Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 In Review - Television

That's right!  It's that time of year again.  Let's get right to the best/worst/etc of the year in television.  Keep in mind, this is just my favorites and I know everyone has different tastes.

If I learned anything from 80s TV, it's that there are Diff'rent Strokes for Diff'rent Folks. 

BEST OF THE BEST

Good Wife:  Look, I've been touting this show since it first premiered and I know some of you look down on my because I keep bringing this up, but give this a chance.  And, if you don't want to listen to me, then read Mark Harris' breakdown on Grantland.  He expresses it much better than I ever could.  Just know that as much as I've enjoyed the show, this season has surpassed everything that came before.

Breaking Bad:  Hold on, now.  I haven't even seen the final season.  I just completed season two on Netflix, and, regardless of how this ends, this may already be one of my favorite series of all time.  Don't spoil anything for me.  I'm hoping to catch up by the end of the holidays.  Did I write this last year?

Top of the Lake:  An Australian, six (or seven) episode series from Jane Campion (The Piano) about a young girl who discovers she's pregnant and attempts to kill herself.  The characters are so believable and realistic that you feel like your eavesdropping on private conversations (the one reflecting back on an incident that happened after a prom is particularly disturbing).

Brooklyn Nine Nine:  The best new show of the season, I might add (although, frankly, I haven't seen too many).  One of the few comedies I can sit through with my kids, too.  My eight year old LOVES this show and will now watch anything with Andy Samburg in it.  Um...that isn't much.

Veep:  I enjoyed season one tremendously, but this season catapulted into an entirely new stratosphere.  Awkward, intelligent, deeply cynical, and fucking hilarious.  Not one comedy have I laughed harder at than this one. 

Family Tree:  A warm hearted, funny, quick witted series about one man's quest to find out the true history behind his family.  Chris O'Dowd (who is quickly becoming one of my favorites) improvises his way through a dysfunctional group of friends and family and - possibly - finds love in the meantime.  If you enjoyed any of Christopher Guest's movies (Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, etc) you'll enjoy this one.  Hell, even if you don't, give this a shot.

Game of Thrones:  Owner of the most shocking episode in television history (Red Wedding) and still the most complex, sexy and violent shows ever created.  Good times!

Modern Family:  It's here because the writing and acting are so superior to anything going on right now, but it's not nearly as funny as it used to be.  It's no longer must watch on Wednesday nights.  That's quite a drop off for a show of this quality.


GUILTY PLEASURES

The Walking Dead:  Religiously watch this show as usual, but realize - like the biters - there isn't much brain activity going on behind the scenes.  This show nearly lost me when an antibiotic miraculously cured an outbreak of a virus in the prison.  It's a fucking virus.  Antibiotics don't cure viruses.  Ask any parent who has had to suffer through a viral infection with their kids.  Glad the prison is now behind them, although I may miss the Governor despite my best intentions. 

Agents of SHIELD:  I expected it to be better, but it's still a diverting, humorous, entertaining way to spend an hour. 



WORST OF THE WORST

Dads:  This comes on just before 'Brooklyn Nine Nine' and I wind up catching a bit of it accidentally from time to time.  How does shit like this get on television?  Even if it were an experiment on what would be socially acceptable or political incorrectness (like 'Married With Children' back in the day), you need to at least be funny.  As long as you make me laugh I can forgive racism, crudeness and stupidity.  This does everything but.

Real Housewives...  Any of these stupid shows can make the list.  My wife will sit and watch episode after episode.  I can't stand 15 minutes with these people.  They are people, right?  Not parodies of themselves?  I'm still not sure.

The Million Second Quiz:  Yeah, I know this was just a standard quiz show, but the 'impromptu' visits to the houses of the next contestants strained my beliefs so much they're still rehabbing.  How did nobody see an entire camera crew on their front lawns?  Why did everyone have an entire house full of people?  Every single time?  All behind the contestant smiling like idiots?  Why did the producers feel as though forcing every day people to act surprised on national television was a good idea?  You're fired.  All of you.  NO MORE SOUP FOR YOU!!


OUT OF THE ROTATION

Boardwalk Empire:  I just don't have the time to deal with a bunch of sociopathic, homicidal maniacs on a weekly basis.  Well, I do...but they need to be way more interesting and less mopey than this crew. 

Revenge:  Proving that it's possible for a show to jump the shark after 6 episodes.

Sleepy Hollow:  It grabbed me for a few episodes, but I quickly lost interest when the humor disappeared.


I'll get to the stellar year in music after the Christmas.  Enjoy your gifts!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I'm Saved!

In research that appears to have been undertaken in a direct effort to save me from my own lifestyle (narcissism alert!) scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine have figured out how to convert fat cells into liver cells

Allow me to quickly quote the article link above:

'Unlike most other organs, a healthy liver can regenerate itself to a significant extent. But this capacity cannot overcome acute liver poisoning or damage from chronic alcoholism or viral hepatitis.'

I had no idea a healthy liver can regenerate itself.  Probably because my liver has been gasping for breath since 1985. 

If you're at all familiar with my life choices (what some would call 'raging alcoholism') and growing waist line, this is nothing but good news for me.  I would be cartwheeling down the street if I was sure I wouldn't be bed ridden for the effort. 

Just think, I can now drink even more beer.  Then, when I get fat - a definite side effect of beer drinking, by the way - I can have liposuction and have those cells put into my liver where they will convert and make me invincible.

