Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kid Nation: Sworn Enemy of Dry Eyes

Okay, so has everyone been watching the new show Kid Nation?

I fucking hate "reality" television. In fact, I can probably count all the television shows I like on one or maybe two hands. And guess what: none of them are reality based, folks. In 99.99% of the time, it's the lowest common denominator.

But this show? PURE GENIUS.

40 kids - ages 8-15 - are picked to run a town with no adult supervision whatsoever for 40 days. Cooking, cleaning, government, organization of labor - you name it, these kids have to deal with it.

Remember that douchebag Puck from the Real World? Well, there are nine year olds on this show more mature than that meat puppet. Hell, there are nine year olds on that show that are more mature than my parents.

I've watched the first two episodes so far and I'm going to make a confession here, internets: the fucking show has made me cry both times! Inconceivable!

(Granted, I've been a little unstable this week, but that's a blog of a different color. Black.)

There is something so perfect about the concept of this show. It's a great idea, but there's so much heart and soul, too. These kids are all acting on the purest of emotions - good, bad or indifferent - and it shines through in the footage, making for a very honest and touching program. You really care about these kids, you recognize and encourage the best in them and you want them to win.

But this poor little guy broke my heart: Jimmy.

Jimmy, 8, was the youngest kid on the show. The other kids really loved him and tried help him out and make him feel welcome. But it just proved too much for the poor little fella. So he packed it up and went home. (Every kid has the opportunity to do the same at any time.) He just missed his family too much, which make sense, since he's 8 god damn years old! I probably would have had to go home after peeing all my pants if I was put in that situation at his age.

Look at THIS PICTURE. I mean, how cool is this kid? I'm more than three times his age and I have never and will never be that cool.

Check out this clip for a sample of the show and to see the poor little guy going through the bends and trying to decide whether he should stay or go (the beginning is a bit emotional but the moment at 3:20 is really hysterical when Jimmy disses Greg, the camp bully.):

Long term, I'm rooting for Michael. He's a soft-spoken natural leader, who really leads by example rather than any kind of administration. He's the kind of kid your mother wanted you to be. (Maybe that's why this show kills me so much - it reminds me that I was once a nice sweet kid too, instead of the Gollum-like shell I am today.) I'm a big fan of Mike (different kid) too - I think he's got a good heart.

Jeez. Listen to me. Talking about reality show participants by their first names. I'VE BECOME ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE!!!! NOOOOO!!!!

Okay, I have to go cry again.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Bill Murray!

Friends, please join me in a toast to Mr. Bill Murray, comic genius.
Today, he turns a spritely 57 years old!
Here's to your health Bill, and many happy returns! You are my hero in every possible capacity and I want to be you when I grow up.

Smooth Move, Ex-Lax

Another quotable quote from The Presidon't of the United States!

Take this one to the bank so you can put some more food on your families.

Mandela still alive after embarrassing Bush remark
Fri Sep 21, 8:15 AM ET


Nelson Mandela is still very much alive despite an embarrassing gaffe by U.S. President George W. Bush, who alluded to the former South African leader's death in an attempt to explain sectarian violence in Iraq.

"It's out there. All we can do is reassure people, especially South Africans, that President Mandela is alive," Achmat Dangor, chief executive officer of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said as Bush's comments received worldwide coverage.

In a speech defending his administration's Iraq policy, Bush said former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's brutality had made it impossible for a unifying leader to emerge and stop the sectarian violence that has engulfed the Middle Eastern nation.

"I heard somebody say, Where's Mandela?' Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas," Bush, who has a reputation for verbal faux pas, said in a press conference in Washington on Thursday.

Jailed for 27 years for fighting white minority rule, Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for preaching racial harmony and guiding the nation peacefully into the post-apartheid era.

References to his death -- Mandela is now 89 and increasingly frail -- are seen as insensitive in South Africa.

Great. Now even South Africans hate us!

Is it November 2008 yet???

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Freedom of Speech: It Was Nice While It Lasted

This is something everyone needs to watch.

