Monday, January 30, 2006

Visionary philosopher

I just took an online IQ test and this is how I scored:

137. Your Intellectual Type is Visionary Philosopher. This means you are highly intelligent and have a powerful mix of skills and insight that can be applied in a variety of different ways. Like Plato, your exceptional math and verbal skills make you very adept at explaining things to others and at anticipating and predicting patterns.

Which means I have no discernible practical skills and I'm not quite a genius (140). Great.

I've taken a few of these before and I usually score somewhere between 134 and 138. Still shy of genius. Always a bridesmaid, I guess...

On the plus side:

I took this online Mensa test and got 25 out of 33 ... which is apparently pretty good. It says anything over 19 is a genius. Not so sure about that, but...any test that says I'm smart is okay in my book!

Friends don't let friends karaoke drunk...

I believe in miracles!
Where you from
You sexy thing
(you sexy thing, you)

We've all made mistakes in our lives...

Hot Live Comedy


Sweet Paprika
The D Lounge
Basement Level
101 E. 15th Street
right outside Union Square East

Monkey Beat

"They send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue. That's the Monkey way."

That's what I imagine the Monkey Jim Malone would tell Monkey Eliot Ness.

People who don't believe in science and all that monkey stuff, here's what you're missing out on:

Monkey cops!!!!

Monkey cops keep the peace among groups
When 'law enforcement' removed, monkey society becomes divisive

By Bjorn Carey

New research reveals that monkey cops help keep social groups in line.

Not having guns or nightsticks, they leverage their group seniority, craft intimidating reputations and count on good voter turnout.

Take the primate police out of a group, as researchers did, and the rest get more violent and aggressive. Interaction between cliques drops significantly.

"It's not just that violence goes up, but a whole range of behavior involving a whole range of individuals suddenly disappears," said David Krakauer of the Santa Fe Institute. "It's like saying you take police out of human society, and all of a sudden people stop going to the opera, or something more important."

The study, detailed in today's issue of the journal Nature, also uncovered a complex monkey "voting" system for appointing the peacekeepers.

Peacekeepers 'appointed'
Pigtailed macaque monkeys, Macaca nemestrina, don't just pull into town like Wyatt Earp or Dirty Harry and take over. They have to be "appointed" to the position.

Instead of a paper ballot, inferior monkeys bare their teeth to a more dominant member of the group.

"It's like they're saying, ‘You don't have to beat me up to establish your dominance, I'm simply telling you that you are,'" Krakauer told LiveScience.

When an individual receives these voting signals from most of the group, it shows he is well respected — or feared — and he becomes the new sheriff in town.

In general, the larger and more senior monkeys are voted into the policing role.

But having a gang to back you up counts for something, too. A single Schwarzenegger-like monkey may not receive as many "votes" from the group as a smaller individual with several brothers.

On the job
Once elected, police monkeys earn certain rights and responsibilities, one of which is to peacefully settles conflicts. They usually do this by stepping between combatants or chasing bad monkeys away. Very rarely do they need to dish out a whooping, but their actions are always respected by the group.

When Krakauer and his colleagues removed the police force — which in this case consisted of three males, but can also include females — they saw a drastic change in a once peaceful, interactive society.

The creatures split into cliques, mostly based on tight family relationships or friendships, and then interacted about as well as high school jocks and band geeks.

"The policers are indirectly providing the security needed for complex forms of social interaction to take place," Krakauer said. "The monkeys are afraid of approaching each other if the policers are not there to resolve a potential conflict."

© 2006 All rights reserved.

Sure, it's all fun and games 'til the monkeys come for you. Monkey cops. They're out there.

The Wisdom of Aquaman

Watching cartoons late night on Boomerang often yields awesome gems. Like episodes of the 1967 Aquaman animated series.

In tonight's episode, "The Brain, the Brave, and the Bold", Aquaman uttered the oddly appropriate quote:

"It just goes to show: you can have a brain...and still not be very smart."

If only you knew how right you are, Aquaman. If only you knew...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Brilliant Underrated Movie Quote O' the Day

Today's brilliant quote comes from the 1997 movie The House of Yes:

"Goo is what tape is all about. Goo is what makes it tape. Without goo, it would just be paper."

(Parker Posey)

Original play written by Wendy MacLeod.

Screenplay adapted by Mark Waters.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Reminder - THE CALL

Tune in to NY1's The Call at 9PM!

Just quickly glancing at the website, the top stories right now are kind, morbid?

1 Hospital Arraignment For Shootout Suspect

2 Investigators: Cocaine May Have Caused Death Of Bronx Toddler

3 No Deal: TWU Head Rejects Latest Transit Contract Offer

4 Police: School Handyman Filmed Women At Farmer's Market

This could be awkward. HILARIOUSLY awkward. So go to their website and vote for funnier news stories! RIGHT NOW!!

