Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday Top Ten: Whiskeys for Your Money

I like whiskey.  All whiskeys.  Be it bourbon, scotch, Irish whiskey, Canadian whiskey, or rye, I will drink it.  That said, I'm not someone who is going to spend $100 on a bottle of whiskey more than once in a blue moon (or at least not on myself).  That's why I was happy to be sent a Thrillist article entitled "The 14 Absolute Best Whiskeys for Your Money" (thanks to Gregerson for the link).  The list has bourbons, scotches, ryes, and a quinoa whiskey.  Yes, a quinoa whiskey.  I was a little disappointed that the price range goes from $23.99 to $109.99, since I was expecting a list like this to top out at maybe $50.  I was also disappointed that Old Crow didn't make the list.  After all, it is aged for 36 months and is supercheap.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Decline of Western OCivilization

Two amazing new items crossed the wire today, and it had nothing to do with what lethal injection chemical the conservative justices on the Supreme Court think is constitutionally cool.  

First, I found out that the Decline of Western Civilization documentary trilogy will be released tomorrow on DVD and Blu-Ray for the first time ever.  I have been waiting for the Decline of Western Civilization II to be released on a non-VHS format for some time now.  That's the one that focuses on the Sunset Strip in the mid to late '80s, with the infamous interview of W.A.S.P. bassist Chris Holmes sitting in a pool, wearing leather pants and a leather vest, chugging and bathing himself in vodka while his mother looked on (a portion of that clip is embedded in the article linked above).  As a hair band fan, the documentary is both awesome and bittersweet all at once.  Nonetheless, I look forward to finally owning it, as well as the other two installments, the first of which focused on the L.A. punk scene in the late '70s/early '80s and the third of which focused on L.A.'s homeless teens in the late '90s.

Speaking of Southern California, perhaps more amazing than the news of the Decline trilogy's release, I received word, via a friend via the internet, that there is going to be a musical about The OC -- which many consider to be the single greatest television drama set in Newport Beach of all-time.  It is apparently going to be a one-night only affair in L.A. on August 30.  I would have picked the auditorium at Harbor, or at least Newport Union, but L.A. is close enough.  Regardless, the article leaves us with the following questions:

1.  Are Josh Schwartz and McG going to be involved?  If so, I will start sailing to L.A. right now in my makeshift version of The Summer Breeze.

2.  Will there be original musical numbers or some of the memorable songs from the show, like Phantom Planet's "California" (the theme song), "Hallelujah," or the "Mmm Watcha Say" song featured when Marissa shot Trey (not that she needed to because Ryan Atwood cedes to no man, and he was just waiting to make his move, but then again, he didn't want to kill his own brother, so everything worked out in that respect)?

3.  How much of the musical will be devoted to Ryan's cage fighting phase?  Anything less than two hours would be a disappointment.

4.  Will that saucy little tart Taylor Townsend make an appearance with candle wax, tube socks, and the new Fiona Apple CD?

5.  Will we finally find out what happened to the child Ryan implanted in Teresa?

6.  How much of the musical will be devoted to Marissa and Alex's lesbian affair?  Anything less than three hours would be a disappointment.

7.  Will Volchok's vampire roots be explored?

8.  How much of the musical will be devoted to that floppy-haired surfer Johnny?  Anything more than nothing would be a disappointment.

9.  Will Marissa eat on stage at any point?  If so, the musical can be cast aside as a complete fabrication.

10.  Sweet Jesus, how much are tickets?!

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Three-year-old at the dinner table: "I don't like this macaroni."
Mother: "That's cauliflower."
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Friday, June 26, 2015

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Five-year-old girl upon hearing a common phrase: "That's funny. Monkeys don't even have businesses."
Eavesdropper:  GMYH

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Retro Videos of the Week: "Smokin' in the Boys Room" by Mötley Crüe and "I Wish" by Skee-Lo

Apologies for failing to post a Tuesday Top Ten yesterday.  I completely forgot.  Thanks for nothing, mescaline, you rascal!  And I'll be out of pocket tomorrow and Friday, so this will most likely be my only post of the week.  To make up for this relative dearth of posts, I will give you two Retro Videos of the Week.  

First is Mötley Crüe's cover of Brownsville Station's "Smokin' in the Boys Room."  This week marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Mötley Crüe's third studio album, Theatre of Pain.  Most fans would probably consider this the worst of the classic Crüe albums (i.e., their first five albums), but it was the album that catapulted them into superstardom.  It was their first Top 10 album (hitting #6), and "Smokin' in the Boys Room" was the band's first Top 40 hit, topping out at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The video is a classic, featuring a dog actually eating a high school kid's homework and horror film veteran Michael Berryman as the principal.  Predictably, Mötley Crüe pulls the kid into an alternate reality through a mirror in the boys room.  Surprisingly, however, there is no smoking anywhere in the video.  Make sure to watch until the end, when Berryman wiggles his ears.

