Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pulled Pork? I Think I'll Pass, Jim...

Some of you probably saw or heard about this on the news yesterday. I read the report in the afternoon, was kind of disgusted, and thought I'd forget about it soon afterwards. But then I saw it mentioned on television, and as we all know, it's more legitimate when it's on the teevee.

The story goes like this: Over the weekend in Alabama, an 11-year-old kid apparently bagged the biggest, #@$%ing mutant pig you've ever seen. How big? Try 1051 pounds.

The logic centers of my brain want to cry bull$#!+, as I try to tell myself that the kid in the picture must be 20 feet behind the pig that has to be in the foreground of the frame. I mean, to think otherwise is to acknowledge a horror that I'm not sure I'm ready to comprehend.

First of all, are there really mutant beasts like this running around? If so, we could be in huge trouble if the animals ever decide to revolt and take back this planet.

A 1000 lb. wild boar?!? And according to the reports, that slab of bacon measured more than nine feet across. That thing is a behemoth. It's a #@$%ing monster, man. If that pig and my little Honda Civic were running at each other head-on, I'm pretty sure my car wouldn't survive. Think about if that thing decided to take a run at the side of your house. You'd need Extreme Home Makeover the next day.

I also might have to face the possibility that an 11-year-old kid has bigger balls than me, because if a beast that size came at me, I'd probably soil my shorts, drop to my knees, and start praying to a higher power while tears ran down my face. Or if I had a gun, maybe I'd shoot it. Hell, maybe I'd shoot myself.

And that brings me to the other thing I find troubling about this story (once I get over the fact that there are 1,000-pound pigs running around on this planet): This kid shot the great big boar eight times, and then chased it through the woods for three hours before finishing it off at point-blank range. To me, that sounds like the kind of story you hear about after a serial killer's been arrested and he's being psychologically profiled on the news.

No, I'm not equating hunting with serial killing. It's a sport many people participate in, and I don't really have a problem with it. I'm trying to make a joke. Sort of. When you're facing something that large, I'm sure self-defense is a natural instinct. Take another look at that picture. Young Leonidas killing a wolf in 300 looks like kind of a pussy in comparison. Maybe we should be thanking this kid for protecting us.

I just don't have much of an appetite for pork products right now. No bacon or sausage for me today, thanks. That's really all I'm saying.

[via Deadspin]

Friday, May 25, 2007

That's What She Said! (Episode #24)

A good finale can often save the season of a television show. I'm not saying Season 3 of The Office needed saving, because I thought it was pretty damn fun. But after seeing how certain characters and storylines developed, the overall themes became very clear of the season became quite clear, and I'll enjoy going back to look at these episodes someday.

Of course, participating in the That's What She Said podcast gave this season of The Office a bit more significance than it may have otherwise had for me. I watch every TV show I enjoy very closely. My phone bill to Mis Hooz through seasons of Deadwood, The Sopranos, and Nip/Tuck (among others) could tell you that. But consciously looking for talking points was a different experience.

Fortunately, this season's final episode - "The Job"- gave Matt and I plenty of stuff to talk about. Not just the ending that sent many fans hooting, hollering, and swooning, either. Many things seemed to "click." We found out why certain characters had behaved as they had all season. Others showed their true natures. And perhaps best of all, I think it left fans of the show eagerly anticipating next season already.

Episode #24 is available for your downloading and listening pleasure, either from the That's What She Said home page or via iTunes. If you liked or didn't like what you heard, please send over an e-mail, post a review at our iTunes page, or leave a comment at our blog page. I'm not sure what will happen with the community that developed over the summer hiatus, but I hope the site stays going and people continue to chime in. I know I've enjoyed getting to know several of the "regulars" that stop by.

When Matt originally asked me to co-host an "Office" podcast with him, I didn't quite imagine that I'd be co-hosting virtually every episode. But it was apparent when he played the "tests" for me that he was really onto something, and I hoped Matt would follow through on his ambitions. I think the work he puts into the show is reflected in every episode, and recording the show each week (and learning about podcasting, in general) has been a lot of fun. 25+ episodes is something to be proud of. It's a finished body of work. We've already talked a bit about next season, but honestly, I think both of us need a break before deciding what happens with the podcast.

