Monday, April 27, 2009

Add one to the list

This series between the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics has definitely been frustrating. The Celtics could easily be waiting for their second round opponent right now. Instead they're facing a Game 5 that figures to be a dog fight.

Missed free throws. Missed lay-ups. The return of the Doc Rivers defense. All these have raised my blood pressure a bit the past week.

(Let me explain what the Doc Rivers defense is. It's a strategy where the Celtics continually end up in a defensive matchup that overwhelmingly favors the opposition. Like Rajon Rondo defending Dwight Howard or Leon Powe covering Kobe Bryant. It returned in a big way Sunday when Big Baby Davis continually had to guard Derrick Rose off a pick on the perimeter. It happened several times with zero adjustments.)

With that said, the biggest, and most annoying development has been a new addition to the Most Hated Opposing Players list. Previous members include Paul O'Neill, Jorge Posada, Peyton Manning, Vlade Divac and Roger Clemens. It's time to induct a new member.

I had no problem with Joakim Noah before. I actually somewhat appreciated his game, or lackthereof. He's a hustle guy. Who doesn't like hustle? It's the bullshit preening and smug satisfaction he's been showing this whole series that irks me.

Let's get one thing straight, Joakim. You're dominating Glen Davis. You're beating Mikki Moore to rebounds. If Kevin Garnett were playing, you'd have a nice steak of yellow running down your legs after he dunks in your face and cuts the throat of a sheep right in front of your eyes and smears the blood on his face.

All the Bulls are guilty of this, but Noah is the worst. If KG were playing, the series would be over. It's not an excuse. It's a fact. The Yankees are better with A-Rod rather than Cody Ransom. The Pats are better with Tom Brady rather than Matt Cassel. What would happen to the Lakers if Kobe went down? And the Celtics are better when KG is playing, anchoring the interior defense, injecting the team with insane passion and making sure Davis doesn't shoot 18 shots a game.

So the fist pumping, the jumping jacks and the nauseating pony tail are beyond aggravating. It kills me to see Garnett in a suit on the bench while Noah and the Bulls act like they're one win from the Finals. It kills me not to hear Tommy Heinsohn tear these guys apart (and throw in a few jabs at the refs in the process). It kills me to hear some idiot on ESPN say the Bulls are more talented on paper. Really? The Celtics won 60 games. They have three sure-fire Hall of Famers and one of the most dynamic young point guards to come along in a generation. The Bulls have Rose, who is great, Gordon, who is hot and cold, and John Salmons, who has a neck beard.

It all kills me.

Congrats to Noah, though, for joining my elite list of hated athletes. It took you only four games, which is a record.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What's the matter with Texas?

What's the matter with Texas?

Texas are known to be an independent bunch. That's the root of their charm. But many have streaked right past quirky independence into Crazy Town, USA.

Actually, scratch that USA part.

Idiot Republican governor Rick Perry has sounded the bell on secession. As in seceding. From the union. Normally, Perry's ranting would fall into the radical right-wing trash can with Karl Rove's plan for a permanent Republican majority from 2004 and those "Rudy for President" signs.

Then a recent poll came out, asking Texans what they thought of leaving the United States of America. Sixty-one percent said they'd like to stay with Old Glory, thank you very much. Why is this number not 90 percent? Thirty-nine percent of that state believes Texas should be an independent nation or are waiting for further study. Let Glenn Beck dig into the facts before coming to a final decision.

Thirty-nine percent! Forty-eight percent of Republicans. For those deficient in math, that's nearly half! Hard to believe. This is crazier than Glenn Beck, who is clearly at a Buffalo Bill level of insanity at this point.

This is especially funny coming from a group of people -- not all Texans mind you -- who think they are more patriotic than everyone else. They love God, Family and Country. They're good Texans and better Americans. Unless, of course, their candidate or party happens to get its ass kicked. See November 4th, 2008. Then it's time collect the guns, board up the windows and wait for Rush's orders.

In the elementary school years, it's expected that a child, in a temper tantrum, would like to take his ball and go home. After a Capri Sun and some cartoons, the fit will have run its course. You would think that voting-age adults would be a bit more mature. Your party lost two straight elections. The other team is in charge now. And when that is the case, policies that you may disagree with will be enacted. You don't have to like it, but you have to accept it. That's called democracy.

Did California's governor threaten to secede when George Bush did (insert impeachable crime here)? No. And imagine what the blowhards on FoxNews would have done if a Democrat even whispered this sort of thing. Just imagine. And they would have been right. Such talk is, frankly, un-American.

