Thursday, December 30, 2010

Back at the Movies

Ok, I’ll admit it: Little Fockers was a little bit better than I thought it would be.

Canadian Lou and I took in the 3rd installment of the Focker franchise at the Clifton Country Mall theatre on Wednesday night. If you haven’t had a chance to soak in this long-anticipated flick, let me give you the broad strokes. The story starts with Gaylord Focker (Stiller) and Pam Cakes (Polo) as the parents of two 5-year-old twins (one boy, one girl). It’s a hectic life but they love it. Meanwhile Jack Byrnes (De Niro) is furious with his other daughter’s husband, Dr. Bob, who’s been cast out of the family and Byrnes’ circle of trust for having an extra-marital affair. Byrnes begins having heart problems, and realizes he needs to figure out who could oversee the Byrnes family clan if he is to meet his demise. I liked the Sopranos handling of this dilemma much better. With no other choice, he dubs Gaylord the GodFocker. Gaylord takes the distinction very seriously and decides to start moonlighting for a pharmaceutical company that sells an erectile pill, giving speeches on nursing for extra cash. The woman who hires him to do this, is the beautiful but unwatchable Jessica Alba. Immediately Jack Byrnes begins to think that Gaylord is having an affair with Alba’s character, which does little to help his deteriorating health. Throw in a few cameos by Hoffman and Babs (Gaylord’s parents) and another by Owen Wilson’s Kevin character, still in love with Pam after all these years, and you have part 3 in a nutshell. Oh yeah, don’t forget the famous feline, Mr. Jinx.

I went into this movie with super-low expectations, as you guys already know. Meet the Parents was one of the greatest movies ever made, in any genre. It was brilliant. The sequel, Meet the Fockers, was horrendous. It was stupid, corny, recycled and amateurish from start to finish. Hoffman and Babs were like razor blades down a 10,000-foot-tall chalkboard. DeNiro looked fed up with his own on-screen personality, and Stiller just went from scene to scene in a constant state of “what the heck is going on in this movie?” Part 3, Little Fockers, was nowhere near the original, but it was much better than the sequel.

The premise is pretty ridiculous and the cameos come off as artificial and way too coincidental, but some way, somehow, Stiller and DeNiro make it kind of, sort of work. Make no mistake: these two men are at the heart of the film. They are rock solid in their personas, and give the auxiliary characters a lot of room to mess up, flub, and fumble through scenes. Owen Wilson hasn’t been funny in anything except the original Parents. But let’s be honest, Dr. Claw would’ve killed with that script. This flick is no different. The whole time Wilson was on screen, I kept asking myself how this poor man’s Vince Vaughn even has a Hollywood career. The soft-spoken delivery has no hitting impact, and the cooler than school thing he’s been trying to pull off since Kate Hudson once again falls flat as an oil spill. But he’s James Dean compared to Jessica Alba, who’s introduction into this 3rd installment almost single-handedly destroys the franchise. Alba is beautiful, no doubt, but her acting skills couldn’t fill a thimble. She is so over the top, and phony, and lost in space in this portrayal, that you’re just cringing to get her off screen. If this movie, with all its moving parts, was a world of snowmen and sledding trails, Alba is a weeklong heat wave in December. She destroys one potentially-good movie after the other, and A-List rewards her with role after role. I must meet her agent, and congratulate him on the success of his selling- ketchup-popsicles-to-movie-makers-wearing-white-gloves business. Well done, friend.

If the greatest comedies of all time (Dumb & Dumber, Old School, Meet the Parents, Coming to America) sit eternally together like the cool kids in a high school cafeteria, Little Fockers is eating alone in the bathroom stall, lunch tray on lap, like Lindsey Lohan in Mean Girls. Time will quickly forget this flick, no doubt, but Stiller does manage to throw dirt on Part 2 of his greatest franchise ever, his only franchise in fact. But please, I beg, if there’s any respect left for how great the first one was, please, please, stop puking up these additional and unneeded chapters. In the same way Michael Jordan played a few too many seasons and Brett Favre should’ve retired 26 years ago, Ben Stiller I plead for you to let this thing end at GodFocker and stabbing DeNiro down low with a medicinal needle. And that’s the whole problem with Fockers. It started out as sheer brilliance (Meet the Parents) then just became slap-sticky and ridiculous. It would be like John Lennon doing American Idol.

Thanks to the USA Network and TNT we will still receive our periodical reminder of the original, albeit formatted to fit my TV. But now it’s time to put this puppy on a stretcher and wheel it inside the open double doors of history’s ambulance, while a pulse can still be detected. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that’s a spoiler. If you haven’t, well I guess you know the same thing now. On that note it ends, and I thank Stiller and DeNiro for giving us one great funny flick, a train wreck in part 2, and a few, far-between laughs to carry us always in part 3. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Sidebar: You may remember the last time I went to the movies. Read:
I was involved in an altercation at the candy counter when the cashier said I could not buy candy throughout the night at the same $2.50 rate, advertised with the popcorn/soda combo. I was told the computer would not allow that to happen. Last night, after much probing, I got the girl working counter to admit that the computer line was in fact complete horse crap. She admitted that they can make the computer do whatever they want it to, whenever they want it. I knew it all along!

Now on facebook @ the Cat's Pajamas

Brian Huba

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Good" & "Not So Good" of 2010

2010 is over. Perhaps the BP Oil Spill was the biggest event of the year and the WikiLeaks scandal was the biggest 'who cares' event of 2010. Now 2011 is about to begin. With that in mind I have come up with a super-original idea. I am going to make a list of things that were both “Good” and “Not So Good” about the year past. I don’t think anybody has ever done that before, listing prophetic on a year gone by, so brace yourself for a crush of creativeness. I have broken my list up into 4 sub-categories. Here we go.

1) 2010 “Good” of Pop Culture

Biggest Wedding: Chelsea Clinton's
Movie: Toy Story 3.
TV Show: 30 Rock
TV News Program: Larry King Live, CNN
TV Commercial: Geico
Book: The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Album: The Promise by Bruce Springsteen
Song: “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train
Episode of SNL: Ryan Phillippe and Kesha
Politician: Chuck Schumer
Sports Story: Kobe Beats Boston in 7 Games
Sports Radio: “The Herd” Colin Cowherd
News Interview: Howard Stern and Billy Joel
Late Night Talk Show: Jimmy Fallon
Scandal: Mel Gibson gets mad at girlfriend
Invention: The new I-Pad
Pleasant Surprise: Grown Ups Starring Adam Sandler
Break Out Star: Emma Stone
Surprise, I Like This Guy: Bill O'Reilly
I Suddenly Enjoy: A&E

2) 2010 “Not So Good” of Pop Culture

Biggest 'Who Cares' Wedding (Engagement): Prince William & Kate
Movie: The Lovely Bones
Sequel: Little Fockers
TV Show: Sarah Palin's Alaska. Read this review by Nancy Franklin:
TV News Program: Countdown w/Keith Olbermann, MSNBC
TV Commercial: Miller Lite
Book: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Album: Last Train to Paris by Diddy Dirty Money
Song: “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem feat. Rhianna
SNL Episode: Robert DeNiro and Diddy Dirty Money
Politician: Christine O’Donnell
Annoying Sports Story: The World Cup
Sports Radio: Mike & Mike in the Morning
Pop Culture News: Sandra Bullock: People Magazine Woman of the Year
News Interview: 20/20 Interviews Michael Jackson’s inner-circle
Late Night Talk Show: 3-Way Tie: Leno, Letterman, Conan
Annoying Scandal: 3-way tie: Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, Aniston/Jolie
Invention: The Cloud
Worst Thing about 2010: 2-Way Tie: the Jersey Shore, Michael Vick
Read Tucker's take on Vick:
Surprise, I Don't Really Like This Guy: Chris Berman, ESPN
Whatever Happened To: Conan O'Brien being funny

3) 2010 “Good” of Capital Region

News Channel: YNN, Channel 9
News Anchor: John Gray
News Paper: Troy Record (of course)
TV Commercial: Hippo's, Hippo's Has It!
Mall: Colonie Center
Store: Wal-Mart, Clifton Park
Book Store: Barnes & Noble, Crossgates Mall
Clothing Store: Macy's
Best Eats: 2-Way Tie: Villa Valenti, Wynantskill, D'Raymond's, Colonie
Restaurant Experience: The front-corner table at LaPorto’s
Movie Theatre: Regal, Colonie Center
Lunch: Sandwiches to Go, Maiden Lane, Downtown Albany
Burger: Five Guys
Pizza: Jonathan’s, Downtown Albany
Barber: Vinny’s Barber Shop, Malta
Blog: Friday Puppy
Local Author: Bill Kennedy
Concert: Dave Matthews Band, Times Union Center
Local Event: 2-Way Tie: Tulip Fest, St. Patrick’s Day
Politician: Jim Tedesco
Road: Route 9
Car Dealer: Orange Ford, Albany
Apartment Complex: River’s Edge, Green Island
Hotel: The Desmond, Colonie
Not-for-Profit: The Mohawk & Hudson River Humane Society
Best Kept Secret: Sandwiches to Go, Maiden Lane, Downtown Albany
I Suddenly Enjoy: Downtown Troy
Best Thing of 2010: Paterson finally taken out of the Governor’s office

4) 2010 “Not So Good” of the Capital Region

News Channel: News Center 6
News Anchor: N/A (All of our lead anchors are pretty good)
TV Commercial: 2-Way Tie: Wine-Skill Wine/Liquor & that Residential Siding guy
Mall: Latham Circle Mall
Store: K-Mart, East Greenbush
Worst Eats: Old Country Buffet, Latham
Restaurant Experience: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
Movie Theatre: Spectrum Theatre
Clothing Store: H&M, Crossgates Mall
Pizza: 2-Way Tie: Pizza Hut, Domino’s
Blog: On the Edge
Concert: Boyz II Men, Alive at 5
Local Event: 2-Way Tie: Lark Fest, November Schenectady Parade
Politician: Kirsten Gillibrand
Overpriced Product (in general): Capital Region Housing
Road: Hoosick Street/Route 7
Car Dealer: Armory Garage, Albany
Apartment Complex: Valley View, Latham
Hotel: Cocca’s Inn, Latham
Worst Kept Secret: Ralph's, Colonie
Whatever Happened To: Alive at 5
Worst Thing of 2010: Sage College didn't abosrb NYSTI's debt and save the program

There you have it. I hope you had a super 2010 and I hope you all have a great 2011. See you on the other side.

