Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Frolics, Volume XX: The Simpsons for TGI McScratchy's..I Mean TGI Fridays

Almost a year ago I asked if the Simpsons would hawk any product. Maybe they will....

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Minefield of Modern Dating

A couple of years back, Shedd's Spot's west coast bureau chief, M.K., sent me this link to a snipet on The Atlantic's website entitled "The Date from Hell". After reading the piece and LOLing (geez, I hate that term but sometimes it is actually the truth and appropriate), I considered posting a link to it as part of my Friday Frolics series. But, then I thought I'd wait and use it as an introduction to a post on dating in 2008. (Yes, I've sat on this link that long.) Well, I never could bring myself to write a post on my dating life and my friends probably wouldn't appreciate it if I shared their woes here. So instead, I put the idea in the back corner of my brain and waited until I had more outside material/links to share in a post on dating.

If you haven't yet clicked on "The Date from Hell" link, here's a brief summary (but do read it!). The piece was actually taken from Craigslist. It details a date, from the guy's perspective, between a guy and gal who met in a bar. The piece goes into painstaking details about the girl's love of herself and how important she thinks every detail of her life is. The date eventually leads to nothing except for a comic relief on the internet.

To be fair to the gentler sex, many of my female friends have similar complaints about the guys they meet and eventually go on dates with. Usually, the guys are self absorbed and want to show how important and busy they are. That complaint seems even more prevalent here in the D.C. area, where everyone wants to feel important. Maybe that's why I find the concept of the Washington Post Magazines's "Date Lab" so rediculous, yet comical. The Date Lab takes applicants from the D.C. Metro area, matches them up, and sends them out an expense paid blind date. In return, the applicants agree to be interviewed by a Post writer the next day in order for the Date Lab entry to be written. The participants also agree to have their name, age and photos published in the paper. To me, Date Lab is sort of a technological step back from the days of Chuck Woolery hosting Love Connection. I've read several of the Date Lab features and my usual reaction is "are you for real?". Check out a few Date Lab entries and see what you think.

Finally, a female friend of mine who moved from Madison Wisconsin to New York City a while back has told me about a few of the awful dates she has had since the move. I won't repeat any of her stories here, but she has mentioned a few of them are candidates to show up on My Very Worst Date. If you think your dating life is awful, just read a few of these stories.

Happy dating and as Chuck Woolery used to say, "we're back in two and two."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bob, Jack and Albert

Last week, The Washington Post ran this story on Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's plan to privatize Virginia's state run liquor stores. McDonnell envisions a one time profit from the sale of $300 million to $500 million. The profit would be used for road improvements in the Commonwealth. At first glance, and disregarding how one might feel about a state government being in the business of distributing and selling liquor, this may sound like a good idea. But upon further review, this may be one of the most assanine fiscal ideas in state history.

The Post article states Virginia's liquour stores showed a profit of $248million in fiscal 2009. That number was almost $14 million higher than the 2008 profit. (As we all know, alcohol sales are immune to dips in the economy. One might even be able to argue that alcohol sales go up when the economy is in a downturn.) With profits running at that rate, McDonnell's planned sale of the stores would do nothing more than provide one to two years of profits in a one time payment to the State. Additionally, the large ongoing profit stream would be gone and only be partially replaced by taxes on the liquor sales, which could probably be estimated at $25 million per year based on taxes collected on liquor sales in Maryland (see the Post article).

As to the $300 million to $500 million being used to improve roads, that funding is just a drop in the bucket compared to the billions of dollars needed to improve roads and transportation in Virginia. For example, a $300 million inflow would be enough money to complete three and a third road projects such as the 2.5 mile widening project on I-66 between the Route 234 bypass and the Route 29 exit in Gainesville, which cost $90 million. Even with a healthy dose of matching federal funds, the profit from the sale of liquour stores wouldn't go far in paying for road construction projects. Here's hoping the Virginia state legislature has the good sense to kill this idea. If it does, I may toast them with a sip of Jack Daniel's.

Speaking of Jack Daniel's, a bottle of which was used as an example of what Virignia, Maryland and D.C. make per liquor sale in the Post story, a friend of mine emailed some friends and me the story I'm about to tell.

