Monday, July 31, 2006

Failed Attempt To Honor Richard Pryor

In a recent blog conversation over at "A Cup of Coffey," I weighed in with the idea of one multi-purpose "insult" for all demographics, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. My vote was for "pecker-wood," which I had previously heard uttered only by the late, great Richard Pryor.

Unfortunately, as usual, I did my research after the fact. Please see the following, courtesy of Urban Dictionary:

1. Pecker-Wood

peckerwood or peckah wood is an afro american derogatory term for a poor white.Or redneck,honkie or cracker.

Look at that flat assed peckerwood bitch.

2. Pecker-Wood

Southern blacks used "peckerwood" as a derogatory term to describe poor and/or rural Southern whites. A dictionary of African-American slang explains that the term "peckerwood" had its origins in the word "woodpecker." Blacks saw blackbirds as a symbol of themselves and the contrasting redheaded woodpecker as a representation of whites. Eventually, the word "woodpecker" was inverted to become "peckerwood" in an attempt to hide the meaning and origin of the term. Later, peckerwood came to be used in the North as well, as a general description for white people.

At some point, peckerwood evolved into a term used to describe white prison inmates. In prison slang, a peckerwood or "wood" was a white inmate who was willing to fight to avoid being raped or robbed. Over time, white inmates appropriated the term peckerwood and made it a source of pride.

Currently, the term peckerwood is used to refer both to white youths with loose ties to white power gangs in and out of prison, as well as to actual skinhead gangs who have incorporated "peckerwood" into their name. The various Peckerwood gangs appear to be concentrated largely in California, where they participate in the methamphetamine trade and have ties to other white supremacist gangs such as the Nazi Low Riders. Peckerwood gang members have been charged with a variety of crimes ranging from dealing drugs to attempted murder. Many gang members sport Peckerwood tattoos to display their affiliations.

Yo' best watch yo' self pecker-wood cause in here you da nigger

3. Pecker-Wood

A bigoted term for an individual of European descent.

"Goddamn Pecker-Woods..."

4. Pecker-Wood

a white person that is trash

fuck that pecker-wood he's white trash man.


I'm afraid the gang affiliations mentioned in #2 above sort of let the air out of the idea for me. Thus, regretfully, I withdraw my previous support for the universal application of "pecker-wood."

Pumpkin Loves Honey Bunny

Pulp Fiction begins with a robbery scene in which the character "Yolanda" (aka "Honey Bunny", played by Amanda Plummer) offers the crowd a threat that ends with "I'll execute every last motherf*ckin' one of you!"

Near the end of the film, we return to this scene, but the line is altered to end with "I'll execute every last one of you motherf*ckers!"

However, the scene is clearly being shown from a different camera angle. Am I giving Tarantino too much credit in assuming that the different angle is meant to represent the viewpoint of a different character? In the latter case, I believe it is fairly clear that we are seeing the scene through the eyes of "Jules" (Samuel L. Jackson). Thus, it is my contention that the slight alteration in the line was deliberate, an illustration of the slight differences in the perception of the same scene by different individuals.

It was too noticeable to have just been a "mistake," right?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Quickly-Assembled Visual Representation...

...just to solidify the image of what could be possible.

Please note: the heads are not to scale, and the skin color of the torsos do not match the heads. Also, I called for a "bare-knuckle brawl." These are clearly boxers wearing boxing gloves.

Anyway, I'm willing to promote the fight. Lieberman vs. Gibson, the grudge match. "This time it's personal," in my best Dr. Evil voice...

Led Zeppelin, Mel Gibson & Joe Lieberman

Click here for a brilliant (in my HUMBLE opinion) performance.

This is from 1979, and it's a live version of what might be the quintessential Led Zeppelin song, "Ten Years Gone" from the Physical Graffiti LP (1975). No, I'm not officially going on record as having picked a single favorite Zeppelin tune. But, this is up there, for sure. A few thoughts:

  1. Check out the monstrosity that John Paul Jones is playing in this video. It's a triple-necked beast (looks like a 6-string, a 12-string, and a mandolin).
  2. For all his faults, Jimmy Page could play some serious guitar.
  3. Compare the ending of the song "Black" by Pearl Jam to the ending of "Ten Years Gone". Hmmmmm.
  4. I love YouTube and the people who put stuff like this up there.

A brief recap of Mel Gibson's recent misadventure: gets drunk, drives car 87 mph in a 45 mph zone, is pulled over for DUI, resists arrest, and claims among other things, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."

Attention: Joe Lieberman, want to raise those sagging poll numbers? Challenge Mel Gibson to a fight. I'm talking about a good, old fashioned, bare-knuckle brawl. What have you got to lose?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hamdog Blues

Walking across the parking lot, I realized my mistake. The thumping sound coming from the trunk of a blue BMW was clearly audible to the old couple headed into the restaurant. I could see the perplexed looks on their faces begin to turn to the most frightened expressions I’d witnessed in quite some time, as they realized the blue BMW was my blue BMW. Completely without warning, I unleashed a vicious kick to the old man’s crotch, instantly dropping him to his knees. I flashed my .357 at his female companion, while giving her a toothy grin that clearly informed her I was too fucking crazy to be held accountable.

“Shut up, you stupid bitch!” I’m not sure what I thought I was accomplishing by screaming in the general direction of the trunk. One thing was for certain, it was time to put Decatur, Georgia in my rearview mirror. If only that god-forsaken “Hamdog” wasn’t sitting so heavily in my gut. The intestinal discomfort was already palpable, and they probably hadn’t even finished clearing my table yet. Never mind that, I thought to myself. It’s time to hit the fucking road!

Horace Greeley might’ve said, “Go West, young man.” But, what the hell did he know? He also founded the Republican Party, and we all see how well that’s panned out. So, forget his sorry, dead ass. I’m heading South and East. Florida, here I come.

“Go ahead! Thump and bump to your heart’s content!” I knew I should’ve slipped more of that shit into her drink. Leon said it would be enough, that stupid pig-fucker. Total vindication, that’s what I’m feeling about having shot that sorry son of a bitch in Atlanta. I knew he couldn’t be trusted.

I’d already worked my way over to I-95 South when it hit me like a wrench to the head. Greeley didn’t even coin that saying about going west. It was some poor bastard in Terre Haute, Indiana. He wrote it in the local newspaper there. But, Greeley stole it and published it in New York. Isn’t that always just the way? People remember who said what in New York. Not so much for the cow diddlers from Terre Haute.

Thank God for small favors. Grandma must’ve passed out again, because there’s no more of that awful thumping noise coming from the trunk. The windows are down. There’s a breeze blowing through my hair. I’ll be chugging down an umbrella drink on South Beach before I know it. I think I’ll call my new boat “The Hamdog.”

Could An Unhealthier Sandwich Exist?

I think the answer is yes. You could serve this same monstrosity, but between two Krispy Kreme doughnuts (and wash it down with a large chocolate shake). But, that said, this is certainly one unhealthy looking m*therf*cker.

Thanks to Beth for the link to this piece of culinary art.

Here's the Wikipedia entry: "The Hamdog is a hot dog wrapped in a beef patty that is deep fried, covered with bacon, chili, cheese and onions, and served on a hoagie bun topped with a fried egg. Served by Mulligan's in Decatur, Georgia, which also serves the Luther Burger, it has garnered national attention as a result of the national obesity epidemic and the South's infamous distinction as the 'Stroke Belt,'. As Nicholas Lang, a professor of surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, told an Associated Press reporter, 'If you choke [a Hamdog] down, you might as well find a heart surgeon because you are going to need one.'"

Apropos Of Nothing: Wink M.

I was just thinking that, as names of game show hosts go, it's difficult to imagine a better one than "Wink Martindale." Man, does that just reek of cheese! I mean, come on. The best part is that Martindale was always his real last name. I'm not sure exactly how Winston was shortened to "Wink." But, who cares?! Once you've got "Wink Martindale," you've got the perfect name for a game show host. Of course, I only vaguely remember him from Tic Tac Dough (1978-1985). He might very well have sucked at his job. I couldn't tell you that. Great name, though...

Two Final Guilty Pleasures

So, it's Friday of Guilty Pleasures week, and I think it's an open forum. Well, what better "guilty pleasure" than eating something that tastes good, but is horrible nutritionally?!

Look at those doughnuts being made. Mmmmmm. Each Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut has 200 calories, a full 50% of which are from its 12 grams of fat. 4 of those grams are trans fat. And, let us not overlook the 22 grams of carbohydrates, 10 of which are sugar. That’s the “guilty” aspect. The “pleasure” comes from the fact that they are melt-in-your-mouth delicious! Yummy!

