Archive for November, 2009


thingA  few weeks ago, I was able to sneak into the Breeders’ Cup (horse racing) press party at L.A. live.  It was a pretty nice set up.  Free food, free cocktails and a shitty band.  Why would I list a shitty band amongst all the good stuff?  Because a shitty band has the potential to become transcendently shitty.  Transcendently shitty = unintentional comedy gold.

So after a couple cocktails, I made my way outside as the band was taking the stage.  Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for… Band From TV.  Never heard of them?  I hadn’t either.  Apparently, they’re a band comprised solely of television stars.  Matt Parkman (Heroes) on drums, Dr. Chase (House) on the rock fiddle, some dude from Desperate Housewives on guitar, Bob from the Bachelorette on lead vocals and I think ALF was on bass.  They managed to pull off a couple of decent covers, but mainly dedicated their time to butchering songs from current artists and a few classics.   On a scale of excellent to shitty, I would say they were crappy and I was starting to get bored.  Then something magical happened.   

Parkman announced that earlier in the day, via twitter,  he had invited a friend to help and that friend was about to take over on vocals. Ladies and Gentleman… The Commish aka The Thing.  That’s right, Michael Chiklis.  He started with a horrible Beatles cover and then proceeded to engage in some of the worst crowd banter I’ve ever seen/heard.  It was just uncomfortable.  He rambled for a little bit about horses, then he told us how his hometown Boston crowds get more involved at concerts, that they really know how to rock.  That’s when he threw down the gauntlet and dared the L.A. crowd to rock as hard as they could.  The crowd rose with fists in the air, ready to explode just as Band From TV launched into… Mustang Sally.  Really Commish?  I wasn’t expecting Metallica or Rage Against the Machine, but you have to come with more than Mustang Sally if you are going to play the rock card.  Why not The Sounds of Silence or The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald? 

When they finished the song, Chiklis left the stage.  That was his big finale.  I replayed the whole thing in my head.  Was he serious?  I’m pretty sure he was.  He honestly believed he was going to melt our faces with the raw power of Mustang Sally.  Pure unintentional comedy gold.  Pretty spectacular evening.

New Feature for the Lazy

For those of you who would love to read our blog, but don’t wish to waste time typing an extra 13 characters getting here, we’re proud to introduce our alternative route to our musings. will bring you to our lovely slice of the web as effectively as  Of course, I know some of you old schoolers will type out the entire thing.  However you get here, just make sure you do!

Yo tengo…skills

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or Another Nearby City in a Differeny County Altogether

I minored in Spanish back in college, and while my skills have drastically deteriorated, I can still whip it out in times of need.  (Hey now!)  That said, it’s difficult for me to know when to switch from English to Spanish. If I’m talking to someone whose primary tongue is Spanish and I can tell that s/he is struggling a little bit in English, I’m tempted to jump in right away.  However, that’s saying, “My broken Spanish is better than your broken English.”  What if they disagree with that assessment?  Also, I don’t always have the right vocabulary to take the conversation into Spanish and end up saying things like, “No hay que cambiar las horas de los…sprinklers.” 

I ran into an interesting situation along these same lines recently.  I had a plumber come out because of some fun and exciting clog action, and his assistant clearly didn’t speak English at all.  They were here for a little while, and I felt rude not really acknowledging the second guy, especially since I had the skill-set to do so.  I wanted to break the ice somehow, and I thought I saw the perfect opening.  He was wearing an Anaheim Angels baseball hat (I refuse to call them by their correct, stupid-ass dual-city name).  The Angels had just recently been eliminated from the playoffs, so I could lament that fact with him.  Before I started speaking, I thought about what I was going to say in my head and ran into a problem.  You see, “The Angels” in Spanish is “Los Angeles.”  Unless I specified, “The baseball team called The Angels” (which would’ve been mighty awkward), any sentence I said would have sounded like, “I’m sorry about Los Angeles losing this year.”  Oh sure, I could’ve pointed to his hat while I said it, but this was quickly becoming much more than acknowledging his presence.  So in the end, I just said, “Thank you” in English when he was leaving, which I’m pretty sure he understood.  Whew, I knew those upper-division 17th Century Spanish Lit courses would come in handy someday.

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Zagat in the Hat

Like my big bro, P-dawg, I consider myself something of a language enthusiast. I get irritated when people use “I” when they should use “me” and I get unduly miffed by a comma splice. Generally, when it comes to pronunciation, I’m a little more lax because I know that language is fluctuating tool of communication and pronunciation changes faster than spelling, and I like to make allowances for regional dialects because I find most regional dialects charming. Also, to be honest, I can be a little inconsistent when it comes to pronunciation. For example, I usually refer to a group of islands southeast of the United States as the cuh-RIB-ee-an, but when referring to the Disneyland ride or trio of increasingly unbearable Johnny Depp films, I always say Pirates of the CARE-uh-BE-an.  I tend to alternate between AH-pricot and AY-pricot as my mood dictates, and didn’t know plebeian was pronounced pluh-BE-an until I was 25. So I’m really in no place to judge. Not that that ever stops me.