Much has been made lately of the fitness test the Washington Redskins required DT Albert Haynesworth to pass prior to taking part in training camp. The requirements of the test are that Haynesworth had to run a pair of 12 back-and-forth 25-yard sprints in 70 seconds each, with a 3 1/2 minute break in between. After the requirements and Haynesworth's repeated failures hit the headlines, it seems everyone and their grandmother set out to see if they could past the test. One of those who tried is my friend and former softball teammate, Billy. Let me preface Billy's story by saying he is a former college baseball player, in his upper 40's and in far better shape than most anyone I know who is that age. Here is Billy's take, in his own words, on the test from the night he attempted it:

Okay, so this whole Haynesworth thing is pissing me off. I decided at 11pm after 2 Jack n' Cokes and a huge plate full of Beef Ribs and Mac n' Cheese that I'd go to the football field at Madison High School with my stop watch and see how hard this can be. As Cody, my dog, as my witness, I was able to accomplish this feat, but just barely. I know that I don't weigh 360 pounds, but I thought the belly full of ribs, Mac n' Cheese and 2 tall Jack n' Cokes and a dog running by my side jumping up and biting my arm every 15 yards because he thought I was playing some kind of dog game would offset the issue of a very large man. I ran the first twelve 25 yards in just under 70 seconds. The last 25 yards was not easy. Then, after the 3 1/2 minute rest, I ran the 2nd set in 67 seconds, but seriously I thought I was going to die. During the last 25 yards, my legs felt like they weighed a ton. It's now almost midnight, and I doubt that I'll fall asleep before 1am!!

Maybe that was Haynesworth's problem all along. He didn't have the proper fuel in him. I'm sure a couple of shots of Jack Daniel's, puchased at his local state owned liquor store would have loosened him right up.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Frolics, Volume XXX, Dolemite

Thirty-five years ago this month, the movie Dolemite, starring Rudy Ray Moore as the title character, was released. The early and mid 70's were the heyday of blaxploitation films and this film is a fine example of the genre. Here's an original movie trailer, which, by the way, shouldn't be viewed at work.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bill Kirchen Update

Last year, I posted this piece which included some information on the recording of Bill Kirchen's latest CD. Earlier this year, that CD, Word to the Wise, was released and Kirchen has been playing shows and giving interviews in support of the it. A few weeks back, a friend of mine from the Sunset Grille sent me links to two these interviews. The first was Bill's appearance on NPR's All Things Considered. You can hear that interview here. The second appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and can be read here. I find the picture of Bill that accompanies the Chronicle piece a little scary, but not as scary as the picture below which was taken in January at the Sunset Grille.

Back in January, Kirchen played a Sunday evening show at the Sunset Grille in Annandale, Va. Kirchen had held court at the Grille most Thursday nights for years, until he left the D.C. area for Austin in 2004. (Kirchen has since moved back to the D.C. area.) But in the few months leading up to Kirchen's January appearance, the Grille had fallen on hard times. Out of loyalty to the Grille and its patrons, Kirchen agreed to play the show with proceeds going to keep the Grille afloat. During the show, Kirchen decided to relive some the old days at the Grille and stuck is guitar in the ceiling over the stage while playing it. Shortly thereafter, part of the ceiling came falling down, severely cutting Kirchen's head. Kirchen refused to leave the Grille to get stitched up and instead kept playing. The picture shown above was taken by a friend of mine as Kirchen soldiered on. Thankfully both Bill and the Sunset Grille survived the night. Let's hope they're both around for years to come.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Friday Frolics, Volume 44: Testemax

My friend "Vern" recently sent me this link to a commercial for a "product" called Testemax. "Vern" thinks he should become the distributor for his neighborhood where it seems the MILFs wear the pants in most all the households. Be warned, the language in this video is not suitable for a work environment.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Midweek Time Killers: D.C. Sports Business

This post revolves around two recent Washington City Paper pieces from Dave McKenna's "Cheap Seats" column. The first piece centers on the Redskins partnersip with liquor conglomerate Diageo. Although Diageo is funding responsible drinking programs (aka using the programs as advertising), it also put out a reward for any NFL player who would strike a Captain Morgan pose after scoring a touchdown. You can read about it here.

