Thursday, May 27, 2004

Yogi or Boo Boo?
In a bold move that takes advantage of the USA's world domination in the Marketing field and the President's proclivity for attaching nicknames to people and places he has a hard time remembering, the Bush Administration has announced that the Abu Ghraib prison will be re-named Boo Boo Bear. The Hanna-Barbera company, which owns the rights to Mr. B. B. Bear, applauds this decision and has offered access to other names in their cartoon stable. Mr. Donald Rumsfield has already mentioned he's partial to Quick Draw McGraw, but he has some issues with the size of his snout (too big) and the size of his gun (too small).
In an impromptu news conference at the steps of the building housing the Cartoon Network, a White House spokesman announced that, "..and we are pulling out all stops in the arsenal available to us in the ongoing fight to combat those who need to be combatted. We feel that cartoons are more accessible to the general population in trying to get their support and understanding behind our current cause. The president was actively involved in this decision; it was his suggestion, in fact, that Boo Boo Bear be picked as the new name for the prison that has so many bad memories. The re-naming of Abu Ghraib prison is the first step in our newly revised policy to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. Each current resident of Boo Boo Bear and any future visitors will be given a 5 inch replica of Boo Boo as a reminder of our mission. In keeping with the spirit of the character, a bowtie will also be handed out. We feel strongly that the wearing of the bowtie will minimize the embarassment of the lack of clothes we are requiring as a rule of staying at Boo Boo Bear.
One final point to pre-answer your questions. No, this re-naming process, codenamed Not Just Another Boo Boo, was NOT necessitated due to President Bush's 3 for 3 mis-pronounciation performance of Abu Ghraib during his most recent speech. The current action sequence program we are pursuing in Iraq is a complicated affair. The current action sequence program we are pursuing in Iraq is a complicated affair. Using humorous animation, we feel that a better understandment of the situation can be conveyed to him...I mean, to the American people. This is an on-and-on ongoing process. We are carefully considering Mr. Groening's kind offer of using some of his characters in our effort to educatize the masses, because we don't want no one to be left behind."

Monday, May 24, 2004

A Coffee Hit & Miss

J. Jarmusch and T. Waits, 'laxing 'tween innings....thanks to some fine folk @ PNC Bank, it was FRONT ROW (well, actually 6th row, but that's front row enough for me) @ the (Citi)Zen this past Friday to watch the Phillies display their superior skills over the Padres. The new baseball digs are stunning, especially when compared to the cement field monstrosity of the Vet. I still can't believe there are folks out there in the Philly area moaning for the good old days of Veteran's Stadium. It was a miserable place. When you see men urinating in the handsinks becasue the urinals are backed up, you know you're not in an hospitable place. Now, you can see the Phightin' Phils play on almost real grass (it's some concoction of real grass and artificial "connective tissue") with great sight lines, an interesting outfield fence dimension, and a collection of Philadelphia related eateries sprinkled throughout the stadium.
The bullpens are behind right-center field. The Philles' pen is just slightly higher than field level. The vistor's bullpen is a good 20 ft. higher than the Phil's and moved back a good 30 ft from the fence. Only a chest high fence seperates the visiting pitching staff from the highly opinionated Philly Phans. It was fabulous to take advantage of this current arrangement as you would not think this will last long. By the 4th inning, quite a few fans were deep into their cups..and into their opionating. The eateries open a full 2 1/2 hours before game time ( 3 hours on weekends), so, along with food, the beverages are flowing. When we stopped to gander at the bullpen pitchers, it was like our visits at the Philadelphia Zoo. A large collection of people were standing by the fence, and the pitchers were holed up deep in their protective den. Just like the tigers and lions at the zoo, we smelled the denizens but saw nary a beast. The game itself was a thrill. That sweat machine, Kevin Millwood, was on the mound for the Phillies. Padres went ahead 3-0 early on. Recently called up from Triple A, Chase Utley was on a hitting tear. A solo HR, his third 4 bagger in the last 3 games, started the comeback. With 2 additional ribbies scattered through the balance of the game, including the go-ahead run in the 8th, Mr. Utley finished with a homer, single, and double. Guess he won't be travelling on Triple A buses for a while. With the Phillie's win, the light-laden Liberty Bell tolled for the fans, including da son's and Mr. Chazzy(g). No rain, light breeze, exciting game, great night to be in Philly.

