Monday, August 31, 2009

I Really Don't Want to Get Burned Out

I'm trying really hard to not get burned out by all the promotional material I've been seeing for NBC's new show Community. I really love Joel McHale, and I've seen the pilot, so I think I can say that this show is a sure thing, but I have been fooled before. I am also very wary of over promotion of a show/movie/record.

I think back to all the cross promotion that went on for "The Land of the Lost" and I realized that they were doing so because it was a flaming pile of T-Rex dung and they needed to try and drive more business to try and avoid a loss. Of course, a last of backing from a network or studio can leave a show out to die, so that's not good either. I'm happy that NBC is flogging Community, but worried that they are doing so because the rest of the episodes haven't tested well and they are trying to create artificial buzz.

The worst outcome is somewhere in between all those scenarios and it goes like this: Community is going to be an awesome show, that I adore, but that is too subtle/smart and therefor gets no ratings. After a few weeks on Thursday, the will stick it on Monday vs MNF or on Saturday and it will twist in the wind before being replaced with some kind of game show/reality show.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I've Got No Good Excuse For Being This Rusty

For the life of me I can't figure out why I discontinued my quest for the lowest solitaire score of all times. It's not like I don't have a ton of time on my hands, because I do. I started this quest at the Nashville airport during a layover on my way to Seattle. It started as a way to kill some time while I was traveling, then, it became a crusade.

I played on my laptop, on my home computer and even at work from time to time. I broke the two minute mark and then whittled my time down to a minute and a half, where I thought I might have hit the wall. When all was said and done, by mid-May I set my new and current personal best of 9159 points in 82 seconds. I had my eyes set on going all the way down to the minute mark, but then it all fell apart.

The best I did in June was 7673 points in 100 seconds, which looks fast when compared to what I did in my first few weeks of funemployment. Maybe it was unemployment malaise, but I just stopped playing regularly. Once I stopped, I got even more rusty and once I got rusty I lost my desire. It's a tale as old as time.

Now, I'm back in the saddle, and I've rededicated myself to getting to a minute. So far, my best result is 6613 in 117 seconds, but it's the first game I've played under two minutes in a while, so I'm taking it as a good sign. To keep myself motivated I'm playing with upbeat iTunes play lists as well as some visual motivation in the background. I think it'll help:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Adventures in Unemployment: The Rise and Fall of the Fluffernutter

When I was in the world of the employed I had a tendency to go out for lunch most days. Ok... every day. It was never anything big, generally places like Quiznos, Chilis or the local deli or pizza joint. We had a nice little rotation going, and it kept some variety in my diet. Now that I'm on the dole, the eating out has to stop, and the variety has suffered as well.

It's not plausible to shop for 7 different lunches each week, so I end up eating a lot of the same things during a week. One week it might be turkey and Swiss on toast, as it has been this week, and others it could be my dad's famous sub. One other staple of my funemployed diet was the fluffernutter, but I fear that ship may have sailed.

It all started in the first few days of my out-of-workatude when Inky and I traveled to NYC and ate at a place called Peanut Butter & Co. We each had "the Elvis" that day, but the presence of a fluffernutter on the menu made me think twice before I ordered the peanut butter and bacon masterpiece. I hadn't had a fluffernutter in years prior to that trip, so when we got back home I made sure to add marshmallow fluff to the shopping list.

For weeks after that I had one of the childhood memory inducing sandwiches every day with some chips and a glass of milk. I messed around with variations on the theme, by including banana, putting peanut butter on both sides of the bread and even putting celery spears in the middle. There were even times I had a date with pb&f when I was up late. My hunger for a daily fluffernutter continued unabated for weeks on end and then, a funny thing happened.

A few days ago, I opened the cupboard and pulled out the bread, the peanut butter and the fluff and set them on the counter. Then it hit me: I couldn't stand the thought of eating another fluffernutter. In fact, I realized that I was sneering at the ingredients on the counter beneath me which, unless you are a perpetually pissed off person, or Billy Idol, is never a good thing. The era of the fluffernutter had come and gone in my life.

Oh yeah, I'm sure it'll come back around again some day, but for now I have tired of it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Question: Is it Bad That I think This is Funny As Hell?

I've never been accused of liking high brow humor, but this bit from The Whitest Kids U'Know really walks the line where poor taste meets complete and utter comedy genius. Rape is no laughing matter, and I am as sensitive to the fact that the subject has been poorly treated in pop culture for far too long. But this bit really isn't making light of rape, it's just clever wordplay which brings light a traumatic memory from our collective past.