Now, for a real nutritional nightmare: the Steak 'n Shake large chocolate shake. This is basically what I would imagine liquid crack to be in terms of both immediate satisfaction and addictiveness. Check out the scary stats: 859 calories…hello!!! Yes, that’s 859 calories, with 28 grams of fat, 18 of which are saturated, and (sit down and hold on) 137 grams of carbohydrates!!! The nutritional information on their website does not specify grams of sugar. But, other than the milk added to ease the blending, and the partial dairy content of the ice-cream-like “shake base”, I’m guessing it’s almost all sugar. One hundred thirty-seven grams of carbs, that’ll blow your Atkins Diet out of the water! Remember, that's just a large shake, not the rest of the meal pictured!

I think I'll have some fresh fruit and vegetables just to make up for thinking about these guilty pleasures.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Clear Distinction

Let me remind you that I have an unwavering faith that the average reader of Haahnster's Hallucinations is well above average in IQ, very good-natured, and never high on the smell of their own flatulence, although most of them find the sounds farts make to be quite hilarious.

It's all the rest of the people that are dense, prickish, self-absorbed, sadistic motherfuckers that would rather molest collies than help their own grandmothers back up to their feet after they'd fallen down.

A Question Of Friendship

I just had a random thought: 2 of my least favorite songs of the entire decade of the '70s are "You've Got a Friend" by James Taylor* and Queen's "You're My Best Friend." That sparked the thought, "Hey, I spent many years priding myself on having never watched a single episode of Friends." (I still haven't by the way. YES! I rule!)

Do you think that all means I'm not a friendly person?

I think it does. That, and the fact that I think most people are moronic cocksuckers high on the smell of their own flatulence.

Hee hee. I said "flatulence."

* Yes, I know Carole King wrote it. But, I don't remember hearing her version.

Haahnster Reads 2 Books From The '90s!

Let me begin by saying I haven’t read many books that were published after 1975. In fact, many of my favorites were published before 1955. Not trying to be snobbish, I’m just a 'classic lit' kind of guy. Dostoyevsky (I keep seeing “Dostoevsky.” But, most of my old, used paperback copies of his works have the “y” in there.) is probably my favorite author. However, I went through a really heavy Hermann Hesse phase, and an extended J.D. Salinger phase. Hell, a friend and I even hit up a couple of university libraries, digging through the periodical archives for as many of Salinger’s stories as we could find that had never been collected and republished.

I loved Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, and Nabokov’s Lolita and Pale Fire. To me, “recent” books are Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, and Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I have neither the time nor the inclination to keep up with modern literature. I still have plenty of classics left to read. However, I receive books as gifts. They are usually more recent publications than I would otherwise purchase, which is cool. Sometimes, I think they are pretty good literature (e.g., Don DeLillo, Nicholson Baker). Other times, they feel like “fluff.” But, my love for reading takes over, and I get enough enjoyment to call these books guilty pleasures. Here are two examples:

John Grisham's The Firm
This was a gift from my mother, right after it was released in paperback. It was actually Grisham's second book. But, his first, A Time to Kill, didn't sell initially. I enjoyed reading The Firm. Now, when I saw the movie...not so good. I think I can sum it up this way: I found Tom Cruise very believable as a hotshot Navy lawyer in A Few Good Men; I did not find him believable as a top-of-his-class genius in The Firm. Maybe it was just me.

Robert James Waller's The Bridges of Madison County
Once again, I received this as a gift. This time it was still in hardback, just a few weeks after it was unleashed upon the world. I've never watched the Clint Eastwood movie version, preferring not to revisit the fact that I enjoyed reading this book. I must be a romantic softy at heart (or somewhere way down deep).

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Haahnster LOVES Movies!!!

I love movies. I know I seldom blog about them. Sure, I briefly recounted my recent family-oriented trips to the new Pirates of the Caribbean installment (really liked it) and Click (liked it). I mentioned that I caught Clerks II on opening night (LOVED it!). I paid a brief homage to Shermer, Illinois (fictional hometown of the John Hughes films). And, we had a brief discussion of Oliver Stone's work. I'm not sure that any of that truly captured the Haahnster's love for watching movies (and movies on video/DVD).

But, the subject at hand is Guilty Pleasures: Movies. I'll forego the discussion of XXX hardcore porn. I haven't watched any in a long time. It's not something I'm overly comfortable risking with a 12-year-old stepdaughter in the house. "Porn"...I think we used to call it "porno" in the '80s, right? I'm not sure when that second "o" was dropped. Hey, there's a joke in there somewhere. I can just feel it. Oops. Moving on...Also, I'll forego discussion of teen flicks from my past (e.g., Porky's), which I haven't watched in too long to really remember the details.

Oh, I'll fess up to the occasional Lifetime Original on some sordid pseudo-romantic-entanglement type of tale. But, I can't think of specific examples, and that probably fits better under TV (yesterday's topic) anyway. Ditto for the old "After School Specials".

I'm also going to give short shrift to Plan 9 From Outer Space and Reefer Madness. Both of these are AMAZING viewing. But, they're so ridiculously bad as to be good, in an unintentionally comical way. [Note to self: Consider this an official reminder to seek out both of these titles on DVD, since you sold your VHS tapes 2 years ago.]

Now, for the film Roger Ebert has called "the worst of all-time," I Spit On Your Grave. This is quite possibly the most extreme exploitation film ever made. The entire plot is summed up as follows: gang rape followed by revenge. Man, is it uncomfortable viewing! There's certainly not the unintentional comedic aspect. In fact, the "slow" character is supposed to be funny, I think. Not that you'd feel comfortable laughing in this context. But, is it the worst movie ever made? C'mon, Roger. There are other ways to show your sensitivity to women's issues than declaring this the worst movie of all-time.

Oh, did I mention I've loved James Bond movies since I was a kid? Just thought I'd throw that in there. (That's his car pictured in the collage above.) However, I've not seen any since before GoldenEye. I think I have some DVD renting to do. Speaking of movies I haven't watched in years, there's always Bruce Lee. I need some of those on DVD, too. Still, I feel like I should write about something I've seen many times, and more recently.

How about this one? The Prophecy (1995), starring Christopher Walken as the Archangel Gabriel, is the story of a "second war in heaven". Elias Koteas plays a former priest-in-training turned police detective. Eric Stoltz plays the Angel Simon. Viggo Mortensen does an excellent turn as The Devil. Virginia Madsen plays a school teacher. And, both Adam Goldberg and Amanda Plummer each do amusing turns as characters on the verge of death, kept alive by Gabriel to be his assistants.

From the pseudo-intellectual storyline, shrouded in religious imagery (Dan Brown's favorite movie, perhaps?) to the somewhat cheesy special effects, everything is screaming out: "Bad Movie!" Well, except for the cast, the cast is pretty damned good. And, I'll admit, I find the story compelling, given the proper suspension of disbelief. Viggo is great (pre-Lord of the Rings movies) in an almost animalistic interpretation of Lucifer.

Bottom line: I love watching Christopher Walken! Talk about a guy who will literally do anything in any movie. Crazy. Sometimes he's ridiculously over-the-top. But, he's Christopher fucking Walken. Great. So, I'm declaring my "guilty pleasure", as related to movies, as being a love for all things Christopher Walken!!! See Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead, Joe Dirt, and Suicide Kings, for other "guilty pleasure" examples, all with Christopher Walken content.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Country Boy At The Copa???

OK, once again, let me preface this by saying that I'm not sure if I'm doing this correctly. Today's Guilty Pleasures topic is music. Well, for those of you who have been around from the beginning of Haahnster's Hallucinations, this is old news. But, for the past 10 years or so, I have been so wrapped up in work and other head-up-ass activities that I really was completely out of touch with my music collection. This was particularly the case since my previous vehicle had mysteriously lost its FM reception capability, leaving me hooked on WSCR-sports radio in Chicago. Bottom line: It's really only been this calendar year of 2006 that I've been listening to much music, rediscovering my collection. I haven't indulged in what I would deem "guilty pleasures" yet. So, let's turn back the clock...

As a child of the '70s, I'm afraid I was exposed to much more than my fair share of lame music. None could be lamer than Barry Manilow and John Denver, right? Well, I must've had a little bit of showgirl and nature-walking-soft-folk-music in me. I can remember being overcome with the drama of Barry's "Copacabana (At The Copa)" and tickled pink by John's "Thank God I'm A Country Boy". Like Mandy, I was sent away, but country roads took me home. I was exhilarated by "Looks Like We Made It" and "Sunshine On My Shoulders" made me happy.

