Friday, August 29, 2008

Local Boy Saves Life

Long Valley resident, Michael VanHouten, is just like any other 11-year old boy his age. He goes to summer camp, likes to play sports (With Baseball, Soccer, and Basketball being his sports of preference), and loves creatures that go bump in the night.

“My favorite movie is The Lost Boys, Michael says, “I love vampires.”

But Michael differs from most kids his age in one major way—he has saved another person’s life.

On his last day at the YMCA Camp Washington on Schooley's Mountain Road where he’s been going to summer camp for the past five years, Michael got behind his fellow camper and began to push and lift above his belly button. He was doing the Heimlich maneuver.

“He kept telling me in the car ride home, ‘Can you imagine if I hadn’t gone to camp today?’” says his mother, Dorine VanHouten.

Similar to everybody who actually saw Michael perform the Heimlich maneuver, Ms. VanHouten is proud of him for taking the initiative to save the choking boy’s life.

“In his mind, it wasn’t about being a hero, it was about being there to help,” Ms. VanHouten says.

Michael couldn’t have been in a better location at the time of the incident. Sitting at a table far from the camp councilors, Michael noticed something was wrong with his friend when he began pointing at his chest but couldn’t say a word.

“We were eating lunch and having a good time when one of the kids smashed my friend’s desert,” Michael says, “I kept asking if we should tell on him (the kid who was smashing the desert), but all of a sudden, he was silent.”

In that moment, everybody froze up, and the councilors were too far away to quickly rectify the problem. After a second’s hesitation, though, Michael began performing the movement having visually learned it eight years ago when his father had performed it on his younger brother, Matthew, in a diner.

“He (Matthew) started choking on a hot dog and my dad pushed and lifted,” Michael says.

In regards to how his brother feels about Michael being a hero, he just smiles at the idea.

“I think it’s cool that my brother saved his life and I’m proud of him,” Matthew says.
Matthew isn’t the only one proud of Michael. Cindy Smith, a camp councilor who was at the YMCA during the incident, is also grateful that Michael had his head on his shoulders when things started to get chaotic.

“It was wonderful that he knew what to do,” Ms. Smith says, “He got to him first and he saved him.”


What are they running from?

One of Parkour’s break-out Star’s is a resident of Chicago

It’s Wednesday night in Oz Park and Michael Zernow, who everyone here knows as “Frosti,” is undressed for action. Wearing nothing but a black skull cap, black shorts, and yellow sneakers, he prepares to run a precarious route on, over and around the playlot equipment he is using as an obstacle course.

He stands on a two inch-wide plank and takes a flying leap toward a wooden playset stacked like a castle rampart. His feet land with perfect precision. He then winds in and out of the maze-like grooves in the structure like a centipede trapped in a bath tub. He crawls along the exterior of the playset before taking another flying leap about four feet down. His landing barely makes a squeak. With two giant steps, he runs up a slight ledge and does a side flip in the air.

The run leaves Zernow winded but not spent. His bare torso – inscribed with a tattoo that declares “Change Yourself, Inspire the People, Save the World” – is glistening with sweat. The discipline he has just demonstrated is called Parkour, which in France, where it originated, means the art of displacement.

Parkour, a close cousin to the free wheeling, trick friendly art form, free running, is the art of getting from point A to point B in the quickest manner possible. Typically, that means jumping over, climbing on or flipping off of any obstacle that presents itself. You may have seen a variation of Parkour in the opening sequence of 2006’s Casino Royale. In that movie, Daniel Craig as James Bond chases the creator of free running, Sebastian Foucan, all over town, navigating any dangerous surface—including a construction site girder—that got in his way.
Parkour is one of those Gen Y phenomena that has grown exponentially in the past few years thanks to the constant YouTube hits scored by videos of “traceurs” – as Parkour practitioners are called– racing over urban landscapes.

Frosti, 21, is one of an estimated 40,000 American traceurs. He is also one of the sport’s rising stars. Every Wednesday night around 7 p.m., he and his Parkour pals congregate in Oz Park where they practice precision jumps, cat leaps, and flips. They also talk about their daily lives away from the Chicago Parkour forums that are their primary means of communication. Oz Park is an ideal location for these traceurs because there are so many apparatuses around the place to climb on and over – uneven ledges, benches, wooden railings. It is also Frosti’s domain; he commands the scene like a rock star.

At 5-feet-8 with a sinewy marathon runner’s build, exotic poly-ethnic features and short black hair that he tends to spike in a faux hawk, Frosti has the looks and the moves to stand out in the Parkour crowd. He is known as a daringly acrobatic traceur, with the ability to make moves like a standing backflip look easy. His is definitely one of the most recognizable faces both in and outside of the Parkour community, due not only to his free running prowess but also to his high-profile stint on last season’s Survivor China on CBS. At 20, he was the youngest person ever to appear on the show.

He capitalized on that exposure with gigs performing Parkour in Madonna concerts and in KSwiss commercials as an extra. Many say that if Parkour is going to break out of its Gen Y niche and go mainstream, Frosti, will be its first superstar.

Frosti the Showman

Born and raised in Traverse City, Michigan, Frosti, who’s half Russian and half Japanese, seems to have had the elements of Parkour embedded in his DNA. Both of his parents teach Aikido, and Frosti grew up practicing the martial art all the way through grade school. In his sophomore year of high school, he discovered Parkour when one of his Aikido instructors brought in a tape of Ripley’s Believe it or Not with footage of people doing it. After watching the tape, he traded in his gi for running shoes, “I watched it [the video] and later that day, me and my friend were doing it [Parkour].

He’d always been athletic, though – captain of both the wrestling and track teams at Traverse City’s Central High School. But it was his Parkour skill that helped him pull off a legendary high school stunt.

In his senior year, he scaled the school rooftop dressed as a ninja. With the walkie talkie-toting principal standing in the cafeteria lording over the students all God-like as they ate lunch, he repelled down the side of the building and began flipping around outside the huge cafeteria windows behind the oblivious principal, much to the amusement of the rest of the school. Unfortunately, he was caught by one of the school’s vice-principals who was already outside patrolling the area. “I feel like if I had focused on being a better ninja, I wouldn’t have been caught,” he recalls.