Brian Huba

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Canadian Lou Talks Capital Region Radio

Good radio stations are hard to find… especially in the Capital Region. A few years ago I got so fed up with the radio that I tried Sirius radio. That lasted maybe six months due to the fact that I almost got in a dozen car crashes trying to pick up the devise that constantly fell on the passenger’s side floor.

About ten years ago, when I first started college, I loved the radio stations around here. Ken Jubie was the DJ for 88.3 (The Saint) and played the latest “cool” music, not this “we play everything” jumbo. It was actually pretty awesome listening to the radio station of your own school. Now, I find myself skipping over The Saint completely, unless I catch a good tune while searching through. I really wish they would have kept this station the way it was.

Do you remember Candy and Potter on Fly 92.3? This was a favorite among many in the region. I thought they were quite humorous during the early morning drive. Candy had her “Celebrity Dish” that I always looked forward to. A few years ago they moved to North Carolina, Charlotte I believe. Currently, it seems that Fly92 plays a 12 track cd on repeat all day.

Now I must admit that I usually really do like the music on 106.5 (PYX 106), I love classic rock! HOWEVER, I cannot stand Uncle Vito! Everyone I know yells, “Shut up!” at the radio whenever he makes his dumb comments or jokes of the day. Seriously, someone needs to start a campaign to get him out. Maybe it will be me.

So you ask, what is the best radio station, Canadian Lou? I say 102.7 WEQX! I drive 45 minutes to work everyday and listen to this station the entire way. If you grew up in the ‘80s you will love it. Yesterday, I heard “It’s a Shame About Ray,” by The Lemonheads. I don’t particularly “love” this song, but for some reason it was soothing and brought back some fond memories of my childhood. I haven’t heard that song in at least ten years. It is one of those stations that just de-stresses you for some reason. Everything from Weezer to Bob Marley to Billy Idol can be heard on The Real Alternative! So if you haven’t checked it out yet, do yourself a favor—when you get home today, tune into 102.7, pour yourself a glass of Cabernet, put your feet up and enjoy!

Canadian Lou

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Christmas Story

Christmas feels so different when you're an adult. It just comes, like any other day, lacking the magic and massive build up it always had when you were a kid. There were so many great Christmases when I was young. I remember the year I got a pound puppy from my aunt Lori and the year I got a talking stuffed animal named Teddy Ruxpin. I ran into the living room and spotted it right under the tree; knew what it was before I even unwrapped it. But my best Christmas memory came when I was seven years old.

I was an only child then. We lived in a basement apartment in Albany, at the corner of Tremont Street and School Street, behind the Golden Cue and Joe’s Bar on Central Avenue. My parents were young, and I guess we were really poor, because we lived in this cave-like place, without windows, below an old Haitian couple who couldn’t speak English. It was late at night on Christmas Eve and my uncle Jack was still over at the apartment after the family party. Jack and my dad were telling me that Santa’s sleigh had just been spotted by TV reporters coming towards Albany. A few minutes later, my uncle distracted me while my dad snuck outside and started ringing Christmas bells near my bedroom wall. When I heard those bells, I went crazy, convinced it was Santa coming close. I leapt into bed and forced myself to sleep, so Santa wouldn’t see me awake, and decide not to drop gifts. The next morning I woke up and raced to the living room, and the entire floor around the Christmas tree was covered with gifts piled high, all for me! That was the greatest Christmas ever.

That was our last year in the Albany apartment. The following summer we moved out to an old farm house on a lake in Averill Park. The better life. My sister and brother were born soon after, and Christmas become something else altogether, now that they were the babies. My mother started a tradition of making lasagna and ricotta-cheese cookies on Christmas Eve. I loved ‘em, and remember them most about Christmases at that house. In some ways Christmas became a way to mark the passing of family members, like grandma and grandpa, and the maturation of others. Younger cousins grew and new family friends joined the Christmas Eve celebrations held annually at our house. Christmas 2000, we took a family pic together in the kitchen. Everyone was in it, smiling wide with arms around each other, because we all understood that that Christmas would be Uncle Dave’s last Christmas. In that pic, he wears a denim-jean shirt and funny Christmas hat that I gave him. I am looking at that pic right now as I write. Everyone is happy or faking happy so well. And Dave, well . . . He died three months later from cancer. He was 33. Ten years later we watched as my father sat in his favorite living room chair, opening gifts while wearing his green bathrobe and tube socks, his family all around him, and he's happy. With the opening of every pack of undershirts or new Old Spice, he gives the same fake, “oh wow this is great.” He always did that, even for the crappy gifts. Dad never got the good gifts, he just gave them. Sometimes that's the deal in life. Sometimes that's exactly the way you want it. Eight days later he breathed his final breath in that same chair, wearing that same robe.

Now it’s hard to go home for the holidays, to my mom’s house. All those ghosts of Christmas past still live in those rooms, even though most of those rooms are remodeled and unrecognizable now, they’re still there. My mother still wants those same Christmas Eve parties, where the house is filled with so much family, and Christmas music playing, and food, and drink, and gifts. But for me it’s hard to be there then, because I’m returned to a time in my life that can never come back fully, and I’m filled with sadness and regret from it. Why wasn’t I a better son, brother, cousin when it mattered most? There’s only so many family pics of people passed on that I can look at, while “O Holy Night” plays. So I go north and spend the holidays in a place brand new to me, where I get to be a guest rather than a historian of Christmases gone by. And when I call home and wish my mother merry Christmas, I get sad and regretful again. Then I think of that line in my all-time favorite Christmas cartoon, “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.” It says, “Remember, Scrooge, you’ve fashioned these memories yourself.”

This past Saturday night after a day of Christmas shopping at Crossgates, I drove down Tremont Street and stopped outside the old apartment on the corner of School Street. I pulled into the driveway and parked. The small place was undecorated and the few basement windows were dark. Sitting there with another Carol playing from the radio, I remembered a Christmas right there way back in ’88, when a little boy leapt into bed because he heard ringing Christmas bells. And I wondered if inside that same apartment another little boy now slept, and would soon wake to the present he’d prayed to Santa for waiting under the Christmas tree, the same way a stuffed teddy named Ruxpin once waited for me, so long ago. Then I started the car and drove away, to the restaurant for dinner, to the life I live now. There was no further reason to stay. My time there was no more.

Brian Huba

Friday, December 17, 2010

Starbucks vs. Dunkin' Donuts

Canadian Lou's brother & Lola James
I love the holiday season for many reasons. One of my favorite things is the delicious coffee flavors at all the coffee shops. Now, I am a huge fan
of Starbucks, but sometimes my wallet can’t take the heat on a regular basis. So, I usually settle for Dunkin’ Donuts with their Gingerbread and
Pumpkin coffee flavors. However, and this is a big however, I tend to find that most Dunkin’ Donut stores have major faults. I usually end up going to Dunkin’ Donuts and end up wishing I spent twice as much money and waited in line for ten minutes at Starbucks. A few notes about some of the Dunkin’ Donuts stores around the Capital Region.

Clifton Park (exit 8): 50% of the time you will not get what you ordered. One day I ordered a Pumpkin Coffee with skim milk and 1 equal. After going through the drive-thru and getting on 87 I took a sip and spit it out. I ended up stopping at a Troy store. They told me it wasn’t even coffee.

So, on to Troy (Hoosick Street): I have stopped at the Troy store a few
times in the last couple weeks either before or after work. I get the same
thing every time- Gingerbread Coffee with skim milk and 1 equal. It is
ALWAYS a different price. I have been keeping tabs on this. One day it was $2.02, another it was $2.12, another it was $2.20. This morning I paid $2.02 again. Get it straight. Plus, nobody is ever able to take your order right away at the drive-thru. I mean, come on, there are only three
customers inside, I think you can handle it.

Back to Clifton Park (exit 9): Ok, so I pull up to grab my coffee from the brace-face girl at the window. I see that there is a little sticker on the window portraying the holiday hours for this particular store. It says that the store will be open until midnight on New Year’s Eve. Wow, that really stinks for the workers. They are going to watch the ball drop while mopping the floors. So I decide to make a comment…. I point to the sticker and say, “You should convince your manager to let you out at 11.” Braces chuckles and says that they are actually closing at 6pm that day. The sign is wrong How sloppy can you get? Why do you still have that sticker on the window indicating the hours if they are wrong? I don’t get it.

Latham: The only problem with this store is that it is located in the most inconvenient place if you are going south on Route 9. You pretty much have to make a ten minute detour if you wish to get your coffee here. Also, you are forced to only go north when you exit. What a nightmare.

Delmar: This is probably the best Dunkin’ Donuts I have ever been to. First off, I used to work in Delmar and go there every day. It would be lined with people but the manager and the staff worked like dogs. They even memorized our orders and would make them as soon as they saw us. Kudos to this place.

But all in all, I think that Starbucks is the way to go. Many do not have a
drive-thru, which is actually a good thing in the end. They take way too
long to make your coffee or latte and I have to work for three hours to
afford that cup, but you know it will always be perfect.

Canadian Lou

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kid of the Week. Are you Kid-ding me?

I was watching YNN News on Channel 9 Saturday morning when a story called “Kid of the Week” came on. The channel honored a 7yr old from Malta who said that she did not want presents for her birthday, but instead wanted people to donate canned foods and items to the needy, so that nobody would go hungry during the holidays. I know we are preprogrammed as a society to get excited when a little kid says something like this, so excited in fact that the local news gets contacted. But I for one think it’s kind of disturbing for a 7yr old to be concerned about collecting canned foods for the needy. I don’t mean to be the party pooper, but a child that young shouldn't be consumed with such problems in our communities. Now if you can get yourself past the obligatory "Oh my God, that's so cute" and "Isn't she the most precious thing that ever lived" stuff, try to see my point on this one.

When I was 7yrs old I believed in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and when my birthday came around I wanted great gifts from everyone. That’s what being a kid is. Childhood is supposed to be a time of bliss and innocence, and I feel that it is a parent's obligation to keep their child shielded from the woes of our society, best they can. It’s not up to someone so young to be worrying about people less fortunate. Put that on us: the adults. We’ll keep concerned about canned foods and helping the homeless.

I’m sorry, but I didn’t give two craps about canned food drives when I was 7. I liked toys, and cartoons, and trips to McDonald’s. Furthermore I think that YNN sends a slanted message when they plaster this kid across the screen and call her “Kid of the Week.” It’s not right. To be honest, it’s kind of wrong. The kid of the week should be a kid who cares about normal kid-things, not some kid whose parents (or whoever called) called the local news and told this artificial story, that’s either made up or coaxed, or just an indication of potentially dubious parenting.

