Monday, May 30, 2011

Bridesmaids vs. The Hangover II

All week long we debated about which movie we were going to see on Sunday night: BRIDESMAIDS or THE HANGOVER II. For my part, I wanted to see HANGOVER. The last one was legendary and I was willing to bet my money on Bradley Cooper and the boys. Despite the rave reviews, I just could not figure how BRIDESMAIDS had any chance of being funny. But, my god, everyone just carried on and on about how great it was, and how bad HANGOVER was. We were finally swayed, and off we went for a Sunday night showing of this all-women comedy.

Going into this movie I tried to think of another all-female cast that delivered a genuinely funny flick. I could not think of one, but the critics acted as if we had a modern-day DUMB & DUMBER on our hands, so I was ready to laugh.

The first scene of BRIDESMAIDS is a silly bedroom scene with Kristen Wiig’s character. There was absolutely nothing humorous about it, but people in the theatre were screaming with laughter. Huuuhhhhh? But we weren't, and I was with a woman, obviously. This same trend continued for the next hour. Without giving anything away, I will say that every punch line was dragged out to the bitter end, every conflict was ridiculous, unrealistic, and unfunny, including the 20-minute scene with the dueling engagement party speeches. Despite the thunderous laughs that filled the theatre (again, huh?), I did not crack a smile the whole time. I truly have no idea what people are talking about, BRIDESMAIDS was awful. There were characters in the movie (Wiig’s female roommate for one) that, for some reason, sported silly accents, and at one point this roommate poured frozen peas across a tattoo on her back. Huh? Was that supposed to be funny? I just did not get this movie, and I know YOU probably thought it was funny, everybody says it was SO FUNNY!But it was a cliche, borefest all the way.

I hated BRIDESMAIDS. An hour into the movie, while the women cast members were spewing vomit all over each other while trying on dresses, projectile vomiting in all directions, we did something we have never done before: We walked out of the movie. We walked out of BRIDESMAIDS one hour in, and I was with a woman! We literally could not stand another second of it. And we've sat through THE LOVELY BONES and THE SWITCH from start to finish. All these reviews about the brilliance of BRIDESMAIDS, I don’t get it, chick-flick or not. Maybe women issues just aren’t funny to me. I tried to be open minded. And maybe it became TOMMY BOY in hour 2 and we missed it, but I doubt it. We BOTH hated it! It was awful.

You're probably saying, 'Brian, you're crazy and you're a guy.' To that I say, 'I ain't crazy and I ain't a guy.'

The fundamental problem to me is that when movies try to make female characters outrageous for comedy, it comes off crazy and kind of sociopathic. Don't believe me? See Bullock's character in ALL ABOUT STEVE. This whole thing Wiig does where she mumbles sarcastic and fast under her breath isn't funny for 2 straight hours. BRIDESMAIDS has one character (Melissa McCarthy) to answer the HANGOVER's outrageous, Galifianakis character, Alan. She's the whacky sister who relieves herself in a sink in one scene. But she's not funny or likeable at all. She's insane, disgusting. As moviegoers We LIKE Alan(Galifianakis)in the HANGOVER. He's actually funny! I would laugh at Alan in real life. The bridesmaids would terrify me in real life. All I've been hearing from people is that BRIDESMAIDS is so funny they were practically 'peeing' themselves in the theatre. I believed them. Shame on me.

As we walked out of BRIDESMAIDS, HANGOVER II was starting in the next theatre, so in we went. What can I say? THE HANGOVER was funny. I liked the look of the movie and the feel of it, we both did. Bangkok, very interesting and eerie-looking city. The boys delivered once again, and I won’t give anything away, but yes, the story arc was very much like the original, which was OK with us, because the original is the greatest comedy of its generation. I thought Todd Phillips (the movie’s director) still found ways to surprise, and we genuinely laughed out loud several times, albeit between some pretty formulaic moves (see Tyson cameo for that).

The biggest knock on HANGOVER II has been that it’s a retread of the first, in so many ways. Um, yeah, that’s usually what a sequel is. Rocky was still a boxer in ROCKY II, and he still wins the big fight. Did we dislike GODFATHER II because the characters are STILL In the mob? The HANGOVER has a 300-million-dollar formula and they followed it, and it was funny. But, Brian, it’s not as good as the original. No Duh. The original HANGOVER is the best comedy since DUMB & DUMBER. By the way, making a sequel to a great comedy isn’t simple. See MEET THE FOCKERS for that. HANGOVER II was a MILLION times better than FOCKERS.

