Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rite of Passage (sort of)

Over the years (& as I realized yesterday, I've had a lot of them) one experiences all sorts of rites of passage. Bar Mitzvas, 1st Communions, specific b-days, the 1st wet dreams, or the development of body hair are all greeted w/ a sense of accomplishment. However, it's only the last 1 on the list that got me to log in today. I 1st started going grey while in 7th grade. Throughout high school, I plucked them so as to look younger, I guess. Finally, I stopped caring & accepted the fact that grey hair is in my future; I even experienced my 1st grey facial hairs last year. What happened yesterday began a whole new trajectory for me though. I think I may have begun the long decent towards death. I was getting into the shower & found 3 greys on my chest. What's next but greys in the pubes? And then of course, the coup de grace of all hair issues... the ears. I suppose I can deal w/ the pube issue through a strict "Brazilian Only" policy, but that kind of scares me. Once the hair on the ears starts though (& I think it may be any day), I guess it'll be time to start digging my whole. It's funny too because so many of my friends see me as the young Turk in the group, but a few grey chest hairs can really alter ones perception of himself. Pretty soon I'll be looking like this guy... if I don't already.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Post Burns Night Post

Thanks to everyone who came over on Saturday night; the party seemed to be a big hit. People brought great food & others played great music & still others drank great quantities of booze. A few had to be helped out of the house by the end, but I stuck to my original plan & remained relatively sober all night. Of course, even in a less-than-drunken state, I managed to shatter a glass on he dining room floor. Jim, Dave, Pete & Joe broke out their guitars & Jim even brought a lap-steel. By the time they made it through a handful of Ryan Adams tunes, a few Son Volt songs & 2 renditions of "Brokedown Palace," everyone was plenty pleased w/ the music selection. We also listened to a few discs of random Scottish stuff & I did the obligatory reading of "To a Haggis" after Stephanie finished cooking it. No one else ever got around to reading which was a bit off a let down: it's hardly Burns Night w/o "To a Mouse." In other music news, Georgina brought a small set of bagpipes which everyone assumed were going to lead to a great time. As it so happened, the pipes were actually solid so no air could pass through them... & it only took us about a half hour to figure that one out. As far as the guest list is concerned, a few new faces made it to their 1st BN party: Joe, Vale, Laurie, Pete (her Pete... not the Pete who was playing music), & a 3rd Pete who came w/ Shannon. In fact, I don't think I'd ever been in a room before w/ 3 people named Pete. If you couldn't make it this ear, be sure to be here next year & you can even read a poem. And agaian... thanks to everyone who came & made it a fun night. Oh, and to Rachel for the pics... mine didn't turn out so well.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Coasters and Kiddie Porn

Since Solstice caught the High School Musical bug last summer, I've been hearing about Vanessa Hudgens, Zack Efron, Corbin Bleu, Ashley Tisdale, and the rest of the cast non-stop. She's obsessed, & while it's pretty cute watching her sing & dance around the house, the whole photo scandal thing has left her rather confused. Since she's asked me about it every couple couple weeks since it surfaced last fall, I finally decided I should take a look @ the pictures (the censored, un-naked underage versions) to see what all the fuss is about. Before we talk about it though, I want to talk about Annette Funicello. While she was under contract w/ Disney in the 1960s, she was sub-contracted out to American International to make a bunch of beach party movies: Beach Party, Beach Blanket Bingo, Muscle Beach Party & even Bikini Beach, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, & Dr. Goldfoot & the Bikini Machine (my favorite of them all, yet it isn't considered 1 of the official 5 American International Beach Party films). Anyway, in order to make these films (including the 3 w/ "bikini" in the titles), her contract stated she could never appear in a bikini in order to maintain her pure Disney image. Now, obviously, Hudgens didn't up-load the pics on purpose, but the fact that Disney has been so willing to forgive & forget is interesting none-the-less.After looking @ the Hudgens photo, 2 thoughts (well, 2 that I'm gonna discuss) arose.
1) She just signed an endorsement deal w/ Neutrogena, so in a sense, this could really just be good marketing. Her skin looks fantastic & we're seeing a lot of it w/o the benefit of airbrushing.
2) She should have signed a deal w/ Dannon, but more importanly, she should have a coaster under that h2o bottle. It's sitting on a rather nice looking dresser, but you just know it's gonna leave a ring on the wood. That really gets my goat. After seeing High School musical 1 & 2, I assumed she was a responsible young adult, but then this happens. I'm sure she was raised to use coasters. I would love the chance to ask her if her mother raised her to be a savage like that or if she came to that on her own accord. She's gonna have to get the dresser refinished which will be both time consuming & expensive. I mean, we're trying to live in a society here & one of the basic rules is "use a fucking coaster"!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Commercials and PSAs