Maybe I’m way off on this one. But my first instinct was to get kind of weirded out when I watched this story. Now, I admit, I’m not that in to little kids. I don’t think they’re really that funny, and I avoid little-kid comedy. That’s why I dislike those baby-talking commercials (where the babies buy stocks) and why I know the upcoming Little Fockers has zero chance to be funny. Like I said: too much little-kid-based comedy. But I do believe that they have the right to be free of stress and thoughts of people less fortunate at that time in life. Now that I am older I donate to the Humane Society and collect canned foods, etc, etc. But there’s no need for a 7yr old to be doing that. Enjoy your birthday, kid. And as far as Christmas goes, you just worry about Santa Claus and presents, and leave the heavy stuff to us, the adults.

I may be alone on this, but that level of societal awareness by a child just feels wrong. And I know that some children are exposed to tough times too early because of family hardship and such. For that I'm sorry and do recognize that that kind of start can build character in adulthood. But if a family is in position to think about chairty for others then mommy and daddy should be dealing with that.

I commend the parents that love their children and keep them inside a cocoon of innocence as long as possible, rich or poor, hard or easy, because one day that child will have to worry about the world around them, whether they want to or not. I'm not saying spoil or sugar coat what's really out there, and I'm not saying treat a 19yr old like an apron-stringed child, but this is a 7yr old I'm talking about, and that child has the right to believe that things are all good before she realizes that the bad is out there, almost everywhere you look. Maybe that's over-utopian on my part, I don't know.

Childhood happens once. Nothing should corrupt that short time and/or compromise it. My kid of the week is that kid who runs, and plays, and worries about nothing but candy, and Christmas presents, and being happy. And the parent who has a kid doing that is my parent(s) of the week, especially if it's hard as heck for that parent to do. God bless you. Parenting is everything in this world! Nothing else is more important to molding and shaping. School teachers? technology? The neighborhood influences? Nope, nope, and nope. Parenting. Like Atticus Finch said to his daughter Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, “I’ll let you know when it’s time to worry.”

Watch for yourself:

Brian Huba

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Howard Stern Stays

This morning at 6.35am on his Sirius Radio Show, Howard Stern announced that he will be staying on, as is, for the next 5 years. Money was not discussed and he gave indication that his actual work schedule was still being worked out, along with new 5-yr deals for sidekicks Robin Quivers, Fred Norris, Baba Booey, Howard 100 News, and the Howard 101 Channel. He will be starting his new contract with Sirius on 1.3.11, and will start off going 4 days a week/4 hrs. a day, or as close to that as he can get. So for now the news is good: The greatest radio show on Earth stays put. Will there be some surprises in 2011? We shall see. More details to come!

Now on facebook @ The Cat's Pajamas

Brian Huba

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What happened to resourcefulness?

I don’t understand why anyone who goes to a gym and/or fitness club would ever require the services of a personal trainer. Why do you need somebody to show you how to use the machines/equipment then follow you around and say things like, “work hard” and “finish strong” at $30.00 an hour? Isn’t working out kind of self-explanatory? Just look at the little illustrations on the machine then go to work. I understand a novice might need some one-time advice on how to best attack their problem areas. Then occasionally have a few follow-up questions for the gym staff. I get that. But I don’t see the need for someone to be at your side for every single workout, telling you everything from what to do, how many times to do it, and when to get a drink of water. After the 3rd or 4th time I think you’d get the gist of what’s going on.

I know some of you may say, “I need that guy to give me an extra push and make sure my form’s right.” Extra push? Stay motivated by the fact that you’re not paying some "trainer" $30.00 an hour to count out your sets for you. Form? Aren’t there mirrors on every single wall of a gym? Just watch your movements and self-correct for Pete’s sake. And when all else fails, pop in a little Hall & Oates, crank the I-Pod up, and get busy.

Personal trainers? Are you kidding me? Generally speaking, they’re not highly-schooled experts of the human infrastructure. The certification course is like a three-hour class at the local YMCA. A few years back I almost became a personal trainer, because the gym-boss just saw me there a lot, and figured what the heck, he’s at least here enough. It’s a rack, unless you’re a rich housewife who wants a young, buff guy walking around the gym with you. Otherwise, how bout you bank the cash, and just figure out the treadmill by yourself. Let me help you get started. Push the Power-On button and start running.

But it’s not just the concept of personal trainers that makes me so confused. The other night I was watching TV and a CDPHP Insurance commercial came on. Their whole concept was that wellness doesn’t just happen in the gym. OK, I can deal with that. Get physical, by any means. I’m on board with that. Then the commercial started pitching "Guided nature walks,"a Health Coach, and someone to help you shop for nutritious groceries if you signed up with their insurance. First off: what the heck's a health coach? That honestly just sounds like something made up. Do Americans, in the year 2010, really need somebody to tell us how to be healthy? I will make this easy and tell you what to do right now: put down the ice cream, turn off Oprah, and do something, anything, active. There. Done. And by the way, if you’re someone that comes home from work and actually sits on the couch at 4PM to watch Oprah, then I say hire a personal trainer and health coach, and while you’re at it, I got some swampland in Florida I’d like to sell you. I haven’t turned my TV on before 7.30PM in ten years. That's just me. As for someone to help you buy groceries: what in God’s name is wrong with you? See a doctor. Do some research. Figure it out.

I guess my frustration in this regard came to a head today when I was listening to 98.3FM, and these DJ’s John and Jamie were talking about a link on the radio station’s website (or something like that) to help people with one of life’s biggest issues: how to tip a waitress at a restaurant. It’s a directory of some sort on how to leave gratuity in this kind of economy. Do people really need this much direction with such minute things? Who are these wackos?

I feel like nobody ever needs to think anymore and/or be the least bit resourceful. I swear 75% of people couldn’t get from the garage to the main road without a GPS. Aren’t there some things that people just want to work out with their own brain power? There’s no way a person could feel like anything but a complete clown if they actually went to a website to learn how to tip a waitress. Right? And there’s no way a person couldn’t feel like a complete tool if he/she actually hired a health coach, a personal trainer, and somebody to show them how to grocery shop. Come on, you're kidding me.

Is it just the appeal of having one of these people on your payroll? You can't think that looks cool, can you? Helplessness will never be hip. Sorry. Isn't this the country that invented the lightbulb and bacon cheeseburgers? Has it really fallen this far, been dumbed down this much? There’s a certain charm in just working it out for yourself, trust me, try it. And if that’s too much resourcefulness for you to muster, please, please email me about that Florida swampland, because it’s gonna go fast.

Brian Huba

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Washington Park Rip-Off

So let me get this straight. If for some reason, I wanted to drive through Albany’s Washington Park and see all the annual Christmas Lights, I have to pay to do it? That seems insane, but yes, it’s true.

According to To drive through the display, it costs $15 per car, $25 for a limo or 15-passenger van and $75 for a bus. Discount coupons for $5.00 off admission on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings are available exclusively at Capital Region Hannaford stores.

Is this a joke? First off, me personally: you couldn’t PAY ME to take time out of my life to drive down to Albany and go through the park to look at Christmas lights. I don’t care how "amazing" and "beautiful" they may be. They're lights! $15.oo? In this economy? No way. I’d rather go to that parade in Schenectady the night after Thanksgiving then straight to the Plaza to watch Fourth of July fireworks over and over again. That’s how low "lights" rank on my to-do list. But that's just me. If you’re “doing it for the kids” guy, let me fill you in: the kids might not want to do it either. Every time my parents dragged me to that stuff, I hated it. In the future, if I someday have kids, I won’t do it with them unless they want me to. In which case you have to, I guess. To steal a line from Holden Caulfield: It’s just so phony.

According to All proceeds from Hannaford Capital Holiday Lights will benefit the Albany Police Athletic League, PAL, celebrating its 18th year as a juvenile crime- prevention program in the City of Albany.

OK, that’s nice that the money is going to "benefit" PAL, I get that. I also doubt that’s where ALL the money’s going. Notice the word "benefit." Vague enough for you? But if that’s the goal, to raise cash (I mean: benefit) for PAL, it might be better to simply encourage donations. This time a year, people are usually pretty good about that. Even me. I’ll be giving my annual to the Mohawk/Hudson Humane Society. And this past weekend, I even gave one of those fundraising kids outside the Wal-Mart entrance $5.00, and you know how I feel about that. My point: There’s no need to put a gun to good, hard working people’s heads, to make them pay, if for some reason, they want to patronize this thing. Especially in a city like Albany, where the tax burden is through the roof and violent crimes are occurring with way too much frequency. And I know everyone that does this Lights in the Park deal isn’t from Albany, but like I said before: there’s a difference between a handout and a donation. And there’s definitely a difference when you’re forcing people to give the handout.

'Tis the season, I suppose. Make a dime off 'em anyway you can. I can't believe Ebenezer Scrooge never thought of this scam. Charge people to look at a bunch of lights, arranged like an angel or Santa Claus face. Bah humbug!

Brian Huba

DeNiro on SNL = Bad

What was Robert DeNiro trying to prove by going on Saturday Night Live this past weekend? Anyone who knows DeNiro’s career knows that he has basically avoided live television of any kind for 30+ years. His most recent SNL appearance was when he played himself (along with Joe Pesci) on Jim Breuer’s skit “The Joe Pesci Show” back in the 90's. But this past Saturday he hosted the program for the third time (the first two: really bad). In a nutshell: It wasn’t good this time either.

In case you missed Bobby D’s hosting stint, let me fill you in. The monologue was pretty formulaic. He talked about knowing NYC as “his city” then dropping references like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Atlanta Braves to feign like he didn’t actually know the City. It was one of those monologues where SNL cast members sit in the audience and interrupt the monologue. It was just OK. As for the skits, DeNiro basically played himself all night long. I don’t mean “with type” as opposed to “against type,” I mean he just played himself: Robert DeNiro, except for a few skits, one in which he played an old Italian produce man with his own TV show and a bratty son (I don’t know if that character is based on someone in real life). Either way, it wasn’t even remotely funny. As for the guest of honor, DeNiro, all night long he was old, slow on the uptake, obviously reading off cue cards, and flubbed lines in basically EVERY SINGLE sketch. Don’t get me wrong, Bobby D is an all-time legend on the big screen, but this night in NYC was a Raging Bull sized swing and miss.

