Thursday, September 30, 2010

There's Nothing Fake About Real Time with Bill Maher

With the election about a month away it’s time for people to start focusing on the issues and those running to either implement them or obstruct them. Or just pose for pictures in front of the flag and get their mug on TV. Everyone runs for different reasons.

The best way for people to understand their candidates is go see them at rallies and town halls. But since most people have jobs and can’t take the time to meet the candidates, they turn to other mediums to learn about their choices. One of these choices is cable news. However, if you want to learn something good about a Democrat and watch FOX News, you’ll be watching until 2011. Conversely, if you want to see a positive stance on a Republican candidate and watch MSNBC, Reagan will come back from the dead first. The point here is cable news is a waste of time and nothing more than each of the main political parties using a cable channel to tell them they’re pretty.

If you want the chance to see several points of view, in a mature and adult setting, with the occasional curse word thrown in, tune in to Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO.

I don’t agree with Maher on many of his political stances, but I find the show very informative and entertaining. Even though he is basically a liberal, he is at least open to hearing the opposing view without shouting it down. For example, in the height of the Iraq War I remember Maher being willing to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt in bringing democracy to the country even though he disagreed with going to war in the first place. Not many liberals were as open-minded. For example, the former ESPN employee on MSNBC has as many Republicans on his show as I do, and I don’t have a show. Yet.

Real Time starts off with a monologue by Maher. After a few yucks, Bill interviews someone for about ten minutes. These guests range from senators to activists to actors. There’s not much humor in this part of the show, but I don’t think there’s supposed to be.

Then we meet the panel. Usually made up of three guests, Bill’s panelists discuss the issues of the day. Almost without fail there is a very liberal Hollywood personality who doesn’t listen to reason (cough… Janeane Garofalo…cough). There’s also a conservative voice on the show, but often they are of the kind that doesn’t serve the conservative movement well, which in today’s conservative movement is most of them. The third panelist is often an academic or journalist with somewhat mainstream ideals to offer a nice balance between the other extremes. This type of person is also known as an independent voter, or the part of the country that votes the least.

My biggest complaint with the show is with the live audience. It is made up of some of the most partisan liberals you’ll ever come across. There are less liberals at a Code Pink rally. They cheer at every point made by a Democrat and boo/hiss at the conservative point of view. The great Christopher Hitchens said it best regarding the Real Time crowd. Bill Maher is famously not religious and he makes very valid arguments as to why he isn’t. Every time he makes an anti-religion comment the audience claps like they’re at a revival. I would bet dollars to donuts that at least 90% of the crowd who claps for these sentiments celebrates Christmas.

After the panel is through dissecting the issues of the day, Bill closes his show with New Rules, a series of jokes and punchlines that target people and subjects that usually deserve it.

Since New Rules are my favorite part of the show I’m going to give my own version a shot. My apologies in advance to Bill Maher for butchering his gift to cable TV. Without further ado:
 
New Rule: You can’t constantly harp on mainstream media being liberal when you are the #1 watched network and decidedly not liberal. FOX News constantly blabbers on and on about the mainstream media being a leftist group. Then in the next breath they brag about having all the top shows on cable. If you are watched by the most people, by definition you are mainstream. Harry Potter isn’t an indie film and Bruce Springsteen doesn’t play in dive bars. By this rationale, FOX News is mainstream media. And full of shit too.

New Rule: If you call someone a partisan hack on your TV show, you yourself can’t be a partisan hack. Recently Chris Matthews, the same guy who has an orgasm at the mention of Obama’s name, called Pat Buchanan a partisan for saying he’d prefer 100 Sharon Angles in the Senate instead of 100 Harry Reids. Chris, he’s a Republican and Harry Reid is one of the anti-christs to them. What do you think he’s going to say? “Well Chris Sharon Angle is as bat-shit crazy as you are annoying and I’m going to support Reid?” Get your inflated liberal head out of your ass and go jerk off to the Obama campaign poster over your bed.

New Rule: You can’t be considered presidential material if you refuse to give interviews to anyone who doesn’t pay your salary. Newsflash, being president is a tough job. You can’t just take your ball and go home. Difficult decisions need to be made on a constant basis and if you can’t handle a question from The New York Times how the hell will you be able to deal with the hard choices. You know, like when to cut your Vice President’s mic.

And finally, New Rule:  You can’t say you represent everything the Founding Fathers hoped for in the country when if the Founding Fathers were here today they would laugh their asses off at you while you called them elitist secularists who had the same family values Tiger Woods. There’s a growing anti-intelligence movement in this country, fueled by the Tea Party and others on the Right. This is the same group who constantly talks about how the Founding Fathers did not plan on the country being run the way it currently is. If they’re referring to a black man in charge, then yes they’re right. Well, the Founders might have been ok with Obama controlling 3/5 of the Oval Office.

