Monday, September 29, 2008

Adios, natural born world-shaker

This is the second version of this post. On the first attempt, I threw out some movies I liked and talked about the very distinguished career of and actor and philanthropist. But when I finished, it just didn't work.

Has there ever been an American icon that essentially flew under the radar for a majority of their career? Here's a good looking, humble guy that managed to be successful in an industry that thrives on selfishness, over indulgence and infidelity.

I remember the first time I saw Newman's Own salad dressing in the grocery store. I thought it was funny the way they took his likeness (and that of his wife, Joanne Woodward) and dressed it up to fit the theme for the product. Later, after learning more about him... I realized he never took his celebrity too seriously, and wasn't afraid to poke fun at himself, if he thought it would help others. Turns out, he was right. To date, the Newman's Own brand has generated $250,000,000 for assorted charities.

The company motto says just about all you need to know about him...

"Shameless exploitation in pursuit of the Common Good."

For all the people that are famous for nothing (insert name of celebutante of the week), maybe they need a lesson in humility and compassion for the folks that don't lead the same privileged life....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hollywood has been lying to me

For some reason, the Better Half and I have lately been watching lots of re-runs of the tv show COPS. As a matter of fact, I have a DVR full of perps just waiting to be slammed on the hood of a police cruiser. But it's made me wonder, where are the Hans Gruber's, Neil McCauley's and Danny Ocean's of the world?

I've come to the realization that most people caught on the wrong side of the law, are simply desperate, indifferent to the law or just dumb. Do you honestly think Officer Poncherello isn't going to find the gun, dime bag or human foot that was cleverly stashed underneath a map in the glove box? I guess as society as a whole is being dumbed down, so are those on the fringe.

Make no mistake, there are plenty of societal ills that force force people to abandon common sense, self respect and human decency. To make things worse, the fictional people that I mentioned above, have contributed to the misguided notion that walking in to a bank with a mask and shotgun, is somehow cool. When family, society or government have failed you, why work 60 hours a week at some shitty job for scraps, when you can cook up a tub full of meth or steal a car?

Does art imitate life? Or does life imitate art? I'm not smart enough to answer that... but I think it's a safe bet that when mindless violence is masked as entertainment and glorified as an acceptable means to an end, society as a whole suffers.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Verticut me Mick!

I rented a verticutter over the weekend to tackle a few problem spots in our yard. It's easy to see how this thing could end up in Cohen brothers movie at some point... After verticutting, I raked up all the thatch that came up, seeded and then fertilized. Now I just have to water the crap out of it. Fun stuff.

Overheard in class last week... v2

Student A to Student B: "When is your birthday?"
Student B responds: "April 20th!"
Students A, B and C all at once: "Smoke day!"

I'm such a square, I had to Google it...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Speeders! You have been warned!

I've started my mini-campaign to see about getting speed bumps on our street. I'm on a residential street, that has assumed the role of minor thoroughfare in and out of north PV. As a result, there are a lot of speeders going up and down at all hours of the day (but at the same time, it's gets plowed about every 15 minutes when it snows...). The stop sign at Belinder is nice, but I think it's time for something a little more subtle. Plus, traffic is only going to increase when the proposed work on the 75th Street corridor begins (whenever that is).

I'm not usually the type to get involved in things like this... But, I like my little piece of the world. Having grown up in Brookside, I have become rather fond of nice, quiet neighborhoods. Plus, it's a pain in the ass to back out of my driveway in the morning, when some clown is flying down the street at 45 mph, hell bent on making the stop light at State Line...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Not exactly fuel efficient for the daily commute to work and it get's a little snug for drives more than a few hours long... but this thing absolutely DESTROYS PUDDLES!!!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Overheard in class last week...

Teacher to Student A: "What does your father do?"
Student A: "I'm sorry, what?"
Teacher: "What does your father do?"
Student A, after a few moments: "He's in a Federal Penitentiary"
Teacher, immediately sorry for asking and stammering somewhat: "I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to embarrass you. I thought I recognized his name as a school principal in Blue Springs."
Student A: "Pretty sure no one in my family has never worked at a school."
Student B: "My mom is in Federal prison too!"
Student C: "What did your dad do to end up in prison?"
Student D: "My cousin is in Leavenworth, that don't fuck around up there!"
Student B: "She was in a prison in Illinois, but then was moved to Iowa."
Student E: "I know some people that have been in prison. They said they mess with your shit, big time!"
Student A: "He was a felon that was caught with a gun."

