Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Yo dog...a little pitchy, but you can sing!

Here it comes, song wenches, whether you like it or not…

Gina Glockson--Not bad, but there’s a lot of meat on that hoof…in a good way.
I like Heart.

Alaina Alexander-is she one of our peeps? Enough with the crying! Our people are strong…and she better be. She barely made it back this week, and after this, she may be on her way out. By the way, with that dress, one wrong move…there’ll be a full moon over the studio.

LeKeisha—It’s hard to follow up last week’s performance. This week, not as good, and Gladys Knight isn’t nearly as hard to do as Jennifer Holliday. I think Randy is sweet on her. But we’re in her corner. Rock on!!! I’m riding the LeKeisha train…Woo hoo.

Dr. Doolittle—“My Funny Valentine” was so two weeks ago…didn’t like this performance as much as I hoped. It was like she was talking to the animals…

Antonella—I think a career with Maxim or Playboy is more likely than with Idol…we’re all better for that.

Jordin—A little pitchy dog... But she hits some notes that indicate that she has the raw ability and power to take on any of the contenders…always like the little kids, except Chicken Little and Sanjaya (he scares me, in a Michael Jackson sort of way). She has the chops, and I hope she keeps going. Philippi Sparks, your girl can sing (I know he’s reading this)!

Stephanie—was she singing something different from the band and back-up singers? She is lost on me this week, but not lost on America. This remotely could be a farewell song. She can sing, but as Elayne put it—“what was she singing?” After hearing Simon and Paula, maybe I’m on “H”.

Leslie—Sterling is right-she’s a “two face.” One way, she’s hot, the other way, she’s a troglodytic half-wit. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new location—back home. How did she make it this far? Out of her league.

Haley—Nice top. Did she sing?

Stephanie— She brought it, but I am with Simon. Looks good, close to the border with the big notes. Takes the LaKeisha gloves off, but that last note could scare starving dogs off a meat wagon.

The recap is always interesting—they only play the best moments from the performers.
Frankly, only the African-Americans can sing. Antonella is so out of her league. I am more likely to win than she is. I’m just what America needs: Ladies and Gentlemen, your next American Idol, George Costanza. Wooooooooo! Soul Patrol….

Monday, February 26, 2007

And the losers are...anyone that stayed up.

A few random thoughts while watching the Oscars…

How does Will Ferrell keep getting work?

Jack Black too. The only thing good about “Nacho Libre” were the ones I was eating.

I cannot believe “The Danish Poet” won best animated short! Damn, I had my money on “Its Inoperable, Charlie Brown.” There goes $50…

“West Bank Story” looks like my type of movie. Like “West Side Story”, but with falafel and tefillin…look for the upcoming soundtrack, featuring Bernstein classics "Hora Overture", “Shabbos is Coming” and “Mustafa”.

Rachel Weisz-my favorite presenter so far…I can give you 36 reasons…

Whoa, Jackie Earle Haley…Kelly Leak has come a long way…or maybe not. Useful trivia alert--According to, I am a full inch taller than he is.

Quick shot of Jack Nicholson…looks like his body is as bloated as his ego. Probably on the Jerry Lewis diet.

Ooooh, Anne Hathaway…

Ok, now blowing my moment, so to speak, Tom Cruise.

I guess Jennifer Hudson never heard the expression “Act like you’ve been here before.” C’mon, with all the hype, she couldn’t have prepared a better speech. Oh well, at least she threw a shout-out to my girl Jennifer Holliday. I would have preferred Eddie Murphy winning.

The Inventor of the Internet and an Academy Award winner!!!!! Justice, Justice, thou shalt pursue!

First Tom Cruise, now worlds are colliding! I hate them both with the passion of a thousand burning suns! Nothing sucks the energy out of a room faster than Celine’s ego!

Do you think Chow Yun Fat understood that conductor?

With Michael Arndt winning, our people are really representing tonight!

Fresh from raiding Anne Baxter’s closet in her Ten Commandments dressing room…Jennifer Lopez.

Beyonce’ is doing a cheap imitation of Jennifer Holliday now.

Shalom Jodie Foster!!!! Go Yale!

Always sad to be reminded who died during the year. Don Knotts-one of the greatest supporting cast members of any show. 1961, 1962, 1963, 1966 and 1967 Emmys.

