Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Give me your finest donut bombs!

A what? Poonch-what? No, never heard of it. What is that? What are you talking about? No, we have donuts, but we don't have those. Where are you from?

That's an re-enactment of my last two Fat Tuesdays in Iowa. If I'd asked for a fried pork tenderloin sandwich, everything would've been fine. They have lots of those in Iowa. But since I asked for a paczki (poonch-key), I apparently sounded like some weirdo from another country. Is it just a Michigan thing? It can't be. But friends and relatives in other places (Maryland, South Carolina, California, Texas) tell me they've had the same experience. And some, if not most of you reading this have no idea what I'm writing about.

For the first time in two years, I'm back in Michigan for Fat Tuesday, also known around here as "Paczki Day," which means people don't give me funny looks when I ask for one of these jelly-filled fat bombs. Every local TV station sends someone out to a Hamtramck bakery to film a Polish baker pull rack after rack of 400-calorie, 25 grams of fat-laden bundles of fun (How's that for a Donutbuzz, Hoyt?) out of the fryer and interview people stuffing their faces full of lard, sugar, jelly and dough. (Among the customers interviewed for today's Detroit News? A cardiac technician. HA!)

This feels right. All is normal in my world. And that feeling will probably last until about, oh, 2 or 3 p.m., when my body will express its displeasure with me for putting such a heavy mass in my stomach.

Actually, it's taken me almost four years to get to the point where I could even look at a paczki without crying. In what will be recorded in my memoirs as a colossally misguided life decision, I once managed a bakery. I took the job because I was totally burned out, felt I needed a change of pace, and thought I was helping out a friend. At the risk of being completely melodramatic, that one year crushed my soul. And no night drained my spirit more than the one in which I packed paczki orders for the bakery's three locations almost entirely by myself until almost midnight.

(Everyone else was curiously "busy" that night. I should've quit immediately thereafter. But I needed the money. Some people pose for nude photos. I packed paczki. I should've gotten naked. I'd have been a lot happier.)

But I know I'm past that now. I've moved on (though clearly haven't forgotten). So this morning, I sat down with a raspberry-filled rock of pastry (no prune!) - my first in almost four years - and a coffee and enjoyed life. No, it's not a jelly donut. It's, like, breadier. And there's no way in hell I'd eat one any other time of the year. But I'm happy to have one today.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Was I supposed to put orange juice in the humidifier?

Thanks to everyone who left suggestions in the comment box for cold remedies. They were all extremely helpful, which was very kind of you. I probably made a mistake, however, by trying them all at the same time. So I spent most of the day near-comatose, unable to stand upright for much more than an hour.

Is it possible that I was really healthy, despite feeling sick and queasy at the same time? Chew on them apples for a minute...

Fortunately, most of the stuff was out of my system by the evening, when I had to help with "magazine business." (At least I think it was out of my system. I may well have been a gibbering idiot who sweated, pissed, and drooled all over the room...) And I feel a hell of a lot better now. So you will receive your proper post tomorrow.

Oh, and I agree with Jim. Stacy Keibler wuz robbed last night. But the right guy still won.

(Image from "Get Fuzzy"
©2006 Darby Conley/ Dist. by UFS, Inc.)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Do I gots da "DTs"?

I've tried very hard to stay healthy this winter. If people insisted on coughing and sneezing without covering their mouths, I've moved far away or left the room entirely (not before I shot the obligatory dirty look, however). I've washed my hands frequently enough to require a regular lotioning. (Careful...) And I've ingested so much tea (especially green and ginger), orange juice, vitamin C, and zinc that going to the bathroom has become an assault on my olfactory senses.

But it's beginning to feel like I'm catching the cold I've worked so hard to avoid. My wastebasket is filled with wads of crumpled tissue paper. My ears and sinuses feel stuffed. I hope it's just some kind of hangover or malaise that can be cured with a brisk walk outdoors. But I'm a bit worried. So does anyone have a good cold remedy or preventative measure? The weirder, the better. ("Oh yeah, take ginger root, grind it up with mayonnaise, a fifth of whiskey, some lemon juice, and some Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk, and you'll feel great the next day.")

After this weekend, with the conclusion of Olympic figure skating and Dancing with the Stars, the two biggest threats to my Man Card status will have passed. So I think I'm ready for a return to manliness. I might go out and chop wood. Throw a ball of some sort. Watch an action movie. Eat a plate of Coney dogs. Or better yet, a steak. There might be some detoxification involved (maybe that's what I'm feeling), but I'll bite down and get through it. You know why? Because I am a man.

