Monday, December 30, 2013

I Got This!…Ah, no you don't

It was a quaint 75 degrees out with a slight westerly breeze. I use the word 'quaint' to try it out, see how it fits. Sadly, it's not really me. But there I was with two other pedestrians and a jogger in his late fifties waiting for the walk signal. Or in the case of the jogger, the 'get your ass moving again signal'. As the light changed we moved into the street. The jogger sprinted ahead. I took the pedestrian lead with my non-Starbuckian coffee in tow. I was mid-crosswalk when 'something' told me danger was near. I looked around as one does and there it was; a black late model mercedes and he was coming in hot. A voice, perhaps an ancestor, told me to imitate the fast jogger and high-tail it out of there. The mercedes came at me at close to forty-five mph and he wasn't slowing. I picked up the pace and shouted to the ladies behind me, "Look out! This guy's not stopping!"

Thank god they heard me and stopped with a collective gasp. I barely made it through the intersection unscathed except for the coffee burn on my hand. A woman that was about to cross from the side opposite me witnessed the event and said, "Oh my god, he just ran that light!" When I turned I could see that the guy was on his cell phone. I wanted to give chase but the last time I sprinted 45 mph with a coffee in hand was…well I can't remember the last time I was able to accomplish that…if at all. Either way I was pissed.

On another pleasant day with the temperature at similar quaintness as the above story I was driving my old truck. A line of cars did that annoying repetitive dance common on L.A. streets where because the lights are timed just-so, the group must stop at every dang light. It's a situation where lane changing and accelerating get you nowhere so its best to accept it, drive the speed limit and get 'there' when you get 'there.' As I stopped at red light number three hundred I received a little bump from behind. I checked my rear view mirror with a gentle curse word. A thirty-something brunette was talking on her phone and looked shocked when our eyes met. When we pulled over to assess the damage the dialog went as follows: (she was a soccer mom decked out in Lulu Lemon wear and brand new Shape Up shoes by Skechers. I hate those shoes by the way).

 "Hi, well, no damage to you," she determines as quickly as possible. Perhaps she works as an insurance claims adjuster part time.

I get low and have a closer look. She keeps talking. "You see it's these shoes they're really comfortable but horrible for driving."

"So why are you driving in them?" I ask.

"I know right? Duh. So I think we're good here. Again, no damage to you and you know I really need to get my daughter home she's starving."

Judging by the brand new Range Rover and high end yoga get-up I'd bet the daughter was anything but starving. And oh, how Mommy must cherish the poor girl as she drives around the city chatting on the phone while running into unsuspecting semi-good looking brothers.

"My thought is that you run into me and talk about your shoes. I would think the first thing you'd do is apologize?"

And no word of a lie, I kid you not she smiled at me and said NOTHING! A certain word came to mind but I kept it to myself. "We're good," I said and got back into my truck and it was there within the confines of my vehicle that I uttered the word that begins with 'B' and rhymes with 'pitch'.
I Got This...

Where are we? What happened? What's going on? I'll tell ya what. We live in a time where (almost) everybody thinks "I got this." News flash: You Don't! You can't drive a 3700 pound vehicle and talk on the phone while wearing goofball gimmicky weight loss friggin' shoes! Nor can you drive a brand new 400 horsepower mercedes benz down the road while talking to your broker. You Don't Got This! You're actually three quarters of a cell phone minute past useless!

When I'm Mayor of Everything…

The fine for talking or texting while driving will be $500. The first $100 will go to the arresting officer so that that she will be incentivized to make the bust. The next $100 will go to an inner city or low income school (TBD). The third $100 will go toward road maintenance. The remaining $200 will be placed in an account. At the end of the year a vote will be held to determine how the excess money will be spent. But it will be school related for example: it will go to iPads in schools, or music programs in schools or school science labs will acquire extra bunsen burners (do they still have those anymore?).
As worn by The Mayor of Everything...

And for those with polished monocle that would guffaw at $500 be advised that the fine will double with each offense. Oh, I almost forgot: A portion of the '$200 account money' will go to judges so that when citizens attempt to fight their infraction the judges may be better able to render a just and fair judgment.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Rock Ain't Dead...A Different Kind Of Truth... Says So

Hey! Why didn't anybody tell me that Van Halen was back?!? Yes, I knew that Diamond David Lee Roth came back to front the band in 2006 and that Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang was playing bass. And yes, I knew that they pumped out a new album in 2012. (Correct, I still call them albums). But where was the press on this massive rock renaissance? My Halen buddies Mashman and Thunder should have text, tweeted, called or sent me word by carrier pigeon that the new Halen sounds like the good ol' Halen.

There I was last week in an F.Y.E record store. (CD store). Your brow is probably knitted in confusion but it is true; L.A. still has a slight sprinkling of brick and mortar music stores. And this left-over platinum-haired, nostalgic o'l skool cat can occasionally be seen strolling their aisles. I was innocently heading toward the heavy metal section to peek in on Megadeth--the bone crushing band fronted by Dave Mustaine that causes my wife to karate kick me in the ribs every time she hears them. While on route I glanced at Van Halen's column. Hmm? I thought. I hadn't bought a Van Halen record since 1984 (Album title). I hefted the latest album; A Different Kind of Truth and found the only functioning listening station (of about 20) and gave her a listen. It took fifteen seconds each of the first 5 songs and 'boom', I was sold!