Invincible, I say!!!

Granted, these tests have only been performed on mice, but my new life partner, Dr. Gary Peltz (MD, PhD, super fucking smart) says the techniques are easily adaptable to humans.  I should point out that I added the 'easily' to that last sentence because I am nothing if not wishful thinking.

Even better, the process of taking fat cells and doing something scientific-like to them to convert them to liver cells takes only nine days.  Quick enough that I could go on once last mega bender before recharging with my own blubber.  Science is awesome!

As a side note, the good doctor points out that this may replace liver transplants.  More importantly, since the process uses the patient's own cells to regenerate, the use of immunosuppressants (drugs people have to take so the body doesn't reject the translplanted organ) will no longer be necessary.

More livers all around, please and thank you.

Well done, people at Stanford. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Random Thoughts

Some ramblings for your consideration.

-  Just as I'm getting back into writing in this space, I get promoted.  WTF?  I've basically just jumped multiple levels to become in charge of the entire North American Department.  I should point out that I have ZERO managing experience and this entire idea is going to implode like a supernova.  The whooshing sound you'll hear in the coming months is my effect on my company.  Might as well change my nickname to Black Hole.  Well, wait....that sounds gross.

-  On the plus side, I can now approve my own travel plans.  And there are several offices in southern California that need some TLC.  I should probably spend the month of February there introducing myself and taking people out to dinner. 

-  While I'm flattered for the unexpected promotion, I can't help but hark back to that classic Monster.com commercial and cringe a little:  'When I grow up I want to be a middle manager'.

-  One positive in my blogging break (I refer to it as a hiatus to trick myself into thinking anyone cared) is the lack of bizarre advertising spam comments that used to follow each post.  So, either Google has rid the world of them or they have no idea I exist.  Kind of like the rest of the world.

-  While I'm thoroughly enjoying 'Brooklyn Nine Nine' I can't get past the similarities to 'Parks and Rec'.  All the characters are the same in each show:

The competent, yet goofy lead

The humorless, tough chick

The eager, competitive one

The dude that should have retired years ago and sticks around to be the butt of everyone's jokes (if there is an episode that reveals Christy Brinkley as his wife, I'm out).

The best friend who kisses ass

The no-nonsense leader of the office (precinct)

And, as I found out, there is a reason for this: The original 'Parks and Recs' show runner is now in charge of 'Brooklyn Nine Nine'.  So at least he's ripping off himself. 

-  My long held theory regarding fantasy football is being confirmed on a weekly basis. I firmly believe that if you don't have an elite quarterback, you have no chance.  I would go so far as to say QBs should be drafted ahead of running backs. 

Sadly, it's my own team confirming my suspicions.  I have Cam Newton who has been up and down all year.  On games he gives me over 30 points, I'm undefeated.  Games under 30....not one win.  So yeah.  It's been that kind of year.

-  Anyone catch that David Blaine special last night?  I don't think there is any hidden, sleight of hand with him.  I think he's actually a wizard.  There is no other explanation.  Harrison Ford's reaction to one of his card tricks is fantastic.

-  My wife's uncle died a couple of weeks back and we decided it was time to introduce our boys to the wonders of wakes and funerals.  My eight year old was enthralled with the entire process.

'Is that him?   Why does he look like he's sleeping?'

'Why don't they just close the lid of the coffin?'

'Casket?  That's the same thing as a coffin?  Why don't you just call it a coffin?'

'When will he become a zombie?'

'Who is taking care of his dog now?'

'Why are there things in the coffin with him?  He can't use them anymore.'

'How come some people get buried but others get burned up?'

'Can I jump in the grave?'

'If I die, make sure you put in my iPod so I still play games.'


-  The joys of management #1:  Since the announcement came out regarding my new position I have received and replied to more emails than I have my entire time at this company.  It's been three days. 

And...there is another one.  Gotta go. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Human Good Luck

My oldest son is spoiled.

Not from me.  I make him work for his food.  Raking the yard, emptying the trash, feeding the dog.  My boys hold their own. 

No, he's spoiled from a sports perspective.  He's had more championship parades during his first thirteen years of existence than I had my first 35. 

Here's the time line of his life from a sporting perspective:

June 2000:  Born

February 2001:  Patriots stun the St Louis Rams to win Super Bowl.  Still one of the more incredulous sporting events I've ever watched live.  So unexpected was this Patriots turn around from league laughing stock to Super Bowl champs I still vividly remember the mood at that parade.  Not so much 'Yay, we won!' and more a 'Am I dreaming?  Is this really happening?' vibe.  Basically there were five million people acting like we all got high off the same, mammoth bong. 

October 2003:  The one blemish on his psyche:  The Grady Little Game. 

February 2004:  Patriots win Super Bowl #2

October 2004:  Following the most stunning comeback in baseball history, the Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years, fueling speculation that the end of the world was near. 

February 2005:  Patriots repeat.  Ring #3 for the Brady/Belichick team.

October 2007:  Red Sox win again, proving karma is paying back Red Sox and Patriot fans for everything that had happened in their lifetimes.  With interest.

February 2008:  Pats go 18 - 0 and reach their fourth Super Bowl only to lose due to the most ridiculous catch in NFL history. 

June 2008:  Celtics crush Lakers in game six to claim title 17.  Eldest son had started wearing Garnett jersey about 10 minutes after watching him play.

June 2010:  Celtics make Finals only to run out of gas and lose game seven in LA.  This despite Kobe shooting 6 for 24.  As a Bostonian, I'm required to bring that up in any mention of this series. 

