Sunday, December 31, 2006

Radio Radio

Perhaps someone out there in the radio biz can help me out. Is there a reason why some random older song can suddenly vault back into frequent play on a station's playlist? I went about two years in my life without hearing Collective Soul's "The World I Know" on the radio, and now I've heard it about five times on different stations within the last week. Did Ed Roland recently die and thus radio is rushing to pay tribute or something?

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Pack are Bad....er, Back

The great thing about being an NFL fan is that you never have to resign yourself to thinking that your team is out of it for seasons at a time. When a baseball, hockey or basketball team blows things up by firing their coach or front office, deals half their roster and does everything but paint the stadium seats a different colour, you can usually count on your club stinking it up for at least the next 2-3 years while it gets back on track.

Not in the NFL. The league's purposeful parity means that it's possible for a team to go from doormats to diplomats in a season -- hell, even within a season. This is why my beloved Green Bay Packers are having one of the weirdest seasons I've ever experienced as a footbal fan, and I'm on the fence about it.

The Packers can make the playoffs if they win on Sunday night and the Giants lose earlier in the day. If the Giants win, a bunch of other things need to happen for Green Bay to qualify. NFL.com outlines the possible playoff scenarios and what each team needs to clinch, and I guarantee you will not read a more eye-glazing document all year (er, pretend it isn't Dec. 29). Nonetheless, the Packers bottom-line need to win to get the most unlikely playoff spot in their team's long history.

I went into the year thinking the Packers could bounce back and be a competitive squad after their dung heap of a 4-12 year in 2005. Frankly, they weren't as bad as their record indicated last season, and given that they had added some new young talent and faced a pretty easy schedule, I thought they had a shot at respectability -- maybe something like a 7-9 or 8-8 record.

Then they lost four of their first five games, and it became apparent to me that the Packers sucked. Not just "well, if they get a few breaks here and there they'll be good," but sucked. I look at their seasonal rankings (9th in the NFL in total offense, 13th in total defense), and I'm blown away at what a total mirage that statistics can be. This team can't create generate points to save its life, and the defense breaks down only at the worst possible times. Ahman Green is washed-up, the receiving corps is barren after Donald Driver and Brett Favre...

Ok, Favre deserves a paragraph of his own. As miraculous as it is that Green Bay is 7-8, they could be 10-5 and have a playoff spot wrapped up were it not for Favre single-handedly blowing three games with some of the worst passing I've ever seen. Favre is unquestionably one of the best quarterbacks in history, but that time is clearly past. I remember writing a Gazette column about how Favre should hang it up THREE YEARS AGO. Since then, Favre has done nothing but blow winnable games due to his habit of throwing the ball away. He's not "trying to make something happen," or "being a gun-slinger," like the announcers claim -- he's just making bad throws that get picked off. If quarterback talent wasn't at an all-time low in the NFL, Favre would be ranked near the bottom of the league.

Nonetheless, Green Bay started winning. To say they won ugly is an insult to ugly. Their last two wins (over the equally putrid Lions and Vikings) were two of the worst football games I've ever seen in my life. Because the NFC is such a horrible conference, however, Green Bay stand alongside four other 7-8 teams in a battle for the last playoff spot. The 'winner' of the spot gets the honour of travelling to (probably) Philadelphia and getting destroyed by the red-hot Eagles.

This is why I'm torn about Green Bay's success. Obviously I want the Pack to get into the playoffs, but for the long-term health of the franchise, it might've been better to see a total bomb of a season. Another 4-12. It would've gotten Favre to retire. It would've gotten coach Mike McCarthy -- who was hired simply because he's an old Packer QB coach and Favre literally said "I'm too old to learn a new system" -- fired. It would've forced the team to actually reload and try something new than to keep fooling itself into thinking it would build another championship team around Favre.

Instead, the fact that Green Bay came close will get McCarthy another year, and Favre will almost surely stick around again for another season -- he's also close to setting the new NFL record for career touchdown passes. And next year, with a tougher schedule and what in all likelihood will be a not-greatly-improved roster, Green Bay will be hard-pressed to match its .500 record from this season.

