Sunday, May 30, 2010

Moving Day

One of the few regularly scheduled posts that I've started in the few months that I've been writing this blog is "Take the Edge Off," but Mrs. Grump and I took the three day weekend to move into a new apartment. Apparently, she can't take living in a one bedroom apartment with no air conditioning, on-and-off hot water, and carpeting that looks somewhat like vomit. What a prima donna. As I look around at our new place, thanking God that I met someone who forced me to get the hell out of my "bachelor pad," I also realize that I'm way too fried to write up to my usual level of professionalism....God I can't even type that with a straight face. Basically, I can't think of any good life distractions to talk about so "Take the Edge Off" will be postponed until next week.

I would like to mention, however, that this is my first time taking part in a major move that involved actually renting a U-Haul, compiling some friends and family, and setting several days aside for a mass exodus of people, pets, and belongings. And I have to be honest with you......moving really sucks ass. I doubt I'm telling folks anything they don't already know, but I really just needed to point that out. It's just so mentally and physically draining.

It all starts on the day that you officially get the new place, as you start a mental inventory all of your shit and figure out just how much of a pain in the ass it will be to get from point A to point B. You even start getting pissed off at yourself for all of the unnecessary purchases that you've made over the last few years. You just had to buy that oak bookshelf with marble detailing and built-in cast iron safe, didn't you? Now it will take five of your strongest friends just to make sure you each only get a minor hernia while moving the bastard.

Then, about a week out, you realize you already need to start packing, which is actually meant to make things easier come moving day but it has the side effect of making your life a clusterfuck as you try and figure out what items you can do without so that you can have them packed ahead of time. But of course you don't need anything until you can't get to it anymore. You could have a copy of Teen Wolf that you haven't watched in 12 years, but as soon as you get that little fucker in a box buried with a hundred other movies, you'll suddenly get the urge to watch a werewolf dance to the Beach Boys on top of a van mid-transit.

Finally, it's time for the actual move. You have things boxed up, disassembled, and ready to go, because if your Dad is anything like mine he'll throw a temper tantrum if he shows up and you don't have everything from appliances down to stray sheets of toilet paper put into a proper moving receptacle. So you get things moving, making trip after trip downstairs and out to the moving truck, hoping that the wet feeling in your ass is just a lot of sweat and that you haven't shit your pants, until finally everything is loaded up. You admire your work and are just about ready to breath a sigh of satisfaction until it hits you that now you have to take every piece of junk back out of the truck when you get to your new place. Then, you have to spend the next day and a half (minimum) to unpack your crap to the point where your new place looks like more than a fancy storage facility.

Now, for me, this was only a move of about 3 miles, thank God. I don't know how people even survive a move cross-country. I'd need to take the next month off from work just to sleep if off after the move. Plus, I'm told that we have a relatively small amount of belongings that had to be moved. Therefore, I've decided I'm never buying anything ever again unless it's replacing something that I've worn out or lost, because frankly I don't have the energy to move anything more than that. In fact, I've actually managed to exhaust myself just by rehashing the whole process, so I'm going to go find a place to be as stationary as possible for the next 24-48 hours. However, I can never let an opportunity pass to connect something to George Carlin, so I leave you with his fairly well-known take on our society's fascination with stuff.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Doctor Responsible for MMR Vaccine/Autism "Study" Told to Fuck Self, Horse He Rode In On

I'd like to thank future Mrs. Grump for pointing this story out for me, as it gives me a scientific topic to cover for the week and, more importantly, it gives me the opportunity to rant on one of the more prominent rat bastards in recent history: Dr. Andrew "vaccines cause autism" Wakefield. The BBC reported yesterday that Dr. Wakefield has been removed from the medical registry by the General Medical Council. The GMC concluded that during his study where he links the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism, Dr. Wakefield utilized ethics slightly below those of Dr. Nick Riviera.

Hi, everybody!

Hi, Dr. Nick!

Rot in hell, you quack!

First of all, the guy is a gastroenterologist. Would you let your dentist study the effects of radiation on your sperm count? Then what the hell business did this guy, who specializes in the digestive tract, have in linking the MMR vaccine to autism? Well, his business was that he was being paid by lawyers acting on behalf of parents who claimed MMR vaccines hurt their children. So, Wakefield just so happened to have concluded that MMR vaccines caused bowel problems and also led to autism. Maybe he just tacked on that bowel problems bit to justify having a vaccination study performed by a goddamn gastroenterologist. "But wait," you may point out, "just because Wakefield happened to find the results that he was paid specifically to find does not mean that his results were not accurate." That may be true, but I'd say that having the majority of your colleagues call "bullshit", and then having most of the people who supported Wakefield in his study retract their claims a few years later may indeed indicate that he wasn't entirely correct in his findings.

