Thursday, December 21, 2006

Borat - A Review by the Five Paragraph Bitter Film Critic

I watched this movie in sheer disbelief. Much like that poor son of a bitch who had to announce the Hindenberg tragedy, or even Al Michaels during the Miracle on Ice, I can't believe what I just saw.

Once upon a time, the 5PBFC thought he was a funny dude, and did a variety of small jobs in the entertainment industry - deejay, photographer, comedian, screenwriter - and the fact that you're reading this blog and not my award-winning novel "How to Get Stinkin' Rich and Hotties by Being Silly and Moderately Talented" should show how far I got on that plan.

Why did I fail? Good question. No doubt I was funny, and I still am. I'm as entertaining now as ever, and certainly better than many comics and writers on TV and movies. Was I not good-looking enough? Perhaps. I have yet to get my beer gut into a six-pack in the ten years since it's inception. Not connected with the industry enough? Perhaps as well, but I've got friends with more HBO specials than brain cells, and been on Comedy Central more times than "Mo' Money."

Perhaps the real reason was that I couldn't go all the way. I couldn't commit to the lifestyle. Driving 500 miles for a gig, performing in Kinhump, Arkansas in front of 18 beer-drinkin' rednecks just looking to beat the hell out of a city slicker. I needed the comfort of a full-time day job, health benefits, and the knowledge that I could walk away at any time. And I sure as hell couldn't commit to a bit, to a character, to a point-of-view. I tried to be the cute wise aleck that Dane Cook is hogging right now. I can't be more bitter and jaded than Doug Stanhope - I tried, and I wasn't funny; simply bitter and jaded. I can't rant like Lewis Black, I can't do impersonations as well as Darryl Hammond, or Jimmy Fallon, or even Gilbert Godfried. I could be funny, but I couldn't find a character that I wanted to wear, day in, and day out. Something that came from the soul, an extenstion of my subconscious, but also not so close that every joke became a mini-autobiography, each laugh a catharsis.

Why is my review so self-introspective? Because I know that if I had a million monkeys in front of a million typewriters, I could never write something half as funny as Borat. Sasha Baron Cohen has created a character of epic stupidity, chauvasnistic, anti-Semetic views and an undeniable inner sweetness, and he plays it to perfection. Such an incredible dichotomy, and he nailed it. Out of the park, home run, game over. His committment to the character and the story is so great that he risked his health and his jaw more than a few times, and ended up making the funniest movie of the decade (sorry, Team America, you've been bumped, catch the next flight). How committed? All I need to say is "nude wrestling with a hairy dude with bigger bitchtits than the guy in Fight Club."

9 out of 9.5 Whammies! It's not the perfect movie, but it's damned, damned close. It's done in the same mockumentary style as Waiting for Huffman and A Mighty Wind, yet so much funnier than those two great films. I deducted half a Whammy! for making me see the bitch tits.

Overheard at work...

"Is Mr. Hankey going to come? What about Dr. Jones?"

Of course, you know the first things I thought of...

tell me I'm not a child of pop culture :)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Verizon Wireless Fails at Math

Courtesy of George at VerizonMath/, here's a sordid tale of how a decimal point can make a big, big difference. Namely, about 70 bucks.

Want a quick audio tour? Just fire up your web browser and point it to this display at

Check out this guy's battle with customer service and bad, bad corporate math. It's an entertaining and, sadly, kind of depressing. I mean, if a Fortune 500 company can botch basic math like this, what chance do any of us have?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I'm a lazy bones

Sorry for not contributing to my O.B. too much lately, as I've been doing some writing for, helping people move, going to weddings (more on that later), cooking for 18,000 people, and trying to avoid gaining weight and getting fired.

And who says I never learned to juggle!?!?

First, writing for a food blog has had some unintended consequences. People who don't really know me suddenly think that I know every restaurant in North America, have dined at every pricy place in DC, and then express shock when I have no idea what they're talking about. Certainly, I've heard of the big famous restaurants in a few cities, and ones ran by celebrity chefs, but when somebody asks if I've eaten at Le Pigtaille Rue in Des Plaines, Illinois, I'm going to wonder what they're thinking. How often do I get to Illinois, let alone Des Plaines, and why would I eat there when all of Chicago would be at my whim? And, if I'm dining at Citronelle or 1789 every night, why the hell would I be in Des Plaines?

And I just made that name up...Le Pigtaille Rue. Street of Pig French is rusty, and I figure such a weird, obviously-fake name will allow me to avoid any nasty lawsuits.

Also, I'm somehow suddenly an expert on all things related to food. Cooking tips, grocery stores to use, caterers, where to dine while travelling in Europe - all are fair game once you mention you food blog. I think it's sweet that folks want my opinion, but it's just that - an opinion. I'm not able to recommend a restaurant in Paris France or Paris Texas, but I can suggest one near Paris, Virginia. The Inn at Little Washington. Quite tasty. But while I can cook, I'm by no means a chef. I made a fine Thanksgiving spread, but still can't make reliable pho. Phooey.

For Thanksgiving, I had about 20 or so MeetinDC folks over at Chez Ray. I made a 15-pound turkey, about 10 pounds of stuffing, green beans, corn, Chaimisu (tiramisu made with chai liqeuer called Voyant) some cookies and some Guiness Bread. I also attempted pho, which was a worse botch than anything Scott Norwood could have done in the Super Bowl 15 years ago.

A couple of days after the Cookathon 2006, my old friend Scott Appel got married to his girlfriend of the past few years, Maisie. She's a sweet gal, and she's got to be tough to put up with Appel. The wedding itself was lovely - a gorgeous old mansion at a golf course in Prince George's County, Maryland, and the weather was amazing. 60 and sunny in November? A lot of June Brides would kill for those picture-perfect conditions.

Seeing some old friends from school has definitely kicked in the ole' "life assessment" gene. Tim is married, building a house in southern Pennsylvania, and has a kid. Andy is divorced after two years of wedded blish-ish. Darren's married and seems to have found somebody who can more than ably take his crap. Matt brought a lovely young lady as his date, and has been mentioning that he might be ready to settle down. And Heath...Heath had a date. Rock on, Kubiack!

And, then there's me. Not quite as old as Tim or Darren, a little older than Matt, Heath and Andy, and about the same as Scott. Where am I in the whole dating/marriage world? Do I even BELONG in that world? How did they get there? What am I doing right...or wrong...or both?

As I watched Tim, a man responsible for one of my favorite memories and, one of my scariest, serve as Scott's best man, I was struck by how much he's grown up. So responsible, such a doting father. He looked at his (admittedly) adorable little girl, and he had such love in his eyes. His best friend just got married, and he held his world in his hands. She giggled, and promptly farted when he set her down.

Like father, like daughter. Daddy's little girl. Woe to be the first grab-hand guy to find the young lady attractive in 2018!

And he wanted to leave the reception so the bridal party, including the groom and bride, could go back and watch the Maryland Terrapins play a football game. Some things never change, such as the love of the Terps' athletic program by their supposed in-state rival Towson (State) Tigers.

Wedding Crashers we ain't.

In all this I decided something. I'm not those guys, never have been, and never will. Using friends as life post markers is useless. So what if somebody gets married, reproduced and divorced before you? The real question, and one that can only be answered internally is - are YOU happy? Not the 12-year-old planning your life away in a dark bedroom, dreaming of adulthood. Not the 18-year-old college freshman looking to turn college on its knees. Not the 23-year-old postgraduate who realizes their degree is utterly useless in the real world. But the you of right this very second.

Are you happy?

Would the 12 year old you think of you as a role model? The 18 year old? The 23 year old?

I might figure out the answer...when the 38-year-old looks back at the latest 5-year plan.


Friday, November 17, 2006

God bless the little iPod...

Well, more to the point, God bless iTunes. Not because it plays digital music files so well - pretty much any digital jukebox software can do that. It does seem to have the ability to dig through my music files and find an appropriate song, or even some forgotten treasures.

Case in point - Northside. Don't worry, nobody but me and their mamma's have ever heard of Northside. They came out during the Madchester scene, with the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, though they really didn't sound much like either of those bands. They simply played decent Brit-flavoured pop music. I bought their CD Chicken Rhythms, in 1992, I guess, and haven't heard it in well over 10 years.

My current project is to convert as many CDs to digital files on a hard drive, in the effort to make a bitchin' media server. So far, I've converted about 400 of the 500 CDs I own to Lossless format - a much bigger mp3, and slightly smaller than a standard AIFF file on a CD. Soon, my entire CD collection will fit on a single 300 GB hard drive, and I figure I can put my albums and tapes on a 100 GB partition.

Essentially, I will soon be able to hold all of my music in one hand. Considering it now takes about four massive suitcases and zippered CD holders, that's amazing.

