Wednesday, June 27, 2007

AFI Musings

So the American Film Institute released a new list of the 100 best films of all times. Lists like this fail to take into account blah, blah, blah... They are incomplete withg respect to blah, blah, blah... But they nonetheless make for interesting blah, blah blah... There, do I have my bases covered? Can I just offer my damn thoughts on the thing? Cool. The Wiki people put a useful side-by-side comparison between the two. Below are my thoughts...

23 films dropped from the list. These generally belong to one of three categories.

1) The "you know, this isn't even that good" category ("Dances with Wolves", "Doctor Zhivago", "Amadeus")

2) The "hmmm... that's a bit racist" category ("The Jazz Singer", "The Birth of a Nation")

3) The movies that were at the bottom of the list anyway, and had to be moved to make room for Toy Story. ("A Place in the Sun", "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner").

4) Movies with James Dean in them.

--------------------------------

Overall, the list is proof that the original list started a meaningful discussion about what constitutes a "great" movie. Films which were generally considered to be masterpieces (e.g. "The Graduate" and "Dr. Zhivago") suffer under the scrutiny afforded by the 1998 list. I remember watching The African Queen (which plummeted 48 spots), which is a discombobulated mess punctuated by two minutes of Humphrey Bogart doing impressions of animal stock footage.

--------------------------------

The inclusion of "Toy Story" on this list is puzzling. Clearly, it is not one of the 100 best films ever made. It is a technical masterpiece, of course, which likely garnered sympathies from those voters who appreciated the time and talent that went into the production. By this criterion, however, how does one ignore "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", a superior film that utilized special effects that are convincing 20 years later, even though they were crafted largely without the aid of computers.

--------------------------------

Similarly, if "The Shawshank Redemption" is on the list purely to its (albeit warranted) populist appeal, why ignore a film like "A Christmas Story", about which nobody has anything negative to say? In fact, the period from 1983-1992 is largely unrepresented here. Granted, this was an era that gave birth to the indie flick, on account of the banality of its offerings. Nonetheless, I am certain there were better specimens during this era than "Platoon". "Back to the Future"? "Full Metal Jacket"? I would take either of those over "Bringing up Baby".

--------------------------------

Much has been made of Spielberg's five entries on the list. Curiously, the film that best embodies what makes his work special, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", was eliminated from the list. That said, Spielberg has been both excellent, consistent, and prolific, in spite of his naysayers. I remember reading Tony Kushner's pithy remarks about "Schindler's List", and contrasting them with the way Spielberg treated Kushner's immature homoerotic elements in "Munich". Spielberg transcends his critics and, unlike Scorcese, didn't direct "Gangs of New York".

--------------------------------

"Gone With the Wind" (falling to #6) generated the most heat on the original list. For the life of me, I have never met anyone in my generation who likes this films. Was the film pioneering? Perhaps. So was "Tron". Was it good? I really don't think so, and I wonder how many opinions were transformed by the film's signature line (which I can't repeat on this family blog). The film assuredly belongs on the list , but a top-ten film ought to have appeal that transcends generations, yes?

--------------------------------

A number of rankings are obviously over-corrections from previous slights. Buster Keaton is important and fabulous, but #18 seems awfully high for "The General". Silent pictures got a boost from advocacy groups, who skewed the ratings a bit with their vociferous complaints (well, except "Birth of a Nation", which was removed due to even more vociferous complaints)".

--------------------------------

"The Sixth Sense" is kind of the Gin Blossoms of this list. I don't particularly object, but aren't there simply better movies? The presence of "Fargo" on the previous list added to it's credibility with film critics, and proved that voters still had a pulse. Now it's gone, with no real recognition of great or pioneering work since. If voters were going to be impulsive, why not include "Brokeback Mountain" on the list?

--------------------------------

I'm not normally one to point out these things, but films by black directors are a bit underrepresented here. "Do the Right Thing" is a masterpiece, not the 96th best movie of all time, and "Boyz n' the Hood", which seems to fit every criteria implied by this list, should have been included at the minimum.

--------------------------------

"The Apartment" moved up 13 spots while "Some Like it Hot" moved down, which leads me to wonder whether some critics have caught on that the former is easily the better of the two films. "Nobody's Perfect" is cute. "How's your knee?" is genius.

--------------------------------

Where the hell is "Two if By Sea"?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Get me some smokes

Hey, Steve...

Can you get me some smokes? I wanna light up. No, this is not another request to get high. I am well past that stage. I wsh you wouldn't have brought that up, to be honest with you.

