July 29, 2005

Salad Toppings

Salads are…well, they’re not steak. But they can be better with the right ingredients. Everyone has his or her own tastes in what makes a good salad. For example, when I asked Taisie this question, she responsed with “onions” and “cillantro.” But with all due respect to her, that’s crazy.

There is a hierarchy of salad toppings, and here it is:

THE TOP TEN ITEMS YOU CAN PUT ON YOUR SALAD

#10 CARROTS – You don’t just have to have them diced. You can also try shaved; a great change-up.

#9 APPLES – It’s a fairly useless fruit, but cut them up and your salad is doin’ the Happy Dance.

#8 SUNFLOWER SEEDS – What salad wouldn’t be improved by a few of these crunchy little morsels? No salad I’d want to eat.

#7 TURKEY – Having worked in a deli make sure you get non-processed turkey, ‘cause if you knew what was in the other stuff…

#6 CROUTONS – I like the big giant ones that look like you could build a house out of them.

#5 CUCUMBERS – Also handy if for some reason you need to exfoliate near the salad bar.

#4 CHEESE – I’m hankerin’ for a hunk a, a really big a chunk a….

#3 OLIVES – I once met a man who didn’t like olives. He’s dead now. Draw your own conclusions.

#2 TOMATOES – Cherry are the standard, but grape tomatoes work equally well. And Sun dried…aren’t we rich!

And the number one item to put on your salad….

#1 BACON – As if there were any doubt (For more on this phenomenon, see the BLKF Theory)

One more shot at this...

I asked last week for Readers to send in their favorite songs to drive by (not drive by as in shoot people, for those of you from Mississippi, but songs you like to listen while you drive).

Sadly, response has been slower than I'd hoped. Not one to give up, I offer a three-day extension. Best Driving Songs will run Monday, which means you have until Sunday night to get your choices into me. Email me here (replace the AT with an @)

hyperionchroniclesATshaw.ca

July 27, 2005

Cancelled TV Shows

Occasionally a show figures out how to go out when they are on top. THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW was the master of this. SEINFELD seems to have timed it pretty closely, and next season’s finale of THE SOPRANOS feels like the same thing.

Most of the time TV shows are taken off the air kicking and screaming, having long since waned in popularity and relevance. FRIENDS easily stayed two seasons too long, I cringed at every episode in the final year of DAWSON’S CREEK, and then there was the debacle known as THE DREW CAREY SHOW.

But Perhaps just as horrible, maybe even more so, are the shows that never had a shot. Placed on a terrible time slot, not given a chance by the network, or just too forward thinking for their era, there are many shows I really wish had gotten the chance to shine and become icons. I asked my mom about this, and she mentioned BEACON HILL, a show from 35 years ago, but one she still remembered as exiting way too quickly. A good show will have that effect; leaving us to wonder what might have been.

THE TOP TEN SHOWS CANCELLED TOO SOON

Honorable Mention: FAMILY GUY – This would be near the top of the list if not for the incredible success story that now has the cartoon back on FOX. I’ll admit when I first heard of it I thought it was just a SIMPSONS knock-off, but on cable I came to see how zany and original it was. In an arena full of so many missed opportunities, it’s nice there’s one small ray of hope.

#10 ONCE AND AGAIN – Considered ground breaking not for the subject matter (two families in flux), but for the sympathetic way it told the stories, including “interviews” throughout each episode of characters; ala REAL WORLD or SURVIVOR. Lucky to get three years; it deserved many more.

#9 BOOMTOWN – Just a year later and I think NBC would have tried harder. A unique crime-drama that weekly gave us a Rashomon look at crime stories. Meaning we saw the same events, but from different point of view: the police, the lawyers, the criminals. What made the loss of this show all the more horrible was the absolute stud-muffin work of Neal McDonough; one of the best characters to come along in years.

#8 FREAKS AND GEEKS – Another show I didn’t latch onto until it was too late. A hybrid show that NBC didn’t quite know what to do with, about high-school life circa 1980. Anyone who ever went to school could relate to this show, and it’s a shame NBC couldn’t figure out how to promote it.

#7 THE TICK – Based on a comic book, THE TICK was about what Super Heroes did when they weren’t super-heroing. Last year’s THE INCREDIBLES showed there was a market for this, but sadly the show was simply too ahead of its time. Still one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

#6 JOHN DOE – When someday the directors of FOX programming are found beaten to a pulp by a gang of wild pandas, I will be a suspect, and one of the biggest reasons will be JOHN DOE. The show started with the main character waking up in the middle of an island. He comes to discover he knows everything about everything—and I mean everything—except who he is and how he got there. As the season progressed Doe started to unravel the mystery of his origins, while helping the local police solve crimes in bad guy of the week format. Truly a ground-breaking show, and Fox killed it. Grrr.

#5 ANDY RICHTER CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE – I’ll give you the title was lame, but everything else about the show was hilarious. It especially galls in this day and age when comedies are so uniformly terrible, to think that I could be watching Andy Richter light it up once a week.

#4 ANGEL – Okay, it got five seasons, and a spin off from BUFFY at that, but ANGEL was just hitting its stride as one of the best shows on TV, and then the WB yanks it off for—wait for it—Jeff Foxworthy and the Blue-Collar Comedy Tour. The creators took it like men, and gave us probably the best series finale of all time, enough that made me gnash my teeth and say “Why couldn’t’ve we had more!!!”

#3 SPORTS NIGHT – Another one of these hybrid shows that I think would have thrived just a few years later. The show took place around a “Sportscenter” type of set-up, but gave us the behind-the-scenes look at life for these characters. You didn’t have to like sports at all to fall for the characters and their lives, written by the wonderful Aaron Sorkin (THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, THE WEST WING), and starring some true studs (seriously: check out that cast page). Perhaps most poignant, Robert Guilliaume was on the show, had a stroke, and they wrote his real-life stroke into the show, with all the poignancy you could ever ask for. I will never get over this show being cancelled.

