Saturday, December 22, 2007

Don't Tase Me, Bro

If you haven't seen the famous "Don't Tase Me, Bro!" video, check it out here. This silly grandstanding douche should have had a live cattle prod shoved in his mouth and thrown in a swimming pool.

But if you are a fan of this hotshot getting tased (tazed?) or of Electric Light Orchestra, please check the YTMND version of the incident. Pure genius.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why Do You Bastards Tease Me???

They have been saying this for a year and a half now, but ...


'Arrested Development' Movie Plans Close to Completion?
By WENN | Tuesday, December 04, 2007

HOLLYWOOD - Plans for a movie adaptation of sitcom Arrested Development are getting closer to completion--after a number of meetings with the show's key figures.

Arrested Development star Jason Bateman met with series creator Mitch Hurwitz over the weekend, further fuelling speculation that the film version of the show is in the pipeline.

Earlier this year, Michael Cera, Bateman's costar, insisted he would be keen to sign up for an Arrested Development movie if it ever came to fruition.

Yeah, it's probably bullshit, but oh well. You can still watch the episodes online here (my suggestion would be "Pier Pressure," Season One, Episode 10). Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Geniuses? You Make the Call

What do you do when you have a severe case of writer's block? You post a bunch of videos and crap on the internet. I saw a movie the other day called "The Devil and Daniel Johnston." Johnston was an underground singer/songwriter sensation of the 1980s. He was also deeply disturbed. He is considered by many to be a genius.

Watching the film, I couldn't help but think "Genius? Really?" It's not that the guy didn't have talent; he could write a catchy tune and evoke certain feelings, but I would hardly call the guy a genius. His songs were simplistic and kind of all the same, sounding to me like the Magnetic Fields trying to evoke John Lennon. Plus, his live performances were painfully awkward. Johnston could barely play the guitar, and was often off-beat and his lispy singing looked more like something out of a talent show for "special" people. Yet every crowd that ever saw Johnston whooped and hollered no matter what he did, like cheering for the little leaguer who strikes out on three straight pitches by yelling "nice swing!"

The label of genius is thrown around a lot, especially in music. It got me thinking about who I consider to be the best songwriters in my record collection. I decided to throw up a few videos of five of my favorite songwriters. Check out some of the songs and some of the cool videos if you get a chance.

SUFJAN STEVENS This guy is incredibly prolific, and though he gets a little too precocious sometimes, I think he is a top-notch songcrafter.

"Jacksonville" I can't begin to express how much I love this song.

"The Avalanche" Another really beautiful Sufj masterpiece.


IRON AND WINE His first album -- The Creek Drank the Cradle -- is one of my top 5 albums of all time. Every single track is a masterpiece, and here are two of them.

"Southern Anthem" Something beautiful and rustic about this song. The video is a bit pretentious, but it doesn't detract.

"Upward Over the Mountain" Something about this song puts me on the verge of tears almost every time I hear it.


PAVEMENT/STEPHEN MALKMUS There is something about this band and about S.Malk I just love. The sarcasm, the turn of a phrase, the prototype "indie" sound.

"Spit on a Stranger" One of the catchier Pavement tunes, very poppy and fun.

"The Hexx"


STEELY DAN/BECKER & FAGAN Probably my favorite band of all time. I would put their catalog (up to and including Gaucho) up against any other.

"Black Friday" No this isn't about the day after Thanksgiving, it's about the apocalypse. And it's still such a fun tune.

"The Royal Scam" This isn't an official video, but with the lyrics it's actually more powerful than I expected it to be.

"Don't Take Me Alive" A pretty awesome song about a guy who's about to blow himself up. Not too shabby.

Also check out videos for "Any Major Dude Will Tell You" and "Caves of Altamira."


THE SHINS/JAMES MERCER These guys are a bit spotty, I must admit, and while I do like their new album (Wincing the Night Away), I love Chutes Too Narrow almost too much to express. Other than "Gone For Good," I am in love with every single track on the album.

"Pink Bullets" Mellow and reflective. Nice.

"Saint Simon" Laid back, yet with authority.

"So Says I" Rollicking. Plus, a pretty awesome video about penguins and communism.


I made a mix CD a little over a year ago, and I thought it had some pretty obscure stuff on it, but I found a few of the videos on YouTube so I'm not quite the hipster I thought I was. You might like these, you might not.

Rosewood Thieves
"Los Angeles" Trying to evoke the Beatles in this video; their song "Lonesome Road" is even better.

The Long Winters
"Blue Diamonds" The video on this one is mega-cheesy but I like the song a lot.

"Pyramid Song" Purists hate electronic Radiohead, but this is a classic.

Gordon Lightfoot
"Canadian Railroad Trilogy" Long as hell but awesome.

Ben Folds
"Learn to Live with What you Are" Kind of disappointed that Old Ben decided to make a jokey video out of this song, because I thought it was kind of powerful in a self-help sort of way. But the video is kind of funny after all.

"Beast and Dragon, Adored" Rocking song, and David Cross does some sign language/interpretive dance to the side. This was clearly taken with a cameraphone.

Dead Kennedys
"Holiday in Cambodia" Two offerings: one concert video with Jello Biafra going apeshit, and another video with better sound and disturbing images of the Khmer Rouge.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Givin' Him the Business

Remember this from '86?

And holy crap did I laugh my ass off when I saw this:

Monday, November 19, 2007

If This Isn't the Cutest Baby of All Time....

This little one is so cute she makes me want to smash my face into a wall over and over.

You're Gonna Get Yours

The Patriots are going to find the meaning of karma very soon. Mark my words.

A milk ad or the money shot from this month's Hustler?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Random Videos of People Dropping the F-Bomb on TV

Plus two old favorites:

Jim "Chris" Everett on Jim Rome

Boom Goes the Dynamite

Rap By the Numbers

I know I haven't blogged in a while and I certainly don't expect this to get me off the hook but while I was thinking of it I decided to throw up a link that my buddy EJ hooked me up with. The site is entitled, simply, "rap represented in mathematical charts and graphs" and if you know anything about rap music, you will likely appreciate it. Heck, even if you know only a little, you might enjoy a few of them.

Here are a couple of my favorites.

Best part is that you can click on any one of the images and it links to the YouTube video of the song in question. Very clever, you guys....

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Some Piece of Shit Stole My Wallet

This afternoon my wallet was stolen from my locker at the YMCA while I was working out. The perpetrator broke the combination lock I had used to secure my belongings, stole my wallet with all my credit cards, receipts and other items (including my painstakingly created "beer list") and -- get this -- my blue jeans. Now why anyone would want to take a pair of 40 waist jeans (I like 'em a little loose, haters) and a wallet with three American dollar bills is beyond me.

Here's how it went down. Or rather The Facts of the Case. [Cue Law & Order chu-chung! music.]

I went to the YMCA downtown at approximately 1:15. I didn't see anyone suspicious, although I did see a guy wearing unbearably gaudy FUBU clothing who just stood and talked to his buddy while another guy was polite enough to hold the door open for him. Very rude, but not a likely thief.

I worked out for about an hour. I sort of have a workout routine down now: 30 minutes on the treadmill, 20 minutes on the elliptical/cross-trainer, 10-15 minutes on the stationary bike. I'll grab water and maybe lift a few weights in between, depending on the day. This has not become a "routine" so to speak, because I really only do it for a couple days in a row and then stop for a while, but I'm working on it. I can at least start to feel my upper body strength start to come back...sort of. Oh, and I hit the sauna for about 15 minutes.

By this time the damage had already been done.

I found out later, while cancelling my credit cards, that the perpetrator -- heretofore known as Shitty-Ass Crapbag -- had already tried to use one of my many highly-used cards.

Where did the perp go? You guess it: Wal-Mart. Or as he probably calls it, Wole-Marts.

At 2:06 PM EST, Shitty-Ass tried to charge $205.17 to my card at Wole-Marts, so my credit card company told me. Luckily, I like to keep my balances nice and high, so the limit on this particular card was not quite enough to accommodate Shitty-Ass's purchase. But this means that Shitty-Ass stole my wallet sometime after 1:20 or so in the afternoon, and then hightailed it outta there, and the first place he took it was Wole-Marts?

Please do keep in mind, I have contacted both the fine people at Wole-Marts on Bridge Street in East Syracuse, as well as the extremely helpful and courteous Syracuse City Police Department about this. Hopefully we will be able to get some security camera footage, and a face that the people at the Y might be able to recognize. The people at the Y were also great and told me it was probably some kid. Actually the credit card people have been great too. As much as this has been a pain in the ass, the people I've turned to for assistance could not have been more helpful.

The good news is that I don't carry much cash, and that which I do carry was spent on a delicious caesar salad yesterday afternoon, so Shitty-Ass only got $3 in cash. The credit cards are all dead, so Shitty can't use any of them. The Y printed me off a new membership card in about four seconds. My library card is missing but I haven't been there in a while and if Shitty wants to pay off my $15 late fee he's more than welcome to do so.

Shitty did take my pants, but he left my cell phone and my car keys; so in some way I have to give him some credit for that. Granted, my cell phone is a piece of crap befitting of someone with the name "Shitty," but it had all my phone numbers in there and a lot of pics I had taken over the last few months. Without my car keys, I would have been totally screwed. And then I would have had to go on some sort of killing rampage. And seriously, who has time for that?

The bad news is that I am now without a debit card, so I can't take out money or essentially buy anything at all, given that all my monies were in that little black leather carrier. I am going on a trip this coming Friday, and I was going to get the inspection done on my car before then, and now I can't. I have to go to the DMV to get a new license, for a fee. [Grumbling] And I'm not sure if I'll have my credit cards back in time to bring them on the trip. I was just starting to get my financial stuff back in order too, after being kind of lazy about it for a month or so. But I suppose 'twas not to be.

So all this has made my weekend already something hellish. I debated on whether to go to the gym and now that decision seems like the wrong one, but I hate to second guess myself. I have already been creating bogus excuses to not go to the gym, and I'm not going to let this be a reason to stop.

Now, if you would indulge me for a few moments, I would like to send an open letter to Shitty-Ass. If he should decide to Google the name on my driver's license and see this. And I hope he does. Ahem.....

Dear Shitty-Ass,

There is no place for you in this world. The dream of most non-piece of shit Americans is to work hard and earn the things they want. The goal of Americans is to make themselves and their neighbors better. America has no room for a wallet-swiping piece of crap. Sorry.

I get up every morning and go to my stressful, pain-in-the-ass job, where I work 45-50 hours a week for very little money, considering. I pay for my own car, my own apartment, my own food, clothes, gas, and luxury items like beer, music, cable and DVDs. The computer I'm typing this on, the DVD player I use, the CD player I am listening to right now (by the way, it's Miles Davis's "On The Corner" and it might be the most fucked-up album I own) were all purchased by me with money that I earned by working for. The things I didn't purchase were given to me by friends or family, and not stolen. The only things I steal are girls' hearts (I mean am I right, ladies?).

When is the last time you actually worked? When is the last time you got off your lazy, thieving bitch-ass and actually tried to earn a red fucking cent on your own? Have you ever had a job for more than 10 days? Have you ever even attempted to do anything besides sit on your useless ass and take things that others have worked for?

Here's what you need to understand, Shitty-Ass: I am not a rich man. You didn't swipe $10 from a millionaire that he'll never miss. Every bit of disposable cash I have helps. I am in debt up to my eyeballs, and while I make a decent salary, almost all of it is gone by the day after payday because of bills. I can't afford to not have money on hand, you prick. I used to be in some pretty dire financial situations, as you probably are too, you felonious zero. The difference is, I worked my way out of it, and faced up to hard choices. If I saw $5 sitting on a table and no one was looking, I wouldn't touch it. What would you do?