If you hate this asshole like I hate this asshole then we'd hate this asshole the same
Have you seen this commercial? It's on the Fox Soccer Channel non-stop, but I don't know if viewers of regular tv get to see it. Giuseppe Franco is one of the biggest ass-hats I've ever seen. Although, I love that when he suggests that his Beverly Hills salon deals w/ many celebrities they show a picture of Gary Busey. Then, as the voice over says that it really works and helps to regrow hair, the small print at the bottom of the screen says "Procede is not intended to regrow hair." WTF??? At first, it seems like a parody of hair-care commercials, but having seen it ad nauseam since August, I've had to come to the conclusion that this imbecile really just takes himself that seriously. "I don't own the company, I don't own anything about it." His hair is fantastic though so at least there's that... but why does the owner of a hair salon have autographed head-shots?
He's a bad mother... watch your mouth
I saw the promo for this weekend's SAG awards show this morning while watching Rockford. while it doesn't thing all that noteworthy, it's actually notable for 3 distinct reasons.
1) It'll be the 1st major awards gala since the SWG strike started, and it's a union celebration. That alone almost makes me want to watch it.
2) I saw it on WADL 38 Detroit. I've been meaning to write about this channel for a while now. It's funny as shit. It's all African American televangelists & old Black sit-coms like The Jeffersons, Sanford & Son, Goodtimes, & Amen... & then of course The Rockford Files. Why Rockford? That is unknown.
3) Most importantly, the commercial uses "The Theme from Shaft" replacing "Shaft" w/ "SAG." Another reason to watch this show. Now, if only it was something worth watching.
The future's here, we are it, we are on our own
Another commercial this morning on WADL was for the Red Cross & their need for blood. There was a shot of a young woman (maybe 18 or 20) giving blood & she was wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt... the same 1 that Stephanie got 15 years ago @ our very 1st show. I had to call her right away & she said she still has the shirt. Of course, I still have a copy of the show [(Set I) Picasso, Althea, Queen Jane, It Must Have Been the Roses, It's All Over Now, Bird Song (Set II)Truckin' > New Speedway Boogie > That Would be Something > Long Way to Go Home > Saint of Circumstance > He's Gone > Drums/Space > The Last Time > Standing on the Moon > Lovelight (E) I Fought the Law] Including "I fought the Law, I only knew 4 songs. It was a great time though & I had to run out & get Built to Last that week because I was loving "SOTM" so much. Maybe I'll give the old tape a run-through today in honor of that girl who was giving blood.
A little Public Service Announcement for y'all
As you may have heard, for reasons that I'm not going to explain here, Stephanie has left her husband... you've probably heard the reasons already anyway. If not, then you must be living under a rock. That said, the newly single Stephanie seems a lot like the old Stephanie & we've been working really hard to reestablish our friendship. Obviously, a lot went down over the last year a half, but reconnecting and hanging out has been really nice. If you see her around, be sure to say hi. In fact, you may have a chance on Saturday since she is coming to Burns Night which kind of makes this 2 PSAs in one... be sure you're getting ready for the big night. I think that for next year, I'll get a piper or maybe learn to play myself. I found a pretty cheap set on E-bay. How hard can it be? I'm sure I'd take to them as easily as I've taken to all the other instruments I play.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I've got them African Cup of Nations Fevers Again Mama

The African Cup of Nations starts Sunday in Ghana. Many of the games should be fantastic. African soccer has improved by leaps & bounds lately, so one would think FSC or ESPN would grab the rights to the tournament. No dice though; it's not being shown on TV here though unless you happen to have some weird African Sports package on Direct TV. We'll survive though because Telesund will be streaming most of the games on-line here. I'm particularly looking forward to Monday's match between Nigeria & Core d' Ivoire. This tournament is also a nice lead in to the European Championships that will be happening in Switzerland & Austria this summer. This is a job that would normally be left up to our favorite asshat, Landon Donovan, but I've decided to take the reigns and bring you a quick overview of the goings on this month.
Group A Venue: Accra
Teams: Ghana, Morocco, Guinea, Namibia
I would imagine Ghana & Morocco will have an easy time of this group, but look to Guinea to mount a surprisingly strong challenge.
Group B Venue: Sekondi
Teams: Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Benin
If any group should be called "the group of death," it's this one. Mali got screwed. I have no idea how Nigeria & Cote d'Ivoire, but I would think many people were hoping to see them meet in the finals. Mali probably could have made it out of any other group.
Group C Venue: Kumasi
Teams: Egypt, Cameroon, Zambia, Sudan
Other than Cameroon, I don't know much about these teams, but I would guess Egypt will go through as the 2nd team from group C.
Group D Venue: Tamale
Teams: Tunisia, Senegal, South Africa, Angola
This group is hard to call, but I would think that S. Africa will go through. They've been doing a lot to strengthen their program lately in the build up to the 2010 world Cup which they'll be hosting. And for those of you keeping score, that will be the 1st ever World Cup Finals in Africa.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Run Up to Burns Night

