Friday, February 27, 2009


Forget the Daily Bentley. This thing is super-hawt.

Granted, it's not purely its own -- it's got the heart of a 'Vette (a Corvette, not a Che-vette). Meaning it goes really, really fast and it looks really, really good.

Only problem is I don't want to have to drive it home from Johannesburg. Oh well, guess I'll just settle for this instead.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Headbanger's Ball

In normal times, when things are sane -- and when I am as well -- the title of this particular post would undoubtedly refer to an iPod playlist filled with AC/DC, Alice in Chains, Masters of Reality and a similar smattering of loud, fist-pumping rock. Songs that belong on this mythical playlist might include "If You Want Blood, You Got It" (AC/DC), Enter Sandman (Metallica), Light Up The Sky (Van Halen), Got Me Under Pressure (ZZ Top) and Thunderstruck or Big Gun (AC/DC).

Unfortunately, however, I'm in the throes of a busy period that makes most busy periods seem tame by comparison. I've got about six different things happening, all simultaneously, and just about the only thing to which I can look forward is that within a couple weeks I'll be winding down and Kaia will be an NYC resident.

Just that last part alone makes me smile, so I know I'm not hopeless...not completely, anyway.

But in the meantime, I've got two full weeks -- including weekends -- of work, stress, aggravation and bullshit full-on from waking to sleeping and all hours in between. Think I'm exaggerating? Try working 'til 11 with a remote connection, having work-related dreams -- nightmares, perchaps -- and then waking up before 6 to start the entire process over again. It could always be worse, and I remind myself of that pretty much on a daily basis, whether things are crazy or completely kicked back and mellow. So this -- the next couple weeks -- remains my seventh circle of hell moment (period, actually).

Some high points: I found a product that lets me funnel DVD's -- both regular discs and Blu-Ray -- into my media player, so I can keep all the movies I want to have handy at all at all times. I could stuff them into my iPod but despite the Touch being a great video player, I haven't bothered doing anything with videos on it aside from a few Family Guy episodes. Within a few years -- if not sooner -- I can see regular visits to (that site that Alec Baldwin -- the alien -- began shilling during the Super Bowl -- as well as others like YouTube, NBC and the other TV on the Net options both current and future. Based on how bulletproof using a media player is with a competent A/V receiver, I expect that within a decade most people will be doing what I've been doing, except I think the convergence will not simply be transferring downloaded/converted discs into a media player but instead having a media player that is the PC. The PC has become so ubiquitous in our lives that it has overtaken our social interactivity (chatroom, anyone?), our music (who doesn't have iTunes?), photos (does anyone use film-based cameras anymore?) and, most importantly, entertainment. So I expect that my experience now will be repeated millions of times over down the line, and I have a feeling many people will be using their PC's to control their TV's, their stereos, social lives and their business/work lives. Why this is all relevant is because I am really pleased at how -- relatively speaking -- simple all this crap is, even now. By the time it's simplified for the average single mother in Nebraska, it's going to be scary -- scary as in "will anyone actually be buying discs anymore, or will we simply be paying for the privilege of downloading content?" I ask these questions and they occupy what's left of my free-floating gray matter simply because I saw a rolling ad (ie a truck with a big sign cruising 7th Avenue this afternoon) mentioning that Virgin's Times Square Megastore was and is going out of business. Guess I Am Legend is now obsolete. It's at once disturbing to keep in mind that one day -- soon -- we won't have the option of buying discs unless we want to get them used in the East Village or as bootlegged recordings somewhere downtown.

If all this seems like a free associative rant, too damn bad -- although that's exactly what it is. As long as I'm focusing on crap that doesn't challenge me too excessively to think or use anything Pythagorean in my logic, I'm fine. But once I need to put more than 2x and 3y together, I'm back to my desk, bouncing between urgent matters and fire drills that need my attention yesterday.

In either case, some other random musings are Obama's address from Tuesday night, which I thought was fairly solid despite it being a lot of campaigning for keeping the faith and very little real solution, and the variety of good and bad TV television out there. A year or more ago, I remember hearing Tony Bourdain observe that the Food Network's ultimate failure would be that it strives for mediocrity, and his prescience is staggeringly accurate. The Food Network, once a bastion for entertaining and useful food-related programming, now houses such (sic) genius as Aaron "Coke The Van" McCargo Jr., Guy Fieri (who seems more talented at speaking Californese than actually showing people how and what to cook) and the dreadful hour-long colonoscopy that is "Chopped." It's genuinely hard to watch the network without self-commentary suggesting that there must be something better to do than watch TV. People like Ina Garten, Tyler Florence and Alton Brown -- simultaneously good at entertaining and teaching -- are a minority on the network, and (Blatant Prediction) they will soon -- all -- disappear from the Food Network lineup.