Second is "I Wish" by Skee-Lo, whose debut album, also called I Wish, was released 20 years ago this week.  As a man of average stature, "I Wish" -- well, the first line and the verse about being picked last for basketball, anyway -- was a bit of an anthem for me.  Catchy as hell, the song rose to #13 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as the Top 20 in nine other countries.  Unfortunately, for Skee-Lo, he should have wished for a follow-up single, as this was his only hit.  But I think we can all agree that it's better to be a one hit wonder than a no hit wonder.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Hair Band Friday - 6/19/15

1.  "Overture" by Def Leppard

2.  "Slave To The Grind" by Skid Row

3.  "The Final Countdown" by Europe

4.  "Just Got Lucky" by Dokken

5.  "Dry County" by Bon Jovi

6.  "In The Sticks" by Warrant

7.  "Our Father" by Extreme

8.  "Once Around The Ride" by Cinderella

9.  "Everybody Wants Some" by Van Halen

10.  "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister

New Book: The Shining by Stephen King

Several weeks ago, I finished Walk This Way:  The Autobiography of Aerosmith by Aerosmith with Stephen Davis, which was a good read, especially if you like Aerosmith.  It was a first-person oral narrative by multiple people, with various band members, friends, managers, and family members chipping in his or her own words.  The book was originally written in 1997, so it obviously only goes up to that point.  That is probably for the best, since I don't need to hear about Steven Tyler's experiences as an American Idol judge.  I learned a few things. One, Aerosmith did more drugs in the '70s than anyone in the world, except maybe Keith Richards.  Two, Joe Perry's first wife, Elyssa, may have been the devil.  Three, the fact that Aerosmith came back in the mid-'80s and had as much success as they did is amazing.  In the blink of an eye, you finally see the light.

Since then, I have started (and finished most of) The Shining by Stephen King.  The Shining is my favorite horror movie, and I read the book 20+ years ago, when I was in junior high.  I had seen the movie multiple times before then, and I've seen it many times since, so it's hard not to picture Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, Shelley Duvall as Wendy (even though she is blond in the book), Danny Lloyd as Danny, and Scatman Crothers as Dick Hallorann.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Retro Video of the Week: "Like a Surgeon" by Weird Al Yankovic

Thirty years ago this week, Weird Al released his seminal third album, Dare to Be Stupid.  The album has gone on to achieve platinum status, and it spawned the enduring parody of Madonna's "Like a Virgin":  "Like a Surgeon."  The parody nearly cracked the Top 40 in 1985, topping out at #47, making it Weird Al's second-most successful single up to that point.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday Top Ten: Highlights of the Weekend

This past weekend, my lovely wife Jester and I celebrated ten years since our blood oath fulfilled the prophecy by taking a little trip to Bayou country without the kids.  Most people don't realize that about 78% of Louisiana is accessible only by fan boat.  As a result, we decided to go to one of the more urban areas in the state –- New Orleans.  Jester had never been, and I had only been as an adult as part of a bachelor party, so I had never been outside of the French Quarter, depending on whether you consider Harrah's part of the French Quarter.

Painstakingly modeled after Orleans, France, New Orleans was founded by Francophile pirates in at some unknown point between 1590 and 1950, and has since become a bit of a tourist destination, famous for its large river, bawdy women, swingin' jazz music, and free-flowin' liquor.

Jester and I had a hell of a time down there.  Here are the highlights, in chronological order.

10.  Jester has a Jester
The first thing we did after checking into our hotel was to walk down Bourbon Street and get a Jester for Jester.  I did not see any drinks named GMYH while I was there.
9.  Non-haunted apartment for rent
While walking around the first day we were there, we came across this sign for an apartment for rent.
This, of course, begs the question:  if an apartment for rent did not have this sign, should I assume that it's haunted?

8.  Muffaletta
Ahhh, the muffaletta.  Perhaps the best sandwich ever invented, the muffaletta combines Italian cold cuts and cheeses, an olive salad, and a sesame bread.  Central Grocery invented the sandwich, and we stopped there on more than one occasion during our few days in the Big Easy.

7.  Lafitte's
I have only visited New Orleans twice, but in those two visits, I think I've been to Lafitte's five times.  It's the coolest bar on Bourbon Street and potentially the coolest bar in the country.  Lit only by candles, it feels like your drinking in the 1800s –- other than the fact that there is a guy playing requests on the piano for $5 a pop.