Maybe I'm alone on this, but BRIDESMAIDS was unwatchable and the HANGOVER II was pretty good, well worth $20.00 in tickets. Truthfully, I might be unable to enjoy all-female casts, I get that. In fact I can’t think of a single funny movie with this formula, but please believe me, I did go in with an open mind, and I did pay money to see it, and I was severely disappointed, we both were. If you read what everyone else says, it seems we are way off, as reviews about this movie continue to crown it a comedic masterpiece. I simply didn’t get it. HANGOVER was far more clever, quicker, sharper, edgier. It was just better, all while being a retread, with a story we’ve seen already. What can I say? It wasn’t even close.

A reasonable review of BRIDESMAIDS:

A reasonable review of HANGOVER II:

Somebody swing by the Cat's Pajamas on Facebook and write me a 'reasonable' review.

Brian Huba

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Randy vs. the Rapture

Dedicated to Dan 'the man' Hepp. All things Savage

At 6.15PM on Saturday night I was sitting in this same spot when I heard a huge thunder roar down from the sky. And I thought: Oh man, is the Rapture really happening as predicted? Seconds later I was still here, and I understood what had taken place in Heaven’s wrestling ring. The Macho Man Randy Savage had landed a flying elbow from the top rope, right across the unconscious face of God, thus saving the world from certain termination. How did Randy Savage get God down you ask? Easy. Miss. Elizabeth distracted the Great Creator with a little ringside leg, and Savage suckered him for the finishing move. So yes I do think the whacko who predicted this Rapture had it right. Problem is he didn't count on Macho Madness. Classic mistake. And when I realized we’d all safely see the next almost-Armageddon, I said out loud, “OOoooooooohhhhhhh Yyyyyyeeeeaaahhhhhh.”

For those who’ve been living under a Macho-sized rock since Friday, former WWF icon, Randy ‘the Macho Man’ Savage died in Florida, after suffering a heart attack at the wheel and driving his jeep into a tree. He was 58 years old. His wife was sitting shotgun, and maybe, from across the meridian, he thought he saw that tree staring at his wife the same way he caught Hogan hawking Elizabeth in the 80’s, and said, “Tree, you get jealous eyes, ooh yeah,’ and taught that roadside birch a lesson, Macho style, same way he taught Hogan backstage at Saturday Night’s Main Event. Maybe but probably not. I like to think he went to that big Slim Jim Factory in the sky to save all mankind from the forthcoming Rapture. And I’d like to be the first to say, ‘Thank you, Macho Man.’

Macho’s was a life of sheer madness, and, as a former WWF fanatic, I loved every second of the always-nonsensical insanity. Genius comes in all shapes and sizes, and what Savage could do with Mene Gene by his side cutting promo was second to none. Plus he was an amazing wrestler inside the 'steel' ropes. Savage survived multiple bites from Jake the snake’s 12-ft python, Damien. If that’s not Macho, I don’t know what is. He had feuds with guys named Rickey Steamboat and Honky Tonk Man. He wrestled Hulk Hogan in the main event at Wrestlemania V. He held all major WWF Championships. (Forget WCW. That was fake wrestling.) He told Morgan Fairchild not to go crazy on him while sitting beside her on Arsenio Hall’s couch. A Kardashian-sized jab in the 80's. 'Can you dig it!'

Everyone has been going on line and sharing their favorite memories of the Macho Man. Whether it was the Mega Powers vs. the Mega Bucks, or his battles with the Bobby Heenan family, or his outrageous outfits and huge sunglasses, or the fact that he was the only figure in sports history to get away with, and gain popularity from, playing the abusive, out-of-control boyfriend. There was no limit to his theatrics, and when he was on the circuit, the WWF was as real any athletic event in America.

My favorite memory of the Madness was seeing him live at the Glens Falls Civic Center when I was 9 years old. WWF used to have this interview segment hosted by a red-faced fellow named Brother Love, who was anything but. I was less than ten feet from Savage being interviewed on a raised platform when the massive Andre the Giant came out to confront him. How decidedly inconvenient, I thought, because Randy was just bashing the Giant. While Macho was distracted by the Giant, the Million Dollar Man came rushing from behind, clobbered Savage with a double-fist to the back of the head, dropping him right into the waiting clutch of Andre. The Giant raised Savage up in a vicious choke hold then tossed him off like a bag of trash. The crowd booed and I booed, until Andre the Giant looked right at me, swear to God he did, and I froze a big boo in my throat and gave Andre a 'giant-sized' thumbs-up out of fear. If I didn't he would've choke-slammed me. Like I said, WWF wrestling was real back then. I still can’t figure out how come Savage couldn’t see Million Dollar Man behind him, or at least suspect something fishy was about to fly. Oh well, that was Randy Savage for you. Crazy as they came.

