Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rock lobsters

Posting this video here, as it will probably get more plays than at our newspaper's Web site, where it is hidden deeper than the cup of Christ.

I felt kinda terrible the whole time playing this game. But I couldn't suppress a tiny nugget of excitement that brought me back to the days snagging stuffed marios and garfields in Sonny and Ricky's on the Seaside Boardwalk.

Rest of the story (which began the night of the below lobster post) here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

George Lucas and the Kingdom of Sabotaged Trilogies

The best that can be said of the new Indiana Jones move is that it is 100 percent unnecessary. It's not a complete desecration of the franchise, and it doesn't commit the sacrilege of trying to attribute Indy's wit to tiny bacteria in his bloodstream. But the whole thing hardly seems worth the effort.

When you take a property this esteemed off the shelf for another go-round, you have to make a pretty damn good justification for doing so. I wouldn't drag my 85 year old World War II hero grandfather out of bed to help me settle a dispute with my neighbor over the overgrown rhododendron bushes. There had better be fucking Nazis marching down our street, and they had better be running up on his lawn stealing his newspaper. So to dust off the Indy franchise, which had a perfectly holistic and satisfying conclusion in 1989, for what could be confused for a fan-fiction graphic novel incarnation, seems like Lucas and Spielberg are stubbornly unaware they are playing fast and loose with a film legacy.

Yes, Harrison Ford is old — and perhaps several years of making depressingly disappointing movies from K-19 to Firewall have taken their toll on his swagger as well as his prestige — but aging movie icons are big these days (see Rambo, Rocky, Adam Sandler). I can't help but think this movie might have been better if instead filling the 19-off-screen years with lots of super-secret government work and other off-screen exposition, we joined Indy as a retired adventurer, someone who has hung up the whip and hat and settled into a nice life of tenured professorship.

It would take a lot to pull him off the bench again, just as it should have taken a lot to pull this character out of the cabinet. Then we could see Indy reconciling with his past, rediscovering the emotional rush of adventure and paving the way for his own lineage to continue. There's hints at social commentary, but Spielberg and co. back off right away, opting instead for a narrative that chooses action over human connection but achieves neither.

Some good parts are still there: the punches still sound like hunks of thawing meat smashing into each other at 50 mph and Karen Allen's (Terp!) smile shines as the film's only other tie to its other chapters.
The mythology and MacGuffin of the movie could probably have worked if they didn't transgress from kinda weak to downright silly. In the end, it turns out the frustrating climax would have transpired exactly the same regardless of the previous hour and a half of CGI fights and monkey chases (yes, monkey chases).

There's nothing iconic about this film whatsoever, and I'll wager that even the oft-maligned Temple of Doom will stir up pangs of nostalgia among fans after seeing this clunker. (I have a soft spot for Temple after watching it 97 times on a taped-from-TV video as a kid, plus don't tell me you've never tried to rip someone's heart out from their chest or informed someone there is no time for love, Dr. Jones. I know you have.)

Instead, we got a collective feeling of: "Why bother?" Basically, someone should probably lock George Lucas in a room without any access to his previous body of work. Unless he plans to remake Howard the Duck, and finally give Jeffrey Jones his post-child-pornography conviction renaissance.

A commenter named Thumb from Slashfilm pretty much sums it up:

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Polar News Caps are Melting

Eff the polar bears. The Arizona Republic last week made an appeal to save another dying breed. They're less cute in Coke commercials, but they drink a lot more beer, and also look great when turned into rugs. They also generally smell a lot worse than your average bear.

May 16, 2008

Dirk Kempthorne

U.S. Department of Interior

Washington, D.C.

Dear Secretary Kempthorne,

Our friend Sandy at the Sierra Club told us that today is Endangered Species Day. We're not sure if you're accepting nominations, but there's a species we'd like to call to your attention.

We understand that there are certain requirements a species must meet to be included on the endangered list, but we've done our research.

1) Diminishing numbers? Check.

2) Hostile environmental elements, including dangerous predators? Check.

3) Inability to adapt to shifting landscape? Check.

Given all those considerations, we ask that you please consider placing Journalisticus Newspaperus Americanus on the Endangered Species List.

Thank you.

Your pal,


P.S. We think polar bears are cool, so thank you for putting them on the threatened species list

-- John D'Anna

Unfortunately, until someone makes a Dreamworks picture about adorable CGI journalists, no one will probably care.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) -- John Edwards today announced he is picking the New York Giants to win Super Bowl XLII and has finally submitted his NCAA bracket with Kansas as the winner. He also endorsed Blu-Ray over the HD format, threw his support behind Kelly Clarkson in the American Idol competition and switched all internet browsers in his home from Netscape to Firefox.