The musical act: Puffy Daddy, who I guess calls himself Diddy Dirty Money now. I don’t mind Puff as an actor (see Made) and I don’t mind him as a spokesman, but my God he is a horrible musical performer, always has been, always will be. He is literally like a cartoon character on the musical stage. And this whole shtick of his, with that dumb dance and those sunglasses all the time, and the way he tells you the date that his new album is "dropping" at the end of the song was completely corny even in 1995. I never understand what the heck is going on in any of his songs as he hops around that stage like a circus act with so much nonsense going on all around him, like dozens of dancers and backup singers, anything to distract from the crappy product. I just thanked God when it mercifully ended each time.

Highlight of the night: A sketch called “What Up With That,” starring Kenan Thompson. It’s a running sketch where Thompson plays a talk show host who brings on big guests (This time: Deniro and Robin Williams, both playing themselves) then he just sings the whole time and ignores them. The sketch was almost ten minutes long and Thompson was performing the whole time. No easy thing, I assure you. Quick Sidebar:I think Thompson is one of the greatest SNL talents ever, if not THE greatest. Who’s better? Chevy Chase? John Belushi? Are you crazy? Adam Sandler? Chris Farley? Better? More talented than Thompson? No chance. Tina Fey? Smarter not funnier or more talented. Will Ferrell? I don’t think so. Anyway it was a brilliant sketch and Thompson never misses a beat. It was DeNiro’s best ten minutes of the night too. He was basically allowed to sit in the shadows looking like the classic pissed off DeNiro while Thompson stole the show. At the end of it, Robin Williams said something completely unfunny about Tweeting on his cell phone, and that was it.

OK, there was one other good skit. It was a take on Weekend at Bernie's. Why was DeNiro good you ask: He played a dead guy the whole sketch.

I love DeNiro but it wasn’t a good 1.5 hours for him. He was there, of course, to promote the upcoming Little Fockers, which will make boatloads of dough over Christmas, but honestly looks really, really bad. I thought the original Meet the Parents was a comic masterpiece, maybe the best comedy ever, and one of DeNiro’s best, but I thought Meet the Fockers, a few years back, was unwatchable, and actually hurt the original’s legacy a little bit. It was stupid, unfunny, way too forced, and Hoffman and Babs were both so damn dumb in it. I’m afraid the bar is only going lower for the third installment. Give up the live stuff, Bobby D, please, for all of us.

Watch Kenan Thompson (the best ever) go:

Brian Huba

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Other Brian Huba

When I was growing up I did not like my name very much. But my claim to fame was my belief that, despite not liking my name, I was the world’s only Brian Huba. After all my name wasn’t John Williams or something generic like that. It was original, solitary. When you’re young, and the sun rises and sets over your mother's house, it’s easy to think such things. But as my orbit of influence expanded, I stupidly clung to the idea that I was in fact the one and only Brian Huba. But thanks to Facebook I recently found out that I share my namesake with another. He is the other Brian Huba. Let me tell you about him.

Obviously you already know his name. Well, anyway, he’s from Virginia and I'm pretty sure he’s a complete hippie. He graduated from James Madison High School in ’88, so he’s about 40, right? Much older than me. He did go to college. Thank God. Virginia Tech, ’93. He has two children: Meadow Huba and River Huba. Yeah, he’s one of those. He has long hair and can be seen holding a can of beer in his profile pic. He works as a settlement manager for some music place called Musictoday in Crozet, Virginia. I have no idea what that is in any way, shape, or form. As far as music goes, he lists Phish as his favorite. I just hope my namesake isn’t one of those 40-year-old idiots who follow Phish around the country like a groupie. He also mentions the Disco Biscuits (who?) and the Grateful Dead. Guess what, ladies, he’s listed as single.

Recently it was his birthday. How do I know that? See below:

Brian Huba This is simply beautiful... Thank you ALL for your kind birthday wishes... you have all made my day!!....


Brian Huba Thank you all once again for the birthday goodness!!

What kind of 40 year old goes on this Facebook and carries on about his birthday like this? After all these years of thinking I was the only Brian Huba, I have to find out this way that that is not the case. I hope people haven’t tried to Google me and come up with this Phish-loving fella.

Anyway, he has 124 friends and loves to comment on “far out” things like hippie music and amazing art. I bet this guy can’t even name by memory the starting defensive backfield of the 1990 Superbowl winning NY Giants. I bet he doesn’t even know Tom Coughlin’s coaching record. And I’m almost certain he can’t play basketball to save his life. You know: the important things.

So to sum up, I’m not alone as the world's only Brian Huba. I half-knew this day would come. I just prayed my name wouldn’t be shared with some man who idolizes Jerry Garcia.

I must say though, this Musictoday man was actually the first Brian Huba, since he is older. So I guess that makes ME the OTHER Brian Huba. Man oh man, how the tables have turned.

But hey, there’s always hope. Maybe we can meet up someday and become friends, and combine to make a super Brian Huba. In my namesake’s words that would be “far out.”

Check out the other/original Brian Huba for yourself:!/profile.php?id=1451975037&v=info

Brian Huba

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Come expecting nothing, leave satisfied

Tuesday night, Canadian Lou and I finally went to Troy and checked out Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. We showed up at 7.30 and were told the wait would be an hour. No problem. We knew that going in. We went out to the parking lot, sat in the car and listened to the best of Howard Stern on Sirius. 45 mins later, our buzzer buzzed and inside we went. So far, so good.

Inside, the place looked exactly like it did when Fresno's was there. I was hoping for more of a makeover, but sitting right on the Hudson the way it does makes for a nice ambiance anyway. We were led to the table by a hostess and a few minutes later our waitress came, delivered her prepackaged, "Is this your first time at Dinosaur?" routine, then went to fetch our drinks. My first thought was that everything about this place was very chainy. All the hype for Dino has been huge, but to me it felt like another Smokey Bones or Applebee's. We opened the menus. Canadian Lou commented on the high prices. I agreed. 15 minutes later: still no drinks. Another waitress came and told us our waitress had fallen down, she was OK, but our drinks would be out soon, very soon. Ugh, it doesn't get more chain-place than that.

We put in dinner orders and an appetizer of fried green tomatoes. The app came, $6.00 for 3 small toms. Not bad, but not good. 55 minutes later: still no dinner. Plus the tables are just benches with no backs, so sitting hunched over like that for so long with no food, really sucked. Our waitress came and told us that there was some "technical difficulty" in the kitchen and our food would be up soon, very soon. Ugh!! To keep us satisfied she brought me and Lou a single cornbread, one cornbread, overcooked and rubbery for us to share. At the 1 hr mark, finally, our food: A full rack of ribs to share, plus 2 mac and cheese sides, 1 french fry side, and 1 cole slaw. It was 9.25. Let's eat.

I couldn't wait to dig into my mac and cheese, but guess what? No fork. I couldn't wait to tear into my ribs, but guess what? No bone bucket. So I ate the mac with my hands and threw the bones on the table. As for the food: as typical and chainy as it comes. The ribs were rubbery and had to be ripped off the bone instead of "falling off" (Smokey Bones: way better), the sides were clearly just microwaved, and the cole slaw/fries were 100% run of the mill. This pitch that Dino is some "authentic home-cooking" or whatever is ridiculous. The food was clearly prepared by two 19yr olds who go to HVCC part time. When the bill came: $51.00, nothing comped for the epic wait, we just paid it and left, not feeling like we got away with anything.

I'll say this: Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue is nothing but another American chain place that falls victim to every chain-place trick in the book. When you walk in the place it promises robotic efficiency then drops the ball at every turn. The place promises great prices and great food, then delivers obviously-microwaved food at pretty high prices. The room is filled with the same cliche people who populate every chain place: the typical American family, the young couple, the two business guys sitting at the bar in neckties trying to score with the hot bartender or waitress by buying into every gimmick and ordering every dumb, Dino drink, and just being really pathetic. The place is decorated like any other chain place you've ever seen, the same music plays over the dining room, the same gimmicks are promised, the wait staff delivers the same scripted chatter. At the end you pay the bloated but reasonable bill (somehow it's always both), leave the tip that equals double the tax, then go home feeling as ordinary and cookie-cutter as possible. If you love Applebee's and TGI Friday's, if you like big hype over substance, you'll LOVE Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue. The place was packed with people and people waiting, so I'm guesssing most of you do.

I predict in 3 months, once the buzz wears off, the place will have tumbleweeds blowing through it. It was just so darn chain-placey, I actually felt a little depressed when we left, a little ripped off. I told Canadian Lou in the car that I felt "boring" for even going there, but she was mad that something fell off the table and stained her $140.00 boots.

You can throw bells and whistles at me till the cows come home, but the fact is the Dino product is as plain and ordinary as it gets. I don't see myself ever going back. Although I don't retail shop in the local stores, I do leave eating out to the locals, and next time you see me I'll probably be at the Villa Valenti or Ralph's in Albany. Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue proves that you can't paint lipstick on an Applebee's pig.

Brian Huba

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How is Lodge's Still in Business?

During Christmas Break, when I was in grade school, my mother would take me and a friend to downtown Albany and let us walk around while she went to work at the old Albany DSS on State Street. We'd go the Museum then to the top of the Corning Tower. After that, lunch at Sandwiches to Go then we'd walk around Pearl Street by the Army/Navy Store and Lodge's. I always looked forward to those days, and liked it better if it was snowing. But all these years later, as the region has become overrun by malls, and chain-store giants, and everthing else you can imagine, I wonder: How is Lodge's still in business?

If you don't know what B. Lodge's is, it is an oddities store (men's/women's clothing, socks, underwear, bras, etc) and the oldest store in Albany. It is across from the Kenmore and the Blue 82 Bar on Pearl Street. If you've never been to Lodge's, I would assume you are in the majority, because the whole point of this blog is: I don't understand WHO goes to Lodge's. When the economy is seemingly crumbling around us everday, and the same chain-store giants I just mentioned are going by the wayside in record numbers, this old, musty store, filled with all these grandma-ish clothes and oddities, still stands? Really? Who goes to Lodge's? Please, tell me who you are. I know, I know, when you needed a poncho on the spot, Lodge's saved the day. But how often does that happen? A business can't survive on that craziness, can it?

My memories of the place are that it is really depressing, and old, and really green inside. There are all these waaayyyyyy out-of-style clothes and bins of other buyables everywhere. I even think a bell rings when you go inside. I know it's a slice of Albany history, but are you kidding me? Everything in the store is so second-handish and old. They call pants, slacks. Pants haven't been called slacks since Mr. Ed went off the air. Plus, all the parking is metered. Jez-Louise. I don't understand how this store survives.

