HOW LONG ARE YOU WILLING TO STAND IN LINE FOR A DEAL?

best buy

I couldn’t be the only person in the world who wants to lay around after Thanksgiving dinner watching the television while slipping in and out of nap mode. There isn’t a deal in the world that would get me up at 4am to stand in line in the cold to save money on a new TV set. It must be me because as of Tuesday afternoon there were people already camped out at Best Buy in their pup tents with Coleman heaters ready. The store will open at 12 midnight on Thursday night (Friday Morning), that’s 56-hours of waiting in line! Are they there for the deals or for the adventure, or both? Either way it is just crazy. You’ve just spent the day with family and friends being thankful for all the stuff we already have, then frantically racing to a store less than 12-hours later to amass more stuff. I can almost understand showing up a few hours early to get a particular item at a big discount…but days? Days of complete boredom and freezing cold nights. Spending Thanksgiving on a sidewalk next to a  big outlet store? There is something wrong with that. The only break in the non-action is when a TV station sends a reporter down to interview those standing outside and the people who take great pride in being the first in line. “I love camping out because it’s an adventure”, ” I love the people that I meet “, ” My wife will be bringing my Thanksgiving meal while I wait “…Really? You would rather save money on a computer than spend Thanksgiving Day with family. Ok, it’s not really camping out when your on a sidewalk by a store and your meeting people similar to you who have nothing better to do then spend 3-days on  that same sidewalk. I should not judge, but to me I could better spend my time sleeping. Here is my own scale to separate the shoppers from the psychos:

1. Don’t go at all and stay at home – Totally normal. In fact 70% of in-store Black Friday deals are also available online for the same price. The LA Times reported that 9 out of 10 Americans said they didn’t plan to bargain hunt on the holidays. A second survey put the number at 85%.

2. Go to sale 1-hr. early – If you have to go this is still within the reasonable limits of normality. You probably won’t get the doorbuster deal advertised, but  you’ll still save money. Even the super early birds are not assured of getting the deal they want as doorbuster items are meant to create buzz and lure shoppers, but unfortunately are very limited in supply. If you see a television regularly priced at $1,200 selling for $200, they probably have only 10 in stock.

3. Arrive up to 3-hours early – This is the cut-off time between normality and insanity. 3-hours is the maximum waiting time for any normal person…after this you become Abbie Normal.

4. Arrive 3 to 8-hours early – This is a full day of waiting with no pay, no fun, no reason to be standing . You’ve become obsessed with the item you want to buy and are willing to show up on the local evening news looking stupid. Remember you can still get hurt in the ensuing charge when the doors open. This is also past the time limit one can control his/her bowels which sets the stage for another embarrassing situation.

5. Arrive 1-day or over –  Change your name to Sybil if your a woman or Norman if your a man because you are officially Psycho. This has now gone past obsession and gone in to unexplained behaivor. You’ve brought out the camping gear, your kids are embarrased when they see you on TV, you have lost rational thought, but your actually close to the first person in line who happens to be the head nutt-job.

6. Wait for Cyber-Monday – Back to normal. Enjoy your Thanksgiving and start the buying online in a warm home on late Sunday and Monday. Deals can even be better online than those in-store. Be thankful for all that you already have.

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WHICH SUPERHERO WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO SAVE YOURSELF ?

Ironman     Wonder Woman

Your right at Death’s Door, unable to move, too tired to scream, and feeling all hope is gone. Before your last gasp of air you look up and there is ______________ to save the day and you from certain death. Superheroes have a great sense of timing, arriving at the last second to drive off the evil forces. We all have grown up with them no matter your age. Even I would read the comics every time I went to the barbershop as a kid. Recent movies have made them more popular than ever…but who would you want to swoop in at your time of crisis  and save your life?

1. Superman – Would be my choice, he’s the original (1938) and most iconic of all. ” Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap buildings in a single bound”. He can also fly and see thru walls…what more do you need? His biggest threat is green kryptonite. Dissenters say he doesn’t qualify because he is from a different planet, Planet Krypton, which wouldn’t bother me if I was that close to death. Named IGN’s #1 superhero of all-time. Never understood though how people didn’t make the Clarke Kent to Superman connection.

2. Batman – If I were about to die in Gotham City I would call on Batman. He seems to have that city wired. Bruce Wayne as Batman relies on his own resources to become the superhero. Batman is supercool and in the movies he kicked butt at the box office and is my favorite movie superhero. Another American icon, Batman hit the scene in 1939 and I would guess is today’s favorite superhero among the yutes. Batman is never far away, just have Commissioner Gordon turn on the bat signal.

3. Spiderman – If you want a teenager in high school to save your life, Peter Parker is your man. Getting his powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider Spiderman is a hugely popular superhero even though he came on the scene in 1962. Costume – B+, at least you can’t see his face. Trivia: The quote, With great power there must also come – great responsibility, comes from a Spiderman comic. Go save Aunt May Spiderman.