I would like to smoke cigarettes. Afterward we can go to Applebees.

So will you get me some smokes? I don't see what my age has to do with anything. Yes, I know I am perfectly capable of getting them myself. That is not the relevant question. "Will you get me cancer sticks?" is an independent proposition, with it's own verb, subject and noun. So let's set aside the age question.

I wanna puff on whitey.

Is it just for the taste? No, I am man enough to admit that I enjoy the unseemly buzz of nicotine coarsing through my veins. I like that particular chill. Some chills I do not care for. Cigarettes I care for immensely. Get me some.

Don't tell me your car is broken down. That is a lie and you are gay.

This is ridiculous. All I want to do is get some nice tobacco into my system, just like everyone else does. Oh, look, now I have the shakes. I couldn't drive to the store even if I wanted to. In an hour, I'll be experiencing seizures. Did you know I can choke on my tongue when I get the Winston Fits?

If that's what you want, hey, that's cool. This could all be solved by the smooth intake of a pack of camels. It would work out well for everyone if I had some smokes. I'd even give you one.

But that's not how you "roll" is it? Mr. Unhelpful Face.

Hmmmm.... It turns out that I have a pack of cigarettes in my shirt pocket.

They're a little dry. Little dry.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

25%

While the President's dismal approval ratings continue to dominate the headlines, a curious phenomenon has emerged. Congressional approval has hit it's lowest total in decades. The RealClearPolitics average of the major public opinion polls puts congressional approval at 25%. That is a staggeringly low number, considering that the populace voted for change almost 8 months ago.

What is happening is probably partly a function of a lame duck presidency. The fate of Congress is, to a certain extent, tied to that of the president, regardless of party. However, Presidential approval has remains several points higher, and it would seem that at least Democratic partisans ought to be happy with the current Congress. They got what they wanted, right? If you are a liberal, how could you ask for more than Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi?

The recent swoon is undoubtedly a function of the Quixotic mission on behalf "comprehensive immigration reform". This apparently vital piece of legislation would allow illegal immigrants to purchase temporary citizenship for $1,000. Virtually nobody likes this idea, and the reasons are brazenly obvious. And yet, a bizarre coalition of minority interests is conspiring to force this onerous legislation down America's throats. The Chamber of Commerce, race power groups, left-wing religious institutions and others have gotten into the act.

Making immoral and unpopular public policy first on the agenda not once, but twice, is a recipe for political suicide. Our good Senators seem prepared to fall on their swords over this. Of course, the hope is for long term political gain, as thankful new citizens cast their votes for sympathetic congresspeople. In the meantime, they are pissing us citizens off.

The second component has been a string of non-binding resolutions. Immigration reform (would that THAT should be non-binding) aside, Senate Democrats have tried to nuance issues like the Iraq War by passing non-binding resolutions tsk-tsking the President. If you asked the average voter in October of 2006 if they were hoping for some non-binding resolutions, I would be curious to see how many you would have to ask before you got the answer "yes, what I would like Congress to do is pass legislation that will have no impact whatsoever. That is precisely what I want."

More recently, the Senate tried to pass a non-binding resolution chastizing Alberto Gonzales, whose name recognition probably mirrors the popularity of congress, for his role in the firing of U.S. Attorneys. This gels with the Democratic electoral tact of emphasizing scandal as a vehicle for crushing Republicans, but the plan is backfiring. The Democrats are in power. Who cares whether the minority party is scandal ridden? They are no longer the ones making decisions.

I've said before that the liberal ideology is extremely unpopular in America. As much as some on the left saw the 2006 election as a demand for peace, governmental programs, abortion rights, and the end of Walmart, it was really just a vote of displeasure with the status quo. People sensed that things weren't going well, saw a party that seemed more interested in kickbacks and teenage boys, and revolted.

They certainly wanted a new direction in Iraq, but they really had no idea what that was. The Democratic plan to nuance the issue until the tide changes to support unconditional withdrawal is risky at best. Some on the left say the elections as a stepping stone to impeachment. A congress with a 25% approval rating isn't impeaching anyone. Frankly, the Democrats will be hard pressed to thwart a Supreme Court nomination. If Justice Stevens' clock ticks its little last at an inconvenient time, the Democrats will be forced to expend political capital at a time when three of their Senators are front-runners for the nomination.

