Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hot Go

This is a complete non-sequitir and has no intrinsic value whatsoever (which pretty much describes everything that gets approved for publishing here at the HoB), but I was recently delving through a pile of 80's tracks for a friend and came across the Tone-Loc track "Funky Cold Medina." Then, this morning, I came across this story, and while I'm rarely one to focus on (at best) B-list news, I figured it was too much of a coincidence to pass up.

Not sure what else to say, except, to Mr. Smith, lay off the Funky Cold Medina and avoid doing the Wild Thing until your doctor(s) advise you it's safe to do otherwise.

And no more visits to the Capt'n Fun Beach Club. And that goes double for Snoop-Dogg and any other self-respecting performer (strippers and aging pornstars excluded).

Now back to your regularly-scheduled programming.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An Angel With a Broken Wing

I'm not sure if there is any significance to people who rarely remember their dreams, but I seem to be one of those people. I know I dream because every once in awhile I'll wake up and remember something from the overnight recharge session but rarely, if ever, do I actually come away with anything resembling cohesive thought or experience. That can be said, on occasion, of my waking hours too, so neither here nor there.

In either case, I had made some progress in the story on which I've been working, and several major plot points came together pretty well. Since I've been working on this same story now for a couple years, I was kind of pleased about that -- and using the term "kind of pleased" is a big, big understatement.

In either case, in the dream I remember the woman who played the wife from "The Frighteners," a Michael J. Fox comedy about ghosts and the supernatural. Essentially, from what I remember, she was in the dream and was the female character from my novel, only she winds up getting killed -- which is odd, because originally, in my novel, the female character doesn't die.

After ruminating on this a bit I decided to tinker further and I actually made even more progress.

I'm not sure hat the final draft will resemble, but I'm getting there. And I'm not sure if dreaming about the story means it's running loose around the hallways of my mind -- or how much room there actually is up there around which to run loose -- but I was pretty jazzed about the fact that it's on my mind even when I'm sleeping.

Either way, I remember -- in the dream -- her with the sub-head of "Angel With a Broken Wing" and somehow, Shakespeare (Hamlet, actually) got into the mix with ""To sleep, perchance to dream -- ay, there's the rub."

I guess it could be worse -- I could be dreaming about flatulent puppies or a rabid client that never leaves my office.

Although it's quite possible either or both of those might be more interesting than the eventual product of my latest (recalled) dream.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Green Day In The Park

Or...wound down and wound up.

About a week or so ago I noticed a new announcement from Green Day, a band which I've been listening to for awhile. They were about to release their latest album, 21st Century Breakdown, and indicated that they were going to appear on Good Morning America live on Friday, May 22nd, as part of a media blitz that included appearances on the Steven Colbert Report (Comedy Central) and the Late Show with David Letterman. Considering that Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin are long since past new releases, I've sort of gotten past the anxious excitement of midnight madness sales involving a new album release a la U2, etc.

So when the release date whipped by me I didn't even realize I'd missed it -- I've been slammed with work for the past few weeks, been generating new business as well as a shitload of work from current and past clients, and haven't had the mental energy to focus on personal shit.

Then a Facebook friend mentioned something about the new Green Day album -- four days after its release -- and I suddenly realized I needed to get a copy, which I did. And I was pretty impressed with 21st Century Breakdown.

First and foremost, their last offering, American Idiot, was far more melodic and user-friendly than anything they'd released prior. American Idiot is a more cohesive, stronger concept album addressing the problems American society faces than the two-plus minute songs they'd offered prior, and 21st Century Breakdown is even moreso, except in addition to decrying politics, organized religion and isolation and loneliness, Green Day also works the economy into the mix -- all while remaining true to the trifecta of melodic rock, catchy ballads and angry, three-chord energy.

In a nutshell -- without going song by song, which is completely unnecessary -- I had some work stuff on my plate so while enjoying the album would be a long-term activity, the short-term -- ie going to see the free show in Central Park, courtesy of Good Morning America -- would not be feasible.

I thanked my friend for reminding me to get the album and let him know I enjoyed it, and he agreed with me that it was more than just worthwhile. Then he started pushing me to go to the show with him -- in a good way -- and after some rearranging of my schedule I decided I could manage it. The only real problem was the show was -- in theory -- scheduled for 8:30AM and that the gates on 69th and 5th would be opening at an ungodly 6:30AM.

Holy shit.

Waking up at 5AM for a concert isn't usually how I roll -- in fact, the last time I woke up at 5AM was for a surgical procedure. I'd more sooner get to sleep around 5 than wake up that early.