The Album

In a word this album is; awesome! Diamond David Lee Roth sounds great. Sadly his signature screams of yesteryear have all but disappeared but he gets a pass as the guy is 59 years old (according to Wikipedia). Take it from me; a guy who's been imitating Dave's screams as well as rockin' my own it aint easy to bring the consistent scream...and I'm barely knocking on 50's door. But Dave's control and pitch is better than ever. I'd bet there's been a vocal lesson or two in recent times for Mr. Roth. And why not he's the frontman all dude's used to want to be and the singer all hot chicks wanted to be with--a guy's gotta maintain. Furthermore, his signature tongue and cheek lyrics rich with innuendo and double meaning are back with a hard rock vengeance.

Eddie's guitar playing is just how we all remember it from his hey day back when we'd pause while dancing with rocker-chicks on the dance floor to assume the pose and shred on our air guitars. And can you believe we thought we were cool? Over a handful of years Eddie's battled cancer, alcohol and perhaps a few other substances in the rock and roll party bin. Today his licks, riffs, trills, hammers, pulls, squawks, taps, sweeps, crunch and more are right on the hard rock money and the currency is not bitcoin but shredcoin! His brother Alex on drums continues to give it to us the way we want it. Check out his double handed 16th note hi hat groove on "She's The Woman" it is phat with a capital PH! It's a groove forged at the intersection of metronome precision and trashed-hotel-room-dirty-swamp-slop.

The newest member Wolfgang lays down some heavy bass lines that I'm sure make daddy proud. The original bass player was Michael Anthony (pictured far left). He'd bring the heavy bottom and all of the high vocal harmonies. I admit that for a time I had a one-man somewhat lethargic semi-boycott of Van Halen due to the way the Van Halen brothers treated Michael. Alas, Michael, the Van Halens and yours truly have moved on.

A Different Kind Of Truth has 13 tracks and I'm delighted to say that of the 13 songs I crank up 11 of them with a sly grin and one eyebrow cocked. Being an expert on all things that rock I recommend that kids today should buy this album--the whole album and listen to what rock and roll with melody and crunch is meant to sound like. I further recommend that left-over rockers of my vintage get out there, grab this album and roll your volume dial to the far right. It will make you feel like jumping through a plate glass window, doing a shoulder roll and coming up shouting, "that didn't hurt a bit. What else ya got?"

Note: This blogger does not recommend that you actually jump through the plate glass window...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

ADHD Is On The Rise. Who's Benefitting?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is on the rise. We've all heard of it, some of us have it and more than some of us have had some type of contact with it either through family members, co-workers etc. But it is time that we spread out all of the pieces of the ADHD puzzle on the table and take a close look because with any subject that becomes the 'flavor of the month' we tend to get ahead of ourselves.

According to Forbes magazine the Center For Disease Control claims that in 2011 8.8% of children were diagnosed with ADHD as compared with 7% in 2007. I don't necessarily challenge the statistic but my antennae get up with the 'diagnosis' word. Let's face it we are in a time in the U.S. where (some) doctors are over diagnosing on a variety of illnesses and disorders. Why would this be? Some docs are paid by pharmaceutical companies to move about the country and give lectures on the rise of ADHD. Regardless of whether they believe in what they are saying they are not unlike the traveling vacuum salesman from yesteryear. Furthermore, a doctor will be paid more quickly to diagnose and prescribe medication than if said doctor takes the time to do a detailed examination of a patient. Sorry to rock your faith in the hippocratic oath but this type o' doc does exist. (Anybody remember Michael Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray?)

It is believed that the disorder is caused by genetics, environment, economic status and a few other determinants. Oh, is that all? Does this seem vast and vague at the same time? I thought so too. Genetics are genetics, agreed? Ok, moving on. Environment, let's look at that. We are talking about brain function. Naturally children are susceptible to environmental conditions due to the fact that their brains are still developing. Thus, pollution, diet, second hand smoke etc. are all factors that no doubt come into play. Let us not forget over-stimulation. Take a child raised in an environment of book-reading and limited television vs. a child allowed to play video games several hours per day. Which one is more likely to have focus and attention issues? Then there's food; I'd argue that additives and GMO's have a hand in ADHD's creation. Scientists have discovered that low levels of dopamine in the brains of children are a common denominator in ADHD patients. Natural foods that aid in keeping dopamine levels up are bananas, and almonds. Also, antioxidants like greens, fruits, asparagus, beets etc. aid in keeping the levels up. Without proper nutrition-often due to economic conditions-ADHD has a better shot at taking hold.

We've Come A Long Way Baby:

Back when I was coming up whenever we'd start 'acting up' the parental set would bark, "settle down…sit still…don't fidget…don't make a fuss…(and my favorite)…pay attention!" Problem solved right? The extreme cases of hyperactivity were given Ritalin. But by the late 1970's-early 80's Ritalin began to fade until its resurgence in the late 1990's. Maybe our parents/ doctors misdiagnosed some of us back in the day but now that hyperactivity has grown to ADHD not only is Ritalin back but Adderral is huge…and sadly abused. Doctors are over-presrcibing it and college students are going nuts on it. The pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction.

