Friday, October 31

The Friday Hot Sheet

As we reach the end of another busy autumn week, there's a certain chill in the air that reminds us that no matter where we live, an almost inescapable environmental change is nearly upon us, one that affects almost everything we will do on a daily basis for the next few months.

Because now when you head into the department stores and the gas stations, you're starting to notice the first hints of Christmas decorations going up. Earlier and earlier every year, the creeping of flashing lights and tinsel being wrapped around streetlight poles starts to change the entire outlook of the area, bringing with it a certain sort of bitterness among everyone around you -- a bitterness that will surely melt into warmth when the holiday gets closer, but now only seems to spell the spending of more money and the annoyance that comes when that one co-worker of yours starts wearing in those awful sweaters with the Christmas characters bedazzled onto the front of them.

Let’s get something straight here -- I love Christmas. But the corporate Christmas marketing season and the sheep-like people who fall under its spell a full 3-4 weeks before Thanksgiving are a living hell that tends to add a level of cheap-stink to the whole thing that seems to get worse every season.

So before I get roped into being a Secret Santa -- here are this weeks risers and fallers, and the buzz as it looks from here.
HalloweenI don’t know exactly why -- but I’m sorta not into it as much this year. Oh sure I’ve done some events with my son and made sure that he’s got all he needs to have a good time, but for whatever reason this year I can’t help but notice that I’ve been slack on getting a pumpkin to carve, and have all but dragged my feet when it comes to getting a costume. I mean, Halloween parties at Endo are always insane, and even if that weren’t the case – what’s more fun than getting a great costume together and having fun with your friends? And yet it’s just not gotten to me the same way it usually does this year. Part of it I think is financial, because money is really tight lately, leaving me unable to dig in with both heels the way I’d like to – but I also think there’s something at work here where despite the fact that "Halloween party" means two very different things to each of us -- it seems like at a certain point there’s an invisible pull to sorta hand things like this off to your kids. To make sure you’re fully prepared to put in the time on their behalf, even if the cost is your own direct enjoyment of the thing. I’ll still watch a couple of horror movies and stuff, but the thing I’ve put the most time into this year is making sure he has plenty of safe places to trick or treat. I don’t know -- maybe next year will be better.
 
Zack and Miri
Make a Porno
Despite the overwhelming blitz of advertising for this film (which in itself is usually a bad sign) I find it really odd that there seems to be a real effort on the hand of the studio behind this to make sure that Kevin Smith’s name isn’t associated with it. I know Seth Rogan’s the more marketable commodity right now, but it sorta feels like the advertisers are worried what people might do if they find out that Smith actually directed the thing (or worse yet, wouldn't mind if audiences simply assumed Judd Apatow did it). All that being said – judging from the commercials, the whole thing just looks kinda thrown together, which is always a bad sign. Because what that means is it’s more likely to be filled more of the things Kevin Smith and Seth Rogan tend to rely on when they get lazy – Gross-out humor and people sitting around smoking while they make esoteric Star Wars references. Then you start seeing commercials with Rogan in hockey gear, and it starts to feel like Chasing Amy all over again. Here’s the thing – the best thing about a Kevin Smith movie is the way the discussions between the characters tend to make you think about a given issue. But the worst part about any Kevin Smith movie is the fact that the characters talk too much and nothing ever really happens. Add to that the whole point of the plot seems to be Seth Rogan getting naked and sleeping with Elizabeth Banks, and you’ve got a climax (no pun intended) that doesn’t really sound all that appealing. I’m sure it will have a good opening weekend, but I’ll betcha anything it gets bad word of mouth afterwards and fades a lot quicker than the star or the director hopes it will (at which point Kevin Smith will go on a lot of talk shows and chide us all for not being smart or liberated enough to “get it”).
 
My weight
loss struggles
I haven’t been to the gym in a week, and the results are starting to show up on the scale. There was a period there where I was going 3-5 days a week, pushing hard and thinking I was getting into the swing of it, even though I wasn’t really noticing much progress at all. I got curious about this about a week ago, thinking maybe I was doing something wrong. That’s when I came across a few different sources that basically said the things that I was doing the most of were really not effective at all. I read experts telling me to pay more attention to BMI, but then when I did the math it became completely clear that according to that scale, the only way I’d ever stop being "obese" is if I grow 9 inches taller or lop off one of my legs. The end result of all this was me getting really frustrated and just blowing off the gym altogether. I know I have to get back in there, but my main thing now is to find a better way of working out, so I’m not just going in circles. Unfortunately, there’s just so much crap out there – that it’s hard to find even a comprehensive weight training plan that doesn’t sound like it’s a snake oil deal.
 
CrossbowsThe other day I was in a sporting good store with my son looking primarily for a new set of dumbbells for me to use at home. But of course, in a place like that there’s always tons of stuff to look at, so once I was done we went wandering around. They had a little fake putting green at the golf section, so we hit a ball around. There’s a little fake track by the shoe section, so we ran a few races (much to the disapproval of the guy behind the counter). But then when we got to the hunting section where all the guns and plastic deer targets with arrows sticking out of them were on display, my son’s mood changed a little. He asked me if I’d ever gone hunting and killed an animal. I told him I hadn’t (which is true), which seemed to lift his spirits a little. Despite growing up on a farm, My dad was never really into hunting as far as I can tell. To be totally honest, I’m not even really sure if faced with the opportunity that I could take a kill shot on a hunting trip. All that being said – I’ve never really had a problem with the idea. As long as you’re respectful of your quarry, honorable in your methods, and safe in your practices – it’s no crueler to animals now than it was in the days when it was a method for finding food. But that doesn’t mean my eyes didn’t light up when we turned the corner and ended up in the archery aisle and found myself face to face with an honest-to-goodness crossbow. Man -- those things are awesome. I’m not really a gun guy per se, but I would honestly love having one of these to target shoot with.
 
Gas PricesFurther proof that I have absolutely no idea how the international financial markets work, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find prices at the pump that have been under $2.50. I’m not one to complain, but I’m not really sure how this happened. Aren’t we in like the biggest financial crisis in history? Aren’t we still at war with two large middle eastern oil-producing nations? I know my bank account is essentially empty, and my 401k took a big dive – so it’s sort of confusing to me that this of all things has become a bit more affordable lately. Hopefully it will last.
 
Being an IdiotSpeaking of things that are affordable, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve opened up iTunes to download music at $.99 cents a song, racked up a few dollars in charges, and then started searching for something that ends up being too esoteric, old, or local for iTunes to have – which leads me to opening up my Torrent download application and searching for it, at which point I realize that once again I’ve forgotten that all the things I pay for online (regardless of how cheap) can easily be found for free. Sure it might take a little more time to find everything, but the possible savings I keep forgetting to take advantage of make this one the more frequent slap your forehead moments I’ve experienced lately.
 
Stealing
Halloween
Candy From
My Son’s Bucket                  
Yeah it’s a little bit of a cheap practice, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who does it. I mean, there’s an entire bucket of candy sitting in my kitchen unguarded – what do you expect me to do? Besides, as much fun as it always was to go door to door back in the day, I’m pretty sure I’m too old to trick or treat anymore.

