Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Six Most Underrated Films Of All-Time

Every year, thousands of movies come out.  Some are universally loved, some universally hated, some missed by many, some seen by many and put on a pedestal they don't deserve.  So I started thinking about movies I've seen, which many haven't (most likely), that everyone should.  This list isn't comprised of movies like Legion, which I liked, but I'm sure I'd be laughed out of any serious film discussion for admitting.  This isn't movies that contain an Oscar nominee, but didn't get widely released.  This is a list of movies that most people I know haven't seen, but are actually considered pretty good by those in the know. 

So I started thinking about what criteria I would use to comprise this list.  I've rated over 2000 movies on Netflix using their star system.  Now while I believe 0-5 stars is very difficult to use, I needed something.  So here was my criteria.  If I rated the film a 5-star movie, the overall rating had to be under 3.5-stars.  If I rated it a 4-star movie, the overall rating had to be under 3-stars, but not under 2.6-stars, because that would mean the majority of viewers felt it was as close to not that good as it was to good.  My list actually surprised me, as there were only six movies that made the list.  I should also note, that if you think Elf is a five star movie, you might want to stop reading now.

So here's the list in descending order of greatness.

Hurly Burly -This movie is an adaptation of a well-received play by David Rabe.  The movie stars Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey, Chazz Palmenteri, Robin Wright Penn, Anna Paquin (who was about 15 when this was filmed - which some might find a little odd) and a way out of left field performance by Meg Ryan.  The movie is about Hollywood people and their quest to make it big(ger).  The odd thing, is what they are trying to do in their professions isn't as crazy, or as interesting, as the stuff they are dealing with in their own lives.  The dialogue is a mile a minute and while the frenetic drug and alcohol riddle pace can be a little much at times, it's the mastery of its dialogue, by such a stellar cast, that makes this work  For anyone who likes plays that have been adapted for the screen and still feel like plays, this is one for you.  It should be noted that the two ladies steal every scene they are in.

The Fountain - Darren Aronofsky is getting a lot of press for his recently released Black Swan and was praised for movies such as Pi and Requiem for a Dream, but this one is better than both of those.  It's the story of a man and a woman whose lives span over a thousand years.  It's a story about love, death and spirituality.  It shows just how fragile life can be. One must understand that this movie isn't really about time travel, although many perceive it to be.  It's about living life and facing death.  Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz are magnificent as the couple.  This is by far the most visually stimulating movie I've ever seen.  I don't do drugs, but if I did, this movie would be my favorite movie of all-time.

L.I.E. - Movies like this are difficult to love for many because of the topic.  A young boy loses his father and befriends an older man, who likes him more than just for his company.  The movie starts off with a conversation of incest and gets darker from there.  The thing that is so difficult about this movie is that it's about someone looking for love and compassion and finding it in a person who possesses the qualities that are our biggest fears. He's a pedophile.  Paul Dano (better known as the son in Little Miss Sunshine) and Brian Cox are magnificent as the child and the older man.  There are scenes of such tenderness in the film that you forget the actual motives at times.  The movie leaves you feeling uneasy and empathetic at the same time. Which with the subject content is absolutely masterful.

One False Move - Before the world knew Billy Bob Thornton for Sling Blade, this movie hit the screen. Starring Thornton, Bill Paxton and Cynda Williams, the cast delivers a film made in the early 90's that is much like classic film noir of the 40's and 50's.  It's a tale of a couple on the run and there decision to hide away in a small town.  The small town sheriff (Paxton) suspects something and thinks this may be his shot out of the small time. As the movie unfolds people's pasts come in to play with subtle, but dynamic results.

Manhunter - Manhunter is the original "Red Dragon."  The prequel to Silence of the Lambs, remade later with Ed Norton and Ralph Fiennes.  Make no mistake, take away the now cheesy Miami Vice 80's look and this movie is far better.  William Peterson plays Graham.  The man who put Hannibal Lecter in jail.  Lecter, played by Brian Cox, only appears in two scenes, but they are nearly as good as Anthony Hopkins portrayal.  The amazing Joan Allen plays the role reprised by Emily Watson.  Tom Noonan is a much spookier, although not as suave as Fiennes, as the menacing Francis Dolarhyde. 

Hard Eight (aka Sydney) - Long before Magnolia, Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson wrote this amazing movie about a loser gambler being taken under an experienced gambler's wing. Philip Baker Hall plays Sydney the older gentleman who has a soft spot for the down on his luck John, played magnificently by John C. Reilly. After getting himself back on his feet, John meets Clementine (the beautiful Gwyneth Paltrow) who is a cocktail waitress, who occasionally sells her body for extra money.  The movie really gets going when Sydney has a meeting with Jimmy (played by Samuel L. Jackson).  There are secret pasts that come out and the character's lives spiral out of control.  The script is so tight and so perfect you feel like it's over in twenty minutes.  One note I learned from the extras on the DVD.  The scene where Jimmy and Sydney first meet was filmed immediately when Samuel Jackson got on the set.  Philip Baker hall and he had never met and walked into the room and shot the scene in one take.  It's one of the most amazing scenes I've ever watched and that knowledge just blew me away.

So there it is.  My list of the six most underrated movies.  I'd love to hear what other's think of either these or their thoughts on what they think doesn't get enough props.  I've also added a list of movies below that just missed the list with quick comments about them.

