Monday, November 29, 2010

This Week In Non-House Hugh Laurie: "America"

After a lovely Thanksgiving holiday of eating turkey and not writing any posts, it seems I'll be following up last week's non-House Hugh Laurie segment with....another non-House Hugh Laurie segment. But in my defense, I'll be doing so with an aspect of Hugh Laurie that we haven't seen yet, which is Hugh Laurie's ability to write and sing ridiculous songs.

The song I chose for this week, "America," hits a particular note with me for two reasons. First, I cannot fucking stand when pop musicians cash in on American patriotism. And yes, I'm looking squarely at you, Toby Keith. "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (Angry American)" may be the worst song ever written in the history of anything being written. If you haven't heard it, do yourself a favor. Don't. Just don't ever.

Basically, a man who has made his living playing a musical instrument has taken it upon himself to warn terrorists of the ass-kicking they have coming. But, lest you think his motives for writing a song about American patriotism in the wake of 9/11 are anything less than pure, just remember Keith simply had to write it as a tribute to his father:

It wasn’t written for everybody. And when you write something from your heart - I had a dad that was a veteran, taught me how precious our freedom is - I was so angry when we were attacked here on American soil that it leaked out of me. You know, some people wept when they heard it. Some people got goose bumps. Some people were emotionally moved. Some cheered, turned their fists in the air.

Fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you. Fuck you times a million. There is nothing more nauseating than watching the macho posturing of a man you know has never been put in harms way for a single day in his life. This is just a shallow rallying cry for people looking for any excuse to shout "America, fuck yeah!" without any hint of irony.

Which brings me to the second thing that "America" brings to my mind. Fellow complainer Lewis Black made the best point that I've ever heard about mindless country pride in a bit on his CD, The End of the Universe. I can't seem to find the exact quote, but it comes down to this: Imagine you have a coworker who wanders around the office continually shouting "I'm the
best motherfucker in this place!" Eventually, you and your fellow office mates will rise up and slay him.

Yes, we live in a great country with a lot to be thankful for, so we should enjoy it and even be proud of it. But do we need to rub it into the faces of everyone we know just to make the point that we think their lives are a big pile of dogshit? For Christ's sake, let's settle down a bit, huh? I think this post has taken a bit of a turn. Perhaps its time to get to the clip before I get too lost up my own ass. Enjoy some light musical satire, folks!

Monday, November 22, 2010

This Week In Non-House Hugh Laurie: Strapless

If there is anything I like more than movies and movie trivia, it's crappy movies that big name actors would like to forget they were ever in. If I ever met, for instance, Adrien Brody, I would not dream of mentioning his Academy Award winning performance in The Pianist. Shit, I've never even seen that movie. Nor would I ask him what it was like to act the part of a disabled person in The Village, or how hard it was to bulk up for Predators. Nah, if I ever met Adrien Brody, I would smile, look him in the eye, and say "I loved you in Angels in the Outfield."

If you didn't know that Adrien Brody was in that movie, don't worry. I'm fairly certain he forgot he was in it, too. But everyone in showbusiness has to work through that crappy movie, either to get started or to make a house payment. And Hugh Laurie is no exception.

To be fair, I know very little about this week's pick, a 1989 movie called Strapless. The synopsis on IMDB is some drivel about an American doctor who goes to work in London and meets some guy and blah blah blah whatever. What's important is that Hugh Laurie is neither of these characters, nor is he anywhere in the vicinity of top billing. In fact, I'm pretty sure the following montage is at least 80% of all of Laurie's scenes as the character Colin.

So for all I know about the movie, Strapless could be a cult hit in England. It may be what kicked his career into high gear, paving the way for his introduction to the U.S. as Gregory House. But seeing as that breakthrough didn't come until a decade and a half later, I'm going to say that's a big no. I just hope he bought something really cool with the money. A minibar, perhaps?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Half Marathons Are At Least 0.5 Times As Good As Full Marathons

I ran in the Philadelphia Half-Marathon today. Me and 24,000 of my closest running pals gathered at the Art Museum and tested our mettle. I'd run one other half marathon in my life, but that was about 11 years and 40 pounds ago, so I wanted to see if I could still pull it off. I'd been training for a few months with the sole goal of running the entire race without having to walk, which I couldn't do the first time around. Follow me, if you will, as I take you through what goes through a large, somewhat overweight runner's mind as he runs 13.1 miles.