4.Wolverine – Logan has a definite attitude . Being a mutant kinda gives him a chip on the shoulder, not sure this is the guy who I would bet my life on. Part of the X-Men group Wolverine (1974) can fight with the best of them with his animal-senses and his Edward Scissorhands. He can also recover from any injury which makes me think he would take a bullet for you. In case there is any doubt, Hugh Jackman is Wolverine.

5. Iron Man – A+ for costume, in fact all his power lies in the suit he created while in captivity. Besides keeping his heart alive it also has a ton of kick-ass functions. Iron Man (1963) is a bit of a snob with his pure genius and billions of dollars, but I think he would come thru in the clutch.

6. Wonder Woman – Call Wonder Woman and Lynda Carter shows up ( Wonder Woman was a popular TV series, 1975-79 starring Carter). She is our first superheroine who made  Superman jealous in her 1941 premier. She fought for justice, love, peace, and sexual equality while wearing a costume that would fit in at the Playboy Mansion. She was a bad-ass though. Wonder Woman, unlike Superman and Batman, will use deadly force when necessary and in saving my life I find that comforting. Ladies – she had killer bracelets that could reflect bullets and put some serious hurt on her enemies. Her alias was Dianna Prince and if anybody couldn’t recognize her as the same person with or without her costume has Stevie Wonder eyes.

7. Captain America – OK, I think that the all-american hero, Steve Rogers, is on ‘roids. I mean he was originally a scrawny kid that joined the Army and after the government injected him with an experimental serum he turns into super buff Captain America (1941). Maybe I’m just tainted by today’s athletes, but it sounds fairly similar. He has an fairly cool costume, a bit retro, and his shield can definitely kick-ass. I would trust him to save my life, but without real superhero powers he would not be my first choice.

8. The Hulk – A great superhero, but here’s a guy who doesn’t even like his superpowers. When he’s ripped no one can stop him, but how would you know what condition he would be in when trying to save your life. What if he wasn’t pissed off? Bruce Banner has some issues, he doesn’t even like his superhero alter-ego. He is emotionally fragile and kind of a recluse until he transforms. I love the Hulk (1962) but I can’t really trust him to save my life.

9. Thor –  Thor, the hammer wielding God, is the stud of superheroes who is high on the ladies list of superheroes and certainly would be many damsels first choice to be saved by. What I like about him is that he can travel thru time which makes me think I could have him smash my enemy before he ever got to me. Thor (1962) is a Norwegian transplant so don’t make fun of his accent.

10. The Flash – Don’t know too much about this dude other than he’s fast, actually super-speed fast, actually light speed fast and he likes red. He has been a superhero since 1940 and likes to hang with his buddy, the Green Lantern. The more I learn about him the more I like him. He actually raced Superman in a foot race (tie). I just don’t feel I know The Flash well enough to ask him for such a big favor.

Let me know what superhero you would most trust to save your life?…maybe someone not on my list. I just tied Bruce Banner’s shoelaces together to see if I could piss him off.

IT’S TIME FOR RECESS

FOUR SQUARE     TETHER

Elementary school is hard to recall in detail for most…particularly as age makes it farther away. For some reason my elementary school memories are more vivid than Jr. High ( people tend to block out Jr. High years). I remember my teachers from 1st to 5th grade (Jr. High was grades 6-8 in my time) and I remember the classrooms themselves. You stayed in one classroom from the start of school to the end. My school was close to home so I either walked or rode a bike as was common in those days. I remember kids throwing up in class because at that age you just threw-up…no warning signal, just a sudden barf that gave the rest of us time to leave the classroom while the janitor cleaned up. I also remember my pretty 4th grade teacher, lice break-outs, and running for class office. My slogan was ” Take the right step with Kinney ” as Kinney Shoes was a major shoe outlet in the 60’s. I vividly remember the Fire Dept. having to come to school as a boy got his wanger caught in his metal zipper. That was a scary day as the kid went ballistic in his screaming and teachers ran out to see what was wrong, we were all scared. What I do remember with great fondness was how I anticipated the words, TIME FOR RECESS. Time to immediately stand up, get out the door and onto the playground. The playground was basically a big dirt area with some asphalt but it had all we needed. There was a kickball area, a tetherball pole, 4-square court, swings, and my personal favorite, the handball courts. The handball courts were two big green walls standing in open space with one white stripe on them and you could play on either side giving you a total of  four courts. The playing surface was done in asphalt and each court was unofficially designated by grade…5th graders had the best court,  followed by each successive grade. The ball was a big round red ball, the same as used in kickball and 4-square, but here it was a handball. The object was to hit the ball to the green wall on one bounce, then hit it again after one bounce coming off the wall until someone faulted and went back to the end of the line. The winner would continue serving until he also got beat. Some of the handball studs could hold the serve for a whole recess. The premier shot was the slice, where you would hit the ball so hard and low it was impossible to return, often leaving your knuckles scraped and bleeding from the asphalt. But this was good, it showed that you could slice and were an experienced handball player. I loved handball…life was good.