But that's the difference between me and you, Shitty-Ass. I would much rather be proud and say that what I have, meager as it may be, is my own. No one else is poorer for that fact that I have whatever I have. I didn't have to steal from someone else to get what I want. If I can't afford something, I save up, and wait until I can afford it. You should try it, it's what people who are worth a flying-fuck do.

What were you purchasing at Wole-Marts? You weren't there for very long, definitely less than 40 minutes or so. So why do I have doubts that you did your grocery shopping there so you could feed your kids or get some medicine for your disabled grandmother? Did you go straight for electronics? Maybe a DVD player, or a handful of the newest XBox games? What did you try to take home on my dime, you pantsload of human excrement?

Honestly, other than still having a phone and a ride home, the only satisfaction I get out of this is that moment when you put the credit card through and it declined. Lord Jesus, how I wish I could have been there. I have experienced that moment a few times myself, and I know how awkward and embarassing it can be. I'm glad you had to feel it. I hope that the blood rushed up into your face when it happened, not only out of humiliation, but out of the panic of knowing you just stole a credit card for nothing. And that it's probably not over.

They are going to find you. And when they do, I'm gonna press charges. Flat out. I'm not letting you get away if I find out who you are. How stupid do you have to be to steal from the YMCA -- which you need a membership to get into -- and then go to a store with cameras all over the place? You violated my space. I looked at my open locker and saw my belongings all off of their hooks, all the things I keep in my pockets on the ground, not in the top cubby where I had put them. Maybe part of me not pressing charges will be that I can root through some of your shit for a little while, and keep a few things for myself. Or maybe I can just get your picture and post it up here so at the very least, the few people who do read this will know what a useless waste of valuable blood platelets you really are.

I hope you do realize that even if they don't find you, I know what a nothing you are. Pathetic. Anyone who would steal from a pauper like me is nothing but sad. I'm not violent, but I honestly don't know what I would have done if I caught you going through my shit. Right now I am having visions of slamming your empty head into the metal lockers again and again and again until blood starts pouring out. But that's really just a fantasy, I'd rather let people I care about know that you are a lazy nothing, and you probably will be for the rest of your life. You can see a piece of shit lying on the ground and try to make it into a sculpture; but face it, it's still just a piece of shit. Like you. ;)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Empty Inside

You don't choose who you fall in love with.

Sometimes you see someone, and you know that they are bad news. You can't help but look at them and want them. You know that they will cause you nothing but heartache, and yet you latch onto them with your entire being.

Twenty years ago the Buffalo Bills made me love them, and like the song says, I didn't want to do it. The 1988 Bills are the defining moment of my passage from childhood to adolescence. The 1990 Bills were the Greatest Football Team I've Ever Seen. The 1992 Super Bowl Team defined gallantry in the face of defeat. The 1998 team personafied never giving up. And every team since then has given me nothing but an empty gut.

They did it to me again this evening. The Bills were up on the vaunted Dallas Cowboys, and had the game practically won. And they blew it. I wasn't surprised, I half expected it. Yet the fact that they played so well for 59 minutes and 58 seconds, only to come up short to an undeserving team ... well it's the microcosm of all Buffalo fans really.

They pull us in, so close to something beautiful, then rip our hearts out of our chest with no mercy. They don't mean to do it. They love us back, they really do. But they can't help but to make our lives miserable.

I could tempt hyperbole and say that tonight's loss was one of the 10 most painful losses in Bills history, but it seems that they have at least 2-3 of those losses every year. Two to three of those losses times 20 years equals a lot of heartache.

There was so much to be proud of tonight: the swelling, raucous crowd that never sat down. The George Wilson INT for a touchdown. Chris Kelsay's TD for a touchdown. Forcing 6 turnovers on Golden Boy Tony Romo. Holding Terrell Owens to 2 catches for a pittance. Terrance McGee's 103-yard kick return for a TD. This had all the makings of an inspired night. But deep down, we all knew better.

Even though I know this team isn't really going anywhere this year, it would have been a defining win for this shaky franchise. Instead, we walk away disappointed and saddened, yet again.

I am a patient boy. I have spent the last two decades living and dying with this rotating group of gentlemen, who have little in common other than the color of the laundry on their backs and the charging, streaking bison on their helmets. But this loss was especially hard to stomach.

Driving home from my friends' house where I watched the game, I felt a sense of despair. I actually felt a very real, deep sadness. Is that good or bad? Does it mean that I have lost perspective? Or does it mean that the team to which I've grown to become numb, has grabbed me again and made me actually risk caring about them again? I don't know the answer because I don't know the future.

I have put in my time. These boys know what has to be done. Whether they can get it done anytime within my fourth decade on earth remains to be seen. I don't give up on them easily, but God do they make it hard sometimes.

For a brief moment, it felt like things would start to feel good again, even if for a short period of time. But reality came crashing down. My only hope is that some day I will know the feeling of satisfaction again. Of happiness. Of hope. To rely on 53 millionaire athletes who've never met me to supply this feeling is probably too much to ask. But Goddammit, it's a start.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I think I am a relatively friendly guy. I'm awful shy, sure, and don't do well in crowds of people I don't know. In fact, those kinds of situations give me panic attacks. But one-on-one or in small crowds, I do pretty well. I have always prided myself on being able to carry on a conversation with almost anyone at any time.

But as the sands of time slip through the hourglass, so goes my tolerance for small talk. My old man is the king of small talk; he will start a conversation with anyone he encounters. I couldn't begin to count the number of times I had to wait for my dad in Wegman's or at the mechanic's or at the doctor's office because Chatterin' Bob would strike up a conversation with some random person. It usually only lasts 3-4 minutes, but it always left me uncomfortable, standing to the side while my dad would follow a conversation to its natural conclusion. He treats a conversation with a complete stranger the way most of us treat running into someone we know at the store. But my dad is a master of conversation: he is engaging, funny, and he treats anyone he talks to like they are the only person in the room. He has a gift I could only hope to attain. And female medical professionals love him, for some unusual reason. He has a cult following in that vocation.

I, on the other hand -- and I know this is going to sound awful arrogant -- do not suffer fools gladly. I have a very low threshold for someone who doesn't interest me. It's not that I'm the arbiter of what is interesting, or that somehow I'm some highbrow elitist who needs to be entertained on a constant basis. Far from it. I enjoy foolhardiness and trivial matters as much as anyone. (I once got into a half-hour argument with a coworker of which one was a "slash" and which one was a "backslash.") But I also can't stomach people who go on and on without any semblance of self-awareness, or that for some reason feel that I asked them to prattle on and on. I know that I likely fall into this trap too sometimes, but I think maybe I have a good idea of when I'm overstaying my welcome. Some of you, I'm sure, may disagree.

So today I look in the mirror and realize that my hair looks like Wolverine, and not in a hot way. I am in the enviable position of being seriously balding on top, and yet having an amazingly lush head of hair in the back and on the sides. I look like Paul Giamatti but without the bugged out eyes or acting chops. I know, I won the genetic lottery, thanks for your congratulations. Anyway, I decided to go get my monthly-or-so haircut.

I went to a salon that shall remain nameless, because I still need three more punches in my card before I get a free one and if they find out I'm dogging them here, they might tear my card up. I can't risk that. I decided to forego the "barber shop" with all its machismo and testosterone about a year ago, in favor of the more convenient and customer-friendly atmosphere of a larger haircutting chain. I do not regret this move, because now I can actually go get a haircut at 8pm instead of having to wake up at 9:30 on a Saturday morning to try to beat the rush to the mall and end up waiting 45 minutes for some bald dude with a Yankees tattoo to buzz my head for 5 minutes. Although they did give the best straight-razor neck shaves ever. I do miss that.

I walk into the salon, no waiting. Perfect. Ready to sit down and become gorgeous again.

The stylist (I call her this only because I don't know of a better name, but I don't like having a "stylist" cut my hair because it makes me sound dumb -- because there is nothing there to style -- and super gay) asks how I want my haircut. It's a common question, but I have a stock answer: "Short." It's not sarcastic. Some people like a little clip job, some like a buzz. Some like it parted or styled in some way. I like it short. Short on top, shorter on the sides. Make it happen, toots, let's go! But the stylist -- let's call her Lorraine because I'm feeling more gay than ever -- says "Well Duh!"

She didn't say it in a mean way, but it was kind of a douchey response to a valid answer. She then proceeded to giggle and say things like, "Well we can't make it longer!" and "Obviously you wanted it shorter! Can you be more specific?!" I just sort of laughed it off and said, "Yeah, ha ha, well I guess short on top, really short on the sides." And then it began.

"Well I always like to start with a joke cuz I'm all about customer service and I like to get my customers on my good side early on but when you're a hairdresser you don't really always have to be nice to everyone because it's like I'm cutting your hair and I'm the one holding the clippers so I have a lot of power ha ha but seriously I would never do that cuz I've had a lot of jobs like I was a cocktail waitress for a while and I used to make the jerks wait at the bar on one end or just avoid that part of the bar and I worked a bank once but I never did anything with people's money and when I was a waitress I saw all sorts of people do lots of mean things to other people but I would totally never do that so don't worry but people don't really think about that when they go into like a store or somewhere and they don't realize that these people who work at these places could like really screw you over cuz like one time I had this mechanic that I really liked and he used to give me the best deals but then I made the mistake of dating him ha ha but so then ....."
And I could feel that feeling of awkwardness that you feel when you are in a room alone with someone you don't know or don't like and don't know how to start a conversation or don't even want to. It's like blood boiling and crawling up my neck.

" I couldn't believe it that my ex-boyfriend's new wife asked me to do her hair for her wedding and I was like um hello do you know what our relationship used to be because were together for like 6 years and I'm like there might be something he's not telling you honey and then of all things I'm at the beach one time and I'm sitting at a picnic table and what do you know there they are and my son's like Mom do you see who that is? and I'm like oh my God you can stay but I'm gonna leave ha ha..."
At this point the small talk itself isn't what was getting to me. It was the fact that she would take three snips of hair, then stop, make eye contact with me in the mirror, and continue the story while waving her hands around. She actually turned off the clippers a couple times so she could continue her scintillating tale.

"...and it's not like I have a lot of money cuz I cut hair and it's not like we make a lot ha ha but it's okay because it's customer service and it's what I do and it's what I love and people always come up to me and say wow you gave me the best haircut a few years ago can you give me one again and I was like sorry I moved to Florida ha ha...."
It's all I can do to not say something like, "Hey, could you hurry this up? I have a movie to catch?" or fake that my cell phone was ringing. Or just leave the goddamn place with my hair half-cut.

But finally a break. She goes back to the cutting and takes a breath. Ahh, shorn locks here I come!

"So what do you do?"
Oh no. I have to actually interact. I could have -- and probably should have -- made up some kind of bullshit answer to at least entertain myself. I could have said something like taxidermist or assassin. I briefly considered stealing a page from my old buddy Slim Colt's playbook and tell her that I was "Johnny Unitas: Gay Journalist." I doubt she would have recognized the name. That would have been fun, telling her I was writing about my super-gay adventures. Or whatever, I would have thought of something. I would have enjoyed it at the very least.

But instead I chickened out and gave her the honest, though misleading answer. "Insurance."