The Northside CD was never awful; it simply wasn't as good as other CDs I bought back then - the Trashcan Sinatras, Kitchens of Distinction, The Ocean Blue, The Judybats, Jellyfish, James, XTC - all of them and countless others managed to squeeze the little band out of my CD rotation and into the bowels of my collection. A dark place, reserved for horrible lapses in taste on my part (yes, Rick Astley, I'm looking at you), horrid gifts from well-meaning-yet-terribly-misinformed friends (see: Dion, Celine; Christmas Album), or purchases made in good faith towards legendary performers stuck in their "I'm Keith Hernandez!" phase (Van Morrison's gawd-awful mid-70s stuff).

iTunes does not care. Once placed in shuffle mode, it plays any song in the library, regardless of quality, age, popularity or genre. You're as likely to hear De la Soul as Dada as Dishwalla. What it manages to do is find those hidden gems of songs that somehow didn't register the first time (or several dozen) times through.

Another case in point - the new Keane CD, Under the Iron Sea. Not nearly as good as Hopes and Fears; it's a rather dreary listen using the disc's order. However, when shuffled in with other songs, it's apparent that Keane's music is quite good when compared to other music out right now. Is it as good as Hopes and Fears now? No, but it's not as bad as I had first registered.

However, I can safely say that I'm not sure if the new John Mayer project Continuum or the new Carbon Leaf disc "Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat" can be saved yet. And the new Barenaked's just say that their new disc "Barenaked Ladies Are Me" won't push them back up into favorite band status with me anytime soon.

- ### -

Monday, November 13, 2006

Talkin' Turkey from

Thanksgiving is less than ten short days away. It's a time for many of us to go back to our hometowns, eat a nice dinner with our family and sit down to converse with our loved ones next to a roaring fireplace.

Sure...if you were born in a greeting card.

Truth be told, most of us shove copious amounts of poorly-cooked food down our gullets, play some football with Uncle Mel and his 5 demon offspring in the front yard, sit in uncomfortable silence as Aunt Louise decides that now - during the halftime show of the Cowboys' game - is the time to come out of the closet in front of a completely unshocked family, but much to the dismay of Grandma, who just thinks she hasn't found the right man yet, and then plan on waking up at 5 in the morning to take advantage of the Black Friday specials at the mall.

OK, maybe that's just my brood, but, let's face it, lots of us have families less like the Huxtables and more like the Griswolds. And our Thanksgiving dinners have more in common with Paula Zahn than Paula Dean. So, here's a quick survival guide for Thanksgiving `06.

1) Let the neighborhood grocery store do the cooking for you. Giant, Magruder's, Wegman's , Shopper's, Bloom - they can all prepare a meal for you and your guests, ready to heat and serve on Thanksgiving Day. It's often a little bit pricier than making it yourself, but, it's also a lot less prep work and clean-up time. If you want something a little less traditional, try swinging by the local Asian market, like Great Wall off Gallows Road, for a roasted duck or crispy fish.

2) If the idea of Safeway cooking your bird frightens you, at least follow their recipe. The Two-Hour method of cooking a turkey is a fantastic way to ensure a crispy skin and juicy meat, and still make it thoroughly cooked. Gone are the days of slow-roasting a bird all Wednesday night to eat Thursday afternoon - just follow Safeway's handy reference chart to match the cooking time with the size of your turkey.

My only suggestion would be to use a heavy-duty cooking bag. This will trap in the juices from the meat and will make your broiling pan a lot easier to clean.

Plus, don't stuff your stuffing in the bird. It slows down the cooking process for both the stuffing and the turkey, and can spread bacteria. Simply use a baking pan separate from the turkey to cook your glorified Stove-Top.

3) Just go out for dinner. McCormick and Schmick's locations serve a legendary Thanksgiving spread, as do several of the downtown hotels and restaurants. This might also be a great time to get prime seats in a hot ethnic eatery. Remember that Thanksgiving evening is a big going-out night, and that many bars will fill up with folks who've had about as much family as they can hand;e for the day. Get your grub early, and you should be fine.

And, if you need to go home and have zero control over the meal...

4) Remember that xanax is not just for breakfast anymore. Sneak a pack of Ramen noodles in your suitcase, and dress it up with some of the more edible leftovers.

When you get back to the area, stop off at Summer's by the Courthouse Metro. Besides being a fine place to watch both football and futbol, they make one of the finest turkey burgers you'll ever have. Perfectly seasoned, not over-cooked - when was the last time anybody gushed over a turkey burger? This is one seriously good sandwich, and should be enough to cure your turkey jones.

Been a long time...

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while. I wish I could say I took a break to concentrate on a new book or story I was writing. Nope.

I started a new job a few weeks ago. I'm over in the big ole' Pentagon now. And, believe me, this place is HUGE! It's almost a 15 minute walk from the bus stop to my office. I had to get a new pair of comfy shoes on my first day due to the blister that grew from nearly SIX MILES of walking! That's a lot of walking for slightly-too-small Bostonian wingtips.

A couple of small items:

1) Condo associations is stoopid. My condo association folks decided that Saturday would be the perfect time to repaint everybody's front doors. Good idea - 75 degree days in fall are nothing to sneeze at. However, paint requires more than 10 minutes to dry, and we had to leave our front door open all day. No big deal...except the paint didn't dry in the night, and formed a seal with the door frame when closed at night.

Every single door in the complex has this problem. A paint seal around the weatherproofing. Smooth move.

2) My friend Scott is getting married Saturday.

3) The Democrats have control of Congress again. I went to a friends' house to watch the election results. Not because I wanted to, but I wanted to watch people who actually think such things matter.

Was there anything dorkier than the group blogging event at Tryst that night? Gawd, does ANYBODY in DC get laid?

4) Decent bar food is harder to find than you'd like to think. But, so far, I can say with 100% authority that Summer's on Wilson Boulevard has the best Turkey Burger I've ever had. Period. That thing is mind-bogglingly good. I've had many things there - all of which have been good - but that Turkey Burger is off-the-chain good.

5) I dressed up as Earl for Halloween. I was going to be Brian Fontana and Jeff was going to be Ron Burgundy. However, he had a good idea for a costume as a fat lady missing her dog (wedged behind her in her huge arse cheeks was a stuffed puppy), and won 300 bucks in a costume contest.

I did get to grow a sweet porn `stache, though.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

From DCFUD - Cheeseburger in Paradise, Reviewed by the 5PBFC

Have you ever been to a restaurant that you can't stand, yet can't wait to try again? Then you know how the 5PBFC feels about Cheeseburger in Paradise, a Jimmy Buffett-inspired tribute to three of Buffett's favorite subjects - eating, drinking and making money.

Cheeseburger in Paradise embodies and embraces pretty much everything I hate about chain restaurants. Cheesy, overenthusiastic servers who have to follow a greeting script? Check. Stupid names for ordinary menu items (in this case, with a Buffett theme)? Check. Day-glow menu with paragraph-sized food descriptions because "French-Fried Potatoes" is too nebulous for mere mortals to understand? Check. Bartenders who think they're Tom Cruise in "Cocktail?" Check. Acoustic singer/songwriters doing covers of Live, Guns and Roses and Nirvana? Check. Ungodly amounts of tacky crap on the walls? Check. A roaming gangbang of servers singing "Happy Birthday" while food waits under heat lamps? Check. A little too kid-friendly? Check. Mediocre food and drinks at inflated prices? Well...

That's the rub. The food is good - surprisingly so, given the sub-$10 mark on most of their chow. They'll prepare their burgers to any desired temperature, from scorched well-done to scared-with-a-flashlight rare - a nice, wonderful touch in the chain restaurant world. They'll also substitute a turkey burger or a vegan patty on any of their burgers for no charge. The appetizers alone are the size of a meal. Check out the Carnivorous Habits Platter (again with the Buffett theme!). The BBQ Jerk ribs were about as good as any ribs I've had. Perfectly seasoned, just the right combo of spice and sauce, and very juicy. The teriyaki wings were fantastic, almost as good as the wares from Bruce Lee Wings in Baltimore's Cross Street Market.

This is not a restaurant for Alcoholics Anonymous members. Their bar book is the size of a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, and lists dozens of various margaritas, pina coladas and mojitos. The place has more booze than a hip hop video, and the large variety of rums could make a pirate scream for temperance. The drinks are cheap, just a step above "college dive bar" cheap. The Goombay Smash, somewhat similar to the Gorilla Farts from my beloved Monterrey's in Virginia Beach, is $5.50. That seldom buys a draft beer around these parts anymore. I just wish the fruit garnish wasn't looking at me.

face in the fruit.JPG

CiP is a fine place to take any Parrothead, or perhaps a decent meal after a day in the malls. It's definitely a step-up above the run-of-the-mill suburban chains, and, at the very least, the cheap drinks will make you forget that a dozen servers are singing "Happy Birthday" to some screaming toddler. My biggest complaint is that it tries just a little too much to be cute and pleasing - the overall theme of a beach bar alone would be nice. I just wish it could be a little more Coastal Flats classic than Chuck E. Cheese loud, because the food deserves better.