Following high school, he moved to Chicago supposedly to study film at Colombia College, but he admits that it was Chicago’s burgeoning Parkour scene that was the real attraction. Andrew “Ando” Cousins, 25, and his younger brother, Ryan, known as “Cloud,” were helping to establish a thriving Parkour subculture here. Andrew was part of a troupe of traceurs dubbed “The Tribe,” while his younger brother was in a second generation of traceurs called The Alliance. Their videos were appearing all over the internet, attracting the attention of marketers for the likes of Timberland and Unilever

After hooking up with The Tribe, Frosti lost any interest he might have had in making films. Appearing on film had much more appeal, hence his decision to audition for Survivor China. Ask him why he wanted to be on the show and his terse reply (“Shit, why not?”) shows that he’s not a man prone to introspection. Ask him why he thinks he was selected to be one of the 16 contestants on the show and you get a blast of the charm and braggadocio that fuel his popularity. “Why’d I make it onto Survivor China? Because I’m badass, what do you mean why?”

The truth is his audition was a hoot. In one scene, he flips off his covers to show that he’s already dressed and ready for action. The caption on the screen reads: “Fact: FROSTI is the only person ever to win SURVIVOR before the competition began.”

Not everybody loved seeing him slug in out in China, though. During the one month he was there, he received tons of hate mail. Surprisingly, a lot of younger viewers resented him for his youth.

Nor was the experience a run in the park. He lost 20 pounds while out in the woods, and got sick in the jungle. Despite his best efforts to make strategic alliances with his castmates, he was unceremoniously bounced from the show in week nine.
He only has one major complaint, though.

“I’m kind of pissed they didn’t have a challenge that was Parkour related.”

Taking the world by storm

Nobody knows exactly how many traceurs are practicing Parkour around the globe. It’s not exactly an organized enterprise. It’s a pick up and practice sport, requiring no special playing surface or equipment. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so popular – anyone can do it, any time, any where. And it’s definitely not a sport relegated to the western side of the world. It’s popular in Japan and Australia in addition to France and Germany.

Despite the danger inherent in leaping from buildings and balconies, the injuries sustained by traceurs are about the same as those suffered by skateboarders or BMX riders, meaning that sprained ankles and knocked out teeth abound. As haphazard as Parkour may seem, there is a method to the madness. Discipline and precision help reduce the prospect of injury. A traceur’s training is comparable to that of someone participating in the martial arts in that there is a lot of mental preparation involved. Breaking cinder blocks with your bare hands in martial arts, for example, would be similar to leaping a large gap between buildings in Parkour. It’s all mind over matter.

It’s also a highly individual preoccupation. The focus is on individual development rather than competition, meaning the only real failure is personal miscalculation.

David Belle, a Frenchman, is considered by many to be the father of Parkour. He coined the term and helped popularize the sport by uploading countless videos of himself in action on the Internet. And his fans soon followed, posting videos of themselves performing Parkour, mostly set to raucous rock music.

But the development of the art of Parkour predates Belle by several generations. In the early 1900s, a French physical education teacher named Georges Hebert began teaching a technique called the “natural method” to members of the French Navy. It was used to help members of the French military maneuver through natural surroundings. Hebert had observed the movement in Africa where he saw native people navigate through dense vegetation with great agility. Hebert adapted the movement for use to save soldiers and seamen in treacherous environments. The motto he adopted for the training was “be strong to be useful.”

David Belle’s father, Raymond, learned the movement while he was in the French military and passed the techniques on to his son.

In 2004 David Belle appeared in the hit French Film District B-13, jumping off of walls and leaping between chasm-like rooftops. The thrill of seeing Belle fly through the streets of Paris was an inspiration to many potential traceurs, one of them being Washington DC native, Mark Toorock. “When I first saw the movie, I said, I just gotta try this,” Toorock says.

Toorock, who owns a gym in DC called Primal Fitness, is also the primary organizer of Parkour in this country. He founded the American Parkour website and is also the founder of both the Tribe and the Alliance, two groups that feature clusters of ten highly skilled traceurs representing specific regions of the country. Frosti, along with Andrew “Ando” Cousins represent the Tribe in Chicago. Their mission is to teach other traceurs the proper way to practice, such as how to roll out of falls and how to judge what stunts are actually doable—such as jumping in between rooftops or any of the other stunts seen in YouTube videos.

“The one thing I have against the videos,” says Toorock, “is that they don’t distinguish between the people like David Belle, who have been practicing it for years, and some jackass who’s just jumping off his roof for the first time.”

Toorock, though a great force in the field through his marketing of the sport, has actually gotten a bit of flak lately for his support of efforts to turn Parkour into a competitive sport, with tournaments and prize money. Competitions are already sprouting up around the world. They emphasize the stylistic tumbling of free running – Frosti’s speciality – versus the pure adrenaline rush of Parkour.

Many traceurs disdain the effort to create more commercial tournaments for Parkour or free running. They say it contradicts the original purpose of Parkour—to train for the sake of training, and not for the sake of competing.

“Keeping it old-school is kind of okay,” Toorock says, “but I don’t completely agree with that.”
Frosti, whose telegenic style and countenance make him a prime candidate for multi-media Parkour stardom – is curiously ambivalent about the prospect of competition. “There are a lot of positives and negatives to the idea of competition [in Parkour], [but] as far as it’s concerned, I’d rather make sure that it happens right [than not at all].”

The Non-Frosti’s

Back in Oz Park, traceurs like 20-year old, Cody Beltramo, arrive to hang out and master the perfect backflip, which is not necessarily a Parkour technique per se, but a coveted maneuver if it can presented in just the right way.

Standing on a wafer thin piece of wood at the top of a park bench, Cody bends forward before he hurls himself backwards into the air like a gymnast spiraling off of a balance beam. He lands on the wood chips behind him with a loud and uneven thud.

The other park visitors don’t seem to mind the high-flying traceurs. Some even take pictures with their camera phones of Cody, Frosti and the other traceurs flipping and flopping around them in the park.

is Parkour in its purest form –traceurs trying out tricks, urging each other on. It’s not about competition, compensation or Kswiss commercials. For Cody and his ilk, Parkour is just part of their very being.

“After watching a few of the basic techniques, we [my friends and I] went out and tried them, and just kept going with it,” Cody says.

Frosti walks around Oz Park with his hands on his hips. For him Parkour is about more than just fun. It is a sporting life that could make him the Parkour equivalent of Ryan Sheckler, the 19-year-old superstar of the skateboarding world. Fellow Tribe member Andrew “Ando” Cousins sits on the ground and plays Rick Astley’s, “Never Going to Give You Up,” on a small stereo he has sitting by his hip.

