Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Twenty Best (Not School) Books I've Ever Read

Forget the classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice & Men, Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby. These are the twenty best I've read outside of school.

20. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
19. Ironweed by William Kennedy
18. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers
17. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
16. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
15. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
14. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
13. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
12. Wonderful Tonight by Patti Boyd
11. A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle
10. The Lovely Bones by Alice Seabold
9. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
8. Every Move You Make by M. William Phelps
7. A Widow For One Year by John Irving
6. Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey
5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
4. Lord of the Barnyard by Tristan Egolf
3. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
2. Legs by William Kennedy
1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Brian Huba

Where's Jack Ruby When You Need Him

I already think this Holmes kid, with the orange hair, who hosed that cinema in Colorado, killing 12 and injuring 60, has gotten off too easy. The horribly-random way that he ended 12 lives that he had no direct affiliation with is an act the devil himself would throw red flags up at. I can’t believe someone who'd rub out the lives of so many people, for no reason, is allowed to walk the Earth, albeit walking it in shackles. I think it's time for this kid to have himself a jailhouse accident.

“But, Brian, everybody deserves their day in court. Innocent till proven guilty.” Not this time. He's 100% guilty. Don't care why he did it either. Back story doesn't matter for someone capable of walking into a random theatre and opening fire on teenagers. In the same way you can’t yell FIRE in a crowded theatre, you certainly can’t start shooting. And the sickest part: He had NO motive as far as who he wanted to hit. This was 100% random. He just aimed and fired away. It could’ve been you. It could’ve been me. Imagine your life ending like that. Imagine it! Now what happens? CNN and MSNBC turn this kid into Davy Jones with a dark side, the face of some new, confused America. He’s gonna become a celebrity from this thing, that’s what these networks do. Girls will be writing him love letters as he sits on Death Row for the next 30 years, doing behind-bars interviews, same way as Scott Peterson did.

I don’t want to hear the Gun Lovers coming out with their crap about people killing people, not guns. It’s an absurd argument, and anyone who believes any Joe, Jack, or John should be able to carry semi-automatic weapons is out of their mind. “But, Brian, it says ‘right to bear arms’ in the Constitution.” Yeah, it does, but if you read it carefully you’ll see the wording was directed, in spirit, at Citizen Militia groups, not 20 year olds with orange hair. And, by the way, can we stop giving such total credence to a document written almost 300 years ago? If John Hancock saw East LA right now, his wigged head would explode. Let’s not base EVERYTHING on what a forefather wrote. It's called evolving, people. If guns don't kill people, why do inner cities host gun buybacks several times a year all over America?

I don’t want to hear ANY debate involving this kid. Is Hollywood to blame? Is this to blame? Is that to blame? Holmes is to blame. Period. These poor families have to endure this crosstalk debate on every channel for the next year? While young girls say, “He’s kind of hot,” and some lawyer hits the media to explain why this kid is innocent, because he was abused as a child or beat up in high school. Last I heard, the DA was 'consulting' with the families about whether to pursue the Death Penalty. Consulting?! Nope! Nope! Nope! I say it’s time for someone to end the big debate today.

Brian Huba

Monday, July 23, 2012

Synthetic Saratoga

I’m already Saratoga-ed out.

I have never been a fan of the Race Track and the nightlife never got me excited. I’ve had some good times, but I always left feeling like I didn’t play the night right. Then the next time came, same thing again. Gaffney's? Never once fun. The Tower? Terrible. Circus Cafe? No comment. But this year, I wanted to embrace all that is Saratoga. So Wednesday night, we went to Skidmore to watch William Kennedy read from his brilliant new play. Afterwards, he invited us to a private gathering in his honor on Union Street, and at four am we got home. Wow, what a night.