If Jim DeMint, Christine O’Donnell, Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck actually knew what the Founding Fathers stood for they wouldn’t rally behind them. They’d call them gay for wearing wigs and stockings. The Founders represent everything the Tea Partiers hate. Education? Thomas Jefferson founded a college. And a good one too. Technology? Ben Franklin invented lightning rods, bi-focals, fire companies, and odometers among many more things. Oh, he also founded several newspapers. Something else a lot of today’s “just-like-me” politicians wouldn’t recognize except for when they pass the time playing with Silly Putty. Speaking of Ben Franklin, the guy got more ass than a toilet seat. And not from his wife. Let’s not forget the Founders studied Greek and Roman history as the basis for the new country they formed. But Greece and Rome are in Europe, so who needs to listen to those pussies, am I right?

Buy hey, things could be worse. We could have candidates who distort speeches that seriously compare their opponents to the people we are fighting against overseas to keep our way of life intact.

Oh. My bad. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go listen to old tapes of Tim Russert and cry myself to sleep.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Share a Moon Landing With Your Couch and Watch Modern Family

It’s tough to be the best at something. Many try but only a handful succeed. Abraham Lincoln is considered the best president we’ve ever had, although he probably wasn’t trying for that mantle when he was in office as restoring the Union was a little more important. Michael Jordan is the best basketball player to lace them up, but converse to Lincoln, he was actually trying to achieve that title. And of course Daniel-san was the best at karate, but only because Joe Esposito sang a song about it.

I am prone to say a day of the week is the best for TV watching (Thursday). I also like to say what is not the best aspect of TV (Jim Parsons’s Emmy win). Today I’m going to use this space to lay claim to what I believe is the best show on TV, ABC’s Modern Family.

The main reason this show is the best on television is it is as funny as it intends to be. How people watch garbage like The Big Bang Theory and laugh is beyond me. It’s not funny. Nor was According to Jim or Dharma and Greg, but those shows lasted for years while Arrested Development had to beg to stay on air. Where’s the justice? I bet Lincoln wouldn’t have gone for that.

One way you know the show is funny, aside from the dead giveaway of your own laughter, is you laugh without the coercion of a laugh track. Fortunately this technique is going the way of the dinosaur, but some shows that aren’t as secure in their humor still use them. Most of these shows can be found on CBS. For a show like The Big Bang Theory that runs a laugh track on scenes that aren’t funny, the viewers are so confused why they should be laughing that they might miss the one funny line in the show because they’ve disregarded the opinion of the laugh track. A laugh track is nothing more than the networks trying to tell you when to laugh. Well Mr. Network I’ll laugh when I want to laugh. And it won’t be during a scene like this (warranted Emmy my ass).

Not only is Modern Family funny as a whole, but every character is worth their screen time. Even the least appealing characters bring their own value to the scenes they are in. For what it’s worth I think the Dunphy kids are said characters, but they’d be the top attraction on Rules of Engagement, and David Spade might try to date the oldest one.

Phil and Cameron, along with Jack Donaghy and Larry David, are the four funniest characters on comedy shows. Everything Phil and Cameron say is funny. This is a tribute to both the actors for capturing what the writers create and to the writers for creating characters that are so appealing. Manny is close to the Phil-Cam level, but only because he’s a 40 year old man stuck in an adolescent’s body. He’s like an Hispanic Josh Baskins with a hotter mom.

Aside from the humor the show provides, another thing that makes the show great is it is a believable comedy. There is no fat guy with a knock-out wife. There aren’t six twenty-somethings living in a major city with shitty jobs but kick-ass apartments. This is part of what made Seinfeld and Cheers so great. Everyone sits around with their friends talking about nothing. The cast of Modern Family is reflective of the current American society. Jay, Gloria, Manny, The Dunphys, Cameron and Mitchell all represent divorce, remarriage, step-children, adoption, gay couples, stressed out moms, naïve dads, and kids being kids. Show me one family in America that doesn’t have at least some of those qualities in their own life and I’ll show you a liar. Or maybe two.

Finally, and not that I would suggest this, but if you miss a week of Modern Family you don’t mail in the season. Shows like 24, Lost, and others require a weekly commitment. Look, most of us have things to do and times come up where an episode needs to be missed. Miss a week of 24 and you might as well have never turned it on. But if you need a Jack Bauer fix, if you pay him enough, maybe Kiefer Sutherland will come and yell at you for your busy life. Just make sure you have a step-ladder and an ignition interlock system.

“Tell me where you were!”
/shoots you in the calf
“I said tell me where you were!”

“I had to take my kids to their hockey game. Jesus Christ you didn’t have to shoot me you psychopath!”

“I’m sorry. I get carried away. I just hate to see people miss Modern Family.”