More frankly, it's treason.

It would be an act against the government of the United States. It stands to reason that if every state decided on its own which laws it wanted to follow and which president it felt like honoring, then the United State would cease to exist as the nation it is today. The USA would resemble Bosnia-Herzegovina or Yugoslavia or whatever it's called now. Just a bunch of regions with loosely defined borders, rife with conflict

So to those in Texas and elsewhere who don't like Barack Obama and want to take their little nerf balls and run home, do you like being traitors? Does it feel good? You love to wave the flag at NASCAR events and boast of your superior sense of Americana. Well, do you want to scratch a few stars off that flag? Because that is what you support.

This country already fought a war to maintain its union of states. Remember? It was called the Civil War. Many in the south still haven't gotten over that one. The good guys won and they're still pissed centuries later. With a black guy in office, what could be a more perfect time to fight once again to dismantle this country?

Oh, by the way, you can forget those hefty defense contracts that pump millions into your state, Texas. And the military bases, too. You don't get to keep those. And waive goodbye to federal tax dollars from those same "coastal elites" you think are socialists because it's only socialism if you don't see the dollar bills. It's called free-market capitalism when you do. You could also lose college football. The NCAA might not look kindly on you.

And, without Texas' electoral votes, Republicans outside Texas would have a tough time getting elected. And you'd lose two reliable Senate seats and Al Franken and Rosie O'Donnell and George Soros would take over. You'd be completely surrounded. Like the Alamo.

Still want to secede?

It's only one poll. And one very stupid, patronizing governor of Texas. They sure know how to find them over there. It's also very galling and amazing. We're just about 100 days into Obama's administration and the hard-core Republicans are already losing their minds. The left was furious at George Bush in April, 2001. But no state threatend to leave. To all those in favor of such a drastic action, please, just go back to your Confederate bumper stickers and your Civil War re-enactments. Imagine you're in a world where the North lost that "war of aggression," slavery still exists and George Bush is the most popular president in history. That way, in Reality Land, America can still have 50 states, some more wacky than the others.

Because 50 is a nice, round number and it should stay that way.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Man cleavage?

I've seen variations of the above quite a few times lately, especially at the office. Men wearing dress shirts with the top buttons unbuttoned, revealing way too much of the chest. Maybe this is how cool, sexy men dress in South Florida. But it's lame.

Now, you may be thinking, "Steve, where do you get off making fun of someone else's fashion, with your Seinfeld jeans and your 1995 XL Red Sox t-shirts?"

To that, I say, "Screw yourself." The fact remains, this look sucks. And it just annoys me, like these guys are proud of their baby-bum smooth pectorals. And don't tell me it's because they're feeling warm because it was 50 degrees in my office building when I spotted two offenders.

I've been scavenging my brain for a term to describe this trend. Man-cleavage just doesn't sound right to me. Frankly, it sounds disturbing. Cleavage on women is good, clean fun. Cleavage on men is a slap in the face to nature and good taste. Any suggestions for terms? Help me out!

For the meantime, I shall use the term "douchebag."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

This is how we do it

I tend to associate songs with important and memorable moments of my life. Sweet About Me for the New Zealand trip. In My Life from my high school graduation. Toxicity from that New York trip, which Zach sang the ENTIRE time.

A few days back, I randomly heard Montell Jordan's This Is How We Do It (and quickly bought it on iTunes) and it brought me back to the sixth grade at Arlington Elementary School in Cranston.

Why that song? I'll get to that. Why am I writing about the sixth grade? Well, because I consider it the turning point in my life. 1994-1995. When the little boy Stevie became the person you know now ... me.

Some background: I acted out a bit as a kid, like most young boys. I was a late bloomer ... in everything. It took me a while to talk, to stop sucking my thumb. I did an extra year between kindergarten and first grade because the teachers didn't think I was ready. My teachers were pretty sure I'd be a mediocre student. I got into occasional trouble in grades 1 through 3 and calmed down a bit for grades 4 through five.

During these years, my best friend was a kid named Mike, who lived across the street from me. He was pretty much my polar opposite. He was great with girls. Always had girlfriends. He was outgoing, brash and a bit of a rebel and trouble-maker. We were an odd pair, but a good one. In some ways, I wish I had his type-A personality and maybe (and this is just me guessing) he wished that he could have been a better student like I was.