Miller's Crossing - every time I watch it I say to myself "this is probably better than the Godfather."
Home for the Holidays - the best Christmas movie not called a Christmas Story.
Lars and the Real Girl - a story of people coming together in a strange circumstance.
Juice - Tupac Shakur was brilliant in this and very few people know if it.
The Devil's Backbone - everyone has seen Pan's Labyrinth, few have seen Del Toro's other masterpiece.
Elephant - Columbine-like story that is amazing and scary in its realness.
Three Burials of Malquaides Estrada - maybe Tommy Lee Jones best movie.  That's saying a lot.
The Verdict - well received years ago, but nobody under 30 has seen it.
In the Company of Men - Aaron Eckhart is brilliant, because at the end, you want to kill him for the role.
Lawn Dogs - Before the O.C. Mischa Barton could act.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer - NYU used to teach and entire class on this movie.
Alpha Dogs - some people see Justin Timberlake and laugh.  He's absolutely amazing. As is Ben Foster.
Badlands - visually stunning Terrence Malick classic with Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek.
Saved - Mandy Moore, Jenna Malone and McCauley Culkin...yes that cast delivers a great movie.
Charlie Wilson's War - Tom Hanks best performance ever.  Yes, you read that right.
The Woodsman - Kevin Bacon as a pedophile trying to get his life back.  He and Kyra Sedgewick nail it.
Suspect Zero - on the hunt for a serial killer. With a twist.

Watch any of these and I'd be surprised if you don't love them.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Inside the Actors Studio: The Questions

Last year, I did the full version of Proust's questionnaire, but I'm going to keep this simple.  Since I started this on my damn phone and wasn't going to type that much.  For those of you who don't know, there is a Bravo television show called Inside the Actors Studio, in which the host, James Lipton asks celebrities a set of questions at the end of each show.  Some are telling.  Some are moving.  Some are just plain hilarious.  So here it goes.  Here are mine.

1. What is your favorite word?

Thanks.  A simple word, but so seldom spoke with sincerity.  When it is, it's magic.
2. What is your least favorite word?

Fag.  The most overused word in society today.

3. What turns you on?


4. What turns you off?


5. What sound do you love?

Children's laughter.

6. What sound do you hate?

Car horns.

7. What is your favorite curse word?

Bitch.  Because it can be used playfully, but when used with malice can drive a woman crazy and a man to the brink.
8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

Advertising or Marketing

9. What profession would you not like to do?

Cleaning zoo cages.
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

"Just this once I'm gonna let slide the fact that you didn't believe in me or this place...welcome, grab a cloud."
Not much to say.  Just my immediate thoughts on these questions.  What are your answers?  Feel free to let me know...or just think about them to yourself.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Giving Thanks

Last Thursday, as the turkey and stuffing was eaten, the gravy was poured and the football games watched, it dawned on me that we may have lost sight of the the concept of Thanksgiving.  Sure, people say they are thankful for their meal and to be with family and friends, but it's rarely a time of serious reflection.  Especially when the smell of a sweet pecan pie is wafting through the air.  I'll admit, I didn't really reflect that day either.  A triple creme brie and a glass of nice Cabernet had my thoughts elsewhere.  But as the days passed, especially Monday night I started to really be thankful.

I'm thankful for my mother, who isn't with me anymore.  I'm thankful for her teaching me compassion and patience, even if at times I don't show them.  In doing so, I have become a better person.

I'm thankful for my father, who taught me to look for more.  Look for the clues, the answers and to question everything that doesn't sound right.  In doing so, I have become a smarter person.

I'm thankful for my brother, who despite driving me crazy half the time, makes me realize that even the ones we love can test us, but in the end, we love them for it.  In doing so, I have learned to understand other's points of view.

I'm thankful for my grandmother, who at 97, has taught me to live every day like it's your last.  To enjoy your friendships and to love your family.  In doing so, I don't sit around and wait for something to happen, I try to make it happen myself and try to add something to other's lives as well.

I'm thankful for my mother's parents, who taught me that everyone should be treated fairly and to show appreciation for even the little things, goes a very long way.  In doing so, I learned that despite physical or philosophical differences, we're all the same.

I'm thankful for the handful of teachers along the way who made learning, regardless of the subject matter, fun.  They didn't open the doors for me, they showed me how to open them myself.  In doing so, I don't take anything at face value without investigating, researching and coming to my own conclusions.

I'm thankful for my friends.  They have taught me to laugh and to count on one another.  In doing so, they have made my life better.  Laughter is by far the best medicine for whatever ails you, no matter how serious that ailment may be.  They have also shown me the importance of being able to count on someone and have them count on you.

I'm thankful for the hundreds, maybe thousands of kids I've worked with over the years, for showing me that no matter how bad things get, I can see hope and excitement in their eyes.  This is what keeps me going.  In doing so, they give me subtle reminders, that my life, no matter how mundane it may seem at times, does make a difference.

Finally, I'm thankful for those who have come into my life (and some have gone) who made a difference.  Whether it be a girlfriend, a co-worker, or just a friend.  I'm thankful to those people, who for a time, made my life a little better. I'm thankful to the my best friends along the way, for showing me that true friendship is love.  I'm thankful the one's I've loved along the way, even if I didn't always show it.  I'm thankful to those people, who for short times, made my life complete.  For those who listened, for those who confided and for those who were just there.  Maybe nothing more than gazing at the stars or sitting by my side on a bus.  In doing so, they made me a better all around person.  They made me realize that life is all about give and take.  For every time someone needed me, there was someone who was there when I needed them.  Isn't that what life is really all about?

For all these people - Thank You.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Karaoke: For The Singing Impaired

Recently, I have discovered the world of karaoke.  Over the last few months, one of my local watering holes, Stephen's Green has been having a DJ named Kystle, who plays karaoke.  The first time they had it, I really didn't know what to expect.  The place really isn't that type of restaurant, albeit they do draw a crowd for their weekly music.  The night started off slow with me refusing to sing.  This was partly because a previous time I was tricked into singing Lady Gaga's Bad Romance and that is one hard song to sing when you are drunk.  This time was different.  Well it got up to me and I decided to sing It's Raining Men by the Weather Girls.   Now obviously, the song is great, but there's something about seeing a chubby heterosexual guy jumping around singing this song. Well, I had a little help from some others, so I wasn't embarrassed.  Now I can't wait for it.  Every time they have it, I try and get as many people to come out for it.  The reason isn't so much the karaoke, but there is just something about it that makes people bond.  I love that I can grab anyone t join me and save me from making people endure my tone deaf rythm-less voice.

