Tuesday, February 24, 2009

You know what really grinds my gears Part 5

You know what really grinds my gears? The things on this list, conveniently, grind my gears (it's almost like I planned that). Now, remember, these are just my theories. I like to say theories because it sounds more authoritative that "idle speculation" or "gum-flapping." Anyway, on to the list.

1. People who top off their Cokes (Yes, they are all cokes. We're in Texas. It's a Coke. People will ask what you want to drink and you say a Coke and then people ask you which kind of Coke you want and you say Sprite or Dr. Pepper or Pepsi. Call it a Coke, because that's what it is. Not pop, not soda, not sodey-pop. Coke.) at the fountain when refills are free when people (namely, me) are standing behind them in line. Lady, you can get a free refill. You just need to walk back over and get a refill. It's free. You don't need to tap the dispenser 5 to 7 times after the cup is mostly full. Don't be that lazy. Now, when people (namely, me) are behind you, and you see them, and you tap the dispenser two more times, it's just spite. And you know it. Don't do that if people are behind you. Actually, don't even do that at all. Just get a refill.

2. What's the deal with vests? When you're wearing khakis, an oxford shirt, a cap, brown loafers and a vest, what message are you sending? Normal clothes are not enough? That I need to keep my chest warm while my arms remain slightly cooler? You look foolish. Cut it out.

3. More fashion here, and this is mostly about people in Houston. Whenever it dips below 60 degrees, people in Houston flip out and pile on their winter clothes. Look, sweetheart, I know your daddy bought you those gloves, the overcoat, the variety of scarves and the hat, but its nearly 60 degrees. We don't even need a jacket, really. Long sleeves will probably suffice. I'm all for dressing decently and properly. Believe me, I am. But you don't need to wear the winter collection from Neimann Marcus just because it's 58 degrees. You look ridiculous.

4. Ok, if you didn't hear about the monkey in Connecticut, I'll give you the Cliff's Notes version of the story. Lady adopts former movie star chimp. Chimp goes crazy, mauls woman's friend, police shoot monkey after woman unsuccessfully tries to fend off monkey with butcher knife and shovel. Police at some point say "let's get out of here, that guy doesn't have a face." (I don't even know what that means, but it was on the police tape and was hilarious). Turns out, woman slept in the same bed with the monkey and called it her son. The chimp had escaped previously. Get this, in the woman's car. She taught the chimp to drive. Imagine that....you're driving down Boston Post Road (that's a road in Connecticut, if you didn't know) and you see a chimp pulling up to you in a Honda. WTF? Was that a chimp? Did that chimp just cut me off? Back to the woman, if you'll indulge me. How in the world did the chimp get the keys? If you know it can drive, lock the dang keys up. My questions surrounding this event are assuming we are all beyond the point of asking why a 70 year old woman needs a 200 pound monkey as a pet. This is stupid people. It's a bad idea.

5. People who are annoying as all hell, but have know idea that they're annoying. You need to learn people are sick of you and will actually move across a room because of your presence. You're annoying. Figure it out. We all have. Don't act like that anymore, or, if you must, do it less loudly (nice way of saying shut the hell up).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Youtube Moment of the Week

Best song ever.

You ever hear somebody (Trey) humming a song and it gets stuck in your head? You know, walking around singing or whistling a song all day just because somebody (Trey) sang 3 words of the song? Well, the solution is to download it on iTunes on Ajay's iPhone and listen to it 10 times in one hour and then to put it on the jukebox at Kelvin Arm's twice in one hour. It is bonus points if the bartender turns up the volume and is singing along and random people start spontaneously dancing to the song. Extra bonus points if random people break out in keytar solos.

This song has also been seen here and here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Conspiracy Theories

I remember hearing as a youth not to believe everything you hear or read. I also remember hearing that just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean that the whole world is not out to get you. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. Now, I'm not some sort of a nut. On the other hand, I don't have the wool pulled over my eyes. There are some people who I believe are not dead. I'm not crazy. I know Elvis is dead. He died in 1994 in Memphis. I know JFK died in Dallas. He was shot 3 times. By 3 different shooters. But I digress. I'm talking about people who are still alive, even though they want us to think they're dead.

1. Ken Lay. Ok, so a guy worth many (if not more) millions of dollars (on the books and above the table, at least) is convicted of 10 counts of securities fraud and wire fraud, and, while waiting for sentencing in Colorado, suddenly drops dead. Hmm. Let's look at this carefully.

