Sunday, January 30, 2011

I-Phone People

I am beginning to realize something: People who own the I-Phone are absolutely obsessed with this piece of technology. What do I mean by that? Basically these people can’t do a single thing in society without some way, somehow employing an I-Phone capability and/or app, even when it’s not ostensibly necessary.

Before I go any further I will tell you that I own a very basic Verizon phone. I don’t know what it’s called. It flips open and makes phone calls and sends text messages. Sometimes I go on the Internet to check and every once in a while I stumble across something it can do, i.e. voice recognition. I don’t have apps and I don’t have a $30.00 per month data plan. It’s just a phone. That’s it. I don’t have it flipped open 24/7. It's just a phone.

But these I-Phone people (God love them) they are glued to this thing. Whenever we are in a social situation with someone who owns an I-Phone, you can bet your bottom dollar that bad boy is coming out during a discussion about politics, driving directions, sports trivia, news headlines, basically anything. The I-Phone always has to be consulted. I already know Al Gore was Clinton’s Veep and he's from Tennessee, you don’t need to double check your I-Phone. And, I know that LA is about a 5-6 hour flight from NYC, you don’t need to pull up mock flight times on your I-Phone. When the dinner bill comes and it’s time to divide out evenly, we can just figure it out, please, please, please don’t reference your new I-Phone waitress tipping app. We can divide $300.00 6 ways.

I think my feelings on the I-Phone came to a head over the weekend when I was browsing books at B&N’s. Some guy had his I-Phone out, taking pictures of the bar codes on the books. He was obviously not a B&N employee. Curiosity killed the Cat’s Pajamas, so I asked, ‘What are you doing, sir.’ He told me the phone is able to take the barcode pic and instantly compare book prices to other stores. Really? Is all this necessary when buying that new hardback title? I don’t think so. To me that just feels like another I-Phone thing that all these guys do. And even if this guy had found out that Border’s sold ‘Decision Points’ for .80 cents cheaper, is he really going to get in his car and drive across Albany to take advantage? I love technology but this is just a weird mix of wasted technology and boredom, don’t you think?

And when these I-Phone people aren’t putting all the capabilities on display, they have that phone out, 3 inches from their face, doing something on that device, 24/7. Playing some kind of game or pushing things up and down the screen with their finger. And this glued-to-the-I-Phone thing happens in any social situation you can imagine: Christmas morning, a DMB concert, when you’re front row at Giants’ Stadium in the last two minutes of a tied game, at a funeral, on your lunch break, while watching an action-packed thriller. The endless mobile uploads to Facebook. I know the phone is an amazing machine, I get that. There are plenty of great things it can do, no doubt. But come on. There just never seems to be a BAD time for the I-Phone. I’m sorry, I just don’t get it, not to this extent. It’s a phone, guys, take a breath, smell the roses, live life for a while.

So who are these I-Phone people I speak of (generally)? From what I’ve come to see, I-Phone guy is usually between 25-35, a professional-looking type perhaps--in my circle at least. But I’m sure the culprits exist outside my bland and even ignorant stereotype. Either way, I know that you know exactly the type of behavior I’m talking about, you’ve seen it a thousand times in your own life. Or have you? Am I way off on this one?

I watched a movie a few years back about the future, from the same guy who created South Park, I think. Anyway, it suggested that people would soon become hopelessly addicted to instruments and various kinds of hardware technologies, unable to self-think. I laughed. It was ridiculous. I’m not laughing anymore. So next time you’re out to dinner and you can’t quite remember what night Glee is on TV, just pray someone has an I-Phone handy to instantly solve that all-encompassing mystery.

Speaking of technology: Now on facebook @ the Cat's Pajamas

Brian Huba

Friday, January 28, 2011

10 Things Historically Overrated Part II

One plucky reader recently wrote, “Brian, you are so incredibly stupid and mis-educated that I doubt you will ever attain a competent level of critical thinking.” With so much love being shot my way by one of my many infatuated fans, I have decided to write ANOTHER list of things that are Historically Overrated. So, for what it’s worth, here we go, and hold on.

10. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana: Supposedly this song was the anthem of an entire generation. Ummm OK. To me the song is kind of annoying, I can’t understand a single word of the verses, it is so overplayed, the video is stupid and kind of hard to watch, and it is always #1 on every single countdown of Top 90’s Songs. Why? Well, we all know why. With the lights out/It’s less dangerous/Here we are now/Entertain us. I have no idea why these lyrics have been so revered by history. If I had to pick the best song from the 90’s it would have to be REM’s Losing My Religion. One more Nirvana gem: A mullato/an albino/a mosquito/my libido/yeah!

9. New Year’s Eve: Simply put: It’s never that much fun. In fact, it’s kind of depressing. You try going out it’s always amateur night. Restaurants are always booked to the hilt. As far as the media coverage goes, you have Dick Clark on one channel (ABC) and Snooki on the other (MTV). The whole Times Square deal is ridiculous. Who would ever do that? I haven’t had a single fun NYE. OK, I had one, but that’s it. Too much build up for nothing. 10…9…8…7

8. The NFL Live: Have you ever tried making a day out of going to Giants’ Stadium? Wow is it an insane undertaking. It’s a three hour drive each way, with two hours of traffic. There’s no parking. Everything is absurdly overpriced. Even the best seats put you way off the field. If you look at that meatball fan from NJ wrong, he’s likely to pummel you to the parking lot in front of all your friends. Tailgating is just kind of annoying. Everybody is drunk, there’s always fights, and the next day at work is a nightmare of exhaustion. I own a TV that’s so clear I can see Tom Coughlin’s nose hairs curl. Although I get to the stadium once or twice a year and have super seats, the TV and recliner is good enough.

