Friday, February 26, 2010

Where have all the Crispin Glovers gone?

As Crispin Glover's foot nearly struck David Letterman's face, a shocked and disturbed feeling swept over me while I couldn't stop staring at the TV screen. ... Yeah, man, that was entertaining!

Crispin Glover's 1987 "performance" on "Late Night with David Letterman" is among the most memorable talk show moments to me, and as I reminisce about him threatening Letterman and acting like an eccentric goofball, this question comes up: Where have all the good talk-show guests gone?

A good, controversial talk-show guest should 1) entertain and 2) make the talk-show host feel uber-uncomfortable. Blending those two factors appears extremely difficult because, often times, No. 1 is lost due to No. 2.

Glover did both, though, and Letterman stormed off the set, muttering "I'm going to check on the Top 10."

Cleveland native Harvey Pekar did something similar, but Letterman enjoyed him. Plus, Pekar perhaps was more critical of General Electric, NBC's parent company, than Dave. Pekar made eight appearances on "Late Night," even though G.E. briefly banned him from the show.Andy Kaufman was arguably the first, and best, controversial talk-show guest. My only criticism is that his unconventional antics became expected, and often times, his appearances looked too pre-staged. They were still highly entertaining, but Letterman and other talk-show hosts were at ease with him.So, are there any good controversial talk-show guests nowadays?

I don't think so, though Joaquin Phoenix recently made a captivating, controversial appearance on "Letterman" not so long ago.

Late night TV is dead to most in the Snooze Button Generation because it's failed to develop in accordance with our technology and viewing tastes. Seriously, if someone in the Snooze Button Generation regularly watches late night TV it is because of one of three reasons - 1) routine, 2) that person has somehow failed to discover better entertainment options or 3) nostalgia for Letterman's best years from 1982 to 1993.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Prince's genius: 'How about me in a tub?'

No doubt, the song that made it official "Prince is a mega-superstar" was the 1984 classic "When Doves Cry."

Prince scholars might debate that he turned into a mega-superstar earlier with the release of the 1982 album "1999." That is revisionist history, though, because he really didn't become absolutely HUGE until the film "Purple Rain" and the big hit "When Doves Cry."

Dig if you will this picture.

At one point, music executives had to figure out exactly how Prince would burst onto the scene as a mega-superstar. Thus, the video for "When Doves Cry" was critical, and I imagine there were discussions in a boardroom about the importance of the video.At the boardroom meeting for the "When Doves Cry" video, I imagine executives throwing out idea upon idea of what the opening of the video would be. They probably argued - and fought - about what to do when they finally asked Prince, the artist, what he thought.

Prince presumably muttered six words - and six words only - that gave "When Doves Cry" its vision and launched him into mega-stardom:

"How about me in a tub?"

The executives paused, gawked and applauded the artist briefly known as this:for his insightful expertise.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Asparagus urine connects us all

I have no desire to be gross or shocking, but I believe some taboos should stop. And perhaps no taboo needs to end more than asparagus urine.

Yeah, man, my pee smells totally weird - pungent - after I eat asparagus. This cannot be just me, and through lengthy Internet research, I have discovered that weird-smelling pee from asparagus is common. Marcel Proust even wrote about asparagus and his pee in "Swann's Way," saying it "transforms my chamber pot into a flask of perfume."

Studies from France, China and Israel have concluded that foul-smelling urine from asparagus is a universal human characteristic. ... Wow! We are all connected through asparagus urine!

The study from Israel, though, concluded that while everyone produces bad-smelling pee from asparagus, only 22 percent of people can detect the smell. I definitely am one of those 22 percent. I guess I'm lucky.I am unsure if any food has such an effect on pee more than asparagus, but I also get a weird smell after I eat Super Sugar Crisp or Honey Smacks. I did not find as much information about cereal and pee online, yet I imagine that also is "a universal human characteristic."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The 37th Annual Polish Olympics

If I had won a debate with the XMan 17 years ago, this would be the date for the 37th Annual Polish Olympics.

Instead, I am looking back in nostalgia at one of the greatest events created by mortals - the Polish Olympics. It took place every second Saturday in February in Cleveland from 1974 to 1993.

In 1974, when I was 5 months old, the XMan gathered approximately 25 of his closest friends to play games, eat kielbasa and drink beer in my basement. It was the first Polish Olympics, in which I believe John Sondej, who often wears shorts in wintertime, won. However, it might have been that my Uncle Steve Warner won the first Olympics. I don't recall the exact champ. I was only 5 months old.

The Polish Olympics took off because of its gorgeous blend of Polish cuisine, beer and games. Having more than 40 entrants was the norm, and in the mid-1980s, the event had to be moved to a hall called the Mary Rybicki Building.

The event developed a life of its own and culture, in which some competitors vaguely changed identities for it. I remember that Chuck Withrow, a successful ad man in Cleveland, won the Olympics multiple times and was the Babe Ruth of the Polish Olympics.To win the Olympics was a feat; to win it more than once was godly - partly because luck was a huge factor. In the final Polish Olympics in 1993, the events were darts, dice toss, Facts in Five, penny pitch, poker, Polish bingo, putting, Skittle Bowl, softball throw and Yahtzee.I loved Facts in Five and Skittle Bowl the most because 1) those are cool games and 2) it was the only time of the year anyone would play those games. My least favorite event was putting, and in retrospect, putting was a sign that my parents were transitioning from Polacks to golfers. Also, in retrospect, the running of the Polish Olympics coincided with the running of my childhood. Soon after the Olympics, I graduated college, moved to New York, then L.A.

When the XMan ended the Olympics after 20 installments, I implored him to keep it going, but he said 20 were enough. Maybe it was time to move on.

