Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy birthday, Mr. Westerberg

Ah, New Year's Eve is a time for champagne, fun and reflection. Today's New Year's Eve, though, should have special meaning to many in the Snooze Button Generation because it also is Paul Westerberg's 50th birthday.

Yeah, that's right. Westerberg turns 50 today. Holy crap! We are getting old.

I stumbled across the Replacements in high school. Being from Cleveland and in the Snooze Button Generation, I really didn't think music beyond classic rock, hair bands and pop existed until well into high school. The Replacements are a pretty darn good rock band that isn't really considered "pop." I have always liked them. Almost all of their albums are excellent, and it's a toss-up between "Let It Be" and "Tim" as their best album.

I have been revisiting the Replacements of late and Westerberg's newer solo stuff. Not to put down his drunken Replacement bandmates, but his solo stuff has helped me realize how talented he is and how much authentic emotion he puts into his tunes.

Wow. That was a solo performance at the Warsaw Room in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Aug. 26, 2002.

I'm so!
I'm so!

I could watch it a million times, still be enthralled and feel what he's feeling every time. The Snooze Button Generation thanks you, Mr. Westerberg. ... Welcome to 50!

This next clip is from two years ago, and all I can say is, yeah, I agree. Thanks for understanding. "Everyone's Stupid."

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Polish eagle: Fierce and sophisticated

Back in college, I took a creative writing class with a guy named Mike, who I had known from a previous class. Because of that prior experience, we sat close, chatted and were pals. The only problem with him was that after a year of friendship, I realized his name was "Rob."

I briefly argued with Mike/Rob about what his name was. I thought he was joking about me getting it wrong. I also blamed him for me calling him the wrong name, saying "Why didn't you tell me earlier?"

Well, a similar thing has happened with the country of Poland. As a man of 100 percent Polish roots, I should know that the bird on the flag is a white eagle and not a falcon. But for most of my life, I have referred to the cool-looking bird as "The Polish Falcon." I even have a friend who I nicknamed "The Polish Falcon." Egads, sorry, national symbol of Poland.

This comes up now because as I spend a week in Cleveland to celebrate the holidays, I went to Slavic Village (a Polish part of town that is becoming increasingly economically depressed) with a couple friends and the World's Most Sophisticated Man.

Both the Most Sophisticated Man and I purchased Polish flags at Seven Roses, a restaurant and deli that is among the top places in Slavic Village. It was even featured earlier this year in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Anyway, I plan on displaying my Polish flag in a prominent place in my Long Beach, Calif., home, perhaps over the fireplace in the room I've dubbed "The Ski Lodge." The flag will be a reminder of Slavic Village, Poland, stuffed cabbage and fresh kielbasa.

I am going to try to refer to the Polish bird as "The Eagle," although part of me still wants to call it "The Falcon." Apparently, the fierce and sophisticated bird has staying power. It first was seen on Polish currency in the year 1000. I have the utmost respect for that bird; it is a bad ass.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Ale puts problems in perspective

I have found the Great Lakes Brewery's Christmas Ale. In other words, I have made it back to my homeland of Cleveland.

Because I grew up in Cleveland and have many friends and family there, I feel at home most in this beautiful and gritty Northeast Ohio city.

However, I must say that my time here comes with a price as difficult questions arise. When will we play Texas hold 'em? Should we go to the Browns game or watch it on TV? What will we do if the game is blacked out?

Although it may not be proper to escape these hard questions with liquor, the Great Lakes Christmas Ale offers a way to put these queries into perspective with a beverage that is 7.5 percent alcohol.

Some people apparently have a hard time finding the Christmas Ale because of its enormous popularity. But in certain suburbs, Brecksville included, it appears to be easy to get.

Earlier this month, the Plain Dealer ran a story about the brew, and I learned that the Christmas Ale accounts for 20 percent of the Great Lakes Brewery's sales, even though it is only sold for two months. Dortmunder is the most popular with 35 percent of the sales, and I think I like Burning River Pale Ale the best.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Atari: Way better than gift cards

The best Christmas gift is one the receiver wants but does not realize he wants or can get. Christmas also is the best kids holiday.

Therefore, I look back on Christmas 1981 as the time when my brother and I received our greatest present ever - Atari.

Of course, I wanted Atari, but I did not think it was obtainable. In my 8-year-old mind, I envisioned Atari costing $1 million and, thus, thought it was too expensive. When my brother and I unwrapped it, shock and awe overtook us. No way. Atari!

In retrospect, obtaining Atari started the video age for me, and perhaps other members of the Snooze Button Generation went through something similar with Colecovision, Intellivision, the Commodore 64, Apple II or Nintendo. Some of this happened at approximately the same time "Beta vs. VHS" was a relevant conversation.