[Listening to:  Marcy Playground"Saint Joe On The School Bus" ]


Thursday, October 30

Liam and Me, We're Gonna Fuck You Up


[Listening To:  Kings X"Summerland" ]


Wednesday, October 29

Fansnoria, Pt. 2

Horror movies. There is something about them that's hard not to love, even if many of us only experience them through the tiny openings that shine through as we attempt to cover our eyes with our hands in fear.

When I was a little kid I really didn't like scary movies that much. I'd tend to find excuses to leave the room whenever the suspense ramped up. I think part of it was not wanting to see other people getting hurt -- because at a certain age whatever I saw on the TV screen was in my mind essentially real, and it was hard for my mind to process.

But as I grew older, I began to recognize the thrill of it all. The excitement of willingly putting yourself in a situation where you knew someone was trying to get under your skin and make your pulse race.
Because horror, when done right – is a visceral experience.
Regardless of the plot or characters, if you're drawn into a storyline to the point where you're able to suspend your disbelief, watching a good horror film is in many ways experiencing the intended fear firsthand. You jump in your seats, scream at shock moments, cringe at the gore, and recoil from the impressions of evil that the movies give you -- all from the safety of an upholstered chair, or a favorite couch.

The mix between the fear these concepts create and the knowledge you have that it’s all make believe on the screen creates a delicate balance of adrenaline and mental separation that enables you to experience fear without actually being in danger -- Which is part of what makes it so much fun.

But lately it seems as if the cinema has become overrun with titles and concepts to the point where everything starts to sound the same. Anyone you talk to will tell you (as our recent quiz pointed out) that there are a lot of bad horror movies to be found -- many of which are actually wildly successful in terms of box office returns and overall profits.
And that's a huge part of the problem.
Horror movies in general are really cheap to produce. The original Saw took a reported 18 days to make at an estimated cost of about $1.2 million (which is basically nothing, even for a horror film). Since that point, that movie alone has brought in well over $100 million dollars and spawned 5 box-office topping sequels (so far).

Despite being continually bashed by critics and movie fans alike, the Saw franchise is proof that there is an audience out there that enjoys the possibility of a story with enough twists, turns, shock, and gore – and is willing to risk being disappointed by your efforts in order to find it.
It’s essentially a license to print money.
Let’s say you're a small film studio -- like Freestyle Releasing out of Los Angeles. If you can find investors enough to help you make, market, and release a film like The Haunting of Molly Hartley with an estimated budget of $5 million dollars, and you even do enough box office and video sales to bring in say $19 in earnings (which is how much the studio earned with it's first release, An American Haunting), with the possibility of striking a Saw-sized jackpot always around the corner, why wouldn't you continue to greenlight scripts, even if they don't really seem all that great?
At the same time, you can't really get mad at a dog for barking.
Movie studios are created to make money, and horror movies are as close to a guaranteed payday as the industry can provide. In fact when you think about it, from the studios point of view -- there's really nothing wrong with the genre. The product continues to sell, the profits are fairly steady, and not only are there plenty of scripts available to make, but the re-make market has proven itself to be viable as well.

For example, one of the few horror movie titles I found myself interested in seeing lately was a flick called Quarantine. The commercials seemed interesting enough -- and even if the whole people trapped in a haunted house full of flesh-eating zombies concept has gotten a little played out lately, it's still the kind of thing that when done right can be entertaining.
Then I found out that Quarantine is actually
an Americanized remake of a Spanish film called [REC].
I'm not saying that Quarantine is a bad flick (because I haven't seen it) but because now it's clear it was made with the same thought process that turned Ringu into The Ring, Kairo into Pulse, and Seeing Ghosts into The Eye -- I probably won't be seeing it, at least not in a theater.

The point of all this is that despite what you and I might think about the state of horror movies overall, the industry has reached a level of financial success that more or less precludes the studios from worrying about the quality of the product.

Much like other niche genres -- there's sort of a built in audience for it that seems to have no problem paying for a movie that 2 hours later they might walk out of feeling disappointed with. Simply put, horror movie fans have gotten used to watching crappy horror films. A big part of this group is teenagers, but if you've been to a movie theater lately what you realize is that (at least here in the south) it's not necessarily limited to that demographic. When I saw the Rob Zombie Halloween remake in the theater (on opening night), there was a couple next to me with a young child on one side of them and a baby seat on the other.

And I could go on and on about how annoying it is to watch any film (much less a bloody horror film) with a screaming kid two seats away, but how about the kids having the chance to see that sort of film? Do they understand the context of it all? Can they somehow appreciate it?

Think about it for a second. Certainly it was a different day and age -- but as the other day’s quiz confirmed, many of us caught our first horror films because we snuck into them, or found a way to steal a glance at them on late-night cable. Part of the appeal, part of the scariness of horror films to me was this idea that at a certain age you weren't supposed to watch them. My parents and teachers would continually tell me that I was too young to handle it. That it would mess me up.

Is there a kid alive right now that hasn’t seen an R-rated movie?
When I first watched Friday the 13th, I was sneaking a look at it on cable. I was up past my bedtime, watching an R-Rated movie (which my parents had forbidden me to do until I was old enough) on my DAD's TV on a school night. In a lot of ways I was already terrified before the movie even started. Any sound I heard from the other room could be my father coming in to bust me. It was a forbidden thrill – something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. So once I got pulled into the story and shock of the film where every sound in the woods mattered, my heightened senses made everything worse. I couldn't scream when the movie was scary, but it wasn't as if I could just sit there and do nothing when the guy in the hockey mask started cutting the counselors of Camp Crystal Lake to pieces with a machete either.

But that wasn't even the worst part – which came the next day when I realized that part of my summer was going to be spent as a counselor at Camp Wekiva -- a place hidden deep in the central Florida woods that my parents were sending me to be alone at for 2 whole weeks.

In other words, context matters. Many of the more infamous silent killer movies (Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street) were made during a time when Serial Killers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy being in the forefront of the evening newscasts. Religious thrillers such as The Omen and The Exorcist thrived at a time where the church was a much stronger influence on family lifestyles.

Not that filmmakers haven't given up on the idea of tapping into society’s fears for movie topics, but that as our society has become more diverse and fragmented, the list of ideas that scare us collectively seems to grow shorter and shorter -- leaving us with a market that has become glutted with forgettable, sometimes laughable titles.
  • One Missed Call -- about a cellphone voicemail message that could foretell your death if you listened to it.

  • Stay Alive -- about a videogame whose players die the same way their characters are killed in the game.

  • Dark Water -- where evil takes the form of a the water in cheap apartment building's sewage system.

  • The Shaft -- (I'm not making this up) about a high-rise building with a killer elevator in it
  • I don't know what's worse -- the thought that I'm supposed to
    be afraid of an elevator, or the fact that this film is a remake.
To me, what makes classic horror work is the way that it sticks with you. The way that seeing a certain monster wreak havoc tends to make the shadows a tree casts against your window at night bothersome. The same reason most people aren't stupid enough to wander around in any house where a murder was supposed to have taken place. The same reason I'm never buying my son a doll that looks even remotely like Chucky.
I’m not afraid of the movies I saw – I was afraid of what they made me think might happen in the world around me.
Going to summer camp when Friday the 13th was popular was always a little weird. Getting a phone call after watching The Ring was unnerving. Trick or treating at old man Gately's house after Halloween came out was completely out of the question.

