Sunday, November 30, 2008
We will now, no doubt, begin to receive four thousand of these a day. This looks to be the third year in a row that Office Max is sponsoring Elf Yourself, and there are a few interesting changes:
1. JibJab has a clear and obvious branded presence at the beginning of the E.Y. video. This isn't a bad thing, especially considering how JibJab is famous for their political themed videos.
2. You are immediately prompted to buy merchandise such as mugs and t-shirts with the image of yourself Elfed. Not sure this is smart. The excitement is seeing your personalized Elf in motion, not on a dish rag.
3. You can download the video! SMART! But it's 5 bucks to download! DUMB! Very very dumb. I can't believe someone let this go through. It's the holidays! People are passing it around! Does Office Max want to portray itself as a cheap bastard of a company that'll nickel and dime you for the Elf video that you spent your time creating? You can't even embed the video on a blog. This is blogger and web 2.0 failure in the worst degree.
But, alas, the new videos are funny. And I'm sure I'll be sending out 100 of these over the course of the week. I'll just warn friends not to download or buy anything from those scheisters.
See me and Jack as elves!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
NY Times op-ed writer, Anthony Blow, gives a step-by-step guide on how to persuade the majority female black voter bloc to side with the right to gay marry. All of you protesting brothers and sisters out in Cali... take note!
Read Anthony Blow's Gay Marriage and a Moral Minority
1. First, comparing the struggles of legalizing interracial marriage with those to legalize gay marriage is a bad idea. Many black women do not seem to be big fans of interracial marriage either. They’re the least likely of all groups to intermarry, and many don’t look kindly on the black men who intermarry at nearly three times the rate that they do, according to a 2005 study of black intermarriage rates in the Wisconsin Law Review. Wrong reference. Don’t even go there.
2. Second, don’t debate the Bible. You can’t win. Religious faith is not defined by logic, it defies it. Instead, decouple the legal right from the religious rite, and emphasize the idea of acceptance without endorsement.
3. Then, make it part of a broader discussion about the perils of rigidly applying yesterday’s sexual morality to today’s sexual mores. Show black women that it backfires. The stigma doesn’t erase the behavior, it pushes it into the shadows where, devoid of information and acceptance, it become more risky.
It was a toxic mix of rich jews and odd townies, including a man named "Billy Goodtimes" (we know this because he made himself a custom t with his name on it). We also know it was his birthday because he spent the day making a top hat that looked like a cake with a lit candle sticking out of the top of it.
I did one of my favorites - King of Pain, Police style. With a backup of best friend Lauren, Stephanie, and I think my friend Scott Falco.
It was good to get together with the posse again, and I have a sneaking suspicion that all of the videos that Kristin took will be thorougly YouTubed and uploaded to this blog tomorrow. (If she doesn't do this, I will make her before her return tenure is through.)
Oh Long Island, you are so wonderfully terrible. So lamely amazing. So stupidly fantastic. Thanks for a wonderful Thanksgiving. We'll meet again this Christmas.
Friday, November 28, 2008
This morning on Long Island a Walmart greeter was killed when crazed shoppers blew through the doors to save 40 dollars on fondue pots and zen waterfall office desk fountains.
Meanwhile, here in Jersey at Menlo Park Mall, you would think that it is any other shopping day. The only mobbed area of the shopping central was the food court (just my luck, I wanted chick fil a!) The deals are the typical buy 2 get 1 variety. But my khakis at Gap were as expensive as they've ever been and I bought three pairs.
Online, Black Friday is doing poorly as well, with Amazon shoppers bitching and moaning that they were up and at their computers at 4 am for sales that did not surface. They then spun around in their chairs and went back to bed. The poor souls. Perhaps Cyber Monday (which, despite its sexy connotations, really has nothing sexy about it) will provide bigger and better deals.
Our co-blogger Kristin is facing the masses in her favorite olympic event, Competitive Shopping for the gold medal on Long Island. We are anxiously awaiting her report. Kristin, if you need the Justin Plus One weather chopper to airlift you out of the bloody chaos, shoot me a text.
This actually made me feel depressed. Thanksgiving without your family? I can't think of anything sadder. I told a friend last night I'd rather eat by myself and drink a glass of my own tears than try to replicate a fake Thanksgiving with friends.
I guess I have to add that I am extremely lucky. My family is very close to me - just a 45-minute train ride from New York City to be specific.
Anyway, I'm now off for the second half of my family Thanksgiving tradition - a trip to New Jersey to visit my mom's college best friend's family. Hopefully the economy is so terrible that no one will be at Menlo Park Mall when we go shopping there Black Friday Style.
Or maybe I'll just take advantage of the insane Black Friday Deals at Amazon.com
And now Time releases this damning article that paints our former two-term President as some sort of drooling eunich who needs to be placed on an iceberg and floated out forever.
Read Time's The Lamest Duck
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I have seen both of these at Musical Mondays at Splash... and ask my two ex-boyfriends: me and this video are dangerous. I almost broke my own neck trying to imitate their moves. The first version is the official "Promises, Promises" video, and the second is the remake from the movie Camp!
HAPPY TURKEY TURKEY!
Blood. Guts. Poultry. And politics!
An unknown fact: Sarah Palin isn't drinking coffee: that's ice cold turkey blood - gives her skin that Sarah sheen!
Happy Thanksgiving dontchaknow!
Something tells me these ladies are actually single.
Why must every Single Ladies video person be a gay person, a fat person, a girl, or some combination thereof?
A black gay man
Another black gay man
Waiiiiit a minute... is THIS the original Single Ladies??
Maybe Kristin and I will make our own Single Ladies video. Wait, no. We're not that lame.
Happy Thanksgiving from K$ and Justin! We're preparing to stuff our faces to the gills (faces have gills?) And our pumpkin crumble cheesecake tastes delicious.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Well, guess what? That's exactly what photographer Richard Renaldi does. He wanders the streets and coerces strangers to touch one-another. And they do so. Sometimes sweetly. Sometimes awkwardly as all hell.
