Sunday, February 24, 2008

I'm Not Watching The Oscars Tonight

I could give a rat's ass about the movies that are nominated. The best movie I saw this year was probably "Knocked Up". A film totally overlooked by the Academy.

And I'm probably not alone. Here's Mitch Albom in the Detroit Free Press about why it always seems to be the depressing movies that get the Oscar nods.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Snow Day? What's That?

Well, it's been a little over three years, but the little kiddies in Toms River have gotten their snow day.

I don't have a record of the exact date since I no longer have my journal from that school year, but the last snow day our district had was in the 2004-2005 school year. We had gone through two entire school years without losing a day to weather, until today, which would have been the 107th day of school.

This now means, unfortunately, that the end date of our school year now becomes Monday, June 16.

UPDATE: The last snow day was February 25, 2005. It was also a Friday.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sorry, Earl

We've once again had to take Earl Kress off our blogroll due to inactivity. I'm sure he's just swamped with projects. Hope to see you back soon, Earl. We've been fans here since "The Oddball Couple". No, really.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pitchers and Catchers!

Yes, today is the day that pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training for a lot of clubs, the beloved New York Mets included.

All the focus this spring of course will be on Johan Santana, who the Mets just picked up and signed for a significant amount of money - most ever paid to a pitcher, I heard. Hopefully Mr. Santana will bring the stuff home and it's going to be an exciting final season at Shea Stadium before they tear it down.

Meanwhile, you can now get your SANTANA 57 tees. They've just come out, and I think you can get them in all three colors - black, blue and orange. I went to one store and they were already sold out of the adult sizes (yet, inexplicably, they still had some LODUCA 16 on the shelves. If I hadn't already thrown out my Matsui shirt, I'd have a place to put it.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The "Sign Man" Is No More

The New York Times on the passing of Shea Stadium fixture Karl Ehrhardt, who for years sat behind third base and held up little signs that commented on the action.

The WOR-TV cameras would frequently zoom in on Ehrhardt whenever he picked up one of his professionally lettered signs, always the right sign at the right moment. When the Mets won the World Series in 1969, Ehrhardt brandished a sign which read "THERE ARE NO WORDS".

Sidebar: You have to know what watching a Mets game was like back then. There was no SNY. Every game was on broadcast TV, specifically WOR-TV (now WWOR-TV, a MyNetwork affiliate). The Mets switched to WPIX about a decade ago. Radio skipped around from station to station - I think in the championship year of 1969, it was on WJRZ-AM out of Hackensack, NJ well before its rebranding as WWDJ (home of Bwana Johnny among others) and rebirth as a religious station. (The WJRZ calls were soon adopted by a station in Ocean County.) By that time the games moved to WHN, and eventually to WFAN where they are today.

Since we never went to the games in person, we had to settle for TV, with its more primitive camera angles. We think WOR-TV broadcast the games on a budget of about 50 cents each. The outfield fences were green back then. (We knew that from reading yearbooks; never had a color TV back then.) The sights and sounds of the game included broadcasters Lindsey Nelson, always outrageously dressed in sort of an odd cultural bridge between Liberace and Rod Roddy, Bob Murphy (who was best experienced on radio) and Ralph Kiner. Jane Jarvis' organ punctuated all of the action; today in sports arenas, the organ and other sounds are largely on tapes.

Banner Day was one of the big promotions - it took place between games of a scheduled double-header (remember those? bet you don't). People would come in with spraypainted bedlinens and other outpourings of love for the Amazin's, then the Mets themselves would offer their own banner to the fans after the banner parade had ended.

And in all these years, it had never occurred to me why Karl Ehrhardt never won the Banner Day prize. He didn't need to. For all those years from his third-base field-level box, he put into words what Mets fans felt.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Don't Meet These Spartans

I don't ordinarily do movie reviews - that's best left to the many "experts" on the Internet who think they're A.O. Scott - but I have to say that "Meet The Spartans" probably represented the most excruciating 75 minutes I've ever spent in a theatre. Only redeeming feature: Carmen Electra. That's pretty much the only time I was awake during the film.

Had I known from the start this film was so poor, I wouldn't have gone. I publicly regret making the decision to see this film.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Well, the game is over, and thankfully the Giants won. Now, as the NFL league goon hands out the mandatory hats to mark the victory, we start sifting through the multitude of ads that appeared during the game. Which ones scored, and which ones were just plain poor? Here we go...

Coca-Cola "Balloons" A

Coke came late to the party with two fourth-quarter spots, but these were beauts. In the first, at a parade, giant balloons of Underdog and Stewie Griffin battled it out over a balloon of a Coke can. I can't imagine either drinking Coke, but hey. Charlie Brown swoops in and grabs the can. Finally, he wins at something. We liked the changing expressions on the faces of Underdog and Stewie, and the timing couldn't have been better - the ad appeared roughly when Lois would have been singing the opening song of "Family Guy". The other Coke ad garnered a strong B grade. In it, Bill Frist and James Carville go out for a Coke and put aside their political differences.