My parents came over for dinner this evening so my dad & I went to Chia Shiang to pick up dinner. I know I've written about this place before, but it's been a while & I just want to take this moment to urge you all to check it out. It's by far the best Chinese place around. The menu is huge & they have a great vegetarian selection. Of course, I broke w/ my age old veggie diet & sampled a bite of my father's "Special Crispy Duck." I decided that since I'd never tried duck before it would be alright to have a small bite in order to sample something new. Well, as it turns out, duck tastes like turkey. In hind sight, I don't know if trying the duck was really worth it, but @ least I can now say I've had duck. While we were in a "try it" mood, Solstice tasted my General Tso's Sue Rou & really liked it. She also liked the "pan fried vegetable dumplings" too... I'd never tried them before either but they were really good. of course, Aiden only ate rice, but considering the chicken pox in is mouth, I wasn't going to push it. Check out their menu here... you won't be sorry.I didn't really just log in to plug a Chinese place though; I'm actually happy to inform y'all that I picked up a few things for Burns Night. While we were waiting for the food I ran next door to Morgan and York and picked up a fancy bottle of Scotch. It's a 12 year Glendronach & it's spectacular. After the kids went to bed, we watched a Rockford & sampled a small glass... not much though because I want to save it for the party. You'll all be loving this stuff. For those of you who plan to bring a bottle of Scotch ( & I strongly suggest it), you might want to check out this site. It has a great overview of hundreds of distilleries & their different malts. Speaking of links, here's another link for some great recipes: Rampant Scotland's Recipe Page.

Monday, January 14, 2008

My Inner Frat Boy

In an attempt to get in touch w/ my inner frat boy, I DVRed the G4 coverage of The Adult Entertainment Expo. Of course, I was only able to stomach about 10 minutes of it, but it was worth the effort. Like most other If nothing else, I learned a few important lessons.
* Porn stars are not nearly as interesting w/ their clothes on
* In this case, what happened in Vegas really should have stayed there
* When people give porns stars microphones, unfortunately, they use them to say things
* G4's pop-culture coverage is no better than that of E or Spike
* The pseudo-celebs they had lined up to interview wouldn't even count on the Death Pool... American Gladiators & UFC people? Give me a break!
* A day in the life of Stormy Daniels is no better than a day in the life of anyone else
* None-the-less, she's pretty hot
* I may need to get the Debbie Does Dallas graphic novel.
* I never thought the day would come when I would turn off a documentary about porn to watch The Dukes of Hazzard, but apparently the day has come

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Honky Tonk Heroes

I went to The Magic Bag last night w/ Georgina & Stacey. There were 4 bands on the bill, but we arrived to see only the very end of The Offramps' set. If they were anything like the 2nd or 3rd bands though, I'm fine w/ missing them. net up was Van Go Go featuring the vocalist & guitarist from South Normal. I kinda dug SN when I saw them last year, but Van Go Go annoyed me. Particularly the bassist & his ridiculous theatrics... jumping around & posing like Duff McKagen. The lyrics left a bit to be desired too w/ songs like
"Hello ladies and gentlemen
Hello ladies and gentlemen
Hello ladies and gentlemen
Are you ready to rock?"
In a later song, they claimed to have "sold their soul to rock & roll," I think they got a bum deal on that one. they should have held out for better lyrics. After a short break, The Grand Nationals played & again, I was left unimpressed. The band was much tighter than Van Go Go, but the singer was shit. Dancin' around w/ his mic stand... I've never really liked vocalists who don't play instruments. Pick up a tambourine or some maracas or something. Maybe an acoustic guitar or a harmonica. Something. Between the 2 bands, is was like both of Guns & Roses' clown shoes. Aside from posing w/ the mic stand, there was also a lot of yelling @ the audience & giving us the finger. he had the attitude of John Lyden but it didn't fit w/ their pop-rock sound. The guy w/ Robert Smith hair on guitar was a bit odd too. If the bands were to trade vocalists, between the 2 of them, I think they could make 1 good band.Finally, Whitey Morgan & the Waycross Georgia Farmboys (or whatever the hell they're calling themselves this week) came out & did their sweet, sweet drunken country thing. I hadn't seen them since June & they're doing a lot more originals now. They opened w/ "Honky Tonk Heroes," & then went into a couple of their own tunes. The new ones are really good. Other covers included "Long Haired Country Boy," "Runnin' w/ the Devil," "I'm on Fire," & "You Can Have Her." It was a super-tight set, but it could've been a bit longer. They finished up just after 1:00 which was nice though because I was able to get to bed @ a decent time. It was also the 1st time I've remained sober throughout an entire WM show which was a nice change of pace. All in all, it would have been nice if there had been 1 less band on the bill & Whitey was able to start earlier.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Impending Party

