Monday, February 25, 2008

Holy Milkshakes

So now that nearly 12 hours have past since the 80th Annual Academy Awards Telecast, the shock has -- largely -- subsided. This year's crop of films, for both Kaia and I, were a bit boring. With the exception of No Country for Old Men, neither of us saw any of the Best Picture Nominees, and the truth is neither of us felt like we were really missing anything.

I'm a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson and "There Will Be Blood" looks like a solid, ambitious, impressive piece of work. "Atonement" didn't interest me much save for the two-plus minute-long steady-cam shot on a beach during a war scene. That long steady-cam shot, incidentally, recalls (and simultaneously supercedes) the steady-cam shot Scorsese used in "Goodfellas" which follows Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco's winding entrance to a club through the kitchen.

Overall, though, both of us had the overwhelming response of "Meh."

Sure, it was great that Diablo Cody -- a former stripper and the newly-respected, and newly Oscared, winner of Best Original Screenplay -- received formal recognition that has followed her since "Juno" hit screens throughout the world. Kaia and I both shared a chuckle at Ms. Cody's expense, however; sure, she's a former stripper...but she looked more incorrectly dressed than Peter Jackson has in past years (and that's saying something). Someone get her a real dress that doesn't show her underwear for the ceremonies commemorating her eventual next nomination, mmmkay?

Meanwhile, will anyone forget the entire on- and off-stage interplay involving the winner of the Best Original Song, "Falling Slowly" (from "Once" - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova)? In case you missed it, Mr. Hansard stepped forward once he and Ms. Irglova received their statues but once he finished his gracious, humble, sweet acceptance speech, Bill Conti and Co. started playing and the mic cut off so Ms. Irglova stepped forward and got...nothing. They both walked offstage.

Jon Stewart, jokingly, referred to Mr. Hansard as "Wow, that guy's so arrogant" and then quickly followed with "Just kidding," because no one in the audience seemed to laugh (even though it was a great ad-lib.

However, when the telecast returned from commercial (during which Kaia and I agreed that it was unfortunate Ms. Irglova didn't get an opportunity to speak), Jon Stewart described Hansard/Irglova as so genuinely appreciative and excited and then -- in perhaps the classiest move I've ever witnessed during an Oscar telecast -- invited Ms. Irglova back onstage for a chance to speak. She shyly re-emerged and said the following:

Hi everyone. I just want to thank you so much. This is such a big deal, not only for us, but for all other independent musicians and artists that spend most of their time struggling, and this, the fact that we're standing here tonight, the fact that we're able to hold this, it's just to prove no matter how far out your dreams are, it's possible. And, you know, fair play to those who dare to dream and don't give up. And this song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter how different we are. And so thank you so much, who helped us along the way. Thank you.

Classy. Really, really classy. Jon Stewart just got 50 karma points.

For the most part, the rest of the show was sort-of by-the-book. I was very shocked that the Coen Brothers' "No Country for Old Men" beat Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood." No surprise that Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor (and another really cool touch was his kneeling to "The Queen," aka Helen Mirren). I knew Javier Bardem would win Best Supporting Actor (if/when you see "No Country..." you'll know why). The other stuff was sort of blase. Sure, Julie Christie from "Away From Her" was upset by Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose" -- which is a huge upset since rarely do foreign-language films win the big Oscars. And Tilda Swinton as Best Supporting Actress for "Michael Clayton" could, theoretically, be considered an upset. But the truth? Very few of these categories was even of remote interest to me personally.

In fact, I was more interested in watching the Rangers beat the Florida Panthers 5-0 at Madison Square Garden than I was the first two-plus hours of the Oscar telecast. The last six or so awards -- coupled with the video tribute to those MPAA members who have passed away in the last year -- was really all I wanted to watch.

Thankfully, Family Guy episodes still reside on my DVR.

Overall, now that the Oscars are yet again behind us and 364 or so days away, I need to get a copy of "There Will Be Blood" and a copy of the single for "Falling Slowly" by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. And while I'm at it, I need to go get a copy of "Cloverfield" between now and when Kaia lands here in a few weeks.