7. Will Smith: Can somebody please explain to me why Will Smith is so beloved in this country, and so rich and wealthy? He is considered to be in the same Hollywood circles as Tom Cruise. What?! It is like a Federal Offense to dislike the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. People, it was awful! I can’t even get through 5 minutes of Will Smith’s over-the-top facial expressions, and outbursts, and horrible acting. Every movie he’s ever made is terrible. Hitch might be the worst movie ever made. And his Oscar role, Ali, are you joking me? Ali was unwatchable. And his wife, Jada Pickett Smith, and his kids, Willow and Jaden (or whatever) are all complete nightmares. I don’t get the whole Will Smith thing. Dammmnnnnnn, girrrlll.

6. Everything Kardashian: Did you know that Kim Kardashian is the most photographed woman in the world? Oh my God. Have you ever tried sitting through an episode of any of these Kardashian carnations? Let me summarize. The whole thing is staged, absolutely nothing ever happens in any episode, there’s 15 minutes of commercials, and the Kardashians, as cute as they may be, are complete bores, every one of them. And, by the way, if you think that Kim or Khloe or Kourtney would be cool to hang out, you’re crazy. Each is more soulless, selfish, and dimwitted than the next. If you can’t see that, I don’t know what you’re seeing. It would be like hanging out with mindless robots who have nice hair and wear expensive shoes.

5. Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties: Can we just admit that every one of these kinds of parties is embarrassing for everyone involved? I really don’t know how to articulate this, but you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you are forced to be in a wedding, I’m sure you cringe at the entire BP process. From the limos to the $$$ to the rest of the stupidity. This whole getting married thing has gotten crazy. From the engagement party to the BP party to the shower to the wedding website to the actual wedding to the gift. ArrĂȘter the madness already.

4. The Beastie Boys: I know, I know, you sound so hip and relevant when you say things about the Beasties being musical geniuses and innovators in the industry. I get it. You’re very hip. But honestly you and I both know that Beasties’ music is nonsense and gibberish. Girls/All I really want is girls/in the morning it’s girls/in the evening it’s girls. I mean, come on, why didn’t John Lennon dream up that little gem? You gotta fight for your right to party! You’re mom caught you smoking and she said no way! All right, what can I say? Musical geniuses.

3. Energy Drinks: Anybody who slurps down energy drinks in normal life situations is totally goofy and bonkers. All these energy drinks are irrelevant, insane, and horribly unhealthy. You’re having an energy drink (one of those big purple cans called Cyclone or whatever) at 1PM in your cubicle? Ahhh. Dude, whatever.

2. Anything from the past: I am so tired of hearing how great Babe Ruth was, and how funny SNL used to be, or how great Chuck Berry and Public Enemy were, or how hilarious Animal House was, or how great of an actor Gregory Peck was, or how the Honeymooners was so great, but not as great as All in the Family. Let me put this as plain as possible: Everything today (in this regard) is a million times better than it was back then. Let’s start with sports. Do you have any idea what Shaq would’ve done to 7’0” 185lb Kareem Abdul Jabbar? Biggie, Tupac, Eminem were/are a BILLION TIMES better than “I said a hip, hop a hippidy-hop.” Seinfeld, Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm are all in another stratosphere when compared to Lucy or whatever. SNL in the 70’s and 80’s stunk. I know, I know, Chevy Chase fell down a lot. That’s really funny, I get it, but there was just nothing sharp or super clever in any avenue back then. Do you really think Monty Python is better than Meet the Parents or Old School? Yeah, OK

1. Maya Angelou: As far back as I can remember, I have been told how smart and relevant Maya Angelou is. If you even say the name Maya around Oprah Winfrey she’ll have a hot flash. As for me, I just don’t get anything about Angelou. Her poetry makes no sense, her stories are wholly unreadable, yet she is viewed as some kind of once-in-a-lifetime oracle. Whenever there’s a major news event or political death etc, we always have to be spoon-fed some insane Maya Angelou quote that nobody ever understands but we all accept because she’s so brilliant. Here’s a few of Maya’s greatest hits to leave you with.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” –Maya Angelou

“When we cast our bread upon the waters, we can presume that someone downstream whose face we will never know will benefit from our action, as we who are downstream from another will profit from that grantor's gift” –Maya Angelou

“I don't know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, 'well, if I'd known better I'd have done better,' that's all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, 'I'm sorry,' and then you say to yourself, 'I'm sorry.' If we all hold on to the mistake, we can't see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can't see what we're capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one's own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you. When a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that's rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don't have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.” –Maya Angelou

“Huh?! What does any of that even mean?” –Brian Huba

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Well done, Mr. Prez. But...

I thought Obama’s State of the Union Address last night was really well done. Right off the bat, having the Chamber guests sit together and/or cross the partisan isle was a nice change in a country that is seemingly so divided over almost every issue. I agreed with everything Obama said about us being a generation that needs to architect change. I believe he used the phrase, “Our Sputnik moment.” He was talking about changing over from a factory and mills country to a country that works, thrives, and leads in the information world. Obama talked about the pain of this nation’s working class and laid out plans to move forward. He had good things to say about education, renewable energy (80% by 2035), electric cars (a million by 2015). He swiped at oil tax relief and big business exemptions. He spoke about helping small business get started and even spiced the speech up with a few jokes about the ridiculous layering of government and the battle to get his Health Bill pushed through. Last night reminded me why we elected this man to the Top Job. All and all: Well done, Mr. Prez. But...

As the speech pushed past the 30-minute point and slipped into the blah blah blah portion of the address, I began to wonder the following, right or wrong: Can we just end this seemingly unwinnable war in Afghanistan? Here’s what I mean by that. In the midst of all these new-age, innovative, cutting edge ideas to move America into the 21st, we are entrenched in this antiquated war with this 3rd-world nation, doing, at this point, God knows what. Not only is this war sucking this economy dry, forcing all these job losses, program changes, cutting of domestic agendas, etc, etc, it's giving China and India time to work on their homfronts without distraction as we wage away in the desert. Do you know how much $$$$ we would have if we weren't the world's police force?