This discussion is the indirect result of tonight's Top Chef finale, which was -- as per usual -- anything but expected, except for the fact that the participants all strive to impress and express themselves artistically through food prep. It's almost incredible, but knowing I've learned stuff from the show here and there really does make me feel like more than just some fixture on a couch. I'll never prepare a Beef Wellington or a Foie Gras souffle, but watching people transform ingredients that I can go get at Whole Foods or even Fairway into art impresses me big-time. In either case, I am increasingly amazed and, simultaneously, disappointed that as other networks -- Travel, BBC America, Bravo -- become increasingly adept at both entertaining and teaching people how to cook healthier and better, the Food Network panders to stupidity and low-class, low-end output. I know some people like Guy Fieri and Aaron McCargo, Jr. and Sunny Anderson and the Neelys, but they really inspire me to change the channel. About the only interesting thing about the Food Network over the last ten days was seeing a former Top Chef contestant (Arianne, from this recently-completed season) perform as a sous chef on a recent episode of Iron Chef America. Other'n that, the Food Network has become an excellent tool for me to get to sleep -- quickly.

I apologize for the nonsensical, masturbatory rant perpetrated above, but the luxury of forgetting about the massive intensity with which I'm dealing at work -- even for a few minutes -- was worth the obvious transgression. I can't say it won't happen again, but I can say that it was worth it to me, even it wasn't to the reader. My apologies again.


Monday, February 23, 2009


Being that this is a post-Oscars ceremony gifted with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, I can't and won't portray my personal "picks" as having been 100% spot-on. In fact, this -- like many years before it -- was yet another example of my (sort of) apathy towards the Academy Awards.

It's not the excessive glitz or completely over-the-top show of wealth and privilege that stymied me this year, even in the face of the economic problems we as a nation are facing.

Nor is it that this year's films were substandard or awful. For the most part -- at least from what I saw thereof -- they are not.

It's just that, while I remain and always will be a big movie fan, this year's films really did very little to blow up my proverbial skirt, so to speak.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona, about a three-way sex romp in Spain, should have managed to pull me in, but ever since Woody and Soon-Yi I've lost my appetite for Woody's films. And I had so little interest in seeing Milk and Frost/Nixon that, I must admit, I would have preferred to watch reruns of Iron Chef America than either of those films.

The one thing I really was pleased about regarding this year's winners overall was the fact that appropriateness -- despite the aforementioned over-the-top extravagance of the entire procedure -- won out. Slumdog Millionaire deserved its honors, although I can admit I didn't see the film. I'd seen enough of it pieced together between critical reviews, interviews, and reading the entire premise -- not to mention the Mumbai violence that occurred recently -- gave me the sense that this was the Little Film That Should. Or could.

And did.

I didn't see Milk, but I'm glad Sean Penn won an Oscar, not only for bringing to light the story of Harvey Milk but just for pure talent (whether it's true Mr. Penn is a known raging homophobe is almost ancillary).

I'm thoroughly glad that Kate Winslet -- finally -- won an Oscar. I've seen several of her films -- although thankfully I have still avoided seeing Titanic -- and each time out of the gate she makes whatever movie shine that much brighter. I didn't see The Reader, but as they say in Rhode Island, it's about damn time she won.

While I was a bit disappointed The Wrestler failed to win anything, I can say -- after having watched the film -- that it doesn't shock me. The film's gritty, honest portrayal of the dark, dingy world of professional wrestling was well done on all fronts, and it would have been great if Mickey Rourke had won an award for his portrayal of Randy "The Ram" Robinson. But given that the film was so unapologetic in its frankness, and the depth of the pathos that oozed from each frame of the film, it doesn't shock me it didn't garner any awards. I think the whole "Mickey Rourke is back" thing was enough. And many people before me saw the intricate, ironic parallel between The Ram and Mickey Rourke's careers. How hard is it for a washed-up has-been -- albeit one with talent -- to portray a washed-up has-been with almost emotionless dexterity? Personally, I thought the entire film was a well-done commentary but little more than that. And I am a little confused as to how Marisa Tomei won for My Cousin Vinny -- for an overly sharpened New Yawk accent -- yet walking around half-naked for more than half of The Wrestler she didn't. Her character in this film had serious emotional depth and gave the film another degree of balance, and yet, this time, nothing. Oh well.