Other'n that, I pretty much have a one-word summation of this year's Oscars:


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

File Under: We All Make Mistakes

Okay, a show of hands...who hasn't made the same mistake as this guy?

You're sitting around the house semi-dressed, too lazy to shower or prepare dinner or get up to go to the bathroom; you're watching something interesting, like a mini "Everybody Loves Raymond" marathon, and the next thing you know, you're using your cell-phone to snap pics of Your Little Buddy and His Two Little Friends and sending them out to various, random women (how did he get their phone numbers? Any guy willing to share pictures of his Doc Johnson with a gaggle of random women most likely had a tough time getting phone numbers to begin with...ah, another question for another day).

First, of course this guy's nuttier -- no pun intended -- than a fruitcake. To the second part, no, my cellphone doesn't have a camera (it's a Blackberry, not a court-mandated choice), and, finally, I would never -- ever -- use a camera-phone to shoot pictures of My Little Buddy and distribute them to various, random women.

You know how small most cellphone screens are?

No thaaaaank you.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Great American Pastime

Over the past several months, ie during the Major League Baseball Off-Season, we've been treated to an especially intoxicating array of information, of off-the-field maneuvering, machinations and conspiracies; of plans, of hopes, of old players joining new teams and the omni-present, occasional mention of the otherwise ubiquitous Super-Agent (and Guy You Love to Hate), Scott Boras.

The problem is that during most off-seasons, the off-the-field activity reported on, obsessed over and furiously debated by hundreds of journalists and baseball enthusiasts concerns off-the-field baseball matters. It doesn't concern Congress and it doesn't concern illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

Not so, this year.

With the release this past December of the Mitchell Report, a white paper proffered by former Senator George J. Mitchell detailing the extent of illegal PED use by baseball players over the past decade or more, the witch-hunt began. A variety of players -- some expected, some surprising -- were identified as was the extent of their use -- or abuse -- of some of a variety of PEDs. Some used HGH (Human Growth Hormone), some used highly-powerful steroids (eg "The Cream" and "The Clear") and some used a mixture thereof.

Some admitted or clarified their use of these substances and some, not surprisingly, denied it.

Last week, the biggest example of he said-he said, finger-pointing and "Don't believe him, he's a liar" unfolded in a hearing room on Capitol Hill. The participants were a 50-50 mixture of Republican and Democrat Senators as well as the two main participants, Roger "Rocket" Clemens and his former trainer, Brian McNamee. The former was accused of having been a regular HGH user over a decade and the latter was his accuser, even going so far as to provide some smattering of dates, photographs of physical (ie blood- and needle-related) evidence, and some ancillary supporting information which, in theory, corroborated his story.

Unfortunately, while it's likely Mr. Clemens is lying about his use of PED's, the really troublesome aspect to this whole charade (synonyms include farce, masquerade, lie, facade and guise) is that all we, as spectators, are seeing is Congress meddling in something with which they don't belong. The three most typical responses to last week's hearings are: "Man, Clemens is a liar and a cheater" or "Man, that McNamee is a shitty guy for lying" and, finally, "Why the hell is Congress holding hearings on this shit? Isn't there anything more pressing, especially while the country is in the middle of a war, than figuring out which baseball player lied or used steroids? What a joke."

As I indicated above, I suspect Roger Clemens isn't being entirely truthful in his emphatic denials of PED use. While it's no evidentiary indictment, I remember OJ's emphatic denials and I don't regard him as a truthful, honest person, and so my opinion of Roger Clemens is largely suspicious at this point. Although, to also be clear, I think Brian McNamee should not have discussed Mr. Clemens' use of PED's. Sure, the Feds backed Mr. McNamee into a corner and said "Fess up or go to jail." I don't care how much Clemens or anyone else paid me; I'd give the Feds everything I had in order to be off the hook. "Off the hook," incidentally, suggests Mr. McNamee was on the hook -- for what? For knowingly injecting and administering illegal drugs. Drug abuse: it ain't just cocaine anymore.