I know this may be impossible and sound silly for me to say, but can we just call off the dogs and come home right now? This whole war mission seems (to me) so old fashioned in a world becoming ruled by computers and renewable energy ideas. We’re in a 3rd-world desert bombing ‘em back to the stone age. And in so doing sucking this country’s economy dry and falling behind other world leaders. Can we stay stretched so thin for so long?

Of course I get it. We are still avenging the 9/11 attack and preventing future attacks on our country and interests around the world. I get that. I read the bumper stickers and hear the emcees at Monster Truck Rallies and Demolition Derbies screaming about how people hate our freedom and how important it is to put a boot in somebody’s backside ‘American Style.’ Fine. Whatever. But can we kind of, sort of begin to admit that we’re never pulling this bin Laden person out of a cave or dirt hole over there? It’s been a decade. And the whole chasing the Taliban down would have a lot more credibility if we didn’t take a left and go to Iraq for 8 years first. You know Iraq, the country we crippled in 2 days, the government we captured and killed in 6 months. Then … well you know the story.

But supposedly bin Laden has alluded us for year after year, despite being the world’s most wanted man. He has a $25Million dollar bounty on his head. But his people won’t give him up (the same people who basically eat dirt for dinner) because they believe in his anti-American mission. Really?

My point is: Learn from history. The Soviets were in Afghanistan for 17yrs and accomplished nada. Back here we have real $$$$ problems, and the first worry on everybody’s mind is the economy and jobs. That’s it. Nothing else. When I hear Gov. Cuomo talk about a Budget Armageddon, I lose interest in year #10 of the fight to find this mythical bin Laden.

The truth is I don’t honestly know who was behind 9/11 and/or why we can’t find this 6’5” Muslim in the Afghan. Mountains. Something isn’t adding up, hasn’t been adding up since the day 9/11 happened. Well hold on. One thing is adding up: The number of Americans out of work, and out of money, and out of hope. And if you think parrots like Kristen Gillibrand are going to bail this state and ultimately this nation out of financial dire straits, you're crazy.

Is it wrong for me to say let’s just leave Afghanistan and bring the boys back home? Is it wrong to just drop it and walk off? Maybe. Is it disrespectful to the fallen soldiers and the Military Families? For some I guess it could be. But 4,000 combat deaths isn't going to correct 3,000 combat deaths, the same way 3,000 didn't make better 2,000. I know there's something to say about American commitment to the cause. But at what point do you just let it go? I promise you people, there's never going to be a war-is-over ribbon cutting ceremony. We could stay there forever if we wanted. And the Afghans we are trying to empower? Whatever. Keep the American money coming in. They're not gonna fight. They don't care. Let us handle it. I say no. I say drop it and start rebuilding this country into a world leader going forward. Maybe I’m crazy. I don’t know. Just a thought.

Now on Facebook @ the Cat's Pajamas

Brian Huba

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Read James Frey You Fools

If you’ve never read a James Frey book, do yourself a big favor and make a trip to Borders asap. As someone who likes to read a lot, I can confidently tell you that Frey is probably the best American author right now.

You may remember Frey from his highly-controversial biography A MILLION LITTLE PIECES, about his struggle to kick booze and drugs. That was the book that Oprah endorsed on her show then endorsed some more when it was revealed that two or three parts of the story may have been exaggerated for effect. In the end, Oprah did what Oprah always does: caved under the public pressure and buried Frey on national TV, making him sit there on her Chicago stage while she called him a liar and a fraud. It was one of the most disgusting TV moments I can remember. And I still don’t know why Frey let her bash his life’s work, Book Club or not. By the way A MILLION LITTLE PIECES is a masterpiece, A MASTERPIECE, exaggerated or not. And guess what? It’s not even his best book. More on that in a second.

Frey has a very sparse style and his word-choice is as elementary (in a brilliant way) as writing gets:

The phone rang
A voice answered
I knew the voice
It said ‘Hello.’ It said ‘My son.’

All of his books are like that on every page, but by the end Frey has entrapped you in an original, unique, unforgettable story, taken you on a journey, and you have no idea how he did it, how he crafted a masterful tale with such simple, quick-hitting language. MY FRIEND LEONARD was the follow-up to PIECES. Nobody ever talks about LEONARD. It’s one of the best books you’ll ever read, I promise. But it’s not even his best book. His best book, and a book that I believe may be one of the most underappreciated books EVER written, is an ensemble story called BRIGHT SHINY MORNING. It takes place in LA and we follow a handful of different stories. It is the best book I have ever read, hands down, and I’ve read everything. Frey pulls no punches, holds nothing back, and the ensemble-thing is done like nobody has ever done it before. It’s awesome from start to finish. I vow to you: You will love BSM. And the best (worst) part? Nobody knows about it.

It doesn't matter how many Da Vinci Codes or Water for Elephants you may have read. If you’ve read Kite Runner or this new nonfiction story UNBROKEN. All great books, of course, but James Frey? No way. Not even close to Frey. Frey is like the rebel, the bad boy, the breaking-all-the-rules guy of the literary world. He is touched by God, if God was a bitter, straightforward, no-nonsense SOB. You heard it here first: Frey is the best writer we have.

I say he’s the best because with every book he releases, from his non-fictions to his masterpiece novel to the YA book I AM NUMBER FOUR he wrote under the pseudonym Pittacus Lore, he completely transforms himself as an author. Despite the same simple prose, each of his books feels like a different writer is behind them, a different life stance and experience base. Translation: there’s nothing formulaic about this guy. On the other hand, if you've read one Jodi Picoult or one James Patterson, you’ve read them all. Nobody reinvents like J. Frey. Nobody. Take it to the bank.