When my parents bought Atari for my brother and me, they had the presence of mind to also purchase Space Invaders. The machine came with the game Combat, which did not quite have the depth of Space Invaders.

Eventually, we obtained many games and stacked them neatly next to our TV. By the way, I recently ran across a list of the top 10 selling Atari games of all-time, and some of them surprised me. Here's the list 1) Pac-Man, 2) Pitfall!, 3) Missile Command, 4) Demon Attack, 5) E.T., 6) Atlantis, 7) Adventure, 8) River Raid, 9) Kaboom! and 10) Space Invaders.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blog entry replaces Christmas cards

The Snooze Button Generation released its holiday greeting card in the form of this blog today in the hopes of spreading goodwill to all.

"Make sure everybody knows how much I care for them and that this blog is not just me being lazy with Christmas cards," Snooze Button Generation founder and CEO Joe Stevens said. "I'm still pro-Christmas card, but this seems so much easier and more enjoyable."

Symbolically released on a Sunday, when the U.S. Postal Service does not deliver Christmas cards and is therefore not as efficient as this website, this greeting is to let everyone know that Stevens and his girls are doing well and enjoying the holidays.

"Anyone who knows me well knows these past two years have been quite a transition," Stevens said. "A new living situation, a new job, yeah, there's been a lot of change. But isn't life just one big constant change? Is that deep? No, it's probably lame. Wait. Why are you writing? Please don't put that in there."

Stevens will be spending some holiday time with his girls in Las Vegas, then will be going to Cleveland for more festivities. This upcoming year, he hopes to keep enjoying his daughters, loving teaching and having fun.

Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Happy Kwanzaa. Mele Kalikimaka.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Deaf, dumb and embarrassing

Love is deaf.

Actually, I don't know if that's true. But I do know what it means to be "politically correct," and even mentioning that the word "deaf" exists might be risque by some standards.

I am no prude. Believe me. In fact, I tend to be the politically incorrect guy who is forced to apologize to others for his crassness. On the other hand, I am a bit worldly and am in no need of sensitivity training, especially considering that sensitivity training has nothing to do with tickling and/or one's tickling threshold.

Anyway, the other day, I saw a commercial that was hilarious. It probably was offensive. It attempted to use fake deaf people to sell jewelry. Or if they were actually hearing impaired, how did this commercial sneak into a commercial on ESPN?

In theory, the commercial was meant to make the viewer feel romantic or heartfelt and then run to a mall to purchase jewelry. Read my lips: This commercial is hysterical. The only way I can think of improving it is to pump out Boston's "More Than a Feeling" at the end.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Memento named top film of decade

The Snooze Button Generation released its top 10 films of the 2000s today with Christopher Nolan's "Memento" edging "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Lost in Translation" for the top spot.

Seriously, "Memento" (2000) is a tour de force that flips over conventional storytelling and brings up various critical philosophical ideas. It is the Snooze Button Generation's favorite film of the past decade and is part of an answer to the numerous newspapers, magazines and websites that are coming up with their lesser lists of the decade's best films.

Paste Magazine did a solid job with a top 50 of the 2000s, and the SBG agrees with many choices. But the following, with "Memento" in the top spot, are the real top 10.

2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
The idea of compartmentalizing good and bad memories might seem like a smart idea. But aren't they all connected? What a concept, and, man, this movie made me cry. ... Obviously, on this list, I lean heavily toward originality and strong writing over action, adventure and Hollywood conventions.

3. Lost in Translation (2003)
Ever have a friendship, or acquaintance, that means so much to both parties, but is unconventional and hard to explain? Hell, I do.
4. You Can Count on Me (2000)
What a killer final scene! I loved the acting by Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo because I never once thought they were acting.

5. Wonder Boys (2000)
Hey, I'm kind of a writer guy, and I relate to this film. Michael Chabon is among my favorite authors, and I think I should probably crank out something like this when I have a free weekend.

6. Half Nelson (2006)
As an unfortunate rule, movies about teachers are fake. But not this one. Ryan Gosling is probably the top male lead under 30 out there, and he also deserves a shout-out for his role "Lars and the Real Girl," which also is a pretty darn good film.

7. Mulholland Drive (2001)
David Lynch is da bomb, and weirdness and suspense fill this film. Toss in a lesbian scene, and forget about it. This one's a winner.

8. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Hey, Wes Anderson is a winner, and any film that helps me discover Mr. Ree is also a winner. 