In the past few weeks karaoke has actually made me some new friends.  Friends of friends have come out and now they are part of the posse.  The greatest part is that this isn't the usual three to four hours of fun.  No, DJ Krystle is the shit.  She stays out and keeps going as long as we want to.  Sometimes til 3, 4, maybe even 5am.  The last time I think we left at 4:30.  My shirt was soaked from all the dancing and I had actually become somewhat sober from the exercise.  I slept well that night...well sort of.

This week is Thanksgiving and the following day, we are set again.  I'm sure the whole gang will be there and maybe even some others.  It was a great time the first time and even though we thought we'd grow bored of it, every time it happens it's better than the last time. How could a guy complain dancing, surrounded by lovely ladies who all feel the need to smack your ass?  Really, does it get any better?  The single best thing about it is as the night progresses, it goes from people coming up and requesting a song they like to Krystle playing feel good music and handing out mics to everyone.  The whole bar joins in and it becomes a sing-a-long.  I know it's become cliche, but there is something about twenty drunken idiots singing Oasis' Wonderwall at 3am that just feels magical.

I've had some of the best nights out of my life in the past few weeks.  I've laughed, I've sung, I've danced with others, I've danced alone.  But the most important thing is that I've done it with people I now consider good friends.  When you are with good friends, you can make the most of any night.  It's just a little better with the Weather Girls!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The DMV: White Plains Edition

As I entered the lovely White Plains Mall, I walked down the dirty corridor, passed some odd restaurant, an optical place and a Subway, I turned to my left and to my disbelief, the DMV was gone.  License plates in hand, I called my boss and he told me they had moved it upstairs.  I walked towards a young man wearing jeans who turned around and he had wings bedazzled on the back of his pants.  Was he a frustrated bird?  The Phoenix rising from the ashes?  I don't think so, he looked more like a frustrated rapper.  I passed a man having a loud conversation with no phone.  This bothered me more when I realized he didn't have a bluetooth device either.  I entered the DMV and was pleased to see there were only three people on line and about forty people sitting.  I knew it would be quick.  I approached the desk to get my ticket and was enamored by the young lady with nails longer than a samurai sword.  She handed me the ticket and I walked towards the benches. 

The first thing I noticed was that half the people in there had canes, walkers or some other mobility enhancer.  I assume they were getting their handicapped stickers.  The other thing I noticed was that every woman under the age of thirty was wearing skin tight pants and knee high hooker boots.  All seemed to be a little full of themselves, although they probably knew the freaks at table five were all looking at them.  I would like to think I was the normal one, but it's mid-November and I'm donning shorts and a tee shirt.  Maybe I was the freak surrounded by the normal ones.  It made me ponder.

 I looked down at my ticket and read the number E395, immediately following this I heard a ding and then E394.  This was great.  I was next, in and out in two minutes.  I sat and watch as a young boy played with a car.  He was running around and at one point knocked a stack of papers out of some woman's hand.  I chuckled.  Then, as seems the usual when I'm there.  A man in a suit, coming from the information desk, couldn't comprehend the ticket procedure and walked up to the first empty counter and handed the woman his papers.  She told him he had to wait and he couldn't comprehend it.  He walked out. Minutes went by and E394 had left.  I waited, but still I was not called.  This gave me the chance to gaze at all the toothless and unbathed. Of course the biggest freak, a woman (I think) was sitting behind me.  Her emphysema filled lungs hissing and squealing like Ned Beatty on a weekend raft trip.  I was getting nauseous. I could smell the smoke as it whistled out of her blackened lungs. I started to get queasy.  Then it happened "Ding - E395."  I raced to the counter to witness another set of plates still sitting there.  Had she not processed E394? The woman smiled, I think it was a smile and told me to lay the plates on top and she asked for my ticket.  Soon I would be out in the brisk cool open air. I couldn't wait. 

And then it happened.  Someone who was on one of their many breaks, came over and asked my woman a question.  Obviously, the woman helping me did not have the ability to multi-task and she turned her shoulder and proceeded to explain something to the young questioning woman. Minutes went by and once again I grew anxious.  I started to wonder if I put enough money in the meter.  Finally, she turned to me and says "can you spell the name of the company that the vehicle was owned by?"  I got through three letters when she raised her flabby arm and said "stop."  I wanted to continue with "in the name of love," but I felt she'd either find no humor in it or accuse me of being racist.  She reached in to an unkempt file cabinet and pulled out a paper, hit a button and printed out the form.  Seconds later I'm walking to the door and who is in front of me.  The woman whose lungs sound like lobsters in a boiling pot. I exited DMV and skipped down the stairs.  My haste almost caused my shorts to fall down.  I sprinted out the door and over to my car.  I looked at the meter - 2 minutes.  I got into my car, opened the window and breathed the fresh cool air.  The DMV tried to break me.  Surround me with freaks and women in slutty boots, but I prevailed. At least for today.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dream Analysis

I've had this ongoing nightmare that has me perplexed.  It's lasted quite some time and the last time I mentioned a dream, a friend of mine gave me her analysis.  It was pretty much on point, so I threw this one at her.  After her analysis I decided to reflect a little and see how her analysis and the dream told me things about myself.  Her analysis is italicized for the reading comprehension impaired.

