Monday, April 25, 2011

I'm Sickened

There are literally no words to describe how outraged I was to read about the graffiti job at Christ the King Church in Guilderland on Easter Sunday. That’s right. Police are currently searching for the parties responsible for spray painting various messages on the outside of the 10-year-old Christ the King Church Building, and a statue of Christ in front.

Father Jim Fitzmaurice said, "I don't take it personally against Christ the King parish or church. I think just the fact that we're here and somebody had too much on their hands and didn't know what to do with it. The biggest thing I'm upset about is the statue. That's obscene what they did to the statue. That's certainly hateful."

That’s it? That’s the response?

What they did to the Jesus statue, judging by the blacked-out parts of the picture, appears to be something sexual. So let me get this straight: Easter Sunday, graffiti on a church, spray-painting something(s) sexual on a statue of Jesus. This is one of the most heinous things I have heard in a long time. In fact, I think it’s worse than the Kegs & Eggs fiasco back in March. Does it get worse than this?

Truthfully I feel this comes back to the point I’ve been arguing all along. Our younger generation (and I’m sure we can assume persons of a certain age are behind this) are just far too entitled and never taught a thing about respect, and discipline, and earning it. Maybe I’m charting this course because I hear the name Guilderland and crudely assume it’s someone rather wealthy and supremely spoiled, the same way it was with the house party in Pond Hill a year ago. I could be wrong, but I promise you that a city kid from Troy or Albany would never carve up a church yard like this. In so many cases they live with way too much reality and short-ended circumstance, that Jesus and religion loom way too large in their lives. They live with fear, and a certain amount of fear keeps a person balanced. I could be wrong, but I’m getting a mental picture of the kid(s) behind this mess, and I think you are too. Is that stereotypical of me? Maybe. How about this: Let’s see who the police pull out of the garbage heap here. Bet my mental sketch is exactly right.

Either way, if you actually have the fortitude to cause destruction to a church and a Jesus statute on Easter Sunday, I'm not sure you're even human, regardless of any mental sketch. And if you are, you must be so twisted, and/or indulged, and/or mentally ill that consequence and karma mean nothing to you. As for me, if I even thought about doing something like this, I know I could never sleep a sound night again, out of guilt, and regret, and FEAR. Is it because I believe in God? Heck no. I’m not 100% sure that God and Heaven exist. But, Jesus (no pun intended) there are just some things you DON’T do! And don’t try telling me about the difficulties of being young, and how hard it is to stand up against peer pressure, and ‘Come on, Brian, kids will be kids.’ FORGET THAT! Spray painting sexual on Jesus at 7PM on Easter Sunday. I don’t think I could even sell that angle to Stephen King. It’s just so wrong.

I hope these kids (again, I’m assuming) are punished to the fullest extent of the law. No more handling this crap with kid’s gloves (again, no pun intended) and figuring out strategies to curve this behavior. Sometimes the leather belt needs to hit hard. Sometimes, when the act is this horrific, the consequences need to be equally brutal. Because if you let this go unpunished then all of a sudden you have a Kegs & Eggs incident on your hands. Why? Because nobody ever shakes out this super-human feeling of entitlement that is creeping up everywhere, it seems. What can I say? If you spray paint a church on Easter Sunday, you deserve whatever life has in store for you. There’s never an excuse for this. Never.

And the hardest part is this: One day down the road, when one of the persons responsible for this disgusting act is getting wheeled into an operating room, for some scary surgery that we all may face in life, and that person is ready to pray to ‘God’ above, there better be a second prayer for hoping God has a crummy memory. Because no person who graffitis sexual on Jesus’ statue on Easter Sunday can ever look to the universe for a karma boost. All that may sound crazy, I’m sure, but the day will come when it’s not, for all of us, and I just hope that God (whoever or whatever God is) is on MY side when it does.

I’m sickened.

If you have the stomach, read more and see photos:

You are welcome to graffiti my Facebook wall @ the Cat's Pajamas

Brian Huba

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Godfather vs. Goodfellas

One time a while back I had the audacity to suggest that BLOW starring Johnny Depp was better than SCARFACE starring Al Pacino. I believe it is, and that got me thinking about another heavyweight debate between two great movies: GODFATHER vs. GOODFELLAS. I cannot find a single TOP 100 Movie List where GODFATHER isn’t right at the top, if not #1, and in some cases GODFATHER II is #2. You need not look much further down the same list of Greatest Movies to find GOODFELLAS, the story of mobster turned rat Henry Hill. Both are brilliant flicks. But guess what? I think GOODFELLAS is better than both GODFATHERS.