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has quickly gained the reputation as the best, and most fan friendly, professional sports franchise owner in the area. With the Capitals owning the best record in the NHL, the Verizon Center is sold out for most all Caps home games. According to this "Cheap Seats" piece, Leonsis is now reaping additional financial rewards of the Caps success by putting some Caps tickets into a program where fans pay just to have the option to buy tickets at a future date. It seems the program works well for a franchise whose tickets are in high demand, but somehow I can't see the program working for the beleagured Washington Wizards.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Frolics, Volume 43: Return Trip From the Caravan Club

Recently, BBC America has been airing episodes the UK comedy The Inbetweeners. The show is centered around four high school friends and their endless (and mostly fruitless) pursuit of girls. This clip is the final scene in an epsisode where the boys visit a caravan club (aka a campground) in pursuit of hook ups. (Be warned the subject matter and language makes this outside the office viewing.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Frolics, Volume 42: Drunk All Around This Town

As a warm up to Scott Miller's appearance tonight at Iota, here he is performing "Drunk All Around This Town".

(Yes, I know I posted another performance of the song about a year ago.)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Super Bowl Week Football Stuff

A couple of football related items to warm you up for this weekend's game.

First, "J.D." sent me this excerpt from a Jan. 25th Michael Silver Yahoo Sports column. The excerpt doesn't have anything to do with football per se, but it is a nice commentary on the music of New Orleans and the awful cross promotion the networks include in their sports broadcasts.

OK, so the Saints were about to play the biggest home game in the history of their franchise, in a city that has as awesome a musical heritage as any in America – if not the most awesome. How many artists with New Orleans ties would have been thrilled to sing the national anthem, and would have made it completely memorable? The Neville Brothers? Harry Connick Jr.? The Funky Meters? Marcia Ball? Cowboy Mouth? Deacon John? Fats Domino? Allen Toussaint? Irma Thomas? Rockin Dopsie? I could go on, and on, and on, and on. … Yet instead of any of those accomplished musicians – some of whom, realistically, were probably at the Superdome, or within a few miles of the stadium – the powers that be trotted out reigning “American Idol” winner Kris Allen, the most insipid singer on earth. Gee, I wonder why that was. Could it be that Fox, which broadcast the game, also is the home to “Idol” and convinced the NFL to do it in the name of promotional harmony? Why yes, I believe that is the only possible explanation, and the good people of New Orleans should have been disgusted. Yet I have a feeling they got over it once Hartley’s field goal went through the uprights – and many of them hit the streets and celebrated into the night at establishments featuring acts far more entertaining than Allen’s canned tripe.

The entire Silver column can be read here.

Second, if you listen to minutes two thru six of this WTEM interview with former Redskins offensive lineman, and current reporter, Ross Tucker, you'll understand why the Steve Spurrier era was doomed from the start. You gotta love Spurrier's attitude toward training camp.

Finally, a few years back, NPR ran Andy Griffith's famous "What it Was,Was Football" stand up routine in honor of the routine's 5oth anniversary. You can listen to it here.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Drinking With Dale Watson

Dale Watson brought his 2010 winter tour to Iota in Arlington this past Monday (1/25). The club was reaching capacity when Watson came on stage around 9:15 and started the show with "Truckstop in La Grange" from his 1996 CD Blessed or Damned. Before wrapping up the opening song, he briefly morphed it into Z.Z. Top's "La Grange".

After thanking the crowd for coming out, Watson made the first of his many pitches for Lone Star Beer. (When I saw Watson perform at the Continental Club in Austin is September, Watson made several Lone Star pitches. At the time, I thought it was something he only did at his regular gigs in Texas.) Iota doesn't serve Lone Star, but the club does have another Texas favorite, Shiner, on tap. A member of the audience was quick to point this out. Of course, Watson argued Shiner just wasn't the same and went on with his Lone Star pitch with his right hand curved as to say "someone put a beer in my hand".

(Dale Watson on stage at the 2008 Richmond Folk Festival)

Seeing Watson wouldn't settle for the Shiner alternative, it wasn't long before members of the audience presented Watson an option he could live with, a steady stream of whiskey shots. After throwing back the first shot, Watson settled into a pattern of performing a song or two, making a pitch for Lone Star and/or telling a story, throwing back a shot, and then taking a request. Many of Watson's shows revolve around audience requests, which seems to work well for him because most audience members know his material and the classic country artists whose material he likes to cover. But, occasionally some dumbass in the audience will begin to yell for something totally absurd. This time around someone in the back of the club began yelling for Watson to sing something by Mojo Nixon. Watson played it off well, saying Nixon was friend of his.

