Tuesday, August 30, 2005

For Bob

This weekend I’m going back to Virginia Beach for Bob’s wedding. Bob’s made it into a few posts, and has even left a few comments to keep me honest. Since, I’m a quiet heart in a tinderbox kind of guy, I’m going to use this space to say a few words about the greatness that is Bob, my best friend.

As previously posted, I met Bob at Casablanca. I met him through another guy I met their Josh. There were three things that our friendship first became based on: baseball, movies, and the Afghan Whigs. He’s also a funny, funny bitch. He gave me the first nickname I didn’t really mind: “Film School.”

So we’d hang out at the café for hours talking shit with friends and smoking cigarettes. We’d go to bars. Sing Karaoke at The Jewish Mother. Play poker till three in the morning. He’d kick my ass at EA’s Triple Play. We spent way too much time at Waffle House, and IHOP. Now I offer up my favorite Bob moments.

Baseball Trips: Being an avid baseball fan, yet never having any friends that shared the same passion, can suck at times. You want to complain about your favorite team, share your excitement for opening day, or bitch about the Yankees, and you get blank stares. We were both raised baseball fans by our fathers. Bob though is a Met fan. We don’t hold our team affiliations against each other. Three times we’ve done the baseball trip thing. The first one was sort of a warm up for big week long trip that was on the horizon. We went to Fenway to see the Red Sox play the Twins. We hung out around Boston for a couple days. The baseball gods were smiling down on us though. As we walked up Yawkey Way, we saw people passing out K’s. This meant only one thing. Pedro was pitching that night. I will also say this about Bob. The whole time there he wore his Mets hat. I thought for sure somebody was going to say something. Next to wearing a Yankees hat, that’s probably the worst hat you can wear in Boston.

Our big trip came in the next couple weeks. We hit four parks in a week, which really doesn’t seem that much, except the second park we went to was Wrigley. We did Baltimore, Wrigley, Shea, and Yankee. Wrigley and Shea were the obvious highlights. Shea though topped them all. Bob and I went early and just hung out at the ballpark parking lot. We watched some of the players come in. Hal McRae was our favorite because he played for both the Mets and Cubs. He also sucked for both teams. We both had great reasons to mock him, and mock him we did. The game was the Mets and Cubs. We had great seats. It was also of all things Meringue Night. The place was packed, and jumping. This was at the height of Sosa mania so there were also quite a few bandwagon Cubs fans. There was even a guy running around the park dressed to hilt as Sosa. The odd thing was that they honored Sammy Sosa. Which if you’re a Mets fan had to get under your skin. I know it got Bob fuming. The Mets won the game, so justice was served. We left as the Meringue concert was just starting. The place was still jumping.

The third trip was when Bob flew out to visit me on the West Coast. In between trips to Roscoe’s we hit the three Southern California ballparks: Dodgers, Angels, and San Diego. The best was easily San Diego. Even though it was an interleague game between the Mariners and Padres it was a blast. Eddie Money was playing a concert outside, we had great seats, and we saw John Olerud hit for the cycle. He is so slow.

Jail Time: One night I was arrested for supposedly driving with an expired license. I’ll share that story some other time. I ended up having to walk a mile to a 7-11 from the Police Station when they released me. Stuck out in the middle of nowhere and with my car impounded, I had to rely on my friends to pick me up. After one friend refused to pick me up, it was Bob and my roommate Dave that actually showed up. I hadn’t even been able to call Bob from the pay phone, but since I didn’t show up at the diner he came looking for me. That’s a friend. Big ups to Dave Baldwin too for showing up.

Late Nights: Because I worked nights as a delivery man for PaPa John’s I took full advantage of my night owl life style. My cohort was always Bob. We’d hit the diners or go to Taco Bell right before they closed. We’d wander Wal-Mart to see what new Star Wars figures they got. Good times.

My Mom: The first friend I called when my Mom died was Bob. He was the friend I needed at that moment. He understood. He knew he didn’t need to say anything. He knew I just needed a friend to talk to. Bob also ended up being one of my few friends to have actually met her. That seems fitting.

Top Bob Songs:

Prince-Let’s Go Crazy: The greatest karaoke performance I’d ever seen.

Any Afghan Whigs song: I should also say that this is one of my main regrets. I never got to see the Whigs with Bob. Every time we planned to go, something would happen. Dulli got hurt once. I got arrested. Etc.

Elvis-You Were Always on My Mind: This became the theme song of our week long baseball trip.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion-Bellbottoms: Bob bought the Orange album on the trip to Boston. It became the staple album of that trip.

Easy-The Commodores: My last night in Virginia Beach, I said my goodbyes. Bob being the last. It was rather tearful. As drove back to my place, Easy was playing on the radio. I later found out that Bob was listening to Easy as well as he drove home.

One final minor regret is that during all the trips and other adventures I’ve had with Bob, and I don’t have one single picture of Bob. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have one of me either. I ended up having to steal this off the website for the radio station he works at.

There we go. These are really only snippets of the greatness of Bob, but I hope you get the idea. There are tons of other stories I may share along the way. So to Bob the best friend anyone could ever have. May God bless you as you start another chapter.