Keep in mind, however, that the GMC didn't boot his ass because he was wrong. They kicked him out because he quite obviously had no grasp on the concept of ethics. Ethics, for example, are what keeps someone from "carrying out invasive tests on vulnerable children which were against their best interests." One such test was performed at his son's birthday party, where he paid the young guests money to take their blood. Oh that's just great. As if kids didn't already have enough to worry about when a stranger offers them money.

And the GMC might not have been reprimanding him for being wrong about his findings in this particular case, but that sure as hell doesn't mean that the general public shouldn't be giving him shit. And we should also be giving shit to all of the people with no scientific background who somehow gave credence to this guy's malarkey, causing a drastic reduction in vaccinations and a spike in measles outbreaks. I, for one, am looking directly at you, Jenny McCarthy. And to think, I used to be in love with you back when you were a quirky, sexy Playmate of the Year/MTV host and I was just a player of Magic: the Gathering/virgin.

But now, you've convinced yourself and others that you are a medical expert because your son has autism. And I realize that I have no idea what that's like to have a loved one who suffers from autism, and I take no pleasure in your pain. But when I have the lion's share of the medical community saying that MMR vaccinations do not lead to autism, I just can't find it in myself to side with the host of Singled Out. Plus, I still blame you for turning Jim Carrey from a harmless, rubber-faced goofball, to this:

I honestly have no words

So take a minute to celebrate today as the GMC scores one for logic and further exposes a "doctor" as a fraud. But we really need to do a better job at calling celebrities out on their bullshit. We can't take information as valid just because someone has the fame to make themselves heard even if they are totally unqualified in their assertion. I mean, would you believe Heidi Montag if she told you that she got Down's Syndrome from one of her many plastic surgeries. Although, now that I think of it, we may be on to something there.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Take the Edge Off with Jonathan Maberry

Well, I've been doing this segment for a few weeks now, and so far I've covered music, food, TV, and movies as a source of distraction for the increasingly irritating world that we live in. I realize, however, that I haven't talked about anything to do with reading. So this week I'd like to prove that I'm not illiterate by introducing you to one of my favorite authors, Jonathan Maberry.

I stumbled on Maberry's work by blind luck one day at Border's horror section. I was looking for something new without having much of a plan, so I utilized my fool-proof technique of looking for a book with an interesting cover. Screw reading book reviews or getting recommendations from friends. That's for weak-minded people who are too afraid to take things at face value (I came this close to using "judge a book by its cover," but I just couldn't bring myself to do it). In the case of Maberry's novel Bad Moon Rising, I distinctly remember the first thing that attracted me to it was that the cover was red. I know, I have quite the analytical mind.

As someone who grew up surrounded by farmland in Lancaster, PA, the house on the cover was both creepy and familiar, which piqued my interest. Then when I found out on the back cover that the story actually takes place in Pennsylvania, I knew that this was the book for me... but not quite yet. This was actually the third book of what's become known as the Pine Deep trilogy, a story that follows the survivors of an evil werewolf only to have to face his resurrection 30 years later. So, I picked up the first book of the trilogy, Ghost Road Blues, and started what has become the best series of books that I've ever read.

Before we go any further, I should warn you that if you are looking for a life-changing experience out of this read, you've come to the wrong place. Dostoevski this is not. It is a perfect read for people who, like me, love the horror of the 80s. This is a world of vampires and werewolves, and unlike other book series that rhyme with Schwilight, these vampires and werewolves are actually threatening. They provide plenty of action and even more gore, and Maberry weaves a mythology that interweaves their existence in a very interesting way.

Maberry also has a talent for is writing a very likeable hero. Malcom Crow is the perfect balance between vulnerable everyman and certifiable badass. As a former cop turned store owner/haunted hayride manager, he's basically what you would get if everyone's favorite, unassuming neighbor was actually dealing with the psychological effects of being attacked by a werewolf as a child and had the ability to break both of your legs with his bare hands.

And that's another thing: Jonathan Maberry depicts a fight scene better than anyone I've ever read. According to his Wikipedia page, Maberry is an 8th degree black belt in Shinowara-ryu Jujitsu and his official website lists several books that he's written on martial arts. This experience really comes through in his writing, as he takes the reader through the mind of each fighter and realistically (or at least as realistically as can be expected in a book with vampires and werewolves) describes each blow's intention and consequence in a way that is easy to visualize.

Maberry actually does a great job of helping the reader visualize everything in the world he's created. As someone who has pretty much killed is sense of imagination by relying on movies and TV to provide one for me, I often find myself lost in the gobbledy gook of description in a novel. Maberry, however, had me visualizing everything as if I were in fact watching a movie. Now, this could be because the story takes place in a fictional Pennsylvania town that I imagine to look very much like the places I've lived, but I think more of it has to do with Maberry's ability to describe a scene without trying to be too clever and therefore getting his head stuck in his ass. He's efficient in his descriptions, and that makes me as a reader get lost in the novel very easily.