See, even Jack Bauer watches it. And so should you.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ambassador Kenny Powers: Season 2 Preview of Eastbound & Down

Sunday is challenging Thursday for the best TV-watching day of the week. Sunday morning you have your choice of political talk shows to watch how representatives from both sides of the aisle talk out of both sides of their mouths. Once they finish, the NFL begins.

If spending 7 hours parked on the couch watching football is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. Finally, if the Sunday night NFL game isn’t for your liking (and really, how can the Jets-Dolphins snoozer be), HBO provides more than ample programming to keep you glued to the television.

A show that is worth dropping the $14/month that HBO costs, premieres its second season this Sunday at 10:30, and runs for 7 weeks on the reg, is Eastbound & Down.

For those not lucky enough to see season one, Eastbound & Down is the story of retired (though not by choice) major league pitcher Kenny Powers. Kenny burst onto the national scene as a hard-throwing, even harder-partying, bigoted, drug using, steroid-abusing, womanizing reliever whose ego grew to the size of Barry Bonds’s head. This attitude was tolerated as long as he was throwing darts, but when his fastball became more of a changeup Kenny ended up out of baseball.

Kenny didn’t have a smart retirement plan for all his millions. Just like part of the title of his autobiography, he was “fucking out” of money. He found himself down on his luck and forced to move in with his brother and his family in Shelby County, North Carolina. Kenny was living with his brother, sister-in-law and their three young children. Is there a better role model for impressionable youth to live with? All kids are eventually pressured to swear, smoke, drink, and fight. Isn’t it better they learn it at home, like Bing Crosby’s kids did?

Kenny’s goal in season one was to make it back to the big leagues. While waiting for his arm to get in line with that dream, Kenny passed the time as a substitute gym teacher at Jefferson Davis Middle School. Isn’t it time for places in the South to stop being named for people who led a rebellion against the country? I’m pretty sure in England there are no George Washington or Alexander Hamilton high schools. Plus they never dressed in drag to avoid capture.

It turned out the object of Kenny’s desire, April, also taught at Jeff Davis. April and Kenny had a history that went back to high school. She’s the one woman who Kenny gets butterflies for. Unfortunately for Kenny, April was engaged to the principal of the school. Fortunately for Kenny, April’s fiancé couldn’t compete with Kenny’s bravado and they shared an intimate encounter at April’s house. More unfortunately for Kenny was when they did get together, he finished before it ever got started, if you catch my drift. This quick start embarrassed Kenny and he let his feeling be known on the subject. To which I quote, “I’m super super sad….I’ve been stripped of all my god given talents…including the talents to be able to have sex with any woman I choose, to throw a fuckin’ ball fast, or to not prematurely cum in my pants. Sometimes I just don’t even know which one hurts the most.”

The man should write for Hallmark.

Just like how Batman had Robin, Martin had Lewis, Thelma had Louise and Sacco had Vanzetti, Kenny has Stevie. Stevie Janowski was a teacher at Jefferson Davis, went to school with Kenny, and idolized him his whole life. Once Kenny returned to Shelby County, Stevie’s life improved greatly. That is if you consider emulating the archetype of an asshole an improvement. In Stevie’s case it probably was. Hanging out with Kenny gave Stevie confidence he never had before. Granted it was confidence to go shirtless at a party and openly display steroids in public, but confidence nonetheless.

Another person who capitalized on Kenny Powers’s return to the Tar Heel state was Ashley Schaeffer, he of Ashley Schaeffer BMW. Ashley Schaeffer is part Nature Boy Ric Flair and part Will Ferrell. Well, he’s mostly Will Ferrell since that’s who plays him. Ashley Schaeffer owns the car dealership that serves as the setting for numerous memorable scenes from season one. What other car dealership can you go to where if you’re a man and hesitant about buying a car, a saleswoman will give you a handjob with her mouth? Or if you’re a woman with the same caution to buy, a salesman will finger you with his penis? And people say the South is conservative.

This season involves Kenny Powers playing baseball in Mexico. He also dumps his 80’s style mullet for a more early ‘00s style cornrows. What could go wrong for a guy with loose morals in a country where college kids go each spring because the U.S. bars aren’t as forgiving on underage drinking and bathroom sex?

On Sunday at 10:30 we’ll all find out. Are you fucking in?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dancing With a Couple of Stars and Some Throw-ins

Reality television is a very diverse genre. There are shows about housewives, dating, rebuilding homes, trying to be a stand-up comedian, and selling antiques, among many more. For all its differences, there is one common theme among reality shows, in particular successful ones – and that is the show’s producers, networks, and stars try to cram in as many seasons into a year as possible. On Monday night ABC proves this point by premiering its 11th season of Dancing with the Stars.

Dancing with the Stars debuted in America in 2005. It was taken mostly in part from a British show called Strictly Come Dancing. Taking things from the British is becoming a common theme in American television. The Office, Dancing with the Stars, America’s Got Talent, and others are examples of this. Thankfully when The Benny Hill Show was on no one replaced Benny. What other fifty year old man could have pulled off wearing a sailor’s cap while chasing a bevy of girls around his house to the tune of Yakety Sax?

