Thursday, January 29, 2009

For What It's Worth

I suppose only a few people will get this but I've been wanting do this for a while. Anyone who read the Projo's Bill Reynolds every Saturday morning will appreciate the urge I had to write this.

Basically, Zach might be the only person to find this remotely entertaining. Enjoy!

For What It's Worth ...

By Bill "Bunky" Reynolds

The Friars are having a good season, but they can turn that good season into a memorable one against powerhouse UConn.

A win over Syracuse is nice. A win over UConn is sublime. For the Friars can put the proverbial foot down and declare themselves to the nation, a little snowball gaining steam as it rolls down a cold mountain.

The Huskies have only one loss and players that we'll see in the NBA in subsequent years. That won't matter in Connecticut.

It won't matter if Providence can stake their claim and pull of the upset.

-- So much for that Joe Torre Yankeeography, huh?

-- I still don't get the appeal of Ryan Seacrest.

-- Seriously, a 9-7 team in the Super Bowl? Wake me up when it's over.

-- You know it's a strange world, Bunky, when companies will shell out millions for 30 seconds of airtime Sunday but lay off thousands of their employees.

-- Kids these days love their iPods. Count me in the Walkman camp.

-- Quiz of the Week: Brown will have two players in the Pro Bowl next week. Can you name them?

-- Jason Varitek needs to suck it up.

-- So does Rod Blagojevich.

-- There's no truth to the rumor that "The Dark Knight" was really about Providence city councilor Ganucci Donatello.

-- Or that this hellacious winter will ever end.

-- Line of the Week comes from former PC coach Pete Gillen on Dick Vitale: "I asked him which team would win the Super Bowl and he said, 'Duke.' "

-- "Casablanca" is a solid movie with some good lines.

-- Set in Tiverton, the new mystery novel "Run of the Mill" by Pawtucket writer Flanigan O'Leary is a page-turner.

-- Cuba Gooding Jr.'s career peaked in "Jerry Maguire."

-- Don't look now, but Eddie House is carrying the Celtics' bench. He can't miss from the behind the arc anymore. Stay in New York, Stephon.

-- You know the end of the world is upon us when more people vote for American Idol than a presidential election.

-- Good tidings to Luke DeLuca, the assistant junior varsity girl's volleyball coach at Salve Regina, who retired last week. They won three Division 45 district divisional regional semifinal titles during his stay. A good 25 years, Luke. And a better 25 more, hopefully.

-- Athletes are paid way too much money these days.

-- As if you didn't get the message when Manny Ramirez considered $50 million an insult.

-- Or when Varitek, an aging catcher who can't bat his weight and can't throw out base-stealers, looks down at $5 million a year.

-- Can someone insult me with $50 million, by the way?

-- There's no truth to the rumor that the Stimulus Bill is aimed at Tony Allen's career.

-- You know it's a strange world, Bunky, when more kids play with the computer than read books.

-- Whatever happened to the penny candy store?

-- Is it me or is TV more violent and sexually suggestive these days?

-- Teenagers get more exercise on the Wii than they do outside.

-- And we wonder why we all look like blimps.

-- Quiz answer: Sean Morey from the Arizona Cardinals and Zach DeOssie of the New York Giants.

-- Good luck on Sunday, Sean. Rhode Island will be rooting for you.

-- If we haven't frozen to death by then.

-- I would go to many places, Bunky, before you'd catch me at a Jonas Brothers concert.

-- The Patriots will be better with Tom Brady next year.

-- What he did was wrong and he deserved to be impeached, but I have to admire Blagojevich's pluck.

-- And his hair.

-- In fact, Blagojevich's hair was so bad on TV the other morning, I expected Bruce Sundlun to shoot him.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Richard Nixon resonates in history as one of the more fascinating presidents in American history. Loathed, hopefully never repeated, but still fascinating.

Parts paranoid, self-loathing, brilliant, maniacal and most of all bent on vengeance and defeating all enemies real or imagined, his enormous shadow still hangs over our politics. Just not as dark as it used to be. With Barack Obama's victory, the Nixonian dynamics of "hippie draft dodger vs. quiet, upstanding Americans" is quietly dying away. Republican or conservative voters can't play the law and order card anymore (hello, torture and illegal wiretapping) and the liberal/progressive/Democratic voters are breaking free of the stereotype of the stringy-haired, jobless radicals. There's a new dynamic and a changing, younger, more diverse voting bloc in America now.