6.  Court of Two Sisters brunch
One thing I didn't get to do last time that I wanted to do was to go to the famous jazz brunch at the Court of Two Sisters.  This time, I would not be stopped.  The courtyard is picturesque, with a huge wisteria plant in the middle, whose tentacles provide shade for most of the courtyard.  The brunch itself was awesome, with everything from traditional breakfast food to various salads to soups (turtle!) to creole dishes to fresh seafood to desserts (lots of desserts).  I was insanely full when I left.  Jester tried crawfish for the first time.  Later in the day, we went again when the courtyard was empty and had our picture taken amongst the wisteria branches.

5.  The Garden District
Saturday afternoon, we decided to take the street car to the Garden District, which an area of town with ridiculously huge and gorgeous old houses.  The first stop was the Buckner Mansion, aka Miss Robicheaux's Academy from the third season of American Horror Story.  I inquired about a position as the butler.
From there, we just walked around and admired the mansions.  Sandra Bullock's house is ridiculous.  Anne Rice's house looks like it would come right out of one of her books.  The Manning house (where Peyton, Eli, and Cooper grew up, and I think their parents still live) is surprisingly open, as opposed to many of the houses in the neighborhood with huge fences or privacy shrubbery.

4.  Seeing a former roommate at a cemetery
While in the Garden District, we stopped at the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, which is where they filmed the acid trip scene in Easy Rider.  As you may know, the cemeteries in New Orleans are above ground because of the swampiness of the ground.  I think above-ground cemeteries are creepily cool, and this one was no exception.  We were surprised to find that Hugh Grant is buried there.  I had no idea he was married with children.
Even more surprising was that I randomly ran into a former roommate that I hadn't seen in probably ten years.  Then again, this had been our plan all along.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  October 8, 2015.  Yogi's Bar and Grill.  Bloomington, Indiana.  The Hoosiers had just walloped an outmatched Illinois team, 36-13, to run their record to 4-1, and the postgame crowd in the bar was drunk on excitement (and beer), blissfully unaware that it would be the Hoosiers' last win of the season.  I ran into Byrnesie, my old roommate.  We hadn't seen each other since 2002 or 2003.  We made a pact:  if we hadn't seen each other by June 13, 2015, we would meet at 12:54 p.m. Eastern that day at the cemetery closest to wherever Sandra Bullock was living at the time.  The sad thing is that his buddy thought Byrnesie was in New Orleans for the buddy's bachelor party, and Jessie thought we were there to celebrate our tenth anniversary.  Fools.  We said our hellos, gave each other a bro hug, acted like we were surprised to see each other.  "How random is this?" I said, barely containing my sarcasm.  "I know, right?" he responded, smirking as we pulled the wool over everyone there except the thousands of corpses, who couldn't help but sense what was going on, as evidenced by their silence.  After a minute or two of talking, we both went on our respective ways, chuckling.  Until November 2022 at the Russian Orthodox church closest to where Cobie Smulders got her most recent haircut, Byrnesie.

3.  Cocktail tour
After heading back to the French Quarter from the Garden District, we decided we wanted to do a cocktail tour, which was recommended by some friends.  The tour they recommended was sold out, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the tour company we ended up using, TeachMe Tours, was fantastic.  We had two tour guides (the co-owners of the company, Mark and Angela), and aside from Jester and me, there was only one other couple, a nice and funny couple from Ontario.  Here we are.  Or are we?
The tour itself was half New Orleans history, half drinking history, which I suppose goes hand in hand with New Orleans's history anyway.  The cocktail was invented in New Orleans, and we went to a few different bars in the French Quarter to sample some of the many local favorites, including the Sazerac, Pimm's Cup, French 75, brandy milk punch, absinthe drip, and a dangerously good punch at the Court of Two Sisters called Bayou Bash.  My favorite place that we visited was Antoine's, which is one of the older bars in the city.  Anyone famous who has eaten in New Orleans has apparently eaten at Antoine's.  It has a wine cellar that's literally a block long.  But the coolest thing has to be the various private dining rooms that we got to see, including the one in the photo below, which is the private dining room for the Rex krewe (krewes are like social clubs that have events around Mardi Gras).
After the tour was over, we asked Mark and Angela if we could buy them a drink –- not because we're swingers, but because they aren't allowed to drink when they're on the job.  So, we went to another bar, Tujague's, and had a few more local favorites, including a grasshopper, a vieux carre (I'm sure I'm not spelling that right, and I'm too lazy to look it up), and something else I'm not recalling at the moment –- probably because I was drinking cocktails for several hours.  Needless to say, I highly recommend taking the tour with TeachMe.

