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Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Secret Identity

"I can see your beard!"

"Of course! Everyone can see my beard!"

"No, your black beard!"

The small child on my lap is very excited. He has peeked behind the Christmas curtain and seen the backstage workings.

Or he is just being a brat. I can't decide which.

About a year ago, My Lovely Wife got us a Christmas gig as Santa & Mrs. Claus. It must be fate. I once played Santa Claus in a school choir performance years ago in junior high. The teacher wanted someone to play Santa while the choir sang, and literally everyone turned to look at me. I was a somewhat chubby kid, but my lovely wife says it's because I'm extra kind (In fact I just typed this part - Mrs.Claus). To quote Arthur, the young janitor in Miracle on 34th St., "The costume didn't have any padding, and I got my own padding." Mom and Granny were tickled by my performance, and it seemed to go well. My lines were non-existent I popped out from behind a chimney and put some toys in stockings. I had to laugh and shake my little belly, like a bowl full of jelly. Then laying a finger on the side of my nose, behind the chimney I rose. (Kudos to C. Clement Moore this is part of my new book "Confessions of a 7th grade Santa.)

The party from last year also seemed to go well, since they invited us back. My Lovely Wife says ( she's typing this right now) it's because we really love kids and love to give out and buy toys for them as much as the Clauses. Plus you can see both of us actually CARE when we are talking to them and taking pics with them. It's about the spirit of the man in the red suit ,more than just a party Santa.

I am the all-seeing Santa! I see all and know all! Yes, especially when you do that.

For the most part, being Santa is quite an easy job. I get paid quite well to sit. On a throne. And supplicants are brought before me. I can see why dictators and the royal family find this appealing. 

And most kids are overjoyed! They run at me and leap onto me and hug me. (Leaping can be problematic. My Lovely Wife played the Easter Bunny at a mall in New jersey long ago. She couldn't see a thing out of the eye holes, but she could hear a voice shout "I'm heavy!" Then she heard the tromping of running feet. Then she went bunny tail over tea kettle as the heavy child slammed into he and her chair. Then she was stuck on her back, more Easter Turtle than Easter Bunny, with all of the Easter balloons and decorations falling down around her.) Some of them are just so tickled to meet Santa! 

Lots of them need coaxing. Even though they have been talking to their parents for months about what they want for Christmas, the minute they seem me, they forget everything - even their names. Pretty much the way my wife would act if she ever met Hugh Jackman. 

My wife says"Take your shirt off Santa Wolverine-Gaaaaah...."

We chat with the kids and try to take a picture, then the big question. Have you been good this year? A lot of the kids who are terrified of Santa start to look really worried. Some of them have been Santa'd into submission with warnings that Santa's watching! It's a horrible way to use the jolly fat man, but My Lovely Wife said it was something that really worked on her sister - almost too well. Some kids are scared for a reason, because they are getting COAL. And my sister-in-law got some EVERY year because she was on the naughty list for a while. But we tell them if are nice till Christmas, it still counts. We want them all to have a very happy holiday and not to be scared of Santa. We want them to know that the holiday spirit is very real and exists in us, the embodiment of all things jolly and joyous, Santa and his Lovely Wife Mrs. C.

Next, the minions must ask for tribute, like in Game of Thrones. "Winter is Coming- the list is long." The tiny, clinging supplicants who climb on my lap must dictate their terms of enrichment. And the bounty most sought for in the land? TOYS! TOYS! TOYS!

This is where my lifelong obsession with toys comes in handy. Do you want a doll? (Yes.) What kind? (Either Barbie or American Girl. Buy stock in American Girl dolls. Practically every girl who sat on my lap wanted an American Girl doll.) A stuffed animal? Do you want video games? Xbox or Playstation? (Buy stock in Nintendo. Kids love the 3DS.) Happily, all the staples of my childhood were still popular: Tonka trucks, Hot Wheels, and Lego. (Before Lego got a Star Wars license, they made a generic Space Lego that was always my favorite.) 

Of course, not all the kids love Santa. Some are afraid of me. (There's a whole book about it.) And that's really more funny than sad. Why are you scared of Santa? He wants to give you presents! I'm nice! (Although it is ironic that protective parents tell their kids all year "Don't talk to strangers! Don't take candy from strangers!" And then they see me at a party and they cannot wait to throw their children at the strange, bearded man with a deep voice and funny clothes handing out candy canes.)

C'mon, kids! Santa's in the van! Really!

It's so cute to see a little boy plant his feet in the ground, lock his knees, and refuse to be dragged any closer to Santa. Honestly, it would hurt my feelings if it wasn't so darned cute. It's less cute when the child is placed kicking and screaming on my lap. Let's just say that most Santa costumes don't come with a protective cup.

Mrs. Claus and I always tell the parents to take the picture, screaming or not, since it's still a memory worth preserving. My very favorite picture from Christmas as a child is of me and my little brother sitting on Santa's lap at the mall. My brother looks to be maybe 18 months old, which puts me at around 5 years. In the photo, I am counting off my items on my fingers, all business, most likely asking for Star Wars stuff. (So much has changed since then!) My brother is screaming. He is screaming so loudly that it looks as though he is trying to unhinge his jaw like a boa constrictor trying to swallow a cow. To me, that photo is the Spirit of Christmas in miniature. 

There is a third group of kids, the slightly older ones who are a little too cool for the whole Santa business. You know the ones. They look for any slip of the beard. Any inconsistency, "You don't sound like the Santa I saw yesterday.""Are you really Santa?" I suppose it's karma, since I was exactly that kind of brat as a kid. And you just haven't lived until you try and debate the metaphysics of Santa Claus with a six year old. The elves are at the North Pole. They build the toys. Well, they are very good at making Kindles. Magic, that's how. Yes, Santa is everywhere. Just like Jesus. Just leave out chocolate chip cookies for me, all right? And carrots for the reindeer.

Which brings us back to the start of this post. At about hour 2.5 of a 3 hour party, my mustache started to wilt. Now, no one yanked it off, while screaming "LIAR!" I was sitting next to a space heater, and the combined effects of sweat and children siting on my beard caused it to droop. I tried to cover it as best I could while resetting my bobby pins, but one or two kids were telling me they saw my real mustache under the white one. Coal for you!

These are minor speed bumps. The kids are great, and it is amazing to be a part of someone's Christmas memories. There were also face painters at the party and one of the kids got a Santa beard and glasses painted. "I can help you do deliveries!" he said. That's a better gift than the the Blu-Ray player I asked Mrs. Santa for for Christmas.

It's fun to believe in Santa. Even when you're grown up and don't anymore, it's fun to remember the excitement you felt as a child. When you could believe in something good and magical.

