Sunday, May 28, 2006

What, exactly, is this man smiling about?

For about the third time in two weeks, Cubs GM Jim Hendry went out of his
way to say that Cubs Manager Dusty Baker's job is NOT in jeopardy.

Which means that probably by this time next week, Cub fans will be debating whether Lou Pinella, Billy Williams, or even Walter Matthau from the movie "The Bad News Bears" should be the next north side skipper.

I think the Cubs right now would have a tough go of it against New Trier.
At least the Trevians are fundamentally sound, which is more than we can say for Dusty's bunch.

Will 2008 mean the end of comedy?

Finally, I've found another blog that contains my favorite George W. Bush moment on video.
During a debate with John Kerry, GW reminds us all that being president is "hard work".

The site says he "complains" but I don't believe he's complaining. Just giving us information that
he thinks we did not previously know. Which makes it all the more priceless.

God bless America.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Why I cannot stand the media sometimes...

So Wolf Blitzer has spent the last half hour reminding me that not only am I "in the Situation Room" (why the hell does he have to say that so much?) but harping on the fact that apparently Congressman Patrick Kennedy was involved in a passengerless, single car traffic accident last night with a barricade on Capitol Hill, and that even though the Congressman's office says alcohol was not involved, things look fishy because a couple of Captiol Hill cops drove Mr. Kennedy home without administering field sobriety tests...

I mean, come on already. No harm, no foul. Whether the guy did or didn't have a few single malts, he smacked up his car and no one else. Not only politicians, but everyday folk get a free pass once in awhile for screwing up. Do we really need complete CNN team coverage on the "incident"? Is a Kennedy family member having too much of a good time even a news story anymore?

Let's hope Wolf never heads home sans driver from a dinner at Cipriani or Balthazar, after a fine Burgundy, and have a newspaper machine or hot dog cart jump out at his expensive luxury automobile...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

57 channels and nothing on? More like 570...

Bruce Springsteen had no idea how dead-on that song was a few years ago.
It's mind-boggling when you consider the amount of channels available on
digital cable, satellite, whatever.
And the best we can come up with are 6 different CSI's, 12 versions of Law & Order, talentless talent contests and mind numbingly slow-developing game shows that are basically trumped-up versions of drawing straws...

The most annoying thing on TV lately, though, to me, is the shows that are blatant ripoffs of other shows. I know our society is derivitave by nature, but couldn't the minds at NBC come up with something with the flavor of THE OFFICE, but at least original? Why not just show the original, funnier version? And how about that swing at COUPLING? Niiiice.

But by far, the most blatant ripoff in TV history occurs nearly every day on the Food Network. I'm sure the starving folk in the Sudan would love to hear that we have not only immense surpluses of actual food, but many of us spend our free time lounging on the couch watching shows ABOUT food....

OK, deep breath there. Getting pretty cranky. A little too Florida retirement community, shuffleboard, flood length pants, society-hating cranky. Down off the soapbox I come...

Anyway, the show I speak of is called EVERYDAY ITALIAN and it stars tarty Giada deLaurentis. She cooks simple Italian dishes using mostly fresh ingredients, paying attention to the entire cooking experience...selection, preparation, and consumption...with a breathy, innuendo-laced delivery, soft-focused lens, natural lighting and close-up, quick cut, arty photography. Occasionally she'll appear in her pajamas or robe...which is great.
Love to see a cooking show take it to a more practical place...but try to sex it up a bit.

The problem is, the show is a note-for-note ripoff of NIGELLA BITES, the best cooking show in the history of cooking shows. Filmed a few years ago, and starring former British Vogue writer NIGELLA LAWSON, it was an innovative show. It still runs, along with her follow-up, FOREVER SUMMMER, on the Style network, and occasionally on E! television.

The Giada show is SUCH a ripoff, they make no attempt whatsoever to conceal the fact that they've changed nothing but the recipes. Which is fine, I guess, if viewers didn't know any better, but odds are that anyone who has the Food Network also gets either Style or E! on their cable system, if not both.

Not only is Nigella eons hotter than Giada, she rings true, Giada comes off like that girl in high school who had a really hot body but was always trying to make up for her lack of personality by acting really outgoing and loud. Plus, Nigella shot her shows in her actual kitchen. Giada's on some goofy
laminated generic Food Network set. So not only have the Food Network folks completely ripped off the intellectual property of Ms. Lawson, they've produced a cheaper version. Like Chrysler did with those cars that look like Bentleys...

We're running out of original ideas faster than we' re running out of natural resources and icebergs. This is what it's come to, cover versions of TV shows.

What's next? Novels reprinted with the names changed?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Corporate Angst, Part I

So I was going to rail on and on about how much I hate Home Depot.
About how it's on, Me Vs. Home Depot, my one man campaign to shut the doors
of the frickin' place. To lead the first great consumer revolt of the new millennium.