And then tune in tonight and see what happens.

Look: as we squirm uncomfortably in response to another pending transit strike!

Listen: as we babble incoherently about news items we have no real knowledge of!

Laugh: as we mock unsuspecting callers who sit at home and watch NY1 on a Friday night!

The show's a blast and I think it's pretty cool that they're so good to local comics. They always treat us well and it's a fun way to spend 1/2 an hour. They're good folks over there at NY1. And they're probably reading this now...


Watch as I attempt humor while Newbower stares at himself in the monitor.

Tune in tonight and watch the magic happen...right before your eyes!


Found something wacky and disturbing over on Progressive Ruin. No real surprise there.

The Superhero Kit


You get a special booklet on "how to be a superhero."

You get a special superhero mask.

You get a special supehero award, just for you...for being so super!

You get a special "special person" sticker...okay, now we're getting a little crazy here. You go around with a sticker like that, everyone's gonna know you're a superhero. Which is fine, but hello! You're trying to protect your secret identity! That's why you're wearing the mask! Already, we see flaws in the logic here.

Oh, and don't forget the special festive noiseblower. Um. Unless you're a New Year's Eve-themed superhero, why do you need this? I guess it's for celebrating the destruction of evil...or for alerting every woman in the nearby area that you will be a virgin for life. Happy New Year!

I'm guessing this kit is for the same dudes who would wear a T-Shirt that says:


Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Call

I'll be on NY1's The Call again tomorrow night at 9PM with our own Danny Newbower!

Tune in! Last time we were on, they thought Michael Jackson may have died and we were asked to joke about it. See which potential celebrity death we'll openly mock tomorrow night! It will also be fun if anyone reading this can drunkenly phone in and ask us nonsensical questions. Thank you. And watch the Call!

It's peanut butter jelly time!

Ross stumbled across this little internet sensation a few years ago and passed it onto me. And occasionally, it will get stuck in my head.

Like now.

See, every so often, there's this guy on the corner of 34th and 6th (roughly) dressed as a giant banana handing out leaflets for a health food chain. And he's usually bouncing around and singing a little song. Which reminds me of this:

It's peanut butter jelly time!

And now it's stuck in my head. So, I pass it along to all of you. I double-dog dare you NOT to get it stuck in your head...

Special bonus link:

Here's Brian from Family Guy...with a baseball bat!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Playwright in Twaining

I'm doing research for a play and I came across this insightful Mark Twain quote (aren't they all). As true today as ever.

"To lodge all power in one party and keep it there is to insure bad government and the sure gradual deterioration of the public morals."

-quoted in Mark Twain's Autobiography
A.B. Paine, ed. Harper, 1924.

Special bonus quote, in light of the corruption-laden scandals plaguing the current Republican-controlled Congress. Additional note: I have a shirt with this quotation, which I often wore during my tenure as a Congressional Aide. Oh, I am so subversive.

Quoth Mark Twain:
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Avast, mateys! Pirates! Arrrr!

From the wires:

The U.S. Navy boarded an apparent pirate ship in the Indian Ocean and detained 26 men for questioning, the Navy said Sunday.

The 16 Indians and 10 Somali men were aboard a traditional dhow that was chased and seized Saturday by the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill, said Lt. Leslie Hull-Ryde of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain.

The dhow stopped fleeing after the Churchill twice fired warning shots during the chase, which ended 54 miles off the coast of Somalia, the Navy said. U.S. sailors boarded the dhow and seized a cache of small arms.

The dhow's crew and passengers were being questioned Sunday aboard the Churchill to determine which were pirates and which were legitimate crew members, Hull-Ryde said.

Sailors aboard the dhow told Navy investigators that pirates hijacked the vessel six days ago near Mogadishu and thereafter used it to stage pirate attacks on merchant ships.

The Churchill is part of a multinational task force patrolling the western Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa region to thwart terrorist activity and other lawlessness during the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The Navy said it captured the dhow in response to a report from the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur on Friday that said pirates had fired on the MV Delta Ranger, a Bahamian-flagged bulk carrier that was passing some 200 miles off the central eastern coast of Somalia.

*image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Brilliant quote of the day!

Most of the time, when we quote movies or tv shows or whatever, we credit the actor or the character. Very rarely do we ever credit the actual writer of the script. So, I will attempt to remedy this grave injustice by crediting the writer or writers responsible for putting those famous words in characters' mouths.

Todays' brilliant quote comes from the 1966 film, Batman: the Movie.

"Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb."

- Batman
(Adam West)

Screenplay by Lorenzo Semple, Jr.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

I ain't saying she's a "Goldfinger"...

One of my dream cars just sold for $1.9 Million.

A Swiss businessman won the keys to James Bond's silver 1965 Aston Martin DB5 coupe on Friday with a $1.9 million bid at an annual classic car auction in Arizona.