You really want to see Helen Mirren? Rent “Caligula”.

By all accounts, a nice guy, Forest Whittaker. Strange affect though.

Finally, Scorcese!

Interesting that Scorcese double-dips tonight. I don’t think it was his best movie…but, nice Boston feature.

You’ve been a great audience. Now, off to the movies.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Now starting a Guard, at 6’-4”, from Pepperdine University, Number Threeeeeeeeeeeeeee, D.J., Dennis Jooooooooooooooohnsoooooooooooooon…

My daughter (6 years old) throws out this comment while watching American Idol (regarding Fantasia, not knowing who she is): “I hope she gets sent home tonight.” I couldn’t agree more. How did she win? She’s the worst winner…She’s got the boob tattoo, and a big “tramp stamp” across her back. You can take the girl out of the trailer park…

I find myself checking the obituaries (the “Irish Sports Pages” according to my colleague Bill); unfortunately, I am starting to see people my age, or people that I associate with my youth, die, and if they’re going, who’s next?

This past week, a family friend/contemporary passed away, after a valiant 3-year battle with colon cancer. 40 years old, leaving two young children. Way too young. There’s never a good time to go, but this is way to young and close to home…

In the meantime, Britney Spears is still around and occupying a piece of my orbit…life is unfair.

Today, Dennis Johnson, basketball superstar from the 80s, from MY team, the Celtics (“Bird steals the inbounds…lays it over to DJ who lays it up and in, and the Celtics lead by 1…[you have to imagine Johnny Most screaming this at the top of his lungs…]), drops dead at 52 while coaching his basketball team in Austin, TX. Its depressing when sports figures from your youth start dropping. Of course, recently, it looked like DJ had eaten Rick Robey and Kevin McHale…

Watching American Idol is starting to make me feel old. When I hear Sundance sing “Knights in White Satin”, I know I love the song, but will anyone under the age of 40 connect with that? And I am not sure his look is working for him. He’s got a look—can’t really place it. Maybe “Psychotic Fat Amish Devil”? I’m gonna start calling him P-FAD for short. When Alaina sang the worst “Pretenders” song ever, I’m thinking that no one is connecting with this crap.

There was music, long before America Idol. So let me just send a reminder out to some people, like Ryan Seacrest, that before American Idol, there were a few other people that could sing:

1. Dr. Jennifer HOLIDAY--created the role of Effie, let it all out and won a Tony for her performance, THE performance of, “And I am Telling You…” Jennifer Hudson can’t wash Doc Holiday’s underwear…; LeKeisha was pretty damn good last night though. You gotta feel some personal pain to sing that, and she certainly appeared to;
This is the greatest performance of the song...sorry for the quality.

2. Shirley Bassey, Dinah Washington, 60’s Aretha, Lulu and Dusty Springfield;
3. Speaking of Lulu, I thought she was dead, but apparently, just her career, because she will be appearing on American Idol with Peter Noone, this season. I think Jasmine will whip out “To Sir, with Love”, and so will Randy (if you know what I mean)... Which guy will sing Henry the 8th and what will Paula whip out?
4. Personal favorite—Karen Carpenter. Tonal purity, and fun…probably would have lasted longer if she ate, but still created some great music;
5. So many more, such little Internet space…

In the past, Idol has brought out some heavyweights (in Stevie Wonder’s case, the Super Heavyweights, in more ways than one). This year, it’s a parade of losers and has-beens. Yes, Lulu, Peter Noone and Barry Gibb will be there, but the rest are totally forgettable. No Barry Manilow, no Rod Stewart?

By the way, Tony Bennett? He is like a dog-whistle to me. I can’t hear him?--totally lost on me. What’s the big deal about him? I see him, I want to run for the exits. “I left My Heart in San Francisco”? He left his voice there too, if he ever had one.

Until next time America, keep your feet on the ground but keep reaching for the stars…(now why can’t Ryan get a sign-off like that?)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Emptying the sock drawers of my mind….

Are the judges on American Idol deaf???!!! How did Rudy get this far? He sounds like a girl and dances like an albino monkey. “Free Ride”? You’ve gotten one so far. Simon is always right! Rudy…go home!

