Feb 28, 2010

Død snø

So over a year ago, I had heard about a Norwegian film called Dead Snow that was making the festival rounds. It was a horror flick about a group of med students who go to a remote cabin in the Norwegian woods only to be attacked by Nazi zombies!

I was psyched to see it in the theaters, and I waited oh so patiently for it. Alas, it never made it to the theaters around here. I don't know why. It looks like it made to only three or four screens over the summer anywhere in the US. Foreign flicks really don't do well here in the States.

But when it became available on DVD here, it also became instantly available on Netflix streaming. Psyched! We watched it over the weekend and I gotta tell you...it delivered! It more than delivered.

Nazi. Fucking. Zombies! 

These were just about the craziest zombies I ever did see on screen.  Full Nazi regalia, shooting guns, using bayonets, climbing trees.  In fact, I'm not quite sure they fit the traditional film (aka Romero) definition of a zombie, but that's an argument for another day.  Bottom line...they were an awful lot of fun.

Bloody, funny, and picturesque.  It was a damn fine zombie flick. 


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. A new quiz starts tomorrow.  Ch..ch..check it out.

Feb 26, 2010

Favorite Song Lyrics

I don't know about you, but sometimes I find myself waiting patiently while I listen to a song. Waiting for that one perfect line. The entire song might be great, but I get an extra rush when I hear that one particular lyric that I love so much. So without further exposition, here are some random favorite song lyrics.  I'll try to link to the actual songs as well, so you can dig it further.

"The only thing I'll ever ask of you, ya gotta promise not to stop when I say 'when'"*
 - Everlong by Foo Fighters

*I know that it is followed by "She sang" after the pause, but I like it this way.  Seems more...exciting.

"I've always been a guy with a sweet tooth, and that girl's just like a...king-sized candy baaaar"
 - Milkshake 'n Honey by Sleater-Kinney

"And don't you just love the leader of the band? Equal parts Butthead and Peter Pan"
 - New Thing Now by Shawn Colvin

"The coffee is strong at the Cafe Du Monde, and the donuts are too hot to touch.  But just like a fool, when those sweet goodies cool, I eat till I eat way too much"
 - The Wino and I Know by Jimmy Buffett

"I must admit I felt a little uneasy when she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe"
 - Tangled Up In Blue by Bob Dylan

"Ghosts appear and fade away...come back another day"
 - Overkill by Colin Hay

"And all I do is miss you, and the way we used to be.  All I do is keep the beat...and bad company"
 - Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits

"Hear the voices in my head.  I swear to God it sounds like their snoring"
 - Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger

 "Two pints of booze, tell me are you a badfish too?"
 - Badfish by Sublime

"She was a really cool kisser and she wasn’t all that strict of a Christian"
 - Stuck Between Stations by The Hold Steady

"I got soul, but I'm not a soldier..."
 - All These Things That I've Done by The Killers

Just a quick handful there by twiddling with my iPod.  How about you? Any particular favorites you got?


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. What? No Lady Gaga?

Feb 25, 2010

Arm like a cannon, head like a cannonball

So in the wake of the Plaxico Burress self-shooting and the Gilbert Arenas locker-room showdown, Major League Baseball has decided to either enforce or implement a gun ban at all stadiums including the locker rooms. I say "enforce or implement" because it's a little vague whether or not there already was a league-wide rule or if it's just something that they are going to stress.

Either way, I can't imagine anyone would have a problem with this. You shouldn't be bringing guns to the baseball game. Not the players, not the fans, not the umpires. Leave the guns to the police, is what I always say. I know that I get patted down every single time I go to Yankee Stadium, and I don't think it's because the security guy likes what he sees. I mean, he might...but that's not why he pats me down. Nope, he's looking for weapons. And I applaud that.

Like I said, I can't imagine anyone thinking that this ban is a bad thing.

Meet Ryan Franklin, closer for the St. Louis Cardinals.

That's an epic beard you've got there, Mr. Franklin!

I dig Ryan Franklin.  I dig his intensity.  I dig his talent.  I mostly dig his beard.  But sometimes athletes should know when to shut the hell up.  In a story run by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Franklin had a few words about the new MLB policy on guns.
"If you grew up around it, being in the outdoors and stuff, I was taught as a young kid how to respect firearms," Franklin said following Saturday's workout. "First of all, you don't get stupid with it. Always treat a gun like it's loaded. That's what I taught my son and daughters. There's a place for them."
Nothing to wrong with what he had to say there.  Just plain old good sense.  But he continues.
"There are a few guys that screwed it up for everybody," Franklin said. "If it wasn't for the NFL guy a couple years ago bringing a weapon into a nightclub ... you've just got to be smart."
Screwed up what for whom?  What's he trying to say here?  That if Plaxico Burress hadn't brought a gun to that nightclub a few years ago then what?  He wouldn't have to deal with clubhouse ban on guns?  I don't get it.  

Now, this could be a bit of a hatchet job by the press.  Nowhere does Franklin specifically say that he is angry that he can't bring one of his many guns to the stadium.  You would that that the "there's a place for them" quote takes care of that situation.  Maybe he was just frustrated at being told what to do.  That's the problem a lot of the supporters of the 2nd Amendment have.  They just don't want the government to butt in on their gun fun.

But if I'm Ryan Franklin, an avid outdoorsman and and a proponent of the right to bear arms, my response to this is "Damn right!  That's good advice.  There's no need for anyone to bring a gun to work, whether it's a Pizza Hut, an office building or a baseball stadium.  That's just good old common sense.  I hate that we need rules and laws that specifically state that, but in the wake of recent events regarding guns and atheletes I can see why MLB is doing this."  End of story.

