Thursday, June 28, 2007


i've written several posts in the past about my disgust over today's "journalism". the nightly news looks more like access hollywood than access hollywood does. more people can tell you what lindsay lohan did this week than name a single nobel prize winner. that disturbs me greatly.

so when i saw this, i tipped my hat.

this is what journalism is about. at least, its what its supposed to be about. the funny thing about it is how the two male reporters treat ms. brzezinski as though she's the fool. the irony is that she's standing up for the dignity of her profession. thats the difference between being a reporter and being a journalist.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


i think that if i were deaf, i'd be terrified of the weather segment on the nightly news. if i weren't familiar with fronts and doppler radar and cloud cover, i could see myself trembling in a bomb shelter somewhere, cowering behind a wall of canned albacore and potable water.

currently, there are red hot arrows careening at high speeds across the country and they're headed straight for us. i mean they're whizzing. at least several hundred miles per hour based on the clock in the corner showing their progress since dinner time... and they're huge. the size of Delaware, and judging from the shadows, they're not far from the ground. as they pass over the land moving east, the earth is left reddened. i can only assume that the majority of middle America in bathed in fire. or maybe republicanized. "yikes", either way.

i'm thinking, "maybe, with the grace of god, they'll pass over my house without incident and crash into the sea," but that hope wavers once i see the 'calm' blue arrows coming off the Atlantic. they're instantaneously freezing everything in their wake . based on the distances and rates of travel, forecast calls for high speed, mid-air collisions in the vicinity of my neck of the woods sometime around midnight. the age old fire versus ice, winner-take-all battle royale is going down, and i'm in the cross fire. if the red arrows with their scorched earth policy don't get me, and i avoid the frigid instant blizzard that the blue arrows are laying down, i've still got to contend with the imperial tie fighters that are hot on their trail.

in the event that i live to see morning, i've only got hours before small suns drop from the sky. a half a dozen or so within the tri-state area. based on satellite footage, it appears the nearest make impact about 30 miles north and 20 miles south west of here. a little too close for my comfort as i sunburn easily.

next, i'm guessing, there's bound to be some fallout. represented on screen with concentric shapes of color. red in the center (total annihilation) and gradating out two a greenish white (fungal outbreak?). i suppose its either the radius of the explosive damage or the span of radiation. neither sounds groovy. postpone the parades, folks. those of us not incinerated instantly aren't out of the storm yet. still, i'd have thought that a handful of giant balls of nuclear energy colliding in every direction would be a smidge more cataclysmic. it appears that most of jersey can rest easy. i'm unsure about whether i feel relieved by this.

i guess, due to the incredible heat, all our water sources will be vaporized, created very localized lightning storms on thursday. apparently, a single cloud is going to hang over my neighborhood for hours, throwing bolt after bolt onto the streets. one every second by the looks of it. as i don't expect many trees or building to be left standing, i'm going to be a walking lightning rod. i wish i had more rubber based clothing

sometime early friday, based on channel 10's time traveling meteorology equipment, southeast Pennsylvania finally takes an offensive. somehow, and without me having heard anything about it before now, they've constructed a giant white rod, almost 400 miles long, which spins on a pivot somewhere nearby. i've no idea what's its intended purpose is. i speculate that the whole Philadelphia area breaks free from the planet's crust and flies away to safety, helicopter-style. sadly, it appears to be a feeble and failing attempt.

the inevitable darkness from the ensuing dust cloud leads to a total white out. before the weekend hits, we'll be well into the next ice age, with gargantuan numbers growing out of the ground. its a hard pill to swallow, finally seeing how nigh the end really is.

damn you, Glen "Hurricane" Schwartz!

Friday, June 22, 2007


every major city has its faithfully devoted. inhabitants from wherever, beaming with pride over where they've chosen to call home. its sort of noble. or maybe it some inborn longing to build a family based only on sharing an area code. whatever the reason, its a feeling that opens a gateway for business opportunities.

people express their love for home in different ways. they adamantly back their local football/ baseball/ hockey team. they soak in the music, arts and culture. they stroll through the shopping districts. they establish symbols of their city and, most important for me, they have trademark foods.

