Sunday, April 20, 2014

Money Up Service Down

Last weekend we had dinner at a fantastic Italian joint in Troy, one of our favorites. We ordered two dinners, an app of calamari, and sodas. Total bill: $96.00. I don’t mind spending a little extra on a Saturday night. We don’t have kids or Beamer payments, so I dismiss it as the price of indulgence. The table we sat at was occupied by Sen. Gillibrand the night before, according to the owner, so you’re going to spend when that’s where you go. But I decided to take a closer look at the everyday items. Conclusion: things are getting pricey, and the quality of service is going down.

The other day I did what I call the Clifton Park Trifecta.

First I went to Hoffman’s Car Wash where they ask over twenty bucks to wash your car!! Of course they tried selling me the 2 for $39.00 deal. Guys, I’m not dropping forty bucks at the car wash. I sarcastically asked if the floor mats would be vacuumed by a bikini-clad Alison Brie, and I was told that would not be the case. So what was I paying for? Turns out I didn’t end up paying for anything. After thirty-five minutes of waiting outside the triple-bay setup, I gave up and left with my car still unwashed.

Then came the "quick" Home Depot run that (of course) turned into an hour, because it’s impossible to find anything at Home Depot without walking every inch of the store. I finally gathered together my desired supplies, and when I lugged them to the only operating checkout, I was asked if I wanted to apply for a Home Depot credit card. No! Enough of the upsell! I just wanted the kid to ring me and release me. Of course he couldn’t register any of the pieces I wanted to purchase so a manager had to come and do whatever managers do. In the end: $76.00 for a strip of lattice, a bag of half-broken fence posts, and a paint brush. The fence posts were $40.00!! In the words of Joey Lawrence, “Whoa!”

Last stop: Hannaford. You thought the car wash and home-supply place was maddening!? Some fruit and lunch items for Easter Sunday: $68.00 PLUS a fifteen-minute wait at the register. Of course my wife buys everything organic, so that does factor into the higher price. I think the actual quality difference between organic and non-organic is like the Easter Bunny, you just have to believe it exists. $7.00 for a bag of oranges; $3.00 for a pack of cooking mushrooms; $4.00 for a bushel of broccoli. We left with one itty-bitty bag of items, a Pat Benatar-sized bag, and almost a hundred bucks poorer. If that $22.00 car wash had actually happened, we would’ve spent $170.00 in mere hours.

The Clifton Park Trifecta.

America in 2014 isn’t cheap. New York isn't cheap. But the quality, and the quantity, and the customer service isn't keeping up. How can a carwash company shakedown a customer for that kind of money, and then not even get the car inside for a half hour? I wasn't the only car quitting and pulling out. Hoffman’s is overcharging people, and then trying to upsell the overcharge. They do a great job, but come on. Home Depot is 60,000 square feet of bulk, tagged at top dollar. It's nice having a one-stop shop for all household materials. I just wish a bag of nails didn't cost as much as my insurance premium. And organic food could be the biggest scam going. Pay three dollars MORE because some stock person labeled this lettuce with an “organic” sticker.

But it's not just the retailers. The numbers National Grid put on utility customers this winter was nothing short of criminal. The average credit card interest rate is 21%. How do people with kids survive? I’ve never been a money-first guy. I would never do anything in this world for the money of it. The secret to a happy life is having time, the only earthly resource that can't be reproduced. I like working half the year, and sleeping late on Saturdays, and having the chance to chase the big goals that take TIME and can't be bought. I can't live with my head in the sand for more house and more car NOW. But I’m starting to get convinced that all this "free" time is creating opportunity for me to spend money I don’t have.

Now my wife is on her way to Target to “get some things.” There goes the mortgage payment.

Now she's back. Target was closed. Ugh! HAPPY EASTER!!

Read more:

Brian Huba

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Maybe Nobody's in Charge

Mark Fusco, a former Rensselaer City cop, accepted a plea deal this week, and was sentenced to three to nine years in prison for driving drunk, crashing into a tree, and killing his friend, Sean Murphy, a Union College student at the time. It’s a tragedy and a terrible way for someone’s life to end, but this Fusco kid's no killer. There are killers and there are killers, and Fusco falls into the former category, see what I mean?