But no, now it seems like he is a bit of a gun nut who is pissed off that he can't bring his shotgun to the game with him.  I'm absolutely positive that isn't true, by the way.  I have no doubt that he was venting about gun control laws in general.  That's fine.  Just pick the right words and time and place next time, okay Big Red?

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Crash Davis would've known what to say.

Feb 23, 2010

Epic Beard Man

No...I'm not talking about that crazy, old, white coot who put a beat-down on that younger, maybe equally crazy, black dude on an Oakland bus last week. If you were anywhere near a computer last week you already know all about that crazy shit.  But if you are interested, you can read about the incident here. Or watch the original video here. Or the next video here. Or an interview with the guy here. But I won't be embedding anything to do with it here. No sirree. I'm all about love, not war.

No...I'm talking about me.  Epic Beard Earl.

OK, it's not quite epic yet, but I'm growing it longer.  Gimme a few months, will ya?

For the life of me I can't figure out why I took a picture of myself on the train to the city last week.  I mean, I wasn't even drunk or anything.  I was a little bored, but that's no excuse for self-photography.  What is this?  A Myspace page?  Sheesh!  I'll tell you what though, it's a good thing I have those sunglasses covering my eyes.  One smoldering look from my deep blue eyes would have all you ladies droppin' your panties in no time.

And you can't tell from this picture, but this is officially the longest my hair has ever been.  I just have it back in a tight ponytail.  I'm thinking of going with a new look.  Maybe pigtails.  Whaddya think?  Or the bald look.  I already have the "balding" look, so why not go for the full monty.  Suggestions are always welcome.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. I AM a Mother-Fucker!

Feb 22, 2010

Our Favorite Bartender.

Stefan Lutak was the oldest fucking bartender I ever did see. He owned and operated the Holiday Cocktail Lounge, the wonderfully dirty dive bar on St. Mark's Place in East Village. I only met the man once, and he poured me the wrong drink after a near-eternity of waiting for him to haul his old ass back behind the bar.

But he became the thing of legend for a few friends and me.  The wrong drink he poured for us has become the standard beverage for us on our nights out.  Well, for some of us.  The 15-minute wait for our drinks has become over an hour in the many re-tellings of the story of our visit to the Holiday.  The smelliest men's room ever has since become even smellier.  I don't know how that is possible.

Oddly, over the past year or so we've come to love this old man even though we've only seen him that one time.  He was that legendary to us.  And we promised ourselves that we would to back.  You know...when we had some free time to wait forever for the wrong drink.

Well, as you can probably tell by my use of the past tense in the above sentences, Stefan has passed away.  But what I didn't know is that it happened over a year ago!  I mean, he was still alive the night he served us.  I think.  But he took ill and died very shortly after our one and only visit to his bar.  Reading his obituary, however, has made us want to know the man even more.  He was a professional soccer player.  He fought with the Russians before deserting the army after the Battle of Stalingrad.  He served some famous patrons along the way including W.H. Auden, Allen Ginsberg and a certain material girl named Madonna.

Now I wish that I had found that dirty dive bar earlier.  Just to sit at the bar and watch this old man sling drinks.  Like I said, I only met him once, but I'm gonna miss him. 

photo by Joe Margolis, The Villager

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Raising a Jameson and Coke to his memory.

Feb 20, 2010

Brennan & Carr Update

It was everything I wanted it to be...and more!

We started with some wings, the call them wing dings. Breaded and extra crispy, they serve them with the hot sauce on the side. Wings are usually not my first choice when it comes to an appetizer because they are so often prepared in a way that I don't like. Too spicy, not spicy enough. Too crispy, not crispy enough. You know the drill. These were just right.

Then we each had a roast beef and cheese sammy and some cheese fries. I went with the double dip (they dip the meat in the au jus before putting it on the sammy with the cheese, then they dip the entire sammy in the juice) and my esteemed colleague went with the FNJ. The fork and knife job. That's when they prepare the sammy and pour an entire ladle-ful of the au jus directly over it. Both were given huge thumbs up.

But we weren't done. I had to try that Gargulo Burger that the dude in yesterday's video ate. A cheeseburger cooked with the au jus with some roast beef, more cheese and onions. Then the entire monstrosity is dipped back in the au jus to make it a messy delight.

So for, um, dessert we ordered one to split. Plus some more cheese fries. Ha!

This one was even better than the hot roast beef sammy. Just a great idea. And our waitress was impressed with us for bringing our big boy appetites to the game. The odd thing was that neither of us had that rundown feeling you sometimes get when you eat too much meat. Rather we hat a meat euphoria going. A moo-phoria, if you prefer.

All in all? Brennan & Carr = big fucking win!

PS - Giving credit where credit is due...moo-phoria was Water Logged Canine's concoction.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Now I probably don't need to eat for the rest of the weekend.  But I will...

Feb 19, 2010

Brennan & Carr

I'm heading here tomorrow (Friday) for lunch with a guy who smells like a wet dog.  I love this Man v. Food show, if only because he loves low-brow, down-home cuisine as much as I do.  Or at least that's how they portray his "character" on the show.  He's an actor, ya know.  Whatevs.  I just want a sopping wet roast beef and cheese sammy.  Yeah, that's two posts in a row about sandwiches.  Sue me, I've got an addiction.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. I really want that Garugulo burger too!

Feb 18, 2010

Boring Sandwiches Suck!

There are few things that give me as much joy on a day-to-day basis as a really good sandwich. I'll travel miles to find the perfect sandwich shop. A place that takes sandwiches as seriously as I do. Because making and eating sandwiches are not responsibilities I take lightly. When I make my own sandwich, there is no such thing as half-ass. Go big or go home, I always say.