9. American Splendor (2003)
This pick also is a shout-out to my homeland of Cleveland, where it was filmed. There's a little bit of Harvey Pekar in all of us. Isn't there?

10. Superbad (2007)
It's hard to find "Superbad" on any top 10, or even top 50, list like this, but its dialogue is way more realistic than other teen movies, including "Juno." Both hilarious and real, "Superbad" edges "No Country for Old Men" and "City of God" on the Snooze Button Generation's best of the 2000s list, though those are excellent films, too.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Teacher Happy Hour: Tricky and treacherous

I'm only human. Of flesh and blood, I'm made.

Yeah, a lot of cliches swirl around the idea of being human. To err is human, etc.

Those are the thoughts I cling to when I consider what happened on Friday evening, when I attempted the impossible.

As a second-year teacher in a high school, I am learning a lot about what it takes to succeed, and one critical lesson is how to finesse something called "Friday Happy Hour."

Last year, I realized that "Friday Happy Hour" can be problematic because, many times, teachers will hit the Happy Hour shortly after the 3 p.m. bell. Man, that's early.
On this past Friday, something in me told me to stay out past Happy Hour with a friend, continue having cocktails and look for ladies known as "cougars." Later, I was told I actually was looking for younger ladies referred to as "bobcats."

Regardless, I attempted to consume cocktails from 4 p.m. to midnight. That was a recipe for disaster, for I am only human. Another major mistake was switching from beers to martinis at 8 p.m.; that was ridiculous. Somewhere amid all of this, I also text messaged approximately 20 friends and told them to come to my home the next day to watch pay-per-view Ultimate Fighting, which is extremely violent, and play poker, presumably no limit Texas hold 'em.

By the time my friend had three lovely ladies meet us in the evening, my vision and speech were blurred. I wanted to sleep and was incoherent. Luckily, the friend was capable of driving me home, and I thank him for that.

You live and learn. I believe it is impossible to go out for a teacher's Happy Hour and then stay out all night.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Top Chef: Excellent, but entirely scripted

Regardless of the b.s. I view on "Top Chef" and "Project Runway," I will enjoy those shows. The truth is that I like sophisticated food and high fashion, and so I watch those shows, even though I have to put up with the genre of reality TV.

But let's get serious. Although I cook daily and subscribe to "Vogue," sophisticated food and high fashion can be boring if not packaged with reality TV.

Earlier this week, Michael Voltaggio was crowned the sixth Top Chef. I predicted he would be the winner, and I pretty much predicted every elimination this entire season because of this reason: THE SHOW KEEPS THE CHEFS WHO ARE THE MOST INTERESTING.

Hands down, Michael Voltaggio, the younger of the two Voltaggio brothers on the show, was the most intriguing personality on the show. He's got a sleeve of tattoos, hardly has a formal education and tries a lot of wacky stuff with food. Plus, the other two in the final, Bryan Voltaggio and Kevin Gillespie, were flawed.
Bryan Voltaggio is a solid chef, but he's married with a kid and does not nearly have the rock star potential as his younger brother. Kevin Gillespie is a fatty.

During one night of many drinks, I met a producer for "Gene Simmons Family Jewels." The following conversation occurred:

Snooze Button Generation: What do you mean the entire show is scripted?
Producer: It's all scripted. Every single scene.
SBG: You mean even the ones that look like candid interaction.
Producer: Yes, even those. Every scene in reality TV is scripted. You didn't know that?

I guess I was naive to think it was "real" with ad-lib moments. Still, I like "Top Chef" and "Project Runway," but there will never be a time when an endearing contestant is kicked off prematurely. Hence, the lengthy stay of Fabio Viviani in the previous Top Chef contest. He lost right before the final three, and I believe Top Chef producers wanted him to be the winner. But his skill level wasn't close enough to the others to justify him winning.

My theory about Fabio might be spot-on as evidenced by this scathing restaurant review in the L.A. Times that came out a week after this post.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ladies still love Lloyd Dobler

Pretty much any desirable lady that a man of the Snooze Button Generation meets will either consciously, or subconsciously, compare that guy to Lloyd Dobler.

Dobler was a mediocre student and aspiring kickboxer who wooed Diane Court, the valedictorian of her class. He held a boom box above his head with Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" blaring in a classic movie scene that is endearing, cute and frequently referenced.

Let's face it. The 1989 film "Say Anything..." has been critical to relationships to those in the Snooze Button Generation. Has there ever been a more romantic scene than the one in which Dobler, aka John Cusack, hoists his radio above his head for Ione Skye and all the world to see and hear?