How many 22 year olds have gotten behind the wheel and driven drunk at some point? Of course you risk this kind of mess when you do that, but Fusco certainly isn’t the first to commit that faux pas and he won’t be the last. In a weird way I have to blame Murphy as much as I blame Fusco. Does it really matter who lost the coin toss and did the actual driving? One kid went to the crypt and the other’s going to the can, and society can label Fusco a killer. But I defy anyone to look at that doughy face and those sleepy eyes and tell me that kid’s a killer. Am I judging a book by the cover? Of course I am.

“But, Brian, he was a cop, he should’ve known better.” You don’t need to be a cop to understand that drinking and driving could end in disaster. But when you’re eight G&T’s deep, you don’t care, or are incapable of caring. And let’s drop this whole idea that cops are supposed to be these infallible figures in society, who should be held to a higher standard in the eyes of the law. That’s utopian and nothing more. Fusco was a 22 year old getting ripped on a Friday night and he made a horrible decision. I understand he has to lose his job, go to jail, I get that, and all parties involved have played their role properly, but I don’t see what sitting in a cage for five years is going to do for him. Sean Murphy’s dead. It happened. It's a living Hell.

As I listened to Murphy’s mother read her victim impact to Fusco, blaming his heavy foot and bad decision for her son’s death, I totally understood her angle, but it was like watching someone fire bullets into a 270lb puppy dog. Fusco killed her kid but at the same time he didn’t kill anyone. Did you see the file photo of Sean Murphy? The strong jaw, great hair, good smile, he looked like Russell Crowe. I can’t completely excuse Murphy from fault. After the verdict, they asked Murphy’s father if he could ever forgive Fusco for what happened, and he didn’t know if he could forgive. Does it matter?

This Fusco kid isn’t a killer, but he’s going to be playing the part of one for life. Ted Bundy was a killer. Gary Evans was a killer. Not Lumpy Mark Fusco. He was a kid with a powerful father and he became a cop on the Fusco name, and from that his confidence and feeling of acceptance was sourced. Being a cop probably created in him a feeling of superiority. But guys like that can't handle a superior angle on the world. Doesn't he look like the prototypically-soft son of a successful man? I bet his father, the Chief, eats siding nails for breakfast. The Tony Soprano to AJ Soprano syndrome. You see it all the time. Nothing makes soft ice cream better than being the son of a self-made man. There I go again judging the book by its cover.

And now that ice cream cone's going to prison.

I guess this case got me thinking about why things happen the way they do. I try to live by the adage, “Everything happens for a reason.” Maybe that’s true and maybe Darwinism is a real thing too. Was a guy like Fusco just the dopey pawn in a deeper plan? Did God make him incapable of making a better choice at this time for a larger cause? Was he just marked for this from the womb? As for Sean Murphy, the "victim," did the natural order wipe him out, and if it wasn’t this accident would it have been another or another? Why were Fusco and Murphy brought together in this life? I ask this on a Saturday afternoon because ten hours from now thousands of .020 drivers will be on the roads and they’ll all make it home OK. Why didn’t those two?

Did God call his son Sean Murphy home that night, and if that was God’s plan, was the other part of His plan to annihilate Fusco’s life and smear his father’s good name, the chief of the RPD? Why do people so often get wiped out by some bad accident? Fusco made the same choice millions make, a bad-bad choice no doubt, and he’s going to jail for the rest of his twenties while so many others will do it and suffer nothing from it.

Maybe that's it right there. You put your butt in a vulnerable spot just once while others do it nonstop and maybe the universe will reach down and take you out and leave the rest alone. Because at the end of the day Fusco did do this, I'm not saying he didn't, don't get me wrong. 95mph at .020 BAC. Come on. There's dumb and entitled and then there's AJ Soprano-sized dumb and entitled. It's all the same in the end.

Maybe he could've one day been a good cop, if given the chance and the time. The crap I did at 22 revolts 34-year-old me. I'm 100% different now than I was at 22 or 25 or 28. I don't even recognize that guy now. A person's twenties are transitional to say the least. Maybe this bad twist of fate saved Fusco from being shot dead on the job and leaving a wife and kids fatherless. Maybe Sean Murphy would've gone on to commit a terrible crime and the higher powers interceded here and now. Or maybe this was just a plain old accident, and maybe nobody's in charge.

And that's how the story of Mark Fusco and Sean Murphy ends.