My one and only complaint in Maberry's writing is that he sometimes makes references that will inherently date his material. Maybe it's just me, but it feels weird having someone refer to a character in a novel use an iPod. I realize the iPod probably isn't going anywhere so people reading Maberry's stuff in the future will know what he's talking about, but something about his references feel like he just thought of something popular off the top of his head without giving it much significance. This is especially true in contrast to the blues songs that he quotes throughout the book, that have an important relevance to the narration.

Nonsensical nitpicking aside, the Pine Deep trilogy only took me a month or
two to read, which for someone like me is a lightening fast pace (hm, maybe I am illiterate). It was one of those reads that I knew I was going to love within one page, and it's stayed with me ever since. His next trilogy based on a new character, Joe Ledger, starts off on the right foot with Patient Zero, a book that delves into the world of terrorists and zombies. Honestly, I don't think I should have to say anything more about that. Terrorists! Zombies! And trust me, I've read it and it's as awesome as it sounds. So, as with everything else I recommend, get off your ass right now and give Jonathan Maberry a try. My plan is to head out ASAP to pick up his newest Joe Ledger novel, The Dragon Factory.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This Just In: Processed BAD for you!

In news more shocking than Clay Aiken coming out of the closet, the BBC filled everyone in on the secret that eating processed meat is bad for your heart. According to the article, foods such as sausage and bacon are even worse than natural red meats such as beef and lamb, likely due to "the salt and preservatives added to processed meats." Well, I can't help but think one thing when knowledge like that is dropped on me: No. Fucking. Shit.

Pictured above: someone who may not be concerned with eating only lean meat

Did anyone take a minute while writing this story to think that pretty much everyone on the planet knows that processed meat might just be bad for you? Well, if we're going to take the day to state the obvious, I have a few more conclusions that I'd like to share:

  • Sitting in an ergonomic chair is better for your back than sitting on a bear trap.
  • Cats walk on four legs and not seven.
  • The word watermelon is actually made up of two words: water and melon.
  • Many people who enjoy movies starring Scarlett Johansson do not necessarily believe that she is a good actress.
  • 2 + 2 does not equal Christmas tree.
  • Full lobotomies are not good for short-term memory.
  • Full lobotomies are not good for long-term memory.
  • NFL quarterbacks are often under more pressure than NFL spectators (I'm sure John Madden has said this at least once)
  • The Jewish culture may have been misrepresented in Germany during the 1930s and 40s.
  • People usually prefer the taste of pumpkin pie to that of pet lizards that have been named Pumpkin.
Since we're out to enlighten one another, feel free to comment on any other important discoveries that you have made throughout the week. It's important to spread the knowledge, people.

Monday, May 17, 2010

William Zabka: Evolution of a Cinematical Cockbag

I found this story by the Huffington Post today about the phenomenon of the bully in 80's movies, and my first thought was how sad it is that I know and often quote all but one or two of the movies represented in the video montage. My second thought was how great it is that actor William Zabka made up about 40% of all the bullies who make an appearance. Anyone even remotely versed in 80's movies probably knows Zabka as Johnny Lawrence, leader of everyone's favorite group of violent sociopaths from the Cobra Kai dojo.

But that's not all Zabka has done. He's primarily known for three movies from the 80s: The Karate Kid, Just One of the Guys, and Back to School (all quality films, by the way). And in all three of those movies, the phrase "arrogant dickhead" plays a key role in his characterization. But I think what makes Zabka's progression as an 80s movie douche bag so interesting is that instead of amping up the menace factor, he actually becomes substantially more effete in each movie.

First, look at The Karate Kid. Essentially, he spends the majority of the movie trying to beat a small Italian boy to death for looking at his girlfriend the wrong way. You've probably already seen the following clip of Johnny and his fellow Cobra Kai dressed as skeletons while doling out what must be the 3rd or 4th severe beating to walking punching bag Daniel LaRusso, but take one more look and carefully consider what the kick at 1:15 of the video would have done had it connected:

He was running full-tilt to kick a person in the face that could no longer stand under his own power. Without Mr. Myagi's interference, how does that sequence of events end in anything less than voluntary manslaughter? I mean, I know it's Ralph Macchio and all so I understand the rage, but isn't that still just a bit too harsh? Suffice to say, this was not a man with whom to fuck.

Part two in the trilogy sees Zabka bulking up to play more of the classic style of weight-lifter jock for the gender-swap comedy Just One of the Guys. Now, physically he made for a much more intimidating presence, but aside from lifting weights he doesn't seem to be all that competent in committing manly/violent acts. In fact, his most menacing display is to take a girl dressed up as a boy and throw her into some bushes. When he actually finds himself in a fist fight with one of the skinniest males in the entire school, he winds up getting his ass handed to him. And this was even after sucker-punching the kid. In reality, someone who lifts as many weights as Greg Toland was purported to have lifted should be able to not only knock someone out with a sucker punch, but probably do some critical damage to the face and skull. Instead, the guy just stands up, shakes it off, and proceeds to pummel this supposed bully and leave him in a heap on the ground. Plus, on a side note, everyone seems to point out that Toland has smaller-than-average genitalia. And how can anyone with a small penis possibly be a threat?