Horror cuts into your vulnerabilities. It opens threads of uncertainty in your mind that you can't help but tug at, like a loose string on a sweater sleeve. You know you shouldn't be pulling it, but you can't really stop -- until the shirt on your back is falling apart and there's no going back.

Which is why I feel that the "torture porn" movement that seems so popular right now (Saw, Hostel, Turistas) is problematic.
Because there's a difference between being creeped out and feeling afraid.
A pit full of hypodermic needles that you have to dig through to find a key is a horrific idea. It's creepy on a base level. Just typing about it brings to mind the discomfort that a shot at the doctor's office brings, and that's only one syringe. But as much as the idea disturbs me, I don't really fear it. It's not something that wakes me up in the middle of the night, or an image that flashes into my head when I'm half asleep and hear a weird noise coming from the kitchen when I'm the only one home.
Because a pit full of needles isn't something I'm expecting to run into anytime soon.
So in the end the emotion I felt watching that scene was more like, "Man I'm sure glad that's not me in there."

In other words -- I'm not scared of things that I absolutely know aren't going to happen to me. I can’t find sympathetic emotional connections to people who put themselves in stupid situations on screen only to suffer consequences because of that decision.

Seriously, if someone tells you everyone who's stayed in this hotel room has died, and you still decide to stay in it, and you end up dying in a horrible, gory way -- how am I supposed to feel? You're the idiot that went in there! I can be disturbed by the imagery, but what happens more often than not (and you hear this in theaters a lot) is that I find myself laughing at the violence, the sheer over-the-top fakeness of it all, or the way other people in the theater and jumping and cringing at the same sight.

If I’m laughing at someone else’s pain, it means I’m not really afraid of it -- or sympathetic to them at all.

Think about that for a second -- Remember in Friday the 13th when you'd hear those echoed sounds that let you know Jason was somewhere near? Remember in Halloween when that single note on the piano just wouldn't stop, and you just knew someone was gonna get it? The Jaws theme when you couldn't see the shark itself, only shots of children's feet treading underwater?
It’s not supposed to be about waiting for the first victim to
die; it’s supposed to be about hoping that they won’t die at all.
Alfred Hitchcock used to talk all the time about the difference between suspense and horror. About the idea that if you have a movie scene where a bomb goes off and people die, it's disturbing -- but if you were to see a man put down a suitcase with a bomb inside at a bus stop and walks away, and then a mother and a child sit down at that same bus stop, and then the kid starts maybe even playing with the suitcase it's a totally different thing.
We’re not afraid of what happens as much as we’re afraid of what we worry is going to happen.
Horror movie fans don't want to feel sorry for characters in danger on the screen when they’re victimized by violence or evil. What we really want is to warn them, to help them avoid the danger. We project our thoughts to what might happen if that suitcase at the bus stop were to explode. We think furiously of how the mother and child could be warned. We look at every passerby as a possible savior. We know something they don't, and it drives us nuts at the most basic level not to be able to do or say anything about it. The fact that they can’t hear us gasping in suspense and walk seemingly unknowingly into the hands of the killer only adds to the suspense (or depending on the stupidity of the character, the bloodlust) that we feel.
Which is why when a movie simply tries to gross you out, all you can really do is react to the moment.
I'll admit to being kinda scared of being bitten by a shark. But I'm absolutely horrified at the idea of knowing a shark is heading towards the place where my son is swimming in the ocean and not having any way to warn or save him. Because when that happens, when I'm mentally isolated with the fears of consequences and guilt -- I'm suddenly locked into a tiny space in my mind where I'm not only afraid of what's going to happen, but I'm powerless to stop it as well.
Horror movies thrive on that kind of claustrophobia.
The fear that you've ended up in danger, and there's nowhere to run. No way to save yourself. It’s what makes killers like Jason and Michael Myers frightening, because there's no negotiating with them. No plea for mercy that will be heard or answered.
They're the lion, and you're the gazelle -- and once the lion separates you from the herd, all you can do is run.
Now imagine you're running inside an abandoned house. Imagine you're stuck in a hospital after hours. You're alone in the woods. You've woken up tied to a chair in the basement of the old house in the Texas countryside. Or take it another direction. You're in a room full of people, but you're the only one who's not yet a zombie. You're free to run, but if anyone of them gets a hold of you they'll all grab hold and attack. Even if you break free they'll follow.
They don't sleep. They don't stop. They just keep coming.
Once a film gets your mind racing to conclusions, you're open to shock. Once you're fully involved worrying about the killer chasing you from behind, you're totally vulnerable to the screeching cat darting out in front of you. It's a concept Hitchcock called The MacGuffin -- which is essentially a plot device that drives a story forward and draws the audience’s attention, but frequently has little to do with the actual plot itself.

Psycho starts out as a movie about a robbery. The camera focuses constantly on the money hidden in the folded newspaper, and Marion Crane’s actions to escape before anyone realizes what she's done. She drives far into the night, but eventually gets tired and pulls to the side of the road to sleep. The next morning a policeman wakes her, and is literally staring right at the newspaper. He sees her acting nervous, so he follows her for a while. She gets so ramped up worrying over the cop in the rear-view mirror that she eventually pulls into a motel to get some rest, where she meets innkeper Norman Bates -- who creeps her out (especially after a comment she made about his mother) to the point of deciding to give up on the whole thing and go back home to make amends with her boss that she stole from.
Just as soon as she takes a well-deserved shower..
What happens next is a scene out of movie history for several reasons, none of which have to do with the money that's hidden in her possessions. In fact, when Norman realizes what he's done and disposes of her body and car in a nearby swamp, he makes sure to put all her possessions in the car to sink with her -- including the newspaper only we are left to know about.
Her folly becomes her fate. And we are helpless to save her, or even tell anyone what we know.
Modern films focus on what happens in the shower. Modern films want you to be afraid of the knife, the man who wields it, and what he will do to you. Gus Van Sant's Psycho remake chose to focus on Norman Bates as a sexual deviant, a killer protecting the secret of his original murder from anyone who chose to come by -- a directorial move that eventually steals the energy out from under the film, and makes it more of a one-note good guy/bad guy tale.

Great horror films on the other hand ask you to worry about what goes on behind your back once you've tempted the fates. About the consequences that come when you've done something to deserve retribution. When you're not a good person. How can you stop that wheel from turning, especially when the deliverer of judgment is a ghost or some sort of un-killable shape? What if you were just goofing around, what if we've all done little bad things in the past that were on the same sort of innocent level as fooling around with a half-naked camp counselor in a cabin in the woods, or we see someone on a screen doing that and we sorta feel like cheering them on and celebrating that sort of debauchery only to see it answered with brutal, remorseless murder?
Good horror movies ask us what kind of people we are; what makes us so worthy of saving?
A question we know the answers to better than anyone else in the world. Because no one is completely without sin. Even if that sin is simply making an offhand comment about some hotel clerk’s overbearing mother.
You can stay in the shower as long as you want, but that sort of thing doesn’t just wash away..