"Oh my God see I don't even have insurance cuz I'm a hairdresser and it's like the worst health insurance in the world cuz I could like pay $70 a month and still have to end up paying at the doctor's office or I could just save up that money and put it in the bank and let it collect interest and then if I ever need it I could just take it out of the bank because I have a fund like that in my savings account but I only use it for like TRUE emergencies like if the roof collapses or going to the hospital or if my car breaks down or whatever and one time I got really really sick and I mean like I'm-gonna-die-sick and I had to go to the hospital and I couldn't pay and they sued me and that's fine cuz I'm alive right? ha ha so finally they asked me for $50 a month and I said fine and then the x-ray people asked for $50 a month and then the nurses and then the suppliers and everyone and eventually they had to go into my state taxes and take it out of that and that's fine because it's all paid off now and they never touched the federal taxes thank God but I was like..."
Fascinating. Would you please CUT MY FUCKING HAIR WHILE I STILL HAVE IT!

Finally, after this the most awkward haircut of my entire life -- and I've had some doozies, trust me -- she tells me I'm all set and asks if I want any "product." I normally jump at the chance for free product done by a professional who knows what they're doing. But you would have thought I had a spring attached to my ass trying to hustle out of that chair. I grabbed my glasses and stopped short her attempt to brush the excess hair off me.

And as I walked briskly to the register to settle up and get the hell outta Dodge, Lorraine said, "Well, at least I'm entertaining!" which is of course the first thing that non-entertaining people would say about themselves. I paid up and signed the credit card receipt. Lorraine said, "Just hold on a sec hon it takes a few minutes for the receipt to print out." I waited for an awkward second before saying, "Ah know what? I don't need it. Thanks!" before running out the door. I think she could see that I wanted out and I think it hurt her feelings, but at that point I didn't care. The presumptuousness that I could take another minute of her howitzer-like banter was too much to bear.

All I know is that this goddamn haircut better get me laid.

[Update: No such luck...]

Friday, September 14, 2007

Shady Brady and Bill Belicheat

Who knows whether the Patriots were ever really good or if they just had better scheming. Seriously, how can we ever know?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Unbelievable News

Everyone thought it was a foregone conclusion that Bills Tight End Kevin Everett would be paralyzed. But in an amazing turnaround, ESPN and WIVB in Buffalo are reporting that he has been moving his arms and legs voluntarily, and that doctors are now predicting that he will walk out of the hospital.

Dr. Barth Green of "The Miami Project" -- the nation's most comprehensive spinal cord injury center -- said that the key was that Everett's body temperature was lowered with a cooling saline solution, which was key to the reduction in swelling to the spinal cord. Dr. Green said that it was the quickest in medical history that this method was applied so soon after an injury, and likely reduced his chances of being paralyzed. It happened within minutes, in the ambulance ride to the hospital.

The doctor also said that Bills' owner Ralph Wilson is one of the leading contributors to the Miami Project, and "what goes around comes around."

The good doctor said that Everett "will walk out of the hospital."

Of course, Bills fans came out as usual to support one of our own. I lost a few hours of sleep thinking about this last night, not having realized how bad the injury truly was until about 1AM this morning. I'm hoping this lifts the weight that many Bills fans have been feeling for the last 48-plus hours.

He's not out of the woods yet, but the prognosis looks infinitely better for KE than it did just 24 hours ago. But the kid is 25 years old, and he's tough. He's shown that he will work through adversity (as he has through his previous injuries with the Bills), and though he may not be out of the hospital for weeks and months, it looks like rehab will get him back to walking again. It's not a sure thing, but it's looking a lot better.

I have a feeling there will be a lot of #85 jerseys at the Ralph for the next Bills home game.

Thoughts and Prayers

My heart is heavy for Kevin Everett tonight. The Bills' Tight End suffered a severe spinal cord injury, which doctors have called "catastrophic." It was a clean play, but Everett hasn't moved much.

Here's hoping Everett gets the best medical care possible, that he recovers as much as is humanly possible, and, much less importantly, that the team can move ahead without him on the field.

Our thoughts are with you Kevin, get better. We're behind you.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Merry Christmas Football Fans!

Football starts today.

It is

The best day

Of the year.

J.P.: It goes without saying that we are all counting on you. Since we want so badly for you to have a great season, I am including the following video for "Drive" by Incubus, which we all know is your favorite band. We hope that the title of the song is indicative of the long, clock-consuming drives you will be treating us to this season. We're not expecting perfection, just excellence. The playoffs would be nice, we can wait until next season for a Super Bowl.

This is my 20th season of watching Bills football. That is two straight decades of the most extraordinary highs and the most heart-wrenching lows. It would be easy to give up on them or pretend I don't love them. But who would I be kidding? I'd be lying only to myself.

I know it might take a while for us to get to where we want go to, Bills fans, but we're gonna get there eventually. Don't give up.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Blog Post From Hell

I'm not particularly religious. I was brought up Roman Catholic, and though I'm not technically practicing, I would say that I still begrudgingly hold myself to the tenets of the Church, even though I disagree with about half of them. It's kind of like when you have a favorite uncle who is a total fuckup: he's still your uncle and you feel like you have to defend him even though he just stole $20 off your dresser. But that's neither here nor there.

The point is, I'm not one of these people who thinks that all religion is inherently bad. I do know people who completely reject religion out of hand, not because they have studied it, or because they have gone through some sort of empirical process deconstructing the concept of "God" and come to the conclusion, after arduous research, that "He" does not exist and the matter can finally be laid to rest. It's actually sort of a hip thing to make fun of religious people, and completely reject all of the tenets they believe in.

I don't particularly like the condescending tone that a lot of people take when discussing religion. Any time you mention Catholicism, for example, there is inevitably going to be some mention of priests inappropriately touching little kids, or (at best) the whole "why can't you eat meat on Fridays?" issue. Again, I'm not all that religious -- although the argument could be made that I used to be -- but I am offended, not so much because I take personal offense as an erstwhile Catholic (I know the Church is filled with a bunch of aloof fuddy-duddies), but because of the knee-jerk nature by which some people simply dismiss religion as stupid or inherently negative.

I don't think religion is necessarily a bad thing, although it certainly has been many times. From the Crusades to Islamic jihads, religion has been twisted by bad people using the good name of God/Allah to push ahead their own selfish and myopic agendas. Religion was intended to build community among like-minded people, and foster caring within those communities, eventually spreading outward. That was the original intent Jesus had, but as in all politics, people decided to use Him in whatever way they chose.

This is why we have manipulative assholes, from Jerry Falwell to Fred Phelps to Osama Bin Laden -- and make no mistake, there is precious little difference -- hijacking religion to their own ends, and foisting it upon the naive or easily fooled masses in order to build support for their own causes. This is why political topics that aren't inherently religion-based -- such as abortion, gay marriage, stem-cell research, euthanasia, etc -- are championed by politicians masquerading as Men of the Cloth. They somehow find a way to spin the scriptures to fit their own needs. Now, the Bible is certainly imperfect, and frequently self-contradictory, but it was never meant to be spun by some kind of bible-quoting politician.

So given the kind of high-profile religious leadership this country has produced, it's no surprise that many rational non- or semi-spiritual folks would grow to detest these charlatans and want to thwart their influence on anything that remotely affects our lives.

The bottom line is that many of these organizations -- the Westboro Baptist Church, every member of which should be shot in the back of the head execution-style, comes chillingly to mind -- are simply fascist organizations that have no more to do with religion than Deion Sanders had with a music career. Sure, they want to be a part of it, and even claim they are part of it, but any right-thinking American can tell they are just faking it. So many of these organizations preach nothing short of hate and intolerance, and if that is what Jesus truly wanted in the first place, then you can count me out. I don't want any part of that world.

I came across two examples of maddening religious idiocy in the last couple days. Neither of them are earth-shattering, but they are so frustrating for a struggling Christian to watch, given that I want so badly to believe that Christianity is an inherently good thing, as I had thought my whole life, and I am getting precious little affirmation.

The first was viewing a filmed stage version of Jesus Christ Superstar from 2000. No, I had no problem with the movie, which is arguably my favorite musical of all time, and the 2000 version is actually much better than the lazy and self-indulgent 1973 version, in my opinion. There was a short documentary about the history of the production in 1970. It made a mention of the play being protested in many cities -- notably in Jesus-crazy South America.

Now, if you've ever seen Jesus Christ Superstar or if you know the album (and I do by heart), you know that though it is an update, and somewhat irreverent (excuse the pun) in its use of language and terminology -- for example, the line "One thing I'll say for him / Jesus is cool" -- you will find precious little blasphemy of the character of Christ himself, or anything questioning his firmly entrenched reputation as a Deity.

Instead, many ignoramuses decided that they would instinctively grab their pre-made picket signs and stand outside the theaters, chanting some ridiculous rhyme and singing "Amazing Grace" in hopes of dissuading one of the poor, misguided ticket-buyers to turn around and walk away. And oh by the way, none of these jackasses had ever seen the play! I really pity anyone who protested JCS and then ended up seeing it, only to think, "Wow I'm a fucking idiot."

Similar sight-unseen protests have taken place over movies with religious, and usually Christian, themes. The film The Last Temptation of Christ was protested -- and even banned from Blockbuster video stores for a long time -- mainly for depicting a scene in which Jesus is shown having sex. Immediately, the pretentious and disingenuous windbags of the religious world attacked the movie, saying that Jesus had been blasphemed and that they weren't going to stand for it.

Again, almost all of these people made this judgment without seeing the movie. Forget the fact that it's one of the most powerful, reverent and relevent movies ever made about Jesus -- and that if these idiots had actually finished the movie, they would see how much more heroic and special His sacrifice was, given that he actually was tempted, and yet decided not to give in. No, it's much more important to grind a political and religious axe in a game of "Who Loves Jesus More?"

A similar situation occurred at the 1999 release of the movie Dogma, however that movie should have been protested not because it's really that blasphemous but rather because it's just a piece of shit movie. Just do me a favor, religious protesters: before you complain about being offended, see what you are protesting against and actually BE OFFENDED first. Then you can protest.

The other incident was something I witnessed downtown on Tuesday. My lunch buddy and I were on our way down the street on which I work, when we spotted a man wearing a sandwich board and yelling the usual boilerplate the-end-is-nigh type crap. This is actually not an uncommon sight downtown during the day. There a couple of middle-aged men, both fat and grey-haired with pure white baseball caps, wearing sandwich boards saying "you are a sinner" and such things. They are well-behaved men, who offer literature and mostly keep to themselves when they are not yelling about Jesus and how he's basically going to come down from heaven like Rambo and blow us all to smithereens.

Brief aside: how pathetic must this existence be for these men. They dedicate several hours a day to standing in the middle of a sidewalk, surrounded by people whose feelings for them run the gamut from annoyance to hatred. I can't imagine this approach has converted a single lost soul. Plus, their perception of Jesus and God is one of a vengeful ruler who would rather smite us than give us the benefit of the doubt.

The sign that this man was wearing on this day read, "Ask me why you are going to hell." I have a few problems with this. First of all, who the fuck is this guy? Why in the name of Christ would I ask this douchebag anything about my life? He wears a fucking sandwich board in the middle of the street and shouts ominous phrases about repenting. Eliminate the sandwich board and a shower and this waste of precious blood is basically a ranting homeless person. And you know how I feel about them.

Second on my list of pet peeves about this guy is the implication of the sign: that I am going to hell. Now, am I going to hell? Probably so. I'm kind of a bastard. But this guy doesn't know that. And there are some wonderful, beautiful, pure-of-heart people in this world who I guarantee are not going to hell (if it exists, of course). What if one of those nice people reads that sign, should it apply to them as well? Should those people start wondering if they are truly going to hell? Should this sandwich board somehow make them question the lives they are leading?

Thirdly, the sign implies that he who wears it is clearly not going to hell. That he is truly holier-than-thou. This is a pretty bold presumption on his part: he's pretty sure he will somehow escape the hot flames given how he runs his life, yet he has no problem telling just about everyone else in the world, without knowing a God-darned thing about them, that they are destined for fire and brimstone. Suddenly, this guy is the authority on who gets past the Pearly Gates and who doesn't. I don't buy it. I don't buy this guy as the arbiter of divine providence.