Thing is, this whole episode has no winners. Congress's ability to uncover the truth is a fallacy. In this election season, I didn't think anything I would witness or absorb would sour me further on the entire political process; however, watching those Congressional masturbatory hearings, coupled with Roger Clemens doing publiciity baby-kissing (aka handshake) tours with the individual memers of the panel, really repulsed me. Yes, I'm a life-long Yankee fan and, yes, Roger Clemens helped pilot the Yankees to World Series victories, and yes, I regard him as a quality pitcher. But what this entire process has done is to take something great -- not necessarily pure or untouched, but great -- and let Congress stamp its inefficiency and its self-aggrandizing egomania all over it. One of the other participants in this process, another Yankee pitcher -- Andy Pettitte -- partially implicated Roger Clemens in his testimony. Since Clemens and Pettite are close personal friends, Congress allowed Andy Pettitte to give his testimony in the form of a deposition rather than in person.

It reeks of McCarthyism, only this time, it's PED and not Communism, and today's targets -- whether admitting or denying the charges against them -- are being dragged in front of Congress for something, yet again, doesn't belong being addressed on a national stage.

For those who suggest that baseball isn't a game but instead a multi-billion-dollar business -- which is true -- my response is simple: witch-hunting players who transgressed prior to violating any in-game rules over five years ago is not only a waste of time, effort and efficiency -- especially given the fact that Congress has such a lousy reputation these days -- it seems to me that what Congress has done is taken the entire game of baseball -- not just a few random cheaters -- and indicted the entire institution. Barry Bonds is a liar, and, likely, so is Roger Clemens -- but in their attempt to shine a light on the problem, they've cast a bright, harsh light on the entire game and impugned the institution itself rather than the small minority of players who truly abused and cheated the system.

A better, more brief comment on this entire situation, would be: when Congress has to supervise and mandate sports in this country, there's something very, very wrong. And by doing so, Congress has demonstrated that the problems in baseball extend far beyond the game, all the way to the Capitol Building.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Cold-Weather Outdoor Plumbing

Never again will I curse the frigid temperature of the seat on an early-morning visit to the bathroom.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cloudy and Smiling

Despite the weather, despite the fact that Kaia's in San Fran today, and despite the fact we'll have to postpone our real celebration for early March, I woke up this AM cloudy (as per usual) and smiling (also as per usual). However, today's smile was extra-wide simply because it's Valentine's Day. So to all those of you who are smitten and celebrating life with someone else, enjoy the day, and for those of you still single and in search of that right him or her, keep the faith.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 11, 2008


Writing about the weather is so passe, yet the NYC weather seems to be so fickle -- is it winter, is it spring, is it winter, is it spring -- that the global weather changes that markedly drop the temperature by 15 or more degrees seem to envelope the City each time they arrive. And noticing the changes in the natives' responses -- mine included -- is still worth addressing on some level.

This weekend was no exception. Sure, I managed to mosey into the office on both Saturday and Sunday, and yes, Saturday was relatively decent weather-wise. But Sunday, on the other hand, was cold and breezy and my decision to forgo a scarf was a mistake I'd realized I'd made less than a block from my abode. Sound interesting? It shouldn't.

Except that the real fun part is reaching midtown on a weekend day and observing tourists as they make their way through midtown, their eyes locked on the down-wind horizon and the Vegas-esque expanse of light emanating from Times Square, or watching them overpay for what equates to diner food in European-esque cafes (whose staffs are comprised mostly of Mexicans and Dominicans) and, except if they're French, accepting the less-than-par servings at high prices as typical New York.

But what typically piques my interest is the native New Yorker -- for this example an older, crotchety woman leaning into a hard-blowing wind -- and knowing her thoughts are something akin to "Oy, this fakokta wind is driving me up a fucking wall." Invariably, the longer one's occupied geographic residence in New York, the more likely their thoughts are on their faces and their sleeves with increasingly less acceptance and optimism. This weekend was no exception. Because the weather caught many of us napping -- ie going from reasonably comfortable to cold and windy and blustery to a hard snow-flurry in the late afternoon -- the response to the weather was even more palpable.

