Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bidding Adieu to the Two Party System



“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”
Benjamin Franklin



Every Presidential election is important in this country. However, some are more important than others. Similar to how every Beatles record is important, but Rubber Soul matters more than Beatles For Sale.

This fall we will be involved in a vastly significant election. One that will help shape our future.

That is one of the main reasons I have made some changes in my personal political ideology.

Recently, I have told America’s two major political parties to get lost and “don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.”

I am now a registered Independent.


To read the rest of the column and my take on the broken two party system, please click here.

Cheers,

JW

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Idiots vs. Molotov Cocktail

I always scoff when the warning comes up "DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!" Really? I shouldn't jump from a moving vehicle onto another moving vehicle because it's dangerous? Huh. Thanks.

The kids that try to reenact stunts from Jackass deserve to get hurt. You are a cement-head. You don't deserve the right to sue anybody. Nobody sued The Three Stooges if someone hit their buddy in the head with a hammer.

Then I see a video like this one and remember just how stupid people can be.


Molotov Cocktail Baseball - Watch more free videos

Maybe the legal warnings aren't that dumb...

Mythbusters Paint Mona Lisa In Less Than a Second

I love Mythbusters. Consistently great television. As many of the lady readers know, us men are not that bright. We need to know if combining Pop Rocks and Coca-Cola will make our stomachs explode. (It’s doesn’t. Phew.) Or, can you use the inflatable emergency slide as a makeshift parachute if an airplane is going down. (Believe it or not, you can.) These are things we need to know.

Jaime and Adam show that a huge machine loaded with paintballs can paint a masterpiece in 80 milliseconds.



Science.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Star Wars Meets Benny Hill



That is just wacky.

Out of Respect For John Lennon










Last evening I went for a long walk. Into Central Park at 106th and moved down the West Side. Weather has begun to cool off, making late-summer nights damn near perfect. Still plenty of locals enjoying evenings in the Park. A few picnics. A few kids playing catch with parents. A few dogs marking territory.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, I exited the Park at 72nd Street. Right next to The Dakota. The Dakota is a luxury apartment building. One of my favorite pieces of architecture in the city. Legend says that when the place was going up in the early 1880's, someone from The New York Times stated "They might as well have built it in the Dakota Territory." The West Side did not reach up to 72nd at that time. It was still immune to the urban sprawl that would eventually take root. The nickname stuck.

The Dakota is a work of art. High gables, terracotta spandrels, balconies with balustrades, ornate detail all around. It's the kind of building that isn't made any more. Detailed craftsmanship and unique design has given way to beige stucco and the creepy cookie cutter look of American suburbia. Notable residents of The Dakota have included Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein, John Madden, Gilda Radner, Jason Robards, Boris Karloff and especially ... John Lennon.

John and Yoko lived at The Dakota starting in 1973. The Beatles were no more, all the lads were making solo records and trying to live with the impossible expectations that came with being a Beatle. John had become more controversial, refusing to be a typical pop star. He spoke out at what he felt were injustices. He made records that weren't going to be popular. John had overcome a very serious addiction to heroin and seemed to be turning the corner in his life. He spoke about hope and that maybe the 80's would be better than the scandal ridden and negative 1970's.

A psychopathic, mentally unstable man named Mark David Chapman ended all that. On December 8th, 1980, Chapman stood outside The Dakota and asked John to sign his copy of Double Fantasy. John obliged.

John and Yoko went to a recording studio. Chapman sat outside the Dakota and waited. Just before 11:00 pm, John came back home to tuck in his son, Sean. As John exited the limo, Chapman took a military stance and fired five shots from his .38 revolver. Four of the bullets struck Lennon and he fell to the sidewalk. The Dakota doorman rushed over to help, screaming at Chapman "Do you know what you've done?" Chapman smiled and calmly said "Yes, I just shot John Lennon." He then sat down on the ground and began to read The Catcher in the Rye, waiting for police.

Lennon was taken from us. A symbol of hope and creativity. A musical genius who, yes, was a very flawed man, but he gave us more than just 3 minute pop songs. I was 5 when John was killed. But that certainly doesn't matter.

My point of all this is, when I pass The Dakota, especially the 72nd Street entrance where the murder took place, I remove my cap. Why? Out of respect.

I take off my hat and think of that great Scouser that died for no reason. Out of respect.


John's last interview, just hours before he was killed.

"Everybody loves you when you're six foot in the ground."
John Lennon

Goodnight and good luck.

Barack Obama Product of Gay Marriage

Well, according to ABC's Terry Moran he is.



Damn. So close.

Obama Doles Out Some Sugar

After Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Joe Biden gave his convention speech, Barack Obama strode onto the stage and planted a wet smooch on Biden's Missus. Right on the mouth.



Pucker up Buttercup.

The unedited footage can be seen here.

Thar Blows a White Whale (Shark)


Captain Ahab and the crew of the Pequod would be drooling at this point.

An ultra rare -- the only one we know of -- albino whale shark has been photographed off the coast of Darwin, an island in the Galapagos.

Naturalist Antonio Moreano spotted the beast as he took a group of tourists for a boat tour. Not knowing what they had seen, the boat tried to follow the pale whale shark for a while.

After she disappeared below the water, Moreano dove down about 50 feet to snap a couple pictures before Moby Dick vanished into the depths.

Quite amazing.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Muppets May Return to Television


Says a report:

Cult kids classic The Muppet Show is set to return to TV screens after 27 years.

The popular puppet programme - featuring Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy - is being made into a Disney film, due to be written and directed by actor Jason Segel.

And it is rumoured that the movie will pave the way for a new television series of The Muppet Show - the first since 1981.

A source tells British newspaper The Sun, "Jason is a massive Muppets fan and is seen as the man to finally bring The Muppet Show back to TV.

"It will obviously have all its old fans but Jason's comedy is hugely popular with youngsters so it will open it up to a whole new audience."

The source adds: "If the movie script is popular, Jason will write the TV series too."