Prior celebrities that have done well on DWTS include athletes, models, singers and the guy who played J. Peterman. This year’s cast is a diverse one. Some have dancing experience, some athletic success, and some are entertainers. The most diverse aspect about the cast is some of them aren’t even stars. Let’s breakdown the cast the best way I know how, with sarcastic comments and very little research. At the end I’ll pick my winner, which should be given the same credence as the guy who approved that Dewey headline in 1948.

Audrina Patridge: Here is the first example of someone who ABC considers a star but is far from it. Her only real talent is moving into the right apartment complex at the right time so she could be spotted by an MTV casting director. However, Audrina brings certain qualities to the show that others do not. My guess is she does pretty well since she’s young, in great shape and dresses in a way that makes Kelly Bundy look like Amish.

Brandy Norwood: Brandy should do well since she is a singer and I assume a decent dancer since artists of her genre (crappy pop music that is usually lip-synched so they can dance) usually are. However, Brandy’s partner should be concerned that she'll have flashbacks to a deadly accident that she was in a few years ago, stop paying attention to her steps, run into other couples and then say the experience changed her life for the better. To which I ask - someone died because she didn’t pay attention to stopped traffic and she’s in a better place because of it? How noble of her. Too bad that better place isn’t prison. I hope she’s the first one eliminated so she can return to her better life.

Bristol Palin: Anyone who decides to have sex with a guy who thinks a normal career path is high school hockey player, Playgirl, then mayor has to have a few judgment issues. I don’t blame Bristol for selling her engagement pictures to tabloids, appearing on TV shows as a voice for abstinence, and dancing with a few minor celebrities. She has a small window to quit whatever job she has to exploit herself and make as much money as possible. It runs in the family.

David Hasselhoff: What can I say about The Hoff that I didn’t say here? After seeing that roast it is very evident The Hoff is well past his prime. I’m pretty sure he was wearing a plastic tuxedo. Take it from someone who only danced when he was drunk, it doesn’t make you better. There’s a better chance The Hoff makes a move on his partner mid-step because in his drunken state he thought she was giving him signs than him making it to the finals.

Florence Henderson: Mrs. Brady is on the cast this season. She was the wet dream for a lot of teenagers in the 1970s-80s. She’s up there in years now but she still looks the best of all the Brady girls. Plus I’m pretty sure she never traded sex for drugs.

Jennifer Grey: Here’s the odds-on favorite to win. Patrick Swayze taught her to dance in the Catskills. I bet the fat guy from Roadhouse can still kick ass like Swayze taught him to. We all know Keanu Reeves learned his football moves in The Replacements from his time with Swayze playing beach football in Point Break. Don’t break the streak Jennifer Grey, don’t break the streak.

Kurt Warner: If Jesus wants Kurt to win, then he’ll win. But I think Jesus knows better than to put all his eggs in the basket of a 39 year old former quarterback who took more hits to his head than Rocky, and Rocky never defended his head in a fight. What would Jesus do? Jesus would bet on someone else to win.

Kyle Massey: Who?

Margaret Cho: Comedians never do well on this show. Jeffrey Ross is known to be one of the worst contestants in the show’s history, which was great because he was able to come back and roast the finalists. I don’t see Margaret Cho changing this trend. Someone who spends her time fighting for as many causes as she does doesn’t have time to work on dance steps. Except for Benjamin Franklin, whose nickname at the Continental Congress was Happy Feet.

Michael Bolton: This guy is going to do well. He was a crooner who wrote songs people probably used as first dances at their wedding. Talk about regrets. Plus Bolton was able to grow not only a mullet, but a curly one with a receding hairline. Yet women still swooned over him. In my single days I tried almost everything under the sun to improve myself with the ladies, but never the balding mullet. Now that I’m married, and have a hairline taking the same path as the French in WWII, I wonder if my wife would find me even more irresistible with “The Bolton”. There’s only one way to find out. Nurse, get my crinkling iron!

Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino: After Brandy Norwood, this is the person I’m hoping gets eliminated the fastest. I’ve written about what a two-faced chump The Situation is here. Since that time I’ve seen The Situation steal another one of Vinny’s girls, basically tattle on Angelina’s antics to the guy she’s seeing and do everything he could to make Pauly D’s night of intimacy with some girl as uncomfortable as possible. How has no one challenged him on these obvious details? It’s like he just won the Delaware Republican nomination for the Senate or something.

Rick Fox: Rick Fox should do well in this contest. He spent years having sex with Vanessa Williams. There are ways to practice your hip movements and there are WAYS TO PRACTICE YOUR HIP MOVEMENTS. Like a dumbass he left Vanessa Williams, so there’s always the possibility he’ll try to switch partners midway through the competition.

