Monday, January 31, 2011

My Favorite Rap Lyrics

Being a black dude, I sometimes rap to myself. I know, I know, SO stereotypical, but I at LEAST only say maybe a line or two before I'm done. This is very much unlike SOME people who you'll see rapping all the way down the block, saying all the cuss words as if they wrote them themselves. Well, here are my favorite rap lyrics. See if you can hear them in your head.

"Girls pee pee when they see me."-The Notorious B.I.G. from the song, "One More Chance"

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I like this line because it talks about incontinence. And how many songs do you know that talk about THAT topic? One, and it's this one.

"What?! I'm immune to all viruses. I get that cocaine, it cleans out my sinuses."-The 'Ol Dirty Bastard from the song, "Nigga Please."

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I like this line because ODB died like he lived, full of drugs and crazy off his ass. I like that about the man. He kept it real. Really real. DEAD real.

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"Cannibalism is livin' in my metabolism"-Big Pun from the song, "Wrong Ones"

This is just such a sick line. Most of the lyrics Pun would spout, you wouldn't really believe him since he was too big to do things like chase you down the street and kill you. But this line sounds somewhat credible. And did I mention that it was sick?

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"Mr. Clinton, Mr. Bob Dole! You're too old to understand the way the game is told."-2Pac from the song, "How Do U Want It"

I like this line because it makes the song sound SO incredibly dated. Bob Dole? BOB DOLE?! If any song was stuck in the 90s on this list, it's this one. Most kids today would most likely just shrug their shoulders at this line. Bob Dole...Ha!

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"I predicted that you'd be addicted to my dick once you licked it"-Necro from the song, "Who's Your Daddy?"

I like this line because it sounds like a nursery rhyme. A really perverted one. Honestly, I could have filled this whole post with Necro lines, but this is just one of my favorites. The flow of it is magnificent.

What are YOUR favorite lines? I'd like to know.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Favorite Album Of All Time-The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

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Being a pretentious snob, I like concept albums. You know, those long, drawn-out albums with 10 minute songs and distracting cover art. Yeah, those. Anyway, they used to be a staple back in the 60s and 70s, but they died out because we became an iPod world and much preferred singles to entire, sprawling albums with a single theme. There are still some great concept records out there from the past decade, most notably Mastodon's Blood Mountain and Green Day's, American Idiot, but the days of concept albums seem to be numbered.

Which sucks.

All the same, my favorite album of all time is a concept album, and it's so good, that I don't think I'll need any other concept records for the rest of my life since the one I'm going to talk about below is so complex and rich.

It's called The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and it's by Genesis, and no other record I can think of even touches it--Not even Pink Floyd's The Wall or even The Who's Quadrophenia. Released in 1974, The Lamb was the last great Genesis album. And though that's definitely a moot statement since many would argue that A Trick of the Tail is also a masterwork (And others who never even knew of Genesis before Abacab would likely say, "What's A Trick of the Tail?), I have to say that Tail is nowhere near as good as The Lamb. It's a "good enough" album that was surprising for being even that.

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The Lamb is so great because it's a real journey. Most concept albums, most notably The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, peter out and don't keep the concept going for very long. In the aforementioned great album, it's only two songs. Listen:

After that, the rest of the album, besides the very end, has nothing to even DO with the fictitious, Sgt. Pepper (Voiced by Ringo, surprisingly). It's a cheap tease. Why did the Beatles' just give up? What a joke!

But The Lamb, while obfuscating and opaque, is a journey through and through, from the opening number:

To the closing track:

The story follows a Puerto Rican named Rael (A reworking of Gabriel, as in, Peter Gabriel, the band's leader at the time), and he journeys into the nightmarish underworld beneath New York City where he encounters monsters like the Slippermen and the Lamia on his quest to find his brother, John. What's beautiful about this album is that it starts out as an adventure and slowly descends into Hell until finally...I don't know. The whole album's meaning and purpose has been debated since it's release and it's purely a decision you have to make on your own about what it could all possibly mean. Is it a real journey or a mental journey? Is Rael really in fact Peter Gabriel, struggling through his problems at the time, or just a figment in one of his dreams? The story of the making of the album is well-documented, but the story about what it all means is not so much.

That said, even if the meaning isn't completely all there, the imagery is fascinating. Peter Gabriel, before he became the "Sledgehammer guy," was notorious for his live performances on stage with Genesis, so much so, that it's part of the reason that the band broke up. Peter, with his elaborate costumes and weird antics quickly became the face of the band, which is awesome. But it's also a shame, because Genesis was such a skilled band musically that I understand why they would be pissed that he was hogging all the spotlight. That said, the band wasn't the same when it was led by Phil Collins. Here's a comparison.