I hope that is true. My nephews need to experience the magic of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

Two Headed Boy Passes Away


I am not making any jokes here. This is a sad story.

A two headed boy named Kiron was born a couple days ago in Bangladesh. Sadly, the young man passed away after developing a fever and breathing difficulties.

Kiron weighed 12 lbs 1 oz and was born by Cesarean section. Though he was able to eat through both mouths, he only had one stomach.

The Telegraph reports:

The boy had been placed under police protection when more than 150,000 people gathered outside the clinic in the town of Keshobpur.


After Kiron had died, local press reported that thousands spontaneously donated money to the grieving family.

Sleep warm, young man.

Ghostbusters Is King

Ghostbusters-Photograph-C10102485.jpg
Entertainment Weekly recently had an online poll for the Funniest Films of the Past 25 Years.

The winner? Ghostbusters. Damn right Ghostbusters.

I also agree with Vacation at number two. Beverly Hills Cop at three seems high. Good to see Spinal Tap and the immortal Big Lebowski as respected as they should be. I have no idea how Clerks made the final 25. A terrible, terrible movie.

Here's the Top 10

1. Ghostbusters
2. National Lampoon's Vacation
3. Beverly Hills Cop
4. This Is Spinal Tap
5. Office Space
6. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
7. There's Something About Mary
8. The Big Lebowski
9. A Fish Called Wanda
10. Dazed & Confused

Don't cross the streams...

Olympic Hide & Seek

Yes, the Olympics are over. It's sad.

There always is debate about what sports belong in the Games. How golf is not in and synchronized swimming, rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline are sanctioned events in beyond me. If we're going to have synchronized swimming, we might as well have the Broadway shows travel and do a routine as well. "The gold medal to Thoroughly Modern Millie!" My brother Drew raises a good point about the shooting events being ridiculous. They are. Archery? Fine. Pistols? Come on...

Maybe Monty Python was right and we should have Hide & Seek in the Olympics. This is my favorite Python sketch.



Come on London, add Hide & Seek for 2012.

No Bolo Ties. Not Now. Not Ever.

montana.jpg
As the Balloonfest rolls on...

There are two cardinal rules for political conventions. Rules that cannot be broken. Under any circumstances. The Dems broke two of them the other night.

1. Don't be boring and absolutely stink out the joint - What in the name of Nikola Telsa was Virginia Governor Mark Warner prattling on about? Car phones and cell phones and the ground floor of car phones and cell phones ... Is he done yet? Bloody hell. We haven't seen a speechwriting staff update their resumes this quickly since Howard Dean imploded in 2004.

B. Don't wear a bolo tie - That's right. Montana Governor Brain Schweitzer wore a bolo tie. Now I imagine this was calculated decision among his staff to appear "folksy." Bad move. I don't know what Schweitzer was talking about. All I kept hearing was Wilford Brimley talk about having the "diabeetus."

We can't take anyone seriously that wears a bolo tie. Governor, you might as well have been wearing MC Hammer pants.

Goodnight and good luck.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Memory Lane: G.I. Joe File Cards


This one is mostly for my brothers...

The other day I made a Storm Shadow reference on the video of Roller Skate Ninjas. Storm Shadow was/is a ninja character in the G.I. Joe universe. When looking for a link to add, I stumbled across a website that had scans of all the original "file cards."

As a boy, much of my life revolved around those G.I. Joe action figures. They were as important as my soccer team The Jedi. That's true. We really were The Jedi. My folks figured out that the ultimate bribe for a 7-year-old was a $1.99 action figure. On the packaging of the figures was a "file card." The card was on the back of the package. It had some of the vital statistics and bio information on the character. Real names (sometimes), hometowns, hobbies, weapon proficiency, etc. The cards were carefully cut out and filed in an old, metal recipe box my Mum gave me.

I studied those cards. Read them over and over and over. It felt like inside information. I was most fascinated when the card said the soldiers real name or other information was "classified." That amazed me. Classified. The mystery made the character much more cool. It's why every kid loved Snake Eyes.

Also on the boxes were "Flag Points." Those were also cut out and stored in the metal recipe box. They were essentially proofs of purchase, but they could accumulate and then be sent in for a special "mail order only" figure. Those were plastic gold. I'd count the Flag Points over and over until I had the right amount. Then I would do a couple extra chores and my Mum would send the accompanying check to cover postage and handling. Then 4 to 6 weeks crept by like time in the hole at Folsom. I was like Ralphie in A Christmas Story waiting for his Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring. After what seemed like a year, a special Sergeant Slaughter would appear in the mailbox.

I spent a few minutes looking at those old file cards. I was amazed how much I remembered from them. Well, not that amazed, but I did remember an awful lot. Especially from my favorites. Other than Snake Eyes, I tended to like the Joe's that were of ethnic backgrounds. Don't really know why.

Some of my favorites:

Clutch - He drove the jeep. Didn't shave and combed his hair with motor oil.

Road Block - A machine gunner. He had a huge .50 caliber Browning.

Quick Kick - Karate expert. 'Nuff said.

Torpedo - The SEAL. Had scuba gear and everything. He came with me to the tub.

Tracker - His real name is Charlie Iron-Knife. An American Indian tracker and shaman.

Recondo - Two words: Jungle Warfare. The jungle fascinated me. Still does.

Gung Ho - Probably my favorite. He was a Marine. My Dad was in the Marine Corps.

Most people romanticize their childhood. My Father does. So do I. How do you think the idea for Toy Story came into being? There was something magical about those pieces of cardboard that held the data of my toys. They were my own secret files in my bedroom on 306th Place.

"Johnny Wright's Starring Vehicle"

This isn't my post. I'm quoting Echowood from YesButNoButYes.

Here's another one for the YesButNoButYes vault. It occurred to me that movie studio logos at the beginning of films have become almost as long as the films themselves. (Some are actually more entertaining too.) Once you get through the Coke commercials, the 20 minutes of previews, the theater logos, and the turn off your cell phone plea, you're still subjected to the movie studio logos before you get to the good stuff. A few months ago, I put something together to parody the new wave of 30 minute long movie studio logos. If you make it to the end, you'll catch a view of Johnny Wright in all his glory.

