Friday, August 29, 2008

Griffey '08

It's about that time when people argue which presidential candidate is better. They may feel strongly one way or the other, and if passionate (crazy) enough, volunteer their time or money to the cause.

Take my parents, for example. My mom is on the Obama train and my dad is on the Geezer train. She wants the government to dig everyone out of trouble and he wants to blow shit up. It's a classic Democrat/Republican dispute. Couldn't the parties just plug someone into their system and get the same results, much like the Denver Broncos running game?

I vote for efficiency*. Fueling our cars with ethanol, which requires more energy to be converted into gasoline than it saves in oil, not to mention the effects on food prices and the moral issue of wasting food, isn’t efficient. Neither is refusing to talk to foreign government leaders. Is that pride or arrogance, or childishness? Since when was talking dangerous?

Subsidizing jobs to stay in America when the same work could be done elsewhere for cheaper isn't efficient. Messing with free trade (i.e. the North American Free Trade Agreement), which we all know aggregately has more benefits than detriments, isn't efficient.

More inefficiencies in policy or thinking: Complaining about gas prices when you drive a motorized whale. Blaming oil companies for providing a product the world needs. Not educating our kids so they have the necessary tools in this increasingly global and competitive economy. Spending government funding for bridges that lead to nowhere. Sentencing crack possession exponentially more than cocaine possession. I could keep going.

1996 Griffey for president pinIn 1996, Nike ran a "Ken Griffey, Jr. for President" ad campaign. PepperoniNip and I voted for him in our mock middle school election. Our history teacher got pissed. How is that different than voting for Ross Perot? Fortunately the vote was anonymous.

If anyone can fix the country, it's Griffey. He's got my vote. "Griffey for efficiency." Spread the word.

*Some externalities must be taken into account, as in the case of pollution where we need to embrace inefficiency because of the environmental effects it poses. If we let the market for carbon dioxide emissions regulate itself, then companies would choose the cheapest, and thus dirtiest, form of energy. The future effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide at its current trend are scary as hell.

*

Politicians are full of shit. They play a game to get elected or reelected. They do not what’s best for the country, but what’s best for them. How they really feel about issues means nothing. They say what they think people want to hear. Not only that, but in this silly two-party system candidates are bound by party laws to feel certain ways about many issues, like abortion, war, and taxes.

Even the running mates were chosen to help McCain and Obama get elected, not because Biden and Palin are best fit to be Vice-President. (Isn’t it easy to tell that back in the day Palin was hot?)

I will probably end up voting for Obama. I don’t fear what some politicians would like me to. Instead I fear the increasingly negative view of our country from around the world. It’s just a matter of time before all that hatred boils over in the form of big countries with big weapons doing something drastic. Even though I agree with McCain’s economic policies more so than Obama’s, I think Obama is viewed as more likeable and can better alter the perception of the United States.

What we really need is global marketing to show how generous and accepting our country is. I can head the campaign with my specialty flyers. I promise they won’t have anything to do with nuts.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, August 28, 2008

He'Brew: The Chosen Beer

You know, I am feeling a bit more Messiah-like.Hebrew Messiah Bold beer bottle
The label says it was "Concieved in San Francisco." That must be the new Holy Land. Spread the word.Hebrew Genesis Ale beer bottle

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Hate Snakes

Five years ago, while watching TV in my basement, I felt something fall on me after opening my glasses case. I looked down at my chest and saw a tiny ringneck snake crawling on my sweatshirt. I did the only sensible thing—shriek like the Wicked Witch of the West, scurry out of the room, close the door and wait for my dad to come home. There were two flaws:

  1. Closing the door would not prevent him from crawling underneath if he wanted to.
  2. If he hid in a crevice and my dad couldn’t find him, then I’d never again step foot in my basement, and would likely be forced to move out of the house.
The snake hadn’t moved by the time my dad arrived, who wanted to bring him outside so he could perform his critical role in the ecosystem. I had other plans for the fucker. Because of the heartache the snake caused me, I wanted vengeance and ordered my dad to kill him.

Like the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, I have developed extraordinary courage. Yesterday I saw another ringneck snake in my basement, and instead of waiting for my dad, I took off my sandal and bashed his skull in. “Where you going, Snake? I’ll tell you where. You ain’t goin’ nowhere. Next time don’t fuck with The Benjy.”