My next favorite game was kickball, but it also took the most organization. It usually took a teacher to get it going. First was the choosing of sides with two team captains. This was a very traumatic time finding out when you would be picked and I honestly felt bad for the last kid chosen…that is tough on the ego, standing alone only to hear the captain sigh and say “OK, I’ll take Winthorp”. You knew he was playing the deep outfield. The part that cracks me up to this day is that you could either throw to the base to force a kid out or throw the ball directly at the kid at any point in the baseline to get him out too. Kids would take shots to the head, have their legs knocked out from under them, see you coming and try to fake you out because if you missed, the ball would keep rolling while the runner kept running the bases. It was one of the few activities both girls and boys would play together. If you kicked it far enough into the lunch area, it was a Home Run. That was very impressive. Scores were usually like 34-27, depending on how many innings you got in before the whistle. Yes the whistle meant two things, 1) one whistle meant to immediately freeze wherever you were or 2) double whistle meant recess was over…Major bummer.

Tetherball was a game I hated. The tough of the tough ruled here. That deflated ball and rope could do serious damage to your wrist and hand particularly on cold mornings. Seeing the ball sail over your head until there was no more rope left was tough to watch. Some of the kids loved this game, but I wasn’t one of them. I would play occassionally so I didn’t appear to be a pussy, but my best tetherball move was to stay away from that dreaded pole so I didn’t have the chance to hear my name called…you couldn’t say no. Four square was fun for about 4-minutes. It was just too easy to get people out, especially if you teamed up with a friend who would set you up to smash one in the opponents box and bounce about 20-feet away so it could never be returned. Besides losing your turn, the loser also had to go get the ball. The swings went basically empty as they were looked on as baby play. Occassionally you would get some kid swinging as high as possible then launching himself off at the peak and sailing through the air. It looked cool to watch but inevitably the whistle would blow before he hit the ground…NO JUMPING OFF THE SWINGS. I learned that I enjoyed games where a ball was included, particularly the classic red kickball. Our school must have had a surplus of them because I never remember running out. Later in life when I would try to buy a similar one but they would pop within days. Many of the girls loved jump-roping. While I wouldn’t be caught dead doing it, I did enjoy seeing their ability to jump so well while running in and out with the rope still going and the chorus of voices reciting a clever play song.  My saddest memory of recess was the school yard bully. Yes, bullies were very much present in the 60’s and went unchecked because no one had thought of anti-bullying then. Poor Winthorp would have his face turned blood red from a shot to the face at point blank range in kickball and some kids would stay in the protection of the lunch area and never come out. I was never a bully, but I also never stopped them or spoke up either. I think elementary kids are most concerned about their own survival on the playground. After graduation to Jr. High it was no longer called recess, but breaks, and it wasn’t cool to play handball or kickball, they didn’t even have courts. Puff was gone.

TOP 10 AMERICAN ROCK BANDS

beachboys2    eagles2

I have always been curious to whittle down the top American Rock Bands to a handful, well two handfuls. I originally thought it would be easy because I didn’t anticipate there would all that many to choose from. I printed out a list of American Rock Bands and it was much longer than expected. I did not include any groups before 1960 when the Beach Boys started and the Beatles were not far behind.  It’s also when I  became riveted to the new sound. Hip-hop and recent pop were not included as I’m staying totally with rock ‘n roll. Here’s my list and I hope to get somewhere between 5% – 100% agreement from my blog friends.

10.  Foo Fighters – Who knew that drummer Dave Grohl from Nirvana was actually a remarkable singer/songwriter/musician until the Foo Fighters emerged. We all thought it was all Kurt Cobain. He has continued to grow and become the frontman for a very talented group that is probably one of the biggest rock acts in the world now. Seeing them live is a treat as I found out when they opened for The Police Reunion Tour ( Police totally sucked) but the Foo Fighters were brilliant.

9. Talking Heads – Rose from the 70’s new wave movement with songs that spoke of alienation and paranoia. Frontman David Byrne was a genius and geek at the same time and the group had art-rock vibe that would have made Andy Warhol proud. They were an intellect band, if there is such a thing, and the lyrics were actually worth listening to. One of my personal favorites.

8. Allman Brothers – They were Southern rock personified. Unfortunately I’m not a big southern rock fan but I recognize this group opened the door for many more groups of the same genre. This was rootsy America and some of their songs like Whipping Post and Midnight Rider are classics. Biggest problem this group had was staying alive. Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle crash in ’71 and he and still alive Dickey Betts were a classic guitar team that mixed blues, jazz, and rock. The bassist died the next year in a motorcycle accident also. They loved to do the long jams, which some love and some not so much. Great live band.

7. The Greatful Dead – This band  was most fittingly born in San Francisco and was there for it all, psychedelia, blues, long jams, drugs, and death…the Dead seemed to live in their own universe. Behind it all was the guitarmanship of Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir. They released over 130 albums. They were the first band that I had heard of that had traveling groupies following them on tour to every show. It would be tough for new generation to relate to them but they were an icon of the San Francisco movement which drew thousands if not millions of disenchanted kids. What a long strange trip it was…

6. The Ramones – Joey, Johhny, Dee Dee and Tommy, The Ramones, were one of the most important bands of the time, especially if your from the East Coast ( Queens, NY) where they rose to God-like status … out here in LA, not as much. The band was a major influence in the punk rock movement. They kept it simple…guitar, bass and drums played loud, fast with reckless abandon…it was rock to the core. If you’ve been to a sporting event in the last ten years you have probably heard one ( or part) of their songs.