Monday, August 29, 2005

A Short Vacation

These next two weeks I’m going to be traveling a lot with two weddings in as many weeks. I also have a spec script that I actually need to finish. So I’m taking a little vacation from the blog. I will post tomorrow, and there will be a post next week (Thurs.?). If something strikes me, I’ll post, but for the next two weeks there will only be the two posts dedicated to my friends that are getting married. I will return with renewed vigor for this blog, or at least I’ll come away with some stories I can post.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Change is a Bitch!

So as you can tell, the template of Throwaways has changed. As requested I was trying to add a "recent comment" section, but to do that I needed to add a second sidebar. After toying with the HTML of the previous template, I realized that I was in over my head. Succumbing to my ineptness, I changed to a simpler template and placed the flicker, recent comments, and Bits O' Music to the right sidebar. I'm still tweaking with it, so give me some time. If you guys have any suggestions, I would like to hear them. Thanks.

Ramblings

I realize this is two “Ramblings” posts in three days, but I didn’t do one last Friday. Besides, I need to mail in a few posts every now and then. No I haven’t always been mailing it in. Ok. About 90% of these are mailed in.

I’ve got a little crush on one of the hostesses at The Pizza Place. It’s a decent Italian restaurant that’s right across the street from my place. Because I’m a lazy bastard, I end up going there about three times a week. We’re now at the point where she’s already got my food bagged up when I come in. How sweet of her, and how pathetic of me. I’m often a sucker for ladies in the food business.

When recruiting, does Coach Krzyzewski just mail out tapes now of the AE ad, or is confident enough in the airtime it’s received? I imagine there’s a need for “earmuffs” every time it airs in an opposing coach’s house.







Kudos to FOX for playing the ass out of Arrested Development before the new season. They’ve been airing eps every night at 12:30. They even did a five ep mini-marathon one night. So, if you need to catch up, now’s the time. It’s great to see FOX trying to build up the fan base, but 12:30 is the best they can do?

For every pair of shoes I buy I have to add $70 to $100 to have a lift added to the sole. So even a $30 pair of sneaks really end up costing me $100. Also, to get these professionally done by an orthopedic company I need a prescription. For shoe lifts! Can you overdose on them? Are people holed up in abandoned buildings jonsing for a shoe lifts? I hate shopping for shoes.

I still haven’t listened to that John Davis CD I bought. Someday Mr. Davis. Someday.

When I was in high school I snapped my fore arm in half wile skateboarding. I snapped in back into place, and vowed to never ride a skateboard again. This dislike led to me creating T-shirt designs of skateboarders dying in miserable ways. I called it the Skate & Die T-shirts. Because I had absolutely no money, I was never able to make my T-shirts. I still have that yearning to make T-shirt designs. Probably won’t be Skate & Die though.
Maybe magical elves living in magical mushrooms.

The two scariest movies I’ve ever seen: Exorcist and Sleepaway Camp. I assume most have seen Exorcist. If you haven’t seen Sleepaway Camp, DON’T! The twist ending still haunts me. Ugh.

Who is going to be the moronic team that gives Nomar a contract? I bet it’ll be the Cubs…again. Could you imagine if the Cubs still had D-Train and Jon Garland along with Prior and Zambrano? Ok we wouldn’t have Lee, but still.

I’ve come to truly love my Zen Micro MP3 player. The pop culture status of the iPod mini did tempt me. I eventually came to my senses and realized the importance of a removable battery and its alien like blue glow. Now when is the Zen Micro Photo going to finally hit the market?

I wonder how much better these posts would be if I didn’t write them at two in the morning, and I was sober?

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Brad Smash Good











On a somewhat premeditated whim I picked up the new Hulk: Ultimate Destruction game for my Xbox. My last two purchases were both sports games. After watching my receiver drop a perfect pass for the fifth time in a row, I realized I needed a new "“break some shit"” game.

Comic book games on a whole have fallen into the dreadful to bare tolerable categories. This game though is actually pretty damn fun. Ultimate Destruction is a lame title, but it fits because you really can just go ape shit in the game.

The story itself is based in the comic book world and not the Ang Lee movie. It'’s not that great of a story, but has its little winks and nods for the fan boys. The enjoyment of this game is being the Hulk, which is what it should be. Hulk jump. Hulk climb. Hulk run. Hulk smash. The game is Hulk in a GTA like sandbox. There are different missions located in the different maps. You complete these missions to progress the story. There are also different side missions that involve racing through check marks in a certain time, to placing as many cars as you can on the top of a skyscraper. If you don'’t want to do either you can just roam around the countryside or city and just "“break some shit."” Like GTA there is also a threat meter. You destroy too many cops and civilians and they bring in the SWAT. You take out the SWAT and they bring in the Special Forces in their copters. If you take care of them, then you get a bonus, and the meter goes back to zero. Throughout all these missions you earn smash points for each destructive thing you do. With these points you buy special moves. The game is liberal with its smash points, so you aren'’t left scrounging around to get the next move. There are though a ton of moves to buy. There'’s the sonic clap, the tornado, the turn cars into Hulk's boxing gloves, and so on.

