Saturday, March 31, 2012

Van Halen / Kewl and the Wang - Consol Energy Center 3-30-12

Am I a fan of Van Halen?  Honestly... not really.  Was I ever?  Hard to say.  I've seen them a grand total of 4 times.  Twice when they headlined the Monsters of Rock show back in the 1988 Van Hagar days.  You remember that show at Three Rivers Stadium with Scorpions, Dokken, Metallica and the bizarre Led Zep rip-off band Kingdom Come (yeah, I know... there sound was totally unique).  It was the all-day concert where everyone had to piss in the woods on the 279N parkway.  High school kids just didn't know how to hold it in congested traffic.  For god sakes, we could have gotten uromysitisis (Seinfeld).  I saw them at the Akron Rubber Bowl, too.  Me and my buddy Smitty drove up for that one.  It was my first memorable parking lot encounter with the bumper sticker selling Krishnas.  If you've ever wondered what happened to the Marshall County Krishnas selling roses at the Pittsburgh airport... well, they never left us.  They just migrated to concert and sporting venues.  I'd kill for one of those original "In Search of the Eternal Buzz" bumper stickers.

Isn't it crazy that people would drive around with that shit on their cars?  I guess they still do (Bad Cop: No Doughnut, Legalize It, What a long strange trip it's been... etc.). 

I also saw an incredibly lackluster reunion performance of Van Halen in 2008 at Mellon Arena.  That's 4 times I've seen these guys, so I believe my input is credible.  Have I ever seen Kool and the Gang?  Honestly, I'm not entirely sure.  I recall a show from Station Square about a decade ago, but it turns out that was KC and the Sunshine Band.  I've also seen a few of those funk festivals or as their labeled in the Burgh, "Beat Bashes."  I might have seen Kool and the Wang at some WDVE rib cook-off or chili fest.  Maybe it was a Pirates game.  I do not know.  I do not care.

But like many of you, I immediately questioned, "Why the hell are they opening for Van Halen?"  What a peculiar double-bill.  So I googled it.  It turns out they both played the Glastonbury Festival (Europe) last summer and became friends backstage.  Eddie Van Halen proposed the pairing.  Apparently, he thought their band epitomized 1980's hard rock and Koolio and the Tang were the essence of 1980's funk party music.  The more I think about it, the more it seems to make sense.  And the Van Halenites have some pretty big egos while trying to relive their glory days.  It would likely hurt their feelings if people said, "Whitesnake, Winger or some other sub-par 80's hair band blew them off the stage."  Therefore, you go with a different genre altogether.  Wise.

So Gigi and I took our usual non-circuit path to Consol.  Pig Bar > Springhaven > Pollock Hill > deep into the hood and parked at the Church of the Moops.  Gig prepared a bad ass chicken salad with all the fixins.  With the exception of an avocado that was on its last legs, I would term that salad "fresh" (in honor of Kool and his Gang).  And she even provided high-end Saltine crackers for the obligatory crunch factor.  Way to go!  So what's the best brand of Saltine you ask?  Here is the top 3 in descending order.

1) Nabisco's Premium
2) Keebler's Zesta
3) Sunshine's Krispy 

I also have a strong opinion about the top 4 ginger ales

1) Canada Dry
2) Schweppes
3) Seagram's
4) Varner's

We arrived at our usual staging area (any cement block outside the 5th avenue entrance).  I displayed a really weak ghetto sign that read "I want 2 free tickets."  Of course we ran into Tim aka "the best scalper in Steeltown."  He wasn't having much luck.  Then, we were mildly harassed by 2 cops - one a homely male, the other a beefish female.  When I use the term "beefish," it just means she seemed like someone who'd have an affinity for Dinty Moore Beef Stew.  The pigs made us take down our sign.  Whatever.

Well, much to our surprise, the sign had worked retroactively.  About 10 minutes later, 2 large bald men approached us and handed over 2 freebies.  Ka-Blam!  Good seats, too.  Section 112, Row K ($142 face plus service charge).  Their only stipulation was that one of them wanted to be on the end of the aisle because of a self-admitted "bathroom problem."  I silently reasoned, "Well, that's fine with me.  His urinary issues shouldn't have any definable impact."  I think that same guy had another 2-4 tickets.  Makes you wonder who actually paid hundreds of dollars for this David La-Roth-Crap.  What's the world coming too? (Robert DeNiro in Good Fellas just before Joe Peschi shoots Spider)

David Lee Roth (Before & After)

Kool and the Gang was halfway through their set as we wandered the lower level.  We stopped by the t-shirt stand.  I always enjoy watching the impetuous t-shirt buyers.  They always seem so determined and focused.  Most need the official, properly licensed memorabalia for $35 - $40.  No, the $10 t-shirt sold in the parking lot will not suffice.  A generic, knock-off tour shirt would dampen my concert expectations.  For we are rock stars and this is a great concert.  Live this night as if it were your last! (Commander Kurn - Worf's brother during the Klingon Civil War).

So we're checking out the motley crew of t-shirt purchasers.  Gigi turns to this guy and asks, "Which t-shirt are you thinking of getting."  They both exchange weird glances and take a mutual step back.  Gig asks with an inquisitive look, "Hey, did I work with you?  Are you an intern?"  The guy looks at her and says, "Georgiann, I'm you're cousin!"  They both immediately busted out in laughter .  He explains that him and his buddy drove down from Cleveland for the show.  Kind of an amusing coincidence.  Neither of us generally talk to random strangers, unless the situation calls for it.  We prefer to just people watch.  Well, except when she feels an overwhelming inclination to take photos for everyone.

As Kool and the Gang finished with an endearing "celebration," we watched from the usual overhang in the Captain Morgan's lounge.  Most of the crowd seemed into it.   They sounded decent.  20 minutes later, Van Halen burst onto the stage opening with Unchained (my favorite song of theirs).  It was so loud, it was beyond absurd.  Not distorted, just loud for the sake of volume.  Reminded me of Spinal Tap and the volume setting of 11.  A father in front of us had his two kids for the night.  Probably their first rock concert, they looked like 3rd or 4th graders.  All were wearing ear plugs but one of the kids was still covering his ears in obvious discomfort.  The more I thought about, the more I think it constituted some form of child abuse.  Honestly, this was one of the loudest concerts I've ever attended.  And I've seen the whole spectrum (hard rock to death, thrash, speed or whatever you call heavy metal).  All size venues, too.  It was just way too loud.

Nonetheless, Van Halen sounded credible I suppose.  Way better than the last time they came in 2008.  That show was abysmal.  While taking a piss, this drunkard a few stalls over bellowed, "David Lee Roth sounds like's a hundred years old."  Rest assured, their lead singer still has all the goofy mannerisms.  He struts around like an NBC peacock and makes these aberrant gesticulations, pointing in Tebow-like fashion at Eddie's guitar.  He's the perfect parody of himself.  Completely unaware of his self-mocking speech and ego-maniacal behavior.

I do like some Van Halen songs.  Hot For Teacher, Panama, Unchained, that's about it
I don't like some Van Halen songs.  I'll Wait, Jump, anything with Sammy Hagar

I find it odd that a band with such an array of original material would play so many cover songs (You Really Got Me, Ice Cream Man, Pretty Woman).  This reminds me that it's a party, not a concert.  Perhaps another reason why Kool and the Gang opened up.  All in all, I don't love Van Halen.  I don't hate Van Halen.  I just kind of accept Van Halen.  They're a lot like a spaghetti church dinner.  Sure, it's not the greatest atmosphere or finest cuisine.  But your hunger will be satiated and you get to hang out with your companions.  Kind of like the feeling a baby must get when you stick a pacifier in its mouth.

One last thing, as a connaisseur of concert venues... I'm beginning to miss the old days.  Consol is just too damn pristine.  I miss the stomped out cigarette butts, the spilled beer and the sticky floor, the multiple piles of vomit in the stairwell.  I miss the urinal stench and discarded hot dog wrappers.  But I will admit, at least we got to see the sights.  A few scattered rat-tails and mullets with varying degrees of plumage.  Some teased up, bouffant hairdos and ill-defined boob job recipients.  For many it was a special night out on the town.  For some, it was the "greatest night of their adult lives."  For us... well, we had some dinner and walked around for a bit.  And we even got to see some of our friends.  Just like a spaghetti church dinner.  Thank god it didn't cost us.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

idea for an FFRF television spot

If you have any inclination to watch a powerful political ad, this one is more than a home run.  It represents an out-of-the-ballpark grand slam.  It's a 1 minute "War on Women" advertisement compliments of George Soros and the good folks at

Using the spoken word of Limbaugh and Santorum by modern, everyday women.  Talk about polarizing.  Conceptually, you rarely see anything this thoughtful and deliberately potent.

I think the general premise is ideal for the FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation). I just happen to be a lifetime member thanks to a generous contribution by my father.  Their marketing usually consists of newsletters, print advertisements and billboards.  But if they can ever afford to take it to the next level (television), they should definitely try something like this.

Just use enlightened priests, rabbis, ministers, etc. in proper sanctuary attire and have them calmly read the words of "respected" government figures who have made egregious statements that conflict with the separation of church and state.  I'm sure there are plenty.  All you need is 3 or 4.  Finish it off with an overall denouncing of organized religion and a plea for reason, sanity and civility.