So we enter sixth grade in a portable classroom in the very, very large recess yard at Arlington. The kids in my grade were, to put it mildly, a bit rambunctious. All the other teachers disliked us or distrusted us. Besides myself, the Vietnamese twins I lived next to and a few others, the kids were Hall of Fame rabble-rousers.

We were so bad, the sixth grade teacher we started off with quit over the first or second weekend of the year. One Friday, she was there. The next Monday, there was someone else. We put the next substitute through hell. One day, we were so loud the third grade teacher (we shared the annex) barged in and yelled, "You're all acting like a bunch of wild Indians!"

We paused. Then a large portion of us mimicked the Indian yell by putting our palms to our mouths. It was a thing of beauty. I didn't yell, but I sure as hell laughed my ass off at the reaction. So picture us like the class in Dangerous Minds, sans the drugs and weapons.

Enter Michelle Pfeiffer. Or Holly Scripsack, as we knew her. She took over as our full-time teacher. Miss Scripsack would go on to become my favorite teacher ever. Elementary, high school, college, doesn't matter. She's my favorite teacher and I would bet a lot of money more than half of my sixth-grade classmates would say the same thing today.She's the sweetest, nicest woman you'll ever have the pleasure to meet. I truly mean this. So how did she tame our class?

It was simple, really. She took a personal interest in every single kid in our class. She wanted to understand what their home lives were like. She didn't care if you misbehaved before. She gave up on no one. When she had to discipline us, it was fair. And you felt that you had disappointed her, and since she was so nice and such a great teacher, you wouldn't want to do that again.

For the first time, I had a personal relationship with a teacher. I talked to her outside of school. I vented about issues at home. She encouraged my reading and writing. She loved that I was reading Michael Crichton books during recess and activity periods while the other kids were playing kickball or on the computer. I wrote my first serious short story that year, about a kid who falls off a ladder and cripples himself. (Yeah, it's corny now.) I saw her two years ago and she told me she still has it.

She also put me in charge of the school store. Yup, I was the Michael Scott of my class. We sold school supplies and candy and I always had to keep an eye out for thievery. It was important to be handed a responsibility like that and I took it seriously. She also encouraged us to get invovled in an after-school walking club to help raise money for leukemia research. After school we'd go to the track next to Bain and compete with each other over how much money we could raise. She'd walk with us and we'd talk about anything and everything.

Again, not to sound too corny, this was when I discovered myself. I could write. I could read. I was pretty smart. I was not very popular and sucked in social settings. I was also too meek and shy. But it was a big step just finding these things out. Mike was there for those walks, too. She played a similar role for him. Where many teachers would have seen a no-good troublemaker not worth their time, she saw a somewhat confused, good-at-heart kid whose intelligence went unnoticed by many. Today, he's serving in the National Guard and fixes helicopters.

It wasn't all fun and games for young Steve. (Cue the music.) Despite being friends with the most popular kid in the class, I was never in the "cool" crowd. This was the first time I really got a grasp of the social stratification of school and this was the first time I knew I'd never be in that crowd. I would always be on the outside.

There were also the requisite girl incidents, which popped up for the first time. That could be another Bill Simmons-esque 75,000-word blog post. Here's a couple of stories. One, Mike tried to set me up with one girl who was kind of fruity, but in a good way. She had wild, fritzy hair but I saw a cute girl beneath all that. (I'm good at that.) He asked her for me because obviously I was too scared. And obviously the answer was "no." Years later I heard that she had indeed turned into a very attractive girl. So at least I had the foresight.

Second, one night I told Mike about this one girl I liked on one condition ... he could not tell ANYBODY. So guess what happens the next day.


It was a bad day. I was pissed at him. And myself for telling him. I kept those sorts of feelings to myself from then on.

Despite the intermittent embarrassments, that mish-mash group of miscreant children had a bond. We were the rebels. The class everyone looked down upon. We fed off it, hence the school store and the walking for leukemia. The school held a talent show that year and we worked very, very hard to put on a good show, to prove them wrong. So we picked a dance routine to a No. 1 radio hit at the time ... This Is How We Do It.

Saying "we" is misleading. I really had no part. The cooler kids danced and directed. Others did some choreography and handled the sound and clothes. I just watched. When show time came, we impressed everybody. I don't remember if we won anything, or if there was anything to win, but I recall vividly all the practice they did in our class, how it brought everyone together. And how I heard that song about 50 times. Hence the connotation.