(Like Santa Wolverine! - Mrs. Claus)

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Back in business

So, apologies for the hiatus. Work and life conspired to push blogging to the background. But, I'm back with many new things to vent about.

Stay tuned for updates, including a special holiday themed post later today.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Get Your Ass to Mars

One of the last true explorers passed away last week.



I'm late to the party on this, and just about everything there needs to be said about it has been said. But I will add my small piece.

Armstrong's family has asked that when you "see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."

Not to contradict his family, but I would argue that the best possible way we could honor Mr. Armstrong would be to follow the advice of Mr. Schwarzeneggar.

video

Let's get our asses to Mars.

My Mom grew up in the space age. She grew up reading Robert Heinlein and dreaming about living on the moon. I grew up in an age where our grandest missions were to resupply the international space station and circle the earth a few times. NASA's been facing cutbacks for years, finally shutting down the Space Shuttle program, and I can't help but think that it's directly tied to our lack of ambition. If we're only going 242 miles up, how is that going to inspire anyone? New York to DC is 242 miles. Amtrak can get you there is 3 hours. (Fucking AMTRAK! C'mon NASA! Amtrak is kicking your ass!)

And I don't think that the public's appetite for space travel has waned. Look how excited we all got when the Mars Rover Curiosity landed this summer! Pictures were taken! Internet memes were spawned!

When we put our minds to it, we got a man on the moon in ten years. 43 years later, that's as far as any person has gone.

I am a liberal Democrat, and I think Newt Gingrich is a bloated toad, but he did say one thing I agreed with on the campaign trail.

Gingrich offered his vision of an ambitious new space program. "By the end of my second term," Gingrich said, "we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American." The crowd erupted in applause.
And he was just getting started; by 2020, he said, there would be regular flights to Mars.

Of course, he was probably just pandering to the Republican voters on Florida's space coast in an attempt to woo those who had lost work once the Space Shuttle shut down.

What's that, you say? Oh, Mars would cost too much? How about we divert $50 billion out of our current defense budget? That only leaves $650 billion left to defend ourselves with. I'd much rather we fund a trip to Mars than another 10 year adventure in Afghanistan or Iraq (or a brand new one in Iran).

So let's get to it. Let's christen the USS Neil Armstrong and get going. I want a Mars landing by 2022. I want footprints on Mars, not tire treads. You want to talk about uniters and dividers? Then this country should unite and get someone on Mars.

And then start the lunar colony. There's still time for Mom to have her Moon Condo to retire to.

(Because she's not moving to Florida. She hates Florida.)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Do Not Want

I love baseball. (Despite the best efforts of the Mets.)

I love Clint Eastwood movies. (This love of his films continues in spite of him losing a debate to a chair last week.)

 Get off my lawn, you smart assed chair!

Any Adams is cute as a button. Even when she's trying to be all South Boston tough in The Fighter, she still adorable. She's been great in just about everything since Enchanted. (What? No, that Amelia Earhart thing never happened.)

So why do I have no interest in seeing this movie whatsoever?



Probably because it's not going to be about Clint or baseball or Amy Adams' adorable nose. It's going to be about baseball as a metaphor for life. It's going to use baseball as a wrapper around a treacle-filled family drama. It's going to use the Field of Dreams trope about how baseball will bring dads and kids together, And Amy Adams looks like she going to be spending the movie in a full on concerned pout.

Also, it's about the Atlanta Braves. God, I hate the Braves and their stupid tomahawk chop. (Really, you're going to sell me on the fact Clint discovered Tom Glavine? I wouldn't slow my car down if Tom Glavine crossed the street in front of me.)

Clint, you're 82. Sadly, you aren't going to be with us that much longer. Why take a chance that this could be your last movie? Why have the last image of you in the public's eye be this, the chair debate, and your wife's awful reality show?

C'mon, Clint! Get to work on Unforgiven 2: Still Unforgiven! Bill Muny's back and he's still cranky! Sure that would suck, but at least it would be entertaining. At least I could watch that on HBO and not be tempted to turn to Real Sex 324 on HBO6.

Like everything else in life, I could be wrong about this. It could be a masterful family drama.

But I'll never know. Because I'm not watching it.

PS: Braves suck.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Night Moves

Imagine your typical street fair. Ok? Now make it ten times as crowded. So crowded you can barely move forward.

Add about three times the number of stalls in a block. Now, instead of it going for five or six blocks, imagine it going for about a square mile.

Oh, and add a fierce powerful stink.

Now add a man with no left hand banging his head on the ground and people paying to get knives swung at them.

Welcome to the Shilin Night Market in Taipei!



Taipei is known for its night markets. They are everywhere, and you can get just about anything at them. And I mean anything. Hundreds of vendors sell clothes, toys, food, shoes, bags, music and other services.


Check it out! Shin Chan boxer shorts! $3 US in the market. If you know the cartoon, you can sing the Man Song with me. 

Like massages.

No, not full release. Unless the "release" is your arm from your shoulder because the knife massager got a little frisky.

Yes, knife massage. One of the booth offered "Alien Knife Massage." Their banner claimed (in English) that "Aliens were at the Shilin Night Market!"Apparently offering massages.

You sat in a massage chair, putting your face against the headrest. Someone would stand behind you and then whack the sharp edge of a knife against your back. I guess the aliens knew just how much force to use so it would loosen you muscles, but not cleave them off your back. And they were doing a good business, too!

Across the way there was another massage booth. In this one, they wrapped a towel around your head and then whacked at you with what looked like a bundle of kitchen matches. Okay.



Each market is known for something, and Shilin is known for the variety of food it sells. Unfortunately, to my western nose, it smelled quite awful. Honestly, it smelled like deep fried vomit. (My Lovely Wife told me that it was likely the stinky tofu I walked by. Truth in advertising.)

Look, I'm sorry to be the ugly American. I was born near Philadelphia, land of scrapple. I am not one to talk. But, wow, the smell was unappealing. And not recognizable. So many stalls had odd looking cuts of meat and I had no idea what they were,

Most of the signs in Taipei are in Chinese and English. Not in the market. Most of the food stalls were Chinese only. So, the odd looking chunks of meat remained a mystery. I took that as a sign. If they didn't want the foreign devil to know what he was eating, the foreign devil was not about to find out the hard way. (I walked through a dried good market the next day that had a barrel of big, dried, caterpillars. Thank you, no.)

Mmmm... Caterpillars...

So, I stuck with my tapioca pearl bubble tea. ($1 US!)

The place as a whole is quite ovewhelming. The noise is constant. The smell is everywhere. The people  crush against you. And you can see some disturbing things.

One night as I walked in there was a man banging his head on the ground, very rapidly and without stop. He had no left hand. I'm not sure if it had been amputated or if it was congenital. He had a bowl in front of him, so I guess he was abasing himself and begging. He didn't say anything, just beat his head on the pavement. It was sad and disturbing. And not something you'd see in Times Square. At least not on a Monday.