The three contestants I think will be there at the end are Jennifer Gray, Rick Fox and Michael Bolton, with Jennifer Gray taking the top prize.

And if she doesn’t, there’s a corner Jerry Orbach’s ghost is going to put her in.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Finally...The League Has Come Back...To Thursdays

Just how last Thursday marked the beginning of the NFL season, this Thursday is the debut of another long-awaited return that focuses on the pigskin. Of course the show I’m referring to is FXs The League.

Football fans waited a grueling 7 months for the NFL to begin, but we’ve been waiting an even longer 9 months for The League to resume. For the most part, Jersey Shore aside, Thursdays at 10:30 have been relegated to channel surfing, hoping to find a decent re-run of Seinfeld, Family Guy or Always Sunny in Philadelphia to hold me over until The Daily Show starts. However, I do all I can to skip over Bravo because watching The Real Housewives of DC , even if only for a minute, is like reading the story of Billy Mumphrey in your neighbor’s apartment that’s filled with toxic gas.

One of the best parts of The League is how it emulates the life of its target audience, that golden demographic of 18-34 year olds. There aren’t many shows that successfully pull this off.

Friends had 6 people living in New York with the combined income of $100,000 (two of whom didn’t have steady jobs at all for a long time and another who occasionally gave someone a massage), yet all had great places to live and never seemed at a loss for money other than one episode where it was an issue. Entourage is a story of 4 friends that remain loyal to each other but one is a movie star – not likely unless you graduated from West Beverly High. How I Met Your Mother shows a married couple not breaking stride with their single friends and keeping the exact same social life after their nuptials. Plus they tolerate Ted. Talk about a stretch.

The League focuses on a group of friends who play in a fantasy football league together. Just like most leagues, some of the guys are married, some are single, some have money, some hate their jobs, and so on. The common denominator is they all love football and talking as much trash to, and about each other, as possible. One of the better parts in The League is one guy gets taken to the wood shed by his wife over his football moves. Going back to How I Met Your Mother, Lilly wishes she was that cool, and probably so does Marshall.

The only real flaw I see in The League compared to my group of friends and our fantasy leagues is the number of people in it, but the show can’t have 10 main characters. They don’t live with Coach Lubbock after all.

While the show focuses on fantasy football, it also focuses on the lives on these guys. If a woman wants to see what living with a guy who plays fantasy football is like, she just needs to watch The League. Then figure out which one she is dating. To make it easier on the female readers out there, here is a little info on each of the main characters.

Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi) is married, has a kid and is in a way like a younger Phil Dunphy – the husband every guy strives to be. His team is secretly co-managed by his wife Jenny, a woman who takes being cool to a whole other level by looking the other way on some of Kevin’s actions, like watching porn on the treadmill.

Pete (Mark Duplass) is divorced, does pretty well with the ladies and even better in the fantasy league as a multiple time winner. He’s a pretty normal guy. He’s quick with a joke, or to light up your smoke, but it always seems that there’s someplace that he’d rather be (like trying to trade rape his league mates).

Taco (Jon Lajoie) is like Kramer – he comes and goes without any real direction, mooches off his friends, you don’t really know what he does for money and yet he seems to always land on his feet. Or in bed with someone. He’s quite the cad. But when it comes right down to it, he’s a just a regular everyday normal guy.

Andre (Paul Scheer) is a plastic surgeon who moonlights as the doormat for his friends’ jokes. He gets made fun of the most and takes it without any sort of incident, just a lot of whining. Imagine Jon Cryer’s character from Two and Half Men, but funny. Andre got the last laugh when he took home what all the guys wanted, Shiva - the beautiful girl they went to high school with. Oh yeah, he won the league title too.

Ruxin (Nick Kroll) is the alpha male of the group. He hates being married, seems to hate his job which he’ll use to wield influence in any way possible and dishes out the most abusive comments about his friends. He’ll lie to his friends’ face and use questionable tactics to get ahead in the standings, like visiting a nine year old after dark for fantasy advice.

As we all know, playing fantasy football requires no skill, talent or real knowledge of the game. Anyone who recommended playing Jerome Harrison or sitting Hakeem Nicks this past weekend is proof of that. I even wrote about how luck-based fantasy football is here.

However, writing a show about fantasy football, and getting people to actually laugh during it, takes talent, humor and skill. It isn’t lucky at all. The only lucky ones are us, the viewers, that The League is back for another season.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The VMAs are DOA

The Video Music Awards or VMAs, were aired Sunday night on MTV. Everyone knows MTV really doesn’t play videos anymore, but it needs to be said again that them hosting this kind of award show is like the Detroit Lions honoring football excellence, Ashton Kutcher rewarding good movies, or MSNBC awarding objective journalism. It should also be noted that an award show honoring music videos (the original purpose of MTV) is in its own right, pretty narcissistic. It would be like the Kardashians getting together and giving awards to themselves for best Kardashian in a number of different categories. Biggest Mooch off a Kardashian, and the winner is – Brody Jenner…come on up and get your golden sex tape.