7:00am (0 miles)--We're lined up in our starting groups, and the announcer gives us a countdown to get everyone started....3, 2, 1! And the race has begun.

7:10am (0 miles)--I still can't even see the actual starting line, and I begin to realize my race won't be starting any time soon.

7:24am (0 miles)--My group finally gets started. The mayor is giving high fives to people as they get started, but I there is a line of 4 people waiting to get a chance to get one. I pass, as I have very important running to do.

7:36am (1 miles)--I'm feeling good, although not thrilled that it took me 12 minutes to run a mile because all of these jerks are in my way. Clear a path, people!

7:47am (2 miles)--This is really cool. I get to run through Center City Philadelphia without worrying about cars or, more importantly, bicyclists. Stupid fucking bicyclists.

7:57am (3 miles)--Now I'm getting my rhythm. I like my pace and I'm even passing a lot of people. This pace will in no way come back to bite me in the ass later on.

8:07am (4 miles)--Running down South Street. Must resist urge to run into Jim's for a cheesesteak.

8:17am (5 miles)--Making my way down Chestnut Street and through a major part of Center City Philadelphia. Coming to terms with the fact that if I was not running in this race I would want to kill everyone in the world for fucking up the city's traffic patterns.

8:27am (6 miles)--I'm almost halfway done! Still feeling really good, with the adrenaline and the cheers of the crowd keeping me moving. Hey, maybe next year I'll even try a full marathon!

8:37am (7 miles)--I think it was around here that I could see the river, where a good number of the full marathon runners have already passed the 13.1 mile marker and are in the second half of their run. My feelings are hurt a little bit, but I'm OK.

8:58am (9 miles)--OK, I'm hitting a bit of a wall now. But I'm on the back end of the run so as long as nothing unexpected comes up, I should be fine.

9:04am (9.5 miles)--Who the fuck decided to put the courses largest hill at the 9 mile portion of the race!? Are they trying to make me cry? Obviously there's a conspiracy here.

9:08am (9.8 miles)--Well at least they put a water station soon after the hill. And this one even has energy gel! I never realized how dense this stuff was. While trying to eat it I can only assume that I look like a dog with peanut butter in it's mouth.

9:21am (11 miles)--Fucking bicyclists! Just one of these assholes manages to insert himself in this race, and I get stuck next to him in a crowded downhill section of the race, so I get to hear him constantly creaking his breaks as he keeps almost hitting runners. Die.

9:22am (11.1 miles)--Oh, and I am dying right now. I haven't hit the wall, I've torpedoed into it.

9:33am (12 miles)--Oh, thank you Jesus. One more mile.

9:39am (12.5 miles)--Shit, are these miles marked properly?

9:45am (12.8 miles)--They start directing half-marathoners to one side and full-marathoners tot he left. I realize that if I was running a full marathon, I'd just about be at the half-way point. I make a solemn pact with myself right then and there to never run a full marathon in my life.

9:46am (13.1 miles)--I've made it! I've run 13.1 miles without stopping! .....Oh dear God. If I stop moving my legs I think every muscle in them may just seize.

Well, thankfully they didn't seize. I must admit I was a little bummed out that I came in a little bit behind the 1st place female runner...of the full marathon. But all in all it was a pretty great run. Plus, afterward, I had my lady waiting for me AND a waffle breakfast. Not a bad way to end a day. Yes, I realize it's only around 10am at this point. But I don't really plan on doing jack shit for the rest of the day.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why Couldn't Eric Stoltz Go Back To The Future?

I'm a big fan of useless movie trivia. I'll admit, this is a bit of a redundant phrase, similar to "irritating Oasis song." But I can't get enough of tidbits about how a movie was made, especially things about the parts they cut out. For example, did you know that Kevin Smith originally ended Clerks by having Dante killed by a robber? Or that Chris Farley would have been the voice of Shrek if not for his untimely death?