Nothing quite like the night market.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Best Worst Meal

You've been gone a while! What do you have to say for yourself???

Well, following in my father's footsteps, I have discovered the wisdom of getting your employer to pay for you to go on vacation.



I recently returned from a trip to Taipei, Taiwan, where I was enjoying a week of sightseeing and volcanic hot springs representing my employer at a very important conference. Taipei had never been on my 1000 places to see list, but as long as someone else was paying I was going to find exciting things to do there. And there were many interesting things to see and do there, as I will tell you in a post to come.

Unfortunately, good food wasn't one of those things.

Now, since I have extolled the virtues of gravy shakes and bigoted chicken in the past, you might expect my standards to be somewhat low. And you'd be right. So ponder that for a minute. How bad would something have to be to make me say, "Damn, this is bad!"

Pretty bad, that's how bad.

We were staying at a glorified hostel in the north part of Taipei (which was actually very nice). Unfortunately, it was not near any restaurants. It was near the Shilin night market, which had many interesting sights and smells - most emanating from street carts of strange food - but precious little english translation. I was in no hurry to snack on something I could later find out was duck penis, so I gave it a pass.

After getting back from a late night at the conference, two of my co-workers decided to go to the fancy hotel across the street for dinner since nothing else was open.



The hotel looked stunning, both inside and out. It was a very grand style of hotel (quite literally a Grand Hotel), something straight out of the fifties, but gone slightly to seed.

The inside of the Grand Hotel. The artistic dutch angle is due to the artistic Mai Tai I was served.

The restaurants also looked beautiful. Unfortunately, they were all closed by 9:30 PM. The only one open was the lobby cafe, which looked fine. The menu was largely American Diner style, and - important! - there was alcohol. We have a winner!

We sat near the window of the hotel, which afforded a marvelous view of the valet parking.

The staff was friendly, but they seemed somewhat nervous about serving English speaking Americans. They seemed quite nervous about getting everything exactly right.

The menu had a lot of wine and alcohol. I ordered a Mai Tai, having loved them ever since finding a Waikiki Beach bar that offered them for 99 cents at happy hour. However, the drink I was served was not a Mai Tai. Oh it had rum. Not dark rum, but rum. And Hawaiian Punch. So, props for creativity, but no. Not a Mai Tai. Oh, I drank it. (Did I mention the rum?)

My friends ordered a bottle of wine. The staff made a big show out of bringing the bottle and uncorking it. Such a big show that I started to worry my friends might grab the bottle away from the server and uncork it with their teeth. She offered the cork to sniff, but the cork was rubber. This made the whole sniffing the cork part of the operation superfluous. (You sniff the cork to determine if the bottle has suffered cork rot. Rubber corks do not get cork rot.) It was as if they had seen a movie about wine, but never actually served it. They smelled the cork in the movie...we should do that too, right?

We ordered a plate of Asian Delicacies for an appetizer. (Hey, that's what they called them.) We discovered that this was a plate of heavily fried bite sized morsels. A couple spring rolls. Some indeterminate fish bites. Over all, not as good as what you'd get at PF Chang's.

My friend is a vegetarian. She ordered a Croque Monsieur, and somehow managed to convey to them that she wanted the ham left off. Out came a triple decker grilled cheese sandwich. Made from barely singed Wonder Bread, two slices of slightly warm American cheese, and a whole lot of chutzpah.

It also came with french fries. These weren't too bad. However, we had also ordered a plate of fries for the table so we had a mountain of fries. Which was good, since the Asian Delicacies were a little rough going down.

After the pound of fries, I finished off my "Mai Tai," so I tried to order a Jack Daniels and Coke.

I would like to again stress that the Taiwanese are very gracious and accommodating hosts. All of the street signs are in English as well as Chinese. Most menus and storefronts are Chinese & English. Most of the staff in the more tourist friendly destinations speak at least a few words of English. (Which is at least a few more that I can speak or even attempted to learn.) Still, if you understand Jack Daniels and you understand Coke, I don't see why mixing the two would be a problem. It apparently was. Asking for a Jack and Coke caused such a look of panic on our host's face that I was afraid he would stroke out. I changed my mind and instead asked for Jack Daniels on ice. (Asking for it "on the rocks," well that's just asking for trouble.)

So after a delectable meal of fried foods and warm bread, we were sitting and chatting when a new party arrived on the scene.

A three inch long cockroach.

And boy could it move!

One of my dining companions saw it from across the lobby, and by the time she finished saying "Oh my god look at that!" it had made it over to the side of our table.

Well, bills were paid in record time. The total for this wonderful experience was 3000 Taiwanese Dollars, or about $100 US for some french fries, a crappy grilled cheese, and a bottle of OK wine.

Expereiencing international hospitality...Priceless! 

Still, we had a great time during this meal. It provided no end of humor during the rest of our stay.

And it made the Big Mac I had in Taiwan that week all the more tasty. (Especially the fries! How come I have to go to Taiwan to get hot McDonald's fries?)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

But I want it!

So there's this ad that's been on all summer. It starts off as an ad for something called the "Carm Sleeve."


But! In a twist worthy of M. Night Shyamalan (At least, The Village era M. Night) it turns out that it's a plug for a website called BigSpot.com! "Doesn't this product suck? You can sign up for consumer surveys and tell them that at BigSpot.com!"

Ha ha ha! Stupid Carm Sleeve!

But, I love the Carm Sleeve!

I spend a lot of time driving, and by driving I mean crawling along in New York traffic. It's nice to get some sun while trying to get by the summer lane closures by rolling down the window.

Anyway, I can TOTALLY see the wisdom in a protective shield for your outside arm. I sport a farmer's tan all summer, and if you look at my left arm you'd think I had mediterranean heritage! My right arm, not so much. If someone were to make one, I'd get one for the car! (After all, My Lovely Wife once bought antlers and a red nose to put on the car at Christmas.)

So screw you, BigSpot.com! I know where you can stick that Carm Sleeve.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

News-Like Substance

My Lovely Wife and I are fans of Aaron Sorkin's new show, The Newsroom, which follows the inner workings of a cable news show hosted by studiously bland anchorman played by Jeff Daniels. He has a Howard Beale moment at a college lecture which goes viral, inspiring him to do a newscast that actually does informative news rather than reports on the new iPhone. Plus, Sam Waterson plays the crusty producer!


I'm a bit suprised I've enjoyed it so much. Aaron Sorkin has always been a little hit or miss for me. I've never seen an episode of West Wing, SportsNight was OK, Studio 60 was god awful (although he had the good humor to parody himself on an episode of 30 Rock). 



His movie work (Moneyball & Social Network) has been fantastic.

