Friday, February 26, 2010

CI #71 -- Idiot charities

Dear Idiot Charity,

Why did you spend bulk mail postage plus a nickel to send me bulk mail plus a nickel? Helpful tip: I can help you cut costs in your overhead.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CI #70 -- Mexican Signs

How awesome are these?

(snorkeling at Yal-ku Lagoon)

(swimming at Gran Cenote)

CI # 69 -- Real: the new retarded

Play a handicapped person -- get an Oscar nomination or, with a little luck, a win. So goes the joke, which is almost indistinguishable from the truth (and was parodied perfectly in Tropic Thunder).

Of course, if you can't get a hold of one of those highly coveted and elusive "retard roles," you could always: A) gain/lose a lot of weight for a role (DeNiro in Raging Bull, et al) OR B) make your pretty self really ugly (Charlize Theron in Monster, et al).

There now seems to be an even newer path to Oscarville: C) playing real -- someone who actually lived and breathed and walked this earth. Of course biopics and films based on true stories are nothing new. And, full disclosure, I very often enjoy true stories.

However, I fear that with Hollywood taking fewer risks, "real stories" are becoming a crutch. And maybe it doesn't hurt that actors almost always get nominated for their portrayal of a real person.

Just this year, there are two "real nominations": Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela (Invictus), Meryl Streep as Julia Child (Julie and Julia). While it is a "tragedy" that Meryl Streep has fewer best actress awards (1) than Hilary Swank, ... really? Julie and Julia? Really?

Has the Academy completely abandoned awarding individual performances in favor of lifetime achievement recognition? C'mon, guys. At least pretend like you're trying.

Over the past four years, there have been four Best Actor/Actress awards doled out to people playing real people [winners in caps] and even more nominations.

2005 -- PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMON (Capote), Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line), David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck), REESE WITHERSPOON (Walk the Line)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

CI #68 -- Reggae on vacation

Even though I'm no longer in college and long ago realized that basically all reggae was the same, I still enjoy a little reggae on vacation. I think a lot of people do.

And I'll say it -- I even enjoy some reggae while NOT on vacation. Back to vacation though: in Mexico, Mr. Marley and friends were in heavy rotation, and no one was complaining. We were living, walking Corona ads.

Something about having the best time of my life -- beer in hand, feet up, staring at beautiful blue water -- got me thinking, what is it about reggae that makes it so pleasurable on vacation?

Is it because we know that people suffered for hundreds of years to bring us the sweet sounds of melodies pure and true or despite it? Reggae's ingredients? 10% syncopation, 78% ganja, and 12% oppression.

Consider the following playlist excerpt:

- Burnin' and lootin', Bob Marley
- (007) Shanty Town, Desmond Dekker
- Pressure Drop, Toots and the Maytals

Though the Mexican Yucatan is not Kingston, Jamaica, they do have one thing in common beside beaches -- poverty. So the formula still works.

It makes you stop and think for a second, just long enough to realize that you need another beer. I'm not saying I'm going to stop bobbing my head to "Trenchtown Rock" with a Red Stripe (or Sol, respectively) in my hand, but I will pour an extra one out next time.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

CI #67 -- Coldplay

[Editor's note: (Unfortunately) I just got back from the aforementioned wedding in Mexico, which was incredible. Warning: you'll probably see a lot of wedding-related CIs.]

See the thing is, I now have to like them more. But more than that, I have to respect them more.

I'm forcing myself to take them off my lists of joke references (other recently removed references: scurvy (overdone), Tyler Perry (who knew that guy when through some crap?), and Snuggies (no explanation needed)).

The story goes like this. While we were in Mexico, we were determined to see some old shit. After much planning and time constraining, we settled on visiting the ruins at Coba instead of Tulum or Chicen Itza. Having spent almost three hours entirely without cerveza while walking around the ruins, we had almost reached our limit of old shit.

I had enjoyed seeing the Mayan ballcourt used for the game somewhat similar to basketball (but with more human sacrifice). All in all though, it was slightly underwhelming. Then we suddenly came upon a fork in the road. Two signs that didn't mean anything to us were pointing opposite directions.