Philadelphia is where my mail is sent. everyone loves our eagles and our phillies and our flyers. our art museum is first class and we have an ever expanding gallery area in olde city. designer shops are littered throughout center city, or you can skate the fringe on south street if your feeling more bohemian. the declaration of independence was born here and tourists flock from all over to see the liberty bell or, if time permits, pay a visit to the franklin mint...but no matter what, every visitor has to taste a real Philadelphia cheesesteak. the cheesesteak is what keeps us on the map. when i'm hosting some friends from out of town, getting a cheesesteak is always on their to do lists. second in fame, regarding our edible products, is Philadelphia cream cheese. its even named after the place.

i propose to exploit these national consumer icons. the time has come to up the ante.

introducing the philadelphia cream cheesesteak.

thinly sliced, grade A flank steak, cooked to perfection on a flat top grill, inside a fresh south philly roll, smeared with authentic Philadelphia cream cheese. its the full philadelphia dining experience for the tourist on the go. is your mouth watering yet?

before now, cheesesteaks were exclusively post lunch treats. with the introduction of cream cheese, the market can be opened for breakfasts and brunches. this addition of the third mealtime boosts the sales potential by at least 33%.

not if, but when this blows up, the next step is expanding the product. i'm already way ahead on that. phase two: the south philly pretzel cream cheesesteak. its the cream cheesesteak you know and love, sandwiched between two salted soft pretzels... and it only gets better from there.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


after a spur of the moment judgement call at a fork in the road, my friend dave and i found ourselves sitting in construction traffic on I-76. we sputtered along at an average of 7 mph as our concern over time gradually grew. we'd given ourselves an hour and fifteen minutes to make it to the north star bar to see the headlining act that night, the blues rock trio, the Heartless Bastards. we made it, in the end, after making an hour long journey out of what would normally take about 15 minutes.

both dave and i had seen them once before. they played a free show at the World Cafe Live last fall. i had heard a few songs off their debut album (Stairs & Elevators) prior to that night. i liked what i was familiar with, but had difficulty tracking down the album (or their newest, All This Time) in any of the stores within close proximity, so i was eager to hear more of their material. the show turned out to be better than i'd hoped. the sound at World Cafe Live is always fantastic, especially when its a good sound to begin with. we became quick fans as we sat at a table near the back. i picked up both CD's afterward.

the North Star Bar is a smaller, more intimate venue. the acoustics aren't as good (though not bad either), but the crowds are smaller so you're rarely more that 15 feet from the band. they have a balcony upstairs which literally hangs over the front of the stage. that would be the place to be if not for the location of the speakers. they're on the ground floor so the music has to bounce off of every wall in the place to make it to your ears. still, i've always liked the scene, and they tend to get some great smaller bands to stop by on their tours. the Devotchka show i saw there last year was phenomenal. i still talk about it from time to time.

around midnight, Erika Wennerstrom, the lead singer and guitarist, zig zagged past me and through the onlookers toward the stage. i hadn't realized how small she was before. she couldn't stand more than a few inches over 5 feet. she spoke to a few people in a quiet, almost shy voice. then, after tuning their instruments, the three piece took the stage.

to see such a punk, blues rock voice come out of little Erika is worth the price of the ticket alone. the Heartless Bastards are, without a doubt, her band. her crunchy blues riffs and emotion soaked wails are the showcase. she's all about the music and it shows. its refreshing to hear a singer put all of herself into it. it was a transformation the second the first word escaped into the microphone, from the small woman you might not notice to sexy rockstar. i read a review that compared her vocals to robert plant "without all the girly frills". that's fairly accurate. maybe add a hint of feist and a dash of fiona apple, too, and it spot on. loud, raw angst and feeling in every note. she mostly bounced in place and stuck to her guitars, with the exception of a couple piano songs. one of my favorite songs, Into The Open, starts with her switching back and forth from the keyboard and the guitar. still, its the voice that holds your attention.

the rest of the band is of little note. neither the bass line nor drumming are much different from anything you've likely heard already. not to say that they weren't capable. its more as if they're accompaniment, which is more of a testament to what Wennerstrom brings to the table than an insult to the band as a whole. the drummer did seem a bit off at times, though. his beat keeping was a little slow, forcing Erika to draw out her "whoooaa, ohs" and her "yeeeaaah, ahhhs".

they're definitely worth your time if you aren't aware of them already. they were signed by Fat Possum records after sending their demo to the Black Keys. they have the potential to grow into something big, but, as of yet, they're still floating under the radar. try to see them live while they're still playing bars and small clubs.