I mean, Phil is okay, but he kind of just stands there. He also didn't don costumes, which Gabriel would do frequently. Here's Gabriel as one of the Slipperman, which, when it was introduced on stage, was meant to look like a mutated sperm cell emerging from a penis.

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How awesome is that?

But back to the album.

My favorite part of this record is that the songs, while difficult at first to get into, really grow on you. And the whole album isn't even that dense once you understand what you're listening to. But like a true concept album aught to do, if you just listen to the singles, it doesn't make any sense. Who is this Rael, and who is his brother, John? Why is he in a cage one minute, and the next, he's back in the city? What's going on here?

Overall, it's not for everybody, but if you like concept albums for the sheer reason that they DO take you places, than The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is the album for you. Below are my favorite songs from the record. Take a listen and see if you like them. Again, the lyrics might confuse you when they're separated from the rest of the album, but if you like what you hear, then download it and listen to it yourself. It's a trip.

Back in New York City

The Lamia


The Colony of the Slippermen

(Skip to 1:53 to bypass all the weird noises and get to the actual song)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Top Ten Greatest Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies Ever

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the man. Any movie he was in back in the 80s and 90s was a much better film because of it. It doesn't matter if the movie was utter drek (See: Red Heat, Raw Deal). If Arnold was in it, you knew it was worth seeing not only once, but multiple times just to try to get down the timing of his "Yoooowyu!" (Arnold fans know the noise I'm talking about).

And now that Arnold is no longer the Governor of California, there's word that he might get back into acting again in a movie called, With Wings as Eagles. In it, it's said that he plays some German soldier who helps these kids escape. It sounds promising, but I'm sure it can't be too good because Arnold now looks like this with his shirt off.

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Still, anybody who loved/loves Arnie knows that his physique wasn't everything, and some of these movies below prove it. Below are the top ten Arnold films I can think of. And while movies like Kindergarten Cop and Twins have their place, I think the best and funniest Arnold movies were the ones that weren't entirely meant to be funny. So here they are, the top ten Arnie movies. And please don't get offended by number 10. I know there's particular hatred toward that one.

10: Batman and Robin

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Arnie built a career out of one-liners. Don't believe me? Then watch this clip.

Honestly, besides his buff body, Arnie's real talent came from his ability to deliver one-liners like nobody else. So, what do you get with Batman and Robin? You get a movie that is pretty much nothing BUT one-liners from Arnie. Sure, the movie is God-awful, and Bat nipples will never be lived down. But where else will you find a movie where all Arnie does is say jokes that have some kind of reference to being cold? An awful, awful movie, but a great Arnie pic nonetheless. And if you don't like this movie, you know what you can do?...You can CHEEEEL.

9. Eraser

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Arnold might be a lumbering jokester, but when he gets down to business, he gets down to business. And no other film in the late 90s has Arnold getting down to business like Eraser, which is hugely underappreciated. I remember seeing this in the theater and being blown away by the scene that I've put below. It has Arnold falling out of a plane without a parachute and catching it mid-plummet. The thing about Arnold is, a lot of people could have filled in for the kind of action pictures that he did, but nobody could have made it look so cool..and masculine. And in this movie, Arnold even makes being a muscle bound foreigner as a U.S. Marshal look possible. How? Because he's Arnold. Who can't he play?

8. True Lies

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My best friend, AJ, says that you can always count on JC (And he ISN'T talking about Jesus Christ). James Cameron and Arnold make an awesome team, with another one of their movies having a place on this list. And my best friend is right, you can't go wrong with James Cameron. In this buddy comedy, Arnie teams up with another Arnold, in Tom Arnold, who actually makes for some pretty good comic relief. But wait now. Amidst the action, Arnie also provides some pretty funny moments as the spy who has to keep his secret from his wife, who is played by Jamie Lee Curtis. And who can forget that strip tease? Honestly, as far as action, comedy, and being incredible is concerned, True Lies is the total package. I love, love, love this picture.

7. Pumping Iron

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Pumping Iron is not just a movie that shows how Arnie got his million dollar physique and how he whored it off to judges. It's also a movie about him smoking weed. And beating the Incredible Hulk. Really, Pumping Iron is as much a display of Arnie's body as it is on his charisma and personality. In many ways, Arnie pretty much sabotages not only Lou Ferrigno's chance of winning 1975's Mr. Olympia, but also his chance of ever being anything more than second best. Who knows, if Arnie wasn't involved, maybe we would have seen Mr. Ferrigno in the next entry on this list. The world will never know.