5. The Eagles- People love the Eagles, myself not included, but they were the most successful bands of the 70’s. They had a LA vibe and took country-rock to an all time high. I think the country part is what I didn’t enjoy as much as others. Don Henley and Glenn Frey were fantastic song writers…you just need to listen to Hotel California for a taste. They are still widely popular and are opening the totally refurbished Fabulous Forum with 6 sold-out performances in Jan’14.  Date Music.

4. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – Love these guys. A rare group that makes the list with a big name followed by and the Heartbreakers. The Heartbreakers consist of Mike Campbell (guitar), Benmont Trent (keys) and Ron Blair (bass) and have remained relatively unchanged since the group was formed in 1976 and are still playing. Although from Florida, Petty has become an LA transplant and some of his songs revolve around The Valley. His music is described as Heartland Rock, much like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger and John Cougar Mellencamp. Petty’s voice is immediately noticeable and some of their hits like American Girl, Breakdown, Learning to Fly and my favorite Don’t Come Around Here No More ( great video, Alice in Wonderland) are classics. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are one of the world’s best selling bands with 80 million records sold.

3. Green Day – I go against all critics, rock authorities, and dee-jays with this pick, this high, but Green Day rocks and rocks hard. They are a rare bunch these days with the growth of POP music. I first heard Dookie ( world’s best selling punk rock album ever) in ’94 and was hooked. Just a hard driving sound with lyrics questioning the government, teen angst all meant to be played loud. Green Day held onto the 3-chord punk rock sound well past the 90’s as the success of  American Idiot proved in 2004. When I just want heart pumpning rock and I’m not going classic, Green Day is my first choice. I’ll never understand why the critics continue to beat on them.

2. The Beach Boys – Formed in 1961 the band’s early hits were the stuff of So. California dreams – girls, cars, sunshine and surf. They and Jan And Dean were the first records I bought. All was good driving Colorado Blvd. with the Beach Boys rockin’ until 1963-’64 when The Beatles invaded and pushed the Beach Boys into the back seat. They moved into more heady stuff behind mastermind ( and space cadet) Brian Wilson. Good Vibrations was a Wilson classic and still considered one of rock’s greatest songs. The Beach boys were fun and very local which was perfect for cruising on a summer night. They celebrated 50-years in 2011.

1. Nirvana – Nirvana ushered in a whole new sound when we needed it the most. The grunge sound of the Northwest put Hairspray Metal out to pasture, thank you. In an instant the door was thrown open for a new generation of kids to put on their flannel shirts and start their own garage bands. Cobain became a more mature songwriter even as his personal life grew bleaker. Dave Grohl proved to be one of the greatest drummers in rock and a proven songwriter . The bass player, Krist Novoselic was the lovable dork who counterbalanced Corbain’s tortured genius. Nirvana was on top for only three years when Kurt ended it all, but there music continues to resonate to this day. Nirvana changed music almost overnight and I will always have them on my playlist with Nevermind on top.

MY FAVORITE 5 URBAN LEGENDS

gerbil

Urban legends are cool to hear because while it sounds a little fishy, there also seems to be some truth in them. Urban Legends are repeated over and over again with many circulating for decades. The most frequent source of these stories are a friend of a friend (FOAF), so that’s good enough for me. Here are my favorites:

1. Richard Gere was admitted into a Los Angeles Hospital Emergency room with a foreign object lodged in his rectum: a gerbil. This is the first  urban legend that someone laid on me and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know whether to believe him or not. It sounded weird, but the storyteller either believed it himself or was a good liar. The story creeped me out. I didn’t even know if a gerbil was real, let alone able to be shoved up one’s bunghole. People are suckers for gossip about sex. Weird sex and that obsession can short-circuit our capacity for rational thought. I heard the story in 1982, the year Officer and a Gentleman was released, and it basically went like this: Gere was admitted to a LA hospital with a foreign object lodged in his rectum. X-Rays showed the object to be a gerbil ( either dead or alive depending on storyteller). He was then rushed to surgery where it took an entire team of doctors to extract the animal from his behind….SHAAA. I always wondered, why Richard Gere ?  The story has no merit in it from any source and is a true urban legend that went viral before viral existed.

2. The Kidney Heist – In 1997 another classic urban legend was born in New Orleans. The viral message under the header Traveler Beware got so much attention that the New Orleans Police Dept. published an official statement to calm fears. The story as told to me was that a businessman on a out-of-town trip went to the hotel bar for a drink. His drink was laced with a heavy sedative making him pass out. He awoke the next morning in his bathtub full of ice with a kidney missing. Apparantly a clever robber who also was a surgeon removed his kidney for sale on the black market. This has been told thousands of times using a number of cities and has a slight twist each time. I got a little smarter on this one and was skeptical…I mean there are a lot of loose ends on this one. But the story thrived even though no substantiating evidence was ever found. I think this is a cool urban legend with all it’s intrigue and I think I may have repeated the story once or twice to fellow suckers.