I'm going to kick your ass, geek. What? No, I don't need tweezers to pee. Why does everyone ask me that?

Back to School represents Zabka's final foray into bullydom, but this time he's only a bully in the loosest sense of the word. First of all, his name is Chas Osborne, and his sport of choice is diving. This sounds more like the lead in gay porn than it does an 80s villain. Plus, rather than beating the shit out of everything with a pulse, he spends most of the time making snarky comments and getting his balls busted by the likes of Robert Downey, Jr. And then there's his hair. In what world could this possibly be even the least bit threatening:

Chas Osborne could wipe out entire villages with nothing but his balls and I still would not be intimidated by him if he had that haircut while he did it.

So what happened? I guess when you start of as a maniacal psychopath there really isn't anywhere to go but down. I guess you could say he was trying to portray a more sympathetic, vulnerable villain later in his career. You could also say that he had a choice jack and shit in his movie role offers and he had to make due. But really, it doesn't matter. Effeminate or not, William Zabka will always be a staple in the land of the 80s asshole, and the best part is that he's completely in on the joke. If you've remember the video for flash in the pan band No More Kings and their song "Sweep the Leg," you might be surprised to know that aside from starring in it, Zabka directed it as well. So whether you are a homicidal martial artist or a bitchy diving prima donna, I salute you, sir.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Take the Edge Off with Hot Fuzz

I seem to be on a kick with British comedians' "other" work. Last week I featured some of the highlights from Ricky Gervais' Extras, a show that I will defend to the death as being better than the UK version of The Office. I do realize that this may just be because The Office seems to be the show of choice for hipster cock knockers who are too cool for "broad" comedy. Oh I see, we're all above a nice fart joke, are we? Well I hope you get hit by a car the next time you're riding your retro bicycle through downtown traffic you messenger bag-toting, ironic mustache-sporting Commie asshat. You suck.

Soooo....anyway, this week I'd like to move from British TV to British movies and highlight Hot Fuzz, the second movie directed by Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Their first movie, Shaun of the Dead, is often hailed as one of the best horror-comedies of all time while Hot Fuzz seems to have gone off by the wayside. Now, I do understand the love for Shaun. Usually horror-comedies wind up being abysmal failures, but Wright, Pegg, and Frost manage to pull off the seemingly impossible task of combining scary and funny. However, I'm just going to have to say it: I like Hot Fuzz more than Shaun of the Dead.

There was a period of time when I'd watch Hot Fuzz about once a month with Mrs. Grumpy-to-Be, and it got funnier every time. I think that's what takes it to the next level for me as compared to Shaun of the Dead. I could watch it every day for a week and I'd probably find something new to laugh at that I'd missed the first time.

For example, in a quick but brilliant cameo by Bill Nighy as the head of the London police force, he makes this very subtle snarl after giving his line that I didn't notice until probably my 5th or 6th viewing (I told you I've seen it a lot). Now you may not give a shit about a facial gesture, but this is my blog so nuts to you.

Another thing that Hot Fuzz has over Shaun is a superior villain. In fact, aside from the whole army of zombies thing, Shaun doesn't really have a villain. Hot Fuzz, however, has Simon Skinner:

Skinner is played by everyone's least favorite Bond, Timothy Dalton, but after his turn as Simon Skinner he gets a lifetime pass from me. Actually I don't think I've ever seen anything else he's been in but he's still fucking awesome now. Simon Skinner is one of those villains that is on par with Shooter "I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast" McGavin, where he is such an asshole that by the end of the movie you actually kind of like him. I mean, this is a guy who actually takes the time to come up with a song relevant to the crime he just committed so that he can drive by the crime scene later on and sneer at the police. How can you not love that?

Now, please don't expect Hot Fuzz to change your outlook on life, because then you'll be disappointed and I'll have to read comments about how I don't know shit when it comes to movies. The movie didn't win any Academy Awards, and I doubt that was ever anyone's goal. It's a homage to the violent buddy cop genre made famous by Lethal Weapon, and I think to that end it hits all of the right notes. It's basically a way to waste a couple of hours with a big smile on your face, and I'll always recommend anything that manages to put a smile on my face. So enjoy a montage of a few more clips and then go see the rest of the damn movie. If don't like it, then give it one more try. If you still don't think it's funny, then you're probably one of those aforementioned hipster cock knockers. Never come here again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Soon Hiring: DNA Sketch Artists

The Scientific American provided us with another reason to avoid masturbating when committing a crime in a story about how Danish scientists have utilized DNA from a 4,000-year-old tuft of hair to come up with a basic description of the man it was once attached to. They can actually spot variations in the genes that mark if a person will have features like brown hair or blue eyes, and this could be a big step in forensic investigations as a means for developing a basic description of a perpetrator if he leaves any DNA behind at a crime scene. Now, this isn't a magic wand by any means. Don't expect forensics experts to find spit on the ground at a crime scene and come out with a detailed rendering of the person's face.

