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2.27.2005

Strange Things I Noticed While Watching the Oscars 

Chris Rock comes out and starts his monologue. The incessant celebrity reaction shots begin with Jamie Foxx, then we check up on Don Cheadle, next stop Halle Berry, and a little Morgan Freeman.. anyone noticing a pattern here? What's the deal with that? Considering that pretty much every audience close-up is planned prior, I think it's kind of peculiar that they chose to come out of the gate all-black. At somepoint the procuders had to have discussed this idea. I'm not saying it means anything, I'm just finding it a bit curious.

Every major awards show has their celebrity death roundup-montage. I can't help but feel bad for the people who don't get the benefit of increased applause.

Damn, the Next Karate Kid just won Best Actress.

They're showing a lot of commercials for some new show with a blind cop. Shyeah right. They've got this dude throwing perps against walls and dumpsters and what not. Don't even try to bring me this heighten sense of hearing mumbo-jumbo. Definitely one of the worst show ideas I've ever even heard of seeing. There have to be betters pilots than this out there.

I know Morgan Freeman won one earlier for Best Supporting Actor. Anyone know whether that's his first? That got me thinking, he's definitely the man when it's comes to supporting actor roles. He's pretty much a certified expert at said roles - Shawshank, Robin Hood, Seven... every other movie he's ever been in. He's just a damn good second or third actor to have in your movie.

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2.26.2005

Childhood Games and Activities 

Big Wheel Crash Derbies
Racing big wheels was a very popular childhood activity. However, unlike the races, it was the the big wheel crash derby that was a true sign of one's competitiveness. While auto crash derbies are considered dangerous, big wheel crash derbies are far more likely to cause bodily injury. With the lack of protective gear, arms and limbs exposed, derbies often left children bruised, bleeding and sometimes, dismembered. Not to mention the fact the you could throw punches.
*Objective: Destroy opponent(s) big wheel and/or injure opponent(s) to encourage victory by forfeit.

Ghost Riding
The maneuver: Build up speed on your bike, jump off while in motion, and observe how much distance your bike could gain with no one at the helm.
*Objective 1: Laugh
*Objective 2: Achieve greater ghost riding distance than your opponent(s).

Guns
Girls, let me explain. This was a very simple game for young boys. Thanks to the A-Team, we realized at a young age, that simply running around and pretending to shoot each other with toy guns was fun. No objective, no good guys or bad guys, just pure gun fighting. Often, arguments would ensue as to who shot who first.
*Objective: Shoot your friends.

Light the Neighbor's House On Fire
I was the only kid in the neighborhood who played this game.

Touch Road Kill Inappropriately
I was the only kid in the neighborhood who played this game.

Alligator
One of only a handful of indoor games, there may be more than one name for this game. Alligator consisted of gathering couch cushions and/or pillows and spacing them out from one another on the living room floor. Players were to jump from cushion to cushion and avoid any area of the floor. The floor was a swamp infested with alligators and if any part of you touched that swamp, you were toast. Cushions were then gradually removed as the game progressed. Hard wood flooring meant many a broken ass with this game. Younger siblings were often fed to the alligators.
*Objective 1: Leap from cushion to cushion, avoiding alligators.
*Objective 2: Feed siblings to alligators.

Fort: Indoor/Outdoor
Outdoor: Building an outdoor fort meant days of occupation and sometimes weeks depending on the magnitude of the project. Forts were often constructed to isolate the boys and girls from one another. You see, it was an understood code of ethics. Boys dared not venture into a girls fort. And girls dared not venture into a boys fort. The consequences of such actions could be devastating.
*Objective 1: Keep girls at bay.
*Objective 2: Keep boys at bay.
Indoor: While mom went on and on about how much easier cleaning dishes would be with the newly installed dishwasher, you were busy pushing the gigantic box left in its wake through the kitchen doorway. "Dishwasher smishwasher, mom. I gotta break ground on this fuckin' fort."
*Objective: Keep parents at bay.