Take Big Timmy Timmons For Example:

Timmy was the captain of his high school football team. He had the hottest gal and a Burt Reynolds era Trans Am to match. College studies being a bear Timmy innocently takes the Adderall given him by pill peddler poindexter Paul Patterson (affectionately known as P5) as a study aid. But over time addiction kicks in. What once helped Timmy stay up and study for his history exam of which he hammered out a 73%, now owns him. The drug on its own doesn't cut it anymore so Timmy chases it down with Jagermeister and crappy American light-beer (which ironically should be deemed un-American). This works for a time but not forever. Eventually Timmy dives deeper into the drug sea only to find Father-Cocaine waiting with his gentle arms extended--a mound of blow in one hand and a glass crack-pipe in the other. You know the rest.

La Solucion (The Solution)

ADHD is very real and very serious but the science isn't locked up just yet--unknowns still abound. Parents hear me roar. Think of the pharmaceutical company as a drug pusher because he is. I am not saying that drugs don't work, nor am I saying they don't have their uses. HOWEVER, be ever cognizant that drug companies are in the business of making money. They have shareholders to which they are beholden. And, they have doctors and so called 'experts' spreading their message. And, they have big television ads which play on your fears. These ads will tell you that your child will fall behind, be ostracized and fail at her studies if they don't get on the Ritalin/Adderall train. And these companies have senators, congressmen and lobbyists in their pockets. And they've corrupted several Food & Drug agents. (**Note, the fact that  I cannot prove that last statement does not make it necessarily untrue nor does it make me a liar. Perhaps I'm merely a thought provocateur.)

good parenting!

Next, you need to research. Research like the wind! Read medical journals and not just from U.S. doctors. What are doctors saying overseas? Know your doctor. Check him/her out. If his last name is Murray check out his family tree. Do you want to take your child to Dr. Jack Murray, Conrad Murray's evil-er twin? Feed your kids healthy organic foods and make sure they exercise and get the  recommended amount of sleep. Last, limit the amount of stupid video games they play. Get them outside. Make them look you in the eye when they speak. Demand that they pull their pants up. And the occasional shouted, "Pay attention!' never hurt anybody, in fact it's good for what ails 'em. At the very least it keeps them on their toes and let's them know who's boss! Good luck!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Alert The Media, Kanye West Is Upset!

You cats will never believe this but Kanye West is upset again. But of course he is, it's Grammy season and his latest album is only nominated for two grammies. The audacity, the nerve, clearly this is a conspiratorial witch hunt. West claims, "If I don't win album of the year I'm really gonna have a problem with that." I wonder if he stomped his foot and folded his arms when he said that. Kanye has won 21 grammies out of 53 nominations. I'm sure in Kanye's mind that's nearly 50% which would presuppose that perhaps all 53 grammies should rightfully have gone to him…to be fair. In the lad's ten year-ish career he's lashed out at several award shows, namely the ones that haven't named
him the victor.

Wikipedia tells me that in Greek mythology Narcissus fell in love with his own image when reflected in water. Would it be going out on a limb to conclude that Kanye is a narcissist? Sure why not. But there's more, there's got to be more to the man. In 1984 actress Sally Field went down in history during the Oscars for her quote, "…you like me, you really like me." She took a little heat for the comment but in hindsight it was cute, hell it was damn near adorable when compared to Kanye's need, nay psychopathic obsession with the world loving him. He practically crawls toward society like a dehydrated man dying of thirst in a vast desert crying, "love me, love me, love me…and give me awards and shit."

He once (or perhaps more than once) claimed that he was a god, and his latest album is entitled Yeezus.  We must now add egomaniacal to his list of fun traits. Sure I'm splitting hairs with the egomaniacal vs. the narcissistic but so what, my poetic license ego says its cool to do so.

Some would say Kanye is a genius. They would be wrong. (more on that in about 3 sentences) Nevertheless his fans will continue to put up with his childlike tantrums and toddler-esque outbursts because they love his music. The music industry execs will also 'play along' so long as he's putting money in their coffers. Back to why he's not a genius. First of all the 'genius' word is so over used that the term has lost a sh**load of impact. Knock it off people. Second, can Kanye sit at a piano and silence an amphitheater with beautiful notes? Can he do the same with a violin perhaps? Can he stand with nothing but a microphone and sing A cappella and move us they way Nat King Cole once did? Can he sit down and write a concerto on par with Chopin or Bach? If he could perhaps he would be brushing up against genius' door.

Kanye is a rapper; a producer. He's a man that takes previously recorded music by those that have already created it and re:works it. Is the result pleasurable? To some yes. But genius? Nope, sorry Bub.

Let's wrap/ rap it up shall we?