While I've never met Mr. Renaldi, Co-Blogger Kristin and I have his number. What's more interesting than two strangers touching? How about a stranger touching ten other strangers! The photo below is of me with a passing gang of complete strangers. Kristin and I were waiting outside of Grand Lux cafe, dreaming of flatbread chicken sandwiches, when the strangers moseyed by.
"Hey!" Kristin screamed. "Wanna be in a picture!?"
The kids cheered and assembled around me in 40 seconds as if they spend all day randomly surrounding strangers for photo ops. They flung signs and cheered and the photo was snapped. After all was said and done, they skipped away - off to no good I'm sure. Kristin and I spent the night admiring the photo... it looked as if they were actually my friends.
Seven full days of White House-a-licious video footage of our nation's whitest house. Including the new documentary: The White House: Inside America's Most Famous Home.
I would LOVE to live here. Sure the furniture and rooms are a bit too... historic for my tastes. But they've got fourteen kitchens, a bowling alley, and a chocolate shop! Barack is gonna have a blast when he gets there.
It should be a fantastic time. Trailer below and the web site, full of tons of historic and exclusive videos here: C-SPAN White House Week
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Well, fear not bloggers - there's a bailout plan for you, too! Okay, it's not 700 billion. And it's not even as good as what the Big 3 Automakers might take off with. And it's not offered by the government. It's actually coming from Six Apart - the company that owns Livejournal (pause for tear-filled memory montage of my old home).
I have to admit. At first I laughed about this. Blogger bailout? How bad can it be for us? I mean, I do this for free. I do not compensate my Justin Plus One co-bloggers.
But then I think: I DO have friends who make their living in the Blogosphere, ripping down celebrities and commenting on the size of Harry Potter's wizarding stick.
As a side note: bloggers got bonuses based on their PAGE VIEWS? That's pretty sweet. Well. It WAS pretty sweet. Now it is sadly, no more.
Well, let me throw my hat in here. HEY OUT OF WORK BLOGGERS! Looking for a place to write? Stop by Justin Plus One for a week. Well, get a job first - my editorial calendar is filled until Mid-January. But after that, you're welcome to join me here. I can't pay you, but I can guarantee you a good time. And there are no guidelines for your posts, either. You can blog about anything!
And in the end, the small Six Apart bailout will give you about 150 bucks a year. If that's what you were living on, you can live just fine on $150 less.
Another thing I can do without is creepy, leery James Lipton eying the maturing magician like a honey coated ham.
But seriously, leave poor Harry alone. He's standing on a freezing cold stage acting in front of hundreds. And it's not like this is a porno. So what if he isn't Dirk Digglerific?
Wow. Imagine if he ended up with an erection on stage and it STILL looked small. He just dug himself a bit of a hole.
Well, you know me, I'm a bit of a media size queen. Let's see if MTVMusic.com follows suit!
Oh, and let's see what happens when I embed... will it get bigger, too?
Testing testing 1 2 3!
Note: Nope! Looks the same. I guess that makes sense, as it would rape my site template otherwise.
First of all, we have more window space for it. And more people to walk by and admire. Rockefeller Center and 5th avenue just before the holidays cannot be beat. Also, Santa's snow covered house looks retarded standing smack dab in the middle of The Grove in Hollywood.
Any way! I will endeavor over the next few weeks to share New York's wonderful windows with you. This post features photos I snapped at Bloomingdale's on the Upper East Side. The theme is classic Christmas and is inspired by the new Christmas compilation from my third cousin in law (aka: not really related, but still kinda sorta) Tony Bennett!
The classic Christmas folk are flat creations with simple automatic motions, sleds bouncing back and forth, arms moving up and down, sleighs rocking to and fro. Very simple. And above it all - the dulcet tones of Tony Bennett. Close your eyes and imagine. And enjoy.
Monday, November 24, 2008
But at least he's not like Alanis Morisette here (look at that hair!)
She's forced to eat a Barth Burger in a formulaic, utterly predictable, and Sweeney Todd-Esque (aka: HILARIOUS) skit from that Canadian children's show we all know and love: You Can't Do That on Television!
Do you remember this show? Am I the only kid who watched it? Am I the only guy who's STILL somewhat uneasy saying "I Don't Know?"
Today I found heaven. The web site is Opacity.US and it's built and maintained by Tom Kirsch, a 27-year-old photographer and web designer.
The site features over 7 years of photos taken by Kirsch of run down, abandoned buildings where nature is coming back in to lay claim. A place where you can imagine the tortured screams of asylumites and the hollow reverberations of an ancient organ.
Oooooooh I just gave myself shivers.
And if my review doesn't get you, Kirsch's explanation of his photographic subjects will:
Once a building no longer serves its purpose, and all of its functionality ceases to exist, it becomes truly fascinating. Each room is transforming into something new at its own rate, yielding to the forces of nature as it reclaims man's creation.Check out Opacity.US
The corrosion and decay paint vibrant colors across otherwise dull surfaces, lit only by natural sunlight spilling into the spaces at unaccustomed angles. Each object left behind becomes more significant than it has ever been, hinting at the life prior to its disuse. Floors collapse and walls cave in without care; if you get hurt, no one is here to help you.
This is a lonesome alien world whose dark corners and peeling walls have gotten a hold of me and many others; this affinity for derelict structures and often dangerous excitement is the core essence of urban exploring, in my opinion.
They're the first all-girl Saudi Arabian band. They play in secret, underground, and at ultra-private functions. They give only their first names for fear of retribution.
Women are meant to be seen and not heard. And by seen, that is only through an eye slit in their coverings.
Maybe you can't hear The AccoLade live. But you can listen to their hit single Pinocchio here (it's pretty good!). And read the story of their rise in the super secret Saudi scene here.
Now THIS is Rock and Roll. Ya dig? I mean, sure, our flannel coated, long-haired, anti-Starbucks establishment guys and gals are pretty cool. But, for fuck sakes, these girls are rocking out under ground a la the Plastic People of the Universe. The punishment for their music is everything from an acid facial to getting stoned (a far cry from the stoned OUR musicians are used to, that is.)