June 2011:  Riding the good vibes of the other three teams, the Bruins bring the Stanley Cup to Boston for the first time since the Ford administration. 

February 2012:  Patriots reach Super Bowl #5 only to lose to arch nemesis Giants and Eli Manning for the second time.  I blame Wes.

June 2013:  Bruins make improbable run to the Stanley Cup finals only to lose in devastating fashion when the Blackhawks score 2 goals in .5 milliseconds (or so it seemed) in game six to end the series.  Everyone believes the decade of dominance has come to a brutal end. 

October 2013:  But wait!  Here come the Boston Red Sox riding team chemistry, clutch hitting and Boston Strong to win yet another World Series. 

Let's add up this mind boggling run:

3 World Series - 3 rings
5 Super Bowls - 3 rings
2 NBA Finals - 1 ring
2 Stanley Cup Finals - 1 ring

Summary:  9 championships and 4 close calls in 13 years. 

Another way to phrase this is from my oldest:  "I guess I'm just good luck!"

Little bastard.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Scarefest 2013 - John Dies At The End

Today's Movie:  John Dies At The End (2013) - viewed on Netflix

Starring:  Two dudes I've never heard of before and, strangely, Paul Giamatti, who must have needed a quick payday.

Plot:  Alright, hang on here.

Two guys become super clairvoyant and begin seeing other worldly creatures after taking a drug called 'Soy Sauce' which appears to be a living organism.  Random, odd, people pop in and out of the drama and are never fully explained.

The two friends wind up involved in some sort of inter dimensional clash of worlds where one (not ours, of course, because we're slackers and peace loving douche bags) wants to take over the other by ingesting all the smart people into this one eyed, genius monster (what? it's how it gains more knowledge).

Gore Factor:  Very high.

Nude Factor:  Non existent

Scare Factor:  A few jumps, but this plays more like a Cronenberg film: creepy and surreal.

Review:  If you're thinking that this is a seriously fucked up movie, you don't know the half of it. I didn't even mention the creatures that will show themselves to people in different forms, the dog that can drive cars or the creature that creates itself out of freezer meat.  Also there is some world famous spiritual dude (played by Clancy Brown) who can somehow destroy these creatures with a phrase over the phone. 

If you're also thinking this doesn't sound very serious, you've nailed that, as well. There are several laugh out loud moments throughout (after all how did they get the meat creature to take a cell phone call?) and there is a time bending aspect to it which results in John calling his friend and asking 'Did I die yet?'. 

Or popping back to life and having this exchange.

John:  'Where are we?'

'At the mall'

John: 'Coming or going?'

'Going'

John: 'Right, it would have to be going because Fred is still alive'

Fred - standing next to John:  'WHAT???!!!'

Bottom Line:  Strange, nearly incomprehensible plot yet often grotesquely funny. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Scarfest 2013 - Cabin In The Woods

More spoilers today, so look away....

Today's Movie:  Cabin In The Woods (2012) - watched on DVD.

Starring:  Chris Hemsworth (is he Thor?), Bradley Whitford, Shaggy from Scooby Doo, a bunch of other people who become chum during the course of the movie. 

Plot:  A bunch of friends (the jock, the slut, the virtuous one, the stoner, the sensitive guy) plan a weekend in someone's cabin in the woods.  They run across the creepy local who warns them all away just like every other horror movie ever filmed. 

They stumble across a basement full of toys and one of them accidentally unleashes hell on earth.  Let the bodies begin piling up.

Only things aren't what the seem.  The cabin is being monitored by people who appear to be running a game show with real death involved. 

Things get more convoluted (often hilariously so) from there.  The deaths are actually a human sacrifice to prevent unseen, hellish creatures for coming up and destroying the earth.  Yeah, it's a bit hard to describe this one. 

Gore Factor:  Through the roof.  

Nude Factor:  'Come on...show us the goods'

Scare Factor:  Despite the complex plot, there are some seriously creepy moments here.  It helps that there is barely any build up before the first victim is claimed.  Things only escalate from there.  Some images from this movie will stay with you.

Review:  This doesn't simply turn the genre on its head, it tips it upside down, inside out and abuses it with amusing contrasts (the employees at the monitoring center partying while one girl is being thoroughly abused on the monitors behind them is a classic).  It also becomes the first horror movie that PROMOTES the use of marijuana.  I really don't want to spoil this too much as some of the explanations for the annual slaughter are the best punch lines. 

Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins are fantastic as two colleagues betting on the outcome of the victims.  Acting like it's just another day at the office while carnage takes place all around them.  The other actors are just as good, morphing from the stereotypical teens marked for death to living, breathing humans we're rooting for.

There are surprising and shocking deaths throughout as well as an unexpected resurrection.  The film keeps you on your toes, so don't expect your traditional 'here comes a sequel' ending, either. 

Bottom Line:  Smart, funny, scary, super gory...yep, we have a winner here. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Scarefest 2013 - The Innkeepers

Today's Movie:  The Innkeepers (2011) viewed on Netflix streaming

Starring:  Sara Paxton, Pat Healy and a nearly unrecognizable Kelly McGillis.

Plot:  Two slacker 20 somethings are the last remaining employees of a centuries old New England Inn (thus the title).  Boredom has pushed them towards proving there are paranormal events happening at the hotel.  They spend their time tending to the few remaining visitors and recording events throughout the night. 