[Listening To:  Chevelle"An Evening With El Diablo" ]


Monday, October 27

Fansnoria, Pt. 1

With Halloween coming up fast, the cable networks and movie theaters have going through the annual motions of ramping up the number of horror movies they've been playing. In a lot of ways this is both a blessing and a curse -- because no matter how much I love the genre, it seems like more and more lately the number of flat-out crappy horror films is on the rise.

People have spent a lot of time wondering lately what's wrong with the whole Horror Movie biz, asking why it seems like there are more films of this type being released than ever, despite the fact that so many of them don't really seem to be all that good.

I have a few thoughts on this topic -- but I feel like it might be better to get a little discussion going first. So if you have a moment, please take this quick little quiz and post your answers in the comments section.
  1. What was the name of the last horror movie you saw in a theater?


  2. What's the worst horror movie you've ever seen, and what made it so bad?


  3. What's the first really scary movie you remember seeing, and approximately how old were you when you saw it?


  4. Can you think of a really scary moment from a "non-horror" film you've seen? What was the movie?


  5. A new horror movie is coming out next month -- what do you hope it's NOT about
    a) Torture
    b) Zombies
    c) Teenagers
    d) Hillbillies
  6. Which of the following would you most likely to avoid:
    a) A Remake of a Famous Horror Film From the Past
    b) A Horror Film Starring an A-List Celebrity
    c) A Hollywood Re-make of a Japanese Horror Film
    d) A Sequel
  7. What is the most overrated horror film you can think of, and why?


  8. If horror films focused less on gore and graphic depictions of violence, they would be:
    a) Better
    b) Boring
  9. What's the scariest movie you've ever seen?


  10. Have you ever rented a horror movie to watch at home that you lost interest in halfway through? What was it?

[Listening to:  King Crimson"One More Red Nightmare" ]


Sunday, October 26

True


[Listening To:  Mute Math"Reset" ]


Saturday, October 25

Brave New World That Has Such Yutzes In It

Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson thought him up. Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams saved him from obscurity. Jack Nicholson made him real, and Heath Ledger redefined him. None of these people should ever be forgotten, but for my money there's no substitute for all the work that Mark Hamill (of all people) put into bringing him to life. His contribution to Paul Dini's animated series remains my favorite depiction of the clown prince of crime, despite the fact that recent incarnations have clearly been better overall.

I guess the reason for this is that there were times when I couldn't help but root for the guy, which I never really did for Ledger or Nicholson. You wanted Heath Ledger to pay for what he'd done. Hamill's joker was different -- to him it was always just a game, a twisted version of fun.

In fact, I tend to think Hamill's Joker would be repulsed by a world where everyone was in on the gag, as Jack Nicholson's wanted.
And not fer nothing, but could you even imagine what living in a hell like that would be like?
Even when the movie versions asked us not to take things so seriously -- you knew those Jokers were completely committed to their goals, which eventually made them the single-minded villains they were supposed to be and not just a darker shade of comic relief.
And we all know what it's like to be around someone who takes their job waaay too seriously, right?
..This guy knows.

[Listening To:  The Fixx"Stand or Fall" ]


Friday, October 24

The Friday Hot Sheet

Here we are, Friday again -- and bless it's little heart, Florida wants to play this new make-believe game called "Hey, I can do winter too!" Oh, it's adorable -- there's all these paper-mache grey clouds, and rain, and somehow he's hooked up a little wind and chilly air. It's like a play that he's put on all by himself!!
Gold star for you, Sunshine State. Allllllmost took out a sweater the other day.
I didn't get an official memo or anything, but best I can tell this was officially the week that most people (including me) reached their saturation point with the election and just want it to be over with already. Even the new SNL clip where George Bush endorsed McCain seemed mailed in. The gag was funny and all, but there were clearly moments where Tina Fey seemed bored of the whole thing.

Luckily, Halloween is coming up fast -- which means plenty of time for those stories the news trots out every year -- namely 'Trick or Treating Safety Tips' and everyone's favorite discussion thread 'Have Costumes for Girls become too Slutty?'

To which my answer would be, "Hey, for $150,000 of campaign contribution money -- they damn well better be!"
Sarah Palin's
Shopping
Spree
If this had come out a month or so back, the whole world would have been pissed, but at this point in the game -- is this really a shock? I know everyone is aghast at the amount of money spent, and it's just further proof that the small town governor doesn't really support "down home financially downtrodden values," but really -- if she was brought on the campaign to a) possibly sway Hillary voters whom the Repubs assumed would simply vote for anyone with a vagina, regardless of their policy ideas or qualifications b) woo the family values vote by presenting her as the image of the modern super-mom who also "ran things" in a high-profile government job or c) was cuter than Joe Biden -- then she sorta needs to look presentable, right? You can't tell me that all of her critics would have let it slide if she'd shown up to all these rallies dressed in Cherokee separates from Target or some mix and match getup from TJ Maxx. She was brought in to look good, so I don't see why it's such a big deal that they put her in expensive clothes in order to accomplish that goal. The other thing that sorta bugs me here is this whole 'Barack Obama has worn the same suit for 6 months' counterpoint that the dems trotted out as soon as this news hit. This is 2008. It's not like Harry Truman is hanging out the back of a train car anymore -- clothes and appearances are a part of this. Besides, I was at the Obama rally in Jacksonville -- and even if his clothing was simple and downplayed, my man pulled onto the scene in the biggest, slickest tinted-window midnight black tour bus you've ever seen, and I can't imagine that was any kind of cheap. Last week we had debates. Last week we were discussing real issues. Now we're talking about expensive high-heel boots and how much a designer skirt should cost? Guess what -- DON'T CARE. COULDN'T CARE LESS ABOUT THIS ISH. AT. ALL.
 
Things I'm
Supposed
to Care
About
As a matter of fact -- lets just start something new here, because when you get right down to it, the world is full of stupid shit and there are really only so many hours in a day. So lets just do this: The Hills -- Don't Care. Saw V, VI, or VII -- Don't care. Madonna -- used to kinda care. Can name a handful of your older songs that I think are sorta OK, but since then you know what? Don't Care. You married who? Now you're divorcing who? Don't effing care. 30 Rock is probably the best show I'm not watching, but I'm sorry -- Don't care (what's that? Mad Men is actually that show? Sorry, my mistake -- still don't care.) Pacman Jones? Really, again? Suspend him forever. Freeze him in carbonite. Don't don't don't don't care. ALCS -- exciting, compelling, thrilling. World Series?       ..Don't care.
 
Folio Weekly's"
Annual Best
of Jax
Issue
Wherever you live there's one of those free weekly entertainment and opinion newspapers that feature local columnists and club listings. Ours here in Jax is called Folio Weekly, and I'm not ashamed to say that I love it. I've had stories published in it half a dozen times and look forward to almost every new issue that comes out. That's not to say that I agree with every article, but it's (IMO) a billion times more wired in to what people in this city are concerned about about than anything the local newspaper can offer. All that being said, the annual Best of Jax issue is a complete waste of ink, and has been for years. First of all, the same people win the same awards every year. And surprise surprise -- they all happen to be regular advertisers in the magazine. Seriously, I'm supposed to believe that people actually mailed in votes to decide who the best lawyer in town was (shock of shock -- Eddie Farah won it again)? Since when do people give a flying F about something like that!? If that wasn't enough, The Poles "won" the award for best surf spot in town just like it has for the past 20 years. I mean, is there an actual competition here? Is some other natural sandbar like really pissed off that they didn't make the cut again this year? Is there a man-made reef demanding a recount? But that's not even the worst part of the whole thing -- You look at issues like this in the hopes of discovering what the new, hot things in your city are -- only to find out that readers in Jacksonville named Carabbas the best Italian restaurant in town. Carrabbas. Really? Seriously? People voted for Carabbas. Nevermind the fact that actual local places like Nero's or Mediterrania are amazing and authentic -- Carabbas is a national chain -- How could they even be considered!? Isn't that sort of the whole goddamn point of having a "Best of Jax" issue -- to drive people away from cookie cutter shit like the Olive Garden and alert them to the fact that there are people here in OUR TOWN who actually cook? Big fat money-grubbing FAIL on this one, Folio.
 