It's inspirational, really. To see people so driven to create, to perform, that their own lives are worth less than what they can bring to others.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
The woman's hair.
The conceit of the video game.
The fact that I LOVED this game back in the day.
Or the fact that the video game made the NEWS.
Keeping in mind that this was a good 10 years before the Internet, and maybe 5 years before On-Line services like AOL. I envisioned that Audiotex could be something akin to a ‘Talking Internet’. Instead of reading and writing you would listen and talk (record). The keypad would work as a keyboard to maneuver you around and through the system.
As someone who prefers to listen/talk over reading/writing it might have even been my preference. Could have been pretty neat, and though the technology in some ways is far more difficult than what the Web required, it never did break ground… There were Dial up Horoscopes/recipes/sport scores and Dial-a-date programs ….but nothing much more complex.
The main problem was the cost… The cost of the phone call…. The same thing that killed the forerunner of On-Line services and the Internet- ‘BBS’s’. (computer accessed -Bulletin Board Services.) Before unlimited phone calls to anywhere, the cost of anything but a local call would be prohibitive for anything more than a Hello….Goodbye. So Audiotex and BBS’s never saw the light of day.
Why am I telling you all this……because today…with unlimited calling plans and cell phone addiction the standard…maybe it’s time I fire up the old Phone Computers loitering in refrigerator sized racks in my living room! Let people HEAR who they are communicating with……I know I was always bummed when that sexy sounding lady I had been E-ing turned out to be a shemale instead! Oh well….who knows…..perhaps…..maybe soon…..someday…
But the fatalities! Ah the blood bath of flying limbs and organs THAT is what we come for. Well, thanks to the invention of YouTube you can now find dorkish compilations of fatalities, allowing you to bypass the game purchase and button taps, and go right to the gore.
So here they are, for all of you who want to see them: The MK vs. DC fatalities.
My review: C+. The censoring of the blood to get the DC license was beyond poor in the move department as far as I'm concerned. I want the joker to cut a smile in his opponent's face. I want Baraka to slice out organs and skewer them like a shish kabob.
None of that is here. These fatalities are something closer to a bar brawl on Sesame Street.
Oh well, glad I saved the cash on this one!
Friday, November 21, 2008
I have loved this man's spooky ass paintings for years. YEARS! Sure it's a common artist to love, but what can I say? He's good. Real good. And an apple has never been so interesting.
""My painting is visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question 'What does that mean'? It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable."God that's hot. I love it. I came from a schooling system that taught us to dig deep into everything for its hidden chocolate-y center of yummy symbolism.
Rock on Magritte. Happy Birthday.
Tonight I'm supposed to go see my father reading some poetry that won him a spot in Starbucks' avant grande barista art thingy.
I just want to sleeeeeeep.
I was right handed, so I knew “Lefty” would be out……I like to think I am of average height, so “Stretch” would not do…. “Slim”…hmmm well I think I wasn’t quite that thin…. I had Dark hair so “Red” and “Whitey” were not going to work… Too young for a mustache…..
I just didn’t seem to have any predominant feature, habit, characteristic, or eccentricity that I could exploit for a nickname…. So, I tried to create a few.
I kind of always saw myself as a Cowboy..(Probably still do..even after being thrown into the side of a barn by a not quite broken horse.) And I had a lot of Cowboy stuff…So I started wearing the 10 Gallon hats, the boots, the 6 inch belt buckle, the fancy shirts and slickers ALL THE TIME! Even in blistering heat!… But No….no one started calling me “Cowboy”. (except little kids) Maybe “Jackass” might have caught on…but I also holstered a gun…so I didn’t hear any of that.
I loved sports, so I decided to throw everything sidearm. Baseballs, Footballs, even Snowballs…. I figured I might brand myself “Crossfire” for my efforts… Thankfully that did not happen.. Eventually I gave up.
Of course as tradition often dictates, as soon as you stop trying to make something happen, it does so on its own…. And sure enough in rapid succession I acquired two nicknames.
The first was “Champ”…a term usually accorded to a fighter that has earned the title…or one that has become punch drunk in his attempts. Although I had a successfully (Thankfully) short boxing career, neither case applied to me.
Not sure how it started, but…whenever someone needed an excuse, explanation, or some way out of a most difficult situation, they gave me a call and I would provide them with the necessary retort that would not only get them off the hook, but usually earned them either sympathy or praise, depending on the circumstance….. “Champ”….no doubt short for Champion Bullshiter. A dubious talent perhaps best suited for Blogging!!!
The second nickname took a bit of evolution…. I had a friend who believed himself to be a historian of the old Wild West. (Too bad he wasn’t around during my Cowboy days!) One day he insisted that I was the spittin image of Jesse James and started calling me “Jesse”… And it took. (In some circles.)
Now as it happened, I eventually saw pictures of Jesse James, and without a doubt I didn’t look anything like him!… However….. I was the spittin image of Tyrone Power AS Jesse James… so at least there is a seed of truth to the tale….
Well with a lot of folks calling me “Jesse” and a lot calling me “Ray” it’s kind of obvious how the two became bonded… So now there are a lot of people that know me as “Jesse”….”Ray”….”JesseRay”...."Nigel" (another story)…….and now “Raysie” - a name my wife made up just so I could have an identity unique to our relationship..
But there days with User Names and Handles proliferating the Net, everyone has multiple nick names!…. Although something like “Joe74561” doesn’t have much of a ring to it.
I don't want the cold. The snow. The angry people. The crowded subways. The jaded, business-y people.
The guy who was sitting in my seat erroneously was just upgraded to first class. While I remain in "Economy Plus" which is the same as economy, just with the word plus at the end of it.
I'm not normally this negative. But, goddammit, everytime I go to the West Coast, I want to return home less and less. I used to get that way when leaving NYC to return to my college in Allentown, PA. Four years later, I moved to NYC.
