Monday, November 30, 2009

Who's playing Time Out for Trivia?

The problem with sports is sports culture. I don't mind watching an NFL game every so often, or following the lies Tiger Woods says about his domestic woes, but I can't stand sports culture and sports bars.

Good God, man. I guess I shouldn't be so judgmental, but a lot of dudes at sports bars seem lacking in sophistication and verbal skills. I feel the same way about most sports talk radio and sports TV, so I stay away from that stuff.

Back in the mid-80s, though, one sports show stood above them all in terms of sophistication, artistry and humor: "Time Out for Trivia."

"Time Out for Trivia" aired on the obscure SCORE network, which was around for a mere six years. Strangely, it was a subsidiary of the almost as obscure Financial News Network. Hosted by Todd Donoho, a Southern California sportscaster who I've met, the show blended humor, sports trivia and lame giveaways. In fact, one of its popular prizes was the miniature Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner, which was easy to use and did the job of the big boys.
So often, television is about economics. Shows are put together with the audience thought about first, and artistry second. In the end, those shows stink.

"Time Out for Trivia" was similar to art for art's sake, and that's how I prefer game shows. Too frequently, the prizes are the focus of game shows. The quiz master's performance is more important than those pesky prizes, and Donoho was superb. Strangely, when I met him and told him this, he thought I was being insincere and making fun of it. But I was serious.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kiss Jail Goodbye

Smooch. Smooch. Smooch.

Love is in the air, and kisses are floating around my neighborhood in east Long Beach, Calif., because of one reason, and one reason only: Lipstick Bail Bonds.

For the longest time, this bail bonds company has been parking part of its 24-car fleet on streets close to my home. Whenever I, my 4-year-old or 2-year-old pass these pink cars decorated with lips, we involuntarily make kissing sounds. These cars are vehicular versions of mistletoes.

Part of me says because these nicely decorated cars are for a bail bonds company that they are not classy. However, I must admit I like how they look and enjoy it when my daughters making kissing sounds as we drive by them.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Neck cuts and genocide: A coincidence?

I am not saying I totally know what Native Americans went through during their genocide. But when my seldom used electric razor broke the day before Thanksgiving, I felt neck pain and endured several cuts. So let's just say I may be a little more empathetic toward the Native Americans' plight than just the average person.

Although I am far from my extended family in Cleveland and could not travel there this year, I thought about past Thanksgivings, when every so often someone would bring up Christopher Columbus' campaign to murder the natives. I believe historians disagree on exactly how big of a role Columbus had with the killings and how many Native Americans were murdered.

Nevertheless, the genocide of Native Americans is a conversation that can pop up at the Thanksgiving dinner table as diners' guilt of gluttony transforms into guilt of being American.

I believe Thanksgiving and maybe even Columbus Day, too, work as holidays. They are not meant to be times to revel in what tragically happened to many Native Americans. Still, I believe it is important to not dismiss what happened to them, and if I think of them because I was cut by an electric razor, that may show compassion.

But wait a minute! I thought it was impossible to cut oneself with an electric razor. ... Guess again.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Some mysteries take 20 years to solve

When I was a lad, the XMan turned to me and said, "Son, you need to play Mr. Ree. It is the best board game ever created. If you ever find it, get it immediately."

That started a 20-year search for Mr. Ree. As a child, whenever I entered a toy store, I frantically searched for the game. Sadly, I never found it in a toy store, and later I learned the game had been out of production since shortly after 1957, its final printing. Dang, as an 11-year-old, I didn't realize that could happen.

In theory, the advent of the Internet should have helped me with my quest for Mr. Ree, but unfortunately, I didn't know the proper spelling of "Mr. Ree." I was convinced it was "Mr. Re" or "Mister Re," and I never found the game online until I discovered a major clue eight years ago.

In 2001, the film "The Royal Tenenbaums" came out, and Mr. Ree is among the games in the Tenenbaums' game closet.


Mr. Ree is impossible to see in the above photo, but the game with its glorious proper spelling is there. After seeing the proper spelling, that spurred me to eBay, where I bought all of the Mr. Ree games I could find - four. Only one of the four had all of its pieces, and I gave that one to the XMan on a Christmas in the early 2000s.

Some people use eBay to purchase junk. I use it to solve crimes.

In the past 10 years, I have used eBay three times, including today. One of the times was to purchase Prince's "1999" and "Purple Rain." That was out of the ordinary, though. All of a sudden, I had a feeling that I must have those albums, and, voila, there they were, cheap as can be.

Obtaining detective board games is typically how I use eBay, and today, I bought a copy of the British board game "Cluedo." Curiously, I paid for the game in pounds and am unsure if the grand total when translated to American was $20 or $2,000.

Cluedo looks like da bomb. It is similar to Clue, but the differences are real cool. Mr. Boddy is not killed, like in the U.S. game. Rather, Dr. Black is murdered. Also, the character Mr. Green is actually Reverend Green in the British version. ... Sweet!