Even a plain-old BLT or tuna fish sandwich can be jazzed up to the point where they become something special. Something transcendent. But you have to be careful. You can't overdo it. You have to be subtle. And if you can't be subtle, then you have to do something unexpected. Yeah. I like that.

Earl's Chipotle-Cajun BLT Sandwich
  • Fresh kaiser roll
  • High-quality, double-smoked, thick-cut bacon
  • Pickled green tomatoes
  • Iceburg lettuce
  • Chipotle cheddar cheese
  • Cajun-style remoulade
OK, this isn't too subtle, but it works.  And all you BLT purists out there who say that cheese doesn't belong anywhere near a BLT...well, you might have a point.  But we had the chipotle cheddar in the fridge and I just thought it would go well on the sandwich.  Now normally I like my BLT on toasted white or rye bread, but I wasn't making a traditional BLT here.  So a bakery-fresh kaiser roll seemed like the way to go.

The one thing you really can't skimp on here is the bacon.  Sure, all bacon is good.  But when you get your hands on some really good thick-cut bacon, you'll never want to go back to Oscar Meyer.  The pickled green tomatoes may seem like an odd choice, but the sour bite of these bad boys compliments the smoky bacon and chipotle cheddar perfectly.  Then I topped it off with a store-bought cajun-style remoulade instead of regular mayonnaise.  Perfection.

Earl's Tangy Tuna Fish Sandwich
  • Two slices toasted sourdough sandwich bread
  • 1 large can of chunk-light tuna
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 heaping tablespoons mayo
  • 1 dill pickle, diced
  • 2 pickled red chilis, diced
  • A pinch of white pepper 
I hate a boring tuna salad sandwich.  Some people will just open a can (or packet) of tuna, mix it with some mayo and slap on a boring piece of bread.  Fuck that!  First off, the bread for this sandwich is of the utmost importance.  You simply have to have some good bread for a tuna sandwich.  I like rye and whole wheat, but for me nothing can beat some nice sourdough for a tuna sammy.  And you have to toast it.  That's a deal breaker right there.  Lightly toasted to a golden brown.

For the tuna itself, you can use fancy albacore.  I guess.  But I always thought the cheaper stuff just tasted better, so call me bourgeois. Regular Hellman's mayo works just fine, but ever since I was a little kid I've added a little bit of vinegar to my tuna salad.  I've got a bit of a sour tooth, if you haven't noticed.  Then I add a diced dill pickle and some diced up pickled red chilis that we have in the fridge.  You can use pickled jalepenos or really any other pickled peppers you can find.  Just something to give the tuna salad a little heat.  Speaking of heat, that's why I use white pepper instead of black pepper.  I find it to be a little spicier.

There you have it.  Two non-standard versions of two standard everyday sandwiches.  

There really is no excuse for going half-ass on a sandwich.  Unless, of course, you are making it for someone you hate.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Dagwood's got nothing on me!

Feb 17, 2010

Snow Day

We got a bit more snow than we expected today, but it was a pleasant snow.  3-4 inches of soft white fluffiness on top of the foot and a half that we got last week.  Made everything pleasantly white and clean again.  You know how snow can look after it's been around for a few days.  All black and crappy.  Well this fixed that.

I took a walk late in the afternoon while it was coming down pretty heavily just to take a few pictures.  You can click on any of the links below to see the individual pics.  Or you can just enjoy this quick mosaic I made.

1. Up to Street Level,
2. Old Snowy Glory, - Our neighbor flies the flag even in inclement weather.
3. Mill Dam Bridge,
4. Heron Statue, - Around 20 feet tall. Very nice!  Celebrating the local herons who nest here.
5. The "Ross" Ice Shelf, - The harbor has had this ice floe for about a month now. You can see the change in gray color on the water that shows where it is.  But since the tides are so extreme here it never fully ices over.
6. Upper Harbor,
7. Birdbath behind bushes,
8. Smuttynose Winter - All that hiking through the snow made me thirsty.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. All the snow angels are doing it.

Feb 16, 2010

Old Hoss

So some of you might know that I don't do Twitter. I have an account, sure. I even "follow" 6 or 7 people, but I don't have it linked to my phone so I rarely remember to check it. I just don't get Twitter. It's something that just doesn't interest me at all.

That being said, my absolute favorite Twitter feed comes from Charley "Old Hoss" Radbourn. The dude who is writing his tweets and twats and whatnot is hysterical.  A bit of 2010 commentary with 1880's sensibility.  He even sponsors his own page on Baseball-Reference. 
Gaze below at the statistical flibberdigab that supposedly represent the greatness that was my career. But these numbers are useless: there are no columns for pints consumed, harlots bedded, or blades brandished.
What a scoundrel!

Old Hoss was a pitcher for the Providence Grays, Boston Beaneaters (how did that name not stick?), Boston Reds and Cincinnati Reds from 1881-1891.  He pitched what is arguably the greatest season by a pitcher ever in 1884 with the Grays, going 59-12 with a league-leading 1.38 ERA.  A lot of baseball folks don't pay much attention to stats prior to 1900, but a win is a win.  And Old Hoss had more of them in one season than anyone else ever!

But Old Hoss' greatest contribution to our culture?  He was the first guy ever photographed flipping the bird

It's a little small and grainy, but there it is.  Old Hoss giving the business to the photographer.  Or is that a copy of a daguerreotype?  Hmm.

Oh yeah, pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training this week.  That sound you hear?  My sigh of contentment.  Like a big cat purring.

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. The Charley Horse may have been named after him too.  How cool is that?

Feb 15, 2010

The Apple

Note: Today's post is part of a writing challenge thrown down by RW last week. 1,600-1,700 words on an old man eating an apple.  That's it.  No winners or losers, just a study to see what different minds in the same bloggy circle are gonna write about on the same topic.  Mine came in at exactly 1,647 words.  Enjoy...or don't.  Whatever.