And on that fun note, go Packers!
"Really? Taft?"

Ok, this is a bit tasteless for the time being, but it's still pretty funny.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

TV, in hindsight

Instead of doing some big TV top 10 thing to mark the end of 2006, I'll just do a quick bit of opining about my favourite shows. Keep in mind that I watch, like, every show, so it's basically a year in review. And this sucker will be a long one --- I don't write a TV column anymore, so I had to blow my proverbial load somewhere. Editor's note: Ewwww.

* The Amazing Race. I watched the season premiere with some friends, and we clicked over just in time to see a father tearfully talk about how he felt as if he loved his daughter less for being a lesbian --- and his daughter, his Race partner, was sitting right there with a thousand-yard stare on her face. This was followed by another team profile of a pair of good buddies who were recovering drug addicts and (ohbytheway) male models. This was followed by a pair of Muslim friends, and about five minutes into the show, my friend Matt said in a voice filled with dawning comprehension, "These guys aren't going to be able to get on planes."

From that moment on, you just knew it was going to be a great season of the Amazing Race. The only disappointment was that the model-addicts won, thus making yet another season of the all-athletic male duo winning the game. I have high hopes for the spring season, however, which will be the first All-Star edition of the Race. Past teams like Uchenna and Joyce, Rob and Amber, the beauty queen team from this season will be back at it again. Goddammit, does anyone want to team with me for Amazing Race? I just need someone who can speak, oh, about five languages and can drive a stick-shift. And also maybe is a cyborg, so we can access Google Earth within their brain.

* American Dad. How did this become the best animated show on TV? I'm floored. The first half-season of this show was, to be blunt, god-awful. Between this and last season's indifferent Family Guy, I thought Seth Macfarlane was suffering from David E. Kelleyitis and hurting all of his shows by spreading himself too thin.

Anyway, AD has clearly hit its stride. It manages to combine the randomness of Family Guy with the more layered plots of early Simpsons episodes. The show has, oddly enough, already seemed to have moved away from its "Dad is a hardcore conservative CIA agent" premise and become a series of extended, but subtle, movie takeoffs. For example, an episode where Francine and Roger (Go Padres!) disguise themselves to go to an art show and create fake backgrounds for themselves eventually morphs into a spoof of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. It also featured a scene where Stan, the dad, is washed away in a river of semen, while yelling "I feel like Tara Reid on any given Tuesday night!" God bless humour.

* Big Day. Ok, so they're not all going to be my 'favourite' shows. In fact, this one kind of sucks. It's the ABC sitcom that is set in a real-time format (like 24) on the day of a couple's wedding. The show follows how the bridge, groom, families and loved ones prepare for the big ceremony, and everyone is going a little bit crazy. So yeah, anyway, sucks. The situations are pretty contrived and the writing already seems tired and they're only four episodes in. Jack Bauer should rush in and break some necks for daring to rip off his real-time gimmick. In spite of some funny people involved (Wendie Malick, Stephnie Weir, the guy who played Russell in Wayne's World), it just isn't going anywhere. Feel free to skip it until it is cancelled in, oh, about a month. Fun fact: watching the pilot, the lead actress (Marla Sokoloff) looked really familiar and it was bugging me that I couldn't remember where I saw her from. Then I happened to flip over to TBS for a Friends rerun, and there she was, in a guest role as Joey's youngest sister who was pregnant. My ability to recall trivial things is truly amazing. And yet, not attractive at all to women.

* Desperate Housewives. Yeah that's right, I'm the one guy in the world who watches this show. And it's good, dammit. This season has been terrific, in fact, with a good mixture of comedy, mystery and soap operaishness that is more funny ridiculous, rather than "that's retarded" ridiculous. It all peaked with the episode "Bang," which (truth) had as much suspense as any of the best 24 episodes. Fun fact: Teri Hatcher was recently voted one of the TV stars that looks the worst in HDTV. After years of Botox, she is apparently no longer real, nor spectacular. And just how friggin' disturbing is this photo?



Shudder.