I'm talking, of course, about the constant home invasions perpetrated by the Kool Aid Guy, usually targeted at kids. Why, I always wondered, did he have to burst through the walls to get to those kids? Also, it's obvious that he spent hours upon hours stalking these kids. How else could he be right there at the ready when one kid said to another that he was thirsty?

This subject has been explored in the past by the likes of Dane Cook and Family Guy, but I think WKUK has taken it to its logical conclusion with this bit. It's obvious that the Kook Aid Guy was a rapist, and when presenting that in comedy form why not have a little fun with wordplay while avoiding a lawsuit from Kool Aid.

In the end, I think the answer is no. No, it is not wrong that this makes me laugh so hard I cry.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A 60% Change to the Top 5 List

Let's face it: It's tough out there these days. Lots of people are losing their jobs, and it's no different with my Top 5 List. Since I last updated the list in March, three of the stunning women on the list have lost their places. But, there is hope for the future. Call it a kind stimulus package or just full employment, but I have found three other gorgeous women to fill the spots vacated by Sasha Grey, Nicky Whelan and Evangeline Lilly. Yes we can!

The first new entry is Allison Munn who was one of the stars of my new guilty pleasure TV show: What I Like About You. She plays an 18 year old on the show, but she was in her late 20's during the run of the show, and just two years younger than the star: Jennie Garth. She joins the list at #5, and, although blonde of late, is holding down a redhead spot for me thanks to her turn as Tina on WILAY.

Next up on the list of newbies is Australian model and TV star Emily Scott, who checks in at #4. I find it necessary to have an Aussie on the list at all times, but Ms. Scott would be worthy of membership if she was born on the moon. It is virtually impossible to find a picture of her on the web in anything other than a bikini or lingerie, which isn't a bad thing per se, but is still of note. It shouldn't be long till she finds a venue on American reality TV, since she has had a lot of practice in that genre in Oz.

The last new addition comes to us from Great Britain where she is a Jill of all trades. Kelly Brook is a model, TV presenter, Actress, Rugby WAG and all around goddess. Her hotness is undeniable, which places her at the very top of pecking order among the multitude of stunning English WAGs. She debuts on my list at #2 and should stick around for a while.

The new group is below, including a new number 1:

#5) Allison Munn, 34: Actress

#4) Emily Scott, 25: Model, TV Star

#3) Anne Hathaway, 26: Actress

#2) Kelly Brook, 30: Actress, Model, TV Presenter

#1) Zooey Deschanel, 29: Actress, Singer/Song Writer

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Adventures in Unemployment: The Uniform

It's been over ten weeks since I last had to don my old uniform. While I never minded having to wear a suit and tie everyday, I have to say that I don't really miss it either. I've never quite understood why we as a society decided that we had to be so uncomfortable in order to portray professionalism. I started tying a piece of cloth around my neck in the first grade and did so just about every day for the next 10 years. After a brief respite in the form of a public high school and then college, I was right back to dressing to conform every day. And I swear that I am more productive when I get to wear jeans and a tee shirt, but I've never had a gig like that. Till now.

Over the last ten weeks of funemployment, I've found that I have settled in to a new uniform. And this one is a million times more comfortable. Sure, the productivity I worry about now is sending resumes and playing PlayStation rather than meeting deadlines and impressing clients, but I'm just playing the hand I was dealt.

The new uniform started with a pair of black Starter shorts with grey and white piping that I've had for a few years now. They got a lot of use around the house, so I went to a sale at Old Navy and picked up a pair of grey shorts with black and white stripes on them. When I was folding both pairs next to each other it made me think about my basketball uniform in high school. They were simple blue and white, white with blue trim at home and blue with... oh, the hell with it. Why not just show you:

I would love to have shown you an "action shot" of me on the court, but I led the New Jersey Parochial B League in fouls and technical fouls that year, so, I spent a whole lot of time right there on the bench.(I am #15, fist in the air as we kick the shit out of the School for the Deaf, not joking) Please notice that I am wearing Jordans which costs me a few weeks work. Anyway, back to my new uniform.

You don't realize just how much time you spend at work, until you don't have to maintain your work wardrobe any longer. No more trips to the dry cleaners, no more standing in the closet looking for that one tie that really goes with this shirt. No more trying to put on your cufflinks in the dark so you don't wake your wife, and definitely no more spit polishing your wingtips. Now-a-days I just slip in to my grey or black uniform and go about my bid'ness. I've almost forgotten what it feels like to be all constricted around the neck, wrists and waist. Almost.