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Baron Davis: A striking resemblance to a Madball

A lot of people ask me what I learned, covering the NBA and L.A. Clippers for seven seasons. Perhaps those people are expecting a grand statement or a mega-truth of life, but rather, I simply learned a bunch of small truths.

One of those truths is that if you stare at Clippers guard Baron Davis long enough, you will discover he looks like a Madball.

Obviously, Baron's bodacious beard makes me envision him as a Madball. I actually never covered him as a Clipper, but I wrote about him a bunch because he's an L.A. guy and I worked for an L.A. newspaper chain owned by a businessman named Dean Singleton.

Some people ooze negativity toward me when they learn I wrote about the Clippers because the franchise is one of the most losing in all of professional sports. Coming from Cleveland, I have been conditioned to losing in pro sports. Covering so many losses, and having a template in my mind for "the worst lost ever" story, was second nature to me.

Anyway, I still keep in touch with some folks from the Clipper organization and hope to do that until the team wins an NBA title.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stud Boy remembers Ober as 'great friend'

Aw, man. What a bummer!

The news of Ken Ober's death is yet another reminder that life is short, surprises can pop out of nowhere and the MTV show "Remote Control" was da bomb.

Ober, 52, was discovered dead at his Santa Monica home on Sunday and had been complaining to friends of being ill. A cause of death has not been released, but some news sites have reported he had a heart attack.

Obviously, "Remote Control" was Ober's tour de force, easily the highlight of his career. The show also helped launch the careers of Stud Boy, Denis Leary and Colin Quinn. Although those three have all gone onto make mega-bucks in their mega-careers, "Remote Control" arguably is their best work.

No joke here. Stud Boy released a statement on Ober's passing, and here it is: "Ken Ober was one of the sharpest, quickest, sweetest guys I ever met. He was always a great friend, and I will miss him very much."

So will the Snooze Button Generation.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Is it wrong to miss the Apple IIc?


OK. I admit it. I miss the Apple IIc and Apple IIe.

Nowadays, we might consider dot matrix printers, floppy disks and the game Castle Wolfenstein antiquated and lame, but I have a special place in my heart for that stuff.

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Sometimes, when I am busy on my modern and/or "space age" computer, what I'm doing does not feel like "work." I write letters of recommendation for students, read their work and send e-mails. Because all that is done on a computer, it all feels like a game to me. I believe many in the Snooze Button Generation have the same feeling.

My theory on why computer work doesn't feel like work for the Snooze Button Generation is because we were introduced to computers through games, such as Castle Wolfenstein. Back then, even if we were word processing, we were all just a "control, open apple, reset" away from playing a game.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Panhandling robot yearns for change

People often face the moral decision of whether to give money to others on the street. Sometimes I hear this: "Hey, buddy, do you have any spare change?"

I rarely have change, and even when I do, I don't give it. Morally, I believe where you spend your money is a vote saying you want more of what you're buying. I do not want more people asking me for money, so by that logic, I do not give money.

But what do you do when the panhandler is a persistent robot?

In an example of technology gone awry, my daughters and I have discovered a panhandling robot at the Lakewood Center Mall in Lakewood, Calif. Every minute or so, the robot's metallic voice says, "'Nother coin, please."

Although I find the panhandling robot strangely endearing, I resisted the urge to give it money. Dude, can't that robot get a job?

In an attempt by the Snooze Button Generation to see 4-year-old Sophie's imitation of the robot, a video was made. With the camera rolling, though, 2-year-old Chloe actually does the imitation. And then both girls pretend to be characters from the movie "Cars."

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The girls and I often tour the Southland in search of fun and adventures. Because of our age difference, we sometimes have different opinions of what makes great fun and an adventure. The other day, though, we all agreed that we had a fun adventure in a place called the Westminster Mall:

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tone Loc: Love troubled yet poetic

I am not sure truth can be found in pop music. Cliches bombard the lyrics, and I repeatedly hear a lot of the same themes.

But, ahoy, wait a minute! If I keep hearing the same themes, doesn't that at least mean those themes exist?

Well, I guess so. But I am skeptical because I have never experienced many things pop songs tell me. Maybe that's a good thing because sometimes the themes aren't desirable, and so I thank God for Tone Loc.

Following an in-depth study by the Snooze Button Generation, it has been discovered that 100 percent of Tone Loc's songs are about love gone awry. In particular, the theme of discovering "the chick was a man" permeates Tone's tunes.

In the song "Funky Cold Medina," Tone sings, "When she got undressed, it was a big old mess. Sheena was a man. So I threw him out. I don't fool around with no Oscar Meyer wiener."

That is curious to me because there are no instances in my life when I undressed with a friend and realized his/her sex was different than I expected. Something similar happened in the 1992 film "The Crying Game," and, well, if there are instances of that in pop culture, I guess it must happened a lot.

In Tone's other really popular song, "Wild Thing," he also goes through love expectations gone awry when he sings, "We was all alone, and she said 'Tone, let me tell you one thing. I need $50 to make you holler. I get paid to do the wild thing.'"