Well, one of the recent "What could have been" movie reveals is that Back to the Future's Marty McFly wasn't originally Michael J. Fox. He was the studio's first choice, but he was too busy with Family Ties, so they went with option B: Eric Stoltz. Take a gander at the clip below, and behold the surreal image of shot for shot scenes with Stoltz replacing Fox.

That's pretty much a bummer for Eric Stoltz, isn't it? Five weeks of shooting and then he gets shit canned? I like Eric Stoltz, too, and I wonder if he was really as wrong for the role as they say he was. I decided to put this question to the test in the most half-assed way possible: take two movies, one with Michael J. Fox and one with Eric Stoltz, and compare their performances to see who would be a better fit. I did away with pesky scientific concepts like "controls" or "legitimate effort," and just picked two movies from the eighties that I liked.

For my Michael J. Fox sample, I went with the terrifying tale of pubescent lycanthropy, Teen Wolf. Fox plays Scott, an small-town high school basketball player who finds out he's a werewolf. And when the rest of his school finds out, instead of fleeing in terror/forming a mob to destroy the evil beast, they make him the most popular kid in school. But forget about the plot, my aim here was to analyze Fox's performance. And I must say, with the material given, this guy should have won an Academy Award (or at least a Golden Globe). He somehow manages to take a character in an insanely idiotic premise and make him seem natural.

In the case of Eric Stoltz, I at least wanted to choose an example from around the same time as Teen Wolf. I could have chosen Mask, but it didn't really have a comparable tone to Teen Wolf and it would have been too difficult to resist my natural urge to make fun of people who have unfortunate physical ailments. So, I went with the John Hughes produced Some Kind of Wonderful, where Stoltz plays a middle-class outcast named Keith who finds himself going out on a date with popular girl Amanda (Lea Thompson). Stoltz gives a fine performance as quiet and brooding artist who gets by in the movie with a subtle, likable cool.

And here I think is where I agree with the choice of Fox over Stoltz. It's pretty obvious that nothing in Back to the Future calls for quiet or subtle. Even in the few short shots of Stoltz from the dumped footage from Future, you can tell he's trying to play it straight, which really would not have worked given the ridiculous premise (if you don't already know the premise you can kindly leave now).

In all fairness, it seems that even Stoltz wasn't comfortable with his performance. In a phone call with director Peter Bogdanovich, Stoltz confessed to feeling "wrong for the role." In a 2007 interview with Moviehole, Stoltz had the tone of a man looking on the bright side of losing the part.

You know, it was twenty-something years ago and I rarely look back, if at all; but in retrospect, I think just getting through that difficult period helped me realize how freeing it really was. I went back to acting school, I moved to Europe, I did some plays in New York and I actually invested in [pause] myself in a way that was much healthier for me. If I had become a massive star, I don't know if I wouldn't have gone into therapy. On the other hand, I would've been exceedingly rich which would've been wonderful!

So, even though I agree with the fact that Michael J. Fox was much more suited for the role, it still seems like Eric Stoltz kinda got screwed out of some big fame and money. Although, if the movie sucked with him in it, then maybe his career would have been even worse. Either way, we likely would not have been blessed with his awesome bit part as heroin dealer Lance from Pulp Fiction (he's the dude in the clip who's not John Travolta).

Monday, November 15, 2010

This Week In Non-House Hugh Laurie: Blackadder Goes Forth

OK, this will be the last of the Blackadder Hugh Laurie. Other than a special here and there this was the last season of the series, which ran in 1989. This iteration of Laurie's character is Lieutenant George Colthurst St. Barliegh, right hand man of Rowan Atkinson's Captain Blackadder. Laurie is doing his usual clueless goofball schtick here, and I really didn't have much to say about it until I watched these clips from a Blackadder documentary:

At around 3:45, Laurie discusses the challenge of making a screwball comedy set in the trenches of World War I, and it hit me that this was the first season where the characters are actually likeable people. As funny as the earlier seasons are, most of the characters in them, especially Laurie's Prince George III, are kind of assholes. But in the fourth season, Lt. St. Barleigh may be an idiot, but at least he's brave and loyal. Hell, in the final scene, just about everyone gets to go out as the good guys. Unfortunately, they're also going out in a charge against German machine guns:

I don't know about you, but I was kind of impressed by how they chose to close out the final season. But if you're also like me, you'll find yourself fairly depressed as well. So let's end Laurie's Blackadder stint on a happy note:

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Grumps' Italian Adventure: Day 8, or Random Thoughts On Italy

OK, so as it turns out I didn't have enough material for 10 days of posting. I don't think 8 days is too shabby, however. As I don't really have any topics worthy of a full post, I'll just share a few things that have been rattling around in my head since I got back:

  • I don't fly well. I guess I never noticed this because I'd never been on a plane for 10 hours before. But I can really be quite the bastard at the end of a flight. I blame this on my family's problem of having really bad ears when it comes to pressure changes. While I know that a popping sensation in one's ears is normal during airline travel, I don't think it's normal to feel like someone stuck a screwdriver in my ear hours after I got off the fucking plane. So I must admit, by the time I get off the actual plane, I'm less than cordial, even to my lovely wife. Sorry baby.
  • Airline policies suck ass. I may be a prick when I fly, but I refuse to take all of the blame. If you're not supposed to bring meat products back from other countries, then that information should be readily available to read BEFORE you've purchased almost 50 bucks worth of Italian salami and gotten it 90% of the way through U.S. customs. Not to mention that this was after about 14 hours worth of going through inefficient security stations and boarding procedures. I think what gets me the most pissed off about airlines is that their security is reactionary. Perhaps if these schmucks would think far enough ahead to create some kind of technology that's flexible enough to catch the crap that they didn't think of before, then they wouldn't have to update their carry-on policies every five minutes. Oh, someone managed to put a bomb in a shoe? Then you'll have to take yours off and put it through the x-ray machine every time you fly. Someone made a bomb out of liquid?
    Then you can only have less than 3 ounces on the plane from now on. I'd hate to see what would happen if someone managed to plant a bomb in one of his testicles. I'm picturing a small guillotine next to the metal detector.
  • We must be actively trying to become obese in the U.S. I spent ten days in Italy, making absolutely no attempt to watch what I ate. Yet somehow, I managed to lose two pounds. That's not much, I know, but considering I ate enough prosciutto to risk a swine shortage in the Chianti region, I should be about 300 pounds by now. I don't know what we're putting in our food here, but we should seriously look into switching to what they're having. Although, my weight loss may also have been due to the fact that everything in the Chianti region is at least at a 30 degree incline. It's unreal. I always laughed when an elderly person would say they had to walk uphill both ways to get to school everyday. But now I realized they weren't full of shit if they grew up in Italy.
  • Being worried about acting like a stereotypical arrogant American while traveling abroad is the most surefire way of acting like a stereotypical arrogant American while traveling abroad. I so didn't want to be that guy. But within a day of arriving at our hotel I managed to call the guy working the counter "Matt" about 13 times before I realized his name was Andreas. And I managed to pull off the ever-helpful language barrier busting technique of yelling things slowly and obnoxiously in English. Because, after all, anyone should be able to understand English as long as you speak it to them as if they are a deaf child. Shockingly, I don't think I turned into the hotel's favorite guest. My natural reaction to this suspicion was to think they were the assholes, because anyone who doesn't think I'm awesome is clearly a douche bag.
  • The final conclusion that I pull from everything I've posted about this trip is pretty simple. I am one lucky guy to be married to Mrs. Grump. I'd imagine that traveling with me is similar to going on vacation with an ill-tempered gorilla that can form basic sentences. Yet even so, Mrs. Grump made sure we had an excellent honeymoon. We saw sights that I'd probably only ever see on a computer screen if left to my own devices. I ate food that makes me tear up a little bit just to think about it (On a side note, if you ever have a chance to eat food that has wild boar in it, do it. Don't think about it. Just do it). I even managed to pick up a phrases of Italian. I think my favorite was "due." It's nothing special. It just means "two." But it was the word I used the most often because anything I ordered or purchased was always in duplicate to accommodate my new wife. And that makes me happy.
Speaking of the wife, stay tuned for a special guest post sometime next week from Mrs. Grump herself. I don't drink coffee, but according to Mrs. Grump, anything good you've heard about Italian coffee is a bold-faced lie. Check in sometime next week to find out why.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Grumps' Italian Adventure: Day 7, or Gotthard Is The Best Swiss Band In Italy