#2 FIREFLY – I’ve been talking about FIREFLY for two years; when it’s all said and done, I think it might come back (fueled by a movie about the show coming out this September). If you’re going to buy one DVD this summer, take my advice and make it this one. A true Western, but set in Space, FIREFLY is so far ahead of its time that it will take TV ten years to catch up. Of course FOX butchered it from the word Go by burying it on Friday nights (with JOHN DOE, actually), and then not even showing the episodes in order. Just a travesty. Buy the DVD of the 13 episodes they did make, and then send me beef jerky in thanks.

And….the number one show cancelled before its time….

#1 MY SO-CALLED LIFE – Someday when I get to Heaven, I’m not going to ask God why bad things happen to good people (figured that out), but why Brian Krakow couldn’t have had Angela instead of the loser Jordan Catalano. You wanna talk about a show that was capable of just ripping you in half with any episode, here you are. The Christmas one?....I get teary just thinking about it. Even now, watching re-runs on ABC Family, I see little tiny things I missed before. If only they’d had a chance to delve into that more.

Sigh.

July 26, 2005

Depression Signs


I actually have half a dozen lists already written, but I couldn’t bring myself to type them up. (You know things aren’t going well when you’re too lazy to type up 300 words.) Instead, I have this list from a column I wrote in March of 2001. (#27, in case you were scoring at home, or even if you’re by yourself.) Many of these things are dated and wouldn’t apply any more, but I didn’t feel like changing them, not only the laziness again, but for some reason, they seem even more pathetic stuck in the time-capsule that was then. If I had to do a list today, I’m sure it would involve watching “Family Feud” and laughing at “Yes Dear.”

THE TOP TEN SIGNS YOU MAY BE DEPRESSED

#10 Melancholy ballads on bad albums from years gone by suddenly seem deep and meaningful “when you really listen to the lyrics.”

#9 Your entire day hinges on whether or not you got to see the second part of that “Wonder Years” cliffhanger on Nick-at-Nite.

#8 You forget to eat, and when you remember, the idea of spending five minutes preparing your microwave-ready meal is too much to deal with.

#7 You rationalize not taking a shower for days on end by telling yourself that "au natural" is the in thing this year.

#6 Getting mail from a friend makes you ecstatic, but then you don’t read the letter for the better part of a week.

#5 You think of the most creative, funny, and inspiring ideas of your entire life, and no one is ever awake to share them with.

#4 You watch Infomercials that you’ve already seen before and still become emotionally involved.

#3 The Weather Channel has become an Epic Miniseries.

#2 You can speak knowledgeably about every Headline News host there is.

And….

#1 You write down lists of signs you might be depressed.


Up Next: I ain't tellin'

July 25, 2005

Disney Songs

Who know Disney songs would be so controversial? I thought I’d bang it out in a few minutes. But then I sat down with my sister and started naming the possibilities. We came up with over 40. Then my neighbor (who doesn’t even read; why should she get to opine?) chimed in with song after song that we’d forgotten, and when it was done we had 52 entries vying for the top ten.

And I’m supposed to choose just ten out of all of these, and then rank those ten? I’m not paid enough for this.

I realized that I needed a set of criteria. So, I tried to go with songs that were easy to sing, recognizable, memorable, and most importantly, had appeal outside of the movie. Doing it this way I found I had to sadly leave out the wonderful ROBIN HOOD songs, which I totally love, but aren’t too easy to get everyone to sing along with. I also didn’t include Fantasia, since those were previously written by great composers. I only had to cheat once.

THE TOP TEN DISNEY (ANIMATED MOVIES ONLY) SONGS:

#10 “Kiss the Girl” (THE LITTLE MERMAID) – This wasn’t originally on my list, but I had to include it simply for that stupid bird and his background vocals.

#9 “Dark Side of the Moon” (MULAN) – This is the most underrated Disney film, and this song has some great graphics along with it. I especially love the ending, where they are all high-kicking on a field of red.

#8 “Bear Necessities” (THE JUNGLE BOOK) – I wish someone would call me Li’l Britches.

#7 “Prince Ali” (ALADDIN) – My favorite line in the whole movie: ‘A hundred bad guys with swwwords.” Robin Williams should have gotten a special Oscar for just this song, let alone his role in the entire movie. Easily the highlight of animated characters in all of history.

#6 “Be Our Guest” (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST) – My favorite trivia about this song: Lumiere was played by the same guy (Jerry Orbach) who played Baby’s Dad in DIRTY DANCING and Lenny Briscoe in LAW & ORDER. I also love the Simpsons parody.

#5 “Under the Sea” (MERMAID) –Also Like Homer Simpson, I wish I could take Sebastian’s advice and liver under the sea. Wouldn’t that be sweet! If only for the hot Caribbean band.

#5 “Hi-Ho/Whistle While You Work” (SNOW WHITE) – Technically these are two different songs, but they both include whistling, and so I’m making the executive decision that they are a medley. (And if you’re wondering why there are two #5s, I JUST NOW noticed it as I was typing this up, and it’s too late for me to rejigger this list, so live with it.)

#4 “When You Wish Upon a Star” (CINDERELLA) – My mother is incensed this isn’t #1, but let’s be honest: it’s really hard to sing. Best known to non-Disneyites as the song they play before they ask the MVP, “Adam Mullen: you just won the Super Bowl: what are you going to do next?” and hope to God the guy says “I’m going to Disney World!” instead of “Strippers!”

#3 “Beauty and the Beast” (BEAST) – I can’t remember which version it is—movie or official single—but Angela Lansbury sings one of them, and when she croons “Tale as old as time” I always like to substitute, “Tale as old as me….” And you wonder why I’m single.

#2 “A Whole New World(ALADDIN) – I can honestly say I had chills the first time I saw this song in theatres. It’s just an amazing sequence, especially when they get to watch the fireworks. It’s just too bad the movie was rated G, because if ever Aladdin was going to make his move….

And the #1 song in all of Disneydom….

#1 “Can you Feel the Love Tonight?” (THE LION KING) – There are so many great songs in this list and to choose from, but the more I think about it, the stronger I feel about this. Though everyone has their personal faves, LION KING was the ultimate pinnacle in 2-D animation as far as quality, hype, and making cartoons “event” movies. And this song captures the grace and good feeling of the film, not to mention that it went on to be a huge hit on its own. It’s romantic, soft, and singable, and will always be thus.