It was his morning ritual, the apple. Had been ever since he was a young man, preparing to do the things that young men do. After shaking the night from his head he would take his knife and his apple and have a look out the window. Try to picture what life was gonna throw at him that day. Preparing his defenses.  It was his way of looking forward, but today his heart was in the past.

What he did, when he was a young man, was box. Pretty damned good at it too. He surprised his folks when he took it up as a teenager. He never won any titles, none that had the word “world” in ‘em, anyway. But he had what some would call a journeyman’s career, and that’s a lot more than some of the guys who he came up with had.

He was around twelve when he first laced up his gloves at the neighborhood Y. He and his buddy, Tawny, had gone into the gym looking for work. Maybe sweep up the place or run errands or whatever. He didn’t really care. Told Tawny that it was all about the cash, but in his heart he wanted to be in that ring.

His uncle had been an amateur boxer with the Navy during the war, and he had heard all the stories about the night he took on the Army champ and fought him to a standstill even though the GI had forty pounds on him. He said he lost by a close decision, but he always talked about that day with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. Said it meant more to him that he took everything the bigger man had than whether or not he actually won the fight. Almost seemed like he believed it too.

His folks hadn’t been too happy with him the first time he came home with a swollen jaw and a broken nose. He was fourteen and they weren’t nearly as thrilled with his uncle’s “war stories” as he was. So the rest of his training was done on the sly, and he made sure not to get hit in the head quite so much. Well, he tried at least.

After finishing school he joined the Navy just like his uncle had to fight for his country during a war. But Korea was a lot different than the Pacific campaign had been during WWII. He had been a part of the USS Toledo’s third combat tour in late ’52 and early ’53. The Toledo was a heavy Cruiser that spent a lot of time supporting the carriers out of Task Force 77 and occasionally engaging in some shore bombardment during that time. It never seemed particularly dangerous to him, but some would disagree.

When the Korean conflict ended in the summer of 1953, he was transferred to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard where he worked on the re-conditioning of the carrier USS Shangri-La. He also worked on his jab and his upper cut. He found that the 15-20 pounds of muscle that he had put on since joining the Navy combined with his natural quickness made him one tough sonuvabitch in the boxing ring. And he won a whole lot more than he lost against mostly bigger fighters.

He went to Philadelphia after his release from the Navy when one of his buddies mentioned he knew a trainer that could help him turn pro. It took him a few years of hard work, but he turned pro early in 1959 with eight straight wins. He was on his way up on the junior circuit and he had a few eyes on him from the big promoters on both coasts.

In fact, he came this close to having a fight against Floyd Patterson set up in late ’60 or early ’61. He was young and on the rise and Patterson had just lost the heavyweight belt to Ingemar Johansson at Yankee Stadium the year before. A rematch was set for June 1960 at the old Polo Grounds and a lot of folks expected Patterson to lose again. The big Swede had put him down seven times in the third round of their first fight, after all. So this one promoter had the idea to pit him against Patterson after he lost to Johansson again. A fight to get the ex-champ back toward his winning ways, maybe.

But Patterson wound up beating Johansson in that second bout. Beat him again in the rubber match in ’61. And while Patterson’s career was back on the upswing, his own had taken a dramatic turn toward obscurity late in 1960. He had what he thought was gonna be a tune-up fight against Sammy Koch, an old pug who spent more time in Providence gin mills than at the gym. Sammy had a mean streak and was known to throw an elbow in the clinch when he was down. And he was mostly down. Poor conditioning and a glass jaw will do that to a fighter.

Every once in a while, however, even a bad fighter got lucky. Koch had opened up a gash over his right eye in the very first round with a carefully placed head butt or elbow, and he spent the next three rounds jabbing his left fist directly into that wound. He never even saw the left hook that ended his winning streak and the fight in the fifth round.

It took him a long while to get up off the mat.

For the next five years he took whatever fights he could get. He was determined to get back on the national scene, but it was an uphill struggle for a guy who had lost so badly to a bum. He never did get a shot at any title, and he never was up for a big purse. But he kept fighting and he kept winning, mostly.

Now that he looks back he realizes that those five years did more to shape the man he would become than any other time in his life. He took everything that was thrown at him and he kept going. He kept coming back for more. That’s what life was about outside of the ring.

In 1966 he was on the wrong side of thirty and it was all he could do to get a Friday night club fight that would pay him a couple of hundred dollars if he was lucky. He knew he still had the talent and the drive to fight at Madison Square Garden, but no one was giving him a chance to really show what he could do. So he did what most fighters couldn’t bear to think of at that point in their careers. He hung ‘em up.

An old friend from the Navy had approached him about joining his construction company in upstate New York. He was always good with his hands and he was tired of fighting for the rent. Not that construction was any easier, at first. He had to learn from the ground up from a bunch of kids who had cared more their draft number than their craft. So he had to work extra hard to keep up for a while. He lost a few bouts and he got knocked down a few times, but he took everything that was thrown at him and he kept going.

Marie was the main reason he kept going in those days. She was an Italian girl from the Bronx who had gone to university outside of Albany before getting a job as a bookkeeper at his buddy’s construction company. They were married by 1969 and they had a son the very next year. The apple of his eye, he thought as he looked down at his morning ritual.

Dominic was everything that he never was. A good student and an even better man. He loved that kid like nothing he had ever loved in his life before. Life wasn’t easy, but he did everything he could to provide for that kid and his mother. When the construction company closed its doors in 1979 he took on three jobs just to bring home half of what he had been in the years before. He didn’t mind. He just took everything that was thrown at him and he kept going.

