Friday, May 30, 2008

The Greatest American Hero

Reposted from

Not that long ago, the American Film Institute released another of their “100 Years, 100 … fill in the blank,” lists. This particular list was “100 Years, 100 Heroes and Villains.” The hero in the number one slot was Atticus Finch. That’s pretty hard to argue with. I still get a little dusty in “To Kill A Mockingbird” when Reverend Sykes turns to Scout and says, “Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passing.” Then all of the black people that were in the balcony during the trial stand out of respect for Atticus. The hair on my arms stands at attention just thinking about it.

The silver medal on that list was Doctor Henry Jones Jr. Indiana to his friends. Indy to his sidekicks and lovers. That placement put Indy ahead of James Bond, Rick Blaine (Casablanca), George Bailey (It’s A Wonderful Life), T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), and The “Italian Stallion” Rocky Balboa. Pretty select company I’d say.

So what is it about an archeology professor with a beat up fedora that captures the imagination of men and woman alike? What makes Indiana Jones such a universally beloved character?

As I am sure 99.99999% of you know, the fourth chapter of the Indiana Jones saga, “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” is being released tonight at 12:01. (I know that’s technically tomorrow smarty pants.) Many of us have been waiting since 1989 to see another globetrotting adventure with Dr. Jones. I have been battling with my inner child, trying to keep expectations realistic. The truth is, I’ve had the Crystal Skulls Countdown widget on my desktop for six months. That’s ridiculous.

I think what makes Indiana such an iconic character is that he is the ultimate guy’s guy. He’s the kind of man that we want to watch a ball game with and he’s the kind of guy woman want to marry. He’s also somewhat complex. Much like myself, Indy toes the line between being a romantic and a cynic. Does he believe in God and/or the supernatural, or does he dismiss such notions as tales of the “boogeyman?” His words, not mine. That’s what he tells Marcus Brody in “Raiders” before he embarks on a journey to find the Ark of the Covenant. Does Indy believe in the basic tenets of Christianity, showing his faith with a leap onto an invisible bridge, or does he dismiss such beliefs and rely solely on what science can prove? I’ve watched these films literally dozens of times, and I’m not sure. Is he a selfish opportunist, looking only for “fortune and glory,” or is he willing to risk his neck for complete strangers – e.g. a small Indian village – based only on his own definition of morality?

Of course, we can overlook those kinds of logical and ideological questions and just love the fact that Indy battles evil armed only with his wits, a bullwhip, a six-shooter and a 10-year-old Chinese kid. There is no other force in the 20th century more reviled and wicked than the Nazi’s. Indy took them on twice. The Third Reich was nearly toppled by a khaki clad professor of archaeology. Sure, it was a bigger deal when allied troops captured the Nazi Eagle’s Nest, but Indy put a sizeable dent into the regime before that when he took the Holy Grail out from under their Aryan noses at Petra.

Indy is tough as nails. In a scrape he can hold his own against seven thugs in a Tibetan bar, or a Goliath-like German airplane mechanic. He’s smarter than you and me. Especially me. And he’s funny. “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.” Anybody ever said anything that clever? Anyone? Yeah, me either.

This weekend on 68th Street in Manhattan, I will join millions of others in cinemas across the globe as we relive our youth and join in the adventures of Dr. Indiana Jones, the greatest hero in the history of film.

What am I doing after the movie? I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Two Days, Two Stadiums

This past holiday weekend, my roommate Dave’s father Pete was visiting New York from Grand Island Nebraska. Pete is good people. A real salt of the earth kind of chap.

I think he had a good New York City experience. Walking the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square in all her glory at night, biking around Central Park and the like. But the baseball gods were smiling on us and we were able to have one of the ultimate New York outings. In two consecutive days, we visited both New York baseball stadiums. Other than Frank Sinatra rising from the dead and playing Madison Square Garden, I don’t know if there is better way to feel the pulse of The Big Apple.

Day 1: Yankee Stadium – Yankees vs. Mariners

It was lucky for me that the admittedly rubbish Mariners were in town. Even though they are crap, it’s still my beloved M’s.

We – Dave, his girlfriend Amy, Pete and myself – walked across the North boundary of the Park to make it to the crowded 4 train that runs directly to Yankee Stadium. The 4 comes out of the tunnel becoming an “El” train as you come into the Bronx.

When you get into the Bronx, you see just how prevalent the Yanks are. Nearly every business has the familiar logo displayed in one way or another. When the train pulls into the Stadium stop, you walk down the steps to one of the most interesting streets in New York. Nearly every establishment is a Yankees souvenir shop or a sports bar.

Across the way is the new stadium. While I do not like the idea of The House That Ruth Built being abandoned for a few extra bucks from the luxury boxes, I reluctantly admit the new stadium looks pretty cool.

Walking out into the light from the tunnels reminded me of Billy Crystal’s “Best Day” speech from “City Slickers.” We could not have dialed up a more perfect day for a ball game. 80 degrees, clear skies and a slight breeze coming from the Southwest. And then there’s that perfect green grass. The color of summer.

Yankee Stadium drips of history. You can see Monument Park in left field. The busts of The Babe, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle and others. It smells like baseball history in the joint. A mixture of fresh cut grass, infield dirt, stale beer, hot dogs and blood, sweat and tears. I wish someone would bottle the smell of the ballpark and sell it as an air freshener.

Looking out into the sea of Yankee fans, it’s a cornucopia of familiar jersey numbers. Mostly #2, but also 13, 25, 18, 55 and the growing number of Joba Chamberlain #62 unis. There’s a strong contingency of retired numbers knocking about. 3, 4, 5, 7 and so on. I may hate the Yankees and believe that rooting for them is like cheering for rain in a hurricane, but I revere and respect their history and tradition.

There was a classy ovation by the crowd for the surviving members of the incredible Tuskegee Airman of WWII. It was inspiring. Real history standing at home plate before the first pitch.

The Stadium itself has it’s own organically born traditions. My favorite is the bleacher bums greeting every Yankee player in order in the top of the first. In unison, the bleachers chant every starters name until they give a wave to the cheap seats. “Derek Jeter … clap, clap, clapclapclap.” Jeter doffs his cap and goes back to playing shortstop. I love the old fashioned organ that plays during the game. I hope they take the organ with them to the new stadium. There is the diamond vision subway race. I prefer the Seattle version with the hydroplanes, but that’s me. And then there is the amazing grounds crew “YMCA Dance Party” as they drag the field in between the sixth and seventh. It’s quite a sight. As they drag the infield, the chorus comes and they drop their tools and do the dance. It’s hilarious. Amy and I wondered aloud if there is any kind of audition to get the gig. “Okay Jorge, you can drag the thing behind you to manicure the infield dirt, well done. Now there’s just one more thing. Let’s see what you got. Kenny, cue up the music! Ready? 5, 6, 7, 8!”

Right after Ichiro smacked a laser into the right field seats, I noticed the Tyson Chicken sign in the outfield. I laughed to myself thinking of when George Steinbrenner traded George Costanza to the fictional “Tyler Chicken” for chicken dogs, chicken twists and – instead of beer – alcoholic chicken. Man that’s funny.

Overall we witnessed a good ball game. I didn’t like the outcome after the Mariner bullpen took a dump in the 8th and gave up four runs for a Yankee comeback. Objectively, it was a good baseball game.

When the final out was recorded and the Yanks won 6-5, the Stadium DJ cranked up Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” A fitting end to the day.

Day 2: Shea Stadium – Mets vs. Marlins

With a few subway service delays, getting to Queens to see the Mets was a little more tricky than the one shot to the Bronx. However, being the savvy urban veteran that I am, I deftly maneuvered to Shea in about an hour.

Here was the route; The 1 train from 103rd Street to 96th, the 2 to Times Square, the N to Queens Borough Plaza (Which is the stop that Cosmo Kramer raved about having delicious gyros being sold on the platform. The gyro guy doesn’t exist, by the way. Okay, no more Seinfeld references.) and finally, the 7 to Shea Stadium.

The 7 rolled steadily to Shea, passing the graffitied rooftops of Queens. It seems there is hardly an inch if the rooftops near the 7 line that is not tagged by local toughs. In fact, I would wager that it is difficult to find spray paint at any hardware store in the borough. It has to be frustrating to those actually need spray paint for household maintenance. As I approached the end of the line, out the right side of the train is Arthur Ashe Stadium and the US Tennis Center. Out the left side is Shea.

Now, Shea Stadium may not have the mystique of it’s big brother to the North, but there still is history there. World Championships in 1969 (The heralded “Amazin’ Mets”) and 1986. The infamous “Ron Santo black cat incident.” And the glory years of Keith Hernandez, Mookie Wilson, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight “Doc” Gooden and Howard Johnson. There’s the illuminated New York skyline over the scoreboard and the “Home Run Apple” in centerfield. I like the guy with a customized Mets jersey that reads “Cow-Bell Man” on the back. He walks up and down the concourses banging his cowbell like Gene Frenkel. I wonder when it dawned on him that he wanted to become the Cow-Bell Man. Many are called, few are chosen.

Being Memorial Day, we had the Marine Corp band perform the National Anthem. That was followed with a fly-by from four F-14 Tomcats. Chills all around.

Jose Reyes committed an error in the first and was booed roundly. Then hit two dingers and was cheered. Shea is tougher on the home club than Yankee Stadium. Carlos Delgado continued to be hammered by the home crowd as he continues to struggle from the plate. He’s dangerously close to the feared Mendoza Line.

The Mets offense was asleep at the switch, their defense was rather porous and the Marlins prevailed, 7-3.

It’s odd to think that both of these gotham ball parks will be gone next year. Gone the way of Boston Garden, Tiger Stadium and the dodo.

So, for those of you keeping score at home, here is the final tally;

Stadiums attended: 2
Sunscreen applied: 1 tube
Hot dogs eaten: 7
Beers consumed: 11
Bags of peanuts devoured: 2
Subway lines ridden: 6
Good times had: 8

Thank you Pete for your generosity and for giving us a Memorial Day weekend to remember.

Outside is America.

Good night and good luck.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Send In The Freaks

Reposted from

Didn’t Sinatra sing a song named that? Send in the freaks? Something like that.

There are subjects I cannot help but be fascinated with. Monkeys, Old West gunfighters, Ernest Hemingway or the Loch Ness Monster. Can’t help it. I’m riveted like R. Kelly at a Chuckie Cheese. (Too far?) Two other items that I am interested by are the circus and the odd. Not the modern politically correct circus, the old-timey circus with colorful tents filled with exotic animals and trapeze artists, sideshow barkers, snake oil salesman selling magical tonics and most important, the freak shows.

You know what I’m talking about. For a few extra bucks, the curious were herded into a tent to see the pinheads, bearded ladies, Siamese twins and other assorted oddities.

I think we should bring the freak show back.

My fascination with the weird and unique goes back to my early childhood. I was raised in the Seattle suburbs, and often my family would go into the city for the day. Most visits we would have lunch at the best fish and chips joint on the planet, Ivar’s. A few doors down from Ivar’s is Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe. A wonderland of the odd and ridiculous. Besides the Kingdome to see the Seahawks or the Mariners, the Curiosity Shoppe was my favorite place in the world as a child. Inside those doors was a magical world of shrunken heads, fake mermaids, a five foot long whale penis (or an oosik to the educated), two headed sheep and the stars of the place; two real mummies. The mummies are in the back. Sylvester and Sylvia. Actual dead bodies naturally mummified by mother earth. Sylvester has a bullet hole just below his ribcage. As a seven year old, it was the incredible thing I had ever seen.

I’m not talking about exploiting anyone. We shouldn’t call them freaks anymore. Maybe they could be called Human Marvels or something. A celebration of the unique. It would give those with a certain challenge the chance to make a good living. What was John Merrick (The Elephant Man) going to do for a living without the circus? An accountant?