The 45-year-old man, who did not want to be identified, placed his bids over the telephone through friend and car dealer Beat Roos to win the gadget-packed 007 car used in such classics as "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball." Both men live in Bern, Switzerland.

"His instructions were to bring the car back to Switzerland," Roos said.

The winner, who was bidding in his first auction, will add the car to a collection of some dozen vehicles that includes classic Aston Martins and Porsches.

Not just a classic Aston Martin. Not just a James Bond silver 1965 Aston Martin. A gadget-packed Aston Martin!

This is simply a stunning car. A thing of beauty.

This promotional picture provided by RM Auctions shows the 1965 Aston Martin DB5 used in 'James Bond' movies photographed in Detroit, MI during Oct. 2005. The Aston Martin spy car, complete with machine guns and tire slashers.

Not only is it gorgeous, it has machine guns and tire slashers! Awesome.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

What are you waiting for?

Uncle Sam wants you, chicken hawks!

As Salon points out, the Army has raised the cut-off age for recruitment from 35 to 42. That's good news for all you folks who support the war, but are "too old to fight." Well, not anymore!

Another chance for a chicken hawk

Poor Jonah Goldberg.

The National Review editor and Los Angeles Times columnist has taken a lot of grief for advocating the war in Iraq without volunteering to fight it himself. Goldberg has defended himself -- "I'm 35 years old, my family couldn't afford the lost income, I have a baby daughter," he wrote last year -- but his only real friend is time: Goldberg turns 36 in March, which would put him beyond the Army's cutoff age for new active-duty recruits and out of the path of continuing scorn.

Or at least it would have. As the Associated Press reports today, the Army's recruiting woes have led to a new law that will raise the top age for active-duty recruits from 35 to 42. That gives Goldberg and other chicken hawks his age six more years in which they can sign up for the war they've been happy to have others fight.

But really, why wait that long? Forty-two U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq already this month, and recruiters are waiting by their phones to hear from their replacements.

C'mon, Jonah Goldberg! My father was a 55-year old Reservist when he was deployed to Iraq a few years ago. You've still got about 20 years on him! Oh, but maybe Whiney McGoldberg is too busy to go. Well, I'm only 28, but I'm a full-time graduate student, I'm working various part-time jobs and making the comedy rounds at night...and I still manage to find time to serve my country in the Reserves. And I've already spent a year on deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Maybe Goldy's afraid he couldn't afford the loss in pay. Well, both my father and I lost money (and time) when we were deployed, but I believe that's the price fo freedom. Right? I mean, we all have to sacrifice something for freedom. Besides, our current leaders have done everything in their power to ensure our soldiers are taken care of when they return. Right?

Now that they've raised the age limit, neither my father nor I should have to serve a SECOND tour anytime long as there are plenty of healthy war-supporters out there like Jonah Goldberg who can still sign themselves up for duty!

So drive your gas-guzzlin' Hummer down to the nearest recruitment office and sign yourself up today!

What's the matter, Mr. Goldberg? Chicken?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Belushi v. Newmar - U DECIDE

This is an older story, but one I'd like to comment on.

As reported in the Beat:

Actor JIM BELUSHI has ended his two-year feud with his next door neighbour JULIE NEWMAR by inviting the former BATMAN star to join him on his US TV sitcom.

The pair fell out when Newmar objected to building work Belushi had started on his Hollywood estate.

Belushi then pressed harassment charges against Newmar, a former TV CATWOMAN, when she publicly attacked the actor and chopped down trees on his estate.

The couple has since settled the $4 million lawsuit and Newmar will now appear on an upcoming episode of Belushi's hit show ACCORDING TO JIM.

Sounds to me like Julie LOST that case. Pretty harsh punishment.

Now they're just being ridiculous

From the wires:

Winfrey club prompts new genre: Friction

Published January 18, 2006

Another Oprah Winfrey book club pick has raised the issue of fact versus fiction. and Barnes & Noble said Tuesday they were making changes to certify Elie Wiesel's "Night" as non-fiction. Barnes & Noble is removing the book from its fiction list, and Amazon is changing the categorization of "Night" and revising a description to make clear it does not consider the book a novel.

Wiesel did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

On Monday, Winfrey announced that Wiesel's account of his family's placement in Auschwitz was her latest choice. "Night" quickly topped Amazon's best-seller list, displacing Winfrey's previous selection, James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces."

Frey has acknowledged he embellished parts of his book. No such allegations are being made about "Night," but there has long been confusion over how to label it.

Um. Confusion? Over categorizing Night? It's a literary memoir, numb nuts.

You're welcome.

*Just trying to make it easier for whoever is searching blogs for Jews...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It works!!

Ask and ye shall receive.

Yesterday, I posted this, noting that my spam has become more customized. I decided to test my theory on the spambots by adding:

Have I mentioned that I looooooove a million dollars?