This many years later, I yearn to bring back the Olympics but do not know if it's possible. I might try some sort of Olympics in Long Beach, Calif., but I don't think the perfect blend of competition, kielbasa and ridiculousness will ever match that for the original 20 Polish Olympics. Na zdrowie!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

That doodle can't be un-did, homeskillet!

Six weeks ago, I engaged in the following conversation with an older member of the Snooze Button Generation.

Friend: Did you do anything last night?
Snooze Button Generation: Not much. I got stuck in the web of YouTube, and by the time I got out, it was too late to go out.
Friend: Really? What do you do on YouTube?
SBG: Well, I was looking at Norm MacDonald videos again, and then I found some web-only show Tom Green did ... Wait a second. Do you ever go to YouTube?
Friend: No. But I've been meaning to.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Really? I may be a bit out of it in some regards, adding unlimited texting to my cell phone plan only a few months ago, for example. But apparently, some SBG members surf the Web but do not experience YouTube. It's kind of like having sex, but not experiencing an orgasm (though I've had girlfriends tell me that's OK. Really? Well, OK then, I'm going to watch the game now.).

Anyway, I had that "how did I not know this?" feeling when I stumbled across the other day. How had I never encountered it until then?

He is so sapiosexual that he wanted to cuff the carrot we he saw her sideboob.Without Urban Dictionary, I might not realize that someone who is sapiosexual finds intelligence the most sexy trait, and a sideboob is the sight of a clothed breast.

That's one doodle that can be un-did, homeskillet!

At Urban Dictionary, I also saw the half-your-age-plus-seven rule in print. Some say it is only appropriate to date someone half your age plus seven. Thus, if a 36-year-old dated a 24-year-old, that is inappropriate by one year.

I also saw "dejabrew" in print, though I think it should be "deja brew." Why is it I sometimes have the same thoughts or memories, only when I've been drinking? Well, those are obvious cases of deja brew.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bud Bowl needs Pee Wee's crew

Every Super Bowl Sunday, a flurry of drunks will ask this question: "Who the heck won the Bud Bowl?"

Arguably the most famous ad campaign in Super Bowl history, the Bud Bowl has not existed since 1997. There were eight Bud Bowls in all, which ran successively from 1989 to '97 with the exception of 1996. Bud has a 6-2 record against Bud Light in the Bud Bowls.

The Bud Bowl was clever the first year, then recycled the same old material during seven other Super Bowls. Most became bored and tired with it, and now I think it's been so far removed, a Bud Bowl commercial or two could work - maybe.

On Deadspin last week, one of the creative forces behind the first Bud Bowl was interviewed. The most interesting fact from that interview was that the animators from "Pee Wee's Playhouse" actually created the Bud Bowl.
Pee Wee's animators did a lot of cool touches, such as a fan (a beer bottle) with the sign "John 3:16" and hippie fans, that were missing in later Bud Bowls. And it wasn't overly easy to produce these commercials. The bottles had to be moved by hand for stop-motion photography, and it took the animators eight hours to create footage for three seconds.

Last year, the Super Bowl commercials were universally considered a letdown, and a bad economy was to blame. Apparently, there was not enough money to come up with original ideas. Perhaps Pee Wee's crew should be contacted.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

JAMS suck

A journalist might take offense if someone says this: "Why are you only writing touchy-feely stories? Don't you ever write hard-hitting news?"

Well, if that is a complaint for the Snooze Button Generation, then here's a hard-hitting newsflash:

JAMS suck.

Until now, this blog extolled many components of the Snooze Button Generation that most of us still love, including Atari, Lloyd Dobler, the Replacements and G.L.O.W., the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.

But in reality, not everything from the Snooze Button Generation was positive, and good God, what were we thinking with JAMS? They suck.JAMS got real popular in the late 1980s, even though they were hideous-looking, over-designed Hawaiian shorts. If anyone wore them today, they would either be joking or considered the Corky of the fashion world. No offense to Corky, by the way. I actually must say that James Burke of "Life Goes On" fame is inspirational.

Anyway, JAMS still exist as part of the company Jams World. I find it hard to believe this company is making any money. The website is trying to come off as sophisticated, and the above shorts sell for $80.

Wait, wait, yeah, that's right. They're trying to pull off JAMS as sophisticated.... Good luck with that one!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Online poker: Where everyone's a loser!

Anyone who has spent extended time in Las Vegas or Atlantic City knows that it is impossible to make a living as a "professional gambler."

Beating the house defies the odds, and it is not mathematically reasonable to defy the odds for an extended period of time. I take the problems of gambling a step further by saying that even when you win, you lose. Vegas or Atlantic City will get your money or kill your liver, even if you happen to be up with your gambling money, which is rare.

Anyway, I won $144 in a freeroll on PokerStars Sunday. I was proud because I finished third of 8,485 players, which is really difficult, lucky and incredible, considering I put none of my own money at risk. In this year's World Series of Poker main event, for example, there were a mere 6,494 players.
Here is a copy of the congratulatory e-mail I received:
PokerStars Tournament #235329047, Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo Freeroll
8485 players
$2000.00 USD added to the prize pool by PokerStars
Total Prize Pool: $2000.00 USD
Tournament started 2010/01/31 11:00:00 PT [2010/01/31 14:00:00 ET]

Dear ClevelandBoy,
You finished the tournament in 3rd place. A USD 144.00 award has been credited to your Real Money account.
Thank you for participating.

Here is the rub. Ready?

When I exited the tournament, it had been going on for NINE HOURS! It sounds crazy, and I am not exaggerating.

In other words, I wasted NINE HOURS of a beautiful Sunday in Long Beach, Calif., playing online poker with teenage nerds like this guy:
Officially, I won. But I lost. Mathematically, no one ever wins at gambling.