Going one way was a hoard of other white foreigners. Going the other way was no one. We'd decided were going to see one more piece of old shit, but what would it be? And I said in my infinite snarkiness, pointing to the Eurobasura headed in one direction, "What if that way is the Coldplay of ruins?"

It got a laugh. People appreciated the sentiment, and we took the path less traveled. Well, the thing about that was, sometimes the path less traveled is less traveled for a reason. Our less-traveled path led to some mildly interesting altars and carvings -- nothing spectacular.

But what did we miss? What was the other way? What was the "Coldplay of ruins"? As we later discovered thanks to Gwen, it was this:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

CI #66 -- Celebrations

I'm headed out of town to celebrate some friends nascent nuptials (Congrats, Raf and Nicole), so there won't be any new CIs for a while.

In the meantime, I'll leave you to ponder this: What song surely to be played at the wedding is about 2:29 seconds too long?

Clocking in at a beefy but not lean 4:59, it's Kool & The Gang's "Celebration."

On one hand, this classic is a non-stop party jam feel-good dance number; on the other hand, it's more repetitive than "Hey Jude" and "Let it be" combined (I know, Blasphemy!)

Perhaps this rudimentary enjoyment curve will put things into perspective.

The enjoyment of "Celebration" breaks down like this.

0:00 - 1:15. Establish that the party goin' on right here is already in progress, but hasn't "really started."

01:15 - 2:15. Peak party enjoyment time. Euphoria! Celebration! (Remember that our plan is to have a good time tonight.)

2:15 - 3:15. Enthusiasm slowly begins to wane, people start looking for excuses to leave the dance floor. People lazily mouth the words.

3:15 - 4:00. The only people left dancing are drunk and/or the uncle of the bride.

4:00 - 4:30. Net enjoyment of said "Celebration" actually goes negative, before shooting back into the positive as people realize...

4:30 - 4:50. Ahh, the "Celebration" is over. Those left standing pat each other on the back for what they just went through.

I'll be back in a week with CI #67 -- Greg's Sun Poisoning. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 8, 2010

CI #65 -- Jackson Hewitt

It being tax season and all, I keep seeing a Jackson Hewitt commercial that boasts "All we do is taxes!"

Is that really a benefit, a tax place only doing taxes? I'm sure it's some lame attempt to go after H&R Block, who must do something other than taxes, but it's kind of like a grocery store bragging that "all we sell is food! We tried used cars, but it just didn't work. We kept getting oil on the produce."

Having only been to H&R Block, I can really only speak to it firsthand. But if H&R Block is the McDonald's of tax services, Jackson Hewitt is the Jack in the Box, and maybe they should do something other than taxes, like breakfast all day.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

CI #64 -- Hip Hop Comebacks

What did I forget?

I was daydreaming the other day, thinking about life, you know, getting really existential and introspective. And suddenly I realized that there for a second, I completely forgot about Dre. And then I was like, "Oh, yeah -- Dre. Cool."

Never forget.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

CI #63 -- "New York" Stories

When you move to New York from anywhere outside the greater Tri-State area, you come to learn that there are two types of reactions from people back home.

Some find New York and your life there infinitely fascinating and exciting. Meanwhile, others -- who refuse to let go of the fact that NYC is no longer the same city that it was in Taxi Driver -- are basically counting the days until you tell them a pigeon pooped on your face and then stole your wallet.

Exchanges with the latter usually go like this:

EXTENDED FAMILY MEMBER: How are you enjoying the big city? Still big and dirty?

GREG: I really enjoy it actually. In many ways, it's a nice place to live.

EXTENDED FAMILY MEMBER: (disappointed and skeptical) Uhhhh-huh...

GREG: Well, I did see a crack bust in Central Park in broad daylight [I didn't]

EXTENDED FAMILY MEMBER: See, I told you it was a terrible place!

It makes me wonder, What do you want from me, people? New York is actually one of the cleanest, safest big cities in the world.

I think they want something like this story, which is indeed true. I now finally have a story to please the NY skeptics:

Monday, February 1, 2010

CI #62 -- Highly Specific Incense

Saw this in the corner store near my apartment.

Curious Question: Offensive?