In order for society to advance in a positive way y'all need to pull back on the overuse of 'genius'. And whether you are fan, friend or foe to a celebrity you need to reach out to them (via twitter, Fb, Instagram etc.) and ask that they stick to the artistic task at hand and keep the dumb-dumb egotistical god complexical comments to themselves. And if you think inventing terms like 'god complexical' as I've done here today is egomaniacal perhaps you're right. But I can't worry about that now as I have a date with my reflecting pool…I just love that pool, she's pure genius!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ante Up $$$ Sensa

Does anyone remember the commercials for the dietary supplement called Sensa? A lovely plate of food was displayed. Next, a slender female hand spread some mystery (and perhaps magical) crystals over the meal. The voiceover claimed that the crystals caused weight loss. Oh happy day for us all right? Well as it turns out Sensa must pay the state of California as well as some consumers just north of $900,000.

Let's break it down shall we. You may be surprised to know, at least I was, that the Food & Drug Association does not regulate supplements such as the type Sensa pedals. What this means is that the product is not tested for safety or effectiveness. Let the market do what it does, no? So if I may be so bold as to play the advocate to the devil; what did Sensa do wrong? It's perfectly legal for this company to not only bring their product to market but they can pretty much claim whatever they want about it. And they did just that, they claimed 'hey man if ya wanna lose that spare tire go ahead and drop this dietary fairy dust on your burgers, you'll be glad ya did.'

But sadly a pooch was screwed and here's where. They should never have made the 'scientific' claim that the item underwent "the largest clinical study"because a plaintiff arose and called b.s. and a class action suit was born. In the end the alleged science turned out to be false advertising and FDA or not we the consumer are protected against that.

So how does it work? I tipped toed around Sensa's website and learned that the magic dust enhances one's sense of smell and taste thus fooling the brain's 'natural hunger control switch' into believing it's full. Being that I couldn't recall the "hunger switch" from Biology 11 I dug into the research for close to 38 seconds and found that we in fact do have a 'natural appetite control' mechanism that once we're  full let's the hypothalamus know that we're done. (I've always like the hypothalamus-sounds like a dinosaur-meets-Viking-dragon-slayer kind of name).

Apparently the mechanism worked gang busters in our hunter-gatherer days of fight or flight and all of that. But today with food everywhere, (in the first world anyway) anytime we want it, many of us have managed to recalibrate the stop eating I'm full already mechanism and thus find ourselves overweight. It's as if we say, "Yo, hypothalamus why don't you take tonight off and let daddy and his eating utensils take it from here? Thanks buddy."
I'm so dang full!

Where are we now? Let's be honest this is just more of the search for the magic pill. These pills, sprinkles and shakes aren't going anywhere anytime soon so long as western human nature is the way it is. We want what we want and we want it now. It ain't nothing new but ponder this: The consumers of Sensa are lucky that this product was not far. You've got to use your heads people. This stuff is not tested by the FDA which is an entity that is average at best on a good day. I'm not saying they're sloppy; at times look the other way and can be bought but I ain't saying the converse either...are ya with me? These supplements are created for the sole purpose of commerce. It's capitalism baby and this sh** ain't regulated. So don't toss it into your bodies willy nilly just because a manicured hand gingerly sprinkles it on a tasty looking meal. For the love of Caesar's ghost do what makes sense...not sensa!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Los Angeles: Where The Citizen Is Mightier Than The Turn Signal

What is it about the Los Angelino driver and his or her penchant for not signaling when they are about to turn? Are we--meaning you--so entirely over-worked that the mere thought of moving your hand from your cell phone to your indicator would send you into a narcoleptic coma? Or maybe it is beneath you to alert the guy behind you that you're about to maneuver 3000 lbs. of heavy metal and horsepower into a different lane. Maybe you're better than you're turn signal altogether and your day starts something like this:

"Listen to me turn signal indicator thing, I'm better than you and thus...I shan't be using you today!"

During my period of perplexity and pissed-offery I tried desperately to discover who this person is? Also, where do they hail from and how can we send them packin'?

Who Might You Be?

Perhaps you're a 19 year old co-ed named Tina from Manhattan Beach. Once you grow out your bangs and get your highlights done you'll be hotter than your BFF Brittany. When driving your mom's Mercedes S.U.V. you absolutely have to text Brittany to let her know that Brianna was talking trash about her OMG! And thus, no way do you have time to signal your turns, don't make you LOL!

Or maybe you're a dude named Jeremy that's put the days of being bullied behind you. In the process you've changed your name to Blade and become a cage fighter. Your record is 4 wins, 4 loses and one tie...not exactly a winning record but hey, you'll get there. You're a tough guy that plays by your own rules. And rule number one is: never signal. Signaling is for sissies. As a matter of fact once you put some dough together you're going drive that GMC pickup straight to the dealership and have them lift that truck...and then remove your signal apparatus.

But, you might be Robert Montague, visiting British professor of elocution and guest lecturer at UCLA. When you step into your rented mini cooper in the morning you proclaim that if the American commuter is too dim of wit to know of your vehicular intention then...well...tough biscuits. It shall not cause you worry and thus you will not bother yourself to signal.