Finally, though, what more can be said about Heath Ledger's final achievement of winning an Oscar? Firstly, I saw The Dark Knight and the truth is the film is far from the candied humor that the Michael Keaton/Val Kilmer/George Clooney farce. With Batman Begins, the series returned to a serious, adult storyline and addressed serious issues. Put another way, Heath Ledger's Joker was far more appropriate to the film than was Jack Nicholson's version; how many actors can upstage and completely out-act Jack Nicholson? Not many.

Being that this award was given posthumously, I do wonder whether he would have won if he'd lived to receive the award. Frankly, I'm inclined to believe he would not have won had he not passed away. That's not to say he didn't steal that film; he did. Watching him onscreen was almost as uncomfortable as watching one of the icons of the late 80's horror movies right before the kill. The Joker's quirky, jerky mannerisms aside, the sheer intenseness of his portrayal of the role was far more memorable than anything else in the film, but being that this was his final role, I think the Academy did the right thing by giving him an Oscar that they may not have otherwise. Last night's Oscar to Heath Ledger was, for me, a sign that this year's ceremonies, despite the glitz belying the country's woes aside, were very much appropriate. I'm not sure if I'll bother seeing any of the films addressed in last night's ceremonies, but I can say with certainty -- for the first time in quite some time -- that the Academy finally got it right.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Freefall: The Circle-Jerk Economy and No More GM

When many people discuss the economy -- especially people who know very little about the causes behind our current economic troubles -- they paint in broad strokes, they toss around financial buzzwords and they happily regurgitate terms and concepts they heard on Sunday morning news programs.

I'm -- happily or otherwise -- not sophisticated enough to confidently -- or accurately -- state what caused these problems per se. I have some ideas, as do many of us; but overall, for me, it starts and stops with two military excursions and an overmortgaged, overleveraged balancing act known as Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac. And those pesky CEO golden parachutes -- coupled with retirement accounts disappearing like Doug Henning's career -- didn't, certainly, help much.

But -- despite knowing a few people whose jobs have been liquidated due to the current economic picture, the reality of the economy doesn't end with the closure of Circuit City, The Sharper Image or Nunzio's Dancing and Scungille.

Where it does -- hopefully -- end is the reality that has set in care of GM.

Based on yesterday's deadline for the Big Three -- Chrysler, Ford and GM -- to submit their viability plans in order to secure current and earmark further bailout funds, there were some pretty interesting results. Some of which were borne of common sense, but -- clearly -- some were surprising in their harsh, in-your-face reality.

Say goodbye to the Chrysler PT Cruiser. Ditto the Dodge Durango. Jeep will keep on truckin', but -- alas -- GM has axed Hummer.

What a shock -- a 4-ton monstrosity that barely can navigate city streets, in these times of green environmental responsibility, is being jettisoned. If it's not sold to a private firm -- Chinese or otherwise -- the Hummer will be no more.

Interestingly, joining Hummer in extinction is -- presumably -- Saturn and Saab.

The biggest surprise of all -- sort of -- is no more Pontiac.

That means that the producers of the cars that made American automobiles what they were -- for better or worse -- will die. Keep in mind that Oldsmobile already disappeared from the American automotive spectrum several years ago (even if they clog the nations suburbs and Midwest with nonchalant obstinacy).

Let's face it; some of these moves are relatively surprising. Saturn? Saab? Others, not so much -- not really. Is it a shock that Hummer's about to head down DeLorean way, especially in today's socio-economic climate? It shouldn't be -- not particularly. However, with the dissolution of some or all of these marques, it still should hit us as a shock similar to the disappearance of The Sharper Image and other "institutions" which were part of the homogeneous American mallscape. Put another way, even if one never had any intention of buying a Hummer or a Pontiac, it will be strange knowing that -- sometime soon -- those car brands will be relegated to the history books.

Perhaps a better way of conveying this quasi-shock is evidenced in
this article by Des Troups, "Yet we’ll mourn these brands even if we won’t miss them."

There's more here as well. But basically, the news is still the same -- just like Bob Dylan once sang, the times they are a-changin'...