I'm not sure I accomplished what I was going after, but Johnny rocks the hell out of those sunglasses.


Here is the video in question. Notice the Fu Manchu stache.



Boo yeah...

The All Midget Western

Reposted from YesButNoButYes...



This is not an attempt to one-up Echowood's amazing Weng Weng post. I know damn well when I'm beat. I can't top that video. This is only an effort for solidarity. Midget solidarity.

In 1938, a western was made. An all midget western. Absolutely true. The masterpiece was called The Terror of Tiny Town. Again, absolutely true.

The plot was simple. A valiant miniature cowboy comes to the aid of a ranch-owning damsel in distress. It's a pretty small ranch, but still. Local three foot thugs are terrorizing the young lady. Midget in the white hat versus midgets in the black hats. It was like The Searchers except on very tiny horses. And with helium-aided dialogue.

The cast all rode Shetland ponies and were shown roping calfs and walking under the saloons swinging doors. Many of the performers went on to star in The Wizard of Oz the following year.

Do we have a clip Raoul? Roll the clip!



Fantastic. You can actually watch the film in pieces on YouTube. Part one starts here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kung Fu Midget!


My boy Echowood put up a video on YesButNoButYes that has blown my mind. It is a rap tribute to Weng Weng. A 2-foot-9 Filipino action film star. It has to be seen to be believed. Click here to see it.

I don't how I haven't known about this little guy. Weng Weng was a phenomenon in the Philippines. He starred in the film For Your Height Only and others. Weng was a crack pistol shot, had a bladed hat to chuck at bad guys and was quite adept of punching crooks in the testicles. You know, they were at a very convenient level.

Here's the trailer for a Weng Weng double feature.


Deal with that punks! Hassan chop!

That little jet-pack is just adorable.

Weng sang (sorry about that rhyme) a karaoke version of "My Way" with the First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos during a Filipino Film Industry ceremony. A bootleg version sold 200,000 copies.

I love midgets and dwarves. They are like God's little punch lines.

Church of England Upset With Vampire Slayers

A new report out of Britain suggests that up to 50,000 woman a year have deserted local Church of England congregations. Instead, "young women are becoming attracted to the pagan religion Wicca, where females play a central role, which has grown in popularity after being featured positively in films, TV shows and books."

Some of the blame for the ladies turning to Wicca is being placed on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Apparently the show was so good, woman who normally would be in the pews of the local cathedrals are heading out in droves to battle vampires and mix eye of newt, wolfsbaine, snake blood and the wing of a bat in pewter cauldrons. They're flying on brooms and wearing pointy hats. Heading to Diagon Alley to purchase a magic wand with dragon heartstrings and unicorn hair in the core.



I'm waiting for the reports that say that an alarming number of American men are deserting their jobs to fight terrorists armed only with a 9mm handgun, cell phone and satellite coverage due to the popularity of 24. That Jack Bauer is a persuasive dude.

A little vampire related bonus trivia:

Tales of vampirism ran rampant in Eastern Europe in the 17th and 18th century. So much so that Vampire Slaying Kits were sold to would-be vampire hunters.

The kits could include a wooden hammer and a number of crucifix shaped stakes to be driven into the vampires chest. A prayer book, a cross and a dagger. Sometimes a small pistol. Along with bottles with Pamant (holy soil), Agheazma (holy water), Mir (anointing oil), Tamaie (holy incense) and Usturoi (garlic).

Some experts claim the kits were carried by frightened travelers or even kept on hand at local parishes. I imagine a family traveling by horse drawn carriage that stashes the Vampire Slaying Kit under the seat just in case Nosferatu appears out of the darkness to steal the virginal teenager and bring her back to Bran Castle.

A handful of the anti-vampire kits have been sold at auctions for $12,000 to $21,000.

Dead Sea Scrolls To Be Put Online


The story goes like this; In 1947 a Bedouin goat herder named Mohammed Ahmed el-Hamed (who was nicknamed "The Wolf." Seriously.) was tending his gang of unruly goats. A rebellious goat wandered off towards a cave. The Wolf tossed a couple rocks in the direction of the wayward goat to get his attention when there was the sound of breaking pottery. Upon investigation, the shepherd found several ancient jars containing scrolls wrapped in linen. Further excavation found jars and scrolls in 11 nearby caves. In total, about 1,000 pieces of ancient writ were recovered.

These documents became known as The Dead Sea Scrolls.

The New York Times is reporting today that the Scrolls are going to made available in their entirety for the first time.

From the Times:

The 2,000-year-old scrolls, found in the late 1940s in caves near the Dead Sea east of Jerusalem, contain the earliest known copies of every book of the Hebrew Bible (missing only the Book of Esther), as well as apocryphal texts and descriptions of rituals of a Jewish sect at the time of Jesus. The texts, most of them on parchment but some on papyrus, date from the third century BC to the first century AD.


The entire collection was photographed only once before – in the 1950s using infrared and those photographs are stored in a climate-controlled room since they show things already lost from some of the scrolls. The old infrared pictures will also be scanned in the new digital effort.


Of course the Scrolls are important from a religious standpoint. But just as important is the historical and archeological context. The Scrolls allow the dead to speak. Now anyone, not just a handful of scholars, will have the opportunity to read and study them.

Selah.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Rock Instrumental

It's a dying art. The great instrumental rock song. There isn't that many that are noteworthy, but a few are genuine classics in the vast history of rock and roll.

Where the rubbish ones lie are the overblown, self-congratulatory 17 minute solos of the 70's. That garbage is unbearable. I don't know how one can listen to it.

The great instrumentals are usually short and to the point. I'm popping into the J-Dub Rock and Roll Archives to bring you some of the best.

Rumble by Link Wray and Rebel Rouser by Duane Eddy are good places to start. You'll recognize them both from movie soundtracks. Great rockabilly grooves.

Also among the older greats:


Green Onions by Booker T & the MG's. Amazing.