I'd use the quotes of 2 woman (probably Palin or Bachmann on the political side and Ann Coulter for the pseudo-journalist angle).

For the 2 male quotes, you can take your pick (there was a recent high profile U.S. military commander who made incredibly disparaging remarks about Islam - I forget his name).  Maybe a high profile neo-con from the prior administration.  Hell, maybe even use a Senate Democrat or someone of a liberal persuasion that wears his religion on his sleeve.  That makes it even more powerful.  The most important part is to stick with the methodical format used in the ad.  That's what makes it - no incendiary diatribe.  No blasphemous ranting.  Stick with the methodical, ironic approach.  It speaks to rational independent voters.

This would make a great ad for one of the Superpacs too.  For either the Republican or Democratic side.  Doesn't really matter which.  Just dress up 2 physicians (with stethoscope), a nurse (in scrubs) and throw in a pharmaceutical rep.  Have them recite views from the extreme right or left regarding the health care debate.  Both elements are way out of the mainstream, because the answer obviously lies somewhere in the middle.  

The "War on Women" ad is simply just that good.  I expect you'll see some copycats during the 2012 political cycle.  Obama's team could devise a killer one focusing on Romney's wealth and out-of-touch with the blue collar worker attitude.  Just have regular, real people from crucial swing states (Ohio, Colorado, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, etc.).  Throw in one of his many home states, too.  I'd use Michigan.  Make sure to put their names and city/state of origin.  Then, you just have them recite the imbecilic remarks he has made that have been replayed ad nauseum... "I like being able to fire people" or "I know how it feels to be unemployed" or "Corporations are people, my friend."  Granted, Romney was just trying to be comical.   But this would really go for the jugular - perfect from the Superpac angle.  This way you don't have to have Obama endorsing something so obviously disingenuous.  It wouldn't fit well with the tagline, "I'm Barack Obama and I approve of this message."

Mix up the ethnicity and states.  I'd use a 50 year old white male auto worker from Michigan.  School teacher, fireman or policeman from Wisconsin.  Female Hispanic pharmaceutical salesperson from Florida.  Maybe a park ranger from Colorado.  Do you get my drift??? 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

2 days, 1 night in Washington D.C.

You know the Price is Right "showcase showdowns" where they give away vacation packages?  You'll be spending 6 days and 5 nights romping on the sand-filled beaches and basking in the glorious sun of the Virgin Islands.  Your trip will entail 7 days and 6 nights of gambling to your heart's content at the Mandalay Bay Resort in the neon lights of sin city... Las Vegas, Nevada!  You will fall in love with the next 10 years of being molested by pervert Jerry Sandusky in... the bowels of Beaver Stadium.  Welcome to the decadent mens locker room... Happy Valley, Pennsylvania!

Well, I prefer my vacation destinations a tad more expedient.  Gig and I went to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.  We crammed in a ton of stuff on our 30-hour blitzkrieg of the nation's capitol.  I was a little concerned about my car.  Even though I had the tires rotated and balanced, the wheel still shakes when you exceed 65mph.  And even though I got a tune-up, the car still vibrates when I come to a stop.  Jake told me it was the engine mount or some torque-related issue.  So I've just grown accustomed to throwing it into neutral.  Perhaps it just comes with the 160,000 mile territory.

We stayed at the Hotel Barron in Dupont Circle.  $170 for the night.  Not terribly expensive for a decent place in the city.  I had forgotten how horrible it is to get around in D.C.  Tons of maniacal cab drivers, idiots from all over, sirens wailing nonstop.  Fortunately, the ratio of police to ordinary citizens is about 3:1.  Big brother's sodomizing presence makes Sandusky look like an innocent choir boy.  And all the meters and individual streets have unusual timing restrictions.  There's an endless barrage of cars but no place to park.  Suffice to say, it sure ain't Wheeling or even Pittsburgh for that matter.  In fact, maybe that's how Wheeling should sell itself.

During the presidential campaign of 1928, a circular published by the Republican party claimed that if Herbert Hoover won, there would be "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage."

Maybe Wheeling's new slogan could be "ample parking for all cars, whether it be an abandoned lot or an empty garage" - Joelle Ennis (city marketing director).

We got there around noon and headed straight to the Supreme Court.  We made it inside for the final 10 minutes of my brother's case (Reichle vs. Howards).  The attorney for Howards (David Lane) was finishing up his argument against Secret Service agent Gus Reichle for the retaliatory arrest.  One comical moment came when Lane admitted that Secret Service agents have historically done an outstanding job.  Then, I think it was Chief Justice Jon Roberts who casually interrupted, "Well, we've lost a few." 

And Ruth Bader Ginsburg made an error in her remark about Howards expressing his contempt for Dick Cheney's "war in Vietnam."  She substituted "Vietnam" for "Iraq."  While I'm sure that most in the courtroom noticed the blunder, nobody mentioned it.  Not a wise career move for an attorney - correcting a Supreme Court justice.

Obviously, security was understandably tight.  No cell phones, no chewing gum, no newspapers, etc.  But the cops and coordinators seemed poorly organized and not well-versed in visitor protocol.  This came as kind of a surprise.  I mean, it's not like we're waiting in line at Reagan International Airport as a TSA agent hovers over you with a flashlight, "Sir, I just needs to look inside ya asshole."

Nonetheless, we met up with my mother and father who had endured the entire case.  They admitted a little fatigue with having to endure the lengthy 4 hour session.  Still, it was pretty thrilling to see Bennett in action (even though he never physically addressed the court).  We were seated in the chairs behind these massive concrete pillars and burgundy curtains.  So I could only see 5 of the justices.  After it was all over, we met up with the Secret Service guys on the steps outside.  They had a "scorecard" and seemed to think they would win either 6-2 or 5-3.  Based on their observations, they had "exed" out the two, more liberal female justices (Sotomayer and Ginsburg).  Kagan had recused herself from the case.  They circled all the male justices and put a question mark next to Stephen Breyer.  For those unfamiliar with Breyer, he's generally moderate but was recently robbed by some nutcase wielding a machete at his vacation home in the West Indies.  This happened about a month ago in mid-February.  If this were to play any role, I think it would make him more susceptible to siding with the Secret Service.  So all in all, I suspect they'll rule in favor of Bennett's side (that Secret Service agents have qualified immunity and Howards has no basis for the retaliatory arrest claim in violation of his 1st Amendment rights).  We shall see.  They'll render a decision in about a month or so.

After the case, we went to a nearby restaurant for lunch.  I read the combo poem (Dad's birthday/Bennett's case) entitled "Bennett Goes to D.C."  It was received with a relative degree of fanfare.  Personally, I'd give it an 8.2.

Later that evening, Gig and I headed out for a walkathon.  We actually got lost in the process and ended up hiking aimlessly around D.C. for almost 4 hours.  Good workout, but my sandals started digging into the side of my left foot.  Should have worn tennis shoes.  But I didn't realize we'd be walking for that long.  Anyhoo, we finally scavenged our way back to the hotel around 11pm and called it a night.

Met up with my parents the following morning.  They were staying at The Phoenix next to Union Station.  Gig's map navigation skills are a tiny bit unsettling.  Granted, the downtown D.C. wheel-spoked grid is pretty challenging.  So basically, it took us about 28 minutes to go a couple miles.  The concierge was "kind" enough to park the car on the curb right outside the main entrance.  We tipped him a grand total of $7.00 and he billed the parking cost to my parent's room.  I felt honored seeing my piece of shit, beat up 2001 rusting Outback parked right next to the entrance of a pretty swanky hotel.  

We ate breakfast at the hotel, an Irish pub.  Coffee was good.  I went with a side of corned beef hash.  Very unusual presentation - kind of a pureed mush with chunks of potato in the form of 2 meatloaf slabs.  Odd texture, but I must say, it tasted pretty damn good.

We snagged a cab and headed down to check out all the monuments.  I've done the tour of D.C. a few times.  Once in 6th grade, the other time about a decade ago with Jenn and throw in a few Dead shows at RFK stadium.  This time, my impressions were a little more dramatic.

Washington Monument - it is what it is.
World War II Memorial - very understated with powerful symmetry.  Difficult to comprehend why it took so long to construct a fitting tribute to World War II vets.
Martin Luther King Memorial - absolutely stunning craftsmanship.  Spectacular.

Franklin Roosevelt Memorial - Hard to believe this one doesn't get the attention it deserves.  Broken into 4 parts which mirror each term in office.  Wonderful use of water.
Jefferson Memorial - Very cool how the wind whips through the structure.
Lincoln Memorial - powerful, exuding an aura of statesmanship.  Well, except for the adjoining gift shop that sells Abraham Beanie Babies and Lincoln shotglasses.
Reflecting Pool - drained and empty pending a massive construction overhaul.
Korean Memorial - impressive how they incorporated that statues of soldiers into the existing foliage.
Vietnam Memorial - Gig found her uncle's name on the wall and snapped a picture.  The sleekness and simplicity are exceptionally powerful.