Here is my initial post on her Facebook page: Hey dream analyzer - had a dream the other night that someone was trying to kill me. This has been an ongoing dream (for like two years) with the same person after me (I don't know them). The person always appears and I get away. In the dream, I write my dreams down, because I'm also dreaming I'm being chased by this person. They told me if I burn all my written down dreams, they'd leave me alone. So I do this. But while doing this, I meet a woman. She asks me what I'm doing and I tell her. Now he's trying to kill her and she wants my help, but the would be killer now keeps telling me he's going to kill her (BTW I don't know her either). OK, so what's the deal? Aside from me needing therapy and detox! Oh and yes, I have a job....two. So Dr. What's your prognosis? And everyone is probably going to ask you "who the hell is the wacko writing on your wall."

To see a killer in your dream, suggests that an essential aspect of your emotions have been cut off. You feel that you are losing your identity and your individuality. To dream that you are being threatened, indicates that you have internalized some fear. You are feeling inadequate or oppressed. To dream that you are being chased, signifies that you are avoiding a situation that you do not think is conquerable. It is a metaphor for some form of insecurity.

I agree that in many ways I feel I've lost my identity.  My close circle of friends has diminished, some due to relocation, some due to marriage and children and others have just faded away, much due to my inability to stay in touch with anyone.  I probably have more friends now, but many don't know the real me.  They see the crazy teenager trapped in a 40-year-old body and that is all they know.  I have fun in my life, but the down to earth conversations are less and less. 

I definitely have been internalizing a fear.  The fear that I'll be 60 doing the same things I'm doing at 40, which sadly are the same things I was doing at 20.  I don't need a big house, 2.2 kids and a white picket fence, but it would be nice to have security.  It's something we all crave and is the base of a happy, healthy life.  I don't have that and many times I feel it leads to unhappiness and stress, which as we all know can affect your health.

My insecurities and my avoidance issues are probably due to the things I feel I've come up short on in my life.  These are many and seem to be a growing list.  This isn't to say I'm not proud of many things, but there are so many things I've said I wanted to do, but seem to find it easier to make excuses as to why I haven't.  I make excuse, as my mother used to put it, I put up walls that don't need to be there.  It's something I know I do, but just continue because it's easier than tackling situations, relationships and other struggles.

To see or dream about your handwriting, represents your self-expression and creativity. Consider the symbolism of what you are handwriting and how it relates to your waking life.�The dream may be trying to warn you against something as in "the handwriting is on the wall". To see something burning in your dream, indicates that you are experiencing some intense emotions and/or passionate sexual feelings. There is some situation or issue that you can no longer avoid and ignore.

The part about my handwriting is interesting, because in my mind there are tons of ideas.  I've wanted to write a screenplay forever.  I have the ideas, but when I sit down to write them, they disappear, much like waking from a dream.  Or maybe it is the writing on the wall, telling me to shit or get off the pot.  Maybe it's my ability to easily dispense the thought of actually going after things, when I know it's easier not to. 

The fire might be about my internal passion for people I'm attracted to, but don't pursue because of the fear of rejection or the fear that it might work and that would put an added, although pleasant, stress on my life.  Maybe it's the realization that I have to move on.  I've done it physically, I've done it mentally, but I haven't acted on the fact that being hurt is part of life. It's how we learn.  I've done it to others, I've had it done before and maybe I need to act.  Or maybe, like the Oasis song says "the fire in your (my) heart is out."

To see a woman in your dream, represents nurturance, passivity, caring nature, and love. It refers to your own female aspects or your mother. Alternatively, a woman indicates temptation and guilt.

Maybe the faceless woman, who I feel the need to protect is my subconscious telling me that I need to fill the mental void of missing my mother.  She cared and nurtured me in my youth and I returned the favor in her dying days.  I think about her more and more and quite possibly, it's me internalizing the fact that I need to love, to be loved again.  That unconditional love that we share with so few in our lives.  I'm not tempted by much and there are very few things in my life I feel true guilt for, so I'm thinking this is a sign.  My dream is telling me that someone needs me to be there for them.  To protect, to nurture and quite possibly, to love.

So, with a little help from my dream analyzer and a little self-reflection, maybe it's time to make some changes.  Maybe it's time to start doing the things that I avoid.  To face my fears.  I've always hated the phrase Carpe Diem, but maybe it's time, instead of rolling my eyes, I embrace the thought.  Maybe it's time, I go for the things I'm missing, even if I don't realize I'm missing them.  Maybe if I can change the things that bother me in the real world, I can save the girl and the dream killer will stop haunting me.  Only time will tell.

Thanks Jenna!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween: Behind The Mask

Let me begin by saying that I am not a big fan of this holiday.  Sure as a child I would pester my parents about it and we'd sit and make a costume and then I would skip down the street and annoy my neighbors with that irritating little saying "trick or treat."  Funny how in all my years I never got a trick.  Why don't we teach our little ingrates to just say "put the damn candy in the bag, grandma," because that's what we really mean.  One thing I will say for Halloween is that it does teach us many things about many people. Sometimes their costumes reveal more than just some cleavage.  Sometimes they reveal someones hidden persona.  One that is trapped beneath heavy sweaters, taped glasses and failed expectations.  Sometimes they just show us some tit.  Either way, it's always an interesting evening.

Halloween has taught me that whether it be an intricate mask hiding someones identity or simple fake glasses with a moustache, a mask enables people to lose their inhibitions.  There is something about dressing up that takes on the effects of hours of alcohol intake.  It's a libreating feeling for some.  I am not one who hides their feelings, thus I do not need to don such apparel or hide my identity.  I'm an asshole all the time.  No mask needed.

Halloween has taught me that no matter how many beautiful women are dressed in bustiers and fishnet stockings, guys will always grab each others asses.  It's a phenomenon that can not be explained.   Now while I realize that it is unacceptable to grab a woman's ass, just because she's wearing something sexy, it still makes no sense to me that heterosexual men, feel it necessary to grab their friend's asses.  Did I grab some man ass on Halloween?  Absolutely, but he was dressed as a woman, so I feel it is justified.  In my mind.

Halloween has taught me that there is a little slut in every woman.  Not that their clothing dictates how promiscuous they may be, but it tells that they have these clothes available.  So why not wear them on, say, September 4th?  I'd bet they'd be much more popular in these get ups on a random day than they are on October 31st.  I also love that they can take any character, put on stockings and boots and they are instantly "dirty" whatever that character may be.  Snow White with knee high boots is instantly Dirty Snow White.  Have some glitter makeup and some wings.  Just add a mini skirt and a see thru shirt and you have Dirty Angel.    It always works for girls.  I just can't see the same for any male costume.  Do you wanna see Dirty Batman?  I don't?

Halloween has also taught me that people's perception of their costume doesn't always translate without an explanation.  If you are wearing a mouse costume, you are a mouse.  If you are wearing a mouse costume and your arm is shaking, you're obviously, Michael J. Fox playing Stuart Little.  If you are wearing a mouse costume, with vampire teeth and a knife sticking out of your belly, nobody knows what the fuck you are trying to be, so you must give an explanation.  When you roll your eyes and say, I'm a vampire rat who was attacked by Jason, you're an asshole, not clever.

Halloween has taught me that parents have given up on originality.  I was very unhappy that no child went as an aborted fetus, a malaria stricken Ethiopian or Jon Benet Ramsey.  I know if I had kids they would definitely be on of these.  Either that or I'd make a huge milk carton that says missing on the side and my kids face would be there.  Then on the other side it would say, just kidding, I'm not missing, I'm dead.  I know what you're thinking.  Did he just make a joke about kids being kidnapped?  Why yes I did.  Not that I think kidnapped children is something to make light of, but I'm trying to make the point that if you have a kid, make the most of their Halloween.  Don't dress your daughter as Ariel because you like the Little Mermaid, dress her up as Ariel if she was caught in a net, chopped up and made into fish sticks or Ariel if she was attacked by a shark.  Now that would be funny.  And remember, kidnapping is no laughing matter....unless you're kidnapped  by a clown.                                            

Finally, Halloween has taught me that no matter how wonderful your costume.  If you are leaving a party, don't leave alone.  There is nothing sadder than seeing a pretty young girl with FMPs, a miniskirt and a lace shirt getting gas at 5am.  Even sadder is when you make eye contact and realize that she not only lost the costume contest, but a little bit of her dignity.  Maybe Halloween isn't all that bad, because you should never underestimate the potential benefits of a girl with low self esteem. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Stupid Ideas and Inventions

There have been many a great invention over the years.  There is the wheel, the Frisbee, and of course Gold Bond medicated powder (if you don't know you better axe somebody).  Recently, I've noticed that some inventions aren't that brilliant.  Some are downright silly.  These are a few of the items we would all be better without.

Sunday Night Football - Going to work on Monday sucks enough as it is, but thank you NFL, you've given us three and a half more hours to drink, when we've already been out for seven hours.  Couldn't you have just been a little kind and started the game at 7pm?  No, I have to wait an hour and watch Andy Rooney for a fucking hour.  Thanks a lot. 

TV Remotes - I'm as lazy as they come.  I'll drive two blocks to go somewhere, using the excuse that I may go somewhere else later.  It's pathetic, but I'm not so bad that I can't stand up and walk three feet to change a fucking channel.  I have watched as people look frantically for ten minutes for their remotes, instead of manually changing the channel.  It's pathetic. I know, there are 700 channels.  Who cares?  Get up off the couch and change the damn channel.

Throw pillows - other than their completely awesome aesthetic beauty, what point do these serve.  If anything they only make the actual sitting aspect of your couch an uncomfortable journey that combines the fun past times of squirming and awkwardly reaching behind your back. I know, but they're so cute and they bring the room together. 

Scratching Pads for Cats - You could litter your home with these things and I'm pretty sure your cat is still going after the chair.  I have seen these in so many homes and I've never once seen a cat scratch them. People are well aware of this when they buy them, so why do they buy them.  The reason - people are really fucking stupid.

Flavored Chap Stick - your lips get dried out and licking them makes them worse.  Hmmm, let's make them in delicious flavors.  This way, people will be more inclined to lick them.  Assholes!  Why don't you just make them out of razor blades so my lips can look more torn up. 

Bing - Let's spend millions on marketing and come out with a web search database that sucks.  Why the hell would anyone try to make a better Google?  Someone should be taken out back and beaten for this one.

Those Shoes With Wheels In Them - So little Joey wants to be a figure skater, but has the balance of a whino on Saturday night.  Let's get him sneakers with wheels in them?  Listen roller skates were popular in the 70's because people did a lot of drugs.  Then in-line skates became all the rage, until the rate of broken ankles quadrupled.  So these things came out.  Mom and Dad wanted their precious youngster to have them, not once thinking that just maybe the kid's school doesn't want Nancy Kerrigan skating down the hallway.  This is why parents today are dumber than their kids.

Athletic Balls With The Spots For Where To Put Your Fingers - if you're kid is too stupid to figure out how to hold something to throw it, they probably won't be playing sports anyway.  Buy them a helmet instead, and then beat them silly.  It'll get them ready for junior high.

Nylon Shoe Laces - work with kids?  You know what I'm talking about.  I'd say we should string up the inventor with them, but we all know the noose wouldn't stay tied.

Wireless Mouse - because that cord was such a burden.

One Pound Dumbbells - who are these for?  Is there ever a time where you need these?  Is your toddler trying to bulk up? 

The Phrase "Community College" - as someone who has gone to a community college and a regular college, I can't tell you that one feels like a community and one does not.  You figure it out.

and finally

Jog Bras - Thanks for ruining my view, you Lycra selling bastard.

Friday, October 22, 2010

People Are Strange

I don't know if it's the ozone, dietary habits or the incredible ease in obtaining prescription medication, but it seems to me that people are getting stranger and stranger.  Now this isn't to say we didn't have our share of nut jobs back in the day, but the prevalence is increasing at an alarming rate. 

