Friday, July 29, 2005

I recently received an upsetting e-mail from my friend who is stationed in Iraq. I know I said I would post all correspondence from him, but he's been on leave for a while and therefore not writing much of interest. But now he writes this, which does not please me:

Hiya Gang!
It's me again and I'm back in Iraq...again. Coming off two weeks R&R, I find myself in a new city, with new missions, and a brand new base. Camp C____ is bigger than S____, but in disrepair too. We don't have latrines yet, so we piss in tubes and do our business in buckets. Then, every week, one of our guys rotates out for the bucket burning detail. Not only is it hot as Hades, but you come back smelling like a herd of elephants decided to defecate on you. Speaking of hot, it's running an average of 120-125 back here, but compared to Kuwait (where I spent a couple days coming off leave) this is nothing. It was 100 at 1am, climbing to around 140 in the afternoon.
Travel back to base was interesting. I spent an extra day in Bangkok because my flight was cancelled. At immigration, they confiscated our passports and handed us plastic boarding passes with baggage claim tickets attached. Talk about not wanting to miss the flight! Unfortunately, all I saw of Thailand was the inside of a hotel and some temples as we drove past, but i did buy some Muay Tai Boxing shorts that look kickass. I then spent four more hot, dusty days getting back here two days ago. SInce then, I've been learning my way about base.
As to the area, Ramadi is the place to be. In the two weeks I've been gone, our snipers have accounted for 7 confirmed kills and 13 probables. However, also in that time, our battalion has lost one guy (a translator), another lost his legs, and have sustained 3-4 returnable injuries. The folks around here hate the US big time! What I've heard is that this city used to be one of Saddam's privileged gems. So, when the Marines came in, shooting up anything and everything (this city took a pounding), the population, which already had cause to resent us, turned on us completely. We get mortared here every other day and have had several RPG attacks hit areas around camp (included where I'm typing this very email). BUt that said, I'd much rather be here than back at S____. At least here we are contributing and get a chance to fight back. I think the insurgents were a bit surprised to find out that, unlike the previous unit, we'll stay out for 2-3 days hunting them. No place is safe for them anymore.
So, that's about it. I'm starting to get into the swing of things and can't wait to get out on some mission (which start for me very soon). Baby wipes are big again because our showers only run for four hours a day and we have something called "moon dust" here that's everywhere and is sometimes 5-6 inches deep. Also, snacks are appreciated because dining isn't set up yet. I'm very happy, focused, and ready to return to action. Only 5 more months to go...that's nothing. Let's hope those five months pass by quickly!! All my love and take care....
Rocking out,

It's great that he maintains such a positive attitude, but his descriptions of his living conditions and the news of casualties is so disheartening. Can't wait for these 5 months to pass and for his safe return to the U.S.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Canadian Rockies Vacation Photos
Sorry they're long overdue. Also sorry that there aren't people in any of them (I've been accused of scanning postcards and not having actually gone on vacation)... but I know what I look like... why ruin the scenery by putting myself in the shots?

Looking over Lake Louise towards the Plain of Six Glaciers. It took me several hours and quite a sunburn to reach there.

View of Fairmont Chateau (an excessively expensive hotel) from the other side of Lake Louise. Just before my climb to the PoSG.

Finally at the PoSG. My skin is scorched by the time I reach here. Only I would get the worst sunburn of my life in the Canadian Rockies of all places.

Elk. Cute elk.

It's even beautiful when it's cold and cloudy (which fortunately was rare).

Peyto Lake. Big and blue and beautiful.

Valley of the Five Lakes. One of my friends likes this picture so much, he's gonna blow up a version of it and hang it in his apartment. I'm honored. And I like it too.

Sunwupta Falls. So cool the way the water surrounds the trees.

Deer. Also cute. Too bad it refused to turn around and pose for a photo.

Boom Lake. This is my favorite pic. The water is like a giant mirror.

The outskirts of Jasper. The town looks like it's filled with Mom & Pop stores that are actually fast food restaurants and "I Love Jasper" keychain vendors. Too touristy for my taste.

