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.