This being a horror movie and all, things take a turn for the worse.  If you've ever seen any horror movie at any time in your lives, you can figure out which way this one turns. 

Gore Factor:  Slight.  There is a bathtub scene that is bloody, but there isn't too much.

Nude Factor:  None, although I was hoping for a better shower scene since I'm head over heals for Sara Paxton.

Scare Factor:  Pretty good, actually.  There are some moments that will stick with you (especially in the final 30 minutes) and several jump out of your seat moments. 

Review:  I'm not sure why other movies have such a hard time figuring this out or, at the very least, getting it translated into the movie, but when we care about characters it makes what happens that much more intense.  Great horror movies (or thrillers for that matter) always involve us in the people themselves.  If they're assholes or wooden cut outs, the stakes aren't nearly as high. 

'The Innkeepers' gets this right.  Introducing us to two co-workers, sometimes friends, possible love interests who are fun to simply hang around with.  Investing us in their personalities and camaraderie intensifies everything that happens.

It certainly helps that Sara Paxton is fucking adorable, charming, slightly insecure and unsure as Claire.  Helps a lot, actually, since she's the focal point of the plot.  There are several laugh out loud moments throughout, as well.  The two of them getting drunk and staging a ghost sighting; the mother and son who are trying to prove a point to her distracted husband; an interesting cameo by an off the wall coffee shop employee. 

While the scares and horror aren't anything unusual (although this does have it's moments), the acting and directing make this an enjoyable time. 

Bottom Line:  Have fun with this one.




Also, resistance is futile

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Scarefest 2013 - Hard Candy

Just as a head's up, there are major spoilers ahead.  Read no further if you want to watch a twisted, very flawed, psychological twister from eight years ago.  What, exactly, is the limit on spoilers?  If I say that Jack dies in 'Lost' would that still be considered a spoiler?

Anyway....

Today's Movie:  Hard Candy (2005) viewed on FearNet Channel

Starring:  Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson

Plot:  Creepy older dude, Patrick Wilson, convinces a 14 year old to meet him at a coffee shop while they are chatting on the internet.  They do the older guy/REALLY young girl flirtation that makes viewers uncomfortable.  Everything seems to be heading towards disaster for this young, cute, naive girl...

...until Wilson suddenly passes out and comes to with Page having tied him to a chair.  She has turned the tables and spends the rest of the film searching for his child porn stash, torturing him and castrating him on the kitchen table.  I spent much of this movie with my hands over my genitals and/or legs crossed. 

Gore Factor:  Limited, although the castration scene is brutal even if there isn't overt blood and guts.  We glimpse what's going on through the blurry monitors Page sets up so Wilson can witness his own undoing. 

Nude Factor:  None, which is odd considering what occurs.

Scare Factor:  Low.  There aren't overt frights here.  This is more a psychological cat and mouse game between Page and Wilson.

Review:  This one didn't so much as creep me out as make me very uncomfortable.  There are severely squeamish moments throughout due to Page and Wilson acting the shit out of this. Even the suggestive conversations between the two made me hesitant. 

That said, this movie cops out BIG TIME when everything is revealed.  Most importantly it turns out the entire castration was orchestrated and she never went through with it.  It was all a ruse.  Secondly, Page is about 80 pounds soaking wet with her pockets full of lead.  How she was strong enough to move Wilson around and tie him up so tightly that he can't break free is a huge mystery. 

Finally, her end game is so convoluted and overly complex I have to wonder why she didn't just kill the guy and be done with it.  Instead she risks being found out and gets other people involved when it isn't necessary.  Near the climax she has Wilson hung up on a chair with a noose around his neck.  Instead of knocking the chair out from under him, he manages to break free after she spends 15 minutes talking to him and stalk her throughout the house.  They both wind up on the roof where she has another noose waiting for him so he can hang himself.  If she wanted it to be a suicide, just knock the chair out, ya dummy.  Why risk having him kill you for no reason?

Bottom Line:  Great acting undermined by a script that should have stopped itself before getting carried away.  If this were an 85 minute movie and ended where it should have, I would still be unnerved by it.  Instead it degenerates into another potboiler that makes no sense. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Scarefest 2013 - Mama

Since we're in the Halloween spirit, allow me to start reviewing some scary movies during the next week or so.  No time frame on these.  I've already got two movies ready to go.

Be warned, there are spoilers ahead. 

Today's Movie:  'Mama' (2013) viewed on HBO

Starring: Jessica Chastain and the dude from 'Game Of Thrones'.  Plus two little girls who are pretty good for child actors.  Does it take a lot for kids to act scared in movies like this?  Do the directors actually scare them for authenticity?

I digress.

Plot:  Two girls are abducted by their father after he goes on a killing spree. Fortunately for them he takes them to a secluded cabin in the woods that is haunted by a killer ghost who has a softness for children.  As the father is about to kill the two little girls (because he loves them, of course), the murder ghost jumps out and kills the father thus saving the girls.

Five years later....

The girls are found by a couple of dudes (just as the funds run out from the uncle who has never stopped looking for them - conveniently).  They're feral and dirty and must have been shitting themselves regularly since they have been surviving on cherries and the kindness of the murder ghost. 

As I'm writing this, I realize this plot is fucking ridiculous. 

Anyway, the girls are reunited with the uncle and his rock chick girlfriend (was there a reason she was in a rock band?  It really didn't play much into the story. I was hoping she would have a bass duel with the ghost like Scott Pilgrim).  There is the usual transition period and the rock chick begins to realize that SOMETHING HAS COME BACK WITH THEM!