So why am I ranting about James Frey here and now? I’ll tell you why. Frey is getting ready to pen another piece of art that mixes fact and fiction. It is going to be called (or based on) the Final Testament and/or the Last Book of the Bible. Basically, Frey is going to create a story that has Jesus Christ living in modern-day NYC, performing gay marriages, supporting abortion, and dabbling in prostitution. I know the concept is nothing new, but I promise, Frey will deliver the idea better than anyone else has ever done it, smarter, sharper, more original and crazy. And, if this book is done right, and I think it will be, I believe it could go down as one of the all-time greats, one of those books that's too hot, too edgy to touch, but you have to. If you're a reader, you won't be able to resist it. You'll have to know what he has to say about something so taboo.

To anyone out there that classifies themselves as ‘reader,’ get your Frey-fix now, because when this new book gets pressed everybody’s going to be talking about James Frey for something other than the Oprah Book Club.

Now on Facebook @ the Cat's Pajamas

Brian Huba

Thursday, January 20, 2011

American Idol = Awful

The season premiere of American Idol was absolutely awful last night. About a year back I wrote a blog calling Idol one of the most important TV shows ever, and at the time I was sure it was on track to be just that. But Simon Cowell has jumped ship, and the music industry is in Skid Row, and people stopped caring about who won the world’s biggest talent competition. Add all that up and you get a juggernaut that's in its white-star stage. If Idol comes back for an 11th season next year, I promise it will be the last.

Why was the show bad? Too many reasons to count. The shtick is old hat by now. The whole Ryan Seacrest thing has run its course. The excitement is bland at best. But more than anything else, it’s the judges: Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson. The first half hour of last night’s premiere was all about the new judges, and, to be honest, I don’t think too many people really care two hoots about this new blood. Half the people that performed last night were actually better singers than Lopez, and Steven Tyler (one of rock’s greatest front men ever) is so over-the-top and desperate. It is really, really sad to watch, honestly. As a viewer, I didn’t care about what they (the judges) had to say about any of the wannabe singers, and additionally neither of them could make a straightforward critique. If you were a fan of J-Lo you got through. If you cried and begged, hello Hollywood. It was horrible. I turned it off at 9.40PM.

But above all, it is the loss of Simon Cowell that will cripple this show for good. No matter how much of the show you could care less about in years past, no matter how ordinary the singers were or how artificial and phony some of the "whacky" auditions were, you always lingered long enough to hear what Simon had to say. Now that element of the show is gone. And with that out of the equation there’s really no reason to watch.

It should be a long, forgettable season 10 of a show that once was on track to be the greatest reality show ever. Now we have a plastic-surgeried, former rock icon in women’s clothing screaming everything he says (Tyler), and a woman (Lopez) who’s a punch line for lacking talent, on the panel, deciding who’s going to be the next young singer to fade into oblivion 5 minutes after the finale. Have fun with that, Randy ‘the dog’ Jackson.

Seacrest out!

Now on Facebook @ the Cat's Pajamas

Brian Huba

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Canadian Lou Talks Pizza at Planet Fitness

So, the other day as I am leaving Planet Fitness, I come across a bizarre poster indicating what I believe to be the most contradicting promotion for a gym yet. Free pizza on the first Monday of every month. What? After a quick mental image, I throw up a little bit in my mouth and exit the building. I ponder this the entire drive home.

Now, the obvious. Why would a fitness center entice those who want to be physically fit with fattening foods? This is gross. I do not want to watch sweaty, overweight people gobbling down slices of grease while I am working out. Also, the stench of pizza while I am trying to sprint at a speed of 7.2 (remember I’m only 5 foot 4 and a female) is certain to discombobulate my workout capabilities.

But as I get to the last stop sign before my final turn, I realize this is genius. Think about it… the first day of the month. Pizza. This gym is conveying to the average individual that eating these foods is “okay,” allowing the person to feel secure in going to this particular type of gym. The overweight may think, “hey, this is my kind of gym… they will accept me.” Plus, being the first day of the month, it is a time to start fresh, and get moving.

Then I pull into my driveway. I am irritated! I do not want to work out in this environment. How about instead of offering pizza, you make us some awesome shakes with bananas, fruits, green tea, anything! This would add to our endurance, instead of making us bloated and let’s say it, fatter. I just don’t get it. This place is supposed to promote a healthy well-being. So, you will not see me at Planet Fitness on the first Mondays of every month.

As I walk up the stairs I then think about all of the other pet peeves I have regarding the gym…. Maybe you will agree with some of them.

1. My favorite times to go to the gym are weekends. I feel like I have some privacy at this time since it is relatively empty. Why then do the big sweaty ones always park themselves on the treadmill next to yours when every other one in the entire place is empty?
2. I think I would like the smell of the vomit-inducing pizza rather than that of a cigarette smoker next to me on a machine. Even worse is when they try to cover it up with perfume.
3. People who don’t clean off their machines when they are finished are not cool.
4. The girl who talks on her cell phone while the belt on the machine moves for a half hour. This person spends 4 hours at the gym per day and works out for 20 minutes of it.
5. Meat-heads. Lift, talk, walk around, laugh, lift, talk, walk around, laugh, repeat.
6. You cannot work out in jeans and a sweater.

Finally, that night I decide enough is enough. I am not thinking about the irritation this one poster has caused me. Because, the truth is, I must give credit to this almighty institution for keeping my body in check. Also, just to spite the pizza poster, I make a nutritious dinner of salmon and asparagus. So, I guess the experience benefited me in more than one way that night. So, the moral is, get yourself to the gym and while you are doing so, tune into the new radio station, 105.7 The Crush, for some ‘90s hits that will definitely get you motivated.