By the time he died, Savage’s once black beard had gone snow white and the whole act felt long gone, but it was always great, always Macho, right till his final promo cut for the WWE video game. Along with Hulk Hogan he helped define a time in wrestling that will forever prove to be its pinnacle, and for that he’ll always be a part of my childhood and best memories. A part of an innocent time when I believed rassling was for real. But those days are done for me, for all of us born in the 80’s, and now Macho Man is gone too. Heaven bound to battle Big John Studd, Andre the Giant, Rick Rude, and Owen Hart, and of course, Miss. Elizabeth in his eternal corner, distracting opponents for Randy then taking the blame when he loses.

When Savage walked through the pearly gates on Friday, I’m sure he was wearing his bright pink robe and big sunglasses, and the heavenly harps played ‘Pomp & Circumstance,’ because Macho never made a ring walk with any other music. And when he finally met God, I’m sure he pointed his finger right in the Creator's face, and said, ‘The Macho man is not impressed, ooh yeah.’ I’m sure of it.

Thanks for saving us from the Rapture, Randy.

See the Madness for yourself:

For more Macho Madness see the Cat’s Pajamas @ Facebook

Brian Huba

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I do not get Lady Gaga

I do not 'get' Lady Gaga in any way, shape, or form. Is she good? I don’t know. Can she sing? I think so. Is she attractive? Um, I’m not really sure. There is just nothing about this woman I can wrap my mind around. I tried once again last night to understand her while she performed at Saturday Night Live, but I was left further mystified.

In case you didn’t see SNL last night, it was the season finale, and Justin Timberlake was the host and Lady Gaga was the musical guest. She performed twice and showed up in a few sketches, including the SNL Digital Short. Justin Timberlake, him, I understand. He would be completely cheesy if he wasn’t a tsunami of talent. I get that. He’s funny, smart, charismatic, good looking, stylish, the whole deal. Hate him if you want but it's true. His performance on SNL was the equivalent of Kobe Bryant saying, ‘Give me the ball and get out of my way.’ That’s what you can say (and do) when you’re the biggest talent in the room, a room that included Gaga, Jimmy Fallon, and Bradley Cooper.

But Gaga is just a plain puzzle to me. Her first SNL performance began with a piano piece in which she sang the phrase ‘I’m on the edge’ over and over again. Then the song switched into some crazy dance song, where she bounced around the stage (clearly lip singing) in some over-the-top outfit. Then it ended, and for the life of me I had no idea what I had just watched. Every time I get into this debate with Gaga fans (her little monsters), they all say to me, ‘Brian, you just don’t ‘get’ her music.’ OK, I can admit that, and I recognize that there’s supposed to be ‘something’ metaphorical happening, but I can’t make heads or tails of it. And I’m pretty sure Gaga’s A+ fans can’t sort through it either. How could they? It’s chaos. From my perspective: It had no rhyme or reason whatsoever. And I was REALLY looking, trying to connect.

Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s good, I mean, I ‘think’ so. I have Bad Romance and Poker Face on my I-Pod. Those are good songs, I guess. So I was ready to give this Gaga nonsense another run. Her second performance came at 12.40AM. Again, it was all over the place, and at one point, she put on a crazy body suit with a baby belly, gave birth on stage, and started tossing the orange afterbirth around herself and her backup dancers. Huh? Again, I’m assuming this is supposed to be a metaphor, and she did keep singing the lyric ‘I’m reborn,’ but it was too much theatrics for a plain old meat-and-potatoes guy like me. Yeah, I had no idea what the heck was going on. Give me the Stones and Marshall Tucker. Hell, I'd take Madonna's simplicity (simple in comparison to Gaga) at this point.