2.  Commander's Palace
Sunday, we took it easy during the day.  For dinner, we went to Commander's Palace, which is one of the more famous restaurants in town, located in the Garden District.  A friend of a friend works there, and hooked us up.  If you know me, you know how much I hate dressing up, but I happily wore a sport coat Sunday night because the service was impeccable and the meal was excellent, from the turtle soup I had as an appetizer to the mammoth veal chop I had for dinner to the praline ice cream sundae I had for dessert (which had a personal anniversary message in chocolate).
We were both overly full. The pipe dreams we had of going out after that were quickly dashed as soon as we got back to the hotel room and realized we could just lie down and sleep.

1.  Lord Stanley's Cup
Saturday night, we watched Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals at Manning's (the sports bar, not Archie's house), where they actually had the sound on.  We booked this trip only a couple weeks ago, after the Stanley Cup schedule came out, so I purposely booked our flights home on Monday to arrive at O'Hare at 4:30, so that I would have plenty of time to get to Rocks to watch Game 6, since I was 2-0 in Blackhawks Stanley Cup Game 6s at Rocks.  If the flight landed on time, I could have been at Rocks by 6:30 at the latest, with a half hour to spare before the game started.  Papa Legba had other plans.

We departed New Orleans an hour after our scheduled 2 p.m. departure time.  After about 45 minutes in the air, the captain came on and told us that air traffic control was changing our flightpath, such that we were going to go over Memphis, then hook a left and go to Kansas City, then back to Chicago, to avoid some storms.  As the captain said, "If you look at a map, you'll see how much sense that makes."  So we did that, but then had to circle for a while because there were massive thunderstorms in Chicago.  After a while, the captain comes back on and tells us we have to land in Indianapolis to refuel.  This is not good.

We land in Indy, to find out that four other United planes have done the same thing, so we're fifth in line to refuel.  By the time we get gassed up, it's been about 45 minutes on the ground.  The captain comes on again and says there's a ground hold at O'Hare, which means that any flight going to O'Hare that has not taken off must stay on the ground.  Then he says that he won't have another update for another 45 minutes.  At this point, Jester is twitching because she's so angry.  We hadn't checked any bags -– because fuck checked bag fees –- so we made the executive decision to get off the plane, rent a car, and drive back to Chicago.  A woman and her teenage daughter overheard us and asked if they could split it.  "Yes, stranger.  Let's get the fuck off this plane and drive for three hours."  Turns out they were going to the Midwest to visit some colleges, and the mom's sister was driving down from Wisconsin, picking them up at O'Hare, and then they were all heading to South Bend to visit Notre Dame.  I withheld my hatred for ND, but this actually worked out well.  Conversation flowed easily, and they paid for half of the rental and half of the gas.  The sister met us at a Culver's in Merrillville, where I got a burger and was able to see Patrick Kane's magnificent goal to make it 2-0 with about 6 minutes left in the game.

At that point, I obviously knew I wasn't going to make it back to Chicago before the game ended, but I was at least hoping to have some celebratory drinks with my friends who were at Rocks.  I hauled ass home, and we arrived at about 10:35.  Jester had been tracking the status of our flight throughout the drive home, just so we knew whether we made the right decision or not.  It landed at O'Hare at about 9:45, but taxied for 45 minutes and didn't get to a gate until about 10:30.  We felt vindicated, if not punch drunk.

I dropped my bags off, parked the rental car on the street, and hopped in an Uber to Rocks, where I had the best tasting whiskey and beer I've ever had, in light of what it took to get there.  Cue "Chelsea Dagger."  I don't know if what the Hawks have is a dynasty, but I'll gladly take a couple more Cups to make it official.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Retro Video of the Week: "Banned in the U.S.A." by 2 Live Crew

Twenty-five years ago today, members of the rap group 2 Live Crew were arrested and charged with obscenity after a 21-and-over concert at a club in Hollywood, Florida.  I remember this vividly because it was all over the news.  

In what I couldn't believe as a 12-year-old and still can't believe now, the Broward County sheriff was able to obtain a ruling from a state court judge that probable cause existed for obscenity charges against the members of 2 Live Crew for simply playing their own music because it had sexually explicit content.  A federal judge even ruled against 2 Live Crew, holding that their album As Nasty As They Wanna Be was obscene and that it was illegal for record stores to sell it.

Eventually, the group was acquitted of the criminal charges, and the federal ruling was reversed on appeal, but it is still baffling that blatant censorship like that was allowed in the first place.  Thankfully, this is America, and the right decision was eventually reached.  As a nice side note, 2 Live Crew's album sales soared because of the controversy, and As Nasty As They Wanna Be ended up selling over 2 million copies.