So let's assume he isn't holier than any of us. Does that mean that in his mind, he is already certain he himself will be relegated to the netherworlds? In other words, he must know that he is on his way DOWN when he takes the dirt nap. What kind of life is this? To know that you are going to hell, no matter what? Dude, what are you doing on the corner yelling, stupid? Go rob some people or some shit, what do you care? And in the event that this guy is going to hell, he is probably a liar and why the fuck would I want to listen to him in the first place? If he really does think that I am going to hell just for trying to get a hoagie on my lunch break, yet he is immune to Satan's lair, I'd say he's a pretty presumptuous fucker.

The main problem, of course, is that there are some wonderful, truly religious, truly pious people out there, who are filled with no malice, no self-righteousness. They are filled with nothing but love, compassion and good intentions. My aunt Peggy, God bless her, has dedicated her life to helping those less fortunate than she, and she has been doing it for the last 50 years. Yet, because of the insidiousness of religious hijackers (and the simple-mindedness of knee-jerk atheists), she could conceivably be lumped in with the rest of these crackpots. While that jackass is carrying around a sandwich board, Peggy is giving actual sandwiches to poor people every Christmas Eve since I've been alive. Are you gonna tell me, sandwich board man, that Peggy -- should she be happening to walk by you and your sign -- is going to hell because you say so? Do something with your pathetic life and end it, you sorry sack of shit. (Talking to the sandwich board guy, Peggy, not you!)

So what's the solution? Well just like the so-called moderate Muslim world has been far too silent in the wake of 9/11 and terrorism, Christians too have been too hesitant -- or maybe just too intimidated -- to speak up against these hateful and fascist religious groups. Most legitimate religious groups don't have a Karl Rove type big shot in their pockets to appeal to centrist religious ideals on a large scale. And as Christians, it is sometimes natural to defend other Christians due to the affiliation all the different denominations have. The best way to deal with these barbarians is to simply reject them. Whether that means refuting them, talking louder, raising more money, or simply taking a baseball bat to Fred Phelps's fucking face 60-70 times, Christians need to take religion back.

The question is, can God's will give them the guts to do it?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Awesome Show Alert: The Wire

I am about five years too late on this, but I have just discovered the HBO series "The Wire." And hold on to your hats, because I am going to make a proclamation. Get ready. Are you ready for it?

The first season "The Wire" is better than every season of "The Sopranos" except maybe "The Sopranos"'s first season. And I would say it is as good or better than that. In fact, not since "The Sopranos" have I been more compelled to have a DVD marathon, and done the old "Okay, ONE MORE episode and then I'm going to bed." And then I watch them until it's time to get up for work.
What's so great about it? First of all, the structure is set up like a crime novel, as opposed to the usual crime procedural. Each episode is a chapter, and each episode has a beginning a middle and an end. Now, that sounds very rudimentary, but how many shows -- dramas and comedies -- make their living off cliffhangers? "The Wire" has no such manipulative endings in any episode, and yet it is one of the most compelling shows I've ever seen. It makes me want to kiss the person who invented the "TV on DVD" format. Even if that was a dude.

The show is never slow, but it never hurries a plot point; it takes due time to get to where it's going. (The "wire" of the title, for example, doesn't show up until episode 6.) And unlike that Mafia drama listed above, there is never a wasted episode, or a wasted scene for that matter.

What else? The characters. They are all likeable and unlikeable. All a lot good and a little evil, or vice-versa. Crime Kingpin Avon Barksdale and his nephew D'Angelo both have some likeable qualities, and many in the police bureaucracy are despicable. You root for the cops not because they are the "good guys" but because you like them as people. And you don't hate all the criminals, because many of the criminals are three-dimensional, and have a sort of code of honor of their own. (The entire catalyst for the investigation hinges on an event in which that code was broken.) There are more characters than a Stephen King novel, and much more plot, but it's incredibly easy to follow due to great writing and good direction.

The plot itself (I'm only on the first season but I can already tell how great this show is) is incredibly compelling. It's not so much a mystery: everyone knows what happened. It's more about how the detectives can collect the evidence, prove what happened, and cut through the maddening red-tape that awaits them at every turn from the politicians and law enforcement structure.

The show explores all sides of law enforcement, from the ivory tower offices of the department bigwigs, to the pencil pushers, to the cops in the basement doing the wiretaps, to the undercover guys, to the drug-addicted informers. It also shows the structure of the criminal Barksdale organization, from the top down. It works remarkably like the Mafia, with different levels and a chain of command. We see that there are some incredible similarities between the cops and the criminals, and in some ways, the criminals have more integrity at times.

The dialogue is fast and loose (I do have to turn the captioning on once in a while to catch it), and it not only assumes the viewer has knowledge of cop-speak, but also gives the same realism to the sometimes inpenetrable ghetto dialogue of the drug-dealers. The dialogue is funny, but also meaningful.

It combines all these elements into one, uncontrived masterpiece of television. I am a little embarrassed that it took me this long to get into the show, despite what I had heard about it. I should have been following McNulty and Bunk instead of Tony and Christopher for the last couple seasons.

I would say give it four episodes, but you really only need to give it one. I got hooked immediately. Go out and rent it or put it on your Netflix. You know you can trust me.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Saturday marks the induction of my favorite football player ever into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Thurman Thomas.

I know I have harped on his achievements before, but I think it bears repeating again.

  • He made five consecutive Pro Bowls from 1989-1993
  • He is the top thirty in NFL history in rushing and overall touchdowns
  • He is in the top fifteen in rushes (11th), rushing yards (12th) and yards from scimmage (8th)
  • He is the only player in NFL history to lead the league in yards from scrimmage in four consecutive years
  • He was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year and AP NFL MVP in 1991
  • He is a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team (along with Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis and Emmitt Smith)

There is more empirical, statistical proof of Thurman's excellence, of course, but to me, the intangibles will always be what I remember. Thurman was the motor that ran the Bills' K-Gun offense in the early 1990s. His superior blocking, especially on blitz pick-ups, allowed Jim Kelly a few precious extra seconds to get the ball into the hands of whatever receiver could get open. His slashing running and field vision made the Bills running game fearsome, and therefore made the passing game that much more dangerous. Thurman's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield made him the NFL's most dangerous weapon for half a decade.

The defining moment of his career, to me, was Super Bowl XXV (yes, the Scott Norwood Super Bowl), where he had 190 yards of total offense (135 rushing, including a huge 31-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter), and should have won MVP of the game, even though the Bills lost. He had the glow about him that day, and he carried the rest of the team on his shoulders. It remains one of the most gutsy performances I've seen in a Super Bowl. [Note: Thurman also had 354 total yards and 3 touchdowns in the Bills' two AFC playoff games that year.]

Many ignorant, mouth-breathing idiots like to say "Buhhh wha' 'bout the time he lost his HEL-met? Ha ha ha" before drooling all over their shirts and wiping their mucus-filled noses on their crusty sleeves. It didn't matter. He missed two plays. That Redskins team was one of the best teams of that decade and the Bills weren't going to beat them anyway. So just save your inane blathering for your speech therapist. Any person who would judge Thurman on that one moment is a mongoloid dumbshit who knows nothing about sports. At all. Don't embarass yourself.

Thurman Thomas was the most dynamic player on one of the most exciting teams of the decade, or any decade for that matter. I will now lay to rest my disappointment at the fact that he didn't make the first ballot. He's gonna be in by the end of the weekend, ugly yellow jacket and all.

Congratulations Thurman. Bruce, Andre: you're up next.

[Update: By the way, to see a fantastic season-by-season breakdown of the Buffalo Bills, go to the Bills History Index at

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Another Year Older, Another Year of Being a Wise-Ass

A special congratulations go out to my good friend Tracie, who hit a milestone birthday this past weekend. (Hint: she shares the same date of birth as former Jets receiver Keyshawn Johnson. And he just retired like three weeks ago.)

Even though you and I haven't spoken in over three years, and even though you make fun of me when I wear a bib (just because a brotha don't wanna get spaghetti sauce all over his Members Only jacket), happiest of birthdays to you, my dear. Hope that 2007-2008 is the best year yet.

And to show how much I care, I am including a picture of [gulp] Chris Daughtry, your boyfriend, back in the days when he still had hair. Plus he has his shirt off, which I'm sure is a bonus for you. And both my other readers. I know I'm excited about it!

I hope that you get spoiled on your birthday week and that all that falafel or sprouts or tofu you have to eat for that crazy diet pill thing you're on doesn't go right through you. (To be truthful: I've learned of various edible, yummy -- or unconventional -- meals with Alli.)

Happy belated birthday, kiddo. Make the week a good one.

Congratulations Paul and Becky!

It seems like everyone and their mother is getting married these days. Well, of course I don't mean that people are getting married to their mothers. I mean, I don't know, maybe it is happening somewhere, but quite honestly I'd rather not think about that.

What I can tell you is that our very own Electric City Paul and Electric City Bex got hitched on Saturday night in a beautiful ceremony and fantastic reception. Congratulations!

To salute your blessed union, please click HERE and enjoy the dulcit tones (and dulcimer) of Korki Buchek. Bing, Bang, Bing Bing Bing! Very nice, yes?!

The One Blog to Read When You're Reading Only One

Ok so listen.

Do you love beer? I don't mean in the sense of "do you like to get drunk?" or "do you like to crush beer cans on your head after you're done with them to leave a rather unsightly ring?" or do you love "AND TWINS!!!"???

I mean, do you have an appreciation for not only malt, barley and hops, but also ... well, water? Can you tell the difference between an India Pale Ale and a Pale Ale? The difference between a Stout and the Porter (hint: there is little difference)? The difference between a Hefeweizen and a Witbier?

Of course you can't. And neither can we. But that is absolutely no reason that you shouldn't be visiting BEERJANGLIN', the site for those that love good beer, and gorgeous prose. If you enjoy the taste of a good saison in the middle of summer, but also enjoy the turn of a phrase, then this is the site for you. We have compiled some of America's finest young scribes, all committed to the dual arts of craft brews ... and the written word!

Have you ever tasted a beer, but struggled to find the words to describe how wonderful and/or godawful it was? Do you take your beer seriously ... but not those who write about it? Have you ever craved a beer at 10:30 in the morning? Oh, just me? Okay then....

If you are a novice in the ways of barley and malt, or a Beer Geek looking to get an alternate point of view regarding the art of great beers, this is the site for you. We take drinking beer seriously. We bring notepads, and send text messages to ourselves to crystallize that moment of the perfect pour, the perfect sip, the perfect pint. You will not find flowery prose full of bullshit descriptions. You will not picture a beer drinker spying his tumbler through a monocle, stroking his bushy moustache as he humorlessly breaks down the components of the beverage he has just sampled. You will not run into pointless narrative, meant to camouflage the fact that we are truly only trying to be narcissistic by pontificating about ourselves and our own paltry lives. (That's what this blog is for.)

If you love beer. If you love the joy that beer gives you. If you could drink beer all night and not care whether or not you even get the slightest bit intoxicated....

BEERJANGLIN' is the site for you.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Awesome Show Alert: The First 48

For the most part I hate reality TV. Ever since so-called reality has been infested with games which encourage people to backstab each other and self-absorbed a-holes, I had kind of written the genre off.

But I found myself getting hooked on a police procedural called "The First 48." The concept follows the maxim that if the police don't get a good lead on a homicide within the first forty-eight hours of a crime, their odds of ever solving the crime is reduced by half.