The other night I watched GOODFELLAS formatted to fit my TV, and almost forgot how awesome every SINGLE scene in this movie is. And that was with the curse words and elicit activity edited out, but I know the movie word for word, so I filled in the blanks. I know GF is on TV all the time, and I always watch till the commercial break then move on. But the other night I watched from credit to credit, and WOW, every aspect of GF is off the wall. Can you imagine going to see GF in the movie theatre when it first came out? There are no words to describe how great that would've been. They don't make movies like that anymore. Everything is too dumbed down now.

Joe Pesci’s performance as Tommy DiSimone is not good, or great, it’s LEGENDARY. We sometimes forget how great it is because he bastardized that archetype by playing Nicky in CASINO a few years later. Same type of guy and Pesci killed it again, but for fear of the water-down effect, he should’ve left it alone at Tommy. Liotta’s best performance ever! Sorvino and Bracco! Amazing. DeNiro. Fugetaboutit. I know what you’re saying, 'DeNiro always plays that same thing.' Yes he does, but NEVER better than in GOODFELLAS. The scene when Karen tells Henry that she flushed all the drugs down the toilet when the cops were coming may be the greatest scene in movie history. As Liotta is screaming Karen’s name, ‘Karen! Karen!’ you are right in the room with them. It’s unbelievable. And the only reason people sleep on that scene is because we’ve seen the movie a million times, which leads me to my last point . . .

. . . You can see GOODFELLAS a million times and see something new with each viewing. Remember when Jimmy (DeNiro) and Henry (Liotta) find out that Tommy (Pesci) has been clipped for killing a made man and other things (a hit many believe was carried out by John Gotti personally), and DeNiro busts up the phone booth? Right after Jimmy tells Henry that Tommy’s dead, that he’d been murdered, Henry’s face fills with this look that says one thing: I’m next. And it’s in that moment that I believe he decides to sell out and go rat. I love acting without words, just an expression or gesture that tells you everything. There it is: Acting 101 all you young Hollywood hopefuls. Goodfellas may be the best movie ever made.

Don’t get me wrong GODFATHER I & II are absolutely brilliant, no doubt. In fact my grandfather used to say it’s GODFATHER and everything else. It’s quotable and the story is incredible. The cast is first rate, Francis Ford has never been better, and the Mario Puzo books are all great. I get it, believe me, but truthfully, the movies are long and at points kind of boring. If GODFATHER is on TNT, there’s no way I’m stopping the clicker and watching much of it. Watching GODFATHER feels like a chore to me, rather than simple, easy, exciting viewing, like it is with GOODFELLAS. I admit the last 30 minutes of GOODFELLAS can be exhausting to watch, but all of GODFATHER is a work out, and if that’s the case, how can it be the greatest movie ever?

Doesn’t a movie need to have re-watchability to be on cinema’s Mount Rushmore? DUMB & DUMBER, SHAWSHANK, PULP FICTION, A FEW GOOD MEN, hell even ROAD HOUSE. You can watch these flicks a million times and come back for more. Then there are movies like GODFATHER. First time you see it: Life changing. After that: Way too much work. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is like that. THERE WILL BE BLOOD is like that. No way you can endure those movies five, six, seven times. I have gotten through GODFATHER maybe twice in my entire life. Sometimes I still catch scenes and events in the movie that I have never seen before, it seems. It’s just too much work, there’s just too much slow-going action, and, honestly, it's more antiquated looking.

GOODFELLAS has a more-modern look, which I like. The neighborhoods, and houses, and clothes feel real world to me, like Henry Hill could’ve lived on my street, shopped at my grocery store. GODFATHER looks like something out of mythical lore. GOODFELLAS is the same way as the SOPRANOS in this regard. The appeal was that Tony wasn’t just the Don. He was also a father who had to drive his kids to soccer practice and see a therapist. Imagine bumping into Don Corleone at Hannaford. No way. Corelone was a cartoon character. Plus GODFATHER III may have soiled the franchise a bit. Part III is bad.

GOODFELLAS is better than GODFATHER. The story is better, the action is better, and it’s simply a more fun flick to watch, which, in my mind, makes a movie better. But, after all that is said, I feel like it’s a wasted debate, because the SOPRANOS is better than them both.

AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies ever made:

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Brian Huba

Sunday, April 17, 2011

This is really weird, right?