Ole Kenny boy was pronounced dead at 3:11am in the middle of nowhere Colorado. So, the poor schmuck lucky enough to pull the midnight shift at the Aspen Valley Hospital pronounced Ken dead. No way could our boy Ken have slipped this guy a few bucks to fake the autopsy. A man facing 20 to 30 years with millions of dollars could very easily slip some cash to the coroner. We know for sure that Ken's ethics would not have stood in the way. So, it's looking pretty shady. But wait, there's more.

The cherry on top here is that Ken's body was cremated and his ashes were scattered in a secret location somewhere in the mountains. Where is the body to confirm the diagnosis of a heart attack? Oh, it's gone. Is anybody else suspicious? A man with millions of dollars and every incentive to disappear suddenly dies of such a generic ailment, has his body cremated and has his ashes scattered? Nobody thinks he's currently sipping a Mai Tai somewhere in the South Pacific, living out his days? The funny thing is, I predicted he would "die" on his trip before sentencing. I told my dad (Hi Dad) that there was no chance Ken would do jail time and would instead slip off into the night. Come on, folks, this is too easy.

2. This may be a little more controversial, but there is no chance in the world Princess Diana is dead. No way. I'm not buying it. Let's review the facts and motives.

The Princess of Wales, beloved by not only the British but most of the world, is dating Dodi al Fayed, an Egyptian businessman. They had a serious relationship. What would happen if they had a child? What if Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Henry all died or became incapacitated? Would Di's child assume the throne? Could a half-Egyptian rule the British empire, which, ironically, included Egypt until 1952? There's no way this could happen. But the Brits couldn't just kill Di. More on this later.

Let's review the evidence surrounding the "fatal" car "crash" shall we. First, her body guard Trevor Rees-Jones, who was sitting in the front seat, survives the crash, but Di and Dodi do not? Hmm. Testimony from Mercedes experts said it was nearly impossible for anyone to survive a car crash at over 120 mph. Maybe the car wasn't going that fast. Maybe Di and Dodi got out earlier. Maybe they were never in the car. Maybe the whole car crash was faked by British special forces trained Rees-Jones.

What about the driver? Who was the driver? Why was Dodi's regular driver not there? Why did it take more than 2 full days for the driver's identity to be revealed? Henri Paul, the man who is alleged to have been the driver, may not have been the driver? How did he survive? Did he survive? Did Dodi's wealthy family pay him off? Could the British Royal family's power and money influence him? Does anyone else wonder about these questions?

Also, the same day as the crash, Princess Di mentioned to a British tabloid (Daily Mail) that she was about to withdraw completely from public life. Hmm.

Back to motive, for a minute, if you'll indulge me, please. Maybe Di and Dodi reached a compromise with the Royal family. There's no way they could have allowed her to wed the Egyptian, but there is similarly no way she could be allowed to have a child. The solution could not be an assassination. She was too popular. So, is it really that hard to believe that Di and Dodi are off somewhere in the Empire, or perhaps not in the Empire, enjoying their life, away from the scrutiny, pressure, and racism that faced them back home?

What about her kids, you ask? Did Princess Diana raise her kids? Or was it a team of nannies, nurses and tutors? She wasn't walking away from her children. She was walking towards the rest of her life. All I'm saying is: don't be a sucker. Think about it. Don't believe it because the media told you it happened.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Truly Great Movies -- Sports

Ok, I'll admit it, I love sports. I love movies. Clearly, it makes sense that I love sports movies. As for the rules, comedy helps here. True sports drama doesn't really work. As Exhibit 1, look at Any Given Sunday. Huge cast, real looking football scenes, actual NFL and college players, drama. And it came up short. Sure, this is a great scene. But it just didn't work.

As for the dramatic movies, sure, there are places for them. There are a few sports movies that are dramatic, but I think they are the exception, not the rule.

I'll even admit that most sports movies are formulaic. Group of misfits don't get along, something brings them together, musical montage of training or practice, something bad happens, they win, either on the field or morally. That's basically how it goes. But it works. And I like it.

1. Major League. All of Bob Ueker's lines were ad-libbed. No script. All laughs. Sure, Charlie Sheen isn't that believable as a pitcher. But, President David Palmer makes a compelling Cuban slugger, Wesley Snipes offers surprisingly funny one liners, Corbin Bernsen's best work, Tom Berenger is believable as a washed up catcher, and Lou Brown was Oscar worthy. I could watch this once a week and not get sick of it. Same for Caddy Shack.