The song is very in tune with Frosti’s plans for the future. No matter what direction Parkour takes, he’s never going to give it up.

The crowd of traceurs shimmies back and forth and hefts up their shoulders to the music, singing along to the catchy tune. Frosti just smirks and slides back and forth on his heels along with them. The community is in complete harmony.

Wherever Parkour goes, Frosti’s going to run along with it.


Postal Review

Rich Knight
100 minutes
No Rate
Starring: Zack Ward, Dave Foley, Julia Sandberg, Chris Coppola, and Verne Troyer
Directed by: Uwe Boll
Produced by: Uwe Boll, Dan Clarke, and Shawn Williamson
Written by: Uwe Boll and Bryan C. Knight
Freestyle Releasing

It’s easy to make fun of Uwe Boll. His movies suck, he seems to have a limitless supply of video games to make into movies, and heck, why not add this to the argument, he’s unapologetically German. But while I could probably just say Postal sucks without even watching the movie as Boll’s name precedes his films, that wouldn’t be surprising. What is surprising, though, is that Postal isn’t really all that bad. In fact, I’d go the length to say that it’s actually pretty good. So good, in fact, that I’d actually suggest that you watch it.

The movie--Three and a half stars

Uwe Boll is already fast on track to being the physical successor to the worst director of all time, Ed Wood. His movies are almost offensively bad, with House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, and, God Almighty, Bloodrayne, being new gold standards in terms of garbage cinema. And the fact that he’s so oblivious to his atrocities is further proof that his claiming of the throne from Ed Wood should definitely be forthcoming. Be that as it may, though, you can’t deny that there’s a certain charm to his work that makes you smile just a little, even if it’s at how bad his movies are. Whether it be the over the top acting, pointless panty shots, or surprising big wig actors starring in his films, there’s just something about Uwe’s movies that illicit some kind of response, whether it be good or bad.

And while I can’t completely condone head honcho, Josh Tyler’s acceptance of In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale as a decent movie, I will say that it had a grand spirit to it that showed that Uwe was at least trying to be a good director, which you have to respect from a man who’s pretty much made his entire career on video game translations. Postal, his latest effort, is an even greater step forward for Uwe Boll--one that shows at least a modicum of growth from a director that so many critics have crapped on.

If you’ve never played the game Postal before, don’t worry about it. All you need to know is that one man gets his buttons pushed all the wrong ways and he eventually goes berzerk with bullets, hence the title of going postal. But Uwe’s take on the game goes way beyond that plot and surprisingly turns into a satirical tale of everything from terrorism, racism, and even Boll’s entire career as a director, making for some legitimate laughs this time around, rather than just laughs at how funny Ben Kingsley looks as a vampire.

The film stars Zack Ward as a guy simply known as the “postal dude,” but the movie doesn’t start with the main character. Instead, it starts with two terrorists piloting a hijacked 9/11 plane that eventually crash lands into the twin towers. The two terrorists are debating over how many virgins they’ll be rewarded in Heaven for getting the job done, and they call up Osama (Yes, that Osama) upset that they were promised more virgins than they’re actually getting. Obviously, this kind of humor is going to offend both Muslims and Americans who lost anybody in 9/11 at the same time.

Still, I don’t think the scene is nearly as bad as it sounds on paper. Sure, it’s offensive, and it’s meant to be, but there’s a certain charm to how brazenly politically incorrect Uwe is. Obviously, he’s willing to push a lot of envelopes into the Hollywood mailbox because he knows that hardly anybody’s watching, and for those who are, at least he can drop a few jaws in the process. Of course, the film falls apart when it comes to the actual plot, but who cares? The story that is told is good enough to balance out all the jokes stuffed in there, so it’s not a complete failure in the slightest like many of Boll’s other creations. Written partially by Uwe himself, you begin to realize that he probably just padded the slapdash story in for good measure, as his criticism of modern day Bush America is what he really wanted to show in the movie.

As mentioned before, the story is centered on this “postal dude,” who can’t seem to get a break. His morbidly obese wife sleeps around with everybody in the trailer park, he can’t get a decent job that doesn’t involve selling his soul, and his get rich quick scheming Uncle Dave (Dave Foley), who runs a cult-like empire, wants him to break the law just so he can get out of financial debt. It’s the eventual failure of Uncle Dave’s plan to pilfer a new hot toy on the market called a Krotchy doll shaped like a penis (get it? Krotchy? Ha!) to sell on the black market that ultimately leads to the “postal dude,” well, going postal.

But forget all that. Between the director playing himself as a sausage eating Nazi apologist, to little kids being the only accidental victims in a gun battle scene, to even the wacky conclusion of Bush and Bid Laden skipping through a field holding hands, Boll’s satirical message movie isn’t half as bad as you’d expect it to be.

Uwe Boll may never reach Ed Wood status at this rate. Postal isn’t the greatest movie in the world, but at least it’s definitely better than Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Special Features--Four stars

Even better than watching Postal is actually listening to the director talk about his movie on the hilarious commentary, which involves lengthy discussions on everything from people in Hollywood being “pussies,” for not distributing his movies, to how people need to be more open minded about watching his films. If they’re not open-minded, Uwe refers to them as “retards.” Love him or loathe him, you can’t say that Uwe doesn’t have a pair of brass balls on him.

The rest of the special features aren’t nearly as great as the angry commentary, where Uwe pretty much says that the Jihad can come after him personally if they don’t like his portrayal of them. He’s not afraid of them. He even admits it openly and tells them to bring it on.

Perhaps, a boxing match with some of the Jihad members can be arranged for the release of his next DVD, as this one features him fighting a few of his harshest critics in a boxing match. Entitled, “Raging Boll--Director boxes his critics” (How clever), Uwe squares off against puny critics of his who don’t have a chance against the supposedly former boxer. He demolishes all of them with either a knock down or without being hit a single time, his dodging and weaving minimal for these out-of-shape journalists.

If anything, watching him bat around these flies is at least enjoyable for a little while, and I have to tell you, it’s a relief to know that Uwe takes out his aggression in a physical manner, which is exactly what you’d expect from a man who has made a career on adapting video games into movies. He’s still kept that Punch-Out!! persona alive, which pretty much legitimizes everything he’s done as a director thus far. In other words, at least he puts his fists where his films are, which is refreshing to see--sort of in a rough, Hemingway sort of manlihood that hasn’t been around for a long time.