Hand to Hand Combat
One of the oldest activities of mankind, hand to hand combat, or "fighting", began the moment a boy was able to independently stand on two legs. While hand to hand combat carries on into adulthood, the rules change with time. For instance, strikes to the crotch area are discouraged among adult fighters. However, crotch strikes are not only permitted in boyhood fighting, it is encouraged and considered a wise combative maneuver. You see, while a young boy knows very litte about his balls at such an early age, he knows one thing indeed. Any blunt physical force applied to the balls is extremely painful.
Kicking was also a very common tactic in boyhood combat. As an adult, kicking is only acceptable as a highly reformed form of offense, requiring skill in some variation of martial arts. In other words, if you cannot properly execute a Karate Kid style crane kick or Bruce Lee-like roundhouse, kicking would be considered unacceptable and those who practice it are known as "pussies". A childhood kick was executed as follows: Fists were clenched, held palm up and flush against each hip. The head and back were then arched forward, while the leg was briskly extended outward, held straight, with absolutely no bend at the knee.
*Objective: Defeat and/or humiliate your opponent in order to assert dominance or acquire some other valued commodity.

The Pissing Contest
Most boys do not actively participate in pissing contests until the average age of 16. And at that point, a boy is considered a young man. However, it's actually a very childish game and I have thus included it in this list.
*Intended objective: Piss longer or farther than your opponent(s).
*Unintended objective: Piss longer on your opponent(s).

The Foot Race
When challenged to a foot race, a child is asked to put every ounce of their pride on the line. There is no greater defeat than the loss of a foot race and for the victor, no greater triumph. Simply put, a victorious foot race signified that you were physically faster than your opponent, all tools and devices aside. The only true way to salvage any shred of dignity amidst the imminent loss of a foot race was to fake an injury at mid-race.
For boys, competing with a girl in a foot race meant compromising the very foundation of boyhood code. If a boy were to fail such a competition, a massive disruption in the neighborhood caste system could result. Only a select few were capable of such risk. Many failed and were put to death.
*Objective 1: Cross finish line before opponent(s).
*Objective 2: Cross finish line before girl so as not to be put to death by boyhood council.

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2.25.2005

I'll Be in the Toy Section, Mom 

Taking a queue from Short Sleeve, it's overdue here that we discuss the most badest-ass toys from our childhood. No point in counting these down, they all own.

Legos - The ultimate toy for creative types. The worst thing about legos is that you often need that one little piece to make your new space jet perfect. That's where it becomes convenient to dismantle your little brother's inferior space jet to make yours top dog.

G.I. Joe - I'll say it now - the greatest toy ever created. Joes put all other action figures to shame with their ability to move limbs in all directions and create top-notch hand-to-hand combat. Plus you could dismantle them and create new custom guys, or easily attach your least favorites to that $4 bottle rocket you just picked up at the fireworks store.

The Animal - You know, that truck thing with the claws. Actually this toy wasn't that super-sweet, but it did have the best commercial of any toy out there. I still vividly remember the awe that came over me when I saw the claws come up out those tires.

Mask - Mask took the functionality of G.I. Joe, and kicked it down a notch in favor of the best vehicles ever created. I have a personal attachment to the helicopter that turned into a plane, but the motorcycle that turned into a helicopter is a close second.

Star Wars - This is where my spoiled child hood really gets carried away. I think I had every signle Star Wars toy. The Falcon, the imperial Walker, two Landspeeders, Tie Fighter, X-Wing, A-Wing, yada yada. I heard that they once made a large Death Star playset (akin to the G.I. Joe aircraft carrier), but I have never seen evidence of this.

Quick shout out to Micro Machines, though it was definitely the Micro Machine Man that brought the real goods. Also Transformers were pretty dope in their early incarnations.