Now, I've always been too "proud" to own any Manilow or Denver. But, I can't say I haven't been tempted to buy some for nostalgia's sake. Hey, I was a sensitive child as a 4 to 8 year old. Cut me some fuckin' slack.

As for shit I actually own, I could probably do a whole series on that. Maybe I should. I just need to dig a little deeper in the old record collection...

Monday, July 24, 2006

"You Take The Good. You Take The Bad..."

This week, HH will be joining "A Cup of Coffey" in Guilty Pleasures Week, with today's subtopic being TV. Now, we didn't really define "guilty pleasures" very clearly. So, I'm going with gut instinct here. I haven't read her post yet, but a quick glance revealed that she might be giving you a glimpse into her current viewing. For me, after years of watching nothing but Seinfeld and sporting events, my current viewing habits are >90% reruns of Law & Order (in all its incarnations), and catching an occasional The Colbert Report, when I remember to switch over from either USA or TNT.

So, let's take a look back...

I haven't seen The Facts of Life in more than a decade. It went off the air in 1988, at least 2-3 years after I'd stopped watching it anyway. To be honest, I'm not sure how often I ever saw a rerun. It might be 20 years or more now since I've seen it. However, I can sit here and say with the utmost confidence that The Facts of Life was bad television. I wish I could remember more specifics (or, maybe I don't). I'm just getting vague recollections that each episode was either blissfully unaware of any subject with any substance whatsoever, or it was all the way over to the after-school-special end of the scale: over-dramatized to the point of absurdity. But, that's not the main reason it was a guilty pleasure...

Now, looking at the picture above of the cover of a 1982 issue of TV Guide, can you guess which one of the people pictured was not the subject of multiple sexual fantasies in my private moments as a then 12-year-old? Jo the tomboy? Blair the richy-rich blonde? Mrs. Garrett the mother-figure? Tootie the nosy & bubbly black girl? Natalie the fun-loving chubby girl? That's right. You guessed it. The correct answer is "none of the above" were not the subject of multiple sexual fantasies. They were ALL good for a knuckle shuffle on Mr. Winky. Hey, when I was 12, I was pretty sure that they all wanted me in one big 5-on-1 love fest. It was greenlight-means-go on the self-abuse. I'm talking wank wank, jerk jerk, tug tug, rub-a-roo on the dipsy-do, morning, noon, and night.

I plead "victim of circumstance" here, people. If I had been born 4 or 5 years earlier, I would've turned 12 during the prime years of Charlie's Angels. Instead, I had the girls from The Facts of Life...and Mrs. Garrett...oooohhh, Mrs. Garrett...

Tomorrow's topic is music, which probably won't be as masturbatory a topic for me...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hissing Like A Cornered, Wounded Cat That Also Happens To Spit Anti-Freeze

This is a reasonably accurate visual rendering of the replacement radiator hose that was just installed on my vehicle. As an aside, it's always nice to turn a quick lunch break during a Sunday in the office into a three-hour tour (a three hour tour) of Auto Zone and your sister-in-law's driveway. Actually, the sister-in-law's driveway was a good thing, as her boyfriend and their neighbor were the guys who helped me replace the hose. Or, rather, I stood by and helped a very little bit, while they did the lion's share of the work.

Radiator hose........................................................................................ $13
Thermostat.............................................................................................. $7
18-pack of Bud Light as payment to the guys who helped you.... $12
Driving safely back to work without your vehicle's engine overheating...

Well, you know the rest.

Oh, make that, driving safely back to work on a Sunday without your vehicle's engine overheating...

Wait, make that driving safely back to work on a Sunday without your vehicle's engine overheating, so you can post about the experience only to be interrupted by a phone call from your wife stating that the basement now smells so strongly of mold that it's wafting upstairs to assault their nostrils...FUCKING PRICELESS!!!

And It's A Hard, And It's A Hard, And It's A Hard Raaaaaain's A Gonna Fall...

Friday night's downpour led directly to Saturday's pulling up of the basement carpet, removal of saturated-with-floodwater padding (aka "cushion"), and Shop-Vac'ing of standing water. With fan & dehumidifier running o'ernight, this morning saw the spreading back out of the wet (but hopefully salvageable) carpet. Now, more fan & dehumidifier while I'm in the office. Then, this evening should be the roll-the-newly-re-dried-carpet-back-up-and-mop-the-cement-underneath-with-bleach-water stage. This will be followed by more fan & dehumidifier, and ultimately by installation of replacement padding prior to getting the carpet all the way back in place. Oh, and then comes a good shampooing of the carpet. And, then, back to our flood-free existence (knock on wood) without developing any mold.

Back to work for me. Back to happier blogging for you, oh my lovelies...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Clerks II: A Series Of Reviews

Clerks II

1-word review: Hilarious!

2-word review: Fucking hilarious!

3-word review: Unbelievably fucking hilarious!

4-word review: Unbelievably fucking hilarious, man!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Coming Attractions...

Just to let you know, beginning this weekend, it's all requests, all the time* at HH!!!

1st up, I am going to Clerks II tonight at 9:30PM central time. Blog post to follow...(Thanks to JM at "Assassination Bureau" for the final bit of 'encouragement', and the handsome promo picture, complete with incorrect date.)

Then, next week, I'm joining "A Cup Of Coffey" for GUILTY PLEASURES WEEK:

Monday: TV
Tuesday: Music
Wednesday: Movies
Thursday: Books
Friday: Free-for-all

Enjoy your Friday evening.

* Haahnster reserves the right to honor only those requests he damned well pleases. Further, Haahnster may in fact wish to post on something not heretofore requested. In such cases, Haahnster will falsely claim to have received a request for such items. The opinions expressed here DO reflect those of Haahnster, unless they don't, in which case you are free to submit a kiss on this ass, baby. You are free to reproduce, retransmit or otherwise disseminate any of this shit without express written consent from Bud Selig and the other incompetent cocks at Major League Baseball. PEACE!

Haahnster's Favorite Entertainment Coincidences: The "Gimp" Connection

This guy is actor, Peter Greene. As his Wikipedia entry states, "Peter Greene should not be confused with Peter Green of the band Fleetwood Mac." This is true. It might also be helpful to say, "The Fleetwood Mac of Peter Green should not be confused with the much shittier incarnation of the band that sold a bazillion copies of an LP called Rumours." But, maybe I'm the only one who would say that.

What I did not see in Peter Greene's Wikipedia entry was any reference to what I like to call The "Gimp" Connection. It's one of my favorite coincidences in the entertainment world. I believe Peter Greene to be the only actor ever to have used the term "gimp" in two major films of the last half of the 20th century. Pretty impressive.

Pulp Fiction (1994) - Peter Greene, as "Zed", the chopper-riding, ass-raping, S&M dude, says, "Bring out the gimp."

Usual Suspects (1995) - Peter Greene, as "Redfoot", the diamond fence, says in response to being asked what to do with a bag of drugs, "Feed it to the gimp."

Stunning, isn't it? Of course, I am easily amused.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Pop Quiz: Young Actresses - Answers

The answers, from left to right*: Keira Knightley, Natalie Portman, Keira Knightley.

Yes, I admit that was a bit of deception on my part, joining the two of them together in the 2nd post. To my knowledge, that is the 1st example of deliberately fraudulent** activity in my 6+ months on Haahnster's Hallucinations. I could contain my shame no longer, which is why I am 'fessing up much sooner than I had originally planned. It's all in the name of fun, people.

Lining all 3 pictures up together...I think Keith might be on to something when he claims they are the same person. Beth reminds Haahnster that they were both in Star Wars, Episode I together. But, with that George Lucas, anything is possible.


* I suppose the answers are the same from right to left, now that I really look at them.

**The term "fraudulent" is a bit excessive, as no financial gain was attempted nor achieved by the Haahnster.

Pop Quiz: Young Actresses, 2

OK, now which one is this?

Pop Quiz: Young Actresses

Is this a picture of Keira Knightley or Natalie Portman?

Another Lyric For Your Consideration

Look, I need to get ready for work. Maybe I'll have more to post later. In the interim, consider:

"Generals gather in their masses/Just like witches at black masses" from Black Sabbath's classic "War Pigs"

Honestly, it would be difficult to envision the entire existence of Metallica, Megadeth, etc. without Black Sabbath, and I think "War Pigs" in particular. I'm not the world's foremost expert on heavy metal, but I hear "Master of Puppets" by Metallica, and I can trace it back to "War Pigs".