“A Day in Little Germany,” doesn’t succeed as well, though. Basically just showing shots of the day on set at the gas chamber and Hitler adorned faux amusement park in the movie, it seems like this special feature could have been ramped up a bit to really delve deeper into how they could possibly get away with such a scene in this day and age.

And the “Verne Troyer as Indiana Jones” feature is just annoying. Coincidently, Uwe Boll pushed to make it so his movie would come out on the same exact day as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and this feature is just featuring Troyer calling Indy out , claiming that Postal is in fact better than The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Really, after seeing both pictures, I tend to agree with Troyer on this one. I mean, at least Postal doesn’t have Shia LaBeouf swinging from vines like Tarzan. Overall, I liked Postal, and I don’t care what anybody thinks, so there. It’s clearly Boll’s best work to date, and the special features only add to that fact.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bionic Commando Blocked From The Virtual Console. But Why?

In a recent interview on with Bionic Commando producer, Ben Judd, they asked him about the prospects of the original Bionic Commando ever coming out for the Virtual Console now that he’s working on a sequel of sorts. But what should have been a, “Yes, it’ll be coming out next month,” sort of answer, we instead get a, “We couldn’t get it approved for the Virtual Console,” response instead.

What makes this story even more cryptic though is his next comment on the matter where he states that he couldn’t explain why it can’t come out for the Virtual Console. It just can’t. My mind is a bit fuzzy when it comes to the original game, but I do remember something about Nazis in there somewhere. Perhaps it’s the swastikas that are keeping it from your Virtual Console. Or maybe it’s the inability to jump (WHAT?! In an NES game?! Get out of here!). But seriously, grappling hook aside, couldn’t the swastikas just be blurred out? I know pretty much all of the Virtual Console games have been direct ports from their original systems, but couldn’t an exception be made for Bionic to make it more family friendly? Maybe they can switch the swastikas for a hammer and sickle emblem instead. We’re not beefing with the Soviet Union anymore, right? Right?!

Anyway, enough about Bionic Commando. As cool as it was, I’m still not going to be sobbing into my hands with the fact that I’ll never be able to play BC on my Virtual Console. Now, T & C Games 2: Thrilla’s Safari on the other hand, that’s a different story. That game was too awsome for words.

Young Improv Group Gets Grown-Up Sized Laughs

No matter how hard he tries, Max Zuckert, a member of the 13-18 year old improv comedy group, The Underage Sugar Addicts (USA), can’t seem to find a comfortable way to sit in his chair.

He gets on his knees and puts his head through the back end of it, getting his neck stuck momentarily while Hannah Letchinger, another member of the troupe, sits next to him with her legs crossed. Acting as a psychiatrist, she diagnoses him with being too lazy and Zuckert, who manages to extract his head from the back end of the chair only to lie on his back and intertwine his fingers, tells her after a lengthy pause, “I’m paying you too much,” and then gets up and starts to laugh.

He runs to the side of the stage with Letchinger and they stand next to each other with red faces, trying to contain their chortles. The next group of young performers who were standing in the wings, runs out on the stage next—already telling jokes to keep the crowd going.

Zuckert didn’t plan out that last line seconds in advance, nor did he write it down. He did it spur of the moment, as that’s what he does—improv comedy, which is comedy that comes straight from the mind given the situation and uttered without giving it a second thought. It’s very much like what rappers do when they freestyle and say lines that they hadn’t planned out in advance, except in this instance, it’s jokes instead of verses, the emphasis on comedy instead of rhymes.

Chicago is famous for its improv comedy scene. Second City, improv Olympics and Comedy Sportz are all Windy City staples. But few of those places can claim to have comedians as young as the Underage Sugar Addicts, with the average age being about 15 years old.

But while the Underage Sugar Addicts aren’t the only improv comedy group of young performers in the United States, they are the only independent youth improv organization in the country not affiliated or funded by a school or a theater. They’re also the only improv group that actually travels around the country doing their bizarre brand of comedy, Zuckert himself having performed at every venue the Sugar Addicts have been invited to, including St. Louis, Kentucky, and even Canada.

“They are performing at the Milwaukee sketch festival in August, which is their 5th out of state festival they have been invited to,” says a proud Tony Lawry, director of the USA and also their manager cum travel agent. They have also won various awards for their comedy, garnering the Producers Award at the St. Louis Fringe Festival, and also second place at the Dual Duel, where two of the Sugar Addicts, Letchinger and another member named Chelsea, beat out 24 other adult teams to nab second place at the competition.
As his fellow Sugar Addicts prepare for their future gig, though, Zuckert’s has other plans. His next trip won’t be to Milwaukee, but rather, to a Hostel in Jerusalem where he will be filling in the role as a member of the Red Cross. This year, Zuckert will be leaving the Sugar Addicts because he’s reached the age limit of 18 and has graduated Evanston High School.

Comedy will still be in his cards, though.

“I plan to continue comedy in college,” says Zuckert, “I want to be a writer.”

Though they may be young, don’t take them for granted or think they’re a novelty act. Some of their bits are very adult for their age, as long-form improv, which they perform, is a tough talent to get down pat, the idea of carrying a single comedic theme throughout an entire half hour performance usually reserved for the professionals.

“Try to refer to them as young performers and not ‘kids,’” Lowry says in case you ever bump into one of them on the street, “They don't perform like kids so they don't like the term.”

Losing Lollapalooza

With his face puffed out and his cheeks swishing back and forth as if he were gargling Listerine, Zuckert leans back in his chair before his final show at the Chemically Imbalanced Comedy club where the USA perform. He’s sucking on a root beer flavored candy.

In the back with him are the three other seniors, Matt Stover, Hannah Letchinger, and Zoe Weinstein, who are also doing their final performance with the USA tonight, even though at the time, they still think they’ll be performing one last show at Lollapalooza.

“They just pulled their offer because they found a group that could do four shows Saturday and Sunday,” an irate Lowry says about losing the Lollapalooza gig only mere days before the big Festival at Grant Park.

“The guy, Lee, from Crazy Kids Chicago was an absolute asshole to me on the phone,” Lowry says, “ and when I went off on him about committing and getting these kids excited, all he did to defend himself was swear at me and tell me how busy he was and then he hung up on me. What a man and a rep of a youth organization he is, huh?”