* Family Guy. While American Dad is thriving, FG just kind of goes on its own, varying greatly from episode to episode. The recent ep where Brian takes Meg to the prom was one of the funniest in the show's history, but a lot of recent shows have been meh. The constant cutaways and dated references are as tired as me when I tried to follow along with Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod on Body Break.

Hal: With just a few miles of walking a day, your body will get all the exercise it needs.
Me: A few MILES?! I have a Toyota Echo! Walking is for suckers! I get exhausted running up the stairs to the fridge.
Joanne: Who let you on the set?
Me: Gotta run!...or, drive.

See, that cutaway wasn't funny at all. My point is proven.

* Lost. Sigh....ok, here's the thing. I love Lost. It's my favourite show. I'm one of those people who is totally hooked, who goes on message boards immediately after the episode, and will get into a discussion about theories and characters at the drop of the hat. This summer, in fact, when I was subletting my room, the girl who rented to me had a Lost screensaver on her computer, thus sparking a seemingly innocent 'Oh, do you like Lost?' conversation. I'm pretty sure we talked about the show more than we actually talked about the room I would stay in for the next three months.

That said, the 'fall season' of Lost has been kind of disappointing. What used to be the best ensemble drama on TV has been whittled down to the Jack-Kate-Sawyer and the Others show, with occasional guest appearances by the other 12 members of the cast. They really need to reunite the main three with the rest of the castaways, and quickly. It's frustrating that, six episodes in, we still don't know virtually anything new about the Others, besides the fact that they have a suburban village on the main island and they have their main base on a second island. I'm not one of those 'I need to know every answer NOW' people, but man, throw us a frickin' bone here. I'd like to see at least one of the central mysteries of the show (the numbers, the smoke monsters, the Others, the Dharma Initiative, how the castaways are all connected, the giant foot statue, who would win a bikini showdown between Yunjin Kim and Evangeline Lilly) answered before the season is out.

* My Name Is Earl. It's very possible that Earl will end up being the live-action equivalent of King of the Hill. Both shows move at their own laid-back pace, nobody pays too much attention to them, are consistently funny, and before you know it, they've been on the air for a decade. The trouble with live-action is, Jaime Pressly's face is going to look....well, Teri Hatcher-esque in a few years, so unless they write in a storyline where Joy gains that rapid aging disease from the movie Jack, you might want to turn your HD off for the 2011 season.

* The Office. Jim's back, and everything is all right. The Jim-in-Stanford episodes were good, but clearly missing that special Office chemistry. With Jim back, however, the show is once again running at full throttle. The hour-long Xmas episode was one of the funniest in the show's history. Adding Ed Helms to the cast was a great move, and his influence is already felt. My pal Matt tried to order "nagasakis" at the bar tonight (one part egg nog, three parts sake), and was firmly denied. Of course, this isn't as funny as trying to order a Nagasaki in a Japanese restaurant, but Matt is no Ed Helms. Sorry, Matt. You'll have to settle for being the next Bobby Knight.

* Saturday Night Live. Like a baby bird poking its beak out of its shell, I think SNL is on the verge of entering another strong period. Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler have more chemistry on Weekend Update than the Poehler/Fey team. The cast is free of dead weight like Horatio Sanz and Jimmy Fallon, and some of the new people (Kristin Wiig, Bill Hader) have been hilarious with an increase in screen time. The recent shows hosted by Alec Baldwin and Justin Timberlake have been two of the best SNLs in the last decade. The one thing that could put SNL over the top is the hiring of one new writer. His name? Me. My idea for a sketch about a rapping detective (I call it Sherlock Homeboy) has Emmy written all over it.

* The Simpsons. There's an old anecdote about Lou Gehrig that goes like this. The legendary ballplayer was nearing the end of his career, and his skills were clearly starting to leave him. One game, Gehrig made a decent but unspectacular fielding play to get a runner at first, and his teammates all made special effort to congratulate him in the dugout after the inning. After getting all that praise for making a routine play, Gehrig said, it was time to retire from the game. Well, that and the fatal disease that bore his name, but I digress.

Aged Gehrig is basically the Simpsons by this point. Nobody seems to even have the passion to argue that the show has lost its juice anymore since the point is so obvious. It just trundles onward, entirely buzzless, pumping out mediocre episode after mediocre episode until Matt Groening finally decides he's had enough. Even the good Simpsons episodes now are just good, and hardly great. Man, this was a depressing show to discuss. Let's move on.

* Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Oh good, more depression. I'll give Aaron Sorkin this. He has one aspect of Saturday Night Live mastered -- the inconsistency. SNL can go from wildly funny to mind-numbingly bad literally from one minute to the next, and Sorkin has brought that over to his behind-the-scenes look at a sketch comedy show. Studio 60 goes from brilliant to suck at the drop of a hat. This was never more apparent than in a recent two-part episode ("Nevada Day"), where part one was as good as classic West Wing episodes, and part two was like watching your puppy get punched in the face.

A wish list for what I'd like to see in the second half of the season...

1. For the love of GOD, stop making every plotline about Sarah Paulson's character revolve around the fact that she is a devout Christian. It's not just boring, it's also kind of creepy given the fact that the character is basically a total take-off of Kristen Chenoweth, Sorkin's ex-girlfriend. There have already been way too many episodes wasted with Harriet serving as some vehicle for Sorkin to vent about his beef with the religious right.

2. Let the female characters win an argument. This is a long-standing problem of Sorkin's, stretching back to Sports Night, where whenever Jeremy and Natalie had an argument, Jeremy was always right but only apologized when one of the other male characters gave him the eye-rollingly sexist "just apologize because even though it's not your fault, it's your fault" speech. For example, whenever Harriet and Matt (the Sorkin character, played by Matt Perry) get into a debate about their ex-relationship, or religion or whatever, he always ends up having the last word.

3. Give the good actors (Tim Busfield, Steven Weber) more to do. Give the bad ones (Amanda Peet, who isn't really 'bad' but just not right for the role) less to do.

4. Explain how, since SNL exists in the show's world, the 'Studio 60' show is a complete and total ripoff of Lorne Michaels' concept. They establish that 'Studio 60' is a cutting-edge late-night sketch show, but....how cutting-edge could it be if it seems exactly like SNL, just set in Los Angeles? It might have been better to just pretend SNL never existed, like 30 Rock seems to be doing.

5. Make the actual skits on the show-within-a-show funny. Perry's character is supposed to be this genius comedy writer who writes basically every skit, but 90 percent of the actual skits we see are capital-L lame. It's like watching one of those sports movies when the actor playing the sports hero clearly can't skate/throw a ball/run to save his or her life. Mark McKinney has been brought on as a consultant, so that can help things.

6. Get the show renewed, since I still think it could be one of the best shows on TV, given time.

* Survivor. For a season that started with an unnecessarily controversial premise (divide the tribes by ethnicity) and a more subtly-lame casting call (most of the players were from New York or LA and had never seen Survivor before), it ended up being pretty good. I seem to be the only person who still gives a damn about Survivor, and dammit, it's still interesting! I think the show seems to be evolving closer to the social experiment that Mark Burnett originally had in mind, except that it's an experiment not in social structure but in game theory.

* 30 Rock. For all of the publicity that Studio 60 got, 30 Rock ended up being a much better take-off of late-night sketch comedy because Tina Fey actually knows what she's talking about. Except for Office, this is already the funniest sitcom on TV. This is also probably the best Alec Baldwin has ever been in his career. God bless you, Tina Fey. After a couple sub-par years of SNL, my longstanding crush on you has been renewed.

* Veronica Mars. Given the amount of network crap that the VM creators have to put up with due to the show's inexplicably low ratings, I keep worring that Veronica Mars will start to suck. Thankfully, the crap guillotine has yet to fall. This season's network edict was to put an end to the season-long mysteries that defined the show, and thus (provided VM gets a full season without cancellation), the 22 episodes will be divided into three mini-mystery arcs. This actually ended up being an okay move, since the first arc was very well put-together and has already tied into the second one. Given that last season's season-long mystery was pretty unsatisfactory and seemed to go all over the place, the shorter storylines may be a better long-term move.

So yeah, start watching the show. What more do you want? If you're a Buffy fan, it's basically a better-written, better-acted version of Buffy except instead of killing vampires, she solves mysteries. And Kristen Bell is gorgeous. What more do you want?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

What If Jesus Was A Ballplayer?

Say, he and his apostles challenged the Cincinnati Reds to a game. One would naturally favour the Reds, but I'm sure many would pick Team Jesus due to divine intervention. But Jesus was the only one with (for lack of a better term) superpowers --- wouldn't the Apostles be terrible? Wouldn't they get their asses kicked by a team of Major League professional players? One man cannot single-handedly lead a team to victory, as Ichiro has taught us over the last three years. I could see the Apostles scraping out a few hits, since the Reds pitching staff sucks, but overall it would be a total rout.

Who's to say Jesus would even use his powers to help aid an Apostles win, anyway? I can totally buy Jesus letting his hair down for an impromptu barnstorming game in Cincinnati, but doesn't he seem like the kind of guy who would frown on cheating to win a game? He would do everything to help his team in conventional ways (and maybe unconventional, i.e. making the wine for the post-game party), but would draw the line at using his abilities to give the Apostles an unfair advantage. Homey don't play that, Jesus might say. In my world, Jesus is an In Living Color fan.

What living ballplayer would Jesus play like? Hard to say. Someone classy. I'd vote for Paul Molitor or Alfredo Griffin. Jesus wouldn't hesitate to stretch a single into a double or slide hard to break up a double play, but he would draw the line at spiking guys and stuff like that. If he was a pitcher, Mark Eichhorn. For some reason, I've always pictured Jesus as a side-armer. Perhaps this is why the guard pierced his side.

Jesus would lead the league in VORM (Value Over Replacement Messiah).

* = I went with this over the cliche 'Jesus leads the league in saves' joke, plus I'm pretty sure that the Pope is into SABRmetrics.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Time Magazine's Person of the Year



YOU

That's right, YOU

"Who me?"
"Yes, you."
"Couldn't be."
"Then, who?"

That's some nice brainstorming, Time. This is almost as lame as the time they picked the founder of Amazon. How can the magazine go from the heights of picking Bono (only mild sarcasm) to this nonsense?

On the bright side, congratulations everyone! YOU are Time Magazine's Person of the Year! Unless YOU don't use a computer, which doesn't really tie into the article's thesis. Wait, how does this work again?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ze Oscars

We're in the midst of the movie award season that leads up to the Academy Awards, so here's my predictions on how the Oscar race will play out. Keep in mind that a) this is looking like the most wide-open race in years and b) I'm not that bright.

BEST PICTURE
Dreamgirls, The Departed, The Queen and probably Letters From Iwo Jima are looking like the four locks for nominations, with Dreamgirls or Iwo Jima the current favourites to take the trophy home. Nobody really got behind Flags of our Fathers, but Letters seems to be getting a stronger critical reception, and it's possibly the Academy will want to award Clint for his rather ambitious double-movie project. The fifth spot is wide-open, and will likely go to either Babel, Children of Men, United 93, Little Miss Sunshine or Volver, but the fifth picture slot has gone to a lot of crazy choices in the past. In a perfect world, my second-favourite movie of the year (The Prestige) would get in, but that one dropped off the map seemingly as soon as it was released. Boo-urns.

BEST ACTRESS
There are a number of well-known actresses in the running, but this looks like Helen (The Queen) Mirren's Oscar to lose. She is cleaning house in the various critics' awards, has a couple of unsuccessful nominations to her name and everyone loves and respects her. The only competition could come if Jennifer Hudson's momentum continues and she gets a lead nomination instead of supporting. My picks are Mirren, Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada, though this one might also be supporting), Kate Winslet (Little Children), Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal) and either Annette Bening (Running With Scissors) or Maggie Gyllenhaal (Sherrybaby).