I'll be damned...

Tom Brady was knocked out for the season last Sunday, and the sun still came up Monday morning. Don't get me wrong, I don't like seeing anyone get seriously injured (unless it's AJ Pierzynski), especially when I have them on one of my fantasy football teams. I just thought the media attention on this was a little over the top. Do we really need 14 hours of Sports Center to explain what an ACL is? Chris Berman is a prima donna blowhard, that's been sniffing his own farts for way too long, but do we really need his in depth analysis?

Brady isn't just the starting QB for the Patriots, but he's one of the biggest stars in the NFL. This injury is going to cost the Pats a few wins (and possibly a playoff spot). It's an even bigger hit to The League and TV networks. Adios prime time ratings for match ups between him and Peyton Manning and Bret Favre (twice, now that he's a Jet!).

The League has made every attempt possible at parity. The idea is that every team (except the Chiefs...) has a chance to make the playoffs and possibly the Super Bowl. The fact that the Patriots have been so successful in recent years is impressive. It's as close to a dynasty as we will likely see in any sport for quite some time. It's just on hold this season.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hans... Bubby!

What exactly happened to John McTiernan?

Happened to stumble across Die Hard this afternoon, and of course I had to stop and watch for a few. Despite being 20 years old, it holds up fantastically well. Not a huge fan of Mr. Willis, but, he's in the right movie at the right time. Alan Rickman is wonderful as faux terrorist Hans Gruber. The way that Beethoven's Ode to Joy is intertwined in the score... brilliant (especially the scene when the vault is finally opened towards the end). All in all, an excellent movie.

My wife isn't as familiar w/ Die Hard as I am, and I proceeded to drop some Movie Nerd on her about the cast, crew and random trivia. When I stopped at director John McTiernan, I struggled to come up w/ anything he had done recently. Here's a guy w/ a quality resume of some great (and occasionally overlooked) action flicks. Three of his first major films, were classics. The under appreciated Predator (1987), Die Hard (1988) and The Hunt For Red October (1990). It's impossible the channel flip and not stop when you come across one of these (admittedly) Guy Movies.

After Red October comes Medicine Man and The Last Action Hero. Medicine Man features a Razzie nominated performance by Lorraine Bracco. Last Action Hero was a bomb and pretty much signalled the end of the late 1980's One Man Wrecking Crew action flicks. Truth be told, I don't think the flick is as bad as some people contend. For fans of action movies, there are a lot of inside jokes that make fun of the genre.

Die Hard: With A Vengeance (Die Hard 3) was next. Personally, it's my second favorite of the four installments of the series.

From there, it's a string of ho-hum followed by a mixture of mediocre and crap.

He's recently made headlines for being involved in the Anthony Pellicano scandal and last I saw, was working on a plea deal to avoid time on a conviction of lying to the FBI.

I guess he was collateral damage when the action genre finally imploded....

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Jerry Reed - RIP

My exposure of to Mr. Reed was limited to his sidekick role in Smokey and The Bandit, as Cledus 'Snowman' Snow. Hal Needham made car crash movies cool, and Jerry Reed made it cool to talk like a truck driver. OK, maybe not, but Eastbound and Down is a classic.

Don LaFontaine - RIP

The man behind the voice you've heard a thousand times.

I worked in a video store on and off for about 10 years. I loved just about every minute of, but will admit that after a while, I turned in to somewhat of a movie snob. I can assure you, that after you walked out of the store with a copy of Speed 2, we all laughed at you. Having said that, here's a great quote from Don, courtesy

"My philosophy is that you have to really believe what you're reading, even if you think the film's a piece of junk," he told Swindle magazine. "Even the worst picture is someone's favorite film, and that someone is the fan I am always talking to."

Pretty impressive for a guy that could make the worst turd in the world, sound like an award winner.