Hello Again

September 9, 2008

Yeah, it’s me.  Typing away on my long neglected blog.  I’m not dead yet.  I’ve just been really busy with all kinds of writing stuff, that I haven’t had much time or energy to barf up my opinions on the world lately.  But here is some brief thoughts of what’s been on my mind:

1.  NBC’s Olympic coverage was horrible, as usual.  Seriously, if I don’t see another beach volleyball match on TV for another four years, I’d feel pretty blessed.

2.  Obama vs. McCain in November.  This has the potential to be the second coming of the Kennedy-Nixon race, where the winner may have been different in an age of no mass media.

3.  Chargers over the Cowboys in the Super Bowl.  Note:  I thought of this before Tom Brady blew out his knee.

4.  Went to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina for a few days in August.  Had a blast.  I would highly recommend a trip there.  You won’t be disappointed.

5.  I have grown to really enjoy the magic that is Facebook.

6.  I’ve just noticed how shrill my neighbor’s birds can sound when they make noise.  I need to leave the room now.

But Can they Handle “YYZ?”

July 24, 2008

Fun bit of surrealism for you today:Rush playing “Tom Sawyer” on Rock Band. This was ahead of their appearance on “The Colbert Report,” the first time they had performed on TV since 1975.

Two Drapers, One Cup

July 13, 2008

The Stanley Cup is the coolest trophy in all of sports. It is also the centerpiece of the coolest tradition in sports, as every player on the NHL team fortunate enough to become champions gets a chance to spend 24 hours with the legendary chalice and do whatever he pleases with it. Naturally, there have been all kinds of wild and wacky things that has happened over the years with the trophy, but the latest bit of indignation may be one of the weirdest. If you scroll down to the bottom ofthis article, you will see that the infant daughter of Detroit Red Wing center Kris Draper pooped in the Cup.

Now, you think that may be gross (and it is, especially when Draper admits to drinking out of it after he washed it out), but you got to appreciate that the kind now has a fantastic story to tell her friends for the rest of her life. You can almost visualize her pretty much in any social setting breaking the ice by saying, “You know the Stanley Cup? Hockey’s holy grail? Best trophy in sports? Yeah, I dropped a deuce in it.” How cool is that?

Come to think of it, I’m a little jealous of her. The story that she has is gold.

YouTube is Missing Something Rather Important

June 20, 2008

Every so often, something happens that serves as a reminder that YouTube doesn’t have every cool or important video out there.  We had a one of those moments happen a couple of weeks ago.

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, legendary sportscaster Jim McKay passed away, after living an amazing, full life.  It was sad to see him go, just because for me and many of my age, he was one of the most important voices in sports medai, and THE voice of the Olympics.  Just the thought of McKay coming into my home through the television and sharing the action of the day’s Olympiad (metaphorically, of course) makes me very sad that we are now subjected to NBC’s horrendous, spirit-sucking coverage.

Of course, McKay’s finest hour as a sportscaster was during the tragic events of the ’72 Summer Games in Munich, when Palestinian terrorists killed 11 Isreali athletes.  In an age without internet or cable, McKay transformed from TV Olympic host to a makeshift Walter Kronkite, keeping America abreast of the story as it unfolded with an earnestness and diligence of a trusted, veteran national news anchor.  It was without question, the finest moment ever in sports media, and it would never be duplicated today (can you even imagine ESPN’s Chris Berman or Stuart Scott in the same situation?)  When McKay broke the horrible news, finishing up the report with the somber words “They’re all gone,” it ripped the heart out of the nation.  I’ve seen the clip a few times over the years, and it punches me in the gut, and I was six months old when it actually happened.  The fact that I wasn’t around long enough to remember the situation, yet McKay’s words still resonate that strongly, is the best testament I can make to the man.

Which brings me back to the first sentence in this post.  For some reason, none of McKay’s broadcast can be found on YouTube, save for a 90 second chunk in this 90 minute documentary about the Munich games that occurs at about the 80th minute.  Believe me, I scoured the site looking for it when I heard the news, and nothing could be found, with the exception of that documentary.  If there is any piece of sports history that deserves to be represented on YouTube, it is this one, as it represents one of the three times in the 20th century that sport and real history became intertwined enough to push sport into something of actual worldwide relevance (Jesse Owens winning the gold in front of Hitler and the allegorically-laden Miracle on Ice being the other two).  Yet it’s not on there.  And that’s a shame, because I’d love to share it with you.  Seriously, if you’ve never seen the McKay footage before, you owe it to yourself to find it somewhere and watch it.