Now on Facebook @ the Cat's Pajamas

Canadian Lou

Monday, January 17, 2011

10 Things Historically Overrated

Here’s a list of 10 things that I feel are historically overrated, overexposed, or simply blown out of proportion.

10. Animal House: It’s not funny. John Belushi is not funny. I can name 100 comedies better, yet this bland flick is considered an iconic, American classic. I don’t get it.

9. Steak Dinners: Why do people always make such a big deal about going out for steak dinners? Why are they always so expensive? To me, steak is steak, regardless of the restaurant or kind of cut. I don’t know. To me it’s just more sizzle than substance. Then everybody complains if it's overcooked or too rare. It's madness. Anybody can make basically the same thing at home.

8. Niagara Falls: Do people really take full weekends to drive almost to Canada to look at waterfalls? Albeit, grandiose waterfalls, but a whole weekend devoted. Really? It just seems a little too ordinary and kind of boring for me.

7. Renting Limos: I don't know what to really say for this one. Whenever someone is going to rent a limo for something and I have to contribute $$$, I get pretty irritated. Limos aren't really that exciting, I'm sorry. When you're younger, OK, but beyond that, nah.

6. Firework Displays: Why do people gather like lemmings to witness these displays? Nothing sounds worse than packing into some area and watching fireworks illuminate the night sky as everyone says “oohhhh” and “aaahhhhh.”

5. Frank Sinatra: Can you believe that some people consider Ol Blue Eyes to be the greatest singer and/or entertainer ever? What are these people thinking? Sinatra shows are/were beyond boring. He just walks around the stage talking his way through lounge-sounding songs. Of course I like some of his tunes, but overall he’s not even in the conversation as one of the greatest ever. He can’t touch Lennon, couldn’t even hold Elvis’s PB&Banana sandwich, and Michael Jackson would moonwalk him right off the stage. Same rule holds true for Tony Bennett. He’s a total bore too.

4. A Christmas Story: This movie is not good. Why does it get played every year on 24-hr marathon? “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Every time I see this thing on TV, I wish I did. Best X-Mas movies: Christmas Vacation, Scrooged, Bad Santa.

3. Italian Cookies: Why does everyone bring these treats to every party and/or gathering? Nobody likes Italian cookies. They are just crumbly and tasteless, and always end up getting thrown out by the dozen. Every time I see someone show up with that same, white Bella Napoli bag, I just want to say, “Just bring peanut butter cookies or chocolate chips.”

2. Parades: Don't get them. Never have, never will. God bless you if you love 'em. I just can't wrap my mind around the concept. Sorry.

1. George Washington: Man oh man, this guy has to be the most blown-out-of-proportion figure in history. If you really stop to think about it, really push all the nonsense and distractions out of the way, what did GW really ever do? He was at Saratoga at some point, because he’s in all those painted pictures on the boat, I guess. He became President, he had wooden teeth. He’s the father of our country, OK. There’s not even proof that he even lived if you really think about it. I may be way off on this one, but I feel like GW was always painted into the right places in history vs. actually being an active contributor. He’s just always around the action, like a Revolutionary War mascot or something. Washington is shoved down every kid’s throat from the time they can talk. When the truth is he may have never done an actual, substantive thing at all.

Now on Facebook @ the Cat's Pajamas

Brian Huba

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Negligent Death? Nonsense!

It turns out that the widow of a 31-yr-old Albany CSD schoolteacher is suing a Buffalo-area home owner for the negligent death of her husband last March. The lawsuit accuses David D'Amico of the "willful, intentional, malicious" slaying of Park, and acting "without just cause [or] provocation." After an investigation of the incident, criminal charges were not pressed against the homeowner, D’Amico.

In case you don’t know the details of this story, they are as follows. D'Amico shot the 31-year-old Park early March 28. The two men did not know each other. D'Amico told police that he shot Park after Park illegally entered D'Amico's home on Millbrook Court and refused to leave despite D'Amico's warnings that he was armed and would shoot. Park, who was intoxicated, according to prosecutors, had gone into D'Amico's home after leaving a party next door. Although no criminal charges were filed, attorneys for the Park family allege under civil law that D'Amico was negligent and acted wrongfully by killing Park. Police never determined why Park left the party, why he went into the D'Amico home or why he never heeded D'Amico's request to leave the home, Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said. Police determined that Park entered the D'Amico home through an unlocked rear door. The D'Amicos had gone to bed at about 10 p.m. thinking the door was locked. Authorities said D'Amico had dialed 911 and was waiting for police to arrive when the shooting occurred. From the top of a stairway leading to his bedroom, he fired at Park at the bottom of the stairs. D'Amico was fearful because Park -- despite loud, repeated warnings -- walked "all the way through the house and kept advancing toward the stairway." D'Amico shot Park because he feared that Park was about to walk up the stairs and try to harm D'Amico and his wife, Julie. Police said a blood test determined that Park's blood-alcohol content was 0.18, more than twice the level needed to charge a motorist in this state with driving while intoxicated.

I can only imagine the pain involved with losing your spouse at such an early age, in such a bizarre, unexplainable way. For that I feel for this young widow. But to have the audacity to haul a homeowner into court for negligence, when her husband entered his house drunk, and refused to leave, is unbelievable. If I snapped awake at 1AM, and a stranger, who was clearly drunk, was stumbling around my house and advancing on my family, and would not respond to my requests to leave or back off, and had no apparent motive, and might’ve been armed, I would’ve done the same thing as this homeowner D’Amico did. Wouldn’t any man? Personally I do not have children, but I do have a home, and my worst nightmare is an intruder, especially an intruder this late at night who’s non-responsive and refusing to leave. The homeowner called 911. What else was he supposed to do? One report claimed that he may have left the back door unlocked, thinking that it was locked when he went to bed. For that I have to question him. I check every door 5 times before I go to bed, so the odds of ever facing this kind of situation are far less. But that's where my burden of blame in regards to this homeowner ends.