The graphics at first glance are not outstanding, but that is expected when you have such a large freeroaming world. They arenÂ’t awful though, and once you start breaking things the graphics improve for the explosions. The controls are solid. The camera can get a little wacky when trying to lock onto fast moving targets. The AI is spotty sometimes too. They go from morons to wipe the crap out of you assassins in a second.

My favorite part right now is just jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper, and breaking stuff. There'’s just something satisfying about picking up a bus and hurling it at a helicopter. I also get a kick out of climbing and running up the buildings. They worked the physics right so when you jump and grab onto the side of the building you actually slid for awhile till your get a strong enough grip. ThatÂ’s the greatness of this game. You actually feel like you are the Hulk. ItÂ’s not a perfect game like God of War, but it'’s worth the coin.

Tales from Minimum Wage or The 305th Way to Kill a Duck

During my vagabond years after graduate school, I worked as a delivery driver for PaPa John’s Pizza. It’s a crazy, backstabbing, and soul sucking job but you get some stories out of it. A few hours into my shift, I was just beginning my run of deliveries. Weaving through the suburban streets, I slowed down as I came to a blind curve in the road. Reaching the turn, I saw two ducks standing in the middle of the road. I swerved right. One duck wisely flew to the left. The second duck unwisely flew right-right into my grill.

I hit my brakes and looked in my rearview mirror at the lifeless corpse laying the middle of road. At this point I probably could have moved the duck to the side of the road, but I had pizzas to deliver. They weren’t getting any warmer. The pizzas that is. So, I drove off and figured I’d call animal control when I got back to the store.

I finished my run, and went back to the store. The assistant manager came up to me while I was putting my name into the computer. “Did you hit a duck?” he asked.

After confirming his suspicions, he told me that a lady had called to complain. My initial thought was that I had killed some lady’s pet ducks. Could you have pet ducks? Was she a duck lady? When my mind focused, I told the assistant manager that the duck had made the wrong decision, and I was planning on calling animal control when I got back. He told me not to worry about it. It was just a duck. Yes, it was just a duck.

A few runs later I was at the cutting table. Like clockwork I was cutting and boxing pizzas. I glanced up as a slight breeze indicated the door was open. Standing in the doorway was an Orca fat lady in a muumuu. She stood at the doorway and pointed to the parking lot.

“Who drives that white car?” she shouted in that annoyingly loud fat lady voice.

At that point I immediately knew that this was the “Duck Lady.” I did indeed drive a drive a white Ford Escort wagon, and admitted my ownership to the lady. She then tore into me about driving too fast through the neighborhood. IAt that point I immediately knew that this was the “Duck Lady.” I did indeed would like to point out again I was driving a 1988 Ford Escort wagon. There is no “driving too fast” in that car. You can’t even drive fast in that car. She then laid into me for murdering the duck. The duck had somehow survived, and she took it to the animal hospital. Being the moron she is, she forked over $200 to fix the duck. 200! The duck then promptly died. She then went on about how I was a menace to society, a threat to the children, and blamed me for about four war crimes. The real reason she was berating me was so I would pay her $200.

Now I am a quiet peaceful man. I rarely raise my voice, and prefer to avoid confrontation. I do though have a breaking point. Very few on this planet have ever seen it. I would hope that none of you ever do. That night the whole Papa John’s store saw me snap.

As the pizzas backed up in the oven, the lady and I went at it, barb for barb, jab for jab. The manager finally told me to go in back, so he could settle this. As the assistant manager took my place at the table, she said she’d sue me if she had to. She was going to do whatever it took to get her $200. To which I replied, ”If I had known the duck was still alive, I would have backed up and put it out of it’s misery!” Stupid, fat, duck loving bitch! I mumbled the bitch part to myself.

The manager ended up taking a written complaint. She left, and I stewed for the rest of the night. I later found out that PaPa John’s paid her back the $200. This once again made me furious. I couldn’t believe she won. I’m pretty sure she scammed PaPa John.
She probably scooped the duck up and threw it into her freezer. Probably, thawed it out for a late night snack. I hope she choked on the bones.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ramblings

Picked up The New Pornographers Twin Cinema yesterday. I’m always worried when there are over 10 songs listed on the back. My guess was that those four songs are the ones that Dan Bejar wrote that always seem out of place on these records, particularly Electric Version. Well I was wrong on two accounts. Bejar only wrote three songs, and the whole album is absolutely brilliant. Mass Romantic will always have a special place in my heart, but this album is their best. They’ve taken their power pop and expanded the sound and created wonderfully layered music. John Collins their drummer is even allowed to show off on this record. My current song of choice is “The Bleeding Heart Show.” On first listen I literally got goosebumps when the choir at the end kicks in. I understand if you aren’t into Dulli or The Hold Steady, or a lot of the music I listen too, but there is absolutely no reason you should not pick this album up. It’s like $10 at Best Buy. You’ll feel guilty you only paid that much for it. Also, God bless the Ebow.