Athabasca Glacier off of Icefield Parkway. You can actually climb onto (and fall to your death in, as many of the danger signs warn). Fortunately I survived. Posted by Picasa

He's a Family Guy
My co-worker thinks this is genius... and I agree.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Movie-related Links Galore

- I can't wait to see the new movie The Aristocrats. I don't know if this South Park version is in the movie or if it was just made separately, but it's hilarious.

- McFarlane Toys is releasing a line of Napoleon Dynamite action figures in November. The Kip is my favorite, love the tetherball one too, but I wish the Pedro one had him whacking the Summer pinata.

- This article about an FBI agent disagreeing with New Line's fake purple hearts promotion for Wedding Crashers is interesting. While I can understand his point, I think he's taking the issue way too seriously. But the best part is that Google's ad generator found it fit to place a link to a site that sells fake purple hearts right below the article.

- This is really theater-related, not movie-related, but Huey Lewis will be hitting the Broadway stage in November in the long-running Chicago. No word yet if The News will join him in the ensemble.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Overheard on Vacation

"Dong? Heh-heh, that sucks."
"I know, I get teased a lot."
- Security guard to passenger checking in at LaGuardia airport.

"Is that the Grand Canyon?"
- Kid asking his father, referring to the above mountain in Banff.

"If you don't complain, I'll give you a licorice. Okay, 2. Now shut up and don't complain."
- Grandfather trying to stop his grandkid from bitching about the rough terrain on a hike.

"It's a traditional Indian pale ale..."
- Jasper waitress at a bar, trying to describe a local beer to a French family that doesn't understand the words menu, beer, glass, or bottle.

"I don't want you spitting in my skillet."
"I can assure you we don't spit in anything. We're very clean."
- A customer and waitress at a Jasper diner, after the customer told her his breakfast order was cold but he didn't want a replacement.

"I mean there's gotta be, what, at least a million Starbucks."
- My sister in Seattle, estimating the number of locations worldwide.

P.S. I know I promised more photos today, but I lied... I'll try to get them up tonight or tomorrow.

You all remember Yakov Smirnoff, right? Turns out he's still going strong... in Branson, MO. Don't believe me? You can check out a commercial for it here. And it's funnier than any "What a country" joke he's ever done.

Monday, July 25, 2005

I'm back from vacation... 6 nights in the Canadian Rockies (4 in Banff & Lake Louise, 2 in Jasper), then 3 nights in Seattle. Did you miss me?

Reasons Why Canadians Suck:
1) They put traffic lights on their highways.
2) They lost my luggage for a day.
3) The CFL. Why can't they play by the same rules as the NFL? No, they have to have a 55-yard line. And scores that in America would be statistically impossible (13-1) or at least improbable (7-4).
4) Their Chinese restaurants inexplicably add the word "balls" to the end of any Sweet & Sour dish. Do "Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls" sound appetizing to anyone?
5) A radio station that bills itself as "Calgary's best rock" plays the new single from Staind.
6) Ads for Lake Louise promote it as "Home of the Grizzly Bear." Is it the only one in the world? And I sure didn't see it.
7) Drivers drive below the speed limit. On one-lane highways. But not all of them… just the cars directly in front of me.
8) Their version is spelled "SportsCentre," it focuses WAY too much on hockey, and replaces WebGems with HON (Highlight of the Night).
9) There are no guardrails on roads or trails where it's possible to plunge thousands of feet to your death.
10) They have a stupid event in Calgary called Stampede. It's like a normal stampede... but it lasts 10 days. And it causes crazy traffic jams.

Reasons Why Canadians Rule:
1) They live in some of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. The bluest lakes, incredible snow-capped mountains, deer walking around… must be seen to understand. I'll try to post pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I'm off to the Canadian Rockies and Seattle for a long-overdue vacation , so this site will be on hiatus for a while. Back on Monday, July 25th.