CiP gets 5 out of 10 Whammies! The food, drinks and overall value would earn it more Whammies!, and the drinks are strong enough to make me think for a second, that, indeed, I am in Key West, but I simply can't fully endorse any place that calls its employees "Islanders" in the middle of a landlocked suburban strip mall.
Cheeseburger in Paradise
5 Virginia Locations - Woodbridge, Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Virginia Beach and Newport News
2 Maryland Locations - Pasadena and California

The 4-1 Baltimore Ravens

So, my beloved Ravens got whupped last night in Denver, amid sleet and snow and 70,000 screaming Denverians...Denverites? Denverns? Coloradoans?

In any event, a 13-3 loss in Denver is usually nothing to be ashamed about, but it really looked like the Ravens' were not prepared to play. I don't want to mimic one of my favorite writers, Gregg Easterbrook, too much, but if there was ever a game that screamed "Tuesday Morning Quarterback," it was this one.

East Coast Ski Reports Do Not Make Good Football Weather

This loss can firmly be placed on the equipment manager.

The Ravens were slipping and sliding more than B.J. Sams on 695.

The icy conditions clearly affected the Ravens more than the Broncos. One team isn't really more manly than the other - in fact, they're both pretty similar squads, though Denver's OL is clearly better and the Raven's LB are amazing - but because the Broncos had better traction than the Ravens. I counted at least 5 plays in which the Ravens were falling down while the Broncos were able to cut and pivot.

If a Running Back Can't Catch and Doesn't Run Well, Is He A Lineman?

It's been over 20 years since the San Francisco 49ers' pioneered designed passes to the running back. Being able to catch a quick 6 yard pass is something taught to every back from the pee-wees to the pros.

Jamal Lewis couldn't catch crabs in a Thai brothel.

And yet, the Ravens had him out there on three passing downs.

That he dropped two of the passes was not surprising.

"Preposterous Punt?" Try "Pathetic Punt."

One of Mr. Easterbrook's favorite subjects is the punt; specifically those times when punting is the stupid, cowards' choice.

The Ravens had two such occurances last night.

Once, the purple-and-black were near midfield, playing against an offense that had been doing nothing, and they punted. The Broncos returned the ball to midfield. Horrible punt coverage, but a bad call started it.

Second, the Ravens were in Bronco territory, and attempted to aim the punt out of bounds.

The ball travelled about 10 yards. The 5 Paragraph Bitter (insert thing to be bitter about here) Critic wrote "game over" in his mental notebook, just like Easterbrook would...and probably did.

I'm not even IN the NFL and I can punt 11. Maybe 12. In the thinner air of Denver, I might be able to punt it 20 yards.

Pathetic punt. Two bad decisions, and they cost the Ravens the game.

6'5" is Taller Than 5'10", Right?

Clarence Moore is one of the tallest receivers in the league. Champ Bailey is a fine cornerback, but he's not going to be confused with Shaquille O'Neal anytime soon. That interception in the end zone was killer. Sure, Moore made almost no attempt to come back to the slightly-underthrown ball, but McNair has to be able to follow the simple physics involved with a seven inch height advantage.

So, the Ravens are 4-1, which is nothing to sniff at. They could be 5-0, but Denver did outplay them last night...almost as much as they out-thought themselves.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Foley Catheter

This is a picture of the Foley catheter. It is designed to go into a penis. Given Rep. Mark Foley's little scandal, there is a delicious irony in there, and I'd love to write a joke about it, but I'm not seeing much to laugh about.

If you haven't read the rather disgusting chat logs of the former Representative Foley and his page, check out and, make sure you steel yourself before reading them.

I'll wait until you're either done reading, or can't read any more.

Pretty gross, huh?

I've been thinking about Foley a lot, though I usually pay little-to-no attention to Washington sex scandals. I just can't get too excited about pasty white men with a chronic need to fill their massive egos by schtumping emotionally-empty women looking to find solace in their vapid lives by humping sorta-powerful men.

Foley's scandal is different. Unlike former President Clinton's affairs, there's the potential for pedophilia, which is a bit beyond the normal scandal. Adding further to this particular situation is the overt homosexual tones, and the recent comments from his lawyer that he'd been sexually molested by a clergy member when he was a teen.

While I in no way condone what Foley has written or could have possibly done, I'm beginning to see a very faulty logic in him. He is surely a tainted, flawed man, ultimately unable to avoid the demons that have plagued him for decades. However, within his personal struggles, he attempted to strengthen laws protecting children from the very crimes he committed, and had committed against him.

His homosexuality has been the biggest unkept secret in Washington, yet he denied repeated accusations that he was gay. It's obvious he's been in the closet longer than that fondue set as a 60s' wedding gift. Could his fear to reveal his secret come from the conservative Southern background of his home district? Fear of being outed as a homosexual pedophile? Fear of reprisal from his Republican Party counterparts, not all of whom would cotton to a gay man in their ranks?

Possibly the fear placed in him from his own sexual molestation decades earlier?

His actions have not been terribly discreet over the years. Male pages have been warned about Foley since the mid-90s. It's unfortunate that he felt the need to channel his urges towards young teenage boys. In a city with a large, active homosexual community, he could have found any number of partners at all sorts of clubs - not only discos for openly gay men, but music and supper clubs; even dance clubs for conservative Republicans who would rather remain in the closet. While it seems amazingly stupid that he used America Online's Instant Messenger to contact teenage boys, using his own easily-traceable screen name, it makes me wonder:

Maybe he WANTED to be caught?

The classic "suicide by police action" mentality that causes desperate people to wave a gun at an officer? They don't have the cajones to kill themselves, so, let the trained police shooter do it for them.

His actions as a Congressmen, strengthening child molestation and assault laws, helped bring about his demise. Hoist on his own petard...or, spanked by his own towel, given the subject matter of his chat.

I think he knew he was living a lie. He knew he didn't want other children to be attacked like he was. He couldn't avoid becoming what he tried to prosecute. His chat transcript is gross, and clearly perverted - his lawyer may say Foley never touched any child, but, as clear from that transcript, he thought about it. How soon before thoughts become action?

Maybe he got caught to save himself, and others?

And while focus on this case is firmly pointed at the much older Representative from Florida, it's hard not to read the comments from the former page and get a sickening feeling from him as well.

The teenager, labeled as "Xxxxxxxxx," knows who he is talking to, and seems to rather enjoy turning on the old poof. Going into detail about masturbation - a subject that can cause grown adults to blush - is no problem for this youngster, as he willingly tells the Congressman how he uses a towel for rubbing and cleaning. He even tells the man how he's "growing" and the exact length of his penis. He can clearly see that Foley is really enjoying this conversation, and makes ZERO attempt to stop it.

This is no innocent waif, but a teenager who is a little too aware of his body, and how to use it to his advantage. Who knows what he was going to get from the Rep? A college recommendation letter? Job on the Hill? A cheap thrill?

It appears that while many people will rightfully shun and spread disdain to the Congressman, I'm not willing to call the teenager a saint in this situation. I do hope that somebody gets a hold of this teenager and has a good heart-to-heart conversation with them and how this kind of conversation with an adult is wrong, and highly creepy.

Funny that if a 16-year old boy shoots up a liquor store, he's tried as an adult, but if a 16-year old boy sexually manipulates an older, lecherous man, that boy is suddenly "just a baby." Sorry, society - you can't have it both ways. That kid is about as innocent as a vice cop, and saving the chat log of the Congressman's conversation indicates that, like Foley, he knew exactly what he was doing.

How bad is this scandal? When the normally uber-right-wing Washington Times calls for the ouster of House Speaker Dennis Hastert for his role in covering up this scandal, that shows a sudden change of pace - the ultimate case of the abused dog biting the hand of its master.

And while this will become a benefit for the Democrats come Election Day, as the Republicans on the Hill try to figure out who knew what, when and why, it underscores a rather frightening truth : it's TOO easy to be a politician. I'm not talking about celebrities or athletes or business leaders who use their fame as an advantage in the polls, but just the whole process.

To get a driver's license, I needed to take a class, past a written test and a driving test. I'm one of the best drivers I know, and I failed the driving part twice before finally getting my license.

To get a dog from the SPCA, I had to fill out a long form, with references, to make sure I'm a dog lover and not a dog lover, if you know what I mean.

To use a computer at work, I had to go through the entire security clearance process, listing every address I've lived in, every job I ever had, personal and professional references, every credit card payment and travel excursion.

To become a Congressman, I need to fill out a small application, pay the filing fee, and tell people I won't raise their taxes. Once elected, I get free reign in the Nation's Capital, free to roam the Capitol and the House and Senate Office Buildings, free to butt into any meeting or event I damned well want. I can be courted by any lobbyist, special interest group or political action committee, and my vote can be bought or sold as easily as a street walker.

I'd get to comment on any issue and vote on any piece of legislation I want - even if I don't know a damned thing about the issue!

I can avoid the draft, yet vote to send our country's young to war.

I can scream about the environmental impact of pollution, yet drive the city in a big black Chevy Suburban.

I can pander to my district's religious base, yet live like a harlot in the confines of the District.

Somebody explain to me, please, how this system still is in place.

Friday, September 29, 2006

me likey post chats, though

When they're not botching captions, the Post does have the best chats in the biz...

Especially when they use my questions :)

Crystal City, VA: Re: The Redskins' trading of draft picks.