Read More:

Brian Huba

Sunday, April 6, 2014


This Friday I had some extra time after work so I decided to get my haircut. I used to be militaristic about my hair-cutting routine, now not so much, but when I saw that rotating barber’s pole, I figured why not? I’d been to the place before and gotten the best haircut I can remember when I was there, so I was glad to be going back, even though the price was a bit much, about $24.00 per cut before tip. It’s one of those shops with the flat screen TVs and plush waiting area chairs and all the free extras after the actual cut. The receptionist asked for my name and I said, “Brian.” When she asked for my last name, for some reason, I said, “Brian’s fine,” and she said, “Um . . . OK.” I have no idea why I did that.

Less than a minute later, a blue-haired woman in her mid-twenties came to get me for my haircut. I followed her to the shop behind reception. As we walked to her chair at the far back right, we walked past the guy who gave me the greatest haircut ever. He was reading a book in the chair at his station. I should’ve dumped the girl and gone with my guy, but I didn’t. Before sitting down, I told my stylist I would remove my glasses so they wouldn’t get in the way, and she weirdly said, “Oh, will you be able to see your hair in the mirror?” I laughed then said, “Yeah, I’ll manage.” There was something in her tone that hit me kind of funny. Now keep in mind, I was dressed up because I was coming right from work, and I’m not one of those bozos who do casual Friday, so I definitely looked the part and fit the mold of their client class. We were off to a strange start.

After inviting me to sit down and wrapping the cape around me, she introduced herself: “I’m Brandy” and I said, “I’m Brian,” and began describing what I wanted. After rambling descriptors a few seconds, I said, “Some people call it a taper cut,” and she snapped, “Uh, I know what a taper cut is.” This threw me for a second, but I recollected and continued telling her what I wanted. Then, unbelievably, she rolled her eyes at me, and that froze me mid-sentence. I sat back in the chair and glared at her through the mirror as she stood behind me. Finally she said, “Uh, we’re you saying something?” and I shook my head then, to my own amazement, began unhooking the cape, and said, “Get this thing off of me,” and she snapped right to it. I threw the white strip they wrap around your neck on the floor, stood up, and walked out without saying a word. I walked right past the manager and receptionist, who both watched me in disbelief, and I was gone. “Brian” had left the building. No last name. No record.

In that ten-second time when I was glaring at her through the mirror, I asked myself: Do I want to sit through a half-hour haircut with this woman then pay $30 bucks for it or do I just get up and walk out? I chose the latter and off I went. I’ve never done anything like that before. And I can only wonder what the boss said to her after I left. If he had followed me outside, I would’ve said, “I forgot I had an important appointment” and kept walking, but nobody followed me, and they had no idea who I was, which was fine because I had no interest in getting her in trouble. She was just a kid. She’ll figure it out or she won't. Who cares? On that day I was simply “Brian,” the untraceable white whale. But I bet my little friend Brandy will talk about the day some guy just got up and walked out without a word, and maybe she knows why.

Last night we had a party for the NCAAs and I told this story to a friend of mine, and he told me that I HAVE to go back to this barbershop. It’s a MUST!! Of course I assumed I’d never go again, not because I’d cut ties with any business over something so silly but from shear embarrassment on my end. But this guy told me I had no choice. I had to find out if they'd remember me and roll the red carpet out upon my return. He told me if this barbershop manager was any kind of manager at all he’d recognize me and perhaps even wait on me himself. I argued the place in question probably sees a hundred heads a day, so I doubt I’d stand out, but I’m suddenly and strangely intrigued, and wonder if they would recognize the return of “Brian,” the guy who refused to give his last name, and maybe this boss would push the receptionist aside, and say, “I got this one.” Then, “Brian, get in that chair.”

Or would he think that I had planned this whole thing out and that's why I didn't give my last name or phone number? I'm sure he went right to the receptionist for a record and she reported I'd been entered as just "Brian," and perhaps he smelled something funny and forgot me. I know she thought it funny when I said, "Brian's fine."

I think I need to know. I think I need to go back. And if they have no idea who I am and the same blue-haired barber comes to fetch me, I'll flip the waiting room magazine into the air and walk out again. Bet they'd remember me then. Bet they'd never forget "Brian" after that.

Brian Huba

Sunday, March 30, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: The Final Act

We’re going to lose a monster Monday night when HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER goes off the air. The show is closing shop with a 1-hour finale at 8PM on CBS. HIMYM is the most underrated sitcom of its era. It has not won a single Emmy of significance or spent a second in the Nielsen top 20, but it stayed strong for nine seasons, and that's no simple thing. The most celebrated comedies of the last decade are MODERN FAMILY and THE BIG BANG THEORY. HIMYM is as good as both.