Dom joined the Navy just like his old man after school, even though his folks had wanted him to go to college. That was one fight he never had a chance of winning. But Dom was real smart and he was gonna be a Naval pilot. His boy, flying planes. He was so proud. It took everything he had left inside of him to keep going when Marie got the call from his commanding officer about the training accident that ended his boy’s life.

It took him a long while to get up off the mat.

Those were the worst times. He had his morning apple and left for work each day leaving behind a heartbroken woman and the thoughts of what could have been. It wasn’t much of a life, but it was what he was used to. He had spent his entire life taking what was thrown at him and he didn’t know anything else to do but to keep going. Even when Marie got sick of the cancer that eventually took her life last year. He just kept on going. What else was there to do? Not because it would have been what she wanted or because maybe his son would have wanted it. He did it because it was what he had always done.

He wiped a single tear from his eye with his shirt sleeve, and he looked down at the apple in his hand.

All that was left was the core.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. I've been watching a lot of boxing documentaries lately...can ya tell?

Feb 12, 2010

The Truth Was Out There

Last night I watched the latest episode of Human Target. It's quickly becoming one of my favorite shows. The ending, in particular, to last night's episode was just so much fun. Something right out of a film noir private detective/tough guy flick. I was also juiced to see a couple of guest stars* who had previously been on The X-Files. Kristen Lehman (the Invisigoth from "Kill Switch") and William B. Davis, the Cigarette Smoking Man himself. So much fun!

*OK, the asterisk "footnote" in the middle of a blog post is an homage to baseball writer and blogger Joe Posnanski. He does it all the time on his site. So much so that he has even named it a Posterisk. Yeah. Anyway, I really dig the geek-pandering that is going on with the guest stars on this show.  Besides The X-Files, we have also had actors from Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Smallville, Lost and those Stargate shows.  Now it's something I look for every week.

"Kill Switch" was one of my favorite episodes from The X-Files, by the way.  Besides starring the lovely Kristen Lehman and an appearance by the Lone Gunmen, it was written by cyber-punk legend William Gibson.  It had to do with some technology developed to shut down an Artificial Intelligence that could shoot frickin' laser beams from the frickin' sky. So much fun!

OK...she doesn't look so hot here, but believe me...

I always loved those smartly-written filler episodes of The X-Files.  Nothing to do with the long-term story arc of chasing down Mulder's little green men.  And it wasn't even quite like the "monster of the week" episodes that, honestly, made up the bulk of the show.  They kind of felt like those one-shot issues of the comic-books I used to love back in the early 1990's.  Something that Garth Ennis or Neil Gaiman or Jamie Delano would write in between the longer story arcs on their respective titles. 

But whatever kind of episode it was, filler, "monster of the week" or long-term story, The X-Files was just about as entertaining as it got in the 90's.  It was an era-defining show.  The Lost of the previous decade, one could say. 

Did you want to believe?

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Trust No One.

Feb 11, 2010

Google what?

So as if they haven't already got their hands on everything that is anything on the Internet, it looks like Google is looking to take on Twitter. I guess.

I have a Gmail account. I don't really use it all that often, but I have one. I think I needed to set one up to use Google's file sharing system. I forget what the actual name of it was, but it has since gone the way of Sega. Then I had to switch my Blogger account from my old email account to a Gmail account. That confuses me because I still log in using my old email account, but my Gmail account is the one that Blogger uses. Whatevs.

So once in a blue moon I check my Gmail account to make sure no one I know is using it by mistake. 8 times out of 10 there isn't any activity on it.  But I noticed a new feature under my Inbox the last time I checked it. Something called Buzz. I ignored it because, well...it didn't interest me. I thought it was gonna be buzz-worthy news topics or something, even though it made no sense that the link would be on my mail page.  Again...whatevs.

Then today I saw an article about Google Wave.  About how it is gonna be a new social networking device that could eventually compete with Twitter. Why on Earth would anyone want to do that?  Well, I guess Facebook stole MySpace's thunder recently, so maybe Google thought they could buy in on the act by taking on Twitter.  Except there is this automatic set-up that uses your address book to start you on your list of who you follow.  Sounds like some privacy nightmares, if you ask me...or her.  One final time...whatevs.

Anyone using Google Buzz out there?  How about Google Wave?  Aren't they kinda the same thing?  Am I the one one who feels like getting high after digesting those brand names?  Is the drive-thru at Taco Bell still open?  These are all valid questions. 


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Are any of the cool kids are doing it?

Feb 10, 2010

Spreading the wealth...

...with a little link love.

  • Go here and do this.  My story is gonna involve the old man eventually making love to that apple in an uncomfortable place.  And I'm not talking about the back seat of a Volkswagen.  OK, maybe it won't be about that.  Tune in to find out.
  • I've been looking at this picture for a while now.  And it just keeps on fascinating me more and more.  Here's what I know: The man with the pipe is John Muir.  He is a naturalist who founded the Sierra Club way back when.  The glacier is named after him. So is he the "Father of the Glaciers" or is that the name of the humongous snowman?
  • We don't just do it in the comments section of our own blogs.  We like to spread the love.
  • Check out the new kitty!  No...it's not ours.  But Gia wants another one.  We'll see who wins that particular battle of wills.
  • I can't do this.  I always get mixed up with who was President directly before and after Martin Sheen. 
  • Were you a fan of NFL Films?  Then this is a must-read for you, my friends. 
Gonna go watch Lost now.  Bye bye.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. See how giving I am?

Feb 9, 2010

Stuff bullets

I have a bunch of stuff in my notepad I keep on my PC desktop.  Stuff I need to get done, stuff to tell Gia about, stuff to blog about.  And the last stuff pile keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.  Mostly because I'm lazy and new, um, stuff keeps coming up all the time.  Distracting me from the other stuff.  Well, there is only thing to do in this situation.