The Redskins under Gibbs' first tenure were able to pick up quality players in later rounds or through unsigned free agents. Clint Didier, Dexter Manley, Raleigh McKenzie, Kurt Gouveia - none of those guys were first or second rounders, or even a fourth.

I think that he has retained a bit of that disdain for first rounders - considering Darrell Green and Mark May were about the only ones he used the first time around.

That was before the days of Mel Kiper Jr. and his legion of draftniks and scouts pouring over the college ranks like the Zapruder film.

Draft picks are -MUCH- more valuable now, as scouting has gotten better, and game film is much more available.

This bias will come back to hurt the Redskins. A team made up of second-day guys just won't be able to compete in the 21st Century NFL.

Jason La Canfora: Their philosophy prizes NFL experience more than draft picks. Free agency is their thing.

I'm not the biggest Redskin fan in the world, but how this team can continue to sign big-name free agents and NOT run afoul of the salary cap is beyond me.

Not quite, DCPost...

In Michael Wilbon's piece on NFL quarterback and area native Byron Leftwich, their photo caption staff made a slight mistake...

That ain't Daunte Culpepper, kids.

This is Daunte Culpepper.

Note the Miami Dolphins uniform versus Leftwich's Jacksonville Jaguar's kit? I wouldn't be mad if they made the mistake once - I mean, after all, all black quarterbacks who play for NFL teams in Florida look alike, right? But twice in the same caption - that's awfully sloppy.

Bad call, Post caption crew.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

From DCFUD - Oyamel is No-yamel


I picked the wrong weekend to leave town.

My favorite of Jose' Andres' group of restaurants, Oyamel, has closed in Crystal City. The last night was September 16th. It will reopen in Andale's old space, 401 7th Street NW, sometime in 2007.

Granted, this is old news, and I knew it was coming, but it is still jarring to see the sign in the window explaining the move. My day job is in Crystal City, and I've enjoyed the diversity of restaurants here, from surprisingly good chains like Ted's Montana Grill and Hamburger Hamlet, to interesting family-owned places like Urban Thai, Punjab Kabob, The Portofino and Cafe' Italia. Having two of Chef Andres' finest, Jaleo and Oyamel, on the same block, has been a wonderful bonus. Oyamel's happy hour specials of tacos, especially the chicken and chorizo combo, and fine margaritas made a nice afterwork treat. Jaleo's not bad, but I preferred Oyamel's bolder spicing and flavors.

Many `burbs have lousy food choices, and it's certainly better here in Crystal City than in my former office space in Owings Mills, Maryland. Sam's Club hot dogs vs. Red Robin vs. Hops vs. TGIFridays, maybe a Ruby Tuesday to spice things up - that's just not a winning battle. It made me long for the fictional fare from Chotchkie’s or ShenaniganZ.

It's comforting to know Oyamel will be back and will be a nice alternative downtown to Rosa Mexicano. Plus, Oyamel's space will soon be occupied by a new Roberto Donna project, a casual Italian place dubbed Bebo Trattoria.

This must be how parents rationalize when their child marries - I'm not losing an Jose', but gaining a Roberto.

Rollercoaster...of Chili. Say What?


Ohio is home to several large rollercoaster-based theme parks, including Cedar Point in Sandusky and King's Island near Cincinnati. Taking an early fall mini-vacation, I headed out to the land of large rollercoasters and WKRP. My main goal was to ride the legendary wood coaster The Beast, and his "offspring," the fearsome, looping Son of Beast. Sadly, the son is being grounded for hurting some passengers earlier this year, so I had to settle for the old man, and trust me, he's no joke. Wilder than any ride around here, including Ride of Steel, the Grizzly, Volcano or Apollo's Chariot, but not quite as crazy as 395 at 6:30pm. However, the theme park is full of places to get chili, which didn't strike me as the usual fare. Chili + rollercoasters + overstimulated sugar-filled kids = a strange color of sick.

Cincinnati-style chili is a relatively mild mix of meat, tomatoes and chilies, but, rather than going for heat or spice, they make it sweeter by adding cinnamon to the mix. Usually served over a plate of pasta with cheese (3-way), onions (4-way) and beans (5-way), or on a small hot dog with similar toppings called a Coney, Cincinnati chili is very smooth and easy-to-eat, pretty much perfect for kids and not too rough on the ole' G.I. tract. This chili is not going to be used for some Herculean eating contest, where consumption of the brew comes with a waiver and a medical warning.

The Queen City has chili joints like we've got Starbucks, tapas and Peruvian chicken takeouts. There's at least one at every interstate exit, usually next to the Steak 'n Shake or the massive grocery stores out there, like Biggs or Meijers. You'll see two major chili chains, Skyline and Gold Star, with shops throughout southwestern Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, along with a smaller Kentucky-centric chain, Dixie. You'll find canned and frozen versions of all three shops' wares at the massive grocery stores, and rumor has it that a couple of local grocers here carry them from time-to-time.

If you like a meatier chili, you'll like Gold Star a bit better. The meat seemed a bit heartier and substantial. Skyline has a good seasoning, and though the recipe is secret, I thought I could taste some bay leaf and allspice in their mix. Dixie is a good mix of the two, though I'll confess I couldn't eat their offering fresh from the store, as two 3-ways and two Coneys from both Skyline and Gold Star had me craving anything BUT chili by that point.

If you want to try this version of chili, you can mail order some from any of the store's websites, or swing by any of the Hard Times around here, where they also offer spicier chilis, like the tasty Terlingua Red as well as Cincinnati style.

Oyamel has Oyaclosed. Oi vay!

my favorite restaurant in Crystal City, Oyamel, has closed up shop. They're moving downtown to Penn Quarter, and will reopen in `07.


Monday, September 11, 2006

from DCFUD - Tooth Decay in Del Ray, Part One


Not to get all Andy Rooney on you, but, didja ever notice how some neighborhoods seem hell-bent on making you fatter? The Del Ray neighborhood in Alexandria is one of those enclaves where the chocolate drowns and the sweets chase your blues away. This place is so devoted to making you chubby, I have to make this a two-part series.

You can start your own personal Tour Du Pudge at The Dairy Godmother, formerly known as the Del Ray Dreamery or That Custard Place in Del Ray. Though the name has changed, the incredibly high-quality goodies have not. This charming place offers all sorts of frozen and baked snacks, such as a variety of sorbets, cookies and turnovers, though the star of the show is the handmade frozen custard, a thicker, though not-really-more-fattening form of ice cream. Owned by Wisconsin native Liz Davis, The Dairy Godmother offers both chocolate and vanilla custards, plus a flavor of the day. Her imagination with custard is boundless, and you're likely to find her cranking out a traditional Mint Chocolate Chip as you are to try a Lemon/Blueberry mix or the exotic flavors of India in her cardamom and almond Khulfi. Fortunately, she keeps the shop's website flavor-of-the-day calendar updated, though I'd like to see her expand that to include her delicious sorbets. Also, treat you dogs to frozen Puppy Pops or dog treats shaped like squirrels.

St. Elmo's is celebrating their 10th anniversary, and the lively crowd of locals, shoppers scouring Mt. Vernon Avenue, and a varying array of local musicians give this place a fun, tangible energy. While folks who are content to be buried in the throes of the Sunday Post and iPods are certainly welcome, it's a great place to learn the scoop on local restaurants, real estate, politicians, etc... In many ways, this might as well be the Del Ray community hall, the subject of a fine, albeit over-caffeinated, Norman Rockwell painting. St. Elmo's has a fine selection of coffees and teas, large muffins, sandwiches and small snacks. Their White Chocolate Mocha uses their own brew mixed with Ghiradelli's white chocolate, and should come with a warning label not to handle explosives or large machinery afterwards.

The sign said "Chocolate Covered Peaches," and pointed down the street to a new chocolate-centric sweetery. Artfully Chocolate is the new kid on the block, and makes a strong case for devastating your diet, artfully. Open for just a little over a month, the shop is located around the corner from The Dairy Godmother and St. Elmo's, and features a wide assortment of novelties, fudge, truffles and licorices. The fudge is richer than a Saudi oil baron, and the trays of chocolate-dipped cookies are enough to make Dr. Atkins roll over in his protein-rich grave.

The bold tile mosaics, acrylics on mylar, and 3-D pieces at Artfully Chocolate are the works of owner Eric Nelson. It's not just a chocolate store, but an art gallery with caramel. While I'm not qualified to be an art critic, his tile-and-mesh mosaic of Marylin Monroe in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" mixes skill and whimsy. In an eclectic, artsy neighborhood, Artfully Chocolate stands out as being even more artsy and eclectic.

If Del Ray hasn't thrown you into a sugar coma yet, walk another block down on Mt. Vernon and visit The Sundae Times. This is a good old-fashioned ice cream stand, and the banana splits are the size of a small whaling vessel. While the flavors aren't as exotic as The Dairy Godmother's, its traditional ice creams made by Gifford's of Montgomery County are wonderful, and the wider variety of flavors are handy, especially on those occasions where TGM's FoTD is not your bag, baby.