And now, I'll have to get back to putting some "real" posts up here at The Rice, instead of posting a blurb for the TWSS podcast, linking to the MP3, and calling it a day. (This week, especially, has been something of a vacation.) I don't know how many people follow the podcast and blog page over here, but I'm grateful to anyone that does. And to those who check in over here and don't listen to the podcast, I appreciate you indulging my double-dipping. I know I haven't posted very much new material here lately. Thanks for sticking with me.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Thinking of Spiders... and Bats

I really meant to post my thoughts on Spider-Man 3 today, but got bogged down (as has become typical) with baseball stuff. Therefore, in lieu of actual content, I'll have to let my geek feathers show in another way. It's too early to get excited about this movie, but the website for the Batman Begins sequel, called The Dark Knight, recently went up, and though there's virtually no content available as of yet, they did release this image.

Of all the Batman villains, Harvey Dent/Two-Face is probably my favorite, and I always hated how he was turned into a preening, cackling clown by Joel Schumacher and Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever. But I want to believe in Harvey Dent. As a character he's a conflicted, bipolar, paranoid dichotomy of a man, not some goofball who just happens to have one side of his face disfigured. If Christopher Nolan and crew manage to create anything like the Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight Returns or The Long Halloween, I'll be a happy little moviegoer. Casting Aaron Eckhart in the role is a damn good start.

UPDATE (5/21): As Martin mentioned in the comments, there's a little bit more to that poster. I love stuff like this.

See Smiley McFreakyPants...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

That's What She Said! (Episode #23)

If given the choice between listening to an upturned broom with a bucket for a head or our podcast, we hope you choose That's What She Said. Consider it a mandatory fun activity - or "funtivity," if that better suits you.

It might not the best podcasting you can listen to, when neither Matt or I much cared for the latest episode of The Office, but as usual (and much like a writing workshop), we try to find the things we liked before getting into what we didn't like about "Beach Games."

Me, I'm pretty simple. Two guys in rubber sumo suits will always be funny to me. Especially when they belly flop upon one another. But a guy falling face down in hot coals? Not so much. Then again, I really just want to lie on the beach and eat hot dogs. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.

It's the last episode before the season finale, and viewers finally got the speech they've been waiting to hear from one of our favorite unrequited lovers. Hopefully, that raises the stakes for next week's one-hour, season-ending telecast.

Episode #23 is available for your downloading and listening pleasure, either from the That's What She Said home page or via iTunes. If you like or don't like what you hear, please send over an e-mail, post a review at our iTunes page, or leave a comment at our blog page, where the community continues to grow and new voices are always welcomed. Who among you has the guts to listen?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Mother's Day?

What's a cuter Mother's Day gift than a heart-shaped cookie with "Mom" written on it?

Well, I hope to hell this isn't a bad omen.

Not so cute when the cookie breaks just as Mom picks it up. I swear there was no crack when I brought it home. (If anything, all of the cookie's molecules should've been fused together because, well, I left it in the car for about an hour on a sunshiny Friday. The cupcake I also bought for her didn't quite make the transition. Poor me, I had to clean up melted chocolate frosting. With my mouth.)

Anyway, I insisted Mama Cass eat the damn thing after dinner because a pink broken heart cookie (with the crack going right through "Mom") was just too depressing to look at for very long.

Happy belated Mother's Day to all you mothers reading this today.

Conflict Resolution

Ladies and gentleman, my long local litter nightmare is over.

I imagine you were hoping I've gotten past my outrage at having advertisements brazenly tossed upon my front lawn. I am here to tell you today that I have indeed moved on. Judging from the above photo, attention has been paid and my message has been received.

You can see exactly where that plastic bag was dumped this morning. On my driveway. A little close to the edge of the grass, I suppose, but it's not on the lawn. It's certainly possible that the bag landed behind my car after the delivery driver tossed it at its rear windshield, hoping to spray shattered glass all over my driveway. But ultimately, his package of crap fell harmlessly to the pavement. And the final result is one I'm willing to accept.

I appreciate your patience in allowing me this indulgence. I'm sure there were more entertaining things to read across the internet. This past week is likely not one I will recall when discussing the life stories and lessons that have been chronicled on this blog. But I think the underlying theme is one worthy of posterity. A voice was heard. Casualties were avoided. Power to the people.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

That's What She Said! (Episode #22)

How can we be so illogical and flighty and unpredictable and emotional? Hey, all we do is record podcasts about The Office, and we're now up to 22 of them. As the season moves toward its finale, That's What She Said tries to figure out the mystery behind the latest episode, titled "Women's Appreciation."