BEST ACTOR
The critics have favoured London's own Ryan Gosling (Half-Nelson) and Forest (The King of Scotland) Whitaker, but I'm not sure if either of these two can break out of their indie surroundings to win. Like the Actress race, there are lots of big names in the mix, but they're all hampered by a lack of a real buzz over their performances. Leo DiCaprio and Matt Damon were both great in Departed, but could also be considered as supporting in that film, and are competing against themselves with their starring roles in Blood Diamond and the Good Shepherd. Will Smith seems like a lock nominee, but nobody is talking about him for a win. It's also possible that legend Peter O'Toole (Venus) will be nominated, giving him a chance to win his first Oscar after seven unsuccessful nominations. If he gets in and loses, however, he will officially become the biggest losing actor in Academy history with an 0-for-8 record. It's very possible, however, that O'Toole will be too drunk to care.

My predictions are for Whitaker, Smith, O'Toole, Gosling and -- in the biggest shocker in Oscar history -- Sacha Baron Cohen for Borat. Don't laugh. He has actually won a few major critics awards, and he has more buzz than any of the other nominees. Given the lack of a big name in this year's race, he might actually have a shot to win, which would be easily the zaniest decision in Academy history. Ok, it's far more likely that someone like Damon gets the last slot and then Whitaker or O'Toole wins, but man, what I wouldn't give to see a Borat acceptance speech.

BEST DIRECTOR
Just give it to Martin Scorsese. For fuck's sake, what else does the man have to do at this point? The Departed is the best movie I've seen this year, but it won't win Best Picture due to the violence, but there seems to be a consensus building that this is finally Scorsese's year. It would be nice for the Academy to finally erase one of the all-time embarrassing names from the "inexplicably hasn't won" list, especially in a year where Robert Altman (another name on that list) passed away. The one big wrench facing Scorsese is Clint Eastwood, who the Academy is ga-ga over like a frat boy over porn. If Letters builds momentum, Scorsese might get screwed over against by an actor-turned-director -- three of Marty's previous Oscar losses have come against Robert Redford, Kevin Costner (gag), and Clint himself.

Anyway, I'll predict the nominees to be Scorsese, Eastwood, Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) and Stephen Frears (The Queen). Much like the Best Picture race, the fifth spot is totally up for grabs. I'll say that one of the directors of the Best Pic contenders gets the final nod here, but his movie doesn't get the final Best Pic slot. I'll guess Paul Greengrass (United 93).

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls) will easily win if she ends up in this category, and it seems likelier than the studio would promote her for an Oscar win, rather than a probable loss to Helen Mirren. Hopefully this doesn't start a trend of American Idols in high-profile roles, since I don't think anyone wants to see Clay Aiken in the Liberace Story. Hudson will be joined by Catherine O'Hara (For Your Consideration, if the Academy can get past the fact that the movie savages them), Rinko Kikuchi (Babel), Cate Blanchett (Notes on a Scandal)and either Abigail Breslin or Toni Collette from Little Miss Sunshine, or Lily Tomlin (A Prairie Home Companion), as a way of honouring Altman.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
This category will be greatly impacted by the Departed. It's possible that Damon, DiCaprio, or Jack Nicholson will fall to this category, and there's also Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin (who actually supported in the movie) to contend with. I think Jack gets nominated somewhere, which would give him a male actor-leading 13 Oscar nominations for his career. As to who will actually win, I'd say it's between Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) or Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls) at this stage. The nominees will end up being Hounsou, Murphy, Nicholson, Michael Sheen (The Queen) and Adam Beach (Flags of our Fathers).

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Worst of Presidents or the Blurst of Presidents?

George W. Bush's presidency has caused many to consider him the worst president in American history. But I'd like to shine the spotlight on the eighth president of the U.S., Mr. William Henry Harrison.

You may remember Harrison from a jaunty tune in a Simpsons episode. It was the one where the kids have their Presidents' Day assembly, starring Ralph Wiggum as Washington. There is also a song highlighting some of the presidency's lesser lights....


We are the mediocre presidents!
You won't find our faces on dollars or on cents!
There's Taylor, there's Tyler, there's Fillmore and there's Hayes.
There's William Henry Harrison, ``I died in thirty days!''
We... are... the... adequate, forgettable, occasionally regrettable Caretaker presidents of the U-S-A!


One of the catchiest songs in Simpsons history, imo. Anyway, Harrison did in fact die 30 days after being inaugurated, thus making his presidency by far the shortest in history. Most historical studies that try to rank the presidents don't even include Harrison due to the brevity of his reign -- he gets the dreaded 'NA.'