Way to take risks, John John.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The new pot at the end of the rainbow

If you're like me (which you must be, because I'm the only one who reads this) then you often think: hey, what could be worse than being one of those lobsters in a tank at a restaurant, having slobbering seafood addicts hover over and choose your fate like fatted kings of old? Well, how about having those same slobbering carnivores pay money for the chance to hook your doomed crustacean ass out of a crane game, as if you were some wretched stuffed Pokemon toy coveted by spoiled children from Long Island, their faces smudged with an ice-cream waffle, at the Jersey Shore?

Indeed, that is the fate of many lobsters these days, thanks to this new trend of seafood-based crane games that now grace some of the classier restaurants of the world. I walked into Remy's on Hilton Head today to find the first one of these Kafka-esque amusements I've ever seen, and, sure enough, there were some inebriated young fellas pumping their caddying tips (I assume) into it trying to pull home dinner. Neither of them succeeded, much to the lobsters' delight, though if you're a lobster in a crane game in a seafood restaurant, you probably listen to a lot of Dashboard Confessional and think about which part of you is soft enough to slice open without taking off your rubber bands.

The bartender told me there's like three more of these machines on the island already, and I plan to investigate this shortly. To recap: we have four games where you can win a live creature to devour with your mouth, yet no pinball or Time Crisis. Not even a tired old House of the Dead machine.

I googled it and there's a Florida (figures)-based company called "Lobster Zone" that makes these things. They're quite exuberantly excited about their growth possibilities in the marketplace. The name "Lobster Zone" is pretty damned misleading, as it sounds like it would be a place of joy and happiness for lobsters, where they can go play lobster skee-ball, splash around in the underwater ball pit and make out with their crawfish girlfriends under the boardwalk so their parents will never find out about their forbidden love. It'd be like calling a chicken-fighting ring "Clucky Cheese."

Here's the Lobster Zone's enthusiastic defense of their industry, from their Web site (coloring and capitalization is theirs):

The Lobster Zone product is extremely appealing to a broad target audience in a multitude of settings, and has the potential to be adapted to feature other high priced “rewards”. The psychological attraction to gaming appeals to a variety of interests including competition, sport, challenge, uniqueness of the game, and the “pot at the end of the rainbow”. Our society has become increasingly focused on impulse buying and immediate gratification. Today, vending machines meet those needs by selling virtually every product available in a store environment. Clothing, cameras, phones, food, hygienic products, fishing bait, pizzas, you name it, and you can find it in a vending machine in most parts of the world. The industry is booming and industry experts see a sustained growth rate for the future. Annual sales figures for the vending machine industry world wide total over ONE TRILLION DOLLARS .

To summarize, lobsters have replaced candy bars and tabloid magazines as impulse purchases. At least Miley Cyrus will be happy. If she weren't a vegetarian.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Kingdom of the Crystal Terp

You can't swing a dead gamecock these days without hearing a reference to the University of Maryland and it's awe-inspiring foundation of research knowledge. Or its awe-inspiring dedication to besmirching journalism ethics (Happy fourth birthday, Jayson Blair scandal!). Or, if you're the kind of person who reads certain web sites that rank such things, its dedication to enrolling a student body solely based on its brains. Or even its alumnae's dedication to thwart Soviet plots and remove from their grasps various McGuffins.

On last night's Daily Show, Fareed Zakaria dropped some knowledge about the University of Maryland, citing a study about some terps who tracked data showing that we're actually living in the most peaceful period in 40 or 50 years. I assume the corner of Knox and Rt. 1 was not included in that data, of course.

John Stewart's retort: "You're talking about the University of Maryland here. It's clearly a safety school. Now if you had said Tulane, OK, I could go with that."

Much laughter ensued. Except for us terps, who were made sad. Though several years ago, we were properly feted by an extended Daily Show bit on the Terps 2002 national championship win, during which several jokes were made about rioting and Juan Dixon. Much righteous laughter ensued. And the students never rioted again.

Video is posted below, and the terp discussion starts at 5:36 in.

Monday, May 5, 2008

One Pound of Disappointment

Behold the one-pound burger from Cheeburger Cheeburger, a Bluffton restaurant apparently operated by a workforce similar in size and age to the underground mines in Temple of Doom. It's large, for sure, but, as the Hsieh later told us, it's kind of a fucking pansy.