This week, Matt and I played a bit of role reversal, with him enjoying the show upon first viewing, while I had to warm up to it. How does such a thing happen? Well, some podcasts have their rough patches, but we just push through them. Is it a little bit weird that we record during these conversations? Look, anything that scares us is not worth doing. It's perfectly healthy behavior.

And make you sure you listen until the very end, because Matt took a cherished piece of 80's geek nostalgia and created what might be the best "outro" ever recorded. It'll save every one of us.

Episode #22 is available for your downloading and listening pleasure, either from the That's What She Said home page or via iTunes. If you like or don't like what you hear, please send over an e-mail, post a review at our iTunes page, or leave a comment at our blog page, where the community continues to grow and new voices are always welcomed. You can run, but you cannot hide.

Monday, May 07, 2007

You Have Been Warned, Litterer

I tried to be nice. I tried to be civil. I kept my complaints restricted to this blog, rather than letting them fuel physical action. But it appears that I should've been more demonstrative, more emphatic in stating my concerns. Once again, I have professionally printed litter on my lawn. And I am not happy.

This photo was taken this morning, as I was bringing my trash and recyclables to the curb for collection. I wanted to tell myself that the flash of blue on my grass was a trick of sun and dew, but I knew better. My landscape had been defiled again. Perhaps even worse, it happened while I was sleeping, while my guard was down.

You can see how far the bag is from my driveway. Clearly, this bag was tossed on my front lawn with callous disregard. (You can also see that the grass needs to be cut. I will be working on that later today. I probably would've started earlier, had it not been necessary to retrieve plastic bags stuffed full of newsprint dross from my lawn.)

I tried to be cool about this, but now, this appears to be personal. Next weekend, I will sleep on my lawn, waiting for this brazen litterer to strike again. And maybe I won't cut my grass, so the blades are tall, and my presence is hidden. I'll go to the army surplus store this week and buy camouflaged attire to further disguise my intent.

And then, when the dreck dumper drives by, either stopping at my driveway or slowing down to toss that sack out of his or her car window, I will rise. And I will strike. I will pounce like an animal whose cage door was left open. I'm-a smack you 'cross the arms and face with a rake, mofo. And I will enjoy it.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

If 12-Year Old Paperboys Can Do It, So Can You

If you live in Ann Arbor, you might know exactly what I'm going to complain about. (Well, maybe not, if you're in an apartment, rather than a house or condo. I don't know.) And I'm sure plenty of other people who live elsewhere will be able to relate to something like this. I'm sure it depends on the neighborhood or county you live in, or whatever. But every week, we get this "Food, Fun, & Fitness" collection of recipes, articles, and ads. I believe it's produced by the fine people at the Ann Arbor News.

Depending on my mood, I'll open the long, plastic bag and pull out the stuff inside, thinking I'll find something marginally worthwhile. Or maybe I just needed something to occupy my brain for two minutes. But most of the time, I take the bag and toss it in the recycling bin without looking. It's just #@$%ing junk. And I didn't ask for it.

But I could accept this. At least to a point. Over the last couple of weeks, however, whomever is "delivering" these plastic bags of paper waste has been throwing them onto my lawn (which, after last weekend, is finally short enough that I could see these bags), which is totally unacceptable. This offends me on two levels. Not just as a homeowner, but also as a former paperboy.

You throw the newspaper onto the driveway or the porch. 13-year-old kids know this. If it's not on the driveway or the porch, it's not a newspaper (or whatever the hell this collection of junk is), it's #@$%ing litter.

Is it really much different than my neighbor finishing his pizza, and then throwing the box onto my lawn? Okay, one's a grease-stained container for food, and the other is an assembly of print materials in a bag, but I'd have to pick either one off of the grass after it was tossed over there.