We could bring back the showmanship of P.T. Barnum with a little modern compassion. Barnum was a genius. Even his hoaxes were brilliant and entertaining. The Fiji Mermaid, for example. Another beauty, not by Barnum but he copied it, was the Cardiff Giant. An atheist tobacco farmer named George Hull had men carve a ten foot tall man, telling them it was a statue. Then he stained it with various chemicals and buried it for a year. After that time he had some patsy’s dig a well in the spot it was buried and presto; “proof” of the giants spoken of in the Old Testament. He put the big fella in a tent and charged two bits to the curious to take a look. Now it wasn’t real, but you have to admire the effort.

Also when I was a kid, we went to California for a vacation. We took a walk on the Huntington Beach Pier. The details are a little hazy, I was only eleven or so, but there was a souvenir shop on the pier that had a “special exhibit” in the back. For an extra three bucks, you stepped behind a maroon velvet curtain and they had a huge great white shark’s jaw displayed. The theme from Jaws played ominously overhead. I waited till the lady running the shop wasn’t looking and snuck inside. It was amazing. Huge. Rows of serrated teeth that I imagined had eaten four or five surfers in front of me. Then the cranky lady caught me and chucked me out. It was worth the lecture from my Mom.

I want to bring that excitement back to the children. This is really for the kids.

There are a handful of freak shows still going, but they’re not any good. I saw the Jim Rose Circus Side Show as a teenager but didn’t like it. It was just people grossing out the audience. I wasn’t interested in the guy that drank what was pumped into his stomach and then regurgitated or throwing darts into a guys back. Where’s the Lion Faced Boy? That’s what I wanted to see.

(By the way, the people eating gross stuff was in the old freak shows. The performers were referred to as the geek. Yep, that’s where the modern term comes from. They would usually bite the heads off live chickens while women fainted.)

Some of my favorite freak show performers/human marvels of all time include;

The Elephant Man is the king. He’s Babe Ruth.

Zip the Pinhead. He was an all-star. Apparently a very kind man, born to former slaves, that happened to have a very small, slanted head.

Juan Baptista dos Santos; The Man With Two Penises. You read that right. The dude was swinging double junk.

Wang; The Human Unicorn. He had a fourteen inch growth on top of his head. You know, like a unicorn.

General Tom Thumb. He was Barnum’s golden boy. He stood 2 feet 3 inches when he started to perform. His wedding to fellow dwarf Lavinia Warren was a media sensation. Barnum sold tickets to the reception for 75 clams a pop. In 1863, that’s quite an expensive night on the town.

Robert Wadlow; The World’s Tallest Man. Robert reached a staggering height of 8 feet 11 inches. That’s more than a foot taller than Yao Ming. A lifesize mural of Robert is on a wall in the Pike Place Market across from the magic shop.

And my favorite, Francesco Lentini; The Three Legged Man. Apparently he was a good humored chap. When a reporter asked him if it was difficult to buy three shoes, Frank said he buys two pair and gives the remainder to a one legged friend. Zing. While he did show his ability to kick a soccer ball with all three legs, he was known for was his juggling. Seems to me a three armed man should have focused on that.

I dig the artwork of the old side shows. They really were something, stylish and edgy. Plus, there was something cool and exciting about the perceived danger and taboo nature of the shows. I love the romanticized Damon Runyon-esque world of seedy grifters and confidence men running shell games and three card monte. The carnies running the rigged carnival games. Barkers yelling to the masses, “Step right up!” I’m the guy who liked Vegas a lot more when it was shady, dirty, and run by the mob as opposed to the sanitized corporate Sin City we have now. Times Square was better before it was cleaned up and made respectable.

Think of the stylized work of Tim Burton. Especially Big Fish. We could bring that back to the circus and give the, uh, differently advantaged a chance to shine. We add some two headed snakes, an albino alligator, some shrunken heads, a sword swallower (how much guts does it take to try swallowing a sword for the first time?), a snake charmer and a couple sleight of hand magicians and we have a show for the whole family.