While growing up in Brooklyn, my parents had a tenant who took them to court, accusing them of stomping their feet in the middle of the night and waking him up.  He also said we had made rude remarks to him and were horrible landlords.  So he had his day in court.  Everything sounded like a valid complaint until he said that my brother (who was two at the time) would call him a "crazy homo" and that my parents used to pour hot wax through the cracks in the floor to burn him.  Case dismissed!  That was nearly 25 years ago and now that story almost seems tame.

Maybe I'm just more perceptive than I was in my youth, but the number of people who talk to themselves is growing by the day.  I'm not talking about those people who have the little bluetooth (by the way, why is it called a bluetooth and not a blueear?) headset. I'm talking about people who mutter to themselves usually in an angry fashion.  These people trouble me, because they are an answer back from pulling a Columbine at Stop & Shop.  The other night I sat next to someone who was talking to themself during the majority of the Yankees game.  Now I'm a die hard baseball fan, but when I start having conversations with nobody about the strategic ineptitude of Joe Gerardi, it's time for some couch time with Dr. Phil.

Another thing that bothers me is people's belief that they did something they didn't.  I know the power of suggestion is great, but how does one go about tricking themself into believing a lie that they told.  Read that sentence again, because just typing it confused the shit out of me.  A guy recently told me, "I don't lie, because I'd never remember the lie. I'd rather just be an asshole that told the truth, whatever the consequences."  Kind of makes sense, doesn't it?  Listen, we've all told white lies to get out of a situation, but I can't remember ever telling a lie, just to tell a lie.  We all have that friend who brags about having threesomes every Tuesday with supermodels and maybe, the wonder, that is Internet porn makes his fantasy a little clearer. Hey buddy, a mouse click and a vivid imagination doesn't make you a stud.  It makes you a liar and borderline crazy.

One thing I've also noticed and love with a passion, is road rage.  Listen, you get cut off, you're annoyed.  You might even throw out a "motherfucker."  But if you feel the need to chase down the car, pull up to the side and lambaste the other driver, you might need a hug (or a straight jacket).  Most people can't drive very well.  Once you accept that, you'll be fine.  The other day, I watched, as three people tried to pull out of adjoining parking spots at the same time.  It was comedy at the highest level.  Finally it happened, one woman bumped the other's car.  Instead of pulling back into the spots to discuss the dilemma, they stopped in the middle of the street. I thought this was hilarious and it only got better when a cop came to yell at them and tell them to move, when the woman who caused the distress had her car stall.  I was behind this and while everyone else was honking and yelling, I was smiling and had only wished I had some hot buttered popcorn.  It dawned at me while leaving the bank that this wasn't due to negligence, but sheer insanity.  Why if you saw the person next to you pulling out would you not wait? 

There are another couple of things that concern me.  Why would you walk into a deli and not have some inkling of what you want?  And when they ask you what you would like on the sandwich, please understand that the whole condiment/lettuce & tomato idea isn't a new revelation.  Why would you stand at a street corner with you on the sidewalk with your baby in a stroller, in the street?  Can any good come of this?  If you're in a restaurant and the order comes with fries, try to accept that a baked potato or a small salad might be a viable option, but one of the appetizers is not.  This is not up for debate.  Also, parents, if you're taking your kid out to get chicken nuggets, don't go to a restaurant that serves chicken fingers and think your sulen offspring won't know they aren't the same.  There is real chicken in those and they aren't used to it, because apparently you are to Julia Child what Stevie Wonder is to darts. 

Oh and here is a little work complaint.  I work for a business that performs a service. If you call us or any other company you wish to come to your disheveled dwelling, there are certain rules to follow.  If you tell me the problem and ask if we can come at 3pm and I say yes, this should not be the exchange. 
Me: Sure where do you live?
Customer: Scarsdale
Me: OK, where in Scarsdale?
Customer: Do you know where the Temple on Weaver Street is?
Me (sighing with displeasure): Yes, but what is the address? 
Customer: It's the yellow house, 3rd, sorry, 4th house on the left.
Me:  What is the street number and the name of the street?
Customer: Oh, it's *****
Me:  OK, what's your phone number?
Customer: Do you want my home number or the cell? I might not be home.
Me: Will you be home when we arrive?
Customer:  I should.  Let me give you both.
This is about the point where I've got the telephone cord wrapped around my neck, draped over a beam, ready to jump off the chair.  Sadly, this silly exchange takes place almost daily.  Thankfully, I have a sense of humor, because if I didn't, I'd probably end up going to the person's house and pulling a Charles Bronson on them.

So what is it?  When did society become a group of loony characters?  Is it because about twenty years ago half the kids in elementary school were on Ritalin in an attempt to make them zombie like dolls who didn't need much parenting?  I can't blame it all on that, because older people are just as crazy as the kids 20-30, but there is a word for that. Senility.  I know people I went to HS who are absolutely out of their minds.  I call them friends, some call them a Sling Blade.  Is it the overuse of drugs?  I know more pot heads, teeth grinding coke addicts and Valium induced sleep walkers now than I ever did as a crazy adolescent.  So what is it? 