This guy Andrew Meyer - a journalism student, for god's sake - at the University of Florida attended a John Kerry speaking engagement, asked a few difficult questions of the senator. The questions touched on a few tender subjects, including asking Kerry's thoughts on th 2004 election, the potential for impeachment of President Bush and whether or not Kerry was involved with the Skull & Bones secret society at Yale.

For his troubles, Meyer had his microphone cut, and then was arrested and tasered!

Sure, the guy was pretty fired up and a little boisterous in his questions, but this is absolutely appalling.

I hope we all enjoyed our freedom of speech while we had it.

George Orwell could not be reached for comment on this story.

Monday, September 17, 2007

It Seems Other People Are Sick Of Seeing This Ass Clown's Face Too

More people watched Senator Harry Reid's response to Dumbya than actually watched the presiduhnts address!

Early numbers are also indicating that even less people watched George Bush on TV than Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip or Arrested Development!*

*That one is not true, or even possible. But the other is!

Deadlier Than Pai-Mei's 5-Point Exploding Heart Technique

Seriously? If your heart does not explode or implode upon looking at this picture and then reading this story, it simply doesn't exist, Mr. Grinch.

It seems this little monkey was abandoned by his mother and left for dead until it was rescued by an animal hospital.

After that: "his health began to improve but he seemed spiritless - until he developed a friendship with a white pigeon."

Pai-mei could not be reached for comment on this story. But his publicist did call me a "treacherous dog."

Which Is To Say Nothing of His English Skills

Oh, Vicente Fox, how you make me laugh. While your own nation isn't doing so hot either for the most part, you still made me tee-hee with this one.

This just in from U.S. News:

At the White House, the president has got to be muttering "some friend" when he pores over the new autobio from his old buddy Vicente Fox, Mexico's former leader. That's because Fox raps his border pal as stubborn and "the cockiest guy I have ever met in my life." Revolution of Hope, out next month, is a well-written, well-researched book about Fox's political career and presidency, which coincided with George W. Bush's. While he expresses a kinship with W, he breaks with the prez on the war and slams the GOP's immigration platform. He blames Bush's stubbornness on Iraq for bad international relations, calls his Spanish "grade-school level," and admits he didn't think Bush would ever become president. "I can't honestly say that I had ever seen George W. Bush getting to the White House," he pens.

That makes two of us, Vinnie. Twice!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pay It Forward: A Terrible Movie, But A Great Idea

I'll be honest, 9-11 snuck up on me this year.

Not that it was out of my mind, but this past year has been far and away the most tumultuous year of my life to date. And there were so many joyful occasions in the last year, my focus was (gladly) shifted to those topics - dear friend's weddings, my new apartment, even good old summertime fun like vacations, great concerts and days at the beach.

Six years. Think about that. On the bright side, my own distractedness aside, this anniversary has made me realize just how far I, and all my friends, have come since the original date six years ago. From rather dark, troubling and at times almost fatalistic origins, we're really all doing quite well today, I'm pleased to say.

On a personal level, a lot has happened. It's been a colorful time, with a range of happy highs and crushing downs. All of which,I've tried to document on this site all along (while admitting to perhaps gravitating the teensiest smidge toward the dark).

On a national level, eh... not so much.

There are still so many things I am, and I think many people are, left feeling frustrated with (at best) or powerless against (more often). Our reputation in the world, this asinine, infuriating and heartbreaking war we're embroiled in, the threat of global warming, the frustration with our political process (and, often/especially, the players involved) - all of these forces seem to spiral out of our control. If you can still stomach reading about these topics anymore (and I understand if many can't, it truly sucks, to use my generations catch-all phrase), you're probably left feeling pretty empty inside. In a way, it's almost healthy to block it out. Paying attention to it will give you nothing but grief.

For instance, let's talk about ground zero where the world trade center once stood. You mean to tell me that in SIX YEARS the reconstruction process could not accomplish more than the modicum of progress we've seen so far? I find that laughable, yet simultaneously appalling. (I guess I see a lot of the world that way these days.)