Saturday, time to sip & savor "Coffee and Cigarettes. Mr. Jarmusch's latest film came out on May 14th and hit Philly the following Friday. Along with Mr. Waits, Steve Buscemi, Alfred (NOT Albert) Molina, Steve Coogan, Meg & Jack White, Iggy Pop, Bill Murray, Steven Wright, and, my favorite, Mr. Roberto Benigni and a few other folks appear in this collage of 11 shorts. All, with one exception, revolve around coffee and cigarettes. The exception substitutes tea for coffee, but includes the cigarettes (French, don't you know). Reviews were all over the place including a strong one by NYT's A.O. Scott's and a piddling one from Philadelphia News' Gary Thompson (who proves the point that the Daily News should stick to what it knows...short words and sports... and leave the thinking to other newspapers). I've yet to see a Jarmusch film that I don't like and I love most of his work, so my opining will be a tad slanted. Any filmed piece, regardless of length, with Roberto Benigni will have me eagerly pressing wads of cash to the ticket person. In Mr. Jarmusch's "Night on Earth", a film that, like "Coffee & Cigarettes" had a central theme illustrated through various short films, Mr. Benigni plays a cab driver in Rome. His bit can be re-played over and over again with no loss of laughter or awe; Mr. Jarmusch successfully captures his almost out-of-control intensity. In "Coffee & Cigarettes", the first short, "Strange to Meet You, consists of Mr. Benigni's manner, fueled with espresso rocket caffeine, countered by Steven Wright's one-foot-in-the-grave presence. What happens??? Only your dentist will know.


Friday, May 21, 2004

Point me to the Nearest Placebo
Seems bringing da Son home from college resulted in additional passengers hitching a ride. Hitchhikers of the viral variety. The virus struck the tall and lanky one at the appropriate time, final exams. Coughing and weezing through those trials & tribulations, he was most pleased when it came time to come home. Somewhere in the college detritus we hauled back lay a tiny uninvited guest. Within days of da son's return, the balance of the family was laid out.
The college environment must have brewed up an especially fast-acting and mobile sort of virus, which was a surprise to me as "fast-acting" and "mobile" are not two words I associate with college life. If we became infected with any illness/disease from campus, I would have expected one more of the "docile" or "inert" kind. As this viral strain, let's call it Denisonium, spread through the house, thoughts of medical care started cropping up. Then visions of past visits to our doctor came up and those thoughts were banished. After a week of 10 gallon bags of spent tissues and deep sounding FM voices, occasionally broken by lung matter spewing hacks, previous visits were forgotten.
It was time for a medical consult. Off to see the Mangled Health Care Doc.
While he is a most pleasant and agreeable chap, the practice he's in AND the drug policy the practice and he adhere to, make visits there as painful as the reason we have for going there in the first place. No one in the family is a hypochondriac; the number of visits in the past 5 years for our entire family is less than a handful. And yet...going there makes us feel as if we were over-concerned with our health.
You expect to see a plaque akin to Bob's Bank (thanks to its frequent depositor, Garrison Keillor), "Neither a borrower nor a lender be", posted in the office. Say, something like,"Do NOT bring us your sick, your wounded, your ill-nourished"
The receptionist's desk is fronted by a vertical latticed work of glass, to minimize contact with the public. Banks have less face-to-face protection. I'm waiting for the installation of overhead fogging units that do a full body spray as soon as you get within 10 ft. of the reception. The receptionist is alive, I believe, although each bi-annual vist makes me doubt her body's ability to pump blood.
After the appropriate 45 minute wait tacked on to my arrival at the scheduled time, I'm escorted back to an examination room by a tropical colored uniformed nurse (just once..I'd love to see a white uniform) whose smirkish smile tunes up a bit as she weighs me in. She leaves. I open the first section of the NYT; experience results in my bringing the thickest newspaper's the waiting game. After finishing Section A, the biz and sports section, and halfway through the Arts section, the doctor is IN. Thumping, listening, poking, peering, & then deciding that 2 Tylenols every 6 hours and a shot of saline nasal spray will do the trick.
"But I haven't slept more than 4 hours the past two nights!?!? What do I do with the nasal spray, squirt it over my left shoulder for good luck and good health?!"
"'re only viral, not bacterial. This'll pass in another week. Live with it and let us know if you really get sick, after the two weeks"
I thought leaving a deposit of the greenish yellow fluids that were emanting from nose and mouth in the inspection booth may have some ameliorating effect on my version of my health, but opted out of that action, hoping for a positive response to..
"Doc, how about a placebo? I'll play dumb and you give me something totally useless that I'll believe to be life-saving. I mean, if I really don't have anything worthy of proper medication why not give me improper medication?"
I heard his eyes blinking.
"Pay at the front, no "placebo" checks this time..."

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

So Whatz dat say 'bout me?