The 2010 version was hosted by Chelsea Handler, who I wrote about my admiration of here. Chelsea is one of the better comedians going these days and her late night show is excellent. At first I wasn’t sure why she’d attach her name to something as vapid and useless as the MTV Video Awards. Then I thought about it a bit. Why wouldn’t she do it? I’m sure she got paid to host the event. Money is always nice, regardless of how many movies Michael Moore makes trying to convince us of the opposite. Plus she’s very good at making fun of people; just watch her show for a few minutes. I say that as a compliment and not a detriment. What better opportunity is there to rip on the likes of Lady Gaga and Kanye West than hosting a show they will be at? It’s a blank check on insults. Only the judge presiding over Lindsay Lohan’s criminal issues has a better opportunity to put oblivious celebrities in their place.

Full disclosure should be revealed here. I used to like the VMAs. This was back when videos were shot with nothing more than what seemed like a hand held camcorder. The set looked like a room in someone’s house or rented office space. There weren’t a lot of props and sometimes the video was just a clip from a concert. Hot For The Teacher, Walk This Way, We’re Not Gonna Take It and of course one of the all-time most ridiculous videos, Separate Ways, are just a few examples.

I watched the VMAs to see if my favorite bands would win, but I’d also watch to see some of my favorite comics and entertainers as well. People don’t remember who won Best Video in 1992, but they do remember this. Nor do they recall who won anything in 1989, but this got a comic banned from MTV. In hindsight it’s pretty funny MTV banned Dice for saying a few curse words, but now their shows have more sex on them than Cinemax.

Perhaps it’s part of me getting older and longing for the days of better music and more talent. But back when the VMAs started the show wasn’t an extravagant affair and the musicians who won actually were good at doing something other than lip-synching. I listen to a lot of classic rock on the radio. This is for a few reasons. Obviously one reason is because the music on there is from my younger days and before and I grew up listening to it. However, another reason is because most of the new artists today are terrible. Does anyone really think in 20 years we’ll be listening to The Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry or Justin Bieber on classic rock stations? I don’t.

Then again, in 20 years I’ll probably be happy just tuning in to the oldies channel.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Situation With The Situation

When I was a kid I watched WWF (now WWE) religiously. My favorite wrestler was, of course, Hulk Hogan (who I roasted here). One of his best friends at the time was Paul Orndorff aka Mr. Wonderful. One of my most distinct memories of wrestling was when Hulk Hogan was getting destroyed by King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd during tag team match. Paul Orndorff jumped in and cleared house, coming to Hulk’s rescue. As Hulk was helped to his feet, Mr. Wonderful raised Hulk’s arm in the air like a ref does the winner of a match. Then, without warning, Mr. Wonderful clotheslined Hulk and proceeded to beat his ass like the SEC does to Ohio State in BCS bowl games.

The point of this story isn’t just a trip down memory lane, but more so an example of how someone the public thinks is one thing, is in actuality the complete opposite. The parallels between Paul Orndorff and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino are more than just a fake tan and false sense of entitlement.

Just how Paul Orndorff will always be the ultimate wrestling heel to me, The Situation will always be one of the most two-faced reality personalities, which is saying something given the high level of horrible people who have agreed to have their lives recorded for a TV show.

There are three examples that come to mind when describing how much of a paper tiger The Situation really is.

Atlantic City
On a trip to Atlantic City in season one, the cast took in the sites and sounds of the Las Vegas of the East Coast. The guys were at a club when Vinny made the acquaintance of young lady. They exchanged pleasantries and some spit. Then Vinny had to go to the bathroom. In steps everyone’s best friend and all-around good guy, The Situation, to look after the girl. When Vinny got back there’s Sitch doing what he does best, screwing over his purported friend by getting sloppy seconds. What kind of a friend does this? Not to mention it’s kind of disgusting to put your tongue somewhere your buddy just had his. I wonder if Vinny put down a popsicle if The Situation would pick it up and eat it.

The Letter
Season two’s biggest drama centers around a letter written to Sammi about Ronnie and his wandering head at nightclubs – that is it somehow seems to wander in between a nice pair of South Beach’s finest examples of plastic surgery. As viewers we know Snooki and JWoww authored the note (side note – this is probably the only time you’ll see JWoww, Snookie and author in the same sentence). Sammi didn’t know who wrote it and asked The Situation about it. Instead of covering for his friend, like Vinny and Pauly D did, his reaction was basically “yeah that’s true”. When he realized he gave Ronnie up he tried to correct himself by saying something like “if it’s on paper then it’s true”. Well if all it takes is for something to be written to be true then I guess The National Enquirer is on the same level as a New York Times reporter and Mitch Albom. OK, bad examples. His Benedict Arnold act gets worse because a few days (or hours, weeks, months - who knows with MTV’s editing) later The Situation again told Sammi the letter was true and then detailed what kind of girls Ronnie was hitting on. How does Ronnie not want to beat him back to Seaside? If there was one person on that show I would lie to anyone for in order to keep my organs inside my body, it’s Ronnie - the guy loves to punch people in the face (although JWoww is a close 2nd).