(you can stream their newest album, All This Time, in its entirety)

or pick up either or both of their albums
(images link to

Saturday, June 16, 2007


robert, an old co-worker and myspace friend of mine, wrote this and posted it as a bulletin last week. though i can't take credit for devising it, you can bet its a game i'll be participating in. here's what robert wrote:

"Here's a fun little game I came up with a few weeks back...

If and when you are driving, and you see a Hummer or Hum-V coming in the opposite direction, stick your hand out the window and give them the thumbs down.
It's probably one of the most satisfying things in the world. I mean, I can't physically stop inconsiderate people from buying these things and subsequently driving themselves around the country wasting fuel and creating more pollutants, but God dammit I'm going to let them know how I feel about it.

It's peaceful and direct...and hopefully effective in embarrassing these people enough not to drive that vehicle.

The more the merrier; get your friends involved. Go Hummer-Hunting!
Nothing says "You Suck!" like a car full of people waving their thumbs down at your over-consumptive lifestyle and waste. These Hummer drivers don't have to worry about anyone else in the car being shocked or awed by the "Thummers" though because they never seem to have any other passengers."

hummers are completely legal. anyone with enough expendable income can go out and pick one up. its a perk in our society. that being said, it doesn't mean you should. unless you're hauling several tons of cinder blocks across mountainous terrain on a regular basic or you're currently serving a tour in a war somewhere, you're greatly over estimating your needs in a form of transportation. a minuscule fraction of a fraction of a fraction of our population even comes close to requiring such a monstrosity of a vehicle.

another one of our perks is free speech.
feel free to use it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


suffering from a bit of a busy mind and insomnia, i clambered from bed and attempted to lull myself to sleep with a movie. having not seen Adaptation in a while, i dropped the DVD into the player, and arranged myself comfortably on the couch. unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), the movie didn't provide the effect i was looking for. i stayed up watching it with focus until the final credits.

i was eager to see Adaptation when it was first released. its written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze (the respective writer and director of Being John Malkovich). in the interim between the two projects, i became intrigued with both of them. i bought The Work of Director Spike Jonze as well, which compiles his best music video treatments on one convenient disc. i looked into other films written by Kaufman - a pursuit that led to me discovering the genius of Michel Gondry. Gondry's first feature film was the highly under-rated, Kaufman penned Human Nature. (it was originally planned to have Spike direct, but he was busy with another project and gave the script to his friend and fellow music video director, Michel). Gondry has since made a second movie from a Kaufman screenplay - Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. maybe you've heard of it.

i'm getting away from myself.

as i laid in a supine position on the couch, awaiting slumber, i took notice of some elements in the story that made it so much deeper than i had thought. i'd always viewed it as a genius script. a screenwriter, given the challenge of adapting a dry, virtually plotless novel about orchids, instead writes about the his own personal inner challenge of adapting a dry, virtually plotless novel about orchids. the movie only deals with the actual content of the original novel slightly. he blurs the borders between reality and fiction wonderfully. Kaufman even makes himself the main character, along with a completely imagined twin brother named Donald (a character made so convincing that both Charlie and the non-existent Donald were jointly nominated for an academy award). the story ends up being less about orchids and more about the mental anguish and struggle of the creative process.

what suddenly dawned on me in this viewing was the aspect that the movie credits the writing to Susan Orlean, Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman. Susan Orlean wrote the novel, charlie wrote the script, so i pondered what Donald's part was. i was aware that he was a fictitious character, but one who is also garnering screen writing attributes. i hadn't given it much thought before.

charlie spends the first two acts dealing with the dilemma of not being able to turn the book into a movie. he's driven by his yearning to do something no one has done before. to use his writing as an art form to create something unique and original. unable to find a means to do so with the source material, and fighting hard against everyone who pushes him to make a "hollywood movie", his writhes in the turmoil of his own self doubt and feelings of failure and inadequacy. meanwhile, his screenwriting brother Donald is an inverted reflection of himself. he looks the same, lives in the same house, has the same job, but has the exact opposite personality. he's outgoing, confident and a bit trite. charlie has a hard time respecting him as a writer since he seeks originality in his work while Donald writes with formulaic hollywood cliches.