Cheap clothes? Go to Macy's or JCP's and you can get namebrand dress shirts for $10.00 sometimes on their clearance days. (I admit, I don't know women's prices.) That may be anti-local, sure. But the mall is much easier and that's where so many go for clothes. You don't have to really pay for clothes anymore anyway, not even good, namebrand suits. I get Express, Gap, and Macy's coupons by the wagon load. At the end of that you're paying floorboard prices.

Recently I tried to go back to Lodge's so I could understand what keeps this dinosaur going. First stop: their website for hours of operation. Guess what? No website. It's 2010. So we made the drive anyway. Guess what? In addition to being musty and super-depressing, and not having a website (that I could find) it's NEVER open for business. Every time I go there, it's closed and those horrible, out-of-style clothes are hanging in the sidewalk-window. What are the hours on this place? (As far as I can tell) Nights? Nope. Weekend evenings? Nope. You can't be telling me that it's only open during regular 9-5, weekday work hours. It's almost like this place's business plan is do ANYTHING to NOT get business. What retailer opens up ONLY when EVERYBODY is at work?

I appreciate the fact that Lodge's is the oldest store in Albany, I get that. And despite my rant, God bless the place for surviving an economy that's worse than Conan's new late-night show. At some point you need superior product that's appealing and relevant to consumers, right? You need to actually make money, and you need to be open every once in a while when people are available to shop. This isn't 1937. It can't all be the State Worker lunch crowd, and retired folks, and people who go there for the great sock deals (because good socks are so hard to come by), and those artsy-people who only believe in buying local (peace and love, peace and love) that keeps this operation afloat, can it? I just don't get it.

Lodge's will always live as a fond memory of my Christmas Break days in Albany, but now, when I'm actually of the age to be a buyer, I couldn't dream up a single reason to hit Lodge's. Is that sad? Maybe. Am I the ugly American for spending my money at Crossgates and Colonie Center? Probably. But it's the truth and I imagine it's your truth too.

Lodge's hours: 8.50Am-5.25PM, Mon-Sat.
??8.50-5.25?? That's so 1937.

Brian Huba

Thursday, November 18, 2010


In case you haven’t heard the horrible story about the military-dog, Target, here’s a brief recap:

A dog honored for saving US soldiers in Afghanistan by barking and snapping at a suicide bomber was accidentally euthanized this week at an animal shelter in Arizona. Target, a shepherd mix who even appeared on "Oprah," came to the San Tan Valley area this summer to live with Sgt. Terry Young and his family. After slipping out an open backyard gate at Young's home over the weekend, Target ended up at the local pound where a shelter employee mistakenly put her to sleep, the Arizona Republic reported. "I just can't believe that something like this would happen to such a good dog," Young told the NY Post. Ruth Stalter, the county animal director, said an investigation was under way.

The knee-jerk instinct is to blame the shelter worker for this tragic miscue, some going as far to call this worker “complete scum” and suggest that the worker should be “put down” the same way. As you know I am an over-the-top animal lover, and was deeply saddened to hear about the death of this dog, as I am when I hear about, or even think about, the death of any dog. But the truth: this kind of thing (dogs being put down) happens every day in shelters all over America, happens by the thousands in fact. Thousands of unlucky dogs that would run, and play, and serve a family happily, if only given the chance to live, never do get that chance. It sucks.

I can’t even think about the reality of what actually happens to so many homeless/unwanted pups, and I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be to work in a shelter, and have to face this horrifying reality on a daily basis. For anyone to blame this shelter worker is insane. In fact, I bet this “worker” is actually a volunteer. I for one applaud any person willing to serve animals in this way, because I couldn’t do it. I know Ruth Stalter said that she was putting an investigation in motion, which, in my mind, kind of implicates the shelter worker. I hope that’s just fodder for the media. Because I can’t imagine what there is to investigate. This seems like nothing more than a bad mistake. I don’t think someone who devotes themselves to this sort of work would maliciously kill an animal. Do you?

If somebody needs to be blamed, I’d lay it on the owner: Sgt. Terry Young. Young allowed Target to get out of the yard, and clearly didn’t have the dog tagged or chipped. "I just can't believe that something like this would happen to such a good dog," Young told the NY Post. Well, of course it could happen, if the dog is able to escape and go unclaimed for the few days that any dog is held at a local pound before it’s put down. My anger is directed at this man. I don’t know about you, but if one of my dogs got away I wouldn’t eat, sleep, or breathe until I had her back again. There’s no way my baby would ever go a second without tags, ever get out of the yard, and sure as heck NEVER sit in a local pound for three to five days without being claimed. NEVER. This dog shouldn’ve died, no dog should ever die like this, and I am sorry for the shelter worker who has to shoulder this mistake, and I blame Sgt. Terry Young 100%, if I MUST lay blame. Instead of allowing the shelter worker, I mean volunteer, to take the heat, I hope Young falls on the sword. Then I hope he fixes the fence before getting another dog.

Brian Huba

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Howard Stern & Billy Joel

If you didn't get a chance to hear the great Howard Stern interview Billy Joel on his Sirius Radio Show on 11/16/10, do yourself a titantic favor and listen to it on Youtube. I will paste the links in below.

Howard Stern claims that he only has 14 shows left on Sirius Radio, due to his contract expiring in January. I for one hope this isn't the end of Howard. But, if it is the end, this past week of radio may be his best ever. Jay-Z stopped in and gave a great interview. Then, of course, Billy Joel, maybe the greatest singer/songwriter alive. Billy sang his songs live in studio, told the backstories, and answered any question that Howard asked. If you know anything about Stern, you know that he's the best interviewer in the business, so the questions were fantastic. It was/is must-listen-radio. I couldn't turn it off. I sat in my garage for 40 minutes just listening.

If you don't love Billy, you don't love music. I can remember when we were in high school then college, our favorite thing to do was get together and listen to Billy. If someone was having a house party with all the bells and whistles, the best girls, etc, etc, we weren't interested in showing up until we got the Billy Joel situation sorted out. So, for me, this interview was awesome.

It's not everyday you get a real interview with a legend, instead of some idiot throwing softball, prescripted questions. I'm thinking of the George W. Bush interview on Dateline. Pathetic. No, no, this is real, and it's incredible. Two legends trading wits. Doesn't get any better than this. Hope you take the time to listen. It'll be worth it.

Brian Huba

Listen: Part 3 and Part 4 should be posted today

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Michael Vick? No Thanks

If you're a football fan you likely watched the Philadelphia Eagles, behind QB Michael Vick, destroy the Redskins on national television. If you turn on sports radio today you will likely hear a lot of pundits talking about how great Vick is playing now, how he turned his life around, got back to playing football and leading the Eagles to a 6-3 record, etc, etc. In case you forgot, and it seems so many of you have, Michael Vick was the millionaire QB for the Atlanta Falcons who was arrested and convicted for engaging in and funding dog fighting.

But there's more to the Vick story.

There’s a wicked misconception that after signing a $125 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons, Vick’s role was merely as dogfighting financial backer. Not true. He himself serially slaughtered animals with his own hands. He strangled, drowned, hanged, electrocuted, and beat unprofitable dogs to death while being coveted as the “Face of the NFL.” His multi-million-dollar property was a cemetery of pit bull carcasses left for decay in shallow graves. When simply crucifying dogs proved boring, Vick fed his family purebred to a cage of pit bulls, just to watch it get ripped to shreds. This belief that he’s rehabilitated himself is insane. “I’ve overcome a lot,” proclaimed Vick. “More than one single individual can handle or bear.”

I don't care how many football games he wins or how many interviews he gives, I will never, ever feel good for this scumbag or root for his team to win. No way! For those of you who say he paid his debt to society and should have a chance to redeem himself, I say forget that. The problem with this country is everybody has such a short memory. This creep throws a few TD passes and all of a sudden football fans embrace him and football teams are potentially (at season's end) lining up to pay him millions. Is there any such thing as measuring a man's character before signing him to a huge deal? Ask the Falcons about that. They took back this sleeze ball's millions. Good for them.

There are two crimes that there's NEVER an excuse for: rape and abuse against animals. There's actually meatball-pigs who will buy #7 Vick jerseys and wear them around in public. Disgusting!

I'm a bigger NFL fan than anybody. I love Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin. But if either of them ever engaged in this kind of behavior, I would be writing the same thing about them. And I'm not saying Eagles fans should allow this scumbag to ruin the experience of rooting for their team. But next time you cheer for #7, keep in mind the kind of man you are endorsing. There's really nothing worse than what he did. And this idea that he's rehabilitated himself is a joke. He's the same piece of garbage he's always been and always will be. Just like his dirtbag brother. Don't believe me that scumbagginess runs in the Vick family. Google Marcus Vick and read away. These are the type of people you are dealing with. One more horrible than the next. Should fans separate the man from the player when watching sports? Of course. But some things can't be separated, some lines can't be blurred. Knowing what this man did with his own hands to harmless, helpless animals. A man who was blessed with all the skills in the world. A man whose life was a dream come true, in so many respects. I can't separate that. Can you?

You slaughter, electrocute, or drown helpless dogs with your bare hands: Game Over. And, speaking of games, I hope the NY Giants put a thrashing on this guy Sunday night.

Dedicate it to the dogs, Big Blue.

Brian Huba

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Should I Have Been Comped?

Friday night I went out to the Chessecake Factory to eat dinner. When we arrived we were quoted (that's the word they use, quoted) a wait time of 45 minutes. We walked around the mall then came back and were being led to our seats at 44 minutes. So far, so good. If you've never been to the Chessecake, they run the place like a well-oiled machine. That's what they pride themselves on: efficiency. So anyway, when I saw we were being led to one of those table-things where you have to sit on top of total strangers, I told the small hostess girl that we would wait for a booth. While we waited another 15 minutes, samples of free cheesecake were being passed around. It was great. 15 minutes later we were being led to a private booth by another of these hostess girls. It was busy, but they got us seated.

Now, going into Chessecake, you expect the place to be run like a drum. You don't expect over-the-top-good food, but they make a big display of dotting the i's and crossing the t's. So if that's your thing as a business (chain or otherwise), you better get it right, right? We both ordered sodas and an appetizer of crab wantans. A few minutes later we ordered burgers as entree--medium. After 30 minutes of filling up on the free bread, a young man who was not our waitress delivered our burgers--under cooked. I told him that they had forgotten the appetizer. Two minutes later, our waitress came and apologized for the miscue, and offered to bring the wantans out with our burgers or have them wrapped up as a snack. We politely declined, because nothing sounds worse than having wantans with cheeseburgers, except maybe having them as a late-night snack. But I joked that we would take them "on the house." The waitress laughed as if I was not serious (which I was) then went to refill our sodas. After dinner we ordered cheesecake slices to go. When the bill came, we were charged for everything we had gotten, right down to the sodas.