Sevendust Live
at Freebirds
Last Saturday
These guys are amazing live. I've seen them a bunch of times but every show seems to get better and better. Full-on intensity without losing any ounce of precision from the original recordings of the songs. And the pit was flat-out gnarly. Normally mosh pits take some time to develop, and despite the violence involved it becomes sort of a fun little community onto itself. Not this time though -- because just before Sevendust kicked in with their set, 20 huge ass American History X looking motherfuckers showed up, and they were hungry for blood. The hitting was hard, frequent, and repeated -- and once it started, it didn't stop. They even slammed to Angel's Son, which is a ballad. Don't get me wrong, it was good times -- but I walked out bruised and exhausted. So yeah, those huge guys with biker beards and the tattoos that start on their face and go all the way down their backs that look like they'd just as soon kill you rather than just check your ID at the door and shine a mag light in your face? Guess who their favorite band is?
 
The Adam Carolla ShowI stumbled upon this show about 4 months ago while seeing what sort of podcasts were available to put on my iPod. I don't live in LA, so I don't know how the show compares to other things in the area, but I was always a fan of Loveline, so it seemed a natural fit. Since then it's become one of my favorite things to listen to. Carolla's kind of an acquired taste to be sure -- but if you like radio guys and sort of acerbic, sarcastic humor it's worth a listen. Of course as I've written many times, it's sort of impossible to explain what makes one radio show any good or even better than another radio show -- but there's a chemistry between the crew on the show that makes even repeated gags and improv games seem fresh, and although it would take like 10 pages to explain enough of the backstory so that you could understand the joke, some of the stuff that's happened this week related to inside jokes and practical jokes being played on the comedians and kinda-celebrities that Carolla hangs out with (Norm MacDonald, Larry Miller, Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Silverman, Jeff Ross, David Allan Grier) have been among the funniest running themes I've heard since I've started tuning in. It's probably not for everyone, but if you like variety talk radio I highly recommend it. I should also mention that I stream the show online from a radio station in Portland, Oregon called KUFO -- which plays a really good mix of rock/punk music (IMO) after the show is over as well. Well worth a try if you get the chance.
 
Sorta
Having
A Cold
Look, I'll stay home. I'll mainline TheraFlu and sip chicken soup. I'll complain about my aches and pains and talk like a Muppet. If you want me to have a cold, I'll commit to it. But enough already with this goddamn half-in/half-out bullshit. I'm sick of waking up feeling great and then halfway through the day being sure that I'm gonna die. If I'm healthy as an ox at breakfast, can I just stay that way all day? Because once I go to work and start doing crap, that whole thing where my sinuses turn into a river by midday really sucks. I have sick time I can take -- and I will take it. So if we're gonna have a cold, lets friggin light this candle and get on with it, OK?
 
Ted's
Montana
Grill                  
The other day I picked up my son from school, and he said he was hungry. I had to run a few errands, so once I got done with that I looked around for a place near the shopping center we were at to feed him. I'd never really been to this place before, but it was the only one close to where we were that seemed to have something close to the 4 basic kid food groups (chicken fingers, pizza, mac and cheese, candy) -- so what the hell? Turns out it's one of those custom burger joints that specializes in Bison meat. Sorta pricey, but I gotta tell you -- best burger I've eaten in years. Thing was absolutely huge, and cooked to juicy, melt in your mouth (but staying in one piece in the bun) perfection. I opted for beef over bison, but the real key was the toppings they offered on the menu. Everything from exotic cheeses and fresh bacon to a fried egg (!!) and even avocado slices could be put on there. The avocado one sounded really interesting, but it was my first time eating there so I went basic and opted for bacon, cheese, grilled onions, and sautéed mushrooms. My dad was with us, and the two of us just tore through our dishes. We don't have anything like In and Out or Fatburger here -- so perhaps I don't have the best standards for comparison, but for a meal that basically broke down to burgers and fries it was nothing short of decadent. And then, like all killer meals -- it put you straight into a nap once you got home. How can you beat that?
                                  

[Listening to:  Lene Lovich"New Toy" ]


Thursday, October 23

Mobius

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you imagined you were falling, only to wake up suddenly at the last second, your heart still racing as if you really were plummeting from the sky? Have you ever had a nightmare so chilling that you couldn't get out of, or a pleasant dreamscape that you desperately wanted to return to once you realized that the sound of the alarm clock had shattered the illusions of it's reality all around you?

This morning I found myself with the distinct realization that someone was doing their very best to rouse my body and spirit from it's slumber in a very specific way. Somehow I was completely aware that it was a dream -- but by this point all of my senses were engaged, and despite my utter desire to follow the feeling all the way down the rabbit hole into Wonderland -- a part of my mind couldn't help but realize that if I were to do as she was instructing and wake up --
That everything I was feeling would surely disappear.
Stay asleep to keep waking up. Wake up and risk losing everything. Open your eyes to reclaim your solitude, close them to continue embracing the passion. She wants me to wake up, but I know I have to stay asleep. I want to wake up, but if I do she won't be there at all.

Memories in the mist. Images into ideas. Unknowingly present -- yet equally absent, like two people talking on opposite sides of a fence that don't realize just how close they actually are to one another.
She's there. She's not. I'm there. I'm not.
I'm there. I'm there. I'm there..

[Listening To:  The Distillers"Drain The Blood" ]


Wednesday, October 22

Actually Spoken During the Course of My Day

"If this phone was a vibrator, I'd take it back to the porn shop and demand a refund."

[Listening To:  Mickey Avalon"Jane Fonda" ]


Tuesday, October 21

5 Slang Words I'm Clearly Not Qualified to Use

Slang is a tricky thing. It's a constantly evolving subset of language that's most commonly used as the calling card of the generation gap. Buzzwords get hokey and old, but real honest to goodness slang stays with you, and in many cases marks you with the unmistakable stink of age.
Can you dig it, Jive Turkey?
Of course, no one really talks anymore -- so there's this interesting thing happening lately where in our text/type culture it's probably possible to appear "with it" as long as you can wield the lingo within the correct context for the situation.

For example, whenever I hang out with my surfer buddies -- I tend to fall back into the terminology I used to use during the time when that was the major cultural influence on my world, much the same way as someone who's "lost their accent" living in a metropolitan city tends to have it come back out whenever they visit their hometown or run into old friends (which is sort of a regular occurrence here in the south, where you'll meet intelligent, well-spoken women at your office who somehow devolve into raging hillbillies when you unexpectedly bump into them at the Florida-Georgia pre-party down at the Landing).