This long preamble comes from my visit to the local theater to see Frost/Nixon, which depicts the famous interview the then-recently resigned president gave to the Ryan Seacrest of his time, a British TV host named David Frost.

Frost steps out on a flimsy limb, financially and career-wise, to pay around 2 million to score the sit-down. Actually, it's more like a face-off. Nixon seeks to rehab his image while Frost aims to give Nixon the trial he never got, and if all goes to plan, draw out a confession.

I can't find anything wrong with this movie. The direction, the writing, the plot and the acting all work to near perfection. The standout aspect is without a doubt Frank Langella as Nixon. He doesn't look like Nixon. He's in the ballpark with the voice. He just NAILS the characterization. A wounded, bitter man who still wants to believe he did what he had to do but knows somewhere in the corner of his conscious that he broke the law and damaged the presidency irreparably.

He lumbers around his beautiful California villa with some loyal staff, recounting tales of Mao and Brezhnev like a lovable grandfather. Langella draws every ounce of humanity from a man who was and still is a symbol for the dangers of unchecked executive power. Born poor and neglected, Nixon always needed something to prove and always needed someone to defeat.

They released this movie at a great time, as another president sulks out of the White House in utter disgrace, his name all but a profanity to three-quarters of this nation. Unlike Nixon, I never get the sense George Bush feels conflicted about his actions as president. There was a very public dark side Nixon could never hide, the battle between good and evil raged on his face. Evil won more often that not. But at least there was a fight.

Does Bush go through that battle when he's not in front of the cameras? I've yet to see it. All we get is that blank, smug look of satisfaction, of willful ignorance and delusion. I couldn't help but make the comparison as the movie reached its conclusion. It will bounce around in my mind for a while.

Seperate from current events, the movie is worth the watch. It's suspenseful enough and it's a more efficient character study than Oliver Stone's Nixon. Langella just has the perfect face to portray the man, worn down by decades of built up anger and vendettas.

And maybe in 20 or 30 years, Ryan Seacrest will score an interview with George W. Bush and we'll get our confession and Bush will get his trial. Then someone can make Seacrest/Bush.

If so, I hope it's half as good as Frost/Nixon.

****1/2 (out of *****)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Steve's Peeves: The Agents of Intolerance

Now that we have a black president, there's only one more civil rights case left for this country to tackle. The one facing white men in this country, a long persecuted group. We get the blame for all the wars, the messed up economy, the corruption, George Bush and David Spade. But that's not the worst of it.

We can't even drink what we want now. We never could.
My roommate recently told me a story about a wedding he attended recently. He enjoyed a Michelob Ultra and guess what? He got shit for it. They called it a "girlie drink." They questioned his manhood. I empathized. I've been under this fire as well from certain Agents of Intolerance.

It is true, I've been known to enjoy a margarita. They taste good and I do not apologize for it. I even enjoy the taste of hard lemonade. I've never tried an apple martini, but I bet it pleasures the taste buds. For this, I've been ceaselessly attacked by gangs of frothing fundamentalists who would deny my right to drink what I want.

These Agents of Intolerance would have us men drink nothing but Budweiser, Coors, Miller, Pure Piss and Speckled Hen. Sam Adams is a "manly" brew and I like it. The others, I could take them or leave them. In the case of Speckled Hen, I prefer to just leave them. Heck, even Sam Adams has a Cherry Wheat beer I like. Is that girly? Should I hand over my man card?
I know you are nodding the nod of injustice. So I see how it is. Girls can drink regular beer and therefore be cool. They can also drink the tasty drinks, have guys pay for them, and enjoy them as well. Meanwhile, hardworking Steve the Blogger goes to the bar to order a drink that won't get his ass kicked. The bartender will nod at my order, pick up a glass, go out into a back alley and drag the cup through a puddle of dirty, moldy water full of cat piss and spit. The bartender will bring it to me and charge 8 bucks for it.

If I'm going to fork over my hard-earned money, I think I should enjoy the taste. There are forces in our society who would deny me this right. I ask you: Is this fair? Does this live up to our ideals as a nation? It does not and it really grinds my gears.

Who will be the Martin Luther King of this movement? Who will stand up for what's right? Maybe I'll do it ... after 24's season ends of course. One thing at a time, people.

And for the Agents of Intolerance (you know who you are), you are on notice, Stephen Colbert-style. If you ever criticize or confront me with your puerile prejudices again, I will fight you. I don't care if you are male or female.