And while the weather is, typically, a subject best left in the closet along with the quality of microwaveable reheatable dinners, the responses, especially when we New Yorkers are surprised, is as entertaining. At least that's what I think.

In either case, the aforementioned "typical" New Yorker was a mid-60's-ish whose hair more closely resembled Bozo than Vidal Sassoon, and as we each exited the bus near my office -- along with a gaggle of Japanese tourists, stereotypically, toting backpacks, cameras and City guides -- I watched the older woman, aka Bozette, try to move against the wind. She had some sort of cough throughout the busride and when her feet hit the pavement -- and the wind hit her lungs -- apparently she opted to rid herself of the cause of her cough. So she took a deep breath, cleared her throat, and let fly a big wad of loogie into the random wind. Problem 1 -- I was nearby and saw all this and wanted to get as far away from her as possible. Problem 2 -- the Japanese tourists were prattling on -- presumably in Japanese -- and didn't notice. Problem 3 -- the big wad of Bozette-phlegm danced in the wind almost instantly until it -- thwack -- hit the back of one of the tourists' black puffy jackets. Problem 4 -- seeing all this without a) laughing, b) insuring I wasn't accused of issuing the offending loogie; and c) letting Bozette know her cough produced something that would likely be the most repulsive thing I'd seen all day.

Rather than confront her, I opted -- intelligently -- to keep moving on. I didn't have much to gain by tsk-tsking Bozette -- let's face it, if you're an older woman who has no qualms about spitting into the wind in public, nothing I'm going to say is going to pull you forth from your behavior coma -- and more importantly, I have to commend her for managing to hit one of the tourists with such accuracy, and, simultaneously, not being detected.

Then again, another part of me wonders if, in forty years or so, an older Japanese woman somewhere in Osaka sits her grandchildren down and warns them about the dangers of walking the streets of Manhattan, stirring the fear of God and phlegm therein, and praying they all distrust New Yorkers and their inability to relieve their coughs with medicinal and behavioral appropriateness. In hindsight, of course, this isn't exactly the worst thing that could happen -- men consume deer-penis in Japan to enhance their virility -- yet still, knowing some loose-lipped phlegm-toting oral-smith's carelessness could have long-term, far-reaching consequences has not been lost on me.

If for no other reason, it's this experience that reminds me if you walk through this world with your eyes closed, you'll miss the humor and the wonder of this world -- even if in something as boring and uninspiring as the weather.

And you might just get nailed in the forehead with a big, steaming loogie.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

New Orleans: No Reservation Necessary

One of my doormen managed to win a huge sum of money in his Super Bowl pool, and one of the endeavors he's exploring in whittling down his winnings -- which are five-figure significant -- is upgrading his television setup to include HD and digital cable. Another resident of my building and I spent some time talking to him about the various formats -- 1080i, HDMI, Dolby TrueHD, et al -- he'd need to explore. Lastly, I made sure he invested in a DVR-equipped cable box.

DVR is the modern equivalent of a VCR on steroids, in that DVR -- a Digital Video Recorder -- can record 40 or more hours of television without the need for tapes or other media. The method by which a DVR box does this is it records the signal as an mpeg file onto a hard drive built into the box.

After I had a discussion with him and basically explained to him the key to what DVR is and how it works, I fired up my DVR "saved" list and came across an episode of Tony Bourdain's No Reservations in New Orleans.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with my admiration for Anthony Bourdain -- or, worse, don't know who Anthony Bourdain is -- click here and be ordained. Or go to the Travel Channel on your TV or to their website (google it, you lazy bastard) or go to or just do a search for Anthony Bourdain online.

Back to the digression...

