Thursday, July 21, 2005

Conan O'Brien - My Take

I'd like to elaborate on a comment I made on Amy Reynaldo's blog about Conan O'Brien.

There was a word in the NY Sun crossword today CRUNK. I was confusing it with "Krunk", the all-purpose stuff mentioned numerous times on the Conan O'Brien show, "back when it was good", I mentioned.

The truth is that Conan's show just ain't that good any more.

Case in point: about a year ago, one of Conan's newest little bits of business was showing random clips from episodes of "Walker, Texas Ranger", which is a show that appears on a network that had been recently came into the NBC family, USA. He would push some sort of lever on his desk and there's Chuck Norris kicking the teeth out of someone under the thin guise of being a Texas Ranger. (Far as I know, in real life, Texas Rangers don't kick people.)

Since I had developed quite the aversion to "WTR" (which, by the way, was a show my wife just loved), I really didn't think that much of the bit, and that was about the time I decided I should really be in bed at 12:30 to be awake to teach the kiddies the next morning.

A few weeks ago, I chanced into the living room at about 12:50 a.m., and decided to keep it on NBC until such time that "Street Smarts" (which, unfortunately, has been cancelled after five seasons) started on GSN. There's Conan O'Brien, sitting at his desk... and he's got the lever... and he pushes the lever... and there's Chuck Norris kicking the teeth out of someone!

Jesus Christ! At least when Ernie Kovacs did seemingly repetitive things like "The Nairobi Trio", he gave them different little things to do every time. But this "Walker" bit hadn't changed ONE IOTA since Conan introduced it. And not only that but I hear that Conan still does his "In The Year 2000" bit... and it's 2005. (He's still got the great Labamba doing that falsetto bit, which is good because Labamba is a killer bone player.)

And Conan is taking over for Leno in 2009?

Hopefully there'll be someone better who hasn't come to the fore yet to take over for Dave on CBS when his time is up.

It's hard for me to say this, as back in the day, I used to be one of the happy recappers of Conan's show for a fansite, but... now, I'd have to drink rather heavily to appreciate his brand of "humor".

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

S--t! Did I Just See The Word S--t On My TV?

I wish I had the evidence on this, but I'm at my non-TV'd computer right now.

During "So You Think You Can Dance" on the Fox Network, there was a brief closeup of a prospective auditioner in her bedroom. Right in the shot was a poster, one of the words of which is a popular four letter word for solid human waste. I couldn't read the rest of the poster due to the TV PG D-L bug covering it up.

This may only have been apparent to HDTV viewers, as it was at the extreme left of the HDTV screen and may not have survived the crop into 4:3.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Number Two

Sometimes I think there's no hope for society.

On my way back home from a weekend in Atlantic City Sunday night, I saw a car pulled over on the shoulder of the Garden State Parkway. Standing outside in full view of all passing motorists was one of the younger occupants of the car, who had decided to do a Number One right then and there. Less than a quarter mile from an off ramp that would have led to gas stations, restaurants and stores that have open public bathrooms.

I didn't think to check the car for out-of-state plates or perhaps an up-north car dealership decal that would have tabbed our peeing friends and his parents as BENNIES. But methinks that's what was going on there.

Hey, Gov. Codey! How's this for a slogan?

The Jersey Shore: New York and Northern New Jersey's Toilet.

Friday, July 15, 2005


All e-mail addresses on the domain are no longer valid.

If you need to contact me with a question or information about this website or any of its components, or had been legitimately corresponding with me on a address, the new public address is

SPAMMERS: you will be reported to all applicable authorities should you spam, phish, spoof or otherwise abuse this address. Don't even try it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

All Of A Sudden, I've Become Lila Cherry

The thrill of seeing the LA Times puzzle in print was inexplicably deflated when I saw Lila Cherry's name credited to the puzzle instead of my own. Check your local papers and see if the puzzle is credited to Lila Cherry but the first across clue is "Conde Nast women's magazine". That is indeed my puzzle.

Puzzle's Theme

Obviously, the theme of the puzzle has panned out to be great film directors who never were awarded an Oscar, in spite of tons of nominations and critically acclaimed work. The theme came to light the morning after the Oscars, when I watched in relative horror as Martin Scorsese failed to stride to the podium for on his fifth nomination.