Speaking of Rudy, whatever happened to Keshia Knight Pulliam? Why not “That’s So Rudy”? She was nominated at 6 for an Emmy…c’mon, let’s give her a chance.

Why isn’t Dave Madden working anymore? Ruben Kincaid was THE “Jerry Maguire” of the entertainment industry in the early 70s. If he could get the Partridge Family booked, he could book anyone. Maybe Britney Spears could use a little of the Ruben Kincaid magic…

Sundance Head? What, was “B.J. Swallows” taken?

Went to Portsmouth NH over the weekend. Really enjoyed it there. Great, walkable city, coffee shops on every corner, nice restaurants. Shopped at a place called “Marco Polo” where they sell terrific plastic “turds” and a wind-up monkey doing something very off-color. Can’t wait to go back.

Elayne and I ate at the “Muddy River Smokehouse” on Friday night on Congress Street. It was really good, and for those that really know me, I am extremely critical of commercial BBQ-I can do usually do better. But, you can never go wrong at a place that serves beef ribs, even if they do sauce them. Big, meaty, messy ribs-it doesn’t get much better. Washed it down with a Smutty Nose IPA and some beans and cole slaw…a party in my mouth.

Paul Kim—next time choose a song in your range, and put your damn shoes on! You’ll need them to walk home, cause that’s where you’re headed…

Back to Portsmouth…ate at “The Blue Mermaid” on Saturday night. Featured on Rachel Ray’s tasty Travels. She says “Deeeeelishh”, Eric says “we wish”. Good, but not great.

As for our accommodations, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn. Brand new, within a 2-minute walk of three coffee shops and a Starbucks. Nice place, enjoyed our time there…

Pricing at sporting events has gotten out of control. Lower seating level Celtics tickets cost $150 plus, $23 for parking, and who knows what else you get while you’re there, for a team that lost 18 in a row. I am glad I was there to see the streak broken, but how can a working family go to see a game at these prices? I guess the better question would be…why go at all?

I had great hopes for Nick Pedro from Taunton, Massachusetts. One wrong turn and he’s an extra on the Sopranos getting whacked and playing the role of “Johnny Cakes.” Given his performance tonight, maybe Silvio should take him for a ride into the Pine Barrens to meet with Adrianna…

Pitchers and catchers have reported, and position players are filing in. So long as Varitek hasn’t aged another five years this off-season, I think Dice-K may work out. Thankfully, there’s no World Baseball Classic, but I was ready to put my money on Israel.

I wish Sanjaya’s sister was still on Idol…but he sounds just like her…and she got cut!!!! Stevie Wonder is a musical genius…you’re not. Sanjaya—less and less, please!
Eddie Murphy goes from Dreamgirls and a potential Academy Award, to Norbitt. Someone speak to his agent, please! Bring back Hot Tub James Brown or Tyrone Green…the prison poet!

Jared Cotter stopped short of “%$ck In a Box” tonight. I’d like to stick all of him in a box and bury it.

Tom Brady…I guess it wasn’t just a good-bye hand-off in the backfield…

You’ve been a great audience…I’ll be here all week…try the veal.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Fondue...or Fon-don't?!

Some meals are made better by the company you keep…Exhibit A-The Melting Pot, a fondue experience.

And what an experience it was. Frankly, it wasn’t bad, so long as everyone in your party follows the rules. This place has more rules than prison. I guess when you’re cooking your own food, and they leave raw meat on the table, you’d better have rules…otherwise, they’ll be giving you the gift that keeps on giving---Giardia (I mean the parasite, not the hostess of the Food Network show).

Like I said, it wasn’t bad. Our food wench, Jen, was perfectly pleasant, and tolerant of our behavior, because while I was my typical understated self, my companions were raucous, and a little bawdy (you know who you are.) This was definitely a meal that was more fun to experience with several others, but you’d better know those others well, since you pretty much all boil your food in the same pots. If one person decides to eat from his fondue fork instead of putting the food on his plate and eating with his regular fork, then it’s a true double dip, and he might as well put him whole mouth in the bowl. Remember, just dip once and end it!

Thankfully, we were having some fun, with only a modicum of cross-contamination from a prisoner that didn’t follow the rules.