It's fascinating to witness the societal evolution of how America memorializes it's wars and figureheads.  Early on it's all about the overwhelming size and awesome presence.  Now, it's more about symmetry and incorporating the elements.  I'm reminded of this guy from Sudan I saw on one of those 20/20 investigative shows.  He had managed to escape the war and somehow immigrate to Atlanta.  The reporter asked him what's the most notable difference between Sudan and the U.S.  He replied, "I don't understand how you Americans use water.  It makes no sense to me."  The reporter inquired, "How we use water?  What do you mean?"  And he responded, "Where I come from, people travel miles just to fetch a bucket of water.  Over here, you have these fountains everywhere and pools with children splashing in them.  You seem to use water for visual enjoyment and as a source of entertainment."  What a profound perspective.  I wish more Americans could hear that candid observation.

The Cherry Blossom Festival was in full swing so we made a trek around the lake.  The blossoms are indeed a worthy draw and early this year.  We saw these two little kids start shaking one of the trees and one of them had broken off a branch.  A horrified, older male volunteer raced into action.  He chastised both of the kids and rescued the limb.  He lashed out, "Ohhh noooo, that's the worst thing you can do!  You should be ashamed of yourselves."  Their supervisor quickly apologized, snatched them up and hurried off.  This incident got me to thinking....

What if a team of about 50 dedicated war protesters (Iraq, Afghanistan, take your pick) assembled in the middle of the night with chainsaws.  What if they each took a quadrant and quickly sawed down all the trees before there could be a coordinated response?  Disgusting premise?  Of course it is.  But honestly, what's more disgusting - an illegal war based on lies and an ensuing occupation used to placate big oil interests that killed about 200,000 Iraqis and has thrown their country into an endless cycle of chaos.... or the chopping of a bunch of trees.  Just something to think about.

We ventured on to the newly opened Newseum.  In a word - Unfuckingbelieable!  In three words - check it out.  This building opened about a year ago on Pennsylvania Avenue.  It's an all-encompassing tribute to every aspect regarding the history of the news.  So much time and painstaking effort must have been expended.  The building itself is spectacular.  Each of the 6 floors has a unique niche.  Highlights are too numerous to mention.  As expected, I'm more fascinated with the terror related sections (9/11-Bin Laden, Oklahoma Federal Building-Timothy McVeigh, etc.).  But I truly enjoyed the presidential campaign sections.  Like I said, there's just way too much to mention.  You have to see it to believe it.

I noticed an error with one of the exhibits.  There was an inscription of the word "chads" in a display for the 2000 Bush/Gore contested election.  The plural of chad is... chad.  I spoke with one of the curators and jotted down a brief note on one of the comment cards.  Do I think it will ever be fixed?  Not sure.  I'd say it's about 50/50.

We met up with my parents and zipped down to Chinatown for dinner.  My mother likes to eat in a leisurely fashion.  She's always known as the last person to finish.  Well, she got a little flustered as the waitress just kept shoving food onto the table.  And nothing was going to slow down the process.  Steamed wontons became soup.  Soup merged into spring rolls.  Egg rolls segued into rice.  Rice blended into entrees.  And the lo mein descended into fortune cookies.  I had an inclination that it was a "come in - we feed you - now you go" kind of establishment.  Consistent with most of the restaurants in Chinatown.   I'm reminded of a place way out on rt. 250, northwest of New Philadelphia, Ohio.  It was called "Eat It and Beat It."  We used to see it on the trek to Oberlin where my aforementioned brother Bennett went to college.

"George likes his chicken spicy."  - George Costanza
"Saf likes his adventures brief and his vacations quick." - me

It's true.  I like to get the hell in, see the sites and get the fuck out of Dodge.  If the trip lasts more than 3-4 days, I start to get really edgy.  Saffy don't do cruise ships.

So I secured the leftovers and we said our goodbyes.  We took a slightly non-circuit path out of DC on the south-eastern portion of the beltway, but not a big deal.  Maybe added 20 minutes or so.   Back to the Burgh well before midnight.  Great trip.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bennett's case - Reichle vs. Howards

Tomorrow is a big day.  My brother is appearing in the U.S. Supreme Court to argue Reichle vs. Howards.  Even though he will not be speaking, this is about as big as it gets.  He wrote the brief.  My parents flew in last night and will be attending the session.  Gig and I are zipping down early tomorrow morning to meet up with everyone.

And my father's birthday is today... so I had to write him a poem.  But the real spotlight will be on my middle brother.  So I wrote this one for the both of them.  As usual, most of it's inside family humor.

Bennett Goes to D.C.

I've often heard the expression... "when in Rome"
So in our nation's capitol, I give you this poem

Five of sit, here at this table
Let me tell you a story, I assure you I'm able

My father is a wise man, he's unlikely to commit perjury
Even if sedated and coming off knee surgery

But this birthday poem's not really about him, which could be a source of contention
It's mostly about his son's case, which merits our attention

He's the reason we're here.  He wrote the fucking brief.
He's the brains of this trial.  The Commander in Chief.

But mom laid the groundwork, with inspiration and dedication
When she sued that asshole Marockie and the Board of Education

Now your youngest son's the wildcard, I'm sure you'll voluntarily cede
All he wants to talk about is this artificially generated stampede

And you finally get to meet my lovely girlfriend, her name is Georgiann
The more you get to know her, I'm sure you'll become a fan

Standing before the ultimate judiciary, isn't for cowards
Even when the case is a slam dunk, like Reichle vs. Howards

I cannot fathom a hostile act, that is any bolder
Than touching the vice president, directly on the shoulder

And he even had the audacity, to engage in a verbal attack
When he questioned his policies, regarding the war in Iraq

And just where is Dick Cheney?  Why didn't he show up for the case?
Perhaps he's off quail hunting, shooting another friend in the face

But if there is one thing, that I truly detest
It's someone who bitches, about retaliatory arrest

Our highest court has historically sided with the Secret Service
But this case begs the question, are they truly impervious

In a world filled with instability and disunity
Can Secret Service agents act with absolute impunity

In the Supreme court, this case has just been tried
I suspect they'll agree, their immunity is qualified

But an 8 to zero ruling, could still leave you confused. 
Why not 9 to zero?  Elena Kagan was recused.

But what nobody ever knew, was that Bennett would do anything he can
For if the outlook grew dim, he had a secret, master plan  

In the game of golf, we call it taking a mulligan
He'd whip out his ukulele and perform Gilbert and Sullivan

It would be most unorthodox, kind of like a courtroom Aliyah
Just one last ditch attempt, to curry favor with Scalia

Monday, March 19, 2012

Vicious jab - label him "Offshore Mitt"

Here's a good attack line for Santorum.  Mitt Romney has handily won all these quasi-U.S.-inhabited offshore regions that vote for the president but really don't count for shit.   American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. 

On the cusp of these victories, Santorum should start referring to his opponent as "Offshore Mitt."

Brutal word association.  The press would eat it up.  Has a killer, definable, lasting ring to it.

A.  It invokes the subliminal message that he's not interested in the continental U.S.  He's not concerned with the average Joe.  That's really shitty for the already-existing elitist perception.  It would play horribly in all the swing states, particularly the rust belt.

B.  It gives the impression that he has money tucked away in offshore/Caribbean island accounts (Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Antigua, etc.).   Typical American lumps all of Central America in a Jamaican subcontext.  We will not be jammin'  -  Illegal gambling + Mormonism = does not compute.

C.  And it also plunks down the subliminal message, "Offshore Mitt???  That son-of-a-bitch must be shipping jobs overseas!"  Not a good message for a self-professed venture capitalist guru.  Hey, he's finally come to terms emotionally with his $300 mil. net worth.  Hey, he's at peace with his inner demons.  Kudos.

D. The notion of labeling him "offshore" might conjure up this strange, psychological sub-narrative.   Images that he's "not all there mentally."  What if he just "loses it" aka Sarah Palin in the Game Change movie?  She grew somewhat stoic.
When asked if Mitt's mentally stable... just reference the dog on the roof story.  Trust me, this Romney Lampoon's Mormon Vacation story with the family dog strapped to the roof has legs... 4 LEGS that is!  Didn't the dog have some weird biblical/elitist name?  Was it "Sir Lot?"  (not sir-mix-a-lot... I'm talking about the city of Lot > fire, brimstone, cast out the sodomites, etc.).  Seriously, get PETA involved.   Makes for a killer bumper sticker or slogan... "I'm Mitt Romney's Dog and I approve of this message."

Rule #1 of politics.  Turn your opponent's greatest strength (in Mitt's case it's $$$ and he's kind of a Republican Al Gore) against him.  Use his Island Paradise-Jimmy Buffetted-cheeseburger victories to destroy him. 

sonofsafMitt Romney will rue the day he won the "former territory of Afa the Samoa" caucus. 
That's gold Jerry, pure gold!" (Kenny Bania on Seinfeld).

Friday, March 16, 2012

Gonzaga has gonorrhea: "Gonzagarrhea Feevah"

Gig and I zipped over to Consol for a little March Madness.  I made a truly ghetto sign:


The famed parking lot of the Moops had a chain up.  Perhaps they were thinking the church lot would be overrun with rowdy Mountaineer tailgaters.  Hillbillies urinating all over the anointed property.