And what should appear in my junk mail?

Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2006 17:22:21 -0800
From: "Hitthe Jackpot"
To: Me
Subject: 2 Million dollar winning chance for you

Get Your "Lovely Hula Hands" on $2,000,000.00 Instantly!

Please note, I have no idea what "Hula Hands" means. But it sounds sexy.

First they came for the blogs...

Uh, someone found my blog by doing a google blog search using only the word "Jew."

Should I be concerned...?

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Spambots Read My Blog!

A week ago, I wrote this post, in which I happened to mention I love coffee. Actually, what I said was:

I looooove coffee. In fact, right now - as I type these very words - I am drinking freshly-brewed coffee from a giant Superman mug. It's enormous, three cups worth. If you ever visit my folks, there are always endless pots of coffee brewing in the kitchen. It's heavenly.

And what should end up in my hotmail account a few days later? Why, an e-mail:

From : For Coffee Lovers
Reply-To : ""
Sent : Monday, January 16, 2006 3:19 PM
To :
Subject : A Free Starbucks Gift Card

Mention you love coffee, get unsolicited e-mails offering you free coffee. Good to know.

Have I mentioned that I looooooove a million dollars?

Geek Talk: Iron Spidey

Hm. Spider-Man's getting new duds. Again.

Oh, and it's apparently tied into Iron Man. It's nice to see that Marvel's really hyping it up. It's not like Spider-Man has ever gotten a new costume before.


I suppose every few years or so, Marvel has to keep revamping Spider-Man to keep the kiddies interested. It's not like he's an easily recognizable and iconic character with two high-grossing movies and a third one on the way. You'd think that'd be enough to get kids interested, but no. Actually, I don't mind Marvel marketing comic books toward kids at all. If that's what they are, in fact, doing with this latest stunt, then I think it's great. Maybe it'll even get more kids interested in Spider-Man comic books. I would argue, though, that what they need are fewer "events" ...

Saddest thing I saw the other day was a young kid (maybe 6 or 7) in a comic book store with his mom. The kid's eyes lit up when he saw Spider-Man on the cover of a comic and he nearly sqealed with delight, exclaiming: "Spider-Man! Look, mommy! Spider-Man!" The mom - being a good mom - picked up the book, flipped through it, glanced at the warning on the cover, then sadly put it back on the counter. "Sorry," she sighed. "This one is for grown-ups." This was the mainstream Amazing Spider-Man comic. Luckily, the friendly store owners directed them to kid-friendly, "all-ages" Marvel Adventures Spider-Man. "All-ages" should apply to the regular Spider-Man title, but I digress...

Maybe this new "Iron Spider" storyline will usher in a new age of more kid-friendly Spider-Man adventures in the mainstream books...but I doubt it. I have a feeling this is yet another attempt at getting fanboys my age interested in picking up a Spider-book again for the spectacle of the event.

Oh, well. I guess I'll just chalk this one up to "I'm too old to be reading comic books anymore."

'Cuz it'll never be cooler than the slick black & white costume.

In other geek-related news, it must be baby-birthin' time. Congrats and Mazel Tov to Dave Campbell on the birth of his new daughter. Mazel, mazel; lots of mazel, all around.

Bad Jew Jew

It's bad enough that disgraced, crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff is a Jew, but did he have to be a Brandeis Jew?

Churches have ex-communication. Is there a way for the Jews to collectively disown someone? Like, Hebraic Disown-a-ment? If so, I nominate Jack Abramoff for official Hebraic Disown-a-ment from the Jews. And Brandeis.

I guess ol' Jack never bothered to read any of Justice Louis Brandeis' actual writings or heed the University's motto: "Truth even unto its innermost parts."

Maybe Jack will have some extra readin' time on his hands now and he can familiarize himself with Justice Brandeis' words in the clink...

PS: "Innermost parts" sounds dirty.


From the Boston Globe:

Roots of a lobbyist
Conservative identity took shape at Brandeis University

By Michael Levenson, Globe Correspondent January 15, 2006

Long before he became a Washington lobbyist and convicted felon, he was a freshman at Brandeis University with a 1976 Mercury Cougar and a taste for blasting Queen's ''We Are The Champions" on his all-male hall.

Jack Abramoff, class of '81, resident of Deroy Hall, hated David Bowie, loved ice cream, and was always up for a trip to TGI Friday's on Newbury Street. Stocky and tan, he favored sweat pants and baseball caps.

But this passionately liberal campus is where the young Abramoff found his identity as a conservative firebrand who was not afraid to confront student protesters, hang banners for Ronald Reagan off Route 128, and cook up political hijinks in the name of God and country.

And the story of his four years on this hilltop campus in Waltham, 9 miles from Boston, reveals some of the qualities that shaped his rise in Washington: his discipline, loyalty, and unshakable confidence in his beliefs.