That's him, officer! I'd know those nucleotides anywhere!

Instead, this type of research might help to narrow down the fields of search in an investigation. So if the police were investigating a sexual assault, for example, and by studying the variations in the DNA collected at the scene discovered the suspect had blond hair they could at least rest assured that Ben Rothleisberger didn't have anything to do with it this time (zing! I just dropped some topical humor on your ass).

A question raised by the article, however, is the matter of ethics when it comes to using this approach to forensics investigations. The article doesn't really get into exactly what the ethical dilemma comes from, but I'd imagine it's because DNA is only a starting point for our development, and environmental factors also play a role. Going back to our sexual assault case, let's say that the DNA investigation found that the person in question had a genetic proclivity for being an alcoholic. Well, this might mean the suspect is a fall-down drunk, or it could mean that as someone who likely has alcoholism running rampant in his family, the suspect has avoided drinking anything stronger than Jolt just to avoid ending up like the rest of their family. So if an investigator were to take too much stock in the alcoholic tendencies, they might get stuck on a theory and see any drunk walking down the street as a suspect.

You're going away for a long time you sick son of a bitch.

On the flip side, however, aren't we already in murky water when it comes to criminal investigations? My (potentially wrong) understanding of psychological profiling is to use what is known about the trends of people who have committed crimes in the past in order to get a sense for how/why a person would commit a current crime and use that knowledge as a way to find their suspect. Well it seems to me that there is a lot of educated guesswork involved here, so what's the problem with supplying more information through DNA research so that the guess is that much more educated? Should the findings from investigating DNA be the end-all be-all of the investigation? Of course not. But, used properly, it could be very useful as one piece of the whole puzzle. Or at the very least it could take racial profiling to a new level.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Real Problem With The UFC

I went out with a buddy of mine to catch UFC 113 last night at a local bar. It was definitely an entertaining night of fights, with the highlight being a reborn Mauricio "Shogun" Rua knocking out Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida in decisive fashion for the Light Heavyweight championship. I'd never followed Shogun's career in Pride, so I'd only ever seen him as the struggling fighter battling injuries in a loss to Forrest Griffin, and victories against who many people thought were two past-their-prime fighters in Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell. But watching him completely obliterate a previously unbeaten Lyoto Machida in their rematch from a close fight in October was amazing to watch. I definitely understand now the love that Shogun's gotten from fans of Pride.

Now, on the flip side, many people think that the lowlight of the evening was the boring grapplefest between Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley, where Koscheck essentially laid on top of Daley for 15 minutes when he wasn't milking an injury from an illegal knee thrown by Daley that didn't even seem like it connected. The only moment of interest came after the fight when a frustrated Daley earned himself a lifetime ban from the UFC after throwing a sucker punch at Koscheck after the fight was over. While I agree that this was not mixed martial arts at its best, there was a far worse problem to be seen. What's worse is that it happens at every single UFC fight, and I can't help but wonder why UFC president Dana White allows this atrocity to continue. I'm talking, of course, about the ongoing presence of this man:

Bruce Buffer is, without a shadow of a doubt, the worst sports announcer I've ever seen in my life, and I feel like I'm living in Crazytown because no one else ever seems to mention it. Every single thing he says or does is an obvious attempt to cash in on a potential trademark, and it only serves to distract me from the actual reason I'm watching, which is the fights. I realize that a mere announcer should not be taking away from my enjoyment when he is only on screen for maybe 5% of the night, but I think that just goes to show how terrible he is if he can fuck up my viewing experience with only 5 or 6 minutes that are disbursed throughout the event. Let's break down his nightly routine so that hopefully I can prove how talentless he is.

1. "Ladies and Gentlemen, WE ARE LIVE!"
So, what, was the show somehow not live before this point? Was the crowd somehow watching a recorded show in person? I know, he's trying to indicate that the show has gone live on television and get everyone pumped that it's time for the main card, but honestly it's pointless. If we're watching on TV, then we know the show has gone live on TV because we can FUCKING SEE YOU. And as far the crowd goes, does it really matter if the show is live on television at this point? "Whoops, better put my dick away so that no one sees it on TV!" It's just one of the many things that Buffer does to bring attention to himself because he knows that when you get right down to it no one gives a shit about him.

2. "The Buffer 180"
If I try to describe this motion, I'll probably suffer from the typing equivalent of gagging, so just watch this clip (0:25).