A bullet post.  With stuff!
  • The Chicago-style hot dogs we made for the Super Bowl were just perfect, in case anyone was wondering.  The bacon-infused rye was wonderful too, but maybe I didn't use the right kind of bacon.  Because while the flavor was smoky and sweet and smooth, it didn't really have a strong enough bacon aroma for my liking.  I found a recipe from a bar in Toronto called the Hoof Cafe that I'm gonna try next.  They actually drop the cooked bacon and the grease into the rye and let it infuse for 3 whole days.  Maybe those Canadians know what they are doing after all.  Maybe not.
  • I finally got a chance to sit down and watch The Hurt Locker last week.  I've been a fan of Jeremy Renner for a while now, but he was absolutely brilliant in this flick.  I don't know how "real" it is, but this was one powerfully brutal flick.  Well deserving of all the praise and awards that are being heaped on it.
  • So there is this robot, a box is all it is really, that's sole purpose is to re-sell itself on eBay every couple of weeks.  It was created by an artist named Caleb Larsen who dubbed it "A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter".  It was last sold for $6,350 a week ago so it will be back on sale soon.  This, um, thing keeps skipping from one owner to another and all it does is re-sell itself once it finds its temporary home.  You still don't get it, do you? It'll find you! That's what it does! It's ALL it does! You can't stop it! It'll wait for you!  Oh...sorry.  Wrong robot.
  • I'm one of those guys that has the news on in the background while I am working and playing.  So I hear it, but sometimes I don't process it.  Like the story about Sarah Palin writing crib notes for her "tea party" speech on her own hand like she was cheating on a High School History exam.  I heard it, but I thought someone was just making a joke.  I mean, there is no way she would be caught doing something obvious like that, right?  Wrong.  My favorite part is how she crossed out budget on her own hand.  Way to stay in the news, Sarah!
  • A while back, RW wrote a little something on his blog about Charles Bukowski.  Hank, if you prefer.  A helluva writer, he was also pretty famous for being one of those legendary drinkers you're always hearing about.  Got me to thinking about which legendary drinker I would have loved to have spent an evening with at the pub.  Hank Williams.  Ernest Hemingway.  W.C. Fields.  John Barrymore.  Oliver Reed.  There's a lot to choose from.  I'd probably pick my grandfather.  Never met the man.  He died before a few years before I was born.  But he was a legendary drinker with a capital L, if one were to believe the tall tales.  I betcha some of those more famous legendary drinkers have grand-kids that would have loved to known them better as well.  I really not trying to be maudlin here.  It wasn't really the drink that killed him.  Well, not just the drink.  I just think it would have been a hoot to hang out with the dude.
  • Speaking of legendary drinking, I wish I was down in New Orleans today for the parade honoring the Saints for their Super Duper win on Sunday.  I'm sure Bourbon Street will be rockin' and rollin' the way they do.  Gonna be a bit crazy though.  Being the week before Fat Tuesday and all, Mardi Gras is gonna be a sight to behold this year, I'm tellin' ya! But instead, it's time to dust off my most favorite video ever. Clint Maegdan and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band doing their version of The Kinks song "Complicated Life".

PS - For those counting (Slyde), this is the fourth time I've posted this video here.  But it's been over a year, so...

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Get yourself to Preservation Hall.  It's one of those magic places that you often hear about.

Feb 8, 2010

Hugo Challenge Update - month 1

OK, so I'm a month into my Hugo Award challenge for 2010, and I'm not doing as well as I had hoped. I had originally challenged myself to read 29 Hugo Award-winning books twelve months.  Just the winners that I hadn't read before.  Upon further examination I was able to reduce it by one book as I had already read Startide Rising by David Brin.  I had merely forgotten about it until I saw the cover at the local library.  So 28 is the new magic number.  And I'm going to have to pick up the pace a little to achieve my goal as it's one month down and I've only read two of the offerings.  The Forever War and Forever Peace, both by Joe Haldeman. 

On to the quick reviews.

The Forever War was a fantastic book, and a great starting point for this journey.  The scope of the tale is tremendous as it follows the life of soldiers fighting in a war against a race of aliens that takes place over the course of thousands of years.  The relativistic nature of space travel means that decades and centuries were passing on earth while these soldiers were traveling to distant star systems via collapsers, a sort of black hole that allows travel between two distant points in the galaxy instantaneously.  The near-light travel to and from these collapsers is the reason for the time disparity. 

The broad changes in humanity over this expanse of time were unexpected and extraordinary.  Sexual politics, gene modification, cloning and the development of a super-conscience were just a part of it.  All in the name of a war that is eventually found to have been started and perpetuated without significant justification.  Sound familiar?  Well that was kind of Haldeman's point. The author was a veteran of the war in Vietnam and it reflects his experiences there.  Quite a few analysts have compared it to Heinlen's Starship Troopers even though the soldiers in Haldeman's universe were conscripted into war by virtue of their IG and genetic profile while Heinlein wrote about the virtues of volunteers and public service.  I haven't read Heinlein's book yet, but it's on my list so I 'm looking forward to it.

Forever Peace is a kind of a sequel to The Forever War, but it focuses on a terrestrial conflict very early on in the war and it takes place much closer to the present day.  So it's not a direct sequel, but it takes place in the same fictional future.  This one focuses on a war between two international armies on Earth fought on one side by soldierboys.  Remote controlled robots driven by human mechanics safely hidden miles away from the conflict.