So maybe (hopefully) LA is in the cards.
Special thanks to my trip hosts: X (co-blogger), Becky, and JP. You made my briefest of jaunts wonderful, entertaining, and filled with hilarity. Enjoy the sun and I'll FED-EX you some snow to remind you of how lucky you are.
Okay, they're closing the doors down and will soon take my laptop and wireless away from me.
Well, New York, I miss you less and less each time... but I guess we'll need to start getting along again.
At least my apartment was painted in my absence.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
When I was a kid I was intrigued….no, make that mesmerized, by the funny names so many of my family were known by….. Dolly, Joe Bundles, Windy, Eddie Six Bucks, The Rebel…… Strange names….particularly since I knew them as Aunt Adele, Uncles Joe, Marino and Eddie…and my Dad….
Came to find that they were nicknames…..something apparently quite common in my parents day, but hardly in existence in mine. And as interesting as the names were, it was the stories of how they had come to pass that was even more interesting.
My Uncle Frank was overweight so ‘Fatty’ naturally fit him. (and he did wear it with affection.) Turned out my Dad was quite the contrarian (Hmmmm) and so “The Rebel/Reb” was also pretty clear cut.
My Aunt loved to have lovers lavish clothing on her…dress her up so to speak, So “Dolly” it was.
On the other hand, my Uncle Marino was as quiet as a church mouse so they hung “Windy” on him.
My Uncle Ed never had more or less than Six dollars in his pocket at any given time…..so “Eddie Six Bucks” was his lot.
Now my Uncle Joe used to deliver laundry as a kid- so he was “Joe Bundles“…. But it also was important to be able to distinguish him from Joe Bananas, and Mustache Joe…..
Well that will be part one for now…………….
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
And so my brief trip to San Diego comes to a close. But what a way to leave! On the Pacific Coastliner, which chugs along the... well... along the Pacific Coast (original name, right?) Farewell, San Diego. You will be missed. Not immediately, as I will be living poshly at the Standard Downtown in LA for the evening. But Friday morning when I crawl off the red eye from LAX into low-teens weather.
Then you will be missed.
Business class on a train is silly. It's 20 bucks more than regular passage, and the key difference is slightly more leg room (okay, considering my ridiculously long legs, that's a bonus). There's also an outlet for my laptop (not bad, not bad). Oh, and we got a high-class snack pack which features spreadable bree and some french oatmeal raisin cookie.
Did I mention that I'm on a wireless modem card? This is sweet. Thank God I don't have one of my own, or I'd never get anything done.
Okay. Gonna do some work. I'll be in LA by 9 my time, midnight my real time. And just about the time that I get used to the time change, I'll be back, shivering, and miserable in Screw York.
Ahh business travel. Bittersweet, my friends. Bittersweet.
Let me tell you, getting out of that shower was harder than getting in. Who would have known that the strategic placement of an additional, rectangular head would turn my shower into a veritable den of delight that I would never want to leave?
Of course now no shower will ever be the same and I will cry every time I take the pedestrian rinse that, until today, I called a "shower".
Rockstar indeed. Goodbye San Diego. We had fun.
Next stop: Los Angeles!
Me and time changes do not get along. Even the small 3-hour one I am faced with since coming here to San Diego. I mean it's not that it hits me hard, it's that my body doesn't accept it.
Last night I began to understandably get sleepy around "10:30" (or, as my still Eastern body calls it: 1:30 am). Anyway, my body didn't know what to do with itself. I felt like it was trying to understand why it would be getting so sleepy.
By the time "1 am" hit, my mortal shell was positively befuddled. Why was I THIS exhausted?
Now it's even odder. I'm up at "7:20 am" but my body feels refreshed because it's actually almost 10:30 am. So now the confusion is in reverse: Why was I so tired so early, and now so awake so early?
Oy. And what's worse is that by the time my body gets used to the time change, I'll be flying back on a red eye.
Although your generation……which one is it? Gen Y? Gen Z?
Has certainly embraced technology, it has been done more as evolution than innovation.
The Baby Boomer generation more times than not is considered the 60’s Revolution generation….. And there were a great number of important social changes that took place during the 60‘s…. But more recently I have been thinking that maybe we should be thought of as the Digital Generation….
Using myself as an example (ahem!) - so please excuse the immodesty!
I had several PC’s before the term was even adopted…. In fact my good friend Rick Smets invented the desktop computer years before the Woz. Of course they had minimal power and capabilities…and programs were loaded via cassette tapes…but still….
Was on-line about 10 years before the availability of the Internet. (4kbs Wow!!!) Of course you had to dial up (expensive long distance) each site separately back then…….and yet…
Had one of the first wireless phones… though it was the size of a brick.
Had one of the second cell phones which though not shoebox size- was also about the size of a brick…..I think I had a 60 minute plan….however…
Had an MP3 player in the early 90’s…..maybe you could fit an album on it….of course….
Had to have something to tape TV shows with…..black market Beta then VHS deck…..blank tapes cost $25 each…..(back then!)
How about the CD player…when there were almost no CD’s for it to play……but oh boy…….
Digital camera- low quality, small capacity…. I could go on but…
The ability to be the first to enjoy……almost by definition, means you were also the last to experience those things that got replaced. So I really think my generation will be known as the Generation that bridged the analog and digital worlds.
Again- using myself with all modesty as an example….
When I was a kid (and I am not THAT old!) we didn’t even have a phone in the house… and hey I lived in NYC! (Alright Queens NY, but the City none the less.) When I was 8 we got a corded, rotary dial, bakelite phone.
78 rpm ‘mono’ records (ceramic) were how we listened to music. About 11”s round, one song on each side.
TV was Black and White (I think a 17 inch was as big as you could get) and we had 6 channels. The channel dial went up to 13.
Typewriters were not yet electric.
Eventually Polaroid would come out with a camera that developed B&W pictures (semi manually- you had to stop the development process with an included chemical treated sponge.) in a minute!