That would be the manly thing to do.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Heat and Hooters

I figured sooner or later I'd have to see the Miami Heat and when the Boston Celtics came to town I had the perfect chance.

So the roommate - who being a UConn fan can root for Ray Allen - and I drove to American Airlines Arena in Miami on Wednesday night. The directions the website gave me sucked, but luckily, I was familiar with the area.

We paid a hefty sum to park at the arena and started walking around. Not five minutes later, we walked to the Bayside area and found a parking lot that was half the price. Cue the "wah-wah-wahhhhh" sound. Live and learn.

From there, I embarked on my first trip to a Hooters. Yeah, it had to happen sometime. The food was not what I'd call fine cuisine. Apparently, and this shocked me, all the waitresses were heavily made up girls with very, very short shorts. On that night, it happened to be 50 degrees in Florida, which is "freezing" for these sissies. This meant a profligate amount of sweatshirts on the waitresses.

No hooters in Hooters. It's like going to Disney World only to find your favorite ride happens to be closed.
There were plenty of Celtics hats and Pierce jerseys at Hooters and even more in the arena. I'd say a good 25 percent. Unsurprisingly, the Heat fans were dead from the start. I enjoyed the introductions for their players with the dancers in ties and instruments, like the big drums in that Drumline movie.

Before many of the fans took their seats, the Celtics were up 8-2. It would only get better. Eddie House started draining every shot he took in the second quarter and Ray Allen had his shot working as well. Even Brian Scalabrine played some tough defense on Michael Beasley. Anytime the Heat strung a few points together and the crowd grew louder, the Celtics would hit a big jumper to quiet everyone down. The Heat never trailed by less than double-digits from the middle of the first quarter.

This also accounted for my first Dwyane Wade experience and I wasn't too impressed. He walked around the court (when he didn't have the ball) like he was constipated. He might be still feeling the effects of last year's injury, but it struck me how old he looked and he's still in his 20's. Shawn Marion also sucked, blowing a wide-open dunk and then sitting the rest of the game. And I never got the chance to boo Mark Blount. I still hate his guts after all these years.

Fortunately, I spotted a big photo of Mark Blount in a Men in Black pose while I exited and gave it the finger. Steve 1, Blount 0.

The only annoying part? And this goes to all the NBA games I've seen, but the constant sound drives me insane. Any time the Heat had the ball on offense the speakers blared "Clap-clap clap your hands!" No one did. Is it too much to watch the game in peace, at least a few parts? Am I puppy that needs to be trained?

Nonetheless, I had a good time watching the Celtics win and avoiding traffic afterward. I just have one question. I guess it's rhetorical. Here it is: Am I too old to eat cotton candy? Is there an age limit? I hope not because I love me some cotton candy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A List You'll Never Find on VH1

I’m about to get very nerdy with you. Hide the children.

I am an aficionado of TV theme songs. A good show can be a classic with a solid opening tune. A bad show can be memorable with just the right notes. The following is a Top 12 list of my favorite television theme songs from my childhood, ranging from the late 80s or so to the mid-90’s.

12. Animaniacs I always loved Pinky and the Brain. I did not realize until much later that the Brain was modeled after Orson Welles. Damn kids. The song is funny and it even gave us kids some pop culture jokes we had no chance of understanding.

11. Growing Pains A pretty little song, nostalgic but also uplifting. It really shows you the importance of family. I'm tearing up just writing about it.

10. Tiny Toons We’re tiny. We’re toony. We’re all a little loony. And in this cartoony, we’re invading your TV! If you can’t smile when you hear this song, move to Russia. I can’t tell you much about the show. Did Babs and Buster ever act on their sexual tension? Whatever. The song is fun. Look at the length of these songs, too. Nowadays, you’re lucky to get five notes before erection pill commercials.

9. Beverly Hills 90210 The opening bars! Bam! Then you have Tori Spelling in tights and Jason Priestley’s wavy hair. Don’t forget the Four Musketeers thing they do where they all put their hands together right at the beginning. Just classic all around. I lived with three teenage sisters, so I saw a lot of this show. It was watchable.

Also, if I could play electric guitar, I’d bust out this tune everywhere. And I’d be really, really cool.

8. Hang Time This show taught me all I needed to know about basketball. You had the pretty female sharp-shooter. You had Anthony Anderson swishing threes like Ray Allen. Last but not least, you have the basketball court the size of a beer pong table. Man, I watched some stupid shows back then. At least I’ll always have me and my friends at Hang Time …. HANG TIME!