Coming up in Part Two, a look at the Cheesetique, Caboose Bakery and Cafe, Fireflies and others...

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Show Is Over the Sharktank Now, Sir

"CSI" is about to jump the shark as we speak...K-Fed's going to appear on the long-running but now-certain-to-be-cancelled CBS program....

Looks like the 28-year-old husband of singer Britney Spears will be shuffling over to the small screen, where he will appear in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on CBS this fall, People magazine reported.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

From DCFUD - Beerfest on 1/8th Scale

sam Adamsss.JPG

Last night, several of your erstwhile DCFUD writers met at Murphy's in Woodley Park for a pint or three and good ole' fashioned pub grub. (mini-review - the Murphyburger rocks, the seafood bisque is dandy, and the meat pie was fine; avoid the overly spicy and greasy shellfish soup. Avoid musicians baffled by feedback coming through the sound system).

We were approached by a marketing rep from Sam Adams who asked if we'd like to sample a few of their beers. I think we said "Yes!" faster than Jennifer Lopez accepts a marriage proposal.

The rep poured us samples of the classic Boston Lager and their Light to get us started. A wise move, as none of us were drinking a Sam Adams' product beforehand, the small samples would get us prepared to the brands' general taste. She then poured us Type A and Type B - two potential beers that they'd release next year. "A" was a Honey Porter, and "B" was a Smoke Ale.

"A" was delicious, with ZAF summing it up that "(we) could get along nicely." It's a nice, smooth beer, not terribly heavy, and the honey notes add a softer touch. Amazingly, it doesn't taste sweet, but a little less acidic than the standard Sam's.

"B" was an alcoholic travesty. Comments from the table ranged from "it tastes like smoked ham" to "it tastes like smoked gouda" to "it tastes like they added that Liquid Smoke stuff." As a rule, beer should not be described as tasting like a barbecue sauce. The best we could say is that it would make an excellent marinade for the Thanksgiving turkey.

Fortunately, Murphy's Irish-centric beers and ciders drowned out the horrors of Sample B.

2609 24th Street NW
Washington DC 20008

Monday, August 21, 2006

"Hi, Pot? This is Kettle. You're Black!"

The Washington Post had an article this weekend regarding Michel Richard, one of the most renowned chefs in the world. It's a tale of his obsession with food and his upbringing in France, plus the limitations of illness and age. It's a good story, and the descriptions of the dishes he creates are enough to make any food lover hungrier than a carnivoire on Vegan Island.

Today, writer April Witt hosted an online chat about the article. For the most part, the questions were normal...until this one.

Rockville, Md: I think the article is disgusting. While plain folk are trying to figure out how to pay for basic utilities and gasoline, both of which are skyrocketing in costs, you are writing about some pie in the sky Rich Chef, who caters to even richer clientele. The idea of a $275 dinner is disgusting. Don't you think those people would be better off giving that money to Charity?

This is coming from Rockville, Maryland. Rockville is the economic core of one of the wealthiest counties in the country, Montgomery. Rockville is next to Potomac, where $10 million dollar homes might be outnumbered by $20 million dollar ones. Try finding a condo or a townhome in Rockville for less than 3/4 of a million dollars.

ANYBODY from Rockville complaining about price needs to get their head out of their ass.

If you're so altruistic, Rockville poster, then why do you live amongst the mansions? Why not live in much-more-affordable Germantown or Frederick, and donate YOUR savings on housing and taxes to the poor? Or, better yet, why not move into Southeast D.C. where it's even cheaper, and you can donate your money to your new neighbors? Why do you even bother to drive, when you could easily ride a bike to work and use that extra cash to donate to the poor?

I think we all already know the answer to those questions.

A meal at Citronelle is not a daily experience. Few can afford to buy a meal that costs as much as a nice iPod every day. It's a once-a-year kind of place for some, or once-a-lifetime for many. For the rare few who can eat there regularly, congratulations on having some cash.

To her credit, Ms. Witt doesn't stoop to that level. Her response:

April Witt: I can certainly understand your response. I don't spend $275 for dinners. The vast majority of Americans can't and don't. I've spent much more of my career writing about poverty, and the suffering of the poor, than I have chronicling the lifestyles of the rich and famous. That said, one of the things that I like best about being a journalist is the opportunity to take readers places they would never go except vicariously through the magic of reading. I don't judge the people or places I go. I just try to understand them so I can accurately show them to readers. I make no apologies for that.

If *I* had the chance, my response would be:

Ray Bradley - You live in Rockville, so, you can't be too bad off. You're obviously sending this question through a computer, so you either own one or work at a job where you use one. Those connote a certain level of wealth. Knowing that wealth or taste, as with all things, are comparable commodities, rather than looking at Citronelle's regular diners with a sense of haughty disdain, try looking at yourself through the eyes of someone less fortunate. To borrow your words, "While plain folk are trying to figure out how to pay for basic utilities and gasoline, both of which are skyrocketing in costs, you are living in one of the richest, safest counties in the region, with plenty of recreational choices, fine communities and wonderful schools. The idea of a $25 dinner at Chili's is disgusting when people are starving."

Simply stop looking at what you don't have and what you do. And savor your next meal, whether it be $270 at Citronelle, $25 at Chili's or $2.50 at 7-11, because no matter what you eat, it's still more than some people will have today. So, rather than gnash our teeth and complain ourselves into inaction over all the worlds' ills, I'm going to avoid guilt, and eat what, and where, I like, and give thanks that I am able to do so.

Snakes on a Plane - Reviewed by the Five Paragraph Bitter Film Critic

After a year of hype and the kind of internet buzz only nude photos of Anna Kournikova in 1999 could produce, Snakes on a Plane finally came out. The Five Paragraph Bitter Film critic was there, and, this film has made the Five Paragraph Bitter Film Critic wonder where his priorities really lie.

Why? Because I knew, going into it, that this movie would suck. The plot is thinner than Nicole Ritchie, has more holes than the US border with Mexico and makes as much sense as change from a penny. The cast, though, does as much as can be done with such a plot. I mean, when the plot is the title of the film, what can you expect?

To add insult to intellectual injury, I am seeing this movie before seeing such well-made and well-regarded films like The Illusionist, Little Miss Sunshine or Scoop. Or, for that matter, even My Super Ex-Girlfriend.

The cast, outside of Samuel L. Jackson, is made up of That Actors. Like Julianna Margulies, you know, That Actor who played Nurse Carol Hathaway on "E.R." back in the Clooney days. And Rachel Blanchard, That Actor who played Cher on the TV version of "Clueless." There's Todd Louiso, That Actor from "High Fidelity." Can't forget Lin Shaye, That Actor who played Magda in "There's Something About Mary." Of course, the movie also features the ultimate comedic force, That Actor who played Champ Kind, inventor of the Whammy!, David Koechner. For the record, there's more B's in that cast list than my high school report card.

Still, the movie is just silly fun. It's not to be taken seriously, and its implausibility makes it that much more fun. Most of the snakes are simply CGI, and not nearly as scary as the real hissing cobra Indiana Jones faced in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Some of the special effects are a little suspect, but, when Samuel L. drops the already-famous line about wanting these motha-f*ckin' snakes off this motha-f*ckin' plane, it's all somehow worth it, and makes those lil' art-house dramas look like the pretentious pieces of snake crap they really are.

9 out of 16 Whammies! Why 9? Why 16? Well, I figure that I saw some pretty hot actresses, and a set of real breasts exposed in this movie, so that's good. And Sam Jackson's a hoot. And it's got Champ Kind. And it's fun. So, by the power vested by me using the New Math, that's worth 9 Whammies! It's also got the worst dialogue I've heard in a film, and considering I've seen Robot Jox, that's got to be worth 7 Non-Whammies!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I made the McPaper (and I use the term lovingly)

My delightful roommate Jayme works for the USAToday as an editor in the Life section. Having a roommate with such a gig allows for some cool hookups - advance copies of TV shows, movie merch, juicy tidbits on various celebs, unpublished pictures of baby pandas. Sometimes I get to assist, not as a real editor or anything, but by giving feedback, proofreading and just by being another set of eyes and ears.

She approached me recently with a request for some Lost-related questions. One of their reporters was going to have a question-and-answer session with the cast, and the paper wanted to have some questions from fans. Sadly, they didn't receive that many good questions, and I'd suspect that many of the ones they received would mirror this sentiment - "Which cast member do you think is the hottest?"
There's only so many times you can ask, or be asked, that question.

So, I dutifully wrote up about 10 or so questions for a few members of the cast, Jorge Garcia (Hurley), Matthew Fox (Jack), Daniel Dae Kim (Jin), Josh Holloway (Sawyer) and Evangeline Lilly (Kate). I figured that by submitting a few, it would help give the writer some more material, and have something to say to each cast member, rather than focusing all on, say, Holloway or Lilly, leaving poor Terry O'Quinn (Locke) looking lonely and unwanted in the corner.