In my case, it's the subtle things that creep into my everyday speech that give me away. Like if you talk to me on the phone on a regular basis, but then you start to notice that instead of saying things like "Goodbye" or "Catch Ya Later" I'll end every conversation with the word
"Late"
You should immediately bust me on it.
Because not only are things like "Late," "Audi," or "Laterhosen" not really a part of my normal speech patterns, but they're really not even a part of the world that I live in. Sure I still try to catch waves now and again, but even when I surfing a lot more when I was younger, it was still never really something I said a lot.

Best I can tell, "Late" is a West Coast thing that sort of caught on in the surfer community. So much so that when people wanted to try to appear as if they fit in with that culture, it was one of the words they would try to use.

At the same time, just because it's accepted slang for the culture doesn't mean that just anyone could use it effectively, and it was that lack of authority in using the language that became sort of a litmus test for finding out who was "keeping it real" and who wasn't -- kind of like the word "Word" in hip-hop culture.
Or to put it another way -- Fred Durst surely has many homies, and might even have
a posse, but I've never really bought into it when his lyrics tried to tell me about it.
At the same time, one of the tricky things about slang is that it's hard not to be drawn to it sometimes. I don't know exactly what it is (and this will probably make me sound like a dork to admit) but I would really love to be able to wield the term "late" more often. To my ears, it sorta sounds cool. Or perhaps better said -- the people I've known who used that term appeared cooler in my eyes for using it.

Because when you get right down to it, that's how slang usually works.
It's not like every Beatnik in America got a letter in the mail one day that directed them to start using the word "Daddy-O" at the end of every sentence. Most likely there was a day when one guy started saying it a lot, and another dude hanging around him thought it sounded kinda different and cool, and started using it too. Two became three, and it went from there.

I think as people we're sometimes drawn to the appearance of security and wholeness that comes from being part of a scene (especially when we're younger). Especially in today's society, where it's not really enough just to ride a skateboard, listen to goth music, or live in the Hills -- authenticity (or at least the appearance of it) becomes a much more important type of currency if you want acceptance.

But that doesn't mean there wasn't a day when some guy came back to his dorm room and started tossing the term around with his friends where they didn't all look at him in confusion and say, "Dude, why do you keep saying Daddy-O? What the hell does that even mean?"

At the same time, the strength of any scene is it's ability to spread like a virus among it's membership, to the point where everyone in the scene sounds like everybody else for that short period of time where it feels like some sort of natural momentum (which immediately proceeds that point where it becomes a fad, and everybody runs away from it like the plague -- trapping anyone who still tries to use it on the wrong side of the cool-meter, immediately outing them as wannabes or posers).
Especially if they're older.
There's an awkwardness that comes with new language, especially with something that's as fluid as slang tends to be that gets exponentially higher when you're a little too old to be a natural part of the culture you're trying to buy into.

Back in the day, that was the whole point. Young people didn't want to sound old, and adults found the words their kids used to be immature. The divide was actively maintained by both sides, creating a strange little balance that most of us had to transition through as we grew older.

Now in this Internet age, the gates are a lot more open. Sure Facebook was created for college students, but once it opened up to the world it was easy to find situations where teenagers were conversing with what might have previously been considered senior citizens. Chris Hansen and the "To Catch a Predator" crowd aside -- the crossover that's come with the information age means that everybody understands what LOL means.

There are plenty of sites where discussion groups or chatrooms aren't age specific. From the movie chatter on Ain't It Cool News to the political vitriol that follows most every new article published on The Huffington Post, the odds that the comments section is being filled with talk from only one age group are becoming smaller and smaller.

In other words -- old fogeys will never be mistaken for the cool kids, but when you remove the face to face differences between them and reduce it all down to text interaction with avatars and emoticons, the lines do seem to get a lot more blurry.
All that being said, context matters.
Just knowing the words isn't enough -- it's about how you use them. And while in some cases typing the occasional "FTW" or "lollercoaster" won't get you voted off the island, it does tend to set you far apart from the online crowd if you should choose to spell correctly or have a general idea how punctuation works.
A problem that gets even worse when you try to translate it to actual speech.
Add my 30+ years of existence on this planet and my inescapable whiteness to the mix, and what you get are a whole bunch of slang words and phrases that I'll pretty much never be able to say in public without looking like a complete idiot.
  1. Haterblockers -- While I'm sure I have haters out there that would require the kind of blocking that a good pair of dark sunglasses could provide, it's just not the kind of thing I could ever spin into an actual phrase that could be said. I can use it ironically; you know -- honky it up for comedic effect or whatever, but if they ever opened a store that sold nothing but Haterblockers, all I'd ever probably be able to say when I'm in there is "One please."


  2. Chillax -- In my defense, this never sounds good out loud. Having taught eighth grade, I got to hear this word waay more than I ever really wanted to; and it's just one of those things that's really better when typed. That being said, despite the fact that I understand what it means to "chill" and I'm well versed in the idea of "relaxing" -- I'm still not really 100% sure what chillaxing actually is.


  3. Bro-tocol (see also; Broseph, Bromance) -- During my surfing days I was able to throw the occasional "Brah" around without worry. Online I tend to use the word "bro" pretty regularly (in rotation with other qualifiers like "dude" or "man"). But "bro" in real speech is a little trickier. And despite what it might sound like -- "Bro" and "Broseph" are not related. Whenever I go into Endo, invariably someone (usually Ralph or Matty) will say "What's happening, my brother?" -- which I've come to like, but I've never been called a "Broseph," and to be perfectly honest, I feel pretty good about it. "Broseph" to me comes off as fratty, which is not really my thing. Don't get me wrong -- It's funny to type, but do people actually say this to each other -- or is it just something you use when making fun of Matthew McConaughey?


  4. Righteous -- While it fits squarely into the sort of late 80's surfer/stoner culture I lived and worked around when I was younger, a guy named Brian Garrepy forever ruined the word "Righteous" for me by making it too funny to use without retelling his story. Basically we threw this party at Gristina's house where Brian got totally wasted and passed out on the front lawn. Like most people who pass out on lawns at parties, you sort of don't realize they've done it until someone says something like "Hey, has anyone seen Brian?" (Either that or someone shows up late and says "You do know there's a guy passed out on your driveway, right?") So we go out there to check on him, and he's just gone, so we pick him up and start asking him if he's ok and stuff, and he looks up at us with basically a mouth full of lawngrass and dirt and this completely glazed donut look in his eyes -- probably trying to figure out where he was, so we asked him again, "How you feeling, dude?" at which point he sorta pulled himself up to a wobbly standing position, looked us in the eye, gave the thumbs up and said in a complete stoner voice "Righteous" and then fell flat on his face passed out again -- where we basically left him until the next morning.