7. Saved By The Bell This show raised me. Laugh all you want. I learned all I needed to know from Mr. Belding and his zany, terribly dressed students who never had to do any work and could hang around the hallways for 20 minutes at a time. Listen to the rad guitar solo. Jimmy Page, eat your heart out! The theme is great and I always wish this played in the background when I rushed to school in my 1988 Toyota Tercel.

6. Darkwing Duck When there’s trouble, you call DW. For some reason, poor Darkwing Duck never received as much credit as Spiderman, Superman and all those other punks. Maybe it’s because he wore purple. What he will always have in the history books over the other superheroes is a memorable tune to which he can kick ass for eternity. When he says, “Let’s get dangerous” I have to chuckle. C’mon, the song is funky. Backup chorus. Baritone. They spared no expense.

I was Darkwing Duck for Halloween once.

5. Full House Perhaps the cheesiest show of all time, but maybe the most memorable of the schlock from the mid 90s. Many of these actors and actresses would not disappear like their colleagues. The song fit the show well and the chorus is definitely tough get out of my head.

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I devoured everything Ninja Turtles as a kid, from the movies to the technodromes to the lunchboxes and the video games. The first one for Nintendo still gives me nightmares. It was impossible to beat! Anyway, the song gives the viewer a nice background on the characters and sets up the story very well. What else could you possibly ask for? They even throw some random spoken word for you.

3. Inspector Gadget The opening notes to this one deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. John Lennon would wish he wrote this song. It rivals Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. At about the 36-second mark in this clip, you will hear musical perfection. Again, the particulars of the show escape me, except for Dr. Claw of course, but I can hum this song on demand 20 years later.

2. Duck Tales It sounds like the same guy is singing some of these tunes. If he is, I must know his name! He’d be my new Eddie Vedder. I dare you not to sing along to this song. Remember the video game? You had to climb Scrooge McDuck up this totem pole thing against some other villain. My memories are very vague, I just know I beat the game and was very proud of myself. Whoever wrote this eternally catchy song should feel the same way.

1. Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers What a strange show by the way. High-pitched chipmunks team with two mice and some fly thing to battle a cat. The song, however, is far from strange. The “ and Dale, Rescue Rangers!” part is available in my brain at any time. After hearing this song, I want to take on Fat Cat myself.

The song starts with a brooding beat, accompanied by lightning crashes and police sirens. Then it slowly builds to a crescendo and never looks back. I have this song on my iPod. I want to create the chipmunk dance to honor this piece of artistic glory. Case closed, people.

The show lasted only a couple of years, but this tune will last forever in that certain part of the brain that stores these songs and replays them in my head at random times. Thank you, Rescue Rangers.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Liberation Day

This hasn't been a dictatorship the past eight years. George Bush was 'elected' twice, but it feels like we, the American people, are being freed. A man ruled us without our will and without our popular support for at least the past two years. We've been waiting and waiting for some real leadership and it is finally -- FINALLY -- here.

There's no use going through all the transgressions and sorting through the rubble the Bush administration will leave at our door at noon today. Those morons have left a huge, frat party mess for us and you can read all about anywhere you want. I'm just glad someone is finally here to clean up.

I'm not sure whether to happier about Bush leaving or Barack Obama coming in. Way back when he gave that convention speech in Boston, I started following this guy, seeing if he would actually run for the White House. Yeah, just after one speech. It was that good. Sometimes you can just tell with a person. He oozed something that night. "I'm not like any politician you've ever seen." The fact that he'll be the leader of the free (and not so free) world still amazes me.

I'm also amazed at the jubilee most of this country is feeling these days. Americans feeling happy and hopeful despite all that awaits us, the whole buffet of shitstorms and quagmires ... it's something to behold. I see a lot of people bemoaning this. It's fine for people to take the streets after a sports team wins a championship. It's fine for thousands to attend a concert, but for an inauguration?

"Stop the hero worship!" they say.

It's not hero worship. It's competent leader worship. The same people who foisted a nearly illiterate rich boy and his roving gang of cronies on this country can't complain now. They were wrong about everything this decade and frankly, I think they should shut up for a while. We're happy because now we can watch the president on TV and believe we're hearing the truth ... in full English sentences. We can believe that our government will respect the simple things, like facts and science. We can believe that they actually have policies and not every move is designed to win a few hundred votes from NASCAR dads in Ohio.