2. Caddy Shack -- Bill Murray. Chevy Chase. Rodney Dangerfield. Plus, Judge Smails, Spaulding, and on and on. Unbelievably funny, even today.

3. Raging Bull -- In black and white. Good film. True story of Jake LaMotta.

4. Hoosiers -- How can you not like Hoosiers?

5. Cool Runnings -- Gentlemen, this is a bobsled. Sanka, you dead mon?

6. Bull Durham -- Second best baseball movie.

7. Brian's Song. If you cry here, it's ok. If you don't get a little choked up, you're not a good person.

8. Rudy. This would be higher on the list if Rudy didn't go on to become a hobbit and also if I didn't dislike Notre Dame so much. But, this scene is pretty inspirational.

9. Rocky 1 through 4. Five was awful, I never even bothered to see 6. This would be higher if not for the interracial man love between Rocky and Apollo. Not there's anything wrong with it, I just don't want to see it on TNT every other weekend. If this isn't the epitome of the 1980's, I'm not sure what is.

10. Tin Cup/Jerry Maguire. Both romantic comedies hiding as sports movies, both pretty good.

Truly Great Movies -- Drama

In my humble (not that humble, really) opinion, as someone who enjoys movies, there are only a handful of truly great movies. To be truly great, there has to be a compelling story and good acting. It has to seem real. Another important factor is (although this is more important in comedies [more coming soon]) re-watch-ability (probably not a word). On this list are movies from what I consider the modern era, 1970 to now. I also have to have seen the movie for it to make the list. Any other factors are those which I will make up so as to put movies I like on the list. Deal with it.

1. The Godfather Part 2. -- Simply, the best movie ever made. I will admit my top 4 can change on any given Sunday, but, for now, this is the top dog. I really like the split stories between DeNiro's portrayal of young Vito as well as Pacino's continued rise to the top as Michael.

2. The Shawshank Redemption. -- Modern day version of The Count of Monte Cristo.

3. The Godfather Part 1 -- Only the beginning of the story.

4. The Usual Suspects -- Can be watched again and again. Mid 1990's movie is not that dated. Great story, great acting.

5. Schindler's List -- Anything need to be added here?

6. Se7en --I did not want to type it that way, but that's the official title. Who am I to do anything about that?

7. LA Confidential -- Underrated movie. Watch it sometime, if you haven't yet. Great cast, great story, great acting. It has it all. Only drawback in Danny DeVito.

8. Goodfellas -- Another monstrous gangster movie. Clearly, I like this genre of movies. And my name doesn't even in a a vowel.

9. A Time to Kill -- Great exchange, right here. Matthew's acting leaves a bit to be desired, but this is arguably Samuel L.'s best movie, this side of Snakes on a Plane.

10. Forrest Gump -- the best movie examining the 1960's, starring a "slow" man from Greenbo Alabama. I think Jenny died of AIDS.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Let's all go to the movies

Every generation has culture-defining movies. From the '80s, movies such as the Star Wars (which I personally am not a fan of, but that's not my point so let's just keep going), Indiana Jones, the Caddy Shack, ET, Scar Face, and so on and so on are the movies we (well, I, really) think of when we (again, I) consider the era or generation. The '90s had movies such as The Shawshank Redemption, Usual Suspects, Tommy Boy, Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction and Fight Club.

All this got me thinking....what are this generation's cultural icons? What is our Godfather? What is our Psycho? Well, this is the list, in my opinion. Feel free to chime in, I'm sure I left some good ones off the list (perhaps even on purpose). Also, these are in no particular order other than in which order I typed them in to the list. Finally, I'm defining the era for this list as between 2000 and now. Enjoy. (The titles are YouTube links, FYI)

1. Anchor Man. Arguably Will Ferrell's best work. Which, as some could argue, isn't all that great (Ferrell's work, not the movie). Sure, he's essentially the same character in every movie. Sure, he runs around in his tighty-whiteys (or less) a little too much. But, he is funny and this was his best movie. You really can't go a day without hearing somebody make reference to this movie. Truly classic. I also include Step Brothers, Blades of Glory, Talladega Nights, Wedding Crashers, Zoolander, Old School and Elf in this category. For the most part, these are the all the same movie. Think about it. I'm right, aren't I?