In the meantime, there was some Olympic live-blogging going on last night. One of our good friends gave away the results of the ladies' free skate beforehand. I hope it didn't ruin the event for anyone. But for me, it's okay. I think the Man Card committee employed him to test me. If I got too upset, that'd be a red flag. (Besides, my sister spoiled the results even further when she called after seeing them on the news. So I didn't even watch.) Or maybe he was just looking out for a buddy. That's cool. Either way, it worked out.

Enjoy the back cover of the oh-so-mean New York Daily News and some links:

▪▪ Pub of Knowledge live-blogged the Olympic figure skating program. Susannah's been all over this all week, so please check it out. Reading about it won't risk your Man Card.

▪▪ Not to be outdone with the live-blogging, House of 21 Thieves covered Aerial Skiing. Or whatever it's called. (How drunk would you have to be to try that? The skiing, I mean. Not the live-blogging.)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I think I'm going to be okay

With the ladies' free skate at the Winter Olympics tonight, figure skating is generating so much heat that even the manliest of sports bloggers (such as, say, this guy) cannot ignore it. Big Al of The Wayne Fontes Experience is acknowledging this conflict, but in the best interests of men throughout the country, has outlined some rules for male TV viewers to follow this evening. For example:

You must be drinking beer and eating munchies, preferably pork rinds or beer nuts, while tuned in. Wine and cheese will cause you to lose your card. Unless that wine is Mad Dog 20/20 and the cheese has "Whiz" in the name...

I think I can abide by such guidelines. But I'll need to make a stop at the grocery store. And maybe put in an order for a giant Italian sub with extra hot peppers.

This is a like a buoy thrown to a drowning man. I'm going to be okay. We're all going to be fine. On the behalf of male sports fans everywhere, thank you, Big Al.

Bring home the gold, Sasha! (And Irina, if you're interested in a consoling shoulder after the Olympics, my e-mail address is at the upper right of this page...)

And if you'd like a breakdown of the competition with a predicted order of finish, Susannah has what you need at Pub of Knowledge.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The precarious status of my Man Card

It looks like I could be in trouble. With the Man Card committee, that is.

After hearing of my violation due to regularly watching Dancing with the Stars, I was told my eligibility would be under review for a 30-day probationary period. The card might have been revoked if not for the fact that many hot, limber (and leggy) women participate in the show. Such a consideration likely granted me mercy. Unfortunately, only 14 of the probationary days passed before I committed what will likely (very likely) be perceived as another violation.

I watched almost all of the ladies' figure skating short program from the Winter Olympics last night.

This morning, I took my mother out for coffee and we talked about it. Sentences such as "Wow, Sasha Cohen skated really well last night," "Oh man, I felt bad for that Russian girl," and "Irina Slutskaya would be cuter with different hair" flowed easily from my lips between sips of House Blend and bites of sesame bagel. Of course, I also remarked upon the attractiveness of these ladies, which will be presented in arguments before the committee. (At this time, I should also point out that such comments were framed very carefully, considering the young ages of several of the skaters.)

Here's another argument I might present: It takes a man to admit this $#!+, okay? It takes some cojones to look ridicule in the face and confess to rising out of my seat whenever Emily Hughes went up for one of those triple-whatchamacallit jumps. A guy who is confident enough to say his stomach seized with anxiety until Cohen landed on the ice without buckling and falling has huevos, pal. And only someone who's tremendously secure in his smouldering heterosexuality can watch Slutskaya, the gold medal favorite from Russia, nail her jumps almost effortlessly and say, "That girl has moxie."

I. Am. A. Man. (I'm pounding my desk with each word for emphasis. Like men do.)

And I watch figure skating. And you know what? I enjoyed the hell out of it last night. I'm even going to watch Olympic Ice on USA Network tonight, so I can watch analysis and commentary of the short program. And get this: I've been watching that show regularly since the Winter Olympics started. Because, as USA Today said, it's a damn good show. And funny.

Hell yes, I'm watching the ladies' free skate on Thursday night. You can come over and join me. We'll drink beer, eat pizza, blech, scratch ourselves, and yell at the TV. Like men do. Real men.

(Photo by Yuri Kadobnov - AFP/Getty Images)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Can you say "License to kill" again, Danny?

Now I really want to hear Daniel Craig order that martini "shaken, not stirred."

Apparently, the new 007 lost his two front teeth during a fight scene that got a little too real. Craig ended up taking a real punch right in the mouth. Everyone on the set thought he was just acting until they saw blood seeping between the poor guy's fingers. Man, those British thespians suffer for their art!