After being on stage for an hour so, Watson had knocked out a few requests, including his own "Wine, Wine, Wine" and Ray Price's "Bright Lights and Blonde Haired Women". At that point, Watson had also knocked back a few shots and a few beers. The between song Lone Star pitches were replaced with drinking stories about bad experiences with different types of liquor. For better or worse, these stories just inspired the audience to supply shots of the liquor the stories centered around. Soon, Watson found himself trying to knock back a shot of Southern Comfort. During the song that followed, Watson showed a little facial contortion. After the song was over, he admitted to throwing up "a little" in his mouth. Lucky for him, the Peppermint Schnapps shot that followed went down a little more smoothly.

During Watson's second hour on stage, and for obvious reasons, the pace of the show slowed somewhat. Watson did perform his version of "Fox On the Run", a song brought into the country & bluegrass world by groundbreaking D.C. bluegrass band The Country Gentlemen. (A mention of the Gents would have been nice, but maybe Watson learned the song from the Tom T. Hall version?!?!) Fiddler Don Raby was featured on "Orange Blossom Special", with the kicker being the band playing a portion slow motion, as opposed to kicking the song into hyperdrive as many bluegrass bands do. And, Watson played two of his odes to Ginny's Little Longhorn in Austin, "Honkiest Tonkiest Beer Joint" and "No Fussin', No Cussin'".

Around the two mark, Watson broke into one of his anti-Nashville establishment songs, "Country My Ass". The song has a slightly awkward meter to it to begin with, but with the number of shots Watson had put down at that point, the song became somewhat of a trainwreck. But, Watson did quickly comeback with a nice version of Merle Haggard's "Silver Wings", which Watson said would be his last slow song of the evening.

After two and half hours on stage, at least eight shots and with Watson working the Del McCoury squint, he had outlasted me. I headed for the exit as the clock neared midnight, but Watson was showing no signs of leaving the stage. I'll readily admit the show was well worth the $15 cover and I'm sure the folks who stuck around until Watson wrapped up the show more than agreed with me.

(A short postscript. "J.D." attended Watson's show in Richmond the following night and reported that Watson showed no ill effects from Monday night's show. "J.D." also reported Watson continued with the Lone Star pitches. So much so, "J.D." thought Watson was on retainer for the brewery.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

D.C. Comings and Goings

We'll talk about the "goings" first. Today is D.C. radio legend Donnie Simpson's last day at WPGC. Although Simpson's contract runs into 2011, he is leaving due to a dispute with station management over his morning show's content and falling ratings. Earlier this week, The Washington Post ran this piece on Simpson's exit. It's seems this is just a sign of the times of what is going on in the radio industry.

On the "comings" side, this Dave McKenna "Cheap Seats" column from the latest edition of The Washington City Paper tells about former Washington Bullet Jeff Ruland's struggles in his first year as men's basketball coach at UDC. Unfortunately, the electronic version of the column leaves out the brief history of the program, going back to its early 80s glory days, that is included in the paper version of The City Paper. (The web version also uses a picture of Ruland that is different from the mugshot looking photo that is used in the paper version.)

Friday Frolics, Volume 41: Protecting America

On this day in 1861, Kansas was admitted to the Union. To celebrate Kansas' 148th birthday, let's take a look at a t-shirt I heard about while vacationing in the Midwest last year. Those of you who don't understand the joke should read this.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mr. Hendrickson Goes to Washington

In the latest episode of HBO's Big Love, Mormon polygamist Bill Hendrickson (played by Bill Paxton) travels to the Nation's Capital to make some political inroads. After arriving in D.C., he is joined by wife number two, Nikki, and her daughter. As Nikki and her daughter walk thru Union Station upon arriving in D.C., Nikki gives her teenage daughter the following guidance:

This is a dangerous city. It may not look like it is, but it is. These people may seem like they're normal, but they're not. There are some neighborhoods you can't imagine. Just stick by my side at all times. Don't flash any money. Don't talk to strangers. And, don't let anyone proposition you.