There is the possibility that with modern medicine, there are less physical oddities than a century ago, but that just means we have to work harder. Scour the globe for worthy participants. If NBA scouts can find 7 footers in Namibia, surely we can discover a two head guy in India somewhere.

Some of you may think a modern day freak show is in poor taste, but I pose this question; Is it any different than laughing at the idiots on reality television? The brilliant Ricky Gervais said it best. Instead of ripping off his thought, I’ll just quote him. “The Victorian freak show never went away. Now it’s called “Big Brother” or “American Idol,” where in the preliminary rounds we wheel out the bewildered to be sniggered at by multimillionaires.” He’s right. On MTV, “The Real World” continues to roll on, only instead of having real people that have actual jobs, they cast narcissistic, mentally unstable drunkards who want their job to be on MTV and see if they can get them to have an orgy. With cameras rolling. The ridiculous and idiotic will go on the telly and spill their sordid life’s details for 50 bucks and a six pack of Coors.

At least with The Lobster Boy or The Camel Girl, you knew what you were getting. There is an honesty in that.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Jessica Simpson Theory

I wouldn't have had any idea that Tony Romo broke up with Jessica Simpson, but it was mentioned on Pardon the Interruption. That, and she is on the list of the famous for being famous people that is difficult to avoid if you follow current events and pop culture.

I have had a theory about Jessica Simpson. The theory continues to prove true.

She divorces the 98 Degrees guy, who is a rubbish singer but seems to be good guy, thinking she can do better. Then she embarked on a series of high profile flings with high profile dudes. I had to look on Wikipedia, but they include Dane Cook, Adam Levine, John Mayer and others.

This is what is going to happen every time. The famous guy is going to date her because she is beautiful and has more curves than a crazy straw. But after the novelty of her beauty wears off and she starts to talk, it won't be long until they head for the nearest exit. It is going to continue to repeat.

I know she's gorgeous, but could you really handle having to explain everything to her day by day? It would be like a child without the cuteness of young curiosity. I couldn't handle it. Conversations with her would be like being trapped in an iron maiden. I once stopped seeing a girl in college when she asked what book I was reading and I replied "It's a collection of short stories from Ernest Hemingway." She looked puzzled and asked "Who's Vernal Hemingway." Thanks for coming over, love, it's time to go now. I couldn't date another girl because she was a cheerleader. Couldn't handle that. I have an ex-girlfriend that I had to temper conversations because she knew so little of the world. It was excruciating.

I think Tony Romo and John Mayer are no different than me. There's only so much stupidity a man can take.

But don't feel bad for Jessica, at least her acting career is taking off. She's a young Meryl Streep.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Yes But No But Yes...

I have been asked to become a staff writer for the pop culture web site

I am going to continue to post here, but some of the "better" stuff may be directed to the site since they are, you know, paying me to write my drivel. I am sure the posts will be mostly about Larry Bird, monkeys and pirates.

My first article for the site is "Why I Told Lost To Get ... Well, You Know..." is posted now and can be seen here.

It would great if you bookmarked it and checked back now and again since the more I'm read the more shekels are in my pocket.

Thanks for being able to read.

Good night and good luck.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Playin' The Ponies

It's a blustery day here in Manhattan. Overcast and pissing rain. My favorite kind of days. I love rainy days. Maybe many of us that were raised in the Northwest feel this way. Rainy days make me happy. I could live on that Star Wars planet that is stormy every day and be perfectly content.

I've never been a big horse racing/go to the track guy. We have a few buddies that are full on addicts. One that took a security guard job at Emerald Downs, a Seattle area race track, just to be closer to the track. The best part of that story was our buddy found used condoms in the stables. Seriously. Our boy then became the lead "investigator" for the great Emerald Downs Horse Trainer Bestiality Scandal. He was interviewing suspects, collecting evidence, analyzing data, the whole nine. The case has never been solved. The sicko that was diddling horses in Auburn Washington is the Jack the Ripper of the horse world. Saucy bugger. I am not making that story up. Anyhoo, I've been a few times and had a good day. But I do love following the Triple Crown every summer. This started years ago. I would get the weekend edition of USA Today and read about each horse, then my brothers and I would watch the race on Saturday. I like the history (there was a documented horse race in London in 1174 hosted by King Henry II and there were horse races in the Greek Olympics going back as far as 638 BC.), the pageantry and tradition, the human interest stories and the intense two minutes of the race. I love when the guy yells "and down the stretch they come!" when the horse's turn the final corner and come barreling down the home stretch. Okay, I admit it, I also think the little jockeys are funny. Especially when they are interviewed. They all sound like a cross between the Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz and Keri Strug. It's just adorable.