What is perhaps most disconcerting -- legitimately so -- is not the issue of cars or car companies vanishing from the American business model -- even if said companies are international icons like GM or Chrysler. What is -- and should, rightfully, be -- our biggest concern is what happens to the employees of all these defunct brands? What happens to the people that sold these cars? Serviced these cars? What about the mechanics that -- due to (let's be honest) shitty quality -- fixed these cars?

We're not talking a few thousand people, incidentally; we're talking hundreds of thousands of people from top to bottom.

And let's also not forget another major consideration: even though Toyota and Honda aren't experiencing this kind of toilet-flush en masse, they will feel the pain, as will we: since many parts that GM and Chrysler installed in these vehicles were produced by the same plants who manufactured parts for (or, in plenty of cases, were identical to parts installed in) the aforementioned Toyotas and Hondas, that means that spare parts will simply be harder to come by. That means the parts will cost more, there will be less of them, and -- therefore -- prices for cars (and fixing them) will also increase.

Add to that there will be throngs of people without jobs over the next 24 months (as if that was a newsflash) and what we have is a bonafide full-on, extended visit to Depressionville.

No, the sky's not falling. The sun will not refuse to shine tomorrow morning, and it will again set in the west as it has done since -- well, for some time. The problem is that when a company -- like GM -- exhibits the sort of irresponsible decline that it has been in for a number of years (if not decades), the eventual thud of the other shoe hitting the floor is that much more significant. However, ten to twenty years ago the writing was on the wall. Japanese and German auto workers are paid less and have far fewer benefits than do their American counterparts. That never made any sense to me, especially given the fact that American auto workers -- and the cars they produce -- were and are considered to be the lowest quality among the three. Yet American auto workers -- the UAW, etc. -- managed to secure so much in the way of benefits for its members that the UAW was able to accomplish the ultimate feat of power -- it put its members before its employer and -- if this week's news is correct -- destroyed one of the largest auto manufacturers.

Whether or not we acknowledge or understand the causes behind these troubles, we should not be surprised by the changes for which we're in over the coming months. If nothing else, with the changes should also come the knowledge that if we don't learn from our past mistakes we will be doomed to repeat them, again and again and again.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'd Gladly Pay You Tuesday for A Bicycle Today

I'm not sure why it made me laugh, but this story still has me smiling even after I originally saw it on an elevator "Captivate" screen yesterday afternoon.

So ironic, and, simultaneously, so damned appropriate. And so absolutely deserved.

Incidentally, as an update, police have uncovered evidence suggesting the culprit is one Hamburglar, the masked hoodlum who has terrified McDonaldland (and Grimace, it's largest -- and most purple -- resident) for years. Earlier in the day, Hamburglar was seen stealing Mario Andretti's beloved Ferrari Maranello and several hours later was seen sneaking off with some of Bob Vila's prized "It's Hammer-Time" hammer collection.

It is further believed that Hamburglar's escape(s) were aided by Procrastination Jim, who is better known by his street nickname, Wimpy.

If you see either of these individuals, do not try to apprehend them as they are merely fictional characters and doing so might suggest you're on too much medication.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Finger-Licking Ambivalence

Any time I endeavor to discuss what is clearly the obvious, and rapid, decline of the Food Network, I come across something like this and it all goes to poop -- in this case, somewhat literally.

The above-linked blog is, essentially, one of the more frightful expositions on repulsive, over-the-top food I've ever seen, whether in person, electronically or on film. It's not particularly for the faint of heart, so if you've got a weak constitution -- or heart disease -- you might want to look away. Then again, considering you're reading these pages, how weak a constitution could you really have?

In either case, I think that the above-linked blog (which has also, conveniently, been added to the blogroll to the right) isn't 100% accurate. True, America is among the most obese nations on the planet. True, many among us believe the "Super-Size" is the only size. True, we consume food that has the nutritional value -- and, consequently, treat our bodies -- like shit.

But the problem isn't only eating crap. My personal experience over the past year or so during which time I've lost a load of weight doesn't begin nor does it end with Wendy's, McDonald's, Burger King or FatBurger. Invariably, what it does begin with is quantity -- whether you're consuming fish three times a week or pizza three times a day, if you're consuming more calories than your body is able to process you're going to get fat. It's a mathematical equation. Put too much of anything -- good or bad -- in your body and you'll expand faster than Jay Leno's chin through a fisheye lens.

Conversely, if you consume less than your body needs, your body will -- eventually -- begin to take fat cells and convert them to energy so you can maintain whatever activity in which you're engaged. So if that means you're eating too little, your body will respond accordingly -- and you'll lose weight.