Those Catholic school memories linger a lot longer than the work ones.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Movie Review: 500 Days of Summer

I've been waiting five months for this movie to come out, so I was a bit pissed off when it wasn't showing at any theaters around me over the last few weeks. Then, while at the theater with XL on Sunday to see another film, I saw that it had arrived. So today I took advantage of the fact that I am funemployed and I went to see it. Alone. That's right, I was the only person in the theater. I guess that doesn't bode well for the movie's success.

I, for one, thought it was a really great movie. And that's not because it stars one of my biggest Hollywood crushes either, although that doesn't hurt. Right off the bat you find out that "this is not a love story. This is a story about falling in love" which leads you to understand that Tom and Summer probably don't end up together in the end. Also leading you to think this is the fact that Summer (Zooey Dechanel) tells Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) right off the bat that she isn't looking for a relationship.

The movie shuttles back and forth throughout the titular 500 days to tell the story of the rise and fall of Summer and Tom. In this case, it is the journey, not the destination that matters. As such, you still feel a sense of completion on the 500th day, even though it was quite clear what was coming all along. As an added bonus, we get a brief, albeit satisfying, look into what happens for Tom after his last day of Summer.

The third star of the film is the pop culture subtext that is constantly running in and out of the storyline. There are references to TV, film and music that are both shared between the characters and presented to the audience through production methods to further paint the picture. Even though the "indie vibe" is awfully strong, the movie comes by it honestly and benefits from it in the end. All in all it is a great story told by talented actors all rapped up in an enjoyable presentation.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ten Years.

At this very moment, ten years ago, I was watching the love of my life walking toward me in her wedding dress. Right about now, a crash of thunder echoed out over the rain starved landscape. As she got closer to where I was standing the heavens opened up and poured down the rain on the brown grass surrounding the place where we would become life-long partners. Today is our 10 year anniversary.

For the last decade I have been lucky enough to know that I have had someone with me who is the complete embodiment of anything and everything I could ever need. Or, to quote our wedding song
Life may not always go your way
And every once in awhile you might have a bad day
But I promise you now you won't ever be lonely
The sky turns dark and everything goes wrong
Run to me and I'll leave the light on
And I promise you now you won't ever be lonely

For as long as I live
There will always be a place you belong
Here beside me
Heart and soul baby -- you only
And I promise you now you won't ever be lonely
And I have never felt lonely with Heidi in my life. There where hundreds of other songs we could have picked to play on that very important day, as evidenced by the more than 8,000 songs we now both have on our iPods. And despite the fact that neither of us thinks of country as a favorite genre, we both really loved the message in this song. Because, just like the vows say, there is so much you don't know about what your life together will be like. Sickness, health, richer or poorer ("poorer is underlined here") on that day we didn't know what kind of promises we could make to one another. Except that I would always be there for her, and she for me. And that is a promise we have kept, for ten years now.

I don't know what the next 10 years will hold for the two of us, but I do know one thing for sure: with Heidi in my life, I will never be lonely and I will do everything in my power to make sure that never is either. All the rest of it is unimportant distraction. What truely matters in my world is my one sweet love. I love you Heidi, happy anniversary.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Adventures in Unemployment: Masterclass

As the days since I last punched a time clock start piling up, the need has arisen for me to find a way to spend my now abundant free time. Productively, that is, since I can kill a staggering amount of time watching shitty TV and playing Playstation. So for the sake of my sanity and to give my brain a workout, I've decided to take a master class in history with a very distinguished professor.

A few weeks ago, I started listening to the audio books of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples by Sir Winston Churchill. I love to read, but, thanks to some learning defects passed on to me by my folks, I do so at a snail's pace. So audio books have proved to be the great equalizer for me. I have my all-time favorite book: Animal Farm to travel tomes and everything in between. Among my collection is also all 4 volumes of Churchill's narrative history of the UK and her children nations. All 55 1/2 hours of it. That's right, more than two full days of the incomparable Christian Rodska reading Sir Winston's words.

What's that you say? Sounds like a snooze to you? Well, I'm in heaven.

My name is Greazy Tony; and I'm a huge history dork.

As I listen to the pages of history turn, I also have a few Internet explorer windows open for easy Googling of people, places and things I want to know more about. Plus, I have a Google map of Great Britain and Western Europe up for reference, and a Microsoft Word document available for note taking. It's 21st century education at its best, and I'd like to tip my cap to Billy Gates for the assist.