Whoever you are I urge that you wake up and see the dimwitted logic of not letting us know what your friggin' plan is. Because if we hit you, sure we're at fault but its still a pain in the ass (literally for you) for all parties involved to deal with insurance companies and so on. But there's another factor at play here and that is entitlement and freedom. Or as I like to say, "freetitlement''. You feel that you are entitled to ride around in your bubble and talk on the phone; text via phone and NOT have to expend the energy it takes to give your fellow man a 'heads up.' And why is this? It's because your notion of this being a free country means that you are free to do what you want...or don't want to do.

Transgressors Beware

Offending drivers beware because when I'm the Mayor of everything and everywhere the fine for not signaling will be doubled; the same way fines are doubled when they occur in construction zones. And here's how the proceeds from your infraction will be dispersed. The first quarter of the ticket money will go to the city, for cops' salaries and pot holes etc. The second quarter of the money will go to improvements to the Los Angeles airport (LAX) which is the worst airport in the first world. The third quarter of the money will go to the running of my mayor's office-naturally. And the remaining proceeds will go to local small businesses such as breweries that do NOT brew lite or light beer. Furthermore as Mayor of everything and everywhere I will see to it that there is a chicken in every pot and a copy of Crescendo by Jonathan Brown--available on Amazon in every home.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Customer Service...Call Me!

As quality customer service slowly declines across this great nation and perhaps all of north america every now and then an experience comes along that puts a smile on one's face. I called AT&T with a question about my bill. After traversing the numerous yet joyous prompts I made it to level two. Not familiar with level two? Oh, allow me: level two is the fun experience where the customer enjoys a 12 second piece of muzak. This little ditty loops relentlessly until the representative comes on the line or the customer briefly slips into insanity before dying a very slow death. After 9 minutes of the 12 second loop of Lady Ga Ga's muzak-ed Poker Face, I got Tina.

We do the 'who are you?' dance which entails password, phone number and partial SS# and voila I'm at level three...or perhaps four. Either way I'm at the level where I'm granted the glorious privilege of asking my question. Tina was very helpful and even answered my 'small talk' question. (This would require her to abandon the company script. Oh, yeah I push boundaries like that).

After much ado about much ado, we were approaching the finish line. My question answered; I felt a pleasant time was had by all. It almost felt as though we'd gone on a first date where dinner was scrumptious after which I received a tender goodnight kiss at the door. As the 'good byes' were about to be exchanged she hit me with a curveball which naturally I was forced to run with. Below is how it played out with close to 95% accuracy. Enjoy:

" AT&T we strive to bring you quality (blah, blah, blah)--"

"Ok, thank you," I reply.

"Is there anything that might come up within the next 30 days that I can help you with now?"

I heard the question loud and clear and baby did I need to play with it. "Excuse me?" I reply coyly.

She repeats the question in the exact same way to which I respond, "Are you asking if I have a question in the future would I like the opportunity to ask it now?"

"Yes," she said.

"I know what's going on here you're tired of my shit, y'all don't want me calling for a month, is that what's going on?"

"No," she giggles. "I was just wondering if there was anything I could help you with now that may come up within the next thirty days?" Clearly she didn't think I was grasping the concept of her question. Clearly this called for more playtime.

"Is this call recorded for quality assurance?" I ask.

"Yes sir."

"So that means I'm on record saying the word 'shit'."

"Yes sir, you are."

"Shit, oops I did it again," I said which brought more giggling. "Let me get this straight baby doll, you're wondering if I can look into the future, have a problem and figure out my question now, is that it?"

"Well no I was just--"

"What if a guy like me has a question two weeks from now, are you telling me I have to wait another 14 days before I can call you people back?"

I really had her laughing now. "No sir not at all. What I mean is--"

"Suppose I have an extremely urgent issue 29 days from now can I call one minute after midnight or do I have to wait until the following morning--day 30?"

"No, no you can call anytime we at AT&T are happy to have you as a customer. I was just asking if there is--"

"I know, I know ask now or hold onto my shit for at least 30 days. I can dig it. By the way I said that word again."

She was totally cracking up by this time which meant I had her where I wanted her.

"I know what's really going on here. You dig me. You're totally into me and you just want to keep me on the phone. Is it my voice?" I ask. She kept laughing. "You're going to listen back to this tape aren't you? Ha ha. Tina this is serious customer service baby."

"Sir please no, I there anything else I can help you with today?"

"No I'm good and I'll try not to call back before my 30 days are up."

"Sir, it's OK!" she practically shouted through her laughter. "Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

"You didn't say the 30 day part," I teased.

"I'm, I'm not going to anymore. You have a pleasant day, please no texting and driving and please feel free to call us anytime if you have any questions."

"Are you going to listen back to my tape when we hang up or wait until your lunch break?" I asked.

"Good bye Mr. Brown," she said with a sigh.

And that's how it went down. Calling any big company these days can be a nightmare, we all know that. My advice is if ever you see an opening for what I call 'playtime'. Carpe Diem baby!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hollywood, Enough with the comic book flicks already!

Hollywood can we please move on from the comic book movies? In April of 2012, I mistakenly bought into the hype that the Avengers was going to be awesome. It didn't take long before I asked myself, 'why and I here? This is pure crap.' Other than a few decent lines delivered by the great Robert Downey Jr. the only entertainment was hearing my wife sigh and roll her pretty little eyes. (And yes I could hear the eyes roll, we're connected like that).