Donald submits his generic, hollywood thriller screenplay to Charlie's talent agent, and much to Charlie's disgust, its received with raves over it's brilliance. eventually, Charlie's frustration climaxes. at the urging of his agent, he turns to Donald for advice. from this point on until the end, i believe the writing of the script of the movie that i'm watching was taken over in the real world by Donald Kaufman, the imagined character in the movie. that is, believe it or not, as uncomplicated as i can put it.

almost immediately after Charlie surrenders and asks Donald how he would end the script, the film takes a dramatic right turn. suddenly, the fairly conservative and proper character of Susan Orlean is revealed to be a junkie on some weird drug derived from an endangered strain of orchids. this drug is supplied by John Laroche, the main character of Orlean's novel. this junkie/addict relationship becomes an adulterous love affair. after charlie is caught spying on the pair having sex through a window, he's captured and they plot his murder to save face. Donald, who suddenly seems to have become the hero, saves Charlie from being shot. they escape in a foot chase through the florida swamps, then sneak back to the car in the morning. Donald is shot by Laroche out of nowhere and they take off in the car. again, out of nowhere, they hit a ranger's car head on in a high speed collision and Donald dies as a result. Laroche and Orlean catch up and Charlie, again, fleas on foot into the swamp. just before Laroche has a chance to shoot Kaufman, he's attacked and killed by an alligator. then, rather abruptly, Charlie is back home. the girl he's secretly been in love with tells him she loves him. the movie ends with the song "Happy Together" by The Zombies (the same song Donald mentioned he wanted to use in his movie about a serial killer with multiple personality disorder - also genius since he's basically one of charlie's personalities himself). the music, the characters and even the cinematography changes.

all the things charlie refused to do in his writing appear in the final act. he even states in the beginning that "he wanted to stay true" and not to make it a typical hollywood movie with love affairs and drugs and car chases and guns. the characters spout some cheesey lines. their even a couple shots of Chris Cooper's bare back side and a sex scene. Donald, who was trying to find the fast track to becoming a screenwriter, was taking a course earlier in the film which taught people the formula for making hollywood films.

now, i see this movie on so many more levels. i had previously thought that Charlie had just given up and sold out. that he'd turned toward the usual stereotypes. or, possibly, as a play off of the earlier scene in which he says "little happens in real life" and he's ridiculed by the screenwriting guru for being so very wrong. now i see he just made a cleverly disguised joke about film making. for most of the movie, Donald was seen as a joke. a self assured guy but a goofy, uncreative writer. Charlie demeans his script about a serial killer, his victim and the cop hot on his trail as tired, overused and typical. and the audience agrees. honestly, it sounds like a movie i've already seen a dozen times. a slower movie about the creative journey quickly turns into every cliche in mainstream cinema. all the people who claimed the movie to be be boring but were suddenly enthralled by the climactic ending (and there were A LOT of those people) were really being laughed at. it really is genius.

Saturday, June 9, 2007



"i'm dr. tyler. i've recently developed a new weight loss plan that people are talking about nationwide! excited? well, you should be! it has been hollywood's best kept secret...until now! so sit back, get comfortable and prepare yourself for..."

"The Ink Diet!"

"someone great probably once said 'the great achievements require only great motivation.' hell, sounds pretty profound, right? some of the biggest success stories in history were brought upon by some driving force. desperation. fighting for a better life. easing hardship. recovering from poverty. the simple struggle to survive. and the stronger the motivation, the better the result."

"not so long ago, while sitting pool side by the solarium of my plush estate one sunny afternoon, i got to thinking. then, suddenly, it struck me like an uppercut from the mighty hercules himself! i quickly assembled all the scientists i knew. now, with nearly 5 hours of restless work concluded, i'm ready to share my results with the public! we've devised a new diet plan based off of this motivational principle. i've titled it..."

"The Ink Diet!"

"obesity in america has become a enormous problem (pun intended). every year it seems to be worse then its predessessor. everyone knows how to lose weight. intake less calories then you burn and exercise more. simple, right? or is it? the problem lies in the drive. who's with me on that one? alright, let's hear it! you folks in the back know what i'm talking about!!"

"...but right now, i'm prepared to propose an exclusive offer brought to you with the help of McDonald's, makers of the succulent, mouth watering, all beef Big Mac. make it Mac tonight! this is a limited time offer, so rush to that phone! you'll need to act fast! for just 16 simple payments of $29.95, i'll provide the drive for you. that's right! motivate yourself no longer!!!"