I know most of you have received your invites already anyway, but I thought I'd write a little about the coming Burns' Night Celebration. I'm really looking forward to the festivities. After last year's immense success, I imagine this one will be smaller & a bit less intimidating. I remember counting upwards of about 55 people, many of whom I had never met. Furthermore, there were shoes covering the entire front 1/2 of my living room floor. It was suggested today by someone @ work that I put the shoes in a big box, but then we realized that 1 big box would cause us to ignorantly overlook a great opportunity. Maybe we'll split the shoes into 2 boxes @ play a sort of '70s fishbowl key-chain game. We'll see how well that goes over. Other, less problematic plans for the night include the Burns Supper. While the supper will be sans piper, there will certainly be haggis (vegetarian) & a wide array of food & drink. Plus, of course, the reading of Rabbie Burns poetry & maybe some puking in my driveway if a certain friend from the other side of Washtenaw Ave. is up for it. I , on the other hand, will be refraining from such excesses. I plan to have a good time but also be able to get out of bed the following day. We are talking about the FA Cup 4th round after all. I can't simply miss the game because I was too hung over to turn on the tv. It's possible though that the Arsenal v Newcastle game will be on the 26th which means I'll be able to watch it before the party & not have to worry about getting up the next day. Even so, I don't plan to make it another one of those days. I think those hung-over days might be behind me. I watched the Arsenal v Everton game in rather rough shape last year after St. Patrick's Day. I suffered through a rough breakfast & putt-putt outing after my b-day, & after the Bob Dylan show last fall I watched France drub the Faeroe Islands 6-0 while I was in rather sorry shape. That said, I don't want y'all to assume this will be some sort of teetotaler's affair, so in order to get everyone in the right frame of mind, here are the 1st 2 stanzas from Rabbie Burns' poem "Scotch Drink":
LET other poets raise a fracas
'Bout vines, an’ wines, an’ drucken Bacchus,
An’ crabbit names an’stories wrack us,
An’ grate our lug:
I sing the juice Scotch bear can mak us,
In glass or jug.

O thou, my muse! guid auld Scotch drink!
Whether thro’ wimplin worms thou jink,
Or, richly brown, ream owre the brink,
In glorious faem,
Inspire me, till I lisp an’ wink,
To sing thy name!

And now that you're all in the mood, here are a few links to get you started as you think about what to bring to the feast.
The World Burns Club
Burns Country
The Bard
The BBC Burns Page
Burns Supper on Wikipedia

Friday, January 4, 2008

Take the Pocked Kids Sledding

As a last hurrah before we all go back to school next week, I took the kids sledding this morning. Y'all might remember last year's incident when Solstice smashed her face & I fucked up my shoulder; well, I'm happy to report we all made it through our outing unscathed. We just went down the road to the hill by Perry Kindergarten. I was thinking about going to Rolling Hills, but I wasn't up for the big climb & the kids didn't seem to care one way or the other. In fact, I think they kind of preferred the smaller hill. The problem I have w/ sledding though is that it always makes me long for skiing and sledding up north. Growing up in Petoskey kind of spoiled me for the sledding around here. Although I wasn't up for the long climb today, if we had easy access to the hills up north, I'd have been willing to suffer the long walk. There was a sledding hill down the street from my house that worked like a funnel (or in Alpine terms, a bowl... not to be confused w/ a nice piece of glass). It was about 450 ft long, it had a crazy grade, & there was an electrified barbed wire fence @ the bottom. We had to time our ducking well or we'd have gotten pretty fucked up. In hind sight, I can't believe our parents let us use that hill. Of course, there's a house there now so this generation of kids is getting screwed out of that awesome sledding spot.
Solstice's Snow Angel
Aiden... ready to launch
Solstice not hurting herself

In other news, Solstice had the Chicken Pox this week. Stephanie & I had been vigilant in our quest to get them infect for quite some time. She even went so far as to have Solstice share a sucker w/ some kid who had them a couple years ago. However, it had always been to no avail. Last weekend, Stephanie called & told me she thought we may have had a breakthrough in the quest for pox though. And she was right. This past week, Solstice has been "suffering" w/ the mildest case of Chicken Pox I've ever seen. They did prevent us from going to Jim & Rachel's New Years Eve Party though, but we had a nice time hanging out @ home. Aiden still hasn't shown any symptoms, but I'm waiting patiently. I hope he gets them soon so we can get it over w/.