Call me an Obama fan boy. You can even call me a liberal. I voted against George Bush twice and I supported Barack Obama. Those weren't always 'properly American' in many eyes, but I will be proud of those things for as long as I live. Being a fan boy is a small price to pay.

So if some of us act a bit happy, they should understand. We need something to believe in. Who will it be? Tim Tebow? The Jonas Brothers? I don't think so. How about the president? Sounds good.

And it's not that we want Barack Obama to succeed. Or that we'd like him to succeed. We need him to succeed. And I think he will. He won't be perfect. He'll piss many people off, but he'll be way, way better than his successor. And for now, that's the most important thing. There's just no other choice but to succeed. We certainly can't afford to fail. George Bush has brought us to that brink. Realigning America FDR style can wait a week or two, for me anyway. The clean up is the first task.

In the meantime, at least I know I've got a president who I know is ten times smarter than me. And I'll never have to listen to or care about what Bush and Dick Cheney think or say ever, ever, ever again.

So excuse me if I feel a bit liberated today.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Steve Sears vs. Hugh B. Bain Middle School

Your Honor, Ladies and Gentleman of the Jury, I present to your the case of Steve Sears v. Hugh B. Bain Middle School

Charges: Hard Times at Cranston Junior High and Why It Might Not Be Cool To Bring Star Wars Toys to School

(Pretend I'm Jack McCoy for the rest of this)

Life is like high school? Well, I can handle that. I was many things in high school (Cranston East, fools!), like the useless cog of the computer team, the star handball player during gym, the quiet kid you hope didn't follow you home, and of course, the English Award winner.

So if life is like that, sign me up!

If life is like middle school, then give me a bunker and all six seasons of 24 and just leave me alone.

The case against Mr. Bain and his cronies is simple, folks.

1. Stand under the clock: I don't remember the food. I was a young teen and I would have eaten almost anything. Stale pizza cooked under a small lamp? Delicious. The time after lunch ... a different story. For no reason whatsoever, the school authorities, who got their jollies for punishing kids, would stop lunch five minutes before it actually ended and make you sit there in silence.

Yes, we'd just sit there in silence. Those five minutes seemed liked 20 to me as the assistant principles strolled all around just looking for someone to punish. If you laughed, if you did anything, they made you stand under the lunchroom clock. Was this a metaphor of some kind? Did it symbolize that anyone who talked during silent time after lunch had little time remaining on this earth? Those questions only occur to me know as I look back at the sheer idiocy and the absolute uselessness of that whole exercise.

I wonder if they still do that, by the way.

2. Divisions: Way back in kindergarten, I did something bad. I don't know what, but I had to do a "transitional" year at Woodridge elementary before moving on to first grade. That explains why I was always a year older than my classmates.

(So, yeah, that means Emily would be working at the Dover-Sherborn Gazette because she would not have had my expert tutelage. And Jeff would be re-enacting Rocky V in some dive bar in Albany with his gut hanging out of his wifebeater and a a torn Bengals hat on his mullet. And Zach would be sipping margaritas on a beach in Hawaii with time shares and a wallet packed with million dollar bills and native woman draped all over him because he would have transferred from Northeastern. So yeah, you're welcome guys.)

This crime I committed in kindergarten relegated me to second division many years later, I'm convinced. If my memory serves me well, they grouped most of my classes into divisions. Separate and unequal! Excuse my ego, but I was just as sharp as those Division 1 douchebags. But noooo ... poor little Steve Sears with his hair parted down the middle was a second-class citizen.

This meant that when it came time to recommend us for high school, I could not for the life of me get a teacher to say I would be able to handle AP classes at East. Even though I aced history, nope, college prep for me. I had to haggle (and I NEVER haggle) to get the teacher to recommend me for AP history.

I got an A in that class.

Of course, those CP classes in freshman year were ridiculously easy. Again, I don't say this to brag. I say this because I resent the fact those teachers had me convinced I could not handle tough classes at East. It ended up costing me a top 10 finish by senior year, too, though that's nothing big. It just cost me Harvard and a partnership at a high-powered New York law firm.

If those teachers could see me now, working weekends in Patriots t-shirts I've owned since the 90's and making "That's what she said" jokes at work, they'd eat their words, Ladies and Gentleman.