But Zuckert and the gang don’t know this yet and are still psyched to go on stage to perform their brand of zany comedy to the packed house of mostly family and friends for this final show in Chicago.

They wouldn’t even be here tonight though if not for Mr. Lowry, who discovered most of the performers after teaching a summer program commissioned by Evanston High School to keep kids out of trouble over the months during the summer vacation. He hand-picked the ones in the program he thought worked best together doing improv comedy and rounded up a group for a single performance that would occur on December 31st, 2003 after the high school asked him to do it. Little did he know, though, how good they would actually be in that performance, which spurred him to continue teaching them until they felt good enough in front of an audience to actually consider themselves a troupe. And thus, the Underage Sugar Addicts were born, the name created after 17-year-old, Matt Stover was cocking his head back and downing yet another Pixie Stick given to him courtesy of Mr. Lowry to pump him up before a show.

“We’re, like, underage sugar addicts,” Stover said with sugar still clinging to his teeth, and Mr. Lowry leapt up saying, “That’s it, that’s it, USA, the Underage Sugar Addicts. That’s your new name!”

Speaking of sugar, Zuckert swallows his root beer flavored candy while Letchinger and Weinstein talk to each other about what an experience it’s been over these past four years doing improv comedy together, each of them considering it an occupation rather than a pastime what with the hours they’ve put into it.

“Are you ready to teach that workshop at Lakeshore?” Letchinger asks Zuckert as she hits him in the knee cap with her fingers to get his attention.

“What workshop?” Zuckert asks, leaning forward.

“The workshop we’re teaching,” Weinstein reminds him, stressing her words to jog his memory.

“I don’t remember that,” Zuckert says.

“You signed up for it. Remember?” Letchinger asks.

“I did?” Zuckert asks laughing, “I guess I am then.”

From learning improv to teaching it, Zuckert and the gang have come a long way.

Moving On With Their Lives

After the show, a beet red Lowry tries to hold in his tears as Zuckert and the other seniors walk up to receive their autographed framed pictures of their cartoon logo. The performance went well, but it wasn’t the kind of show they could get away with on the road. Some of the jokes were sloppy, a few of the lines were fumbled, and the young performers looked a little flustered while performing—failure all part of the game for these young actors who are feeling their way through comedy just as any other young actor would. The only difference being that the Underage Sugar Addicts are about three years ahead of the curve. Others could only wish to be so lucky.
“They’re great,” says Angie McMahon, President of the Chemically Imbalanced Comedy club where the young actors perform. “We were interested in taking them on as an act, but Tony wanted to keep them independent.”

One such bit during tonight’s performance had the actors trying their hardest to find a reason to explain how a ghost had managed to get into the museum, which was their setting for the night. Zuckert wandered around the stage confused, his eyes constantly jumping to the audience and trying to figure out why they weren’t laughing.

“Buy the audio tour,” Zuckert kept saying to the other members on the stage with him who kept bumping into each other while trying to figure out what to do next as they pretended to stare at an exhibit in the distance.

It took Josh Chapman, an adult from the comedy improv group, 37 Foxtrot who was performing with the young actors tonight, to get them back on track. He posed as the ghost they were looking for and rattled the curtains near the back, shouting, “GET OUT!” any time the cast seemed to be stumbling on their words, which elicited at least a few laughs from the audience.

Like all comedy groups are prone to have at least once in the career, the Sugar Addicts were having a bad night, their jokes just weren’t connecting with the audience.

They’ve been much funnier in the past.

But a bad night didn’t keep them from trudging through their show like professionals.

No matter how hard Max Zuckert tries, though, he just can’t seem to get a laugh.

But Zuckert believes that this show is just one out of hundreds for him in the future.

“I want to do comedy for the rest of my life,” Zuckert says.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Come One, come all to Uncle Ben’s Player’s Ball

Everybody knows Uncle Ben’s a pimp. With Aunt Jemima on one arm, and Sara Lee on the other (“Cause nobody doesn’t like her, fool!”) Uncle Ben has single-handedly made the rice business his bitch and has ratted out his sole competitor, Senor Goya, to the INS, making him the premier rice distributor in the world.

So, with the crown atop his head, Uncle Ben has decided to throw his first annual Player’s Ball. But not just anybody can come to said ball of player’s. To get into this ritzy joint, which is being held at the White Castle on 7th Ave this year, you have to be the baddest of the bad, and the coolest of the cool. And currently, with such a tight economy, only four possible player’s actually made it in this year. Here are their attributes and shot at winning the crown.

Colonel Sanders:
With a face as iconic as slavery and chicken breasts, Colonel Sanders has a good shot at winning it all. His greasy chicken, choice to wear all white, and Kentucky fried mustache make him one heck of a pimp. It also makes him one snazzy looking colonel. What the hell, US Military? Why don’t soldiers dress like the Sands anymore?

PROS: Owns his own business from beyond the grave, has revolutionized the use of the bucket, KFC biscuits the only product from Heaven to safely make it down to Earth.

CONS: Too much of a thigh man, skin only edible part of his chicken, nasty habit to go to comedy clubs and drop the “N” bomb.

Chances of winning: 10-1.

Mr. Monopoly:
Everybody knows that the Monopoly magnate (also known to his stock broker friends as Rich Uncle Pennybags) is one of the filthiest—in the rich sort of way—player’s out there. Not only can he make or break you with as little as a dice roll, but he can also make a top hat, a cane, and a red bow tie look as natural as professional wrestling and the cell membrane of a plant. Oh, and he can put on his own diaper, too. Ladies, look out!

PROS: Literally has a card that gets him out of jail, has four railroads, all of them, amazing, has his own currency.

CONS: Drives a one inch silver car, talks like he’s still living in the thirties, spits when he eats fish and mustard sandwiches (It’s true, watch him eat sometime).

Chances of winning: 40-1.

The Quaker Oats Guy:
The Quaker Oats Guy, though you didn’t know this, is one of the most notorious, rapacious arms dealers out there. Using a special blend of oatmeal that he mixes with gun powder and old Chinese newspapers, he has single handedly supplied the middle east and North Korea (Not to mention Vatican City) with more weaponry than Hunter S. Thompson’s stockpile. And yes, while he is a pimp, you’ll find that he’s also a very dirty, lecherous, not very nice pimp, which is unlike most pimps you’ll find in your slums and ghettos.