2. 300. Much like Sin City, this movie is based on Frank Miller graphic novels. Both of these are spectacularly violent. Both of these are great movies. 300 was insane in the IMAX theater. If it doesn't get you pumped up, you might not be normal. Great fighting scenes. I didn't think there was any anti-Persian sentiment in the movie, other than what was historically fairly accurate. This was not about East vs. West in today's political scene. This was about the Battle of Thermoppylae. Enough said.

3. Batman Begins. The return of Batman to this generation. Watching the old (well, from the 80s and 90s) makes me laugh now. Not because they're funny, but that they're so bad. Those are closer to the Adam West TV Batman than the newer Batman movies of the 2000's. Laughable.

4. Memento. This was the first movie with what I consider to be an anti-hero. What I mean by that is somebody who the viewer roots for and pulls for, but is not a "good guy" so to speak. The anti-heroes push moral and legal lines, but, nonetheless, are compelling characters. I think this movie paved the way for 24. Not at all in terms of going backwards, but because of the anti-hero angle. Feel free to disagree.

5. The Royal Tenanbaum's. Perhaps the funniest movie of the era, and one of my all time favorite movies. From an all-star cast, to a great story, to brilliant one liners, this movie has it all. Absolutely hilarious. Even though Bottle Rocket and Rushmore were so good, The Darjeeling Limited and The Life Aquatic were not enjoyable. At all.

6. Lord of the Rings Triology. These were good. You can admit you liked them. I never read the books, but I thoroughly enjoyed these movies.

7. City of God/Hotel Rwanda. I'll also include any other movie that made Americans feel bad about being Americans and not impoverished and uneducated people in third world countries. I haven't seen it but I would include Slum Dog Millionaire. I do include The Constant Gardener and Blood Diamond, to some extent. These were sad movies, but were good movies. This was part of the cultural overtones of the era, even if that sounds somewhat pretentious.

8. Mystic River. Another movie with an all star cast. This movie had it all: murder, revenge, drama, suspense. Great movie.

9. Pan's Labyrinth. I'm not the biggest fan of subtitles. I find them distracting. I think I miss things going on visually if I'm reading subtitles. This movie was still great. A mixture of fantasy, horror, and politics, this Spanish movie makes my list.

10. Training Day. Denzel Washington, one of the finest actors of the past 20 years, finally breaks from his holier-than-thou mold and plays (very well, I'll add) a bad guy. Another anti-hero, Denzel plays one of his best roles in this movie.

11. Snatch. (hey look, a bonus #11 on the list [and you were expecting 10]) is probably the best movie of this era. This is in my top 5 movies of all time. It has comedy, action, suspense, gangsters, British accents and a dog. An all star cast, again. Try watching this movie with subtitles (even though I said I don't like them, once you've seen a movie enough to know what's going on, it's ok) and you'll get at least 8 to 10 more jokes that you didn't get earlier because of British slang or accents. Every scene is great. Every line is great. Truly incredible movie.

12. Super Troopers (another bonus movie). Does anything need to be said about this movie? Hilarious. If you haven't seen it, you need to. Immediately. I struggle to trust people who haven't seen this movie.

That's it, that's the list.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More Rules to Live By Part 2

Before we get started, I'd like to point your attention to a new website (new to me, at least) known as dickipedia.org. Now, it's not obscene at all but it might be slightly off-color (OK, it's pretty vulgar but it is not Howard Stern bad). In essence, this site calls people out for being, well, the appendage, not the name. Back on topic.

Caption: Picture applies to both the general post and the random introduction).

There are certain rules we live by, in the name of ordered and decent society. There are other (seemingly random) rules we live by because they make social situations smoother and less awkward. Some rules are utterly arbitrary and do not matter one iota in the grand scheme of things. The following rules fall somewhere between the second and third category, although I'll freely admit that the list is much closer to the third than the second. On to the list.

1. Shotgun. This seems much more important to guys than anyone else (Guys are a subset of the human male species -- something I'll eventually get into but not at this point [also, Dave Barry wrote a whole book about it, so check that out if you can't wait]). There are a group of rules for calling shotgun.
(A) You have to be in view of the car to call shotgun. Not through a window, but in actual view. Line of sight, folks.
(B) Also, if you run outside to call shotgun and then come back inside, your first call is waived and you start all over.
(C) You can also call other seats, such as back seat left, or, as is common with my friends, "not behind Vik" (because of height). This is acceptable and you can call these seats before shotgun is called. Some people, and I won't say who (it's Thai Nguyen) refuse to sit in the front because they don't feel comfortable with a person behind them (I know, wacky, but it's his prerogative).
(D) You can lose shotgun if you yank on the door handle before it is unlocked.
(E) You can lose shotgun if you are outweighed by another member of your party or if you are shorter by 6 inches than another person in your party (this can be summed by by Big Boy Rules [as brought to you by Wes Holstrom]).
(F) If, for some reason, the owner of the car does not drive, he (or she, I reluctantly concede) automatically get shotgun. They can waive it, of course, but they get right of first refusal.