You can guess the rest.

Gore Factor:  Not much, really.  Another PG-13 horror movie.

Nude Factor:  None.

Scare Factor:  Admittedly there are quite a few effective scenes.  The director shows us that the murder ghost is still with the girls with in a clever foreground/background combo shot.  Wifey jumped out of seat a few times and cursed 'I hate these movies' more than once.  The murder ghost also makes this creepy, clicking sound that reminded me of 'Mimic'.

Review:  While this isn't terrible, it completely falls apart in the last 30 minutes.  Legitimate scares turn into laughs after the third person winds up at the creepy cabin in the middle of the night.  Can these people not make it there before sunset?  The uncle has a vision of his dead brother and leads him to a bridge.  Only he winds up walking seemingly for hours to get to the cabin.  So what was the point of the vision?  Was he cursing his dead brother for not being more specific in his death taunt?The psychiatrist who is unraveling the murder ghost's true identity doesn't tell anyone where he is going and winds up in the cabin (in the dead of night of course).  Things work out for him as well as you would think.

Other ludicrous things happen like the rock chick nearly running over her boyfriend even though she's driving down an mammoth secluded road and he's in a forest at least a hundred square miles in size.  This is my favorite, goofy scene.  She had left him a voice mail explaining that the murder ghost has kidnapped the girls.  After nearly running him over, he says 'I got your message'.  Not 'Oh, hey, I'm out of the hospital' or 'What the fuck are you doing here' or 'What are the odds we meed right here at this exact moment'.

No, just 'I got your message'.  Rock chick next says 'She's got the girls!' which is an absolute shock to him.  Wait, did you get her message or not?  Did you delete it without listening to the entire thing, you selfish prick?  And how did you have time to listen to a voice mail when wandering the woods?  What cell plan do you have?  Because your coverage is fantastic!

Here's my pet peeve with these stupid movies:  Why do they have to explain the ghost?  They all have to have back stories now.  Why can't it simply be something inexplicable?  Isn't that the entire point of paranormal?  Something that can't be explained?  Instead they turn the murder ghost with a terrible manicure into a wronged - albeit dead - woman.  And why are her hands so big?  If she's just a dead woman, shouldn't they be normal size?  Was she a freakishly good vollyball player back in her prime?

Bottom Line:  Watch the first three quarters of this movie then make up your own ending.  Whatever you come up with will be ten times better than what the movie came up with. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sock Talk

No, sorry.  Not the Red Sox again today.

This has to do with a phenomenon that's been taking my house by storm. 

Socks. 

In particular these new Nike Elite socks that everyone is going goofy over.  Let's get this out of the way first - they look ridiculous.  Knee highs that come in a variety of colors that seem to be an experiment in retina torture. 

Here is one version

 
 
That pair is one of the least offensive.  Check out these MoFos:

 
 
 
 And from the 'Good Lord, Look Away' collection:

 
 
 
Don't worry, though.  The boys wear these socks - hiked up as high as possible - while wearing shorts.  So they won't be hidden underneath long pants. Fuck, no.  That's unacceptable.

On the plus side they 'only' cost $14 a pair and certainly protect my sons' legs from potential skin cancer.  Although I'm betting radiation or lead paint poisoning is the trade off.  Also, I can spot them from miles away, so I won't ever lose track of them.  Well, unless they're in a crowd of other kids the same age in which case all I'll see is a blur of psychedelic colors that make me think I'm having an acid flashback. 

Again.

OK, I was a stupid kid, too, so I can deal with the colors and (hopefully) passing fad. 

What really chaps my ass about these socks is a tiny detail that you can barely see in those photos.  Look real close and you'll see an 'L' and 'R'.  They've labeled their socks so you know which foot they're supposed to go on. 

Nike has somehow tapped into the borderline obsessive compulsive section of society; people like my wife and two boys who are now insisting that socks should be worn on certain feet.  My pleas of 'They're socks.  There are no left or right feet options with socks!' are ignored. 

The purpose of this labeling (I finally pointed out to the boys) isn't support or comfort, it's so the Nike swoosh is always on the outside of the leg so everyone can see it.  Duh, people.  We can't afford to put our trademark on both sides, so we're going to tell you which foot to put them on. 

This makes laundry day so much more fun.  My philosophy is seeing two socks the same type and putting them together - thus making a PAIR of socks.  It's been working perfectly for generations. 

I still do this with the Elites, but OCD Wifey goes through them again to make sure the pairs have a left and right sock together.  Let's all re-read that sentence again.  Left and right socks.  What the holy fuck is happening?

As if these Elite socks aren't enough, Wifey came home with white socks for me last week.  They are basic Nikes and they are also labeled with L and R.  White socks.  Again, the purpose is to keep the logo on the outside of the leg. I'm wearing them on opposite feet and inside out today just to piss her off.

Our neighbors have kids about the same age as my boys and they showed up one day with Adidas' version of the Elites.  While just as eye scarring as the Nikes, at least they put their logo in front.  No left and right labels for this company.




I can only hope some executive in Adidas looked at their Nike counterparts and thought they had lost their collective minds. 

Nice to know there are some sane people left in this world. 

Enjoy the weekend, folks. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Weekend Of Chaos

Let's start today off with a confession:  I'm old.  I'm approaching the age where sleep is nearly as important to me as sex.  I'm not there yet, but the impulses are waging battles that become more epic by the day. 