These days, as the class of '81 prepares for its 25th reunion, classmates are digging out yearbooks and ducking calls from reporters as scandal swirls around the onetime English major from Beverly Hills. The classmates who once viewed him as a mere campus irritant now look with scorn, bemusement, and sadness at the disgraced lobbyist driving the country's biggest corruption case.

At the school, which prides itself on promoting the social justice values embodied by its namesake, Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, there is embarrassment.

''We're ashamed of him," said Michael T. Gilmore, longtime chairman of the English and American literature department at Brandeis.

In the fall of 1977, Abramoff, a recent adherent to Orthodox Judaism and son of a wealthy businessman, arrived at Brandeis, with the campus roiling.

Students were agitating for divestment from South Africa, nuclear disarmament, and exit visas for Soviet Jews, turning the concrete plaza in front of the sprawling student center into a stage for left-wing speeches and protests. Feminist author Betty Friedan, antiwar activist Abbie Hoffman, and writer Norman Mailer were welcomed as heroes when they visited.

But Abramoff admired another figure -- Ronald Reagan -- an idealistic Californian like himself who was ''the most pro-Israel candidate in the presidential campaign," Abramoff told the student newspaper, The Justice, in September 1980, his senior year.

Enthralled, Abramoff made his mark on campus, organizing parties, softball games, and movie nights for the Brandeis College Republicans, which elected him chairman. Targeting freshmen, he turned the club from a laughingstock into a formidable movement of 150 young Reaganites by the fall of 1980, as Reagan headed toward his election win.

Selected the lead student organizer for Reagan in Massachusetts, Abramoff hung ''Reagan '80" banners off bridges over Route 128, helped register 3,000 students to vote, schmoozed men in South Boston social clubs, and accompanied Maureen Reagan, the candidate's daughter, on a trip to Brookline to persuade the Bostoner Rebbe, a national Hasidic leader, to endorse Reagan, a nod that was believed to be worth thousands of Orthodox Jewish votes.

''This guy was a raging Republican and it was like, what are you doing here?" said Adam Gaffin, 46, a computer magazine editor from Boston who was an editor at The Justice. ''Brandeis was not the same school it was in the 60s, but it was still a liberal Jewish school."

After Reagan won, claiming Massachusetts by a few thousand votes, The Justice filled with laments about the country's shift to the right, and the paper begrudgingly credited Abramoff, dubbing him ''Ronnie's Secret Helper."

After the election, Abramoff became president of the Massachusetts College Republican Union and, on trips to Harvard and other campuses, increased its membership from 300 to 5,000. Reagan's victory, he told The Globe in 1981, had increased student enthusiasm for the GOP ''spectacularly."

In the spring of 1981, Abramoff sought a bigger platform. He campaigned across the country with a friend from the Reagan campaign, a Harvard Business School student named Grover Norquist, and won election to the chairmanship of the College Republican National Committee.

''He was good, he was serious, and he wanted to change the world," said Norquist, now a national conservative leader and president of Americans for Tax Reform, an antitax group in Washington, D.C. ''There was a real sense that you could turn the world around with Reagan."

Back on campus, Abramoff escalated his campaign.

When 100 sign-toting students took to Yakus Plaza in front of the student center, protesting US military aid to El Salvador and chanting ''one, two, three, four, US hands off El Salvador," Abramoff crashed the demonstration, waving American flags in students' faces and belting out ''God Bless America." Disgruntled students wrote that week to The Justice, denouncing Abramoff and the Republicans who had joined him as brutes.

"He was going against the grain even back then," said Jay Rovins, 46, a New Jersey retailer who was one of Abramoff's roommates. ''For Jack, it was him and his inner circle and then everybody else, and that wasn't in a negative way so much as that was his world view."

Abramoff also charted his own course socially. At parties, he rarely drank and would leave the room when students smoked marijuana, friends said. He dated the same woman, a quiet pre-premed student, all four years. He prayed before classes in the morning, stayed home on Fridays to observe the Sabbath, and kept a kosher kitchen in his dorm.

Abramoff was generous, too. He loaned Rovins the Cougar for a first date with the woman who would become Rovins' wife, and he took his friends with him to Anthony's Pier 4 in Boston when his father visited. All the while, Abramoff grew more dedicated to activism.

"There was no doubt that when Jack left Brandeis he was on his way to Washington to continue the work that he had started with the Brandeis Young Republicans," said Stuart Chanen, 46, a lawyer from Chicago who was senior class speaker. ''It was clear he was dedicated to the cause."

Far different causes animated most of Abramoff's fellow alumni. Brandeis, founded in 1948 by American Jews seeking to create a university free from the quotas Jews faced at elite colleges and dedicated to the social welfare of the world, has sent graduates on to distinguished careers in politics, academia, and the arts. Graduates include columnist Thomas L. Friedman of '75, magazine editor Martin Peretz of '59, and actress Debra Messing of '90, from the television show ''Will & Grace."