Most of our class would move on to Bain the next year. I still speak with Mike occasionally, but I have not kept in contact with almost all of those kids. I wonder where they ended up. A nice memento of our final days was our sixth grade yearbook. Mike's mother showed it to me two years ago. It was hilarious of course - the photos, the profiles. The cool kids constructed a page where they listed all the nicknames for us in an artsy manner. I didn't have a nickname so they gave me one.


Mike tried to tell me it was because my eyes were the shape of melons. Nice try, but I knew why. I wasn't stupid. It was because I had (still have) a big head. Melon-shaped in their opinion. And sure, it hurt, but I also smirked inside, knowing I would turn my superior intelligence into a job that would pay more money than they would ever see.

That didn't work out either.

And right on my page, with a picture of my face with weird teeth and bangs at my eyes, was a line that said "What I want to be when I grow up."

I wrote one word. "Author."

If any of my classmates ever see this (doubtful), my subsequent writings and personality were shaped from the good and bad from that year. The great friends. The mischief. The slights. The humiliations. The laughs. The fun. They all shaped me.

And if Miss Scripsack ever sees this, I still write. I do this motely blog and I find time to write when I'm not working. I copy edit for a sports website and it's a cool job. And, Miss Scripsack, maybe one day down the line, I will be an author. Who knows? If it happens, it's because of you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Candy Land

Easy question ... What's the greatest candy in the world?

Easy answer.

A chocolate egg filled with a deliciously gooey filling. It's creative, seasonally appropriate, always enticing at the check-out counter and very yummy.

Airheads, Snickers, Twix, chocolate cherry cordials and truffles can all stake a claim to the title of "Greatest Candy in the World," (especially cordials). But it's really not a contest.

It's the coffee milk of candy and should be widely available year-round, because we Americans need more healthy foods in our diets.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Losing My Religion

Be warned. Much of the following is a stream of consciousness rant from a very tired individual.

I hope my Mom doesn't read this.

I went to Catholic mass every week for most of my growing years. I did CCD. I went to retreats. I volunteered at the church. I've been confirmed. But as Easter Sunday passed with me getting up at 1 pm and heading to work two hours later, I had to wonder ... am I still Catholic?

Since I left Cranston for Northeastern in 2001, the amount of masses I've attended has steadily decreased year to year. I don't take Lent all that seriously anymore, though I still don't eat meat on Fridays. And I haven't been to confession in many, many years. Close to ten.

So am I still Catholic? Am I even religious? I still believe in God and Jesus, but a part of me wonders if I do because it was ingrained in me from a very early age. So this question has been buzzing in my head and deep in my conscience for most of the decade.

The drift started with my move to college and the lack of initiative to get up on Sunday mornings. Then many Catholic leaders, including the new pope, have continued to stake out stances on issues that I strongly disagree with. I don't object to their stance on abortion, but then to stigmatize Democrats for that while staying mum on Republicans who support the death penalty, don't care about world poverty and support wars irked me to no end.

The recent controversy involving Notre Dame and President Obama is a great example. George Bush spoke at the university without a peep when he was president even though he seemed to be in a race with his brother Jeb on who could execute more people and even though he started the Iraq war despite the previous pope's vehement objections. But invite Obama to speak and instant controversy erupts. They did the same to John Kerry, a Catholic himself, with even a bishop going so far to say he'd deny Kerry communion for his abortion stance. Do you ever hear them denying communion to death penalty advocates? Torture advocates? War advocates?

Then the continued backward slide into the Middle Ages with its stance on gay marriage annoyed me even more. Add to that a completely inexplicable - and frankly stupid - position on condoms and human sexuality and you have a Catholic church that refuses to move into the future -- a future of common sense. People have sex before marriage. Let it go. Gay people want to marry. No need to fight it to the death. I find it very tough to support an institution so backward in its thinking.

I recognize all the good work they do. I really do. But it's about time they joined the 21st century. Heck, I'd take the 19th century. Is there any reason whatsoever that women can't be priests? There is none. It's a shameful, shameful policy. Why can't priests marry? Some old men decided that hundreds of years ago. They decided these things long, long ago in a time much different than now, yet the Church sticks with them and it's strongly implied that if you don't agree, you're not a good Catholic. Remember, the pope is infallible. (Can I declare myself infallible?)