A few weeks ago we went to a locally-owned Italian restaurant (I won’t say the name because that would be irresponsible and I could be wrong). This is a place we’ve patronized for years and years. Anyway we had a wonderful dinner, paid the bill, and left. About 45 minutes later, at 9.45 on a Saturday night, we got a call from the head waitress at the restaurant asking us if we had a “nice meal,” and if we had any "problems with the food or service.” We assumed that the phone number was taken off the reservation book. We said we had no problems then hung up. But something didn’t sit right with me.

So I called back and pushed the woman to tell me what the real reason behind the phone call was. She repeatedly stated that she was simply completing a “courtesy call” and that was the establishment’s M.O. I’ve been eating at this restaurant for almost 15 years. I’ve been there hundreds of times and have been there a few times since this “courtesy call” night. On no other occasion, before or since, have I ever received a courtesy call after I ate there. Additionally, I worked there in my teens, and it was never M.O. for anyone on the wait staff to call phone numbers off the reservation book to see how the meal went. I gently pushed the woman to tell me what was really going on, and I explained that if something was wrong with the food (food poisoning, etc) or something wrong with the establishment itself that I had the right to know. But the waitress stuck to her story, and the second phone call ended.

I’m sorry that’s weird though, right? No restaurant calls its patrons at 9.45 at night to ask how their meal was, do they? If anything that practice would work to actually alarm the clients. No businessman would have his employees call clients late at night like that. I have never had a bad experience at this restaurant but there was defiantly something fishy going down that night. Had to be, right? Am I wrong? Or is that really weird?

Speaking of really weird, I’m celebrating 3 months and 9 friends on Facebook @ the Cat’s Pajamas

Brian Huba

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The worst weekend I ever spent

The worst weekend I ever spent was my birthday weekend in 2005. I went to a wedding in New Hampshire with a girl I barely knew. The wedding was for one of her friends and she was in the wedding. It was a nightmare from start to finish, and I think it permanently skewed my view on weddings. I am yet to have a second of fun at anybody else's wedding I’ve been to. Weddings to me are what Thanksgivings were to Chandler on FRIENDS. But I’m sure my cynical lens came about on this very weekend. Let’s begin at the beginning.

I've almost forgotten being single. Being single can be great and it can be anything but. My friend John always says about being single: “The highs are higher and the lows are lower.” I had just started a job in Latham and was finishing my Master’s Degree. I hung out with my friend Justin one Friday, and he was going to introduce me to a blonde he worked with. Well, the blonde came, but I ended up talking to another girl he knew named Jody. She was a brunette and had graduated from Sage. We had fun and decided to hang out again. We had fun again. She told me she was actually going to get married a few months before, claiming her father was putting on an affair with flying doves, but the guy broke it off. After only hanging out twice and talking on the phone a handful of times, she asked me to attend a wedding with her in New Hampshire on September 26th, my birthday. Like a fool, I accepted.

A few days later, when we actually got to know each other, things became weird and icy. The wedding was a week away, and I had already gone to Wal-Mart and bought a dress shirt and matching tie, so there was no turning back now. She picked me up at work on Friday, and the second I sat in the car, I knew this was gonna be a bad one. She insisted on blaring OAR the whole three hour ride out. Yep, she was one of those. When we got to the seafood house where the rehearsal dinner was held, she splintered off immediately, leaving me with a group of people I had never met before, including the parents of the bride and groom, and of course, the wedding party.

So here I am sitting in a private room with 30 people who are total strangers, and they’re all best friends, so I feel like an idiot, even though I’m rocking this fresh Wal-Mart polo, while this girl is downstairs for forty minutes. After that we all go back to the hotel, and she brings these two guys to our room with her, tells me she’s going out with them, and said it in a way that suggested I wasn’t invited, but told me where the rest of the wedding party was gathering in a hotel room down the hall. Umm, OK. Shortly after, I went to bed. In the early a.m. hours she returned to the room with the guys and they sat around my pretend-sleeping body.

The next day she was out early to get ready with the rest of the bride’s maids. It was my birthday and I was alone in a hotel room in New Hampshire. Of course I never said a word about it being my b-day. She did not even say she was leaving when she left or when she’d be back or where the wedding was being held. I called Justin in Albany, ready to offer him $250.00 to come and get me, no luck. So I found out where the wedding was, put on my Wal-Mart dress shirt and matching tie and showed up, ready to make this day work. I was seated in the corner with 6 people I had never met. Jody was at the head table with the rest of the party. During the reception she never uttered a single word to me or gave any recognition she knew I was there. I left early, back to the hotel room to sleep. Please God let this end. She came in hours later with those same two guys, and night two of sitting around my pretend-sleeping body commenced. I was trapped in hell. Happy birthday.