3. The kids: Me included. You've got 13, 14 or in my case, 29-year-old kids with hormones raging and Hang Time confusing them about the fundamentals of basketball, what can you expect. I was far from a little angel back then, but I'm pretty sure there were many little Satans running around.

I mean, for crying out loud were kids BAAAD back then. Attitude. Bullying. Fighting over the stupidest stuff imaginable. You were either an "altie" with a chain in your pocket or you were "hip hop" with a pimp roll. There was no in between. Of course, I didn't like music that much back then. If anything, I liked classical. I kept quiet about that. There were fights between these two groups. They'd fight over anything. And don't get me started on gender relations. I think Ted Bundy or Shredder would have had better luck with girls than I did.

I met many great people as well, some who I am still friends with to this day. It was just a bad, confusing time. Maybe some of those teachers and principles were right to be pricks.


In closing, Your Honor, middle school sucked worse than every movie Kate Hudson has done since Almost Famous. Puberty, pricks and more puberty made for a Gulag-type experience. And if it weren't for those divisions I would have a degree from Harvard or Yale right now! They tell little children that America is a land for justice and truth, well, Your Honor, justice and truth took a vacation during those two years.

When I drive by that school, a small shiver still slithers up my spine. Though I would go on to become the Lando Griffin of Cranston East, the hard times at Bain just weren't necessary. I mean, I received detention once because a teacher lost my homework! My lisp was a great cause of joy for a few mean little boys. Can justice ever be served in this case? Not unless they invent time travel. Until then, I will fight to make sure no kid has to suffer the same fate ever again.

I think writing this blog ... er giving this closing statement ... will do the trick, right?

At least there's one silver lining in this sordid mess. At least I didn't go to Park View. Yuck.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Racism is so funny

Can you ever go wrong with a Clint Eastwood movie?

I thought so.

With this in mind, I went to see Gran Torino and I was pleasantly surprised. A movie about a grizzled, racist old man who still lives in his old neighborhood that has seen white flight and an Asian invasion is one of the funniest I've seen in a while.

Should I feel bad that I laughed as Eastwood's character called his neighbors every Asian slur in the book? Maybe. But the neighbors gave back just as good and the back-and-forth is classic, even if it's just a cold look or an Eastwood growl. It's your typical fish-out-of-water comedic setting, except this move goes much deeper. The poor guy is so out of his element, but he'll still kick your ass if you give him any guff.

Eastwood's character, Walt Kowalski, is your typical gruff old man who grew up in the World War II/Korea generation and still lives in that time. I grew up with many men like him, they just weren't quite this racist. The beautiful thing about Walt is you learn to love the guy, especially considering his spoiled rotten grandchildren and his two yuppie sons.

Kowalski takes a sheepish, young Hmong teen under his wings and turns him into a man, giving the movie it's soul as the grizzled vet finds more in common with the new neighbors and their work ethic and respect than his own materialistic family.

But it all comes back to the black comedy. He's so over-the-top with his insults I just couldn't help but laugh. He reminded me of some uncles and other Greatest Generation types I saw at family gatherings with their gruff and always lovable distaste of current society.

I don't want to spoil the ending, but it was perfect. And I got something in my eye ...

I don't feel like writing a deep, Ebert-type review of the film, as you can tell. It just hit me in a way few movies have. Besides some sub-par acting on the part of the younger kids, it's pretty flawless.

Four stars.

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's been too long

May 2007.

The last time there was a new episode of 24 (not counting the prequel movie) was May 2006. That was my seventh month in Florida. Back then, Barack Obama was a hot-shot Senator without a shot at the White House. So it's been a long time. Way too long.

When the clock started beeping for the first episode of 24's seventh season, a calm came over me. We may be absolutely screwed with a terrible economy and more Middle Eastern wars, but everything was OK ... because Jack Bauer was back.