2. (This is the non-shotgun part of the post) Don't try and save money on seafood. Look, I realize the economy is down and people need to save some cash here and there. But the place to do that is not on seafood. Stay home. Discount seafood means trip to the ER. Believe me. I once got free "shrimp" fried rice from a Chinese take out place in New Haven and I couldn't leave the house for a week. I needed a hose, a mop and a new blanket. I'll just leave it at that. Red Lobster, Long John Silver's, etc. are places that we just shouldn't patronize, people. If you really want seafood, pay full price. It's cheaper (and less gross) in the long run. Nothing good comes from this. Let's just move on.

3. This goes to the second category listed above, but buy the first round. It's just good policy. You should definitely do this if you invite other people out. No jokes here, just (in my opinion) a solid rule.

4. Betting in increments of one dollar at sporting events is not only encouraged, it's almost mandatory. Let's just use baseball as an example. Betting on the outcome of an at-bat is one of the staples. Betting on hit or out is not enough, but single to left field or ground out to second are acceptable bets. For the record, popping out to third is NOT the same as fouling out to third (Jordy). Another strong bet is adding a dollar to a hat every inning, and dividing the innings between the participants. When the catcher rolls the ball back to the mound and it sticks on the top of the mound, the person who is assigned that inning wins the hat of $1 bills. There are more out there and you can use your imagination. Have fun. Nothing makes sports more fun than random and limitless gambling.

5. Throwing coins is not the same as making it rain, I've come to learn. Just wanted to pass that along to all of you. I learned that one the hard way.

Let's go streaking

We're going streaking...bring your green hat.

(click the link, people)

Well, besides being generally funny, that clip has nothing to do with what I'm talking about.

(Disclaimer: Although not as much as Luke or Jay, I'm not to be confused with a fan, per se, of ESPN. I think it has too much influence on sports and does more than provide news and information on sports, which I consider nothing more than entertainment. On to the post.)

The streak that I am talking about, however, is ESPN's Streak for the Cash. Now, for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, I'll (briefly) explain. Users, in this case me, pick the winners of certain predetermined games on espn.com. There's no money involved, except at the end of the contest. You have to correctly choose 27 (used to be 25 before BigSam1122 won) games in a row and you win a million bucks. Also, each month, the person who correctly chooses the most games (not in a row) wins $2500.

I'm not advocating gambling on sports on the internet. That is currently illegal and I would never advise you to do anything illegal (not that I'm giving you legal advise -- that would be, ironically, illegal at this point in time).

Even though I know (ok, I hope but I'm fairly confident) I won't be able to win any money, suddenly I care a lot more about random sporting games. Some could argue I already cared too much about sports. It's just interesting to see if you can pick games correctly. My longest streak so far has been eight in a row. If anyone wants to make a side bet (gentleman's bet only, please) on their streak or month's output, I'm game.

You can't just pick any game. ESPN puts close games on the list. Most games involve road favorites, and if you know anything about sports, its fear the home underdogs. Especially in college sports. I'm re-learning this lesson. Slowly. But, I really enjoy picking games while I'm at work or at school (from my home computer or iPhone) and coming home to see my streak extended. For example, Everton (who I hadn't really heard of before) tied Liverpool today, my streak extended. Of course, I blew it when I took the team that 99.3% of America chose, but I digress.

Two weeks ago, I was thoroughly pissed when Dallas blew a game to the Milwaukee Bucks, who were playing without their two best players. Man, was I pissed. I lost last weekend when, contrary to ESPN's report, Danny Granger played (and dominated) and ended my streak after I picked again the Pacers. I just lost today when #4 Wake Forest lost to Miami (Miami!!!) in basketball. Here's my point. I think ESPN puts suspect (at best) information out there so that nobody will win the million bucks again.

I'll grant you that this post is not funny, but the subject is fun and entertaining, and that's what this blog is about.