I've only seen a few episodes, but I am hooked. The show follows several homicide detectives in different cities (I have seen mostly Miami, Memphis and Dallas) for the first 48 hours of their investigation, from the time they get the call, and the 48:00:00 clock starts, until the clock hits zero.

The show has a few really good things going for it. First of all, it's real. Like really real. These homicide cops deal with the dregs of society. They get the call, check out the body (with lots of blood and often dismemberment), and try to find out what happened. It doesn't go too deep into the detectives' lives, but rather stays on the case itself (much like "Law & Order"). It has a very tight narrative spine. The show takes on two cases per show, so if one of the cases doesn't interest you, the other one surely will. Also, although the show recaps what you have just seen, it doesn't do it in that repetitive, annoying "reality TV" way (see "Age of Love," "Unanimous" or "The Surreal Life" for examples of what I'm talking about). They give you the basic facts and move ahead.

Secondly, the police procedure is fascinating. We watch how the cops attack all different sorts of techniques, from interviewing witnesses, to forensics, to anonymous tips, to computer searches, all the way to interrogations and charging criminals. These are true needle-in-a-haystack cases, and though they don't always get a suspect, their track record for hits is pretty remarkable. You gain a whole new respect for law enforcement.

Thirdly, the drama is great. Watching the perps get collared and interrogated is riveting to me. Also -- though it's very macabre -- the scenes where they tell the loved ones about the deceased are intense. Also, scenes where perps are trying to lie and stall are great, because the interrogators just wait and wait, and try all sorts of techniques, and some of these crooks start singing like birds. This isn't "Cops," where you sometimes feel sorry for the poor, stupid drunks or losers the cops have to detain. These are murderers, flat out. And though the title card at the end of each show says "Suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty," there is usually little doubt in my mind.

"The First 48" is a true reality show, with the ugliest sides of some of our biggest cities put front and center. Give it like two episodes. You know you can trust me.

Monday, July 09, 2007

I'm One of the In-Laws Now!

Big huge congratulations to my little brother Mike who got married on Saturday (07/07/07) to Danielle Bifulco. Danielle has the inenviable task of putting up with the sonofabitch I had to put up with for the better part of a quarter century. So good luck, Danielle, with all that. Yikes...

Seriously, the wedding could not have gone better, and I got to see people I haven't laid eyes on in years. Everyone had a great time (self included) and everything was perfect. Major thanks to Rick and Kate Bifulco for their hospitality and incredible job with the planning.

There are not many pictures available yet in electronic form but I'll throw 'em right out there as soon as they become available.

Even though I had very little to do when it came to the wedding, I'm exhausted. I could sleep for three straight days, I'm sure.

Congratulations again to Mr. and Mrs. Shannon, who left today for their honeymoon to Mexico. I know they say don't drink the water, but I've been drinking bottled Mexican water for years now and I don't go to the bathroom more than 7-8 times a day total. Have fun!

[Update: I was given a couple of pics of middling photographic quality, so they will have to do for now until I find some more suitable.]

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Our Shameful President

George W. Bu__sh__ doesn't even care anymore. At least he used to have the decency to pretend he had some kind of moral compass, but this is a new low (that we know of) in the Bush Administration's campaign of ethical turpitude.

For those who don't know, "Scooter" Libby is the former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, and he's in the "inner circle" of the neo-conservative movement. He was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice when he revealed the identity of a covert CIA agent, when that agent's husband criticized the Bush Administration's stance on Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. Confusing, I know. (You can read more about the "Plame Affair" here.)

Bottom line is, there was a smear campaign to publicly discredit a critic of the White House. That smear campaign was discovered, and all the Big Shots in the Administration (Cheney, Karl Rove) were shielded, and Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison. The sentence was quite heavy, admittedly, and there is heavy sentiment that Libby was just a fall guy for the rest of the administration. Probably true, but now there is no fall guy. Libby is on probation (yes, I'm sure he has to report to a parole officer every week or he gets sent back to prison) and a $250,000 fine, which I'm sure Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh will gladly pay for him. Basically, this says that it's ok to use your power and influence attack critics and get away with it. It's a great message for the country. Great leadership.

Your boy Bush doesn't even care anymore. He probably figures, my approval rating is in the shitter anyway, I might as well let one of my loyal good ol' boys out of prison. I see no justification for doing this other than cronyism and politics. It's beyond transparent. If this were a Democrat or a political critic of Bush going to jail for that long, do you think he would give a commutation of his sentence two-seconds thought? Is this justice? Is this even America?

(And all you idiots who are going to bring up the "well Clinton pardoned like 900 people before he left office" argument, you can save it. What Clinton did was equally deplorable, I've always said that. But no one is talking about Clinton. Besides, wasn't it your boy "W" who promised to bring morals back to the White House?)

Our president and his administration are a world wide joke. Bu__sh__ has made every wrong decision possible. He has disgraced our country in the rest of the world and disgraced himself and his administration within it. But what does he care? He doesn't have to run again. He is the lamest of lame ducks. January 2009 can't come soon enough.

But hey, have a great Fourth of July.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Stupid Things I've Done: The F-Word

[Ed's note: Perhaps due to my recent "eptitude," I have not had any reason to relay any "Stupid Things I've Done" posts in quite a while. Long-time readers consider this a favorite, mostly because it is excellent fodder for blackmail or just for when your customarily humble N.O.C.W.I.T. archictect gets a bit too big for his britches. But I was recounting this one with great fondness for some reason the other day. And there's even a lesson at the end. Most of it is true.]

I grew up on Clay Avenue -- #211 to be exact -- in the 10th Ward of the City of Rochester, New York, in the greatest country in the world: The United States! I lived there from 1980 to 1987, ages 4-11.

It was your typical urban neighborhood, I suppose, fraught with much diversity and many children about my age. Many of them were nice, many of them were not. My best buddy Mike lived in two houses that were about four doors away from each other in both his divorced parents' houses. I gained a cousin through marriage around the corner. There was another kid named Sean Shannon (no relation) who I used to have real fistfights with every two days or so. There was a slightly older kid who lived directly behind my house on the other side of the fence named Eddie Thousand. I don't think that was his real last name, but he was a little bastard, that's for sure.

But across the street lived the Durham's (name changed by one letter to protect the mentally incompetent and in case one of them googles themselves). The Durhams ... oh how shall I describe them? In cinematic terms, they had the unkind demeanor of the O'Doyles from Billy Madison, the number of the Bakers from Cheaper By the Dozen, and the lifestyle of Cousin Eddie from the National Lampoon's Vacation movies. They were, in the strictest sense of the term, "white trash."

The living situation was that two divorced parents moved into one house, bringing all their kids with them. There were probably about 12-14 kids living in the house at any given point, and many of them with different last names. Regardless, my family still referred to all of them as "The Durhams."

I only actually went inside the house in which they lived once: there was a surprisingly large living room with only one couch, trash littered all over the floor, and one TV. I walked in, and there was loud rock music of the day blaring at full volume. All the lights were off, leaving only the slivers of sunlight passing through the drawn curtains to illuminate us. In the middle of the room were about 5 kids playing Space Invaders on a crappy black and white TV. I think people may have been smoking pot, but either way I never went back in.

So anyway I had kind of a cool but tiny back yard. There were lots of places to hide and play (including the garage, where some bastard child from down the street once trapped me, but that's a whole 'nother post). There was a large patch of sand in a corner of the back yard near the house, and we used to use it to create landscapes for Star Wars vehicles and action figures (we called them "Star Wars guys"). One day when I was 7 years old (probably 1983), a one of the Durhams decided to come over to my house and play with the little green, plastic army men. I loved any little action figure type things, so I was all over it. The kid's name was Chris Durham.

Chris Durham was a bad seed. He was about 4-5 years older than I, and was known throughout the neighborhood as bad news. Seriously bad news. He smoked at the age of like 10. He got into fights routinely. I once went to the corner grocery store with him and he shoplifted like 5 things right in front of me. He was not the kind of big brother figure that a young boy like me was looking for. My mother insists that he is currently in jail, though she has absolutely no proof of it. Somehow, she just knows.

Chris brought the action figures over and we began to play. Chris couldn't just be content with being a kid and playing in the sand. He was white trash, remember. So Chris decided to kick up a little dust.

Chris said to me, "Go tell your mom, 'motherfucker'."

I had heard the F-word before, and kind of had an idea in my head that it was probably a bad word, but I didn't really know much else. I had figured, Chris was my friend (Note: Chris was nobody's friend) and he wouldn't steer me the wrong way. Maybe it was a joke that adults would get and my mom would laugh at the funny thing I said.

Without much thought, I opened the rear screen door and yelled into the house, "mother fucker!" I yelled it as most kids would yell "ice cream!" or "Santa!" There was a pause. I'm not sure how long the pause was, but it seemed to hang for at least a few seconds. The next sound I heard was my mother's voice.


At this moment I had assumed that I said something wrong. But instead of trying to cover up for my innocent profanity (I didn't have much of a way with words in those days), I reiterated my prior declaration, slightly truncated:


The next sound I heard were heavy footsteps thudding on the tile floor. My mother came bounding from another room to the back yard. She promptly grabbed me by my shirt collar and threw me into the landing of the back porch. She stuck her head out of the door and asked Chris, "Did you teach him that word???!!!" Chris was still playing with his army guys, and didn't even look up when he lied, "No." (He said "No" like, "What are you kidding me?") My mom discourteously told Chris to gather his belongings and head on home, before putting me in my room.

I cried and cried and cried. I didn't even know what I had said, but I sat in a chair in my room and bawled for what seemed like two hours. I remember very clearly sitting in the big chair in my living room and watching Mister Rogers. I was still sniffling and coming down from the big cry. My eyes were red and watery, and I felt very sad. I felt that I had done something terrible and that I would be in trouble probably for the rest of my life.

Mister Rogers came on and said that even when your mom and dad are mad at you, it doesn't mean they don't love you anymore. My mom sat down next to me and said, "It's true, Billy. Just because I'm mad at you doesn't mean I don't love you anymore."

"So you don't hate me?" I asked.

"No, I will always love you no matter what," she said.

"Am I still in trouble?" I said.

Mom looked at me thoughtfully for a moment and said, simply, "Fuckin'-A right, you are!"

And we laughed for a good twenty minutes.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

100 Years ... 100 Movies ... and about 50 WTFs

Those of you who are regular subscribers to this little newsletter have likely noticed my penchant for lists. I have lists upon lists of blogs sitting in "draft" status right now, just waiting to be finished.

I think the genesis of this obsession with lists was about 10 years ago, when the American Film Institute created their first list of many: "100 Years ... 100 Movies." This list was created at just about the 100 year mark of filmmaking in the United States, and began the unenviable task of narrowing down a century's worth of films into a neat little 100-movie package. When this list originally came out, I worked at a video store, at the zygote stage of my film-geek phase -- a phase that's gone on 10 years and counting -- and I vowed someday to see every last one of those movies.

Well flash forward nearly a decade later and there are still several of the selections from the original list that I have yet to view. And by several, I mean half. As much as I fancy myself a film scholar, I do often have trouble finishing some of the pre-Brando black and white movies, with their melodramatic acting and their cloying violin music. Some of those great films of that era (such as Witness for the Prosecution, right off the top of my head) have snuck up on me and surprised me, but I prefer modern cinema overall. And those people who say that the last decade of movies were no good clearly weren't paying attention.

Last night, the AFI unveiled their updated list of the 100 greatest movies. Now I know you are probably thinking the same thing that I am: "In 10 years, how can so many movies have gotten so much better or worse? Wasn't this a definitive list? Were there tons of new movies from the last 10 years added?" Sadly, no: only 4 movies from the last 10 years of eligibility were added. (A terrific breakdown of the differences between the 1998 list and the 2007 list can be found here and here.)