Many will likely accuse this young widow of trying to cash-grab through this silly civil suit. I don’t see it like that. I see her as a bit confused, grief-stricken, and being led about by some money-hungry attorneys, and people who have their own interests in mind. I call hers more a case of stupidity and vulnerability than I do of good old greed. Either way she has no case, and this nonsense is going to get laughed out of court, at any level. If this is what she has to do to deal with the death of her husband, God bless her and so be it. And I think the lesson is an obvious one. Life is a valuable thing, and nobody is going to leave the fate of their life, or the lives of their loved ones, in the hands of a total stranger stumbling around his/her house. On the flipside, you can’t get wasted 400 miles from home, in a strange place, then (for whatever reason) enter a total stranger’s house and commence to walk around without paying some kind of price. In this case: the ultimate price.

I am sorry for all involved and am saddened to think about the suffering on all sides, and I’m sure this homeowner will never sleep another comfortable night as long as he lives. When a man’s home is violated and he’s forced to pull the big trigger and play God that is something that will never be let go or forgotten. But does he owe this young widow a single red cent? No way! And I am certain the courts will see it the same.

UPDATE: On 1/17/11, it was reported that the Civil Suit against D'Amico has been dropped by the family of David Park

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Brian Huba

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Political Season is Open Again

What happened in Arizona was an unthinkable tragedy and the man (Jared Lee Lougher, they always have 3 names, don't they?) who executed that horrific shooting spree should receive the death penalty. (But he probably won’t even end up in prison.) There’s no doubt about the evil of the act. But what’s really starting to irk me is the opening of political season on the heels of such sadness.

First was Sarah Palin taking the opportunity to speak out about the event, via Facebook of course, because that’s the only way to ensure no public meltdown or humiliation for her when speaking. Many are attacking Palin because she had previously alluded to the targeted congresswoman (Giffords) in campaign stumps. To me, this is ridiculous. Outrage against Palin suggests that she actually knows what she’s talking about, actually has a rock-solid position on something, anything, when the complete opposite is proven again and again. She’s a hand-puppet, people. Just stop publicizing her “take” on major happenings. It’s equitable to wondering why a dog rolls over and begs for a bone after being shown the trick 10,000 times. There’s no thinking behind it. It’s robotic, phony, rote memory. Sit, Booboo, sit. Good dog.

As I’m writing this, the Tuscan Memorial is on TV. One by one, America’s major politicians are taking to the podium, from the Governor of Arizona to Obama himself. In regards to Danny Hernandez, the term hero is getting flung around, a title he rejects, of course. “America will stand as one,” and “We are grateful to the men who tackled the gunmen,” and “We will become stronger from this,” has been said over and over again, as the star-studded crowd responds with rocking applause. It goes on, and on, and on, one speaker after the other saying the same thing, receiving the same applause. “Thank you to the first responders, the real heroes.” The script is predictable.

But I wonder what happens five minutes from now when there’s no political advantage to paying this tragedy airtime. In other words: what is all this memorializing, and praying, and thanking going to do for us as a nation when it’s no longer for an alternative agenda? Everyone is going to get their two cents in now, while the national conversation runs red hot, so that they can plaster it all over a campaign commercial in November. Then one day, something else will happen, and all this emotion will be dropped faster than a Jennifer Aniston DVD. But for now, Obama will quote the bible and promise that we will never forget this, never. I’ve heard that before. We’ve heard that before.

There was a time when I believed in big, boisterous talk like this. After 9/11, I believed that America was the kind of country that sought out evil and obliterated it with good. But ten years later, there’s still no bin Laden, and it looks to me like we’re just chasing oil control around the Middle East. Heck, it may’ve been our own government that plotted the tumbling of our Twin Towers, for that same oil. I just don’t know anymore. Good over evil? Good God. We live in a country that acquitted OJ Simpson of blatant, in-your-face double murder. There's a system at play, people.

We’re a very political country, no doubt, but never more than in times of tragedy. In times like these our political leaders would wrestle a spitting cobra for 5 minutes of mic time. Maybe that’s the biggest tragedy of all. And in the end this lunatic will weasel his way out of prison by pleading insanity, and a few years from now, who knows, maybe he’ll be on furloughs, having lunch with bin Laden at Tavern on the Green.

Now on Facebook @ the Cat's Pajamas

Brian Huba

Monday, January 10, 2011

Over the Weekend

Great dinner with friends at the Brown Derby in Downtown Albany on Saturday night, then back to the house for Saturday Night Live. We talked over many current events, and some things that hadn’t even happened yet.

Saturday Night Live: Jim Carrey was the host. He is, of course, an amazing talent. But I just never got laughing out loud at anything he did on screen. Brilliant, yes. Crazy, of course. Scripted, are you kidding me? Anything but. However, none of the sketches were really that funny, except the tantric skit with Kenan Thompson. That was hilarious. Other than that, just a lot of Jim Carrey jumping around and acting wacky. By the way, the musical act was a band called the Black Keys, who were pretty good. But, why the heck would they call themselves the Black Keys, when there’s already a band called the Black Eyed Peas? Why would anyone do that? And of all bands, come on, guys, the Black Eyed Peas haven’t turned down a performance in five years, they are SO overexposed. I think they just played the opening of a Firestone in Allentown. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Overall, SNL has been pretty lousy this season, which stinks, because I thought it was great last season. Too bad.