July 22, 2005

Movie Deaths

The idea to do this website first began with this List. I saw my dad watching TOP GUN, and wondered where Goose’s demise would rank all-time. Movie deaths are tricky things. Not everyone responds the same way. A woman might cry herself hoarse at BEACHES, whereas a man might hang himself from having to watch it. Other times we react with humor to death in movies, perhaps to escape the tension, or for other reasons. (Think the lawyer getting chomped by the T-Rex in JURASSIC PARK).

I’ve tried to make a fair list, not just with that I would choose, but representative of the Readers. For example, I might include the death of Optimus Prime in THE TRANSFORMERS MOVIE, but I doubt very many of you have seen that. Other omissions are deaths like Mufasa in THE LION KING, which got to me, but for many it was too early in the film to have completely bonded with him. Then there is Satine in MOULIN ROUGE. This is emotional for me, but since Satine dies in the first ten seconds, and then we go in reverse and come back to that point, by the time she dies again I think the sadness is over the situation, the ‘What ifs?’ and ‘Why cant’s?’ than her death. After a lot of soul searching, I decided the same criteria applied to ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST. So I want you to know I tried, and even then I couldn’t quite do it. But feel free to disagree.

THE TOP TEN MOST EMOTIONAL MOVIE DEATHS



#10 Spock (STAR TREK II) – One of only two movies I’m including that I haven’t seen, because I have it on overwhelming authority that this is very emotional.



#9 Darth Vader (RETURN OF THE JEDI) – If this were solely a personal list I would put this much higher. In the greater scheme of things Darth’s death (or Anakin, as by then he is once again) is inevitable, to pay for his sins, and to make his sacrifice for his son meaningful, but I remember watching it, and feeling so upset that just when he comes to Luke’s side of the Force, and they can be a family, it’s over.



#8 Goose (TOP GUN) TBS has played this movie so much now that we forget how emotional Goose’s death was. Maverick is devastated, and almost quits being a pilot, until thankfully the script sends Commies to threaten us, and only he can save the day.



#7 Jenny (LOVE STORY) – I’m sure most women would have this a little bit higher, but the inevitability of the whole thing dulls the edges a bit. Still, I’m right there with you. Jenny and Oliver deserve to be happy, and when Oliver swallows his pride to go to his dad for money and his dad say, “What did you do: get a girl in trouble?” and Oliver STILL won’t tell his dad what’s going on? Heartbreak city. (By the Way: for those of you who haven’t seen the film, I didn’t give much away, and for guys: even though this was 1970, it’s still surprisingly fresh. Rent this to watch with your girl and you will reap the benefits, if you know what I mean.)



#6 Bambi’s Mother (BAMBI) – I’m guessing most of you would have this right near the top but I can’t in good conscious do that because—and I know I’m going to get hate mail for this—I have never seen BAMBI. Still any movie that inspires a Far Side cartoon (all the animals talking about where they were when they found out Bambi’s mom died) has to be a cultural touchstone.



#5 Mickey (ROCKY III) – I was a huge A-Team fan, but when Clubber Lang takes Mickey out, I have never wanted to kill a guy more. Rocky was simply lost without Mickey!



#4 Boromir (FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING) – There are so many moments you can pick from here, but at the end of KING I think we’re just emotional anyway, and with Gandalf there is so much action going on we don’t have time to process it. But with Boromir, death is tragic and ironic and horrible. A good man who has succumbed to the lies of the Ring, Boromir makes his play, only to realize his folly. He then rights himself, and heroically sacrifices himself to give the Hobbits time. Peter Jackson wisely slows things up and lets us experience the full brunt of emotion. Simply brutal.



#3 William Wallace (BRAVEHEART) – Yes this death is inevitable, and there are others we could pick (his wife, Hamish’s dad) which are emotional, but earlier in the film. Even though you know it’s coming, you’re so hoping Wallace can unite the clans successfully and make it work, and when Mel Gibson is betrayed by the Earl of Bruce…the look on his face is the best acting moment of his career.



#2 Jack (TITANIC) – Before it became in fashion to hate on the film to show how cool you were, the entire world was mesmerized by this movie, and the sadness at the end. James Cameron had a difficult task: show us 1500 people dying—quite awfully in this historic event—but get us to care about two people. It is a credit to how well both leads do that by the time we’re over we do care about them and want them to make it. One small quibble, though: that thing she was floating on, couldn’t she have scooted over just a little?



#1 E.T. (E.T.) – Yes, I realize that E.T. comes back to life, but then again, I’m guessing so did Spock. I remember sitting in the theater simply devastated when ET went down (not knowing it was a metaphor for Christ, I didn’t know he was coming back.) This is another movie that you almost had to see in its time, as I don’t know if it would affect kids the same way today. But it did me.

And the most emotional movie death ever (so traumatic it doesn’t even get a number)….



#0 Old Yeller (OLD YELLER) – What can I say? There ain’t the words. The end of this movie epitomizes the sadness, stupidness, and helplessness of death. If ever anyone deserved to live—after all he did for the family—it was Old Yeller.

Sniff Sniff

Up next: Disney Songs

July 21, 2005

Chance for Readers to Shine (so don't blow it)

Okay, so I'm going to try an experiment, and we'll see how it works.

You (the Hyperion Nation) have an opportunity to influence next Friday's List. What you need to do is write an email (notice how I didn't write 'leave a comment') of your vote. Actualy, feel free to vote as many times as you'd like. I'm not going to "tally" the emails exactly, although if an overwhelming choice comes in I will honor that. Rather, I'm looking for good ideas.

The category for next Friday's Top Ten List is "Best Songs to Drive To"

You have until next Thursday night to email me with your ideas.

H

July 20, 2005

Bon Jovi

Boy, I thought the Bears were controversial (almost tore my family apart); in many ways today’s List is even more so. When I first brought up the idea, I thought for the most part it was a slam dunk. “Everyone” knew which Bon Jovi songs were important and best, and there was no real argument.

Boy, was I wrong. The first disaster was when Koz and I first started making the list, months ago, before this column was even born. Koz had the top three in a different order, and he got so mad at me that he quit talking to me for a week.