So we thought: Let’s ride the hot hand, back to Toga on the weekend for some walking around and dinner. We made reservations at a Bistro on Broadway. We drove up, parked in the garage, hit the Strip. It was beyond mobbed. And not NYC mob where the crowd flows down the sidewalk naturally, but Saratoga mobbed where everyone bumps everyone, and it’s all a big confused system. Then came the street performers. Is there anything worse than everyone gathering around to watch some kid beat drums on two plastic jugs? I get it. It's the Toga charm. Blah, blah.

We arrived at the Bistro at 9:30PM. They had a deck, and I wanted to sit outside, all the best available tables were outside. That’s why you make a reservation, right? But nope, my reservation was not honored “outside” only “inside,” and if I wanted deck seating I’d be in for a wait. Why would I wait, I wondered. When I asked the hostess why this wasn’t made clear on the phone, she said: “I took your reservation and you did not ask for outside seating.” Ask for outside seating? But I have a reservation for this WHOLE place, and I want to sit at one of the empty tables outside. Again she said I did not SPECIFICALLY ask for that. Then she said, “I’ve been doing this for a long time.” Then she said, “Do you want to leave?” I said I did not want to leave, but man oh man, I wish I did. Ah, Saratoga.

They advertised the best crab cakes you’ll ever eat as an app. Not even close. I ordered a cod dinner ($27.00), took two bites, bit into a fish bone, and was done. Complimentary dessert was paper-thin chocolates the place advertised as “homemade.” As pedestrian as it gets until the bill came. Mercedes prices for Mazda product. The place sold itself as upscale. What's that mean? Must tip big? I love big tipping, but the waitress barely looked at us. Maybe the hostess turned her against me. And if that's true, maybe my hostess friend who's been "doing this for a long time" has been doing this a little too long.

Everything about Saratoga is as paper thin as those chocolates. The restaurants: plain food at disturbing prices. The bars: twenty-minute waits for watered-down drinks. The specialty shops: Christmas Tree Shop quality. I know, I know, I go to all the wrong places. They been telling me that for fifteen years. Then there’s a strange combination of snobby people and drunk people stumbling up and down Broadway. It’s all flash with no substance. It’s synthetic. I’m already Saratoga-ed out, and it isn’t even August yet, and I haven’t even wrestled that 1,000lb monster known as a day at the Track.

Next up: Fair Season.

Brian Huba

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Park the PR Machine

Clearly everyone is outraged about the rampage at the DARK KNIGHT RISES showing in Colorado. The details have been widely reported. So I’ll get to my point: Warner Bros. should pull all marketing campaigns and PR tours today. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to see a commercial for this movie. And I sure as heck don’t want to see Christian Bale on David Letterman doing a guest spot. In the movie's defense, I've seen neither. It sucks for Warner Bros and everyone who worked hard on the movie that this had to happen like this.

I will not go as far as saying the studio should pull the movie, put it straight to DVD. But I’d be the first to applaud if they did. The movie itself will make hundreds of millions, and people worked long and hard on the 250-million dollar final product. But, wow, to pull it would be sending the message that the scope of this event is more important than the almighty dollar, even 250 million of them. It's a really bad break and a really big tragedy.

I will admit I am not a BATMAN/DARK KNIGHT movie fan. I don’t think it’s been good since Nicholson asked, “Ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?” and I thought the Heath Ledger version was overrated, posthumous release or not. But a lot of people have been excited about the movie. And I don’t think the movie played a symbolic role in the murder spree. The crazy motive on this Holmes kid cuts far deeper than that. Sidebar: Aren’t BATMAN movies always so dark? Well, never darker than this. Speaking of that: Perhaps it's time to stop the midnight first-showings altogether.

Warner Bros would be within its rights to market this movie, but they'd also be wrong to do so. So far, the studio response has been right on. Will that last? This murder spree is Columbine big, it’s Virginia Tech big, it’s BIGGER than Penn State, and they took down statues at Happy Valley. They might end football at Happy Valley. Warner Bros.: Park the PR machine. There's no other choice.

Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9417057/Batman-shooting-survivor-recounts-how-he-escaped-killing-spree.html

Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/police-colo-suspect-planned-massacre-months-033025968.html

Read more: http://www.democraticunderground.com/101742847

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/dark-knight-movie-shooting_n_1690868.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

Brian Huba

Friday, July 20, 2012

Anybody Hungry?

Wal-Mart, Clifton Park, NY @ 11:25PM on 7/20/12

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Pop Culture 180

I celebrate my 200th Post by putting my big foot in my even-bigger mouth.

I have always thought it was important to remain consistent in your opinions, thick or thin, good times or bad. For instance, I have always said to anyone that would listen that Tom Coughlin/Eli Manning is the greatest coach/QB tandem in NY Giants History:

http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2010_10_01_archive.html OR

http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2010/10/since-i-been-gone.html OR

http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2012/01/top-ny-giants-playoff-moments.html OR


I think I have been proven right on that one.

I also said that the horrors that occurred at Penn State are/is 100% the fault of the school itself (and Sandusky’s, of course). This is what happens when you allow an 85-yr-old man to "play" the part of head football coach. When a man is too old to remember his middle name from senility, he’s too old to run a major college football program: http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2011/11/believe-me-we-get-it.html

And I will NEVER back down on my stance about that bullied bus monitor. All we learned from that You Tube video is that that woman should not be working with kids. I feel no sympathy for her and I don’t agree with the way she profited from this incident, and I think she should be fired for talking to the media about school issues and those children: http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2012/06/bullied-bus-monitor-enough-already.html

I still believe Barack Obama is one of our greatest Presidents ever. And yes, I still believe he's going to CRUSH Romney in November.


OR http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2012/02/little-love-for-obama.html

And yes, I still think tats are silly.


But there are a few issues that I must admit I was wrong about. You can call the following my pop culture 180. Here they are

1. Jennifer Aniston is Awful: http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2010/04/jennifer-aniston-is-awful.html

My opinion of Aniston has actually changed dramatically in the last year. I have seen many movies where she has played the lead, and liked them. She almost made Sandler’s JUST GO WITH IT watchable, almost, and that was truly one of the worst movies ever. Her work in FRIENDS as Rachel Green is top notch. I guess I forgot how good it was until I started watching the reruns on Nick @ Nite. FRIENDS is on N@N? Wow, I'm old. What can I say? I’m a converted Aniston fan. I hope her lifelong quest for romantic bliss works out.

2. Dave Matthews Band: Greatest Ever?: http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2010/01/dave-matthews-band-greatest-ever.html

Wow, what was I thinking? Don’t get me wrong, I still love DMB, and still believe CRASH is one of the best albums ever, but I think I have officially outgrown my DMB days. I wouldn’t be caught dead at a DMB show now, unless it was fifth row MSG, maybe not even then. When Dave came to town this summer I wanted no part of it, didn’t even have a second thought, just nope, that’s it. In fact, I was more intrigued by the Phish show this summer than DMB. Wow, what a 180 on my part. I’m just done with all the carrying on, I really am. I can’t fake it any longer, pretend all the work and all the nonsense involved with a DMB-SPAC show is worth it. I’ve been to twelve total Dave concerts. It’s enough. Plus, I saw Paul McCartney last summer. There’s really no other concert I want to see after that. As I’m writing this, a friend from work/DMB diehard has emailed me some songs off the new album. I love this guy I work with, but I don’t think I care about the Dave songs. I may be back on here in three months, telling you this DMB album is great, maybe, but mark my words: I’m done with DMB at SPAC. Unless you’re talking the Stones, the Boss, McCartney again, Elvis back from the dead, Petty, or GNR reunion, I’m not interested.