So will there be a whistle when he says "James Bond"? Should Bond go with the "gold fronts" look or save the world looking like Leon Spinks? Okay, enough jokes. Losing your front teeth from a punch has to be awful. (Thanks to Pop Candy, my blog crack, for the news.)

There's another bit of entertainment news (via Mis Hooz at the FRT New York bureau) that I wanted to comment on, because it bothered me all weekend. I felt sorry for Kid Rock.

Why? Because a guy shouldn't have to share his sex tape headlines with another man, especially with a tool like Scott Stapp. It's even worse when headlines like "Scott Stapp And Kid Rock Do The Nasty On Videotape" make it sound like the two of them were directly involved with each other. And we know Kid Rock is much too badass for that.

C'mon, the man took Jimmy Kimmel to American Coney Island during a tour of Detroit. He deserves his own sex tape.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Dried prunes are surely next

While catching up on "Calvin and Hobbes" strips from the weekend (I get it sent to my e-mailbox every day), I found myself looking into a mirror. And I didn't like what I was seeing.

This was uncannily close to how I spent my Sunday morning. (If you think I did anything like run six miles, you're very sweet, very cute, and I like you. What I did was allegedly faster than walking, but not by much. In fact, let's just call it walking.)

But the big bowl of gummy oatmeal? The exhilaration from going out early in the cold weather? Oh. My. God. I am becoming Calvin's father. I already have the glasses. But the iPod keeps me young and cool, right? Right?

I am getting so old...

(Image from "Calvin and Hobbes" ©2006 Bill Watterson/ Universal Press Syndicate)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Satirical on ice

I'm reluctant to mention this, because I still think I'll somehow jinx myself, but I've talked about it with several people, so I probably already cast that hex. Anyway, I was recently hired by the new editor-in-chief of Motor City Sports Magazine, Greg Eno, to contribute some material, beginning with the March issue, set to hit stands the first Tuesday of the month.

So if you were wondering where I've been the last couple of days, I was chasing down a last-minute assignment to find someone working in any kind of offbeat sports-related job. Fortunately for me, the tremendously kind staff at the University of Michigan's Yost Ice Arena was able to help me out on short notice, and I spent the morning learning all I could about the Zamboni machine and the people who drive them.

I'd really like to thank the facility manager, Craig Wotta, for taking time out of a busy morning to sit down and talk. He passed along useful information on ice maintenance, shared some funny stories about accidents and mechanical breakdowns, and best of all, filled my lil' recorder with plenty of good quotes. Unfortunately, a lot of that stuff probably won't make it into the magazine due to space considerations. And that kills me, because it was a pretty fun time at the hockey rink.

Thankfully, I have a blog.

I should also thank Craig for suggesting that I take a ride on the machine, an idea that honestly never occurred to me while prepping for the story. And that led to what could've been the best part of a longer piece: hitching a ride on the Zamboni with an intern. Oh, if only I could've taken a picture of that young lady's face when she was asked to drive the writer guy around the ice. That was a good look.

But I can't make too much fun of her, because she didn't laugh at me while I clung to the passenger seat with my buttocks as my legs dangled off the edge like a little kid's. (In case you were wondering, my booty has quite a grip.) It took a couple of laps around the ice before I finally relaxed, stopped looking for something to hang onto, and realized I wasn't going to slide off.

And no, I never reached for a lever while asking "Hey, what's this do?" But I did manage to ask the intern what goes through her mind while she's behind the wheel, how long it took her to feel comfortable driving the Zamboni, and if she'd ever run into the boards. Most of the time, however, I was taking in the scenery. I've been to dozens of Michigan hockey games, but never had a view from the ice. I tried to stay as professional as I could, but I was jumping up and down inside. It was really #@$%ing cool. Man, I wish I'd brought a camera.

(Yes, Mis Hooz, I know: I really need a digital camera.)

Would you believe my ice chauffeur thought she did a bad job? Like I would've noticed. I told her it was the best ride on a Zamboni that I ever had. She told me I could never drive with anyone else. And then I took things too far by saying I'd never forget her because she was my first. Oh, I have such a gift with the ladies. It scares them off, but it's still a skill. (Her supervisor said she did really well, by the way.)

A few hours after that, I submitted my piece to the magazine. Hopefully, it turns out nicely. I'll remind you all to look for it in March.

Have a good weekend, gang.

The agony of self-inflicted defeat

Want a reason to watch the Winter Olympics tonight? Check out what the rest of the world might see as karma smacking a showboating American right in the face.