What can be done? Nothing, really. The Democratic fortunes are tied to public opinion on Iraq, which isn't the worst place to be, but precarious nonetheless. They have no particular trump card. People remain scared of universal health care, and individual states are taking the lead on health care issues anyway. Clanging the gong in favor of abortion and gay marriage is unlikely to win any converts, though it remains priority number one for the base. Obama is sexy and articulate, but Hillary will assuredly have some success in taking him down a notch, which is unfortunate for a party in need of his charms.

The smart move would be to pull the chair out from under the President on immigration, pass legislation targetting the housing swoon (which has a lot more people's attention than Alberto Gonzales), and take a real stance on Iraq (whatever that may be), then use the momentum to draft real finance reform and clean house just before the 2008 elections.

But they won't, which is fine by me. 19% anyone?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Uh-oh

Ochuk found me a new toy. This is going to get me into trouble.



Tuesday, June 19, 2007

An interview with Ron Paul

From time to time, my blog affords me the opportunity to talk with various newsmakers and important personalities. Today, I would like to welcome Rep. Ron Paul, a candidate for the Republican nomination to be President of the United States. Without any further adieu, Rep. Paul, welcome to TPWK.

Ron Paul: I'm Ron Paul.

TPWK: Um, yes. That was established in the intro.

RP: Rooooon Paul!

TPWK: Great, well, for those who have been closely following the Republican debates, you are certainly one of the more intruiging prospects. Some consider you a breath of fresh air, while others feel you are simply a traditional libertarian.

RP: They are both wrong.

TPWK: Would you care to elaborate.

RP: No.

TPWK: Um.... Now, you say that you are moving back toward traditional conservatism. Isn't that something of a misnomer, given the conservative is not, itself, a static ideology?

RP: I'm glad you asked that question.

TPWK: ...

RP: ....

TPWK: Did you care to answer?

RP: Not at this time. Do you know how many guns I have?

TPWK: No, I'm not...

RP: It's a lot. I tell you, I tell you.

TPWK: Comforting. Now, you are in a unique position in that you appeal largely to ideologues, and yet your ideology is out of the conservative mainstream. How do you resolve this paradox, or do you see yourself as a more of a conscience candidate.

RP: Every poll I have seen shows me winning the nomination.

TPWK: That seems unlikely.

RP: I usually just poll my cats.

TPWK: And what do they have to say?

RP: Meow... Or, more like, mraaaaawww...

TPWK: Fascinating. Moving on...

RP: One of the females is in heat. She bares herself for me, but I reject her.

TPWK: That is certainly off-topic.

RP: Mrrrrreeeeeeaaaaawwwwww.....

TPWK: You're on the cats again.

RP: Fascinating animals, cats. Cats are like the Iraqi people. You keep shooting them, but they come back to live like zombies from the deep. This administration had no idea what they were getting into.

TPWK: Right, and that brings up perhaps your most pronounced distinction from the Republican party, which is your position on the war. Now, you have argued.

RP: I don't argue.

TPWK: Well, you have advanced the... Notion, that...

RP: Guns settle arguments. You kill people. They are replaced. Argument over. Did you know I have delivered 4,000 babies?

TPWK: Yes, that is on your campaign website.

RP: The women scream in pain.

TPWK: I suppose so.

RP: Meeeeeerrrraawwww...

TPWK: That's the cat again.

RP: Now you understand.

TPWK: Absolutely. Well, that's all the time we have on TPWK. I'd like to thank.

RP: Mrrrraaaawwwww. METAMORPHOSIS!!!!!!

TPWK: Um... Right.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday Musings

It's Monday. The Fantastic 4 sequel was an unfortunate hit. Let's roll.


A quick note. I am currently selling my property in Minneapolis. One of the rewards of owning a home in Minneapolis is that I get to pay for a truth-in-housing report. The newly expanded report costs several hundred dollars to conduct, and is completely irrelevant, given that homeowners pay to conduct inspections on properties before they purchase them.

Even better, because the standards are far more rigorous than they were when I purchased the house, I will almost certainly be responsible to fix problems that were present when I acquired the property. When liberals enact this sort of nonsense, do they even think about the ramifications of what they do? Or do they simply say to themselves, “gee, standards are good, so more standards are more gooder!!!!!!!”

Again, this is why I vote Republican, people.

--------------------------------------

It’s dark outside… Scary… Might rain…

--------------------------------------

I think it is reasonable to assume that all thoughts in a liberal’s head are punctuated with exclamation points don’t you? Keep your hands off my uterus! Bush is like Hitler! Vive la Che! What are you, a biblical prophet? Calm the hell down.