Since I'm relatively new (and therfore somewhat on the clueless end of the proficiency scale) with this blogging phenomenon, I'm in the dark as to how the BlogSpot header picks out sites for you, oh gentle reader, it "suggests" you visit, after coming to visit here in "my humble chapeau" (with thanks to "My Favorite Year"). As these sites change often, let me note that today you are being asked to go to "Meet Jewish Singles" or "Meet Sexy Latin Singles".
Perusing my scribblings, nowhere will you find any references, any pictures, or any carnal desires mentioned. To boot, I am not Jewish nor Latin (not that there is anything wrong with being either, neither, or both). I am a Whiter Shade of Pale with my only Jewish proclivities tending toward a large schnoz and a love of Hebrew National frankfurters.
How am I being associated with a drive for dating? Is there a thread of desperation weaving its way through my missives? Is my inner id, Ying, Yang, or Yankee doodle seeping through my keyboarding fingers out there into Bloggle Land? I am in the woods on this question. Not that I'm as high minded as certain other blogs, 2 Blowhards, but I never thought I'd somehow be associated with a multi-ethnic groovy bachelor pad. I don't even own a patch of naugahyde. Any hints as to the Blogger algorithm workings would be appreciated. Just slip a note through my e-mail contact. My curiousity is piqued.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Backyard Dreams
Must have been the combination of ouzo, retsina, and overstuffed gyros that put last night's sleep into a downward spiral. Viewing "28 Days Later" probably didn't help the visuals either. So, the dreams last night were vignettes directed by David Lynch and starring Dennis Hopper and Harvey Keitel. I think there were cameos by Tom Waits, Mickey Rourke, and Steve Buscemi. Yeah, we're talking about a well groomed cast of characters.
The bedroom windows were opened; it was 65 or so and breezy. Sleeping without a/c is a beautiful thing. A glass of iced water was on the bedstand. The sheets were tight and chilly. This was going to be a fitless night of pulling zzzzz's. I sat in bed, listing the backyard jobs that I knew had to be finished shortly. Long, but do-able.
I then listed the honey-do's. Also long and possibly finish-able, with a little negotiations with the job supervisor, my ever-loving wife, and with a little sweat output by the tall & laconic son. LIfe was good and sleep beckoned with its promise of in-head movies.

There are many types of dreams, but it's the scary ones that live with you the longest. And if that scary dream is realistic (i.e. not scripted by Gabriel Marquez) and free of digital imagery, it usually is one that you're convinced that you're awake while you're freaking your way through it.
I woke up with the sun pouring through the Venetians and the sound of water dripping everywhere. Looking outside, I saw no one, just water and drowning grass. Steve Buscemi was sitting out on the deck, switching his gaze from the flooded lawn to me, tsk-tsking as he smiled.

While a man's home may be his castle, his backyard is his playpen. It was out BACK, where both strangers and relatives could not see you having your type of fun. Your imagination was let loose from the constraints of the house and, most certainly from the public view that the FRONT yard represented. As long as the folks were willing participants (which they were at times), the grass did not have to be cut completely, trees could be burdened with all sorts of ropes and wooden Gehry-ish structures, and the infinite pleasures offered by refrigerator corrugated boxes could be explored. As all things buried in one's childhood's memories, the playpen tended toward the extreme......hey!!! Adulthood was so far down the road that possibilities were endless. Pools were perpetually clean. The vistas were forever. The Three Stooges were clown princes. And school was the necessary thief of time that made the reprives in the backyard so deliciously sweet.

So, how did I end up in a backyard water fiasco (backwater??)?
Where's the backyard I'd imagined?

I'll be the guy at the Ritz theater in Philly next weekend, screaming questions at the screen.
Jim Jarmusch's Coffee & Cigarettes is opening there this weekend.

Mr. Buscemi & Mr. Waits have some 'splainin' to do.

Monday, May 10, 2004

The Joads had nothing on us this past weekend. The annual collection of STUFF @ da Son's temporary residence and subsequent relocation to another venue took place. It was obvious that accumulation of objects had been going on. If not that then reproduction by non-living matter was certainly a successful experiment, as evidenced by the need to cart items back on the top of the car. No wonder he was battered by the early signs of claustrophobia. How had he fit all that stuff in his room? Luckily, we were able to dig out his roommate prior to our departure. We knew he was in the dorm room somewhere but, without the aid of loud snoring, it was difficult to locate him underneath the sedimentary layers of books, cd's, and clothes. Some items were actually trashed before our departure; otherwise the desperate act of paring the load would have ensued. I made a fatal mistake by not photographing the detritus; the ever-loving' wife did not believe that anything was chucked after seeing the Subaru arrive, laden with our son's "treasures". Inanimate though they are, the boxes of things had wrested our son's soul away from the intellectual search for the enlightened life.
If he saw it, he touched it.
If he touched it, he then bought it.
If he bought it, he then owned it.
If he owned it, we then carted it home.
It was apparent that the burden of ownership, no, make that the burden of possession, had overtaken him. As we drove east and passing cars' passengers pointed and made visual comments, shame was beginning to seep into his attitude.