I'll miss you all. (eh, not really)

Emmy nominations are out, and once again there are way too many given to Will & Grace (how does anyone find that show funny?) and tons of misses (Arrested Development's Will Arnett, Rescue Me, John McGinley for Scrubs, Brad Dourif for Deadwood). Stupid Emmy voters.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

My father is a fairly straight-laced person. So it surprises me when he tells stories about his "wild" days in college. However, nothing prepared me for my discovery of this letter while rummaging through some of his keepsakes last Thanksgiving (click on it to make it readable).
The backstory is that he and one of his fraternity brothers visited an all-girls school in Philly and set up a "Win a Date with an Ivy Leaguer" booth. Co-eds then went up, filled out an application, and went through an interview process (I think there was even an entry fee involved!). The whole interview was a sham, as they simply made checkmarks in certain places on the application to signify whether the girl was attractive or not. They then sent out copies of this letter to their favorites, and eventually picked winners to be their Homecoming Dates.
Rest assured, I can't remember ever laughing as hard as when I read the letter, while my mom spent the evening fuming. And for the rest of the weekend, I referred to him by his alias, "Q.T. Voluptuous."
I also call dibs on using this in a screenplay.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Last night I did laundry in the basement of my building and came back upstairs to fold, only to discover that someone before me must have left a pen or something in the dryer because half of my clothes were now COVERED in purple ink stains. Including my irreplaceable classic Hypercolor shirt.
After a quick consultation with my lawyer roommate (and lawyer father), I learned that the building would not be responsible to pay for the clothes, as "ink in the dryer" is not a foreseeable problem that could have been prevented, so I can't claim negligence on their part. Stupid law.
If anyone has any vintage XL t-shirts lying around that they'd like to donate to the Clothe Brian Fund, please let me know.
Update: Good advice from a friend... the XL is because I am tall, not fat. Not that there's anything wrong with being fat... I'm just not.

Monday, July 11, 2005

I'll admit I'm not the biggest Stella fan (it's been averaging about 2 good laughs per show in its first two episodes), but this quote in a NY Times article seems particularly harsh:
"Literally I watched that thing as if my face was palsied, that's how not laughing I was."

Over the weekend I got a call from my high school asking for updated contact info for me, as they're putting together a massive alumni directory. Which has inspired me to update you all on my school's most famous alum, Mary Carey.

Here's her recent appearance on The Daily Show.

And here's her latest Diary entry:
Tuesday, July 5th
Hey people, sorry I haven't written for so long. I have been partying way too much. Check out some of the cool party pics at . Just search my name on the site. On Sunday night I celebrated Hannah's birthday. Last night I went bowling. Today I am getting a colonic. I love cleaning my colon. Anyway, e-mail me.

Friday, July 08, 2005

TRL Moment of the Week
On Thursday's show, Day 3 of TRL's Movie Week, we brought in 3 "little people" and dressed them up in this Oompa Loompa costume to rap introductions to videos on the countdown in honor of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory . Backstage before the show, Vanessa tried to strike up a friendly conversation with one of them...
Vanessa: You doing alright?
Oompa: I'm great!
Vanessa: (yawning) You're doing better than me. I feel like it's Friday.
Oompa: Well I feel like a sausage!
(ba dum dum)

Have you ever gone to wash your hands after dropping a deuce in your bathroom and thought to yourself, "Man, I wish I had a water fountain instead of a sink"? Well, wish no more...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Sign #231 that my mother is slowly going insane: she has nicknamed one of her neighbors Mitsy Titsy.
Because "her name is Mitsy."
And because "she has obviously had some enhancements."

Candy technology has come a long way from my childhood's bubble gum cigarettes. Now kids can enjoy these Pot Suckers from Chronic Candy, where "Every lick is like taking a hit."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Here are some entertaining clips of Ricky Gervais at Live 8... which I'm sure Americans didn't get to see due to our "alleged" lackluster coverage of the event.

Who wants another edition of Strangest Keyword Searches That Led People To My Site? Tough, cause you're getting one anyway. This is for the past 2 months...

#3: How big is Mark Wahlberg's third nipple?
- Whatever happened to size doesn't matter? That should be especially true for extraneous man-nipples... just the fact that it exists at all is creepy enough.