6. The Running Man

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Did you know this Arnie movie is based off of a Stephen King novel? It happened. The Running Man could be dumb, but it's not. It's awesome, and mainly because Arnie is awesome. A movie that is pretty much equivalent to the game, Smash TV, this movie is a quick paced actioner that is in the form of a game show, because in this future, which is less than a decade away (2017), The Running Man is a game show. It's one where convicts have to fight to stay alive (How SyFy channel is that?). Sure, again, it seems like anybody could have taken this role on, and they could have. But only Arnie could make this seemingly B-movie stuff into a top-grade thriller. And you know why? Because he's Arnie. And to that, all I have to say is this: now PLAIN ZERO!

5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

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Many might say that T2: Judgment Day is Arnie's best film. I tend to disagree. I think it's probably his most iconic, but his best? I'm not so sure. Arnie teams up with James Cameron again for a second time, this time becoming the good guy whereas he was the villain in the original. This is just a phenomenal picture, mostly because it takes the big bad Arnold and makes him a weakling compared to the newer model Terminator, played by Robert Patrick. This juxtaposition does something that very few other Arnie pictures do--it makes him vulnerable. The laughs aren't heavy in this one, but they're there. And unlike some of the other pictures on this list who could have been played by other actors, NOBODY else could have been the Terminator. Size restraints alone would knock most other actors out of the running.

4. Conan the Barbarian

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Is there any man more suitable for the part of a sword-swinging barbarian than Arnold is? I'm pretty sure the answer is no. Nobody else even remotely comes to my mind. And that's becomes Arnold owns in this picture. James Earl Jones also makes an appearance in this film wearing a black wig and turning into a snake and it's STILL not the most memorable or ridiculous part of this movue. I mean seriously, is ANYTHING better than a drunk Arnold punching a camel in the face?

Nothing. Well, except maybe this.

3. Commando

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Earlier, I mentioned how Arnie really knew how to get down to business. I also mentioned how he's the king of one-liners. Now, what do you get when you put those two together? You get the perfect marriage of awesomeness and hilarity, and that's pretty much Commando in a nutshell. Arnold cracks a guy's neck, puts a hat over his face, and then, tells a flight attendant not to wake up the person he just killed, citing that he's "Dead tired." I Just wow. He also kills more people in the end then is humanly possible. Commando might not be Arnie's BEST picture, but it's certainly one of his most enjoyable as a mind-number. And the Calypso, steel drum music that plays throughout the picture doesn't hurt.

2. Predator

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I mentioned earlier that I liked seeing Arnie vulnerable (I mean, REALLY vulnerable, where it looks like he might actually lose), and you don't get a better case for that than in Predator, where he fights a monster that pretty much has a self-destruct mechanism built into his system. Predator has it all--humor, heart pounding action, a manly handshake for the ages--and it's also got two former governors in it in Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Arnie. A pedigree like that can't be ignored. It would be my all time favorite Arnie picture if not for the next one below.

1. Total Recall

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Let's forget for a moment that this is an Arnie know what, I can't. Even though the story and concepts are way bigger than just Arnie shooting a guy and then joking about it, Total Recall is an Arnie picture through and through. In it, he goes on a mental vacation and throughout the whole picture, we're never really sure if it's really him who's the spy or if he's suffered a mental break down in the machine. All the same, it still features Arnie at his best. He not only jokes, but he struggles, he really, truly struggles. And I'm even going to go the length to say that he actually acts in this picture. That classic scene where the fat man comes in and tells Arnold that he needs to come with him immediately, only for that same man to have a single drop of sweat that rolls down his face, only works because it shows that Arnold's thinking about it, too. And there's no other Arnie film that I can even think of where Arnold, while the biggest man you may ever see in a movie, truly looks human. But he does in Total Recall, and it really makes it so much more than just an Arnie picture. It's a fantastic movie altogether, and Arnold just happens to be in it. And it's for that reason that Total Recall is not only my favorite Arnie picture, but one of my favorite pictures ever. An Arnie film that makes you think? Who knew?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Review: Saw: The Final Chapter

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You can also find the article here:

After Saw II, Saw has always been one of those franchises that you thought would have been much better if it was never a franchise at all; a two-shot deal with a better than average premise and direction. But then Saw III came along. And then Saw IV, and we all started to get the point that Jigsaw was the Freddy or Jason of the 2000s. That being said, it’s a relief that this Saw is really (hopefully) the final chapter. But is it any good? Well, I can say this. By Saw standards, it certainly isn’t the worst.

The Movie: Two stars

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Besides Saw IV, I have now seen every single movie in the Saw canon. And how does that make me feel? Well, kind of scummy, really. The original Saw was ridiculous and had horrible acting all around, but the ending was cool. And the second movie was genuinely good. I actually thought it was the best horror film I had seen in awhile. But then, the rest came along, with Jigsaw even dying in the third movie, and it’s only been a downward spiral from there. So, this final Saw is a great relief (even though Paranormal Activity looks to be replacing it as the annual fright film). And would you believe it, it’s actually not the worst of the bunch -- that title goes to the fifth in the franchise.