Somehow I managed it, and I met two friends, Jon and Aaron, and we strolled with the crowd into the main pavillion where the show was to take place. A Good Morning America producer asked us if we wanted to be on TV and advised us we wouldn't miss any part of the show, and that we would be able to participate in some segment entitled "Crafts for Cash."


We milled around with a mix of families, kids, adults, punkers, stoners and Good Morning America personnel for the better part of forty-five minutes...snapping pictures of the stage and the crowd and the park, we killed some time. Then the band made their way to the stage for a soundcheck. That was pretty much the last moment we opted to participate in the Good Morning America segment. With the rest of the crowd, we pushed forward and spent the next few hours watching the band perform a half-dozen songs between the sound check, the on-air segments -- which were quasi-heavily censored -- and weather updates from a far-too-chipper Sam Champion (the weatherman).

All in all, it was a blast -- despite the ridiculous hour, it was among the better concerts I've seen. It was short and sweet -- the band only played for about an hour -- but we were maybe 20 feet from the stage and got to see one of the biggest bands in the world right now -- for free, natch -- and it was great, despite the daylight, enjoying watching them burn through a mini-set that showed them having a blast. The 100-plus photos are here, for those fans who couldn't make it to the show (or didn't hear about it until after the fact). Plenty of these pics are redundant and/or out of focus, but that pretty much -- accurately -- reflects the true flavor of being there in the first place.

Incidentally, one of the reasons why I wanted to see these guys in person was to confirm something I really knew awhile ago; essentially, they're one of the few "new" bands out there with more than just a bit of their integrity (they've been out there for 15+ years, but they haven't really hit "made it" status until the last few years). For the past week, in tandem with the release of the album has been the media discussion of the fact they refused to sell their album at Walmart. That decision wasn't a result of Walmart's reputation as screwing small businesses throughout the country in favor of crap made in Taiwan and elsewhere but for the simple reason that Green Day's music features lots of vulgarity and Walmart doesn't sell any discs with the Parental Advisory warning label thereon. The band's refusal to release a "clean" version of their latest album, or any of their prior albums, will likely cost them 50k to 100k of sales -- not in dollars, but number of albums sold -- but they'll still have their integrity. And frankly, long after they're selling out shows and recording albums, that will be far more important than another 50,000 albums sold. In that respect they remind me of Led Zeppelin's refusal to do an extended, "proper" reunion, and that in and of itself garners my respect. Further, despite the fact that yesterday's set was sponsored by Good Morning America, there was plenty of vulgarity -- both in and between tunes -- and that demonstrated to me that you can take the band out of its element but you can't take the elements out of the band. There are very few musicians/bands that fall under that umbrella: besides the aforementioned Led Zeppelin, I'd put the Foo Fighters, Tom Petty and the Rolling Stones in that category. And if you weren't aware, that's pretty good company.

Here's a link to the Facebook GMA video, if you happened to miss the actual broadcast (this link may or may not work, so if it doesn't, hit google and see if you can pull up video if you're so inclined).

A few more things: a personal thank you to Aaron and Jon for making the experience even better, and a final rhetorical request to Sam Champion for a weather update for Duluth and the humidity level for the Great Lakes region. Incidentally, doing the weather on TV is easy; doing it for a crowd of 5,000 impatient Green Day fans in Central Park, cranky from the morning hour and chanting "Fuck The Weather" on national television, well, that's probably not easy.

Sam, keep updating us on the weather in Iowa and we'll keep chanting.

Rock on ;-)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Do You See The Light?!?

Ever come across an article or something similar online and realize -- within a few seconds -- that if you'd had the good fortune of seeing this some time ago, you could have saved yourself (in my case, my family) a whole shitload of aggravation and a truckload of futility and wasted time? Well, my "epiphany" article resides here; had I had the good fortune of seeing this circa 2001, holy shit -- I could have ably sidestepped a big pile of shit in the form of a still-obsessed ex.

Oh well. As they say, hindsight is 20/20, even if my then-foresight was far closer to Mr. Magoo.

They missed one minor point, of course: once obsessed, always obsessed. Or, speak softly and carry a taser and a restraining order.

Monday, May 18, 2009

One Step Closer to SNL's "All-Drug Olympics"

I don't remember who recommended this story to me for inclusion in these pages but I can't help but be appreciative. This is about as good as it gets.

A guy with glasses and a few testing vials cleared out a bodybuilding competition just by showing up. If these roid-heads were old school they would have grabbed the testing official's legs and played Wishbone.

