Wednesday, July 29, 2009

You are what you eat

Some animals are dogs.

Some animals just think they are dogs.

Right, Oreo Cookie?

Aside, sorry for the fundamental lack of postage lately. Watch my Facebook page for more regular status updates and the like.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Our new addition (no, not that one)

So, do you know the purpose of the proverbial canary in a coal mine?

To wit:

Early coal mines did not feature ventilation systems, so miners would routinely bring a caged canary into new coal seams. Canaries are especially sensitive to methane and carbon monoxide, which made them ideal for detecting any dangerous gas build-ups. As long as the canary in a coal mine kept singing, the miners knew their air supply was safe. A dead canary in a coal mine signalled an immediate evacuation.

My co-worker's daughter found a trio of kittens out behind a woodpile.

Now, I'm a sucker for cute lil' critters.

And, frankly, one of our concerns with 3/4Em on the way is how Norton and Pumpkin will take to our darling little girl.


Meet the newest member of our household:

That's Oreo. One of the three kittens.

I went for the distinctive-looking one: He's got a black head, black tail and everything else is white.

Thus, the name: He's black on each end and creamy in the middle.

I was going to name him Ninja, since his black head looks like a mask, and we almost went for Zorro (again, the mask).

But as the folks at our childbirth classes were explaining: Cravings. One woman said she craves Oreos. One said she has a bag in her car. Me and Marisa named the kitten after them.

So, as I see it: If the animals don't eat the kitten, they won't eat the baby.

So far: Norton loves him. He's a little afraid of Nort, though he's starting to figure out the big guy's a bit of a wimp (albeit a matching black-and-white wimp).

Pumpkin, on the other hand, hates him. She actually hisses and growls when he's near. But... if she can get used to Norton, she can get used to anything. I speak from experience.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A twit tweets

You may have noticed the new Twitter feed at the top of the page.

Yes, I joined Twitter.

No, I'm not yet sure why.

Maybe it's because I get several compliments on my Facebook status updates.

Maybe it's because I like to blather on about exactly what's on my mind at any given moment.

Consider it an experiment. We'll see how she runs.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

When animals attack... the downside

The other day, at 5 a.m., Marisa and I were awakened by the crashing and howling of animals at the foot of our bed.

Pumpkin, as she is wont to do in her role as Attack Cat, swatted Norton.

And got a claw stuck.

In his face.

Ah. Animals.

Can't wait to add a baby to this mix.

Karma's a... well, you know

Sayeth the Associated Press:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBC set a low-water mark of historic proportions for TV viewership last week.

The network averaged 4.4 million prime-time viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

While it's not the smallest ever recorded by ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox, it's the smallest to come in a week outside of the summer doldrums of June, July, August or early September.

As a "Life" fan, I say, "Serves you right, NBC."

I guess I never really got that Charlie Crews Zen thing working.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A couple of interesting shows

Recently, Marisa and I managed to take in a pair of non-Broadway productions, both of which proved quite enjoyable dinner-and-a-show "date nights" for us.

The first took place at Centenary College in nearby Hackettstown, and featured students performing a show called "The Many Deaths of Shakespeare," which was written and directed by a CC professor, Dr. John S. Lennox. The concept is a college class is forced, as a senior project, to study every death in Shakespeare's canon (prompting two stoner students to ask, "Shakespeare killed people with a cannon?").

The show was really very interesting, funny, and even thrilling in spots - Dr. Lennox is a stage combat choreographer. Although M thought it dragged a bit toward the end, I thought that was one of the funnier parts (as the students try to get through the last 100 or so deaths en masse). The combat moves may have been a little repetitive, but on the whole, I found it particularly entertaining. Especially as the son of a (retired) Shakespeare professor.

Not sure when or if this show will be playing again anywhere soon, but I highly recommended it as light entertainment for Shakespeare fans.

The second show was a bit closer to Broadway: The historical musical "1776" at the Paper Mill Playhouse.