I would like to now apologize to John Davis for buying his album on the same day. I will get along to listening to it sometime. I don’t think it’d be right to compare it to this album. Again, I’m sorry.

These days it seems the Cubs can only beat teams with records over .500. That’s always comforting. How do you win two series back to back against St. Louis and Houston but lose to Colorado?

I went to pre-order the Xbox 360. They were sold out. I got the e-mail yesterday morning that EB was beginning per-orders. They sold out in a day? I could order it online but of course EB only has their astronomically priced bundles with games I don’t even want. How are these guys still in business? That’s right they have a monopoly. And they get games a day before the other retail stores. Looks like I’m waiting in line at Best Buy…again.

Match.com sent me an e-mail inviting me to their new Blackmatch.com. This is fine even though I don’t think I can join. Is it just for African Americans or for those who are attracted to African Americans like me? My problem is the picture. Am I the only one that starts humming the “Soul Glo” jingle when I look at it? It’s Mario Van Peebles circa Exterminator 2. Who’s the gay Asian guy that picked that model?

Now who did I all offend with that last paragraph?

If you type in “Coming to America soul glo” into the Google image search, this is the only picture you get:
Pet Peeve: Adult’s music collections that read like that Top 40 for the past five years. Don’t let radio and MTV decide your music.

I have new neighbor that reminds me of Dave Baldwin. I miss Dave and his cackle.

This weekend proved once again that I will always pick the flu over the cold.

I become easily bored with things, so the fact that this blog has kept going is a miracle.

By Sept. 9th it looks like I’m going to be an uncle for the fifth time, when my step-sister and her husband return with their new adopted son. Whoo Hoo!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What You Should Be Watching: Rescue Me

Since MOL Jr. asked for it here's a synopsis of the great show "Rescue Me." I've been little hesitant that I won't be able to do the show justice, but here we go anyway. Also, for you Tivo people, who wait five months to watch episodes, there are some spoilers in here. Yes, I'm talking to you Brian.

The show is created by Denis Leary and Peter Tolan. Both were responsible for the short lived but excellent comedy "The Job." It recently was released on DVD and I seriously recommend picking that bad boy up. The same sense of humor carries over to this show. Leary plays Tommy Gavin the hot shot fireman of Ladder 62 in NYC. He is a great firefighter who is admired by his fellow fireman. The problem is that as good as he is at being a firefighter he's just as bad at being a father and husband.

Season One, began with Tommy separated from his wife. Even though he's saved numerous lives, he's haunted by those that he couldn't save. He's also haunted by best friend and cousin who died in 9/11. Firefighters still dealing with the impact of 9/11 is an underlying theme that runs through the series from the loss of family, brothers, and fellow firefighters to their taking advantage of the public adoration to them dealing with the money being made off the tragedy. Season one is basically these "heroes" falling. Tommy Gavin uses alcohol, prescription drugs, and sex to hide from and avoid his fears and troubles. In the end of the season he's left with his ex-wife running off with the kids. He's transferred out of Ladder 62 after nearly getting his friend killed in a fire. And he gets his cousin's widow pregnant. Tommy doesn't just ruin his life, but all those who he comes in contact with. Can you blame the wife for running? Now all this seems very soap operaish and to an extent it is. But it is all done with great dialogue and spot on performances. All the drama is well balanced with humor. Often the two come together in the same scene.

Season two has Tommy Gavin seeking redemption. He tries to get his kids back. He works his way back into Ladder 62. He joins AA. But because Tommy is Tommy he doesn't always do it the right way. He kidnaps his kids. He connives his way back into Ladder 62. The only reason he's in AA is because he'll lose his job if he doesn't. Recently, even he and his ex-wife have gotten back together. Of course it's not out true love, but because she's on happy pills, and he's been bogarting them when she's not looking. Things have been going well but you get the sense that it will crumble. Even though he's trying to deal with the problems, the temporary solutions are only masking the real trouble in Tommy.

It's not all about Tommy though. Each of the firemen at Ladder 62 have their troubles and laughs. There's Kenny the awful poetry writing veteran firefighter who left his wife for another woman. The other woman though was only seeing him because she has a fetish for unavailable men. Secondly, there's Franco the womanizing firefighter who now has a daughter to take care of. His womanizing also comes back to haunt him when he falls in love with Laura. Laura is the new transfer. She struggles with not only being the new guy but the new girl. Mike is the probationary firefighter. He's a naive kid who is hazed by the other firefighters, but tries to hold on to his heart of gold. Sean is the moron that walks through life with quite a dim light bulb. Finally, there is Chief Reilly. While trying to keep Ladder 62 together, he must also watch after his wife with Alzheimer's. His wife's illness also forces him into a confrontation with his gay son. Rounding things out is Tommy's cousin's wife. Tommy has become the replacement for her dead husband. She's gone off the deep end now that she has lost her baby, and now Tommy wants nothing to do with her.