So what if I just tough-talked a tiny dead baby ringneck snake?Black ringneck snake on patio deck

Leia Mais…

Monday, August 18, 2008

Road Trippin': The Lost Stories and Photo

Read this first:
Road Trippin': A Picture Story

Two months ago, my friend T2theZ and I went on a road trip to Minnesota. We had goals we wanted to achieve, like eating at Giordano’s in Chicago. We accomplished that one. We also wanted to eat a “Roethlis-burger,” named after Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. I’m sure there are countless variations of this sandwich in the city and some of them must be good. The particular one we declined to eat, however, did not look appealing. It was basically a cheesesteak with several distinctly different ingredients added, like marinara sauce and fries. “Also known as the Heart Attack Special, this succulent sandwich will both harden your arteries and literally put hair on your ass, and you’ll be a better person for it.”

Our complimentary seats for the Pirates game were very close to the field—around 15 rows behind the first base dugout. We joked that if a foul ball was ripped toward us it would be nearly unavoidable. An inning later, an old man two rows ahead with a far worse reaction time than us got pelted on the shoulder. “OUCH!” he screamed an entire second later. He was so old that even his vocal cords had slow reactions. At first I thought how much that had to hurt. Then I wondered, who the hell actually says the word “ouch?”

We were supposed to leave from Pittsburgh to Minneapolis at 3:30 AM with a solid three hours of sleep. The problem was I couldn’t fall asleep, so I got us out earlier instead of wasting my time staring at the ceiling. My only reward, aside from getting hopped up on the energy drink, Nos, was watching my favorite movie, Dumb & Dumber, in the car on T2theZ’s laptop. Of course T2theZ forgot his car adaptor and it shut off with 20 minutes left in the movie. My disappointment was overshadowed by nausea from drinking too much Nos.

We ate dinner at a restaurant where some girls were playing Photo Hunt Erotic and were awful at it. Yet, somehow they had all the top point records. I think that was their MO: suck at Photo Hunt so strapping young men lead them to victory. When T2theZ and I assisted them to the new highest score, I wouldn’t allow them to input their initials like they wanted. We needed our place in history.

We changed our speech to prepare ourselves for Minneapolis. Different pitches of “Ya,” “Oh ya,” and “Ya ya” were common, as well as “Don’t ya know.” We said these phrases so often they became natural. When the lab technician at my clinic said, “It’s a long trip here from Virginia,” I instinctively responded with a very enthusiastic, “Oh yaaa!”

We were told that a message with our names would briefly flash on the jumbo screen in the Metrodome in between the third and fourth innings. We thought we missed it when the birthday and anniversary messages came and went. Luckily we continued to look at the screen in between innings, just in case, and in the sixth it showed it for a full half minute. I really need to meet this Ben Rubenstsein guy.Personal message on Metrodome screen congratulating Ben Rubenstein on cancer-free
We stayed with my friend in Chicago, where just blocks from his apartment, crews were preparing to film Public Enemies with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. Universal Pictures paid stores and restaurants to close so they could transform the street to look like the 1930s. I bumped into Depp and asked if he wanted to get a few beers. He agreed, we got tanked, and he told me all kinds of crazy shit that I’m not supposed to say, although I must share that he called Bale a “Welsh prick who couldn’t fight a pirate even with his bat costume.” But first Depp asked for my autograph. He reads my blog all the time. He loves it.

Joba Chamberlain covered in bugsIt was already dark when we got on line at Cedar Point for Top Thrill Dragster, the roller coaster that shoots you off 120 mph and 420 feet in the air. There were visibly a lot of bugs out, though not as many as Joba Chamberlain saw in the postseason in Cleveland last year. The ride employee kept saying, “Keep your eyes and mouth closed because it’s really buggy up there.” I would eat a swarm of giant cicadas to go on that ride again.

We spent entire segments of the trip searching for specific songs on my XM Radio. By the end of the trip we practically had all the words memorized to Bleeding Love, Pocketful of Sunshine (Remix), and Miley’s See You Again. If you were on the road in late May and saw two 24-year-old males screaming and dancing to Hannah Montana, that was us.