The soldiers, and certain civilians, are jacked-in.  Connected to each other through surgically implanted jacks in the back of their skulls.  This allows for greater communication and dexterity during combat.  It also allows for much greater intimacy between any group of people jacked together.  An obvious extrapolation of the process is to use it for sex, and there is an entire black market industry that revolves around it.  But the theme of the book is the idea that peace can eventually be attained by humanity by jacking together for a long enough period of time.  The very idea of violence would become abhorrent once you've walked a mile in everyone else's shoes, so to speak. 

It took me a while to get into Forever Peace, but once I was in I was hooked.  Took me about two weeks to read the first 50 pages and a night and a half to read the next 300 or so.  Written it 1997, it predicted the fears of some that a large particle accelerator (like the Large Hadron Collider) could have an apocalyptic effect on the universe.  The conflict between the "terrorist" group hoping to shut it down and the "Enders" who embraced the universal re-start button with religious fervor was deftly handled and extremely enjoyable.

I would highly recommend both of these novels.  Each a look at future warfare from slightly different points of view.

Next up: The Dispossessed by Ursala K. LeGuin and The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge. 

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Forever and ever, amen.

Feb 6, 2010

Bacon, Rye and Chicago-style Dogs

So last night I was cooking up some bacon that I had bought a few days earlier. Didn't want it to go bad in the fridge, ya know. Made a nice low-brow meal of some BLTs and some spicy, vegetable risotto for us on a cold and supposedly snowy Friday evening. I say "supposedly" because the huge snowstorm that hit most of the East Coast missed us entirely. I'm jake with that. No shoveling for me.

Since I was gonna have all that lovely, smokey bacon fat I decided to make a batch of baconized whiskey. I used Rye this time just because. Just for scuzz. It tends to come out a bit sweeter than bourbon and it has this crazy smoky ice tea aroma when it is all said and done. Weird, right?

See that missing liquid at the top of the bottle?  I guess that got soaked up by the bacon fat because it's about an ounce of booze that just disappeared.  I usually infuse the whiskey for about 5-6 hours when I do this, but for this batch I let it rest overnight, around 15 hours, to try to get a stronger bacon vibe.  We'll give it a taste tomorrow before the Super Bowl.  Daytime whiskey drinkin', y'all!

Oh, and what are we having during the Super Bowl?  I'm glad you asked.  We are having these:

I kid Chicago because I love Chicago.  And one of the things I love most about Chicago are Chicago-style hot dogs.  Doesn't that look good?  I ordered the hot dogs, buns, relish, peppers, mustard and celery salt directly from Vienna Beef's website.  They were delivered yesterday in a freezer pack looking fresh and wonderful like an angry newborn baby.  Huh, what?

Anyway, why Chicago-style hot dogs for a game involving teams from Louisiana and Indiana?  Why not?  It's not like I really care either way about the game.  I guess I want the Saints to win, but if they don't I'll still sleep fine.  Especially with a tummy full of Bacon Rye, beer and hot dogs.

Have a super Super Sunday everyone!


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Go Saints!

Feb 5, 2010

Make me laugh, clown!

I don't shop at Walmart. I've never even been in one of them.  Not because of the people who shop there or because of the company's conservative-leaning politics

It used to be because they were a thing of Middle America.  They just didn't exist on Long Island.  But now they are here and I've still never been in one.  I guess because in my mind there is really no difference between a Target, a Kmart, a Walmart or any other national "buy it all here" chain.  I really don't go to Target or Kmart either, but that's mostly because I hate people.  Isn't it easier to shop online and avoid humanity?

But the new Walmart commercial is the thing of legends!  Or nightmares.  Yeah, definitely nightmares.  So Kramer...are you still afraid of clowns?


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Those kids are never gonna be the same.

Feb 4, 2010

Human Target

When I heard that FOX would be adapting a version of Human Target (a comic book character created by Len Wein and Carmine Infantino back in the early 1970's) I was mildly interested. I didn't really need another weekly television series to get involved with, but I plugged it into the DVR anyway.  Just for shits and giggles.

Then I watched the first three episodes last Wednesday when nothing else was going on, and I hate to say it but I think I'm hooked.  It's got a few things going for it so far.
  • I dig the premise.  An episodic case study of a bodyguard/private investigator who impersonates the intended victim in order to draw out the killers.  The murky and intriguing background of the character only adds to the fun.
  • Jackie Earle Haley.  I am so digging this cat's reincarnation as a fun character actor.  He plays a wildcard hired gun named Guerrero in this series and he is about as dangerous as they come.  My favorite bit with him so far was in the first episode when a couple of hired thugs came to rough him up.  The way he, um, dissuaded them was just about as cool as it gets on network programming.  I think I would enjoy watching this guy eat soup.  He's THAT good!
  • The rest of the cast and the guest stars.  This show seems to have a very genre-specific casting director, because through three episodes I've already counted three actors from Battlestar Galactica, one from Firefly/Serenity and Danny Glover.  Huh, what?  Yeah...Danny Glover showed up in the pilot for a brief cameo for some weird reason.  The lead turns by Mark Valley (Fringe) and Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies) only add to the good times.
Yeah, it's a fairly mindless bit of fluff.  But it's entertaining and harmless, and sometimes that's all I need from a television program.

Mr. Jackie Earle Haley as Guerrero.  Respect!

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. One more reason to watch TV.  Yeah, I need that like another hole in my head.

Feb 3, 2010

From Paris with...Cheese?

I've watched John Travolta's career with almost equal parts dread and fascination. While he's been wonderful in some great movies like Pulp Fiction, Blow Out, Get Shorty or The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (don't judge me!), he also has a ridiculously growing list of ridiculously horrible films on his resume.  I was thinking about that while watching a trailer for his newest film, From Paris with Love.

It looks truly awful.