It seems that grabbing your snowboard while in mid-air, an ill-advised attempt to add a little flair to a victory that was all but assured, is a really bad idea. If you don't believe me, ask Lindsey Jacobellis, who cost herself a gold medal in the women's snowboard cross event with that hot-dogging. (She insists she wasn't showing off, but keeping herself stable.)

Sweaty Men Endeavors has a recap of the event (without the benefit of seeing the gaffe on TV) if you'd like to keep your sports reading in-house.

And if you'd like to read some Olympic analysis from someone who's actually watched, pull up a stool at the Pub of Knowledge.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Oh, you thought that candy was for you?

I'm usually kind of "Bah, humbug!" about Valentine's Day. Actually, that makes it sound like I'm really opposed to it. And I don't feel that strongly. It's more of a shoulder shrug. You can get some great deals on candy at the grocery store. I like candy. But I'm trying to stay away from it these days.

I used to work with a person who made a point to wear all black on Valentine's Day so she could express her utter disdain for the holiday. Why not just wear a t-shirt that says "I'm really, really single, I #@#%ing hate it, and I want everyone to know"?

When I asked her if it was possible that she was putting as much effort into the day as anyone buying flowers, going out to dinner, or sprinking trails of rose petals, her pupils seemed to turn bright laser red. But if you looked closer, you could see the wires cross and sputter in her brain. Anyway, wherever she is, I hope she's somehow enjoying the day. Or at least not caring so much about it.

On the few occasions when I've been dating someone at this time of year, only once was I with someone who made a big deal out of the occasion. And apparently, I messed that up. No special dinner plans. No flowers. Not even a Russell Stover box of candy. Just a card. And get this, it wasn't even pink. She was pretty mad at me. But here's how I saw it: I'm plenty romantic for the other 364 days a year when no one tells me I have to be. And if she couldn't see that, she had the problem.

Yeah, so that didn't last very long. Fortunately, most of the women I've dated have seen things my way. I've been a lucky man.

But I'm in a Valentine's kind of mood right now. Today, I'd like to give a Valentine to each of you stopping by to read Fried Rice Thoughts. Sweetheart candies and chocolate-dipped strawberries for all! And, of course, a card...

And if you're curious as to what I'll be doing with the person I love the most (that would be me) this evening, this book might give you a hint. Oh, I do love cooking for myself. We just have to be done in time for House.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Save the inner children, Harrison Ford

Based on the commercials and trailers, I knew Firewall was going to be terrible. And in case you were wondering, let me ease your doubts: It's a flaming turdball of a movie.

Ford snoozes through the whole thing, even when he's making that quivering "I'm just a normal guy who's suddenly going through some crazy shit" face he uses in all of his movies now. And Virginia "My Oscar nomination got me this?" Madsen might as well have filmed a Swiffer commercial. (Apparently, she just really wanted to make out with Harrison Ford, but she barely gets to do that. What a disappointment.)

Most of the characters might as well have neon letters reading "plot device" above their heads. One guy's role in the plot is so obvious, he should've had it written on his t-shirt. And the story goes from utterly predictable to flat-out stupid by the end. One villain's demise could've been the end of a "Toonces, the Driving Cat" skit. I'm sure it was supposed to be dramatic, but it was hilarious. That should actually be a tagline on posters for the movie. (If producers want to take it for a blurb, feel free.)

Firewall was actually worse than I thought it would be, even with the entertainment value of unintentional laughs. $6.75 straight down the toilet. Yet I still wanted to see it. I blame my lack of judgment on an inner struggle. There's a conflict between Little Kid Ian and Presumably Adult Ian. Little Kid Ian still thinks of Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Indiana Jones. Presumably Adult Ian admires Ford for playing Rick Deckard (a role he inexplicably disassociates himself from) and Richard Kimble in two of his all-time favorite movies, but looks at the man's recent resume and winces.

Ford really lost me when I read that he turned down Michael Douglas' role in Traffic because the producers wouldn't meet his price. Think about how great he would've been as that judge. Hell, it fits right in with the if-you-mess-with-my-family-I'll-kick-your-ass oeurve that Ford's carved out for himself (as astutely noted by Best Week Ever.) But rather than challenge himself with a smaller part in a meaningful film, Ford instead followed the money and stretched as an actor by adopting a terrible Russian accent for a starring role in K-19: The Widowmaker (or as I called it at the time, 2:18 - The Sleepmaker).

But maybe I'm being a little too hard on Ford. He's tried to challenge himself. He played a bad guy in What Lies Beneath (hope I didn't ruin that one for you), and that was a pretty good movie (or 1/2 to 3/4 of a good one). And his last movie was a comedy. Or at least it was supposed to be. Raise your hand if you saw Hollywood Homicide. Actually, I did. At the theater. And I've been questioning my taste in movies ever since. Jesus, that was a bad one. I should've learned my lesson back then.