Do not #@$% with me, delivery boy or girl of this stuff. I've been doing a lot of yard work out in the sun, my head is baked, and I am most likely holding some sort of landscaping tool that could be used as a weapon. You have been warned. And I am watching.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

My Geekish Blood is Rich With Iron

I'm probably getting too old for this stuff, and frankly, Superman Returns was disappointing enough to make me reconsider getting excited about a favorite childhood comic book or cartoon of mine coming to the big screen. For instance, I should be (pardon the pun) climbing the walls with anticipation over Spider-Man 3 hitting theaters this weekend. But I'm a bit subdued. (I should probably save my thoughts on Transformers for now. Oh, Young Ian might get giddy for that one.)

Maybe that's because so much footage has already been shown on TV and the internet (which I've tried to avoid, but if a whole cake is shoved in your face, you can't help but taste it). Or maybe it's because I just feel like there's no way it can be as good as Spider-Man 2. There's too many characters this time, especially on the villains' side. It can't possibly work, can it? (Some people are saying it doesn't.) Of course, I'll still see it this weekend. (And it looks like a Spider-Man 4 is going to happen, even if a new cast and director are necessary. If this is the villain they use, however, Young Ian will pout. And he can really pout.)

Anyway, I'm beginning to ramble. What I was going to say is that there is one comic book movie that will be coming out that I am still excited about. Why? 1) It stars one of my favorite actors, someone who probably should've been a superstar long ago, but let his addictions get in the way. 2) I dig the director. And 3) Of all the comic book heroes that could be adapted into a movie, this is the one that makes the most "real world" sense to me. If you were going to fight crime, wouldn't you want to do it in a suit of armor?

Iron Man wasn't one of Young Ian's favorite superheroes, though he certainly took part in several comic books I bought as a kid. One thing that was always interesting about him, however - as is the case with most Marvel Comics characters - is that he had to deal with some decidedly non-heroic problems. For one thing, Tony Stark built that suit of armor to keep himself alive, with a chestplate that was essentially a pacemaker. Secondly, and probably more important, Stark was an alcoholic. (Curiously, that little character trait is left out of his Marvel Comics profile. And from what I understand, it won't be a part of this movie, though if there's a sequel, it might come up.)

And this is why Robert Downey, Jr. - who seemed like a rather unusual choice, and I was surprised when my buddy Pete told me about it - is almost painfully suited for the role. Tony Stark is a brilliantly talented man whose personal issues and self-destructive character flaws have compromised what success he's achieved. Sound familiar?

This is what the Marvel Comics movies (besides those Fantastic Four flicks) have done really well: pick good actors to play their signature characters. (And considering a couple of them spend sizable chunks of their stories under full face masks or replaced by CGI, the story - or the paycheck - must be compelling enough to attract them.) And it's not just the main superhero or villain, either. Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, and Gwyneth Paltrow are in this, too - either as supporting characters or antagonists.

And in a wonderful bit of timing (which affirms my interest in writing about this), Fried Rice Friend Kevin Antcliff just sent me news that an image of the final Iron Man suit of armor has now been released on the internet. (The picture above is the first suit he builds in Afghanistan, I believe as a prisoner of war.) Of course, the movie's set to be released exactly a year from now, so I'm sure breaking this stuff isn't a coincidence.

I appreciate you indulging my geekish glee by following this post to the end, as I've likely embarrassed myself and displayed stunted emotional development. Carry on with your bad selves. I will now resume taping my glasses and deciding which pens will go best with my pocket protector tomorrow. Excelsior!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

That's What She Said! (Episode #21)

May the Lord beer you strength as you listen to Episode #21 of the That's What She Said podcast. I've seen and heard mixed reactions to last week's episode of The Office (a not-so-funny middle, bookended by absolute hilarity) but I think it just may have been the most unwittingly brilliant half-hour of television I've watched this season.

I'm sure the writers of the show intended to create a piece of satire that mocked the public relations hopscotch that celebrities and companies have to perform these days to win back favor from the people. But given when this episode must have been produced, I doubt they realized just how pertinent Michael Scott's attempt to control the news and deal with demands for his resignation, in lieu of what happened with Don Imus a few weeks ago.

Episode #21 is available for your downloading and listening pleasure, either from the That's What She Said home page or via iTunes. If you like or don't like what you hear, please send over an e-mail or leave a comment at our blog page, where the community continues to grow and new voices are always welcomed.

Brilliant satire or not, however, The Office also creates some flat-out hilarious moments, based on the rich characters that make up the cast. And just because I need to see it again, here's an example of that: