It's Oscars time. Somebody wake the Grouch.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

South Park versus The Scientologists

I'm not a fan of Comedy Central's South Park. The cutout animation makes Nickelodeon cartoons look like Golden Age Warner Bros. and Disney. I find it unnecessarily crude, slightly annoying, and not as hilarious as advertised (I realize this last charge has been leveled at us on occasion...thank you for that Zimpter). Etcetera. etc. etc.

Still, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker do know how to zing a target. This week Comedy Central pulled an episode of South Park that featured Scientologist Tom Cruise choosing to hide in a closet, after one of the characters in the show is hailed the saviour of Scientology. (John Travolta eventually goes into the closet to coax him out. These lads have heard all the Hollywood stories, haven't they.)

The show was reportedly pulled because Tom Cruise threatened not to do any publicity work for Paramount's upcoming release Mission Impossible III, in which he stars as a secret agent who gets involved with a much younger actress and fights his enemies by bouncing off a gadgets-loaded sofa -manufactured by BMW. ("Mr. Phelps, this couch will explode in five seconds.")

The connection? Paramount and Comedy Central are both owned by Viacom, the weasels.

I don't know what's more pathetic, Viacom's support for Cruise or their support for Mission Impossible III, a film with all the glorious promise of Leonard, Part 6.

Also, Issac Hayes, another Scientologist, left the show. He claimed that it was hostile to religion. I suppose he could have been off counting up all his Shaft residuals when they aired the episode Super Best Friends five years ago.

The most amusing part of the whole row so far is where Parker and Stone threatened, in Daily Variety of all places, to keep "Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies," a threat Cruise surely fears almost as much as someone spiking his sweet vermouth and Zima with Ritalin.

The other interesting thing about the conflict is that Stone and Parker have so little to lose. South Park is an immensely popular programme, and Comedy Central wouldn't dare cancel it for fear of perishing in Kenny's place. Also, the two creators of the show fear publicity - positive or negative - only slightly less than Al Sharpton. So, this has been a lark in the park for them. Finally, Tom Cruise is considered by the average human being to be as looney as if he actually had Thetans roaming around in his bean (as if such creatures weren't anything but the wild-eyed megalomaniac imaginings of L. Ron Hubbard, in-between global voyages on his yacht, The S.S. Bit O' Tail).

So, I predict that the South Park blokes will come out on top of this conflict, despite the enormous volume of post-midnight crank calls they'll get, scurrilous diggings into their sexual and ethical practices by "secretly-funded" private investigators, and the odd visit from Cruise at 2 a.m., bouncing on their couches and screaming at the top of his lungs about how much he loves Katie Holmes and is virile enough to have impregnated her. That, and they may get sonogramed repeatedly, which does present some health risks.

On the other hand, Cruise gets more people wondering about his sexual proclivities, his involvement with Scientology, and also asking him on chat shows what he's gone and done with his cerebellum. Given that this is part and parcel of any publicity tour for M.I. 3, I suspect he wasn't trying to get the episode in question pulled at all. Rather, he was probably trying to get out of all those uncomfortable interviews.

Friday, March 17, 2006

I saw that crack about my waistline...

...but I'll have everyone know that I'm quite svelte for a water buffalo.

Seriously, I'm not enormous or anything, I just have a little middle age spread going, like Gazza after a bender or six. I'm not much rounder than Ronaldo is right now.

Basketball fans are all shaking their heads and asking, "Who?"

I also see that Stew's bracket is completely shot, with Iona being dismissed by LSU. That's better than mine. I had Slippery Rock through to the Final Four and they're not even in this division. That's what I get for taking basketball advice from Juan Carlos and Zimpter. Juan Carlos doesn't know a basketball from a Chalupa con Carne y Ensalada. Zimpter on the other hand is just tormenting me. I hear his bracket is not only perfect, but that he predicted all the scores correctly and even nailed to the exact second the number of times that CBS play-by-play man Tim Brando intoned, "The iron unkind!"

I think he's been time-travelling again.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Don't bet on it!!!

Earl has already weighed in on the NCAA Tourney below (and that has nothing to do with your 41 year old waistline) and now it's my turn. Yes, I have my bracket prepared and I'm ready for a little illegal wagering. Let the games begin and let the eventual champion Iona Gaels grasp the golden ring of victory.

Speaking of illegal wagering, or legal if you're in Vegas or electronically hooked into some outfit in Trinidad, I heard one of those advertisements for a certain on-line gaming site that is endorsed by a famous ex-wrestler and governor from the Midwest. The blowhard was hawking the fact that you can bet on the NCAA Tournament online and get "100% in free sign-up bonuses". What's that you ask, I said "100% in FREE SIGN-UP BONUSES"!!!!!!!!!!!

What does it mean to you? I really don't know but he says it with such aplomb that it must be pretty darned important. As I was listening to it my mind wandered to another possible salesman sitting in the statehouse of a certain western locale.

60 second spot for Bet U(As)S.com

In the thickest possible Ahnold accent

"This is Governor Ahnold Swartzeneggar of Call-ee-fornia for Bet U(As)S. com. If you are like Maria and me you love to bet you money on the gambling. Whether it is blackjack, basketball, horses, basketball, pinochle, NCAA March Madness, or basketball you would be a fool to bet your money anywhere but on Bet U(As)s.com. It is only on the Bet U(As)s.com that you will receive the 100% in sign-up bonuses. Do you hear what I am saying to you, 100% in FREE SIGN-UP BONUSES. You would have to be Cruz Bustamante's cabana boy not to understand what it is that I am saying to you. If you do not feel like wasting you money on Powerball Lottery tickets I must implore you to use Bet U(As)s. com today. Now excuse me while I place a large wager and try to reduce the state deficit with 100% in free sign-up bonuses."

Enjoy the tournament.



Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Life begins at 41!!! What a crock of...

...well I won't say what it is a crock of, but you can bet it's not Wenseydale.

I turned 41 yesterday. Yes, that's right, I share a birthday with Albert Einstein. Also, at times the hair is similar as well.

Mainly though, I'm getting quite old.

I think my least favorite thing about getting older is when geriatrics look at you and say, "You're still a young man!" By Methuselah's or U. S. Senator Robert Byrd's standards, perhaps this is true. However, both of these men were middle aged at 300 (Byrd is 784, I'm told) so that's small comfort for a man whose earthly life expectancy, without factoring the bacon consumption in, is around 74.

The truth is that old age pensioners think that anyone who can break into a trot or has a fully functioning prostate is young. "Still eatin' roast with your real teeth, laddie? You're a mere pup!"

No, age has descended on me like expletive-laden reviews on an Ashley Simpson album. It has wrapped itself all over me like Billy Bob Thornton on a second date. It's has wracked my body like a Metamucil brownie. I must accept it. I must not depend on feel-good cliches about nearing my "golden years" or running jokes about how I'm "only 39" (Sorry, Mr. Benny). The only thing golden about becoming elderly is the annual urine sample to the urologist, so he can smile and crack jokes like, "Well, good news! It's still liquid!" Bastard.

I'm old. That's that and there's no denying it.

So, someone hand me a wheelchair and let's hit the pitch for a game of football. I think I can still slide tackle from this thing.

I may be old, but I'm not dead.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Mad as a March Hareness!

It's that time of year again, when fans of collegiate basketball here in the United States turn their brains to blancmange pudding trying to figure out which of 65 teams will win the National Championship. Like the FA Cup in England, this tournament is known for producing spectacular upset victories, where the Lilliputians of the mid-major and lower conferences occasionally bust the bollocks of the Gullivers at the top of the polls.

Yes, female cheerlearders will tremble in giddy delight, whilst the male ones will demonstrate their basketball prowness by hurling these attractive and relatively bare-skinned young ladies through hoops in fits of basketball frenzy. Fans will paint their faces in colours relatively close to that of their favourite teams, screaming taunts at free-throw shooters, their opposite fans, and those fans' mums.

We will enjoy the thrilling spectacle of grown men in natty business attire jumping about like lunatics on pogo sticks (admit it...you thought I was going to say Cruise) in response to a young person's last second heave of a bright orange ball through a similarly orange metal hoop, dressed with woven string. They will hug each other like sheep ranchers in Oscar nominated also-rans, shake their fists in joy so powerful it could be mistaken for anger by small children, and they will point their index fingers into the sky and declare that they are "Number 1!"

This will happen at least 20 times during the tournament. Of course, as many before me have pointed out (no pun intended), only one of these teams will be correct about the whole "Number 1" thing, but what the hell, the illusion was fun while it lasted. right. That's just one reason why they call it "March Madness."

Anyway, like every male human being above the age of 9 living in the United States, I too have filled out a bracket. Whilst, due to size limitations, I can't reproduce the entire thing here, I can link you to a fairly good approximation of my bracket. Also, I've offered a detailed prediction of the tournament highlights below.

Atlanta Regional -

Duke beats Southern when Jethro Clampett misses a basket in the closing minutes to tie the game. Billy Packer, after being teased for calling Duke's coach "Coach K" for two decades, pronounces Krzyzewski as "Cher-Cher-ski." Krzyzewski responds by smiling, dressing Packer as a cheerleader, and dunking him through a basketball hoop. The jaws of life are needed to extricate Billy.

LSU loses to Iona after spending the first 38 minutes of the game trying to figure out what the hell an "Iona" is. They then miss a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have sealed the win. The laugh is on Iona later when they have to confess to the media that they don't know what "Iona" means either. This explains the vagueness of their cheerleading yells.

Texas vs. Penn is delayed when officals of the Texas State Department of Corrections accidentally delivers 1500 felons to the game, mistakenly believing that the American Airlines Center in Dallas had been designated the "Texas Pen." At least 3 of these inmates turn out to have been actively recruited by Division I schools.


Oakland Regional -

Memphis loses to Oral Roberts when, distracted by the sight of the ghost of Oral Roberts soliciting contributions in the audience, their point guard stumbles on the way to an uncontested winning layup. Ironically, the "ghost" turns out to be Texas Governor Rick Perry, who had accidentally fell into a vat of flour whilst soliciting campaign contributions. This fact would never have come to light though without the contributions of a bright group of teenagers and their strange, ravenous, talking dog.

Xavier vs. Bradley. Not the actual teams, who lose to Gonzaga and Kansas respectively, but two guys named Xavier and Bradley who get into a fight during a postgame show and accidentally muss Jim Nantz's hair, which sets off a partial collapse of the space-time continuum. Xavier goes on to face Arkansas in the Regional final and invents the "box and one defense without the box" and gigantic sentient squid establish a colony in Dayton, Ohio and declare Nantz their ruler.


Washington D.C. Regional-

UAB beats Kentucky by repeating the word "sibilance" 12,000 times during the first half. Several Kentucky players have psychotic episodes, including one who becomes convinced he is Ashley Judd. This deeply confuses long-time Kentucky fan Ashley Judd, who is in the stands, and can't understand why a large, male, blonde, unshaven version of her is on the court. In a fit of Hollywood extravagance, she marries herself in an on-court halftime ceremony.

Air Force shocks Illinois by bringing out the big guns when their motion offense stalls out in the second half: F-16s and Sidewinder missles . Illinois escape with minor casulaties but lose by 250 points. Air Force's second round opponent, the University of Washington, surrenders 24 hours in advance of their second round game.


Minneapolis Regional -

Villanova beat Monmouth in a furious comeback necessitated when 'Nova falls behind by 40 points in the first half because they spend the whole time laughing at the name "Monmouth." They recover and go on to win 128-40.

Nevada and Montana battle it out for most desolate state. Nevada loses after Montana litters the gym with brochures for Las Vegas and Reno. Nevada does win the award for the hottest cheerleaders though - 120 in the shade. (What did you think I meant?) Montana must be content with the fact that it is almost Spring and their school will soon be thawed out enough to attend classes.


Final Four -

Murray Abramovich Polytechnical College versus Appalachian Detroit Valley U.

San Quentin State versus Martha Stewart Southern

National Champion: Winkle U. in double overtime

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Can I use my cane to signal at turns?

News today that Chicago, Second City of the U.S. (Behind New York, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.) requires Driver's Education "Rules of the Road" exams from all students, in order for them to graduate. Amazingly, this also includes blind students.

Meta Minton, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Board of Education, was quoted by the Chicago Tribune as saying, "It defies logic to require blind students to take this course." Thanks so much for that information, Captain Obvious. It seems the Illnois Board of Education is on this issue like Tom Cruise on a Chesterfield.

Still, one might point to a certain optimism in such a requirement, a can-do, forward-thinking, "Don Quixote on Barry Bonds strength steroids" spirit that says, "One day, someone is going to come along and cure your vision problems, and then you'll need to know just when to yield when merging on an expressway!"

"Can I take the exam, then? I want to study for my Algebra final, now." ask the blind students.

"Just shut up and take the damn test, you whiny slackers!" comes the visionary response.

One must marvel at a city that is so optimistic that it produces driver's tests in Braille. In that same disability-transcending spirit, I expect the following required speciality courses to soon bedevil Chicago's students:

  • Music Appreciation for the Deaf - Learn to tell the difference between the sub-audial vibrations of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, The Clash's London Calling, and the Red Line stop at Argyle.
  • Gym for Parapalegics - I'm sure some brilliant genius in the Chicago school system will develop a climbing apparatus for people that is breath-controlled. "Get up that rope, you lazy punk! Move it! Move it! Breathe! Breathe!!".
  • Shakespeare for ESL Students - English not your native tongue? Can you barely ask where the restroom is? That shouldn't keep you from enjoying the lyrical majesty of Britain's finest poet! Plus, learn great new words, like "bodkin", "petard", and "Guildenstern."
  • Speech for Mutes - No cheating and using sign-language here! Whatever noise you can make is just part of the speech, including clapping and foot stomping in Morse code. Toastmasters complimentary membership included.
  • Interior Design for the Colourblind - Are you the kind of person who loves "Trading Spaces" even if the results seem rather bland and monochrome? This is the class for you!

I can just imagine the Chicago Schools chomping at the bit to produce courses like these, the looneys.