But the news this month that Abramoff, 46, who had built one of Washington's most lucrative and GOP-connected lobbying empires, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion brought memories flooding back to the graying class. Was that really the same student from Deroy Hall who walked out of a courthouse in Washington, looking like a heavyset Hollywood villain in a trench coat and fedora?

"The person that I knew was smiling and laughing much more readily than the scowling images that you see on television now," Rovins said. ''This is a guy that loved to laugh and loved to joke more than anything."

For their reunion in June, class members will gather at the Westin Waltham-Boston, take a Duck Tour, hold a barbeque, and tour their old campus haunts. No one expects Abramoff to show. The last time they heard from the one-time agitator was when he submitted a tidbit to the alumni notes last year. Abramoff mentions he is married with five children, helped start two schools in Washington, is lobbying Congress, and has fond memories of his years at Brandeis.

"It was a great experience and I learned a lot!" he wrote.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

all things must pass

Eh. All good things come to an end. It's really hard to complain about the Pats losing - it was bound to happen eventually. We had a good run. And Brady and Belichick will still be around for a while. And I got to see them win at home last week, clinching their historic 10th consecutive post-season win.

it was a good run.

But it's just a game. And far better - and more important - things happened last night.

Like the fact that I became an uncle. Happy birthday Jacob!

And, in an unrelated event, Ross became a dad.

Mazel Tov all around!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Brady's Bunch

Patriots at Denver:

John Elway retired instead of going for a third consecutive Super Bowl victory. His former team now can prevent Tom Brady from having a shot at it.

Brady tries to build his legend in the city where Elway became one, looking to lift the New England Patriots one step closer to making NFL history when they visit the Denver Broncos in an AFC divisional playoff game.

New England enters with an NFL-record, 10-game playoff winning streak under coach Bill Belichick, including winning three of the past four Super Bowls. Last season, the Patriots became the first back-to-back NFL champions since Elway and the Broncos in 1998.

No team has won three consecutive Super Bowls.

Emphasis mine.

Tom Brady is 10-0 in his first ten post-season starts, another NFL record.

We're not greedy. But the first ever Super Bowl three-peat would be nice to round out the other lone records Belichick's boys hold.

Go Pats.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Holy 40th Anniversary!

Happy 40th Anniversary, old chum.

It was 40 years ago today that the Batman TV show debuted. Over a decade later, a young Benari discovered the campy brilliance that was this show.

In the early 80s, my father once interviewed Adam West for his radio show. I must have been about 4 or 5 years old, maybe even younger. At the end of the interview, I had the distinct pleasure of hearing Adam West wish me well, reminding me:

"Remember to eat your vegetables, Benari!"

That was pretty cool.

The goddamn Batman.

To honor this milestone, McSweeney's analysis of the Batman theme song.

Forceful and at the same time plainly stated, we here are shown Batman in full, unvarnished truth. Full of aspiration, yet subject to the pitfalls of mortal life, Batman simply is.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Dalton says:

"All you have to do is follow three simple rules. One, never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected."

"Two, take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it's absolutely necessary."

"And three, be nice."

"...I want you to be nice until it's time to not be nice."

Monday, January 09, 2006

ASB&R:TBW # 3: Are we there yet?

Okay. I might be the ONLY comic geek on the planet who has no strong feelings one way or the other regarding Frank Miller's All-Star Batman & Robin: The Boy Wonder. I don't think it's horrible and awful, nor do I think it's amazingly hilarious and wonderful. It's just sort of a comic book that's sort of fun to read.

I'll let others debate the merits of repeating the phrase "love chunks" 25 times or whether or not we're in on the "joke" or the butt of the "joke"...nor will I try to mind-read Miller's intentions and declare others to be complete morons for not getting it (whatever "it" might be). All I know is, Frank Miller has stated that this is kind of his Robin: Year One.

We're at issue three now. By the third issue of Batman: Year One, we had been introduced to Bruce Wayne, Alfred, Selina Kyle, Jim Gordon, Sarah Essen, and many others. We learned about Gordon's uphill battle against the corrupt Gotham police force, his impending fatherhood, and his shameful affair. We learned of Selina's beginnings as Catwoman. We learned of Bruce's parents' murder, his vow to fight crime and avenge their deaths, his dedication to justice, and several key events leading to him donning the bat outfit.

By issue three of Batman: Year One, Bruce Wayne had botched his first mission, learned from his mistakes, crafted a reckless and carefree playboy persona for Bruce Wayne as well as the shadow-y mythos of the Batman. He had taken on Gotham's corrupt officials, created alibis, and begun forging a friendship with Jim Gordon. In the third issue, Batman makes a spectacular escape from the swat team and he even saves a cat.