PROS: Rocks white Prince Valiant hair and smiles about it, product can make you lose weight by induced vomiting, can recite Rapper’s Delight perfectly without missing a single word

CONS: Gay, which is not a con, but at a Player’s Ball where you’re supposed to bring hot females, it hurts when you bring Mr. Goodbar and Clark Bar by your side, Did I mention his product makes you vomit?

Chances of winning: 30-1

Orville Redenbacher:
The obvious looker of the bunch, Orville made his career with salty popcorn that frankly, really isn’t all that good. Still, with his Steve Urkel get-up and lack of any real history of being a pedophile or anything like that, you could do a lot worse than Orwell. Like the guy on the Crackerjacks box, for instance. Let’s not get into his back-story…

PROS: A nice guy who just wants to shove popcorn down your throat, wears glasses so thick they can see through time

CONS: Eats with his elbows on the table, has tendency to pop his corn when you’re making love just so he can walk in and say, “Oops, sorry, didn’t see you there.”

Chances of winning: 20-1

And the winner is...Dark horse candidate Count Chocula, who has amassed a fortune in his 3000 years on this planet. Sorry fellows, better luck next year. Your delicious treats and whimsical board games that teach us the facts of life will not be forgotten. And you can take that to the bank (You get it? Like Rich UnclePenny Bags? And, oh, forget it, these kind of jokes are lost on you…)

Retro Geek Chic - 13 Old School Gamer Tees

Retro gaming tees are hot right now - on the streets of NYC, across the surgically enhanced chests of celebs in LA, on alt-rock band members, and even baby doll T-shirts for the ladies.And since (according to the Entertainment Software Association) the average age of the modern-day gamer is thirty-three years old (not 12 like your girlfriend keeps insisting), it's perfectly acceptable for a grown man to show a little gamer pride. Especially if you're gonna rock the classics from back in the day. So here are a few that'll show you're a proud level seven geek. With style. [Note: is not an affiliate of, associated with, making any money from, or endorsing any of the sites selling shirts mentioned here. I'm just letting you know who has them.]

CONTRA: Relive the first time you went commando with this Contra tee, declare your passion for blowing the hell out of whatever came your way - human, mutant, alien or otherwise - and pledge your undying allegiance to Mad Dog and Scorpion.Link

LEGEND OF ZELDA: Long before Legolas proved that elves were more than tree-dwelling cookie bakers, Link paved the way for the tight-wearing, sword-wielding, pointy-eared heroes in the first Legend of Zelda. Show your fondness for the Princess and the land of Hyrule by sporting this classic logo shirt.Link

PAC MAN: This shirt could be an homage to the 80's pop icon - that ate more pac-dots, outran more ghosts, and sold more merchandise than any other video game - or a pie chart showing the growing world domination of Google. Link

DONKEY KONG: Oh, it's on. Mario may have put the days behind him when he was known as "Jumpman" and fought to free Paulina from this 800 lb. gorilla before scoring his own game and forgetting where he came from. Show Kong you remember him.Link

SUPER MARIO BROTHERS: Who better to "clean your pipes" than the gaming's most famous plumbers, and World Record holders as the best-selling video game of all time? (This is one of the few shirts that includes Luigi. I was always a Luigi fan.)Link

MEGA MAN: Can't remember who your favorite boss was? This shirt featuring all eight of Dr. Wily's original Robot Masters should help you remember.Link

STREET FIGHTER: You blew hundreds of dollars in the arcade playing this revolutionary fighting game a couple quarters at a time, so what's a few dollars more for this t-shirt featuring the entire roster from Street Fighter II: Championship Edition?Link

CASTLEVANIA: Go retro and make a current political statement with this shirt featuring weapons you were actually able to find...Link

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG: Celebrate the birth, on June 23, 1991, of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega's answer to Nintendo's Mario, with this vintage-style tee. (We're still looking for a tee with Tails, for you sequel fans.)Link

EXCITE BIKE: Remember when you spent the whole day building that one awesome track with all the hills? Sure. You put it on your first resume, didn't you? See how many people run up and tell you how far they got their bikes to go off a sweet jump. And if they tell you 400 meters, they're lying.Link

DUCK HUNT: Part of the reason you wear coke bottles for glasses may be because you sat four inches from the TV screen so you could hit every last duck that flew by. Small price to pay for not having that dog laugh at you. Link

SPACE INVADERS: The sound of these aliens invading your screen was almost as iconic as the sound that announced the arrival of Jaws. Let the world know you've been invaded with this vintage-style tee.Link

PONG: Simple, elegant, and above all, fun, Pong is the one that got us all hooked. Pay tribute to the granddaddy of them all with this tee. Link

Mountain Creek Ski Resort Pedestrian Village Finally A Go

After years of plans to construct the Mountain Creek Ski Resort pedestrian village in Vernon, it looks like things are finally underway after the unanimous approval by the Vernon Planning Board last week on Wednesday the 28th. This is a decision that has been seven years in the making, as a string of lawsuits from an environmental group and state officials prevented any building to be done on Hamburg Mountain, which was the original location outlined for the village.

“We had a different master plan in 2000,” says Jeff Patterson, the ski resort’s director of development who expects the project to be done in the next ten years.

The 20,000 square-foot-village had actually received a lot of flak prior to this approval, mainly due to its new location, which will be right along route 94 next to the Appalachian Hotel. But township engineer, Louis Kneip, says this isn’t too much of a concern right now: “These problems have been rectified,” says Mr. Kneip, “What we’ve settled on [is that] people are directed to a pedestrian bridge.”

This huge undertaking, set to cost $625 million, has a 20 year protection period for the project, and is set to include 1810 resort/lodging hotel units, 100,000 square feet of commercial space for restaurants and various shops, and also 100,000 square feet of conference space. All of this designed by Intrawest, the world leader in destination resorts and adventure travel.

And according to the resort’s fiscal consultant, Richard Reading, the construction of this new resort would open up about 430 new jobs in Vernon, most of them construction. And there will be an estimated yearly income of 1.3 million to the township, $5.9 to the Vernon Township School District, and 1.7 million to the country, making it a huge money maker and also like nothing else currently on the East Coast.

Look for construction to begin in the next few months.

Model Day At The Races

JEFFERSON—The Rock strewn parking lot at Saffin Pond was filled with cars, and all of them were unoccupied except for one with a long-haired teenager with his head down, playing a Game Boy.