Or maybe I'm just worried that Ford's getting too old to play these kinds of roles. I was kind of scared for the guy when he was rolling around and trading punches with Paul Bettany. But it doesn't seem like he's ready to give up on them any time soon. So the aspiring screenwriter in me has come up with a couple of ideas. It's my way of keeping my hero, Han Solo, in the movie business without fracturing his ribs.

Okay, we know that Ford likes to play guys who have to fight their way out of dangerous situations in order to find something that's been taken away, preferably a family. So what if we cast Ford as a coffee shop barista? He can make that patented face while trying to keep up with a line or interpreting someone's half-caf, short, non-fat, dry vanilla cappucino with an extra shot.

The danger could come from almost burning his hand with the milk steamer. Or getting varicose veins from standing up too long while being trapped behind the counter. Maybe he's a bit too old to sling coffees, but he likes playing below his age. But if we keep him older, we could make him a bit senile. Then he could spout out lines like "What's going on? Why won't you let me go? Where's my family?" And his supervisor could respond with, "Dude, your shift is four hours. You have to work until 2 o'clock." Except what if he's just posing as a supervisor, and really wants to rob the cafe?

But that lacks something, doesn't it? Ford likes those memorable lines, like "Get off my plane!" or "You'll get your money when I get my family!" that he can spit out at the bad guys. What if a customer wasn't paying him? Then he could snarl a good "You'll get your latte when I get my money!" Or what if his co-workers hid his time card so he couldn't punch out for break? He could grab one of them by the lapels and hiss "Give me back my time card!" through his teeth. If you really wanted the crowd to cheer, you could have him throw scalding coffee in the supervisor/robber's face, and then punch him while saying something memorable like, "Here's your drink - with an extra shot!"

Or if you really want action, how about a time travel story in which 1980s Harrison Ford confronts 2000s Harrison Ford? They could roll around and punch each other, while 1980s Ford spits out, "Where's your integrity? Give me my career back!" and 2000s Ford sputters, "I don't do this for free! Get off my paycheck!"

Okay, the screenwriting needs some work. I'll get to that when I'm done with this. Here's what really gets me: Presumably Adult Ian likes remembering what it was like to be Little Kid Ian. (For one thing, he didn't refer to himself in the third person.) I used to think Harrison Ford was the coolest guy on the planet. If there was such a term as "man-crush" back then, I would've had one. But now I see his movies and wonder what the hell he's thinking. (Actually, I know what he's thinking because I can see the dollar signs in his eyes when the light catches them just right.)

One of the prevailing themes of adulthood for me has been disenchantment with adults I once looked up to. Maybe that's just part of growing up. But I don't want to think about that stuff when I go to the movies. Yet I do when I see a Harrison Ford movie nowadays. And that makes Little Kid Ian curl up into a ball.

Save the inner children, Harrison Ford. Start making good movies again. Or at least stop trying to be midlife crisis action hero. You were cool once. You can be cool again.

But don't even get me started on that Dr. Seuss thing he did before the Super Bowl. What the hell was that? Man, I've written enough today already...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Rock 'n roll ain't blog pollution

When Raging Red said she wanted to "tag" me, I got excited. But she had something else in mind. Rats. First, Love Monkey is cancelled, and now this. So before I return the candles (I'll be keeping the wine and breath mints), I have her music meme-thingy to share with you.

The rules: List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they’re listening to.

1. Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones: Always just a shot away. I didn't expect the Stones to play this at the Super Bowl, but I wish they would've.
2. Pretty Vegas - INXS: I want to hate this song, yet I can't. It's not very good and I think the new singer is just not right for their band, INXS, yet here I am listening to it. It's the old INXS fan in me, I guess.
3. Don't Bring Me Down - Electric Light Orchestra: The first song out of my iPod this morning. My fingers and hips do this weird dance when I hear it. Probably why I don't play it in the car too often.
4. Automatic - Chris Whitley: I'm way behind on this, but I just found out Whitley died back in November, due to lung cancer. That man played a sweet steel guitar.
5. Hey Julie - Fountains of Wayne: This was played on Scrubs on Tuesday night. I love it when FoW gets movie or TV play. They should be the biggest band in the universe.
6. Rock 'N Roll Ain't Noise Pollution - AC/DC: I #@$%ing love the Nike commercial with this song. Yet it doesn't make me want to go out running. Maybe it's because I'm an Asics guy?
7. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground - The White Stripes: I would love this to be my alarm clock every morning. Starts out soft, then pounds you with rock. Makes me want to learn to play guitar.