3. Jamie Lee Curtis, Hermaphrodite? Again, weird sex story. Jamie Lee Curtis ( for the younger generation Curtis was a teen star in the classic Halloween movie, 1978, or Arnold Schwarzennegger’s wife in True Lies, 1994) is a well known actress and urban legend has it that she is a hermaphrodite ( more crudely put, “born with a penis”). This rumor has lasted two decades and has never been proven. Most folks seem to be satisfied with the argument that the info was true because they heard it from a friend of a friend who happens to know a doctor who was told about it in medical school. Oh, and she has a unisex first name. I never repeated this one as it was creepy enough to hear. For the new generation the same urban legend has been told about Megan Fox and Lady Gaga.

4.  Don’t Flash Your Headlights! I totally bought into this one the first time I heard it as it has it’s roots in LA and a FOAF told me it was true. It goes like this: Police officers working with the DARE program has issued this warning – If you are driving after dark and see an on-coming car with no headlights on, DO NOT FLASH YOUR HEADLIGHTS AT THEM! This is a common Bloods gang member “initiation game”. In order to be accepted into the gang, they have to shoot and kill all individuals in the first auto that does a courtesy flash. I wasn’t about to test this theory out and for months I just passed by cars with no headlights on, but after I saw a  car pull into McDonalds and a bunch of kids get out, I went back to the courtesy flash and am still alive to talk about it.  A+ on Urban legend scale.

5. Gatorade – Mixing Gatorade with liqour will get you drunk faster as Gatorade gets in blood system faster. OK, this sounds semi-scientific and makes a little sense. I was told this in college at a frat party, so it must be true. I actually couldn’t find a definitive answer on this one. What I did find was that the inventor of Gatorade, Dr. Robert Cade, invented a Hop’n Gator Beer which was a mixture of beer and Gatorade with about 25% more alcohol content than standard beers. His thinking was jocks drink Gatorade and fans drink beer, but the combo quickly failed with consumers.  P.S. It is true that if you eat pop rocks and drink Coca-Cola at the same time your stomach will explode…swear.

*6. Craig Kinney –  Was a two-sport star athlete at San Diego State and drafted by both the Chargers and Dodgers but declined because he thought the travel would interfere with his plans of being a good husband and father…Pass it on and embellish if you’d like.

WE NEVER SAID GOODBYE TO PLUTO

planet      pluto

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles…Mercury,Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. That is how I learned in 5th grade to memorize the planets of the solar system and it has stuck to this day. There are nine planets in the solar system…wrong. On August 24, 2006 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) reclassified Pluto as a “dwarf planet” ( PC: Size Impaired) and our solar system became eight. I liked Pluto, it seemed so distant, dark, and cold. In fact Pluto got it’s name because it’s darkness, it is the name for the god of the underworld in classical mythology.  The planet was first discovered in 1930 and had a good run of 76-years as the farthest planet from the sun. Also in 1930 Disney introduced a new animated dog and named it Pluto after the new planet. Maybe it was destiny that Pluto could never talk while Goofy could. In 1941 a new element was created and named plutonium after the planet. The atomic bomb was created soon afterward and in 1945 it brought an end to WWII.

I can only wonder how many of us constructed the 9-planet solar system with balls or circles of different sizes as a science project…for that reason alone I think Pluto should be reinstated. Three generations of school kids have toiled on that project and the hardest part was getting it to school without it falling apart. Dumping Pluto is like taking a crayon out of the box and saying it doesn’t exist anymore. Wait a minute, I just used that crayon to do her hair, what am I gonna’ use now? Maybe a lawyer can claim the Statue of Limitations on Pluto since we have had it for over seven years. There are two states, Illinois and New Mexico which denounced the ruling of the IAU and still consider Pluto a planet. They believe there is a sentimental value attached among the people, like me, who grew up learning Pluto was a planet. It’s worth mentioning that the man credited with discovering Pluto in 1930 was a resident of these two states and celebrate ” Pluto Planet Day” on March 13. There is a slight hope that Pluto may be reinstated. In 2006 NASA launched it’s first mission to Pluto with a spacecraft the size of a piano and will reach Pluto in 2015, a distance of 3-billion miles ( there are some mega-smart people at NASA). It will give us the proof needed to decide either way. I just found it curious that a planet that we all knew and some of us loved could be eliminated like that…no vote, just gone…bummer. At least we still have Uranus which is funny every time I hear it. They can’t take Uranus away.