Gaga also showed up in a few sketches throughout the night, without the crazy masks, or wild outfits, or platform heels, but she was still completely bizarre, and kind of unsettling to watch. It’s almost like she isn’t entirely human. There is just nothing to grab onto with Gaga on that level. There’s always this element about her that makes you think her actual face and flesh is an outfit covering up something else. Is Gaga a visitor from another planet, or a Broadway act who’s crossed into pop music? She wins Grammy’s by the basket load, so her music is good, ah, I guess. She has millions of fans and plays sold-out shows, so people love her concerts, ah, I guess. She wears wild outfits on and off stage, things like meat dresses to protest ‘something,’ and people can relate to that, ah, I guess. Say what you want about Justin Bieber, say what you want about Justin Timberlake. But I understand their appeal. I can see how people could be fooled into relating to them on a human level.

That’s what the greatest entertainers do, in any medium, they make you (that’s right, you) think that you could do what they do, or could hang out with them, or relate to them. Don’t believe me? Ask anybody who works in PR. Madison Ave. is built on that crap. That’s what commercial slogans, and soft-drink ads, and talk-show circuits are geared towards. Relate to Middle America. But Gaga is literally like something from another planet, and even if she can sing, dance, and do all that, who can be SO into her? SO into her that she sells millions and millions of albums and concert tix. You're probably thinking Michael Jackson was like that too. You know: Whacko Jacko. True, he was. But when Billie Jean or Beat it came on the radio there was no mistaking: This is the greatest pop performer ever, and that I get, whacko Jacko or not. But Gaga. I could never imagine going anywhere near a Gaga concert.

I've seen her on talk shows, and I don't get it. I’ve seen her perform half a dozen times on TV and award shows, etc, and I don't get it. I try to like it every time, but at some point you have to stop and ask, ‘Can somebody please explain what is going on here?’ And if that’s what you are asking, I don’t see how you can fully relate to anything she does, on and/or off stage.

SNL from last night:

Can somebody please explain why I only have 5 friends on Facebook @ the Cat’s Pajamas?

Brian Huba

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Worst Capital Region Commercials

It's understood that hometown commercials are pretty lame. I know a lot of people pick on the Billy Fuccillo spots, but I think they’re effective, albeit annoying at times. With this in mind I put together a list of the worst hometown commercials for the Capital Region. Here’s my list, in no particular order. I have left off any commercial with a little kid 'being cute.' We can all agree that's like 1,000 sharp fingernails going down a 1,000 chalkboards, right?

1.Adirondack Tires: I simply do not understand this commercial. The concept is basically a hot girl doing nothing then saying something off-time like ‘Adirondack Tires is always on top.’ That’s supposed to do with selling tires, I guess. It’s really bad.

2.Residential Siding: This is that commercial where that black-haired guy talks about selling siding for your house, and all these unbeatable rates he can offer. It’s a classic hometown commercial in every way. Tough to watch.

3.Martin, Harding & Mazzotti: 'Call 1-800-LAW-1010.' Hate every one of their commercials. All the concepts are lame. They are so local looking, and I would never call these clowns to defend me in a legal situation. Come on, would someone really show up at court with these guys? No way. I’d rather hire that doughy-faced lawyer who doesn’t look like he could climb a flight of stairs.

4.Towne TV: It’s a local joint that does TV and audio-visual installations. These two guys hawk their (certainly) overpriced products, dubbing themselves as the alternative to the chain place. They do all the cliché, commercial moves. The yelling and carrying on, the tilting their bodies towards the camera, extending their arms, and saying the company’s name, with something like ‘Nobody can beat us!’ at the end. It’s as bush league as it gets.

5.Orange Motors: I've bought all my cars from Orange, and I do have some minor historical connections to the company, so it pains me to say that their new line of commercials is bottom barrel for Albany. The Vice Prez stands on the showroom, clearly reading off a cue card, stumbling and stiff through the delivery, with his suit pants hiked up to his chest. The commercials look like they were made in the 1950’s. I’m waiting for somebody to bring him a root beer float on roller skates. In one commercial, he points to a row of new cars, and says, ‘If that DON’T fit your fancy, how ‘bout these?’ Don’t fit your fancy? Not only is that murderously-bad word formation, it doesn't make sense.

5A.The DWI GUY(radio): I HATE these commercials. I literally cringe every time they come on the radio. Tom Anelli's a lawyer that defends people accused of driving drunk. Then he has that little jingle that they play every time, ‘Call 1-800-DWI-TEAMMMmmm.’ Now he’s trying to take a more serious approach and explain that DWI is not a game, but he doesn’t let the commercial end until he says, ‘Now play that funky jingle.' Listen to PYX 106. You’ll hear it 10 times an hour.