The stuff of rocket science this is not, y'all.

What that "Why You Are Fat" blog is somewhat deceptive is that there's a clear distinction between "a bit overweight," "heavy" and "need a crane to leave the house." The problem is we in this nation have gone from the first category to the second -- and the third -- relatively quickly. It's mostly linked to fast food's complete takeover of our national cuisine, but it's also linked to ingenuity that delivers fried candy bars, the phenomenon of eating contests -- glamourized most recently by Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel, Krispy Kreme anything and the ever-popular Huge-Breakfast special (for more on this, go here).

I could go on and on or I could, in a dash of erudite irony, mention what brought me to address the Food Network in the first place. But the thing is, I'm not interested in preaching nor am I on some sort of mission to immunize the planet or the nation from obesity. I'm not skinny and I'm only beginning to approach a reasonable weight. Thing is, while those of us who are interested in preparing and enjoying food are now known as "foodies," I think it's dangerous and unhealthy for people to, essentially, not care what they're consuming. There's a difference, however, between reading a nutrition label and understanding it and simply trusting the comic-font labels screaming "0% Trans Fat" and thinking everything's okay with that pile of chocolate-covered graham crackers you're about to buy. It's more than common sense but it doesn't have to be foie gras and caviar, but it shouldn't be fried smores on a stick, either. In other words, the typical -- and long-standing -- dichotomy between health and self-awareness doesn't have to mean you're either slurping wheat grass smoothies or injecting yourself with cholesterol to see if you can induce a heart attack by 4PM. And there lies a similar dichotomy that suggests that the more affluent sector of society eats healthier because quality food costs more. That, however, is bullshit. I haven't been in McDonald's, Wendy's or any other fast food joint in so long that I can't comment on the prices since the country's economic situation hit the toilet, but if memory serves correctly, food prices in Mickey's, Wendy's and the myriad other fast-food establishment were far from inexpensive.

And the choices, if not Happy Meal Central, are plentiful and relatively cheap and fairly simple. Tossing a raw whole chicken into a disposable roasting pan with some lemon wedges, a head of garlic and some salt and pepper shoved inside and around the bird along with some halved yukon gold potatoes and some fresh broccoli, carrots, celery, onions and/or cauliflower for 90 minutes is about $15 including a disposable roasting pan (if you live in pricey cities like NYC, et al). That's something like $4 per serving (factoring in cooking gas), which is cheaper than just about any crap-in-a-bag from any fast food place you can name.

So...with all due respect to the above-linked site, the reason why we're fat is far from a Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe or a Fried Smore on a Stick. It's not just what we eat, it's how much we eat. So the next time you're in the deep South and have a hankering for some country fair competition, skip the hot dog-eating contest and the pie-eating contest. Unless you're unable to leave your house without the help of a crane and a crew of construction workers, you'll likely lose to a guy named after a city.

And definitely avoid the Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe or a Fried Smore on a Stick. Although, I must admit, I sure as shit would like to try them both, just once, before they wheel me into the Liposuction Lab and convert some of me into soap ;-)

In the meantime...happy eating ;-)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

What's worse, being single on Valentine's Day or being far away from the person with whom you want to spend the day -- and the rest of your life?

Unfortunately, that's a pretty stupid question.

Happy Valentine's Day! ETA Two weeks!


Friday, February 13, 2009

The Bill -- and a Call -- For Stimulation

We Americans of the Microwave Generation are impenetrably impatient, impudent and improbably immiscible.

Now that I've raided the closet (or Webster's Dictionary) -- which is really immaterial -- we can move forward. Or can we?

This week has seen some interesting trends. The stimulus bill that has been kicked around and which should soon -- finally -- be implemented after much debate, discussion and discrepancy, is a compromise of typically grand scale. Essentially, no one is satisfied, which is the stalwart, regurgitated hallmark of any good compromise. Having said all that, despite it being a "good" compromise, I'm not really sure if it's a good bill.

On the plus side, like me, the House and/or the Senate may have to come into the office over the weekend to vote on it.

In other news, I'm being pulled in increasingly disparate directions by everything I've been handling at work, and unless I go out and buy a copy of Microsoft Project or some other GANTT chart software, I'm going to probably lose my mind. To paraphrase Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, at least I'm enjoying the ride. Except I'm not; being that there's so much to accomplish and being all over the place mentally (and physically), the only plus in this whole equation is that I can do work remotely so I don't have to spend 12 hours a day in the office even if I'm spending four or five hours each night getting it done.