#2: Jodie Sweetin and her fiance pictures
- For some reason my site has become a haven for fans of the cast of Full House... and not even the whole cast, just the losers. I get 7 searches for Jodie Sweetin, zero for the Olsen twins. 4 fans of Dave Coulier, none of Bob Saget (who, if anyone missed it, had a hilariously self-deprecating role on this week's Entourage... catch the rerun if you didn't watch).

* Side note on Full House: my middle-school was all abuzz when hometown hero Scott Weinger landed the title voice in Aladdin and later joined the cast of Full House... that news was trumped later that year when our classmate Isaac Lidsky got the part of Weasel (a.k.a. "Replacement Screech") on the first season of Saved by the Bell: The New Class. Unfortunately for Isaac, his career was short-lived when Dustin Diamond (a.k.a. "Original Screech") realized he would probably never work again and took his job back during season 2. I don't know where I'm going with this story...

#1: what geek would name their blog last stop this town?
- This guy! (you can't see, but right now I'm pointing both my thumbs at myself)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Apparently, some people are disappointed with MTV's coverage of Live 8. I cannot comment for various reasons (plus the fact that I only watched about 10 minutes of it)... but this guy seems particularly pissed off. Good thing he's channeling his anger in a smart, positive way.

Amtrak has officially made my enemies list. It's no wonder the company is bleeding money... it's as if they're making an effort to drive customers away.
I spent the weekend visiting my friend in Alexandria, VA (which is less than 15 minutes outside of DC). I took the (very expensive) train down there on Friday after work, and planned on taking a 4:36pm train back to NYC on Sunday. I got to the station at 4:15, and the announcer said that another train making the same exact stops was arriving in 2 minutes. I went to the ticket counter and asked if my train was running on time, and after being told it was about 20 minutes late, asked if I could switch to the other train... the ticket seller said yes and made the switch.
When the new train pulled up, I got on board, the conductor tore my ticket, and I proceeded to sit for 25 minutes on an unmoving, un-air-conditioned train. Nobody bothered to tell explain the delay to the passengers. Sweaty passengers started trickling off the train, and I followed, where I found the conductor telling people that the train's engine had died and that it would take at least an hour to replace it. I asked him if I could switch back to my original train, which hadn't yet arrived, but was told no because I was now a ticketed passenger on this one. I argued that we hadn't gone anywhere yet and that nobody had told me I was switching to a broken train... no dice. He even laughed at me and said this is what happens when I try to be "sneaky."
Finally the original train pulled up and had to tow us to DC. We got there at 6:45pm. Then the original train left, and we sat in a still-un-air-conditioned train for another hour until the engine was fixed.
Finally, we were on our way... until the dragging detector was set off just past Wilmington and the train had to stop so that conductor could check to make sure we weren't dragging anything. Of course we were not.
Original train ETA: 8:59pm.
Actual arrival in NYC: 11:45pm.

For reference, here's the rest of my enemies list:
- AOL: see why here
- programmers of iPod's shuffle mode: since when does shuffle mean that with over 6,000 songs and hundreds of artists, I should get 2 songs from the same album every dozen songs?
- P. Diddy: for tainting countless classic songs by grunting "uh" and "yeah" over them, and raking in countless millions of dollars in the process
- my landlord: for taking 6 months to fix my collapsing ceiling and wall

- MTA: for all the times they've stopped in the middle of a tunnel when I know there is no possible way there's a train in front of it because I had to wait 20 minutes for the train I'm on to arrive
- Red Sox: for reasons obvious to any Yankee fan
- city of Los Angeles: for being completely undesirable for me to live there, hoarding all the great writing jobs and causing too many of my NY friends to move out there
- China Regency restaurant: for giving me food poisoning back in October '97
- my mailman: for not yet realizing that DVDs do not fit into my mailbox and that forcing them in until they crack is not a viable option

Friday, July 01, 2005

TRL Moment of the Week
Quddus, riffing on Mariah Carey during Wednesday's show: "Her album has been selling like… bananas for potassium eaters."
I couldn't have said it worse myself.

On the subway home from work, I excitedly notice that I'm sharing a train with the one and only Carrot Top.

Turns out it was just a very ugly woman.