There are quite a few worthy entries from the surf music of the mid to late 60's. Especially Wipeout by the Surfaris, Hawaii Five-O by the Ventures and Miserlou by Dick Dale and the Del Tones.

Two of the greatest guitar players contribute to two other cuts. Though it is John Bonham's stage, Jimmy Page's dirty blues riff adds to the magic that is Moby Dick. The late Stevie Ray Vaughan took Hendrix's Little Wing, removed the lyrics and made it all his own.


Not too many can match Stevie's mastery of the electric guitar.

I think Tequila by The Champs is worthy of a mention. As is Flying by The Beatles. I love Sparks by The Who. Perhaps the only modern song that should get a mention is Oasis' F#@%*!' In the Bushes. The lads from Manchester usually blast that song as they arrive onto the stage at the live shows.

If you think I am forgetting Eruption by Van Halen, I'm not. It stinks.

Now, the greatest rock instrumentals. That is a two way tie. My favorites are Sleepwalk by Santo and Johnny and Black Mountain Side by Led Zeppelin.


That's Black Mountain Side performed by a very young Jimmy Page. One of my guitars, Suzy Lee, is a replica of the original Danelectro 59 that Jimmy is playing.


Santo and Johnny play Sleepwalk in 1959.

That steel lap guitar seems to weep. It's beautiful. I can play a little of Sleepwalk with a slide on Suzy Lee. A little.

Finally another version of Sleepwalk by Brian Setzer. He eventually recored this version and won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Performance. Whatever your feelings are about big band, rockabilly or the Stray Cats, one thing that can't be debated is Brian Setzer can play. He has one of the most distinct tones in music history. And can make that vintage Gretsch sing.



Goodnight and good luck.

Mysterious Archer Robs Olympic Gold, Gives To Poor


Beijing -- A swashbuckling Olympic archery competitor has reportedly stolen the gold medals from nearly every medal ceremony only to give the precious treasure to the local poor.

It appears the archer made his way to Beijing on a phony Sherwood Forest passport.

According to reports:

An epic four-way fencing match broke out during the Women's Saber medal ceremony, with the archer taking on the three American women in a clash of blades that spilled out onto the balcony and across the Beijing rooftops. Germany's Ole Bischoff, winner in the Men's 81kg judo event, threw the archer through a nearby table and down a flight of stairs before his feet were nailed to the ground by arrows. And the Chinese women's gymnastics team was almost impossible for the archer to catch.


This archer has become folk hero. Read the rest of the tale here.

Nun Beauty Pageant!

Reposted from YesButNoButYes...

sound-of-music-maria-nun-julie-andrews.jpg
Italian priest Antonio Rungi announced Sunday that he is organizing an online beauty pageant for nuns. Apparently Tony is doing this to fight the stereotype that nuns are all "old and dour."

Makes perfect sense.

Said Tony the theologian:

Nuns are a bit excluded, they are a bit marginalized in ecclesiastical life. This will be an occasion to make their contribution more visible.


Tony says not to worry, there isn't going to be nuns parading around in two-piece bathing suits. That would be crazy. The sisters will be able to choose if they will pose with or without the traditional vail and/or habit covering their head. Saucy.

When it comes to the talent portion of the pageant, I think Tony needs to make it clear that the nuns will need to perform on their own. If a rebellious nun who has left the abbey to become a governess is allowed to use a family of Austrian children who can really sing to back her up, that is not fair. Those kids are ringers.

(UPDATE: It appears that Tony has cancelled the nun beauty pageant. Apparently the higher-ups did not see the effort to show the nun's inner beauty as appropriate. Shocking...)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Film Cliches


Cliched storytelling devices make me mental. It's lazy and shameful. A recent film that puts a pair of glasses on a pretty girl then says she is not pretty drew my attention. I won't see the film. Just make fun of it. It's a lot easier that way.

A little column is up at YesButNoButYes that is titled The Clich├ęs of Cinema Keep On Truckin'.

I just can't handle the defusing of a bomb with one second left on the digital readout.

Okay,

JW

Beijing Olympics Come To the Finish Line


When the Olympics come to a close, I feel how I did when I was 9-years-old on Christmas night. Man, a whole year until Christmas again. (Okay, I still feel that way about Christmas.) The Olympics end and I think, man, four more years until it's the Olympics again.

Four years until the World gathers around televisions to watch the action in London.

I am relived that the Games went off without a major incident. I had a bad feeling going in that there may be some sort of attack. While China does have a lot of work do to when it comes to human rights and quality of life for their 1.3 billion residents, you have to admit they put on a helluva show.

These Games were quite something. From the magic of Michael Phelps to the US basketball team reclaiming gold. Track and field was wild. Gymnastics was entertaining. If not a bit scandalous.

What we saw in Beijing was the continued Olympic spirit. All walks of life coming together to show the true meaning of competition. Last night I watched the marathon. That storied race of endurance and courage. At about the 18 mile mark, when the field had began to spread out, the leaders vying for coveted medals, I saw something noteworthy. Two of the leaders from Ethiopia and Eritrea, two countries that have had border disputes and even a war, sharing a water bottle. It's possible those men's families hate each other. But there was a mutual respect for one another as they competed. That's the Olympics to me.

Four more years. Dammit, when is the World Cup?

Roller Skate Ninjas!

Do I even need to say anything more?



That just happened!

Maybe the coolest piece of celluloid I have ever seen. Those ninjas were roller skating.

Suck on that Storm Shadow!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Now Available At Your Local PetSmart ... The Pugling!

Before you scoff and say the Pugling is not a real animal, I ask you to remember a bit of history.

In 1798 Scottish explorer Captain John Hunter sent a platypus pelt back to England after seeing one in Australia. Scientists were sure it was a hoax. They were sure of it. Noted botanist and zoologist George Shaw thought someone had sewed a duck and beaver together. Shaw took scissors and carefully clipped the beasts fur down, looking for tell-tale stitches.