Hey- you get the picture.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I'm such a tourist. Taking pictures of Westfield Malls. But you know what? They're pretty cool. If I'm gonna have to go to a mall, I'd much rather have them be sprawling Mexican cities of food courts and Abercrombies than the gray lifeless boxes we have in NYC.
Oh, and a note to the Hard Rock Hotel. I dig the guitar pick motif, really I do. We need to feel like rock stars and rock stars have guitars. But this steps just a bit past the cool line and into the ridiculous:
First off let me say a VERY Happy Birthday to my co-blogger in crime. Just remember - 61 is 16 checking itself out in a mirror. Ohhhh yeah.
Oh, and why haven't I posted all day? Because I've gone and traveled to the West Coast!
After a particularly pleasant 5 hour flight (no one sat next to me - extra leg room!) I stepped off my secret lover JetBlue and into the balmy, clear-skied, 72-degree heaven that is San Diego.
I've been here before, but only on a brief jaunt for a client at the Maritime Sheraton. Where I was held captive by a sales conference and could only gaze upon the city from across the water. Versus this time where the client has me staying at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, right in the heart of the city (believe me, I know, there's a sign hanging over the street that tells me so).
God stepping off the plane was like a dream. No. Really. Like a dream. To get on a plane shivering through a strategically selected light hoodie (not too strategic, it's too hot here to wear even that) and step off under a beating sun and into a cool breeze. It's like I stepped back in time. And as I did so, New York became less filthy and more architecturally intriguing.
The cab driver regaled me with stories of cloudless Christmases and the fact that he's lived here 30 years and has secured a permanent tan. He also gouged the fuck out of me in regards to cab fare. But that's fine.
Anyway - the Hard Rock Hotel! They certainly try a bit hard decor-wise. Their mission statement is to treat me like a rock star. There are guitar picks everywhere - from the book with menus to the elevator buttons. Quotes I should probably know from rock and roll songs hang from walls and ceilings.
But whatever! My room is kickass. And I have the exact same TV here in the hotel as I do at home (awww).
Meanwhile, I heartell that it is 32 degrees in NYC and a bit snowy. Unfortunate. Needless to say they'll have to send a caravan the likes of which no one has ever seen since Heart of Darkness to retrieve me from this coast. Every time I come here I simply don't want to leave. Ever.
Maybe I should take the hint and stay?
Being retired is NOT the same as being out of work! Out of works folks need to schlep and help out and do all the dirty jobs around the house… Retired folks are paying their own way they can do nothing if they want!!
All baby boomers are not equal…the term was coined to recognize the ‘Post WWII baby boom’……. Which really should only include people born from 1946-1950- the kids that spent their teens in the 60’s and eventually became Hippies. The other dregs don’t count!
Speaking of Hippies…they were not anti war (how could you be growing up immediately after WWII) they were anti the Vietnam War…
Additionally Hippies were not pacifists…..and I have seen more than one short haired red necks find that out after they were knocked on their asses.
Hmmmmmmmm……geeeeze I need to take a nap!
Monday, November 17, 2008
Justin Timberlake had just recently shaved off his fro, and was pretending he hadn't penned a deal to leave his boyband in the dust for true fame.
Lance Bass was still "straight."
Joey Fatone was still not hosting reality show karaoke games.
And Michael Jackson was still appearing in public and sans burka every once in a while.
Yes, a different time. When Justin wore a tie-dyed sleeveless tee with a skull on it, which didn't bring sexy anywhere. When a writer penned the word "Sexetary" and got it greenlit for major broadcast. Do you remember this time? It seems like decades ago - the boy bands that are our shameful version of my parents Beatles. My slightly older friends' Depeche Modes, Smiths and Cures. My grandparents' Comos and Sinatras and King Coles.
They had icons. We had twinky, lipsynching, painfully gay corporate created musical orgies.
Well let's go back there any way. Depression was nowhereabouts. Dubya hadn't assfucked the planet yet. Wall Street and Main Street were getting along swimmingly.
The boys came together on MTV to sing in defense of pop music, of NSync and the boy band generation. Recently there had been murmurings, wondering when the 98 degrees and the Backstreet Boys were going to die out. Their response? "But then you got to realize what we're doin' is not a trend. We got the gift of melody, we're gonna play it to the end."
Of course that end would come a year later. How far we have come.
Looking back today, we get to witness the dramatic irony of this rousing anthem. Of Michael Jackson's odd druged facial expressions. Of N* thinking they truly would live on forever.
An old buddy (Billy you out there??) had one of the most Hi-Tech Virtual Reality Centers out there…and was out of business faster than Sarah Palin… So fast I never got to play with the stuff.. It was experimental, expensive and fragile, and the fee’s to play were so high it made Disney look cheap.
Arcades were some of the best places on earth……when they were dirt cheap.. I don’t think we will ever see a rebirth. I don’t think home gaming consoles will ever be replaced.
As long as you have to stare at a box (even a 56 inch one) to play a game, you’re still stuck in the last century.
For readers not familiar with these games, either you're NOT having a real, bloody, explosive battle on a field, or you're NOT employing cool bombs and weaponry to take over the world, one country at a time. You see, in a patchouli scented back office somewhere at Milton Bradley, some hippie thought that if he took all of the fun and guts out of war via these board games, perhaps the next generation would grow up to roll its eyes at global conflict and instead resort to living peaceably.
I used to play these games with my brother and a family friend. Of course, back when we played them, video games were not at their graphical high points, to be certain. Pixels and blurred colors abounded. So we didn't know what we were missing out on as we maneuvered little pegs around either a single battlefield, or the entire free world (well, not so free if you won the game). When someone stepped on a bomb, we would throw the piece in the air (improv violence, we needed it!)
I'm sorry, but I have a lot more fun today playing games like Call of Duty, where I shoot a rocket launcher and a peasant village goes into the stratosphere. Screw strategy. Who needs a strategy when you've got the bomb??