Yes, yes. I know I missed yesterday's Italy post. Cut me some slack work has been a pain in the ass. Actually it's pretty delusional of me to think that anyone even noticed that I missed a day, but that's not the point. It's the principle of the thing. Unfortunately, work has been giving me a healthy kick in the pills for the last couple of days so I haven't gotten around to doing anything productive since yesterday morning.

Anyway, midway through our trip Mrs. Grump and I had go to the local laundromat to wash our clothes because we didn't feel like lugging ten days worth of clothes with us over to Italy. While at the laundromat we were passing the time by making fun of the crappy Italian music videos that were playing on the TV, which was made even funnier by the fact that there was no sound. Next time you're watching your very favorite band in a music video, try turning the sound off. Without fail it will be the dumbest fucking thing you've ever seen.

One video, however, was so awful that I had to see if I could find it on YouTube when I got back to the apartment. Fortunately for everyone in the world, I was able to find it. It's actually a Swiss band called Gotthard, who named themselves after both a mountain pass and the act of pitching a tent. Pun: accomplished.

Alright, I've kept you from this long enough. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you "Unconditional Faith."

I just don't know where to begin, here. I think I'll go with pointing out the mandolin player. What about him? Well, basically just the fact that he exists. There is a grown man in the middle of a rock band playing an itty bitty guitar. And he's rocking that shit.

Also, can anyone tell me where the story of the boxer is supposed to go? He's training, he wins a fight, and he goes back home to his wife. I mean, that's lovely and all, but is there a point? Or are we just going for a surrealistic depiction of a white guy beating a black guy in a boxing match?

I think what I like best about this video is that it actually got worse when I was able to watch it with sound, it actually got worse. And it's not just that the song is bad. Well, yeah it is bad. But when you watch that music video while it plays with that song, you get an entity that transcends itself and evolves into art on par with Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Sadly, the lead singer of Gotthard, Steve Lee, recently died in a motorcycle accident. That really is a bummer, and I will take the high road for perhaps the first time in my life and not make a joke about it. In fact, I better just end this post now before I wind up accidentally saying something that makes me look like a complete dick.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Grumps' Italian Adventure: Day 6, or The Devil Is A Pigeon In Florence

I'm not going to lie to you. This pigeon kind of scared the shit out of me. Mrs. Grump and I found this guy perched on a statue outside of the Uffizi Gallery, and he really did not seem to be happy to share the same air as us ground dwellers. At first he just looked like he was part of the statue, because he did not move. At all. But then I realized that nothing on the statue seemed as evil as that little fucker.

And since when did pigeons have the ability to retract their heads into their necks, thereby turning themselves into a demonic, uncircumcised penis? Although, maybe my looking at a pigeon and seeing a dick says more about me than it does the bird.

Phallic illusions aside, I still had trouble taking this guy's picture. Seeing him through the digital display of the camera made him seem a lot closer to me than I was comfortable with. I was expecting to take the camera away and find him only inches away from my face, ready to murder and devour me in front of hundreds of people. Fortunately, I was able to escape with my life and fly home to Philly where the pigeons aren't demonic. They're just assholes.

This Week In Non-House Hugh Laurie: A Bit Of Fry And Laurie Season 1

Last week I introduced you to A Bit of Fry and Laurie with a skit from their pilot episode, which aired in 1987. It wasn't until 1989 that their first proper season began. Which begs the question...what the hell takes so long to produce British sitcoms? Blackadder had a three year gap between its first and second season. The recent dramedy Doc Martin ended its fourth season in 2009, and won't even begin filming until 2011. What gives? I mean, I like British sitcoms but most of them aren't exactly epic in grandeur. It's usually just some people on a soundstage acting snarky.