I remember when Roid Rage was just yet another thing we came to accept from the Eastern Bloc countries and Barry Bonds (and my freshman year roommate). Now it's everywhere -- cycling, swimming, professional knitting...what a joke. I still maintain it would be more entertaining to view an entire All-Drug Olympics rather than this pansy-ass Hide and Go Seek Drug Use. If your arms are the size of fire extinguishers and your veins are nearly exploding beneath the surface of your skin, don't pretend it's just diligence and a lot of spinach that's making you look like Popeye. Let the world know you're more interested in flexing 38-inch biceps than having a fully-functioning penis or having balls larger than tic tacs. That Muscle Monthly cover posing with some bikini model is the Shiznit, idn't it?

On a side note, for anyone who watched pro wrestling -- specifically, the WWF -- and remembers Ivan Putsky, well, good for you ;-)

Monday, May 11, 2009


As if this needed to be decided by a court.

I mean...duh! Why legislate common sense? ;-)

Happy Belated Mother's Day to all the Lavish Spenders out there.

May your wallets be full (and Vuitton), your days be wonderful, your nights even better, and may you have the intelligence to stay the hell away from, excepting Israel, any Middle Eastern nation that is still rooted in the dark ages.


Friday, May 08, 2009

The Short-Cut and The Damage Done

In our online travels, we seldom get the whole truth. We get a glimmer of truth, or a slice of it, or we get a half-waxing moon of it. We never see the entire picture. And typically, depending on the source for whom we entrust to provide us with whatever fraction of truth we eventually absorb, that truth has undergone so much mutation between source and recipient that it rarely, if ever, fully resembles its own original form.

The point of this is not to tsk-tsk the internet or Rupert Murdoch's plan to start charging for online media/content and change our Internet Culture forever. Quick sidetrack: Rupert Murdoch is a self-aggrandizing tool whose grandiose, inflated self-worth is only exceeded by the excess by which he lives his daily life.

But I digress.

The real meat and potatoes of this post, if we can assume there is something worthy of consumption herein, is not to knock the system but to show how these lines of gray can randomly and subtly appear between what is black and what is white.

A very good example of this is the recently-published book by Selena Roberts on A-Rod, entitled "A-Rod: The Many Faces of Alex Rodriguez," and the subsequent fallout that she has endured courtesy of author Jason Whitlock, who has, piece by piece, torn her a new one and who has a lot of legitimate links and points in the guns he's aimed squarely at her.

First and foremost, despite the fact I am an unabashed and lifetime Yankee fan, I'm far from an A-Rod supporter. I think the guy has talent but I was thoroughly satisfied watching that talent from afar (ie Seattle, Texas, or wherever else there was an owner dumb enough to pay a guy $25 or more million a year to put up great numbers without appearing in the playoffs). So while I have respected the guy's abilities and been impressed by his consistency, I was never an A-Rod fan.

Having said all that, Ms. Roberts decided to publish her book to coincide with new allegations about A-Rod's admitted and denied steroid use. Considering that Manny Ramirez was, just yesterday, suspended for fifty games for a positive test regarding some banned substance -- who knows, thus far, what that substance is/was -- the timing of this book is interesting. And frankly, the book isn't about steroids, it's about A-Rod being shallow, plastic and phony.

Thanks for the newsflash, Ms. Roberts. Pardon my yawning, good luck with the book sales.

Put another way, I think Ms. Roberts is a bottom-feeder looking to capitalize on the cult of personality Alex Rodriguez has fomented in the New York spotlight. Sure, the guy is and should be a target of focus. He's making ungodly sums of money to do -- relatively speaking -- nothing special. Personally, I think his presence on the Yankees has adversely affected the team in a number of ways, but since this is not about baseball but about the bottom-feeders of society going after people, what he has or hasn't done for the Yankees is relatively inconsequential.

What is consequential is the fact that he did, in fact, take steroids. When, from whom and how are questions which -- if you care about the answers -- are still out there for conjecture. But let's face it -- who really cares? I'm not letting him off the hook -- I think a cheater should be punished. My take on the matter is thus: I don't know or care why he did it, I think he cheated and I have an even greater distaste for the guy than I did prior to discovering that he did, in fact, juice.

But what is even more disdainful, in my opinion, is the fact that Ms. Roberts has basically sprayed her stink over the entire story -- psycho-analyzing A-Rod, telling the tale of why he took steroids, prying up the floorboards of his legacy from high school and before, and talking about his persona as if she has a clue. To me, she not only doesn't, but the fact that she's throwing this crap onto paper and talking it up on talkshows makes it all the more irresponsible. Why? Because most of her "sources" are either anonymous or non-existent. Does this make her book worthless? No, it doesn't. Does it make it untrue. No. Does it leave her opportunistic, ambulance-chasing tactics suspect?