It should also be noted the Catholic theology that is in the show. When things turn bad, Tommy often goes to church to find answers. He often though doesn't find them. Season one, he lit votive candles to temporarily deal with the ghosts that haunt him. In season two, Jesus literally comes down from the cross to give Tommy guidance. Not that he listens. Season two has flushed out even more of the struggles Tommy has with faith.

I realize I've made this show seem like a constant down note, but it really isn't. This show is also very funny. It is simply a well written show that examines the human struggles and laughs that these heroes live through. Denis Leary has friends and family that are firefighters and the show seems to get it right. Season one came out recently on DVD, so I really suggest starting with those. If you are someone who doesn't mind catching up later, then dive on in. There are four eps left to this season. I'm pretty sure this is when the shit is going to hit the fan.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Where in the Hell is My War of the Monsters 2?

I was browsing the EB Games website and 1UP.com to see when We Love Katamari was being released. I came across a couple positive reviews for the upcoming Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. The review at 1UP referenced the game War of the Monsters for PS2. This made we wonder where in the hell is my War of the Monsters 2?

At its basic level this game is a fighting game. You choose to be one of ten monsters ranging from a King Kong to a Voltron to a Mars Attack Alien. You then beat the crap out of the other monster(s) not just with your fists, combos, or special moves but with everything around you. Everything in each level is destructible and can be used as a weapon.
The antennas on the building can be used to beat on or impale your opponent. Pummel them with an I-beam. Pick up a tanker trunk and you have a nice grenade. If you’re good enough you can even time the collapse of a building so it lands flat on your opponent. Each level also has certain disaster you can cause. See that UFO on the horizon? Hit it with some debris and it will start a tidal wave that will wipe out your opponents. You can cause a volcano to erupt and an earthquake. You fight in levels that represent DC, Tokyo, airport, Las Vegas, Maui, and so on. Even the presentation that pokes fun at old sci-fi films is well done.

This game though isn’t perfect which made me have high hopes for the sequel. The multi-player was limited to just two players. You could add two other CPU monsters, but only you and one friend could play at once. The main reason was because of the innovative multi-player camera. When you and your friend are not fighting each other the screen splits with a camera following each player. When you do eventually go monster toe to monster toe the cameras merge into one screen. Great idea, but obviously this makes playing with more than two players impossible. I had hope that eventually there would be a solution, so you could share the gleeful carnage with more friends. Online play would be the obvious solution, with co-op online being the perfect solution. Alas, this apparently is not going to happen. I’ve begun to think that I failed this game. Did I not tell enough people how great this game is? Am I responsible? Perhaps because it came out during the numerous crappy Godzilla games it got lost in the shuffle. So, this is what I’m recommending. Go buy this sucker used, or new, if you don’t like the “used” tag. Maybe if enough people buy it up now, we can still get a sequel on the next gen consoles. This game came out in early 2003! There should be a sequel by now.

My old roommate Jiff and I played this non-stop when I first bought it. And he’s not even into video games. Jiff, Tim, and I would swap out with the loser for hours straight. This is the perfect party game. Fun will be had by all.

A video game side note: I picked up the new Madden the other day. Looking through the extras I came across a demo for the new Burnout game. I haven't gone back to Madden since. In race crashbreakers + jumps + ricocheting cars = Me giddy.

Unintentional Comedy Gold

Fans of MST3K know as do many former Regent students that the unintentional comedy, though elusive, can often be more enjoyable than an intentional comedy. Today, I give you two enjoyably awful movies of my youth. Now when your friends have a “bad movie” party you will be well prepared.


Mac and Me

Plot: “A NASA probe lands on an alien planet. While taking soil samples it accidentally sucks up a family of aliens. On Earth the aliens flee in the confusion. Separated, the baby of the family hides in the van of Janet Cruise and her two sons as they make their way to a new home in Sacramento. There the baby alien comes to befriend the youngest wheelchair-ridden son Eric.”

This grand E.T. rip-off was apparently sponsored by Coke and McD’s. You see Coke brings the aliens back to life. Genius! Then halfway through the movie there is a bizarre break dancing scene in a McDonald’s involving the baby alien dressed as a teddy bear. I would love to tell you about the last scene in which the alien family is sworn in as U.S. citizens, but I don’t want to ruin it all. The eldest son is played by Charles in Charge’s Jonathan Ward. He was one of the Pembroke kids before they sold the house and Scott Baio to the Powells. Yes, I am embarrassed that I know that. Yes, I realize white slavery is not a laughing matter. Back to this gem of a movie. Included in this movie are creepy full on naked aliens. I mean adult naked aliens, and the kids wonder why the town goes into a panic. I will warn you about the climactic scene in which the aliens bring the lead kid back to life. You may start laughing at the fact that they bring the boy back to life, but can’t make him walk again. I know I was going to make a joke about it here. Well it turns out that the lead actor is actually paralyzed in real life. No, it still doesn’t excuse his awful acting, but if you laugh it basically means you have no soul. Fro the record, I apparenly have no soul.