Question: Is it ever acceptable to piss on church grounds?
Answer: Yes, if there's a sporting event or concert within a 1/4 mile proximity.  From what I understand, that's the rule.

We saw this card table set up on the corner.  Ka-Pow!  Free pizza.  A committed team from Pizza Hut was giving away promotional za (that's scrabble for pizza).  There are limited times when it's okay to use the word "za."  The Scary Spice woman would use the term zig a zig "za" at the conclusion of their hit song "Wannabe."  This brings me to a bizarre observation a few of us made back in the mid 90's.  At the 2:49 mark of that music video, there's this bizarre androgynous character in the background.  Configured and dressed like a man, it shakes and gestures (hair flip) like a woman. We spent the better part of a day speculating on "what it was."  Things grew a bit hostile when there was no consensus.  Now I reflect back with almost 20 years of wisdom under my belt.  I'm pretty sure it was a transgendered individual.  For some reason, that possibility never occurred.  Maybe nowadays, with a broader acceptance of the LGBT community under the Obama administration, these situations are easier to assess.

Hard to believe the Spice Girls rose to fame in 1996.  That's over 15 fuckin' years ago.  Where has the time gone?  I actually watched some of the Spice Girls movie called "Spiceworld."  From what I recollect, it was unusually bad.  The five girls and their manager play some kind of endless hide'n'go seek game with the European paparazzi.   Many people have asked me, "Saf, who's your least favorite Spice girl?"  Hands down, it's Sporty Spice.  In fact, I'll rank them from least to most offensive.

Baby, Red-headed cloved-woman whose name alludes me, Scary, Posh and Sporty.

Back to the free pizza.  Any time a group of rogue Pizza Hut employees give away free food, they should be collectively labeled as "pizza butts."  Think of it as a term of endearment in the competitive, overly saturated pizza market. 

We were pretty much high'n'dry on the ticket quest.  Tons of tickets but nobody seemed willing to give any away.  Hard to figure.  But there was plenty of action.  We finally secured 2 freebies from this fast moving dude.  His friends saw my sign and he did a quick hand-off.  I tried to shake his hand and express some appreciation, but this guy wasn't seeking any accolades.  Either way, Ka-Blam!  2 free $70 upper level tix.  Section 234, Row N.  We ventured to the seats and they were pretty high up.  With the proximity to the overhead lighting, it had this dizzying, unbalancing effect.  So we ventured to the lower level.  Even though there were plenty of open seats, we should have been a little more aggressive.  Instead, we were way too nonchalant.  The usher sensed our lack of resolve and gave us a professional "scram, beat it, get lost" routine.  So we watched the rest of the first half from the dry/wet bar concourse overhang.  It's odd how they don't sell alcohol during NCAA tournament games.  I understand when it's in a university setting.  But c'mon, man!  It's a neutral location, an older crowd and people have spent a shitload of money traveling to the game, accommodations, etc.  You'd think they'd ease up a bit.  No big deal though.  Not like we enjoy spending 8 bucks for a luke-cold Bud Light draft.  Instead we split a $4.50 Dr. Pepper.  Huzzah.

So we snagged some seats behind the hoop and watched the rest of the debacle.

Gonzaga - 77
West Virginia - 54

With the exception of the 100 or so Gonzaga fans that made the trek from Spokane, Washington, the entire arena was lifeless.  I have never seen such a despondent WVU crowd.  No enthusiasm whatsoever.  The arena had this morgue-like atmosphere.  Well, except for Huggy Bear who took on the persona of a belligerent mortician.  Seriously, what a disaster.  Kind of figures that my first real exposure to March Madness was lackluster.  I'm  just not a big basketball fan.   When I was a little kid, I always rooted for the Milwaukee Bucks (Sidney Moncrief, Alton Lister, etc.).  I have no idea why they appealed to my 6th grade sensibilities.

I think back about last night and realize I should have been pulling for Gonzaga.  You see... back in the Oglebay Village era, there was this youthful, exuberant whippersnapper named Dunkle.  Dunkle lived for March Madness.  He often spoke of GONZAGAAAA (invoking their name like Mel Gibson in Braveheart...  FREEEEDOMMMM).  I learned a lot from this man.  He explained that when making your picks, you must acknowledge something called the "thug factor."  You see... a team like Cincinnati is centered around thuggery.  The players take on the disposition of the city.  Rape, murder, pillage, plunder, and various rap around acts of beatdown.  Whereas a team like Vermont is a bunch of tall, scraggly whiteys.  When it comes to basketball, you go with the urban hoods any day of the week.  Not the granola munching, bearded environmentalists.  Dunkle also had an affinity for Xavier, although this had more to do with some kind of maniacal "chat room" identity.  He would refer to himself as "Xavier guest" claiming it had this potential ethnic allure.  Regardless, I took Xavier to win it all this year on my NCAA bracket.  How's that for a long shot?

As the game concluded, most of the somber WV-logo clad Mountaineer fans exited their seats.  Even the Mountaineer mascot seemed humiliated.  A mammoth-bearded ginger.  Maybe we need a celebrity like Seth Rogan to take his place.  Maintain that same spirited outlook, but shoot for a more fuzzy, comedic approach.  Having been trounced by 23 points, we need to try something new, something different (think venerable telemarketer Ted Robinson from my last blog as he pushed the fruit syrups).

We watched the OSU-Loyola warm ups.  The arena finally got some decent energy going.  Specifically, the OSU band and their mascot Brutus Buckeye.

It's tough to inspire passion and aggression among your fan base when your mascot is "rounded."  It's always better to go with sharp edges, pointy talons, beaks... not something that reminds you of Ovaltine or bedtime cocoa.  Whenever you see that Connecticut Huskies mascot walking around the endzone at Mountaineer Field, he just looks lost and confused.  The fact that the score is 57-14 doesn't help matters either.

But the Brutus mascot was completely bad ass.  Lots of defiant strutting and vintage Janet Jackson-like dance moves.  Brutus was in control.  Firm, proud buttocks (Monte Burns) with the energy of a zestfully clean soap commercial.

We stuck around for about 10 minutes and then decided to bolt.  On our way out, a drunken under-21 Loyola fan was pitifully sobbing.  She had just been ejected from the arena.  Trying to beg and bargain with security, they were not going to relent.  But it was all about the friend who accompanied her.  He was totally fucking jacked.  Seems like he was chosen to escort her out and make sure she was okay.  He was pissed off.  He screamed at the security (I hate you, you ruined my life), but much to his credit, no profanity in keeping with his loyal Jesuit background.  He was the dutiful 19 year old babysitter.

Granted, two minor blunders.  My sign should have said "Gonzaga has gonorrhea" and I should have commented when security frisked me.  Have you seen the South Park season premiere?  I think the TSA spoof on South Park Wednesday night set a new standard for humanity at large.  Whenever anyone gets patted down at a Steelers game or Starlake concert, I think everyone standing in line needs to say, "Don't worry sir, they just needs to check yer asshole."  This episode isn't the greatest, but at the 9:20 minute mark, the Toilet Safety Administration forges into uncharted (toilet) water in the scene at IHOP.  Everyone needs to get on board with this, especially at the airport.  I could actually envision some future incidents where TSA screeners hear the word "asshole" and go ballistic.  Just another case of art mimicking reality.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Benny Hinn is back in Pittsburgh: June 19-20, 2012

If you ever had any doubts, this pretty much sums it up.  Just click and watch... as the bodies hit the floor.

Benny Hinn is returning to Pittsburgh this summer at a location TBD.  Why does the world's wealthiest televangelist feel so compelled to come to the Steel City?  I've often wondered this.  So I did a little research.  Turns out that Benny Hinn discovered his calling back in of all places... Castle Shannon.  That's equidistant between Mt. Lebanon and Dormont.  During a trek from Toronto, Canada to Pittsburgh back in 1973... this is where Hinn derived his "hinnspiration" and I suspect gained an appreciation for the tricks of the trade.  He witnessed a healing service delivered by one of the famed founding mothers of modern-day televangelism.  Her name: Kathryn Kuhlman.  She died in 1976. 

10 years later in 1983, Toufik Benedictus Hinn (that's his real name) set up shop in Orlando, FL.  Hell, learning how to manipulate the terminally ill and incomprehensibly naive is not a skill one acquires overnight.  It takes years of practice and refinement.  In his case, it took him a decade to get the cross rolling. 

Perhaps Benny is sensing his own mortality and yearns to revisit his healing roots.  Castle Shannon's First Presbyterian Church is where Kuhlman used to host her crusades.  These days it's probably ill-equipped to handle a religious, elderly procession of people confined to wheelchairs.  Aside from the hilly terrain, I doubt there's ample neighborhood parking or much in the way of handicapped accessibility.  Maybe that's why he scheduled his last visit (which was abruptly canceled - who knows why) for nearby Soldiers and Sailors Hall on the University of Pittsburgh campus.