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2.23.2005

Go Go Gadget... Gadget 

Mobile PC has a cool piece on the Top 100 gadgets of all-thyme that we, as a whole, should collectively scope. All the favorites are present. A quick glance at the top 10:

10. TIVO SERIES1, 1999
9. ATARI 2600, 1977
8. DIAMOND MULTIMEDIA RIO 300, 1998
7. U.S. ROBOTICS PILOT 1000, 1996
6. CASIO QV-10 DIGITAL CAMERA, 1996
5. CDI MECHANICAL MOUSE MODEL 4-101, 1970
4. MOTOROLA STARTAC, 1996
3. SONY WALKMAN, 1979
2. ZENITH SPACE COMMAND TV REMOTE CONTROL, 1956
1. APPLE POWERBOOK 100, 1991

One noticeable exception to this list, is this bad boy - the mu'funkin' Airzooka. The 'Zooka shoots powerful blasts of air up to 20 feet, bringing instantaneous tears to those house-of-cards-building ass-hats. Plus, it just looks punishing.

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2.21.2005

Today's Bad News 

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.  There's also a negative side."
... has to be my favorite Hunter S. Thompson quote on the books. May he rest in peace.

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2.18.2005

What Price Perfection? 

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal explores the relationship between perfectionist artists and the corporate structure that supports them. In particular it looks at falling earnings for UK label EMI, and the delayed release of the upcoming Coldplay and Gorilliaz albums.

Begin corporate bashing....now!

As for my obligatory contrarianism, I refer you to Tyler Cowen's excellent In Praise of Commercial Culture, where he explains how commercialism (yes, capitalist structures in neverending pursuit of profit) actually enhances the welfare of artists, increases the output of [quality] art, and encourages more diversity. I know what you're thinking: "How could a university hire this guy? Moreover, how could Harvard hand this guy a Ph.D.?" If I can convince you that he's right, then I can die knowing I've accomplished something.
Sort of related, the WSJ also has this piece on the bold move for upscale department stores, traditionally constricted to a local geographic market, to branch out into the strangest of places--for instance, trendy London store Harvey Nichols opening in Riyadh? I hate to do this, but Cowen has another book getting to the heart of this phenomenon.

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2.17.2005

Find and Fulfill Your Destiny (Revisited) 

Have you guys ever seen the Fat Star Wars Kid video? This is a little old but I just saw it today and it's fucking hilarious. This fat kid recorded himself doing Darth Maul-style Jedi moves with a golf ball retriever that serves as a double-bladed light saber. Some buddies found the tape, posted it to the Net and now this kid is all over the place. People have taken the original video and added sound effects and sh*t that make it even more hilarious. There's a regular Episode I version, an Episode II version and even a Fat Star Wars Kid Reloaded. Damn, it's too bad for this poor champ but well worth watching. Umm, good moves these are.

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Lick my balls 

Check out my new geee-tar!



My band, The Duketones, will be performing at Aprés Jack's at 96th and Meridian in Indy at 9pm on Feb. 25th. It's all 1960's Soul, R&B, and Garage Rock.

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So... Very... Sweeeh 

I am beyond stoked for the upcoming tour by reunited Jayhawks founders Mark Olsen and Gary Louris. Billboard has a nice little piece on the reunion today. You will scarcely find two singers that sound better together. The Jayhawks basically ignited the Alt-Country movement in the early 90s that ushered in groups like Wilco and the Old 97s. Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass are two of my favorite records by anyone.

There's talk of an album after the tour is up, and possible full-on 'Hawks reunion. In the meantime, this show will definitely not dissapoint. Olsen and Louris (sans rhythm section) will be in Chicago on March 12. Come one come all.

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Buddy Rich vs. Animal 

Animal from the Muppets (aka Ronnie Verrell) in a drum off with big band superstar Buddy Rich. Ever see a one-handed snare drum roll?

No real purpose, just thought you guys might find it interesting. Do you remember how clever The Muppet Show used to be? Especially The Critics? It was like a Saturday Night Live panetheon of top-of-their-career stars, willing to appear next to plush dolls with a hand stuck up their ass--the puppets, not the stars...as far as I know.