The next morning she woke me up, said she wanted to get back to Albany, and we made the three-hour drive in cemetery silence. I have no idea what I did or what the heck happened, but when she dropped me off at my car, she took off so fast, she still had my books and backpack. So I had to call her that night to get them back. When she answered, she said, “What do you want?” It was crazy. Anyway she set up a drop point for the following Tuesday, so no personal contact would be necessary.

Wow, I mean what can I say? I have never been treated worse by any person in my entire life. And I still have no idea why. Was I a pawn so she wouldn't look alone? Maybe. It was insane. In retrospect, Jody was probably a bit arrogant, rather delusional, and spoiled. Plus, I think she was nursing a broken/confused heart. As for me I went back to having fun with Justin and my other buds, and it all worked out in the end. Because in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.

As for Jody, I haven’t seen her since, but I wish her well. And if you ask me if I’d ever repeat that weekend with her for a million dollars, I’d say “Yeah I would.” Then I’d add, “Over my pretend-dead body.”

Brian Huba

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why Not Eddie Money?

Why not Eddie Money?

Today Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings announced the musical act for this year’s 63rd annual Tulip Fest in Washington Park. The band headlining is a California act called Cold War Kids. After hearing that announcement I only had one question: Who?

What demographic is Jennings pandering to with the announcement of this act? I'm a pretty typical guy who likes many different genres of music, but this band is news to me. I can only imagine the same thing for so many others. If you’ve ever been to the fest, you know that all age groups come out for the 'fun', many of which are from the ‘Free Bird’ generation that makes up so much of Albany, it seems, old Albany at least. My dad's friends Six Pack and Big John don't know Cold War Kids, believe that. Performers from years before have been Joan Jett, the Spin Doctors, and Third Eye Blind. Bands a bit past their prime, but still good enough to bring a collection of songs all ages can sing along to. I was looking forward to the fest this year, I guess. But I’m sorry: Cold War Kids might as well be Eddie and the Cruisers, because, in my world, neither band actually exists. I need to be at least somewhat excited about seeing the musical act to fight that huge crowd, all that traffic, and long vendor lines, even if the excitement is based 100% on nostalgia. I don't get the whole thing this year. I don't know, maybe I'm getting old. Maybe the people I'm talking about are getting old. Cold War Kids? Who?

So much of the fest’s tone is built around what act is taking the main stage on Saturday afternoon. I don’t know who the Cold War Kids are, or what they sing, but I’m guessing it’s some kind of alternative rock group, since 102.7 was a part of the press conference today. Unless you have marginal musical taste, alternative rock probably means nothing to you. I have never even thought of tuning to 102.7 or 103.9 the Edge or any of those other channels. There’s nothing about the city of Albany, and so many of its blue-collar, hard-working citizens that tells me Cold War Kids is a good fit, even for a fest that Jennings says should have a 'family feel.' Of course that family part is for the birds on Saturday. It's a party, plain and simple. But Albany seems more like a classic rock, golden oldies town. Right? With that said, I ask: Why not Eddie Money?

Additionally, Jennings announced a plan to enforce the open alcohol drinking. This year they’ll be a Beer Garden, and wristbands, and no coolers with cans/bottles of beer allowed in the park. A few years ago, Jennings did the same thing with the Alive at Five concerts. Although it did work to curtail some of the alcohol-induced outrage, it also worked to destroy some of the freewheeling atmosphere that made the concerts so much fun. Jennings swears this sudden concern isn’t in reaction to those St. Pat’s Day morons on Hudson Street, but the timing certainly seems strange. Not saying that’s right or wrong, good or bad, but it is what it is. You do the math.

So to summarize this year’s Tulip Fest: There’s no open-park drinking or BYOBing, while listening to some band that 3/4ths of Albany has never heard of, and most likely ducking for cover from the Mother’s Day rain. All I’m saying is it would be a whole lot cooler (no pun intended) if Eddie Money decided to go overtime for Capital Regionites. In addition to his 2 or 3 annual Alive at Five appearances, why not an early May afternoon in Washington Park? If Jennings had announced the Money Man instead of some 102.7 ‘alt-rock’ band, I’d be saying ‘I got two tickets to paradise.’ And by tickets I’d mean police citations for drinking canned Coors Lights from a foam cooler. And by paradise I’d mean the kick-butt mosh pit that any E. Money show would surely induce. But for now we’re stuck with the Cold War Kids.

By the way, don't you dare try telling me Eddie Money isn't available that weekend. The Money Man's always available. That's what's so great about him.