--------------------------------------

Saying you watched Mad TV is one of those tidbits that simply must be prefaced by the disclaimer that you never watch the show. Sort of like Christians and TV in general (I am convinced that the average pastor watches at least 50 hours of TV per week… My pastor could tell you the marital status of literally every celebrity.)

At any rate, I was watching Mad TV, which I never do. There was a parody of “Ellen” which featured a passably amusing imitation of Ellen herself and an unbearable bit about Ugly Betty, featuring a Selma Hayek imitator. The skit ended with the line “After the break we’ll have an autistic basketball team passing out boxes of Suddenly Salad”.

That, folks, is a hilarious line, and it reminded me that, beneath the awful impersonations and generally tired jokes, there are genuinely funny people trying to get their A-material passed narrow-minded producers. Some dude fought hard for that joke. And it didn’t go unnoticed. Not by me.

----------------------------------
It’s been awhile since somebody famous has died, hasn’t it? I should start an office pool. I pick Tom Bosley and Olympia Dukakis.

----------------------------------
Apparently, the Duke lacrosse players are suing Mike Nifong, the prosecutor who ruined their lives as a publicity stunt. Before that is all over, I suspect that there will be quite a few millions poured out. Good. In particular, I hope this sheds light on the nefarious practice of withholding DNA results that are deleterious to the prosecution’s case. This distressingly common practice need to he halted once and for all.

I had a near-death experience Friday. Whilst trying to navigate the absurd transition between 394 and 100, a beige SUV pulled one of those “oopsy, I don’t want this exit” jobbers, and proceeded nearly to jackknife my fuel-efficient Ford Focus. Am I out of my mind, or do the craziest drivers have big, beige automobiles? What is it with those people? Why that color? Does the color beige strike a chord with those who are poorly endowed (mentally and physically)?

Lets get the eugenics people on this.

----------------------------------

Wait. Was Olympia Dukakis the one who huffed paint? Cause I just googled her and she looks like she might have a couple more emmy-nomiante guest appearance in her. Crap. What about Cloris Leachman?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Have good weekend

Have a good weekend everybody! I just wanted to thank.. Uh-oh...

Uh-oh....



Look at this guy. He's gonna gitcha. In fact, I think he's gotcha.

You've been Rybaked!

Have a good weekend, though.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What is wrong with hobbies?

I don't understand why more people aren't excited about the following:

Kites
Staining woodwork
Kelsey Grammar
Spelling Bees
Beige frogs
Ethnic cleansing

A well rounded individual should have hobbies. What better hobbies to have than in infatuation with things that fly and remarkable sitcom actors (who may or may not be in flight).

Every time I try to start a conversation in support of these endeavors, people yawn. They are literally bored with what I have to say. Well, except when I talk about how much I like ethnic cleansing, then they get all sanctimonious.

I also like bees. The bees are disappearing though, thank to cell phones (a parable of man's folly). Let's not talk about disappearing bees anymore. Makes me lonely to think about it.

But staining woodwork. Do you know anything about it? Then how can you dismiss it? I assure you that it is extremely important. I love it. I would stain everything, if I could. Look at you, you don't care in the slightest. A plague of monkeys on your house.

I am just trying to have a reasoned discussion about things that I like, and yes I am taking off my shirt and scribbling on my chest with a Sharpee. I'm trying to illustrate a point. This is how men operate.

I once blogged about flying a kite. Did anyone chime in with interest about how they might like to learn more? No, because that would require a healthy level of curiosity. You don't have that. All you have is your ugly girlfriend.

I didn't mean that. That wasn't cool. No, she's great. I was just being ironic. I just get weird about the important things that I like.

One time I dreamed so hard about frogs that I nearly chewed off my lip. I woke up in a pool of my own blood and my wife made me go to the hospital. I walked, just to spite her, and she drove behind me screaming for me to get in the car before I passed out. This is off topic.

On topic is the way I engage my hobbies, and the fact that I desperately need to share them with you. Did you know that more than 2 million professional spelling bees are held right here in Minnesota every year? That isn't nearly accurate. I love to lie about things that I care about.

Why don't you understand my passion? Help me help you understand me. We both need it. The children need it. God needs it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A reason to take the gun out of my mouth




Justin Verlander, you're A-OK in my book.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Happy Jacks Monthly Newsletter

ANNUAL PICNIC - THIS TUESDAY!!!!