As a native of the National Capital Area, I'd like to address Nikki's concerns.

This is a dangerous city. It may not look like it is, but it is.
It's not as dangerous as is it used to be. I mean the District isn't averaging 1.25 murders a day anymore like it did in 1991. And, you can't readily find a hooker on 14th St. nowadays. At least that's what I hear. Hell, the most dangerous part of the city is probably Capitol Hill. Over that way, you never when you're going to get hit by the BS flying from the 535 a-holes who call the Capitol their workplace.

These people may seem like they're normal, but they're not.
I think I agree. Folks around here are overly concerned about themsleves, their job, and they generally don't give a crap about too much outside their own little universe. Yes, that's a sweeping generalization, but this is my blog and it's about me, me, me.

There are some neighborhoods you can't imagine.
Every city has its bad 'hoods, but how in the hell did this area get cursed with Clarendon?

Just stick by my side at all times. Don't flash any money. Don't talk to strangers. And, don't let anyone proposition you.
Nowadays, who has any money to flash? Unless of course, you take some of those strangers up on their propositions!

Toward the end of the episode, Nikki gets busted for having a gun in her purse. Anyone who has been following the Gilbert Arenas saga would know having a firearm in the District is a giant no-no. But somehow in TV land, Bill is able to talk the police out of pressing charges against Nikki. Maybe Gilbert and Javaris Crittenten think they're living in TV land. Oh wait, they are NBA players.

What Do Drummers and Banjo Players Have In Common?

The answer...nothing really. I just have a snipet about each one I want to share here.

First, a friend of mine who is a drummer in Austin sent me this post from Craigslist in Nashville...

Looking for someone special who would kill my drummer for $100.00. Do not fear any negative consequences for this act. Any self respecting law enforcement agency would gladly turn the other cheek once they hear this guy "play." I am tired of hearing his '70s-style fills put in the wrong spot and ending one half beat early or late depending on how much he's had to smoke. I am tired of him standing up behind his drums between songs and ripping his shirt off and flexing his muscles at wedding receptions where we were hired to play Air Supply, Carpenters , and Ann Murray songs because "chicks dig the pecs, dude." I am tired of him showing up 20 minutes late for rehearsals then pouting until someone helps him load in his drums, then taking 30 minutes to set them up and needing a smoke break every 15 minutes, and then wanting to leave early because "this chick is so fine, I can't say no, and she knows record people dude, so it's for the band." I am totally done with him calling me up at midnight to play me some damned jazz fusion album from 1981, crying and saying how we shouldn't have sold out to "the man" and asking if I know anyone who can get him some weed knowing full well I smoked twice in '69 and never touched it after that. I am sick of him farting on stage where the drum mics pick it up and thinking this shit is funny. I am tired of kicking off slow ballads at well under 80 bpm only to have them morph into the methamphetimine version of flight of the bumble bee, because that's the tempo he "feels" it at. I am tired of having to carry jumper cables to the gig because "I must have left the dome light on again, dude," instead of admitting his '84 astro van is a worn out piece of crap. I am tired of him asking when he's gonna get a drum solo. I am tired of paying his tab at restaurants because "that chick must have stole my wallet man, but it was worth it 'cause she was a phreak." I will not move my amp again so he can put another new cymbal on the stage, because "when we learn some fusion I'll need this sound." Please, somebody kill this motherf*cker. I can't do it because he's my brother and mom would be so pissed off even though she thinks the band would probably sound better too. Besides, if you are good at killing drummers, you could probably make a lot of money in this town.

A while back, "J.D." sent me this piece of news regarding an assault in Colorado....

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) - A banjo player accused of assaulting another man with his instrument will get to keep pickin' while awaiting his trial. Thirty-three-year-old Joseph Stancato of Denver faces second-degree assault charges after allegedly hitting another man upside the head with his banjo on New Year's Eve. Authorities say Stancato got into an argument with two men at a bus stop. District Judge James Boyd on Monday approved Stancato's request to be allowed on the road to tour with a band while awaiting his next court date Feb. 6. The banjo is considered "a deadly weapon" under Colorado law, so Stancato could face prison time, the Aspen Daily News reported.

There are plenty of jokes that could be made about that one!