3. And finally, my LeBron hating: http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2010/10/things-that-make-me-go-hmmmm.html

OR http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2011/06/lebron-mob.html

About halfway through the most-recent NBA season I came to a sad realization, sad because I’m a Kobe guy: It’s LeBron’s world now. When the NBA playoffs started, I was a full-blown LBJ supporter. I predicated Miami would win the championship, losing game 1 of the NBA Finals then sweeping the next four and taking the trophy. I was EXACTLY right, and have the texts to prove it. However I thought that same sequence would happen against Kobe’s Lakers, and was saddened when it didn’t. I predict that matchup is coming this year. I also predicted LeBron would finally deliver an MVP Performance, and I recognized the LeBron hating was ridiculous. He’s a Champion and is going to be one many times over before it’s all said and done. It's his destiny, it's always been. He’s frustrating off the court, no doubt. But he's also the best player in the world, maybe in the end, the best ever. But we’ll have to see about that.

And, OF COURSE, I have pulled a complete 180 with my opinion on the I-Phone

Before: http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2011/01/i-phone-people.html

Now: I am I-Phone Guy.

200 in the book!

Brian Huba

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Hat's Off to Holmes

I have to give Katie Holmes some serious credit on the heels of her shocking divorce from mega-star Tom Cruise. I cannot imagine a harder thing for a 33-year-old woman and her young child to do than file for divorce and get away from a guy like Cruise, when, guess what, Cruise doesn’t want to break up. She didn’t just file successfully, move her and her daughter into an apartment building successfully, cut ties with everyone loyal to TC successfully, she KO’d one of the most powerful men in the world, and it wasn’t even a fight. Wow, I have to hand it to her. The plan was brilliant, the timing was perfection, and the execution was masterful. In one lightning-fast swoop she ended the Tom Cruise era in her life.

Remember on THE SOPRANOS when Carmella wanted to divorce Tony, but Tony was too powerful and influential to just get rid of? Multiply that same thing by about a million, and you almost have half of Cruise’s influence. Not only is he the greatest movie star who has ever lived (if he spits on a movie script it makes 200 million), with unlimited resources and an endless entourage, he is also a God-like figure in some creepy and mysterious church of Scientology, with many, many seemingly-mindless and/or confused followers. Who knows what they would be willing to do for him, against Katie, against Suri. It takes real guts to battle that guy. In many ways, Katie’s split from Cruise was like breaking out of Alcatraz. And she did it. Oh yeah, and she scored a reported 50 million for doing it. 5’9”, 113lbs AKA Joey with the ridiculously-advanced vocabulary from DAWSON’S CREEK just took down Goliath. And he never saw it coming. How is that even possible?

I don’t know if she was "hired" to be Cruise’s wife. I don’t know if there were "auditions" through the Church of Scientology to select Tom’s perfect leading lady. I don’t even know if she rejected Scientology and thus wanted her and her daughter away from it. I don’t know anything. But I predict that the blank-faced Holmes we’ve seen the last few years is a thing of the past. I really think there might be more to this gangly girl than we’ve yet recognized. I even predict an Oscar in Holmes’s future. Why not? This girl's got something. And ask Kidman about post-TC Oscars. As for Holmes, you're talking about the little girl who dreamed of one day marrying the biggest movie star ever. And she actually did it, married him, had a kid with him. Then she dumped him, took the kid and made 50 mil. And in the process made herself 1,000 times more famous than she ever would've been. TKO. First round.

Only one question remains: Back to Chris Kline?

Read More:http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/tom-cruise-pay-katie-holmes-lump-sum-payment-quickly-settle-divorce-child-support-top-10-million-report-article-1.1113815

Brian Huba

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The End Of The World As We Know It

I’m beginning to think the world is actually going to end in December of 2012. What is MTV thinking putting on this TV show: J-Woww & Snooki? To me, the JERSEY SHORE for MTV is what the Steroid Era was for baseball. The ratings were great and the numbers were huge, but man oh man, did MTV sell its soul. Why can’t this network--that used to know what was cool--close the JERSEY SHORE era out, count their millions, move on? This has to be rock bottom for Reality TV. It can’t get lower than this. J-Woww & Snooki’s spinoff makes the Kardashians feel like 60 MINUTES.