Until just a few months ago, I thought that the famous restaurant guide was pronounced ZAH-git. However, my friend Maria, who teaches 4th grade at an expensive private Jewish school on the Upper West Side (you might asking yourself what kind of Jew is named Maria. The Mexican Catholic kind.) said she overheard two of her students arguing and went over to see what the fight was about and arrived just in time to see one nine-year-old tell another, “it’s not ZAH-git, it’s zuh-GAT!” She used to teach school in inner-city Oakland and said that while the students there fought a good deal, it was never over the correct pronunciation of a restaurant guide.

Anyhoo, I found that story super charming and have told it to many people, many of whom had also wondered how to correctly say that family’s name. One such person though, insists that the correct way to say it is ZAY-gotts, which I think is just rubbish. Whether he truly believes in his position or is just sticking to it to annoy me, I cannot be sure, but this little debate lead to me doing some pretty extensive internet research which turned up the following helpful pronunciation guides.

From Foodaholics blog:

How to pronounce “Zagat”

Okay. So I am a nut, I admit it. Before moving to Boston I pronounced Zagat as in Zagat Survey, as ZA-git (rhymes with maggot). After hanging around Stephen and his pals, I got into the habit of accepting the pronounciation, za-GHAT (the gat rhyming with not).

But to settle things once and for all I have just visited to find the key to pronouncing the silly name.

za-GAT’ – rhymes with “the cat”


Apologies for our slow start this morning; the web servers that host our little cocktail party are, as our father would say, a bit tiddly today. As we regroup, Eater offers this morsel from a reader, per our post last week about the correct pronunciation of the Guidebook First Family:

before i went to work there, someone told me this way to remember how to pronounce the family name. it’s so moving that i’ve never forgotten it:he’s big, he’s fat
it’s warm where he sat
that’s tim zagat.

While the second example is not terribly flattering to Mr. Zagat, I feel confident that my 4th grader delivered knowledge is correct and you should too. If you are embroiled in any word-related debates holla at a Bratty Kid Sister at

I’ve got Next

Green DayI enjoy many small pleasures in life, and I’d like to share one of them with you.  I’ll call it “Next Knowledge,” because it’s cool to have an alliterative name that doesn’t look alliterative.  Don’t you agree, Tony the Pterodactyl?  Next Knowledge is the term I’m using to define the mental leap one’s mind takes to the next item in a logical sequence.  What the hell am I talking about?  I’ll try to illustrate via examples from two forms of media:
First, when an episode of The Simpsons ends, I know I’m going to see a couple-second thing for the production company called Gracie Films.  It starts with the silhouette of a kid going, “Shh,” then it zooms into the screen and says the company name.  With Next Knowledge, my mind is ready for the music from Fox that immediately follows.  It knows it’s going to be there right after the black screen that says, “In Association With.”  I haven’t watched The Simpsons for years and yet I can quite clearly hear both ditties in my head, spaced out correctly.  You may have found yourself saying, “You stinka!” along with David E. Kelley shows or, “That’s some bad hat, Harry” after the show “House.”  My earliest memory of this is from right after episodes of “Family Ties.”  Some of you may already be nodding in agreement.  “Sit Ubu sit, good dog.  Woof!” always immediately followed.  It was a nice capper to the show, and my mind automatically went there every time.
Second, and the way this is most common in my life, has to do with music.  One song ends, and I’m ready with the word, guitar riff, or drumbeat that starts the next one on that cd.  For the rest of my life, I will never hear the end of “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” by the Beatles without the beginning of “I Will” immediately starting in my head.  The same can be said for countless songs – hundreds probably – which always makes it a little awkward when I hear the song on the radio or some other stand-alone situation.  If I’m singing along to Green Day’s “American Idiot” and not paying much attention, you better believe I’m gonna start nodding my head to the opening pounding notes of “Jesus of Suburbia,” whether it’s actually playing there or not.
I thought of this and decided to write about it because I found a small problem with how strong my Next Knowledge is in the music field.  I was listening to a playlist on iTunes at work, and I paused it right after a song ended so that I could go to the bathroom and not miss the next song that I really like.  About two minutes later, I walked back into the office and said hi to a co-worker before heading back to my desk.  During that time, my head had continued the playlist and I’d just “heard” that entire next song.  So when I sat down and hit the spacebar to restart playing the music, I didn’t feel like listening to that song anymore since it would essentially be like hitting repeat on something that just played.  My Next Knowledge made the real experience superfluous and therefore unnecessary.  
I can’t be alone in this, right?  How strong are your senses of Next Knowledge?  Do you feel a second of unsettledness when the song that should follow the one you just heard doesn’t come on next?  Let me know if this is fairly common or just another one of my Silly Psychoses.