What makes this film tolerable is that some of the traps are genuinely clever this time around. My girlfriend said that the Saw series is basically just a sort of demented, grown up version of Home Alone, with all the traps and what not, and she couldn’t be more right than with this film. One unlucky fellow (Chester Bennington of Linkin Park fame) is stuck to a car seat with his skin grafted onto it. If he doesn’t rip himself off the seat to pull a lever, then the car will smash the girl underneath it, pull off the face of a guy who’s attached to the back of the vehicle, splatter the guy who’s chained to the wall in front of him, and then send him hurtling through the windshield to his death. In other words, it’s awesome. Another grisly scene is in the beginning, where two guys have buzz saws in front of them while, and their cheating girlfriend is being lowered from the ceiling. They can either cut each other to pieces, or let the buzz saw destroy the girl who cheated on them instead. Whatever the outcome is, you really don’t care. As long as someone gets cut up, you’ll be happy.

In that way, Saw: The Final Chapter really delivers, as after Saw II, the traps are all the series really had going for it. That said, the story and acting in this one are just as unforgiveable as in the past few films. If you’re familiar with the series at all (and why would you watch this one if you’re not?), then you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say that the dastardly detective, Mark Hoffman, is still in charge and filling in for Jigsaw. I kind of like Detective Hoffman in this film. I don’t know why, but he just seems so much more ruthless than the original Jigsaw played by Tobin Bell. Anyway, so Hoffman goes after Jigsaw’s wife because she tried to cross him, and blah blah blah, traps go off, horrible acting ensues, and then the end credits role. It should be noted that Cary Elwes, who was in the original Saw, plays an important part in this one. But again, all of the past Saws have made it hard to look back on the series fondly, so only those most loyal to the series will really appreciate the forced ending.

Overall, Saw: The Final Chapter (or Saw 3D, as it was known in the theatres) is not the worst Saw in the series, but it’s just as awful as the other ones following Saw II. If you’ve followed the series this far, you might as well see it to the end. I guess it’s worth the closure.

The Disc: Three and a half stars

For most movies I love, I want as many special features as possible. My favorite of all special features is the commentary, where we can hear what went on behind the scenes straight from the horse’s mouth. For movies I’m not too fond of, the fewer special features, the better. Unfortunately, Saw: The Final Chapter is loaded with them. It’s almost too much to handle.

Still, I do know that only Saw fans are going to pick this DVD up anyway, so I might as well review it like a Saw fan, right? There are two commentaries on this disc, one from the producers and one from the writers. If you’re a fan of the franchise, both will be pretty amusing. With both commentaries, we hear that there still might be more Saw installments down the line, so if you’re grieving the loss of your favorite franchise, there’s still a chance that Jigsaw will rear his ugly clown face again. If I had to choose a commentary to listen to, I’d choose the writers' one. It’s funny and reveals a lot more about what got cut out of the picture, such as the fact that this film was meant to be a two-parter that was truncated to one because Saw VI did such terrible business. It’s a shame, really, because some of the stuff they mention would have made the film feel more whole and complete. As far as this installment is concerned, we really only have half of a movie here. Most people wouldn’t know the difference, but once you learn this fact, it really hinders any qualities that this film originally had to offer.

There are also “deleted and extended scenes,” that don’t add much to the movie at all. As with most deleted scenes, it just drags everything out. You could skip those if you wanted to, but Saw fans will definitely want to check them out since they feature more of Cary Elwes. The theatrical trailer is brief and shitty, and music videos for the movie round out the rest of the special features. Overall, if you’re a fan, you’ll love hearing the commentaries and seeing the extra scenes. It goes a long way in completing the cycle of films. If, that is, the films are really over in the first place.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Month One of Operation: Beard Growth Nearly Complete: Casualties Minimal

I did not ask to be born a man. When my mom gave birth to me and I had a fu manchu from day one, I just thought it looked natural in all of my old photos. Testosterone this high has to go somewhere.

But this beard is getting out of hand. Just the other day, a woman asked me how long I planned to keep my beard, and I told her, "Until the world stops spinning, baby." It wasn't until later that I had found out that she had killed herself in a fatal Cheerio consuming breakfast, with her suicide note saying that she didn't want to live in a world where I actually shaved my beard. So far, the fatalities number one in Operation: Beard Growth. But buck up, all the rest of you out there in Candyland. Meteorologists say that we at least have until next week before our next Snowmaggedon, which will end our world as we know it. So you have until next week before the world stops spinning and I have to lop off my chin locks. Stay tuned.

Eating Out in Chester: Sally Lunn's

(Image taken by Dawn Benko of the Daily Record)

If you prefer tea to coffee and scones to doughnuts, then Sally Lunn's Restaurant & Tea Room in Chester will fill all of your English-tinged wants and desires.