I've always been interested in history, so much so, that I ended up with a history minor in college by accident. I just kept taking classes that interested me, and by senior year, my advisor told me that all I had to do was file the paper work to get the minor. But, even though I enjoyed it, I didn't really dive in all the way, doing only what I had to do to get my grade. Like when my Western Civ II professor told us that she had no attendance policy and the final was 100% of our grade. I didn't buy the book or show up for another class until the final, which I got a 64 on. That's passing baby!

Fast forward almost 15 years and I actually want to learn this stuff. For my own edification, which would shock the hell out of 19 year old Greazy. So, for the foreseeable future, while I'm out of work, I'll be in class with Sir Winston. I just hope he grades on a curve.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Real Housewives of... Lancaster County?

Forget NYC, Jersey or even the O.C. These are the really OG housewives!


Saturday, August 08, 2009

What I Like About "What I Like About You"

These last few weeks have been filled with a whole lot of free time, and very little money to do anything to fill it. So, as I look for my next gig, I've been reading, playing games and watching TV. There's only so much of substance one can watch in order to feel like an intelligent viewer. I watch Nova Science Now with Neil Degrasse Tyson and all sorts of Discovery and History Channel shows, which are all great. However, sometimes you just need to veg a bit and that's where the fluff comes in.

Over the last few weeks, Inky and I have been getting more than our recommended daily allowance of fluff thanks to reruns of the tweener show "What I Like About You" on The N and ABC Family. The show aired for 4 seasons from '02 to '06 on The WB. It follows the life of 16 year old Holly Tyler (Amanda Bynes) who moves in with her 30 year old Sister Val (Jennie Garth) when their father moves to Japan for work. Along the way there are love interests for both of them played by the likes of Simon Rex and Dan Cortese for Garth and Nick Zano and Michael McMillan for Bynes.

The plot summary may not blow you away, but the show is really made by it's supporting cast. Holly and Val's best friends, Gary and Lauren respectively, are both very funny. While the story always revolves around Val and Holly, it is the input made by the friends, boy friends and best friends that really makes me laugh. The smallest lines, such as the ones dropped by Tina (Allison Munn), Gary or Lauren really deliver the punch lines. The on again/off again, will they or won't they stuff that is tied up in Holly and Val's love life is only useful when it is made fun of by the "supporting cast".

In addition to the surprising strength of the performances on the show, the real thing that made me watch more than once was the writing. Most shows aimed at young teens are soft and week. This show doesn't dance around sexual topics despite the fact that they wait till the main character is 19 to lose her virginity. There are multiple jokes about "back massagers" and sexual situations that are pulled off well and responsibly.

When you find yourself with a whole lot of time to kill, it's nice to be able to spend that time doing something other than dwelling on the bad things. I didn't know that this show even existed till about 3 weeks ago, but now, I've seen the bulk of the episodes. Watching them hasn't found me a new job, or paid for my car or home repairs, but spending a little time in Val's Tribeca loft is a great little distraction in my day. And that's what I like about it.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Adventures in Unemployment: Vacation

Inky and I are back home after a week visiting with my family in Maine. It's hard for one to take a vacation when they are funemployed, but it helps a great deal when your mother owns a cabin in the woods and a restaurant. No hotel bills and very few paid meals make for a considerably cheaper trip, believe you me. Inky's mom came along, so it was a family affair on both sides.

Maine is a really beautiful place in the summer, and we made our way around to all of the big spots. We went to Bar Harbor, Camden, Belfast, Kennebunkport, Ralph's Cafe, Sebasticook Lake and Lobster Fest '09. My family loves being there all the year round, but I can't deal with the cold and snow, so when we go, we go in the summer. Normally, the summer in Maine is vastly different from the sweltering, humid Mid-Atlantic states, but on our first day it was actually quite humid. It relented and we had a few perfect days to enjoy ourselves and recharge. Here is the trip in picture/caption format:
Inky in the "lobster-stocks" at Rockport's LobsterfestThe schooner Margaret Todd sets her red sails in Bar Harbor. I missed the boat this time, but the next time I'm there, I will hop on board for a ride.The weather couldn't have been better on the day we visited my Aunt and Uncle's house on Sebasticook Lake.The sun setting over Belfast HarborA shot from Camden Maine, where, a river really does run through it.Here, tempestuous weather blows into Belfast.Just a regular Sunday dinner at my mom's house. You know, ribs and lobster to eat, jovial conversation and... my 13 year old niece walking a lamb through the house. You know, normal.On the long drive home we stopped off in Kennebunkport. Many go for this view of the Bush Compound...But I was more interested in the amazing clam strips I got at the Clam Shack which sits right next to the Kennebunk river.Inky refused to offer to "do moose stuff" while posing for this picture.