In only four issues of Batman: Year One, Miller created a definitive origin of the Dark Knight. He deftly and concisely intertwined the disparate stories of James Gordon and Bruce Wayne, clearly defined their characters and provided copious amounts of outstanding comic book goodness, complete with quiet introspection and loud 'splosions. Not too shabby for a comic book.

Now, as I said, All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder is on issue number 3. I won't make an issue-by-issue comparison of the two works because that's not fair and this isn't a "Miller's old stuff is better" argument. But it's issue three and Batman and Dick Grayson (he's not even Robin yet) are still sitting in the Batmobile.

And, having read the issue in question, I just have one request:

Will the goddamn Batman PLEASE get out of the goddamn batmobile and do some goddamn thing already?!

Thank you.

Me versus the machines

I refuse to be bested by a machine.

So, there's this website:
Guess the Dictator and/or Television Sit-Com Character

Here are the rules: Pretend to be a dictator or television sitcom character. I'll try to guess who you are by asking simple yes/no questions. If you're not sure of the answer to a question, answer "No". If you forgot who you were pretending to be, go take a nap, you're obviously under too much stress. Also, drink plenty of fluids.

I tried a few different ones, testing the waters, before I got clever. Guess after guess, it was getting them right. It even got Tootie.

It easily guessed Ralph Hinkley from The Greatest American Hero. Then I got a sneaky. I chose an obscure character who suddenly disappeared from tv without ever being mentioned again. Tricky. Or so I thought.

I win again! You are player number 12 to have chosen Chuck from Happy Days. I knew you were Chuck from Happy Days from the start, but I strung you along for a while to make it seem more sporting. I hope that one day you will overcome the powerful sense of humiliation that you now feel. Until then, good luck.

Chuck, Richie Cunningham's older brother who one day walked out the front door to play basketball, never to be seen or heard from again.

This thing was good.

But finally, FINALLY, I stumped it.

Captain Christopher Pike. It didn't know good ol' Captain Pike.

You won this time, puny mortal! And I fail again. I guess my parents were right, I'll always be a failure. I guess it's time to start looking for a new job.

Ha HA! Stupid machine.

This has been the highlight of my day. sigh.


Back from yet another Battle Assembly - that's what they call drill weekends now: Battle Assembly. Or BA. Pronounced "Bah" - at least, that's how I say it. So, playing Army is done for January. Yay.

But that's not why I called you all here today.

Every morning, on my way to the Reserve Center, I grabbed a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee. I would grab a cup in the afternoon as well, on the way home. Because Dunkin Dounts had what I used to think was the best coffee on earth.

I looooove coffee. In fact, right now - as I type these very words - I am drinking freshly-brewed coffee from a giant Superman mug. It's enormous, three cups worth. If you ever visit my folks, there are always endless pots of coffee brewing in the kitchen. It's heavenly. In college, I worked at a coffee shop - first on campus and then in its main Newton shop. I was, what is pretentiously referred to as, a barista. I can appreciate a fresh cup of exceptionally rich and flavorful Guatemalan Huehuetenango or the mild body of a Dominican coffee...but there was just something special about a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee. Maybe it's the simple elegance or its working class roots. Maybe they put crack in it. I don't know. All I know is, if I see a Dunkin Donuts and I don't have a cup of coffee in my hand...

Anyway, this past weekend, I stopped at no less than 5 different Dunkin Donuts chains and helped myself to a heapin' brew of their famous coffee. Usually, a medium Hazelnut with cream and sugar. And I have a message for the fine folks who make the important decisions: please make the coffee like you used to make it!!!

5 different cups o' joe and 5 different reactions. Two cups were old and stale-tasting, downright burnt and excessively bitter - what I expect Joan Crawford must have tasted like in her later years.

One cup carried an overwhelmingly chemical taste - I assume it came from whatever they were masquerading as their "hazelnut flavor shot." I think it was Windex.

One cup was far too bland, tasting nothing like the rich, smooth coffee I have come to expect from the Double D.

One cup, thankfully, was juuuust right and restored my faith in humanity.

A perfectly poured cup of fresh-brewed Dunkin Donuts coffee stokes the embers of hope that one day Dunkin Dounts coffee will retain its high quality in every chain, in every store across this great country of ours, bringing joy and caffeine to everybody, everywhere.

After pondering it some more, I realize what it is that makes a good Dunkin Donuts cup of joe. It's not simply the beans or the flavor shots or the minimum wage workers who may or may not spit in every third cup of coffee ... no. That special ingredient that makes Dunkin Donuts coffee so good is love. And when that love is missing, that coffee becomes just another scalding hot puddle of sludge in a styrofoam cup, burning the taste from your tongue and the joy from your soul. So step it up a bit, Dunkin Donuts coffee makers. Don't let the hard bean-picking work of those migrant workers go in vain! Make every cup of Dunkin Dounts' coffee the best damn cup of coffee in the world!