"...and it couldn't be easier. here's my patented Ink Diet (in 3 easy steps)*:
  • choose a design from a catalog (included in the package!!!)**
  • using a photo of your bare abdomen and advanced computer technology, i'll create a digital 3-D model of your belly as it would appear at your goal weight. i'll then place the design in the 'target zone'. with the help of space age technology, i'll animate this slender version of you into the hefty body you now occupy, all the while, distorting your hand picked design with the changing form as though it were a part of your ACTUAL SKIN. then, i'll arrange for my skilled team to permanently tattoo the newly deformed artwork on your stomach.
  • motivated by the urge to show off your new ink, yet embarassed by its seemingly poor execution, you'll swiftly muster the self discipline you need to shed those unwanted pounds.

"don't just take my word for it. see the results for yourself!"

Christina A.

Gwyneth P.

"it couldn't be easier. in virtually no time, you'll quickly receive our tattoo design catalog***. simply make your choice and then watch that cellulite fall off."



*(plan not legally patented)
**(catalog sold separately)
***(catalog shipped after receipt of all payments. allow additional 6-8 weeks shipping)
****(not a guarantee. no refunds will be granted)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


while mountain biking last night with my friend, we were passed by another cyclist wearing a helmet. in fact, a large portion of the other riders i saw were wearing helmets. this sparked a discussion as we rolled along the trail.

when i was growing up, i never wore a helmet, or pads, or any real safety prevention devices of any kind. no one i knew did. i also played outside constantly. i ran with sharp sticks. i threw rocks. i rolled down hills in garbage cans. i ate gross stuff. i rode in the back of my dad's truck. i repeatedly jumped off of the roof of our 3 story house into a bush for fun. i surfed down our staircase on a sleeping bag. i never wore a seat belt. all my friend's did the same sort of things. i'm not saying no one got hurt. actually, at one point or another, we all sustained injuries. a few scrapes here, a cut there. an occasional broken arm or leg. no brain damage or eyeballs got poked out, though, and we all survived our childhoods without any major permanent physical damage.

the children of today are treated as though they are made of eggshells. any kid exerting themselves more then a slow walk is swaddled in foam and plastic and rubber. it seems to be the social norm now to take every possible precaution to prevent even the smallest and unlikely injury from occurring. coddled and protected from any threat imaginable. there are always exceptions to the rules and not everyone falls into this category, but it does appear to be the trend of the times.

its not as though kids are more wreckless or doing crazier things. actually, from what i've seen, children hardly play outside at all anymore. most of them are glued to the television with its 500 channels. they hammer and mash buttons on video game controllers. they 'chat' for hours on instant messengers. pale, overweight kids with stunted social skill development. there's little time for interaction while locked away staring at a computer monitor or television set during all free waking hours. instead, they chat and email and myspace away. technology has created new avenues of communication for the tech savvy, indoor-ridden, modern youth. they've no use for personal connections or physical interaction. everyone is connected, but disconnected at the same time.

i think there's a link between it all. psychologists say most of our personality, who we are as people as we transform into functional adults, is a result of our early lives. our formative years. whether conscious of why we made the choices we make or not, most of it can be traced back to our adolescence. we took risks as children, well aware of the possibility of injury, yet we did it just the same. if any of us came home with blood trickling from a knee, a goose bump on a forehead, or even a fractured wrist, our parents usually just wagged a finger with an "oh, you kids" expression and warned us to be more careful next time. we were taught to be responsible for ourselves. even if it was "little johnny" who pushed me off my skateboard, i was partially to blame for my horse play. no lawsuits were filed. not against "mr. and mrs. little johnny". not against the manufacturers of the skateboard. then, after getting fixed with some bactine or a cast or a ziploc bag of ice, we were sent back out. we learned to take risks and be brave enough to face a little pain. like a baby bird being tossed from the nest. fly or fall. without the repercussions of the failure, the success isn't nearly as sweet.

we learned how to play fair. we learned how to take our friend's feeling into consideration. we grew deep friendships with our peers and their families. we had real relationships with adults.

i'm wondering what the kids of today will grow into. children with a one sided punishment/reward learning structure, shielded from the negative results of their actions. the over-protective nature of both parents and society in general can't be all good. will 20 more years bring adults with a core fear of danger and a constant sense of their own fragility? maybe. will the adults of tomorrow have little to no inner connection or empathy with your fellow man? perhaps. i'm a little nervous as to how a generation of kids grown in virtual isolation will lead the world.

maybe i'm being overly critical or just looking too far into the face of it. it just makes me wonder.