But, that's neither here nor there.

The subject is "Why the hell would you rhyme the same word?" Just because it has different usages/meanings doesn't mean it's not the same damned word!!! C'mon, that's just lazy.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Alice Beats The Butterfly

As the subject has morphed from ridiculously obvious to redundant to repetitious to interminably long songs, let me just state for the record:

In their originally released versions, Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" (18+ minutes) was longer than Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" (17+ minutes), man.

(I'm trying to revitalize the unnecessarily excessive use of the word "man", man.)

Caribbean Clerks Click

Just to let you know what it's like having young children...

The weekend before last, on Sunday, I took Alexis (12) for a daddy/daughter activity: we went to see the 2nd Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It was very entertaining. Depp was great, as usual. It was fun. And, the line was all the way out into the parking lot to get in to a 4:30 PM showing on a Sunday. Needless to say, I was not surprised to read that its opening weekend set box office records.

Last weekend, on Saturday evening, my mom and stepdad came over to watch Emily. My wife and I took Alexis to see Click, the Adam Sandler movie. It was funny, parts were hilarious. It got more than a bit hit-you-over-the-head-like-a-sledgehammer-y with its "message", especially during the last act.

These trips to the cinema were good things, as the first year of Emily's life hasn't been very conducive to making sure we spend enough time alone with Alexis.

But, this leads me to the impending opening of Clerks II. There's probably not a snowball's chance in H-E-doublehockeysticks that I'm going to see this in the theater. Why? Because, when would I have the time? I'd rather take the opportunities to see what Alexis wants to see. I can wait for video.

Damn. I wouldn't mind catching this one, though.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Redundancy Department of Redundancy

I'm not 100% sure whether to label these as "redundant", or merely so ridiculously obvious as to be comical. In any event, I've narrowed it down to two examples of the most redundant/too-obvious song lyrics of all time:

"Only time will tell/If we stand the test of time" from Van Halen's "Why Can't This Be Love"


"Lonely is the night/When you find yourself alone" from Billy Squier's "Lonely Is The Night"

I can't choose. Flip a coin to get the winner...

UPDATE: It's now official: the two choices above are for "most ridiculously obvious" lyrics. The "redundancy" award goes to a 3rd option, proposed by first-time HH commenter, K Lee. (Drum roll, please...)

"I want to ride my bicycle/I want to ride my bike" from Queen's "Bicycle Race" [Haahnster hangs head in shame for not thinking of that one himself!]

Top 25 Metropolitan Areas By Population

(According to July 1, 2004 U.S. Census Bureau statistics)

Remember, these are "metropolitan areas", not just the cities alone.

25. Cincinnati (2,058,221)
24. Portland (2,064,336)
23. Cleveland (2,137,073)
22. Denver (2,330,146)
21. Pittsburgh (2,401,575)
20. Tampa (2,587,967)
19. Baltimore (2,639,213)
18. St. Louis (2,764,054)
17. San Diego (2,931,714)
16. Minneapolis–St. Paul (3,116,206)
15. Seattle (3,166,828)
14. Phoenix (3,715,360)
13. Riverside (3,793,081)
12. San Francisco–Oakland (4,153,870)
11. Boston (4,424,649)
10. Detroit (4,493,165)
9. Atlanta (4,708,297)
8. Washington DC (5,139,549)
7. Houston (5,180,443)
6. Miami (5,361,723)
5. Dallas (5,700,256)
4. Philadelphia (5,800,614)
3. Chicago (9,391,515)
2. Los Angeles (12,925,330)
1. New York (18,709,802)

If you're trying to remember whether a metro area is in the Top 25, just think "places with NFL football franchises"...oops! Sorry, Los Angeles (and its neighbor, Riverside). Oh, I guess that's not true for Portland, either. Scratch that idea. In the final analysis, the only characteristic that probably holds true across the board is "places where it really sucks to drive."

Monday, July 17, 2006

Somewhere In Middle America

So, this CD shows up in the mail the other day. It's AUGUST AND EVERYTHING AFTER (1993) by Counting Crows. (Thanks, Keith! And, let this be a lesson to the faithful readers of Haahnster's Hallucinations. This is an excellent way to get your requests noticed!) I must tell you that I am enjoying this CD more than I expected I would. I mean, I liked the radio songs well enough when they were big, but had heard those tracks sooooo many times. Then, there were a couple songs that weren't as big on the radio, but that were included on their Best Of CD, which I already had. What really surprised me is how much I like the songs I'd never heard before at all.

First, I want to get this out of the way. The (self-proclaimed?) "Dean of American Rock Critics", Robert Christgau, had the following to say:
"Adam Duritz sings like the dutiful son of permissive parents I hope don't sit next to me at Woodstock. He went to good summer camps; he doesn't eat junk food; he's confused about all the right things. And he's not going away anytime soon--so starved are his peers for a show of musical emotion more learned than Mariah Carey's that some even compare him to Van Morrison, as if all sodden self-pity were the same. It doesn't end with Duritz, either--'Mr. Jones' and 'Anna Begins' might live up to the songs in them if the band conceived the tracks as music first and songs second. Folk-rockers never do. B-"

Is that an amazing case of critic-itis, or what? Let's work backwards. "B-" is not that bad a grade. Yet, the most positive thoughts I see in the text of this mini-review are that Adam Duritz is "confused about all the right things" and "more learned than Mariah Carey" (in a musical-emotion sense). Can you say, "back-handed compliments"?

I always like to quote the Geto Boys: "Fuck the motherfucking critics...we bury ya, cockroaches." (The reference to Scarface grabs me every time.)

Track list: 1. Round Here 2. Omaha 3. Mr. Jones 4. Perfect Blue Buildings 5. Anna Begins 6. Time and Time Again 7. Rain King 8. Sullivan Street 9. Ghost Train 10. Raining in Baltimore 11. A Murder of One

The tunes I knew I'd already heard (approximately) one million times each were "Round Here", "Mr. Jones" and "Rain King". Fine radio songs to be sure, although the "Sha-la-la-la-la..." of "Mr. Jones" still makes me a bit uncomfortable in its Van Morrison-iness, and I could do without the final "Yeeeaaaaaaaaaahhhhh" at the end of "Rain King". The other song that was released as a single, but was not on their Best Of, was "A Murder Of One". What a killer tune! It's the finale of the CD, and it speaks to me. Not in a scary I'm-Charlie-Manson-and-I-know-The-Beatles-are-asking-me-to-kill-people way, but rather I feel a nice emotional release. I love the chorus "All your life is such a shame, shame, shame..." I suppose I enjoy singing along with self-pity-filled lyrics almost in a making-the-sign-of-the-cross-to-ward-off-a-vampire way. Stay away, bad feelings and sorrow...

The songs "Omaha" and "Anna Begins" were not released as singles. However, they were included on their Best Of CD. "Omaha" has a sweetly haunting accordion (I think?) sound that grabs me from the inside out. Plus, I like the lyrics a lot, especially "there's an old man threading his toes through a bucket of rain", which seems to me to be an intentional nod to the Dylan title "Buckets Of Rain". And, that has to be some fairly unusual time being kept by the beat of "Anna Begins", which is a melancholy tune, to say the least ("But then I start to think about the consequences/Because I don't get no sleep in a quiet room").

"Perfect Blue Buildings" is a mellow tune. I mean mellow. I like the imagery, although the lyric "green apple sea" reminds me of an unfortunate reference to diarrhea that I've heard before, "the green apple quick steps." One of the songs I really like is "Time and Time Again" ("I wanted the ocean to cover over me/I wanna sink slowly without getting wet/Maybe someday, I won't be so lonely/And I'll walk on water every chance I get").

"Sullivan Street" is a quiet, introspective/retrospective tune with cool piano and great harmony vocals. "Ghost Train" has some nice organ and more of the creative drumming, and puts forth the assertion that "Love is a ghost train rumbling through the darkness." Perhaps the loneliest, most haunting song of them all is "Raining in Baltimore" ("I need a phone call...").

Bottom line: I think the radio hits, sprinkled throughout, are just upbeat enough to prevent full-blown depression. But, let there be no doubt, this is a melancholy album. At least, that's how it hits me. But, I think the most downtrodden songs are actually the most effective, even if "all sodden self-pity" is not the same (fucking "Dean of American Rock Critics"). Of course, I'm not from Omaha; but, I am from "somewhere in middle America."