  5. Sugar -- "Sugar" is something you used to hear a lot more of down here in the South. I don't know why, but it's kinda fallen out of style in recent years -- but every now and then you'll hear it from a waitress or something and maybe it's just me, but it's kind of awesome. The problem is that "Sugar" is kind of a chick word. It's a rare place where a guy could start tossing that word around and not come off like some kind of sexist a-hole. Not that I would use it in that way, but that I guess dudes can't really say it right. A man saying "Sugar" is pretty much equivalent to tossing out "Toots" or "Missy" -- which just doesn't really fly anymore. Luckily, women never seem to mean that word in a demeaning way. And, although the women who do use it probably say it to every single person they meet, whenever they drop one on you there's something about it that makes it feels like it was said especially for you -- which is probably what makes it so cool.
There are probably more words like this out there, but these are just the ones I can think of right now. The odd thing about the list I came up with was that while I was putting it together I realized that a bunch of mine were sorta reigonal -- which means that there are probably a lot of different ones, depending on where you live in the world.
So what are some of yours?
Of course the older I get the worse almost any kind of slang is gonna sound coming out of my lips, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, you know?
Because lord knows the ladies never go for a guy who's squaresville.

[Listening To:  Deftones"Korea" ]


Sunday, October 19

Moo Means Moo

The one thing about having to act like a grown-up is that your life tends to follow a domino effect. There was a time when I was a kid where if I wanted to ride my bike for hours or practice guitar in my room or just space out while playing with some toy where, sure -- those hours were essentially blown away on nothing, but all I had to do to get back on track was just be downstairs in time to wash my hands and set the table.
One of the secrets of youth is that your personal tangents always seem to be
worth more, but in terms of time lost they cost less than when you're older.
What I mean is, whenever I get off the track to do something fun or interesting or just plain old compelling in my life now -- it inevitably knocks something else I have to do out of whack, and sometimes even forces me to drop it completely. And while I'm sure most of the traffic jams in my time management world are of my own making -- the simple fact is that if there's something really important to do in the morning at my job, more often than not it means that I'll end up having to skip lunch in order to fit in everything else I have to do during the day.

And I'm not really Mr. Type A personality/has to be doing something every minute of the day kinda guy. But like most every other adult out there -- my time is dictated in a lot of ways by the responsibilities I choose to burden myself with versus the tangents or diversions that I enjoy.

For example, as this past week came to a close -- I had a number of things I knew that I wanted to do, and an equal number of things that I had to do. I had to stay later at work on Thursday afternoon to finish a time-sensitive project, but could only dedicate so much time to it because it's my job to pick my son up after school every day. Lunch was skipped, the work got done (several of my other lower-priority projects got put off until Friday) and I made it to school on time to get him. His mother showed up a little later to pick him up from me, which meant that I now had time to go to the gym.

Except before I was able to leave I got a call from a friend who had blown out a tire and needed help changing it. I tried to get out of it -- but eventually headed out there, changed the tire, headed back home -- knowing the Seminole game had already started and the friends I was gonna meet at the sports bar had probably already shown up..
So the gym trip got cut, which gave me time to get a shower and head out to meet everyone.
FSU's victory prompted a follow-up trip to Endo, where good times and hot sauce eating contests took place. It wasn't full-on insanity, but it was enough of a throw-down to make me slow to wake up the next morning (late to work), slow to get started at work (some projects unfinished, put off 'till Monday), and stay a little later (stern look from the woman at the school when I showed up a few minutes before the cutoff time picking my little boy up). Then because of time constraints we had to race out to meet my dad -- had a quick dinner, took my son over to his place so he could watch him for the night, race home to change clothes, race out to the beach to get to Freebirds in time to catch Taproot and Sevendust, hung out a little while afterwards, got a call from Matty -- headed to Endo for a nightcap, stayed a little while (knowing I had to get up early), drove back to my apartment (in all my hurrying forgot to pick up part of the Scout Uniform for the outing the next morning) -- then drove to my Dad's place to crash.

The reason for this is that my kid's Scoutmaster was insistent that we meet up at 8 'effing AM for our field trip, and even if I were to wake up on time all the driving from my place to dads place to the scout place would mean we might miss it if any little thing should go wrong. I opened the back door, piled up a pillow or two on the couch, and then crashed out hard.

The time was 4:25 am.
At 6:30 am, I got a shake on the shoulder from my dad, and a cup of coffee. Woke the boy up, got him fed and dressed, and we hustled out to the spot. The scoutmaster handed everyone a Google map printout, and explained that we would drive from where we were in Jacksonville to a smaller town called Hilliard (about an hour or so away) to go visit the corn maze and all the other attractions at this particular place.

This is where the difference between me and the other parents starts to become clear. I mean, it's early on a weekend, so no one's really thrilled to be up -- but I seem to be the only one wearing the same clothes I had on last night, talking with that scary sorta vodka-voice that happens to me after a good night in a mosh-pit or a bar (or both, as the case actually was) I'm the only one wearing sunglasses to cover up raccoon eyes, I'm the one the other kids are pointing at and whispering to each other about (one of the kids in my son's troop is the younger brother of one of my former students -- which means several of the parents probably already know some things about me I wouldn't have told them on my own), which might have something to do with the wide berth I'm getting at the moment.
But we were there dammit, and on time too.
Then things get a little fucked up. Because apparently this corn maze trip is something the scouts do every year, and it's always in the same spot -- but somewhere along the line our little caravan of cars ends up on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere and the scoutmaster gets out of his car and motions for me to roll down the window --
At which point he tells me that he's realized the map is wrong, and that we are lost.
I'm half blind with a hangover, and my ears are still ringing from Sevendust -- but I managed to get myself assembled and ready and in the spot I needed to arrive at in plenty of time, but somehow it's taken this long for the guy in the fake drill sergeant hat and all the patches on his shirt to realize that he's not on the right road to go to the same place he went to last year?

Anyways, we all turn around -- get on back on the highway, go this way and that and finally end up at this cool little spot in the middle of nowhere featuring an enormous pumpkin patch sitting in front of a good-sized cornfield.

My great grandparents raised corn on their farm (among other things), but I was really too young at the time to experience a lot of things involved with it. I remember running through it a few times, and my great-grandfather showing me how to pick the ears off of it, but I never really had the chance to do a corn maze as a kid. I've done my share of hayrides and stuff, but this was gonna be a chance to cross something off my list that I had never really realized was on my list in the first place.

The place was sort of a family farm that had been turned into kind of a mini-amusement park. A place where city kids could dip their feet in the country lifestyle and see what it was like. So in addition to the corn maze, there were games where you had to hand-pump water from a well to fill a bucket, a little place where you could feed chickens and goats (Curren loved that), and a hayride that ended up in a spot where people had a chance to feed actual cows, which was pretty wild considering they were the big black Angus variety. Gentle and quiet like the cows you normally think of, just like 3 times bigger.

There were all these things to do, but at some point it became clear that the Scout Group wasn't really doing all of them. I'm not sure what all that was about -- but no one was telling us we couldn't, so we broke formation and fed ourselves some effing chickens.
Punk Rock Scouting.
When we finally met back up with the group we got some weird looks, but no one really said anything to us. So we ate a little lunch (homemade ice cream ftw), and then took our second run at the corn maze. The whole time we were in there Curren kept changing directions, and I kept doing quotes from Children of the Corn -- which of course flew right over his head.
Good times.
The final thing we did though, was the most fun -- but also kind of the most weird. It was called the cow train, and essentially it was this series of little barrels with wheels on them, painted up to look like cows that were all hooked up a four-wheel ATV that pulled them all around, train-style.
Lots of bumps and bounces, and just fast enough to be thrilling to a bunch of little kids.
Each of the little cow cars had a wooden cow head attached to the front of them and a name painted on the side of them. The names were all sort of standard cow names -- Bessy, Bossy, Daisy, T-Bone, etc. -- but there were a couple of names that didn’t immediately ring a bell, or really make a lot of sense.