When HIMYM came out, I was finishing grad school and getting ready to start the rollercoaster ride through my latter-twenties. I think I related best with the Barney character (Neil Patrick Harris) back then. I chased women on the weekends. I was certain the worst kind of life was being married and settled down and raising a family in the suburbs. Then I began my quest to find eternal love, and I slowly morphed into Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor). I even wore the sweater with the tucked-out dress shirt underneath. I wanted to find the person I’d settle down with, raise a family. Finding love is a long and complicated enterprise then it just happens. And now I’m most like Marshall (Jason Segel).

In the past decade, I don’t think there’s been a more quotable show than HIMYM. From Barney’s “Legen--wait for it--dary" to the “Bro Code” to “Suit Up” to the hundreds of cracks against Canadian living, it’s carved a prominent place in the vernacular. A few years ago I went to a wedding in Western New York, and one of the usher’s whole picking-up-women shtick was channeling Barney Stinson. He dressed like him, talked like him, high-fived like him. It was pathetic BUT it worked. Say what? The show made Segel a box office star. It reenergized Patrick Harris’s career, and I no longer associate Hannigan with that annoying band geek who said "Holy potatoes" to Jim in AMERICAN PIE. Hannigan is Lily now. Right now HIMYM is #42 in the Nielsen ratings. I don't get it. I never got it.

January 2011: my favorite HIMYM episode. It was called “Bad News,” and focused on Marshall’s and Lily’s quest to get pregnant. Marshall’s overbearing father (Bill Fagerbakke), who lives in Minnesota, wants nothing more than to be a granddaddy. Feeling the pressure from not getting pregnant, Marshall decides to get tested for fertility (or lack thereof). Both him and Lily are convinced that the fertility doctor is their friend Barney in disguise (which is weird because Marshall and Lily had previously agreed that they would not try to get pregnant until they met Barney’s doppelganger and/or twin). Marshall’s dad is so consumed with being a granddad that he travels to New York to see his son. He tells Marshall he’ll love him “no matter what,” even if he can't have children. Turns out the doctor is legit and lets Marshall know that he is able to father a child. After the doctor says this, Marshall says, “I was expecting bad news.” He goes to call his father in Minnesota, but his dad doesn’t answer, and all we see is an unfinished clock and paint supplies on his work bench.

Excited to tell Lily the “good news,” about his ability to father, Marshall runs from the bar where the whole gang hangs out in time to see a cab pull up. Lily climbs from the cab, teary-eyed, and tells Marshall that his father had a heart attack and "didn’t make it." The shot ends with the couple hugging, and Marshall saying, “I’m not ready for this.” Throughout the whole half hour the writers were dropping hints that a devastating ending cometh. But it wasn’t until the show ended and we had time to reflect, that we realized how perfectly it was all woven together. From the scene with his father in New York for the final time, to the shot of the unfinished clock on the work bench next to the ringing phone (representing being out of time), it was all great.

The writers found a way to display a number in every scene (whether it was #46 on Marshall's beer or #6 on the doctor's folder) counting down from #50 to #1 as the show progressed, to again symbolize the loss of time or a ticking clock, as is always the case in life, whether we know it or not. The #2 was shown on the broken clock and the #1 was shown on the cab that pulled up carrying Lily in the last scene. Awesome! It was HIMYM’s Sistine Chapel. And personally it struck a chord. My father died the same exact way, two years ago, to the day of that Monday night episode. So it was certainly an emotional reminder (for me) of how somebody can be here one day, gone the next. When I saw that cab pull up, and Lily climb from inside in the final scene, I said to myself, "Marshall's dad had a heart attack." I just knew it. As Marshall hugged Lily and said, "I'm not ready for this," I was brought right back to that moment/time in my own life. It was a great episode.

That’s what HIMYM did better than any show. It blended comedy--at times absurd comedy--with genuine, heartfelt storytelling. I can’t count the number of times that my chin trembled in the last two minutes of any given episode. It made me want to be a better person and love better, because love is the best thing human beings do. HIMYM taught me that. It was a show about love, devoid of all cynicism. Maybe it outstayed its welcome, ran too long, but I’ll be sad to see it go tomorrow night. A part of me will be going away with it. I don’t care how it ends. In life, the history is better than the mystery.