It was a sleepy Sunday morning, and dark, ominous, storm clouds slowly filled the sky. With a light, chilly wind, the clouds moved into town and rudely set their place in the sky to stay. Here, they rested for the remainder of the day and threatened all below with the possibilities of a tremendous downpour.

That didn’t stop the Roostertails, a Morris County team that builds and races motorized boats, from hosting its N.J. Heat Racing/District Points competition. That’s because the Roostertails, like many other teams around the world, belong to the North American Model Boat Association, an international nonprofit organization where people of all ages share their ardent passion for building boats and racing them.

They do it for the sheer thrill of it all. June 25 was their day to host the competition, and nothing in the world, not even a little bit (or a lot) of rain was about to spoil their fun.

The path down to the pond was rocky and shaded by verdant trees and vegetation, and at a distance could be heard the sounds of wildlife and…the revving of engines?

The whirring noise of a sputtering engine that sounded like a race car could be heard loudly cutting corners in the water and splashing all about in the distance. Through the limbs of the trees, a red flash could be seen darting across the water like a laser beam and cutting a sharp turn around what looked like an orange buoy that say placidly in the pond.

Nearer to the pond, not only could these water rockets be heard, but they also could be smelled as a metallic scent wafted in the air and collected in a person’s nostrils and on the roof of the mouth. That’s the smell of methane from nitro and gas powered boats, and that’s the heat that raced on Sunday. Electric boats also are known to race, but they hold a separate competition since they are generally faster and more efficient than gas or nitro.

Doug Twaits of Stanhope, a member of the Morris County Electric Boat Club and a former president of NAMBA from 1991 to 1993, was one of the first to introduce electric-powered boats to the club. He was also the first person a visitor saw when entering the camp set-up for the day.

With graying hair and a cordial smile, and wearing a bright red shirt and blue overalls, he resembled an older version of Super Mario. His thumbs were nestled behind the straps of his overalls as he sauntered over with slow and deliberate steps to a bench that sat near the pond and said something in the ear of a man wearing jean shorts, a red shirt, and an M&M’s baseball cap. The man with the cap (who had an M&M-modeled boat to accompany the hat) laughed. The man was David Neelman of Bloomingdale, president of the Roostertails.

David Neelman and his father, Herb Neelman of Boonton, watched attentively as racers for the day, wearing galoshes, hurled a variety of boats into the water to take off. This is called mill time and is practice before the actual events. David Neelman turned around on the bench and introduced his father and Tracy Hunt of Rockaway, a redheaded woman wearing shorts who kept the stats.

After meeting other members who came to the event not too much later, Neelman discussed the rules, then got on the microphone and enthusiastically said, “Racers, start your engines.” The men with their boats raced to their tables and set up shop, revving their engines with a partner and readying their boats to toss into the water to take laps.

An onlooker, standing relatively close to the racers, was told to step back by Neelman. The man backed up. The sky was getting darker.

At the start of the first race, an official boxed voice on a radio counted down how much time the racers had to get their boats ready to send out into the water: “22, 21, 20…” Two boats were sent out on the pond; they shot out on the water like racehorses. They flew past the orange buoys at the end of the pond and then took a sharper turn around a green buoy in the middle.

At that moment, one of the boats went down. The counter continued: “3, 2, 1” and then a bullhorn bellowed, and the last boat at its station got out just before the horn went off. That final boat was flying at such an exhilarating rate that it couldn’t make the first turn. It fell out of the race and hit a dead stop.

Only one boat made it in to the finish line. All the other dead boats had to be scooped out of the water by a member willing to go out in the retriever boat.

Another race was finished with only two winners, and then it was on to the one-eighth-scale-race, an exciting one. In this competition, all the boats were modeled after actual boats but only one-eighth the size of them. There are strict guidelines for this competition as to the size of these models, and for all their worth, they looked very close to the boats they were detailed after. In this race were two Budweiser boats, one brown, one red; a Miller High Life boat; a Chrysler Jeep boat; and an Olympian Beer boat.

As the boats were thrown from the pit area, the buzzer just went off. It was a tight one; the red Budweiser boat and the Chrysler were close until the Chrysler sank, but in the end, only three boats made it in. Budweiser Red was up front, followed by Olympian Beer, followed by one last boat.

And then…rain.

It finally came down. Everybody rushed under tents they had set up for such an occasion. Some left their boats out uncovered on tables, but nobody really cared. It already was coming down too hard and too fast for anybody to really notice. Once covered underneath the tent, Herb Neelman commented, “We used to race in more than this.”

The deluge lasted for about an hour and a half, nonstop, and everybody pushed the pockets of rain off their tarps as the rain continued to come down hard. Tracy Hunt spent the time slapping horse flies off her uncovered legs while most others shared stories about how their boats just weren’t holding up that day, probably because of the weather. And while it rained, a blue snake slithered through the stream made by the mud, possibly signaling that the rain wouldn’t last much longer.

Moments later, the rain stopped almost miraculously. And like a cavalier of warriors, everybody came out from under their tents, set up their boats and were back on the pond that now looked like glass. Smoke sputtered out from their creations, and they raced as if it had never even rained.

Hamburg School ahead of the game with security

Similar to how the 50s and 60s had Duck-and-Cover Drills in case of Soviet attacks, this generation’s current fear is the school shooting, which, while rare in its practice, is just as relevant and fear inducing as anything in America’s past.

But while some schools scramble to implement new precautions in case anyone wants to copycat the Virginia Tech incident, one school system is already a few steps ahead when it comes to protecting America’s youth—the Hamburg School District.

“We had security installed during the summer,” says Hamburg principal Steven Engravalle, who calls the new, beefed up security that allows the police to see inside the school from the station and even their own squad cars, an “eerie coincidence.

“Any advantage that we can give to the good guys is what we want,” says Engravalle.

The new security system, installed on April 17th, allows real-time video footage inside the school to be seen by police at the same time it’s happening, creating a shared link between the school and the station, which is a state first.

“The school has the most valuable resource in mind—the children,” Engravalle says.

It’s also helpful to police officers who can monitor what’s going on even after school hours, which hopefully creates a deterrent for any midnight marauders.
“With the recordings, the purpose is tri-fold,” says patrolman, Erik Aronson. “We can monitor any unlawful activities, one. Two, God forbid, if something happens, there will be an alarm call and we’ll be there right away. And three, we’ll have archives, so in case there’s criminal mischief after school, it will be captured right there, [on the cameras].”