What are some other super bad commercials from the Capital Region?

Here’s another horrible commercial: Check out the Cat’s Pajamas @ Facebook

Brian Huba

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Wimpy ( I mean witty) Generation

The other day I was having a conversation with a colleague whom I like because he’s funny and smart. He’s a get-it guy. But then he started telling me that the cartoon show SOUTH PARK is actually a relevant lens to our society and culture. I laughed. It’s official: I don’t understand adults who watch cartoons, whether it be SOUTH PARK, FAMILY GUY, ADULT SWIM, or Fox’s ANIMATION DOMINATION. Sorry, cartoon watching past the age of 18. Nah. To me it’s the same thing as grown men who play video games religiously. To me it’s another example of a generation that’s wimpy (I mean witty).

I understand that the writing on these cartoon shows can be clever, and I get that the show (whichever it is) is an ironical, witty look at society, via a talking dog or boy with hair like a row of flesh-colored triangles. I get that. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve watched some of these SOUTH PARKS or SIMPSONS on many occasions, and I’ve laughed. But I would just feel, physically, like a tub of soft ice cream if I was to actually work my schedule around ANIMATION DOMINATION. I wonder if my father or grandfather watched witty cartoons at 30 years old.

Then there are guys who have whole season DVD sets of these cartoon shows, and watch them marathon-style on a Saturday afternoon. It’s just too much and I immediately see you in a different light if you list THE CLEVELAND SHOW or THE SIMPSONS as your favorite TV show, or go around quoting one liners from a talking dog. I don’t really have a concrete list of arguments against this. I just don’t get it. As a grown man I could never stop myself long enough to sit in front of a TV set and find genuine entertainment value in watching a ‘witty’ cartoon. A few weeks ago someone tried telling me that she doesn’t watch THE SIMPSONS because it belittles women. Huh? That is either the falsest stance in world history or just another person who is taking the sketched tribulations of Homer & Marge Simpson (who haven’t aged in 21 years) way too seriously. It’s a cartoon!

Some people might read this and say, “You just like serious shows.” Others may say, “Get the stick out of your rear end.” There’s no secret about what shows I love: THE SOPRANOS, SEINFELD, CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, 30 ROCK, 90210 (the original). I like great comedy and appreciate groundbreaking television, you know the big moments like 'Donna Martin graduates.' Clever perspective on modern-day issues is always interesting. I just don’t need a cartoon character to serve it to me. And even now with TV being so bad, IDOL being 100% unwatchable, this recycled reality crapathon, and TV dramas that you and I both know will never, ever, ever touch THE SOPRANOS, I still haven’t thought about turning to the cartoon genre. In fact I think it’s safe to say my TV hasn’t been tuned to Fox’s Sunday night lineup since I was in 8th grade. And even then I knew it was probably a waste of time.

I blame Generation X for this cartoon phenomenon. Everyone just got so damn ironical, and witty, and clever along the way. And from this same age group came this witty outlook on everything, and I guess we love our wit transported through the mouthpiece of a talking dog on a cartoon show.

Let me tell you something: my dad would’ve never sat around and watched cartoons on a Sunday night, then talked about it with his friends down at the Plant. Are cartoons another element of this wimpy (I mean witty) generation who are entering their thirties? At 30, my dad and his friends had beards, and blue-collar jobs, and families. My friends have Facebook accounts, and post on it daily, and can’t live without their I-Phone.

My point: I guess I belong to a softer generation of men. Men who hit the gym regularly, wear t-shirts with funny sayings, and watch cartoons on Sunday night. Is that every 30 year old in America? Of course not. Is it many of them? I think so. I grew up in a basement apt. with no windows until I was 9 years old. My father wore the same pair of jeans for 10 years. He drove a 1978 Granada with rust holes the size of softballs. But not me: I blog, and read Tristan Egolf, and eat low-fat yogurt. And not us (Gen X). We tweet, and care about Khloe Kardashian, and watch cartoons at 30 years old. That’s who I am, what I belong to. That’s my legacy, my generation. Cue the ironical smiley face.

See more Gen X wimpiness (I mean wittiness) on Facebook @ the Cat’s Pajamas

Brian Huba

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Whose Party is This?