My point - I am going to take action.  I will try my best to get this nonsense eradicated from Pittsburgh, once and for all.  Once I find out where this monetary extraction event and "fake healer" (killer song by Metal Church-1990) is setting up shop,  I will make an effort to bring it crashing down (preferably, in metaphorical flames).  Either that, or I will try and get another protest going.  Hell, it "worked" 9 years ago at Mellon Arena.  Why not give it another shot?  The cause is legit.  So this time we'll try something a little different.  I'm reminded of the legendary telemarketer Ted Robinson from the West Virginia Troopers Association circa mid-1990's.  In a gruff, husky voice, he would pitch all the gift assortments:  the jellies and preserves, the steak sauces and seasonings, the mustards and the salad dressings.  But in that tainted organization's final year (before it was shut down by the state attorney general), he would push the much heralded "fruit syrups."

Ted Robinson (with a suggestive allure): Yes Ma'am.  You've tried the jellies.  Hmmm, you've had the meat sauces too.  That's good.  Well, we've got something new this year.  There's something new.  It's a little unusual.  It's a little different.  Uhhh.  It's uhh.. well... uhhh.  (suddenly with this loud, barking voiceWE CALL IT... FRUIT SYRUPS!  YES MA'AM.  FRUIT SYRUPS.  WE CALL THEM FRUIT SYRUPS.  THEY ARE... uhhh, THEY ARE... uhhh GOOD!  STRAWBERRY, BLACKBERRY, CHERRY, uhhh BLUEBERRY, APRICOT and uhhh... let me see here... uhhh PLUM!  (instantly followed up with) Can we count on you?

Old lady (in a frail voice): "I don't think we can afford it this year.  We're trying to cut back."

Ted RobinsonOKAY.  THANK YOU. (but he responded so abruptly it actually sounded like he said "OKAY.  FUCK YOU.")

It was his bold, methodical manner... the booming inflection... the haunting, teasing delivery.  This is what made Ted Robinson a top salesman for the ill-fated Bears Against Drug Program.  Every once in a blue moon, you'll see one of those faded promotional bumper stickers on the back of a Buick LeSabre.  If only those $39.99 gift boxes could talk.  Ohh, the stories they'd tell.

Alright, back to the Benny Hinn fuck.  I'm going to try and enlist the help of my favorite twin twosome in Eastern Ohio.... the Chrisagii !!  That's a well-deserved dual exclamation point.  They don't care for this charlatan either.  At least that's what they've told me in the past.  And if you can't take Brian and Shawn at their word, you can't trust nobody.  Our goal will be to shine a light of purity and invoke the true gospel.  But how will we do it?

Well, I had a vision this afternoon.  I'll admit that strange scenarios pop into my head from time to time.  But this one isn't something I'd normally conjure up.  So here's the plan.  First off, I must convince the Chrisagii to assist.  I have a hunch they'll be on board.  They find Benny Hinn about as morally repugnant as I do.  And with them it hits even closer to home.

I want to set up a puppet show outside the Benny Hinn miracle crusade.  It'll be something along the lines of a makeshift, reinforced cardboard refrigerator box.  Low hassle, easy up, quick tear down.  I want Brain and Shawn and perhaps a couple others to make sock puppets.  The feature characters will include a sock-suited Benny Hinn and some of his devoted followers in desperate need of a healing.  Each sock-ensconced person will have their ailments miraculously cured.  Sock puppets will arise from the confines of their miniature wheelchairs.  Sock puppets will be cured of heart murmurs, cancer and arthritis.  Sock puppets will be shaking violently and speaking in tongues.  Sock puppets will be falling down as their sock-like bodies hit the floor.  It will be glorious.

Jenn D., Jepsonian and I did something similar at a WWE event at the Wheeling Civic Center back around the turn of the century.  We made a variety of "socko puppets."  It was a gesture of misguided allegiance to our wrestling hero Mankind.  Objectively speaking, I'd say the earlier sock puppet endeavor was "semi-festive." At least I thought so.

So rather than engaging in another stale, Occupy-Benny Hinn protest (like the one described in the 7th chapter of my odd-oh biography), we will protest with puppets.  Perhaps we can get a WPXI reporter at the scene to document this unusual event.  I may have to call in the cavalry.

When you have the Chrisagis Brothers Ministry offering REAL contrasts with  Benny Hinn's monster Empire of Salvation... well let's just say the results could prove interesting.  I believe a short film or video depicting the contrary juxtapositions could achieve the same critical acclaim afforded to the recent Joseph Kone (Ugandan warlord) video.  Think about it.

1) Benny Hinn's net worth has been estimated at roughly 1 billion.  The Chrisagii operate on a shoestring budget.
2) Benny Hinn travels the world on his own corporate jet.  The Chrisagii have an old Chevy Cavalier.
3) Benny Hinn is sheltered by a massive security entourage.  The Chrisagii walk freely amongst the commoners at Bob Evans.
4) Benny Hinn has estates in Florida, Texas and California.  The Chrisagii have a modest house in Yorkville, Ohio.
5) Benny Hinn wears these Louis Vuitton designer suits and shops on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.  The Chrisagii have a more dated, 1970's Bee Gee's wardrobe.  Tight jeans and button down shirts that reveal a modicum of dark chestal hair. 
6) Benny Hinn has a massive cable presence across the planet.  The Chrisagii have some music videos they've uploaded to youtube.

I could list another 50, but the battery power on this laptop is down to 8%.   Gotta wrap things up.

But it all comes down to TRUTH and HONESTY.
Benny Hinn is evil scum.  The number of victims he has defrauded is unfathomable.  Simply stated, he is the religious equivalent of Bernie Madoff.
The Chrisagii have hearts of gold.  They are completely sincere.  They fervently try to spread joy and love; whereas Pastor Benny leaves nothing other than a trail of pain and misery.  Benny Hinn is the embodiment of the dark side as clearly illustrated in this video.

This whole puppet show idea is a work-in progress but believe me when I say...
As Benny Hinn approaches his final years on this planet, there will be a cycle of justice.  You have my word.  He has made a financial decision to come to Pittsburgh this summer.  I have made a moral determination to do something about it.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Jeremy Kyle: the all-time worst talk show host

Right before the Maury Povich show comes on, there's this scrappy Brit in the 4 o'clock time slot.  He used to have his very own talk show just a hop across the pond in merry-old England.   But last year, he ventured to the states.  I suppose America was due.  To be honest, our country deserves this pretentious male cunt.  His name... Jeremy Kyle.

So who exactly is this miniscule buffoon?  He bares a faint resemblance to former Prime Minister Tony Blair.  But in reality, he's more of a European, sniveling weasel.  Kind of a pompous rodent.  Somehow he encompasses just about every emotion.  Coy, chivalrous, disarming, predictable, annoying, bombastic, threatening, judgmental, the list goes on...  At least with Maury, you know exactly what you're getting.  With Jeremy Kyle, it's really hard to explain.

He just has this odd penchant for using these egregious, hackneyed lines at every available opportunity.   Let's evaluate a few of his favorite "catch phrases."

Before I do that, I must comment on his musical intro.  It sounds like the refrain of Kool and the Gang's "Celebration."  But trust me, good times will not to be had.

Jeremy enjoys ridiculing men who recklessly procreate.  What's crazy is how he calmly welcomes them to the set and then tears into them.

Jeremy Kyle: "Let's have a warm welcome for LeRoy.  LeRoy, it's great to see you.  Thanks for coming.  Everyone give a round of applause for our friend LeRoy."  Then, just as the guy takes his seat, Kyle goes on the immediate offensive.  He gets right up in his grill, "Well LeRoy, you must be pretty proud of yourself.  It would appear you have 4 different babies by 3 different lassies.  So let me ask a simple question, "Why can't you keep it in your TROUSERS?"

LeRoy: "Uhhh, I don't know man. Cuz it feels good I guess."

Jeremy Kyle: "Ohhh!  You say it feels good!  That's just grand!"  (then he'll hover above the guy trying to appear dominant but at the same time declaratively whisper) "Well here's an idea." (suddenly he launches into a tirade and shouts) "Why don't you put a wrapper on your doodlesnicker!!!

Most of the shows deal with guests who abuse drugs and alcohol.  These are recurring themes.  But I get the strange impression that our host is a complete straight edge.  From what I can surmise, he's never smoked a joint or even had a cigarette.  This "goody-two-shoes superiority" is part of his routine strategy.  Ridicule them for their drug or alcohol dependency and then immediately turn compassionate (on a fucking dime, I might add).  But once again, it's his unique verbiage...

Jeremy Kyle:  (softly) "well... well... well...  Tameka, you haven't seen your three kids in a year.  That's truly a shame."

Tameka:  "It ain't my fault.  They took 'em away from me."

Jeremy Kyle:  "Well little lady (Tameka is actually a 320 lb. behemoth), maybe it's because you're taking the cocaine and using all those other dirrrty drugs!"  Tameka tries to stand up and confront him but she's immediately accosted by two hulking security guards.  Kyle timidly stands behind the two of them while heaving his chest, "Listen up, you!  Now park your BACKSIDE in that chair!"

Tameka:  "No, you listen to me!"


Just an aside, in Jeremy Kyle-language people don't simply "snort coke" or "pop pills" or "smoke pot."  In his mind, it sounds better if they "do the cocaine" or "use the marijuana" or "ingest the pills." And it's never called a drug test.  For some bizarre reason, it's plural.  It's always a "drugs test."

But our beloved Kyle really tries to steal the spotlight with paternity testing.  This is blatant thievery.  I hate it when some douchebag bandwagoner comes along and tries to outdo Maury.