It's that time of year again. Time for the Happy Jack's annual picnic! Bring the whole family for brats, suds, and our traditional cooks vs. wait-staff softball game. BYOM! That's bring your own mitts. Not oven mitts, though! Leave those in the kitchen. This Tuesday, from 3-7 p.m. at Shuler Park. For directions and parking, visit www.shulerpark.com. Happy Jack's will be closing at 3 p.m.

SECURITY ALERT

The 3rd precinct has released a security alert for our area. Apparently, thieves have been going into various businesses, targeting laptops, purses, and cell phones. If you see anyone suspicious walking into the restaurant, kindly (but firmly) ask them if we can be of service. As always, we remind employees that our restaurant is for patrons only, and that no alcohol or illicit drugs of any kind are allowed on premises.

NEW SPECIALS

We are announcing new specials for the summer season. Our chilled, stuffed pancakes (Kelvin's special recipe) are making their triumphant return. For lunch, we have two new panini sandwiches: Chipotle Chicken Wildfire and Basil Pesto Portabella. Our dinner special is sweet n' spciy meatloaf, served with a side of garlic mashers. It's not your father's meatloaf (our regular meatlof will still be available). We have been lagging on selling the specials, so let's work on getting our regular customers to have a new taste experience with us!

SOMETHING IN THE OVEN!

Speaking of "special" deliveries, congratulations to Lauren B. on the birth of a healthy baby boy. Caleb Dakota Behnstad was born on 8 lbs. 2 oz. on June 6, 2007. Lauren is taking time off to stay home with "Baby C", but she plans to return in October, and she wants us all to know that motherhood is great, but that she really misses the Happy Jacks team. WE MISS YOU TOO, LAUREN!

NEW SHOE POLICY

There has been some confusin regarding the new shoe policy. To clarify, athletic, tennis, or running shoes are not considered compliant, even if they are black. A Happy Jacks uniform must consist of black slacks, a "Happy Jacks" shirt, a "Happy Jacks" ballcap, black slacks, and dress shoes or loafers. Any employees who are not Happy Jacks compliant will be sent home to change clothing, and will not be compensated for any time missed.

HAPPY BUCKS

As many of you are aware, customer are beginning to use their "HAPPY BUCKS" rewards for meal discounts. To apply the "HAPPY BUCKS" to the price of a meal, simply hit the "order discount" button, scan the "HAPPY BUCKS" certificate, then hit "total". The customer will be required to pay the remaining amount.

MARCH OF DIMES

Happy Jack's is no longer affiliated with the March of Dimes campaign. We have removed their display from our register area. Customers interested in making a donation should be referred to the group's website, www.marchofdimes.com. We do NOT accept donations on behalf of the organization.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Travelogue - Conclusion

12:00 a.m.

You know what? I wanted a king size bed, they gave me two queens. I’m switching beds. Why the hell not? Take that, Best Western!

3:10 a.m.

My cell phone rings, which means either that my wife has heard a scary noise or my boss has closed down the bar. It is the latter… It’s an accidental call, and I overhear the following: “yeah, well what’s your budget? Cause let me call Kevin Sawyer whose sort of our media relations guy as it respects (incomprehensible).”

Apparently, the line between think-ey and do-ey (esp. w/r/t chronology) gets blurred at that stage of the evening. Nice to know I’m being assigned work 24 hours a day.

9:30 a.m.

Nice thing about being in a room alone, I can set the AC to whatever I want. Well, anything 60 or above. Even the Best Western has rules. Then, when I’m about to shower, I just turn on the heat and dry off in a nice toasty room. I would trade sex for this feature.

11:45 a.m.

This turkey-wrap is awful. How do you @#$% up a turkey wrap?

Step 1) Take turkey.

Step 2) WRAP!

Apparently, it is more of an art than I had previously acknowledged. This thing tastes like clay, and its doubling as breakfast and lunch.

3:20 p.m.

Some fellow asks me how I like my MacBook. I reply that I do not like it because it does not do things that pay bills. Bad time for honesty. Mac loyalists are weird in that they will try to persuade you that you are wrong about Macs. They’re like supporters of third party candidates. They build a case upon some obscure issue, talk about how everything has changed in the last year, and act like they have righted your ship.

To paraphrase Mr. Miyagi (and, to a lesser extent, Cuba Gooding Jr.) show me – open Excel!

6:00 p.m.

Oooh. Oooh. Oooh. I found Rhode Islanders I like. The bartenders at Providence Oyster Bar are nice and chatty. That, or maybe it’s the 1.2 gallon martini they just poured me. Also, I like any food you can drink (the oysters not the martini). All around, this place gets it right.