I ask: Shouldn't a place that prides itself on being robotically efficient have comped us something because of their mess up, albeit a small mess up? The sodas or even the cheesecake maybe? Instead of offering to comp something on the bill, when I went to pay, the waitress again tried to upsell the wantans as a late-night snack, and thus charge me for them. Of course this isn't a big deal, but I really expected some manager-type with the earpiece, you know the type I'm talking about, to come over and offer dessert on the house or something. But nope, charged for everything, even the sodas.

My point: If you are all about robotic perfection, because (honestly) the food there is nothing to get excited about, be ready to go overboard when that perfection isn't met. I don't care about bells and whistles. I care more about product than presentation. That's why you'll never catch me in a Friday's or Chilli's, because the atmosphere is fun but the food sucks. The next night we went to an Italian place in Lansingburgh called Verdile's. The wait was insane, the place looked like a dumpy diner, all the servers were men (which is REALLY weird), and there weren't even tableclothes on the tables. But the food was great, and that's why I'll go back. And if they had forgotten an appetizer, no big deal, because there was nothing about this family-ran joint that said it's a robotic system. Mistakes happen. And, I promise, they would've comped us dessert or soda refills.

Should I have been comped?

Brian Huba

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Computer Doesn't Allow That

(Ben & Darr)
You know what line I'm really getting tired of: The computer doesn't allow me to do that. You may have heard it recently at some local retailer, like a clothing store or something like that. Allow me to explan further. You go into a store like H&M or Express, etc, and you have a coupon that says if you spend 75.00 you get 25.00 off, or whatever. Then guess what? Your total sale comes up to $49.96, and the 18yr old working the register says he/she would love to give you the 4 cents and thus give you the coupon credit, but "the computer won't allow me to do that." Obviously the goal is to get you to buy something else before getting the discount, I understand that, but come on, can you please stop insulting us with that silly little lie about the computer not allowing you to do that? It's complete crap and anytime a cashier says it to you, he/she is lying through their teeth, giving the company line so to speak.

Last night I went to the movie theatre and saw the new movie with the guy from the Hangover. Very funny. But beforehand we bought a popcorn/soda combo deal for 14.95 (wow) , and was told that all candy was 2.50 (as many boxes as we wanted) with the combo, instead of the regular 3.75. So, of course, I bought a candy with the combo meal, allowing myself to be upsold. Why not, right? Then I told the kid working the counter that I had my receipt and would come back out during the movie to take advantage of the offer to purchase unlimited boxes at 2.50--if we got hungry again. But guess what? The computer wouldn't allow him to do that. All the candy had to be purchased on the spot, in the same transaction. So I confronted him about this blatant lie, and basically said that it was nonsense about the computer not allowing the candy to be bought later. Here was the exchange:

Me: Why won't the computer allow you to do that if I have my receipt?

Him: Company line mumbo-jumbo.

Me: I have my receipt. What's the difference? In fact you'll probably sell more candy if you keep the offer alive the whole night. I'll probably keep coming back out to buy.

Him: The computer will not allow a candy sale of 2.50 unless it's with the popcorn/soda combo. Has to be all one transaction. Otherwise: 3.75. Sorry, dude.

Me: What will the computer do? Not open up when you hit enter or whatever? Does the computer sieze up and stop working if you dare make a sale of 2.50 instead of 3.75? There's no override option of any kind? You're clearly not telling the truth.

Him: Company line mumbo-jumbo.

We live in a world that has computers that can improve eye sight with lasers and drive satellites through outer space. But an asst. manager at Express or Gap can't punch a couple buttons and make a sale of 49.96 enter in as 50.00? Please, it's B.S. And, by the way, it's not a computer it's a cash register, and I doubt the cash register is abreast of all promotions, and sales, and such, and somehow be programmed to not EVER allow an override of any kind. Get real! It's clearly a lie. Of course the reason for this lie is to get you to buy more product, whatever retailer it is. But, as a consumer, I kind of have a problem being lied to straightfaced when I'm inside spending my money. Especially if the person lying to me is an 18yr-old kid. And I know that's what all employees are told to say, and that is part of the pull in: get a customer inside the store then get everything you can out of that customer. I get it. I guess I'm just tired of hearing this stupid, blatant lie all the time, even at the movie theatre.

Brian Huba

Monday, November 8, 2010

Casual Fridays

For those who don't know what Casual Friday is allow me to explain. Casual Friday is when people who work office jobs or white-collar jobs (generally) decide to ditch the professional attire and wear something, well, more casual to close out the work week. Some popular choices are pullovers, maybe a button down of some sort, and of course, the staple: Jeans. I for one think Casual Friday is completely ridiculous, and have never understood the reason why people do it.

What is the attraction to Casual Friday? Is wearing jeans to the office really that big a deal? Are we so bored as a society that something so mundane and lazy as donning weekend wear is a look-foward-to thing? I don't know how it is at your job, but where I work it's the same handful of people who partake in this nonsense every week. Obviously, someone who opposes this tradition has to ask: What's the message you're trying to send by showing up to work in blue jeans and a half-zipper fleece on Fridays? Should we take you seriously Mon-Thurs, but NOT take you seriously on Friday?

I know, I know: It's just a way to change the pace around the office for a bit, mix it up. I ask: Why? The office (I hope) is a place of business and should be treated like that all days of operation, not just Mon-Thurs. When I see you wearing jeans while at work, when everyone understands the general attire is professional, you instantly drop a notch in my mind's eye, in regards to how serious you are in your craft, when just the opposite may be true. You may be great at your job, dedicated. But hey if it walks like a duck . . . Did Bill Gates and/or the guy who made up Facebook wear jeans to the office? Maybe. But they invented Windows and Facebook. When you invent something that literally changes the world, go ahead and whip out the Wrangler's.

Where does it end? Do all professions do this? I know county workers and state workers made this famous. How about doctors or cops or firefighters? Do they have Casual Fridays? Is there a day where these professionals just take it easy, change the pace with a pair of blue jeans from the back of the closet? Please tell me if that's the case, so I'm sure not to have a heartattack or house fire on those days. Because if I came to the ER with crippling chest pains and found myself in the middle of Casual Friday hospital-style, I'd be pretty freaked out. I want the guy who's gonna cut my chest open to look the part everday, even Friday, if that's not too much to ask. No, no, you're probably saying, someone as important as a cop or heart surgeon shouldn't participate in Casual Friday, that's not for them. OK, I get it: Casual Friday is for less-important jobs. Just remember that line when the company's budget cuts your position from its books and sends you packing. But hey, I'm sure the boss will give you one last Casual Friday on the clock.

What's my point? Maybe everything is getting a bit too casual these days. Everybody feels it's so important to express their personal styles in the workplace and beyond. When did this level of entitlement start? If it's not Casual Friday, it's an inner-office wedding shower, or birthday party for Becky in HR, or Christmas grab bag. Is it really a wonder that American productivity is declining so quickly? This country doesn't make anything anymore, doesn't build anything brand new, we just push paper around, have meetings about meetings. Nobody wants to do the real work anymore. We're too worried about personal days, and sick time, and wearing jeans on Fridays. But now, more than ever, the corporate belt is tightening. Now is the time to show up at the office in top form, because we sure seem ready to (all of a sudden) walk the company line when budget cuts loom.

Workplace practice is like anything else in life. You're permitted certain things, like two weeks vacation time, X-number of sick days, so much maternity leave time, etc. But that doesn't mean you NEED to take it. And of course nobody will say anything when you exhaust all your personal options, but that doesn't mean somebody's not watching, always watching, and when push comes to shove, maybe something as simple as not ALWAYS using all your personal time will keep you on the company dime. That's just one person's opinion.

My greatest fear is that Casual Friday will one day become Casual Monday, then Casual Weds-Fri, then finally, well, you get the idea. Before long we'll all be going to work draped in velvet sweat suits. Try eating cake at Becky's inner-office birthday party while wearing that.

Brian Huba

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Things That Make Me Go Hmmmm

Like C&C Music Factory and Arsenio Hall used to say in the 90's, these are a few news-pieces that made me go hmmmm.

1. The Hangover & Mel Gibson: So let me get this straight. The cast and crew of the Hangover II WILL work with convicted-rapist and drug-offender Mike Tyson but they WON'T work with Mel Gibson, who was caught on tape ranting to his girlfriend (who set him up) about all things from race to their crappy relationship? Don't get me wrong, I love Iron Mike, and Mel's rant was insane, even for Hollywood standards, but it seems pretty hypocritical of this ego-bloated Hangover crew to put up the morality stop-sign for Mel, who did not technically get convicted of anything criminal yet, but will roll out the red carpet for Iron Mike, a man who did 4 yrs behind bars. By the way, if anyone thinks the Hangover II is going to be good (because the first Hangover was awesome), I refer back to Meet the Fockers (maybe one of the most unwatchable, cringe-worthy movies ever made) and the upcoming Little Fockers. Sometimes one great movie in the comedy series is enough. Ironically, Tyson is the only one who said he had "no problem" working with Mel. Go figure. P.S. Why is Bradley Cooper, at the height of his Hollywood fame dating Renee Zellwegger? Bradley, you could have any woman you want. You settle for that pale, prune-faced borefest? Come on, BC, get real.

2. The Albany Warehouse Fire: Today the Times Union called the Albany Warehouse building the white elephant in the room. I'd say so! Doesn't it seem a bit strange to anybody that this awful eye-sore on the Albany skyline just suddenly caught fire, when all accounts said it was long-abandoned? Right now the building is owned by a firm who can't sell it and seemingly has no future plans for it. Obviously, if nothing is going to be done with this disgusting building, it would serve all involved to just get rid of it, right? Then, suddenly, a fire, and guess what, Albany fire fighters decide not to attack it, for danger reasons. I have proof of nothing, but my instinct tells me there are people pushing levers on this fire deal, and I wouldn't be surprised if a few weeks from now the building is declared too dangerous to stand, and ordered for the wrecking-ball treatment. Stay tuned.