If you haven’t seen this funeral for taste and morality, the formula isn’t far removed from JERSEY SHORE, except dumber, less exciting, less funny, and, if you can believe it, crueler. And that’s where my problem with this program exists. I don't think humor based on being cruel to other people is funny. I don't get a rise out of poking fun at someone’s face, hair, size, or height. In the episode I watched, nothing happens except J-Woww’s moron boyfriend makes fun of Snooki’s moron boyfriend/baby-daddy. Did I mention that Snooki is pregnant on this show, moving out on her boyfriend to live it up with this J-Woww? And, of course, the whole thing is blatantly scripted, the girls being asked to exaggerate their over-the-top SHORE characters. That's right, kids: Being an idiot and making fun of people is cool.

The concept of the show is grounded in following these two travesties around as they behave like, well, travesties. In one cringe-worthy scene, J-Woww asks their two real estate agents (a man and a woman) if they “F” each other. The agents are both like um, huh? What can I say: In a far-off galaxy hilarity ensues. But here on Earth, bad. Why doesn’t MTV rip this garbage off the air?

Kids see this crap and carry it out in their lives i.e. cyber bullying and attacking their peers via text or Tweet about the way they look and the way they live. Kids aren’t equipped to expertly handle this kind of warfare. I however believe that bus monitor who got “bullied” should’ve been able to handle it, and sure as heck not profit from it. All we found out with that video was that woman shouldn't work with kids. Sorry, I digress. My point: MTV is sending the youth, 99.9% of its audience, a bad message. Enter Mom & Dad. Because NOTHING is more important than parenting. NOTHING.

I plead with the network of Adam Curry and SINGLED OUT and THE TOP 20 VIDEO COUNTDOWN to stick a fork in this JERSEY SHORE thing. I still think MTV has some good things to say and I’ll still watch a REAL WORLD every so often, even though it’s a snoozefest, but at least I kind of like some of the characters. But this J-Woww & Snooki spinoff is disturbing. It may very well be the end of the world as we know it.

Watch the Trailer: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20605939,00.html

Read More:http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20605939,00.html

Brian Huba

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Got Away With One

I can never say the system didn’t give me a get-out-of-jail card. Yesterday, I was driving back into my neighborhood, and I saw litter on the roadside, a water bottle, and I ran a stop sign without even kind of stopping, en route to pick it up. I grabbed the bottle and drove off again, and a Sheriff’s SUV was right behind me, materializing out of nowhere like they always do, and let me tell you nothing fills up a rear view bigger and faster than a police vehicle. He followed me for a bit then hit the big lights, and I whispered some serious profanities to myself. This wasn’t going to be good. I was caught red handed at the red sign. I had to think fast.

He came to my car, and I asked/joked if he was pulling me over to reward me for picking up the road litter? Nope. He told me he was pulling me over for blasting right through that stop sign, and he wanted my license. I didn’t have my license. In fact, I didn’t even have a shirt on. I’d just come from Planet Fitness. I had to think fast, because I could NOT get this ticket. I had just cleaned up a stop-sign ticket two weeks ago. This ticket would mean BIG money and maybe a suspended license. You know the old saying: Bad things always happen in, um, twos. I had to think fast. No license, no shirt, so I decided to pretend that I had to go to the bathroom, #1. That was my plan.

I told the cop I lived three houses down the road and I REALLY had to go to the bathroom. He took my name, went back to his vehicle. Two minutes later, he came back, sans ticket, and I was home free. Not so fast. He wanted my DOB. While I gave it to him, I really turned on the I-got-to-go-pee dance in my seat. He asked if I was going to have an accident. I said no, I would make it. And, yep, he was writing this damn ticket. This was BIG trouble.