To be in love means to be vulnerable. Being in love is cheesy, illogical, and there are inside moments in which only the two people involved know the significance. Cameron Crowe wrote and directed "Say Anything...", and this needs to be said to him:

Boo-ya! You hit so much on the head in one poignant - and cheesy - moment when Lloyd Dobler does the radio thing. Thank you. ... The only downside is that chicks everywhere constantly compare dudes to Dobler. Thanks a lot.

Apparently, this year marks the 20th anniversary of "Say Anything..." Last month, a group calling itself "Mobler" went all around New York City holding radios above their heads to commemorate the significance of the film and the critical cinematic moment.

The group blasted "In Your Eyes" in subways, on escalators, in revolving doors, in Times Square, Washington Square Park and all over as they dressed like Dobler and reminded us about how sometimes love, pop culture, cheesiness and poignancy all can come together in a bold act for the whole world to see.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gazing at shoes and another possible band

Every five months, I have the same conversation:

Person: Hey, man, you ever been in a band?
Snooze Button Generation: Kind of.
Person: What do you play?
SBG: I kind of play the guitar - self-taught, but I'm more of a writer and entertainer.
Person: What does that mean?
SBG: I don't know. It's too hard to explain.

I've been in several bands that were extraordinary, but never got the critical acclaim I was expecting (See entry from 8/27/09 called "My personal True Hollywood Story.")

The problem I have with being in bands is that it's a rarity anyone understands my aesthetic. Although it has been approximately 18 years since shoegazer bands were most popular, I strive to be in a shoegazing band that rocks hard. As the front man for such a band, my top goal would be to turn my constant, in-your-face humor into a more subtle humor.

Between the years of 1960 and 1980, numerous quality rock bands existed with the Beatles at the top of the quality list. After 1980, though, when the Snooze Button Generation started listening to rock, incredible bands were hard to find.

The funny thing is that many bands after 1980 (and even some bands today) strove to be those bands from yesteryear. Obviously, those bands stunk.

The perfect band has never existed, but I want to try to have my band be that. My Bloody Valentine is the closest band that had the sound I am looking for - shoegazing, yes, but actually rocking hard, too.

Most other shoegazer bands, especially the Cocteau Twins, Jesus and Mary Chain and Ride, don't rock hard enough for my taste. Other bands that are arty that rock include the Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev and Sonic Youth. They're not considered shoegazer, though, and I see my band - with my thoughtful and subtly funny lyrics - being a bit like those.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Amazing how Smurfette is so down to earth

I am not suggesting Smurfette sleeps around or is immoral in any way. But I do wonder this: How in the world do Smurfs mate?

As Smurf folklore goes, 100 Smurfs exist with one being female - Smurfette. ... WTF?

Because of the differentiation in sexes, it makes me assume Smurfs mate, and Smurf babies are conceived, like humans. Does that mean Smurfette gave birth close to 100 times? Was there another female Smurf who gave birth to Smurfette's contemporaries?

A ton of theories exist on this question, but when going straight to the source (as any quality journalist does), no succinct answer exists. The source, by the way, is either the Belgian artist Peyo, who created the Smurfs in 1958, or Hanna-Barbera, which produced the Smurfs TV show from 1981 to 1990.

By George, my research shows that a Sassette Smurfling also existed, but she was born after Smurfette. She has a slight Southern accent and has red hair. ... Good God.I believe any good story also needs a good back story. I am not convinced that exists with the Smurfs.

I don't feel the mystery of Smurf mating will ever be solved, but through this all, I did run across a list of the 69 named Smurfs of the 100 Smurfs. Some of the names blow my mind as the list includes Pastrycook Smurft, Pretentious Smurf and Reporter Smurf.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Port-a-johns at home: Totally impractical

Despite the conventional wisdom, stealing a port-a-john is probably a bad idea.

I faced this common dilemma - to steal a port-a-john or not - yesterday when I realized there was one parked outside of my home. I don't steal. In fact, I am not sure if ever have stolen anything. But it is such a rare occasion to have a port-a-potty parked outside one's home that I thought perhaps stealing it was relevant.

I enjoy entertaining - having guests over and promoting what Caucasians refer to as "food, folks and fun." I have a small backyard and patio, and I believe it would be convenient to have an outdoor facility, perhaps a port-a-potty.

Here's the problem, though: I am completely uninterested in figuring out how I would clean the port-a-john. Presumably, I would call some number, and others would clean it. But shouldn't these things be cleaned daily? ... Ew, icky!

No thanks, port-a-john. You're simply not for me. I hope you understand why.

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.

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.