Fox News covers Paris Hilton the entire time I am here. I am not exaggerating. One woman is estimating that she will be able to raise her party appearance fee to $80,000. I’ll say this… If I got paid $80k per party, I would probably have a suspended license, too.

10:20 p.m.

Fast paced action! Ambulances and firetrucks are milling about across the street. I briefly entertain the notion the animatronic moose at Bumblebutts Creek steakhouse has caught fire. “Hey, are you enjoying your meal? We have food to lose your HEAD over, so why don’t you head on over to the… Head over… The head… I am taking you onnnnnn a taaaaaaaaste adveeeeeuuutfchadfadeff. Daaaaisy… Daaaaaisy….”

Alas, it’s the Knights Inn that is causing the ruckus. As a franchise, the Knights Inn seems like a good place to either do copious amounts crack with a woman old enough to be your mother, off yourself in the bathroom, or both.

11:00 p.m.

My options are sticking around my hotel room or heading over to the TGI Fridays (on a Friday no less) for a beer and a snack. My new slogan for TGI Fridays: Barely worth putting your socks on.

10:00 a.m.

Check-out time. Man, my room is a mess. This is what happens when my wife isn’t around to scold me. It’s like a section 8 tenant resided here, minus the smell of live birth.

11:00 a.m.

I am eating fresh roasted cashews. I have a very high consumption to knowledge ratio w/r/t legumes. Where do cashews come from? Were they invented by the same slave who discovered peanuts? Why do we roast them? Do they start out soft? Can you buy raw cashews? What role to Brazil nuts play in all of this?

3:30 p.m.

The people up here sure do like they some Dunkin’ Donuts. I have encountered now six exits in a row with a Dunkin Donuts’ prominently featured (often, exclusively featured). It’s tough to condescend, coming from the land of 10,000 Caribou (and 276,324 Sawatdee pseudo-Thai establishments).

6:15 p.m.

There is screamy baby on board. This particular baby is in first class. Bringing your baby to first class is G-BAR (Gauche Beyond All Reason). Somewhere up there is a guy who, after years of flying, decided “you know what? I’ll treat myself, just this once.” That guy is not happy right now.

Remember that family who was kicked of a plan because they couldn’t get their little brat two-year old under control? I want the captain of that plane to be the next president of the United States.


7:30 p.m.

Catastrophe! The gentleman seated next to me has just deposited the contents of a 12 oz. can of Diet Pepsi onto his lap. When will the insanity cease? How many crotches must be moistened with sticky drink? When will the proletariat rise and demand that NWA bring back the little drink divots? WHHHHHEEEEEEN!!!!!!

The stewardess informs me that I am making a scene.

8:20 p.m. (CST)

Home sweet home. Much has changed since I have been in Providence. The light rail is now self-aware, and has turned murderous. Giant cats threaten the populace, and the homeless have all transformed into lovable hobbits.

It's a small world afterall folks... Thank you Providence, for showing me my true self.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Travelogue - Part 3

Thursday, June 7

8:00 a.m.

What, precisely, is continental about continental breakfasts? Why don’t they just call it toast n’ juice? Let’s not raise expectations. Then, if you have a waffle-maker, I am overjoyed.

10:00 a.m.

Topping the list of crap that wouldn’t fly in Minnesota, the parking ramp is full. Instead of a sign simply pointing this out, they let you in, thus wasting your time. In a state with conceal to carry, passive aggression, and a lot of insecure, angry, wife-whipped men from Apple Valley? That’s a 2nd degree homocide taco right there.

1:00 p.m.

Chicken strips and soda. $8.50. That was worth it. Thank you, expense account.

3:20 p.m.

Arbitrarily, the Rhode Island convention center features hot fresh cashews. I looked for a ferris wheel or cheese curds, but no dice.

5:00 p.m.

Out for dinner with the client. We decide upon a lovely outdoor table at Capitol Grill (Providence is home to all manner of upscale chain restaurants). The waitress asks for our order, client gestures to me. I order the seared ahi tuna. Client orders a side salad, indicating that he doesn’t want to put too much on his expense account.

All the ahi tuna in the world won’t make up for three days with my wife, so I’m digging in. I’m a Republican. I eat salad for nobody…

6:10 p.m.

A Frank Sinatra imitator begins singing right in front of our table. I’m beginning to wonder if anyone in Providence is permitted to eat dinner in peace. Maybe all the noise is so that the unhappy Rhode Islanders don’t have to talk to each other.

Husband: So my car is ugly.
Wife: Tell me about it. My feet hurt.
Husband: Our kids aren’t very smart.
Wife: Neither is the dog.
Sinatra-guy: Fly me to the moon….
Husband & Wife: Let’s pay attention to him for the next 75 minutes.
7:20 p.m.

See, highways on the east coast don’t really exit anywhere, which means that if you miss your turnoff, you can’t just get off the highway and get back on. You have to take other highways, which take you to highways that connect to other highways which will eventually get you going in the right direction. No wonder these people always vote for Democrats.

7:21 p.m.

Was that gratuitous? I don’t see how that was gratuitous.

9:08 p.m.

Boobie, Vaginajao, and the rest of LeBron’s NBDL justice league are attempting to take on the San Antonio Spurs…

11:22 p.m.

…And failing miserably. How did the Pistons lose to this team? It’s as though LeBron teamed up to battle autism on behalf of a charity, and then decided to invite autism to play alongside him.

The NBA… It’s AAAAUUUUUTISTIC!!!!!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Travelogue - Part 2

Wednesday – June 6

4:00 p.m.

This city has a traffic problem. With two “T”s. Traftic.

But seriously, I am amaze that a relatively small city can experience so much… Wait, never mind.

4:30 p.m.

Rhode Islanders do not impress me. They are East Coast rude, but without the charm of their New York or Boston counterparts. When I am king they will be first against the wall.

6:00 p.m.

One praise for the traffic here? People speed. A lot. And there isn’t a cadre of 275,000 police officers waiting to nab you, either. I am underwhelmed with the “speeding ticket as business model” vision of government.

7:25 p.m.

I head over to the restaurant next door, the Bugaboo Mountain Creek Steakhouse. Well, that’s beyond absurd. Inside, it’s one of those log-cabin type dealios with animal heads mounted to the wall and too many kids.

Surprisingly, my filet mignon isn’t awful, and the chef had the stones to serve it rare. In the middle of my meal “Moxie the Moose” introduces himself. Moxie the Moose is the animatronic moosehead affixed to the back of the bar. Moxie the Moose wants to take me on a taste adventure. Moxie is unwelcome on many levels of my Brokaback creek experience.

7:40 p.m.

Moxie again: He wants to show me how to get “a head” in the world, but admits that his jokes are “off the wall… or maybe they’re on the wall”. If I were the bartender at this particular establishment, my brains would be all over the wall. I expect to see a Buggerwood Pines in Apple Valley by 2008.

9:25 p.m.

On an unrelated note, what the hell kind of nickname is Boobie Gibson anyway? How has nobody brought that up? Are we just unquestioningly embracing this? While were at it, I would like to submit Vagina Varejao to the jury of public opinion.

9:40 p.m.

I am staying in a brand new hotel, and the manager has to go "heat up" the hot tub. That's weird. Later, the air conditioner isn't working, so he has to start it. At least it's not likely that I will get bed bugs, like I would at the Park Central Hotel. The Park Central Hotel, known for bed bugs. And AIDS-ridden goats.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Rhode Island - Part 1

Wednesday, June 6

7:00 a.m.

I am on a plane. I am a business traveler. I am invincible! I will punch the window! That was painful!

Okay, so ever since NWA came up with the brilliant idea to start charging a premium for certain aisle and window seats, people traveling together are no longer assigned seat together. This alone is completely bats, but what’s worse is that the check-in queens are then left with the task of palying Tetris with the passengers who request to sit together, thus inconveniencing literally everyone on the flight.

7:07 a.m.

Literally, my flight is taking off late because of this. I fully expect that, by 2015, Northwest Airlines will require passengers to gargle their own piss. What are we going to do about it? We’re a hub city.

7:11 a.m.

Also, I’m in an exit row, which means that if someone doesn’t stow away their electronic device in time, and there is a resulting crash, I can get out first. If I can figure out the door. Otherwise I become a punch line on Jay Leno’s comedy revue.

7:15 a.m.

You remember the old-school emergency broadcast system tone? That weird dissonant thing they played while that spooky little triangle practiced warning us of danger? The plane is making that exactly that noise right now.

Whatever happened to the spooky triangle, anyway? Now we just get that weird noise that sounds like the guitar crunch from “Creep”. Do other states still have the triangle.

And why didn’t they show the spooky triangle during the 9/11 attacks? Good grief, planes were flying into buildings. What does it take to get a message from the emergency broadcast system? What's the good of always testing something you're never going to use?

8:05 a.m.

Mac battery dying, dying....

These Pringles are.....

...Dead

11:00 a.m.