It's one of my favorite shows - I own the movie(starring William Daniels, the voice of KITT) on DVD - and I first saw it years ago at the Paper Mill. I missed the Broadway revival, sadly (though I have the soundtrack), so I was glad we made it to the last weekend of this version. We were up in the cheap seats, and this review made me a little nervous, but on the whole, we had a grand time, even if M overheated a bit by the end (it's a long show).

I couldn't tell you exactly why I love this musical about the writing of the Declaration of Independence, but I do. It's based on historical events, with some historical dialogue, and it's just kind of funny and yet serious all at the same time. "Molasses to Rum to Slaves" may be the creepiest, most disconcerting, discomforting song I've ever heard in a musical, and that includes "Assassins" - a show about killing various presidents.

In fact, we had a good enough time at the Paper Mill that I'm plotting a trip to see another show at the Paper Mill that I have an odd fixation with: "The Full Monty."

Loved the British movie, and loved it on Broadway. Even if there is a bit too much male nudity for my taste, as the expression goes.

Bit of trivia: The role of the courier in "1776" was played by Griffin Matthews, a graduate of my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon; the role of Jerry in "The Full Monty" on Broadway was played by another alum, the slightly better-known Patrick Wilson.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A confession

I realized today that I forgot to vote yesterday in the municipal election!

I was all set to do it, and just somehow forgot.

This upsets me, because anyone who knows me or follows my blog knows how important voting is to me.

I know you could say it was just for mayor of my little home-township, but still.

My apologies. I feel like I just let one of my most important duties as an American slip away.

It's been a very busy week at work, and I have a very important appointment this week, so I have a lot on my mind. But still. Not an excuse. There were signs everywhere and I got the sample ballot and everything.

Just very upsetting.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An open letter to USA: Save "Life"!

I sent this letter to the USA Network today as a way of joining the campaign to save "Life," my favorite TV show, by moving it from NBC, which canceled it, to the NBC-owned cable network, known for its quirky dramas such as my second-favorite, "Burn Notice."

Help me and thousands of other fans save "Life"!

As a huge fan of "Burn Notice," I wanted to join the thousands (millions?) of fans encouraging USA Network to pick up "Life," late of NBC. This show would be a perfect addition to your lineup of "quirky" detective-type shows, including "Burn Notice," "Monk" and "In Plain Sight."

As a partner in NBC Universal, you are undoubtedly familiar with the show, and can see how lead character Charlie Crews and his relationship with partner Dani Reese would fit right into that lineup. There is drama, yes, but more than a touch of humor, finding a type of middle ground between a comedy-centric show such as "Monk" and a more serious show such as "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."

There is a reason "BN" and "Life" are my two favorite shows.

In addition, you may know "Life" Season 1 was shortened by the regrettable writers' strike, and only aired roughly a dozen episodes. So you could see how "Life" also would fit into your shorter summer-season format so many of your shows utilize.

"Life" was never strongly promoted by NBC, in my opinion, but a show such as "BN" is heavily promoted by your network, and "Life" could use that same asset to provide ratings that, while not strong enough to keep it in a network lineup, would be excellent for a cable show.

I urge you to add this show, which comes with a loyal, built-in fan base, to your lineup. Damian Lewis' outstanding acting has been widely praised by critics, and would give you another underrated centerpiece actor a la Tony Shalhoub or Mary McCormick.

Thank you for your consideration.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Uwe Boll Mad Libs, Part II

In the last post, of course, I asked you to come up with a list of words for the Uwe Boll Mad Libs project.

This, of course, is the story that goes with it. So get out your notes and play along!

Remember, use yesterday's words in the proper order you wrote them down. This one's a bit longer than your average Mad Libs, but hey, don't all of Dr. U's films feel that way?

Ready? Begin!

When (German name) was a little boy in (Eastern European country), he had two loves: Movies and video games. All his (Time period), he dreamed of a way to combine the two. And then, one day, it (Action verb) him! Movies based on video games!