The platypus held up to the scrutiny. It's real. So I'm holding out hope that the Pugling is real as well. I'm going to get one and name him Chester Copperpot. And walk him Central Park. That is if I can figure out how to leash the little guy.

Delicious Asian Cuisine


In addition to Mongolian beef and General Tso's chicken, Asia offers more exotic dining treats. Seven of the most head-scratching can be read about here.

Culinary delights such as fried spiders (pictured above), bee larvae and snake blood are examined. As is, seriously, monkey brains. Didn't only happen in Pankot Palace. Monkey brains are eaten in parts of Asia, especially Southern China. One must be careful chomping down on the monkey brain casserole. If not prepared properly, you run the risk of contracting spongiform encephalopathy, a deadly disease of the brain. You don't want that. Let's just agree to leave these poor monkeys alone and stop eating their brains. They have organs to grind and poo to chuck.

Ah ... the mysteries of the Orient. Who wants cashew chicken when you can dine on fried rat? Well, I do. I'll stick with the Kung Pao.

Costa Rican SWAT Team Takes Care of Bidness

In Costa Rica, the local SWAT team -- who for some reason are wearing balaclavas -- need to bust into a garage. They tried to bash it open with the battering ram. Didn't work.

So, they chained the door to an SUV in an effort to tear the door off the hinges.

Okay, gun it!



Well, that worked. Medic!

Neighborhood Characters

Every neighborhood in New York has local characters. Quirky and unique individuals that add to the charm of our beloved city.

Being a somewhat curious man, I always observe the people around me. Next to our building is a pub. Nearly every time I walk by, there is an elderly lady sitting on the bench outside the bar chain smoking Parliament Lights. I think she lives there. There's the guy whose self appointed full-time job is opening the door for the patrons at McDonalds. He must work there at least a 120 hours a week.

One guy that always makes me laugh is the owner of the local Dunkin' Donuts on Amsterdam Avenue. Not only does he have a very thick Pakistani accent, his name is Babu. It's right there on his name tag. When he talks, all I hear is "Babu has only Pakistani restaurant, but where is people?!? Show me people! There are no people!" "You are a bad man Jerry! A very bad man!" Ah, it's great to be immature.

Babu running the donut shop is almost as funny as the bloke that ran the 7-11 in my Los Feliz neighborhood in L.A. I'd pop in for a Slurpee and bag of David's sunflower seeds and barely be able to keep it together as I said "Thank you, Jafar." His name was Jafar. Hand to heaven that is true.

Jafar. That is just hilarious...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Monkey Taunts Tigers

Monkey News!

While these tiger cubs may grow up to be the scourge of the jungle, one cheeky gibbon let's them know that he rules the block for now.

It's amazing behavior. The monkey seems to be teasing the tigers just for fun. Swooping down and rapping the big cats on the coconut before swinging back into his tree and laughing. Little stinker.



The best part is when the gibbon gooses one of tigers' arse. Incredible comedic instinct. You can't teach that.

John McCain's Housing Hullabaloo

Reposted from YesButNoButYes...


During an interview with Politico.com, Senator John McCain was asked how many houses he and his wife own.

That should be a relatively easy question to answer. Well, not that easy...



I'll have to check with my staff.

This gaffe is amusing for few reasons. McCain has been trying to paint Barack Obama is an elitist, out of touch with the common man. McCain has tried not to portray himself as addled and dotty because of his advanced age. And McCain has been trying to suggest that he understands how many are struggling in the poor economy that he says is actually sound. Having at least seven homes, so many that you can't recall the number off the top of your head, doesn't really help McCain's credibility in these matters.

If you are wondering how many guitars I own, I'm not quite sure. I'll have my staff get back to you.

A Gigantic New Fish Species


A giant, six foot long goliath grouper that can weigh 1,000 pounds has been declared a new species. Look at that bloody thing. Amazing.

Nature fascinates me. Always has. In the years before the all-you-can-eat cable stations, I would scour the TV Guide for PBS documentaries about Africa and Jacques Cousteau specials.


Bonjour Monsieur Cousteau


What I really looked for was Disney's True Life Adventures. The True Life Adventures were the pioneering films that led to the Discovery Channel-style of animal programs. They were made from 1948 to 1960. The Disney Channel would show them in the early 80's.

My favorites were The African Lion, The Living Desert and especially Nature's Strangest Creatures. I now own all of them on DVD.

YouTube Gems Volume #3

A few discoveries that have caught my attention lately.


Jack Benny and Mel Blanc (the voice of nearly every significant Looney Tunes character) just slaying Johnny Carson.


One of my favorite animated shorts, Disney's version of Casey at the Bat.


The latest song I have learned on my guitar is a very old folk song called Black Jack Davey. The song dates back to around 1720 and has many different versions. In England it is sometimes referred to as the The Gypsy Laddie. Black Jack Davey has been recorded by Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives, Taj Mahal, Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan. This is the White Stripes version.


I saw Harry Anderson perform the needle in the arm gag on television as a kid. This exact version. I was riveted by the macabre trick. I met Harry in the Pike Place Magic Shop as a teenager. He was an incredibly friendly chap.


Come Back is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. It's a poignant and heartfelt ballad. Nobody can sing like Ed.

Sleep warm friends.

JW

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Olympic Memories: Eric "The Eel" Moussambani

This is a true story.

In 2000 a young man named Eric Moussambani from Equatorial Guinea qualified for the Sydney Games through a "wild card." The wild card was designed to encourage developing countries without expensive training facilities to get more involved in Olympic sports.

"The Eel" learned to swim eight months prior to the Olympics. He was 22-years-old. He learned and sort-of-practiced in a hotel pool. One of only two pools in all of Equatorial Guinea. (A very small African nation.) Before the Olympics, Moussambani had never even seen a 50 meter sized pool, let alone swim in one.

As "The Eel" was ready to swim his ceremonial heat, his two competitors false started. They were DQ'd. So Moussambani doggy-paddled the race alone. While his time was twice the Olympic standard, there was something noble about the effort. A purity. "The Eel" gave it everything he had. And inspired many.