Okay, that wasn't so bad. A couple of the picks were influenced by TV, which doesn't really surprise me, but I'm reminded of how little music I get from the radio these days.

Do I really have to "tag" seven other bloggers? Okay, if you're not up for it, I'll understand, but I'll choo-choo-choose Susannah, Evan, Tysen, Liz, Miko, Kevin, and Zac to play with me. And for anyone reading this, please feel free to leave your own lists in the comments. Off to bed.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A love untold - until now

I should've known better. But it was irresistible. I'm sure you've all had similar sensations; you're just consumed with happiness, think this is how life should be, and invest yourself completely. Even if you know it's not right. Even if you know it's not going to end well. Even if you know you could be miserable after it's all over. But it was worth it, because for those few fleeting moments, joy suddenly became a concept that actually made sense to you.

I can only blame myself for diving head-first into a relationship that I knew wouldn't last. I knew it would be a roller coaster ride, but I wanted the rush of plummeting to earth with my hands in the air too much. Because I hadn't felt that way in so long.

But now, it's over. And after taking a dip in "Lake Me," along with an NYPD pizza and some episodes of Scrubs, I'm ready to write about it.

Comcast's free preview of the NFL Network ended on Tuesday. I don't know if they offered the preview to all of its basic cable subscribers last week because of the Super Bowl build-up, or if it was on a local basis since "The Big Game" was in Detroit. All I know is that for one week, I could watch it. And I fell in love.

Interviews with almost every player and coach involved in the Super Bowl. Slow motion breakdowns of each team's playbook. Retrospectives of old NFL games. I went to sleep with the TV on that first night. That's right - we spent our first night together. I can say it now, without crying. It kept me warm and spoke gently in my ear as I drifted off to the most wonderful dreamland I've ever inhabited.

I told my mother the next day and introduced her to NFL Network. And you know what? Mama Cass loved it. She couldn't stop talking about it. She wondered where it'd been all our lives. Not only was she happy for me, but she was happy too.

I tried to protect her from the inevitable truth. But when NFL Network finally left, she knew before I did. And when she found out, like any good mother, she told me first. Because she wanted to be there for me, she wanted me to hear it from someone who loved me. "Hey," she said to me, "channel 15's showing local real estate again." She didn't say anything after that. She didn't have to. But I'm glad she was there for me.

Dr. House and his team of specialists (especially Dr. Cameron) helped get me through the night. And Dr. Dorian and his friends nursed me to sleep after I was tickled by a love monkey. Yesterday, I woke up rested and relieved. I knew everything was going to be okay. I still feel some pain. I'm still bearing a few scars. But I learned from this. And I'll be stronger for it. Sure, the experience was emotionally rough. But it was worth it. What's that old saying? 'Tis better to have lost love than loved being lost? Something like that, right?

▪▪ Another thought about Scrubs: Isn't Zach Braff's relationship with Mandy Moore totally jinxed, now that she made a guest appearance on the show? I always wince when I see things like that. I'm sure it seems nice at the time, but what happens when you break up, and there's an example of your time together, recorded for posterity? Yeesh. I'd hate that. Of course, if I was dating Mandy Moore, I'd bring her to work too.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Will Charlie Murphy tell the story better?

Despite reminding myself constantly, I missed Dave Chappelle's appearance on Oprah (or is it The Oprah Winfrey Show?) last Friday. But after reading accounts of the show, such as this one by Lisa de Moraes in the Washington Post, I'm still not sure what to think of the guy. As Mis Hooz reminded me, he's still funny as hell, and I'll always enjoy reruns of Chappelle's Show. But it's difficult not to look at the guy differently after he cut and ran.

When Chappelle left his show and fled to South Africa, it looked like a drastic, crazy move - the kind of move someone makes when they've cracked under the pressure of expectations and completely freaked out. It's also somewhat understandable; $50 million is, well, fifty million dollars. Who wouldn't feel some pressure with that kind of cash being pushed across the table? Of course, no one was twisting Chappelle's arm into signing that contract. Don't take the money if you don't think you're up to the challenge.

Speaking of the money, Chappelle said he might come back to do the show if Comedy Central would donate half of the revenue from DVD sales to his favorite charities. Say what? If he feels that strongly about it, why not take the money he would've been paid and give it to those same charities? Wouldn't that do the trick? Chappelle also took a shot at his writing partner, Neal Brennan, for not checking in to see how he was doing. Gee, Dave - maybe he was a little miffed that he wasn't going to get his cut of fifty million dollars.