PS - Adam Duritz wrote all the lyrics, and wrote or co-wrote all the music. Plus, he's got a pretty cool voice, "sha-la-la-la-la..." notwithstanding.

Little Emily: Sweetness, Personified

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Only Time I've Ever Memorized An Entire Chapter In Any Book

So, I finally did it. I succombed to my own curiosity (which was, admittedly, probably driven by all the hype), and read Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code. But, that's not what this post is really about. Other than two items: #1. I'll definitely wait for video/HBO to see the movie, and #2. There are some short chapters in that book. There are several that fit on one page each.

This short-chapter phenomenon reminded me of the only chapter of any book I've ever memorized in its entirety. I mean, as a younger person, I was compelled to memorize verses from The Bible. And, in school, I think I was made to memorize some quotations (the preamble to the U.S. Constitution comes to mind--or, was it the Declaration of Independence? Aww, who gives a shit, really? I'm a big fan of both.), but never an entire chapter in a book.

Oh, yeah, so back to that memorized chapter. I did it all of my own volition. It's from a great book, too. I loved it. Anyway, here it is:

My mother is a fish.

Pretty cool, huh? I still have that memorized, nearly 15 years later. Impressive, I know.

That reminds me that we had a guy in our dorm one year in college with the last name Faulkner. He was kind of a dweeb at times, which earned him a behind-his-back nickname, "Fuck-Nerd". He was generally a nice guy, though.

I saw a commercial for an upcoming movie about NASCAR starring Will Ferrell as driver "Ricky Bobby"...This baby has some tremendous comedic potential.

Oh, well. I guess I'm not in the office on a Sunday morning just to blog. Better get to work on some actual work while I'm at work...

NOON UPDATE: On a whim, and while gnawing on a McChicken sandwich that I grabbed for lunch, I found the website for the "SparkNotes" study guide for William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. Here is their "summary" of the chapter I spoke of above, "Vardaman Vardaman states that his mother is a fish." Yes, that's correct. The "summary" is longer than the original text. That kind of shit amuses me. Sorry.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

An Interesting Connection

So, the other day (actually several months ago) I found the movie What About Bob? on DVD for a really good price ($6.99 I think). Like so many other of my oh-my-goodness-that's-a-bargain purchases, I brought it home, put it on the shelf and forgot all about it. Then, last night, I finally opened and watched it. Bill Murray is great, just as I remembered.

But, there was another interesting connection to my everyday life, which includes way too much viewing of reruns of Law & Order in all its incarnations, usually on USA or TNT. Kathryn Erbe, aka Detective Eames of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, played Anna Marvin in What About Bob?

Don't remember Anna Marvin? Neither did I, but it's a relatively substantial part. She's the daughter of psychiatrist, Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss). She had long brown hair, and was meant to be in her early teens, I think. This of course meant that Erbe was actually about 25 years old at the time (1991, born in 1966).

Oh, and just in case anyone still cares about that whole Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon thing, Kathryn Erbe played the wife of Kevin Bacon's character in the movie Stir of Echoes. The world is just that small a place.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Top 10 List

Two of the things I love to do on Haahnster's Hallucinations are #1. Rip on other people's lists, and #2. publish lists of my own. In that spirit, I give you

Haahnster's Top 10 Top X Lists:

10. The Top 7
9. The Top 9
8. The Top 6
7. The Top 8
6. The Top 4
5. The Top 3
4. The Top 2
3. The Top 1
2. The Top 5
1. The Top 10

I mean, "Top 7"? C'mon, that's simply weird. "Top 9" is weird, too. But, if you're just leaving 1 spot open for others to fill in to make a "Top 10", maybe that could be cool. No, on second thought, that sucks too. "Top 6" just means you couldn't narrow it to a "Top 5", which means you are incapable of making a final decision. [Exception: A clearly stated "Top 5" with a 6th as "sixth man", "alternate", or "1st substitute" is an acceptable example of decision-making.] A "Top 8" is not as bad, especially if it is set up as an "Elite 8" play-off scenario, and worked down to an ultimate "champion". Likewise, a "Top 4" as "Final 4" scenario can be at least as good, probably even better than "Top 8".

"Top 3" saves me time, as I have to read less justification of what's on there, which frees me up sooner to get right down to ripping the list to shreds for what was omitted. "Top 2" is pretty sweet, especially when used to compare and contrast in detail exactly why #1 was #1, and #2 was only #2.

"Top 5" and "Top 10" are the ultimate list formats. "Top 5" is really good when you're in a hurry, or when the category is a bit esoteric. However, the "Top 10" rules, because there's ALWAYS argument after argument just waiting to happen upon publication of a "Top 10" list.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Debate For The Ages

This has raged on and on in my subconscious for decades now. The Addams Family vs. The Munsters. Surely, the choice is fundamentally defining of one's personality. I'm not certain I want to tip my hand just yet. Perhaps it's best to see what the commenters think first. But, I'm getting ahead of myself, aren't I?

First, some comparison inforrmation:
[A = Addams Family, M = Munsters]
First episode aired - A: Sept 18, 1964, M: Sept 24, 1964
Network - A: ABC, M: CBS
# of Episodes - A: 64, M: 70
Male Lead - A: Gomez, M: Herman
Female Lead - A: Morticia, M: Lily
Other Adult Male - A: Uncle Fester, M: Grandpa
Male Child - A: Pugsley, M: Eddie
Female Child - A: Wednesday, M: Marilyn*
Other - A: Lurch, M: Lester
A: Grandmama, M: Gilbert
A: Thing, M: Spot
A: Cousin Itt, M: Igor

* Marilyn was a niece, not a daughter.

Both of these shows are classic B&W reruns. I thought they were both hilarious at one time or another during my childhood. But...Oh, OK, I'll just come out and say it. I think The Addams Family is better. There. I said it. And, Lurch could kick Herman Munster's ass. So, take that.

Freedom Of Speech '06

"Freedom of Speech", the 2006 tour by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is underway. I've been holding my tongue (and keyboard) long enough on this one. As has been well documented, particularly in the early days of this blog, I am a HUGE fan of Neil Young. In fact, I have gained quite a few pounds over the years. But, really the "HUGE" was meant to indicate an intensity of fandom on my part.

However, I've never made any secrets about CSNY being my least favorite of the many sides of Neil. I love "Ohio" as much as the next guy. In fact, I really don't have a problem with Neil's CSNY songs. It's the other three douches I can't quite tolerate.

I'm a bit hesitant to refer to Nash as a douche. He seems like a great guy (from my outside, looking in perspective). But, his song contributions (e.g., "Our House" and "Teach Your Children") are the worst type of overly sentimental tripe. "Our House" belongs on an instant coffee commercial, and "Teach Your Children" should probably be given to Barney, the children's purple dinosaur character.

Stills, on the other hand, has written some good tunes (e.g., "For What It's Worth" with Buffalo Springfield, "Find The Cost Of Freedom", etc.). But, he's a raging prick. And, he's written some shit too. "Love The One You're With" springs to mind. Good call, Stephen. If you can't infect the one you love with an STD, infect the one you're with...

Crosby. The name itself is synonymous with pretentious bullshit in my book. "Almost Cut My Hair"??? Are you fucking serious?! That's a song?! Man, the mere existence of that song cracks me up to this day. Why not "Almost Changed My Underwear"? Or, "Almost Didn't Eat All Of The Second Large Pizza By Myself"?

I'm not saying Neil is perfect. I was honest about which albums I preferred. Granted, it was almost all of them. But...

Anyway, I'm glad Neil is playing most of his new album live (all but "America The Beautiful" at the tour opener). I'm just not sure he needs the added baggage of CSN. It's so wild looking at the setlists, which are basically a CSN greatest hits with Neil's Living With War tunes and maybe "Rockin' In The Free World" as an encore. It just underscores the degree to which Neil keeps producing new material while CSN float along.

And those ticket prices...$95 to $255 or even more...HOLY SHIT!!! I'll pass.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

OK, This Shit Needs To Stop Right Now!

I'm not even kidding. This is a true public service announcement from my heart. And, I don't want to hear shit about diversity or respect for other cultures on this one. This is WRONG by any definition of "wrong" that I can recall.

Well, OK, if the intent truly is to protect from rape, I suppose that's an admirable goal. But, this is the best they can do?!? How about a little law & order, people? Talk about blaming the victim. This is like preemptively blaming the victim. Apparently, no one in Cameroon got the memo that rape is about power more than sexuality.