"We sell a lot of quiche and a lot of afternoon teas," says owner Theresa Gaffney, "and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of scones.

"We're famous for our scones in Chester," Gaffney says. "That's probably the item we sell the most of."

It might be the item Sally Lunn's sells the most of, but the teas are nothing to sneeze at, either. With a ridiculous amount of different varieties to choose from, Sally Lunn's has the largest selection in the United States and, as the website claims, possibly the world.

"They're all loose teas," Gaffney says. "We don't sell tea bags, so everything's loose. It's served in a tea pot with a strainer."

As to the types of available tea, the question should really be, "What kind of tea do you want?"

"We have white teas, green, black, Rooibos, herbal, flower tea, smoked gunpowder tea," Gaffney says.

Smoked gunpowder?

"Gunpowder tea is a smoked tea, like the Russian gunpowder," Gaffney says. "They have a heavy smoked flavor, (and) it's not a common tea. It's a rare tea and it's a very acquired taste. It's one of those things you have to really like to enjoy it. Some people love it."

Being an English tea room and restaurant, Sally Lunn's offers menu items that might convince you to cancel your flight to England — assuming you're going there just for the food. Cornish pastie, which is fresh-ground lamb, turnips, potatoes and leeks wrapped in homemade pastry, is among the offerings, as is Tiddy Oggi, which is ground sirloin, carrots, turnips, potatoes and leeks wrapped in homemade pastry. In fact, the menu is so diverse and popular Gaffney has been able to open up another shop in Chatham. She's even had the Food Network come by to film at the shop. The show will be on in March.

"It's going to be huge for us," Gaffney says. "They wanted typically English stuff, so I made the Cornish patsie, which is very English, a rhubarb-apple cobbler and scones. It's exciting."

Also exciting are the shop's Valentine's Day plans.

"In Chester, we do a Valentine's Victorian dinner," Gaffney says. "It's a seven-course dinner."

WHERE: 15 Perry St., Chester
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 908-879-7731
HOURS: 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
CUISINE: English cuisine, teas
PAYMENT: Cash, checks and all major credit cards
PRICE RANGE: Soups, $5.95; salads, $8.55 to $9.50; sandwiches (served with salad or potato salad), $9.50 to $13.50; oven food, $9.75 to $13.50; deserts, $6.25; teas, $3.95 to $6
RESERVATIONS: Not necessary
DRESS: Casual
THE SCENE: A beautifully decorated spot with lace table clothes and antique pictures
ATMOSPHERE: Cozy" would be the best word to describe it.
OWNER: Theresa Gaffney

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

No, no, no, no, no, no, no to Javier Bardem as Roland. No.

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Javier Bardem is a badass. If you need somebody with a Prince Valiant hairdo to say "Friendo," into the camera, you have your man. But as Roland from the Dark Tower series? Get outta here! But that's what Cinemablend says. You can find the article here:

Now, here's why this would suck. Roland is basically Clint Eastwood. Read the books and you'll see the influence immediately. Roland of Gilead is the man with no name from the Fistful of Dollars trilogy. That said, when I hear his voice in my head, I actually hear Stephen King's voice. It's crazy, I know, but I do. Listen.

And to me, and a lot of people, Javier Bardem doesn't fit that part. Ron Howard, who's directing the film, must have forgotten the face of his father if he honestly allowed casting directors to settle on him. There had been word that Christian Bale or Viggo Mortensen might have been up for the role. I don't know if I like those two choices, but they're definitely better than Bardem, who I sometimes have a hard time understanding. Ideally, I would have liked Josh Brolin. He could bring a gravitas and coolness to it like no other. Alas, this is turning out to be a big mess. Just read the books, people. Javier Bardem as Roland is insufferable!

Mentos Suck

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Mentos are only good for two things: Getting stuck in your teeth, and getting paint on your business suit and rolling around like a beached walrus so your entire suit looks like it's pinstriped.

But what else are they good for? I’d like to know. If they had souls, I’d say keeping them as pets, or making them into robots (Saves the trouble of inputting the C ++ soul program into them). But what else? As it stands right now, all they’re good for are two things, so I don’t see what the big deal is about them.

Now, crack! THERE’s a booger sugar I can get behind. Not that I’ve done it or even recommend people do it, but if there’s one thing that represents the 80’s, besides keytars and Mr. Belvedere, it’s crack.

Stupid, good for nothing Mentos.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Don't Wake Daddy Was the Kick the Can of My Generation

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There have been worse ideas for board games besides Don’t Wake Daddy, but that game was called Hungry Hungry Hippos, and it made millions, so I won’t go into that.