Best. Breakup. Line. Ever.

The common thread in all of his work is that the characters are consumed with their work. They are working on very important things and why can't you understand that? Sometimes those things are important - like running the free world. Sometimes, not so much - like a wacky Gilbert & Sullivan sketch comedy bit! 

At his best, Sorkin gets you inside these very specialized careers and makes you care about the minute details - like Billy Beane working the phones to make a trade for a middle reliever. My mother cares not a whit for baseball, but she was captivated by Moneyball. 

At his not best, you find yourself going, so what? Why should we care about that?

Suprisingly, to me, a lot of critics have found this more on the "not best" side of things. 


Sniffed the New Yorker, "The Newsroom treats the audience as though we were extremely stupid"

Yeah, what kind of news organization would do that?



This is the cover of the Daily News from last Sunday. There are five stories on the cover, but only one could be called news. They are:

  • TomKat's Divorce
  • Mets & Yankees win
  • Spider Man movie review
  • Alec Baldwin's wedding
  • Con Ed lays off 8,000 as contract talks falter
And the Con Edison news might be slightly imporant, what with New York in the grip of a two week heat wave and every AC unit going full blast. It's in the smallest type. 

And this is widely considered the BETTER of our two tabloids. The New York Post has been a hack comic punchline for decades.


Apparently, the news media is not fond of a show that points out that the news is run by a bunch of idiots who would rather feed people gossip than information.  Someone doth protest too much.

Maybe not surprisingly, Dan Rather has given Newsroom some of its best reviews. (You know, an actual newsman who had to put up with this stuff on a nightly basis.) He thought the last episode concerning the network president trying to have the news desk soft peddle a critique of the Tea Party because she had business before congress hit very close to home. He called it "something every American should see and ponder."

But, you know, we could just read about the latest in the TomKat saga! Scientology! Secret apartments! What? Bain Capital? What's that about?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Quality Television

Obviously, Starz, this is why I am paying you $12 a month.


You can't get me Captain America or Thor, but Jack and Jill you can get.

In fact, Jack and Jill,  I blame you for TomKat's divorce. Katie realized life was too short too carry on a charade after having her soul sucked out by Adam Sandler in this movie.

At least you carry the epic cheese fest that is Spartacus.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Apparently, our definitions of "amusement" are very different.

A short play...


MY LOVELY WIFE: Hey, guess what my friends at work told me?

ME: What?

MLW: They heard from their friends over at (Rival Amusement Park) that they're going to build an Avatar ride!

ME: Wow, that sounds cool!

MLW: I know, right? That movie was so beautiful. You could go up the floating mountains, ride on those dragon things...

ME: Have sex with the cat people!

MLW: ...


ME: What?

MLW: Why would you say that?

ME: What? You didn't think Zoe Saldana was cute as a cat lady?

MLW: It's Disney! Do you really think Disney would include cat sex as part of their million dollar ride?

ME: What? It's an amusement park ride. That would amuse me!

MLW (muttering): You know, they say there are lots of gators in the swamps down here...

I mean, come on! Why am I the bad guy here?


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Taxonomy & Shame

Dear Cici's "Pizza",

Although it is round, has a crust, and you pile shit toppings on it, I do not think that this can be legally called pizza:

Kraft Dinner + Crust ≠ Pizza. It's just math.

(In case that's not clear, this is a Mac & Cheese Pizza.)

I understand the thought process. "Pizza's Italian! Pasta's Italian! People will eat anything with cheese on it! Go for it!" Still, just because one can do a thing does not mean one should do a thing. 

And your Cheeseburger "pizza,"

What's that red stuff? That can't be ketchup...can it? 

I get it. What's more American than a cheeseburger? Cheeseburger pizza! 

(Yes, there is an apple pie pizza. It's for dessert!)

In case you hadn't guessed, I am back in the Land of Buffets - Central Florida. Cici's Pizza is a cheap pizza buffet where you can cram yourself full of pizza, pasta, and cinnamon rolls for about $6. 

Cici's always seems like a good idea. For the first six slices. 

Even as I start to dig in, I know in my head and my heart that one slice of cheese pizza from an average New York pizzeria is preferable to 12 slices of whatever Cici's has thawed out that day. 

Plus the pizza's not all that good. There's a lot of it, and I hope you like meat on it because the veggie options are few and far between. The day I went, there was one pizza that had vegetables on it. It sat on the heat rack, all sad and lonely. 

There is also a pathetic little bowl of lettuce next to some fixin's, and they can apparently call that salad.

Really, compared to this Olive Garden is a bistro in Rome. 

But, shamefully, I must confess that I kind of like the mac & cheese pizza. 

Really, I'd be less ashamed to admit to spending my paycheck on strippers and meth. (NOTE TO MY WIFE: That's a joke, honey! Really!)

Oh, my poor mother. As a child, she would make sicilian pizza from scratch, spending all day pounding down the rising dough, simmering the sauce, grating cheese. And here I am wolfing down round bread with any old toppings on it.

My Sicilian great-grandparents are rolling in their graves. Wha' a-happen' to you? I blame it on my parents growing up in south east Pennsylvania. The scrapple deadened their taste buds.

No, blaming your parents is the coward's way out. I must own my shame. And I must now return to my hotel...

Which is next door to a Cici's.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Maturity is Overrated


Myrtle Beach, SC


ME: Snicker....


MY LOVELY WIFE: What?

ME: (Pointing) Hee...


MLW: What, the store?

ME: (Laughing) How do they know the dolphin is gay? Did he come on to a lifeguard? Did he get flirty with a surfer?

MLW: (Rolling eyes) It's too damn hot for this. Come on, we have to get going.

ME: Hang on.


MLW: Would you stop? People will think there's something wrong with you. It just means happy dolphins!

ME: I'll bet that dolphin's happy! Look at the fabulous souvenirs he can wear while he's cruising in the shallows!

MLW: I hope you and the dolphin are very happy together. I'll see you at the car.

ME: (Sigh) Coming...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

America Explained



Celebration, FL, is a prefab community near Orlando. It was created by Disney.

Yes, that was a little Stepford Wife chill you felt just there.

It strives very hard to create the perfect little Smalltown, USA, and it mostly succeeds. It is beautiful, especially when you sit near the prefab lake in the prefab town square that was designed to look like a place that Scout and Atticus would call home.

As you enjoy your iced tea (from Starbucks - retro only goes so far), you sit back in one of the big wooden plantation rocking chairs the town has placed around the prefab lake and you look up...


A skywriter is helpfully pointing out that "Jesus Loves U." And Jesus must also love emoticons. I was driving, so I couldn't take a picture of his first message: "God + U = :-)"

This was my quintessential American experience. I sat on the edge of a man made lake in a prefab town that was trying to make me nostalgic for a past I never experienced, drinking iced tea from one of the biggest corporate chains in America, and then a skywriter pooped religion on top of everything.