Here's my theory.  You take schools being easier, you take off all educational TV shows and replace them with "reality" and your idea of parenting is nuggets and Jerry Springer, so you raise idiots.  These idiots don't understand basic concepts.  Thus they are forced to try and figure out all of life's complexities, like making change, ordering meals and driving all by themselves.  Due to the fact they don't process thoughts like us normal people, they are forced to talk to themselves.  Because they spend so much time in self-conversation they become social lepers.  Their families disown them and they turn to drugs to bring themselves out of despair.  Their only contact with the outside world is to either call me to schedule appointments or sit next to me at the bar.  Sometimes I don't mind, because I tell myself "If I was talking to this person it would be boring, but this person has multiple personalities, so it's a party.  The more the merrier."  I just worry that one day I'll be sitting alone in my apartment, thinking I'm at a New Year's Eve party in mid August, chatting with all my "friends."  Then someone can write about me.  Their crazy friend.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Some Random Thoughts and Baseball comments

The great thing about a blog is that your thoughts are documented.  That is unless you're wrong.  Well at the beginning of the season I picked the Texas Rangers to come in last in their division.  I also only picked four of the eight playoff teams correctly.  That's the worst I've done in about 15 years.  I did however pick the Phillies and Yankees to play in the World Series again....but it looks, as of now, as I might be wrong.  I should get Kudos for having the Giants in the playoffs though.  Not many "experts" did.  I should say that I also predicted Texas/Philly in the World Series back in June.

So what else is going on in my head?  Here are a few things.

I have decided that I don't like cold cuts anymore.  Unless it's salami pr proscuitto, I'm not interested.  In the past few years it's dawned on me that cold cuts (especially Boar's Head) are as bland as a Michael Bolton CD.  Cold cuts has joined pasta on my "why the hell did I used to eat this so much list.

Vodka and club soda has surpassed water as my most common drink.  This will lead to lasting repercussions for which universal health care might come in handy.  Thank you Obama.

I am a horrible son and grandson.  I haven't spoken to my father or grandmother in three weeks.  The call is coming tonight.  I hope they don't yell.  I also haven't spoken to my brother in the same amount of time.  I've been busy, it's the playoffs, football season and I have two jobs.

When people are waked, the family usually puts up pictures which span the years of their lives.  All you two finger-waving, duck-faced facebookers should take some regular pictures, so you're wake doesn't look like outtakes of the Jersey Shore.

Sometimes I go to bed wearing a t-shirt and boxers and wake up naked.  I'm sorry if any of you were eating, just seeing if anyone reads this.

My phone has 3G which would be great if it worked at work, my apartment and in bars. which leads me to my next thought.

What the fuck did we do before Google?

You can never date someone from the bank you go to....unless you're rich.

Halloween is on a Sunday this year.  While I don't like the holiday, it does ensure lots of females dressed as sluts for next weekend.  May I suggest the school girl outfit with the librarian glasses?  Please?

The single greatest Halloween costume I have ever seen was a guy wearing a Superman outfit in a wheelchair.  Yes, I know, my tickets is punched for hell.  I think that was confirmed when I couldn't stop laughing when the real Superman, Christopher Reeves "dropped the puck" at a Rangers game.

I wonder if there has ever been a study of how many car accidents are caused by girls walking down the street in tight jeans. 

Two of my friends were getting all hot and bothered last night looking of a picture of Jon Bon Jovi circa 1990.  Isn't he like 50 now?

Sometimes people say "this is no laughing matter."  Usually when they say that, I am laughing.

You know what's more fun than making fun of someone who can't take a joke?  Pretty much nothing.  Unless of course they go to hit you and slip on a banana peel.

Does anyone know why school buses are that ugly shade of yellow?

We have a race for governor of NY going on that features an anti-Semite who has been arrested for climbing a bridge with a knife in his hand (who uttered the greatest debate speech ever), a homophobic slug who once rented a bar that was a gay night club, an ex-madam (trying to replace a guy who got in trouble for banging hookers), and Andrew Cuomo.  Gee, I wonder who is going to win?

The other day I couldn't sleep.  So I started to count sheep.  When you've been single for a while, this isn't a good idea.  Just saying.

Well that's all for now, lunch is over and it's back to work.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fantasy Football's Greatest Exchange

Anyone who plays fantasy football knows there is a message board.  In the past 12 hours, my last opponent responded to my smack talk and then I offered somewhat of a rebuttal. Not really, it was more of a concession speech.  We've had some good exchanges, but this tops them all. 

Last night my victorious adversary came out with this gem:

Hopper, Hopper, DEAR Hopper! You know, as I get older, sometimes I am forced to realize that I'm never going to fulfill all the dreams of my youth...I'm never gonna play pro football or roam center field for the Yanks, I'm never gonna be super rich or famous. Nah, I'll just struggle along and hope for the best like everybody else. Maybe it's a mid-life crisis thing, I don't know. But this realization can be tough. It first struck me a couple of years ago, and I have to say, it was hard. I was a little down, maybe even depressed.....then Zak talked me into joining a new rotisserie league that was being run by Jay, who I knew somewhat from another roto league, and I decided to give it a shot. Why not? Little did I know that all was about to change. Yes Hopper...because it was through this new league that I met you...and life would never be the same. I have found true happiness again...because I have run into a walking cartoon. A guy who hits himself in the face with a cream pie every time he opens his mouth. How could I be sad ever again in the presence of such a world class buffoon? I mean, time and again, I wallow in roto mediocrity, in despair. And then, like a giant garden slither over, dragging your great big tits and belly between your legs, to kick sand in my face, like the playground bully you wish you were ever tough enough to be. But' like magic, your gibes raise me from the ashes like a phoenix, and spur me on to a winning streak! By golly, its just amazing. I told you I'd kick your fucking ass and I have done so. (And you cry about being scored against...imagine how nice I'd be looking if I hadn't lost 2 games by 2 points)... so I'll say it again...SQUEAL LIKE A PIG, FAT BOY!!! It's been pleasurable, albeit disgusting, ass raping you. Yes; Its a Wonderful Life!

Here was all that I could muster in return.  I felt like the bad guy in Manhunter when he yells "you owe me AWE!"