But besides those hedonistic hippos and their white ball hoarding feasts, DWD was quite possibly the dumbest idea anybody could have ever conceived of, rivaled only by Polio and Andrew Dice Clay’s career.

The premise of the game was simple. You picked up your pieces, went doo di doo di doo, around the board, while some jerkoff would hit the button by daddy’s bed until he woke up and everybody, in unison, mind you, would shout, “Don’t-wake-daddy!” In the mean time, your real daddy, taking a nap after a hard day at the sulfur factory, would wake up and wallop you with a day old Daily News for disturbing his sleep before dinner. (“I told you kids! I told you! Daddy needs sleep!”)

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Another great game, and by great, I mean terrible, was Trouble. It seems that every board game back then in the Paleozoic Era I was born in had some kind of stupid thing to shout out as you progress, with this particular utterance being, yep, you guessed it (or maybe you just knew it): “TROUBLE!”

I don’t quite remember the rules of the game, or even if it was actually a game at all (it could have been a piece of propaganda to successfully elect Spiro Agnew, I’m not quite sure). But what I do remember was that it wasn’t fun, and actually caused trouble in my own life when I stepped on it on purpose when my friend’s little sister was having a slumber party. That girl’s mother made me pay for a new game for her with my own money. I never talked to that friend or his sister ever again.

But where was I going with this?


As much as I hate the game, you gotta love that title.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Come One, Come All, to Uncle Ben's Player's Ball

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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…)

The once and future king.

You Have to Be "Uniquely" Ugly to Get Into Hollywood if You're Ugly

See that man at the top of the page? That man is ugly. Not Nic Cage ugly, but ugly all the same. And before you go and start saying, "You're not ugly." Stop. I know what I am and I'm not bitter about it. I've had 27 years with this ugly mug to know that I'm not winning any beauty contests any time soon. In the words of the great philosopher, Plato, I'm no prized pig. (He didn't actually say that, but I had you fooled for a moment, didn't I? No? Well, who asked you?)

But the thing is, as I mentioned earlier, I'm not Nic Cage ugly, and that, besides the fact that I can't act to save my life, is why I will never be a Hollywood bigshot. I'm just ugly. I'm not uniquely ugly. The truth is, if you want to get into Hollywood, you have to be a stud. And if you're not a stud--and you're not Dustin Hoffman or Tom Hanks, who define normal looking--then you have to be ugly. But again, you have to be uniquely ugly. Don't believe me? Then just check out the pics below and tell me that I'm not right.

Nic Cage
(Image taken from: This is his, "Der" face)

William H. Macy

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Danny DeVito
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Philip Seymour Hoffman
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And my all-time-fave uniquely ugly looking actor.

Steve Buscemi
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There are dozens more. Can you name a few?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Thoughts on the Writer's Digest Conference 2011


It's been a long weekend, filled with meeting new people and sweating--lots and lots of sweating-- but the Writer's Digest Conference 2011 has finally come to a close. Here are just a few of my thoughts on it. Overall, it was a really great experience and I advise any writer interested in improving their craft and networking to go next year if they have one. Okay, onto my impressions.

The Good

Chuck Sambuchino

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Editor of Guide to Literary Agents and How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack , Mr. Sambuchino started the first night off well, teaching us how to do effective pitches to agents when meeting them face-to-face. I think a lot more writer's felt more confident after that night. I certainly did.


I have a whole buttload of business cards from the event sitting on my desk, and as soon as I'm done writing this post, I'm going to email all of them. Out of everyone I met, every single one of them believed in writing as much (If not more, which I didn't think was even possible) as I do, and it was great to see so many folks so dedicated to their craft. I hope most of the connections I made stick.

The lunch on Saturday

On Saturday, midday, they served lunch, and it was much better than it had to be. There were three kinds of boxes, but I picked the one that didn't sound gross (i.e., not with rye bread or the vegetarian option). Inside my chosen box was a damn good, I think, ham sandwich, a brownie, and an apple. It seriously hit the spot.

The seminars

I don't want to call anybody out, but there was only one seminar that I went to that I didn't think was a great investment of my time, and the only reason why that one wasn't so good was because I think the presenter was pretty nervous. Besides that though, all of the other ones, like (Oh, brother, here come the shout-outs) "Branding Yourself," by Dan Blank (Look him up!), "Putting Fire in Your Fiction," by Donald Maass, "Ten Essential Things Your Must Know to Craft an Effective Query," by Janet Reid, "Revision: Learn How to Love It" by James Scott Bell, and "Creating a Backstory: How and Why It can Make or Break Your Novel" by Hallie Ephron, were all incredibly informative and made the trip worth it alone. I've never been to such a wide assortment of useful seminars in one place. If you ever see these names or seminars on a placard somewhere, definitely sign up for them.