Why is that little choreographed back spasm at all necessary? I doubt even the dumbest of mouth breathers watching at home is going, "Hey look he's getting ready to point at the guy on the right and....oh, shit! Psych! He totally pointed at the other guy instead! Classic!" But yet again, Buffer needs everyone to look at him, so he does "The Buffer 180." I hear that at UFC 100 he actually pulled out "The Buffer 360." So, essentially, he did a pirouette in the middle of the octagon. Super. If only he could have slipped and face planted in front of a few million people. That would have actually been entertaining.

3. "It's Time!"
This is Buffer's key catchphrase, and it's pretty much the epitome of all that is wrong with his style and delivery. In order to fully see just how awful it is, you need to first see Buffer's more-talented half brother, Michael, do his catchphrase:

That segment is thirteen years old and it's for a professional wrestling organization that doesn't even exist anymore, and I still want to watch it just because of that announcement . It's naturally catchy, it rolls off the tongue, and Michael has the pipes to pull it off almost effortlessly and without drawing needless attention to himself. Now, let's watch Bruce's abortion of an announcement:

First of all, "It's Time" is just a dumb thing to say. Unless Bruce followed "It's time..." with "for me to get the fuck off the stage!" it's vague and pointless. Plus, it doesn't exactly lend itself to the long, overblown delivery that Buffer gives, so it inevitably sounds forced. Not to mention the fact that Bruce is in full-tilt Michael Buffer imitation mode, which one would think would be a little easier to pull off since they're related. But really he just sounds like shit and I always have to go into the main event of the night a little bit pissed off. It's not right.

So is it just me here? Like I said, I never hear anyone else say anything about how awful he is. In fact, some people really seem to like him. But then again people also like the John Madden so I find it hard to accept the general consensus when it comes to taste in sports personalities. And let's be clear; I'm not expecting any kind of grass roots campaign to expel Bruce Buffer from the UFC. After over 113 events I'm not thinking he's going anywhere any time soon. I just would like to hear a few people agree with me so that I know I'm not going completely insane. I just can't be the only ones who see Bruce Buffer for the attention-seeking twat that he is.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Take the Edge Off with Extras

This week's edition of Take the Edge Off may not actually introduce you to something new, as I'm sure most folks have heard of Ricky Gervais' HBO series Extras, but I want to talk about it anyway because there may be a few of you out there who haven't seen it yet, and even if you have you could do with a few clips because it's just too damn funny not to watch now and again.

Now, most people think of Ricky Gervais and they think of the UK version of The Office. His writing and portrayal of middle-management schmuck David Brent ushered in the "awkward moment" era of comedy that focuses on squeezing every painful moment from the consequences of a misspoken word or poorly thought out idea. Of course, we here in the U.S. have embraced (or stole, whatever) this style of comedy with actors like Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, and Ben Stiller, so Gervais is most often referenced for his influence from The Office. My problem is that The Office can be just too painful at times. Those uncomfortable moments just drag on for what seems like an eternity, and while it's usually hilarious I can only watch a person completely humiliate themselves as David Brent does for so long before it get's to be unbearable.

That's why I prefer Extras. Gervais plays Andy Millman, a starving actor who scrapes by as an extra in various movies while trying to make his big break, and to be honest he's pretty similar to David Brent in that he keeps finding himself in the most uncomfortable situations. But in Extras, the situations are just too over-the-top to be painful, as opposed to the "it could happen to you" faux pas scenarios you find in The Office. I mean, it's hard to imagine yourself in this situation:

Plus, you have to love any tv show that brings on a special guest with the sole purpose of making them look like world class douche bags. It kind of works as a humility barometer to see which actors/actresses will go on the show and play whacked-out caricatures of themselves. Kate Winslet, for example, is a real "goer" when it comes to phone sex, Daniel Radcliffe will hump your leg if given the opportunity, and Orlando Bloom is actually very insecure about his looks. The best guest spot, though, is given by Patrick Stewart, who I actually kind of hope is really like this:

And then, last but not least, there's Darren Lamb, Andy's agent played by actor/writer Stephen Merchant. I mean, there is honestly no way for me to describe him and do him justice, so I'm just going to let the character speak for himself (warning NSFW due to brief pen'll see)

Now, like any good British comedy series, Extras only lasts for two seasons and, for some reason, a Christmas special. So if you Netflix it you won't have to take too much time getting through it. If you've never seen it before let me know what you think. If you have seen it before, well just watch it again dammit.

Oh, and by the way, do you think Chris Martin realizes that he pretty much is as much of a putz in real life as he is on the show?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Great Weekend Fun!

Great news, everyone! It's time for the 72nd Dadvale Regatta! And you know what that means: Kelly Drive will now be closed for not one, not two, but three entire days! Now we get to look forward of a three-day weekend's worth of detoured traffic clogging up all of the other roads where I live! Now, I know that in the past I've complained about regattas in Philly and their arrogant need to shut down an entire major road, but this event just seems so important!

First of all, we all get the privilege of watching true athletes in action.

Plus, upper-middle class couples can enjoy picnics by the waterfront without all that pesky traffic ruining their good time!