But besides the police department and the school that benefits from these modifications, the ones, besides the students, who might benefit the most from these additions are the parents themselves.

“I’ll be carrying around a Blackberry,” says Engravalle.

And while this may not sound like anything that would make any parents do a back flip or swoon, Engravalle offers an explanation.

“This thing [the Blackberry] can be put to great use when there’s inclement weather,” says Engravalle, who’s talking about the ability to inform parents on whether there’s a snow day via phone calls, text messages, or email. “And the beauty of it is, they all receive the notice at the same time.”

This new system, which will go out in three different colors—red, yellow, and green—will vary depending on the importance of the matter, with red being the most important, an early school closing being an example, and green being the least important.

And costing only three dollars a student, this—coupled with the grants and Homeland Security funded $23,000 security plan—means parents will be paying next to nothing for all the benefits they’ll be seeing with these new additions, a feat Superintendent, Robert McCann, would like to thank the board of education for.

“Without the support of the Board and the public, our project would not have happened” says McCann.

Hopefully, there will never, ever be another incident like Virginia Tech, but if there is, Hamburg School is about as about as ready as it will ever be.


Internships, involvement in clubs seen as keys to chance at interviews

When it comes to searching for your first big job after college, the person in Human Resources, or, HR for short, can be your best friend or worst enemy.
They scan your resume, evaluate it and decide whether you should come in for an interview.

What exactly are employers looking for when picking out possible applicants fresh out of college?
Bayer staffing specialist Delores Scotto said all it takes is a little work experience and leadership skills to make an employer take a second look.

“While you’re in college, I can’t stress enough getting an internship,” Ms. Scotto says, “Any real world experience will be looked upon favorably.”

Even if your former job demanded only that you sharpen pencils or go out to fetch coffee for the boss, it’s a good bullet to place on your resume, just don’t specify if that’s all you did.

Say you were too busy trying to get that 3.8 GPA to get a proper internship.
All hope is not lost.

“For recent graduates, anything that shows teamwork or leadership skills is good,” Scotto says, who emphasizes to highlight any teams or campus clubs you may have been on while in school.

“If you were the treasurer of your sorority or fraternity and managed funds, that’s a plus.”

If you don’t even have that to add to your resume, list some of your outside college activities, possibly a position on a recreational baseball team, or even that you babysat during the summer. Anything that shows that you are more than just another face in the crowd is a plus.

As Scotto says, “We’re looking for the big picture as well.”

Rachel N. Veness, public relations coordinator at GEICO, listed the top three areas that the insurance company focuses on for college graduates:

Academic information, including school, major and minor, relevant coursework and overall G.P.A.

Work and internship experience and whether it is relevant for current open positions.

Leadership and extracurricular experience.
“This is really where a student can set herself apart from other resumes,” Veness noted.

“In addition, we may look for specific technical skills, especially when recruiting for our entry-level technology and analyst positions.”

Local Woman Takes Care Of Mother (Earth)

Enthusiasm is contagious. Just ask the people who donated 300 shoes to Nike’s Re-use a Shoe Program in Mendham (Middle school?), because eco-lover Anna Hackman, got them excited to do so.

“Little ones change their shoes every six months or so,” Hackman cheerfully said in relation to the Re-use a shoe program, which gives people the opportunity to give in their old shoes so they can be recycled, remade, and given to less fortunate people.

“We maybe made a difference in underprivileged kids,” Hackman says.

The Re-Use a Shoe Program is just one of the many eco-friendly projects the mother of four and, as she puts it, real estate lawyer by trade (“I don’t have the impact as a lawyer as I have for this,” she says in relation to her many projects) gets herself into.

Starting out about five years ago taking on eco-building and recycling full time, Hackman also runs a popular blog called, Green-talk. Here at the blog, she knows almost as much about garnering people to read her Earth conscious articles as she does about keeping the Earth healthy.

“It’s a very personal blog,” Hackman says, “[and] I educate people on new ideas and personal perspectives.”

New ideas and personal perspectives such as how to use the salad containers from the fast food restaurant, Wendy’s, as a way to hold seedlings in a garden.

“My kids are fast food freaks,” Hackman jokes.

Or ways to use your expired credit cards so that you don’t have to throw them out in the garbage, a technique she also used in indicating place markers in her own personal garden.

“I cut up the credit cards into little strips and used them as markers for my seedlings,” she says.

Hackman herself knows that going green isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. And that’s why she tries to come up with as many fun, and, more importantly, easy methods for people to get involved. Such as her work on Green Disc, where she collects old CD’s, DVD’s, and other forms of electronic media, and requests that people give them to her so she can recycle them herself.

“If they don’t give it to me, it might end up in a trash can,” Hackman says.

Or worse. But Hackman doesn’t stop with just shoes and discs. The self-proclaimed eco-builder who can find a second life for almost anything, even recycles items that aren’t typically found in blue and green boxes inside of restaurants and other public places—Socks.

“I found a woman in Israel who takes them and makes sock slippers out of them,” she says, and also admits that she gives any other old socks to the Morristown Mission, where the fabrics are reused and made into a profit. “They’re called tattered fabrics,” she says, “they don’t want you calling them rags.”

Whatever they’re called, they’re putting the Earth back on the right track. And you can bet a small part of that is because of Hackman’s great care and enthusiasm to get the job done.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Madden 09 Cover Set To Be Inaccurate, Stupid

This year’s edition of Madden will feature Brett Favre on the cover. You know, MVP quarterback formally of the Green Bay Packers, but now sporting New York Jets colors. The only problem is, on the cover of the new Madden, Brett Favre isn’t going to be wearing green and white Jets attire, but instead, is going to be sporting his old Packer duds. Apparently, somebody over at EA thought he’d stay retired like a good little boy, but nope, he’s still suiting up for action, albeit on a different team.

That’s no biggie, though, right? I mean, I’m a total idiot when it comes to techmology (that’s how it’s pronounced, right?), but even I could put Brett Favre in a Jets jersey using Photoshop if I wanted to. Anybody could. But that’s not going to happen. Favre is goin to remain in his Packers get-up on the cover of Madden ’09 in an effort to maintain an image of his glory days. Nobody wants another Michael Jordan on the Wizards incident again, I guess.

Madden 09 will be out next Tuesday on August 12th.