The Homeless Guy with the Golden Voice: I’m kind of tired and annoyed with this story. Obviously I love second chances and fresh starts for people, but everyone is going crazy about this homeless guy, who’s considered radio’s answer to Susan Boyle. If you don’t know the story: Man was begging money/food on the side of the road, advertising via cardboard sign that he had a Golden Voice. Someone gave him a dollar to do his thing and the rest is history. Now he’s cleaned up, shaved, new clothes, working for the Cleveland Cavaliers, going on Oprah, and everyone feels great for the guy. But there’s a back story, of course. A rap sheet five miles long, with robbery, theft, failure to pay child support for 7-9 children, possible involvement in prostitution charges. It’s OK to feel good about this, but consider why he’s been homeless and out of work for years and years with a voice that’s God-gifted. And, by the way, his radio voice is kind of clichĂ©, sort of how you would sound when mocking a radio DJ.

The NFL Playoffs: Great win by the Jets! Of all the things that caught my attention this weekend Michael Vick and Philly were at the top of that list. If you don’t know, they lost yesterday to the GB Packers at home, on a last-second INT by Vick in the end zone. So, after all the hoopla about Vick this season, how he was an MVP in making, and how deep he was going to take the Eagles into the playoffs, and is this the year that Philly finally wins the BIG ONE, the Eagles are one and done. And the word I heard all night after the game when summing up Vick's on-field play was “confused.” Why does it surprise anybody that a man who murdered dogs with his bare hands for no reason isn’t the smartest guy going? That surprises people? Did anyone out there actually think this guy was going to win a big game? News flash: He’s not a winner. He’s a flash in the pan. I’m not even worried about his K9 crime per say, because I know, I know: He did his time, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m talking about the psychology of a man who murders dogs while sitting on a $125 million-dollar contract. In other words: He did it just to do it. That guy isn’t a leader of men, and he’s not taking any NFL team to the promise land. I was disgusted that Kobe was donning a #7 Vick jersey yesterday. Why, Kobe, why?

Obama Postpones Visit: All you Obama watchers, relax for a while, the First Man isn’t coming to the Capital Region this week, so forget about him having lunch at Five Guys or whatever other rumors were rolling out there. I just hope he didn’t delay his visit after reading my OBAMA FAMILY VACATION blog last week.

How I Met Your Mother: Tonight, CBS, 8PM. Watch it!

Now on Facebook @ the Cat's Pajamas

Brian Huba

Friday, January 7, 2011

Obama Family Vacation

Why does Barack Obama need to take an 11-day vacation to Hawaii for Christmas in this current climate? The mid-term elections saw the GOP take control of one of the houses of congress, the economy is still flatlining in many ways, people are out of work, budget cuts are coming, we’re waging an unwinnable war in Afghanistan, Undercover Boss is the highest rated show on TV, and the NY Giants didn’t make the playoffs. In other words: things aren’t as good as they could be. I’m not one of those guys who think it’s super-bad, because if it’s so bad here, where in the world is it good? But what’s the deal with these big, in-your-face vacations every year by our Chief Commanders? From Bush’s epic vacations to Barack’s constant getaways, what the heck is this?

Doesn’t anybody understand that US Prez is the most important job in the world? There’s nothing bigger. I’m not trying to say that that kind of job is all-encompassing, that there’s never time to stop and smell the roses. Wait! I am saying that! You’re the President! I don’t ever want to hear about you just getting away from things for a while. You’re probably saying, ‘Come on, Brian, he has kids. He needs to think about his family, too.’ No, actually he doesn’t need to be thinking that much about his family when he is holding such a serious office, for only 4 years, one that he wanted and got elected to with so many HUGE promises, by us! As for the kids, I’m sure a Christmas in DC, which is a million times more extravagant than anything you and I could ever imagine would suffice. ‘But come on, Brian, it’s a working vacation down there on the Big Island.’ OK, fine, but maybe there’s a such thing as sending the right message, PR-wise.

After the Dem's disaster at the polls in November and Barack's slumping approval numbers, wouldn’t it have been great if Obama said, ‘You know what, no vacation this year. The country needs me to be a full-time leader right now.’ If he had said that, he would’ve had my 2012 vote locked up right now. 10% of this country is on the dole, and this guy is splashing in the surf waves of Hawaii, even if he isn't literally splashing. Sorry, but that’s not the guy I voted for in ’08. I voted for a man of the people, a guy who talked a big game and promised to get his hands dirty with the everyday issues. Our last Prez thought he had a direct channel to God. Thought he was entitled to everything not nailed down, and some that was. Don’t believe me? Read ‘Decision Points.’ The man is clueless. Barack was supposed to be a breath of fresh air. Maybe John McCain would’ve skipped vacation. Doubt it, but we’ll never know, because he committed political suicide by nominating that buffoon from Alaska as his running mate. After that, it was in the bag for Barack. Now McCain’s back in Arz., Palin is making a complete idiot of herself and her family on that lowbrow, staged, reality thing ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska.’ And Barack, the First Man, he’s just back from his holiday getaway.

Like I said before: You’re asking millionaires to get their hands dirty with your dilemmas. It won’t ever happen. Nothing changes, no matter what. What can I say? Barack has kind of been a disappointment. The GOP has thumped him since ’08, in basically every area. Now they’re going to revoke his health plan just as his Hawaii tan is wearing off. And if that happens, you can kiss Barack good bye in 2012. If I ran for Prez, I would promise 1 thing: No vacations. Simple. Easy. Efficient.

Don’t get me wrong, America’s still the best country on Earth. All this talk about China and India outdoing us in education and such, forget it. Even if they are, we’ll be waiting at the end of their graduation stage, waiting for their top doctors and scientists, with images of Times Square and Kim Kardashian. Everybody wants to make money, and be free, and be American. So train ‘em up and we’ll take ‘em off your hands on diploma day.