Therefore, I can not be blamed for bailing on the Red Sox at 10 pm on a Sunday night with them down 5 - 1.  Not only was I sick of watching this beloved and bearded team swing at pitches in the dirt, I had to work in the morning.  Remember: Old. 

While I had witnessed the Patriots stick a dagger in yet another member of the Ryan family, I was shocked when Wifey says to me the next morning 'Red Sox won last night'.  I misheard it as a question and replied that they were down four runs and looking terrible so I doubt they won.

She says, 'No, I'm looking at it now. The Red Sox won last night'.

Throughout the season they've been pulling wins out of their collective asses, so I really shouldn't have been that surprised.  Although if you had seen the first game and two thirds of this Detroit series, you couldn't blame my skepticism.  Sanchez made them look foolish Saturday and they looked no more competent against Scherzer. 

What I found most amazing is that the two athletes that were involved in both comebacks have been around for a full generation of Boston fans.  My 13 year old was born just before the season Brady won his first Super Bowl.  He was a pup when Big Papi carried the Sox to their first World Series in 86 years.  He was the one who showed more confidence in Boston sports in 2007 when he told me not to worry about the Sox' being on the brink of elimination against Cleveland.  'Don't worry, Dad', he said, 'I know the Red Sox will win.'

Since the year of his birth he's been a part of five Super Bowls (three rings),  two NBA Finals (one ring), two Stanley Cups (one ring), and two World Series (both wins).  Hell, he's had more championship parades to attend in his first 13 years than I had my first 30.

Stupid, spoiled brat. 

One positive about aging is I have grown more objective regarding sports.  They aren't nearly as important as they used to be.  I still root for all Boston teams, but can appreciate other teams better (well, except the Lakers who I hate with every cell in my body).  I am a full fledged Kevin Durant lunatic (as is my oldest son) and keep hoping the Celtics pull some sort of trade to get him to Boston (it's called daydreaming). 

It was this objectivity that made me make a bet with my 8 year old while watching the Patriots game.  Tom Brady had just thrown an interception with a bit more than two minutes remaining.  Brees has the ball back now and I said 'Well, that's that'.

Youngest says 'Dad, there is still time left'. 

'Tell you what,' I fatefully say to him in a ridiculous attempt to teach him about odds, 'If the Patriots win this game, I'll give you 10 bucks'.

The kid is now 10 bucks richer and had his first lesson in Tom Brady.  He may be a fan for life now. 

Of gambling, that is.

Friday, October 4, 2013

TV Chatter

Slacker indeed, my friend....

With the launch of the new television season, let's touch base on some of the returning and new shows I've had the (mostly) pleasure to view. 

No talk of 'Breaking Bad', by the way.  I just finished season two.  Judge me all you want, but I just don't have a ton of time to binge watch like I used to.  Hell, I finished the first season of 'Lost' in three days. 

Let's get to it.

The Voice:  Not the greatest show, but it's a fun, family friendly distraction that we can tune into whenever we want.  I prefer the blind auditions, but wifey and my youngest prefer the knock out rounds. Basically, the more it becomes like 'American Idol' the less I watch.

It helps that I feel a kinship with Blake Shelton because I'm 90% sure there is booze in his cup during these shows.  I think we would have a blast hanging out. 

The Good Wife:  Getting a bit sick of the Alicia - Will thing and this season seems to be putting that aside for more important, career story lines.  The writers/creators have kept my interest since the beginning, so I have no reason to doubt them now. 

New Girl:  Not nearly as funny as the first season, but it's still entertaining enough. What I find interesting is them tackling the 'What Now?' aspects of hook ups and the balance of friendships and love interests.  We've all had conflicts like this in our lives but this is the first show to address them (in a funny way, of course). 

Brooklyn Nine Nine:  We stumbled across this during it's first episode and were hooked immediately.  Safe enough that the boys can watch with us.  My youngest laughs at this harder than anyone.  I'm assuming your enjoyment of this will depend on your view of Andy Samberg (who I keep referring to as Adam Sandler).

'Hi, I'm Detective Right-All-The-Time and this is Detective Not-A-Good-Detective'.

The Millers:  Either nobody can figure out what to do with Will Arnett (besides 'Arrested Development') or he picks terrible projects.  He's had more sitcoms than...um....well...somebody who had a lot of sitcoms in which to star.  Yet, again, this is a forgettable, boring, predictable, stupid one.  Pity.

Dads: WTF is this mess?  How does the creator of 'Robot Chicken' agree to make something this terrible?  Is this an experiment?  Are they trying to top 'Who's The Boss' or 'Full House' as one of the worst series of all time and see how many people watch?  Please, end the madness.  Not sure why this is called 'Dads', either.  Much of it takes place in a workplace.  Might as well just call it 'People You Wouldn't Spend Time With'.

The Blacklist:  Whatever.  I watched the first episode and it wasn't nearly enough to hold my attention.  It was ok, but I don't have time for a show that's just ok.

Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD:  The biggest surprise so far.  Much funnier than I expected (which is a great sign) and decent acting.  That Sam Jackson showed up as Nick Fury in the most recent episode makes me wonder if Tony Stark or (more likely) Thor will make an appearance.  In a nutshell this is old fashioned, brainless, fun. 

Sleepy Hollow:  Have only seen the first episode so far, but was impressed with what I saw.  Much better than the premise sounds (which, admittedly, is ridiculous).  Give it a shot if you see it On Demand. 