While there’s not much you can do with boiled meat (albeit boiled in flavored broth), the cheese course and the chocolate courses really round out the meal. After you’ve had your cheese, salad, meat and veggies, then you move on to the chocolate--there’s just so much a man can take. My friend told me she was in a chocolate coma today, the day after; I told her that I really didn’t feel full until an hour after I got home. By then, however, I felt I had eaten so much that I was gargling my dinner! Thankfully, it all stayed down.

I gotta say-those Swiss know how to make watches, and boy do they know how to drown you in fondue!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

I'd like a non-fat, sugar free decafe latte and a Big Mac

Consumer Reports is about to release a report in their March 2007 edition that McDonalds has bested Starbucks for coffee flavor and drinkability. Well, being a Starbucks patron, I say: Starbucks-lower your price for a cup of coffee or else…I’m only buying one cup a day and not two!

McDs has come a long way since I worked there in 1983 and 1984, back in the day, when I had to walk to school, uphill, both ways… . Back then, every middle-class kid from the north side of town worked there, or had a friend or family member that worked there. I was working there before they had a drive-thru, and before anyone ever grabbed a chicken McNugget (and believe me, you don’t want to know which part is the McNugget!!!) 83 and 84 were banner years for McDs—they rolled out the McNugget, and the ever-popular “sausage McMuffin with egg” (as if you would want it without the egg? Otherwise, it’s just a fatty sausage patty on a buttered English muffin—defibulator, main dining area please!) There were some losers that year too (if you can believe it)—the McRib went into the McTank, and they scoffed at my idea…the McSushi. Easy to prepare-just cook the filet of fish for half the time, and serve it over a bed of shredded lettuce from the Big Mac…for some reason, management scoffed at me and didn’t run with it. I thought it was like a party in your mouth. But I digress…

Having worked in my Dad’s diner for a couple of years, I knew how to make coffee. One of the secrets of good coffee is to have an industrial coffee maker that was built around the industrial age, and had 100 years of coffee residue built up inside. I suppose the quality of the coffee has to be at least average, but you can take crappy coffee and run it through old coffee sludge, and that’s good drinking. Diner coffee is usually the best-strong, hot, bottomless (you all wondered how long it would take me to go there…) I’ll tell you who doesn’t know how to make coffee—anyone at McDonalds. In the old days, they had a single burner Bunn brand brewer, and you had to search for the foil packages that had pre-ground coffee to dump into the filter basket. This coffee was old—the miller ground it after his shift at the Sudbury Grist Mill. I worked a lot of hours there, and let me tell you, I think I brewed coffee once. No one bought coffee there; I know the machine was right next to the heater holding the pies (delightfully fruity and delicious pockets of lard)…we had a name for people that ordered the coffee-“suicidal.”

Over the past couple of years, no doubt McDonalds has seen their breakfast sales spiral downward with the proliferation of Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme and the like; to combat, they had to arm themselves, at least here in Massachusetts, by selling Newman’s Own blended coffee (and apparently, unlike when I worked there, the coffee isn’t as old as he is.) I hear its not bad, but there’s a method to their madness-you get people in for a cheap cup of decent coffee and the next thing you know, they’re buying an Egg McMuffin too. Of course, Starbucks has been sniffing this out—just last week, they rolled out their own version of a breakfast sandwich, at participating locations. Now, not only do you pay $1.94 for a large (20 oz.) cup, but also they give you the privilege of buying a breakfast sandwich for $2.95. At least the McMuffin is something like $1.09.

People often give me a hard time on the cost of Starbucks. My coffee costs $1.94, seven times a week. Some Dunkin Donuts charge $1.78 for the same size, some over $2.00, so its pretty much a wash. McDonalds is the “Walmart” of fast food, so they can leverage the coffee purveyors and only buy on the cheap, forcing coffee growers to send 5 year olds into the hills to pick coffee.

Consumer Reports doesn’t factor in the “experience”; that’s where Starbucks really shines. Starbucks wants you to savor your time with them. They provide comfy chairs, familiar music, “baristas” that know your name and your beverage choice. At McDonalds, you get hard plastic booths, dirty floors, Muzak and they can’t pronounce your name. Starbucks has a combination that cannot be beat; music, coffee, casual atmosphere…a quiet way to start your day.

Now, if only I could get fries with that…

Friday, February 2, 2007

Where's Mr. T When You Need Him?