Jeremy Kyle:  (in a calm, rational voice)  "So we administered a paternity test to determine once and for all if Puffy-J is the father of that adorable young chap.  Uhhh Puffy-J, can you turn your head to the monitor behind you Puffy-J?  (he slowly advances, casually waving the envelope)  I have the final result.  Hmmm, how about that?  Well... well... well... Puffy-J, do you see that young boy?  Well guess what?  (in a hauntingly disturbed British Darth Vader voice) YOUR HIS FATHER!!!

So what's my purpose here?  I've decided to finally rank the all-time worst (by "worst" I mean annoying.  Maury isn't annoying, he's actually quite brilliant) 5 talk show hosts.  It's in ascending order.  And without further ado, here it is!  Drum roll please...

5. Steve Wilkos (former Springer security.  Very uninspired, stale routine - bring out the pimp and threaten to beat him up.  Doesn't let him talk.  Then kicks him off the stage.)
4. Ricki Lake (tells everyone that has unprotected sex that they're going to get AIDS)
3. Tempest Bledsoe (tried to parlay Cosby fame.  Very annoying with horrific hairdo)
2. Sally Jesse Raphael (my arch nemesis.  Kind of like a pasty Dionne Warwick)
1. Jeremy Kyle

Sunday, March 04, 2012

sociopolitical experiment

Rick Santorum will be spreading "something" when he visits the Steubenville Big Red High School gymnasium on the eve of Super Tuesday.   That "something" will likely be a victory speech regardless of whether he wins or finishes a close second.

So what would happen if I wore this Obama for President ball cap to a Rick Santorum Super Tuesday "victory" rally?

Would they even let me in the door?   Would they force me to remove the ball cap (like Elaine's Baltimore Orioles cap she sported at Yankee Stadium in the George Steinbrenner seats)?  Would they make me turn it inside out?  Would they deny me entry based on their "concern for my personal safety?"  Would I be required to show a photo ID to attend a free, public political event in the United States of America?  Would I be forced to answer a bunch of questions?  Would they expressly prohibit me from being interviewed or within view of the cameras? 

Seriously, what exactly would happen to me?  Would I get beat up by a bunch of old white men/Tea Party activists?  Would a mob of girl-scout aged Santorum supporters heckle me and kick me in the shins?  I honestly don't have a clue.

When I went to the Sarah Palin speech at Brush Run Park in St. Clairsville (2008) they had a very strict "no sign" policy.  All homemade signs had to be forfeited at the entry point.  Then of course, you were handed a mass produced red, white and blue 8.5" by 12" COUNTRY FIRST sign.  How awe-inspiring was that?  But this isn't even a sign.  It's just a ball cap.  I saw far worse at the recent Arizona debate.  Outside the auditorium in Mesa, the CNN camera zoomed in on a guy holding a "Spreading Santorum sign" which visibly stated the words "fecal matter."  And how about all those Phish heads that hold up "Fluffhead" signs at political rallies? 

And what if a bunch of us went?  Let's say I had an Obama ball cap.  Another person had a Mitt Romney ball cap.  And another person had a Ron Paul ball cap?  Hell, maybe even throw in a Tim Pawlenty one.  Talk about an ebay auction close-out item.  Jesus Christ!  50 Pawlenty hats for $10.00.  That's way worse than those New England Patriot 2012 Superbowl Champions t-shirts worn by everyone in Central America, and to a lesser extent, Ghana.

Just for the record, I've never worn this ball cap in public.  I found it at Wheeling Jesuit University's outdoor track in 2008.  It was hanging on a fence.  I brought it home and threw it in the washing machine.

If I go through with this experiment, I won't be doing anything to cause trouble.  No other propaganda whatsoever.  I'll only be wearing the hat.  My other attire will be pretty basic.  Just the standard blue jeans and a polo shirt.  I won't be throwing on one of those multi-colored end zone Jesus afro wigs.  I'll just be my normal, bland self.

Bank of America - Pink's Hot Dog commercial

I'm sure most people wouldn't give it a second thought, but this has got to be the most smarmy, disingenuous, deceptive commercial I've ever seen.  These are the overriding characteristics of the new Bank of America ad.  It truly exemplifies their evil brilliance.  Judge for yourself.

I feel uniquely qualified in all matters B of A.  Why?  Because that noble institution holds my mortgage.  Well, not at first.  I originally had my home loan with Etrade Financial (before the talking babies).  Then it made its way to Countrywide (you may recall their stellar reputation).  And from there on, it was eventually acquired by the hometown folks of B & A.  The entire process was likely more bundled than a frigid, burka-clad Afghan girl in Mazar E Sharif.

I remember this one time when my payment was a couple days late.  I was immediately bombarded with telemarketing calls.  And the calls were nonstop.  Nothing pisses you off more than seeing an 866 number register on your cell phone.  Then, you answer the phone and there's complete silence for about 8 seconds.  Suddenly, a guy who sounds like he's from a call center in New Dehli enters the fray.  If you thought his name was Raghib or Harish, you'd be sadly mistaken.  He identifies himself as Joe Hanson and immediately asks for my social security number.  I'm reluctant to offer any information.  But he desperately needs to verify my identity or the call can't proceed.  Keep in mind that they are the ones who called me.  I try to explain that my payment is late, but it's in the mail.  But he does not care.  The only thing this guy wants is my SS# so he can continue the scripted pitch.  I get annoyed with the process and hang up.  Sure enough, another 2 hours passes and rest assured, it's B of A again.  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel.  In this case, it's Same B of A call, different Indian male telemarketer.  And the same vexing conundrum awaits.  I'm still reluctant to divulge my info.  This process goes on for a few days until they get the check.  It's about 5 or 6 calls per day.  

So yeah, I'm intimately acquainted with this venerable banking institution and all their fine work.  But it's these inane commercials that really get my blood boiling.   If it's not the insurance companies, it's the banks.  And like a "good neighbor," they are here to lend a "helping hand."  How the fuck can they still peddle this shit?  It's 2012 for Christ sake!  Do people still succumb to this blatant level of bullshit?

Alright, so I watched the Pink's Hot Dog commercial and noticed a few things.  First and foremost, the guy's parents approached Bank of America with an idea for a new business.  They didn't have anything but a hot dog cart on a busy street corner.  Fortunately, the banker admired their "enthusiasm" and decided to take "a chance!"  They were "worth" the "risk."  He loaned them $4,000 and that got the ball rolling.  Call me naive, but I don't think it works like that.  The more likely scenario, he reported them to the city health inspector and tried to shake down Betty Pink and gramps with some kind of "hot dog excise tax" or "bun splitting tariff."

And you've got love how the current owners (the Pink family) are besieged with autograph requests.   They just cannot believe that people want them to pose for a picture.  I've got admit, nothing would be more gratifying than a signed portrait of me and Richard Pink... hanging above my downstairs toilet.  Next up on my bucket list, a picture of me with Ray Inari (billionaire CEO of Occidental Petroleum) in the foosball room.

Bank of America is obviously looking for some image rehabilitation following the 2008 bank bailouts.   It's about time!  So they go with the hot dog approach.  Think about it for a second.  Is this "Pink hot dog" thing a coincidence?  I don't think so.

A.  Hot dogs are the favored cuisine of the ballpark - intrinsically linked to baseball (America's great pastime).  B of A literally oozes small town patriotism.  Yeah, right?  Aren't these the same assholes that foreclosed on a bunch of military families?  Aren't these the same fuckheads that hit you up with all kinds of hidden fees and debit surcharges?

B.  Pink - the color of breast cancer awareness.  I don't think the humanizing, sympathetic angle was an accident either.  Yes, I am that cynical.

Why not just have Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and the whole Palin family enjoying a trip to Pink's?  Maybe he could splurge and treat the whole fam.  But hold the phone.  His 2011 compensation wasn't even a million.  It was only $950,000.  Wait a minute.  That's his base salary.  I forgot about his stock options and bonus package. But I do like how the Board of Directors keeps it below the vaunted million mark.  See?  Bank see-e-oh's aren't really that wealthy.  They're just regular, normal people... much like the Pink family.

Still, he could probably afford to feed the Palinites.  Maybe they should name a dog after each kid:

The Bristol Dog
The Trig Dog
The Track Dog
The Willow Dog
The Piper Dog

For some reason, this seems to make sense.  Don't ask for an explanation though.  Just trust me.  This will happen before you die.

And I just checked the Pink's menu.

Here are 4 of the stand-outs:

Three Dog Night - 3 hot dogs, wrapped in a giant tortilla, 3 slices of cheese, 3 slices of bacon, chili & onions $7.95.  Honestly, who the fuck would order this, let alone consume it?  

Rosie O'Donnel Long Island Dog - About 15 years ago I saw this portly woman at Drover's sporting a Rosie O'Donnell backpatch on her jean jacket.  I casually mentioned how I wasn't a fan and she took great offense.  Seriously, she got all up in my grill and was fuming, "Who the hell asked you, asshole!"  I quietly apologized.  That lesbianic militant served me up a well-deserved, monster gulp of "shut your fucking face."