This year we have a truly talented horse, Big Brown, who has a real shot to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Seattle Slew also won the Triple Crown in 1977. Sadly, the Kentucky Derby had a dark cloud over it because of the tragic death of silver medal horse Eight Belles. The filly finished second and when slowing down suffered two compound fractures in her front legs and was euthanized on the track shortly thereafter. Watching the scene unfold was terrible. Very sad.

(Side Note -- My cousin Aaron is referred to as "A-Bells." Sounds just like Eight Belles. With the confusion of what was going on, I thought I heard the announcer say that A-Bells was just put to sleep on the racetrack. I quickly called Aaron to make sure he wasn't put down by veterinarians in Kentucky. A-Bells is okay. He wasn't in Kentucky.)

Of course the knee-jerk reactions came quickly. Especially from the more and more ridiculous as time goes on jokers at Peta. How in the name of all that's holy can you take Peta seriously? They say the jockey needs to suspended. Uh, what? What sense would that make? The fact of the matter is that this was a freak accident. It's never happened before. Much like the terrible deaths of Hank Gathers or Dale Earnhart. It's the equivalent of Peyton Manning winning the Super Bowl, walking off the field and dying in the tunnel of an aneurysm. The odds of the injury happening again are roughly the same odds I will see the movie "What Happens In Vegas." In other words, slim and none, and slim is heading out of town. It was an anomaly, not an indication that horse racing should be banned.

That being said, I am bothered by something else. When you have the opportunity the name a race horse, it is a gift. The chance to really make a statement. The owners of this gifted horse went with ... Big Brown. Moses smell the roses, that is just awful. Big Brown? "He's a big brown horse, let's just call him Big Brown." That's like a new mother saying, "Well, he's a little pink naked guy, I say we name him Little Pink Naked." Brilliant.

Think of the rich history of race horse names. Names like Whirlaway, War Emblem, Thunder Gulch, Holy Bull, Gallant Fox, Tobasco Cat, Go For Gin and my favorite, Fusaichi Pegasus. The possibilities are endless. If I had a racehorse, I would name him something like; Campbell's Lad, 1.21 Jigowatts, French Lick, El Chupacabra, Garden Gnome, Chester Copperpot, Illahee (my junior high school), Break Like The Wind, Staff of Ra, Duck Soup, Fiji Mermaid, Pilkington's Round Head, Ittadonedeal, Luck Be A Lady, Inferno or Rampant Lion. Something like that, uh, I haven't really thought about it very much.

Man, I need to start saving for a race horse. The Preakness is only a week away.

Eight Belles: R.I.P.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

People Watching

This past weekend on the subway, I saw a seemingly normal looking gentleman that was involved in a rather curious activity. He had a travel sized tube of Purell Hand Sanitizer. (Which is one of my favorite inventions of the last 10 years. Right up there with Smoothie Mix Skittles.) The cat squirted a silver dollar sized amount of the gel into his hand, rubbed his hands together and ... still can't get over this ... proceeded to rub it all over his face. Then repeated.

So, this brings up an important question. Was this man:

A.) On the cusp of a brilliant new face cleansing technique.
B.) Involved in a clever dare.
C.) Named Glen.
D.) Completely nuts.

I'm leaning towards "D." But it may be "C." He looked like a Glen.

I enjoy people watching. It makes me laugh. In addition to Manhattan, I especially enjoy it at the airport and at Disneyland. Seriously, they let anybody into The Magic Kingdom.