All week Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings has made it a point to remind all Capital Regionites that the Tulip Fest is a family affair. On the heels of the St. Pat’s Day Massacre on Hudson Ave., Jennings decided to kill the open-drinking allowance at the Fest, and force all drinkers to a Beer Garden, SPAC style. He made it known that he didn’t want this park party spilling out into nearby neighborhoods, where residential damage could be done. He said all this with a firm tone and no-nonsense expression. He made sure we knew this event was for the families. This was a FAMILY AFFAIR.

You really believed the mayor was serious about stopping these college-aged drinkers in their tracks, and letting it be known that what happened on St. Pat’s Saturday will not be allowed. You almost believed him, until you found out the city booked a California-based band called the Cold War Kids to headline the Tulip Fest’s Saturday showcase. If you don’t know anything about the Cold War Kids, it's OK, you’re probably over 25years old and/or not in college. I hear they are good and I'm sure that's true. But my question is a simple one: Who is Jennings pandering to by booking this band to play Tulip Fest? Because it looks to me like he’s pandering to the same age group that he’s spoken so harshly about curbing this entire week, the same age group that blew up Hudson Ave. in March. If you haven’t seen any photos of this past Saturday’s show, let me summarize: Three thousand drunk college kids getting down to the music. Further back all the family men sitting in their parade chairs with a look on their face that says, “What the heck is this music?”

You may remember I recently wrote about the curious choice of Cold War Kids for an event in Albany. I thought it was all wrong, because it clashed with the personality of the Tulip Fest and the city. Albany, to me, is a blue-collar city, filled with guys who drink Coors Light and smoke Marb reds. Albany likes Eddie Money, and Edgar Winters, and Marshall Tucker. College kids from Long Island and NYC like the Cold War Kids, almost as much as they like destroying city property when drunk, so it seems.

There are two truths here. 1) The Tulip Fest isn’t a family event on Saturday, it’s a rip-roaring party. Period. Jennings doesn’t care as much about curbing drunken behavior as he does about filling the bars and restaurants on Lark Street after the concert. You're talking about a mayor whose plan to kick start the Albany economy was begun by pumping up the downtown drinking scene. 2) This city’s economy is so dependent on the college crowd. So, on days like this, that group must be a large part of the target audience. Additionally, Albany is in a never-ending tug of war to keep local graduates in the area. Add all that together and you get a Washington Park filled with drunken 22 year olds, rocking out to music that nobody born before 1984 has ever heard of. For all that anger about what those U Albany kids did in March, not a single kid has been tossed off campus and all this tough-guy conviction talk has “kind of” dried up. Albany needs U Albany, and Sage, and etc, etc. A family affair. What a joke. Why can't Jennings just say, "It's going to be a party on Saturday. Keep your kids home, mom." It's kind of a lie to say that Saturday is a family day at the Tulip Fest.

Maybe my vision of Albany isn’t Albany anymore. Maybe I’m just getting old and bitter. My favorite TV show went off the air four years ago. My favorite sports coach is 65 years old, and my favorite pro athlete just got blown out of the NBA playoffs for being too slow and too old. Maybe the things that I know and love are beginning to go by. Maybe I don't accept change too well. But I don’t see this as an age issue. I see it as a double-edged message. You don’t want college kids getting wasted at Washington Park and ripping up neighborhoods, but you book music that only college kids and people in their twenties have heard of. Isn’t that like tossing a raw steak into a crate of foaming-mouthed dogs then telling them not to tear after it? If you don’t want the dogs to chomp, toss them cooked broccoli. Or in this case: Eddie Money or Marshall Tucker. The party is just as fun, and the balance is better.

See that biker-looking guy smoking the Marb red and sucking the Coors Light by the row of Porta-Potties, having no idea what this music is? That guy grew up in Albany, never left. He’s been to every Tulip Fest. Today he realizes something for the first time: He’s an outsider at his own party. This isn’t for him anymore. This is for that kid from LI with the funny sunglasses and the Hollister shirt. And an hour later, Hollister will be dropping a c-note at Lionheart. And that’s what Jennings wants. Let’s just hope Hollister leaves the city’s streets alone in his drunken stupor. And if he doesn’t . . . well, nothing will happen anyway.

Tulip Fest Photos:

Stupor your way on over to the Cat’s Pajamas on Facebook

Brian Huba

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

For God, Country: Geronimo! Geronimo!