And, perhaps most importantly, families get to enjoy some much-needed quality time!

So who cares that the other thousands of people who couldn't care less about rowing have to eat shit for the entire weekend? Right?

/suddenly doubles over in agony
/begins to transform in elaborate An American Werewolf in London-style sequence


/looks down at abandoned picnic

Ooo, potato salad.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Oh sweet Jesus what in the hell is that! Kill it! Burn it! Send it back to hell!

Ok, so in real life, this naked mole rat isn't all that big and appears to be pretty harmless aside from the damage it's done to my psyche. I was wandering around BBC News trying to find something interesting to wow you all with, and suddenly this little fucker burst out of my nightmares and into what's actually a pretty interesting article. It turns out the naked mole rat can tell us quite a bit about how hormones can affect social tendencies, as their distribution of oxytocin receptors cause them to be promiscuous while their more furry, less terrifying cousin the Cape mole rat have oxytocin receptor distribution that lead them to more monogamous relationships. Studies about the cause and effect of oxytocin has been linked to a human's ability to empathize and can even be connected to certain types of autism.

But in order for me to have absorbed all of those interesting tidbits, I've been forced to have two things permanently imprinted in my mind.

1)Those oxytocin receptors that are linked to social behaviors are distributed in naked mole rats to make them behave more like ants than like other mammals. This means that if you ever come across a naked mole rat, he likely won't be alone.

2) Some of the demons from the Hellraiser movies are, in fact, based in reality.

Sweet dreams, folks.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Go Phillies!

Well, I found this story on Yahoo this morning, and I think the picture below pretty much captures the spirit of both the idiotic sports fan as well as the overzealous authority figure in Philadelphia. And no, this is not Photoshopped.

Also, is anyone else not at all surprised that this guy is going to Penn State next year?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Grumpy Movie Review: Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

I tried something a little new this weekend with Mrs. Grumpy-to-be. Normally, we have movie tastes that are close enough that we can agree on something to watch together. However, this usually means that, as a horror fan, I have to forgo most of the new genre films that come out because that's the one thing that my lady just doesn't have the stomach for. This time, though, we decided to go on a movie date where we watch different movies. And I gotta say, I think we're on to something here. That's why I'm excited to bring you a movie review for the first horror movie I've seen in the theaters in three or four years, Michael Bay's remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.

First, let me address the elephant in the room when it comes to today's trend in horror movies: the remake. I grew up watching the staples of the horror genre: A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Hellraiser, and of course the gaggle of sequels churned out by each franchise. So to have to sit and watch Michael "Make Things Go Boom" Bay gobble up all of the rights to these movies just so he can profit off of the name is pretty heart-wrenching. You know damn well the movies won't be as good as the original, but the name has the power to make us buy a ticket even though we will probably walk away disappointed. And here is where I think Michael Bay has horror fans of my generation by the balls. Being born in 1984, I wasn't even alive for the premiere of most of these movies, and I was way too young to go have my parents take me to the theater to see any of the sequels. So, I had to make do either waiting for them to come out on TV or by renting them on video. I never really got to experience the event of going out, cheerily buying overpriced popcorn, and seeing these icons on the big screen. The remakes coming out today give us a chance to do so.

Now when it comes specifically to remaking A Nightmare on Elm Street, there were a couple of other factors that intrigued me. Firstly, modern special effects would allow for more creativity when playing with the dream sequences in the movie. Even though the effects in the original movie were pretty damn creative for their day, I could see a case for improved visuals with updated technology and I wanted to see if director Samuel Bayer could utilize them well. After watching the movie, I can say that in some ways he did, and in some ways he really, reeeeeeally didn't. When it came to developing a frightening atmosphere, the effects were right on the mark. We see a classroom full of students disintegrate into ash as one of the teens (I really don't feel like remembering who was who) falls asleep during school. We watch blood burst in a torrent from the ceiling (a nod to the blood volcano from the original, perhaps?). And the line between reality and dream is constantly blurring in a way that just wasn't possible when the original movie was produced. However, as often happens in horror movies nowadays, computer-generated imagery (CGI) was very overused. The drawback to CGI is that 9 times out of 10, I can tell that it's CGI. Freddy's make up is the prime example for this movie. I read that they were going for a look that more closely resembled the effects of being badly burned which I supposed they needed to do through CGI, but if you know that's what you're looking at then it's that much harder to pretend it's real and get lost in the movie.
This shit is long as I don't move or speak.