But, that seepage was quickly contained. Thoughts of summer acquisitions started to trickle in. Soon, the trickle was a torrent. An injunction, if not an inventory intervention ,will be necessary. If not, we'll soon be looking at buying tractor & trailer rig. Maybe with a sleeper cab, to cut down on dorm room fees.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Attention grabber

Quite a while back, oh, like 1967, a fellow by the name of Alan Coren wrote a book that he hoped would garner both a bit more attention and whole lot more moolah than his previous writings. Being a writer for the late English humor magazine "Punch", he opted to go overboard as far as the cover and title of this book. The British humorist was once advised that anyone seeking to draw the attention of the book-buying public should write about cats, golf or Nazis. Coren promptly went all out with this suggestion and published this collection of essays as "Golfing for Cats.
Its cover?
A picture of a cat in a Nazi uniform wielding a putter (That book cover was unavailable for display, so a concoction appears here)

Except for the explanation of the book's title, the words "cat", "golf", and "Nazis" do not appear anywhere else in the text. The book itself was o.k., not anything rip-snortingly funny. Monty Python was in its infancy and therefore completely over the top, so rip-snorting was being monopolized by them at that time.

The book did, however, garner a lot of attention and buying; the two things Coren was looking for.
Stealing his idea (although at least acknowledging the source) has become necessary here, as the # of trailblazers coming upon my blog has dwindled to a brave and hardy few. Perhaps this addition will help the cause. I'm not including the Golf theme though, in fairness to all potential blog readers.

Scottish legend has it that Golf was an old acronym for Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden. All and any ladies are most welcome here. Forward in all directions!

Monday, May 03, 2004

Dubya's Press Conference as rendered by Abbott & Costello
Nothing else needs to be said with Who's on...

(Full text of "speech" is Right Here)

....except this is about baseball and there's always another game and another day. Whereas, we're living in a new time of Fear & Loathing and another day is always questionable.

Bottoms UP!!
The only thing that would be funnier than this boating incident would be the revelation that the barge passengers were all from a Jerry Falwell convention. Ah, Texas, where life is just a touch different.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

A Mighty Laugh
Based on the re-release of an older Monty Python movie, I did some extensive research (interpret that as, 10 minutes of Googling while appreciating the fine brewing technique of the Pilsen Urquell brewery in Plzen, Czech republic) on humor and God and came up with the following sites, Don't Joke with the Almighty One,
Humor's a small part of My charm, and
Leave the jokes with Me . Total Google hits were 170,000...which would take an eternity to go through, thereby making that task a modern version of the tedious & repetitive tasks to be foisted on someone taking permanent residence Down Under. So, I'll leave that bit of work under "Things to do when I've departed".
That many hits is quite encouraging. It means, at least, that there is plentiful discussion on the Net regarding God & humor. Folks may not react as angrily to the re-issued version as opposed to when Life of Brian was released 25 years ago. Per the press info flooded out by the Pythons (leaking the news is not their forte, although there is definitley a bit of their bathroom humour associated with a leak v. a flood), commercialism was the driving force. Rather than waiting for the "official" 25th anniversary of the film in August of 2004, the Pythons opted to unapologetically ride the coat-tails of one Mr. Mel Gibson and his "Passion".
As Terry Jones was quoted,
".. a wee thing called the "The Passion of the Christ" by some guy named Mel Gibson came along, and suddenly crucifixions, Roman despots and virgin birthing were in the news. We just saw the opportunity and thought we'd take it. We're definitely trying to cash in on Mel's enormous success."
The bans and controversy that Life of Brian roiled up will probably not happen this time around, a fact that Mr. Jones is not too happy about. "It's never a bad thing to get banned a bit. It also gave us a great ad line in Sweden, becasue the Swedes regard the Norwegians as having no sense of humour, and, as it was banned in Norway, the Swedish distributor ran a line that read,"This film is so funny it was banned in Norway"."
With all of the zealotry these days, a chance to see ,"Life of Brian" could not have come at a better time. As documented in the Good Book, if we are created in God's image, the movie can at least prove that even the Big Guy needs a good joke once in a while, especially when we folks down here on earth are acting way over the top.

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