Eh, whatever. This week's clip takes the silly factor that I mentioned from last week and goes ahead and cranks that bitch right up to 11. There is absolutely no point to it other than to be bizarre, but as usual it works like a charm.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Grumps' Italian Adventure: Day 5, or Grappa Is Italian For Poison

OK, so grappa is not really poison. It's just an after dinner drink that they serve in Italy. Wikipedia describes it as a "fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy" but I don't think that's really true either. Sure, it looks harmless enough...

Grappa (the shot glass to the right) just looks like a little shot glass filled with water. I tried to tell the waitress that I don't drink, but she spoke very little English and I wasn't about to give her the "no wanto to be an alcoholico" treatment. So when she gave me a free grappa with what turned out to be a limoncello chaser, I just smiled and said thank you. It being a small restaurant, I felt obligated to at least investigate the drink lest she watch me casually discard it off to the side of the table.

Well, the limoncello smelled strong, but pleasant. The grappa, however, smelled like someone misplaced their shot of rubbing alcohol. Later we came to find out that's because Grappa is like 40% alcohol. Jesus, I think I'd be better off drinking the rubbing alcohol.

Needless to say, not being a drinker I decided to let the waitress be offended if need be because I was not going to touch the grappa. I did down the limoncello, however, which lead to this...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Grumps' Italian Adventure: Day 4, or Cocks Are Big In Italy

Today's title is wordplay at it's finest, folks. First, the innocent layer: Mrs. Grump and I stayed in the town of Greve, whose official emblem is the black cock. In this instance, cock is just a rooster, plenty of which can be found around town.

You can't miss my gate. It's the one with the big, black cock on it.

Cock a doodle doo, indeed.....right?

Don't trust any wine that doesn't have a black cock right on the label.

I have to say I'd be very interested in seeing how the town would look if black cock took on the other meaning, especially considering that black stereotypes are alive and well in Italy...

That actually may be the most obscene picture that I show you today. And that's including the next pictures that prove that roosters aren't the only kind of popular cock in the area.

Can anyone please explain this sculpture to me in a way that doesn't include a man being forced to wear a Trojan War Helmet at clubpoint?

Insert joke about giving head here.

Pretty much everything about this statue deeply disturbs me.

So, like I said, cocks are big in Italy. But wait! There is also a delightful layer of irony in that sentence. If you notice, in terms of proportion, all of the cocks in the above examples are actually quite small. Mrs. Grump informed me that this was due to artists of the time feeling that a long ding dong would be in bad taste. So, it's cool for a dude to hold a severed head while in the nude, just as long as his winky isn't taking up too much space. Michelangelo's "David" is another good example of that mindset, but Mrs. Grump didn't get any pictures of little David. I guess she was trying to keep some semblance of scruples for our photo album.

Hm...never mind, then.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Grumps' Italian Adventure: Day 3, or Even The Delinquents Are More Cultured In Italy

Ha! You thought I was going to skip today. Well I just had to wait until Mrs. Grump hooked me up with the rest of the honeymoon pics so I'd have some visual aids. Speaking of pics, it turns out the wife took 350 of the damn things during our trip. I'll have a few collections to show you, but there are a few in particular that I'd like to share.

Get a load at the ornate decoration here. It's obvious that this structure was pretty important to make the artist put so much care and attention to detail into it.

Or maybe it was just a fucking lamp post.

This is just plain awesome, especially when you consider this turtle is the base of a simple set of bars covering someone's window. I've been to Camden, NJ, where there are entire blocks of houses with bars covering any opening. But you won't find turtle one on any of them. Not even a frog. I think Camden would be in much better shape if their protecting window bars had adorable little animals on them.
OK...this is beautiful work, but it really depressed me when I realized it was graffiti. Mrs. Grump and I found it on a construction barrier in Florence, and it makes me ashamed of how we do graffiti in the States. We're lucky if the cock and balls drawn in Sharpie on the bathroom stall are realistic enough to include pubic hair.