Sadly, for the time being, somewhere other than YouTube.

Been a Writing Fool

June 13, 2008

At first glance, I know that makes no sense at all, since this is the first post here in three weeks or so.  However, I’ve really had no energy to post anything recently.  All my writing-fu has been used up lately by my freelance gig with DiningOut Magazine.  It’s been pretty great, though.  Not only did I do extensive work in the Orange County edition of the magazine, I’ve also written my first piece that got published nationally (the magazine I write for contains a few national pieces in each edition, with the rest of the mag being split into regions), and I’ve been asked to write-up restaurants for the San Diego, Chicago and Ft. Lauderdale editions.  Let me tell you, it’s pretty surreal writing about a place in a city you’ve never been (which is the case for Chicago and Ft. Lauderdale).  I’ve had to be flexible with my time dealing with the out of town assignments — we’re talking doing phone interviews on my lunch hour, or before I go to my real job (which means interviews at 6:30 am).  It’s tough work at times, but every bit of it is worth it.  I’m having a lot of fun with it, and I feel pretty honored that the powers that be have as much trust in me to do a good job as they do.

So that’s why you haven’t seen me around lately.  I’ll hopefully post something later, that’s not quite so full of myself.

In the Year 2000…

May 20, 2008

Sometimes, it’s fun to go back through old magazine and newspaper columns and read what people in the past thought our current lives would be like. It’s especially fun when the article happened to come out between 1950 to 1965, when science fiction hit a “golden age” of sorts due to seemingly every other film Hollywood produced in that time was of the sci-fi genre. This titanic wave of the fantastic seemed to fuel people’s imaginations as much as they captured them, because the “what will life be like in the future” articles from this era are filled with some incredibly zany stuff.

For example, check outthis quaint little article from 1961. While they did nail a couple of things, like the bullet train that connects Japan and electric sliding doors, most of the things they concoct are either partially possible now or just flat out ridiculous. Equally absurd is how the article is bookended, as the writer opines that life will be so easy that people will die of boredom, and that what is written should be considered science “fact.” Considering that I don’t have my own hovercar or rocket belt, I’m thinking that the author needs to take that sentence back.

Articles like this, though, really make me appreciate the genius of science fiction writers who do indeed successfully predict future gadgets and gizmos. Stuff like Jules Verne calling nuclear power or Ray Bradbury hatching interactive entertainment through your TV (not to mention that it’s looking more and more like robots in the style of Isaac Asimov will be plausible in my lifetime or in the next generation’s lifetime at the very least). It makes me wonder what kind of vision-lacking people used to write this stuff. Were they pressed to meet a deadline? Did they really love to watch “The Jetsons?” Was it wishful thinking on account that the writer had to take the Studebaker to the mechanic yet again? If they were still alive when one of the predictions came true, did said writer freak out with glee/terror?

Of course, what’s going to happen when people 50 years from now read about predictions that are being made currently about the future? How wrong will the futuristic sages be at the century’s midpoint? Will they be able to look at Mike Judge’s biting satire “Idiocracy” and confuse it as a documentary instead of a comedy? I’m hoping I’m still around here to find out.

The Return of Great, Bad Reality TV.

May 9, 2008

For years, I’ve looked at the silly cavalcade of inane and insane reality show concepts that have been put on the air.  While there are some tastefully done ones out there, the majority of them are an affront to taste everywhere (example:  pretty much anything on VH1 or MTV).  It is because of these shows that I have wondered aloud, “If they have the space to put on this kind of fake crap on the air, why don’t they make time to put earnest, genuine crap on the air and bring back “The Gong Show?”

Well, in a couple of months, I finally get to cease my inquiries.  That’s right:  The Gong Show is coming back, yo!

This new version will run on Comedy Central, and hosted by Dave Altell.  Both station and host are utter bastions for envelope pushing bad taste that surprisingly doesn’t suffer fools too well, so it stands an excellent chance of remaining true to its roots.  Anyone who remembers this show back in the day knows that it was the ultimate exercise in “so bad it’s awesome” TV.  Only “Battle of the Network Stars” could really come close to its tackiness.  (And that show needs to come back as well, by the way.)  For those of you who don’t remember it, the best way I can describe it is that it is very much like watching the audition weeks from “American Idol.”  If you think that those weeks are the best part of that show (like me), then you owe it to yourself to watch The Gong Show.  Trust me.