In the meantime, speaking of getting it done, tomorrow's Valentine's Day festivities will be the last for Kaia and I in separate cities (finally). Between work issues, relocation issues, corporate issues, and the occasional tick of concern on both our parts, we're finally going to share the same zip code (and then some). Invariably, whenever a monumental step forward is about to take place, it makes sense to first step back and think about what's about to transpire, and I think -- no, I know -- that with the tiny speck of trepidation we're both really, really excited about this forward move. Inasmuch as this should signify things are a-changin', there aren't really any changes -- things are just getting better. Essentially, I don't foresee any issues whatsoever -- in fact, the only concern I have is knowing we have to pace ourselves: typically we plan for three full weeks at a time. How can you plan an entire lifetime?

I guess we'll have to take one day at a time :-)

In either case, happy Valentine's Day to all of you sane, happy singles and couples; and to those of you who don't quite fit that description, there's always next year.

Now, about that stimulation...


Monday, February 09, 2009


There's always something to discuss, bemoan, address, insult, ridicule or drag out, especially if you've spent any time perusing these pages. If it's not the somewhat surprising revelation that Alex Rodriguez apparently tested positive for use of one or more steroids during the 2003 season while a member of the Texas Rangers, then perhaps it's the revelation that an American porn star is running for the Senate. It happened in Italy, and they're just as depraved and completely clueless as are most, if not all, of our politicians (even though few Americans would be as supportive if President Obama had a similar appetite for Oval Office activities as did Bill Clinton).

And besides, if people actually were willing to vote for Sarah Palin, why not vote for Stormy Daniels? Just think of the sex-tape possibilities that would create.

Unfortunately, however, neither of those things seems particularly relevant these days. Over the weekend, I'd heard from a friend that a friend of hers -- a guy who I'd known for several years -- passed away suddenly at the age of 41.

At first the news wasn't especially tragic beyond the fact that someone who was 41 -- whose birthday was less than a month away -- had died. But because this was someone I'd known, and who was friendly with many of my friends, it was a strange sort of symbiotic sense of melancholy that seemed to washed over me. His death was most likely a result of some sort of cardiomyopathy that he had endured in his early twenties and not the car accident which resulted when the cardiac episode occurred. Hearing how he had been airlifted to the hospital but didn't survive the trip reminded me of some past events with a close friend of mine who was killed in a pretty serious car accident (by definition, any accident which involves fatalities is pretty serious, but the one that took my friend's life was well beyond that, and I made the mistake of seeing what was left of his car afterwards). The whole incident brought me back to my racing days, to the day I heard my friend had been killed in the accident, and to the sadness and the shock -- and the contiguous lack of surprise -- at hearing he'd died while racing. Like an autistic patient, the further back you go in your memory, the longer and more direct the strands of memory reach, and the whole episode came back to me in a foggy, subconscious blur. I think, at least on some level, that was from where my sadness originated. All these things that float around your head and your heart when you hear about things like this show you where you are and what you are in life, and remind you that despite hearing it each and every day, life really is both fleeting and precious.

In any case, I helped one of Stuart's good friends -- and one of mine -- create a memorial to him within the Facebook framework so that his friends and family can interact in a forum setting; share jokes or stories about him; post pictures and their thoughts; and keep everyone who knew and cared about him on any level together. If all these people lived within a few miles of one another, it would not have been necessary to do this; however, being that Stuart had friends and family in over 15 states -- some farther than others -- it didn't seem right or fair that people in the midwest or in the deep south should be relegated to their thoughts and their silence. Some of these people will reach out to each other and, perhaps, become friends, and if nothing else, at least that will be the good that was the result of something which was otherwise awful.

Setting this up and letting people know about it was, for me, a small part in tribute to someone that was taken way too early. If you'd like to see/hear/read more, do a Facebook search for "In Memory of Stuart Solomon" and, most likely, you'll find it. Even though he wasn't a close friend of mine, knowing I was able to help his friends and family just a little -- if at all -- makes me happy and, if nothing else, hopefully gives them some measure of comfort that he was the kind of person for whom people wanted to help, if even in some small, minor way like this.

Rest In Peace, Stuart.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

An Admission of Revelation, Revulsion and Regret

This morning, I made the penultimate error: I not only turned on the television, I opted to watch "Fox and Friends."