You gotta love someone who would make a principled stand over Bon Jovi songs.

But let’s face it: growing up, Koz always took the short bus to school, so I really didn’t think too much of it, until last Saturday night at dinner. Quincy asked me what this week’s Lists looked like, and I happened to mention today. Instantly this quiet table of 10 CHURCH GOERS exploded in a heated shouting match over Bad Medicine vs. Livin’ on a Prayer.

If my columns are bringing families together, my Top Tens are splitting them apart.

Anyway, here is the TOP TEN BON JOVI SONGS

#10 It’s My Life – Sadly, probably the only good Bon Jovi song in the past decade, but it’s a good one. I especially like that video

#9 Born To Be My Baby – true story: I used a line from this song on a girl from Costa Rica—figuring she wouldn’t know I didn’t make it up. The line goes “You were born to be my baby and baby I was made to be your man.” Unknown to me, Bon Jovi was huge in Costa Rica, and she called me on it, but luckily, she thought it was cute I was trying pass off their lyrics as my poetry.

#8 Bad Medicine – This is such a fun song that it’s actually kind of shocking it’s not higher, until you see the rest of the list.

#7 Runaway – Bon Jovi’s first real hit, and the guitars still rock..

#6 I’ll Be There For You – I wonder if I’m the only one who wonders whether originally the song went “I WILL be there for you, these SIX words I swear to you….” Until Richie Sambora pointed out that “Five” was a much softer and sexier word than “Six.” Or maybe it’s just me.

#5 Blaze Of Glory – Technically this was just Jon, but the band played on it too. I really like this song; it has a sad elegiac feel while still rocking out.

#4 Lay Your Hands On Me – Admittedly this perhaps should not place as high, except that I am in the music video (my youngest claim to fame). I told this the other night at dinner and Sparrow asks, “Where are you in the video?” Everyone just stared at her. Where’d she think I was, up on stage lighting pyrotechnics with the Roadies? I was 13!

#3 Livin’ On A Prayer – This is Koz’s #2, and surprisingly, most people last Saturday had this #1. My theory is that growing up in church, they tried to bamboozle their parents that “Livin’ on a Prayer” was really a religious song.

#2 Wanted Dead Or Alive – Koz’s #1, and the cause of so much angst. I admit “Dead or Alive” is a great song, especially as he wails that “Wanted….Waaaaaaaaaanted….Dead or Alive…….” And then the guitars finish up. Good times.

#1 You Give Love A Bad Name – As good as all the other songs are, there can’t really even be a debate here. THIS is the song that made Bon Jovi the icons they were. When you heard the lyrics “Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame; Darlin’ you give love….a bad name.” You instantly cranked up your radio. I can remember going to the skating rink (where I was much in desire by the “ladies”) and they had this music video jukebox. I know to today’s kids it will seem stupid, but this was before anybody but rich people really had MTV. We used to put fifty cents in (a King’s ransom at the time) and “Shot Through the Heart” was of course the first pick out of the box. How could it not be? This will be the song that gets them into Heaven.

Selah.

Thanks to Koz, The Cheesecake Posse, and Amazon.com

Up next: Most Emotional Movie Deaths

July 19, 2005

A Beary good list

This is one of the very first lists I thought of, but I knew it would be so controversial I wanted to take my time and get it right. There are so many Bears I had to leave off: The Berenstain Bears (great books but c’mon: give them more original names than “Sister” and “Brother”!); Bear Bryant (too many racial problems); the Great Big Bear in Underwear (my very favorite song); the Chicago Bears (nothing good ever comes from Chicago); Little John from Disney’s Robin Hood (you da Man, LJ!); Ursa Major (which clearly would have been the “star” of the list); Barely Legal (even typing this, I can feel my mother glaring somewhere); and my best friend Bear. As you can see, it’s been a tough few weeks. However, I get paid the big bucks to make these decisions, so without further ado I present:

THE TOP TEN BEARS

#10 Coca Cola Bear – If there is one thing that binds my brother Achmed and me together—more than our passionate love for Natalie Portman—it is imitating the Coca Cola Bears. Sniff sniff.

#9 Gummy Bears – the candy, not that awful cartoon.

#8 Fozzie Bear – Every time I go to a Chinese restaurant I have this insane desire to run back into the kitchen and yell, ‘Wocka Wocka Wocka!”

#7 Care Bears - Anyone who disagrees with this gets the Care Bear Stare (5-4-3-2-1). Also, asking waitresses to name their favorite Care Bears is a great way to have scads of women descend on your table. Make sure you give me credit.

#6 Paddington/Winnie – Two great English Bears (although in typical Canadian fashion, they claim to have invented Pooh). I was introduced to both at the same time, and while I personally prefer the stories of Paddington (plus that cool blue coat), I recognize the place Winnie holds in many people’s hearts.

#5 Yogi/BooBoo – Single-handedly responsible for reviving pic-a-nics.

#4 Smokey the Bear – “♪♫…howlin’ and a growlin’ and a sniffin’ the air. He can find a fire, before it starts to flame….that’s why they call him Smokey and it’s how he got his name!

#3 Baloo – I live my life searching for someone to call “Li’l Britches.”

#2 The Three Bears – If you think about it, Baby is the star of the show: gets his porridge just the way he wants it, and has a blonde in his bed. If you really want to get trippy, read what Bruno Bettelheim says about this tale.

And….

#1 The Golden Bear – Quite simply, there is no greater Bear in history than Jack Nicklaus. With his final golf tournament recently ended, it seemed fitting tribute, but no matter when this list went up, Jack will always be #1.

Special Thanks: to everyone who opined on this topic

Up Next: Bon Jovi Songs

July 15, 2005

Harry Potter (the Greek Tragedy)

For today’s list I thought we’d try something a little more cerebral. I was going to do the funniest moments in the Harry Potter series, but how do you choose? (Blowing up the aunt, the letters in the fireplace, the howler letter, the car, Ron using the telephone, the boggarts, the immortal dance, and on and on.) Instead, what I want to do is look at the double-meaning significant moments, ones that perhaps don’t take center stage in the climaxes, but all the more deep because of it.