When the WTC subway and PATH station were reopened a few years ago, I was filled with hope. Sure, I was nervous and uneasy about the idea of riding a train into a place that once witnessed such horror and destruction, but the fact that it was open again was progress, it was ultimately good news. We were moving on, righting wrongs and standing on our own two feet again.

Or so I thought.

I take that train line, on average, at least once a week. So once a week I pass through the desolate scab known as "ground zero" and hurry on my way to work or home from a bar. When you see something like that every day, you tend to fold it up and pack it away in your mind, it's just not a pleasant place in which to make one's commute.

So when anniversaries like this recent one come up, they really give you pause and make you say "Wait a minute, what the hell is going on down here?"

At these times, you have to just try to find your own way of finding strength and positivity, because, as my dear friend Al Swearengen would tell you, nobody's gonna fucking do it for you. (Al would probably also call you a name that begins with the letter "C" - but I would never do that to you fine folks.)

Or perhaps not? Perhaps, if I share with you the particular recipe I followed in trying to cope with this anniversary and the ghastly feelings it conjured up inside me, I can help you to find some good in the world as well. You have to look for it, but it is there.

It's easy. A two-part plan, really.

The first part? Give something of yourself.

In recent years, although sometimes at the expense of my mental and physical health, I've been very fortunate to see some success in my career. That's a new feeling for me. I don't know what to do that feeling sometimes. Well, this Tuesday, I thought - why not give some of it back? Give some back to people who need it and will use it for benevolent purposes.

Following are a list of charities, non-profits and general do-gooders that I feel A-OK about sharing a few of my hard-earned dollars with. You can trust these folks to get-r-done right. And if you can't give money - maybe you can give some of your time? That's even more valuable.

Green. Peace. What's in a name? I mean, do they really need an introduction? So long as our government goes on not giving a damn about the environment and until it starts passing legislation that actually works to help preserve our world, they will always have a part to play. So in the interim, let them be our national conscience.

Red Cross
Another amazing group that speaks for itself. These guys seem to do all things for all people. They strike me as one of those groups that is constantly the first called upon to act, but perhaps one of the last to be supported. So why not show some love? If you can't give dollars, give some blood. They sure as hell know where to use it.

Hope for the Warriors Foundation
I learned of this group through another group that keeps veteran's best interests in mind. Their mission is simple and honorable: to enhance quality of life for US Service Members and their families nationwide who have been adversely affected by injuries or death in the line of duty. Sounds like the right move, since (disgustingly) our government tends to fall short on that count as well.

The Elliott Smith Memorial Fund
Those who read this site, or who know me personally, know that I miss Elliott very much. He really was a genuine person and a tremendous artist. One of his lasting legacies, other than excellent music, is a fund that benefits children who have fallen prey to abuse. By giving to the ESMF, you can choose to benefit one of two groups: Free Arts for Abused Children or Outside In, both of which are outstanding groups that offer creative, fun and inspiring support for these kids (click the names for more info). I think it's generally a good thing to do and a nice way of saying "Thanks Elliott."

826 NYC
826NYC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. It was founded by the magnificent Dave Eggers, and it's been supported by fantastic writers across the country. Imagine being a kid in a tough neighborhood, wanting to learn to write better, and then going to their learning center and being taught by the likes of say, David Sedaris? It could happen. Having met the sublime Sedaris myself, I can't begrudge anyone else the experience. (PS - They have other locations if you are not in the New York area!)

The second part? This is easy, and doesn't cost a thing.

For part two, just spend some time with people you love, and think fondly about the people you miss. On September 11, 2007, I know I did.

Good luck out there everybody.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Surlyness Is Next To Baldy-ness In My Family

Folks, I'll keep this short and simple: my little brother is a funny guy.

He's also an amazing artist.

Sometimes, when boredom sets in, the moon is in its third phase and "According to Jim" is on TV, these forces align to form a creation that is no less inspiring than Voltron.

These are some of his doodles when he gets bored at work. If they don't make you pee those trousers, you should probably take them back to the toilet store.