I did some poking around the Oscar annals and came up with a hefty list of other directors who were in the same boat as Scorsese - and the two who best worked in the context of the crossword were Stanley Kubrick (who should have at least gotten a nomination for "Full Metal Jacket" and whose other nominated films included "Dr. Strangelove", "2001" and "Barry Lyndon"), and Alfred Hitchcock (whose 1960 nomination was for a little film called "Psycho", one of the most terrifying cinema experiences ever).

Two weeks from today we have the USA Today puzzle, and post game discussion to follow.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Building A Better INXS

I saw the first episode of "Rock Star: INXS" which is running three nights a week through the summer and early fall on CBS. The conceit of this show is to attempt to find a new lead singer for INXS, which has been largely without one since frontman Michael Hutchence did himself in.

So on the reality show landscape we have now overlaid the rock and roll lifestyle. Therefore, while we anxiously wait for Smoking Gun to find drug busts or DUI's on these folks, we are going to bet the farm on the red-tressed, multiply tattooed Heather to win this thing and take INXS in a new direction as its first-ever female lead singer.

What is really buzz about this show is they somehow got Dave Navarro involved. The singer, who is most famous for stints with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction (as well as his marriage to Carmen Electra), is sort of a host, sort of an honorary member of INXS, and Brooke Burns is sort of a host as well.

I'd rather watch something like this than the increasingly artificial "Big Brother" and its constantly artifical host, Mrs. Les Moonves.

LA Times Puzzle Tomorrow!

The proprietor of this website makes his newspaper crossword debut tomorrow as the author of the July 13, 2005 Los Angeles Times Crossword Puzzle. If you want to solve the puzzle online, you can go to the Los Angeles Times site and look for the link to Crosswords. You may need to register to do this. While not entirely necessary you can solve the puzzle offline by downloading the puzzle file (lat050713.puz) and playing it in the free Across Lite software you can also download at the LA Times site.

You can also do the thing in the newspaper, in pen and ink, just like our fathers used to on the train out of Ronkonkoma.

Wait! How do I know if my newspaper carries the LA Times Puzzle?

Very simple. Check your newspaper today (Tuesday) and look for a crossword puzzle. (Not that 11x13 "chumpword" puzzle. It's regulation size, 15x15.) If the puzzle that appears on 7/12 is from Tribune Media Services (distributors of the LA Times Puzzle), and the first Across clue is "Cairo's river", then you're in business.

The puzzle may or may not carry a byline; today's is by Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke.

The editor is Rich Norris, and looking over my original clueset for this puzzle, I expect changes especially since this is a Wednesday puzzle (and also because that's what editors do). He also changed the grid some because the original had a word which could be construed as an ethnic slur in it, but clued very innocently. Reminds me that there's a report, maybe apocryphal, that Eugene T. Maleska, the esteemed former editor of the New York Times crosswords, once ran a puzzle that included a clue "The ____ mightier than the sword". Mmm-hmmm.

Once the smoke clears (because I don't want to spoil your fun of doing this puzzle), I will discuss the particular theme. Until then enjoy the puzzle.

Check at the sidebar over to the left for other upcoming dates... we've been shipping out tons of puzzles lately and hopefully will make a few more sales with them.

Friday, July 08, 2005

"Melissa's Journey"

Nancy has graciously asked me to talk a little about that book that has been appearing in the sidebar of my Blog for the last few weeks.

"Melissa's Journey" is the true story of how the New Jersey State Core Curriculum is adapted to meet the needs of a multiply-challenged individual we call "Melissa" in the book (confidantes know her by another name; we had to change it due to privacy concerns). The book covers the period between July 2001 and July 2002 and makes some very interesting side trips, including how the curriculum and plans were adapted to cope with the September 11, 2001 tragedy.

The target audience for this book is homeschool parents who wish to adopt their state standards in their program. I suggest if you're in this category, you should go to and read more about this project.

Another volume is in the works, by the way.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

If Real Life Were Like "Reality" TV

Every other t-shirt, hat, and license plate would be fuzzed out.

Think about it.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Next Brass Tacks Dates

We have been lax in updating these, as our vocalist Jim reminded me last night.

Monday, July 4 - Barnegat Docks, 7:00-9:00 p.m. followed by fireworks (Thanks for coming!)

Friday, July 15 - Sea Oaks Country Club, Little Egg Harbor Township (Dinner dance)

Saturday, July 23 - Ocean County Library, Toms River (Free concert)

The official Brass Tacks site is NOW UP!