And before you go and start thinking, "Ahhhh, you kiss-up," I can reassure you that I'm most certainly not a kiss up, as you'll see from a few of my minor complaints below.

The, "It Could Have Been Better"

The first night out Twitter event

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Being writers, most of us love talking about ourselves and our work. But that's usually on a one-on-one basis. Put us together in an area that's like some loud, cramped up, sweaty dance club, and you usually won't get the same effect. To be fair, the, I guess you could call it, after-event, didn't take place in a sweaty dance club (Though, that would have been pretty cool if there had been some old-school, 90s C&C Music Factory playing in the background), but it might as well have been. The place was so loud that I really did feel that you needed to be on Twitter just to talk to people because you couldn't really hear them, even when they were right next to you. A better location would have been appreciated. Somewhere more personal.

The actual Pitch Fest itself

(Image taken from: The lines weren't this long, but it sometimes felt like they were)

Now, this really isn't their fault at all, but it's something I was a little upset about. There where just too many people there. Yes, Writer's Digest got a lot of agents there (And the three--more on that in a second--I got to talk to were nice). But with such a large crowd, and so many great agents there, I was kind of upset that I didn't get to see more of the people I had prepared to see. As I mentioned before, I only got to see three agents in a two hour time slot. It felt like going to Six Flags Great Adventures, minus El Toro and the expensive lemonade.

If you're going just for the pitch fest next year, I don't know if that's the best idea. Personally, I found the seminars and connections to be worth the trip alone and thought the agents I got to talk to was just a nice benefit on the side. But after learning so much at the seminars, I'm not even sure I even want to turn in what I have offer for the three who wanted to see some of my manuscript. I seriously have some retooling to do.

No Donald Maass pitching

I've read a lot from legendary agent, Donald Maass, online, and when I got to see him, his seminar was really impressive. He was actually supposed to be one of the agents you could pitch to there, but because of a last minute incident where he had to leave (I hope he's alright), he wasn't there at the pitch fest. A collective groan was literally heard all across the room when it was announced.

So, in conclusion, I definitely advise that you go if they have another one next year, but not if you're only going for the pitch-fest (Go to that, too, of course, but that shouldn't be your main focus). I think it was worth the money. It might be a little pricey, but you get a lot for what you pay for. I say, spend the moolah.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Girlfriend's Angry Letter To A Video Game Company

Yesterday, I was getting my ass handed to me pretty bad in Super Punch-Out!! I was facing Dragon Chan who, if you can remember that far back, can leap off the ropes and kick you. My girlfriend, who had never seen the boxing game before, asked if I could kick too. When I replied, "No," she said that she was going to write an angry letter to the company, which released the game in 1994, I might add. Here is said letter.

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To Next Level Games

To whom this may concern:

Why is it that you include a character in Super Punch Out who can box AND do karate (ie: Dragon Chan) if Little Mac is not able to do any karate himself? I feel that this is quite unfair especially when watching the boyfriend attempt to battle this character with no victory to be had. Please make updates to this grave error. Looking forward to playing the newer and better and fairer version of Super Punch Out. Thank you for your time and consideration.

A concerned girlfriend.

And here is the said Dragon Chan

Eating Out in Chester: Publick House Tavern and Inn

(Image taken by Dawn Benko from The Daily Record)

If you've driven down Main Street in Chester, there's no doubt you've noticed the Publick House Tavern & Inn. With its old-timey brick exterior, it's probably the most recognizable spot in town. But it's not just appearance that makes this 1810 structure unique. The food is just as special.

"We have the best crab cake in the area," says the general manager, Abraham Ghebreal. "Not to mention the short ribs."

At the Publick House Tavern & Inn, which hopes to have the inn portion of the establishment ready in February, the experience of being there is a treat in itself. Live bands make appearances Wednesdays and Fridays.

And there's another treat unique to the area: "We throw a murder-mystery show once a month," Ghebreal says. "The actors and actresses come and act in front of people, and you have a full-course meal while you eat and watch the show.

"We've been doing that now about four months. It's very successful."

There's a banquet room that can hold up to 120 people — definitely enough space if you're looking to host a big event.

"It's in the back of the building," Ghebreal says. "We have a lot of parties there."

But what would the live music, murder mysteries and banquets be if the Publick House didn't have great food to back it up? Luckily, it does.

"We try to keep the old, traditional menu, but we updated it with an Italian influence," Ghebreal says, "like the pastas, the chicken and the pizzas. We have a lot of pizzas, such as from Naples, Florence and Sorrento."

So, basically, the Publick House has pizzas from all over Italy. That said, it also has a variety of steaks, an Angus burger and fish items, so it really lives up to the standard of being an American restaurant with an Italian influence.

"Our prices are reasonable," Ghebreal says. "And we also have a lot of vegetarian items."