And you know what I miss? The video arcade. There used to be one in every mall, filled with bleeps and buzzes and explosions and banshee howls. You fed your dollar into the change machine, and fed The Simpsons arcade or House of the Dead or Mortal Kombat until you were broke and had to beg your mom for more money.
And then there were those SUPER arcades, like Sports Plus out east on Long Island. Gigantic edifices filled with indoor roller coasters, those VR games you speak of (skateboard on a skateboard! punch with boxing gloves! vacuum with a vacuum!) and a little area where you could get overpriced Elio's pizza. My day camp went there on a monthly basis - it was easy enough. Give the fat kids some tokens and a hot dog and they'll leave you alone so you can smoke cigarettes in the parking lot and call your girlfriend.
But those places are dead. I haven't seen an arcade in decades. Where's Laser Tag? The indoor roller coasters? All that we have remaining are a few Dave and Busters, and they have about 20 square feet of space mostly dominated by skee-ball.
Actually my friends and I were probably arguing if it was possible that anything could ever be better than Acapulco Gold….at the time. The original Pong arcade game was pretty lame. Didn’t come close to matching the excitement of almost any of the electro-mechanical arcade games of the time. (and it looked and felt electro-mechanical.) So Pong didn’t jar any future possibilities at all.
Another reason to overlook Pong as a precursor was the fact it was an arcade game. Refrigerator sized games were rarely thought of as a possible home entertainment.
Having said that….As I look back I do remember having as a kid, two of the attempts to change that.. A table top shooting arcade and a table top pinball machine. Both were actually quite good..nearly arcade quality..but they DID take up a table top, so the idea of a closest full of them was definitely out of the question!
But looking back a little less far…..the real seed for computer gaming back in the 70’s may very well have been what was to be the golden age of …board games. (If not in sales certainly in innovations.)
Someone….probably at Milton Bradley, realized that there was an almost totally untapped market in Baby Boomers. Record sales were sky rocketing, but there was little else to entertain them with (legally.)
So Board Game manufacturers started coming out with all manner of games aimed at an adult market. It was the origin of the plethora of military/civilization campaign games that are the top sellers of today….
Personally I always thought helmeted 3D virtual reality was going to be THE Holy Grail of gaming…still do…beyond that…the person that can imagine it…will own it!
Funny you should mention Frogger, because I spent most of my weekend playing Smackdown Vs. Raw 2009 on my Playstation 3. Seriously, we're talking, like 9 straight hours of sitting on the futon and jamming buttons.
But I must say, it's scary how far video games have come. To think that you and your friends used to gawk at Pong and think "Wow! They'll NEVER have anything more innovative than this!"
I'd like to pretend this was an issue with your generation, and that mine was far more advanced, and expected better things in due time. But that's not true. I've been through a Sega Master System, Nintendo Entertainment System, Super NES, Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64, Game Cube, PSone, PS2, and PS3 (and wii) and every time I would think "yep. this is it. never getting any better!" And then they do.
Hell, I remember thinking that portable phones and pagers were the end of the road. Then Zack Morris popped up with a cell phone bigger than a box of crackers and the world would never be the same.
But I must admit, I no longer think we've reached the end of anything. I'm waiting for my PS4 to cook me breakfast and take my future dog out for a walk. I want my cell phone to teach me how to dance (and then dance with me). And someday the apartment of tomorrow will have time travel technology and my studio on the Upper East Side can become a pied a terre in Paris with the flick of a switch.
Nice first post, by the way. Glad to see you figured out how blogger works. Did you know you can play Frogger online for free? Now you can Blog and Frog at the same time!
When Justin asked if I wanted to play at being a blogger, I thought he was asking me if I wanted to play Frogger! I loved that old Atari game. I got so excited I even dug out my old Atari Joystick…. AHHHHH no matter how old you get it is always a pleasure to be cranking that old joystick! Ahhhhhh.
Getting that frog across that stream…..avoiding the perpetual hazards…the commitment and energy and brain numbing time to get that stupid frog across the stream…what a joy… but why?
Why does the damn frog have to cross THAT stream??? All those hazards? The side he is already on looks exactly the same! Stay there you French fop!
It’s like- “Why did the Chicken cross the road?”… Why? I figured it out…he wanted to see if the egg got there first!
The real question for me at least, is which came first the bacon or the egg? I got that figured too!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
This week's co-blogger is an extremely interesting guy. I know that first hand because he's also my stepfather. Not sure if he's ever used blogger before, so it should be a hoot to see how he does this week!
The photo he submitted with his application is of his Halloween costume... he and my mother stole the show hands down. (It probably helped that they made all partygoers with better costumes walk the plank.)
Everyone, send a welcome to Ray and get ready for another rockin' week on Justin Plus One!
My Name: Ray
My Location: Nassau, LI NY
What I might post about: The oddities of life, the life of the odd.
What I love: Free time
What I hate: Too much time
Anything else? Nope you'll read it soon enuff!
Friday, November 14, 2008
Well, half of them.
The marketing during the holiday movie season is much like ad campaigns for anything else this time of year, attempting to make everything look luxurious or succulent. The movies during this season are gussied up like a Thanksgiving turkey, smothered with the biggest stars in the showiest roles. The art direction and costume design look positively yummy. For film lovers, these movies are meant to be devoured. Torn open like a gift on Christmas morn.
The problem being that, like the most appealing presents, sometimes the wrapping paper is the best part. Once the gift is opened, you cringe and muster a "Thanks, Grandma..." before moving onto the next. Memoirs of Geisha, anyone? Dreamgirls? No?
Here are my picks (i.e., shots in the dark) for what look like the best films this holiday season has to offer. The ones I'm most excited for. I'm leaving out those nice-looking baubles that I suspect won't live up to hype (sorry, Australia).