There are some who read Harry Potter simply for the adventure, and that’s fine. However, even a modicum of thought reveals a rich subtle subtext of myth and metaphor brimming beneath the surface. Like many great tales, Harry Potter has many layers of meaning. [NOTE: THIS LIST CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS. TAKE HEED IF YOU HAVEN’T READ AT LEAST THROUGH BOOK FOUR]

THE TOP TEN DEEPER MEANING MOMENTS OF HARRY POTTER

#10 TEAMWORK REQUIRED – At the end of the first novel, Harry finds himself in a situation where he cannot solve the problem alone. Only with the help of his friends (Ron with Chess and Hermione with spells) is Harry able to go on to the end. This isn’t ultra-deep, but showed us right away that there was a positive message to Harry Potter about needing others on the path to adulthood. (Just wanted to point out to skeptics that there are positive messages.)

#9 PROFESSOR SNAPE AT THE FIRST QUIDDITCH MATCH – Originally we think Snape is trying to hurt Harry, only later to discover that what Snape was actually doing was keeping Harry alive. This isn’t earth-shattering either, but again shows that the adult world is complicated. Snape is an odious man, and Harry would like nothing more than to believe Snape is evil. But he isn’t, and later on this message is driven home even more with the occlumency lessons.

#8 LIVING UNDER THE STAIRS – At the very beginning of the first book I realized that (part of) the story was a fairy tale. In real life—apart from abuse cases—kids aren’t forced to live under the stairs and they are treated as well as their brother. But what kid hasn’t felt that way (the Cinderella Scenario)? What kid hasn’t wondered what it might be like to have different parents? Harry comes to discover his “real” parents were heroes and died saving him, and there is a whole other world where Harry is celebrity. Again, on the myth level, this is straight out of fairy tales. Just delightful.

#7 PARSELTONGUE – First foreshadowed in the trip to the zoo, and then later with the snake in the dueling club, Harry is a parseltongue. In fact, Harry is the first parseltongue since You-Know-Who. To me, the most interesting aspect of the novels is the metaphor of Voldemort equaling Harry’s dark side. This is just one of many such connections, if you’re willing to look for it.

#6 BLOWING UP AT RON AND HERMIONE – This happens quite a few times to Harry, although I’m specifically referring to Book 5, when all the stress is getting Harry down. Again: as Harry goes from a wide-eyed kid to a teenager (i.e., growing up and becoming a man), his fatal flaw—his temper—continues to rise. And the rise of Harry’s temper coincides directly with the growth and power of Voldemort.

#5 THE WAND – Although the zoo trip is technically first, this is the first tangible evidence that a reasonable reader could latch on to. Harry’s wand contains a feather that was only used in one other wand in history. Can you guess who’s?

#4 HARRY’S DAD’S A DICK – Harry has this great image of his parents: fantastic at magic, noble and self-sacrificing. And while parts of this is true, Harry comes to learn that this isn’t the full picture. In fact, James Potter was a total ass at one point. I remember high school and the type: I’d have hated him. We can relate, as all of us have had to go through the pain of realizing that our parents, though possibly great people, aren’t perfect and indeed have flaws.

#3 FIRST TRIP TO DIAGON ALLEY – This scene works on so many levels. First we get the fairy-tale aspect; that there is a world out there where you are famous and people want to know you: you’re not some kid stuck under the stairs. Secondly we get foreshadowing in the story sense of how epic this adventure will prove to be. It’s much bigger than some little kid, even though the first book is somewhat self-contained. Last, in the development sense, we get a hint of how dark and scary the adult world really is. Harry is entering this world, and for a long time will be lost, unsure of himself, and out of his depth. Who hasn’t been there?

#2 THE SORTING HAT – The best and most obvious example of Harry’s connection to Voldemort, and a hint of the bigger picture. The Hat tells Harry that Harry could be very happy in Slytherin. What we see is that Harry has a choice, two paths he can follow. At the time it’s a no-brainer to be with friends, but as the story progresses and Harry gets more and more angry, will this always be the case?

And…

#1 [spoiler] THE DEATH OF CEDRIC – This to me is the single greatest moment in the series, and really elevates Rowling to a higher level. What’s the big deal with Cedric dying? Well, he’s the first character not in the periphery to die. We see that the world really is getting dangerous, where before it seemed more like an adventure. Second, Harry is quite lucky not to have been killed himself. We see that it’s not always skill that saves you. But here’s the best part: Cedric, a decent fellow, is the love interest of Cho. Harry also likes Cho. Therefore, in a way, Cedric is Harry’s rival for Cho’s affections. Connect the dots with me: Voldemort kills Cedric. Voldemort represents Harry’s dark side. Therefore: the first big character to die, the first time the world gets truly dangerous, is a person that subconsciously Harry might want eliminated. (Although we know it doesn’t work out too well, but Harry couldn’t have known that.) It is the death of Cedric that gives Harry Potter true relevancy as something out of Greek Tragedy, and I say “Hats off.”

Monday: Bears

July 14, 2005

This List Brought to you by the Letter "B"

Today I thought we’d look at acronyms that start with the letter B. Of course, the very best B Acronyms I made up (The BLKF Theory; BHE), and aren’t included, because they haven’t become widely known yet. (But soon come the day! Or, put another way, BSCTD!) Also excluded at popular chatting shortcuts, such as BRB (Be Right Back) and BTW (By The Way).

Finally, to add a little flavor, I have split the top ten list up into two groups: those I can define, and those you will have to look up for yourself.

THE TOP FIVE CIVILIZED ACRONYMS THAT START WITH THE LETTER B

#5 BMOC (Big Man On Campus) – Though not used as often these days, the phrase still has resonance when referring (usually derogatorily) to some to some big shot.

#4 BS (Bull….) – Though technically this should go in the next list, BS is so common a phrase, it deserves a spot here.

#3 BOBFOC (Body Of Baywatch, Face of Crimewatch) – One of my favorites. Perhaps a more kind way to say it would be, “Her best feature was distance.”

#2 BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer) – Beer, as Homer said, is both the cause of, and solution to, all of Life’s problems.

And…

#1 BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato) – A classic sandwich for a soon-to-be classic list.