Also on the first floor is the tavern portion of the Publick House, which offers a fully stocked bar.

"It's a full bar, it has all the hard liquors, and we have mostly California wine because I believe in California wine more than anything else," Ghebreal says. "Our wine list is not expensive, so people can come buy it for an affordable price."

In addition to the building, one of the things Ghebreal loves most about working here is the town of Chester: "It's fun, and the way we communicate with the public is nice. People like us here."

WHERE: 111 Main St., Chester
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 908-879-6878
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week
CUISINE: American and Italian
LIQUOR: Full bar
PAYMENT: Major credit cards, checks accepted
PRICE RANGE: Appetizers, $9 to $13; salads, $6.95 to $13; pasta, $14.95 to $19.95; dinner, $17.95 to $25.95; children's menu, $8
DRESS: Casual
THE SCENE: Downtown shoppers are drawn like magnets. Local families, too, include this as one of their regular neighborhood spots for a diverse menu that hits all the high notes. Live music Wednesdays and Fridays
ATMOSPHERE: The Federalist style building went up in 1810 as an overnight inn and tavern for stage coach travelers between New York and Pennsylvania. Three-story house is an excellent place for a casual meal with a friend or a big party with all your co-workers
PARKING: Large lot
MANAGER: Abraham Ghebreal

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Top Four Things I Hate About Today's Vampires

You know what? The vampires of today have really lost their bite. Ah hur hur hur! That was really funny, right? Wrong! DEAD wrong. That opening joke was awful, and so is the state of vampires today. Somewhere along the line of Anne Rice and Stephanie Meyer, vampires got really lame. But the question is, why? Well, here are my four reasons. And all of them are solid gold.

4. Vampires can chill out in the sun now

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What do vampires hate? Garlic, right? And the sun.

Wait, what? No? I'm wrong? Vampires sprinkle garlic on their pizza all the time now AND can hang out in the sun? And not only that, they sometimes sparkle in it, too? Whaaat? Yeah, it's pretty bad, and it takes away one of the key components of what used to make vampires so badass. They were creatures of the night.

They were the kind of monsters who would go to raves at two in the morning and get soaked in blood baths. But now, aside from True Blood, vampires can not only go out in the day time, but they can also live normal lives, except for the whole blood sucking thing, which brings me to my next point.

3. They're no longer blood sucking freaks

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Vampires shouldn't be able to control their blood lust. They shouldn't be going to the woods and killing forest animals. I know this is even addressed in some of the chick-lit books of today where other vampires look down upon those who take blood from animals, but no vampire should be drinking blood that's not human. Vampires should be monsters, not pretty boys. The clip below shows some REAL vampires. And they're from a recent movie, too. But that movie didn't do very well. And you know why? Mainly, I think it's because the vampires in that flick weren't like the ones in my next complaint.

2. Vampires today are pretty boys

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Eric from True Blood, Damon from The Vampire Diaries, and yeah, I guess Edward in a weird kinda way from Twilight are all pretty boys. Sure, they can do that whole, Oohh, I can run really fast and grab your neck thing, but come on. Vampires aren't supposed to be good looking. Like I mentioned earlier, vampires should be blood sucking monsters who are only a few steps away from actually looking like the bats that they came from. Like this guy.

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Would YOU want him to take you to the prom? God, No? I didn't think so. And finally, the last reason why I hate the vampires of today:

1. They're not for boys anymore

All of the above reasons culminate into this final one. There was a time when vampires were creepy. They were just as haunting as werewolves (And I don't even want to discuss the poor state of my beloved werewolves), and they were something that your girlfriend wouldn't want to watch because of all the blood that got soaked on the camera.

There was a time when vampires looked like this.

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And this.

But that day is long gone. Women have taken men's vampires away from them. And their werewolves, too. I guess we guys must hold on tight to our creatures from the black lagoon and mummies then. They seem to be all we have left in the horror department. Frankenstein's monster be damned! He was never cool.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Blue Valentine is just Eh

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I'm going to keep this short and simple. The Ryan Gosling/Michelle Williams picture, Blue Valentine is just shrug shoulders and tilt your head to the side, okay. The acting in it is pretty good, especially Gosling, who pulls off a swell receding hairline to go along with his lovesick suffering, but the movie itself doesn't feel all that sharp. Really, after everybody said that it feels soooooo reeeeeal, I thought it felt a little fake.

Also, Michelle William's character is kind of a bitch. In one scene, she leaves her husband--who she hates, but still--in a hotel alone and drives off without him so she can go to work. I get that she needs to get paid, but that just doesn't seem believable to me. Not from somebody who seems kind of passive in her hatred towards her husband until the very end when she melts down.

Overall, a decent film, but nothing to sell the children over.

Two and a half stars out of four