Pepper gives the Navy Seals an 'arrh, arrh, arrh' salute (Seal Sounds)

The killing of Osama bin Laden is the greatest moment in US Military history. And, to be honest, I can’t believe it’s not a bigger story. In a world where Tiger Woods’ cheating trumps 9/11 for total news coverage, I suppose there’s no reason to be surprised. What more could we hope for as a country? We put a storybook ending on the most horrific act of terrorism on American soil by putting an American bullet in the head of the monster. I know it may have come 10 years too late for most of us, but this was an amazing moment of American muscle and see-it-throughness. The mission to finish him off was one of the most daring and complicated of its kind. The Navy Seals who executed it are American heroes. And history will, and should, credit Barack Obama for being at the helm when bin Laden was brought to justice.

What previous military accomplishment/mission has been a bigger deal and greater success than what happened this weekend? What? When? Where? The truth is this ‘War on Terror’ has been a one-country conflict, and Osama bin Laden was the golden goose, and we got him. In the past we may have fought and won greater wars, rose victorious from more epic battles, but the killing of bin Laden, and the way we did it, will do much to restore this nation as the world’s #1 undisputed superpower, and push back any future ideas to go against us.

Osama bin Laden was the most wanted man in the world, he has masterminded several attacks against America, and is responsible for the death of 4,000 of our citizens. And we hunted him, pulled him out of his hole, and put a bullet through his brain. I don’t mean to go all Toby Keith on you, but goddamn it felt good to put a boot in his butt, American style. He died like a dog, using a woman as a human shield before he bit the dust. Our Military’s PR people were very smart to mention and re-mention that piece for every news network around the world. And believe me the photos of his finished corpse will be posted all over the Internet in short order. We got him. Well done, Mr. Bush. Well done, Mr. Obama. And by the way you can punch your re-election ticket right now, which begrudgingly leads me to my next point . . .

The circumstances surrounding 9/11 and everything since have been and continue to be unbelievably weird. Although I’m super happy to be an American today, I’m not going to 100% back down from my belief that something more than meets the eye went down way back in 2001. When it came to this attack, 2+2 has never added up to 4. I’m sorry, it’s true, and we all know it. Now it continues. The killing of bin Laden was immediately followed by the dumping of his body in a burial at sea, which means all evidence of his death sleeps with the fishes. Do I think we killed him? No doubt about it, he’s dead, and he died this weekend. But . . . Well I suppose there’s too many buts to count honestly. Again, the weirdness shows. 2+2 = ah . . . I don’t know, but it seems to me that the murder of America’s greatest villain would warrant a little trophy presentation, no? I heard the reasons for the burial at sea, I get it, but then again, I don’t. Islamic practice? Huh?

OK, I’ll attempt to back up all this talk with some kind of theory, even if I’m not sure it’s my theory. Could the following be possible? We somehow worked with bin Laden on 9/11, for whatever reason, to create an excuse to enter the Middle East and occupy the world’s oil hub, and hence control the world’s most important resource, controlling it under the guise of a ‘War on Terror’ and revenge for 9/11. Osama bin Laden, for whatever reason, agreed to play the part of boogeyman in this game. We promised to protect him from Military death if he disappeared and didn’t come out. So he took up residence in a million-dollar mansion in Pakistan, and everyone turned the other cheek. This arrangement went on for 10 years, 5 years, 3 years, whatever. But now, for whatever reason, American powers decided that the deal was dead and took bin Laden out, (On May 1st nonetheless, same date as Hitler was discovered) because it was a political and national victory for us. What is that victory? Who stands to gain from it? Why now? After that, burial at sea in accordance to Islamic practice, because no country would take his remains. Wait a second, let me get this straight. NO OTHER COUNTRY would take Osama bin Laden’s remains? No other country would accept the body of the most famous man in the world, thus possibly creating a tourist landmark that would rival the Grand Canyon times a thousand. Yeah right, those Middle East countries are so wealthy already, forget the billions in tourist dollars that bin Laden’s grave could potentially bring. Maybe it was morally wrong, you say. You know how moral those Middle Easterners have been when it comes to America. Guess what, guys, 2+2 still doesn’t equal 4, does it? Is it possible? Maybe, but I don’t know. OK, I’m done, back to the good stuff.

America is still #1, and the Navy Seals who dealt bin Laden’s death blow are international heroes, and some of the greatest US Military men in history. This is a golden age for our fighting men and women, and I’m happy to tip my hat and say thanks, regardless of my sometimes confused front. It was a great victory for Democracy, and it was the perfect closure for those who lost friends and family on 9/11, as perfect as closure can ever be. It’s a good day, no doubt, and I’m happy to be alive to see it. By now bin Laden is on the wrong end of a shark’s digestive system. The trip to Hell’s a short one from there.