Snooki Punch
The third and most egregious example of The Situation being a coward is when Snooki got decked by the archetype of a meathead. If you remember, she was standing at the bar yelling at the guy. The Situation was next to them (as pictured above). The guy connected on Snooki and The Situation essentially did everything other than Chris Tucker’s move in Friday. He was closest to the guy and did nothing. The other roommates chased the puncher out into the street and were ready to beat him like a red-headed stepchild, but not Sitch. Instead of The Situation, he should be called The Bitchuation.

Yet he makes $5,000,000 a year, appears on Dancing with the Stars (looks like “stars” has a looser definition these days than “qualified” does for public office), hosts club events and is “writing” his autobiography. I wish he hired me to help write his autobiography. Here is all you need to know about Mike Sorrentino.

One day I decided to do crunches and lay under a heat lamp. I came up with a nickname for myself after watching Wolf Blitzer - Yo that cat knows the news. MTV wanted some paisans for a reality show. Even though I cook, clean and do laundry, something no old-school Italian men do, they picked me. The End.

The Situation needs to be called out. This baseless infatuation America has with him must end. He's ruining a perfectly good guilty pleasure television program. Friends don’t do what he does to each other. He is all about himself and no one else. Yet Pauly D and Vinny are right there calling him their boy, part of team MVP. I’m waiting for the clothesline Mr. Wonderful gave Hulk Hogan to make a repeat performance on Jersey Shore.

And we all know JWoww is going to be the one to deliver it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

2nd Verse Same as the First - NFL Preview Part II

To see Part I of my 2010 NFL Preview, click here.

There’s no time for pleasantries, let’s get right to the action.

AFC East
New York Jets (11-5): The Jets are coached by Rex Ryan, who is the embodiment of a football coach. He is larger than life, swears more than Richard Pryor, installs confidence in his team, runs a smash mouth system that runs the ball on offense and beats the shit out of you on defense. He is a wet dream for journalists because he has no filter. His players love him and his opponents hate him. He is a master motivator. If Rex Ryan was in charge of the South, we’d be speaking Foxworthy and disavowing evolution today.

New England Patriots (9-7): Tom Brady’s back and his knee is a year stronger. Blah, blah, blah. Tom Brady hasn’t won anything in six years. Ever since he started dating Gisele he’s become an LA or New York guy. He must hate living in Boston where it is winter from October to May, the closest beach is next to a dog track and one of their nicest museums is where Paul Revere is buried. The constant scrutiny of the Massholes who turn on him as soon as he says hello to Kobe Bryant or wears a Yankees hat must really make him feel loved. Not to mention his receiving corp has about as much diversity as Brookline. The bottom line is they’re old, have no running game and are coached by a guy who makes Ben Stein sound interesting.

Miami Dolphins (8-8): Ronnie Brown will get hurt, Brandon Marshall will wear out his welcome and Ricky Williams will either run for 1200 yards or leave the team to work for Seth and Munchie's Garden Blast. The Dolphins also run the Wildcat offense. Would you believe me if I said the formation is loosely based off of Goldie Hawn’s offensive scheme at Central High School? Here’s hoping Bird Williams makes a cameo in South Beach this year.

Buffalo Bills (2-14): This will be the worst team in the league, which is too bad because it seems every year the team gets closer to moving to Toronto, which isn’t even something liberals threaten to do anymore.

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens (12-4): I am drinking the Kool-Aid on the Ravens this year. Their quarterback is ready to make the jump into a Pro Bowl caliber passer. They have one of the most multi-dimensional running backs in the game. They acquired a tough-as-nails wideout in the offseason. Plus they have the kid from The Blind Side on their offensive line. Not to mention Ray Lewis, T-Suggs, Ed Reed and the fellas are back on defense. Those guys are so nasty Marlo Stanfield wouldn’t cross them with Avon Barksdale’s gat.

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6): With the suspension of No Means Ben for the first four to six weeks, the Steelers will be hard pressed to continue their usual level of success. Since this team has been to the playoffs with slingers like Tommy Maddox and Kordell Stewart, they should be fine in #7’s absence. Not to mention Troy Polamalu is back and when he isn’t making shampoo commercials can single-handedly change the course of a game from the safety position. Another year of not making the playoffs would make Steeler Nation a bunch of shut-ins. That is until they realized there are a lot of other things to do, mostly because none of them live in Pittsburgh anymore.