THE TOP FIVE B ACRONYMS THAT WOULD MAKE QUINCY BLUSH

#5 BJ – And somewhere Slick Willy raised his head in a Scooby Doo-like fashion.

#4 BFD – The vulgar equivalent to “Whatever.”

#3 BAMF – Samuel Jackson; we miss you.

#2 BOHICA – A staple at Delta Airlines, where I used to work. Actually, I have a feeling the employees of every big company know this all too well.

And…

#1 BFE – Someday I’m going to build a summer home there. But you can’t come.

July 13, 2005

Come see the softer side...

It’s the one year anniversary of a year ago, and in honor of that, I thought I’d make today’s list about Sears. No, nothing with Bob Villa or some tribute to Garanimals, I thought I would list the top five people I wish I could see “the softer side” of.

THE TOP FIVE PEOPLE OF WHOM I’D LIKE TO SEE THE SOFTER SIDE


#5 RICHARD SIMMONS – A stone-cold mutha from the Old School, I respect “the Chard” and how he keeps it real. But would it hurt to lighten up just a bit?

#4 50 (FITTY) CENT – Here’s my favorite Fitty Cent story (actually, it’s my only story, but still my favorite): I heard on the radio that Fitty watched MEAN GIRLS and fell in love with Lindsay Lohan. Now, as hard as it is to believe that combo, I can buy it. Remember, this was before Lindsay lost all that….weight (you know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout). What I can’t fathom is Fitty sitting all the way through MEAN GIRLS.

#3 MARTHA STEWART – Rumor has it her cellmate, “Ice-pick,” already saw the softer side, but no confirmation when Miss M. and I talked last.

#2 TUPAC SHAKUR – ‘Pac, baby: you’ve put out 19 records since you were shot. Stop and smell the flowers on your grave. Relax; you’ve earned it1

and…

#1 JOSEPH STALIN – I can totally see him in a buddy movie with Dakota Fanning. He starts off stern and unwavering, but she works her magic on him, and by the end he’s giving the kid those tummy-raspberry kisses. Good times.

July 12, 2005

'80s Redux

THE TOP TEN '80 SHOWS THEY SHOULD REMAKE


#10 KNIGHT RIDER - When you go back and look at it, Knight Rider doesn't hold up very well. However, with today's Artificial Intelligence, I think this has a possibility of being a pretty cool Sci-Fi kind of show, while still piling on plenty of action. Plus, plenty of Hasselhoff cameos!

#9 THE EQUALIZER - Call him the Perry Mason of hit men. The Equalizer would only help those in desperate straits, by "neutralizing" the enemy. And if you had it on FX, the possibilities are enticing. Truly an underrated show.

#8 ALF - For sheer perversity [guilty confession: I just read all the Alf Quotes, and laughed myself sick. ]

#7 KIDS INCORPORATED - They go to school and get to sing and dance? What's not to love?

#6 THE SMURFS - If he ever became a rapper, I think he could go by "Big Papa Smurf." [For a hilarious comparison between the Smurfs and Karl Marx, click here. It's under 7/4]

#5 YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON TELEVISION - Now more than ever, we need to see people get covered in slime. This show was ahead of its time.

#4 THE A-TEAM - Here's my cast: B.A.: Ving Rhames; Face: Ewan McGreggor; Murdock: Jim Carey; and the immortal Hanibal Smith: John Mahoney. "I love it when a show comes together!"

#3 THE COSBY SHOW - If only so the world could see that a Black Sitcom didn't have to be criminally stupid. Plus, Lisa Bonet was hot, and I miss all the sweaters.

#2 AIRWOLF - I would watch for the theme song alone

and....

#1 G. I. JOE - My friends; the time has come once again, to kick COBRA'S ass.

July 11, 2005

TV Moms

Today we focus our attention on TV moms: who for many of us became our surrogate actual moms (not me though; my mom is perfect in every way.) We were really looking at moms, so some women who were cool women (like Samantha on BEWITCHED or Laura on DICK VAN DYKE) were excluded, as mom wasn’t really their characters’ role. Also, since I know the question is coming, Mrs. Cunningham was not put on the list because she totally abandoned her oldest child, Chuck.

Here are the 10 best:

THE TOP TEN TV MOMS

#10 Lorelai (GILMORE GIRLS) – In real life she’s not actually that great a mom (no matter that my sister is convinced moms should only be friends), but Lauren Graham is so hot we had to put her on this list.

#9 Mrs. Garrett (FACTS OF LIFE) – Another entry where the woman wasn’t strictly a “mom,” but Mrs. Garret makes the list for the no-nonsense advice she always dispensed, and somehow keeping Tuti from eating them out of house and home.

#8 Sheila Walsh (90210) – Anyone who could put up with Brenda and Valerie in one lifetime deserves something.

#7 Wilma Flintstone (FLINTSTONES) – It ain’t easy being a cave-mom, or married to Fred, for that matter, but Wilma did it better than most. Only drawback: she never should have let the Bam-Bam thing get started.

#6 Jill Taylor (HOME IMPROVEMENT) – Jill was a fabulous mother, and frankly would go higher if it weren’t for how much she overreacted to everything her boys did. I mean, it could have been worse: she could have had all girls.

#5 Marge Simpson (SIMPSONS) – Though Marge has her quirks (chronic nagging, dying her hair since she was 19, her bizarre love of Ringo Starr), keeping that family together is cause for sainthood.

#4 Morticia Addams (ADDAMS FAMILY) – Just keeping that house clean must have been a nightmare. That and keeping her “special” children from dismembering anyone; award time!

#3 Carol Brady (THE BRADY BUNCH) – Frankly I wouldn’t have put her this high but Koz (who apparently keeps a Florence Henderson shrine) would have walked off the project. Carol was a pretty great mom, if you ignore allowing six kids to share two bedrooms with one bathroom AND NO TOILET!

#2 Elise Keaton (FAMILY TIES) – You wanna talk about a woman who’s kept her looks; here you are. But even back then Elise Keaton was the grounded center in a zany family, with wanna-be hippie Steven and Alex P. Keaton (who would try any parent’s patience), and the dumb-as-a-sack-of-hair that was Mallory. And we’re not even mentioning putting up with Nick and Skippy.