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Surprise Box


Surprise Box

My parents have lived in the same house for almost 25 years.  Recently, a couple who has been in the neighborhood even longer, decided to move back east to be closer to family.  I wouldn’t say that my parents were ever particularly close with this couple, but they were always very pleasant with one another.  Good Neighbors. 

A few days ago my parents had gone out to run some errands while a moving crew was loading up the neighbors’ belongings.   When they returned home an hour later, the departing couple was standing in the middle of the street, apparently waiting for my parents to say good-bye.  During the conversation, the husband produced a beaten up shoe box.  He explained that he had been going through the attic and found this box which had probably been sitting up there for 20 plus years.   He said he had no use for its contents and my parents were welcome to it they were interested.

The person who comes closest to guessing the actual contents of the box will win a prize.  Well, there won’t really be a prize, but I’ll think you’re pretty cool(Please don’t guess if you know the answer because you’ve already heard the story).  Answers must be submitted by December 7, 2009.  I’ll post the winner soon thereafter.  Enjoy.

Mike Honcho

Best Website Ever

No, not us.  Humans, welcome to our blog. Why not start it off by recommending you visit a different site?  Don’t fret, this one is defunct.  Choosing my favorite site on the interwebs is an impossible task, there’s such range. But was definitely a top contender. The comic geniuses who wrote for that site were among today’s best. Unfortunately, they sold out, and now all that remains is a shell of their witty style which pitches psuedo Cliff’s Notes for Barnes and Noble’s.

Before they were acquired by iturf, and then later B&N, they were famous for their irreverent online tests (some of which still exist in their original form here, although most were emasculated after the buy-out.  Try the gender test which is amazingly accurate at guessing your gender) and their “Science Projects” which included the Stinky Feet Diaries, the Date My Sister Project, Stinky Meat, etc. Thank God for the Wayback Machine (another best of the web contender) for keeping these classics alive after they were shoved aside for commerce.  Be patient, sometimes it takes a moment to load pages.

Lest I forget, they were also famous for their online cards, whose humor sums up that of the site

So crappy that things this good always get shafted. I’d think there’d be a market for a site as well written as TheSpark. I’d have paid for a membership. I miss you,

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Seeking attention

Happy BirthdayFacebook told me to “poke” my dad.  I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in California.

I have a larger problem with the terminology than the actual suggestion.  Who decided that “poke” was an acceptable way to get someone’s attention online?  In real life, poking someone is either rude or sexual, and yet Facebook wants it simply to mean, “Say hello to.”  That’s too big a leap for me.  And yet, it’s not as disturbing as when a gentleman with whom I work occasionally told me that he was going to tickle somebody.  I don’t know if you’ve heard this too, but I was certainly taken aback by it.  He used it essentially in the Facebook “poke” sense, saying that he needed to get back in touch with someone after a brief period of silence.  “I’ll make a note to tickle him later,” he said.  “As punishment for not returning an email?” I thought to myself.  Over the course of the next year, I heard this same person say that he’d tickle three or four other people.  Additionally, a completely different person said the he’d put something in his “tickle file.”  I don’t know if this term is generally accepted by millions of people and I just somehow didn’t get the memo, but I neither like it nor plan on ever hearing it without immediately judging the speaker.

Getting back to the word “poke,” I’m reminded of an article I saw online earlier this year: “What’s the Most Heartbreaking Song of All Time?” asked Entertainment Weekly’s site.  It’s not really an article as much as posing the question to the site’s readers, but the author says that a friend of his finds “Poke” by Frightened Rabbit at the top of her list of sad songs.  I know this song and agree that it’s particularly painful, but I doubt it would’ve come to mind.  In any case, there are 60 pages of comments by readers who list their own responses to the titular question.  Not 60 comments, but 60 pages full of them.

After reading through three or four of them and seeing the same types of comments over and over again (Song X is the saddest!  It always makes me cry – just look at these lyrics!), I saw an opportunity to add a little humor to the discussion.  “What’s the least heartbreaking song of all time?” I asked myself.  I thought about “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” but it was a little too on the nose for what I was trying to achieve.  “Happy Birthday” came to mind next, but I have a feeling some people actually find that song sad because it means that they’re aging.  So instead, I wrote the following:

“I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred makes me tear up every time. Can you imagine the inner torment of being too sexy for your shirt? How about Japan? Doing turns on the catwalk of life in front of way less sexy people…it must be hell on Earth. Great, now I’m crying again.

I meant to go back later to the site later to see if anyone either called me “funny,” “a jerk,”  or anything in between but I forgot.  I guess I’ll have to put that in my fondle file.

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