Here's my question, from USAToday:

Q: Your character came this close to hooking up with Cynthia Watros last season. Did you lose an on-set bet that she got killed off before the big romantic scene?— Ray Bradley

A: "That romance was fun. It meant a lot to me because a guy my size usually doesn't get a love interest in a prime time show. It was a special thing as far as breaking categories. I'm curious how this tragedy may effect him — and finding out that Michael was the cause. There may be some kind of change in him — perhaps more stoic. Or maybe vengeful."

I like how Jorge Garcia answered that question. It appears that he's thought that through, and appreciated being considered for a romantic story arc.

Still, I kinda wished the paper used my favorite questions...

Daniel Dae Kim:
1) How many people figure that you can't speak English, and then are stunned that you're from Pennsylvania? How hard was it to relearn so much of the Korean language?

2) My roommate has a wicked crush on you. Not a question, but, more a comment really.

Evangeline Lilly:

2) You're still pretty new to the acting world, yet you seem to be handling fame a lot better than others - so far, you've kept out of the scandalous tabloids and avoided some of the scuffles with the law other stars have. Is this from a good upbringing or are you just better at not getting caught?

3) I have a wicked crush on you. Not a question, but more of a comment, really.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

From DCFUD - Bobby Van's


Back when the Restaurant Week lineup was announced in July, I scanned the list and saw that Bobby Van's was one of the participants. I quickly made reservations, given their sterling reputation in New York. I used to work with a young lady from Massachusetts who summered in the Hamptons, and she raved about Bobby Van's Bridgehampton location. Now, I'm just a relatively middle class guy from Maryland. I'm guessing that "summered" is rich person code for "sunbathed in an expensive resort and did nothing but revel in luxury." I've never "summered" in my life. I've "weeked" - well, if you consider Ocean City's or Dewey's crowded beaches, all-you-can-eat buffets and sexually-suggestive t-shirt stands luxurious.

In my previous Restaurant Week entry, an anonymous commenter told me I made a mistake in selecting Bobby Van's for dining, saying that they catered only to the VIP crowd. I took the comments seriously - perhaps this anonymous person is a former employee, wrongfully terminated, or a diner who received shoddy service when they dared pay for their meal with a Discover card instead of an AmEx Titanium Card. Or, conversely, since the commenter chose to remain anonymous, perhaps it was a former employee rightfully terminated with an axe to grind, or somebody associated with a competing restaurant, hoping for a good plug. In the end, I chose to keep my reservation, and had four friends join me.

Let me assure you of this - a full 15 hours after dining there last night, I can still taste the perfectly-prepared medium rare Petite Fillet Mignon, accompanied by slightly-smoky mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. The Caesar salad, and the rich chocolate cake and incredible New York cheesecake rounded out the courses, and each bite was fantastic. I had feared that a "Petite" filet would be small 5 or 6-ounce serving, but our steaks were closer to 12 ounces. Even the well-done filets came out thoroughly cooked, and not butterfly-chopped like in other establishments. Our server was professional, friendly, and made a distinct point to make us aware of the Restaurant Week courses on a separate sheet from the regular menu. One of their chefs, Eric, made a friendly tour of the dining room, making sure everybody was enjoying themselves. The table adjacent to ours had a bit more menu diversity than my steak-obsessed crowd. Somebody there had the Crabcakes (the recipe is on their website) and another had the Andouille Sausage and Pulled Chicken Rigatoni, both of whom raved about the quality.

For a high-end steakhouse, the atmosphere was professional, yet relaxed. It's classy, but not stuffy - there's no dresscode, and patrons wore suits or jeans in nearly equal numbers. Valet service is a manageable $6. The anonymous commenter's fears couldn't have been more dispelled - if not for a four-course tasting menu at Palena in May, last night was the best meal I've had in D.C. all year. Everything was so tastefully done that I have already planned a September dinner there, where their acclaimed "Porterhouse For Two" sounds less like a luxury and more like a rite of passage. I am so impressed by Bobby Van's strong Restaurant Week showing that I practically walked out singing The Happenings' classic tune "See You In September."

Bobby Van's
809 15th Street, NW
Phone: (202) 589-0060

Monday, August 07, 2006

Talladega Nights - Reviewed by the Five Paragraph Bitter Film Critic

There are two types of people in this world - those who like Jack Black a lot, and those who hate Jack Black a lot. Same thing goes for Will Ferrell - many love him, and others can't stand him. If there was a Venn diagram of the two stars' fans, I'm sure there would be many overlapping fans on both sides of the love/hate coin. I was firmly in the hater's camp of Will Ferrell back in the mid-90s. I thought his work on Saturday Night Live was pretty...well, not funny. Sure, the Cheerleader bit was OK once in a while, but they went to that well *WAY* too often. My opinion began to change when Jim Carrey hosted the show - you know, the episode where even the last skit didn't suck - Carrey was a meth-addicted weight loss specialist, and Ferrell was using Carrey's program to lose weight. Not only did he lose weight, but he felt possessed by the Devil, and proceeded to throw a shout-out to the classic movie Scanners.

I will humbly submit that there are two Will Ferrells. The lousy SNL Will Ferrell who came up big once or twice a season, and the movie Will Ferrell. ((side note - Talk all you want about more cowbell, but that scene was CLEARLY Christopher Walken's)). The Movie Will Ferrell has a knack of playing lovable goofballs who aren't quite as bright as the world around them, and will do pretty much anything for a laugh. His characters have a certain warmth, and even a realism - as though a six-foot tall elf really *could* walk through New York.

This movie is definitely the Movie Will Ferrell in grand form. His character, Ricky Bobby, comes from a broken home to NASCAR superstardom. His best friend on-and-off track is Cal Naughton, played brilliantly by John C. Reilly, and together, they form NASCAR's most feared 1 - 2 punch. His "smokin' hot wife" Carley (Leslie Bibb, reappearing from obscurity) and sons Walker (Houston Tumlin) and Texas Ranger (Grayson Russell) nearly complete Ricky's comfortable, sponsor-aided life. Until Sacha Baron Cohen shows up as conniving French driver Jean Gerard, bringing jazz, homosexuality and Andy Richter into Ricky Bobby's country-fried world.

As with Anchorman, the laughs are spread out through the cast - it's not just the Will Ferrell show. Reilly shines in the buddy role he perfected in Boogie Nights. Green Mile star Michael Clarke Duncan plays Ricky's crew chief Luscious, leading Anchorman vet David Koechner (inventor of the Whammy!) and Upright Citizens Brigade alum Ian Roberts. Ricky Bobby's children both have shocking, hilarious lines that just about broke the audience up in coughing fits - until grandma Lucy (Best in Show's Jane Lynch) knocks some manners into them - and they're still funny after that. And Leslie Bibb is smokin' hot. Still, as Steve Carell's Brick Tamland ended up being the funniest character in Anchorman, Gary Cole's turn as Reese Bobby, Ricky's deadbeat dad, and Sacha Cohen's Jean Girard do the same here. Bill Lumburgh absolutely kills as Ricky's hard-livin', hard drinkin' speed freak pappy, and the former Ali G gives Girard a bit of dignity - well, at least as much dignity as can be summoned when playing a gay French NASCAR driver married to Andy Richter.

There is a rather large logistical jump in the movie where Carl betrays Ricky out of nowhere, and it left the audience scratching it's collective head. At that point, the movie loses some momentum, and it takes a while to get back up to speed. It's not quite as bad as Wedding Crashers' second-half collapse, but, it's tangible. I wonder if the Director's Cut DVD release (oh, come on, you know it's coming) addresses this flaw. Still, the movie is an honest-to-God hoot, a knee-slapper, and several other Southern terms meaning funnier-than-hell. I dare say, this might even be a hootenanny.

17 out of a possible 20 Whammies! 11 Whammies! were awarded to the above-mentioned cast - one Whammy! each. Another Whammy! is given to Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is pretty natural in front of a camera. A special Whammy! is given to Amy Adams, who could challenge Isla Fisher from Wedding Crashers for "hot redhead supremacy." Four more Whammies! were given to the hilarious out takes at the end of the film. Non-Whammies! were given to Molly Shannon, who is spectacularly unfunny in a completely unneeded subplot, and the criminal underutilization of David Koetchner and Ian Roberts.

That crying you just heard...

...was Mel Gibson learning that his Hollywood career is, effectively, over.

As no doubt everybody in the solar system knows by now, courtesy of the breathless reporting by every entertainment rag, TV show and wanna-be insider, Mel Gibson made a royal ass of himself last weekend at a traffic stop. Drunk driving and belligerent, sexist, and made anti-Semitic remarks. Pretty much hit the Obnoxious Quartet there, Mel. One more comment, like, say, how you hate black people, and you would have gotten the 5 Team Parlay.

Mel has since sobered up, asked for forgiveness, and pledged to change. I'm willing to give the cat a break - after all, he is admitting to being an alcoholic, and Lord knows booze can mess anybody up.

However, Hollywood is undecided over a Gibson Resurrection, no matter how well The Passion of the Christ did. While some folks have gone apoplectic over his remarks, others are hoping he gets the help he needs. Legendary actress Jodie Foster came to Mel's defense this weekend, having gotten to know him while filming "Maverick." She attributes his weakness not to a hatred of Jews, but on alcohol.