1) Doubt - An ironic title for perhaps the only movie on my list I'm betting on as a sure thing. There's little doubt that Doubt will be a delight for fans of smart scripts and terrific performances. Even when her filmmakers go astray, Meryl Streep never hits a false note, and this looks like the best role she's had in years. I haven't seen the play, nor do I know much about it, but the trailer is electrifying for fans of watching fine actors (Meryl Streep! Philip Seymour Hoffman! Amy Adams! Oh my!) go at it in enclosed spaces with lots of tension. Movies based on plays can be awfully awkward (Proof, The Shape of Things, to name a couple) but when they're good they are very good (Closer). The film is written and directed by the playwright, which is a very good sign, no doubt.
2) Revolutionary Road - Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio reunite to show what might have happened if Rose and Jack had married and then slowly found themselves embittered and resenting each other like all real couples do (suddenly that watery grave isn't looking so bad after all). I (intentionally) haven't seen much on this, but director Sam Mendes earned his stripes with another film about marital angst (American Beauty), and Kate Winslet has proven one of the smartest actresses in the business in her choice of films (hence an ungodly number of well-deserved nominations, and another couple this year, most likely). Nothing says holidays like beautiful people hating each other in the most dramatic of ways.
3) Milk - Tough call, because I usually end up mildly disliking Gus van Sant's films (Psycho), thinking they're overrated (Good Will Hunting), or hating them with a fiery passion (Elephant). I did not really even enjoy his segment in Paris je T'aime. But this one he actually had to put some effort into (unlike playing Kurt Cobain dress-up with Michael Pitt or following some kid around a skate park with a camera or whatever) so I'm hoping he steps it up. With these actors, the subject matter, and the degree to which the gay community got involved with the film (recreating San Francisco's Castro Street glory days) I think van Sant may actually pull it off this time. The material could not be any more topical. There are some great actors on board (Josh Brolin, James Franco, Emile Hirsch). The trailer certainly appeals. Providing van Sant doesn't get too esoteric and arty on us, this has Oscar's fingerprints all over it already (dirty!). Here's to hopin'.
4. The Wrestler - After Requiem for a Dream it would take a violent shove to get me off Darren Aronofsky's bandwagon. And I was one of the few who saw (and loved) his beautiful (but challenging) The Fountain. The Wrestler sounds like a huge departure for him - a has-been professional wrestler story isn't normally the sort of film I'd go for, but Aronofsky is a bold and imaginative filmmaker who I'm sure will do something interesting, and early word on Mickey Rourke's performance has him being nominated for and quite possibly winning the Oscar (though for now Sean Penn is the one to beat). You don't have to twist my arm to get me in the theater for this one!
5. Valkyrie - Controversial choice, I know. Many are worried that a serious-minded Tom Cruise vs. the Nazis movie will be silly. I mean, he does have an eye patch. And maybe it won't be Oscar material. But I have faith in the fascinating true story and director Bryan Singer to provide, at the very least, an entertaining escapist film amidst a season of tensely dramatic Oscar hopefuls and painful-looking family trifles (Four Christmases, Bedtime Stories, Bolt, suffocation, fiery car crash...oh, wait, for a second there I thought this was a list of terrible ways to die). Something has to be fun for the grownups (and I'm pretty sure The Day The Earth Stood Still isn't it). I guess "fun" is a relative term - I like my fun with Nazis and attempted assassination. I think it's gonna be good.
Most conspicuous absence: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It's directed by David Fincher, helmer of my #1 film last year (Zodiac). In my mind, he's never gone wrong (well, the third Alien was a low point, but I'm not sure if that's because of Fincher or because Ripley was bald). Maybe it's just because of Brad Pitt, but I'm getting a slight Meet Joe Black vibe off this one. Long, pretty, romantic, ponderous...and perhaps kinda slow? I'm predicting that this one falls into the "okay" category, in spite of the talent attached. But stay tuned.
The other night I saw an interesting little film that has been getting some great reviews: Happy-Go-Lucky, directed by Mike Leigh (probably best known for Secrets & Lies and more recently, Vera Drake). But this is a very different movie than either of those.
It's not ABOUT anything. The only semblance of a plot comes in the last few scenes. It's merely following a character named Poppy through her life as she learns flamenco, takes driver's ed, hangs out with her friends, teachers her young students how to make bird masks out of paper bags, and so forth. What makes it interesting is her unbelievably (yet strangely credible) sunny disposition.
Poppy is cheerful. SUPER cheerful. She agrees with basically anything anyone says. She puts a positive spin on EVERYTHING. She's always trying to make people laugh, even people who really, really don't want to laugh (this means YOU, bitchy wristband woman at the El Rey). So yes, Poppy is supremely annoying. She's fun to watch in the movie, but my friend and I both agreed we wouldn't want to hang out with her for very long in real life. It's unusual that a character who can be so likable on screen would send you running for the hills or reaching for the nearest machete (which, now that I think about it, is most likely not so near) in real life.
All this may make Happy-Go-Lucky sound like a very broad comedy, but as played by Sally Hawkins she's very convincing as an actual human being (albeit a bizarre one). It's a fearless performance - she makes you cringe in every scene by being SO peppy you just want to smack her. Only in a couple scenes does Leigh examine what's underneath Poppy's seemingly blissful exterior, but those are enough to make her come alive. Poppy's relentless optimism is eventually suggested to be a defense mechanism against the half-empty world around her - a disquieting scene with an insane homeless man shows how far she'll put herself at risk just to try to make someone else happy.
In most hands, the premise - "obnoxiously cheerful woman goes through life irritating the hell out of people" - would be met with a one-note execution that ridiculed the lead character, but Leigh grounds everything in reality and actually makes Poppy a psychologically complex character (rare in any film these days, let alone a comedy). In spite of the title, the film watches her deal with a few semi-serious issues like a child in her class experiencing domestic violence, and the rather scary obsession someone in the film develops with her (stalker!!) It's one of those films that becomes more interesting after it ends than while you're watching it, at least for the first time. Upon reflection, it may end up on my Top 10 list this year.