There are more than a few characters that make me laugh when I see them. Here are a few of them.

Tank Top McGee – It is usually an overweight gentleman rocking that sleeveless number. Most of the time the tank top is purple for some reason and is accompanied by a pair of denim shorts. Occasionally the tank is tucked in. He also tends to have a sticker on his truck of Calvin whizzing on something.

Inappropriate Midriff Lady – Come on sweetheart, you can’t park that in there. Why are you showing your stomach? It’s doing more harm than good. Small animals are fleeing. Children are being frightened.

Mr./Miss Angry For No Reason – You’ve seen this person, they’re yelling at the guy at the McDonald’s counter because the 99-cent bacon cheeseburger they ordered only has two strips of bacon. They’re screaming at the customer service agent in the airport because the Super Saver ticket they bought for 59 bucks doesn’t come with an aisle seat in the bulkhead. I’ve seen people get angry with the sales clerk making minimum wage for the pricing of an item in a store. The clerk is not within driving distance of anyone who decides the price of a pair of jeans you idiot.

The Neck Tattoo Rascal – When you get a neck tattoo, you are essentially cashing in your standing in society. You can’t get a good job unless you’re a musician or professional athlete but at least you’re keeping it real. It’s a steep price to pay for 200 bones.

(The other day I saw a woman with her cell phone tucked into her rather prominent cleavage. It was quite something. I believe that this is an anomaly, but I’m going to keep my eyes out for Big Boobies Cell Phone Storage Girl. I’ll keep you posted.)

Fratty McFratterson – This guy cracks me up. The meat head frat boy with the bleached tips, puka shell necklace, khaki cargo shorts, all white K-Swiss kicks, double hoop earrings and a t-shirt that reads “You Got Tickets?” and that has two arrows pointing to his creatine induced biceps. Often has a “tribal” arm band tattoo. I got news for you, Chief, there is nothing tribal about your tat. It wasn’t designed by the village elders of a Masai tribe in Africa. It was designed by a high school dropout that goes by the handle “Fruit Loops.” Fratty says the word “bro” a lot. Am I the only one that thinks that double earrings on a guy is really effeminate?

Chester Molester – When you see him, you’re pretty sure he is a pedophile. Almost always has a creepy moustache, wears pegged jeans with all white high tops he bought at Target, a dark windbreaker and is more often than not sporting a fanny pack. Every time I see him, I just know that he has a van with no windows. This guy is also known as Creepy Creeperson. Keep an eye out for the To Catch A Predator crew when you see him.

(Why do some guys need the fanny pack? I carry keys, wallet, cell phone and a pen. Occasionally Chap Stick or Tums depending on a particular malady. What are those cats carrying around that can’t be stored in normal pockets?)

The Indoor Sunglass’s Schmuck – What, is it a little too bright inside Macy’s for you? There are two people that wear sunglasses indoors; blind people and jerk offs.

That person is similar too…

The Bluetooth Jackass – Yes, the Bluetooth is a great tool when you’re driving in the car, but do you really have to wear it the whole day? How many conference calls are you going to be on in Wal-Mart? One of my old basketball coaches (who is a real idiot) wore his Bluetooth while he was coaching a game last year. Are you getting calls during timeouts, coach? Nobody thinks you’re cool because you have purchased a 59 dollar wireless cell phone earpiece.

And finally, one of personal favorites.

Utility Belt Man – I love this guy. He’s a poor man’s Batman. His belt features two cell phones and a pager, a Leatherman Tool, a compass, a Mag-Lite flashlight in a nylon holster and 733 keys hanging from a carabiner. How many keys does one person need? Is he a dungeon master? The Utility Belt Man is always ready for action. If the comic book store has a blackout, that cat is prepared.

People crack me up.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Rags & Bones Vol. 4

Let’s omnibus, baby…

David Blaine, the once interesting magician, just broke the world record for holding his breath under water. On Oprah (which is a weird place if you ask me) Blaine held his breath for 17 minutes, 4.4 seconds. Uh, neat. Do a freaking magic trick.