Leia Mais…

Monday, August 11, 2008

Inked

After getting my radiation tattoos seven years ago—six blue dots—I considered getting a more fashionable one. Many cancer patients receive tattoos before radiotherapy to make sure the invisible beams strike only where they need to, and not where they don't, like my nuts, for example. I’d rather not have to change the title of this blog or my book.

I thought about connecting the dots to make a constellation-like figure spanning my lower back and ass. Even I'm not cool enough to get that.

Years later the topic came up with my friend Hamburgers, and I once again considered a new tattoo. A roaring lion or a crouching tiger? A colorful depiction of Rick Astley miming "Never Gonna Give You Up?" The rule is you can only get a tattoo if it's symbolic to you. Although Rick Astley has the greatest music video of all time, that doesn't really count.

video

It's fairly common for breast cancer survivors to get a tattoo like a pink ribbon or a flower, a symbol of their strength and courage. I, too, could get a tattoo to show I'm part of the survivor club. Of course, no gushy shit for me. I'd go with a flaming, bloody tumor and a giant Rambo knife sticking out of it. Maybe "Survivor" in Hebrew would be more fitting.

Then I thought of how some Holocaust survivors had numbers tattooed for identification purposes. I've always hated wearing medical bracelets. I rip them off as soon as possible. How could I get inked voluntarily when those ultimate survivors were branded permanently without a choice? My 20+ inches of medical scarring is proof enough that I'm a survivor.

…Unless a singer comes along who is more breathtaking than Rick Astley.

Related Story: Survivor Tumor Tattoo

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

'Knight' Soars Despite Darkness

The Dark Knight movie posterWhen Heath Ledger passed away in January, my friend said, “I sure hope it doesn’t affect the new Batman movie.” Her insensitive comment had nothing to do with distaste for the late Ledger, but rather her anticipation for The Dark Knight, which is poised to be one of the highest-grossing blockbusters in years.

I was certainly part of the hype, proudly predicting on my blog that it would be one of the 20 best movies of all-time (in other words: that I’ve seen). My family and I got to the IMAX Theater an hour early just to make sure we had the best seats. I bought my popcorn and Coke shortly before entering the auditorium and wouldn’t touch the kernels until I was situated properly. I was ready for the extravaganza.

It started with intensity that never once let up, with the opening scene and a couple others taking advantage of the six-story-tall screen. Of course, Ledger, as the joker, stole the show with as brilliant an acting performance as I’ve seen since Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow in the original Pirates. His body language alone was creepy: his eyes, accentuated by the makeup, seemed to display what he was thinking without his head moving. And his tongue moved obsessively, as if he needed taste to stimulate his senses to keep sane.

If you add his voice, Ledger was downright scary. He gave two different accounts of how he got his facial scars, making you wonder if either was true, each time delivering the line “Why so serious?” His voice was nothing like how I remembered it from 10 Things I Hate About You. I kept trying to visualize Ledger underneath the makeup, but I couldn’t do it. If I hadn’t known it was him, I wouldn’t have believed it. He was a sociopath, and a fairly likeable one that you almost feel sorry for.

The rest of the star-studded cast wasn’t bad either, including Maggie Gyllenhaal who replaced Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes. I presume Warner Bros. didn’t want anything to do with Tom Cruise’s negative publicity.

The action scenes were superb, with car chases, explosions, exploding car chases, and one very long free fall, but the twists and turns at the end of the movie were even better. I found myself forgetting I still had some popcorn left to eat. It was a darkly written and perplexing plot that has you wondering who to root for. It didn’t follow the traditional guidelines for most movies—namely a singular climax with fairly transparent characters—but ultimately that didn’t matter much. The film kept building on itself until it ends and you’re left with a buttery hand and a not-yet-full stomach. You certainly don’t realize 2.5 hours have passed, and you’d rather the movie not end.

I suggest eating your popcorn quickly because at some point you’ll be afraid your chomping will make you miss something. The Dark Knight is a can’t-miss; the best movie of the summer and probably the year. Although I can’t name 20 movies I enjoyed more, I won’t claim it to be one of my all-time favorites. However, after I see it a second time, maybe I will.

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