OSCAR DOESN’T LIKE TO LAUGH

Oscar       Hangover

Oscar doesn’t have a sense of humor as seen by the lack of comedies ever winning best picture at the Academy Awards. Oscar definitely has a bias towards serious dramas and social-problem films. He also likes large-scale epic historical productions with big budgets. Oscar doesn’t dig laugh out loud comedies…way to pedestrian for the high-browed Academy. In the 86-years of the award show only 6-comedies have ever won and and three of them won before 1940. The other three are Tom Jones (1963),  a movie I’ve honestly never heard of or seen, The Sting (1973) starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, decent movie but far from gut busting, and Annie Hall (1977), a Woody Allen movie which I enjoyed but is still that neurotic Woody movie which you first have to pretend to understand before you can laugh. I would put these three under the “Sophisticated Comedy” category. Is the Academy really this dense? What about the “Laugh Until I Almost Throw-Up” comedies? In 1980 Ordinary People, a drama about an upper-middle class family dealing with the death of their son, won Best Picture. It was a decent movie…I saw it once. Also in 1980 Caddy Shack was released starring Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and Ted Knight. It was a comedy that was hysterically funny and I’ve probably seen it about 25-times. It literally has a cult following. What the Academy isn’t considering is that what looks easy in making you laugh out loud is a lot harder to translate on the big screen than a dramatic performance is. It is hard to make people bust up. In 1998 The Hurt Locker won best Picture, the same year The Hangover (original) was released…gimme a break. The Hangover was so f’in funny I had to watch it another 15+ times and I could still put it on and get a laugh. Stu: “She’s got my Grandmother’s Holocaust Ring” , Alan: ” I didn’t know they gave out rings at the Holocaust”. The Hangover grossed $467 million worldwide and is the 3rd highest grossing “R” movie ever while The Hurt Locker grossed just $49 million, but critics loved it. I saw it, kinda liked it, but which movie stands the test of time better? I’m now going back to 1979 when The Jerk, directed by Carl Reiner and featuring Steve Martin in his first starring role, was released. This is the first of what I call ” Light Comedy”, movies that aren’t very deep but make you laugh. ” Dumb & Dumber is a poster child for this type of comedy.

My favorite comedies include a lot of my favorite  SNL actors such as Tommy Boy ( Chris Farley & David Spade),  Vacation ( Chevy Chase), Animal House (John Belushi), Beverly Hills Cop (Eddie Murphy), and the recent Bridesmaids ( Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph). All fall under my light comedy category and all were side-splitting funny. These comedies often jump to #1 at the box office as audiences are desperate to see a comedy they can laugh out loud at – but critics and Oscar refuse to honor them. I’m not just talking about winning the Oscar for Best Picture but none of these type of movies are even nominated. The Academy likes to give lifetime achievement awards to honor their own such as Henry Fonda, Barbara Stanwyck, Lord Laurence Olivier and others…great , but how about a Kick-Ass Comedy Award for John Hughes whose film credits include Ferris Buellar’s Day Off, Weird Science, Vacation, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen-Candles, Pretty in Pink, Planes, Trains, & Automobiles, Home Alone, and a dozen more where he was a writer or director. Long live John Hughes…he’s what? Oh, sorry about that. Poor guy went out while just walking in Manhattan at age 59 (yikes). He gave us some classic comedies. Will Ferrel is another favorite… I will go out and see anything he does. ELF (2003) is on my top 10 of all-time and his ability to be ignorant, innocent and funny is fixating. It has been accepted by critics as one of the best Christmas movies, a staple at the Kinney House and can be recited line-by-line by Alex, but was not even nominated for Best Picture that year. Lost In Translation was.

There has been a historic bias against light comedies. Laurel & Hardy, The Three Stooges, Marx Bros., and WC Fields never got a chance to meet Oscar. In the 80’s there were some satires such as Airplane & Naked Gun (Zucker Bros.) that had audiences rolling in the aisles. It was a machine gun firing of jokes that many compared to the old ” Abbott & Costello” movies that weren’t Oscar worthy either. I still crack-up just seeing Kareem Abdul Jabbar in the co-pilot seat. Recently Seth Rogan and his crew; Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, have turned out some seriously funny comedies that have audiences asking for more . He either wrote, acted in, or directed, hits like 40-year Old Virgin, Superbad, Pineapple Express ( Stoner Humor), and Knocked Up. I thought all these were fantastic movies, hopefully Seth will get recognized by the Academy and be the person to break through and at least get nominated for Best Picture. I think it’s hard to make people laugh, especially laugh out loud and it is truly a skill that goes over the Academy voter’s heads. I’ll continue to go to dumb ass comedies as i’m sure others will too just on the hope of getting a good laugh and one day a true “Light” comedy will make Oscar laugh too.  (As the plane prepares to take off…Airplane, 1980)                  Hanging Lady ” Nervous?”,  Ted Striker: ” Yes”,  Hanging Lady: ” First time?”,  Ted Striker: ” No, I’ve been nervous lots of times”