NFL Red Zone Channel:  Still the best invention in the history of forever. 

The Big Bang Theory:  Please tell me I'm the only one that doesn't find this show funny.  Is it me?  Am I missing something?  I just don't get it.  It's not terrible, mind you, but (at best) it's an average sitcom that has become wildly popular for reasons I don't understand. 

The Goldbergs:  'The Wonder Years' for the 80s?  Pass.

Parks and Recs:  Not off to a great start.  Still better than most shows, but it's showing strains along the seams by losing Andy to London and the baby subplot.  Enough with the recall effort, too.  Get back to the basics.  I'd rather watch a spin off with Andy and his English doppelganger at this point.

Actually, holy shit.  They should totally make a show about those two. 

Shows I Haven't Watched But Seem Terrible So I Probably Never Will:  'Sean Saves The World', 'The Micheal J Fox Show', 'Trophy Wife', 'Ironside', 'Back In The Game (aka: The Bad News Bears for TV')

What do all of these shows have in common?  They have been promoted ENDLESSLY throughout the summer.  The winner being 'The Blacklist' which I saw ads for so many time I've lost count.  My theory is the more a movie or show is pimped, the worse it will be.  I've been proven correct time and time again.

Let me know if I should pick up on some show (sorry, not 'The Mindy Project').

Enjoy the weekend. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Stocking Up

Since I get to the Mid Atlantic region once or twice a year, I tend to take full advantage.  It's going to be a fun weekend:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Teenage Angst

My eldest son turned 13 this past summer.  He had already been displaying the typical teenage attitude for months: mumbling, one word responses to any questions; preferring friends to family; extraordinary amounts of time spent in the bathroom.  The usual routine.

While Wifey was freaking out about it (as she tends to do for most things), I was ok with it.  We've raised him as best we could.  To our credit, he's a caring, compassionate kid who has a lot of friends, plays sports and is smart and funny when it's required.

The one aspect of teenage life that concerns me is something I didn't have at his age: social media.  I seem to have brainwashed him into wanting nothing to do with Facebook and wouldn't allow it even if he did.  He is on Instagram (which I still don't understand) and uses his iPhone to Facetime his cousin in Vermont and text constantly with girls.  Yeah....girls.

He's already had one official 'girlfriend' and experienced first hand the particular and peculiar brand of female psychosis.  She would text him all hours of the day and night, to the point we had to tell him to put his phone into Airplane Mode so her messages wouldn't keep waking up the house.  When he didn't respond immediately to her messages she would have her friend text him asking why he wasn't responding.  When that didn't illicit a reply the friend would call him.

They never had a date and I don't even think they kissed (he won't admit it, anyway).  When they broke up she had the friend call him.  I heard his side which didn't include more than ten words.

'Yeah?'

'OK'

'Yeah, that's fine'

'Not really'

'Whatever, bye'

He then went back to shooting hoops outside without blinking.  When I asked what the call was about he told me the girlfriend had her friend break up for her.  When he didn't respond with absolute devastation she told him he had no emotions.  That's when his 'Whatever, bye' was uttered and he hung up the phone.

That's my boy!

Things have been quiet since then, although we do catch one of his friends dropping an F-bomb in texts to him now and then.  We let him know that's not appropriate and to tell his friend to not use that language when texting him.  If they continue we block the cell number.  It's been effective.

Last night Wifey checked his phone and found this message:

'Stop causing trouble with Tony, you faggot.  You and your friends can go fuck yourselves.'

This was sent by my son to another kid in his school.  Needless to say, we are not happy.

The problem resides in the use of language, of course, but he's at the age that I think we need a bit of balance when dealing with him.  He can't be treated like an eight year old, any longer.  He's got more freedom, but at the same time, we can't let him get away with things like this.

I boiled it down to three points:

Lesson one:  Do NOT use either F word again.  We're in a new age and the name calling can be construed as a hate term now.  I said 'If he shows that to the Principal in your school, you can be suspended'.  He has a knack for just nodding when you lecture him, but that opened his eyes a bit.

Lesson two:  I do appreciate that he is sticking up for his friend.  That's something I've drilled into him since first grade.  If someone is picking on someone else, you stick up for them.  Especially if they are your friends.
Lesson three (and the most important one to take from all of this):  If you're going to threaten somebody you NEVER PUT IT IN WRITING!!!!

Stupid kids

Today's Distraction:  Five ways to deal with teenagers according to Psychologies Magazine.  So they must know what they're talking about.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fresh Start

Hello, all.   Yes, I'm still alive and well with the usual exception of my mental dementia tinting my thoughts and opinions. 

Let's get caught up.

For newbies, here is a quick refresher.  I'm a middle aged father of two boys (aged 13 and 8) living in the Boston area.  Often I act more immature than both of them.  My wife is a champ who tolerates my behavior for reasons I have yet to understand. 

I like beer, music, movies, beer, good and bad television, beer, beaches, and more beer.  Also, beer.  I like beer. 

This blog was orginally created to keep my friend DA entertained.  That's a long story that can be found in some of the older entries.  Suffice to say that DA stands for Dumb Ass, a nickname both of us take it as a term of endearment (as everyone should).

I have not posted an entry in nine months for the following reasons:

1:  Frankly, I got bored of this.  Didn't feel like I had much to say and didn't want to waste everyone's time. 