Then I googled Home Depot to try to find a wacky photo and I found out that not only am I not
alone in hating this putrid corporate monolith, I am not even in the top twenty percent of the most venomous Home Depot Haters.

I also noticed that there are hate sites and blogs about nearly every big corporation...Starbucks, Mickey D's, Sony, etc. etc. Not only disgruntled consumers, but employees are out there, bitching up a storm about transgressions, both merited and unmerited.

Obviously it's a problem throughout retail...misinformed employees who don't seem to give a damn about anything, lousy inventory control, mishandled returns, the list goes on...

Which relates back to today's Immigrant Revolution March. Apparently there are entire segments of jobs out there that don't pay enough for Americans to care about having, keeping , or even performing them.

So why, exactly, is anyone bitching about the hardworking (albeit "undocumented") immigrants that come here and work their tails off doing what can often be described as
"grunt" work at best? At least most of these people have some work ethic. And can put forth an effort.

Which is more than I can say about anyone I've encountered lately at the Homer Glen, IL Home Depot store. Or the Mokena, IL Home Depot store.

The million hombre march.

So over 300,00o immigrants and their supporters marched today in Chicago, many many more in other cities.
Couldn't these people have all spent that time just standing in line to get their paperwork to be here legally?
Just wondering.
I mean, I support some sort of compromise on the issue, naturally we all know this country was founded as a melting pot, etc. etc....but obviously, there needs to be some sort of accountability.
Asking for documentation doesn't seem completely oppressive to me.
Then again, I already HAVE documentation.
I asked my friend Michael about the furor. He hails from South Africa and his work visa actually expires next year. Like a lot of us, he's a bit perplexed about the current political environment. So he's weighing his options.

Maybe we should all just think about expatriating, and not even worry about the status of undocumented workers. Just let them have the frickin' country. We'll head for their homelands, where we can find affordable health care and prescription drugs, and perhaps some
freedom of speech, not to mention some actual foreign policy...
Will the last American citizen please turn out the lights on the way out?

Life Changers, May Day Edition

Spring, and music are in the air.
Which means memories of glory days, and songs about love lost, misplaced, or unrequited.

Springtime always takes me back to high school (cue the Bryan Adams or Springsteen guitar sentimentality in the background here...). One of my all-time best Springs ever occurred during my Junior year of high school. My black sheep uncle had a gig as the beverage manager at a northwest suburban hotel. I won't name the hotel other than to say it's close to a racetrack. And we're not talking NASCAR here, more like the sport of kings. Anyway, the hotel hosted the Miss Teen Illinois pageant, which for a young kid with unsupervised access to liquor is pretty much like dying and going to heaven. The pageant had a glossy black and white brochure of the contestants, which the 30 year old Vietnamese barback and I treated like a mail order bride catalog. We spent the week prior to the pageant debating whether Miss Algonquin, a Barbara Mandrell lookalike, or Miss Round Lake Beach, a brunette beauty, was the hottest teen in the state. Long story short, in person, Algonquin took the cake, and without sounding like too much of a braggart, let's just say I made her acquaintance.

Anyway, the soundtrack of those days featured Bowie's DAY IN, DAY OUT album, Gene Loves Jezebel, New Order, plenty of Depeche, the the, and the Police, but the most-played album of the day was a little record from England called THE QUEEN IS DEAD. The whole thing is a classic, but two tracks stand out at this time of year...

angst sounds so good with round, full bass and jangly guitars. Perfect springtime evening songs. Moping is so much more fun at high volume.

heard a great version of a summer classic the other day...
i never realized Debbie Harry didn't write this song. Bust out the limbo pole and a cold daiquiri.

chicks with guitars just slay me. I think I heard they used WRECK on Grey's Anatomy recently, which almost took it off my iPod, but it's a solid tune. Anna writes great lyrics like...
"love might be just like me / jaded, waiting, all alone / you never know never never"

or this little gem...

"cuz love doesn't hurt so I know I'm not falling in love. I'm just falling to pieces...Maybe I'm not up for being a victim of love / All my resistance will never be distance enough"

Love hurts. But the pain sounds great after a couple of glasses of good Bordeaux.

gotta hand it to the little purple guy. The new album sounds like his best effort since SIGN O' THE TIMES. Good stuff, even though it makes me feel old to hear a barista say to another barista "you should check out his old stuff like Diamonds and Pearls". Grrr. The OLD stuff is I WANNA BE YOUR LOVER. But then again, that was back when the Beatles were still together, wasn't it?

speaking of SIGN O THE TIMES
fruit cocktail has never sounded so sexy. and the guitar at the end of the second track will make you long for more...listen to these songs with someone else. Someone sitting very, very close.