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 celebrators of Thanksgiving and Columbus Day need to be sensitive to the Native American genocide. These holidays certainly are not meant to be times to revel in, or forget, what tragically happened to Native Americans. It is important to not dismiss what happened, and if I think of this because I was cut by an electric razor, that may show compassion — or just plain stupidity.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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."

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:

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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:

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.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

McEnroe's racket: Abuse is 'scary'

As a scholar and gentleman, I have never understood racket abuse. Why do tennis players periodically destroy their rackets when something bad happens? Believe me. It is not the racket's fault something bad happened.

In other sports, similar abuse is rare. In basketball, it would seem wrong if a player knifed a ball. In football, it would be strange to set a first-down marker on fire. In baseball, the bat does receive some abuse, including being snapped in half over fat men's knees, but after some analysis, it is safe to say no sports equipment's abuse compares to that of a tennis racket.

Upon further reflection, what I truly don't understand is how a tennis racket stays with a player, even when that player is prone to abuse. This phenomenon made me want to understand life more and, thus, convinced me it would be worthwhile to interview John McEnroe's Dunlop MaxPly.

Snooze Button Generation: Thank you so much for this interview. I've always liked John McEnroe - and his racket.

Dunlop MaxPly: No problem. We rackets don't get the attention we deserve, so we're always open with the media. It's my pleasure.

SBG: So what was it like all those years, being the extension of McEnroe's left arm?

Dunlop: It was great. We were together in thick and thin. We won three Wimbledons, four U.S. Opens. It was a quite a ride.

SBG: Well, one reason for this interview, as you know, is to delve into the under-examined problem of racket abuse. ... Did you ever feel Mr. McEnroe was out of line with you?

Dunlop: Out of line? Nah. We all know John has a temper. But he always treated me how I deserved.

SBG: Did you feel like a victim of racket abuse?

Dunlop: Oh geez. No. Of course not.

SBG: How can you say that? We have countless videos of you being tossed to the ground, kicked and thrown. You don't consider that abuse?

Dunlop: Oh, you just don't know John like I do. He did it all out of love. He never did anything inappropriate to me.

SBG: But what about the video above? How could you possibly deserve that treatment?

Dunlop: Look, man, I mess up too. My grip is 4 1/2 inches, and sometimes, John would have made shots if my grip were 4 3/8ths. I'm not perfect. I'm just trying my best.

SBG: OK. I guess. But it sounds like you're just rationalizing the abuse. What about racket abuse in general? Do you see it as a problem?

Dunlop: Yes, I absolutely do. What scares me is the escalation in racket abuse. If you look at tennis players nowadays, they're much more violent than John was or Ivan Lendl or Bjorn Borg. It's scary, and it's on a global scale. It should be stopped. The bottom line is that when you're involved in an abusive relationship, it's sometimes hard to see the abuse when it's happening. Now, with all these years passed, I realize what I went through. Healing is not easy. Thank you for this platform and interview. I hope that all victims, tennis rackets and even human beings too, have the courage to seek help with recovering from being slammed to hard surfaces like concrete and clay. 

Monday, October 26, 2009

'Chloe-ashi' eyes Kobayashi

As a parent of two sophisticated daughters, I am attempting to help them live the best lives possible.

What that means is open to interpretation, but I know I want to expose them to as much as I can and hope they find a passion in their life or things they enjoy because those are precursors to fulfillment, or what many call "happy, happy, fun, fun, happy, happy, fun."

One difficulty I have encountered, though, is when to stop my children with a problem activity. Now, I consider myself extremely open-minded and willing to support my children in any endeavor they chose, including art, science, sport or whatever they happen to feel is important.

But what should a parent do when the child's activity is potentially destructive?

Luckily, some parents never face such a question. But I have faced a tough question with my youngest daughter, Chloe, who yearns to be the next Kobayashi - the greatest eater of all-time. She calls herself "Chloe-ashi."

Chloe-ashi, 2, can eat a hot dog in less than one minute. If she hones her hot dog eating skills, there is a chance she, one day, could vie for the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Championship in Coney Island on a faraway Fourth of July. But is eating more than 50 hot dogs in 10 minutes truly healthy?

Well, I don't think eating numerous hot dogs quickly is healthy, so I am not encouraging Chloe-ashi to eat her franks so fast. OK, I am not discouraging her, but I will not encourage such activity.

Apparently, Kobayashi is having difficulty with this Joey Chestnut character. Kobayashi last won the big Nathan's contest in 2006, then Chestnut won the past three years. However, ESPN's best ratings for the contest came in 2006 for Kobayashi's last victory.

I believe that ESPN's ratings with the power eating is lagging because fans prefer Kobayashi, a thin gentleman, to Chestnut, who is plump.