Read more:

Brian Huba

Friday, March 21, 2014

New dance same song

UAlbany gets handled by another supposedly “top-tier” basketball squad. AGAIN. I know the Florida Gators are ranked #1, but college b-ball is an apartment complex, and I didn’t see anything historically great yesterday. The final score of 67-55 appears respectable, just like last year’s final against Duke “appeared” respectable. But when it mattered the hometown Gators seized control and kept the Danes distant. The outcome was never in doubt. It never is with the Danes at the Dance. But they’re so happy just to be there. As I’m writing this, I’m listening to 104.5, and they’re airing a rowdy congrats to “Will Brown and the boys” for winning a play-in game and then being ritualistically dumped in round one. UAlbany is a sparring partner every year.

This is why UAlbany will never be a major player, even though the school has the endowment, facilities, and enrollment to make that happen. They are ensconced in second rate. Why is Syracuse SO MUCH better than UAlbany in all sports every year? ‘Cuse is basically in the middle of New York State’s Siberia. It may be private, I get that, but it’s not that much more impressive than UAlbany, all things considered. If Albany is going to get bullied into this basketball racket, let’s go all in, and put this place on the map.

I'm UAlbany alum. I once imagined my school reaching the national levels of a Michigan, or U Conn, or even a Florida. They sure have excelled in other areas i.e. Nano-technologies. Maybe that was highly-wishful thinking on my part. Maybe the Danes aren’t wired to compete on the court or the field. They have a great Lacrosse team, but lacrosse is lacrosse. UAlbany isn’t even the top basketball factory in its own back yard. That’s Siena, even though they're smaller than UAlbany’s broom closet.

Like I asked last year: When does feeling good about getting there end? Why shouldn’t UAlbany make the Dance? All they had to do was run through the America East Conference. They won a great game against Vermont, and there were some nice moments, I get that, but blah-blah-blah. Coach Will Brown has done a good job during his tenure. I can’t argue. He did “technically” win a tourney game, albeit a play-in, but I think we’ve seen what he can do. He gets there, gets beat. His teams are always struck by the bright lights. Why not make a run at a big name who can seriously recruit across the grid. Why won’t a stud come to the Capital Region for the right coinage and control? UAlbany looked like a high school squad on that court yesterday. They were never going to win that game. Let’s step this program up and start playing for some national pop.

Several top-seeded teams got threatened this week by “no-names.” Manhattan almost dumped Louisville. Manhattan has 3,000 kids; UAlbany has 20,000. Who cares about close but no cigar? There’s dozens of close but no cigars. UAlbany perennially cracks the Big Dance and finishes their business before the bus even cools down. This from the TIMES UNION, “UAlbany is scheduled to fly home on a chartered flight (provided by the NCAA) on Friday. The plane will leave Orlando at noon and arrive in Albany around 2:30 p.m. The Danes should be back on campus between 3 and 3:30.” What else is new? They’ll be watching the “real tournament” the same place I’ll be watching it: On the couch. The school has only qualified for the Dance four times in the Will Brown era, and are *1-4 in doing so. That would get a guy at Siena canned. (* won play-in game.)

Am I saying UAlbany should’ve been the first #16 to trump a #1? Of course not. This is larger than just one game. But I ask this: Why’s UAlbany only a #16? And if it’s always going to these low seeds, why can't the Danes ever be a Cinderella? When I was in high school, Gonzaga was always the Bracket-Busting team, the dangerous #15 or #16. Last year they were a #1. It can happen. You can move up (and down) in the world of NCAA Hoops. Mercer just dumped the mighty Duke. UAlbany's been Division I for a while now. At some point celebrating 64th place loses its luster.

So, yeah, congrats and blah-blah-blah

Read More:

Brian Huba: UAlbany Class of 2003

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pilot Error

I’m consumed with the vanishing of Malaysian Flight 370. It’s been one week, and there’s still no sign of the Boeing 777 or the 239 people aboard, and I haven’t watched so much CNN since 9/11. I can’t stop, even if the news is redundant or reduced to flat-out conjecture. I'm now tuning into Erin Burnett for updates instead of tuning in because she looks like Erin Burnett.