Again, I have never experienced such a thing - being alone with a friend, only to have that friend inform me she is a prostitute. However, I did once experience the following exchange at the Voodoo Lounge at the Rio in Las Vegas.
Snooze Button Generation (after several cocktails): Dude, what is up with that chick at the bar?
Friend: That's a working girl, my man.
SBG: Oh, yeah. Yuk. Way too much makeup, and, jeez, that dress is trashy.


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Sunday, November 8, 2009

G.L.O.W. qualifies as performance art

Some friends of mine have no TVs or watch no TV. I find those friends fascinating.

In contrast, I do own a TV, have basic cable and watch it at times. But beyond Yo Gabba Gabba and maybe The Office, there is no show I watch regularly. And I think I know why.

Television programming is based too much on commerce to let true artistry shine. Shows can be so formulaic that artistry is lost in the formulas viewers expect. It is rare when those formulas are stretched, but, man, G.L.O.W., the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, certainly did that.

I am not exactly sure what qualifies as performance art, but G.L.O.W., which aired from 1986 to 1990, is best described as "performance art." Wrestling, skits and makeup - I don't know what to make of this. Whatever the case, I have just watched the video below three consecutive times and each time, have laughed throughout it, especially at the end when Cheer Bear is chainsawed.

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Below is a compilation of G.L.O.W. skits that are so awful they're somehow excellent. My favorite wrestler is KGB, who will be damned if she is going to fall out of character.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Breaking news: Frida Kahlo hardly had a unibrow

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo did not have as bodacious of a unibrow as most believe, the Snooze Button Generation has learned through an exhaustive study that included a visit to wikipedia.com.

Kahlo did have a little fuzz in between her eyes, but her rockin' unibrow did not compare to the mega-unibrow depicted in her artwork.

In light of this breaking news, this critical question has come up: If Kahlo does not have the greatest unibrow of all time, who does?

That brings us to Oasis lead singer Liam Gallagher and guitarist Noel Gallagher, who both have remarkable unibrows. But beyond these two furry forehead guys, it's hard to find someone whose unibrow transcends this world.

Good ole George W. Bush apparently had a unibrow in college, but eventually he groomed it off and became president, despite his humble roots coming from oil tycoons.

Sesame Street's Bert, of Bert and Ernie, also has a unibrow of note. But he doesn't quite get the nod of best unibrow ever because he is a muppet.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mr. Munch insists on Chuck E. Cheese clarification

A lot of cliches swirl around pictures and their importance. The phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words" must have some truth. I bet I've heard that more than a thousand times, so I guess it's got to be true.

Sometimes, though, pictures lie. And that may be the case with a previous post on the Snooze Button Generation titled "Chuck E. Cheese may be using again."

I received an e-mail from one of Chuck E. Cheese's friends and former co-workers named Mr. Munch. He contends the picture that ran of Mr. Cheese was actually an impostor snorting cocaine. Though Munch initially was livid in his first e-mail to me, he eventually understood where I was coming from with my post and why I ran the photo of Mr. Cheese sniffing weasel dust.

Still, because of Mr. Munch's urging, I have agreed to explain why the Snooze Button Generation used the photo:

I have never witnessed Chuck E. Cheese doing cocaine, nor do I know for certain he has. I did run across a photo of him that appeared to show him snorting the drug. It is not the Snooze Button Generation's purpose to soil Chuck E. Cheese's reputation, hurt him or his loved ones.

Apparently, Munch lives in nearby Riverside, and he is active in its music scene. Presumably, he still rocks. But here is a video of him and his comrades, the Pizza Time Players, when they were younger:

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Yep, some still give pennies to trick-or-treaters

I have heard it is rude to tip with pennies. Whenever a check at a restaurant comes and pennies are part of the change, I take out the pennies and then leave the tip. I saw a friend once do this many years ago, and I adopted the same practice.

So if pennies are rude to give servers, then why in the world do some old ladies insist on giving them to trick-or-treaters? In neighborhoods across America, pennies still are given, even though that is the worst Halloween treat of all time.

Miraculously, neither of my daughters - Sophie (a cupcake) and Chloe (red dragon) - received any pennies this year trick-or-treating. I attribute this to the fact that Long Beach, Calif., is a socially progressive city.

Back in my preteen years, I remember receiving 10 pennies from an old lady for Halloween. As she dropped them into my plastic pumpkin, I remarked, "Ooh. I'm rich now."

The woman beamed, thinking I was serious. I sort of felt badly because of the sarcastic remark and engaged in a conversation with the woman. It turns out that she gave small candy bars, as is the convention, in tandem with pennies. She had run out of the candy bars.

Ultimately, I have learned not to judge old women, their smells or penny giving. Sure, I'm not a fan of the pennies, but I guess there are worse things to give trick-or-treaters, including unwrapped treats that go straight into the trash because of the odd fear that they may be poisoned.