One history of medicine book credits Giovanni Filippo (1510–1580) of Palermo with the first description of varicella (chickenpox). Subsequently in the 1600s, an English physician named Richard Morton described what he thought a mild form of smallpox as "chicken pox." Later, in 1767, a physician named William Heberden, also from England, was the first physician to clearly demonstrate that chickenpox was different from smallpox. However, it is believed the name chickenpox was commonly used in earlier centuries before doctors identified the disease.

There are many explanations offered for the origin of the name chickenpox:
*Samuel Johnson suggested that the disease was "less dangerous", thus a "chicken" version of the pox;
*the specks that appear looked as though the skin was pecked by chickens;
*the disease was named after chick peas, from a supposed similarity in size of the seed to the lesions;
*the term reflects a corruption of the Old English word giccin, which meant itching.
As "pox" also means curse, in medieval times some believed it was a plague brought on to curse children by the use of black magic.

From ancient times, neem has been used by Indians to alleviate the external symptoms of itching and to minimise scarring. Neem baths (neem leaves and a dash of turmeric powder in water) are commonly given for the duration. During the medieval era, oatmeal was discovered to soothe the sores, and oatmeal baths are today still commonly given to relieve itching. (All praise to Wikipedia for this historical over-view.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Holiday Post #17: And the winner Is...

The votes have been counted and the wait is almost over. It's been a fun 2 weeks, but the voting ended @ midnight on the cusp of 2008. As the ball was hitting the big 2008 sign in Time Square & Dick Clark was wowing us w/ his longevity & survival skills (I'd forgotten he had a stroke), Solstice was in awe of the fact that Miley Cyrus was performing live on TV & that she'd been able to stay up to see it (I was a bit surprised too seeing as she has the Chicken Pox... more on that soon). Yet, while all of this was happening, something bigger than all of us occurred: you let your voices be heard & picked the Visions of Ypsi 2007 Celebrity M.I.L.F. of the Year... or, well, you almost picked her. As was the case last year, it was a close race & in fact has again come down to the tie-breaker vote to be cast by me. In terms of the total # of votes, a few sorry saps got zip (Jennifer Weiner, Nancy Kerrigan, & Elizabeth Hasselbeck & surprisingly J. Lo & Jessica Alba). Had it come down to any of them, I would've cast my tie-breaker on J. Lo, but thankfully, that hasn't had to happen. Here are the results:

Drea de Mateo... 1
Halle Berry... 2
Christina Aguilera... 2
Helena Bonham Carter... 4
Angelina Jolie... 4

W/ Bonham Carter & Jolie tied @ 4 I've had a tough decision to make. Weighing Angelina's T&A & her philanthropic work against Helena's weirdness has been tough, but my decision has been made. After looking through Bonham Carter's body of work, I realized that I've never really liked any of her films other than Maurice & Howard's End. (Perhaps when I see Sweeny Todd I'll have to update my views.) A Room w/ a View is one of the worst Merchant/Ivory films ever. Planet of the Apes is shit. There are much better Hamlets out there. Frankenstein is ridiculous. Mighty Aphrodite is one of the worst Woody Allen films ever. Big Fish & Charlie & the Chocolate Factory are over-rated. Of course, the M.I.L.F. contest isn't just about acting talent. There is also other types of talent to be considered & Angelina has that in spades compared to Helena Bonham Carter. Besides, I actually like some of her films. Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow is cool, Gia is interesting, & she is fantastic in The Good Shepherd. That said, it really comes down to the other talents & as I said before, Angelina has it covered in that department so I now give you


Angelina Jolie

She isn't available for comment, but I'm sure if she were here, she'd say she is honored to join the ranks of Maggie Gyllenhaal & Michelle Williams. Moreover, I would imagine she would thank me for running this contest & giving her yet another platform to work her magic & get her message of peace & caring into all of our homes. Furthermore, she would probably want us to get involved w/ the fight against poverty & hunger & the fight against the genocide in Darfur... oh & she'd probably want us to look @ her tits.