God Bless America.

I was on the edge of a profound understanding of this country, but then I started jonesing for gravy and it was time to go.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Restaurants That I Am Glad Are Not Within 100 Miles of My House.

It's been a while since I've posted. My wife has been working in Orlando at a Major Themed Attraction that shall remain nameless, although (hint) it has recently opened a magical new attraction based on a famous book.

No, not the Holy Land Experience.

Hey, c'mon! Quit hogging the Cross Ride!

She's been there for the past two months, so anytime I'm not working I try and get down to see her.

Orlando is a fantastic place, especially in the spring. It's sunny and warm and there are beaches not too far away.

However, healthy eating is not a priority.

I can understand this. Orlando recently passed New York as the USA's #1 tourist destination. When families are on vacation, they don't think about vegetables. (For years as a child, the only time we went to McDonald's was on our annual road trip to Massachusetts to see Granny. Those were happy times.)

But still... It's like Carb Heaven up in here. The roads are nothing but mile after mile of chain restaurants. Friday's, Friendly's, Denny's. Perkin's, Chili's, Shoney's, Ponderosa...

One week before I was eating in high end bistros in New York with my friend the cheese critic. Now I am debating seriously whether to have the $5 Chinese buffet or the $4 gravy tub. I was on vacation, I indulged myself.

And since I have the willpower of a depressed alcoholic at a keg party, I now present a list of restaurants that I am glad are not in New York City. Because I would eat at them all at least once a week and my blood stream would thicken into a a sludge of cholesterol.

1. All You Can Eat Buffets

The first time I came to Orlando about 10 years back, I was amazed at the number of all you can eat buffets. I was also amazed that many were labelled "All you CARE to eat." As in, yes, we know you can cram an enormous amount of food down your distended gullet, and yes, we know you want to get your $6.95 worth of jello and sesame chicken, but, you know, you could just eat until you're full. You know, whatever. Just please don't have a coronary on our property. Waddle on over to Burger King. They have better liability insurance.

Time for fourths! I can still squeeze in a few more shrimp.

There really aren't very many all you can eat places in New York. The rents are too high to let you make money by giving gluttons a bottomless feedbag for $8. 

To be sure, New York has some fancy-pants options, but these are not in the spirit of the suburban buffet table, and they are about three times as expensive. 

No, I am thinking of the endless Chinese food buffet, or the Golden Corral buffet chain. They're as common as alligators down there. If you've seen their ads during a Law & Order marathon on TNT, you know they offer an endless buffet with a chocolate fountain for about $10. 

I've eaten at Golden Corral in Orlando twice. The first time was fine. The second time the endless buffet gave me endless diarrhea in an airport bathroom. But that was before the chocolate fountain! 50-50? I likes them odds!

Closest One to My House: Delran, NJ 88.4 miles away

Chances I'd be tempted to drive out to one: Zero. The $10 dollar buffet is tempered by the $40 in gas a round trip would take.

2. Bob Evans

Stop it, I'm going to cry...
 
 I don't know a whole lot about the Bob Evans menu. Not that I haven't been there a lot, mainly because I only ever order two things. 

Biscuits.

And sausage gravy.

And the biscuits are secondary. They serve primarily as a gravy-delivery device. (And they're good biscuits! Just that gravy...)

....

Sorry, I went to a happy place for a minute there. Oh gravy... The sausage chunks, the texture, the gooeyness...
 
Ok. The only problem i have with the gravy is that it comes in two sizes: bowl and cup. I want a sausage gravy fountain. I want hot flowing gravy to fill up a Big Gulp cup. I want a 10,000 calorie gravy milkshake. I want you TO READ MY SUGGESTIONS BOB EVANS EMPLOYEES! I WILL NOT BE IGNORED!!!! YOU THINK THAT RESTRAINING ORDER CAN KEEP ME AWAY?!?!?!


Closest One to My House: Mount Laurel, NJ 91.5 miles away

Chances I'd be tempted to drive out to one: 50%. Seriously, you have to try that gravy.

3. Krispy Kreme

Yes, there is a sad little Krispy Kreme express in Penn Station. It is not the same as the massive suburban ones in the south that have a conveyor belt of delicious, hot donuts being covered in a liquid sugar glaze. You do not chew real hot Krispy Kremes. They dissolve in your mouth.

I do not believe in your "Hot Now" sign, Penn Station Krispy Kreme. You are a false prophet. 


Closest (Real) One to My House: Collingswood, NJ 99 Miles

Chances I'd be tempted to drive out to one: 35% They are good, but I can probably melt a bag of sugar on the stove and drink it down to get the same effect.

4. Chick-Fil-A

 A portion of our proceeds goes to help illiterate cows.
I blame my wife for this. One time we stayed at a hotel in Baltimore that was directly behind a Chick-Fil-A. It emitted some of the foulest odors I have ever experiences. Fortunately, the god-fearin' chain makes all of their stores close on Sundays, so we at least got one day of rest.

When MLW told me that she was now hooked on Chick-Fil-A, I was surprised to say the least. She went there with friends who swore by the place. They were different here, she explained.

And boy, were they! Thick, boneless breasts! Crispy coating! They are a revelation. (And Chick-Fil-A is into revelations. The lemonade cup advertised a leadership conference with noted NFL mediocrity and champion God-botherer Tim Tebow.)

Their fries suck though. I guess perfect fries are an affront to God or something.

Closest One to My House: I think it's in Maryland or somewhere... wait, what? Ok, time to wrap this up.

Chances I'd be tempted to drive out to one: Ok, here's the problem. The food is amazing, but they donate heavily to anti-gay marriage groups. What to do? Every time you go to a Chick-Fil-A, donate an equal amount of money to Freedom To Marry or some other gay rights group. (You could even donate it in the name of Doodles the Chicken, Chick-Fil-A's fired mascot.) And then jog a lap, cause deep fried chicken isn't all that good for you.
More posts about the Orlando experience to come... Time for chicken.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why Revolutions Happen

You know who has it rough? I mean really rough? I mean, oh my god you would not believe the trials and tribulations this poor group of put upon, hated, misunderstood people have to endure.



The poor bankers of Wall Street who didn't get their bonuses this year.

I mean, can you imagine the hardship? Like the article said, they had to go to Fairway! In Brooklyn!!

Never mind that Fairway is one of the best grocery stores in New York City and my cheese blogger friend insists on going to visit their cheese counter when she comes to town. There is a principle involved! How can you adjust to bargain basement smoked salmon when you are used to Nova being hand delivered to your door by an authentic fisherman in a wool cap who says "Arrr?" I mean, really!