Cincinnati Bengals (7-9): Last year’s surprise is this year’s let down. Their quarterback is an injury waiting to happen. Their running back likes to be in mug shots as much as he does the end zone. They have two wide receivers who combined are almost 70 years old. For whatever reason, the Bengals like to give money to players with questionable character. PacMan Jones, Matt Jones, and Tank Johnson are just a few examples. It’s like the city of Cincinnati ran out of half-way houses and the Bengals volunteered their locker room.

Cleveland Browns (6-10): The Browns finished strong last season, winning four in a row to cap off 2009. Normally a franchise would use this as a spring board to the next season. Instead of doing that the Browns signed Jake Delhomme, who has this reaction on every time he throws the ball. Hasn’t Cleveland suffered enough? Apparently not according to the Browns front office.

AFC South
Indianapolis Colts (10-6): I think this will be the year the Peyton train starts to come off the tracks a bit. They’ve won at least 12 games for seven years in a row, which is a testament to their consistency. In that time they’ve won one title and lost another. Peyton Manning is an all-time great, but he is a little too quick to blame others for his own wrongs. For example, the interception he threw in last year’s Super Bowl was blamed on the wide receiver. I guess it is the wide receiver’s fault for throwing it right into Tracy Porter’s hands. At least that’s the excuse the Monday Night Football crew would use as soon as they got Peyton’s Manning out of their mouths.

Houston Texans (9-7): This team can move the ball up and down the field. Unfortunately their defense tends to let the opposing offenses do the same. The playoffs have been a long-time coming for this franchise. If it doesn’t happen this year Gary Kubiak can start looking in the classifieds in 2011. Just like the Congressional Democrats.

Tennessee Titans (8-8): Last season the team started off 0-6 and finished 8-8 after common sense re-appeared to coach Jeff Fisher and he benched a quarterback who was drafted the year I graduated from high school. Chris Johnson ran for 2,000 yards and it could have been more if his first few games weren’t so sluggish. The problem with the Titans is they play ball control offense which lends itself towards close games. There will be a few times when Vince Young needs to win games with his arm. It remains to be seen how successful he can be at that.

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12): The AFC South is a tough division to play in. Someone needs to be the doormat of the South and since General Sherman torched his way to Savannah, why not take the city closest to it. The Jags are a one-man team in Maurice Jones-Drew. Given some reports out of Jags camp he might be a one-knee man, not the best sign for success. Then again lots of teams have gone on to do many things relying on injured players – like pick first in the draft.

AFC West
San Diego Chargers (11-5): Despite a few big ticket holdouts, the Chargers will benefit from playing in the AFC West, where they should go at worst 5-1. There are numerous examples of players holding out or not wanting to play in San Diego. I’ve lived on the East Coast my whole life and one of the best weeks of my life was when I visited San Diego. Every winter I threaten to move there without a job or any knowledge of the economy there. These players get paid to play a sport AND live in San Diego. That's like discovering plutonium, by accident.

Kansas City Chiefs (8-8): This might be the most preposterous pick of the entire preview. The Chiefs have been horrible for several years now. They have a coach no one seems to like and two coordinators from the early 00's Patriots Dynasty who went on to be atrocious head coaches. However, they got a steal in the draft with Eric Berry to firm up their defensive backfield and Jamaal Charles is primed to break out in a big way on the offensive side of the ball. Plus they get to play the Raiders and Broncos four times, which is like shooting fish in a barrel, if those fish were coached by a third grader and Coach Harris from Revenge of the Nerds.

Oakland Raiders (7-9): The Raiders lost to a lot of teams last season, but they somehow managed to win a few big games over quality opponents. Amazing things happen when JaMarcus Russell is no longer under center. For what seems like almost a decade, the Raiders have made lousy 1st round draft picks year in and year out. JaMarcus Russell, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Darren McFadden are just a few examples resulting from the ineptitude of their recent draft strategy. Who’s calling the shots for the Raiders, Josh McDaniels?

Denver Broncos (4-12): Speaking of Josh McDaniels, the Broncos got out of the gates on fire last season but limped to the finish line. In a few short years, McDaniels has developed a knack for running high priced players out of Denver in some sort of “You will respect my authority” gesture. To make matters worse, after trading a 100+ catch receiver in Brandon Marshall, McDaniels drafted Tim Tebow in the 1st round, someone almost every talent evaluator in the country says cannot successfully play quarterback in the NFL and pinned as a 3-4th round pick. So what if Tebow was a superstar in college. If I did for a living what I was good at it in college I’d be in Motley Crue.

Playoffs: Baltimore and New York Jets win byes; Pittsburgh over Indianapolis, San Diego over Houston. Baltimore over Pittsburgh, San Diego over New York Jets. Baltimore over San Diego.

Super Bowl XLV: Baltimore over Green Bay
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