Another True Story of Buffalo, NY

You may remember, about a year or so ago, I had to ward off an evil wife-beater with my trusty Ralph Kiner Hall of Fame bat (kind of). You can relive that experience here. Well, there was no bat involved this time, and my role was minimal, but I do have another TRUE STORY OF BUFFALO, NY!

So, I’m sitting on my couch and thoroughly enjoying the newest episode of Dirty Jobs, entitled “Monkey Caretaker,” when–what do I hear?–the screeching of tires followed by a loud WHAM! Having borne witness to three prior car accidents at the intersection outside my apartment, I knew this would be the fourth right away, just by the sound of it. I jumped to my feet, slapped on my sandals and hurried outside in time to see a large, black man yelling at a young, scrawny kid in a baseball cap at the top of his lungs. Such delightful barbs as “god damn it, man!” and “look at this shit!” filled the night air as my neighbors began to file out of their homes and ogle the scene.

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Pearl Jam – Camden 5.28.06 Review

Tweeter Performing Arts Center – Camden, NJ
opener: My Morning Jacket
attendance: 18,000

Pre-set: Throw Your Arms Around Me (Ed solo), It Makes No Difference (Ed w/ My Morning Jacket)

Main Set: Wash, Go, Worldwide Suicide, Severed Hand, Corduroy, Save You, Given To Fly, Army Reserve, Grievance, Gone, Even Flow, You Are, Wishlist, Satan’s Bed, Garden, Whipping, Life Wasted, Rearviewmirror

Encore 1: Wasted Reprise, Man Of The Hour, Parachutes, Black/(So Lonely)/(We Belong Together), Crazy Mary, Alive

Encore 2: Last Exit, Do The Evolution, Glorified G, Comatose, Leash, Baba O’Riley, Yellow Ledbetter/(Star Spangled Banner)

Wow, where to begin. This show so far exceeded night one, quality-wise, that it does night two a disservice to even compare it. The Red Mosquito crew met up once again before the show, imbibing in the finest of ales as we all burned our faces off in the glaring, Philly sun. I had the good fortune to lodge in Cal Varnsen’s house the previous night. It was among the finest carpets I have ever had the pleasure to sleep on. Not only that, but he took us to Wendy’s the next day. I think we were all incredibly uncomfortable with Cal’s unnatural and disturbing love for Wendy’s food, but none of us dared say a word, lest we unleash his fury.

Some highlights from the pre-concert tailgate mainly all center around Dirty Frank, an orphan raised by drifters on the streets of Wilmington, Delaware. He greeted all of us with his trademark wit and fervor, calling all of us “motherf**kers” and “sons ‘a bitches.” It was all meant with love, though; a love magnified by his enormous vodka intake.

RM Crew

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South Carolina 2006

Nothing is more depressing than having to come back home to reality after a great vacation. Such are the lives we lead, myself looking forward to another standard Monday tomorrow morning. I’ve just gotten back from a weeklong trip to Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina with the East Aurora crew, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a better time on a vacation. There are plenty of pics to check out in the image gallery, and I’ll have some video up shortly. In lieu of a fully-realized trip report, I’ll stick to the highlights, bullet-style:

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Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby | B+

director: Judd Apatow
starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Leslie Bibb, Gary Cole, Sacha Baron Cohen

Ricky BobbyWill Ferrell reunites with the crew that made Anchorman one of the funniest movies ever in the recorded history of space-time to bring theater-goers Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Ferrell plays the titular Ricky Bobby, a NASCAR driver who believes that “if you don’t finish first, you’re last.” Ricky Bobby is the toast of the NASCAR circuit, has millions in product endorsements and race winnings, a red-hot, smokin’ wife, and two spitfire kids: Walker and Texas Ranger.

Things start to go bad for Ricky when a French driver (Cohen) comes over from Formula-1 racing and mops the floor with him. Unfortunately, this is about when the movie starts to go bad as well. There are far too many dead moments, generally those scenes having to do with Ricky and his father (played by Gary Cole) and the rekindling of their strained relationship. It’s not that they’re even trying to put a heartwarming subplot into the flick, it’s just that there aren’t any jokes to go along with it. There’s just nothing of substance in a lot of these scenes. Except for the cougar.

Another big problem is that, as utterly hilarious as a lot of Nights’ best moments are, you’ve probably already seen all of them if you’ve watched the trailer. I’ll never understand why marketing executives give so much away in a lot of modern day movie trailers. And there’s more than a few jokes that fall flat because they don’t make any sense or just seem half-assed. There’s a subplot involving one of the crewmembers of Ricky’s pit crew, who will constantly make bizarre comments about peaches and death that never goes anywhere, and then there’s an Applebee’s commercial in the middle of a race that should be funny but isn’t. I still laughed out loud through much of the flick, but having seen most of the gags in the trailer already may have subtracted a guffaw or two out of my moviegoing experience. Guffaw.

Ricky Dances for You

There’s still a lot to love about Talladega Nights. Walker and Texas Ranger, Ricky’s sons, are particularly good when hurling insults at their frail grandfather across the dinner table. And, of course, there’s Ferrell. Likely the funniest (not necessarily the most intelligent) actor working in Hollywood today, he’s as good as ever here. He doesn’t always have enough to work with in some scenes (i.e. the “slow” moments aforementioned), but he’s still at the top of his game. What’s funnier than Will Ferrell running around a racetrack in his underwear screaming for the assistance of Tom Cruise and his “witchcraft” to put out the invisible fire burning him alive? You’re exactly right: nothing. So, at the end of the day, it’s not quite in Anchorman’s league, but Talladega Nights has enough going for it to warrant gobbling up your nine bucks at the multiplex.

Driving Lesson: Avoid Bees

Crash stirs swarm, sending 10 to hospital

Thursday, August 3, 2006; Posted: 10:25 a.m. EDT (14:25 GMT)

OSSIAN, Indiana (AP) — A teenage driver crashed into a hollow tree and stirred up tens of thousands of angry honey bees, creating a swarm that sent her and nine others to the hospital.

“Those bees were mad,” said Volunteer Fire Chief Kent Gilbert, who was stung at least 50 times while trying to pull the 16-year-old driver from the wreckage. “I’ve never seen bees, especially honeybees, attack like that.”

* * *

“You can’t really train for that. You don’t really know. You look for downed power lines. You don’t look for a million bees,” said Master Trooper Bob Brophy, commander of the Indiana State Police’s Fort Wayne post.

Bee expert Stan Grove, a biology professor at Goshen College, said the insects are most active in warm weather when they furiously fan their wings to cool the temperature of the hive.

“They don’t like to be jostled,” Grove said.