2:  Work got in the way.  A lot.  Especially between January and April when I was working on several time sensitive projects.  It was balls to the wall for several months in a row which took it's toll on my mental and liver's well being.  Things have calmed down, though, so there is breathing room.

3:  As judged by my moniker, I enjoy the beach.  Or, more accurately, anything to do with the ocean, relaxing with friends, drinking heavily (in the most responsible way possible, of course) and sunshine.  Since Wifey and I are financially in good shape, we took a big leap.

We bought a boat.  Nice one, too.  It's used, but in very good shape.  27 foot Rinker with all the amenities you can think of.  It's basically our floating vacation home.  We've spent the better part of the summer taking it out and anchoring off one of the islands in Boston Harbor and enjoying views like this:



You can see how that can get addicting.  Not to mention time consuming as I have had to repair various lights, carpeting and canvas covers.  Hey, I'm happy.  Let's just leave it at that.  I can be a legitimate BeachBum any day of the week.  It's like a mini holiday just going down to the boat club and hanging off the back.  Smoking cigars and talking with the other boat owners around us.  It's a fucking blast. 

Oh, sorry. I also curse a lot. 

As for what else has been going on, let's hit the major events of the past year.

Marathon Bombing:  You can tell how many friends you have from across the country when the shit hits the fan.  We were lucky enough to be taking a vacation down to Washington DC when all hell broke loose.  Just three hours before the bombs went off we drove past the marathon course.  We were half way down the Jersey Turnpike when both our cell phones exploded.

'Are you OK?'

'Are you safe?'

'Are you at home?'

Thirteen text messages came through in less than a minute.  My phone was vibrating so hard I thought it was going to fall apart.  We had no idea what was going on.  We learned bits and pieces through Wifey's sister who was in a panic because her husband was in that area working.  We drove another 20 minutes before pulling into a rest stop to get a grip on what was going on. 

Images are so much more disturbing than reports.  The first replay we saw was nauseating; the full impact of what happened settling into your lower gut.  There was discussion between Wifey and I on what our next step was going to be.  Rumors on the radio mentioned DC going into lockdown.  We called Wifey's sister who told us she had heard from her husband and he was fine. 

What could we do?  We just headed down to DC and watched CNN throughout the week in a surreal, somewhat detached haze on what was going on in our home town.  All the familiar places we hung out when we were single and childless, now covered in body parts and unreal amounts of blood. 

And anger.  There was the anger, of course.  Anger on why someone would kill and maim for any reason.  Anger at why I had to explain to my sons why someone would do something that terrible.  My answer boiled down to 'Because some people are just crazy'.  What I wanted to tell them: 'There are fucking assholes around us all the time.  Some of them go off the deep end for reasons we'll never understand'.

One of the victims who died was from the city we live in; about 7 miles outside Boston.  Without thinking about it, my oldest son wore his basketball team T-Shirt on our last day there.  Up until then we were keeping quiet that we were from Boston.  There was sadness and tension and grief from people all over and we didn't want to exacerbate the vibe. 

Our waitress noticed the shirt and asked quietly if we were from there.  When we confirmed, she put her hand on Wifey's shoulder and walked away quietly.  Minutes later she came back with toys for the boys, tears in her eyes and an apology for what happened.  A few minutes after that, the bartender came over with complimentary mimosas.  When we paid the bill and got up to head home she gave us all a hug and cried more. 

As personal and civic as the bombing felt to Bostonians, it affected people everywhere. 

The trip home was just as stressful.  We spent the entire ride monitoring Twitter and Boston.com because the suspects had just killed an MIT officer and shot at another.  Police from multiple towns were on the hunt.  You know the rest. 

I should point out that Twitter is a TERRIBLE way to get news.  Reporters just throw out any rumor they hear as 'unconfirmed'.  At one point the entire city of Boston was shut down (subways, buses, shops, businesses) because there was a rumor that the suspects had more bombs and were last seen heading that way. 

In short, the manhunt was a full fledged shit show. 

One more thought before moving onto lighter subjects.  We are still seeing victims everywhere.  At our boat club I was talking to a friend when two people in wheelchairs came by.  Both were missing a leg.  My friend asked if they were injured in the bombing and they confirmed.  Without another word he bent over and gave them both a hug.

The healing continues. 

Summer Time:  Quite possibly this was the best summer ever.  New boat, vacationed in Maine for week, the boys had a blast with their friends and cousins, we had a blast with our friends and relatives.  It was just a good time all around.  Odd considering the season has been bookended by the bombing and now the Navy Yard shooting.  Fucking assholes ushering in and out one of the best stretches of the year.

Work:  Meh.....

Sports:  Sox are looking good and it's nice to root for (what seem to be) a good group of guys.  Although Lackey still seems like an asshole. 

Celtics have appropriately blown it up.

Bruins choked away Game 6 in an extremely entertaining Stanley Cup series.  Congrats to Kos who I'm sure watched the Cup go parading down Magnificent Mile.  Fuckers!

In a recent development, the Patriots could be terrible this year.  Two squeakers against bad teams.  Not a good way to start things off.  Although they are 2 - 0 which is a borderline miracle considering the way they've played.  If they win their division and do damage in the playoffs, it will be Belichick's finest coaching performance. 

Music:  We'll save this until later, but it's already been a banner year.  Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, Killswitch Engage.  Much to discuss.

Let me know if I missed anything.  It's been a long time and I'm out of practice. 

Hope everyone is doing well!