His first movie was called (Video game). It had no recognizable stars, though he did get the girl from (B movie) to show her (Body parts). Sadly, it scored only a (Number from 1-10) on (Website).

Ach! What to do? And one day, it (Action verb) him! Find stars to build the movie around!

So he launched a side career as a (Job). In that job, he took (Adjective) pictures of movie stars such as (Academy Award winner) in (Adjective) positions with (Plural farm animal).

Using the photos, he got many famous (Location) actors to star in his next movies: (Video game), (Video game) and (Virtue).

He even got (Movie star) to show her (Body parts) in his third film, before she was (Verb, past tense) by a (Monster).

Of course, even the (Adjective) one scored only a (Number from 1-10) at (Website). He was devastated.

Perhaps, he thought, he should film his masterpiece. Forget video games. It was time for his (Impressive-sounding word). A film called (Adverb) designed to offend just about everyone in (Nation).

For that, he thought, I will need (Movie star), the star of my second film - the one in which an actor once (Verb, past tense) by the (Royal title) played a (Animal) slowly turning into a (Awkward physical characteristic).

And (Movie star) to show her (Body parts).

Time to break out the old (Camera brand) and (Household pet)!

It was the happiest day of (Different German name)'s life.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Uwe Boll Mad Libs, Part I

Somewhere in my feverish brain, I came up with an idea the other day: Let's play Uwe Boll Mad Libs!

Why? Because we can.

You know Herr Dr. Boll, right? The man who brought you everything from "House of the Dead" to "Bloodrayne"?

Well, here's what we'll do: Today, I'll give you the categories, and you grab a pen and paper and write down your answers.

Tomorrow, the story will go up, and you can see if you've written a masterpiece worthy of the Boxing Boll himself!

And hey, if it turns out to be fun, maybe we'll do it again sometime!

Ready? Begin!

1. German name
2. Eastern European country
3. Time period
4. Action verb
5. Video game
6. B movie
7. Body parts
8. Number from 1-10
9. Website
10. Action verb
11. Job
12. Adjective
13. Academy Award winner
14. Adjective
15. Plural farm animal
16. Video game
17. Video game
18. Virtue
19. Movie star
20. Body parts
21. Verb, past tense
22. Monster
23. Adjective
24. Number between 1-10
25. Website
26. Impressive-sounding word
27. Adverb
28. Nation
29. Movie star
30. Verb, past tense
31. Royal title
32. Animal
33. Awkward physical characteristic
34. Movie star
35. Body parts
36. Camera brand
37. Household pet
38. Different German name

Friday, May 08, 2009

A honeymoon video...

... Not that kind, ya pervs!

In an effort to learn more about making slideshow movies to create one for work, I turned our little honeymoon photo slideshow into a YouTube video. I lost the captions somewhere en route, but it's 99 photos and two turns through Travis' "Flowers in the Window," our wedding song.

Seven minutes and change.


Random Raider coincidence of the day

I posted this over at, but perhaps you'll find it interesting, too. It's celebrity and all that.

Beat writer Jerry McDonald reports a quarterback named Danny Southwick is on a tryout basis at the Raiders' current minicamp.

Just a camp arm, no doubt, a 27-year-old former AF2 quarterback who wound up at Occidental in 2007, his fourth or fifth college.

So, a few years back, the Raiders had around a camp arm named Bret Engemann, out of BYU? He was around in '03-05 in camp and on the PS, plus a couple of assignments to NFL Europe.

So here's the random coincidence.

Danny Southwick is the son of a woman named Shawn Southwick, who is talk-show host Larry King's latest wife. (Number seven, if you're counting; married since 1997 - he is now 75, she 49).

Her maiden name is Engemann, and she is Bret's sister.

So apparently, the Raiders' tradition of favoring NFL(ish) bloodlines extends even to fifth-string quarterbacks!

(Bret Engemann, now 31, is retired from football and a marketing executive, if you're curious.)

Maybe, as keeper of the S&B Report roster (formerly the unofficial roster), I'm the only one who finds this interesting.