I WOULD WANT A SUBMARINE

sub

People have become instant multi-millionaires by winning the lottery, finding oil in their backyard while hunting for some food, inheriting a fortune, just everyday ways of making a big chunk of money. I’m surprised people don’t do it more often. The next question is: What are you going to do with all this new found dinero? Responses are generally – I’m buying a new mansion, I’m buying a private jet, classic cars, vacationing around-the-world- in 80 days, jewelry or the classic – I’m going to continue working and not change anything…SHAAA. Me, I would want my own submarine. The sub would be like the “Fantastic Voyage” movie with a bow (front matey) that was all clear plastic like a big window in your living room. The whole front of the ship would have sofas, movie screens, small kitchen & bar, totally bumpin’ sound system all facing this enormous window. The sub would have massive floodlights in the front for nighttime. Just off the front viewing room would be bedrooms for my guests and family…it would be the coolest submarine ever. I would have a crew to take care of the navigation and maintenance. The first place I would visit would be Bikini Bottom where SpongeBob lives. It seems like such a cool place. I would surprise Sponge Bob at the Krusty Krab where he works and sit down and have a Krabby Patty Burger, sounds delicious. Hopefully Patrick will be there so I can say hi to him. I would then go over to see Sandy Cheeks and see what a Underwater Tree Dome is like…hopefully she will invite me in and I can see it from the inside. After saying goodbye to SpongeBob I would next visit Sub Diego where Aquaman and Aquagirl live. I’ve always wanted to know a super hero and I think I could best relate to Aquaman. I just hope he has a nice personality…people have told me their both really nice people. My next stop would be Atlanta. I learned about this underwater city from the Science Channel on a program called ” Futurama “. It’s a funny town and they have mermaids…that’s cool.  I would not waste my time looking for the “Lost City of Atlantis”, it isn’t real…DUHHH.

I would then set sail for the deep Pacific and play War Games. I would order the sub at cruising level and say those two epic words, ” Up Periscope”. I would look into the periscope for any fishing boats, cruise lines, or just a fancy yacht. I could then order “load torpedo one” and ” load torpedo two” and then take another look in my periscope before ordering ” Periscope Down”. Next command, “Fire Torpedo One” and “Fire Torpedo Two”. I could then go over to my radar man and watch an unsuspecting cruise ship get hit and slowly sumerge. I would continue my own War Games until people starting noticing ships going missing. The military would send battle ships after me and I could then do the next coolest thing, order the ship to the bottom of the ocean, “Take her down” and hide there without making a noise. Can’t even sneeze or drop a pencil or the battleship will hear us. The pressure of being so deep will put our lives in jeopardy, but we are submariners and can handle it. We made it. The ships have past. Time to order the sub to surface. We reach the surface and I’d grab the hatch wheel, spin it and open the top hatch. It’s a beautiful evening as we stroll along the subs plank. Maybe we shouldn’t have torpedoed so many ships…hope they’ll forget about it before we hit Hawaii.

It’s night time now, time to entertain my guests. I will serve my guests cocktails and dinner in the front quarters. With one switch all the outside lights will turn on and we can see the darkened ocean come to life. As we travel the ocean’s depth we could see giant squid, octopus, sharks, schools of fish and whales, maybe we can even say hello to Mr. Narwhal, although he generally likes colder waters. The party 1,000 feet down would be classic and last all night. You could blast the music as loud as you wanted as there are no neighbors to complain and actually fish like hip-hop.  We could cruise underwater for days, even weeks at a time. Upon reaching Hawaii I would surface the sub outside a great break and take my surfboard out and ride waves. For my friends who don’t surf they could try seahorse riding which is terribly exciting. Owning a submarine would be hyper-cool and the sights would be so different than above water. That is what I would do with my new found million$.

BOSTON MARATHON HALLOWEEN COSTUME

runner

You may or may not have seen this in the news, it really caught my attention. A Michigan woman (22-year old) wore a Boston Marathon costume to her job on Halloween last Thursday. The costume included blood stains on her legs, running outfit and other parts of her body. She then posted a picture of herself on Twitter and soon it began raining insults. ” You should be ashamed, my mother lost both her legs and I almost died in the marathon. You need a filter”, “As someone who experienced it first hand , I can’t see how a mentally stable person can think it’s ok”. That is just the tip, the costume went viral and thousands weighed in with their opinions. To make matters worse this young woman, Alicia, had earlier posted her drivers license on twitter so people knew where she lived…her last name is not Einstein. Then things got worse. She was fired from her job and began receiving numerous threats including a threat to have her throat slashed, her whole family killed, and to have her hung from a Boston lamp post. Alicia was not living at home but her parents and family received numerous insults because of the address on her drivers license. Just a side note – her handle name on twitter is SomeSkankinMi…no fooling.

Here’s my take on this – 1) She’s 22… 22 year olds make stupid decisions, 2) As Chris Brown has said ” I don’t agree with it it, but I understand it”, 3) People who make anonymous death threats or threaten to brutalize a family over a costume are the real jerks, 4) She lives in a free country, 5) IT’S HALLOWEEN. Alicia did post an apology, ” I wasn’t thinking” and sounded overwhelmed by the attention she received and shut down her twitter account. The meanness, vulgarity, and being internet bullies was more classless than the costume. It’s amazing what people will write if they don’t have to be accountable. I mean what if this girl was to feel so persecuted that she takes her own life? This is the worst part of the story to me…how many nut-jobs are out there. I read the majority of the comments and it is really disturbing to read; slicing someone’s throat, killing their family, using every swear word and derogatory references to women. There were a fair share of comments supporting her decision what to wear on Halloween in a free country, but they also agreed it was a classless costume. Here’s another observation… Don’t put your personal information on the internet. I would be more upset at my kids for this than any costume they wore.