For God, Country: Geronimo! Geronimo!

Osama bin Laden Photos:

Speaking of a short trip to Hell, see the Cat’s Pajamas on Facebook

Brian Huba

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Royal Turnaround

Before the Royal Wedding commenced on Friday morning, I was pretty sure I had my mind made up about it. The Royal tradition, the pomp and circumstance, the British fashions, the big hats, Victoria Beckham and George Michael. The perfect ingredients to induce me to the point of spewing vomit all over the walls. Now I’m not suggesting I didn’t try watching it. I certainly did, I really tried. But I just couldn’t stomach two minutes of it. I really couldn’t. So I’d watch, flip the channel, flip back for another try. But I was convinced I had the right idea about this Royal dog-and-pony show. At this point I wasn’t a big fan of that dorky-prince William or ‘the commoner’ Kate Middleton. I kind of have a hard time understanding the role or relevance of the Royal Family. I simply don’t get it. It's too drenched in ritual. It's too boring. It's too British. Is that an ethnocentric attitude? You bet London Bridge it is.

Then something happened.

As I was attempting to watch the replays of the day’s affairs on Friday night, still struggling as I had the whole day to stomach two minutes, William did something that led to my instant Royal Turnaround. It was during a replay of the actual ceremony, and someone was on the pulpit of that grand church, British-ing his way through another reading for the Royal Couple, a prayer of some sort. William, in his Royal red suit and Kate in her gorgeous wedding dress (no denying that) were sitting on the side, holding the prayer books in their laps. Then William did something that completely Americanized the whole affair for me. He turned to Kate--in front of a thousand spectators in the church, thousands more outside on the streets, and 2 billion watching around the world--and he winked at her. It was a cool, Kobe-Bryant-Tom Cruise wink, that totally changed my take on William, and the Royal Wedding, and all the nonsense. In that wink William became instantly human and relatable to me. In that wink, he told Kate, “This circus isn’t too big for me,” and “It’s you and me now,” and “I know this is insane but it’s how we roll,” and “This is really all yours now . . . all ours.” You must realize that Kate was probably TERRIFIED at that moment. Imagine 30% of the world’s people watching YOUR wedding? But William slickly hit her with that little wink and set her free from all that. Well done, Prince.

It was such a needed break of humanity from all the rigid, British tradition. I immediately got it. I understood it. I immediately started liking William. I know it sounds weird but seeing that second of realness from him was the turning point. Then came their kiss on the balcony (two kisses actually) and then Kate gave that epic look-back over her left shoulder at the crowd below, the shot that will run till the end of time, and it was awesome.

I actually think Kate is a better fit for this job than Diana was. Kate was natural, and cool, and collected. Diana was like a walking ghost on her wedding day, with that flat British look on her face the whole day, hidden under that veil. Honestly, I think Kate is much smarter than Diana was too. I actually think Diana was kind of a British ditz. And I also believe the Royal Family was behind her death. But that’s another story. Bottom line: I think Kate will be very good in this role. And If William ever is King (which is very likely) she’ll be an amazing Queen.

To me, America is like the world’s father. We’re in our 40’s, the height of our earning powers, still strong enough to outmuscle our kids, even the teenager who thinks he’s tough enough to take the old man on. Dad, at that age, is still feared and is definitely a threat that must be taken seriously. Is there any figure in society stronger than dad when he’s in his prime? That’s us. That’s America. But Britain is like the world’s grandparents. They're all about tradition and the old school. They aren’t actually a legitimate threat to anyone, but they are still respected, because they used to be the world’s strongest country. A lot of Europe is like that actually. Germany is kind of like the evil great uncle who had a stroke in the 1940’s went crazy.

My point: For me to be hugely interested in something, I need it to be real, relevant, and American. The Royal Family might as well be space aliens. They are just so different and so rigid. But William closed that gap with a simple little wink to his bride. Is that crazy? Probably. But that's all it took. I think William and Kate are real. I think they love each other. I don't think it was ALL a show. What can I say? I’m a William and Kate fan now.

Check out the Royal Wedding Photos:

Speaking of Royal, there’s a Royal embarrassment taking place on Facebook @ the Cat’s Pajamas

Brian Huba