So the deal is, you eat a one-pound burger, they take your picture with a giant stuffed cheeseburger toy, make a big stink announcing your accomplishment to the nearby high schoolers and you live on in gluttonous immortality on the wall of the restaurant — at least for a week or so until the wall is too covered with pictures that they need to take some down and start again. This challenge must not actually be that hard for true carnivores, as we saw three man-boys accomplish this feat in the hour or so we were there Friday night.

And for Hsieh, the challenge was laughably easy and, he told us, frustratingly unfilling and anti-climactic. He topped the burger with an impressive collection of available condiments, from artichoke hearts to black olives (perhaps hoping to offset the heart-hardening effects of 16 meat ounces), yet still walked away hungry and unhappy. They didn't even make a to-do and announce his name to the restaurant, and he had to ask for his picture to be taken.

This is a pretty lame food challenge anyway, as you don't actually achieve anything for all your waistline-sacrificing mastication. I always thought food challenges were designed so the victor would end the meal holding high some trophy of his or her conquests: a T-shirt, a free meal, a Grammy, etc. But all you get here is the Polaroid on the wall and a cursory round of applause from the nearby table of kids who look like rejected applicants for MTV's Made. Like Pete and Elda's, in Neptune City, for instance, if you finish a whole extra large pie, you get a free T-shirt (whose design changes every so often to reflect changing pop culture trends and usually infringes on any number of copyrights). It's not really that hard to do since the pizza is super thin crust. But they at least acknowledge your commitment to epicurean domination with a significant offering.

We got up and went into the movie to see Iron Man, and Hsieh proceeded to emphasize his dissatisfaction by guzzling half a bag of popcorn. Inside Hsieh's stomach is either a physical anomaly black hole or a tape worm the size of the anaconda that ate John Voight. Either way, at least he's putting it to good use by sending restaurant contests to a place of shame and ill repute.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Dinosaurs didn't go extinct, they evolved into internet

This cartoon is just humorous in its apocalyptic, sadly true kind of way. From yesterday's story in The Economist about the death of the American newspaper, a topic no one in the history of time has ever written about, especially not in the past six months or with any sense whatsoever of increasingly macabre morbid fascination. This whole cartoon, of course, is completely historically inaccurate, as we learned from Ben Stein. Not only were dinosaurs not evolved enough to make the complex fashion choices required to pop a collar as depicted above, they also would never have read the liberal rags the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. Everyone knows dinosaurs prefer to get their information from cable news, which would explain why they dismissed all the hype and warnings about the incoming meteor as environmental scare tactics.

Vampire Birthday

Hilton Head is like Charlotte's toilet bowl, I learned last night, sitting at the bar with two friends who lived in the NASCAR and banking capital of North Carolina. They informed me of this as two other former Charlotonians (or Charlatans?) walked in and took a seat at the opposite end of the bar, which, according to the denim power suit and going-to-see-Jovi-at-Giants-Stadium haircut the woman had, apparently is the one spot on earth where 1986 still exists. Her man-friend — but not quite husband — I'm pretty sure was a rejected villian from the Popeye series, with his lengthy Gandalf beard framed nicely by an incandescent bald skull. This guy is having his 60th birthday today, we learned. And as everyone knows, the 60th is the Ornate and Completely Unnecessary Displays of Ostentatious Masculinity birthday.

His celebration plans include (no joke, this is what Denim Debbie told us they actually have planned. We'll call him James because his name is being withheld to protect his identity and, um, because I left the notes I took last night on the table at home):
• James will be transported via coffin
• The coffin will be placed inside a military truck
• The truck will be escorted by motorcycles
• Thongs will drape the coffin instead of flowers
• The pallbearers will be all-female
• This whole Dada-ish parade will end the Alligator Grille (pictured right), where I assume everyone will have sushi and a cabernet and go home before 10.

Not knowing much about this James character other than his obvious desire to dispose of any subtlety related to his heterosexuality, several questions arise from this. One: How does one get access to a military truck? I am unaware of them being rented on an hourly party basis like so much shameful clown. Two: Does one have to purchase the thongs specifically for such an event, or is he borrowing them from lady friends? And if he's purchasing them, did he walk up to the check out counter at Victoria Secret and ask for the 25-piece thong econoy funpack? Three: Does a local funeral home offer an all-female pallbearer service, or are these freelance pallbearers trying to get some gigs to build up a resume? And Four, in regards to the coffin: Which is a better vampire movie — "Once Bitten" or "My Best Friend is a Vampire"? The answer to that one, at least, is obvious:

Of course, I don't know if any of James' through-the-testosterone-looking-glass birthday will ever materialize. But if it does, I salute you sir. Just know that I have garlic and holy water in my pockets at all times.