Or maybe not.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dance with them what brung ya

Watching the 2009 remake of "Friday the 13th"
recently, I noticed something:

A trio of young former music video directors, given their chance at feature films, have gone on to varying degrees of success in various genres.

But something they all have in common: Sticking to what they know.

For instance, Marcus Nispel, the director of "Friday the 13th," has made what amounts to three movies. And two of them are remakes of horror classics: "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"and "F13." (The third is the Indians-vs.-Vikings swordfest "Pathfinder,"also a remake.)

Zach Snyder, another director who remade a horror Hall of Famer in "Dawn of the Dead,"has done two comic-book films out of three movies: "300"and "Watchmen."(The third being "DOTD.")

And Len Wiseman, maybe most notorious for stealing his leading lady (Kate Beckinsale) from his lead actor (Michael Sheen), has made three movies. One is "Underworld,"
and another is its sequel, "Underworld: Evolution."(The other is "Live Free or Die Hard,"the fourth John McClain "Die Hard" movie.)

Now, of those nine films in the combined oeuvre, I've seen all but one ("Watchmen," not yet on DVD). And I think I like most (thumbs-down to "Pathfinder" or "Evolution"), with something to like in all (even "Pathfinder"). Befitting ex-MTV types, they're all certainly stylish (even the gritty horror and Wiseman's "Die Hard" entry).

I guess when you have success with something, it's best - and probably safest - to stick with it, whether that's high-gloss, big-budget comic stuff or high-gloss low-budget horror stuff.

My favorites, in some semblance of order:

1. "Dawn of the Dead"
2. "300"
3. "Underworld"
4. "Friday the 13th"
5. "Live Free or Die Hard"
6. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"
7. "Underworld: Evolution"
8. "Pathfinder"
9. "Watchmen" - have not seen

Friday, April 24, 2009

Inappropriate commercial thoughts

Perhaps you've heard me rant about the commercials they play on the News Radio I listen to on the way to work.

Like the ones with slogans that just don't make sense.

You know, the life insurance that pays "even if you don't die!" Um, I'd like to buy that one.

And just who the heck is Patricia McCann and why do I care what she endorses?

Anyway, the latest commercial to get me laughing in that "wrong" way is for the DUX bed, which apparently lasts forever.

The commercial stars Boomer Esiason, who tells the story of how some woman named Toula (presumably not this one) bought a DUX bed umpteen years ago, and despite her kids jumping on it, has never had to replace it.

Boomer then points out he and Toula have something else in common...

And my inappropriate instinct is to respond:

"No Super Bowl rings."

It's apparently really that he also is a longtime DUX bed owner.

I don't know if this Boomer owns a DUX bed, but she's got zero Super Bowl rings, too.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Terror under the sea!

So the other night, I was watching "DeepStar Six,"and I was reminded of the heady days of my youth, back when VCRs were novel and the only video store in my hometown was a little indie place full of forbidden horror movies.

My buddy Aaron and I got lured in by the excellent video box for "DeepStar Six," but every time we hit the new-release rack, the lone copy was out.

So we went on an undersea-horror kick.

We rented such flicks as the very-similar-looking "Leviathan"and "The Abyss,"(which turned out not to be horror at all).

Ironically, by the time we got to "DeepStar," it turned out to be the worst of the lot.

(Aside: We were sci-fi/horror junkies, thanks to "Aliens,"which he got to see in theaters and I, banned by my overprotective but well-meaning parents, got to see when it made its HBO debut. One highlight: We saw an "Alien"-ripoff film called "Creature"on TV, then rented it, and discovered - in front of his startled parents - that there was a nude scene which obviously had been censored from the network broadcast. (Response to their shock: "That wasn't there when we saw it before!") "Creature" helmer William Malone went on to direct the "House on Haunted Hill"remake and got dubbed a "Master of Horror" for it.)

Looking back, these undersea creature features are some of my favorite movies, despite some stretches of awfulness.