Fox is a perfectly decent network; I persue their infomercials late at night as I surf past from NBC, CBS or ABC up to the Food Network. So in essence, I watch Fox about an hour a year, only in half-second intervals.

This morning, however, I was intoxicated by a snippet of a story that they were discussing: apparently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi twice misquoted the job-loss figures during a speaking engagement in which she said: "500 million Americans lose jobs every month." What she meant to say was 500,000 Americans lose jobs every month.


Apparently, people were either non-responsive or completely outraged. Depending on whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, I suppose, you should either be -- respectively -- outraged or completely apathetic. Problem is, I violate that coordinating rule. Inasmuch as I am a Republican, I took Ms. Pelosi's misstatement as just that -- a misstatement. Subsequently, when Michelle Malkin -- correctly -- suggested that had Sarah Palin or George W. Bush made that mistake, the press would have torn them apart. And maybe so; but still, I'm guessing that the real story is not party politics, criticism of the government ad nauseum, nor is it complaining over where a comma lands in a particular sentence or number. I knew what she meant, just as I interpreted John McCain's "this one" reference to Barack Obama during one of their debates as nothing more than a stylistic, rather than a racist, comment.

I think we've gotten so headstrong about being patriotic and responsible citizens we're, in effect, tossing out the baby with the bathwater. I was pretty ripe over Bill Clinton's regular lies while he was President; I didn't care that he got a hummer from Monica Lewinsky, I cared that his personality was so skewed towards bullshitting people that he didn't have it in him to tell Kenneth Starr to go fuck himself. Point is that Bill Clinton lied about a lot of things; impeaching him over his lie about the fact he soiled Monica's navy-blue dress is akin to putting Al Capone in prison for tax evasion.

We're so gung ho to lock horns with authority -- with politicians, the police, priests, teachers -- that we're effectively forgetting that we have lost the art of choosing our battles. Sure, Nancy Pelosi put her foot in her mouth, but it was a slight gaffe, not a serious error in judgment. The aforementioned Michelle Malkin rode this comment and suggested that Democrats in general have a chicken little sensibility and this was somehow -- subconsciously or otherwise -- a calculated move by Ms. Pelosi is complete bullshit, at least in my opinion. I agree on some level that Democrats do tend to worry aloud and preach apocalypse; but what can we expect from a party that nominated Michael Dukakis, the Richie Kotite of politics? Frankly, however, in this particular case, I doubt there was anything to Ms. Pelosi's comment(s) other than a verbal typo.

Now, to the counterpoint, I happen to believe -- more and more -- that as the bad news flows, it's opening the damn further and further. In other words, if we as a nation want to improve the situation, rebound our economy and actually make some progress, it seems to me that we have to remind journalists in print, television and internet mediums to stop giving us so many reasons to worry and start focusing on the good things. I've always avoided television news -- whether it be in the form of morning fluff like Today, Good Morning America or the above-cited "Fox and Friends" -- as well as the evening fluff newscasts. I'm not too concerned about the traffic jam that was caused when a water main at 137th Street broke. I don't worry too much about a woman who won the lottery misplacing her ticket. And I damn well don't need to hear about a teacher who was arrested after selling drugs to his/her students.

The point is, if I want to hear bad news, there's plenty of opportunity to do so; all this negativity -- reporting the thousands of jobs being lost (whether 500,000 or 500 million) -- with terminator-like inevitiability is not doing us much good. I'm not suggesting we censor the media or stop reporting the news; however, can we expect to see any sort of positive consumer confidence with this constant barrage of negativity? I don't. Put another way, if I look outside and see it's raining, I'm not going to spend a few hours watching the weather channel to see what can be done about the rain, how much heavier it's going to get, or worrying that the rain will have adverse affects on crops, homeless people or the litter of puppies that was born to a farmer and his one-legged wife.

I'm going to pack an umbrella and leave the house.


So, in hindsight, I've realized I'm going to start paying far less attention to "journalists" that read the news -- people like Kelly Ripa ("don't you think so, Reeeeeg?") and Kathy Lee Gifford and any number of empty heads paid to read a teleprompter for a living -- and stop worrying about things and get on with moving forward. Enough with the bad news: we know the economy sucks, we know Obama's going to make every legitimate attempt to scoot us quickly from this situation, and we should -- sometime in the next few months -- hope to start seeing the benefits.

And if not, the one sector that won't have to worry about its job market failing is those "journalists" who can read stories about how the economy is in the toilet.