The story of his death is kind of funny, in a 'he died' kind of way. Harrison died from pneumonia, which he caught while delivering his inaugural address. This 68-year-old, coatless and hatless man delivered a two-hour speech on a cold and rainy day, so it's no surprise that he caught the uber-sniffles. Say what you will about George W. Bush, but at least he waited over a year to almost suffer an ignominious death (choking on a pretzel), and he survived, dammit!

So three cheers for William Henry Harrison, the president who was literally too stupid to know when to come in out of the rain. In fact, you could say that it was almost like not knowing when to leave a foreign country that you invaded for fake reasons.....hmm, ok, well, maybe Bush is the worst president after all.

By the way, Harrison's record for shortest presidency may be challenged if Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or Al Gore win the next election. It's quite possible they will be targeted by various hate groups for being female, black and taking credit for the Internet. Ok, in Gore's case, replace 'hate groups' in that last sentence with 'Bill Gates.'

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The "Storm of the Century"

When did London become home to a bunch of wusses? There was a lot (ok, a whole lot) of snow Friday night, but it was hardly worth massive school shutdowns, road closures, and everyone from the mayor on down running around with their heads cut off. What are we, Americans?

Fact: by, like, 11 AM that day, the sun was shining, the main roads were clear from both plows and constant driving, and it wasn't even that cold. While a lot of snow had fallen, it wasn't packed tightly -- I believe the scientific term is 'puffy snow.' My dad, brother and I cleared our driveway in less than 20 minutes.

In short, suck it up, London. Or am I just bitter since I never got a snow day* in all my years of schooling, and then one occurs on the first major snowfall of my first year as a non-student since 1984? Who's to say.

* = I recall getting a 'snow afternoon' once in grade school, which was kind of weird since that meant a lot of parents had to drive to pick up their kids, and thus risked their safety more by heading out on the roads. Even then, the snow wasn't all that dangerous. I remember my parents picked up my brother and I, and then we went out to lunch and even dropped by our dentist's office to pick up my brother's Patient of the Month award. Whenever you had a perfect checkup, you wrote your name on a piece of paper and dropped it into a birdcage. One name was drawn each month as the Patient of the Month, and then they received a small trophy. In all my years of perfect check-ups, I never received this honour. Now I'm old enough that entering the contest would look kind of pathetic. Damn you, random chance!

I love how my footnote is longer than the rest of the post.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

You know your anti-spyware software is pretty sketchy when....

....this is actually a part of the product's FAQ. I am not making this up.

Who is the most wonderful girl on earth? FAQ #029
Many people have guessed that she is my girlfriend. To my own bad luck, that is not true. But while she does not return my feelings of love, we still share a really wonderful and great friendship, and I am very very proud and lucky and thankful to be allowed to call her a friend. A friend who is warmer, more kindly, more forgiving, a friend to whom I feel closer to than any other. Even as "only" a friend (where "only" is quite the wrong word), Sandra Klass earns the title Most Wonderful Girl On Earth more than any other person on this planet. Dear Sandra, I love you, and your friendship means all the world to me!


I love this guy's passive-aggressive attempts to pretend that he's fine with just being her *friend.* Dude, she's just not that into you.

And second, Sandra, honey, run for the hills. Make sure the hills aren't alive with the sound of internet access, since it sounds like you have a cyber-stalker. And just to make it tricker, it's a stalker who is an expert in spyware.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Musical Day In The Life (meme)

IF YOUR LIFE WAS A MOVIE, WHAT WOULD THE SOUNDTRACK BE?
So, here's how it works:

1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie
-----7. Mark gets to add his own personal ranking system out of 10 as to how appropriate the song is------

Opening Credits:
One More Night -- Stars
(8/10)

Waking up:
Voulez Vous -- ABBA
(6/10, as I rarely wake up speaking French. Or Swedish.)

First Day at Highschool:
Holy Joe -- U2
(7/10, though my first day of high school was mostly spent saying 'Holy shit.')

Falling In Love:
In Dreams -- Roy Orbison
(10/10, can't go wrong with Orbison.)

