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