So for you fairly adventurous moviegoers, I suggest you check it out. It's a good film to debate with a friend afterward and find where you stand on the half-full/half-empty debate. As much as I admire Poppy for sticking to her guns and trying her damnedest to promote happiness in the world around her, I'd be too embarrassed to hang out with her in public because she's so awkward. And having a serious conversation about something that bothers me would drive me nuts since she's always looking on the bright side. It begs the question, "How happy do we really want the people around us to be? How cheerful is TOO cheerful?" (My answer: when it departs from reality.)
Though she likely won't get it, Sally Hawkins deserves some love from the Academy in nomination form. The closest comparison I have to her character and performance is Ricky Gervais in "The Office" - funny, but very uncomfortably so - but Happy-Go-Lucky is different in that it expects you to sit back and decide for yourself when - or if - you want to laugh. It's not the kind of comedy that expects you to be amused in a few key places - different people laugh in very different places. I'd like to see Leigh's script nominated too.
I have the ultimate cure for you: PUPPIES!
SEE THE PUPPIES
Specifically, 6 Shiba Inu puppies on a live web cam feed. I received this link from my ex Paul today and have resolved to keep a browser tab open at all times on the PuppyCam. When things begin to go wrong, I will click and gaze upon absolute adorableness.
What's hilarious? This is a viral sensation! They are averaging at least 25,000 viewers at any given time (more still as this continues to go round the web.) How will I explain this to clients that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on trying to get something to go viral. "Yeah, I'm sorry Mr. Thadsternowitz, turns out all you needed was a box full of puppies and a webcam."
Whatever, fuck them. I've got puppies, and that's all I need.
SEE THE PUPPIES
Oh, and far be it from me to accept these puppies without querying. I was so jaded, I was actually waiting for 2 Girls 1 Cup to suddenly pop up on the screen. Or for the puppies to explode in blood and guts, or suddenly start singing the Oscar Mayer weiner song. I watched their leg twitches for signs that this was a looping video trick.
But I did some creative googling and found out that this is in fact legit. I also found out more about the puppies:
Tune in daily to see the cutest Shiba Inu pups... EVER! ￼
The six Shiba Inu pups (3 boys and 3 girls) turned 5 weeks old on November 11th. This is the first litter from their mom, Kika.
- Autumn (Purple collar) - 3 lbs 5.8 oz (as of Nov 11th)
- Ayumi (Yellow collar) - 3 lbs 3.4 oz (as of Nov 11th)
- Amaya (Red collar) - 3 lbs 6.6 oz (as of Nov 11th)
- Aki (Green collar) - 4 lbs 0.4 oz (as of Nov 11th)
- Akoni (Black collar) - 3 lbs 12.6 oz (as of Nov 11th)
- Ando (Blue collar) - 4 lbs 1.2 oz (as of Nov 11th)
It is a widely known fact that men cannot keep their dicks in their pants. A new fact? They can't keep their avatars dicks in their digital pants, either. The UK's Times reports on a REAL divorce based on a SECOND LIFE infidelity.
I can understand divorce based on real infidelity. Hell, I can understand hurt feelings from digital infidelity, assuming it involved web camming and photo sharing. But really? These people never exchanged a photo or message outside of Second Life.
Other funny facts: The story involves the hiring of a Second Live Private Investigator. The wife discovered the infidelity after a nap whereupon she returned to her computer to find her husband's burly digital double on a couch with a pixel prostitute.
I mean, I'll admit, I'd ask for a divorce too. But on the grounds that my loser partner would rather spend his time getting his rocks off in a virtual world.
I wonder if the ex hubby regrets this now. If a divorce was in the cards, he might as well have diddled in the real world and received the same comeuppance. That's how I'd do it. Go whole hog or get a salad to go.
What amazes me is how ANGRY the right wingers are about President-Elect Obama. They are ALREADY attacking him, as their own lame-duck President goes about doing nothing but bloviating.
I've already addressed the hateful and racist comments that Fox News allows on their comment boards.
And then the Huffington Post did a quick, last ditch article trying to neuter the initial criticism.
But I have to say, I enjoy this particular bit of radical right creativity that I received this morning from my fiscally conservative, socially moderate Republican uncle. It's cute, and it makes me feel victorious!
I don't know about you, but I want to be in that car. Hopefully they picked me up an iced caramel macchiatto.
Today, a co-worker came in with a sample of a new Kashi cereal. I don't mind Kashi, to be honest. Sure it's a little bland and sometimes it tastes like you're chewing big chunks of sawdust, but it's not the most horrifying thing I've ever eaten.
But man, they do NOT understand product naming.
What in God's name is this? Good Friends? The name of the cereal, and the odd, multi-ethnic box models make me feel like Sweeney Todd has expanded his offerings to include breakfast.
But that's not it. This past week I discussed the brilliance of white chocolate. As I am often informed, there is no cacao in white chocolate. Therefore, it is not chocolate. But guess what? It's called white chocolate! It had me fooled! They could have called it "white sweet creamy blocks" but some brilliant Mad Men style guy swirled his old fashioned and said "fuck it! let's name it white chocolate". And it worked.
Kashi doesn't bother with renaming things. They look at an ingredient and that's what it is. My example? Fiber twigs. There is nothing attractive about this name. But, sure enough, on the box, there it is "fiber twigs". Twigs come from trees. Fiber makes you poop. The name makes me think of dropping a deuce in the woods. Aside from connotations, "fiber twigs" SOUNDS unattractive. It makes me think of rickets. Or some other horrible malady ("We're sorry Miss Johnson, but little Timmy has Fiber Twigs").
But I digress. The sample of Kashi I received today is called "Vive" (life! live!) And I thought, okay. That works. These guys finally have the idea! Good for them! But no, I gave them too much credit. Beneath "VIVE!" lie the large, very readable words
Probiotic Digestive Wellness CerealGod dammit, Kashi! What the fuck is wrong with you!? I can't even begin to break down what these words make me envision. Suffice it to say I see some sort of Terminator-type creature. And digestive wellness? Way to suck any sense of fun out of breakfast. No thanks, I'll go for the box with that sassy frog on it.