Swim, Eric. Swim.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fascinated By Nikola Tesla


I often find myself reading about and researching historical figures that I find fascinating. No reason to do so. No quiz to study for. It's just that I firmly feel that continued self education is hugely important. Something that isn't important to many. You graduate from college and that's it. I know people who were better students than me that are dunces. They were able to cram the data the night before an exam, but didn't retain any of the valuable information.

(I wasn't a great student. Often bored. Disinterested. In fact, by my junior year of college I had figured out that if I went to class and kind of paid attention, then went to the study groups, I'd get a B on the exam. I didn't buy a textbook my last two years in college. That infuriated some of my classmates. There was no need to buy the book. More money to spend on basketball shoes. However, I regret this practice.)

Anyhoo, I obsess over continuing to learn as much as I can every day. There is no such thing as useless knowledge. Maybe it isn't integral that I know the address of Bob Dylan's first New York City apartment, but it isn't useless. (Bob lived in a studio flat at 161 West 4th Street.) So when there are historical figures that pop into my periphery, I research them. Sometimes it is those that influence me directly such as Mark Twain, Dashiell Hammett or Hunter Thompson. Sometimes it is those that are just plain fascinating like Billy the Kid, John Lennon, Sir Edmund Hillary, Jackie Robinson, Harry Houdini, Edgar Alan Poe or Jack the Ripper.

Lately, my reading has been directed towards the great inventor Nikola Tesla.

Tesla was a real life mad scientist. One of history's greatest minds, but his eccentricities often overshadowed his accomplishments. Nearly everyone walking down Amsterdam Avenue right now would recognize the name of Thomas Edison. A far smaller percentage would know Tesla's. Without Tesla's foresight and inventions we wouldn't have alternating current, wireless technology, radio, television, x-rays, lasers, particle beams and so on.

Here's a few juicy nuggets about Tesla.

* He had a photographic memory and spoke seven languages.

* One of his closest friends was Mark Twain. Twain would come to the laboratory to follow Tesla's experiments.

* As part of his showmanship, occasionally Tesla boasted about his inventions and stretched the truth a bit. His boasts led to the New York Times reporting in 1940 that Tesla was developing a "death ray" for airplanes. The article said the death ray could annihilate anything in the air for 250 miles. The death ray claim also led to a Superman short with a mad scientist named ... Tesla. People didn't sue as much in the 40's.



* He never cared about money and though he should have been rich, lack of attention to detail or paperwork left him broke quite often. He died destitute.

* Tesla most likely suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He was a germaphobe. Wouldn't touch other people's hair. Disliked touching round objects. Was revolted by jewelry, especially pearl earrings. He also did things in threes. Tesla was obsessed with the number three. He insisted on staying in hotel rooms that were divisible by three. In fact, the last ten years of his life he lived here in Manhattan at the New Yorker Hotel. He lived on, and I swear I am not making this up, on the 33rd floor in suite #3327. It was there that he died on January 7th 1943.

* Another eccentric genius obsessed with the number three, Jack White, is a huge Nikola Tesla fan. In fact, the design for the never completed Wardenclyffe Tower currently adorns the White Stripes' website.

Jack even built a Tesla Coil. Well, in a movie he did.



I just felt like writing about Tesla because it makes me feel better.

Goodnight and good luck.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Karl Pilkington: One of the Funniest Men On Earth

Perhaps the funniest person on the planet is British comedian Ricky Gervais. But Ricky thinks there is someone much funnier than he is. That is Karl Pilkington.

Karl was a radio producer in London. He worked with Ricky and Stephen Merchant on their radio program. It didn't take long before Ricky had Karl and his incredibly unique view of the world on center stage. Now Karl is a celebrity in England. The author of two books with another due in the fall.

What makes Pilkington so funny is he doesn't know he's funny. By his own admission, he is a dolt. IQ of 83. Didn't finish school. Doesn't understand how things work in the world. He doesn't care what you or I think is important. He just talks, thinking out loud, and the funny comes naturally. I write about monkeys because it's entertaining. Karl actually believes that a monkey has robbed a bank, competed in the bobsled during the Winter Olympics and worked at a rail station.

Karl grew up in an hilariously eccentric family on an estate in Manchester. His folks are crazy. When they moved to a small Welsh village his father found out that the local grocer put out items ordered from locals to be taken on the "honor system" after the shop was closed, Karl's dad proceeded to steal all the groceries. It was one of the great days if Karl's father's life. When the family parakeet died, Karl's mum glued some of the deceased budgie's feathers to a rock to keep the other bird company. His brother was in the British army but was discharged when he drove a tank to the corner shop for a pack of cigarettes. Karl has a lesbian aunt he calls Uncle Hazel, his Uncle Alf slept in a rubber dingy, and his Auntie Nora -- he says -- once farted for five continuos minutes. Auntie Nora called Karl's mum halfway through the fart to report something was amiss. About two and a half minutes in, Auntie Nora got on the horn to tell her sister, "got a real wind situation happening."

Like many of us, Karl wonders about the world around us. He just wonders out loud. Do we need slugs or jellyfish? Why do Chinese people seem to age quickly? Why do gay people seem to always go out after midnight?

If you want to laugh, download the Ricky Gervais podcasts and listen to Karl's bewildered ideas. My brothers and I regularly laugh together discussing Karl's observations.

Meet Karl Pilkington:



This is a short documentary about Karl and his acceptance of not being smart.


Karl Pilkington - Satisfied Fool - Part 1


Satisfied Fool - Part 2 Notice the professor in the first part of Part 2. He is a real life Ludwig Von Drake.


Satisfied Fool - Part 3

Good night and good luck.

Monkey Matrimony

Monkey Wedding.jpg


Reposted from YesButNoButYes...


Monkey News!

Well, sort of news. More like Monkey Story.

Yesterday I received an email from a reader named Jane. Which read in part:

JW,

... Me and some friends were talking about that monkey ice skating video. Somehow the conversation got to if monkeys have ever gotten married. I said yes, the others said no. Can you settle this for us?