Speaking of Freddy, the other thing that interested me about the new Nightmare was the choice of Jackie Earle Haley as the new Freddy Krueger. Now, for most fans of the original movies, casting someone other than Robert Englund as Freddy automatically counts for strikes one, two, and three. But if they were going to recast the role, I really can't think of anyone better than Jackie Earle Haley. I was as surprised as anyone when they cast Kelly Leak from the Bad News Bears as Rorshach for the recent film adaptation of The Watchmen, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone else who could turn a small, skinny redhead into such a believable badass. So why couldn't he do the same for Freddy? Unfortunately, his role was usually just a Robert Englund impression of hammy one-liners. Haley does alright with this but it seems a bit forced. He really shines through, however, when Freddy's rage boils over. Just as with Rorshach, a pissed off Jackie Earle Haley is a terrifying Jackie Earle Haley. But Freddy rarely reaches that point, so Haley's abilities were squandered.

***Spoiler Alert*** The writers also waste what appears to be a good opportunity to make their own unique vision of Freddy Krueger. In the original films, Freddy was a evil child killer before and after he was killed by the parents of Springwood. In the updated version, more emphasis is put on Freddy as a pedophile rather than a murderer, and throughout the movie they toy with the idea that maybe Kruger was innocent and wrongly accused and murdered by overanxious parents. This idea is dropped, however, when we learn that Freddy was indeed guilty and deserved whatever he got. But I can't help wonder if it wouldn't have been more interesting had they made the movie their own by making the human incarnation of Freddy be innocent. Now, the Freddy that haunts our dreams should not be a sympathetic character. We all know and love Freddy as a sadistic demon who will psychologically and physically torture his victims. But what of this demon was created not by the inherent evil of a man, but by the actions of those who thought he was evil. I don't know, it's just a thought. ***End Spoiler***

Now, as remakes go, this one wasn't terrible. The obligatory twenty-something actors playing teenagers were all passable, I had a good time with the various surprise scares, the gore left me satisfied, and honestly I just enjoyed the nostalgic value of bringing back something fun from my childhood (screw you normal people and your Sesame Street). If you can put aside the fact that Michael Bay probably had no business making the movie in the first place, you can probably get some entertainment out of it. If you don't need to make an event out if it like I did, however, you might just want to wait for it to come out on DVD. Grade: C+

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Take the Edge Off with Tilapia w/ Butter Sauce

I think the plan from now on will be to throw something at you each weekend that has the potential to make you a little bit happier. I figure the things that work for a grouchy bastard like me should probably work for almost everybody else, and if not then oh well there's always next weekend.

This week's happy distraction comes in the form of my favorite of all distractions: food. I'm one of those people who will eat when he's mad, or when he's sad, or when he's bored, or when he's celebrating....OK basically the point here is that I eat a lot. But with my upcoming nuptials, I would like to make sure I can get into my penguin suit without actually being in the shape of a penguin. So I'm always on the lookout for recipes that aren't too fattening but that also don't taste like something you'd find on the bottom of a shoe. Yahoo! Food has a pretty extensive recipe list from all different sources so I'll usually start there, and they came through for me again with tasty recipe for tilapia with almond butter sauce.

Here's the recipe, courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens:


  • 3 cups snow pea pods, trimmed
  • 4 4- to 5-ounce fresh skinless tilapia fillets or other white fish
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds


  1. In a large saucepan bring lightly salted water to boiling. Add pea pods. Cook for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, season fish with salt and pepper; sprinkle with flour. Cook fish in hot oil for 4 to 5 minutes or until it is easy to remove with a spatula. (If necessary, cook fish half at a time.) Gently turn fish and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Place peas on serving plates; arrange fish on top of peas.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add butter to skillet. When butter begins to melt, stir in almonds. Cook for 30 to 60 seconds or until nuts are lightly toasted (do not let butter burn). Spoon butter mixture over fish fillets.
  4. Makes 4 servings

I think one of my favorite things about this recipe is that it's so damn easy. Anyone who can boil water can make the peas and in my experience fish is pretty hard to overcook. The only potentially tricky part is the almond butter sauce because as the directions say you don't want to burn the butter. The trick there is to use a the smallest pan that you have so that the butter melts quickly without burning, and to really keep an eye on the almonds so that you can get them off as soon as they're ready. Other than that, this is a really simple meal that you can cook and seem like you really know your shit in the kitchen.

Plus, tilapia makes for a very mild-tasting fish so you don't have to worry about whether it will be too strong for people who don't like seafood. I suggest buying Roasted Garlic Caesar-flavored Almond Accents brand of sliced almonds. I admittedly got lucky when I picked these up because I was just guessing as to what would be a good choice, but these things really do add a nice bit of extra flavor to the meal.

Now, yes, I do realize that I could probably do better than a recipe with melted butter, flour, and almonds when looking for a low-calorie meal. But keep in mind that I once learned a way to "enhance" my snacking experience with 3-D Doritos (remember those?) by biting off a corner and filling it up with spray cheese from a can. The simple fact that a) I haven't already had a triple bypass surgery and b) I'm at least looking for things that are low-calorie is a pretty big accomplishment. And I can guarantee that if my fat ass enjoys the flavor then you'll probably enjoy it as well. So give it a try, and let me know in the comments how you liked it if you do.