Back when I was in between 5th and 6th grade, I took a summer school class called “Ghosts and Monsters, Comics and Clowns”. The teacher was “Mr. Franklin”, who was not just an English teacher, but also the advisor to my stamp club and the A/V teacher (as you can see, girls would be throwing themselves at me …). This class exposed us to classic movies and radio shows, both horror and comic. I really enjoyed the old time radio shows; I was a big fan of “The Shadow”, and the horror story “Leninger versus the Ants”. My favorite—“War of the Worlds” by Orson Welles (hereinafter “War” [what is it good for?]).

“War” was great theatre, albeit strictly auditory (this whole event even spawned a TV movie-“The Night that Panicked America” from 1975). Take the basic story of a Martian invasion, make it seem that you have “real” reporters out in the field throwing fits about the Martians, add all the sound effects and it’s a cocktail for success. “War” was designed to sound real, but came with a disclaimer at the very beginning; unfortunately, not a lot of people paid attention, to the beginning. The show, when broadcast, caused quite an uproar, with people thinking the Earth was actually being invaded. This was back on October 30, 1938, before we had space travel and could only imagine what Space would be like. The country was on the brink of a world war, mired in the Great Depression. Radio was the primary way people got their news, before Wolf Blitzer or CNN Headlines News could show some giant Martian ship blasting away the Celine Dion Theatre at Ceasar’s Palace (not that this would be a bad thing.) People really got sucked in, if they were stupid enough to believe it. Guerilla radio, no doubt.

What was not great theatre was the happenings here in Boston this past Wednesday, when Cartoon Network apparently hired a “guerilla marketing” company to surreptitiously mount suspicious items on buildings, bridges and major arteries leading in and around the city, to advertise some late night cartoon. I should note here that they were large, box-like items, with battery packs and wires attached to them. When an item was discovered, the police were deployed to investigate. Throughout the day, more and more of these suspicious items were discovered; some were destroyed, some were taken to be analyzed. The city responded to a growing panic by deploying their professional anti-terrorist units, expending tremendous resources to make sure this city, and its citizens were safe. What else do you expect from the city that was the front line for 9/11?

While society reacted in a puzzling fashion back in 1938 to the broadcast of “War”, is it any real surprise that Boston reacted with such purpose and alacrity when notified there were suspicious packages with wires and batteries attached? Wasn’t it a lack of attention that led to the tragic events of 2001? Isn’t this behavior now exactly what we expect, and in fact demand, of our police force? Aren’t we glad that they are there, doing this job, to make sure we can all sleep more safely at night?

What is shocking, however, is the cavalier attitude of the 2 clowns that mounted these devices for the advertising company. The two can’t spend enough time in jail thinking about the widespread panic caused by their thoughtless actions. They won’t spend much time there at all, but we can hope, can’t we? They get led into and out of Court, with Cheshire cat grins on their faces (where’s Mr. T when you need him?--“Wipe that look off your face fools, before I wipe it off for you!” or “I pity the white fool that wears dreadlocks to Court”) and hold press conferences surprised at everyone’s reaction. What planet are these guys from? These fools aren’t the standard bearers for the First Amendment-they are “Exhibit A” why tigers eat their young.

And what about Cartoon Network, and its owner, Turner Broadcasting? Word on the street is that they knew early in the day that Boston was treating the discovery of these items as a terror attack. So like any responsible company, they sit on it and stay quiet. For hours, and hours. It was not until a late afternoon press conference by the Boston mayor did the corporations behind this finally admit it was an advertising ploy. And then, wearing the “I’m with Stupid” shirts, begin pointing fingers.

One of my colleagues claims that it is a sad time for society, when “Yippie” and fun-spirited “guerilla” tactics are met with such derision. I’m all for fun and frivolity…you want to tell people to “steal this book” or you want to spray paint graffiti with political messages (or “Joanie Loves Chachi”), I’m okay with that. Those activities and statements won’t likely incite widespread panic and shut down a city. But, we’re a port city with a direct link to 9/11. People are on edge, and may be forevermore. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the reality. To play games like Turner Broadcasting, the Cartoon Network and their lackeys did is irresponsible.

The least they could have done is send over Underdog!

You’ve been a great audience…