Later I asked myself why I went to the movie. Was it the hype? Was it the star studded cast? And then it hit me like a left hook to the chin. I'm an action guy and guys like me love action. I've been an action guy since my old man used to take me to Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson flicks. Looking back it may have been inappropriate for a 6 year old to watch Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry blowing bad guys away with his 44 magnum but I thought it was awesome...still do. But it is action that Cats like me seek. Sadly cop movies and good Westerns are in limited supply these days. Hence, there you have a cool Cat with his hot wife eating popcorn and watching 'men in tights' essentially. It's not fair. This is injustice. I don't want shiny costumes on near invisible dudes that can fly. I/we want tough cops kicking in doors, sliding over car hoods and NOT calling for back-up. Are you telling me that these movies are gone? That they have been done to death? Nay, I say, nay! Give guys like me a half decent story, fast cars and the whoever-actor and let's go. But no, Hollywood of no imagination is all about the bottom line $$$ and somehow you grown-up comic book geeks who would give your go to Comicon have rallied and cried loud and long enough to bend Hollywood's ear. Studios have sent out armies of scouts to scour the libraries of DC and Marvel to bring them characters and (dare I say it) stories?

For a moment there was light at the end of my action movie tunnel for many of these comic book films were flops. For example The Green Lantern, Cowboys and Aliens and Captain America. And G.I. Joe starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson was shot, advertised and then shelved 3 weeks prior to it's 2012 summer release as the studio didn't think it could compete with other summer flicks. (It was later released and I admit--to some box office success). But then along came the box office juggernaut that was The Avengers and set the comic book movie party into a frenzy. Now we have Man Of Steel, up, up and a-friggin'-way, Oh joy! Plus Ironman 3 and...wait for it, another Avengers movie on the way releasing 2015.

This is an official call to arms to all action guys and action gals. We need to take back the cop and robber streets. Corral the horses and put cowboys on them. (I know, I know Disney is doing The Lone Ranger...for the love of Christmas that ain't what we're after either). We need to storm the Hollywood Bastille. We need to strategize in full stategistical strategery. We need to grab Hollywood by the ears and 'bad cop it' until our films return to the silver screen. To all of you so-called grown men that continue to pick up the comic book, attend Comicon and play video games either turn in your man cards or pull up your big boy pants and act like men! Demand that Hollywood bring back martial art, cop and Western movies. If you don't do this all that you know...will be at an end.

How Meter Maids killed Manhattan Beach parts 1 and 2

Below is a letter I sent to the City Of Manhattan Beach after receiving a parking ticket. The lot contained meters and in every way appeared to be a standard 2hr metered lot. However, the fine print revealed that it was an employee lot--7 days a week. It was Sunday when we parked. Sigh...

Violation #: 61040632 Lot 1
June 6/ 2013           

To Whom It May Concern:

I write to you concerning a parking violation I received Sunday June 2/2013. The ticket was issued because I parked in a lot that is reserved for merchants only. This was merely a mistake. Both my wife and I missed the sign. Manhattan Beach being a difficult city to find parking found us overjoyed when we found a lot with a meter. I assure you we were not attempting to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, which is why we paid for two hours and returned before the meter expired.

A few months earlier I received a ticket for failing to curb my wheels. Even though the signage was diminutive at best, I simply paid the fine and moved on. It seems Manhattan Beach is the only beach city that hits me in my pocket book. On this recent occasion my wife and I ate a delicious meal at the newly opened Fishing With Dynamite restaurant. After lunch my wife purchased a tunic from one of your local shops. In early May I performed at a charity event for one of Manhattan Beach’s local schools.  So as you can see my wife and I contribute to the Manhattan Beach economy as well as the community and are happy to do so. However, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth when one returns to a meter with time remaining to find a big bright ticket on the windshield.

I don’t deny parking in the wrong spot, and as I said it was an honest mistake; but I ask that you consider throwing the ticket out or at the very least reducing the $48 ticket to a more reasonable amount.

Thank you for your time,

As it turned out the great city of MB did not throw the ticket out nor did they reduce the amount. Below is my response...

Adjudication Processing Dept.                                            
Manhattan Beach Processing Ctr                                        
P.O. Box 1109                                                                    
Tustin CA                                                                               

June 25th/ 2013

Dears Madams/Sirs

Attached to this letter/payment is my previous letter with regard to my ticket (citation # 61040632). If one were to take the time to read letter #1 they’d find that the letter is polite and courteous. It is a document where I simply throw myself ‘on the mercy of the court’ so to speak. In the letter I do not deny the parking violation. I point out that my wife and I not only bring commerce to your city but I have also done charity work in Manhattan Beach.

As to your response: I cannot claim surprise when I see that not only is there no reduction in the ticket charge but your response arrived in typical bourgoeise bureaucratic unimaginative dimwitted city-speak. To wit “After careful review we have determined that the citation is valid”.