That will teach me for turning on the TV in the morning.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Where To Start...

I had a whole diatribe prepped and ready to be served up hot n' juicy deriding the Food Network for yet another catastrophic blunder (one word: "Chopped"). And then I changed channels and came across the news...

This just in...

And in other news, a woman has filed a theft report with police after a pair of Spock ears she brought and used during a gangbang in Aspen were stolen from her Captain Kirk lunchbox.

Do we really need proof that there are some really, really messed-up people out there?

Or, as they say in the vernacular... What. The. Fuck.

PS No, the second story isn't real. Yes, the first one is.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Super Sour Grapes

Well, the Super Bowl commenced about 12 hours ago and I'm relatively satisfied that it was as exciting a game for non-fans as was last year's Giants win. By non-fans I mean people who care little or nothing for the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, which, by virtue of the fact that neither team is (or was last night) very good is a pretty safe conclusion.

However, as far as a random football game, last night's game was pretty solid. It was my first in clean, crisp 1080p, but that didn't do much for me as I have to be somewhat interested in what's happening on screen to be impressed by how well it's being presented. In other words, if it was a 6-hour marathon of Louie Anderson hosting the Family Feud, I wouldn't have cared what the TV's resolution was; I would have turned it off or changed the channel.

But back to the game; while it was exciting and a down-to-the-wire finish, as it was last year, this year I didn't really care much either way who won. I was expecting the Steelers to win big, but the Cardinals made it a game -- and nearly won -- so I give them credit. They didn't follow the script.

The one thing that continued to bother me throughout the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, and continues to bother me today, is that my team, the Giants, should have won back-to-back Super Bowls last night. They should have bounced the Philadelphia Eagles from the playoffs, they should have cleaned out the Cardinals, and they should have dominated the Steelers to go two in a row. But should haves have little place in the professional sports world. We all know this.

And yet I still can't eliminate this "should have" scenario from my overworked, underfed brain. There's no doubt that the bottom line is the final score. Let's face it; if "should have" has any place in the game of football, the Giants would have gone home losers last year. Again, I'm conscious of this ironic dichotomy, and I'm fessin' up. But it still doesn't change the fact that the Giants bounced themselves out of contention for another title.

So in essence, none of this really mattered to me. The game itself was sort of a passing amusement; half of the time we shuffled between the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet and a variety of other quasi-useful programming. All told, I would have preferred watching Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs or another film I've not seen in awhile. Put another way, in a year from now, I'll still remember every line to Pulp Fiction, but I won't remember anything about last night's game.

In essence, then, the real reason why I sort of watched the game was for the commercials...except most of them were uninteresting and didn't hold my attention. For millions of dollars a piece, it's sort of sad to say that either a) the commercials were pretty lame this year; and/or b) that my attention span couldn't or didn't stay with a thirty-second spot selling Pepsi or Fedex or female incontinence-necessitated undergarments. I did notice Pepsi spent an inordinate number of minutes on the between-the-whistles entertainment, but they could have sent Jenna Jameson to my house to make sure we were focused on the task at hand and I'd still never buy one of their products.

So that, essentially, leaves the half-time show featuring Bruce Springsteen as the real high point of the evening, other than the company and this bitchin' chipotle dip I prepped. I'm not the biggest of Bruce Springsteen fans, mind you, but I've seen him a few times live and scored a bunch of his albums. His stuff isn't at the top of my Desert Island collection -- maybe a song or two, maybe -- but I could say I'm a more than passive fan. And I thought he and the E Street Band did a great job entertaining a bunch of people who could give a shit about the fact they'd just blown $5000 or more for a ticket to a lame-ass Super Bowl. It always amazes me how they pipe in a bunch of fans that don't belong at a football game to cheer for the half-time entertainment. The worst in recent memory, of course, is the coupling of Britney Spears and Aerosmith; last night was, in recent memory, one of the best.

And don't think I forgot the notion that I still wish I'd had a 1080p monitor for the Janet Jackson nipple-flash.

So overall, like most Super Bowls, I didn't find it all that super. It wasn't awful and it could have been lots worse, but I 'spose next season will be a better gauge of my interest in football. If the Giants play next season like they did for the past six weeks of the 2008-09 regular season, I'll be spending next Super Sunday watching Womens' Coed Naked Badminton.

At least I'll care about the actual game and not just who won.

Or, as they say in France: "Meh."