If Chappelle was concerned that the material on the show was becoming "socially irresponsible," began to wonder if he was doing the right thing, and felt guilty because of that, then that's different. But if that's really the case, why not just stick to that as your story? Why take shots at Comedy Central, even if they criticized you in the press? Why complain about how hard it is to be a celebrity? Why go on Oprah's show (and Inside the Actors Studio) if you really just want to be left alone?

Maybe Chappelle wants to make sure his side of the story is heard. Maybe he feels he owes his fans an explanation. But he also seems like a really confused guy right now, someone who wants to live his life on his terms, yet obviously cares what people think of him. And no matter how funny I'll always think he is, it's hard to look at him the same way anymore.

Monday, February 06, 2006

They're not even trying anymore

As I said yesterday, I strongly believe that today, the day after the Super Bowl, should be a national holiday. So I was leaning toward not posting anything. But Mis Hooz called from the New York bureau and told me I had to work if she did. Of course, she's right. So here are a few stray thoughts bouncing around in my mind.

That had to be the worst batch of Super Bowl commercials ever. The cover of last week's Metro Times was better. (I wonder if my old buddy Doug Coombe took that photo. Hey, I would've made that pose if he'd asked. And that's probably why he didn't ask.)

If you watched the game, or if you tune in especially for the commercials, what did you think? We won't be talking about any of those ads a week from now. USA Today's annual "Ad Watch" gave its top ranking to the Budweiser "magic fridge" spot. It seemed like a rerun of two or three old Budweiser ads to me.

I think the "Ted Ferguson: Bud Light Daredevil" commercial with the dude staying at work for five extra minutes - on a Friday - is much funnier. (Budweiser ruined the joke by stretching the gag into two or three other spots, but that's another post.) But none of them match the Sprint ad with the two guys dancing to Salt N' Pepa in their office. That one never gets old.

Okay, I did like the Kathy Griffin Sierra Mist ad. That was funny. But it was a smile, not a laugh.

▪▪ Not that it was anything near original, but did you notice that today's Detroit News sports section stole the headline from yesterday's post? Oh yeah, I'm sure that's where they got the idea from.

▪▪ In case you didn't see it, someone asked if that was really my mother who left a comment to last Friday's post. I stand by the statement I made at the end of the thread. And my sister will testify to my mother employing such tactics to avoid interrogation. We always wondered why Mom never taught us how to speak Chinese.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

XL-ent! (But you know, it could've been colder)

For Super Bowl week in Detroit, city and event planners viewed the weather cautiously. There was something of a love-it/ love-it-not courtship of winter. They chose to embrace the area's cold weather, studying occasions such as the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City to design activities that would work well with a typical Michigan February. Yet it couldn't be too cold, otherwise visitors would be confined indoors and out-of-town media would complain that this game should be held in Miami, San Diego, and Tempe every year.

Maybe the strangest irony of this past week, however, has been that it wasn't cold enough. This has actually been the area's warmest winter in 74 years. It's difficult to stage ice skating, snow slides, dog sled races, and ice sculpture gardens with two key ingredients missing: cold temperatures and snow. Rather than a winter blast, Motown had more of a chilly spell. But last night, Mama Weather apparently decided it was time to remind everyone that it was February in Michigan, blowing frigid winds and dumping a few inches of snow through Detroit.

Hopefully, cold and snow on game day doesn't ruin the Super Bowl experience for visitors. It's been a good week for Detroit. Downtown has looked great, all of the surrounding parties and events have gone smoothly, and visitors have been pleasantly surprised. I've spent most of the week looking for hack sportswriters pecking out tired cheap shots at crime, unemployment, and fans setting cars on fire, but the media's been pretty nice to the city. Maybe they read Michael Rosenberg's "Guide to Ripping on Detroit" in last week's Detroit Free Press, and realized how lame such material was. (Jimmy Kimmel made up for his shot at Detroit two years ago by bringing his ABC late-night talk show here, and trading quips with local newscasters.)

That's not to say there haven't been unflattering portrayals of Detroit in the press during the past week. But at least those were honest attempts to examine economic and social issues plaguing a still-struggling city, rather than collections of stale jokes and insults. Most articles about Super Bowl week in Detroit have touted its thriving restaurant, bar, and club scene, and accepted the city for what it is, instead of what it isn't. Some writers have come dangerously close to blowing smoke up Detroit's collective ass. That's very nice of you, Dan Shaughnessy, but rather unnecessary, considering the aforementioned warm temperatures.