As a matter of fact, Jane, I can. There are a few apocryphal tales about monkeys getting married. Including one where a zookeeper took a little monkey fella home to help around the house and the cheeky ape ran off with the zookeeper's missus. They eloped and lived happily ever after. Apparently.

However, there is a verified monkey wedding on the books. Brought to us from the world renowned BBC. Earlier this year, 3,000 villagers gathered in India to see two monkeys get married in a lavish Hindu ceremony.

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This was quite the shindig. Locals in Ghanteswara gathered together to see Manu, a very successful monkey banker, marry Jhumuri, the blushing bride.

Locals took the groom to the temple for the ceremony accompanied by "by loud music, dancing and fireworks." Upon arrival at the temple, the groom was then serenaded by "loud, synchronised ululations typical in a Hindu marriage while priests chanted sacred hymns." Now that's a party.

The bride was decked out in a five-metre long sari, many fragrant flowers and smeared in sandalwood paste. She was glowing. It was the happiest day of her life.

The monkeys were given many lavish gifts -- I don't know where they were registered, but I'm assuming it was Target and Bed Bath & Beyond -- including a "gold necklace" for the bride.

Following the tear-jerking wedding, the throngs in attendance were treated to a feast of rice, lentils, vegetables, fish and sweets.

I heard that the newlyweds then headed off on their honeymoon in the Greek Isles.

Best of luck kids monkeys. God speed.

So, yes, monkeys have gotten married. Now you know, Jane. And knowing is half the battle...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Harry Henderson Still a Myth

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I'm shocked! Shocked, I say, to read that the country bumpkins who said they had a Bigfoot corpse is not real!

It looks like this was nothing more than an attempt to plug a dopey website and sell tickets for Sasquatch tracking excursions for $499 bucks.

From The New York Times:

Results from tests on genetic material from alleged remains of Bigfoot, made public at a news conference in Palo Alto held after the claimed discovery swept the Internet, failed to prove the existence of the mythical half-ape and half-human creature. The story was fueled by a photograph of a hairy heap, bearing a close resemblance to a shaggy full-body gorilla costume, stuffed into a container resembling a refrigerator. One of the two samples of DNA said to prove the existence of the Bigfoot came from a human and the other was 96 percent from an opossum, said Curt Nelson, a scientist at the University of Minnesota who performed the analysis.


However, I do have some real Bigfoot news for you. It seems two men found a Sasquatch cub and kept it in their apartment. They named him Christian. When the beast became too big for their flat, they released him into the wild. Would the Bigfoot remember the men when they went to visit him in the woods?



*single tear...*

Friday, August 15, 2008

Peter Pan Arrested

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NEVER NEVER LAND -- Notorious troublemaker and rabble-rouser Peter Pan has been arrested on charges of disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct and conspiracy to never grow up. Pan's exact age is not known.

Police Captain James Hook issued the arrest warrant saying, "Peter Pan has consistently shown a brazen disregard for authority. We also know he carries a concealed dagger. And those green tights are just inappropriate."

An all points bulletin has been issued for Pan's alleged accomplice Tinker Bell. Miss Bell is described as a "Blond Caucasian, 3 1/2 inches tall, wearing a lime-green, hip-length dress with a rigid trim, and green slippers with white puffs."

Pan has been tethered inside his cell as he has shown the astounding ability to fly when given a powerful hallucinogenic drug that is known on the street as "Pixie Dust."

A rag-rag group of juvenile delinquents dressed in animal costumes who call their gang "The Lost Boys" attempted to break Pan out of prison. The youths were apprehended by Hook's crew of deputies and were turned over to Child Protective Services.

Pan was denied bail by Judge Harold Smee.

Capt. Hook has denied accusations made by civil rights activist Wendy Darling that the charges against Pan are false and the police force is guilty of corruption.



(You know, I may not have the details of the story exactly right...)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bigfoot to be Revealed Friday?!?

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Being raised in the beautiful Northwest, I was regaled with stories of Bigfoot from a very young age. Once on a family campout, my cousins and I made a Bigfoot video. Well, it was really my cousin Mark loping through the trees while we shook the camera and screamed, but we thought it was funny.

To be honest, I believed in the legend of Sasquatch until I was 17 or so. I wanted to believe. Then did some more reading and realized it couldn't happen. One of my arguments always was, "someone would find a body. Or bones. Or some kind of remains."

But what to my skeptical, wondering eyes should appear, but three guys from Georgia who say they have remains of a Bigfoot. They are holding a press conference tomorrow at a Palo Alto hotel to display the remains of the beast.

The gentleman say the Bigfoot is:

The creature is seven feet seven inches tall.

It weighs over five hundred pounds.

The creature looks like it is part human and part ape-like.

It is male.

It has reddish hair and blackish-grey eyes.

It has two arms and two legs, and five fingers on each hand and
five toes on each foot.

The feet are flat and similar to human feet.

Its footprint is sixteen and three-quarters inches long and five and three-quarters inches wide at the heel.

From the palm of the hand to the tip of the middle finger, its hands are eleven and three-quarters inches long and six and one-quarter inches wide.

The creatures walk upright. (Several of them were sighted on the same day that the body was found.)

The teeth are more human-like than ape-like.

DNA tests are currently being done and the current DNA and photo
evidence will be presented at the press conference on Friday, August 15th


While I don't think this is anything more than a clever Cardiff Giant-like hoax, you bet your boots I'll be looking for the reports. Will Bigfoot move from myth to reality? We shall see...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Monkey Ice Capades

Monkey News!

Friends, you have not lived until you have seen two monkeys ice skating to the Rocky Theme. This is one of the best days of my life.



If you're wondering how many times I have watched this, it's about a bakers dozen.

Poke a Tiger in the Tail...

So, Shere Khan climbed into a tree. The locals don't want tigers in their trees. They tried opening a can of gourmet Fancy Feast (The good stuff, the Salmon and Shrimp, not the rubbish Chicken and Tuna) to lure the tiger down but it didn't work.

Then they grabbed a stick. And started poking. And then...