In a word, yes.

Jason Whitlock's piece about this whole mess sums it up fairly nicely, so I won't clutter the situation with further retelling of the whole she-wrote, he-wrote festival. If you're so inclined, head over there if you'd like a pretty concise disassembly of her whole take on this particular situation. The thing to remember is that it's not just what is in those pages of her book, it's also her credibility -- or a lack thereof -- that is at issue.

The point of this long-winded ramble is not that she's a bottom-feeding, ambulance-chasing shyster. Those descriptors may very well be accurate. The point, however, is that we as a society seem to be increasingly content being spoon-fed news and fact and we, as a society, seem to be increasingly disinterested with questioning that which is plated for our consumption. Mr. Whitlock may be far off, but the fact is that I'm more inclined to agree with his take on this situation if only because my initial reaction -- and my gut reaction -- essentially mirrors what he has to say about this whole thing. Is Selena Roberts entitled to her opinion on A-Rod, the soup of the day or whether 30 Rock is an entertaining comedy? Certainly. But should we accept the spew and take a big bite? My feeling is we shouldn't.

Incidentally, part of Mr. Whitlock's criticism of Ms. Roberts' brand of "journalism" was her characterization of the gentlemen that were involved in the Duke lacrosse scandal. Long-time HoB readers may recall my take on the matter and acknowledge I was pretty repulsed by the bandwagon effect that essentially scarred these guys for life, despite the fact they really did little, if anything, that could be described as "wrong."

The fact is that we are so amped up to rip into people, places and/or institutions that we seldom insure we have the facts. Sure, A-Rod -- eventually -- admitted he used steroids, but do we need a mean-spirited book describing him down to the last inch and giving his psyche a colonoscopy in the process? Even if it was done properly, with journalistic integrity, we don't need it. But the fact that it was done out of greed or opportunity in a shitty, low-end way, simply adds shit-flavored icing on a horseshit cake (I have the application in for the trademark on that phrase, so caveat emptor).

The point being that rather than absorb and trust as fact everything we see in print -- especially online -- we should stop and think rather than consume and react. It's interesting to me that as we debate and discuss this latest celebrity expose -- by someone whose pedigree clearly is at question -- we also have Rupert Murdoch discussing the likelihood that media will someday soon be pay-for-play.

And as the shortcuts abound, doesn't anyone care that there are increasingly frequent typos on CNN's and The New York Times' web sites? Okay, that might be pushing it (there are lots of typos, but whether some web proofer can properly spell secretary is admittedly secondary to the story disclosing that a secretary hacked her boss to death with a letter-opener and then jumped out of a tenth-floor window).

Yet again I digress.

The point being that this story -- Ms. Roberts' book about A-Rod, rather than the story of A-Rod himself -- should be looked on not as simply another example of greed and the almighty short-cut but how we as a culture can learn to cut through much of the bullshit rather than swallowing it whole. And, for Mr. Murdoch's part, knowing better than to be bothered paying for the privilege.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Got a Limp Dick? Don't Call Jim Moran

In some part, I can't argue with Virginia Lawmaker Jim Moran's suggestion that ads selling Erectile Dysfunction be banned from TV. After all, between Viagra and Cialis, my TV (and my junk folder) are relatively clogged up (although most of my junk folder is dedicated to penis enlargement, not functionality). I'm happy to state that -- to date -- I haven't found a need for either of these products (thanks to my significant other and, in the case of past "acquaintances," thanks to Cinemax) but even if I did have a use for these drugs, I wouldn't be wearing a "I'm a Viagra user and I'm happy" badge. And I sure as shit wouldn't be running around singing the "Viva Viagra" song, especially wearing a pair of Bermuda shorts and cavorting with a bunch of guys. I'd no sooner be caught wearing a shirt that says "For me, having sex is like shooting pool with a rope." In other words, if you're a loser, it's already implied; there's no need to fill a prescription or wear a shirt (or a pair of lame shorts) confirming what's already obvious.

Personally, I think the only person in the world qualified to sell Viagra, Cialis or any other wonder-schlong drug is Hugh Hefner. After all, in a relatively subtle way (ha!), Hugh's third leg has probably seen the inside of more kitty than a 100-year-old hospital's maternity ward.

Back to the ads: they are sort of irritating -- what's worse than the implied imagery of older people fucking? Seeing them breakdance naked is a close second, but doesn't quite reach the heights of the former choice. With respect to similarly irritating, obnoxious ads are falling behind the Viagra campaign. It's gotten to the point that "Mom, do you ever know...not so fresh?" is a distant, forgotten memory and these "ED" ads are now the new bane of the existence of parental watchdogs and people who don't want to hurl whilst eating a late dinner.