We need to get our asses out of Iraq, and down to Cameroon a.s.a.p.!!! When, oh when, are we going to spend some fucking effort on the continent of Africa? I don't mean just Egypt and other Mideast bullshit. But, a bit further south in Africa, where shit like this is happening. And, don't even get me started on that "female circumcision" horseshit...

Let me sum up this way:

People of the world, STOP MUTILATING YOUR WOMEN!!!

Remembering Shermer, Illinois

Bethany: What exactly brought you to Illinois?
Jay: Some fuck named John Hughes.
Bethany: "Sixteen Candles" John Hughes?

Jay: You know him too? That fucking guy. Made this flick "Sixteen Candles" right? Not bad, it's got tits in it, but no bush. Of course Ebert over here don't give a shit about that stuff cause he's all in love with this John Hughes guy and rents every one of his movies. Fucking "Breakfast Club" all these stupid kids actually show up to detention, fucking "Weird Science" where this one chick wants to take off her gear and get down, but aw, no she don't cause it's a PG movie, and then there's "Pretty In Pink" which I can't watch with this tubby muthafucker any more, because everytime we get to the part where the red head hooks up with her dream guy, he starts sobbin' like a little eight-year-old with a skinned knee and shit. And nothing is worse than watching a fat man weep. See, all these movies take place in a small town called Shermer, in Illinois, where all the honies are top-shelf, but all the dudes are whiny pussies - except for Judd Nelson, he was fuckin' harsh - but best of all, there was no one dealin', man; then, it hits me: we could live like phat rats if we were the blunt connection in Shermer, Illinois. So we collected some money we were owed, and we caught a bus. You know what the fuck we found out when we got there? There is no Shermer in Illinois. Movies are fuckin' bullshit.

-- from Kevin Smith's Dogma (1999)

I won't get into a long, philosophical piece on growing up in the '80s with John Hughes movies. Just some trivia: "Shermer" was based on Northbrook, Illinois, a real suburb of Chicago. Northbrook was previously named Shermerville. Also, Glenbrook North High School, from which John Hughes graduated, is on Shermer Road.

Oh, and of course, a list. Gotta have a list:
Haahnster's Top 5 Movies set in Shermer, IL
5. Pretty In Pink (1986)
4. Weird Science (1985)
3. Sixteen Candles (1984)
2. The Breakfast Club (1985)
1. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Now, I'm not even sure I saw Pretty In Pink. But, "Jay" says it was in Shermer. I never saw those Home Alone flicks by John Hughes either. Were they in Shermer? Oh, shit. The Griswolds probably bought their family truckster in Shermer, before heading out to Walley World. Maybe I should revise that list...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Syd Barrett, R.I.P.

No time to write much, but I figured I'd at least pay my respects.

Article linked here.

I'm probably the one-millionth person to type this, but "Shine On, You Crazy Diamond."

Haahnster's favorite Barrett lyrics (off the top of my head):

"I've got a mouse/And he hasn't got a house/I don't know why/I call him 'Gerald'/He's getting rather old/But, he's a good mouse"

In Sight, It Must Be Right

Before we completely leave the world of "regional fast food chains," I feel obliged to type a few words about good old Steak 'n Shake. Founded in 1934 in Normal, IL, S'nS now operates more than 400 restaurants in 20 states. They are concentrated in the Midwest and Southeast. For the fiscal year ended 9/28/05, they had over $600 million in sales.

Here's the location breakdown:

Alabama (5), Arkansas (1), Florida (79), Georgia (24), Illinois (65), Indiana (67), Iowa (4), Kansas (4), Kentucky (15), Michigan (21), Mississippi (1), Missouri (56), North Carolina (8), Oklahoma (4), Ohio (61), Pennsylvania (5), South Carolina (2), Tennessee (16), and Texas (18). [Their website claims Wisconsin as well. However, they have nothing from Wisconsin set up in their locator function.]

Now, Steak 'n Shake would certainly take issue with my classification of them as "fast food." After all, they have servers to seat you, take your order, and deliver it to your table on real (breakable) plates, with drinks in glasses (not paper cups). Heck, they even give you metal knives, forks and spoons. They would call themselves "casual dining." The thing is, there's that pesky drive-thru window. And, while they are approaching Chili's, Applebee's, etc. in their pricing, their main competition is still probably McDonald's, Wendy's, and the like.

Hey, I worked there for 4 years. No matter how much we tried to emphasize the "made-to-order" aspect, people were constantly bitching about the slow service. Well, it was slow compared to McD's. But, generally, it was pretty fast compared to Applebee's. So, that told me # 1: serving people food really sucks, and # 2: the general public's perception is "presence of a drive thru = fast food". Even when the bastards came inside, sat down, had their order taken, and drinks delivered in real glasses, they still seemed to have fast food expectations. But, enough of my bitching.

The food is pretty damned good. The burgers are made from ground steak, as opposed to typical low-grade ground beef, and they are tasty. The french fries are thin & crispy little guys that are outstanding when fresh and hot. But, they lose heat quickly, so don't wait to eat 'em. They also have great chili, and tremendous hand-dipped milkshakes. Their taco salads are killer, too.

But, holy shit, have they raised prices over the last decade! Wow! They are expensive as hell, and I only go there when I have coupons. Well, except for the occasional, early morning trip to the drive-thru for a burger fix. Most locations are open 24 hours. And although breakfast is available "during breakfast hours," you can get a burger ANY time of day. Mmmmm, sounds good!

UPDATE: I stopped by a local S'nS Drive Thru for a tasty, 5:30 AM bacon cheeseburger...YUMMY!!! (To paraphrase David Spade's character in Tommy Boy, "I can actually hear my arteries clogging..."]

Monday, July 10, 2006

Stolen from "Passion Of The Dale"

Many thanks to "Passion Of The Dale" for the fine photo. The perfect slogan for work on a Monday morning.

Oops! Did I say "stolen"? In a corporate 6 Sigma culture, we refer to this as "replication."

"Stolen" sounds way too negative.

I suppose things could be worse. This could be the morning after I finished my FIFA soccer career by being red-carded for headbutting an opponent in the chest in OT of a World Cup Final my country eventually lost on penalty kicks. Man, that would suck.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Tale Of Two Georges

My favorite "W" photo yet. While the facial expression is certainly quizzical (or, perhaps, dumbassical), it is quite understated compared to others I've seen. In other words, it's far from the goofiest shot of our current U.S. President. No, I like it not for its slapstick appeal, but rather the juxtaposition of present-day George W with our 1st George W (the portrait of George Washington in the background). Oh, what a difference a George makes...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Oliver Stone and Me

If you had asked me in 1992 or 1993 to list my favorite movie directors, Oliver Stone would've been on a very short list. Of course, at that time, I was still watching JFK at least once a week. Now, I'm not here to debate the relative level of paranoia expressed by that film. Feel free to comment on that, by all means. That's just not my initial intent with this post.

Regardless of the politics of JFK, or the many liberties Stone might've taken with the "truth", it remains a landmark of film editing. The seamlessness with which we are taken from documentary footage to spot-on recreations of documentary footage to completely fictionalized scenes and back again in unpredictable order is incredible.

But, now, as I sit here in 2006, would Stone still be on my short list of favorite directors? That's what I was just pondering as I held Emily while she attempted to feed me the saltine cracker on which she was snacking. Yummy!

Here's his filmography, according to Wikipedia: Last Year in Viet Nam (1971, short), Seizure (also known as Queen of Evil, 1974), Mad Man of Martinique (1979, short), The Hand (1981), Salvador (1986), Platoon (1986), Wall Street (1987), Talk Radio (1988), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), The Doors (1991), JFK (1991), Heaven & Earth (1993), Natural Born Killers (1994), Nixon (1995), U-Turn (1997), Any Given Sunday (1999), The Day Reagan Was Shot (2001, TV) (produced only), Persona Non Grata (2003), Comandante (2003), Alexander (2004), Looking for Fidel (2004), World Trade Center (2006) (post production).

First of all, I have not seen any of his short films from the '70s. Nor have I seen The Hand or Salvador, though I've at least heard good things about the latter. I must confess that, particularly with 20 years of perspective, I find Platoon highly overrated. In fact, it might be the most egregious example of Stone's tendency to make the good guys good, bad guys bad, and leave no shades of gray whatsoever.