It's not just my Catholicism that has been weakened over the years. As the evangelical right rose to prominence this decade, Jesus was essentially converted into a Republican. People of "faith and values" tried to take this country to a dark, dark place, a Saudi Arabia for Christians. They installed George Bush in the White House and their agenda was shoved down our throats for eight years, most of it failing. No matter, it left a bitter taste in my mouth. I associate Christians with the fundamentalists now. Unfair? Yes. But it's the truth. Maybe a few more years of Obama will erase the aftertaste.

For far too long, the Bible took precedence over the Constitution in public debate. Let's face it, the Bible is chock full of contradictions and holes and stories that no one would believe if they came in any other form. I have no issue relying on the Bible for personal strength or a myriad of other reasons, but for it to enter policy discussion is completely illogical. Yet it does all the time.

I recently saw Religulous, the Bill Maher documentary. Yes, his take on religion can be just as arrogant as the theocrats. But he makes a ton of good points. It's tough to say religion has had a good influence on politics and foreign policy the last few years. Religion makes people do crazy things and has been the cause for countless wars and deaths for two thousand years. It holds too much importance in American politics. An atheist would never, ever sniff the White House. Why is that? Why do people have to be religious in order to be moral?

(I also liked when he chides Christians for making fun of Scientoligists. Admit it. We believe in a burning bush, virgin birth, rising from the dead, man living in a whale, men living for thousands of years, etc.)

I admit I can't formulate a very cogent blog entry on this topic because I don't even know what I think about it half the time. I just know I'm feeling adrift of religion, but I still feel an obligation (maybe a yearning?) to hold onto it. If I had not been raised religious and someone tried to convert me today, I wouldn't believe it. While there's plenty of beauty in the world, it's tough for me to see a gracious Deity with all the evil shit that goes on every day. Nick Adenhart and two other twenty-somethings die at the hands of a worthless drunk driver yet Osama bin Laden will probably live to see his 90s. If you grow up in Africa, there's a good chance you'll starve, get AIDS and die in a genocide.

(Another great Maher point: The best selling point of religion is the paradise of the afterlife. It's a salesman's dream. You can promise something that no one could ever confirm exists. All the good stuff happens after you die, when no one left living can really REALLY knows it's true. They can believe, but they don't know. And this unprovable thing is the selling point for almost all religions.)

Considering all the billions of people on the earth, I have to say I'm in the top half of the most fortunate. I'm healthy. I have a job. I have a great family. Do I owe this to God? Perhaps. If so, then all the bad stuff that's happened to me has to be God's fault, too. He always gets credit for the good stuff (just watch any baseball/football game) but never the bad (I made that error at first base because of God!). If by God's grace a couple is blessed with a beautiful baby, then what do we call it when another couple lose a child to murder or cancer?

I'm naturally a skeptical person who finds it hard to have blind faith. But I still hold on to it. I'd like to think there are things much bigger than this world out there. I know religion and churches have done a whole lot of good, too. I sometimes wonder how can all this exist - earth, life - without a God there to create it? In dark moments, I know I'd call on God for help.

I wouldn't blame Him if he ignored me.

But can He blame me for doubting?

Not if He reads a newspaper.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Steve's Peeves

South Florida has plenty to offer. It was a beautiful 70 degrees on Wednesday. There are beaches galore and cute little lizards everywhere.

But the local radio down here displays a heretofore unheard of level of atrociousness.

Take a trip down the car radio dial down here and try to find new alternative/modern rock. Just try. If Spanish radio is your thing, you're in luck. Crappy conservative talk radio? Got it! Fire and brimstone, repent for your sins radio? Plenty of that. Rap, hip-hop or pop? Things are good. If you want to hear the latest in current rock music, buy satellite radio because you ain't ever finding a song from this decade on the dial.

OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating. If you want to hear the latest dreck from Nickleback, then you're in luck.

(I swear, sometimes I'd rather drive into a telephone pole or a canal than listen to the latest shit soup from Nickleback. My God, their songs are terrible. And I mean shoot the radio and pour acid down your ear terrible. And you guessed it, the one rock station I can find down here plays them all the time.)

Perhaps I was spoiled by WBRU while growing up in Rhode Island. Say what you want, but they were pretty good in playing new songs. I don't know how they are now, but they are miles ahead of anything I can find here.

I don't mind Guns n' Roses, but this isn't 1988 anymore. No need to play them four times an hour. Same thing with Ozzy Osbourne or Billy Idol. I don't want a Wayne's World playlist. I want a mix of good songs from the past and new songs ... like songs recorded this century.

"Buy satellite radio," you are surely thinking. I could pay for it, in theory, but the last thing I need is another bill to pay each month, especially now that I will not be getting a raise this year. I'm a cheap journalist. What more can I say?