Since I didn't have a blog in 1998 (did anyone?) I didn't have a chance to ruminate, pontificate and just plain babble about my feelings about these choices. So luckily for you, I will correct this error forthwith. Here's how it works: I will make a brief comment about each film in question, and note whether I believe it belongs in the top 100 films of all time. (I will strike through the films I have not seen, and yes, there are probably a lot of them. Looking down at the list, there are 22 movies on the list I haven't seen from beginning to end, so that's roughly 1/5.) I will also note whether I think the film is too high or too low, when applicable. Ready? Here we go...

(Oh and before I forget, usually I would reorder these from 100 down to 1 for dramatic effect, but the AFI has shown itself to be so arbitrary with anything outside the top 10 that I figured why bother...)

1. "Citizen Kane" (1941)
I was a little disappointed with this one since it was #1 on the previous 1998 list. It seemed to me that conventional wisdom had shifted "The Godfather" to #1 in the last decade. Don't get me wrong, "Citizen Kane" is one of the best movies ever made, and possibly the most influential in terms of technique, but in my opinion, it doesn't hold up to be the revelation that it did in 1941. The rise and fall of a tycoon is always a compelling story, but it doesn't quite have the same oomph that it had way back when. If you haven't seen it, don't expect to be blown away by it. But it's a top ten film, for sure. YES

2. "The Godfather" (1972)
If I had to come up with a number one out of the top five of this list, "The Godfather" would be my no-brainer. It is an allegory of America, our humble beginnings, and when the American dream leads to something bad. It's on an epic scale; it's violent, it's beautifully directed, and it's probably the shortest 3-hour movie ever made. Brando gives his signature performance, and just about everything else about the film is iconic. It's an absolute masterpiece (as is it's sequel at #32, more on that later). Good lord YES.

3. "Casablanca" (1942)
Arguably the most romantic movie ever made. In fact, the hell with that, it's not even arguable. Bogey and Bergman's star-crossed love is heartbreaking, and yet inspiring at the same time. But below the overarching theme of impossible love is one of the most sharply-written and witty films ever produced. Bogey's Rick is a fully fleshed character, and the scene where he sits alone at the bar after seeing Ilsa for the first time in years is heart-wrenching. YES

4. "Raging Bull" (1980)
This movie made a major jump into the top five. (It wasn't in the top 20 before.) And boy am I glad. Since Marty Scorsese has made so many amazing films in the last three decades, they tend to cancel each other out. This one is a true artistic opus; the story of a boxer whose animalistic tendencies cause him to lose control of his life, and ultimately lose everything he ever cared about. DeNiro gained something like 50 pounds for this movie, and it's one of the truly great performances in the history of cinema.

5. "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
Okay, I have to admit that I really like this movie, but even though it's a musical, it's not as gay as you might think. The romance between Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds is equitable, and the story is well written. The music is quite good, and the dancing is really unbelievable. It actually has a good story and a fun ending, and really that's more than I expected. Maybe not top five for me, but a YES.

6. "Gone With the Wind" (1939)
I know, I know. What the hell kind of movie geek am I? I do own it, and it's currently sitting in my DVD player if that somehow salvages my reputation.

7. "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962)
Here's the first chink in the armor. I know that this is considered one of the defining epic movies, and maybe I just wasn't in the mood to watch it that time I did, but I found this movie boring as all get-out. I wasn't really interested in the T.S. Lawrence character that much, and the battle scenes, while definitely on a grand scale, just didn't quite do it for me. I should like this movie, I know, but I still give it a NO.

8. "Schindler's List" (1993)
This is an outstanding motion picture, and it's very well-crafted, and I think it is very important in some ways, but I also think that the movie gets a little bit of a bump here because it is important. The subject matter here is pretty heady stuff, and for a popcorn movie director like Spielberg to jump to this kind of important film was a big step. But as good as the movie is, I still think it does get a bit more credit than it deserves because it is "important." I think in terms of pure cinema, there are a lot of people who would not put "Schindler's List" as the best film of the 1990s (which the AFI, in effect, has done here). Having said that, it's a great movie, and YES.

9. "Vertigo" (1958)
Here was another shocker, since this movie was much lower on the list last year. I haven't seen this one in quite a while, but I did see it in my Hitchcock phase in college. To me, it maybe doesn't hold up as well as it does for others. I still find the story (a man loses his wife and then falls in love with a woman who looks just like her) to be a little over-dramatic. But, when it comes to technique and suspense, it's a worthy film. YES. I'll probably have to see it again.

10. "The Wizard of Oz" (1939)
Who doesn't love this movie? Cynical bastards, that's who. It is one of the most imaginative movies ever made, based on one of the more imaginative stories. The movie really removes the Populist subtext of the Frank L. Baum story and turns it into sheer fantasy. I just can't imagine what it must have been like in 1939 to be in a theater and watch that first scene go from black-and-white to color. Almost makes me wish I was around during the depression. It's a fantasy, and it's otherworldly, but always grounded in simple ideas (courage, heart, wisdom, home). It's a universal story and a solid YES.

11. "City Lights" (1931)
It's been a long time since I have seen this one, and I do remember this: it has one of the most touching endings of any movie ever made. Overall, I'm not a HUGE Chaplin fan (give me Buster Keaton or even Harold Lloyd any day), but this is a sweet story about a bum who falls in love with a blind girl and has to pretend he's a millionaire so she doesn't find out he's just a bum. It's hard for me to watch silent movies because I'm a fast reader and there is so much downtime. (Why can't they re-edit them with captions?) But this one's a YES.

12. "The Searchers" (1956)
I really want to see this movie. I really do.

13. "Star Wars" (1977)
Just about anyone who has ever met me knows that I used to be a serious Star Wars geek. I had a website dedicated to it in college for a while (when it wasn't yet "cool" again), and have a minor assemblange of paraphernalia from the movie. And while I have cooled on the merits of the trilogy as a whole (and on George Lucas as a director in particular), this still stands up as one of the most iconic films ever created, even though "The Empire Strikes Back" is technically a better movie. It's fun, it's exciting, it's inspiring. Oh, and it revolutionized moviemaking forever. YES.

14. "Psycho" (1960)
So many of these movies' merits have been dulled by the passage of time and the loss of perspective. When this movie came out, it was like "The Sixth Sense" was in 1999; the ending was a secret, and it was an "event" picture. A real phenomenon. Looking at it now, there is a lot of technical and structural brilliance throughout, notably the killing of the main character in the first half hour (oops, did I give that away?). But the suspense doesn't quite hold up. It's still fun and creepy, but not timeless. Besides, the whole "explanation" of what happened at the end -- after the revelation of the Big Secret -- feels tacked on and anticlimactic. I love ya, Hitch, but I gotta say, purely at face value, NO.

15. "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968)
I will be honest: I don't totally get this movie. I watched it for the first time many years ago, and though I have my theories (the monolith represents man's evolution, and we see Dave's evolution by way of "rebirth"), but I still don't quite get it. I will say this: much of it is kind of boring, like the retro-'60s futuristic equipment, but much of it is compelling, like Dave's struggle with HAL and the glorious rush through psychedelic space at the end. Those elements alone make it a YES.

16. "Sunset Boulevard" (1950)
I am a huge Billy Wilder fan. I think he was one of the most modern directors of his era, and his films hold up incredibly today. But this isn't really one of my favorites. I get the idea: aging actress, loses her mind because she's not famous anymore. To me, the "movies about movies" genre is kind of boring. Maybe this was more relevant or maybe more shocking for its day, but for me, the fact that Norma Desmond never changed from being a psychotic living in her own fantasy world really hinders the movie from having any emotional resonance. Sorry Billy boy, NO dice.

17. "The Graduate" (1967)
This movie is aged and overrated. It's not bad, but it does not hold up well today. Dustin Hoffmann is tremendous as the neurotic recent college graduate, and I'm sure it taps into some sort of post-college aimlessness ("Garden State" owes a lot to it), but to me it's really a trashy paperback novel that improved slightly. It's a tough call, but I have to say NO.

18. "The General" (1927)
This movie is truly TRULY amazing. It is all physical comedy with the stonefaced Buster Keaton. Now, to pull off all the visual effects for this movie, a modern director would use CGI and special effects. But this was 1927, and there were no special effects. Everything Keaton did in this movie (most of which takes place aboard a moving train) was done for real. No camera tricks, no stunt men. Watch it and be amazed. YES.

19. "On the Waterfront" (1954)
If you ever wondered by Marlon Brando is considered by many to be the first great "modern" actor, look no further. Everyone remembers the "I coulda been a contendah" scene, but the movie as a whole is a testament to Brando's brilliance, and to the triumph of the human spirit against corruption. To me, the final triumphant scene where Terry Malloy goes back to work, beaten up and bloody, is one of the great inspiring scenes in movies. YES

20. "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946)
It's kind of a shame that this movie has been put in the ghetto of Christmas Movies, because though it takes place during that time, it's really a movie about the importance of a seemingly unimportant man. It just happens to take place in December. I suspect that for those who aren't force-fed it every year, it might be startlingly fresh and touching. Plus, it's hilarious when my little brother yells "Merry Christmas old Building & Loan!" just like Jimmy Stewart. YES

21. "Chinatown" (1974)
This movie is not perfect, but it's great. I personally don't think that Roman Polanski is that great a director, and I think if this were directed by a more naturalistic director of the time, like Hal Ashby or Alan Pakula, it would have been even better. As-is, it's a crazy story about corruption, politics, and incest. I took a class on this film and it is just crawling with Greek symbolism, notably of the Oedipal variety. Jack Nicholson gives a great performance as hard-boiled private eye Jake Gittes, and the ending is devestating. YES

22. "Some Like It Hot" (1959)
While I don't know that I'd necessarily consider this the funniest or greatest comedy ever made, it's quite funny. What could be funnier, after all, then Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis dressing up like chicks? Plus Marilyn Monroe is in her prime, and is actually a decent actress. The end, where Lemmon gets his gender role confused, is inspired and really ahead of its time. (The whole mob subplot is the only weak point of the film.) And of course, it casts the phrase "nobody's perfect" into a whole new light. YES.

23. "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940)
Love the book, have to really prepare myself to see the movie.

24. "E.T. -- The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982)
Holy crap did I cry when I saw this movie at the theater. The story of Elliot and E.T.'s friendship is so universal, and it's inspiring. When we see that E.T. is going to go home, we are happy, but we legitimately will miss him. Oh, and about crying while seeing it at the theater ... did I mention that was at the re-release in 2002? YES.

25. "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962)
I saw this film again a couple of years ago and was struck by how good it still is. It really really holds up well. At the center, of course, is Atticus Finch, who is played with such strength and integrity by Gregory Peck. Seen through the eyes of his daughter, it takes her a while to see what adults who barely know Atticus can see right off the bat: that he is a remarkable man. One of the few movies that actually holds up to an equally great books. YES.

26. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939)
Another Jimmy Stewart/Frank Capra movie. This one is about the wide-eyed young congressman who comes to Washington to make real changes, and ends up exposed to the corruption he sees. It's very inspiring in that it shows that small people can make a difference if they fight for what they believe in. It's a very good movie, and made to inspire. Is it top 100 of all time? Uhhhmmmmm..... I'm gonna say NO, but just barely.

27. "High Noon" (1952)
I love this movie a lot. It's shot in real-time (ie. 85 minutes in the movie equals 85 minutes in real life). And it's not the typical Western with good vs evil. It's about one good man who tries to round up a posse to protect the town from an evil gunman. But he can find no one to help him. It's a study in both cowardice and heroism. Gary Cooper's portrayal of Kane is the embodiment of bravery in the face of insurmountable odds. It's no surprise that it's the favorite movie of many American Presidents. YES.