Wall Street suffers somewhat from that as well, but I still enjoy it. I suppose I'm just a sucker for the world of high finance, especially '80s style (Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken, etc.). I've been told that Talk Radio is among the least realistic depictions of a radio show ever filmed. However, I still enjoyed it. The thing is, though, that the film stars Eric Bogosian in an adaptation of the one-man play he co-wrote and in which he starred as well. This makes me wonder to what degree the whole package was kind of handed to Stone on a silver platter.

Born on the Fourth of July is one I should watch again. It's been a long time. My natural tendency at this moment is to lump it in with Platoon (see above). However, I'll withhold further comment until rewatching it. Then, there's The Doors, which is way more remarkable for Val Kilmer's dead-on depiction of the late Jim Morrison than for anything specifically attributable to Oliver Stone. Or, am I remembering incorrectly?

JFK is a masterpiece (see above). I've never seen Heaven & Earth, as I was too busy rewatching JFK on video to even note its release. I'm recalling Natural Born Killers as a complete f*cking mess, but it's been a loooong time. Plus, I'm sure my view is colored by the fact that I had jumped on the Quentin Tarantino bandwagon by then, and heard about the ugliness with him demanding to have his screenwriting credit removed from Stone's film.

Nixon has its faults, to be certain. I'd say the positive outweighs the negative. But, it still languishes as somewhat of a lesser cousin to JFK. Then, we have U Turn, which despite a stellar cast, is a fairly standard collection of plot twists. Any Given Sunday is among my least favorite sports movies ever. Hey, let's face it, sports movies almost never capture the true essence of the sport in question, and thus suffer as dramas and/or action movies. The vast majority of my favorite sports movies are comedies, with the two notable exceptions of Hoosiers and Remember The Titans. (Oh, and there's Hoop Dreams, but that's a documentary.) Not to be a pig, but I'd have rather seen Cameron Diaz go all sprawled-out-horny in front of the gargantuan bare cocks she virtually ignores during her locker room tirade. (Note to self: give serious consideration to deleting that last sentence.)

I have seen nothing of Oliver Stone's 2000s catalog. I meant to watch Alexander "on-demand", but missed the end date.

So, as the dust settles, I'm left with one of my all-time favorite films (JFK), another I really like (Wall Street), a couple I like OK but am not sure Stone is the key creative force behind (Talk Radio, The Doors), a couple I need to check out again (Born on the Fourth of July and Natural Born Killers), and several others that range from moderately good to complete shit.

I'm not sure Oliver Stone is exactly closing in on Stanley Kubrick's rear view mirror, so to speak. Love that JFK, though...

The Evidence Is Circumstantial, At Best

OK, I've had enough of this shit!!! I just read it again this morning. People toss out the term "circumstantial evidence" as if it inherently implies the evidence in question is of the approximate value of a politician's campaign promises (e.g., "No New taxes, " or "I'm a unifier, not a divider").

Here are examples of evidence that are inherently considered to rise above the tag "circumstantial": a confession by the perpetrator (e.g., "I did it"), and eyewitness testimony (e.g., "I saw him do it"). Did I miss any?

On the other hand, here are examples of "circumstantial evidence": the defendant's DNA was found at the crime scene; the defendant's fingerprints were on the murder weapon; that murder weapon was found hidden in a locked room in the back corner of the basement of the defendant's home; the coroner estimated time of death between 9:15 and 9:45 PM and the defendant was stopped for a traffic violation 6 blocks from the murder scene at 10:03 PM and had the victim's wedding ring in his pocket; etc.

Look, I'm no attorney. But, don't even get me started on the "accuracy" of eyewitness testimony, especially as compared to that of DNA testing. And, the fact remains that in many, many cases, there is no reliable eyewitness testimony, and there is no confession. In such cases, the only option is "circumstantial evidence." Deal with it.

Rant over.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Home Of The Deep-Fried Taco

OK, I understand the resistance to White Castle. It doesn't always agree with me either (not that I can be stopped from eating "slyders" while intoxicated). And, I can certainly see that Krystal offers a viable (superior, according to some commenters) alternative in the South. But, before we read too much into California having no White Castles, let us not forget JACK IN THE BOX.

These guys are all over Cali, including Berkeley, San Francisco and the mighty Oak-town (Too $hort in tha houuuse, what up do'?!). In fact, here's the breakdown:
Arizona (157), California (892), Hawaii (28), Idaho (25), Illinois (14), Louisiana (20), Missouri (53), Nevada (69), New Mexico (2), North Carolina (28), Oklahoma (3), Oregon (44), South Carolina (22), Tennessee (27), Texas (547), Utah (2), and Washington (129).

Eight Hundred Ninety-Two in California!!! Sorry to my friends in the South and on the East Coast (other than the Carolinas), you are not well represented here. Chicago is out of luck as well. Those Illinois locations are suburban St. Louis.

"Jack" has some decent burgers (for a fast food chain). But, my favorite menu item is their Regular Beef Taco. Let me tell you, there's little that's "regular" about them. They are assembled much like an average taco, but then dropped in a fryer of hot grease...for that extra bit of wholesome goodness!!! [Haahnster suddenly misses St. Louis...AGAIN]

Man, I could eat 10 or 12 of those bad boys right now, drunk or sober. They used to come 2 for $1. I'm not sure now, though. Oh, man.

Ooops, almost forgot the history. They began in 1951 in San Diego, CA, and now have more than 2,000 locations. Also, they're publicly traded, so I can see Sales info. In 2005, they had revenues of more than $2.5 billion. Yes, that's billion with a "b".

Hey, can someone pick me up some Jack in the Box tacos, pleeeeeeeease?!!!

1-800-THE-CRAV(E) For Your Lunch Considerations

Many of you might not know this, but I'm a huge fan of The Beastie Boys. Now, I just saw on the Wikipedia entry for WHITE CASTLE, under "See also", this nugget: “Hip hop music group The Beastie Boys, whose mentions of White Castle on six of thirteen tracks of their 1986 multi-platinum Licensed to Ill album, gave widespread exposure to the restaurant chain.”

I'm straining my brain, and I can only come up with 5 songs:

1. “The New Style” (“I chill at White Castle 'cause it's the best”); 2. “Slow Ride” (“We went to White Castle and we got thrown out”); 3. “Girls” (“From White Castle to the Nile”); 4. “Hold It Now, Hit It” (“I got the ladies of the '80s from here to White Castle”); 5. “Slow And Low” (“White Castle fries only come in one size”). What am I missing here?

Anyway, the "slyder" pictured above (sometimes known as a "belly bomber"--but, not by company representatives!) is among the best drunk foods in history. I have occasionally been known to eat them by the light of day, as well. But, late night after many beers...forget about it!!!

Contrary to the misinformation spouted by many New Yorkers (likely the result of Travolta & pals eating White Castle in Saturday Night Fever, as well as the aforementioned Licensed to Ill references), White Castle did not originate in NYC. In fact, it began in Wichita, KS in 1921. However, White Castle no longer operates in Kansas at all. Many folks find their food so disagreeable (read: indigestible) that they require a large metropolitan area to sustain their existence.

In fact these are the Metro Areas in which they operate:
Chicago (76), Cincinnati (46), Columbus (24), Detroit (47), Indianapolis (38), Louisville (26), Minneapolis (17), Nashville (11), New Jersey (23), New York (48), Cleveland/Akron (7), and St. Louis (35). That's over 380 locations, mainly in the northern & eastern portions of the Midwest.

Live in the South, or on the West Coast? Or, just live in a rural area nowhere near the above locations? Never fear, White Castle now sells a frozen version of their product. I'm not sure I'd recommend it. But, I've never had it out of the freezer, so I won't discouarge it either.

Oh, as a footnote, "White Castle fries only come in one size" was accurate when originally uttered by the Beasties. However, I know they now offer multiple sizes, at least in the Chicagoland area.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Scattered, Smothered and Covered

Marni and Beth have provided some inspiration in their comments on my Cosmo's Factory post. So, here begins another semi-regular series on HH: regional restaurant chains. No, make that regional fast food chains. The first entry: Waffle House.

Now, I'll be the first to admit my experience with actually eating at these places is limited, to say the least. However, I've driven by many of them on trips to Texas, Louisiana, and especially Florida. As Beth has reminded me, Waffle House is known to have two restaurants across an interstate exit from each other! Keep the driving directions simple!!!