3. Jenn Sterger & Brett Favre: Am I supposed to feel outrage or anger about the text messages and inappropriate photos (Brett denies the photos) that Favre sent former Jets reporter Jenn Sterger on his cell phone? Have you ever seen this Sterger girl? She is literally a 105lb package of temptation, at all times, in all situations. She did sideline reports for the Jets in a low-cut belly shirt and is splashed all over the Internet in provocative pics. I don't know about you, but that doesn't strike me as overly-professional, in any regard. My point is this: If it looks like a duck, it might NOT be a duck, but it's at least wearing a duck's costume. You can't flaunt yourself as a belly-shirt, flirty "wooo girl" then all of a sudden ask to be taken seriously when you make accusations of inappropriate behavior against you on this level. It doesn't cut both ways, honey. Now she won't even talk to the NFL about the charges. Of course not. She wants a payoff from Favre and a reality show. Was Brett (a married man) wrong to act like this? Of course. But he wouldn've tried sending those texts/photos to a woman who sold herself as all business. So ladies, before you defend poor, little, half-shirted Jenn, ask yourself 1). How did Brett Favre even get her cell phone # in the first place? (Don't tell me you believe that story about the Jets worker giving it to Brett behind Sterger's back.) And, 2), please, understand: Jenn Sterger, and all women like her, are the reason why feminism is comedy relief in this country.

4. Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What does that mean? Now before you read this wrong, let me say: cancer is a touchy subject (I recognize that) because it's a horrible disease that has rocked my family and I'm sure many others. Like Furio said in the Sopranos, "cancer, it respects-a nuttin." I pray everyday for a cure. And I know the pink shirts and fundraisers make the youth aware of the disease and that's a good thing, trust me, it is. I'm just not sure how me giving you a quarter outside Giants' Stadium or wearing pink will lead to a cure. Where is all that money going? Is it paying for treatment? Trust me, cancer treatment is out-of-this-world expensive for each person afflicted, and it's THAT person who's paying. Enter insurance, and if you don't have insurance, goodbye 401K. In regards to all cancers: Is the collection-can money for some scientist sitting in a lab somewhere still finding "the cure" for cancer? Is that the idea we're still selling? Is that money funding further research? What does that even mean? Is a CURE for cancer even possible? Haven't we been trying to cure cancer since the beginning of mankind basically? The truth: nobody has pinpointed without debate what causes cancer (not really) and it doesn't seem we're getting any closer to a cure. The treatment/technology is better, of course, but I feel like cancer is a part of being human, it's part of the deal, so to speak, like headaches or baldness. A doctor once told me, "We'd all die of cancer if it wasn't for heart disease or diabetes or car accidents. There's no way around cancer if you live long enough or eliminate all other causes of fatality." As a society, we understand the human body, and we know what cancer IS, but we have no idea how to STOP it, not really. It's genetics and everything else is a dice roll, whether you'll get it or not. Don't believe me? Statistically just 10% of life-long smokers ever get lung cancer, yet world-class biker, Lance Armstrong, gets cancer at 33 yrs old. Just one of a million oddities. It's a dice roll. Look at AIDS. AIDS came along in the 1980's and it was a death sentence back then. Now, in many ways, we have AIDS under control, already. By all means, donate, educate yourself, but I'm not sure all those quarters and pink shirts are leading to a cure anytime soon. And that sucks.

5. The New LeBron James NIKE Commercial: Have you seen this new commercial yet? It's LeBron James asking "you" what "should I do?" The commercial is answering all LeBron's critics, even poking fun at Charles Barkley, who harshly criticized James leaving Cleveland for Miami, and doing it on ESPN. Want my advice, LeBron? Stop talking about "the Decision," stop making commercials like this, stop talking about your tweets, stop hosting nightclub parties in Las Vegas, just SHUT UP AND WIN SOMETHING. Then start talking again.

Things that make me go hmmm

Brian Huba

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One Giant Victory!

Last night I had a dream. In this dream the NY Giants destroyed the Dallas Cowboys in a must-win game for the 'boys in their own stadium on national television, thus ending the Cowboys season and seizing control of the NFC East. Then, the craziest thing happened in my dream: Tony Romo went down with a shoulder injury that could end him for 6 to 8 weeks and Wade Phillips was left scratching his head . . . again. The best part of this dream was that the entire country finally got to see why Eli Manning is a top 5 QB and Tom Coughlin is a GREAT head coach. And that defense. Oh my God. I don't even want to talk about that big-D, our NYG big-D. Then I woke up and it was real.

One month ago the NY Giants were humiliated on NBC by Peyton Manning and the Colts. The score was lopsided but in addition to that the whole Giants operation looked like a sinking ship. Coughlin seemed out of sorts (translation: he seemed old and out of touch all of a sudden) and Brandon Jacobs was throwing helmets into the stands. As a fan I was upset that the Giants put on such a poor performance in front of a national audience, and I found it harder to convince anyone outside the big-blue circle that Eli was great and Tom Coughlin was a top-tier coach, not just a tired, well-paid, content grandfather of 14. One week later: blasted at the hands of Tennessee in the new 1.6billion-dollar digs in the Meadowlands. Record: 1-2, Coughlin's future: In Limbo, Danger Level: Red.

Then two things happened 1) Tiki Barber opened his mouth, blasting Coughlin again, and 2) I made the 2.5hr drive south to East Rutherford to watch the Giants battle the Bears. I'm not sure which factor played a bigger part in the bone-crushing beating the Giants D handed Chicago that rainy night in NJ, but I'm guessing the Tiki comments reminded the entire organization whose back they really had, reminded them that this team chose this coach over that player in '07 and was going to show the world they were ready to do it again. (By the way any man who leaves his wife when she's pregnant with twins to be with a 21 yr old the way Tiki did is complete scum.) Four straight wins later, the Giants are the class of the NFC...again, and looking a lot like that plucky, championship bunch from '07. Record 5-2, Coughlin's Future: Bright, Danger Level: n/a

What I loved about last night was the character that the NY Giants displayed. Down twice early (10-0, 20-7) they just kept digging until they took Tony Romo out (the 5th QB the Giants D has sidelined this season) and had their hands squeezed around the throat of every Cowboy player and coach. If it wasn't for 2 brilliant replay challenges by Tom Coughlin early in the game, the Cowboy lead could've increased. Both those challenges by Tom were masterful and led to 7 NYG points; more if Brandon Jacobs didn't fumble. Eli Manning was a God last night. He picked Dallas apart like a playground bully. Think about this: Big Blue turned the ball over 6 times and still scored 40+pts. Imagine if the NYG's had zero turnovers. They would've scored 70pts. Dallas converted one 3rd down, one! It was a mauling of epic degree, and I couldn't be happier, despite the sloppy NYG playing down the stretch. I didn't like the let-up with the big lead. But, hey, thank God the Giants have a great Head Coach to make that a teachable moment.

Last night was a victory for tough guys, proven winners like Tom Coughlin. His coaching was a work of art. The game plan was perfection, executed with hit-man precision. Coughlin made Wade Phillips look like a FOOL on his own field. Eli was amazing, despite the picks. Don't believe me: read the stat lines. Any idiot who thinks Eli is "average" knows nothing about football. Eli average? No. Vince Young is average. Ryan Fitzpatrick is average. There are six QB's in the entire NFL with Superbowl rings. Eli is one of them, plus an MVP Trophy. Average? Are you insane? Have you ever seen him work his magic at the line of scrimmage? You give Eli a defense and he'll take you to the playoffs. I promise! It looked like he was playing Cohoes High School last night. That (the Cowboys) was the team favored to win the NFC this year? Really? Eli average? Get real.

Every other word from Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden last night (the game announcers) was a praising of Coughlin and/or Eli. What can I say? Experts are experts for a reason. And I was so happy that all this good stuff happened in front of 20million viewers. Now finally (maybe) people will understand when I say that Eli is a top 5 QB and Coughlin can't be replaced. Nobody wins a football championship in Oct. I get that. But in the NFL, as in life, it's not how you start, it's how you finish. Right now I like where the NYG's are going. R.I.P. Dallas.

Next NYG stop: Superbowl...again

Brian Huba

Sunday, October 24, 2010

You Call That Fundraising?

What is the story with the teenagers and younger children standing outside the doors of Wal-Mart asking you to give them money to support cheerleading, or Boy Scouts, or whatever else they belong to? Of course I don't mind donating money to groups like this, and I love to see children of all ages find happiness in extra activites, but this whole entrapment-at-the-doors-of-Wal-Mart approach seems wrong for some reason. Here's my thought(s) on it.

Shouldn't a team or organization looking for a donation do something in order to earn it (a car wash or cookie sale, etc)? When did the Boy Scouts (whose whole reason for existing is to teach young people to be resourceful) or a HS cheerleading team, or any other group like this start going to stores and saying, "give us money," or "support us"? What is the lesson in that? And what really irks me is their parents are standing right there with them, smiling if you give the money and adding to the uncomfortable feeling if you don't.

I think in a lot of ways this is a snapshot of everything that's wrong with our up-and-coming generation: they never have to DO anything, or MAKE anything, or THINK of anything. Between the text messaging, and DVR's, and I-Pods, kids are just droning out on us, even the most scholastic-minded ones seem to lack any real, genuine creativity or communication skills. I feel like parents (some not all) who are raising children now are enabling this new trend, and never taking it upon themselves to challenge young people with conversation, or debate, or a life that isn't 100% dependent on technology. I spoke to some teachers who told me that they have students whose parents call them during class on a cell phone, when they know that the school has a no-cell-phone policy. Enable much?

I don't think it should be up to ordinary people in a community to feel obligated to "support" a group like the Boy Scouts or HS cheerleaders, etc if it's just a we-want-money-so-give-us-money arrangement. Make something for us to buy from you, put on a spaghetti dinner and work a night in a kitchen preparing meals for people to buy, operate a car wash one Saturday and spend that day running it. Get to work! Get creative! Most community members are great, but I don't blame these same people for feeling trapped and/or cornered by a group of oh-so-cute kids barracading the doors of Wal-Mart and hamstringing them for a handout. Forget that! Kids nowadays (wow, I just sounded like my grandfather) are skipping so many essential parts of the developmental process, i.e. working after-school jobs, volunteering to help out in the community, joining clubs, just talking and communicating with people to learn what that's like.