Specifically, I am making my first ever trip to Providence, Rhode Island. I have been informed that Rhode Island is the land of Narfs. This should all be fantastic.

12:20 p.m.

I have rented an Impala. In one hour, I have literally gone from being the jet set to being the Chevro-let set. On the radio is the most boring talk show I have ever heard. They are discussing the Republican debate with all the ambivalence of a teenage goth queen. The woman sorta thinks she can get behind Giuliani now because he seems presidential. Thank you, Susan B. Anthony.

People here can't drive. Not even a little bit. Apparently, the accepted method of switiching lanes safely is to nudge your car over until you hear a honking noise.

1:15 p.m.

Quick plug: If you are on a budget (or your client's budget), and you don't know anything about an area, stick with a Best Western. They always have wireless, and always have clean rooms. Avoid the Holiday Inn, which is sort of the NWA of hotels. Ever notice how they are always advertising their shower-heads. When that's all you have going for you.

1:45 p.m.

My hotel is in Seekonk, MA. Seekonk sounds like the name of a sassy squirrel with a heart of gold.

"Oh, Seekonk, how can we stay mad at you?"

"Oh, no you didn't Seekonk! That was just silly Seekonk. Silly is what you are, Seekonk"

Seekonk (the town, not the imaginary squirrel I was jsut talking to) has a TGI Fridays. For some reason, Fridays has decided to abandon their "let's just dump our Jack Daniels sauce on every menu item plan". This is a bad decision, if you are TGI Fridays.

3:00 p.m.

You know what? For being so historically important, Providence is kinda ugly. Sorry Providence, but even Camryn Manheim needed to lose weight, you know?

Speaking of, a Google search of Ms. Manheim shows her sporting one of those "THIS is what a feminist looks like." They have got to stop passing those out.

-----------------------------

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Trivia Challenge

Ladies and gentleman, today, we have a very special treat. TPWK is hosting the first ever trivia competition between man and computer. Today, trivia wunderkind and 74 time Jeopardy Champion Ken Jennings takes on Zorx the Triviabot. Zorx is power by the same technology as Deep Blue, which defeated chess champion Gerry Kasparov. Today's event is being hosted by our old friend (and trivial mogul himself) George Wendt. You all remember George from his famous role as TVs Norm from Cheers. Everyone say "Hi, Norm"....


Audience: (mutters incomprehensibly)

George Wendt: Alright, let's get things rolling here. First question, for 10 points. In North America, children hang their stockings to receive gifts. In Holland....

Zorx: Shoes. The answer for the children is shoes.

George: That is correct. Zorx draws first blood. Okay, next question for 20 points. This, the largest of penguins...

Zorx: Emperor Penguin. The emperor penguin is largest.

George: That is correct.

Ken: Um... Should we establish some ground rules?

Zorx: Silence. George Wendt is acting as moderator and host. Ken Jennings is not.

George: Thank you, Zorx. For 30 points, what is the...

Zorx: Yellow river. The Yellow River is what you are looking for.

George: Amazing.

Ken: ????

George: Now, for 20 points.

Zorx: King Henry the V. This anaswer will suit you.

George: Unbelievable.

Ken: This is utterly futile.

George: That is a terrible attitude to have. For 50 points...

Zorx: Plantains. The surpising answer is plantains.

Ken: So, how does he answer questions that do not exist.

Zorx: The answers are programmed in my database.

Ken: That defeats the purpose entirely.

Zorx: (punctures Ken Jennings' abdomen, spilling guts to the floor)

Ken: Gadzooks.

George: Sustenance! (Begins eating Ken Jennings)

Zorx: Gooooooood..... Goooooooooood.....


Ah, the promise of science.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Prophecy

Weeks ago, I wrote the following:

"The thing about Detroit is that one cannot comprehend how bad it is without either visiting it or leaving the country. Take the worst neighborhoods in Minneapolis, set one-quarter of the buildings on fire, add bars to the windows of the remainder, and add a touch of Baghdad. That's Detroit."

Then I read the following.

"Detroit prepares for arrival of thousands of Iraqi refugees."

Touch of Baghdad, indeed.

After the election of Chris Coleman (one half of the Coleman-Rybak duo affectionately known by local press as the "Brokeback Mayors") as Mayor of St. Paul, I wrote this.

"Word to St. Paul... Enjoy the rapes."

Lo and behold, the city is facing a rape epidemic.

To all of this I say...

It is tragic that LeBron James broke both of his legs in that car accident and can't play basketball anymore.