(I should perhaps use the term "undersea" loosely, as while Jim Cameron's "The Abyss" was shot in a huge tank of water, the DVD insert for "Leviathan" confesses they faked all the underwater scenes with filters and particles in the air.)

But what struck me the other night was... for B-movies, "DeepStar" and "Leviathan" have some pretty strong casts!

For comparison, Cameron's "Abyss" has:
Stars Ed Harris ("The Right Stuff"), a four-time Oscar nominee, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio ("The Perfect Storm"), herself an Oscar nom, with Cameron favorite Michael Biehn ("Aliens") in the biggest supporting role. Others of name include John Bedford Lloyd ("Super Troopers"), J.C. Quinn ("Copycat") and comic Chris Elliott ("Groundhog Day").

Sean S. Cunningham's "DeepStar Six" has, in addition to the creator of "Friday the 13th":
Stars Greg Evigan (TV's BJ from "BJ and the Bear") and Taurean Blacque ("Hill Street Blues") plus "That Guy" superstar Miguel Ferrer ("Robocop"), soap star Nia Peeples, Matt McCoy (the star of "L.A. Confidential's" TV-series-within-a-movie) and Cindy Pickett (best known as Ferris Bueller's Mom). Even "Riptide's" Thom Bray shows up.

And George P. Cosmatos' "Leviathan" has, in addition to the director of "Tombstone":
Stars Peter Weller ("Robocop" himself), Richard Crenna ("First Blood") and Amanda Pays ("Max Headroom"), with Daniel Stern ("Home Alone"), Ernie Hudson ("Ghostbusters"), Lisa Eilbacher ("An Officer and a Gentleman"), Meg Foster ("Masters of the Universe") and Hector Frakkin' Elizondo ("Pretty Woman"). That's almost the entire cast!

Bend it like Beckham? Blow a knee out like B-who?

I've signed up to play soccer for the Lenape Valley Soccer Club's adult spring season.

I'm both excited and scared out of my mind.

Scared out of my mind because I get winded just climbing the stairs (four flights!) to my job these days.

Excited because I dedicated nine years of my life to soccer, but haven't played in years. My two minutes of high school varsity time are probably the highlight of my organized athletic career.

I would've made varsity my senior year for sure, but as I like to say, soccer is the sport I love so much I gave it both my knees and just a tiny bit of my spleen.

I always like to say after my last AYSO game in 1991 (warm up for the Fall 1992 high school season), my teammates carried me off the field.

And then I drove straight to the emergency room. That was blowing out the "good" knee.

I did play intramurals in college (on a short field) and I got in an indoor session a couple of years back with the LVSC. (Where I pulled two muscles and watched another guy break an ankle.)

So even if I'm worried about either a) humiliating myself, even if it's a league for over-30 men; or b) dying right there on the field of a heart attack, stroke or other misfortune... I'm still pretty stoked.

I bought all my gear the other day (yeah, I haven't played in so long I had to buy everything from cleats to shinguards; I'm going to show up with a price tag on me somewhere, I'm sure of it)... and then our first game got rained out Monday.

There's another game next Monday, though, so wish me luck! And safety!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Save a "Life"

It's Wednesday night, and I've got nothing to watch.

I'm hoping that'll change come the fall. But my favorite show on TV (on Wednesdays at 9) is in dire jeopardy of not getting a 2009-10 renewal.

NBC, save "Life"!

I'm begging you!

I'd like to think I've made my case in the past. But after an awesome Season 2 finale, I'm hoping even more for a Season 3. I know I should have more important things to worry about, but still...

I'm just going to say it again: Choose "Life"!

Munkees demand vaccine choice!

Munkees demand vaccine choice for New Jerseyans!

I'm not saying I'm opposed to vaccines, and I accept that my years in New Jersey Business journalism have made me very wary of the pharmaceutical industry. But I want the chance to make an educated choice, and not suffer the mandates of a government that proudly touts our state as "America's Medicine Cabinet."