[From College Humor via the Thighmaster]

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2.15.2005

I need an Ear Tampon 

What the hell is the deal with our generation and 80s rock? Would someone please explain this to me? I can't go to a bar without hearing "Cherry Pie," "Here I Go Again" or any number of schlock-rock standards. The girls go crazy for this shit. Aren't there any decent bars / clubs out that book DJs with one shred of dignity? If I go to one more bar where the DJ cuts the volume during "Living on a Prayer" so the girls can sing "Ooohhhhh ho! Livin' on a Pray-yayr" I'll get Terry Tate on that DJ's ass. I thought when I got to Chicago that this kind of thing would go away.

Sure, DJs and bar bands will always play the same old shit, because bad taste is just that easy. Personally I could never hear some of these tunes again and it would be too soon. Top 5...

5. "Rock & Roll All Night" - This song? Wow, these people are ready to party! Dude, I'll be right back, I'm gonna see if this guy can kick up some "Rock & Roll, Hoocie Coo."
4. "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" - Ok, show me CC Deville slinging a guitar around his back and I'm content. Otherwise the room just sounds like a bunch of southern accents that make Keanu's Devil's Advocate performance a promising alternative.
3. "Brown-Eyed Girl" - I love me some Van Morrison, but this song is cover band-by-numbers.
2. "American Pie" - How many damn verses does this song have anyway? And talk about milking a melody for all it's worth. Just please make it go away.
1. Anything By Jimmy Buffett - Because I'd rather have Old Country Buffett.

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2.14.2005

Anybody Watch the Grammy's? 

I caught the last little bit. First off, c'mon, Ray Charles for best album? That's ridic. Best Song or whatever was enough, but giving the man best album for a record that's sold through Starbucks seems a little much. From what I hear it's not good at all.

On the other hand, I can't believe I'm saying this but Melissa Etheridge's version of Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart" owned big time. Wow. Anybody catch that?

I was definitely happy to see Loretta Lynn walk away with Best Country Album, and for Jack White calling out the country radio industry for not playing it. Take that Nashville.

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2.13.2005

Happy V-day, No War 


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Little Steven's Underground Garage 

Most of us gave up on radio years ago. Either we lost interest after Vedder, Cobain and the grit of grunge, or we simply could no longer tolerate the stints of Natalie Merchant (Hicks) and The Gin Blossoms between an occasional good song or two. Or is it the commercials? Whatever it may be, let Little Steven's Underground Gargage (www.littlestevensundergroundgarage.com) give you a reason to blast the FM on your home stereo and tape that wire-antenna-thingy back on the wall. Steven Van Zandt, who is best known for his performance as Silvio on The Sopranos and for his work as the guitarist for Bruce Springstein and The E Street Band, is the host of a growing radio show which broadcasts all over the country and will soon be included on Sirius Satellite Radio. You may only be vaguely familiar with the term 'garage rock' and you will be completely unfamiliar with most, if not all of the music featured during the 2 hour show. According to Van Zandt, "It's white kids trying to play black Rhythm and Blues and failing...gloriously." I listen to it regularly on Bloomington, IN's own 92.3 from 8-10p. Check out the website for a complete listing of radio affiliates. I strongly recommend this show to all of you music nazis out there. And while I'm not one for ignorant, meatheaded comments, I will say this: If you don't like garage rock, you're a fuckin' pussy.

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2.11.2005

Buckley: Death for the Pope... 

So goes the headline that Internet shockhound Matt Drudge (Drudge Report) attached to a column by the overwhelmingly erudite William F. Buckley Jr. But my point here is not to harp on Drudge's sensationalist take on the news, but rather to point out yet another thoughtful column by America's pre-eminent conservative writer.

The amazing thing about this column is that he does indeed wish for the Pope's death - Drudge's headline summarizing is actually accurate, notwithstanding his lack of subtlety. But Buckley makes his case with such nuance, level-headedness, and perspective that he convinces you by the end that he's doing what's right. Agree or disagree with Buckley's politics, you must acknowledge that he is one of the most (if not consistently the most) thoughtful commentators of politics in the last 50 years. Others have posted on this board about the ubiquitous shrillness with which pundits, wags, hacks, cranks, commentators, and "experts" espouse their point of view. Well, I submit to you Mr. Buckley.