And they can barely afford to keep their kids in Connecticut private schools! Don't even mention public schools! Some things are too gauche!

I think we need some background music:


Do you wonder why Occupy Wall Street happened? Do you wonder why Republican image guru Frank Luntz instructed his clients not to use the word "capitalism?" Because of clueless dimwits like these, people who honestly think they are suffering earning "only" $350K a year. (The same way that Mitt Romney "only" made $374K from speaking engagements which, according to him, was "not very much.")

This American Life had a story about some of these guys awhile back, Wall Street guys who honestly think Obama is trying to destroy capitalism, despite propping them up with a few trillion dollars. The reporter was genuinely speechless that the young Patrick Batemans didn't think they should say thanks to the taxpayers for bailing them out. Didn't even cross their minds. That was just the cost of doing business with them.

The name of that episode? Crybabies.

It's hard to imagine even Marie Antoinette acting as cavalierly. "Let them eat $5.99/lb lox? That sounds a little out of touch."

It's hard to tell whether the Bloomberg reporter is seriously reporting on this subject or if he has his tongue in cheek. Gawker takes the latter view, saying his beat is to give the rich their lengths of hangman's rope. I sincerely hope so, but New York papers for the well to do have often written about poor rich people.

There was a brief movie trend in the early '90's (okay, there were two movies) where rich assholes were forced to live in poverty for a month and therefore learn that money isn't everything and become better people. Both movies bombed horribly, but they have given me an idea.

How about a reality show, where we take these banksters and make them live like regular middle class earners for a few months? Watch them clip coupons! Take the subway! It'll be gripping!

Then - and here's the fun part for the viewer - we don't give them back their money! Heck, we don't even have to turn on the cameras! Just tell them them they're on a TV show. We can pay a film student to follow them around with empty cameras just for show.

And then we can leave them in their Henry Hill lives - ordering egg noodles with ketchup.

And we'll keep the tip money.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscar Live Blog, Continued!

Two hours in, time for a new thread.

9:52 Yay Melissa McCarthy! Go steal Octavia's Oscar!

9:53 Best Visual Effect is NOT Emma Stone's dress.

9:54: Real Steel deserves to win. Why? They built REAL FIGHTING ROBOTS! How awesome is that! It was not all CGI!

9:55 Emma, you're cute. Stop being meta.

9:56 I mean, don't you want a real fighting robot? Honey, I want one for my birthday!

9:56 Probably be Planet of the Apes. If Transformers wins, I'll key an Autobot.

9:57 Hugo! Can anyone stop the Hugo juggernaut? And the steampunk thing looked very cool.

9:58 Best Supporting Actor! Best Supporting Actor: Chris Plummer deserved some kind of award for keeping a straight face during Sound  of Music. He’ll probably get one here for playing an older gay man. That’s like Oscar bingo!

9:59 It's Plummer! They didn't even have time to get the people up on the screen before he was announced. I have heard stories from people who have worked with him that he is a terrible lech. Don't grope Melissa! She'll cut you!

10:01 Another standing O! And his speech is charming and funny. If the director cuts him off I will send an off key children's choir over to his house to sing Lonely Goatherd for six hours.

10:07 Again, rather than comment on Billy's string of groaners, I will close my eyes and sing Journey songs.

10:08 I WILL LOVE YOU...(Still going?)  FAITHFULLY!

10:09 Nolte looks like a drunken Santa Claus.

10:10 Couldn't we have gotten Uggie to host? It would be funnier.

10:11 Really, two hours to go?

10:12 Penelope Cruz looks stunning! Owen Wilson looks like he rolled out of a hammock.

10:13 Best Score: Is this where the Artist starts its run?

10:14 It is! Better alert the rape crisis center. Kim Novak will be giving you a call.

10:16 It's the token wacky presenter bit! Will Ferrell is always fun.

10:17 Best Song! Muppets better god damn win or I will personally kill those stupid birds from Rio.


10:18 Yay! Making up for the slight they gave Rainbow Connection all those years ago. Now half of Flight of the Conchords has an Oscar! Rub it in Jermaine Clement's face, Brett!

10:25 Angelina Jolie presents adapted screenplay! Moneyball was amazing in that it managed to make a book about calculating batting averages into fascinating movie. Still, I'd be happy if Descendants won, since Dean Pelton from Community is nominated. 


10:27 Descendants! Now we HAVE to bring back Community, if only so Jim Rash can use it as a prop in the Dean's office, and Joel McHale and Danny Pudi can make jokes about how Moneyball was better. 


10:28 Seriously NBC, bring back Community.


10:29 I so want Bridesmaids, but it's going to be Woody Allen

10:30 Woody! Come on man, your clarinet gig is Monday nights. Come and pick up the Oscar!


But really, original screenplay? Woody Allen complains about the philistines who don’t understand his art and how culture used to be better. Yes, this is fresh new ground for him. Although, I’ll give him the “things used to be better part.” Like back when you made films like Bullets over Broadway, Annie Hall, and Bananas.


10:35 The Bridesmaids! What award will they get stuck with? Oh they're making dick jokes. Time for the short films!


10:39 These are the pool breakers, here. No one knows any of these. No one has seen any. Are there any Holocaust movies? If not your guess is as good as mine. 


10:40 The Shore wins. Yay? Who knows. It's a great moment for the film makers and he says a nice thing about his fiance.


10:42 Documentary Short. I know nothing about these movies except they often have AWESOME acceptance speeches. Google "King Gimp" or look up the acceptance speech fight the producers of "Music by Prudence" had a few years back. That is some fun right there.


10:43 Saving Face. Sure, why not?


10:44 Animated Short! La Luna looks cute in the clips. 


10:45 The Fantastic Flying Books Of Morris Lesmore! Sounds like an old Troy McClure joke title. 


10:50 Occupy Wall Street jokes. Blargh. Can we occupy Billy's writer room until they get better jokes?


10:51 Best Director! Here's where it comes down to Hugo or Artist. If Michel French Last name wins, it's the Artist for best picture. If Marty wins his second Oscar, Hugo will get it. Splits between best director and best picture are rare, last happening in 2005. 


10:52: Michel! The Artist is going to get Best Picture.


10:54 Am I crazy or is this going to end by 11:30 PM? We got best picture and the two acting awards and the Faces of Death montage, right?


10:55 Meryl Streep! A word anout her 17 nominations. She has 17 nominations because most years the Academy is trying to find five roles worthy of nominating and Meryl’s a safe bet to round out the category. Can you think of any other reason she was nominated for her role as an inner city violin teacher in Wes Craven’s (!) Music of my Heart? Now, if she had taught Freddy Kreuger how to play fiddle…


10:56 Why the fuck does Oprah get an honorary Oscar??? She's been in two movies! But, at least Darth Vader has won an Oscar. (No, not Hayden Christiansen. I'm going to punch anyone who thought that.)