I’m hyper-afraid of flying, which has put a serious wrinkle in my vacation plans, and I think that fear comes from the fact that I can’t digest the idea that hundreds of thousands of planes take off and land everyday around the world, and nothing EVER goes wrong. How is that possible? How can the sheer statistics of what I said even add up? There’s (maybe) a few dozen aviation “situations” in America every year out of 64 million total flights, and it’s always “Pilot Error,” because commercial aviation is a business.

We’ve all heard the Flight 370 stories and shuffled through the conspiracy theories. Despite really clever Twitter pleas like: "Youve been missing a week, get back here 370," the plane and passengers are still MIA. The Malaysians have no doubt made clumsy work of the crisis, but this is not an everyday deal. I was watching THE PROFIT last Friday when the crawl came across about the missing flight, and my first guess was terrorism, my hope really. Then came the story about the two kids riding with stolen passports, and I was convinced. I wanted it to be terrorism because that would reinforce the fact that planes don’t behave they are behaved upon.

The saga has gone all over the grid. Countries jockeying for position while also trying to keep their full search-and-rescue capabilities off the world stage. The US has repeatedly stated that the plane is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, and that’s where I believe it is. They have refused to label this a "terrorist attack," even when the Malaysian PM has called it such, and our approach has been organized and careful. The Brian Recovery Plan: Get these other countries out of the way and let America run the show.

So what did happen? Like I said, my first theory was terrorism. I thought the kids with the stolen passports got into the cockpit, killed the pilots, took control of the plane, and turned off the transponders. The plan was to fly-bomb some land target i.e. 9/11 with a full compliment of humanity, but they got lost over the Indian Ocean with no ground communication, ran out of gas, and crashed into the dark waters at night. But why would any terrorist turn a plane around and drive it back over the country-controlled airspace of the country it was stealing it from, like the reported radar track indicates? What terrorist group would have the whole world watching their work and NOT take claim for it? This story is the Super Bowl for terrorist groups. Only one junior-varsity group made some half-baked claim, and the Malaysian PM said, "shut up, you didn't do it."

My second theory was the pilots were paid off by some dodgy regime to steal the plane, kill the transponders, and secretly land it somewhere while the kids with the bad passports covered the passengers and cabin, all working together. So two pilots, one with three kids and huge community ties, agreed to have 240 people slaughtered and never be able to see said family again, just for a few million dollars from a ragged regime, who are probably gonna blow your head off when they get the plane? And of course, the plane went right back over the country that this pilot was stealing it from, because whatever situation played out, the radar shows the plane went back over Malaysia. Both theories are very Tom Clancy, but not how the real world works. After watching every clip of coverage, I've settled on a mundane conclusion in comparison.

I think shortly after crossing into Vietnam airspace and signing off with a final “good night,” something went wrong with the plane’s steering mechanism, or a freak electrical fire, or something with the lithium batteries below. The pilots may’ve put out a mayday call that went nowhere between airspaces. Maybe they couldn't put a call out. The plane then moved up and down through altitudes, as the radar indicates, crossing back into Malaysia to attempt a landing, that's why they went back. For whatever reason, the captain(s) couldn't land it and made the strategic decision to switch off the electrics, explaining the transponders going dark, and tried to steer the broken plane manually, if that’s even a thing nowadays. The electric may've blown before that. We only know about the transponders because that's the only component that communicates with ground. The idea was to steady the big bird and find a landing place, rocking up and down from 45,000 to 25,000 feet and back again, trying like hell.

This may’ve gone on for hours, maybe just minutes, until the plane got shot out to sea, pitched too high or fell too fast, began to break apart and plummeted into the Indian Ocean, sank to the bottom, exactly where the Americans think it is. Everyone was dead before the plane even hit, counting our friends with the funny passports. Later they'll say if the pilot hit the x-y-z button, the plane would've leveled right back out and been controllable or something, and we'll all say OK and feel good about flying again. In the end, the crash of Flight 370 will be officially filed as Pilot Error. Make the public feel safe enough to keep coughing up six hundred bucks for a coach ticket from Boston to Hartford.

Whatever happened up there, imagine the absurd fear those passengers must’ve felt when that flight was compromised, however it may’ve been done. I cannot dream a more helpless, skin-chilling way to leave the world, falling from the dark sky in the cabin of a crumbled jet. I’ve had more than my share of nightmares about this since 370 went poof in the night. Who lives their life ever thinking that’s how it’s going to end? Dying in a plane crash is statistically less likely than winning the lotto five times.