Speaking of breath…

When it comes to the most useless invention ever, I lean towards the candle snuffer. A brass bell shaped “tool” that you cover the candle with, thus decreasing the oxygen and the flame is extinguished. We already had an invention to do that. It’s called your breath. Pucker up and blow fancy boy.

Archeologists and treasure hunters recently found a shipwreck off the coast of South Africa that contained “tons of copper ingots, elephant tusks, gold coins — and cannons to fend off pirates.” Who doesn’t love a good pirate treasure story? How does treasure hunter become your occupation? That might be the coolest job in the world. Where do I send my resume?

I picked the Suns to win the NBA championship. Oops. If we are cursed with a Spurs versus Pistons finals, I am boycotting the whole shebang. I can’t handle another San Antonio flopathon and games where the final score is 77-73. You put Tim Duncan and Rasheed Wallace on the same floor and it will be Whineapalooza 2008. Can’t handle it. Here is, yet again, more proof the NBA was more fun when everybody hated each other. Larry Bird took on Charles Barkley and Dr. J. Good times.

I wonder why there hasn’t been any significant new musical instruments in the last 50 years. Are we out of ideas for horns? You would think the would be a new woodwind invented since 1900. The only new instrument I could think of was the synthesizer, and that’s still just a piano. Or another stringed instrument besides variations of guitars, violins, or ukulele’s. There has to be more ideas out there. And no, I don’t think the keytar counts.

Here is an amazing little nugget of musical history. During sound check before The Concert for Bangladesh, Bob Dylan and George Harrison performed a duet version of Bob’s “If Not For You.” I miss George.

Life took a turn towards the surreal when my cousin Aaron and I were talking on the phone and I wondered aloud whatever happened to a guy we used to play basketball with. A good guy, but he had a few run-ins with the law after some bad judgment. Which was too bad because he was really good, could have played at USC. So, we googled him. And then we saw this. It took a moment for what we saw to set in. Is that real? He is on a site called Really? So bizarre. The best part was the photo he chose. “Hey, do you have that picture of me swigging Hennessy right from the bottle? Cool. I’m going to use it for my profile.” We also liked how he wrote his “favorite flavor of woman is caramel butterscotch.” You can’t make that up.

And finally, an even odder story. This week in the Indian state of Maharashtra, locals participated in a 500 year old ritual where infants are dropped 50 feet off a tower into a blanket below. This is done for “good luck.” Who's running this town, Mola Ram? (Thanks for the joke Drew.) You know, I’m all for cultural tradition, but maybe there are a couple we could lose. Dropping babies off a tower may be one of them. I can’t stop imagining how this started 500 years ago.

I think the conversation may have sounded something like this;

Two farmers are sitting on a hill beneath a tree, looking down at their village.

Abu: You know, the crops aren’t coming in very good this year.

Punjab: Tell me about it. And our cows aren’t giving milk. Dry as a bone. You know what else? I lost my favorite pair of sandals in that last flood.

Abu: We can’t get a break.

Punjab: I hear you. What we could use is some better luck. Some good luck.

Abu: Right. We need some good luck. But what could we do? Any ideas?

Punjab: Well, let me think. Give me a minute. (Both men ponder in silence for ten minutes or so.) I have an idea, it may sound a little strange, but hear me out.

Abu: Go on.

Punjab: You have an infant son right? Well, so do I.

Abu: (Intrigued) Go on.

Punjab: There’s that 50 foot tower over there doing nothing. It’s more decoration than anything else. I say we go to the top of the tower, have the rest of the town down below holding a blanket, then we drop our sons off the tower. For good luck.

Abu: (Still intrigued) Interesting.

Punjab: What’s the worst that could happen? A couple broken necks? I really feel this is our best shot at better luck.

Abu: Well, I’ve heard enough. Let’s do this.

The two men shake hands and begin to walk back towards the village to retrieve their sons to drop them off a tower.

Punjab: I have another idea. I call it Russian Roulette.

Abu: Tell me more.

It probably went something like that. 500 years later, we have this:

Good night and good luck.