One of the new episodes of No Reservations focused on New Orleans, which increasingly seems to be a typical destination for a show that rolled film/tape/disc during last year's Israeli-Lebanon conflict. Essentially, if you are familiar with Mr. Bourdain's "A Cook's Tour" (it's re-running on The Food Network as of late), you'd presume Mr. Bourdain is a snarky, sarcastic, bombastic wanna-be-punk-rocker former Chef. And you'd be right -- until recently. I'm sure he's still a huge Ramones fan, but he's traded in his Fuck The World mentality for something far more akin to a social conscience. He's not just consumed by cuisine; his shows in Lebanon and, recently, New Orleans, show his interest in food is merely a way to measure the breadth and scope of a culture and of its people. And as I'm sure he'd concur, there are far too many people who regard Denny's, Red Lobster and TGI Friday's as "cuisine."

The hour-long New Orleans episode was largely dominated by how Katrina has damaged more than just the geographic and financial landscape of New Orleans. It focused on how the "little" people -- specifically, the restaurant workers, the laborers, the fishermen, et al therein -- responded to a crisis of fairly epic proportion. And largely speaking, by showing most, if not all, residents of the city returned en masse to the City, it demonstrated a City that has far more to offer than merely blues and jazz and Gumbo.

I won't disclose more because to do so would and will give too much away; but suffice to say, I was really impressed at how well Mr. Bourdain told the story of the surviving City of New Orleans, and his show impressed upon me how massive in scope Katrina was. More importantly, it presented the case that the government turned its back on an entire city -- convinSocingly -- and showed, despite all the people of New Orleans have endured, they are still quick to smile despite the weariness they carry as a result of the flooding.

So while I typically avoid endorsing a celebrity or a show, I would highly recommend finding a rebroadcast of No Reservations: New Orleans and recording it and watching it cover to cover. There are, for sure, more entertaining and more light-hearted hours to spend in front of the television; however, whether it's my respect for Mr. Bourdain or simply the fact that he -- wisely or accidentally -- was able to show how food can help define a culture and a people no matter how much they've had to deal with or how much self-pity they could otherwise claim, it really was a memorable and significant depiction of something that we all knew existed but, perhaps, never experienced first-hand from a truly human, compassionate perspective.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Punch-Drunk Hangover

Now that the parade is complete and the confetti's been swept away, it's time to move forward and bask in the fact the Giants managed to pull off such a monumental Super Bowl upset. The last 48 hours have been awash with Giant talk -- about Eli's amazing pass to David Tyree's incredible catch, the Giant defense leaving the back of Tom Brady's jersey on the field every other down, and about the fact that this bunch of upstart underdogs managed to go against the grain and, for the most part, every pundit's opinion over how the Super Bowl would likely play out.

To be honest, I avoided most of the post Super Bowl commentary. We watched it live after the game concluded, still in shock from the game's surprise down-to-the-second conclusion. And it's always nice to see a team you believe in celebrate on Broadway with confetti raining down and thousands of people thronging the streets for a close-up glimpse at champions.

For me, though, I'm just happy they won. All the festivities and the talk and the minute details are in the past -- and while I know a few people who attended the festivities today, I don't feel jealous or that I missed anything. For me, them winning was the celebration, not marking the occasion downtown.

As a caveat, I'm as much of a New York Ranger fan as I am a Giants fan; I'll never really pull for any other team over either of those (nor would I pull for any team but the Yankees or the Knicks, either). That being said, had the Rangers not won the Stanley Cup in 1994 and instead did so this year, I think I'd find a way to get my ass downtown for the parade. It's a matter of longevity; the Rangers, prior to 1994, hadn't the won it all since 1940, and the 54-year-drought was thought to be a curse on par with Boston's "Curse of the Bambino."

The interesting thing about the other night is that I didn't have any alcohol, and yet, when the Giants managed to pull it off, we were still jumping up and down and screaming as if we were massively loaded. So I guess, even if we were completely sober throughout the entire weekend, the Giants winning left us a little punch drunk (if not a lot) and the parade's conclusion, thereafter, leaves us feeling a little hung over and sorry that we'll have to wait until next year to watch them play again.