11:00 My Lovely Wife just texted me that someone blew his nose into his hand and then wiped it on her hotel door. I guess he was pissed about Oprah getting an Oscar, too!


11:03 Faces of Death! Not to harp on this, but the two oscar producers Billy just eulogized both got more time than Farrah Fawcett did.


11:05 Of course Whitney has to be here. They put Michael Jackson in on the strength of Captain EO.


11:06 Steve Jobs? I know he was an original Pixar investor, but is that even the tenth thing you think about when you hear Steve Jobs' name? 


11:10 Ashley Judd is not CIA! She is a mother looking for her son!!! Pass.

11:12 Another montage. Hey, did you hear? Movies are magical! You know what the last film I saw was? Ghost Rider. Feel the magic.

11:13 Best Actor! I really liked Brad Pitt in Moneyball, but most Oscar pundits think this is a two way race between Jean Dujardin and George Clooney. Poor Brad Pitt! He gets no respect! He’ll cry himself to sleep on his bed made out of money while spooning Angelina Jolie. Life is so unfair.


11:14 I really hate this style of presentation, where the presenter talks directly to the nominee and tells him how brave and great he was in the role. What are they going to say? "Hey George. Pretty good. Not your best work though."


11:15 Dujardin! Wow, that's a minor surprise! Unfortunately, his Oscar speech does not come close to Roberto Begnini's insanity when he won for Life is Beautiful. "I love your country!" is a good line, though.


11:24 Best Actress time, presented by Colin Firth. I have yet to see King's Speech. I am sure it's good but it just seemed like it was thought up by the Oscar-Tron 2000 awards generator. Based on True Events! Period Film! Royalty! British Accents! World War II! Jackpot!


11:25 The pundits agree this is all sewn up for Viola Davis. Meryl will win oscar number 3 someday.


11:27 "Meryl... Mamma Mia!" I was wrong. They could say something decent in this presentation style. 


11:29 The winner is... Meryl! Well that is a surprise! 


11:30 Not going to lie. I was ready to hit send on "The winner is Viola Davis." 


11:31 I guess that argument her agents used worked. "You realize it's been 30 years since she won her last one, right?" Too bad every review of this movie has said that she is a great performance trapped in a horrible movie. 

11:32 I guess that means we should get ready for Best Picture Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

11:33 Best Picture thoughts:


The Help: White girls end racism! I didn’t hear a thank you, black America!

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: I’ll steal a line from Deadspin: “Wasn't 9/11 so cute, you guys? I'll never forget that day, because 2,500 died and then I got to go on a TREASURE HUNT!” Yeah, no.

War Horse: I can’t think of a Spielberg film I have ever wanted to see less. And I even  liked Always.

Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen does the Woody Allen thing.

Descendants: Clooney’s wife is in a coma. I got nothing. Especially no real desire to see this.

Tree of Life: I liked Thin Red Line and Badlands, but Terrence Malick’s movies veer from fascinating to stultifying in the blink of an eye (and that eye blink can last for all eternity and encompass the whole universe. With lens flare.) Still, dinosaurs?

The Artist: So French! So Silent! The dog is so cute!

Hugo: One of the two best picture nominees I have seen. I loved this. It’s an utterly charming movie. The only mistsep is Sasha Baron Cohen’s character of the Station Inspector who chases after Hugo the whole film. Look, I understand that there needs to be a villain to help raise the stakes and drive the narrative, but he comes off as a more over the top version of the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Moneyball: The other best picture nominee I’ve seen. I thought this was a cracker jack entertainment (Ha! See what I did there?) about baseball and Brad Pitt’s struggle to stay handsome despite eating a Twinkie in every scene of this movie. (Do you think Jonah Hill got annoyed having to watch Pitt shove junk food in his face for weeks of filming and not gain an ounce?)  Very entertaining movie that somehow made the calculation of batting averages seem exciting, although it has been pointed out that the A’s were hardly the Bad News Bears they were made to seem in the film. They had the AL MVP plus three 20 game winners. 

11:35 Best Picture: The Artist! The second silent film to win best picture. Everybody I know who has seen this has loved it. I guess I'll take their word for it.

11:40 Thus ends another year of film awards. (Oh wait! Not quite!) Thus ends another visit with Billy Crystal.  And we clock out at... 3 hours 10 minutes! That has to be some kind of record! Thank you academy! Amazing that a community of tv and film professionals could find a way to keep the show under 4 hours.

And thus ends the live blog. I hope you enjoyed it. Join us again for more blogging adventures to come. 

Oscar Live Blog

Oscar night!

We've got beer, and in honor of the LA Times article revealing that the Academy voters are even older, whiter, and maler the previously thought, I have ordered the Papa John's SausageFest Pizza.

Let's begin!

8:00 And we're on the red carpet! I know, E! has been on the Red Carpet since 12 PM yesterday, but I would sooner jam a cooking thermometer in my ears than listen to Joan Rivers for more than 13 nanoseconds.

Joan, we appreciate that you are a pioneer for women in comedy, but you've been a caricature for about 15 years now.

8:05 I guess you've arrived in Hollywood when the Oscar hosts ask you to break out your terrible Christopher Walken impression. Welcome, Bradley Cooper.

8:08 Here come the briefcases! This is like the Academy Awards for accountants.

8:10 Seriously, wouldn't you love to pull a switch on those guys? "And the award for best picture goes to... Jack and Jill?"


8:12 George Clooney must be some kind of wizard. Handsome, oscar-winning actor who has dated a string of gorgeous women, and no one feels the least bit jealous of him. Harry Potter must be scratching his head.

8:15 Sandra Bullock looks nice. The announcer is going out of her way to not mention a certain ex-husband of hers. It would be awesome if a tearful Jessie James came running up the aisle when she was presenting to beg her to take him back. "C'mon baby! Rihanna took back Chris Brown!"

8:20 Oh boy! We are going to be carpet bombed for four hours with promos for ABC's craptacular programming. Kirstin Chenowith, I love you on Broadway but there's no way I'm watching a southern fried rip off of Desperate Housewives.

8:22 Natalie Portman gets to the heart of why the Academy was so quick to bring back Billy Crystal, despite him not saying a funny joke in about 20 years. "He's not going to be mean!" Oooo, this is going to be a long four hours.

8:23 The show producer: "Billy's got an AMAZING opening medley!" Is it too early to switch to tequila?

8:26 I have never been so embarrased for a comedian as to see Chris Rock pimp for the brilliance that is Billy Crystal. They are REALLY pushing him hard.

(Not that Eddie Murphy - the original host - has had a much better late career period. Imagine That? Norbit?)

8:30 Morgan Freeman! I feel so reassured.