Invaders from Mars (1986)









Plot: “Young David Gardner sees a UFO go down beyond the hill behind his house during the middle of a thunderstorm. In the morning David’s father goes to investigate and later his father insists on taking his mother behind the hill. After they return, both appear changed and behaving in very strange ways and David sees strange marks at the base of their necks. He confesses his story to school nurse Linda Magnusson and the two of them uncover a network of tunnels under the hillside, dug by invading Martians who are taking over the minds of the locals. Together they alert the military as the Martians, with an army of mind-controlled humans, try to sabotage a NASA Mars launch.”

This is the crappy remake of the 1953 original. I actually saw this pile in the theater. Dan O’Bannon, who wrote Alien, was one the writers. Stan Winston did the creatures. And John Dykstra, who was the effects supervisor on Star Wars, did the special effects. How could you go wrong? Well they did it wonderfully wrong. The movie was directed by Tobe Hooper. He had just followed up Poltergeist with Lifeforce. Don’t act like you don’t know the movie Lifeforce. It was played around the clock on HBO. It had the lady alien vampire that walked around naked for the first half of the movie. Go ahead. Keep denying. Anyway, this movie proves all the rumors about Hooper actually directing Poltergeist are possibly true. The first laughably bad thing in this movie is the lead kid. He is not in a wheelchair, so feel free to ridicule all you want. This movie also has Louise Fletcher eating a frog. Timothy Bottoms and Laraine Newman play the kid’s alien controlled parents. To round out the wonderful cast, Karen Black plays the school nurse. Can you believe this is the same actress who did “Five Easy Pieces” and “Nashville”? You know on second thought…The main problem with this movie is that it can’t decide if it wants to be a serious fright fest or a comedic jab at the sci-fi films of the 1950’s. Perhaps I should’ve known when the movie begins with a flashback of a flashback, but the twist ending even frustrated me as a 14 year old. On a personal note: The big hook line is “Let’s go over the hill.” This is what those brainwashed by the aliens would say to get the uninfected to join them. You see the aliens were on the other side of the hill, and…Ok, you get it. This became my own personal line of warning when trouble was ahead. The principal’s office, the showers in gym class, and Miss Bell's class were all on the other side of the hill for me.

There we go. Two quality movies high on the unintentional comedy scale. So, when you’re flipping through the channels and you see either of these listed stop and laugh for awhile. It will do you some good.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

More for Mom

My sister Mandy, the one who recently visited me, sent me this e-mail. With her permission I'm posting it up here. I'm also posting my favorite picture of Mandy, when she was little. Considering she hated having her picture taken, I'm suprised I was even able to get this.

Clips from my Mom Memory Bank:

I remember...
Mom teaching me how to bake at the farm with my little blue apron on.
The way she'd have hot chocolate waiting for me with little
marshmallows in it when I came inside from sledding on the hill.
Catching glimpses of her wrapping present after present the night
before Christmas.
Standing next to her while she made wild rice in that one particular pot.
Stealing bacon in the morning/afternoon, while she laughingly shooed us away.
Getting hit by her hairspray every morning when we shared the bathroom.
Singing oldies in the van during Anne's soccer tournaments.
The constant, light tug at my ponytail while she stood behind me, tightening it.
"Lullaby and goodnight," every night when I was little, and singing
for Anne and me to wake up in the morning.
"PUT YOUR FOOT ON THE BALL!!" The notable and often repeated cheer at
Anne's games.
Her slow, meandering snowplow down the ski slope in her bright red ski jacket.
Taking me out to buy an outfit whenever I lost a little weight.
Building my Halloween costumes every year, no matter how silly or
elaborate they were.
Her always telling me to stop eating the snow.
"Don't sass me." Biggest guilt trip EVER.

These are just some of the preliminary ideas for me, of what I think
of when I think of mom.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Bits O' Music

I recently got an e-mail from a friend. All it said was: Enjoy!. Attached to the e-mail was this mp3. It's "Use It" from the upcoming New Pornographers album Twin Cinema. If you are not familiar with the New Pornographers, you have been missing out on some well-crafted pop songs. There are not many artists anymore that get my "buy it the day it comes out" seal of approval, but these guys have earned it. I came late to their first album Mass Romantic, and have regretted it ever since. This alt. supergroup are truly musicians who keep expanding and experimenting from album to album, but the outcome is always hummable songs. Enjoy.

The New Pornographers-Use It-Twin Cinema.

If you are an artist or artist representative being featured on this blog and want me to take down a song, let me know, and it will be removed from the server immediately.

The Worst Video Game of ALL TIME!

I am a video game junkie. This isn’t a new epiphany particularly to those that know me. What I have realized is that it’s been the entertainment medium that has always been with me. Even though I wasn’t allowed to see movies, or listen to rock music, I always had video games. The one person I have to thank for that is my Dad. Pong, Atari, all the Nintendos, Sega Genesis, Turbografx 16, and on we had it all. Many a weekend my Dad would take my brother and me to the video arcade to spend a good two hours dropping tokens. I am telling you all this to say that I believe I have a firm grasp of video games. So when I say that Swordquest:Earthworld is the worst video game ever made, you better damn well know it’s true.