So I'm urging all of you to support the conscientious objection exemption to mandatory vaccination of babymunkees. Nineteen (19 out of 50!) other states have it. Why can't we?

Are you listening, District 24 representatives? I think you are, and I'm proud of you!

Inform yourself, and make your own choice, yes or no. I don't want vaccines banned. I don't want them recalled. I don't want pharmaceutical industry workers to lose their jobs. I haven't even decided yet what I want to do when the baby comes. What I want is the right to decide as an intelligent, involved (soon-to-be) parent what's best for my Sprout.

A random bit of naming trivia

Something that just occurred to me amid a bout of insomnia:

Although Jews don't traditionally name children after living relatives, if we go with the name "Emma" for Sprout - a random name, not for anyone - it will mean:

• Three generations of my family will have first names starting with "E": My mother, Elizabeth; myself, Eric; and my daughter, Emma.

• And three generations of Marisa's family will have first names starting with a form of "M": My mother-in-law, Miriam; my wife, Marisa; and our daughter, "Em"-ma.

If we were having a boy, M was fascinated with the name "Stellan," which would have meant she was given an actress whose name her mother liked, and her son would also have the name of an actor whose name his mother liked.

Name graphic from Facebook's "Name Analyzer" Click here to make your own.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Our little alien?

I got to feel Sprout move the other day!

She's been increasingly active, and a couple of nights ago, Marisa excitedly called me over and we lay in bed, watching her stomach, until suddenly, there was a little poke upward, randomly.

We can find Sprout by feeling the hard spot in her tummy, and if you hold your hand there, sometimes you can feel a little push. Of course, sometimes, it's just her pulse or the pulsing umbilical, but sometimes...


I think that night was one of the best days of my life, up there with the wedding, the pregnancy and the first heartbeat and both ultrasounds. This is a wonderful experience, and I hope all of you who want to experience it can.

On the other hand, M has taken to calling our little Em her "little alien," which means I a) worry will give her a complex (but I worry everything will give Daddy's Little Girl a complex); and b) end up thinking of this:

Especially when Sprout pushes her stomach up a little. I told M I hope Emmamunkee won't be chewing her way out of her body, and just arrive the normal way.

Well, as normal as a midwife-led water birth is these days.

Slightly off topic, as nicknames go, which do you prefer:

Emmamunkee (mine)


Emmabean (hers)

Let me know!

Rats, foiled again

You know how I love surveys, right?

Well, last night, I saw I'd missed a call from the Quinnipiac Polls. But they said they'd call back.

So I waited all night. And sure enough, they did. (After 9 PM! The rotters!)

And they said they were polling random residents at random numbers. And they asked for the person whose birthday is next.

That would be Marisa. Who didn't even want to do it, and almost hung up on them before I told her how this is important.

Yeah, on the News Radio I listen to, they always mention the Quinnipiac polls.

So she got to take the poll on the New Jersey governor and his challenger in the next election.

I'm so jealous.

By the way, is it just me, or does Chris Christie look like Raider pariah Mike Lombardi?

Maggie's last spin

Sadly, this is the last season Maggie the Monkey is making her hockey playoff predictions!

Maggie, who is retiring after this 2008-09 postseason, is probably about as accurate as TSN's other "experts," and quite a bit cuter.

One can only hope Maggie enjoys the rest of her days at the Bowmanville Zoo, and TSN finds an equally entertaining replacement.


Monday, April 13, 2009

A strange "sad day"

Three famous people died today, in fairly rapid succession.

Harry Kalas, the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies and NFL Films (post-John Facenda), died in the press box before a game today at age 73.

Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, the eccentric 1976 American League Rookie of the Year, died on his farm in an apparent accident at 54.

And... Marilyn Chambers, the 1970s-era porn star, died in California at 56.

An odd combination, in terms of cultural trivia. Like the late Bob Clark's directing credits.

Condolences to their loved ones, of course.

Random bit of trivia: When my father was in college, he worked for a television station, and the arch-rival station's anchor was... John Facenda.