And…

#1 Claire Huxtable (THE COSBY SHOW) – Quite simply, the perfect mom. A full-time (successful!) lawyer, Claire still always had time for the kids and looked fabulous. Her no-nonsense attitude was a breath of fresh air, and putting up with Cliff wins points too. Way to go.

And so we don’t neglect the other side of the tracks, here are out Top Five worst TV moms.

#5 Roseanne (ROSEANNE) – Hey; I like the show, but let’s face facts: a daughter who got married at 17 a very confused little boy, and let’s not even mention how Becky turned into a completely different person!

#4 Marie (EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND) – More likely to win S’mother of the year than plain old mom. I’ll admit I’ve come to laugh at her antics, but in real life they would simply drive me up the wall. All the guilt trips, manipulation, and condescension. Only reason she isn’t higher: dang good food.

#3 Mama (MAMA’S FAMILY) – She would easily be #1, if not for the fact that she was kind of nice to her son, while treating everyone else (especially that poor daughter-in-law) terrible. Just an awful woman. Why did anyone ever watch this show?

#2 Peg Bundy (LOVE AND MARRIAGE) – A fun character, but let’s be honest: she never did a bit of parenting in her whole life. Plus, look at how those kids turned out: a total whore and complete loser. Al was a saint to stay in that house.

And…

#1 Livia Soprano (THE SOPRANOS) – We could talk about the emotional black hole that was Olivia. We could point out that any woman who could include panic attacks in Tony Soprano and cause him to go into therapy is obviously evil. But if all that fails to persuade: she tried to have him whacked! Not one other mother would do that, and this places her first on our list of shame.

July 8, 2005

The Secretly-Tough Battle Royale

Today we have a special list: the Secretly-tough ass-kicking contest. The way it will work is: #10 and #9 fight, and then #9 and #8 fight, and so on. #1 is therefore the toughest.

The Secretly-Tough Battle Royale

#10 SNUGGLE BEAR – He’s not actually tough, but since I hate him I wanted to put him here so he’d be whooped by everybody. Snuggle Bear loses to…

#9 Richard Pryor – even with MS Pryor wipes the floor with the fluffy loser. As a bonus, Pryor cusses Snuggle into a corner, cowering. Richard Pryor then loses to…

#8 Katie Couric - She’s little, but she’s quick. Plus, she fights dirty. Two minutes in she steals Pryor’s crutches, and the match is soon over. Katie Couric then loses to…

#7 Joni Mitchell - She’s been knocked around by Love (on both sides now), and it’s made her a bitter vindictive bitch. The match is pretty even until Joni whomps Katie over the head with her guitar. RIP. Joni Mitchell then loses to…

#6 Captain Crunch – Though he may seem old and fuddy, Crunch used to be a pirate, and he has no trouble knocking Joni around. (Bonus: after treating her bad, she then writes a pining love song for him). Captain Crunch then loses to…

#5 The Count - This one is over quickly. The Count has mad skillz. As he jumps up and down on the Capn’s Crunchberries he yells, “I will kick your ass one, two, three times; HA HA HA HA.” The Count then loses to…

#4 Elvis – The best fight of the match so far, no quarter is asked for, and none given. Both gladiators give it their all, with Elvis finally prevailing when the Count falls for a hip-shake fake and slips on the King’s sweat. In victory he’s gracious, saying, “Thank you very much.” Elvis then loses to…

#3 Mother Theresa - Normally we’d give Elvis the upper hand, but he’s tired from the Count. Still, the match is tight until Mother Theresa pulls out a rule and slaps Elvis down hard. Mother Theresa then loses to…

#2 Falkor (the big dog from NEVER-ENDING STORY) – First of all, Mother Theresa is 4 feet tall, whereas Falkor is about 40 feet long. Secondly, Mother Theresa can’t fly. Falkor can. Game, set, and match. Falkor looks unstoppable, until he steps into the ring with…

#1 Gandhi - Or as his friends call him, “The seething cauldron of rage.” Little known fact: Gandhi used to run the Indian Mafia (The Jodhpur Jackals). Then he did the whole peace thing, but he never lost his taste for blood. Falkor gives it a go, but Gandhi narrows his eyes and soon it’s a Falkor-skinned rug in Gandhi’s den.

That’s it, folks. Hope you enjoyed it. If you have any other ideas, be sure to let us know.

Special thanks to: Pedro and Taisie

Up next: best and worst TV moms

July 7, 2005

2012 Olympics

So, yesterday—when the news that London got the Olympics instead of Paris hit—Koz and I decided to do a “Top Ten Things Paris can do to London in Retaliation” list. Unfortunately, it appears someone has beaten us to it, and it would no longer be appropriate.

Instead, trying to be helpful, we have the:

TOP FIVE CITIES THAT WE’D LIKE TO SEE HOST THE 2012 OLYMPICS IF LONDON CAN’T DO IT*

#5 Baghdad - Just getting to your hotel alive would be worth a medal.

#4 Antarctica – They’ve totally been under-represented in the Olympics; it’s their turn. Plus, who doesn’t want to see a Penguin Pole-vault? Nobody: that’s who!

#3 Aruba – Great weather, beautiful beaches. The only problem: you know the judges will be getting away with murder.

#2 Vatican City – Little known fact: Pope Benedict XVI is the world record holder in the pommel-horse. Plus, he looks great in a leotard!

And…

#1 Las Vegas. The sights, the sounds (did we mention betting on who’d win), a drunken Wayne Newton lighting the torch with his breath; what’s not to love. The only problem? You know the rules: all the medals have to stay in Vegas.


* This Top Five List is dedicated to the hard working wankers and gits of London-town. Seriously, homies: we got your back. Keep fightin'!

July 6, 2005

MOVIE TRILOGIES

Today’s Top 10 was done with the help of Koz. We have the Top Ten Trilogies (movies) of all time.

A few ground rules: movie series with more than three films (HARRY POTTER, ROCKY, BATMAN) were not considered. And since there are only two GODFATHER films (they never made the third), that wasn’t considered either.

Honorable Mention: BACK TO THE FUTURE, MAD MAX, JURASSIC PARK, NAKED GUN

The Top Ten Movie Trilogies (first in series linked)

#10 EVIL DEAD – “Gimme some sugar, baby.”