28. "All About Eve" (1950)
There are movies about the entertainment industry, and there is "All About Eve," which is less about "Hollywood" than it is about the bitchy, backstabbing nature of people trying to get to the top. It is a wildly entertaining, soap opera, where a young ingenue (that would be Eve) tries to get one up on Broadway star Margo Channing. What happens is a torrent of double-crossing and two-facedness, and the whole thing is an incredible hoot. I say YES.

29. "Double Indemnity" (1944)
I work in the insurance industry and have never seen this. Shameful. Although I have seen the first half.

30. "Apocalypse Now" (1979)
Sometimes horrifying, always surreal, this movie cannot really be explained, other than it's a boat ride that goes deeper and deeper into hell on earth. It's based on "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad, but adds depth, such as the idea that each length of the journey is actually sending these men back in time, and therefore deeper into barbarism. It's long so it's kind of hard to get through, but it's a very important film. YES.

31. "The Maltese Falcon" (1941)
This one is iconic, but I can't really put it on the list. It's too confusing, and though Bogey is as cool as a cucumber in this flick, it just doesn't really do the job for me. Seems too stagey, like it isn't taking place in the real world, but on a soundstage somewhere. NO

32. "The Godfather, Part II" (1974)
In some ways, this film is superior to the original. It manages to build on the themes of the original film, but also create its own story. The film is brilliant basically for two reasons, both regarding parallels: 1) the parallel between young Vito Corleone and current Michael Corleone; one scrapping to survive, the other living the high life. And 2) the way that every major event of the first film is met with a parallel -- but watered-down and debased -- version in the second film (the religious ceremony at the beginning of each, the assassination attempts, the meetings with the Five Families/Corporations). The two films together are a masterwork; both succeeding very well on their own levels, but transcendently as a tandem. (The third one sucks, though, don't bother.) This is arguably the greatest sequel ever made, and if it weren't for "Lord of the Rings" there would be no argument. YES.

33. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975)
Possibly Jack Nicholson's greatest performance, and that's saying a lot. The story of a sane man among a bunch of crazies still holds the test of time after so many years, in an asylum that is run so much more like a prison. There are some really great scenes, including where Nicholson acts out the baseball game they're not allowed to watch on TV and the final, dramatic scene where the Chief does what Nicholson couldn't. It really holds up, even today. YES.

34. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937)
I guess this is another one where perspective is somewhat skewed, because today it really doesn't look like much (antiquated animation, a snail's pace) but at the time it appears that it was a bit of a revolutionary idea: the first feature-length animated film. For that reason, I guess I have to put it in the YES pile, but not sure how I feel about it.

35. "Annie Hall" (1977)
One of the best and most literate comedies ever made, and one of the first films to break through the "fourth wall." It might be the first "meta" comedy. It is brilliant, and is one of the first movies I ever really studied. It's structure, it's psychological themes, its character study and -- most importantly -- its humor are all just perfect. YES

36. "The Bridge on the River Kwai" (1957)
I only saw this movie once, and it was a long time ago, and I wasn't paying 100% attention, so I'm sure it didn't have the impact on me that it should have. I am going to see it again, I think. I'll say PASS until then.

37. "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946)
One of the shortest three-hour movies ever made. This is a beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking story about three soldiers after WWII and how they struggle to adjust to civiilian life. They all have different conditions and situations, but they all have trouble adapting. It is off-the-charts melodramatic, but every single scene rings true. Outstanding, YES.

38. "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1948)
I like this movie, but I don't think I would necessarily put it in my top 100. It's pretty old school (and has the great "we don't need no stinkin' badges" line), but it's a little too staged for me. The casting is excellent, and it makes a great point about greed and the nature of man, but I wouldn't put it up there at face value. I'm gonna say NO.

39. "Dr. Strangelove" (1964)
Possibly the greatest satire ever made. This comedy about the atomic bomb is both terrifying and hilarious. Peter Sellers gives not one but three of the great comedic performances of the 20th century. (The scene where the president talks to the drunken Soviet premier is a master class of subtle comic genius.) I love this movie a lot. "You can't fight in here, this is the war room!" YES.

40. "The Sound of Music" (1965)
I haven't seen this movie since I was a kid but from what I remember it's really great, an epic about a family of musicians who escape from the Nazis. I'm going to try and check it out again next Easter, but for now I'll say YES.

41. "King Kong" (1933)

42. "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967)

43. "Midnight Cowboy" (1969)
This movie is about as dated as it gets, not only with the late '60s hairstyles and the Andy Warhol art class showing up, but this story about a male prostitute in NYC seems almost quaint (espeically considering it's X-rating at the time). I know it was groundbreaking, and it has a few iconic scenes (the "I'm walkin' here!" scene and the final, heartbreaking bus ride) but overall I think it doesn't quite hold up at face value. I'm gonna have to say NO, not one of the top 100.

44. "The Philadelphia Story" (1940)
This is about as close to a warm fuzzy blanket as any movie can get. It's the story of Kate Hepburn, and both Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart are in love with her. There is conflict, but it is all good-natured. There is drama, but not the kind that will make you cringe. It's like the perfect little movie for a Sunday afternoon. The performances are all great, and the writing is top-notch. YES.

45. "Shane" (1953)

46. "It Happened One Night" (1934)
This is probably, pound for pound, a better Frank Capra movie that "It's a Wonderful Life." Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert (last name pronounced like Stephen) are on a wild trip and can't stand each other. Naturally, the end up falling in love, and the final scenes where Gable has to track down Colbert and win her over are as tense and exciting as any comedy of the era. YES

47. "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951)

48. "Rear Window" (1954)
For my money, this is Hitchcock's best film. It's the most exciting, and also has so much depth when dealing with topics like voyeurism (even back in 1954) and gender roles. (Rarely were there female characters in those days with the backbone and determination of Grace Kelly's character; she was every bit Jimmy Stewart's equal.) It's fun, but with depth, and what could be better than that? YES

49. "Intolerance" (1916)

50. "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001)
In my opinion, "Return of the King" should go here, but to say that any one of the "LOTR" movies is better than any of the other ones is like saying that cocaine is far superior to crack: face it, they're both awesome! I consider this the slot to honor all the "LOTR" movies, and if you ask me this should be in the top ten. There have not been 49 movies made in the last century better than the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. There might not be ten better movies. This is a YES, under protest, because slot 50 is simply too low. YES

51. "West Side Story" (1961)
To admit that I like this movie is to admit a few things I'm not ready to admit right now. Let's just call it a YES and leave it at that.

52. "Taxi Driver" (1976)
One of the iconic movies of the counterculture of the 1970s. Aside from the mohawk and the "you talkin' to me" scene, this movie reeks of desperation, cynicism and disillusion. Travis Bickle is not an anti-hero, because he is a fairly evil guy. Rarely is the protagonist of a film someone so reprehensible, and DeNiro plays it perfectly, a mix of misguided eagerness to please the wrong people and the hatred to attempt an assissination. The fact that he is seen as some sort of hero at the end adds the perfect ironic exclamation point to a terrifying film. YES.

53. "The Deer Hunter" (1978)
Okay here we go. I really hate this movie. If they could have trimmed an hour off it, I'm sure it would have been better. The Russian roulette scene, for example, is pretty harrowing, but the rest of the movie is a slog through the boring parts of a person's life. A lot of DeNiro and Meryl Streep walking .... nowhere. A lot of celebrating at a wedding, and a lot of boring standing around at that wedding. This was the magnum opus of director Michael Cimino, and it seemed to fool enough people of the time due to its weighty subject matter (Vietnam), but as he went on to prove in duds like "The Sicilian" and "Heaven's Gate," the guy just doesn't know what scenes to leave on the cutting room floor. NO.

54. "M*A*S*H" (1970)
Better than the (admittedly excellent) TV show of the same name, this is Robert Altman's crowning achievement (other than "Short Cuts," I suppose). Like "Dr. Strangelove," it takes a very serious topic (Korea, filling in for Vietnam) and milks it for both humor and pathos. The interplay between Trapper John and Hawkeye is like the best buddy movie, and yet we also see the horrors of war. All told, it's really the story of people trying to keep their sanity in an insane situation. If viewed as that, it can be seen as a testament to human adaptation.

55. "North by Northwest" (1959)
Hitchcock is well represented on this list, but I have to say that this is possibly his most overrated of the films listed here. There are some good action sequences (including the crop-duster scene the movie is famous for), but I think the thing that ruined it for me was the very fake-looking climax on a very fake-looking Mount Rushmore. Maybe for its time it was really ground-breaking, but it ain't now. I will give a reluctant NO.

56. "Jaws" (1975)
I can't add to everything that's ever been said other than that "we're gonna need a bigger boat" is possibly the greatest line in the history of cinema. YES.

57. "Rocky" (1976)
This movie resonates so strongly with people because it is a microcosm of what the American Dream really is, and in a very tangible way. Rocky is a down-n-out loser, but through hard work and the support of a great girl and a rag-tag group in his corner, he's able to claw his way up near the top. The sequels (especially number 5) may have sullied the legacy of the character somewhat, but this one remains an inspiring drama. YES.

58. "The Gold Rush" (1925)
Umm ...... I'll just say NO.

59. "Nashville" (1975)
When I first saw this movie, I never would have put it on this list, but I was in college, and I was stupid. I saw the film again, however, after 9/11, and was struck with how so many of the same themes were so relevant 26 years later. The idea of blind patriotism is the thing I was struck with, and how we tend to wrap ourselves in the flag during crises. But the charm of the movie is Altman's free-form, with the overlapping dialogue and scenes that appear to be improvised, both in acting and direction. It's a significant achievement in filmmaking. YES

60. "Duck Soup" (1933)

61. "Sullivan's Travels" (1941)
Fact: the title of the film "O Brother Where Art Thou?" came from this movie. I think the movie itself is a bit too slight. It's basically about a movie producer who wants to make an "important" movie, so he travels to poor areas to tell their story. Of course the moral is, sometimes people just want to be entertained. It's a pretty lame ass lesson if you ask me. I know Preston Sturges is a great director and all, but come on babe. NO.

62. "American Graffiti" (1973)
Although I truthfully prefer "Dazed and Confused" when it comes to these music-driven sprawling movies, this one is a killer. Great music, and a great feel for the Hot Rod era. There is no plot; there are about a half dozen of them, and you can catch early performances by Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfuss and Suzanne Sommers. It does sometimes feel like a glorified episode of "Happy Days" but what's wrong with that? YES.

63. "Cabaret" (1972)

64. "Network" (1976)
This is one of the most sharply written movies ever made, about a TV network that lets one of its anchors go insane because it's better for ratings. Every performance is terrific (although I don't quite buy Faye Dunaway making out with an old-as-dirt William Holden). It shows how almost anyone's best intentions can be corrupted when it comes to money, power and influence. And it's a beautifully written movie (thank you, Paddy Chayefsky, you magnificent bastard). And Ned Beatty shows up out of nowhere to crank out about 3 minutes of pure venom. Great, YES.

65. "The African Queen" (1951)

66. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981)
When I was a kid, I couldn't watch this movie because of the part where the guy's face melts and his eye explodes. That was totally gross. But I love the idea that Lucas and Spielberg wanted to make a "serial", like they used to have in olden times. This movie is wall-to-wall excitement, and dealing with the Arc of the Covenant is no small subject. Nor is Nazi Germany. This manages to balance both those weighty subjects with a whole lot of fun scenes. Indiana Jones is a great, iconic movie character. (By the way, did you know he was originally supposed to be played by Tom Selleck, but he refused to shave his mustache? It's true, except for the mustache part.) YES.