The death knell, though, comes courtesy of Rob Schneider, star of the Deuce Bigalow franchise.

"I, Rob Schneider, a 1/2 Jew, pledge from this day forward to never work with Mel Gibson, actor-director-producer and anti-Semite."

— A full-page ad in Variety, Aug. 3.

Strong words from The Hot Chick.

I'm guessing that Mel will be gnashing his teeth knowing he won't ever be considered for a part in "The Animal 2."

The incredible irony of this whole thing is that two weeks ago, just about every woman on the planet would have LOVED for Mel Gibson to call her "sugar tits."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Who's the Hottie?

When Michael Jackson wrote "Smooth Criminal," he didn't have this chick in mind.

from WBAL in Baltimore.

WESTLAKE, Ohio -- Maybe she should have paid better attention to her server.

Last week, a waitress at the Moosehead Saloon in Westlake, Ohio, asked a woman to show proof of age after the customer ordered a drink. When the waitress looked at the ID, she realized the customer's ID was actually her own license, police said.

The waitress, a 22-year-old Lakewood, Ohio, woman, had reported her wallet stolen from a bar on July 9. Her driver's license and credit card were in the wallet. The credit card had already been used for $1,000 in illicit purchases, police said.

As the waitress called police, the woman apparently got suspicious and took off, according to police. She was identified by a friend as Maria Bergan, 23.

Bergan was arrested at her home Saturday night and remains in the Westlake City Jail. She has been charged with identity theft and receiving stolen property.

Police Captain Guy Turner said the odds of something like that happening defy calculation.


Monday, July 31, 2006

It's all Bacardi's fault...

Woman Claims Bacardi Rum is Dangerous

MIAMI (AP) - July 26, 2006 - A woman who says she was severely burned at a Miami night club four years ago is suing Bacardi, claiming the company's rum is dangerous and defective.

The lawsuit says a bartender was pouring shots when a customer lit a menu on fire and placed it in the stream of alcohol. A bottle of Bacardi 151 that was being used to pour the shots turned into a flame thrower.
The woman says she suffered second and third degree burns and was permanently disabled and disfigured.

Miami-based Bacardi USA hasn't commented yet on the suit.


Damn Bacardi for making yummy alcoholic things and damn chemistry for making alcohol flammable.

I'm amazed she didn't also sue Mr. Wizard, Bill Nye the Science Guy and Smokey the Bear.

Let me see - she's at a bar that is full of alcohol which is, by nature, flammable. That a bartender happened to be pouring alcohol is not important - that's his job. However, what was a customer doing setting a menu on fire?

And a bar that uses paper menus is pretty much asking for it.

My question is this - why didn't she sue the dude with the fire fetish?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Light Weight and Losing Weight - Whatever Your Reason - Ride

After such a heavy post earlier, this seems much more my speed - 18 of them.

Jim Caple at offers a great essay on why Floyd Landis' Tour De France win should inspire us to ride our bikes more often.

Then let Landis be an inspiration. He grew up under strict Mennonite parents who were adamantly opposed to competitive cycling on religious grounds. His father tried wearing him out with a draining list of daily chores, but Landis simply trained late at night, and he rode his bike in the worst a Pennsylvania winter could throw at him. As if that weren't difficult enough, he also wore sweatpants instead of Lycra biking shorts when he competed in races, a practice that meant carrying an extra 10 pounds of water by the end of a sweaty event.

Thanks to the most stirring bike ride that didn't include someone wearing a Cutters T-shirt, he also just won the Tour de France despite an arthritic hip that needs replacing.

And we can't ride to the grocery store? The Tour de France is over for another year; now, let's make a Tour de America a 365-day-a-year event. Get out of the car and get on the bike.

Ride because you're patriotic and you know it makes far more of a difference than just slapping a flag decal on your bumper. Ride because it will hurt Exxon's profits. Ride to improve your health. Ride because it's fun. Ride because it will piss off the French if we develop yet another Tour champion (America has won 11 titles since France last won one). Whatever your reason, ride.

Awesome...just awesome.

9/11 is no joke in this town.

In between the World Cup and the Headbutt Heard `Round the World and the current attacks in Lebanon and Israel, and the pleasant distraction of Floyd Landis winning the Tour De France, you may have missed the controversy going on at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The University hired a part-time instructor, Kevin Barrett to teach a course on Islam...who believes that the Government is behind the 9/11 attacks.

Now, a professor's personal beliefs should not be a criteria for employment, just like political, religious or spiritual beliefs be the basis for anybody's employment, within reason. I'm not sure if I'd hire a pacifist as a sniper, no matter how good of a shot that pacifist is, but that's just an obvious example. Nor would a Catholic make a good Rabbi.

What sets apart the UW employee apart is that he intends to teach the 9/11 attack as part of his class - not the known facts, but that the Government essentially sponsored the attacks. The World Trade Center was brought down by controlled demolition, no plane actually hit the Pentagon - basically, everything we saw on that horrible Tuesday, the images that are etched into our collective subconscious - are all lies to further fuel the winds of war.

It's a rather stretched conspiracy theory as such things go. There's no Zapruder film that clearly shows a second bullet, or a ridiculous Warren Commission report on the "Magic Bullet Theory." There's no missing aircraft carriers in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, nor is there a headline in New Mexico that a UFO crashed into the desert, only to be denied vehemently the next day. In this case, we have several million eyewitnesses who watched planes, either in person or on CNN, collide into the World Trade Center. There are fewer eyewitnesses regarding the Pentagon collision, probably because the proximity of Ronald Reagan/National Airport causes a certain tune-out factor when a low-flying plane is in the area. Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, has a couple of varying eyewitness reports, lending some credibility to those who refuse the accepted notion that the plane was retaken by the passengers.

What the conspiracy folks do have is some shaky ideas of physics, poorly designed websites, and footage of the Towers that show small explosions out the sides of the building as it came down. Just search for World Trade Center collapse, and you'll see what they consider "compelling evidence" that it was a controlled demolition.

Funny - what I saw was a skyscraper that just had a big-ass aircraft plow into it at a few hundred miles per hour, full of jet fuel, making a really big fire. I'm going to guess that not too many people have ever seen a big-ass aircraft plow into a skyscraper like that before, and have studied the intricate physics involved when structural engineering meets ungodly heat and weakened structural integrity.

Popular Mechanics devoted an article on debunking the 9/11 conspiracy theories, showing where each of the popular ideas from various websites was factually wrong, if not completely fabricated. But, for those who either hate the United States, the Administration, the Press, the Bush family, or simply want to believe in a conspiracy, no amount of proof will dissuade them of that.

What bothers most people is that Barrett is allowed to teach this class, supposed to be on the fundamentals of Islam, and to lecture his belief as fact. His employment by the University has been a popular debate on the comment boards of UW Law Professor Ann Althouse's blog. I have no problem with him teaching the class per se - he converted to Islam, has a doctorate, and was the teaching assistant for the class in the past - he's qualified to teach.

What bothers me is that his belief is based, according to this article, on a preset anti-Establishment mindset, a preset slant towards conspiracy theories, and partially on a REALLY bad piece of faulty logic by his mentor, David Ray Griffin. From the article:

During the speech, Griffin made the case that it was implausible the Pentagon could be hit by an airplane, since it is "surely the best defended building on the planet." The U.S. military has the best radar systems in the world and "does not miss anything occurring in North American airspace," he added.

This is what happens when people ASSume. Surely the building is well-defended - but by traditional attacks. What's traditional about using an airliner as a missile?

Moreover, have any of these people ever really BEEN to the Pentagon, or even driven NEAR it? I drive past it all the time, with millions of dollars spent to rework the surrounding highways and parking lots to make it more secure. I drove past it all the time, pre-9/11, as my family was spread between Maryland and Northern Virginia. The building is surrounded by the major commuting thoroughfares of Interstate 395, US Route 1, Virginia Route 27, Columbia Pike, and various other support roads. Just a few thousand feet to the south is Pentagon City and Crystal City, all part of the city of Arlington. Just across the Potomac is Washington, and just a mile north is Rosslyn. There are millions of people who live and work within a couple miles of the Pentagon. There's a huge bus stop and a subway stop at the Pentagon's sprawling complex.

Now, where are all the ASSumed anti-aircraft batteries? On top of Macy's at the Mall? Room 1000 at the Sheraton? The rotating restaurant at the Doubletree? "Excuse me, Chili's - no more fajitas for you, we need to put in a Patriot missile system." To my knowledge, Hertz Rent-a-Car doesn't rent Apache helicopters with Sidewinders...and if they do, I know what *I'm* renting the next time I go to Los Angeles!

I would invite Mr. Barrett and Mr. Griffin to look at a map of the DC Metropolitan Area, and look at the 3 Major International Airports all within 10 minutes of flying time to the Pentagon, including one that is less than 30 seconds flying time from the building (Ronald Reagan/National Airport). Then, I'd like him to explain the logic of shooting down a commercial airliner with missiles over one of the most densely populated regions of the country. Northern Virginia is not exactly rural Wisconsin - it's more like Southern California.