There is a difference between a handout and a donation, but that difference is being blurred. A handout is a handout, a freebie, an agreement that requires no commitment or pride. A donation is something that is earned for supplying a satisfactory service of some kind. The problem: that difference stays blurred into adulthood for too many teenagers now. Nobody wants to work anymore. Every 22 yr. old wants the corner office right out of college. There's no EARNING IT anymore. And I blame everybody for that: the kids, the parents, the teachers, all of them. Way back when I was in grade school (wow, I just sounded like my dad), I used to sell candy bars door-to-door, walking my entire neighborhood everyday after school hawking them overpriced crunches and peanut butter treats for the 5th grade class trip. I wanted to sell the most product and win that limo ride to McDonald's. Well, I didn't win that limo ride (I came in 3rd place in the grade), but I learned a valuable lesson. I learned that I wasn't competing against myself for success, I was competing against everybody else out there, and if I wanted to rise to the top of anything, I had to outwork everyone else involved. There were no handouts or free passes. That year we went to NYC for our class trip, and I really felt like my fingerprints and sweat from all those nights of knocking on doors made that trip happen, and I have never forgotten that.

What's the lesson nowadays: Make enough people, going in and out of Wal-Mart, guilty enough to give you money to support whatever group you represent? Good lesson.

There's a difference between a handout and a donation.

Brian Huba

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Since I've Been Gone

Since I last wrote in June, so many things have surprised me and reminded me of the wacky, wild world we now live in. I am happy to be back writing blogs for the Troy Record. I thought the best way to reintroduce myself was to sound off about some things that have just thrown me for a loop. Here it goes.

The Watervliet Dog Shooting: Is abuse against defenseless animals some new trend I haven’t been made hip to yet? It seems like every other day there’s another disgusting story about some slimeball destroying a dog for some ridiculous reason. I was glad to see that the Humane Society has offered up another $500.00 to catch the piece of garbage that shot the 13-month-old Brittany spaniel, with a pellet gun on Oct. 3 in ‘Vliet. The dog died a week later, leaving its family grieving and looking for information. I’ll throw another $100.00 on the pot. Just tell me how. I still say these scumbags should get the death penalty. There are two crimes in this world that NEVER are excusable: rape and animal abuse. Please catch this creep, tie a cinder block around his waist, and throw him (or her) off the Patroon Island Bridge.

The Tea Party: OK, I’ll admit, I am not an expert on all that the Tea Party stands for. But it seems like they’re churning out one lunatic candidate after the other. I’m all for shaking up the status quo in politics, but any movement that dubs Sarah Palin as one of its leaders, is really the stupid being led by know the rest. Palin is the dumbest politician in the history of the world. But I was happy to see that the Tea Party people actually dug up someone almost as idiotic as Palin: Christine O’Donnell. Wow. Is this woman really running for political office? Moving to Canada has never sounded so good.

The Mid-Term Elections: Speaking of insane politics is anyone else disgusted by the circus-show that is the mid-term elections in NYS? It is one insane campaign ad after the other on TV. I get it, send the message, smear the other guy, go for the jugular. But do these candidates really think New Yorkers are stupid enough to swallow these over-the-top scare tactics. “Chris Gibson wants to end the dept of education!” Really? Does he even have the power to do that if elected to such a minor office? Gillibrand is probably the worst senator in the country. She would leave a New Yorker for dead on the side of the road if it meant getting her hands dirty. But she’ll win and so will Scott Murphy. How bout that Governor’s debate the other night? THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH! New York has never looked so good, huh? Paladino is a maniac who got attacked about his stance on gay marriage and Cuomo doesn’t have a thing to say about anything. It took him a year to even enter the race, after hiding in the weeds like a coward. Like that guy said to Denzel in AMERICAN GANGSTER, right before he died in that furniture store, “Forget it. There’s nobody in charge.”

The Ground Zero Mosque: I know this is an older story, but, what do you say, guys, enough is enough, don’t you think? I know ALL Muslims didn’t attack us on 9/11, but supposedly (as the government’s story goes) some Muslims DID attack us. Albeit radicals, but Muslim nonetheless. Do we really need to build a monument to them on the same sacred ground that dying Americans painted red? All these movements and rallies and such to get this Mosque built. Enough already! Just leave it alone. Build the thing somewhere else and shut up about it. Don’t tell me about freedom of religion or whatever other stupid logic you have for building this thing on top of our mass grave, our open wound. What’s next: A shrine to Japan at Pearl Harbor? How about a Timothy McVeigh statue in Oklahoma City? A statue to Eric Harris outside Columbine High School? Get real.

Fire Tom Coughlin and Eli’s Overrated: Let me say this as straight as possible: The New York Giants would be crazy to cut ties with Tom Coughlin at the end of this season, unless it ends in complete mutiny. The NFL is a tough guy league, built on discipline and high IQ. That’s why Tom is a winner everywhere he’s ever been, and clowns like Rex Ryan and Mike Singletary are flavors of the week. Every time the NY press rails for Coughlin’s head, or Tiki Barber is calling him out, the Giants respond in serious fashion. Anybody who thinks Cowher would be a better fit than Coughlin is a big-name-crazy meatball. If some Giant fans had their way in ’06, Coughlin would’ve been gone back then. Good thing we held on, huh? (That’s a reference to the Superbowl win over an 18-0 Patriots team. The most satisfying Superbowl victory ever.) I think the Giants are Superbowl-bound again this year. But only time will tell. And all this talk about Eli being overrated is outrageous. The man does nothing but win. Have there been some stinkers along the way? Of course. But overall he’s smart, solid, and is NEVER, EVER sick at sea. NEVER. Eli’s average? No Shaun Hill and Alex Smith are average. There are six QB’s in the NFL with rings. Eli’s one of them. Oh yeah, and a MVP trophy to boot. Eli’s average? You give me Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning, I’ll take my chances.

Brian Huba

Saturday, June 26, 2010

20/20's Michael Jackson Broadcast: Slanted and Scripted

Readers, I have a question for you: is the ABC News Show 20/20 supposed to be objective news reporting or is it kind of tabloidy in nature? I mean the show has boasted some of America's most famous (and most respected) news people. Barbara Walters and Chris Wallace for instance. Here's why I ask. Last night I watched the 2-hour piece devoted to Michael Jackson, a year after his death. In my previous blog I wrote about my experiences the day MJ died, and I wrote that he's the greatest entertainer ever. I still stand by all that. But this thing they ran on 20/20 last night was probably the most insulting 2 hours of TV I've ever seen. No way a respectable news outlet could run that. What do I mean? Here's what I mean . . .

The show was done in six segments all devoted to Jackson. I'll tell you about some of the segments in the 2nd hour. The most insulting was when correspondent Cynthia McFadden was interviewing Jackson's 3 former wardrobe people, who also claim to have dressed Jackson for his coffin. Readers, what can I say: they were clearly actors. When recalling Michael, the blatantly fake tears were rolling on all three. At one point, the wardrobe woman said (through quivering lip) that everyday began with her and Jackson "crying and hugging and praying for several, several minutes." Really? Then the show would throw out a question about the way Jackson appeared in public or why he wore pajamas to court, or any other issue that America had with Jackson being weird. McFadden would toss these three wardrobe people softball questions about it, and they would describe how Jackson was really "normal" for wearing lip stick and eye liner, and how he was about being spectacular, and how there was nothing wrong with that, etc, etc. Every question was scripted and every answer was pre-rehearsed to combat questions about Jackson's wild ways. McFadden, not a single follow-up question. She was just like, "oh wow, that sounds so sweet," and "Michael sounds so great," and "America totally has the wrong idea about him." Ahhhhhhh! It was pathetic! The Jackson people were OBVIOUSLY controlling what was being put on TV.

The next segment was meant to combat questions about Jackson's parenting (i.e. the baby dangling incident in Germany and Jackson making his kids wear masks). So 20/20 dragged out some woman who claimed to be his cook, and she carried on about how NORMAL Jackson was at home and how GREAT of a parent he was, and how the public had it all wrong about Jackson and his kids, and on, and on, and on. After that the show went after the production company that was going to put on the THIS IS IT showcase in London. Basically 20/20 was allowing the blame for Jackson's death to be put on the company behind these 50 concerts. They (this A&G company) neglected Jackson's declining health. They pushed him too hard. They were cruel. Jackson was the victim. Jackson was the victim. Then his makeup woman shot down all the talk about his face surgeries and the fact that he had no nose. No, no she claimed, not true. Michael had a nose, he didn't have surgeries, that's all untrue. Come on, please! The show closed with Usher and Justin Beiber talking about how great Jackson was in every way. Look, I know the American public is largely dumb. I get it. I mean, most of you think Sandy Bullock is a great actress, and THE BLINDSIDE was a good movie. But come on. 20/20 can't think the American public is this dumb. Can they? It was like an SNL skit. The person I was watching with was convinced it was a spoof. CONVINCED! I was like, "no, it's 20/20. It's real. I think."

I love Jackson. But wow. This news piece was so slanted and over-the-top from start to finish. I just can't believe that 20/20 would let such an obviously pro-Jackson camp come in and kidnap this show to make Jackson's case as a normal guy to the American public once again. And, as a viewer, you could see that kind of crazy Jackson-family angle painted all over the whole broadcast. For instance, the Jackson family thinks that crying and praying and hugging would be endearing to the American public. I feel like every time they try to make Michael come off as "normal" they make him look even crazier. That 20/20 last night looked like a glimpse into a cult. It was so overdone and melodramatic. Shame on 20/20. In my eyes that show has zero respectability left. It was a phony playact of news.

My question: why can't the Jackson camp just admit what he was? Why all this insane PR mumbo-jumbo all the time? He was a super performer who was not a well-adjusted guy off stage. Period. This whole thing about him not having a childhood and always trying to reclaim it is just a story Jackson made up to cover the fact that he liked to engage with young boys. To justify or mask maybe. Furthermore, I think Jackson wished he was a woman like Princess Diana, and that's what was behind the face surgeries. This whole not wanting to look like his dad angle is crap. Look at pictures of him late in life. He looks like a woman. Literally.

I will tell you what is going to happen. The Jackson family is going to use this 20/20 as a springboard to sue the company who wanted to put on the London shows before Jackson died. It is going to be one last, pathetic attempt by this talentless clan to ride MJ's financial coat tails one more time. I set the figure at 150 million, and predict the charge will be neglect or cruel mistreatment that led to Jackson's death. They will lose. It will be humiliating, and hopefully Joe Jackson and co. will go away, and Michael's music will be the only thing left. I, of course, wish his kids well in the world of reality TV fame. But for now I am sickened by that 20/20 show last night. Don't believe me, click on the link below. It was a tragedy of journalism. OK, no more Michael Jackson blogs.

See the whole show yourself =

Check out MTV's site about Michael Jackson =

Brian Huba