With their next album, the group triumphantly made note of their trials and tribulations, calling the album Banned in the U.S.A.  Taking the riff (with permission) from Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," 2 Live Crew's title track to the album was a giant FU to everyone who attempted to censor them.  It's actually a pretty patriotic song, which I'm guessing was lost on the right-wingers in America's wang who somehow thought that their antiquated values and personal tastes in music trumped the First Amendment.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite Nicknames for My Wife

This week marks the tenth anniversary since I married this woman:
I still can't believe that's what she wore to our wedding.  Over the years since we met and since we have been married, Jessie has acquired a variety of nicknames.  Here are my ten favorites (in alphabetical order):

1.  Hihon
Once I wrote an email to her in which I meant to use the greeting "Hi hon" –- "hon" being a colloquial term of endearment, short for "honey," often used by Americans in romantic relationships to refer to their significant others.  You can imagine my chagrin when I she called me and asked why I called her "Hihon" (which she pronounced "hee-hone").  A good laugh was had by all.

2.  Hon
This is a bland one, but I needed ten, so this one edged out "Woman."

3.  Jess
I rarely call her this, but perhaps I should, since it reminds me of Trey's saucy little tart of a girlfriend from The OC.  God, I miss that show, every damn day.

4.  Jesser
This is another underutilized nickname, as I generally revert to Jester if I'm going to go call her anything that starts with "Jes."

5.  Jester
This is my go-to nickname for her.  It's short and catchy, it brings back memories of Michael Ironside's stoic performance in Top Gun, and it accurately reflects her love of headwear with tassels and bells.  Also, whenever I beat her in Indian leg wrestling, I get to yell, "Yeehaw, Jester's dead!"

6.  Jesterio the Magnificent
For most of our relationship, she has been working on sleight of hand tricks.  She'll earn this nickname one of these days.

7.  Mama
She birthed all three of my known children, and they all refer to her as "Mama."  Well, not Son.  He doesn't really speak that much, other than to say "uh oh" when he purposely throws pretty much every piece of food, cup, plate, or toy laid before him onto the floor.  If I ever call her "Mama," it's specifically with the slightly patronizing and sexually harassing tone of an AC Slater to a Jessie Spano.

8.  Pea Head
The woman has a very small head.

9.  Peach
It's a little confusing because she's not a kind of fruit that I hate, nor does she bear any resemblance to a video game princess.

10.  Pen Ganker

Back when we met, she had a penchant for stealing pens to support her mescaline habit.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Fiftysomething female after watching the movie The Help for the first time:  "That was a great movie, but it really could have used a rape scene."
Eavesdropper:  Kazda

Friday, June 05, 2015

Hair Band Friday - 6/5/15

1.  "Flying High Again" by Ozzy Osbourne

2.  "Naughty Naughty" by Vinnie Vincent Invasion

3.  "Faces in the Fire" by Loudness

4.  "Bitch is Back" by L.A. Guns

5.  "Boiler (Me Boiler 'N' Me)" by Hanoi Rocks

6.  "Just Got Lucky" by Dokken

7.  "Destroyer" by Twisted Sister

8.  "Hell Bent for Leather" by Judas Priest

9.  "Runnin' With The Devil" by Van Halen

10.  "Guilty Pleasures" by Quiet Riot

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Retro Video of the Week: "The Crying Game" by Boy George

I apologize profusely for my failure to post a Tuesday Top Ten yesterday.  Between work, feeding and caring for my three young children, bar trivia, and trapeze practice, there just weren't enough hours in the day yesterday.  When in Rome!  

But anyway, in these gender bending times, it seems like Boy George's "The Crying Game" is an appropriate Retro Video of the Week.  Until a few minutes ago, I hadn't realized that Boy George's 1992 version was a cover.  Apparently, the song was originally released in 1964 by Dave Berry (not the cartoonist -- calm down, people), and an up-and-coming guitarist named Jimmy Page provided rhythm guitar work, and then was never heard from again.  

Boy George's version was, of course, featured in the infamous film of the same name and later in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective in a scene that is an homage to the Crying Game film, after we find out that Finkle is Einhorn and Einhorn is Finkle.  The song sounds like it was produced by the Pet Shop Boys because it was.  It reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100, #22 on the UK charts, and #1 in Canada. Laces out!

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Late 30s woman to two men on escalator of office building:  "You know what the difference is between a chickpea and a lentil?" (pause) "Nobody pays $50 to have a lentil 'pea' on your face."
--Chicago, 225 N. Michigan
Eavesdropper: El Cerveza