On a related note, I was fortunate to meet Mr. Buckley (along with his son Christopher Buckley, whose Thank You for Smoking may be one of the funniest books ever written) in December, in an event where they re-created the elder's long-running Firing Line program, for a live audience here in Phoenix).

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Public Service Announcement 

PLEASE UPDATE ME (1.21 GIGAWATTS) WITH SOMETHING OF HUMOR AND VALUE!

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2.08.2005

Set Phasers to Fun 


The new Beck album cover. It remains to be seen whether or not we'll get another back cover ala Thriller.


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2.07.2005

What I Be Diggin' 'bout the New Digs 

• This apartment is way way way nicer than I expected. Granite countertops, big-ass kitchen, on-demand TV, wireless internet, furniture in my room (i.e. no air matress), hardwood floors, and a fire pole. Ok, no fire pole, but still.
• My roommates are cool-ass brodys. Their taste in sports teams is questionable, but one comes to expect such things from Chicagoans.
• There is a ton of ethnic restaurants in this hood. Some are cheap, some are 'spensive, but unlike some other big cities you'll never see a dead chicken or other such questionable specimen hanging in the window (here's to you NYC).
• According to a real estate agent that Ali, Matt and I have comed to call "Racist Mike", there are several restaurants and other local business that are frequented by "Dark" people. It will be nice to live in a place where I don't immediately ask myself "Hey, is that dude on the football team?" Yes, Indianer has a lot to learn.
• Did you know that Tom Selleck was an honorary captain of the USA Volleyball team in 1983? Neither did I, but there is a poster on the wall here that proves it. I hate to say it, but it puts Jared's old Don Mattingly poster to shame.

Not all things things are off to a good start:
• My local office Subway sandwich purveyor had a line 30 people deep today. That shit won't fly. What will fly is the Dunkin' Donutz next door that (pause for acknowledgement)... serves breakfast sandwiches all day long.



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2.04.2005

Another Social Security post 

okay, I understand, this is quickly becoming quite annoying. But I've been spending a lot fo time lately thinking and discussing SS, so when I wade through the mire of crap written about the subject, I get all giddy when someone makes a cogent point. Example: in this post, Don Boudreaux explains, in terms that are simple and undeniable, why Social Security is not in any way a "safety net," despite demogogues' attempts to say otherwise.
Whether you celebrate Social Security as the most marvelous innovation since opposable thumbs, or regard it as an unmitigated tragedy, it is not a safety net.

He makes three very brief points to support his claim. I encourage you to read them.

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Ha ha! 


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2.03.2005

Simply Daptastic 


Last week I posted about the new record, Naturally, from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Here's a cut from the disc as promised - it's her version of the Woody Guthrie classic and it don't get much funkier than this. Best czech it.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings - "This Land is Your Land"

The Dap-Kings will be in Chicago at the Double Door on Friday, February 18th. Don't miss it.

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2.02.2005

Today's "What-the?" 



The Goonies, circa 2005. Chunk Sloth be lookin' alright.

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2.01.2005

Prepare to Decelerate Ramming Speed... 

... I've decided against moving to Lakeview/Boystown afterall. That neighborhood is dope, no doubt, but I've locked in on a great sublet at the heart of Wicker Park so I can be near my boy Josh Harnett.

I'm living with two random brahs that I've never talked to, one a med school student and the other some financial dude, in a place I've never even seen. These guys have decent jobs and the building is only three years old, how bad could it be? The apartment is located right... about... nyah. As you can see, I be right next to the park, right next to the heart of the Wicker Park bustle, around the corner from the reknown Double Door, and a block from the mu'fuckin El Train. I'll be there until the end of April, when (hopefully) the special lady will join me in blissful domestication.

For anyone who's curious, here's some gal's photos of Wicker Park.

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