Well, there was one asshole this week: Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times. He said that he found his way around the city by following "the unemployment mailman" and "crack house attendants." Wow, Rick, that's hilarious. And original! How long did you have those jokes waiting? You, sir, are a hack. And that's disappointing, considering Telander has been a pretty good writer throughout his career. Maybe he's just perplexed that Chicago hasn't hosted a Super Bowl.

But now, it's time for the game. Isn't that supposed to be what this hype and pageantry is all about? Today feels like Christmas. Tomorrow should be a national holiday. Maybe you can buy your friend a t-shirt or hat with the most marketable logo in the history of this event. (In this cause, "your friend" means me. I want a Super Bowl XL t-shirt, and not just because that's my usual size.) Detroit got a lot of attention this week, handled it beautifully, and came out looking great. Hopefully, this is the catalyst for bigger and better things in the city. That would be much more fun and fulfilling than a football game.

You stay classy, Detroit.

(Image via AP)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Confessing from afar

I have a confession to make. I wanted to post this yesterday, but I wrestled over whether or not this was something I should share with the people. It's a reasonable certainty that the Man Card committee will meet to discuss my eligibility after reading this. My counsel, Mis Hooz, advised me that I might not want to make such a confession so soon after admitting that I wanted to see Brokeback Mountain again.

But like Jack Twist, I want to be myself and live as I really am in this world, regardless of whether or not society is ready to accept it.

I've been watching Dancing with the Stars.

(If you heard a loud noise at approximately 10 p.m. EST last night, that was Mis Hooz, saying "Oh. My. Gahd.")

And I don't just watch it; I enjoy it. I'm a fan. I won't go so far as to call myself a big fan. But I talk about it with people the next day, wondering which pair will be eliminated from the show that week. And I get emotional while watching. When P. Miller (Master P) stayed on instead of a pair that was clearly better, I got mad. The next week, I said I would stop watching if Master P wasn't kicked off (despite my infatuation with his adorable dance partner). But he was, so I'm still tuning in.

I don't have a wife or girlfriend who's making me watch this. I'm not hiding behind anything like that. This was my decision. I will argue to you (and the Man Card committee), however, that I have some very masculine reasons for watching this show.

The women are hot. The first time I sat down to watch, after dinner with my mother, I sneered, said this had to be the stupidest thing ever put on television, and it only drew viewers because there's nothing on during the summer. Then I saw Jerry Rice's dance partner, Anna Trebunskaya. Good. Lord. That woman's hips are hypnotic. I couldn't take my eyes off of them. I didn't know you could shake your thang like that. She makes Beyonce look stiff. How does she move like that? It's like her limbs are made of rubber. Great googaly moogaly.

And I'm not a "leg guy," but I'm beginning to rethink that stance after seeing Stacy Keibler fling her appendages all over the dance floor. Is she really a professional wrestler? Female wrestlers didn't look like that back when I watched that stuff. Believe me, my puberty would've remembered. You could put a lampshade on one of those legs, and your room would be forever brightened.

I realize some will say my man card should be revoked. One piece of evidence used against me could be the Detroit Pistons games on TV during two of the Thursday nights in question. I watched the game during commercials and after the show was over. But from 8 to 9:30 p.m, more of my attention was devoted to C-list celebrities ballroom dancing. (As a counter-argument, I would note that one of the contestants, the aforementioned Jerry Rice, was one of the greatest players in NFL history, and as a football fan, I was simply curious to see what he was doing after retirement.)

So now you know. And I feel better after letting this side of myself out. Keeping it inside was becoming painful. I might not be in front of my TV tonight to watch this week's results show, but I'll definitely be taping it. And I'll probably have some opinions and feelings on which dancers stay and which of them go. But I'll be honest about it, and that makes me feel good. I can walk proud. Will this inspire me to take up dancing? Oh, hell no.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A winning formula

As an addendum to yesterday's Oscar nominations post, I thought I should pass along this information just sent from Fried Rice Thoughts New York bureau chief, Mis Hooz.

Don't get too attached to the other Best Actor nominees, if you're not a fan of Philip Seymour Hoffman. According to this formula and schematic from Encyclopedia Hanasiana, it's almost certainly assured that Hoffman will take the award for his portrayal of Truman Capote.

Consider that last year, playing famous people (Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn) received most of the acclaim. And this year, playing gay people has proved successful for several actors (Felicity Huffman, Heath Ledger, the aforementioned Hoffman). So if you're playing someone famous and gay, well, how can you beat that combination?

Sorry, Heath - but you can't fight science.