Sorry, it's been 10 years or more, and even then, it was only a few times. So, I really can't talk much about the food. But, here are some facts from their website:

The Waffle House chain began with a small restaurant in Avondale Estates, GA, a suburb of Atlanta. This was opened in 1955. There are now more than 1,500 Waffle Houses. In fact, I did a quick study using the "Restaurant Locator" on their site, and it breaks down like this:

Alabama: 111, Arizona: 37, Colorado: 13, Delaware: 2, Florida: 150, Georgia: 376, Illinois: 2, Indiana: 14, Kansas: 5, Kentucky: 60, Louisiana: 54, Maryland: 11, Missouri: 38, Mississippi: 60, North Carolina: 119, New Mexico: 2, Ohio: 57, Oklahoma: 18, Pennsylvania: 11, South Carolina: 124, Tennessee: 107, Texas: 99, Virginia: 44, and West Virginia: 4.

I can personally attest to the fact that both the Waffle Houses in my home state of Illinois are located in suburban St. Louis. There are no Waffle Houses in Chicago! As you can see, they are concentrated in the South, and especially in the Southeast.

UPDATE: Link to the "Fun Facts" sheet on the Waffle House website!

Coming soon: White Castle, Steak 'n Shake, Jack in the Box, and Chick-Fil-A!!!!

"Let's Drink To F*ckin'!!!"

Sorry, but I need to get this one out of my system. Warning: major f-bomb alert!!!

As I believe I have mentioned on this very blog in an earlier post, I recently received the Blue Velvet DVD that I had ordered from I had a chance to watch it on Monday of this week. What an amazing portrait of a truly sinister and psychotic individual: "Frank Booth". This one's from memory, so might be a few words off, but here it goes: "I'll send you a love letter straight from my heart, fucker. You know what a love letter is? It's a bullet from a fuckin' gun, fucker. You get a love letter from me, and you're fucked forever!"

Other favorite Frank lines:
  • "Suave, goddam, you are one suave fucker."
  • "I'll fuck anything that moves!!!"
  • "Shit, man, how the shit are ya?"
  • "I'm good. I'm real fuckin' good."
  • "You're outta the car, fuck!"
  • "Heineken?! Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!!!"
  • "No, I want you to fuck it! Shit, yes, Raymond, pour the fuckin' beer!"

Now, I still give the nod to R. Lee Ermey's drill sgt character in Full Metal Jacket for best weaving of profane tapestries in movie history. But, Dennis Hopper's Frank Booth deserves special mention for his consistent and heavy reliance on the good, old-fashioned f-bomb.

Thanks. I feel better already!

Zimmy's Civil War Booty Call

At long last, my eagerly anticipated review of Bob Dylan's "LOVE AND THEFT" (2001). First of all, there's the quotation marks in the album title: Why? Answer: Who the hell knows? It's Bob Dylan, for chrissakes. Next up is the pencil-thin porno 'stache o'er Bob's upper lip (It's even more prominently featured on the back cover, but the picture here gives you a glimpse). Again, who is Haahnster to judge these things? Most importantly, there's the release date of this album: September 11, 2001. It's called a coincidence, people! So, in addition to not looking for hidden meaning in the quotation marks or the cheesy moustache, I'm not going to get all revisionist/conspiracy theorist with the lyrical analysis either. I'm a huge Bob fan, to be sure. But, I'm pretty certain he didn't address the terrorist attacks on 9/11 in these songs. Remember, we must distinguish between when these were released and when they were written/recorded. Sorry for all the hot air, as most of the above is common sense to most of you, I'm certain. 'Nuff said.

"Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum" (4:46) is a steady little shuffle with some fairly stinging guitar ("They're like babies sittin' on a woman's knee/Tweedle-dee Dum and Tweedle-dee Dee"). It's a nice enough opener, with a retro feel.

"Mississippi" (5:21) - Now, this is an instant Dylan classic, IMHO. True, his voice is more of a gutteral growl than that patented Dylan voice of yesteryear. But, man, this song is just a catchy mother of a tune. Certainly, it couldn't be anyone but Zimmy himself! ("All my powers of expression and thoughts so sublime/Could never do you justice in reason or rhyme/Only one thing I did wrong/Stayed in Mississippi a day too long")

"Summer Days" (4:52) is rockabilly, through and through. This could've been a Bill Haley tune (and, who knows, maybe it is!). One relatively minor complaint: "She says, 'You can't repeat the past.' I say, 'You can't? What do you mean, you can't? Of course you can.'" strike me as being among Dylan's most awkward lyrics ever. (Wikipedia says it's an obvious reference to The Great Gatsby. But, the quote from the book is far less awkward.)

"Bye And Bye" (3:16) - Now, this is more akin to a Dixieland tune...kind of a leisurely shuffle of a song. In fact, Dylan sings "Well, I'm scufflin' and I'm shufflin...'". But, I prefer the line "Well the future for me is already a thing of the past".

"Lonesome Day Blues" (6:05) - The drums kick in much more solidly here, and with some beefier guitar. As the title suggests, this is a bluesy arrangement, with Dylan's vocals approximating John Lee Hooker gargling with sandpaper. And, I don't mean that in a bad way, necessarily. I'm just attempting to express the degree to which Bob's voice has changed (For the record, I never heard 1997's Time Out Of Mind either. Perhaps his voice was already this way then, too...). It works for me. Others might not be convinced.

"Floater (Too Much To Ask)" (4:59) - OK, now this f*cker sounds like it dropped in from a lost episode of The Lawrence Welk Show. Or, as the "Schmenge Brothers" used to say on SCTV, "Let's a-polka!" This is a song that has yet to really grab me. I'll pass on the temptation to take advantage of the title word "floater".

"High Water (For Charley Patton)" (4:04) - The acoustic guitar/banjo combo, coupled with Dylan's eerie vocal delivery create a haunting mood. This is like goth-bluegrass, if that's even possible. The lyrics namedrop Big Joe Turner, George Lewis (unless it's this George Lewis), "Bertha Mason" (fictional character from Jane Eyre), and Charles Darwin. And, the line "I believe I'll dust my broom" is a nice homage to Elmore James. This is a keeper for sure!

"Moonlight" (3:23) - Another slow, mellow shuffle ("The clouds are turnin' crimson/The leaves fall from the limbs an'/The branches cast their shadows over stone/Won't you meet me out in the moonlight alone?") Any longer, and this one could easily become boring. But, I think the 3:23 running time avoids that trap.

"Honest With Me" (5:49) is a faster-paced, heavier rocker ("Well, my parents they warned me not to waste my years/And I still got their advice oozing out of my ears"). See, I like the way Bob keeps most of the slower tunes shorter, and extends the upbeat tunes. The reverse might've been deadly.

"Po' Boy" (3:05) is a country-rock/acoustic blues ballad, with a little Dylan wryness ("Time and love has branded me with its claws/Had to go to Florida, dodgin' them Georgia laws/Poor boy, in the hotel called the Palace of Gloom/Calls down to room service, says, 'Send up a room'").

"Cry A While" (5:05) - Electric blues returns here ("Last night 'cross the alley there was a pounding on the walls/It must have been Don Pasquale makin' a two a.m. booty call"). So, there you have it: Bob Dylan using the term "booty call". I'll admit I have mixed feelings about that, myself. Of course, it's used in reference to a 19th century opera character, which I believe is called "irony".

"Sugar Baby" (6:40) is as classic Dylan as classic Dylan gets. A haunting, meandering tune, the chorus of which includes "Sugar Baby, get on down the road/You ain't got no brains no how". I find this reminiscent of "You're an idiot, babe/It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe" from "Idiot Wind". Man, this is a killer song. I love it! The $6.99 I paid (Used CD bins rock!) for this CD would've been worth it for this song alone, at least for a Bob freak like the Haahnster.

Dylan wrote all the songs, and produced the album under the pseudonym "Jack Frost". The musical line-up was a highly adaptable group, and had grown to be a fairly tight unit by the time of this recording: Bob Dylan - vocals, guitar, piano; Larry Campbell - guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin; Charlie Sexton - guitar; Tony Garnier - bass; Augie Meyers - accordion, Hammond B3 & Vox organs; David Kemper - drums. (Clay Meyers - bongos on tracks 1 & 9.)

All in all, I think Dylan pays his respects to most of his musical roots while still crafting an enjoyable set of songs. Stylistically, it's all over the map. But, most of it works for me (Of course, I love a good change of pace). RS says it's #467 of all time. OK.

Shit, I forgot to tie in the "Civil War" part of the title to this post. Umm, there are several Civil War references in the lyrics. Sorry for being too lazy to go back and cite them.