Fight Song:
Fortunate Son -- CCR
(10/10)

Breaking Up:
Beat It -- Michael Jackson
(11/10, man, my iTunes have appropriate taste)

Prom:
She's a Rebel -- Green Day
(7/10, since any woman who would attend prom with me would have to be some kind of rebel from social standards.)

Life:
Growin' Up -- Bruce Springsteen
(10/10, hell it's right there in the title)

Mental Breakdown:
Battle Of Who Could Care Less -- Ben Folds Five
(9/10, hee hee)

Driving:
Evenflow -- Pearl Jam
(9/10, I myself have personally driven

Flashback:
Such A Twat -- The Streets
(9/10, hee hee)

Getting Back Together:
Rebellion (Lies) -- Arcade Fire
(6/10, I guess you're rebelling against the lies that caused the breakup by getting back together. What?)

Wedding:
Rose of my Heart -- Johnny Cash
(10/10)

Birth of Child:
Holiday in Spain -- Counting Crows
(4/10, though this could rise if any of my future children end up Spanish. Hint hint, Selma Hayek.)

Final Battle:
Changes -- 2PAC
(5/10, unless my final battle ends up being against Biggie Smalls' ghost.)

Death Scene:
Jumble Jumble -- The White Stripes
(2/10, not very deathy, though Jack and Meg are both pale as spirits.)

Funeral Song:
Neon Lights -- U2
(4/10, it's slow and kind of pretty, but I don't plan to have my funeral in a place with a lot of neon lights. Unless I die in Caesar's Palace.)

End Credits:
Fear -- Sarah McLachlan
(8/10, oh no, it's the end of the movie, we must flee!)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Birth of a Euphemism

In 2003, the guys and I went to my pal Bryan's family's condo in Florida for spring break. The trip itself is worth a post of its own, as it encompassed two nonstop 23-hour drives across the United States, a drunken game of Risk, a car accident on the Bluewater Bridge and two of my female friends being propositioned by a pimp who needed "some new fillies in the stable," and tried to ply them with the offer of lobster.

But for now, we will merely concern ourselves with my bed. Specifically, my fold-out bed. The condo consisted of three beds, so with five guys in the room and only one bed that could realistically sleep two, the couch had to be drafted into service. The couch was judged to be the least-comfortable of the sleeping quarters, and so I was assigned that bunk due to the fact that I wasn't allowed to contribute to the driving effort due to my undeserved and entirely fictitious reputation as a shitty driver.

(I didn't mind, since I wasn't exactly eager to spend a six-hour shift on a U.S. highway. And I ended up having something of the last laugh, since I wasn't the one responsible for the aforementioned Bluewater Bridge crash. But, on with the story.)

So here I was, sleeping in the living room. As one would expect, the foot traffic around my bed in the morning was pretty large, and as a result, my bedsheets would often end up trampled on. One morning, someone stepped on my sheet after just coming inside from the dirty hallway, and thus a big brown footprint was left.

This is where the specific male mindset takes hold -- any women reading this post may shake their heads in bemusement, but every guy will laugh. Anyway, the guys saw this footprint (a.k.a. a brown mark on my bedsheet) and immediately turned it into a running joke of "Mark shit the bed." This lasted throughout the rest of the trip and for weeks afterwards.

Now, what is the reason behind this seemingly random story? I believe it was the impetus for the introduction of the phrase "shitting the bed" into popular culture. As in, "Boy, Melissa really shit the bed on that presentation," or "Jim turned in a bed-shittingly awful performance at quarterback yesterday." I never heard that phrase used before spring of 2003, and then as soon as my friends teasing me with it, I heard it everywhere -- by other people in different groups of friends, on TV, in the movies. I'm pretty sure I even heard the P.M. use it during a particularly heated session in the House of Commons (dramatization: may not have happened).

I think I deserve some royalties for this. Or, if not myself individually, at least my buddies from the trip. Who knows whose shoe it was that caused that historic brown mark on the bedsheet? That bedsheet is to modern slang what the Shroud of Turin was to modern religion. And, as it says in the Bible, Ted 4:12....."Everyone hath a price."