Jack is in Washington D.C. He's in a bad mood. He's alone in the world. Janeane Garafalo is there, too. She's nerdy. If you want more set-up details, go to

What I Liked:
1. The new setting. Being in D.C. instead of L.A. invigorates the show. I love seeing the Washington Monument, the Capitol building, etc. And besides, the terrorists had tried attacking L.A. for the past six years and Bauer kept killing them. They finally figured out that attacking a city where Jack Bauer is not located is a sound move. He'll find them anyway and exterminate them, but at least they get a few hours. It would take Jack at least 40 minutes to travel from Africa to Washington. Maybe 35 with a headwind.
2. Tony is back! I've always loved the character and the fact that he and Jack are working together, undercover as bad guys and being pursued by the FBI, is something I fully approve. Jack and Tony together just like old times. :::Tear::
3. The nerdy chick-off. At one point, Garafalo's character, Janis, and Chloe go at it like we all want girls to go at it ... by trying to outhack each other in the FBI Headquarter's security subnet! Hot. I forgot who won because the hot and sweaty action was enough for me.
4. FBI agent Renee Walker. She's a by-the-book suit who, after a taste of The Bauer, flirts with the dark side of "enhanced" interrogation techniques. She's very conflicted. It's also clear, like any straight female, she wants The Bauer in The Sack. I hope she still feels that way after Bauer put her in a sleeper hold. Do the females like that kinda thing? Either way, she's not tough to look at and she doesn't bore me. I approve.
5. Dueling plots. The African plot, the First Son's death plot and the main plot with Jack aren't connected yet, but it definitely seems they will connect in the future. No extraneous wedding plots. No Johnny Drama in the woods. No mentally disturbed children. Just plots that are interesting and serve the greater story.

What I didn't like
1. The 24 trap. They are going to the well for a 500th time with the moles, with the furtive looks around the office, with the socially awkward techies, with the "suspect dies right before he can reveal important info" move they've pulled off more than Patrick Ewing did the frog leap in the paint. I see them coming from a lightyear away.
2. New computer-bots. Not sure I like Janis or Entourage's Billy Walsh character yet. We've been there before with CTU. They know the most complicated of computer systems, but boy, do they find it hard to interact with other people! When will they ever learn, those loveable geeks?

Final verdict: A very solid start. I like where the show is headed. Tony, Bill, Chloe and Jack are back as a team and it warms my heart. It's great to have you back, 24!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


One of the main jokes around the office about me is that I might have a little crush on Patriots quarterback and American icon Tom Brady. Actually, they joke that it's more than a crush, that I'm Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and Brady is Michael Douglas.
Hey, I'm man enough to admit Tom Brady is a good-looking fellow. And he's the best QB in the NFL (when healthy). That does not mean I want to have sexual relations with him, but my co-workers think I do.

Accordingly, I came into work one day to find the following image on my desk. Give them credit, it's pretty funny. I share this because I think some of you will get a kick out of it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Steve's Peeves

Here's a new segment I'm revealing where I will rail against the small injustices of the world.

Does Steve's Peeves sound dirty? Perhaps. But it rhymes.

These have been annoying me quite a while. If you want to post on this blog, you have to type in some confirmation code. If you want to post a video on Facebook, the same thing pops up. They infest all corners of the Internet like rats at 90 Byner Street. It's usually a string of random letters grouped tightly together and they snake to and fro, making it tough for an elderly person like me.

I just want to post some witty comments. Why the hassle? Sure, there are useless, please-die-already douchebags who sit at their supercomputers just thinking of ways to hack into MySpace accounts or send stupid emails. Illegible confirmation codes won't stop them. The U.S. Army will. Ship these Cheetos-crunching morons to Gitmo and make this world free for open and convenient Internet use.

Or the powers that be could just make the codes ... you know ... ACTUAL WORDS.

Instead of this: ref 12pdokrewr4546)8g fgh
in some random snake formation in an ancient Mayan font that not even Blogger can provide, do something like this ... DESTINY ... or SALAMANDER or CIANCI. The English language has plenty of words, so use them!

It just really grinds my gears.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

There's a game tonight

Just forty minutes away from where I am sitting, a rather important college football game will be played. Oklahoma vs. Florida for the BCS national championship.

My place of employment is absolutely full of Gator fans. They're everywhere. But in my department, the atmosphere is decidedly anti-Florida for various reasons. (Some of my esteemed colleagues are Ohio State fans ...)

Many of them can't stand Tim Tebow. He's almost too perfect. Too media savvy. I have no strong feelings one way or the other besides the fact that I find it hilarious he circumcises little boys. I do know one thing: He's a great player. I think he'll show that again tonight in a virtual home game for the SEC champs.

I'm pulling for Oklahoma though. Don't ask me why. (They're fun to watch?) The Sooners' defense and special teams won't get it done, but they will score their share of points. Just not enough.

Expert prediction: Florida 35, Oklahoma 31

Rocco Comes Home

One of our own.