#9 EL MARIACHI – You put Selma Hayek naked and we’ll put your trilogy in here too.

#8 DIE HARD – “Yippee-ki-yay, Mother of Top Ten Reader.”

#7 TERMINATOR – I have to tell you the funniest joke in the world: Arnold buys Maria an antique French Horn for her birthday, but she doesn’t know anything about music. Trying to be a good sport, she says, “Oh, Arnold, it’s a great tuba!” To which he replies, “It’s not a Tuba!”

#6 – TROIS COLOURS – For me to put a French trilogy in here, you know it has to be good

#5 MATRIX – “I’m number 5: Whoa!”

#4 INDIANA JONES – one time Koz and I had to write a paper comparing RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK to VERTIGO. You try doing that.

#3 STAR WARS EPISODES 1-3 – You’d think if nothing else, Yoda would have noticed the “Empire” music every time Palpatine showed up. (Koz had this at #5)

#2 LORD OF THE RINGS – Next time you watch THE TWO TOWERS, and the Ents attack Isengard, impress all your friends by yelling out, “Run Forest, Run!”

and…

#1 STAR WARS EPISODES 4-6 - What can we say? It’s the Holy Trilogy.

July 5, 2005

That Which does not suck

Top Five things most impossible to do while mad

#5 Eating Taffy – You truly cannot be upset while eating taffy (and I’m a man who loves his taffy)

#4 Looking at Marty Feldman – There might be funnier people in history. But there has never been a funnier-looking person. I defy anyone to be in a bad mood and watch Feldman just stand there. You can’t do it.

#3 Watching a Man get hit in the groin with a football - It works on so many levels!

#2 Jumping up and down in one of those inflatable castle things - I have only gotten to do this once, in London. Ever since we came to the States they said I was too big. Nonetheless, the one time I got to was the funnest thing EVER, and all the kids I see jumping up and down at carnivals are having a blast.

and...

#1 Listening to a good Banjo song - I tell you the truth: “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” could bring us world peace.

And because you always get 10 items every day (it’s a rule I just made up: go with it), here’s a bonus List

Top Five List of Witches

#5 Ursula the Sea-Witch (from LITTLE MERMAID) - She was evil, she had tentacles, and she could sing!

#4 Samantha (from BEWITCHED) - Forget the lame remake, go back to the first true feminist, and more importantly, she was hot!

#3 Wendy (from CASPER) - I loved her little red outfit, but I could never find one in my size.

#2 Hermione (from HARRY POTTER) – Harry may be a wizard, but she cast a spell over me.

And...

#1 Chipwich – They take two chocolate chip cookies, frozen, and put ice cream between it, and then cover the outside of the ice cream with more chocolate chips. Mmmmmm…..Bewiching.

July 4, 2005

The most patriotic movies of all time

Since today is Independence Day in America (and last Friday was more-0r-less-Independence Day in Canada), I thought I'd make the inaugural ranking the top 10 most patriotic movies. This list was compiled while eating Mexican food with Marcellus at Julio’s Barrio, along with the invaluable help of our server Jorge, who not only came up with many ideas, but even queried the staff on our behalf. (That’s service, kids. Write it down.)

First we had to define what a patriotic movie was. We’re not looking for pure propaganda. The film has to have a story. But in that story should be the mightiest of rah-rahs for whatever country is represented.

Last to be cut: A FEW GOOD MEN and LAST EMPEROR. While both are stirring films, they ultimately spotlight major problems in their respective country.




THE TOP TEN MOST PATRIOTIC MOVIES OF ALL TIME



#10 TOP GUN – Take my breath away! (Sorry, I had to.) There’s a reason they show this every July 4, and it’s not naked silhouettes (well, not JUST naked silhouettes). When Maverick takes down the evil Russian MiGs in the final act, you’ll want to join the Navy.



#9 JAMES BOND – I’m including all them here. Never has one man done so much to raise the coolness quotient of an other wise dorky country.



#8 ENEMY AT THE GATES – I know I personally wanted to kill Germans after watching this movie, if only to impress Rachel Weisz so she might get naked for me too.




#7 CANADIAN BACON – This movie is about Americans invading Canada (strangely, the Americans are played mostly by Canadians). However, you’ll end up with quite a bit of fondness for those Cannucks, as well as the morons who try to take them down. Best line, when an American threatens a Mounty with: “We have ways of making you pronounce the letter O.”





#6 ROCKY IV - Rocky goes to Russia to avenge the death of Apollo Creed. By the end of the fight (on Christmas, no less), even the evil Commies are cheering for Rocky, who makes a plea for peace. At least, we think that’s what he does. By now, no mortal can understand Sly.





#5 TORA TORA TORA – The best Pearl Harbor film ever made. I know that’s damning with faint praise, but it’s still great. You’ll switch from Playstation to X-Box after watching this.




#4 THE PATRIOT – A fairly ridiculous film (I’m pretty sure no British officer was that evil), Gibson runs around killing every red coat in sight. Viva la Revelucion!



#3 INDEPENDENCE DAY - The president of the United States (who’s incapable of lying, talk about wish-fulfillment), flies a fighter-jet to take down the Aliens, who are also thwarted by using software compatible with Apple, and not Windows.



#2 BRAVEHEART – My college roommate wore a kilt for a month after this came out. Who didn’t want to fight the (this time more legit) evil British after what they did to William Wallace’s wife? “But they will never take…our hot girls!”


and…

#1 ALEXANDER NEFSKY – Probably the best film you’ve never heard of. Stalin originally wanted this for propaganda, but at first rejected it when Germany and Russia were buds before WWII. However, once that went by the wayside, he demanded it shown in every theatre in the country. But forget ol’ Mustache, NEFSKY is simply a breathtaking film. The evil Teutonic Knights are coming to enslave Mother Russia, and her sons must defend the homeland. Featuring the greatest land battle of all time – on melting ice going toward a waterfall. Supposedly based on a real battle, it contains the great quote: “Those who come to us with a sword will die from that sword.” Okay, it loses a little in translation, but you get the message.


[thanks to Marcellus for help on the list]



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