Now, explain to the residents of Arlington and Fairfax Counties why their homes, lives and property were destroyed because the military shot down a commercial airliner full of innocent civilians, causing the wreckage to rain down on their pleasant suburban communities. If crashing jetliners can cause massive damage to the biggest office buildings in the US, then imagine what it could do to an unsuspecting cul-de-sac, with burning hot wreckage and boiling jet fuel.

I am so disgusted with these low-rent Fox Mulders convinced the Government is involved with every evil in the world, or that is has every possible solution. It's awfully easy to Monday morning quarterback five years after the fact, that there should have been anti-aircraft measures in place. These people who believe "The X-Files" was a documentary have forgotten that the US was not at war on September 10th. No Homeland Security, no troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, no removing shoes to enter a plane. There was no reason to line DC with anti-aircraft batteries...and considering the nearest installations with anything like that are at least 30 minutes from the Pentagon, perhaps that explains why the building was hit. It's mostly an office building, not a top-secret base tucked away in the Nevada mountains, that same base where no doubt Barrett and his ilk believe where the Roswell UFO is stored and the moon landing was faked.

I'll try to find something a little less meaty to blog about later.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Chai Booze - Are You Kidding Me?


As part of my weeklong desire to drink away the heat, I stopped by my friendly Virginia ABC store. I've never been in a government-run liquor store before, and was interested to compare this place to private-run stores in my hometown in Maryland. The VABC store had all the staples of liver-crushing goodness - fine aged tequilas, dark spicy rums, flavored vodkas - and the low-end ten gallon plastic drum-sized gins and whiskeys. It was a good mix of high-end taste and low-end value. A couple of their prices seemed a bit high - Sauza and Jose Cuervo tequilas seemed about 10 to 25% more expensive than Maryland and DC - but they had some good specials and discounts to bring it back to par.

What really caught my eye was Voyant Chai Creme Liqueur, a relatively new entry in the market. The website describes it as:

Aged Virgin Island Rum, Fresh Dutch Cream, Black Tea from India, Premium Spirits from Holland and a Distinctive Blend of Spices from Asia give Voyant Chai Cream Liqueur the Rich, Creamy Smoothness that you should expect from a Premium Liqueur.

Other than an Annoying Habit of Randomly Capitalizing Letters incorrectly in a Sentence for No Reason, the stuff sounds prettty good. In three hours, give or take, I will be partaking of this new beverage. The Voyant website offers some recipes, a few of which sound pretty interesting, but definitely a little heavy on thicker liqueuers and milk. The stuff sounds perfect for a cold winter day; in fact, I can already picture using this in a rum & coffee mixture to keep warm at football games and ski lodges. Has anybody tried this stuff, and have some tips to share?

I'll do some experimenting tonight...all in the name of research and service to you, dear readers. Behold the effort...nay...the sacrifices I make for you.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

you can get cavities there too?

I hope they change the brushes.

How the hell do you gargle down there?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Stay Cool and Get Plowed - Posted on DCFUD

lil umbrella.jpg

The next couple of days are going to bring to mind several burning questions, not the least of which is "why in the hell did the Founding Fathers build the Nation's Capital on a swamp?," and, for the purposes of this post, is "how can I beat the heat and drink myself into denying either my existence or the 98% humidity?" As a former bartender, I occasionally get asked this and similar questions, kind of like Barry and Ira, the two ice cream guys in City Slickers, except less about dessert and more about alcohol. However, while the booze is important, the mixer may be more so.

1) When it's scorching, nothing does the trick quite like a good sour mix or fresh-squeezed limes. Most sour mixes are made up of limes, some lemon and an ungodly amount of sugar. However, that dose of vitamin C can really recharge your batteries on a crazy hot day. The margaritas at Lauriol Plaza, Oyamel and the Banana Cafe' are all winners, though Oyamel is closed on Mondays. Now I know how The Boomtown Rats felt, if not Brenda Ann Spencer.

2) Fizzy drinks cut through dry mouth like emo kids listening to Death Cab for Cutie. Drinks made with tonic or soda waters, or ginger ale can keep you sane. Tonic water contains quinine, a potion that helps treat malaria and leg cramps - who knew gin and tonic could classify as medicine? Excuse me while I go self-medicate...

Some bartenders freely swap ginger ale and Sprite, and that's one of my pet peeves, along with people who wear sports gear unrelated to the teams or the sport they're watching. You know what I'm talking about - the dude who wears a Portland Trailblazers NBA jersey at a Washington Nationals/New York Mets basketball game. Gawd I hate that. Along that line, ginger ale is slightly spicy, and should be used to contrast overly sweet alcohols or mixers. Sprite can smooth over strong, sharp drinks with its citrus base. A well-stocked bar will contain both beverages, and the wise mixologist knows the difference. A Jack-and Ginger would taste like refried hell with Sprite, though a splash of Sprite in a margarita made with a sharp tequila like Sauza Hornitos can make it more tolerable for those who like lighter drinks.

3) Ice cream is good; fruit is better. Some people swear by ice cream drinks when the heat's on, and a good frozen mudslide can be a fine idea, but who wants to walk the streets with too much dairy in their gullets? I learned the lesson of Ron Burgundy well when he said on that fateful sweaty San Diego day"Milk was a bad choice." ronburgundymilk.jpg

I prefer more of the lighter, fruit-based frozen drinks on days like today. A Banana Nutbread is an awesome drink but is heavier than Beltway traffic. I'd suggest an old standby - the pina colada - and a tolerance of the Rupert Holmes' song.

For the record - I had no idea that guy had a greatest hits collection, and if I had to guess, it would have come out on cassette single. I figured he did that one song and realized he'd have to play it EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS LIFE and just ended it all Budd Dwyer style. Nah, he's a famous writer, playwright and seems to have weird taste in eyewear.

Also, there's nothing wrong with adding crushed ice to an old favorite. A frozen Cuba Libre - a.k.a. rum and coke - is awesome, as is a frozen Cape Cod and Long Island Ice Tea. A frozen Mai Tai is like drinking an adult Slurpee but without that weird spoon-straw thing.

4) Malternative - the term used by the industry to identify drinks like Cider Jack or Bacardi Silver, these beverages, besides having more sugar in them than the Nintendo 64 kid, can really cool you down on a hot day. A Mike's Hard Lemonade usually doesn't suck, and to make them a little more palatable and colorful, pour a shot of a colored liquor like Chambord, Midori or Key Largo Schnapps. Watch the whole beverage change color and provide a bit more kick!

5) Combine them all and make the ultimate summer drink - The Frozen Tom Collins. Sour mix, a good gin like Beefeaters or Gordons, a splash of tonic and fresh lime juice - prevent malaria AND scurvy, get refreshed. I make mine served over crushed ice, and then float a layer of Grenadine, blue curacao or Midori for fun. Using a little umbrella is up to you.

What do you guys like to drink on a hot day? I'll be glad to do some research.

Friday, July 14, 2006

FIXYOURTHINKING.COM: Congress To Get Personal About The Personals

FIXYOURTHINKING.COM: Congress To Get Personal About The Personals

I have a new hero.

Not the guy I linked to above, though I've been stuck on his blog for the past couple hours, sifting through scores of Apple-related posts. But my new hero is my young coworker Mr. Garcia. Fresh from Austin, Texas, working for a defense contractor here in NoVA, he seemed somewhat out of his element when he joined my agency last month. Nice enough fellow, I figured I'd introduce him to some of my friends if he was feeling lonely. I've got a good group of Austin Ex-Pats around here, and we could all pound a couple of Shiner Bocks and talk about S. Congress Street like a new-wave Virginia-based Merry Pranksters, albeit with better grooming and high-speed internet access.

Mr. Garcia had commented to me about an intern at a nearby agency who seemed to have a certain look about her - that look being hot and blonde. I hadn't noticed, and once Mr. Garcia pointed her out, I was a big fan. However, there was something I couldn't figure out - who wears skin-tight jeans at a government agency in the summer?

Answer - a European intern, that's who! I ran into her the other day at the elevators, and she was talking to one of her friends in that Eastern European accent that makes me wish I had been born a decade ealier, gone to the CIA, and become a spy. She's pretty decent in all physical aspects - a solid 7 or 8, I'd say, and, in the DoDefense, that makes her The Hottest Woman Ever.

Well, I saw Mr. Garcia today, and to tell him of the encounter, and he told me "Yeah, she's Romanian." I said "You've done your homework." He said "Yeah, we went out on a date already. Going out again."

That, my friends, is a man who is going places.

Anyway, back to the post. I was Slashdotted to this guy's post about the worst date ever. I didn't pay any attention to it - honestly, the internet is full of gawd-awful dating stories - why should I care about somebody else's?

Well, his story is truly awful. About the worst I've heard, and makes my previous horrible experiences all move down a notch in comparison. Suddenly, Woman Who Heard Voices, Girl Who Danced at The Exorcist house in Georgetown, and, the coup-de-grace, The Woman With Sandpaper Hands have all paled under the shining light of Internet Dating Hell this poor Apple tech has faced.