...because I have $1.86 left on my Dunkin Donuts gift card and I could really use a good cup of coffee right about now...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Wrath of Kong

Go see it. On the big screen. I mean:

Who DOESN'T want to see a giant ape battle a T-Rex? On the big screen. Even Pinkos wanna see THAT.

And Kong battles THREE of 'em! How Baroque.

Peter Jackson has crafted what is, in my screenwriting student opinion, a modern epic tragedy. If I may indulge in my grad school nerdery for a moment: in Ancient Greek tragedy, the audience members all knew the stories presented on stage. Part of what made the tragedies tragic was that everyone knew HOW the story ended; what they were witnessing in the tragedies were the choices that led to the inevitable outcome. In Peter Jackson's King Kong, he takes a modern American myth (that of 1933's King Kong), fleshes out the familiar story and truly captures Kong's tragedy. When he leaps to Ann Darrow's defense in the savage jungle of Skull Island, the audience cheers. When he beats his chest in triumph after brutally slaying prehistoric creatures, the audience roars with approval. When Kong sits shackled, pathetic and humiliated in chains on the Broadway stage, the audience pities him. And when he grasps Anne in his paw and makes his way fatefully through the streets of New York City, the Empire State Building looming ominously in the distance, the audience shudders with recognition of the inevitable tragic outcome. We know how the story ends.

As Kong sits quietly atop the gleaming skyscraper, admiring the majesty and beauty of the Big Apple with Ann by his side, we shake our heads in anticipation of what's to come. The familiar buzzing of the bi-planes alerts us of the final danger and as they zoom around the corner of the Empire State Building, we know we're witnessing Kong's last stand against civilization.

Epic. Tragedy. Starring a giant monkey.

It's the ultimate GUY Chick-Flick. Kong should never have left the island, where he was king. But, alas, he lets his love for the blonde lead him to disaster. Poor dude gets himself killed over a pretty lady. As Denham so succinctly puts it: "It was beauty killed the beast."

You can tell a lot of love and care went into making this movie. BUT. I still prefer the original.


Yeah, you read that right. This new Kong has some flaws (didn't need that much backstory for EVERY minor character), but it's an excellent film. But it's missing that one essential: the re-watchability factor. As beautiful as it is, I don't think the new Kong will be all that re-watchable. Oh, sure. Some parts will be re-watchable - they could probably put out a special DVD called "Kong fights dinosaurs, plays with Naomi Watts on the ice and then gets shot by planes atop the Empire State Building" - but overall, it's one of those films where once you see it, you've seen it.

Whereas I could watch the original over and over and over again. In fact, my sister got me the special edition King Kong DVD and I've already watched it a bunch of times. For all it's goofiness and dated content, the original still holds up. Its concise script, its brisk pace and sharp characters make the original a classic. Plus, the jerky, stop-motion claymation Kong carries a certain charm - it has an unreality about it that makes it almost more believable. In the original, Kong is neither man nor monster. It's THAT kind of unreal look that captured my imagination as a kid and still excites me today. In the new one, he's literally a giant gorilla. Kong is almost too realistic looking in Jackson's King Kong, which somehow takes away from the fantastic element that made the original so unique. The original has a quaint feel of making magic, whereas the new one just looks like slick CGI.

Also, Jackson's movie really focuses on the love between Ann and Kong, which is beautiful and lovely and sweet. But it lacks sexual chemistry. I know that sounds weird, but we're talking King Kong here. The original was ALL about sexual tension, a giant beast lusting after the beautiful blonde bombshell. There's no sex in Jackson's movie; it lacks the intensity that only sex provides, and because of that, Kong's relationship with Ann is sweet and tender without being passionate.

So, in conclusion, you should all see the new King Kong on the big screen. It's epic and beautiful... but you really only need to see it once.

Then, watch the original a few times and remember that movies can also be fun.

Plus, Fay Wray was hot.

Nothing to say, but it's okay...

Hm. So far, 2006 doesn't seem to be off to the best start.

Let's, uh, let's get to work on that.

Monday, January 02, 2006

another year older...

When I started this blog thing a year ago, I made some New year's resolutions. Let's see how I did.

1. I resolve to do something important this year.

Check. I think. maybe. No, definitely, I did something important this year.

2. I resolve to kiss a pretty girl this year, for no other reason than I find her to be pretty.


3. I resolve to make someone laugh this year.


4. I resolve to do something surprising.

Check. Hello, grad school.

5. I resolve to come up with better resolutions next year.

Hmmm...not so much. I'll have to work on that one for next year.

New resolution:

I resolve to continue taking chances.

And I will try to not feel silly for having a blog.