Travolta is be-decked in his patented bad-guy clothes, even though he supposedly plays an American spy attempting to prevent a terrorist act. Spouting manic genre-specific dialogue while blowing up speeding cars with rocket launchers.  He might be "too old for this shit!", if ya know what I mean.  I can't even begin to describe how awful this film looks, even though it's based on a story written by Luc Besson...who I kinda dig.

Or you can judge for yourself by watching the red-band trailer for it down below.  It's chock-ful of Travolta chewing up the scenery.

OK, all that is bad enough, right?  Then I saw another commercial for it a few days ago.  One that, for some reason, I can't find right now to embed.  And frankly, I'm kinda tired of this subject already so I will just describe it.  The commercial ends with Travolta's character handing a bag of fast food over to the other guy saying this line:
Every man has his vices.  My vice?  A Royale with Cheese.
I shouldn't have to tell anyone what movie they are referencing there, but Quentin Tarantino is rolling over in his grave right now.  Wait?  He's not dead.  Are you sure?  Have you seen a picture of him lately?  Looks pretty dead to me.

Anyway, I've heard that there are a few surprise scenes in this film that they HAVEN'T shown in any trailer yet.  Stuff that is gonna blow everyone's brains all over the back seat of the car!
  • Travolta is gonna stop some of the terrorists by staying on that mechanical bull longer than anyone!  "Anyone" may or may not be played by Scott Glenn. 
  • At one point Travolta is gonna lose the terrorists during a car chase when he sees Kirstie Alley walking her toddler down the sidewalk.  The baby, voiced by Bruce Willis, will tell him that the terrorists "went thataway!"
  • When asked by his partner in the film why he shaved his head, Travolta will jokingly replied "Because people kept messin' with ma hair. Ya know.  I would work on ma hair for a long time and people would have to go and hit it.  They hit ma hair!"
  • Travolta and  Jonathon Rhys Meyers will fly off at the end of the film on a beautifully restored classic car that Travolta, for some reason, keeps describing as "hydro-matic".
 Gonna go watch Lost now.  Bye!


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Maybe he will take somebody's face...off.

Feb 2, 2010

The Finger

So this probably isn't a story anywhere but in New York or south Florida, but the media here is killing this story so I figured I would weigh in.  Rex Ryan, the head coach of the NY Jets, was in Miami this past weekend attending an MMA fight.  He took some time to get interviewed by the local talent, and, as Rex Ryan does, he started some shit.  With a big old smile on his face, he told the Miami Dolphin fans in attendance that the Jets were gonna beat them twice next year.

A little good-natured ribbing, right?  Well, some of the Dolphin fans began heckling him so he flipped them the bird in response.  No big deal, right?  Wrong.

The media, led by WFAN's Mike Francesa and the local papers, have been making way too much of a mountain out of this particular molehill.  They were calling for apologies and fines as Ryan represents our fair city and the NFL.  They said that whatever goodwill he earned this year by getting the Jets to the AFC Championship Game in his rookie season was erased by this class-less gesture.  They say that this is just another symptom in Ryan's pathological arrogance.

I think "they" are full of shit!

Do they really think Jets fans are gonna be upset because their head coach gave a bunch of Dolphins fans the finger?  C'mon...as we speak they are building an altar for the guy!  Have any of these media types actually met an NFL fan, particularly a Jets fan?  Apparently not, because it's actions like this that cements their love for their portly head coach.  Not their disdain.

I can't stand the media's attempts to glamorize the NFL.  It's a bunch of really strong, really fast guys beating the crap out of each other each week, and that's it.  Sure...it's entertaining, and there is some strategy involved.  But brute force is the name of the game, and no amount of "class" is gonna change that.

I'm a fan of the NFL.  I don't love it like I love baseball, but I'm a fan.  And occasionally, I'm slightly embarrassed to be a fan.  Especially when I really think about what's going on down there in the trenches, and the long-term affect it is having on some of these guys.  But one thing I never do is put the game up on some ridiculous pedestal that can be shamed by a brash coach flipping the bird to his team's rival's fans.

It's football.  Not the ballet.  Get over it.

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. I hate Mike Francesa with a passion.

Feb 1, 2010

Quick reminder

A brand new month, a brand new trivia challenge.  Limpy managed to eke out a victory last month over me in a highly-contested duel of half-wits.  See what the rest of you can do...what with your fully functioning brains and all.  Sheesh!

Also, be sure to leave some suggestions in the comments here for Wednesday topics. 


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Be there and be square.

Smashed Pumpkin

The Smashing Pumpkins became hugely popular right around the time that I was most into new music. And the type of music that they played was exactly the type of music I was generally listening to in the early 1990's. I think I even saw them play in a bar after they released their debut album in 1991.

But something never clicked. A lot of my friends dug them, and I tried. I really tried. I bought some of their albums. Siamese Dreams. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. But it was all just for show. Because I never really...got them. Ya know?

I mean, their songs would play on the radio and my first reaction would be to turn that shit up. And then it would all just go to shit and I never figured out why. Then the other day I heard "Cherub Rock" on XM Radio and the same thing happened. I cranked it up. I love the beginning of "Cherub Rock"! But then Billy Corgan started singing and it hit me.

I can't stand Billy Corgan.

I mean, I don't know the guy personally and I can appreciate a certain amount of talent on his part. But I hate his singing. It ruins every single song that they have ever recorded. I'm sure I'm in the minority with this opinion, judging by the band's album sales and loyal following. But I really just can't stand his singing style.

Check out "Cherub Rock" below and see what you think. It starts out strong and then it all goes to crap.  And that's pretty much how it goes for all of their songs.  For me, at least.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. And he kinda looks like a douche.  Right?