Come on villagers, haven't you guys seen The Jungle Book? Everybody knows that all you have to do is tie a flaming stick the the tiger's tail, they freak out and run into the jungle, Baloo comes back to life and the whole village sings the Bare Necessities Refrain. Geez, watch a freaking movie.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Henry Kissinger Has Olympic Fever!


"Michael Phelps just won another gold medal! Did you see it Dr. Kissinger? ... Dr. Kissinger? You awake? You're at the Olympics for crying out loud.

Mr. President, what are you doing? Are you trying to blow a bubble? You need gum for that, sir. Wake up Kissinger, will ya?"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Improving Gymnastics


Every four years I'll watch gymnastics. I really enjoy it during the Olympics.

However, perhaps there could be some improvements. I tinker here, a tweak there.

My "suggestions" can be read here.

Let's go Michael Phelps...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Nigerian Government Official Arrested For Employing Witch Doctor

Reposted from YesButNoButYes...

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Sam Edem, the head of the Niger Delta Development Corporation, was arrested on Friday after allegations that he spent millions of dollars on a witch doctor's spooky services.

Sam spent the dough in hopes of hexing and killing a business rival. It didn't work. So Sam demanded his money back. The witch doctor answered, and I'm paraphrasing here, "ooh ee ooh ah ah, ting tang walla walla bing bang." Which roughly translates to ... "no."

I certainly hope Donald Trump doesn't get any ideas.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Art of Slapstick

Comedy, thy name is Dick Van Dyke...



Television used to be funny.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

9/11 Conspiracy Theories


The ridiculous notion that the terrorist attacks on 9/11 were planned by government officials infuriates me. It's laughable. There is no evidence of a conspiracy. None.

I decided to rip them in a new column entitled Taking a Piss on the 9/11 Conspiracy Nut Jobs.

The title is not-so-subtle on purpose. I hate these people. Mainly because they claim patriotism but are really just trying to sell irresponsible books.

Give it a read.

Good night and good luck.

Ukulele Wizard Gus Shows His YesButNoButYes Devotion

Reposted from YesButNoButYes...


I can't tell how happy this has made me this morning.

A short time ago, we brought you videos of cat's pajamas Scottish ukulele player Gus. I'm a big fan. He and I not only share Scottish heritage (Campbell's: Ne Obliviscaris! Forget Not!) but we have an affinity for very similar music. Gus and I exchanged a few emails where we discussed mutual love of punk rock, the blues, Danelectro guitars and Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.

Gus shot me an email this morning saying the latest video was up. His sweet version of The Ramones I Can't Give You Anything. Take a look at his attire. Gus is an honorary member of The Loyal 77.



That's what I'm talking about. Cheers Gus. Keep on rockin' in the free world.

(See the original Ramones version here.)

Handicapping Brett Favre as a New York Jet

Reposted from YesButNoButYes...


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From the Sports Desk...

This story had progressed beyond absurd into the surreal. As many of us slept last night, Brett Favre was traded to the New York Jets for a draft pick. (Exact terms of the deal are not yet released, but it's rumored to be a conditional 4th rounder.)

As far as this working, I'll give it an 11% chance. When diva-like Brett starts forcing balls and racking up picks and the Post and Daily News run FAVRE FLOPS headlines, we'll see this ride off the rails. The Green Bay media treated Favre like Mickey Mantle. The snarky Gotham press will be ready to pounce when #4 starts screwing up. Favre will not be able to handle it.

What should have happened, is Favre retired with dignity, riding into the sunset as an NFL immortal. Along with Walter Payton, John Elway and Barry Sanders. Instead, he is now a punch-line for late night comedians. This isn't going to work.

A Kitten is Two-Faced...

Mother Nature continues to cook up oddities. In Ohio, a two-faced kitty has been spawned. Four eyes, two noses, one mouth and approximately one adorable.



I'm hoping the kitty can keep it's two personalities in check and not rely on flipping a coin to decide its prey's fate.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

Boy Scout Memories

Kid you not, I'm an Eagle Scout. Still have the card in my wallet. At the Boy Scout Store they have a series of phony merit badges that may depict Scout life more accurately than Citizenship in the Nation.

Such as;


The Jackalope Hunting Merit Badge. I convinced some young scouts it was real one year. Dummies.




The Poker Merit Badge. I started learning cards at about age 14. I knew what I was doing. By 16, nobody on those campouts except my cousin Kerry had a chance to beat me. Seldom was a time when the other campers candy and beef jerky weren't in my possession by the third night.


I have since quit playing poker. I miss it...


The Fart Lighting Merit Badge. While I never participated in the scientific phenomenon, I did witness some amazing displays. Grant Richards was a like Drew Barrymore in Firestarter. I once saw Ryan Emmitt nearly burn his balls off at Hahobas Scout Camp when he attempted a blue flame and had on nylon running shorts.

Not a good combo, kids. Write that down.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

J-Dub Stalks Pearl Jam

In 2002, I was working at The Late Show with David Letterman. When bands I liked were on the show, I would often sneak up into the balcony to watch the soundcheck. When Pearl Jam was on to promote their record Riot Act, I was popping up all over the place just to see them. Just to get a glimpse of my favorite band.

I stumbled across an amateur video on the YouTube. Taken by fans outside the stage entrance as PJ enters and leaves the Ed Sullivan Theater. I knew exactly where I was, so was curious if I could see myself.



Now, if we freeze frame at 1:51, you'll see me in the lower right hand corner standing next to the door, nodding to the band as they enter the theater. I was buddies with the security crew and they told me I could stand there. Right at that moment, I am saying hello to Stone Gossard.


Seeing this was like finding my own Zapruder film. "We see in the lower right corner, Mr. Wright acting like a fourteen-year-old boy just trying to get a glimpse of his heroes."

Later that evening they played I Am Mine. I was standing in the balcony to see it.



The next night -- yep, when you're Pearl Jam you play two nights on Letterman -- they played Save You. Where was I you ask? Still in the balcony.



Never grow up my friends...