If you had taken the time to read the letter you would see that at no time was I questioning the validity of the over priced citation. I approached as a decent tax-paying individual and simply asked ‘have a heart.’ Show a sliver of compassion for a guy that made a simple mistake. Give a guy who helped raise money for a Manhattan Beach elementary school, a break. How about a reduction in fee for decent folk that have sunk thousands of dollars into your city’s businesses? But no such luck. No can do. You at Manhattan Beach Processing are by the book and the book says suck, squeeze and siphon as many pennies from all who visit no matter what. Revenue is revenue. The bottom line is the bottom line.

I caution you extortionists for you are putting an ugly face on your fair city. We the people have choices in Hermosa, Redondo and El Segundo and perhaps we’ll exercise our choice and move on. And when the masses vacate (which you will have driven away one vehicle at a time), it will be your local businesses that will suffer—and then close. Next, property values will plummet and finally the once great city of Manhattan Beach will crumble like a city in a Michael Bay movie. When the smoke clears and the forensic crew picks through the rubble all will be revealed: the meter maids (and meter maid-men) and pathetic pencil pushers destroyed the once great city of Manhattan Beach.

Does this seem farfetched? Perhaps. Be that as it may, we bid thee farewell Manhattan Beach, my wife and I are done with you. But before you utter ‘good riddance’ know this; both letters are going on my blog where I have countless followers. It’s also going to be shared on Facebook where my hundreds of friends will tell two friends…and so on. Let us not forget the abridged version, which I’ll be sharing on Twitter. Shh, do you hear that? That’s the sound of the exodus.

Formerly a patron (while still a Patriot),

Friday, May 31, 2013

Justin Bieber: fun lovin' at 19

The Kid

During Justin Bieber's acceptance speech at the Billboard Awards he defended his dumb-ass behavior of late by stating (and I paraphrase) 'hey I'm only 19... I'm doing pretty good...stop hating on me'. In a way he's got a sliver of a point but what he doesn't realize, because he's a fool, is that we the people, are supposed to be the ones who-should we choose to-declare that he gets a pass for being 19. Dude, we get it: your'e young, you're famous and you're a millionaire. And you want to be a bad boy. Well, it ain't working. You're scrawny and obnoxious which I suppose could be forgiven but you're being a bad boy in an uncool way. You're not bringing any cool to your bad boy party, yo. Sadly for you we as judge and jury, often don't know which celebrity upstart we're going to tolerate-which horse we're going to back. But that's just how she rolls baby. But if we're not digging you, feeling you or we just plain aren't hip to your bag, asking us to forgive you because you're 19 and loaded ain't gonna fly mon petit Biebereux.

The celebrity bad boy game is a fickle mistress Bieberoni. Think back, oh yeah you're only 19, ok Google back to Mickey Rourke in his early days. He was a rising star that some critics compared to Brando. But a few innocent barroom dust-ups later and he was kicked out of Hollywood for several years. Take Mel Gibson: he had a lengthy career, even won best picture for Braveheart but after a couple o' pops (hooch), spewed some anti Semitic crap and holy-moly is he struggling to get back...even with Jodi Foster's friendship lifeline. Conversely, take Robert Downey jr. He ran around high as a kite for a long time. He even woke up in some stranger's (non celebrity) bed in the middle of the day. But ya know he's just so damn 'aw shucks cute' not to mention super talented that we all rooted for him. And look at him now. So what to do, what to do Biebs? The obvious would be to lay low but nay, you're like a teenaged girl who receives an expensive sports car with far too many horses under the hood for her sweet sixteenth birthday. There ain't no holding you back is there little buddy?

Humility would be a good place to start but you've still got the same high octane energy problem. Not to mention you being a millionaire who's constantly surrounded by screaming chicks and massive cadillac sized bodyguards clearing paths for you every step and doing your bidding...I'm afraid humility's got a seriously slim chance of shaking hands with you any time soon. Why not try bringing a sense of humor to your party? Are you considered a cut-up among your chums at all? Do you tell side splitters to your bandmates backstage before showtime? Have you considered laughing at yourself, it couldn't hurt. Sh** we might even laugh along with you like a played-out laugh track from a bad 70's sitcom.

The Audacity

I must say your latest stunt is rich and quite entertaining, for me anyway. For you readers of the unbeknownst variety young J-doggie-Biebs here has constructed (well his lawyers have) a party waiver, if you will. Oh yeah, baby. If you want to get down with the Bieb-machine and party at his LA mansion you gotta sign on the dotted line. Again I'm paraphrasing, para-quotin' and dern well parachutin' into an area I've researched precious little (due to passive interest at best). Be that as it may, basically to attend one of the singie-boy's parties you must sign a document whereby you agree that once you attend you will not repeat, tweet, re-tweet, blog, whisper over a caramel latte, Facebook, Instagram or communicate in any way about what you saw, heard and or did while whoopin' it up at the Bieber palatial party palace. To violate the terms of this tender document results in a 5 million dollar fine. Ha! To quote my relatives from the great state of Georgia, 'that boy done lost his damn mind!'