Now, I’m sure there are a few of you who are going to doubt me. You’ll start rattling off E.T., that awful Superman game, or the endless supply of Pokemon games. You’re right those were terrible games. None of them though reached the magnitude of suckage that the Swordquest series reached. It was an epic failure and more than just an awful game.

The game was developed to be used with a comic book. You wandered around these rooms, taking and leaving certain objects that you would collect. If you left the right thing in the right room then you got a clue that gave you a page and panel number in the comic book. In that panel was a hidden word. Below is a page from the comic book. Look at the last panel. Do I really need to play the crappy video game to figure that out?But, once you found all the words they would create a sentence. You would then send the sentence to Atari and have a chance to compete in the finals and win a prize. The prize for the Earthworld game was a Talisman made of 18K solid gold, with 12 diamonds and the birthstones of the twelve Zodiac signs embedded in it, as well as a small sword made of white gold attached to the front. The winners of the four game contests would go on to a final competition where they would compete for a sword valued at $50,000. Atari only got as far as the third game, and then canceled the whole thing. Someone did win the Earthworld prize though. I think he melted it down to pay for college or something.

The thing is $50,000 dollars wasn’t even enticing enough to keep playing this crapfest of a game. First of all, I lost the comic book. Secondly, the puzzles were so random and pointless that you were left wandering around dropping one thing and picking up the other thing. If a code didn’t come up, then you swapped out another item. I don’t mind puzzles in my video games, but please have the puzzles work around some sort of logic. Give me a method to the madness. To make things even more frustrating, there were mini-games that you needed to complete in order to access some rooms.
This is supposed to be a waterfall

These mini-games were simple Frogger rip-offs that required jumping on or dodging things to get to the other side. Once getting to the other side, if you placed the wrong item in that room, you had to go back through the mini-game again. Yipeee! There were some items that helped you beat the mini-games or even see the mini-game.
You guessed it: Spears!

Swordquest failed not just as a game series, but as a publicity stunt/contest as well. This and the E.T. game pretty much kicked off the video game market crash of 1983. It wouldn’t be till Nintendo came along, that the home market started up again.

All I Did Was Kiss You!


During my last year in graduate school, I was in a funk. I had a slightly cracked heart, and felt I needed a change of scenery. I ended up hanging out at this “hole in a wall” coffeehouse called Casablanca. This place had it all: dirty hippies, pseudo Goths, chip collecting AA members, wannabe poets, and a wannabe screenwriter. Maybe I needed to go somewhere that had people completely different than those at grad school. I made some friends there, and one of them became my best friend Bob. Before Bob and the others, I met Brianna. She was a skinny thing with curly black hair. We eventually started hanging out a bit. We’d go to the bookstore, talk for hours at Casablanca, and hang out at her house. It was when I went to her play that I thought I might have a chance. I showed up a little early and sat in the back. While they were setting things up she kept pointing me out to her cast mates. I was in like Flint.

I eventually decided to move things along by actually asking her out on a date. She was a fan of Ben Folds Five, so I bought tickets. As her phone rang, I was suddenly struck with a wave of fear. When this kind of fear hits, I usually do one thing: Lie. Rather than ask her out to Ben Folds Five, I told her I had won tickets, and wondered if she wanted the extra ticket. You see it technically wasn’t a date now, so she wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. I even worked it out so that we would meet there at the concert. Yes. I know. I suck.

We met at the concert. We danced. We sang along. An enjoyable time was had by all. Watching her dance, I made the decision that I would kiss her. I would kiss her tonight. During the encore, I formulated my plan to kiss her when I walked her to her car. There’s always that pause when they get in car. When she pauses I will be a man, and I will kiss her! Yeah!

Only she never paused. How do you not pause? She just hopped in her car and drove off. How could this happen? I was going to actually make the first move, and I am denied? This could not be. I ran to my car, and drove off after her. My hope was that I could catch up to her, and kiss her at her house. My pizza delivery skills finally paid off, and I caught up to her as she was getting out of her car. Not saying a word, I strolled up to her and kissed her. I even impressed myself. That is me being a man! What is up! Brianna apparently wasn’t so impressed. The kiss was awful. I got a warmer response kissing my hand. After our lips separated, my lips thawed, and an awkward pause she asked, “So you want to have sex?” What? When did a single kiss (with no tongue) imply the desire for sex? “No!” I said, “I just like you and wanted to ki-” “Because I have herpes,” she stated. WHAT! Fighting the urge to wipe my mouth, I stammered out an apology. I said I was simply attracted to her, thought she was nice, and wanted to see about taking things further. She had to think about it. She said she’d call me. She never did. Actually she did, only it was six months later. She called six months later to apologize. Six months! I had honestly forgotten about it by then. I still hung out at Casablanca, and she stopped showing up. There were a few times that she’d pop in, and that was always a wonderfully awkward experience.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Speedy Delivery! Speedy Delivery!

I’ve been debating on which story would be the last in this line of embarrassing or awkward moments involving the opposite sex. I was going to go with the cold fish kiss when I was in graduate school, or the out of the blue kiss in undergrad. I decided on both. They both have their nice little comedic moments. We will start with Jen Fast, who lived by her last name.