Now maybe I just haven't had enough direct exposure to farm folk in my largely suburban life to understand some of the things they do or like, but can someone please explain to me if there is an other meaning to this name that I'm not aware of?
Because the one that I know can't be right ..right?

[Listening To:  Sevendust"Face to Face" ]


Friday, October 17

The Friday Hot Sheet

It wasn't a short week, but it was one of those that seemed to blast by in a hurry. Or perhaps better said I'm sitting here on a Friday afternoon realizing that I can't believe so many crazy yet vitally important things happened and I sorta feel like it's still only Tuesday.

Of course I suppose it could be worse and I could be John McCain, who probably is somewhere wishing it was still 2003. I mean yeah -- the stock market is in shambles, the country is horribly divided over politics, and a movie about a Talking Chihuahua that no one has seen has made more in two weeks than AIG paid for their little weekend junket after they got the bailout money from the man; but to say that any of us had a week where we got trounced in our best debate performance and then had to go on national TV to brownnose Letterman just a few days later like Grandpa Maverick had to do would be a bold-faced lie.

Then again, there's no way someone told him to make all those faces on National TV, right?

So before the old man sticks out his tongue again -- here are this weeks risers and fallers, and the buzz as it looks from here.
The Final
Presidential
Debate
Was the first one of the three that actually felt like a debate. McCain needed to land punches, and for a while it looked like he was; but then somewhere in the middle Obama's cool got under his skin and McCain just sorta lost control of the wheel or something and then a crazy man came out. It was like a scene from one of those old Leprechaun horror films, where this strange little dude hopped from place to place demanding you give him back his gold or he would kill you. I mean, I'm voting for the other guy, so when it appeared that Obama had opened flat and McCain was rolling I was curious to see what was going to happen next, but then the whole thing just got kinda weird. I honestly think that McCain sometimes thinks everyone in the crowd knows the joke he's thinking about, so all he sorta has to do is wink his eyebrows and we'll all chuckle along -- except that we don't and all we can sorta do is hold on in the hopes that he might reference it at some point later in the proceedings. I know it had something to do with a plumber, and there were apparently some adopted kids there, but then the punchline was something about Herbert Hoover. The best part about it was Obama treating McCain's histrionic facial expressions the same way the rest of us would if we were sitting next to the crazy person on the bus. Just sort of smile and laugh, and no matter what else --don't make too much eye contact.
 
John MccainDo yourself a favor if you have the time and go check out the Monster's post on HRTOTM recapping the Alfred E. Smith Memorial dinner, which is the annual fundraising campaign stop where the candidates loosen up and sorta "roast" each other. What you're going to get a peek at is the John McCain that we should have seen in this campaign. The one Joe Biden calls a friend. His reputation in congress is the likable vetran. The cagey funny one who can make things happen when they get stuck. That's the shame of campaigning -- is that in a lot of ways you can't be yourself. You have to appeal to people, because you need their votes. Sometimes it's easier, because you're offering change from the incumbent party, or you're focusing on the issues that people are care about -- and sometimes when it's not so certain you have to start calling names and stirring up the fear. Sometimes you have to say the kinds of things that scare the hell out of white people in Ohio, because you desperatley need them to vote for you. But then you see these Youtube clips where those same people McCain is whipping into a frenzy suddenly boil over and shout out things like "Terrorist" and "Kill Him" and you could just see a clearly uncomfortable McCain realizing that he doesn't like being at the top of this particular anthill. Make no mistake, McCain hates that a young slickster like Obama is whipping him in every possible poll -- but he doesn't want to kill the guy. I honestly think McCain doesn't understand why the rest of us don't get it, and he's getting a little sick of trying to explain it to us. The problem is that a lot of us do get it, and we simply don't agree.
 
Project
Runway
If this had been the only season of Bravo's acclaimed reality series you'd ever seen, you would have everything that makes that show worth watching laid out on a table in front of you. Creative people facing high semand challenges in their chosen field. Judges with legitimate knowledge and influence in the fashion community. A bitchy villian who continues to endure in the competition despite a foul attitude and questionable skills. A final victory that literally came to the last second to decide. But when you hold this 5th season up in comparison to the ones that came before it, you start to realize even the good contestants on the show weren't that great, and that the villian from this season wouldn't have lasted 2 weeks under the attacks of the Santinos, Kevins, or Wendy Peppers of the world. About to change networks and possibly lose some of it's star cast in the transition -- there was something about the show this year that felt stale compared to other years. No reunion show before the finale. Less travel locales, or extravagent challenges. It felt like Bravo was out of love with the show, and despite the contestants and cast's best efforts, it hurt the overall result. That being said, it's still a great contest, and a lot of fun to watch. I can't say I feel like Lianne was that much better than Korto, so it's hard to feel vindicated by the win -- but the fact that this year's evil character, the self-entitled spoiled brat Kenley had her ass handed to her was reward enough for me. With legal battles raging, it could be years before we see this show again. But I do think I'll still watch. Because when it's good, it's still the best reality competition on television.
 
Choke is
already out
of theaters.
Loved the book and wanted to see the film, only to find last weekend that it was long gone before it even had a chance to get started. I hate when movies dissapear so quickly.
 
Hot Sauce
Eating
Contests
It's a Thursday night at Endo, listening to local rappers and watching the baseball game on the tube. The gang's all there, laughing it up and having a good time, when at one point the story is retold of the bottle of hot sauce Matty and Ralph bought from a local place called Moe's. I didnt' catch the exact name of the sauce, but the story apparently was that they wanted to use a little, and the owner/manager wouldn't let them. Forbid it. He told them something along the lines that it wasn't really a sauce, it was more of an additive -- and that it was really too hot for people. They persisted, and eventually he made them both sign a waiver before selling them the whole bottle for $35 dollars. So what did they do with their prize? They brought it to Endo, and at some point when we all got liquored up it was decided we should have a contest to see who could stand it the longest before drinking something. It was a horrible, juvenile, potentially dangerous idea -- which is why we all immediately agreed. Probably not anywhere near as hot as the billion degree burger from Australia that Satorical wrote abotu recently -- but the second this hit my tongue I got the hiccups. My eyes were watering, and my throat started to burn. It was insane. Of course it was also hilarious watching the others squirm next to me, and then see us all dive for our drinks (they didn't really help) once one of the other guys broke down -- but it's not like that made us the winner. Because in a contest like that, you all lose the next day in the bathroom.
 
Sevendust
and Taproot
live at
Freebirds               
I've seen Sevendust live many times (they rock like crazy), but this will be my first shot at catching Taproot -- whom I adore and who's live show I've heard all sorts of great things about. I'd love to tell you all about it, but I'm running a little late -- so just listen to this to get a little taste of what you're missing (although to be honest, Youtube doesn't really have anything that comes close to the intensity that happens when you see these guys live, because they flat-out bring it).
       

[Listening to:  The Mistakes"Career Politicians" ]


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