Right off the bat this party counts me out because I simply can't afford that cover charge. Because that's what it would be to me. I'd pay on the way in and say 'ok let's see what this 5 million dollar gag order gets me.' Does this mean that he rolls with Cats that can afford to drop 5 mill' for opening up their trap? Come on now. This begs another question: what self respecting lawyer would draw up such a waiver? Oh yeah, one that is on the pip-squeak's payroll I suppose. I mean technically if they ever slapped the paper on a rich contract-breeching-partygoer it'd make a sweet little commission for the lawyer. And last question: don't you kinda sorta almost want to go to one of his parties? Yeah, me either.

The Solution

Needless to say Justin dude, if you want us to forgive you your tender young age and the asininity that comes along with it ya gotta stop pulling stunts like this. Personally, I'm not bothered by the little guy. I find all of this mildly entertaining (more so than his music, but that's because I'm o'l skool). In fact when I try and put myself in his shoes I wonder would I have been any different at 19 drenched in fame and fortune? Ah, but when I really think about it there would be a few differences. Number one, I'd hit the gym so that when my shirt was off there'd be a reason my shirt was off. Second, I could handle way more beer than the Biebs and third: I'd never puke on stage like the little guy did in Arizona. But if by happenstance I did up-chuck it would be followed by brief maniacal laughter before hurling (pun intended) back into the song.

Upon further thought, there may be a slight kinship between me and young Justin Biebizzle. You see we're both Canadian; we have the same initials (JB) and when I was comin' up back in the day my nickname was...Beeb. (Oh dear, I just felt a mild wave of nausea tinged with confused depression come over me). Seriously though here's what ya gotta do Biebersaurus: scrap the current party waiver. Have your lawyers write a new waiver that you will sign which will allow your bouncers to pretzel you into your captain's bed, nearest closet or limousine once you've had a few too many pops (cocktails). And voila, before you know it you'll be back on top...or wherever it is you reside within your demographic.

**And now this blogger must sprint to to make sure that this blogger and J-Bieberella ain't distant cousins...

Friday, March 8, 2013

Chris Brown vs. The Little Guy

boy can he dance...
Ah yes, the wonderful Chris Brown who we've all come to know and love-NOT-has done it again. This time he's turned his ire to the often wily and dangerous valet parker. Brown attended a charity event at a Studio City bowling alley. When he was said and done he was told that the valet fee was $10...all at once. Chris Brown being Chris Brown replied, "Fu** the $10, give me my keys." Fu** the $10? Now why would the high strung entertainer curse this nation's fine currency? But more importantly how dare the valet parker do his job. Who does he think he is, an employee of the establishment or something? Brown towered over the short valet attendant. (It is unclear as to whether Brown stood on a curb above the man or...on a little box the style often used by short movie actors). For reasons unknown the valet when faced by Brown and his four bodyguards with a combined weight of over one thousand pounds complied and gave up the keys. Although in addition to the size of Brown's posse and the size of the men in the posse Brown felt the need to issue a threat.

"We gonna turn this whole spot up!" Cheese and crackers what a threat! However, were I the valet that night I'd ask for clarification as to the meaning of the threat. Because to me it sounds like someone attempting to sing a James Brown song but screwing up the lyrics. I understand blowing up a spot or turning up the volume; hell, turn up the heat for all that matter but turning up a whole spot? It causes one to ponder, question, query and ask WTF.

Furthermore, I challenge the notion that Chris Brown was attending a charity event. I believe he was at the alley to settle a score with some bowling pins. I bet he turned to his biggest bodyguard and said, "Say Rocko, hand me that bowling ball, those pins are talking smack about me. First, I'm gonna knock 'em over then I'm gonna turn this whole spot up."Ah, but to live in a world where little chorus-boy-songsters like Brown would simply don their ballet slippers and keep their issues and vocal chirps on the stage.

Let's face it the entertainer has anger issues. Before this event he got into it with one of his bodyguards. When refueling in Bermuda he kicked the Cat off the plane and left him there. And of course we all remember Brown punching his then girlfriend Rhianna in the face...repeatedly...when she stepped out of line. Oops, I suppose I should say he 'allegedly punched...' to protect myself from a possible future lawsuit from the diminutive Brown. However, if that happens I'll just say, "Fu** the lawsuit I'm gonna turn the whole lawsuit-spot up--so there!"And now with a thousand pounds of beef behind him he threatens an innocent valet parker who probably makes less per hour than the $10 he asked Brown for. The poor sap probably had no idea what was coming that night as he donned the snazzy valet-vest and headed into work.

The Solution

Chris Brown needs years of therapy. He needs to be stripped of his fame and fortune. Then he needs the court to order him to attend five semesters of a women's studies course. After this let's tag on some volunteer work and community service. Some theological study should be added and then let's top it all off with two years of yoga and meditation. Then the little entitled narcissistic uppity upstart with Napoleonic tendencies might emerge as just half of an asshole. Oh come on I'm just teasing. I'm sure that with the above reparative work Chris Brown might not be all that...bad a guy. Until then keep an eye on the headlines and stay out of his way. But me being an armchair tough-guy-blogger in full bloviation let me say this: Chris Brown you are lucky that I wasn't your valet that night because there ain't no way your security detail would have been quick enough to get to me in time!