Martha Stewart Dog - Yes!  A hot dog named after a home decor expert that pilfered $65,000 in an high stakes, insider trading scam.  Here's a thought - don't market a product around the concept of opening your mouth, especially if you should have kept your mouth shut in the first place.

America the Beautiful Dog - $7.10.  And that doesn't even include tax.  This item is well versed in the patriotic inspiration of lips and assholes.  It's rumored that when the Pink family opens a new location in Pittsburgh, they'll rename it the Santorum Dog.  In Utah, it's the Romney Dog (literally named after the terrified family dog that rides in the cargo carrier on top his SUV for the 8 hour trek to the Grand Canyon).

And how about the suggested hour-and-a-half wait in line.  We had so much fun in line!  That young couple was spotted kissing while they waited.  That was the greatest part of the chili dog experience!  Personally, I prefer the Soup Nazi's approach when handling overzealous, romantic couples.  "Nobody kisses in my line!" (Yev Kassem)

We could use a Pink's Hot Dog in Wheeling.  Oops, I forgot.  We already got Louis (pronounced Lew-eeees) Hot Dog in the Elm Terrace shopping plaza.  Gig and I went to eat there one time.  We were taken aback by something I termed "the hoisting of the dogs."  Not to be confused with the "running of the bulls."  As we approached the counter, we looked deep into each others eyes.

"I don't want to be here."
She replied, "Eric, let's get out of here." 

And that's all I have to say about that (Forrest Gump).

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Santorum: Heeee's Back!!! (in Steubenville, OH for Super Tuesday)

Would I prefer to see Jack Nicholson?  Yep.  Will I settle for Rick Santorum?  Yep.

Believe it or not, I already went to see Rick Santorum.  Nope... not his recent Feb. 20, 2012 visit to Froelich's Corner Market in Steubenville.  I went to his Wheeling appearance on July 19, 2011 at the Capitol Music Hall ballroom.  Rick made a pleasant luncheon stop in an event sponsored by the local "young" Republicans Club.  I'd say about 150 people showed up.  The crowd was heavily dominated by old timers and hardcore Republican political aspirants.  So it really wasn't that youthful.  Nonetheless, they put out a nice, complimentary spread.  Ham, turkey and roast beef croissants, vegetable/desert trays and some kind of cream based soup.  Suffice to say, I feasted with reckless abandon.  I justified it by thinking... Well, if Santorum's going to try and "suckle at the billion dollar teet of the Nutting" then this non-kosher atheist Jew should be afforded a free ham and swiss sandwich.

And assuming there was a Q&A session, I even had my question ready:

"Mr. Santorum, you are widely regarded for your pro-life stance on abortion issues. Recently, you and 5 other Republican candidates signed the Susan B. Anthony Pledge which specifically calls for selecting only pro-life appointees to RELEVANT Cabinet positions. And you recently expressed dissatisfaction w/ Mitt Romney's decision to not sign the same pledge citing "It is incredibly disappointing that Gov. Romney chose not to defend those who cannot defend themselves."

"Based on Romney's refusal to sign this pledge, would that automatically disqualify him from consideration for a Cabinet or Executive Branch position in a Santorum administration? And furthermore, since you regard abortion as a moral issue... does his refusal to sign this pledge make him morally unfit to serve as President of the U.S.?"

I was curious to hear his response.  Wouldn't it have been funny if Santorum was good enough for Romney administration, but not vice-a-versa?  Seriously, I thought my question was strong.  And this was well before Santorum gained any national traction whatsoever.  Regrettably, I didn't get the chance to ask it.  Someone absorbed most of the allotted time with a critique of war-time spending in Iraq.  And that guy really liked to hear himself talk.

All in all, I thought Rick's speech was strong.  He was incredibly personal and focused.  He doesn't come across as Romnified (stiff, aloof and rehearsed).  Note to self: If I hear that "Oh beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain" bit just one more time, I may have to kill myself.  Not the usual way either.  I will choose death by sliding down a razor banister while simultaneously chewing on tin foil (Ted Danson, early Cheers episode).  And Rick's content was strong too.  He didn't focus on social issues.  His speech was all about the economy and manufacturing.  And of course the prodigious hands of his grandfather as he lay motionless in a casket - a little bit creepy, but hey, it's Rick Santorum for Christ sake.  Seriously though, he knew how to connect with the audience.  Kudos.

So anyhoo, Santorum has decided to bless Northeastern Ohio with yet another campaign stop.  This one's on Super Tuesday though... so it's a pretty big deal.  Initial reports have him, his vest and his identical, macabre daughter coming to the Steubenville Big Red high school auditorium from between 4pm-10pm.  VERY COOL because I predict his campaign manager thinks this is the perfect spot for an Ohio victory speech.  And I would tend to concur.  It's as close to Pennsylvania as you can git!  Makes sense to me.  As of today, Santorum is actually up a few points in the Ohio polls.  Romney's feeling the heat and will be hitting the state of Ohio full throttle (that means 2 power stops - the first is a private, invite-only $20,000 dinner party at the lavish home of the Cincy Proctor and Gamble CEO and the other destination is at "who the fuck cares - it's Mitt Romney - shut your Mormon face - and while you're at it, go baptize some dead Holocaust victims").  Yep, that's the other place.  So it's doubtful I will be attending either of these.

But if Santorum wins the bell-weather/relatively putrified state of Ohio, I will attend his victory speech.  And I will be handing out FREE copies of my recent Sonofsantorum double cd.  I made it (in a drunken haze) the night he won the 3 Midwest primaries and caucuses (Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota).  I'm finally returning the favor for the free meal compliments of the Ohio County Young Republicans club.  I normally don't publish my sonofcd liner notes, but I'll make an exception... just this once.  Considering what's at stake (the most coveted leadership position on the planet earth), I believe it's appropriate.

Sonofsantorum (shit)

I have mixed emotions about Rick Santorum.  On social issues, he's pretty much the antithesis of my entire existence.  Yet I do admire the guy for campaigning relentlessly and believing in his cause.  Whether I like Rick or not is not really the issue.  I do admire his passion though. 
Technically speaking, anyone who has executed a google search knows that "santorum" is "the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex."  So let's divide this Sonofsantorum" cd into 2 distinct parts - the lighter stuff (the lube disc) and the heavier stuff (the fecal or shit disc).  Enjoy.

What better a way to open a sonofcd than with a bass solo from Metallica's Cliff Burton.  This is from the infamous "Day on the Green" show in 1985 Oakland, CA.   Sorry, I skipped the segue into "For Whom the Bell Tolls."

Instead, I went with the new Black Keys song "Lonely Boy."  Couldn't find a live version.

However, I did find this version of the Rolling Stones classic "Loving Cup" with Mick Jagger and special guest Jack White.  Short but sweet.

And of course, we'll follow it up with "Tumbling Dice" from one of the greatest classic rock bootlegs - 1973 (Brussels, Belgium).

This version of ZZ Top's "Gimme All Your Lovin" is a tribute to the recent Amish beard cuttings in Northeastern Ohio.  It's a little soundboardish but they're still trying to rock.  I give them an "E" for effort.  It's from 2011 -  Austin, Texas.

Here's some recent U2 from the summer of 2011.  Gig and I saw the Heinz Field show which was unusually strong.  Not sure where this version of "Even Better Than The Real Thing" is from, but it's cool because it's The Edge's IEM (in-ear-microphone).  Just something different.

REO Speedwagon's still haunting the county fair and casino junket, but here's a Westwood One national broadcast of "Don't Let Him Go" from 1990.  I really like the energized keyboard solo midway through.  

Remember Joe Satriani's megahit "Crush of Love."  Yep, I forgot all about it.  Here's a radio broadcast of the song from a San Fran benefit near the Golden Gate bridge.  The proceeds went to funding gay marriage ballot propositions 20 years later.  Who would have thunk it?  The song's cool but it kind of drags - Look at us, we are all guitar virtuosos.  Yeah, I get it. 

This is a bad ass cover of Cheap Trick's "Surrender" by my favorite exhibitionist/satanist.  Other than Marilyn Manson, I don't have many of those. 

This was just too bizarre not to throw in.  Helix (they're still around) playing "Rock You" in Peterborough, Ontario in 2011 at the Red Dog Tavern.  I like the prelude of the William Tell overture.  You rarely see that type of riskiness on the big stage.  Or in this case, a jammed 30x60 ft. stage in the corner of a bar.

A great cover of Zeppelin's "Good Times, Bad Times" by Nuclear Assault from 1989.  Not sure where it's from.  Not sure that it would matter.

My favorite REAL trash band (aside from Slayer).  Here's Vio-Lence playing "Kill on Command" from a reunion show in San Fransisco.  Slim's Bar circa 2001 is the setting for this intimate gathering of insanity.  Vio-Lence was easily among the greatest trash bands of the late 80's.  But nobody knew about them.  Now you know. 

I'm still disappointed the Steelers lost in the wildcard round.  I will express my disappointment with this absurdly disturbing cover of Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" performed by the Spice Girls at a 1999 show in London, England.  I wonder which one is blowing the whistle at the beginning?  My best guess is it's Sporty Spice because she always had this athletic/referee thing going on.  I like how one them yells, "Get up!  Last chance to party!!!"  So Saf, who was your favorite Spice Girl?  I find this question purposely misleading.  The correct phrasing... Saf, which Spice Girl do you find the least objectionable?  After a prolonged moment of contemplation... I'd have to say Baby Spice. 