So this leaves me playing CDs all the time. When I finish one I'll tune in to the radio station to give it another shot, hear a Beastie Boys song from 20 years ago and go right to another album I own. As a result, I am woefully behind on current music. Surely the Internet provides plenty of remedies, but I miss driving the car and hearing good, modern music on the radio.

And no, Nickleback doesn't count.

It just really grinds my gears.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Can't-miss hits

Recently, I took a trip to the local Blockbuster to rent a few movies. I ended up picking Religilous and W. Of course that sounds like loads of fun, but that's not even half the story.

When I go to Blockbuster - or any DVD rental establishment - I love to scan the aisles for hilariously bad movies, movies you know are terrible just by looking at the cover. Back in Boston, I recall seeing "Frankenthumb" available for rental once. It had smash hit written all over it.

Set aside the question on who in the world thinks these movies are worth making and enjoy the the sheer entertainment of the corny title and the campy cover. I took mental notes of a few beauties and I feel you should know these movies are out there, waiting for you. They're like those cute puppies you see in the commercials. They may be a bit worn down, but all they need is a good home.

1. Single Black Female: From the people who brought you Black Oleander, Black Christmas, Black Velvet, The Hunt for Black October and The Color Fuschia comes a modern remake of an aging classic. She's single, she's crazy and she's African-American. The Bridget Fonda character's name in this is Karma. Deep stuff. The crazy woman is named Sky. Like she's sky-high nuts! How can you pass this up?

2. Sharks in Venice: As someone who has visited this grand city, the mere thought of vicious sharks lurking in those waters sends a shiver down my spine. Of course this movie has to star Stephen Baldwin. Couldn't pass on this script. The basic plot outline: A man, haunted by the death of his father, finds a trail to an ancient fortune in Venice. The mob finds out and kidnaps his girlfriend and forces him to find the treasure. If that's not bad enough, there are SHARKS IN VENICE!!! So you have the brave, manly hero tortured by the memories of his dad, a useless, kidnapped female companion, the mob and SHARKS .... IN VENICE!! How did I resist renting this film?

3. Nights in Rodanthe: Not quite as campy as the previous two entries, but the title just oozes pretension, like you're required to wear a polo shirt and penny loafers to watch this. Richard Gere finally took a break from his Golden Globes acceptance speech for Chicago to film this romantic film with Diane Lane. You have all the staples of the Danielle Steel-type story: Lonely woman besieged by the evil men in her life takes a brief vacation on a scenic beach. Lo and behold, a sexy, mysterious doctor happens to be in the area. And then a storm hits. Can't you feel the passion? I really hope J.R. Schaible is forced to watch this movie at some point in his life.

4. Private Valentine: Blonde and Dangerous: This was the movie that was supposed to cement Jessica Simpson as a serious actress. Oh well. Just from the short blurb on the back I can outline the entire movie. Beautiful celeb is humiliated in public, causing a crisis of confidence. Then, one day, Rob Schneider becomes a carrot.

Sorry, wrong paint-by-numbers movie. OK, so one day she accidentally enlists in the army and hilarity ensues. At first, she can't keep up with the strict lifestyle of boot camp. She probably has a few physically funny pitfalls during basic training. Simultaneously, she has to deal with a group of hard-boiled trainees who think she's just another dumb blonde. There will be one particular, dashing man who isn't as vocal as his compatriots, but agrees with them. Eventually, through sheer pluck and determination, she will win the respect of her once-skeptical drill sergeants and the heart throb. At the end of the second act, she will be framed for some grievous error by a devious trainee and everyone will turn their backs on her. After a pep talk from a kooky friend, she works up the courage and wins them back with a gutsy victory toward the end of the movie and graduates with the class alongside her new love. The end.

I just saved you four bucks.

5. Afro Ninja: Destiny: Just because something is funny on Youtube doesn't mean we need a movie about it. Should the dramatic chipmunk get its own star vehicle? (Probably, starring Samuel L. Jackson.) Apparently, this movie has a plot, though I doubt more than three minutes of thought went into it. A post office worker finds a magic sword and turns into a ninja. As long as it holds up to the standard set by Beverly Hills Ninja, it can't be all that bad, right?

Rent it and let me know.

A question

To all the U2 fans out there ....

Any word on the new album? I own many U2 CDs but the new single they have out now ... well, frankly, I think it sucks.

Is it worth a purchase?