But to be perfectly honest, I also think that the reason why Jim Moran wants these ads blocked is because he doesn't want to be reminded that his wife secretly refers to him as Ol' Limpdick.

Your guess is as good as mine, as I don't expect Ol' Limpdick to call me back anytime soon. He's too busy watching reruns of "Sanford and Son."


Monday, May 04, 2009

Epic Futility Fail, Part 37 (aka Ex Parte Milligan)

I don't know if I'm getting older, maturing (got my pubes last month, thanQ very much!) or if I just regard my time as non waste-worthy.

This is something that has two simultaneous, effective uses, and yet -- it's about as ridiculously dumb an idea as I've come across since I talked Pauly Shore and Carrot-Top out of joining Yahoo Serious in the Shakespeare Dinner Theater production of The Tempest in Templeton, Wisconsin (the Meatloaf Shack, behind the Crab-Boil and Bowl-Til-Dawn Lanes).

These are laser-"engraved" business cards made out -- yes -- beef jerky.

Now, before I roll out a 24-case of whoop-ass cans and pop a few tabs, we all -- theoretically -- agree that business cards do serve a purpose. If you're one of the seventeen people with a home of some sort (not made of cardboard, natch) and you don't happen to have a cellphone, it's nice to be able to take a person's business card so you can a) contact him later, b) check out his company and consider doing business with him, or c) take his card and have it analyzed at a local lab for DNA evidence in the murder of your Great Aunt Gertrude by some traveling salesman who vanished in the still of the night back in Tennessee in August, 1982.

But I digress.

Everyone -- except for a bunch of people -- eat meat.

I suppose it would make lots of sense if the manufacturers of Meatcards could make zucchini jerky and laser-etch that too. And while we're on the subject, I could use some hamachi jerky.

And if they can do it, chicken jerky might be an option. And why stop at protein? Why not see about gummi-bear jerky or, for that festive feel, a peppermint candy-cane jerky? Why not make Rudolph into jerky? Nothing says the holidays like that bright, flashing nose and the taste of reindeer cooked and air-dried over a bunsen burner's flame.

Seems to me that the only real use for these things -- save really astute, knowing planning in advance of the arrival of the Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse -- would be for butchers and grocery stores to pass them out, especially as advertisements for specialty meat purveyors and suppliers.

But overall, I believe that anyone handing me one of these Meatcards would probably have me hand it back and tell them to have something more closely resembling their personality monogrammed.

Which begs the question, can douchebags be laser-etched?

There's much more stupid shit to come.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Argument for Vegan Gun-Control and Oxygen Masks

Swine flu is the latest and most compelling threat to the sanity and the sinuses of Americans from coast to coast since avian flu. Personally, I'm somewhat concerned, but whether it's because I'm stupid or too busy to be overly worried, I haven't stopped riding the subway, mingling with the masses or even being out and about.

The main thing is how and why do these things continue to evolve from the middle of nowhere -- whether Mexico, New Mexico or Queens -- and how we can somehow move past these regular threats.

The main thing to consider is that, apparently, one of the sources of this particular strain of the flu virus is a farmer who gave his pigs the bug.

This reminds me of the suggested source of HIV, the mother of all virii; apparently, it was the interaction of humans and monkeys that was its source. Then the avian flu -- and who knows where that came from -- and now the swine flu.

None of this smacks of the arrogance of Montezuma's Revenge or the biological abuse we bestowed on the American Indians (prior to the military abuse we subsequently doled out). It's in our history to absorb and interact with our environment. The problem is these post-interaction outbreaks are becoming increasingly serious. HIV is flying below the radar, but sooner or later we'll manage to foment something that will not be as forgiving.

For those who are fans of Alton Brown's excellent Food Network show "Good Eats," the term "food-borne illness" should be familiar. Thing is, and this is where our society may -- eventually -- have a serious problem, while we can avoid areas of danger -- schools, subways, Mexico, et al -- we can't stop eating (sounds like the mantra of the "before" class of Richard Simmons' self-help overeaters anonymous).

That means we have to start considering what to do in the future. That means avoiding, perhaps, peanut butter, birds, still water in urban, dirty areas, swine, Mexico, border crossings, and locations rife with immigrant activity.

That pretty much wraps up 75% of the nation.

Seems to me that if we hope to be able to breathe, consume food and not further destroy our environment a la "Druidia" from Spaceballs, then we should try learning from our mistakes rather than keep on repeating them.

Just my $0.02.