But the level of entitlement in this country is completely out of control, from the top down. Houses we can't afford, loans we can't pay back, vacation time we don't need. Anybody in the world would trade places with us, but we're never satisfied. We’re going to topple over as a country from all this greed and overindulgence. And when that happens, our Prez will probably be on vacation, same way he was when Hurricane Katrina hit, and every year since, regardless of who’s in the White House, or what's happening on the political/national landscape. Camp David? Don't even get me started on that.

Now on Facebook @ the Cat's Pajamas

Brian Huba

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Best Half Hour of TV in 10 Years?

OK, it might not've been the best, but How I Met Your Mother was great on Monday night. Smart, funny, sad, everything.

I have always liked this show but thought that the previous season (season 5) was frivolous, repetitive, and ridiculous at times. This season (Season 6) was off to an iffy start as well. But Monday night’s episode (Episode 13) was the best block of TV (with the exception of the Sopranos, of course) that I’ve seen since Jack declared his homosexuality on Dawson’s Creek—another brilliant bit of TV, about ten years ago.

For those who don’t know the show, the premise is pretty neat. The main character, Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor), with narration by Bob Saget, in the year 2030 recounts to his son and daughter the events that led to him meeting their mother, which explains the title and allows for a narration in the past tense. How I Met Your Mother's other main characters are Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan), Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel), Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) and Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris).

Monday night’s episode focused on Marshall’s (Jason Segel) and his wife Lily’s (Alyson Hannigan) quest to get pregnant. Being in their early 30’s, this is certainly a pressing issue for a married couple in that age group. Additionally, Marshall’s overbearing father (Bill Fagerbakke), who lives in Minnesota, wants nothing more than to be a granddaddy. Feeling the pressure from not getting pregnant, Marshall decides to get tested for fertility (or lack thereof). Both him and Lily are convinced that the fertility doctor is their friend Barney in disguise (which is weird because Marshall and Lily had previously agreed that they would not try to get pregnant until they met Barney’s doppelganger and/or twin). Marshall’s dad is so consumed with being a granddad that he travels to New York to see his son. He tells Marshall he’ll love him “no matter what,” even if he can't have children. Turns out the doctor is legit and lets Marshall know that he is able to father a child. After the doctor says this, Marshall says, “I was expecting bad news.” He goes to call his father in Minnesota, but his dad doesn’t answer, and all we see is an unfinished clock and paint supplies on his work bench. Excited to tell Lily the “good news,” about his ability to father, Marshall runs from the bar, where the whole gang hangs out, in time to see a cab pull up. Lily climbs from the cab, teary-eyed, and tells Marshall that his father had a heart attack and "didn’t make it." The shot ends with the couple hugging, and Marshall saying, “I’m not ready for this.”

Everything about the episode was fantastic. Throughout the whole half hour the writers were dropping hints that a devastating, genre-twisting ending was awaiting us. But it wasn’t until the show ended and we had time to reflect, that we realized how perfectly it was all woven together. From the scene with his father in New York for the final time, to the shot of the unfinished clock on the work bench next to the ringing phone (representing being out of time), it was all great. And if you didn't notice, the writers found a way to display a number in every scene (whether it was #46 on Marshall's beer or #6 on the doctor's folder) counting down from #50 to #1 as the show progressed, to again symbolize the loss of time or a ticking clock, as is always the case in life, whether we know it or not. The #2 was shown on the broken clock and the #1 was shown on the cab that pulled up carrying Lily in the last scene. Awesome! I always loved the concept and writing on this show, but this was their Sistine Chapel.

Personally it struck a chord. My father died the same exact way, two years ago, to the day of that Monday night episode. So it was certainly an emotional reminder (for me) of how somebody can be here one day, gone the next. When I saw that cab pull up, and Lily climb from inside in the final scene, I said to myself, "Marshall's dad had a heart attack." I just knew it. As Marshall hugged Lily and said, "I'm not ready for this," I was brought right back to that moment/time in my own life. It was a great episode. One of the best ever.

Watch this episode. If you don’t have time, watch the final clip.

Final Clip:

Whole Episode:

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Brian Huba

Sunday, January 2, 2011

10 Predictions for 2011

2010 is gone. Let's look into the crystal ball and see what's ahead for 2011. Since I don't have a crystal ball I'll be substituting a snow globe that I forgot to pack away with the X-mas decs. Let's see what it sees. I'm shaking, and . . .

1. Khloe and Lamar will keep going strong. BUT JT and Jessica Biel will finally break up.

2. Speaking of Lamar, he will NOT win a 3rd straight NBA Championship with Kobe. BUT LeBron and D-Wade will not win one in 2011 either.

3. There will be an assassination attempt on either Sarah Palin or Barack Obama (I can't quite read the globe on this one). BUT neither attempt, whomever it is targeted towards, will prove successful.

4. Bob Barker will die of a failed heart at an old age. BUT Lady Gaga will die at a young age in an automobile crash.

5. Michael Jackson's family is finally going to sue the production company that was going to put on MJ's "This is it" tour for somehow causing his death. BUT the family will not win any money in its lawsuit.

6. American Idol will have higher-than-expected ratings this season. BUT TV's most-watched show this year will NOT be a reality show. It will be a situational (drama or sitcom) show.

7. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will adopt another child this year. BUT neither actor will make a movie that is released this year.

8. Speaking of movies, Avatar will be surpassed as the #1 grossing movie of all time. BUT Blockbuster Video/DVD rental will go out of business.

9. The war in Afganistan will wage on. BUT we will not capture or close in on Osama bin Laden. You do the math on that one.

10. George W. Bush's "Decision Points" will be the highest-selling non fiction book of the year. BUT the Kindle/Kindle Color/Nook will fail.

Oh, man, I just shook the globe a bit too hard and it fell on the floor and broke. Guess that means we're all out of 2011 predictions, which works out perfect since I called this blog "10 Predictions for 2011."

Now on Facebook @ the Cat's Pajamas

Brian Huba