Sunday, February 03, 2008



A thrilling, incredible sixty minutes of football.



The New York Giants are Super Bowl XLII Champions.

LETS GO GIANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

It Is Almost Time

I remember, about nine years ago, my entire team walking into Skyrink's home locker room, getting relaxed and mentally ready for our final game, prepping and donning our uniforms, and then, essentially, sitting around, waiting to hit the ice to do our pre-pre warm-up and loosening up. Stretching, getting used to the pads, and overall getting mentally into combat mode. By the time we were finally skating out onto the ice in front of the crowd to team introductions, it was three hours from the point we had originally hit the ice.

Now that Super Bowl XLII is nearly upon us, all the bullshit -- the silly news stories about some naked guy in Wisconsin that has gone to every Super Bowl, the goofy predictions (as if Regis and Kelly or Conan O'Brien know dick about football), the ESPN ads documenting the up-to-the-minute pre-game forums, panels, etc. -- it's all nearly over. Since the last time the Giants went to the Super Bowl -- in 2001, for Super Bowl XXXV -- I've generally looked on this game with a blind eye. I am a football fan, but the Super Bowl -- unless it's involving the Giants -- rarely interests me, because so little of Super Bowl Sunday is actually about football. The ads, the sales, the party themes -- it's all a distraction from what should otherwise be a great game. In fact, the only time -- this instance included -- I've ever had friends over to watch the game is when the Giants are included. This time around, I'm celebrating the fact that we'll be watching in HD, but the truth is it's a non-issue. I'd be happy watching on a 9" black and white with rabbit ears. In essence, it's about the game; all the other crap -- the dips, the alcohol, the food, the TV -- is secondary.

And now that it's almost time, I am getting excited not only for the game itself, but for the fact that we can finally put all the ancillary crap behind us and focus on (let's hope) a good game of football. That, and despite the fact most of the attendees of the upcoming Super Bowl 42 soiree at Casa de Boogie like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, the chosen entertainment for halftime, I've opted -- in Giants and Casa de Boogie tradition -- to provide alternate entertainment, and this year will be no different. Prior to Tom Petty hitting the field/stage/stage/field, we'll have already fired up "Blue Harvest," the DVD featuring the Family Guy spoof of the Star Wars saga. For those of you who haven't seen it, get yourself a copy, it's a trip (the package is, essentially, the same thing that was broadcast on Fox and/or Cartoon Network, but it's still worth the $20 or whatever).

Aside from the fact that I'm a rabid Giants fan, having a big game upcoming on the horizon always reminds me of the last time my team won the NYC Cup, so it's possible the majority of the reason I'm as jazzed as I am has something to do with the sense of impending vicarious combat. The truth, however, is none of it really matters much: all I know is my place will be a-rockin' with Gameday up until kickoff, and thereafter, we'll be bouncing off the walls provided it's a real game. If it's a blowout, we'll stick with it for as long as we can -- or until the vodka runs out.

One final note: I won't bother making a prediction per se. However, as I've publicly concluded with most of my interested friends, as an unbiased observer, I believe the Giants will lose by 10-14 points. Having said that, as a Giants fan -- I am hoping they manage to pull off an historic upset and send Bob Kraft and his team home with no hardware. I've watched the Giants meander through the season at times, and I'm still not convinced Eli Manning was produced from the deep end of the gene pool as was his brother; however, I have been impressed by his evolution this season (even from first halves to second halves of games) and I would not be shocked if the Giants did it. Do I have high expectations? No. Do I have high hopes? Yes.

If the Giants are blown out, I won't be crying myself to sleep tomorrow night. All the same, if they lose, I'll still be bleeding Big Blue.

The bottom line is that is why all the other bullshit -- recipes, TV dimensions and resolutions, pre-game warm-up shows, the guest list, half-time entertainment -- all can -- thankfully -- be relegated to the trash bin as of tomorrow night in favor of -- hopefully -- a good game and, moreover, a Giant win.