their best.

Which is why I tried to make a list of underrated Beatles songs, that no person would ever think of as one of their classics...

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Dig A Pony
Lennon hated this, and I think I can see why. I still like it. It's randomness doesn't come close to I Am the Walrus, but it's still cool.

Hey Bulldog
Off of Yellow Submarine, it originally was called, Hey Bullfrog - which I guess would have made more sense to the motif of that album, but whatever. Here's a video of the recording of it, possibly the last time all 4 were seen being happy together.

Glass Onion
Off The Beatles The Beatles (aka The White Album), I enjoy this song because it cryptically states that, "the Walrus was Paul," fueling more speculation that Paul had died and been replaced by a look alike. What a great controversy. The song also references a number of other songs from their catalog.

In My Life
Probably the most popular song on this list.

Martha My Dear
Apparently there's a lot more going on in this song than I at first thought. Jesus, these guys were talented.

Sexy Sadie
More connections to the Manson trial and the influential Indian period.

Got to Get You Into My Life
Lennon said this was one of Paul's best. Good enough for me.

Oh! Darling
I always thought this was one of the more offbeat songs The Beatles did; not because it was weird, but specifically because it wasn't weird. It was very traditional.

Lovely Rita
Another song that has a "clue" about Paul being dead.

You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
Ok, so this might be my favorite Beatles song.

What sparked this silly post? 50% of The Popcorn Trick is Beatles fans. The other 50% suggests the Beatles are overrated. His argument seems to be that while they deserve a certain amount of credit for what they achieved, there were many other bands around during the same period doing similar things (The Rolling Stones) that don't get enough credit. My argument is that he is an idiot. You can decide on your own what side you fall on.

It's funny, because I will usually respond and suggest The Beatles are underrated (mostly to annoy him). But I do believe there is some merit to the argument that they are indeed underrated. Sure, they are usually mentioned at the top of music lists, and they still get airtime on radio programs across the world. But there are also generations of people that don't understand the mark they left on music. They hear the Beatles and simply think, "music from the 60s."

And that's a shame.

Regardless, I'm not here to settle the debate or educate people on the genius of the Beatles, I'm here to give you a list of underrated Beatles songs. Again, that might be a difficult concept to get your head around, because it's the rare person that hasn't heard the Beatles' music. The list however is more about the gems you can find in their catalog that aren't the standards you hear all the time.