I have always enjoyed Halloween costume parties and have seen a lot of “classless” costumes such as the Dead Kennedy’s,  Jeffrey Daumer, Treyvon Martin (this year), The McMartin family after the alleged child molestation charges in Manhattan Beach, KKK costumes, and Nazi outfits (by Prince Harry of all people). There is always the non-stop line-up of zombies, skeletons, and witches which I’m sure are offensive to some people out there. Alicia could have used better judgement in choosing a costume, but she did not violate anyone’s rights or injure anyone…it was a halloween costume. The freedom people now have to anonymously bully people over the internet is disturbing to me.  Another side note – I follow the Lakers, Dodgers, and Kings on Instagram and if you ever read people’s comments it sounds like a mental institution writing class. Non-stop swearing, threats, name calling in the lowest form. I feel confident that this is a minority of people who are frustrated in their own lives and the majority are quiet and have respect for fellow people…God, I hope so.

WE NEED ANOTHER NIRVANA

cinderella hair          Nirvana

I graduated from high school in 1972 and have always felt the 60’s and 70’s were the pinnacle of rock music. Groups like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Jimi, Janis, The Doors, Rush, Yes, Queen owned the airways. Actually in LA there were only two AM stations in the 60’s that played the groups we wanted to here, KHJ and KRLA. When FM finally caught on in the early 70’s KMET became the monster station. I think each generation thinks their music of the time is the best…but on this point I think I’m right. Beatles, Stones, Zep, killed it. Songs could be the standard 2:30 – 3 minutes but usually time wasn’t a factor as Led Zeppelin would play songs that would go on for up to 11-minutes (Stairway to Heaven – 8 minutes). The musicians played their own instruments, sang live and were part of a major peace movement that effected hundreds of thousands of “kids”. I loved it. I originally would buy a 45-record once-a-week for $1.00 at the local record store. The 45’s were small and had one song on each side of the record and could be stacked 10-high on your record player. Then came the albums (33’s) featuring my favorite music ever. These albums were full of great songs, you could just put it on the first song and listen until the last. Sgt. Pepper’s (Beatles), Are You Experienced (Jimi), Led Zeppelin II (LZ), Who’s Next (Who), Let It Bleed (Stones) and Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd) is just a sample of classic albums. It was great…music was an everyday part of our lives…I dove in head-first.

The 80’s brought in a whole new generation of kids and music fueled by MTV.  Michael Jackson blew everyone’s minds with the Thriller video. Madonna came on the scene. I heard RUN DMC for the first time and “rap” was a completely new and fresh sound for me…YO! MTV Raps. “Alternative” groups began hitting the airwaves on KROQ like Duran Duran, The Clash and Heavy Metal became enormously popular which is a sound I never completely bought in to. I did like some songs from Guns ‘N Roses, Van Halen and a couple others but I was by no means a “Metal Head”. Then music went totally south in the late 80’s. Heavy metal became “Hair” Metal which featured groups like Poison, Motley Crue, Ratt, Cinderella, Winger, Twisted Sister, Vixen and others.  Just over the top hairspray crap. The groups were big on make-up, teased hair, tight pants, and high pitched vocals. It was a down time for rock ‘n roll until a fresh breeze blew in from the Northwest…Nirvana, grunge music…hallelujah. I remember just sitting on a couch alone (typical) flicking thru channels when I stopped on MTV and saw the “Smells like Teen Spirit” video. WTF was this? It was like remembering where you were when Kirk Gibson hit his historic home run for the Dodgers, the first space shuttle landing, dunking your first basketball ( I never did that, just thought it sounded cool). A whole new sound that I never expected, never anticipated…it just arrived and it was fantastic. I bought the Nevermind album and just kept playing it. Hair Metal was DOA, rock ‘n roll was saved. Pearl Jam and Soundgarden followed up and I was excited again about music and in particular the intensity and darkness that was Kurt Cobain. Nirvana guaranteed that the music of the 90’s would not suck.

Fast forward to today (doodely doo, doodely doo, thanks Wayne). Today “POP” music is dominating the airwaves. Pop music is commercially recorded singles that feature artists that have the music written for them and instruments played for them. They are geared for mass audience appeal and feature high end marketing for the stars who mostly became popular in their late teens or early 20’s. Britany Spears (32) helped kick it off and a parade followed…Christina Aguilera (33), Beyonce (32), Katy Perry (29), Lady Gaga (27),  Rhianna (25), Taylor Swift (24), Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus (21). The men were kicked off by Justin Timberlake (32) and soon led the way for Usher (35), Chris Brown (24), Justin Bieber (19), and One Direction (ages 19-21). Yes, they all have a catchy song or two but for me they basically suck. They are internet children and worshipped by the teen market who have tremendous buying power. Rock ‘n Roll is dying again…it is time for something new, fresh, take your breath away, heart pounding rock. Green Day is an exception…still love them.  Where will it come from? What will it sound like? I’m ready and let me know if you have heard music that is heading in a new direction…opposite of POP.