E-Trade "Baby 1" A, "Baby 2" B

Sure, the baby talking as a human has been done before, but I kinda liked these ads. In the second one, the baby hires a clown. Very good.

Bud Light "Makes You Fly" B, "Makes You Breathe Fire" B

The two most creative of the Bud Light ads, traditionally the Bowl's funniest, take a slightly different tack. This time, the ads start out straight, and then postulate the miraculous things Bud Light can allegedly do. The best of the "traditional" Bud Light ads, "Wine & Cheese", earned an A. The other Bud Light ads were fairly pedestrian, including one of last year's ads coming back for a rare bowl rerun*, and one promoting some Will Ferrell movie.

* NOTE: This ad was actually a refry of last year's spot with Carlos Mencia teaching an ESL class. Just as tasteless as last year's similar ad.

Doritos "Kira Grannis" B, "Billy Federighi" B-

This year's Doritos spots weren't about the flavor. The Kira Grannis spot showed a lady by this name singing a song for sixty seconds. Quite pleasant. The Billy Federighi spot is user generated content, and shows how you can make giant mice appear when you eat Doritos.

T-Mobile "Hi Chuck" A

This is the first T-Mobile ad I've actually like since they canned Catherine Zeta-Jones as their spokesperson. In it, Charles Barkley talks quite a bit to his five favorite people, who are quite annoyed to have Sir Charles always calling them about minor things.

Gatorade "Drinking Dog" D-

As Ed Selzer asked Chuck Jones and the boys what was so gosh-durned funny about bullfights, I ask the folks at Gatorade, what in the blue hell is so funny about 30 seconds of a dog drinking? Gatorade's previous ad got a C, primarily because Derek Jeter is in it. Oh, please.

Bridgestone Tires "Richard Simmons" F

Automatic disqualification for Do Not Attempt, but we do chuckle at the thought of running over Richard Simmons. Bridgestone's other ad also received an F for DNA, as did the final in-game spot - one for Amp which showed a man connecting jumper cables to his nipples.

FedEx "Carrier Pigeons" B

Probably this year's funniest spot, a company makes do with carrier pigeons, some quite large, to get their shipments there faster (if the carrier pigeons don't drop them first).

GMC Yukon "Animated Guy Pushing Rocks Up A Hill" B

This animated spot was the best of several animated ads in the game. Too bad it was wasted on a Bullymobile™. The others, both for, fell flatter, earning a C for their first spot and a D for their second.

Godaddy.Com "Danica Patrick" B

The commercial is basically a tease to go to their website to see their real spot, which Fox rejected. It has something to do with beavers. And Danica Patrick. But it worked. I went there. Not that I need to register domain names.

Tide Pen "Talking Stain" A-

The Tide Pen saves the day at a job interview, where all the hirer hears is the gibberish generated by the stain on a man's shirt. I called out "Tide Pen!" at about :15 into this spot. And hey, Tide and other advertisers (including the aforementioned Doritos): why are you hiding behind URL's that don't disclose your product's name? It makes more sense for me to go to rather than or some crap like that.

Briefly, how all the other ads fared, in order of appearance. We only counted in-game ads, not local ads or ads during halftime.

Audi R8 B-

Diet Pepsi Max :60 D

Underarmour B

Dell D "Flaming Stone Circle" C

Budweiser C
- this was USA Today's highest ranking ad, but it left me cold

Toyota "Badgers" C

Garmin C

Career Builder #1 D

Life Water C

Planters D

Pepsi "Timberlake Promo" C "Witch Doctor" C

Vitamin Water B-

Ice Cubes C

Career Builder #2 C

Hyundai Genesis #1 B

Sunsilk D

Toyota Sequoia C

Taco Bell D

Hyundai Genesis #2 C

Victoria's Secret C

Movie ads, which are not rated, included Wanted, Iron Man, Leatherheads, Prince Caspian, Wall-E, Jumper, and You Don't Mess With The Zohan. Nor was the NFL's house ad, a most entertaining look about an oboe player's odyssey into the league, nor was the drug abuse PSA that ran during the game in which a pusher complains about his lack of business these days.

Mixed Weather Report

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow.

Staten Island Chuck did not.

Hey, Dr. Frank Field and Tex Antoine used to disagree back in the day, too.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Makes you forget all about that other Santana that played at Shea, don't it?

Now, with Johan Santana as part of the pitching staff (and arguably its ace, if not its Opening Day starter), I can predict that Shea Stadium, in its final year, will finally have a home team pitcher throw a no hitter. (And before you ask, no, the New York Yankees did not have a no hit game during their brief tenancy at Shea while Yankee Stadium was being refurbished in the 70's. In fact, they didn't have a single one from the time Don Larsen threw his World Series perfect game to Righetti's 1983 gem.)