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Brian Huba

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's a Snooki-Snooki World

This is a joke, right? Rutgers University invited that disgusting, reality-TV pig Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi, from MTV’s trashcan show the Jersey Shore, to speak to their students?! But that’s not all. The school gave her $32,000 for the appearance (basically somebody’s annual salary). It was a one-day stint, and it paid $2,000 more than they are giving Nobel Prize Winning Author Toni Morrison for speaking at the school’s graduation in May. You know, Toni Morrison, one of the most brilliant literary minds who ever lived. She’s Snooki’s second fiddle, fiscally. This is truly one of the saddest things I have read in a really long time.

What nugget of wisdom did Snooki have for the sold-out crowds at Rutgers? "When you're tan, you feel better about yourself." And don’t forget this little jem: “Study hard but party harder.” I see that some of U Albany’s students took that advice to heart a few weeks back on Hudson Ave. Rutgers reported that Snooki's appearance fee was paid from the student fund, which means it did not deplete university or state funding. "We're trying to provide different kinds of experiences to students," said the group's president, Ana Castillo. That can't make the fight for funding come budget time much easier.

An institution of higher education in this country thinks it would be of value to bring a pig like Snooki on campus to play role model for the student body? This is a woman who is known for alcohol abuse, fighting, exposing her private parts on TV, horrific sexual behavior, and being the standout star of the most disgusting TV show ever made, a show that glorifies all this behavior plus the power of being very, very cruel for the sake of amusement. The cast of Jersey Shore is the most bottom-barreled collection of talentless and dangerously-ignorant people pop culture has ever seen. Each and every one of them think they are so much smarter and more relevant than they actually are. Don’t believe me? YouTube The Situation’s roast of Donald Trump. When he started with the bad jokes about having models, and mansions, and piles of money, the boo birds came out hard. I rather have my face slammed in a vice than watch that again?

Why was it so bad? Why is all of JS so bad? Because, in addition to all the on-air garbage, they constantly sell us cruelty towards people (especially cruelty in regards to the way a woman looks) as funny. You know, 'She's a grenade.' Nobody except MTV and 15 year olds think that's funny, which is doubly sad. JS is built on this kind of humor. Plus, it’s scripted from start to finish. If you actually think this show is straight reality, you’re crazy. Rutgers' reaction: Book this girl!

OK, who is responsible? It has to start with MTV, which was once the best network channel on TV. MTV has totally sold its soul to the devil by pedaling this piece-of-junk show. Teenagers are engrossed by this crap, and they are emulating the behaviors of sexual irresponsibility and cruelty towards each other that is common place on JS. MTV was once a voice of the upcoming generation, the station that helped get Bill Clinton elected. Kurt Loder, Tabita Soren. Personalities that understood their role in pop culture, and used MTV to exact positive change. If MTV had a shred of morality left, they would rip JS off the air asap. But they won’t, because of one thing: $$$$$$$$. It’s really, really sad. MTV is dead to me.

Rutgers University. Why would a college of any kind ever allow someone like Snooki (in any capacity) to come onto its campus? What is the message there? Let me tell you what the perception is: Rutgers is saying to its student body, future world leaders, that Snooki’s behavior, and the message of Jersey Shore, is endorsed. That it’s OK. This is tragic on too many levels to count.

Does anyone remember when you had to actually be an esteemed, productive member of society to earn the RIGHT to speak to college kids, the future generation? No wonder nobody takes college degrees seriously anymore. If I was a parent, about to send my kid to Rutgers, and I read this, there’d be a super-fast change of plans. And if I was Toni Morrison, a woman who has spent her life redefining literature’s landscape, I’d tell Rutgers to book Paris Hilton or Lindsey Lohan instead of me.

"The decision is made by the students,” one Rutgers representative said. Yeah, maybe that’s the whole problem. Maybe the tail is wagging the dog way too much in this country. And if I was a parent, putting my money into that place, I’d be having hot fits right now. But hey, hey, what can I say? Another American victory for fist pumps and hair poufs everywhere. Pathetic.

Read more:

More U Albany Stuff: Heard a few more of the St. Pat’s Day rioters have been arrested and/or turned themselves in to police. So, again, I ask: When is U Albany going to suspend and/or throw these punks off campus? I think we’re getting our answer. Oh yeah, one more thing: If you’re 41 and go to U Albany, and chain yourself to a fountain to protest the loss of that stupid Fountain Day, in the wake of what happened on 3.12.11, you are a "Don't Get it" person, plain and simple. Please, U Albany students, do something smart for a change: Shut Up!!

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Brian Huba