In due time, they'll get together and paint a PR ending on this story and make the public feel warm and fuzzy about flying again: Pilot Error. Why not? They're dead. But you won't see that last part in the official report.

Read More:

Brian Huba

Sunday, March 9, 2014

All right, all right, all right

It was the gamble of a lifetime and it paid off. Matthew McConaughey allowed his famously-chiseled body and big-screen looks to be disintegrated to play the starring role in the movie DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB, a role that won him the Oscar last Sunday. But I wonder if the gamble was worth it.

For a second, let’s put that highly-forgettable slew of rom-coms aside, and admit that McConaughey is a brilliant actor, always has been. There’s no winning when you have to carry Kate Hudson around a movie shoot, and Matt McC signed on for that chore twice. He’s always been great, see LINCOLN LAWYER, DAZED & CONFUSED and/or A TIME TO KILL for that, and he’s having his greatest year, see DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB, WOLF OF WALL STREET and/or TV’s TRUE DETECTIVE for that, carving up the profession like a man who’s been told he has a terminal disease. But the physical toll he underwent to embody these roles was off the charts, especially for a guy who lives half his life shirtless. I can’t imagine that transition was easy for someone like him, who was obviously into physical fitness and maintaining a certain look. And he was one of Hollywood’s best looking. But now, at 44 years old, I don’t know if he can get all the way back. Despite his brilliance in DALLAS and WOLF, he’s physically repulsive in both roles. It’s hard to look at him. He made a deal with the devil to get that Oscar moniker on his name.

I don’t know if I could do it. Recently I started Yoga. I feel better, stronger, taller, everything. I’ve incorporated it with gym work, a better diet, and my self-image has skyrocketed. I work on it every day. I feel great every day. I don’t know if I could watch my body and looks and self-image wither away. It would mentally rip me to shreds. But McConaughey did it to play a part in a movie nobody saw or cared about. He did it to win an Oscar. What a gutsy run at glory. As brilliant as he is, this was probably his one shot at the top trophy, and he went all in. I don’t know if I could starve myself, make myself sick, destroy the only body I’ll ever have to “maybe” win an award, even an Oscar, which is no small thing, I get that. I just don’t know.

After he won the Golden Globe for DALLAS it became clear he was on his way to Oscar. The Oscar's are basically a replay of the Globes. McC’s only true contender, in my opinion, was DiCaprio, and there was no way the Academy was giving Leo the award for portraying someone so unlikeable, who’s still on the talk-show circuit. Don’t worry, Leo fans, he’s gonna win a bunch by the time it’s done. It was McConaughey’s award going forward, and he’s now an Oscar-winning actor, he did it. And now there are reports that Mark Walhberg just lost 65lbs to play a part, and there’s very-very early Oscar buzz about it. My first thought: Tragic. I hope this isn’t the new Hollywood trend. "But, Brian, they have the best dieticians in the world." And I know Matt McC didn't invent starvation to win an Oscar, see Tom Hanks in PHILADELPHIA. Hanks did it at 35 not 45. But a grown man is not meant to live on saltines and flavored water for six months. Doing that is really risking your health, and when your health is lost, regardless of how many Oscar's you've won, you're just a guy with his backside hanging out of a hospital gown. I guess it shows the full nature of getting to the top of the most competitive profession on the planet. It's not all mansions and red carpets.

The Oscar’s are a political pony show, they have to be. I believe McConaughey had some kind of inside track before taking this role and blowing his big-screen body to dust. He must’ve understood that Oscar attention was in the cards. I read that he took pennies to play the part in DALLAS, going the Indie route vs. a possible $15-million-dollar payday as Magnum P.I. Many thought it was his only choice. Many thought studios would be reluctant to put big-budget money behind him, because of recent box office busts. Maybe this was a desperate grasp to right his career. But still, he must’ve known he had a real chance at Oscar. No way he underwent a yearlong hunger strike as a total crap shoot. It never is an unknown. Not when you have A-List connections. Even when he graced the Oscar stage last Sunday, he didn’t look like McConaughey, better yes but not back. I just don’t think I could commit to it. And that's why I'm me and he's him.

I guess so much in life is a give and take. McConaughey went so far to win. It may’ve been too far to ever come back from. I wonder if there’s anything that I would go that far to win.

Read more:

Watch Oscar Acceptance Speech:

Brian Huba