Good ol' Rocco Baldelli, famous for being a classmate to Z.C. Hosseini, is now on the Boston Red Sox. There's no doubt I am pleased with this development. A local boy on the local nine. Who doesn't love that?

He figures to be a fourth outfielder to sub in for J.D. Drew when Drew has his annual six week back strain injury. Baldelli himself has had his injury issues, but with a plentiful supply of nearby coffee milk and Dell's Lemonade, he should stay healthy and strong. I can tell you from first-hand experience that the lack of such Rhode Island delicacies is very tough on the body and soul.

Oh, they also signed future Hall of Famer John Smoltz, who is coming off major surgery. No one can predict what the Sox will get from him, but this signing is indicative of the Dan Duquette strategy Boston is employing this offseason.

The Dan Duquette strategy, you ask? The former GM of the Red Sox during the 90s always seemed to miss out on the big free-agent 'gets' so he ended up signing 'diamond in the rough' players. He signed an aging Brett Saberhagen whose shoulder was made of chicken wire and yarn by that point. He signed Steve Avery after the lefty's glory days had passed. He picked up Ramon Martinez, brother of Pedro, who I always feared would lose his right arm right on the mound.

But some of these players contributed to playoff teams. Duquette, for all his many faults, always seemed to find good players from the trash heap while their value was at their lowest. If he batted .500 with those acquisitions, he'd have taken it.

Flash forward to 2008 and the Sox have signed Brad Penny, John Smoltz and Rocco. All intriguing. They could contribute to an AL East title or they could become as useless as Julio Lugo. I'm not brave enough or smart enough to predict who will do what, but I do know one thing ...

The Red Sox should start selling Baldelli jerseys at the Warwick Mall as soon as possible.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Gospel According to Damages

I spread the gospel of good TV.

I've converted several people to 24, Lost, The Wire, 30 Rock and Brotherhood (a vastly underrated show). The word has to get out. Too many people watch the crap that MTV defecates on the airwaves with spoiled, thoroughly unlikable Orange County cyborgs while good shows go unnoticed.

So, bravely, I take the mantle for these shows, most of which suffer in the ratings department. 24 almost got canceled in its first season. Now it's a big hit -- because of me. Lost was huge right from the start, but the others still struggle. I've done what I can for them, and now I have another gospel to spread.

You should get the DVD just for the cover alone.

Maybe you've heard of this show. I've been pushing it for a year. Damages has star power, with Glenn Close and Ted Danson. It has legal intrigue, which is always a plus. What makes this show ultimately stand out is its brilliant plot and Glenn Close, who completely nails the character of ice cold litigator Patty Hewes. The first season's story unfolded like Lost, jumping back and forth in time. Unlike Lost, however, every question you have after the first episode is answered by the end. I won't go into what exactly happened lest I spoil anybody, but the show had me vacillating all the time on whether I hated or or empathized with Patty.

It was the best television show of 2008 -- and that's saying something. I watch a lot of episodic television. Too much, if you want to know the truth. This show beat them all. Granted, I'm a sucker for legal dramas, but this is more of a psychological drama. There may have been a total of 10 minutes spent in a courtroom in the entire first season. I mention this today because the second season starts on FX tonight. You could probably watch it without having seen the first season, but it would ruin many of the surprises. Frankly, I advise all three of you reading this to rent the DVD. Just do it. Follow my lead. You won't regret it.

Before I go, I'll provide you with the show's opening. I think it's very well done. You might recognize the song if you've even been to my MySpace page.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Just Another Blog

I'm always late to these things. It took me months to join Facebook, another year or two for MySpace, and I still don't have an iPhone. But now I have a blog.

And if this world needs something, it's more personal blogs.

In this space, you will not find a laundry list of what I happen to do on any particular day. I lead an uneventful, simple life in sunny South Florida as a copy editor for a huge media conglomerate with an emphasis on sports. But if something does happen to me - and it's not too embarrassing - then maybe I'll share it with you. Otherwise, prepare to read about what angers me or what TV shows you should watch or what the best Nintendo games of all time are. You know, the important stuff.

I figure I might as well conform sometimes. Some of my friends have blogs, like this one from a non-English Award winner or this relic from a scarf-wearing Euro wannabe. But it's time for the children to clean up their toys and go to bed, because an adult is here and he wants to cuss and drink margaritas.

I'm doing this because I should write more and MySpace wasn't cutting it for me. So I look forward to you habitually wasting your time reading this blog.