While it goes without saying that I’m in for the debut, I must say that the following things will hopefully occur:

1.  Altell and the judges will smoke and drink throughout the show.

2.  Altell dresses just as bad as Chuck Barris did.

3.  They find a way to incorporate a recurring character as kick-butt as Gene Gene the Dancing Machine.

4.  Keep the judges tacky.  Really, they shouldn’t try to go any classier than Adam Carolla.  Sadly, this means that Andy Dick is a lock to be a semi-regular, but hopefully they will temper that with the occasional appearance by someone like Jeffrey Ross or Jay Mohr.

Even if they don’t follow these guidelines, this show has great potential to rock.  I can’t wait.  And no, I’m not ashamed to admit it, although I probably should be.

A Mystery Solved

May 2, 2008

Figured out why it suddenly cost $49 to fill up my tank last week.  Turns out I had a gas leak, and I needed to get it fixed.  The crazy thing was, it cost me only $45 to get the problem taken care of.  The crazier thing is, I know that it would still cost me more than that to fill up my tank with premium.  Yes, I am an 87 Octane kind of guy.  However, since my ride is still a ’97 Escort, it’s not like I’m ready to gun for a cameo in the next “Fast and the Furious” flick.

It’s Been Too Long

April 24, 2008

Holy crap, it’s bee a long time since my last post.  I didn’t realize it had been so long.  I’ve been so busy with freelance gigs over the past couple weeks, I’ve kinda forgot about this place.  Oopsie.

I really don’t have anything pertinent to share right now, so allow me to just throw out some random observations.  Hopefully one of them will catch your fancy.

*I paid $49 to fill up my car today.  Insane, when you consider my car is a Ford Escort.  But at least the oil companies made record profits last quarter, so they have that going for them.

*It’s time for our President to man up and admit that we are in a recession.  He keeps denying it, choosing to say things such as we’re in a “slow down” period.  Sorry, sir, but please stop trying to throw euphemisms at us to try and make us feel confident about the economy.  Why won’t he come out and call a spade a spade?  It’s not like he’s running for office.  Be honest with us!  I got so frustrated with him today, I actually referred to him as “Monkey Boy.”  Oh, and by the way, the Texas Rangers suck.  And I’m a Republican (at least, financially).

*Finished watching the first season of AMC’s “Mad Men” this week.  Fantastic show, worthy of all the awards it pulled down.  For those who don’t know about it, the show revolves around Madison Avenue ad men, set in 1960.  Naturally, these cats are boozing, un-PC womanizers, and that’s just in the office.  Think of all those treacly Doris Day-Rock Hudson movies and replace all the saccharine with slick, dark polish, and you pretty much get this show.  It’s fascinating to watch, if only for what office life was like before certain rules came to be.  I do believe you can catch the episodes for free over at http://www.amc.com.

*LOST comes back tomorrow night!  Woot!  I can’t wait to see if they continue to go all Kurt Vonnegut on us.

*As much as I enjoy http://www.pandora.com, there is one area where they fail miserably:  Progressive Rock.  They do not have it listed as a subgenre, and if you type in a classic prog act like Pink Floyd or Yes, be prepared to be bombarded with songs from Foreigner and The Eagles (!), acts that are the antithesis of progressive rock.  If any of y’all use Pandora and have a solution to this other than the somewhat laborious process of shooting down songs as they come on (really annoying when you’re trying to multi-task), let me know.

Change is Not Always Good

April 3, 2008

If you grew up on Southern California radio in the ’80s and ’90s like I did, you are no doubt familiar with the beauty that was Guitar Center commercials.  Since the dawn of time it seems, GC has had a successful formula for selling their products over the radio:  Take one amped up guy who sounds like he has hair down to his belt and is wearing a Zeppelin T-Shirt beckon you in a manly fashion to the greatest, most amazing sale the store has had since last week, when they previously had their greatest, most amazing sale.  Add behind the rocker dude a tower of guitar riffs from Joe Satriani/Steve Vai/Nuno Bettencourt (I swear, GC used every Extreme song except “More Than Words” in their ads), and you suddenly knew how to spell Zjildjan.

Sadly, you can now talk about this sentence in the past tense. While listening to the Kevin & Bean show on KROQ the other day, I heard an ad for Guitar Center, and recoiled in horror.  Gone was the rocker dude.  Gone were the guitar riffs.  In its place was some girl talking to me about some GC sale in manner more befitting for someone trying to sell me  Lasik eye surgery.  Utter sacrilege.  They couldn’t even get somebody to sound all sultry like a rock groupie or Lita Ford or something, which made the change even more jarring and sad.  It’s enough to make me want to shop at Sam Ash instead.  That is, if I actually knew how to play an instrument.  Heck, maybe I’ll just buy a pair of drumsticks.