Stay tuned for some examples of what happens when Italians actually get serious with their art. Marble, granite, and poorly-endowed, naked men will abound!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Grumps' Italian Adventure: Day 2, or Too Fat For A Fiat

Lufthansa's thoughtful wedding gift aside, there was a lot to be excited about once we got to Italy. Mrs. Grump and I had a full itinerary of things to see and do for our 10 days in Chianti/Florence. One of those things was a tour of Florence. But not just any tour. Mrs. Grump found a company called the Fiat 500 Touring Club. The premise here is that each group gets its own Fiat to drive as part of a convoy that tours Florence and eventually makes its way to a winery just outside of the city. Sounds fun right?

The catch here is that the cars are stick shift, and do not even have the technology that standard cars have that allows you to shift directly from one gear to another. No, I had to learn (in about 20 minutes) a technique called double clutching, which basically means twice the work for the same effect as a modern car. Oh, and I have to do all of this in a car built in 1964 that was made for a small European man/woman. So to recap: I'm expected to drive a matchbox car with antiquated technology through a foreign city that I've never even seen before. Let's go to the pictures, shall we?

The weather report said it was supposed to be sunny all day. It's comforting to know that Italian meteorologists are as full of shit as Americans. Also, note that this may have been the widest road in all of Florence.

Another shot of the back of one of our fellow Fiats. This was probably 99% of my sightseeing experience, lest I accidentally hit a squirrel and total our car. Actually, I came within about 3 inches of running over a little old Italian guy who was crossing at a crosswalk. Sure, any way you slice it he had the right away, but that would mean I'd have to come to a stop and then start a car that I'd spent the last 10 minutes stalling out just to get started. Needless to say I was willing to let this guy take one for the team.

Here we are parked outside the winery where Mrs. Grump got to do a tasting and I got to get my heart rate back down under 100 beats per minute. I like how our Fiats make the Volkswagon bug on the left look like a frigging Hummer. Honestly, though, all whining aside, it was at this point in the trip that I really started to enjoy myself. I'd gotten a handle on the car and now we got to see how wine is made by some of the best in the world. I don't even drink but it was really interesting to learn about the process, and how people rate wine beyond saying "This is great" or "This tastes like piss."

The best news of the day was that when we left the winery, the rain had stopped and we could actually stop to take a gander at some of the sights. Here we are parked in our little convoy near an overlook of Florence. I think, if necessary, our group could have easily taken on the Hell's Angels.

Even if everything else had been a complete disaster, this view would have made the whole trip worth it.

And here we have one last picture of me. Note that my head is in fact looming above the sunroof. When the cover was on it looked like a scene from Harry and the Hendersons. And in case you're wondering, due to my paranoia that one of the 3 people who read this blog will somehow affect my professional career should I include my actual identiy, any picture of my face will be replaced with Taylor Hicks. Why Taylor Hicks? Because for the last 3 months or so, I've been told that I look like Taylor Hicks by Mrs. Grump's family, the bartender at my wedding, and a couple that we had just fucking met during our honeymoon. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go kill myself.

Monday, November 1, 2010

This Week In Non-House Hugh Laurie: A Bit Of Fry And Laurie Pilot

In a fine example of my strong work ethic, I've decided that I should also bring back some non-House Hugh Laurie on top of my chronicling of my epic adventures in Europe. It takes real grit to search Youtube for 3 minutes and write a paragraph about the first clip that catches my attention.

This week we get to the start of A Bit of Fry and Laurie. The pilot for the show came out in 1987 and the series lasted all the way to 1995. By British standards, that's a run that would put The Simpsons to shame.

The clip I chose for today, "The Word 'Gay'", is pretty much your classic example of Fry and Laurie's humor, which is basically just to take the stereotypical British facade and make it as silly as possible. I guess the cultural norm has a lot to do with the direction that comedy will take. Here in the States, for instance, we have a cultural hang-up with sexuality. So, naturally, a lot of our comedy has to feature at least a boob or two. For Fry and Laurie, acting goofy is their version of T and A. So enjoy this week's clip, if for nothing else than to hear my new favorite word, "assbandit."