Then he didn’t. Two minutes after that, he came back again, and said, “Have a nice day and obey those stop signs.” Yes!! It was the first time I've EVER gotten out of a ticket. You always hear about cute girls showing some skin to get above the law. Maybe my shirtless physique did the job. Or maybe he saw my license record and knew his ticket would doom me. Or maybe it was my brilliant fib about having to pee. Either way, lesson learned. I will never run that stop sign again, even though everybody runs it. And I can never say the long arm of the law didn’t let me slide through a blatant fine and ticket. And I will be donating to that Sheriff Dept when the donating team comes a calling.

I just hope that cop isn’t a blog reader (trust me, he's not), and thus sees this and arrests me for fibbing my way out of a ticket. But the more I think about it, I really believe it was my shirtless and rippling chest that did the job. Oh wait, I just remembered, my wife was in the car also, wearing a see-through t-shirt (see through from gym sweat) cut low and short-short shorts. And didn't they have a playful exchange? I knew there was a reason I kept her around.

Any good getting-out-of-tickets stories?

Brian Huba

Friday, July 6, 2012

You are what you throw out your car window

People who litter? How slimy is someone who'd throw a McDonald’s bag or Dunkin Donuts cup out onto a street while driving or walking? Who does that?

I've made it my personal agenda to do my part and keep my neighborhood litter-free. If I see a piece of garbage on the street, I stop my car and pick it up. I guess it makes me feel good about myself. But every time I pick a fast-food wrapper or beer can off the pavement, I try to picture the person who'd actually litter. There is nothing trashier than heaving your junk out the car window for someone else to deal with. I say this because I see the same beer cans in the same places every day as I drive by, and it’s me and the rest of my neighbors who have to deal with it. I know whoever is doing this is doing it every day. Wow.

But it’s not just litterbugs that get me. The other day I went out to lunch at Mr. Subb. When I went to throw out my bottle, I asked the girl working cashier where the recycling box was. She said there wasn’t one, just throw it away. I asked her if she stood there all day and watched people throw out recyclables in the regular garbage. She shrugged and said "yep." I refused to throw out any of our plastic bottles. So I carried them back to work and recycled them there. Is recycling the biggest scam in the world? Probably. I don't know if the recycling people actually separate the stuff we put in that "other" garbage can for weekly pickup, or if they just dump it all somewhere as is. Who knows? But you DON’T at least try to recycle?

Look at the grocery stores and all-purpose stores. Why plastic bags? Just stop making them. Paper, people, paper. It takes a thousand years for plastic bags to decompose. The other day I went to Wal-Mart, bought three items. The cashier used three plastic bags to bag these minor items. I couldn't believe it. There's nothing you can do with plastic bags. You can't recycle them. Just get rid of them in stores. It's OK, I'll pay two dollars more per shopping trip for paper.

I believe there should be a serious-serious penalty for anyone caught littering: fines, community service, the E! Channel blocked on your TV. Every time I pluck a Taco Bell bag out of a roadside gulley, I just wish I could meet the person who did it and ask: what is wrong with you? Don't you know how good we've got it right now, living in America in 2012? There's no better place on Earth. We have High-Def TV, Disney World, and Tom Coughlin. Ours is the best life going. Take a drop of pride, please.

It’s kind of a karma thing too. You can’t bulldoze your way through this world, bringing havoc to every place you go. There has to be a natural payback for that at some point. Maybe I pick up litter and recycle out of fear of what I just cited, or maybe I do it to feel better. But I’m sorry, if you litter you’re a criminal.

Read More:http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2011/02/bud-light-bandit.html

Brian Huba

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Good Summer Reads

10. The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson
9. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
8. Chango’s Beads & the Two-Toned Shoes by William Kennedy
7. Mercury in Retrograde by Paula Froelich
6. School Daze by Robert S. Parker
5. Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs
4. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
3. The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty
2. Maybe a Miracle by Brian Strause
1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Brian Huba