My first few years of undergrad I hung out a lot with the some upperclassmen in my dorm unit. One of the guys, Tom, would invite us often up to Michigan for the short holidays like Thanksgiving and such. My first Thanksgiving with Tom is when I met Jen Fast. She was a friend of a friend of Tom’s that we hung out with one night. I think the most I ever spoke to her was “Hi. I’m Brad. Nice to meet you.” That’s it. There was no playful banter or even idle chitchat. Nothing.

Six months later, I travel up to visit Tom during the summer between my sophomore and junior year. Tom worked nights as a security guard, so it was just me watching a bunch of movies on VHS or playing Rogue on his ancient computer. One night, I was getting ready to put in “Nightmare on Elm Street,” when the doorbell rang. Opening the door, I was greeted by Jen and Tom’s friend. I told them, “Tom’s not here.” Jen said, “We know. Can we come in?” I stammered, “Yes.” Before you start thinking in a certain direction, let me now mention that Tom’s friend’s boyfriend then followed them in after parking their car. I should also mention that it wasn’t till after we broke up into pairs and sat down to watch “NoES” that I finally remembered Jen’s name. Before then I was stuck using second person pronouns.

With the seating arrangements settled, I found my self sitting with Jen on the small couch, often called the “love seat.” Fifteen minutes into the movie, I glanced over to see the friend and her boyfriend making out. Something I thought was completely inappropriate. I turned to Jen to voice my complaint. There was that look in her eye. I’d never really seen it real life, but I’d seen it in movies. I believe it is often called the “come hither” look, or something like that. It should be known that I had not kissed a girl since Jill in the storage closet. That was in 1985. It was 1992 at the time. This would be the history of my romantic life: Long droughts followed by sudden bursts of heavy rain. Since it had been 7 years, I was slightly apprehensive. I was cutting and splicing all the kisses I’d seen in movies to create my blueprint of a good kiss. She smiled as her pinky finger wrapped around mind. She leaned in close, and closed her eyes. What could I do? I had no choice, no options. I quickly stood up and said, “I need a drink. Would you like anything?”

It’s not that I didn’t want to kiss her. She was cute, and sweet. The problem was I didn’t really know her. Who knows where her mouth has been. And this whole situation was just kind of thrust upon me. My wheels were off, and it had been a really, really long time.

Ten minutes later after a personal pep talk, I slid back in next to Jen. She grabbed my hand. I kept my eyes on the movie. She grabbed my knee. I kept my eyes on the movie. She turned my face toward hers. I really tried to keep my eyes on the movie, but my peripheral vision is limited. She smiled and said, “They won’t mind.” I looked over at the friend and her boyfriend who had at this point just fallen asleep. Obviously, they won’t mind, but I’m not much of an exhibitionist. But, I realized my fate was sealed. I couldn’t fight it anymore. So I went for it, finally. Fireworks exploded. Angels sang. My lips went numb, as did my arm that she was lying on. I was tapped. 7 years cleaned out in one kiss. She though wasn’t finished. She kept going and going. I wondered if this was her first kiss, or maybe her first make-out session as well. It kept going so long I was actually trying to catch glimpses of the TV because Letterman was on. Finally, after draining my soul, she said, “I need to get home before curfew.” Curfew? What college girl has curfew during summer? Oh shit! Yes, she was indeed still in high school. She was getting ready to start her senior year. Sweet. Now I was a cradle robber!

Anyway they left. She kissed me goodbye at the door, and said “Don’t forget me.” Obviously, I couldn’t. For a couple months we exchanged letters. I never gave her my address, she stole it off some of my luggage. Eventually, after a creepy phone call in the middle of the night, I lost touch with her. I never heard from her again. That is till my fifth year of undergrad, when one of the campus computer nerds ran up to me and asked if I was Brad Iten. After answering yes, he proceeded to tell me that he came across some girl on the message boards, who was looking for a Brad Iten. He said her name was “Jen Speed- something.” “Jen Fast?” I asked. “Yes,” he exclaimed. Creepy I thought. It would then be another seven year drought till I kissed another girl.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Leary Hearts Dulli

"Rescue Me" did it again last night. The end credits of last night's ep. showcased the song "Pussywillow" from the upcoming album Amber Headlights. That's two Dulli songs on the show in one month's time. They have been friends since working together on Ted Demme's "Monument Ave." I love my "Shield," but I think this show may have surpassed it. It's difficult balancing humour with drama the way this show does. It's simply outstanding.

After a Hard Day's Work (Told With Stikfas)

After fighting through traffic, I'm finally home.

I wonder how many credit card companies called today?

Have a snack.

Play Xbox.

I wonder what I got from Netflix? Knock! Knock! Who could that be?

Toy Tron!

Watch Tivo with Toy Tron

Toy Tron plays "hide the leg." I hate this game.

Toy Tron leaves after "borrowing" some money

Write

Have a smoke

Brush Teeth

Go To Bed. I can't sleep.

I need one last swig of...What!?

The bottle's empty.

Toy Tron!