 Sonofsantorum (lube)

The sonofsantorum lube side.  I'll probably take some heat for desecrating Santorum.  Seriously... the youngest child has that rare genetic disorder and she had some recent complications with pneumonia.  Why do I have this horrible hunch that I'll be distributing a bunch of copies just as her condition worsens?  I am honestly cognizant of this but gotta stick to a founding sonofcd principle - almost always go with your first hunch with regard to the naming process.  Believe me, it's all an unpleasant coincidence.   And I'm not like Led Zeppelin.  Led Zeppelin 1, Zeppelin 2, 3, 4... How uninspired is that?  Sonofsaf 1, Sonofsaf 2, Sonofsaf... 46 ???  DON'T GO THERE!

This version of Tony Bennett's "Steppin Out with My Baby" is BBA (beyond bad ass).   Not to be confused with BBO (beyond b.o. - George Costanza).  Fuck it --- this is from London, England on March 10, 2011.  It's his 85th birthday party for cryin' out loud!

And continuing right along with more that constitutes bad ass is this cover of the "Dukes of Hazzard" theme song.... by fucking Weezer.  Nobody can figure out it's them.  Gigi thought it was Creed or some Goo Goo Dolls shit.  Either way, the garage B-side demo-sound really lends itself.

I never heard "Portland, Oregon" by Loretta Lynn and Jack White until very recently.  Never even knew the song existed.  I tried to get the live version off Letterman but lacked the MP3 downloading skills.  Sucked.  I think this song would be a killer candidate for the Monday Night Football theme song.  This is not a joke.  You just sub in different lyrics for the two teams/cities.  I am not joking.  Get a different duo every week - they don't have to be musicians or singers.  Just men and women with historical ties to the city.  It'd be sick.  Regardless, thank god Hank Williams Jr. is out of the mix.  What an annoyance... and his intro sucked, too.

Gigi and like Kanye's "Flashing Lights."  Well... she doesn't like the lights or the flashing part, but we both like the song.  This one's from the VH1 Storytellers program.  Interesting, but it drags a little bit when he gives his "be all you can be" speech.  I don't know specifically what he was saying.  I blocked most of it out.

John Lennon - Mind Games demo. 

Here's a pleasant version of "Faithfully."  Beware!  You may relentlessly swoon.  Seriously, I'm not sure if it's Steve Perry or the little Asian dude.  Hard to tell them apart.  The sound quality is exceptionally strong, so my best guess is the Asian guy.  In which case, it's probably from 2011.

"Second that Emotion" is easily my favorite JGB cover.   Jerry and Bob played it on Letterman back in 1989.  That was the version I wanted.  I huffed... and I puffed.... and I searched on the internet machine, but it just wasn't meant to be.  So be it.  Here's a live version from a boot called Shining Star.

I threw that Spice Girls' rendition of "We are Family" on the "shit" side of sonofsantorum.  So here's the real thing.  Much better.  Although I would prefer it if people call Sister Sledge... Sister Sludge.  A variation of Rusted Root... Rusted Soot.

We must continue this funk vibe.   Kool and The Gang!  A strong version of "Ladies Night."  Why didn't I choose the more popular "Celebration?"  At this moment in time, I do not feel like celebrating.  Regardless, this is from Montreux, Switzerland - 2009.  Fun fact - my parents got married in Bern, Switzerland while my father was serving in Korea. 

I think this is pretty cool.  Prince comes out on stage during Sheila E's opener set at the Orange Bowl in Miami.  Think about it.  It's the height of the 1985 Purple Rain tour.  Ray Lewis was just pre-pubescent purple teen.  Anyhoo, they play "Erotic City."  Great tune.  I like the tinny, unified audience screams too.  Annoying?  Yeah, sure it is... but very common on mid-80's boots.  You shalt embrace the learning curve of internet bootleg subculture. 

Christopher Cross sings "Ride Like The Wind" in Mons, Belgium (2009).  Me and Jenn were in Maui a decade ago.  I'm pretty sure we saw him hanging outside a major tourist attraction (Hawaii's biggest aquarium).   He was strumming his guitar and I made a jovial remark about  this "hippie performer."  He absorbed what I said and was quietly amused.    Just for the record, we found out that Kriss Kross does indeed own a home in Maui.  This still makes me want to jump, jump.  

Excellent version of "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John in Lucca, Italy (2011).  Most people complain about the deejay voiceover.  I like it.  Gives it some context and character.

People will make fun of me.  Some will laugh.  Some will antagonize and commit hate crimes.  But I think Sarah McLachlan's "I  Will Remember You" is really poignant.  Always better live.

If you'd like a free copy, just ask.  Even if you're a member of his Secret Service detail!  Hey, it's just  freedom of speech (or in this case, bootlegged music and liner notes).  Last time I checked, it's a free country.  Right?  Well... we'll see.  I have a hunch we'll find out about this "freedom thing" one of these days.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Don Muraco eating a meatball sub

When I was 11 or 12, I had difficulty discerning whether pro wrestling was real or fixed.  These days, pre-teens are a tad more worldly... or so they think.  Of course nowadays, studio wrestling is so far over-the-top, you'd have to be beyond the collective realm of Beavis and Butthead to assign it any level of credibility.  I often wonder how that age group, particularly impressionable young boys, perceives online pornography.  Some of the stuff is so graphic and warped.  It has to totally fuck with a kid's head.  I can't see how it wouldn't.  But that's a bit off-topic.  Maybe one day I'll address this issue.  But not today.

Surprisingly, as a young kid, my favorite wrestler was actually a heel.  Kind of figures.  He was the infamous, Don "The Magnificent" Muraco.  His interviews were epic.  Each one always had a different vibe.  He never went with the sadistic, barbaric role.  Instead, he'd fuse these comedic taunts with this unbridled arrogance.  The crowd would fire back with chants of "Beach Bum, Beach Bum."  Obviously, a reference to his origins of Sunset Beach, Hawaii.  Newsflash, he really was from Hawaii - I googled him.  Not like Texas-born Ivan Putski who claimed to be from Krakow, Poland (that guy had to be the worst, most uninspired main-eventer in the history of the WWF).   And how about the token, masked weirdo from Parts Unknown?   I'd have to say that "parts unknown" is the ultimate location of origin. 

Here's a truly, classic moment.  Muraco's wrestling one of the more memorable scrubs.  His name was Frankie Williams and I do recall he hailed from Columbus, Ohio.  How about that?  I always had an appreciation for the scrubs - rare for an 11 year old kid.

This is the pure embodiment of Vince McMahon.  It's his serious, snarling voice that really added to the credibility.  And I love the way Vince pontificates... "Well, I don't know if there's anything specifically stated in the rulebook that prohibits consumption of a meatball sub during a match... but it is highly unorthodox."  Classic.  I think it's the forgettable Pat Patterson who keeps saying, "Hmmm, another bite."  But it's all Vince.  He's just so disgusted with Muraco's nonchalant, blatant effrontery.  How dare he!   Say what you will about Vince McMahon (unprincipled, ethically challenged, steroid distributing, etc.).  But he might be the greatest salesman of all time.  Trump?  Iacocca?  Barnum and/or Bailey?  Fugetaboutit.  It's not even close.  This was Vince in his prime.

And how about at the end when Captain Lou Albano "slips" on the meatball sub.  I honestly don't think this part was scripted.  Maybe he was drunk.  Although I doubt it because they usually taped the preliminaries during the afternoon.  If you watch closely, I think Muraco's genuinely concerned that Albano may have hurt himself.  And who could not love the manner in which McMahon ridicules Captain Lou.  "Albano is furious!  Look at that fat slob!  He's disgusting.  Ohhh, look.  There it is.  There's the rest of the meatball sub.  That's just gross!  That's horrible!"

 I'll never forget when a title holder was being pinned and Vince would deliriously count it out... "One... Two... We-have-a-new.....  NOOOO!"  Honestly, that's some great shit.  He was a millisecond from saying the word "champion."  Damn, it was that close.

I miss old school television production where you didn't have all those annoying musical blips in the background.  Actors and commentators actually had to earn their keep.  I'd take the authenticity of 80's pro wrestling over the "Real World's" synthetically manufactured crap any day of the week.  Nowadays, you get all this uninterrupted "zany" background music (for those incapable of comprehending that it's a silly moment).  Or even worse, when the music gets all dark and disturbed.  Yes, this would denote a sad or heartbreaking moment.  Give Vince credit where credit is due.  You didn't hear some nonsensical, edited-in "slip on banana peel" music when Albano bit the dust.  All you heard was the mastery of McMahon - "Look at that meatball!  Look at it!  That's disgusting!  That meatball makes me sick!"

And one last link.  We all remember when Roddy Piper smashed the coconut over Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka's head during a torturous interview on Piper's Pit.  But do you remember this one?  It's the rowdy one interviewing the aforementioned scrub wrestler Frankie Williams.  Definitely worth checking out.  Incredible!

"Just when they think they got the answers, I change the questions." - Roddy Piper