67. "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966)
Trivia fact: this is one of the only movies in history in which each member of the cast was nominated for an Academy Award. (There were only four of them.) Based on the Edward Albee play, it essentially chronicles the final days of a bad marriage, marred by disappointment and self-deception. And of course the young couple they've invited over for dinner has to endure all the horrifying scenes. Liz Taylor and Richard Burton really go after each other in this one, and it's funny cuz they were really married at the time. If you like cringe-inducing fights between couples (and don't we all, really?), this one's for you! YES.

68. "Unforgiven" (1992)
This is a very good movie that came out in a very weak year for movies. 1992 was a watershed year for music, but a crap year for film. (The other movies were "A Few Good Men," "Scent of a Woman," "The Crying Game" and "Howard's End.") Now, it's very well written and well-acted, about the former killer William Munny who just can't seem to help killing people when he is forced to do so for good. Morgan Freeman is especially strong in this movie. It's very good, it's not top 100. NO.

69. "Tootsie" (1982)
This is one of the few movies from the 1980s on this list, and I really like it. I think it brings up a lot of really important points about equality, and unconditional love and all sorts of other issues. Plus it's really funny, and Dustin Hoffman puts in one of the best performances of his career. In fact, other than the woefully outdated Dave Grusin score (which is really ear-piercing), it still holds up pretty well. Very fun and with a lot to chew on afterward. YES.

70. "A Clockwork Orange" (1971)
My mom said she couldn't listen to "Ode To Joy" for weeks after this movie, since that's the song that Alex and the Droogs use to rob and rape. The point of the film, ostensibly, is that violence begets more violence, and that to try and rehabilitate someone violent is really futile. But this movie never struck me the way it should have. It's been years since I've seen it, and I remember it feeling a little dated, and with an ending that felt a little tacked on. I'm going to say PASS on this one, because I think I owe Mr. Kubrick a second go-'round.

71. "Saving Private Ryan" (1998)
The first half hour of this movie is probably the most harrowing opening scene in any movie in history. The brutal violence (along with the revolutionary high-speed film technique) influenced action scenes for years after, and continue to today. In my opinion, however, the movie weakens after that opening salvo. I still think the themes of honor, country, duty and brotherhood all are very important, noble themes, but if you take the action scenes out of there, the film becomes ordinary. However, the action scenes are so breathtaking that this one is an unqualified YES.

72. "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994)
This one of the five best films of the last 25 years, period, no argument. It is impeccably written, beautifully directed, and perfectly acted. Everything about it is perfect. There is nothing false or phony about it, even as implausible as the plot can be at times. It is a non-romantic love story between Andy and Red. If you see this movie and aren't somehow affected by it, then you, sir or madam, have a cold black heart. YES

73. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969)
Seen most of it, just not the whole thing yet. Cut me some slack.

74. "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991)
I put this in the same category as "Unforgiven" at #68: it's a very good movie, but the fact that it "swept" the Oscars that year (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress) is mainly a product of what a weak year 1991 was for films. ("Bugsy" and "The Prince of Tides" were also nominees that year.) This is probably the gold standard of both police-procedure suspense movies and serial killer movies. But 100 best ever? Gotta say NO.

75. "In the Heat of the Night" (1967)
The most wonderful part of this movie is how Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier, two men who have nothing in common and really resent each other, come together to find common ground and truly respect one another. Their dynamic makes this movie come alive and work, in the story of a black cop who makes the mistake of getting stuck in the south. Since it's Missisippi, he ain't welcome in them thar parts, but Poitier ("They call me MMMISTA TIBBS!") doesn't take any shit from anyone, including the southern fancypants who slaps him. This is a great movie that works both as a mystery and as a social study. YES.

76. "Forrest Gump" (1994)
I have mixed feelings about this movie. It wasn't until college when I really started looking into the subtext of this movie (independent women are doomed, it is good to go through life stupid) that I started to question a lot of its messages. However, having said that, it is a terrifically entertaining piece of populist cinema, and some of the techniques (such as "callbacks" to previous themes and camera shots) were really brought to the forefront for the first time here. It's an accomplishment of filmmaking, for sure, especially some of the computer generated effects, like erasing Lt. Dan's legs. For technique alone, this gets a YES from me.

77. "All the President's Men" (1976)
Better than any episode of "Law & Order" and beautifully shot, this stylish and perfectly-paced drama shows from beginning to end how Woodward and Bernstein blew the Watergate scandal wide open. It's a testament to courage and conviction, and doing the right thing without worrying about the consequences (lawsuits, angry politicians). Jason Robards gives a great performance in this one; he is both the strength and the conscience of the two intrepid reporters. The ending is a bit anticlimactic, but that's the only complaint I have about it. YES.

78. "Modern Times" (1936)

79. "The Wild Bunch" (1969)
I didn't like this movie the first time I saw it. (I have to admit, I get bored with any movies that take place in Mexican border towns.) But then I saw it a few years ago, and there is something really noble about the fatalistic "one-last-score" mentality of the aging robbers in this movie. It is super violent, and takes the Western genre out into a new, darker era. YES.

80. "The Apartment" (1960)
One of the sweetest movies I've seen, this cute love story between loveable loser Jack Lemmon and engaged cutie Shirley MacLaine is fun, light, and just plain cute. Lemmon's likeability carries the movie's lighter parts, but MacLaine's semi-dramatic performance grounds it into reality. I would have preferred more nudity, of course, but what can you do... it was 1960. YES.

81. "Spartacus" (1960)

82. "Sunrise" (1927)

83. "Titanic" (1997)
Ugh. Now ten years ago, I would have prepared for a flood of emails on this, because "Titanic" was all the rage and people who didn't know any better were declaring it to be the best movie ever made. (These were mostly 13 year old girls.) In fact, when the last list came out in 1997, the outcry was that "Titanic" would have clearly been #1 if it was eligible. Thankfully, ten years of perspective put this at a more reasonable spot, but I still think that if you look at the movie, at face value, there is a lot to criticize. The dialogue is very weak, the storyline (many people forget) is fake, and the acting is simply not that good (except for maybe Kate Winslet and Cathy Bates). The special effects are very very impressive, I'll give you that. But given how overrated this movie is, I have to say NO.

84. "Easy Rider" (1969)
I know that this movie was a truly independent vision, and a benchmark of the counterculture and all that. But I truly think it's a piece of crap as a movie. It's poorly shot, unfocused, overindulgent. It's about stickin' it to the MAN, man! It's a drug-fueled Dennis Hopper taking a camera and running around with it. And while it may have been "new" for its time, it doesn't change the fact that it's a crappy, pretentious movie. Oh, and the ending is one of the worst, tacked-on, contrived endings in movie history. NO.

85. "A Night at the Opera" (1935)
I should really get into the Marx brothers more.

86. "Platoon" (1986)
This is a very good movie, but I'm not sure if I would put it in the top 100 of all time. There are a lot of great scenes in it, and of course the requisite "war makes people crazy" message. And honestly it's one of Oliver Stone's more restrained and responsible movies, before he started producing crap like "Nixon" and "Natural Born Killers." It's one of the better Vietnam movies, but I think maybe its gravitas outweighs it's quality. M-16 to my head, I'd have to say NO.

87. "12 Angry Men" (1957)
I really love this play and this movie. It is alternately about the mob mentality and also how one lone voice can bring common sense and bring change. It's probably my favorite Henry Fonda role, as he is the only one with any kind of moral compass. It really exudes morality and justice. And it also castigates those who would forego justice out of anger or revenge (something that is still relevant today). Big-time YES.

88. "Bringing Up Baby" (1938)

89. "The Sixth Sense" (1999)
I'm hesitant about this movie, because I don't know if it's that great a movie, or if they just did such a good job with the "gotcha" ending that I felt gratefully tricked by it. I think that the movie as a whole is very good, and it's actually even better the second time around when you know what's going to happen; no small feat there. Whether it's one of the 100 greatest is a tough call. I think that M. Night Shyamalan has proven that he isn't quite the directorial genius we assumed he would be with his later projects, but as a stand-alone, this one is close to brilliant. I'll say YES.

90. "Swing Time" (1936)

91. "Sophie's Choice" (1982)
This is one of the few movies on this list that I don't care if I never see. And if you ever find out what Sophie's "choice" is, you'll know why.

92. "GoodFellas" (1990)
This is way too low. This is one of the five best American movies ever made in my opinion. It's Scorsese's most accessible, most quotable, most iconic, most exciting and best movie. The fact that it lost the Oscar to "Dances With Wolves" is a bigger injustice than Sacco and Venzetti. The movie -- as Marty intended it -- is like a two-and-a-half hour movie trailer. Every scene leads directly to the next. There is no down time, no room to breathe. It's the reason that right before someone leaves a room, I yell "Now go home and get your f*$&in' shinebox!" Major major YES.

93. "The French Connection" (1971)
Everyone remembers the car chase scene from this one, but there are a lot of other great scenes, mostly having to do with Popeye Doyle, a really great movie antihero. The fact that he is a racist and completely disregards lawful conduct, yet is so single-minded and somehow likeable, is the sign of a great performance. The ending isn't as neat and tidy as you would expect, which also adds to the depth of the film as a whole. YES.

94. "Pulp Fiction" (1994)
I do have to say that I think this film is somewhat overrated, but that's like saying that Michael Jordan was overrated; just because it gets far too much attention doesn't mean it isn't great. The revolution this movie started was that of tone, and of the contrast between terror and comedy. Throughout the movie, there would be a scene of horrible violence, and then a laugh, or vice-versa. It changed the rules on what to expect in any given scene. The dialogue -- concerning hambugers in Europe, foot massages and divine intervention, among others -- is crackling throughout. And the fact that you can't tell if it takes place in the 1990s or 1970s adds an air of otherworldly unpredictability. It is the monolith that represented the next step in the evolution of filmmaking. YES.

95. "The Last Picture Show" (1971)
It's about so many things. The closing of movie theaters and drive-ins in favor of television represents the loss of innocence, which is also explored in great detail. Much like "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," it's a sort of acknowledgment of modernization, as well as a sentimental good-bye to our "youth" as a nation, and as individuals. It's slow and it's in black and white, but it's really really good. YES.

96. "Do the Right Thing" (1989)
I don't think this is Spike Lee's best movie (I would put "Malcolm X" at the top, pound for pound), but is the perfect snapshot of black rage in the late 1980s. The racial tension between the blacks and whites (especially Italians) is discussed in very candid detail ("garlic-breath, pizza-slingin', spaghetti-bendin'".... "You gold-teeth-gold-chain-wearin', fried-chicken-and-biscuit-eatin'..."). I think it doesn't quite take the black community to task on a few issues, but overall the movie opens up some really important dialogue. Ultimately, it discovers that fighting violence with more violence leads to no resolution. Very good flick, YES.

97. "Blade Runner" (1982)

98. "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942)

99. "Toy Story" (1995)
It's a cute movie. It was the first of its kind. "Toy Story 2" is way better. NO.

100. "Ben-Hur" (1959)
Along with "Lawrence of Arabia," this is an epic movie that I just found to be sooo boring and long. The chariot race is cool, I guess, but the rest of it is a lot of melodrama, with some latent homosexual subtext thrown in. It was probably great for its time, but for today, it just doesn't hold up. Or hold my interest. NO.
I know that I have a tendency to oversimplify, and I know my head may be squarely up my ass on a lot of these. (And the fact that "Fargo" and "sex, lies and videotape" didn't make the cut makes me question the list's validity altogether.) So feel free to challenge me, take me to task, or add some that you think should have been on the list, or ones they should have left off.

Just remember: I'm usually right.