8:31 Oh, that feeling passed. Billy's putting himself in a montage where he appears in all the movies. It's the only way he can get in a good movie these days.

Justin Beiber is here. Pander-iffic!

8:35 That's some cutting edge Tintin parody there.

8:37 "Just call me War Horse!" Erg. No glue factory tag up?

8:38 OK, props for the Kodak "Chapter 11" theater joke.

8:39 Oh fuck. Please don't sing.

8:40 Jean Dujardin has a bemused look as Billy sings about him in The Artist. He speaks barely any english, I envy him.

8:41 Clooney is smiling gamely, but Billy just cost himself a part in Ocean's 19.


8:42 My friend is on Worst Cooks in America and he's having a viewing party at 9. If I leave now, I could make it in time...

8:43 First Award: Cinematography! Likely Tree of Life. The waving grass is pretty.

8:44 No! Hugo! Those tracking shots were amazing.



8:45 Now that is a rocking hairdo! Hang ten, brother!

8:46 Art Direction: Hugo looked phenomenal, and I've only seen that and Harry Potter.

8:47 Hugo! Could we have an upset? Probably not. Hugo will do well in the craft awards.

8:48 Um, I loved Hugo, but how is Art Directing a movie set in Paris about the early days of silent French film a win for Italy?

8:49 I must admit, I have only seen two of the nine best picture nominees - Hugo and Moneyball - and I have little interest in any of the others outside of The Artist. My Lovely Wife wanted to see it together, so I wait until we are reunited in Orlando. (Woody! Your new movie title: Reunited in Orlando!)

8:50 Rather than recount the string of groaners Billy is reeling off, I am going to close my eyes and sing Journey songs for the next sixty seconds.

8:51 DON'T STOP...BELIEVING! (Is he still going?) HOLD ON TO THAT FEELING!


8:52 Christ, another montage? Reminding us all of all the better movies that were made in years past.

They keep looking for ways to cut down on the running time. How 'bout we knock off these montages? The only one I have ever enjoyed was the one where Woody Allen introduced a tribute to New York after 9/11. The rest are just time filler.

8:54 Costumes! This usually means Most and Biggest Period Costumes. That would be Anonymous, but that film was god awful. Maybe Hugo again? The Georges Melies stuff was good.

8:55 No! The Artist! It was hard picking all of the tuxedos.

8:57 Makep! It really should be Harry Potter, but it will probably be that Maggie Thatcher prosthetic.

8:58 J-Lo and Cameron hiding their oscar boobies.

8:59 Iron Lady! Meh. Voldemort will have his revenge.

9:00 Another montage. "The first movie I saw!" I don't care. Can you please stop trying to sell me on The Magic of the Movies! I'm already watching this damn show.

9:06 Foreign Film! And are we really doing a pidgin language bit? Where did they find these Catskills writers?

9:07 Should be A Separation, but there is a holocaust film!

9:08 A Separation! One of the few times the most critically acclaimed film has won the award. And the director looks an awful lot like Ben Kingsley playing Georges Melies. And anything that helps to promote artistic freedom in Iran is good.

9:09 What's with Nick Nolte's slow clap for Christian Bale? Is he just drunk? And they aren't all first timers! Janet McTeer for Tumbleweeds! 1999!

9:10 Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spenser of The Help is the favorite here, but this category is full of upsets. Remember when Lauren Bacall was a shoo-in, only to lose to the younger and prettier Juliette Binoche? This category often rewards the young, fresh faces, i.e. the actress the old white men most want to fuck. (How else do you explain an Oscar for Kim Basinger? Mira Sorvino??? You realize they have more acting Oscars than Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland, and Gene Kelly combined?) So, there could be a Jessica Chastain upset. But, if there’s one thing the Academy likes as much as fucking, it’s making BIG STATEMENTS about race. Two black actreses have never won for the same movie before


9:11 I would really love it if Melissa McCarthy won. Go Sookie! Yay Gilmore Girls!


9:12 Winner: Octavia Spenser! So, it seems we are in for an upset free evening. 


9:13 Wow, standing ovation! And she seems genuinely happy! 


9:14 Don't wrap up Octavia! It's one thing to give the high sign to the third sound editor on Transformers, but the only speeches people care about are the actor and director ones. Don't cut them off! Gotta make room for more montages!


9:18 "That moment for Octavia Spenser is what the Oscars are all about." What, getting cut off during your big emotional moment?


9:19 Wizard of Oz focus group! You realize this is the first time we got the Christopher Guest improv gang back together since their Oscar parody film "For Your Consideration." 


"The Good Witch is a cruel jokester!" 


9:22 Editing! If Thelma Schoolmaker wins, we could have a Hugo upset brewing. Other wise, it's going to be all Artist. 


9:24 Dragon Tattoo! Well, I guess the academy likes David Fincher's editors if not David Fincher's directing. I dunno. That movie could have been about 20 minutes shorter.


The two guys were so genuinely surprised they couldn't even finish their speech. 


9:25 Sound Editing! If the majesty of Transformers is not recognized...


9:26 Hugo! That make three. And all those gears sounded cool. 


9:27 "Hugo!" "No, Hugo." We're taking the Oscar back now. 


9:28 Sound mixing! Your second chance to honor transformers!


9:29 Winner: Hugo! That movie was pretty fucking charming. I love Marty. Movies like Raging Bull and Taxi Driver are why I went to film school.  Still, it’s hard to believe the man that brought such a raw jittery feel to Mean Streets is the same director as Hugo. 


9:34 Muppets! Yay! (My Lovely Wife texts: Miss Piggy is Smokin'! (Get it? Smoked Ham)


9:35 Cirque du Soleil! Uhhhhhhgggg. AS if the films nominated weren't French enough. 


9:38 So, there's time for a five minute Cirque du Soleil wankfest, but Octavia Spenser got told to wrap it up? Racist!


9:40 Gwynnie & Downey! Do we get an Iron Man joke?


9:41 No, a stupid riff on that stupid Joaquin Phoenix movie.

9:44 Documentary: Paradise Lost had better goddamn win, having helped to get three people out of prison, but it’s entirely possible that the Academy’s anti-TV bias may come into play. Also their bias against documentaries that are interesting, entertaining, and reach a wide audience. (No, I’m not still upset about them snubbing Hoop Dreams. Why do you ask?) No holocaust films this year, so maybe Joe Berlinger has a shot.


9:45 Really? The football team movie? Fuck you documentary wing.



9:47 Animated feature! Kung Fu Panda 2. What. The. Fuck. It would be nice if the hand drawn Spanish movie Chico & Rita could pull this out, but it’s probably the quirky and oddball Rango.  Coraline, you picked the wrong year to get released.

9:48 And no surprise. Rango wins.


(The formatting got a little wonky, so we are continuing the live blog here. Come join us!)