Last night as I lay naked, covered in a sea of chips, salsa and stale beer, my mood was solemn. The rigors of a long work day which had followed the usual drunken binge the previous night had me down. And then it happened. My phone notified me that someone cared enough to contact me. I pressed the button with anxious enthusiasm, could this be the girl I met the other day? Could this be the cute cabana boy from last summer? I couldn't wait. and then I see it. Reilly. My smile suddenly turned upside down and I knew the inevitable had come. My loss the previous week was about to be thrown in my face like a Peter North money shot. And then I started to read. Tears welled up in my eyes like a swollen scrotum. This was not a half-hearted put down, oh no, this was prose of a level of which I've rarely seen on a fantasy football message board. I thought to myself, of the twelve people in this league who else could wax poetic at this level. Then I thought about the other ten mental midgets and realized no one. MY admiration for Phil grew. In a semi-aroused state, I smiled. And then, as instructed, I squealed like a pig. Somewhere Ned Beatty is am I.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Some Random Thoughts For the Day

Sometimes things stick in my head and I can't them out.  It's part of why I started this silly blog.  I know only a few people read it and most think it's silly or dumb, but sometimes it's like a therapist.  Sometimes you need someone to talk to who won't speak back and offer their unwanted opinions.  Remember what they say about opinions. Believe me, I know, I'm one of the most opinionated people around.  So here's some thoughts that are keeping me awake at night.  OK, anything keeps me awake at night.

You know you might have a drinking problem when you spend a night drinking and nobody gets any better looking.  This is not directed at any of my personal friends, because I only hang out with beautiful people.  Ok maybe I do have a drinking problem.

I watched a girl, about 17, driving a Mercedes run four stops signs in a row.  When I caught up to her she was on a cell phone.  She then proceeded to drive right through a red light.  How is talking on a cell phone not more dangerous and a bigger crime than a DWI?

Last night I posted tons of stuff from youtube on Facebook and realized nobody really cares about what the hell I post.  Maybe I should try Farmville.

It seems to me, the more we progress, the more we digress.  It truly saddens me that where you decide to stick your dick should effect any other aspect of your life.

In any given week I hear Obama's name mentioned about three times.  In any given week I hear Snooki's name mentioned about twenty.  Something has really gone wrong with this country.

Today, while driving I saw this "girl" walking (from behind).  It was one of those asses where you'd love to take a picture and frame it.  She was petite in stature, but not a skinny girl by any means.  She had tight jeans and a tight top on and I was very interested to see what lay ahead in the front.  As I passed her, I looked, we caught eyes and then I drove off with a somewhat confused look.  The woman, with the nice butt, the form fitting clothing and the little swagger was about 50.  Nothing wrong with that, but definitely caught me off guard.

People might laugh when they hear this.  Despite the fact that I watch a lot of foreign films, I now put on subtitles when I watch American films.  I don't know why, I just do.

Every time one of my friends has a kid, or another kid, I think to myself "that would be nice."  And then I see them once every six months and have to listen to them tell me how hard it is as they are showing me their pictures.  No thanks!

I don't read a lot of books, but the other day it dawned on me that I probably read more than anyone I know.  One day I was home and read Rolling Stone magazine cover to cover, then 40 pages in a book, and then surfed the net for three hours.  I read a lot.

OK, this is not an exciting blog, but it's not for you, it's for me.  It's my therapy.  Sometimes you can laugh along and some have brought others to tears.  Sometimes I'm just an asshole.  I'm OK with that.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Work Week

I've been giving a lot of thought to the work week that has become the standard and feel it needs to be tweaked.  Obviously there are some jobs that require you be there at specific times due to things like hunger.  So my dear friends in the food service business this is not for you.

I'm talking about 7-3, 8-4, 9-5ers.  The typical eight hour day shift people.  It's kinda silly. Just based on my experiences and things I'm told be people in offices, this could be significantly cut and would enhance production and job happiness.  The average person, other than answering phones and going to meetings, most likely doesn't have eight hours of actual work.  So why should they be there for eight hours?  To me, they'd be much more happy sitting on their recliner than sitting in a cubicle, so let them.  Here's the first thing.  The damn water cooler/break room morning.  It does nothing but promote animosity through gossip and hearsay.  Instead of coming in dreary-eyed at 9am, have your breakfast at home and arrive at 9:30 ready to go.  You're not doing shit until then anyway, so enjoy it at home.  Then, enough with the pre-lunch coffee break.  Drinking coffee doesn't require you to tell an annoying story or show endless pictures of your pets.  Work through it you over-burdened slacker.  You have lunch in 60-90 minutes anyway.  Lunch breaks?  Who needs an hour to eat lunch?  Today I went to the deli, ate meatloaf with mashed potatoes and the entire sessions, from going to the deli to wiping my gravy soaked chin took about 25 minutes.  And I was doing work eating. I'm a multitasking badass.  Bring your lunch or grab a sandwich and eat at your desk.  Half hour later you're done.  So already you've knocked 45 minutes off your workday and you got to come in a half hour later.  Bathroom breaks are fine, but don't spend 20 minutes talking about last nights game or who shot who on Desperate Housewives on the companies dime.  Piss, shit, do your line of blow and get back to work.  We've shaved an hour off your day.  So now, you've banged out your work and being that you didn't spend an hour doing nada, you get to leave an hour early.  This hour can be spent throwing a ball with your kid, making dinner for your wife or having an elicit affair with the chick you'd normally only get to flirt with in the break room.  The perks are endless.  Plus, you teacher friends can't gloat about their being home before you.

Also, while we're at it.  Screw this five day work week.  Let's get it down to four.  None of this long weekend bullshit either.  Wednesday is a new weekend.  Imagine how motivated you'd be at work, knowing you basically had two Fridays every week.  Tuesday you'd be a machine at work.  Not to mention the extra day off would help the economy.  Tuesday night would be a big night at the bars and restaurants and that's change we can believe in.  Seriously, it's not working the way it is.  Nobody that has a job is happy to be there.  Nobody wants to work.  So let's cut down on this work thing and let's make our time there more productive with the promise of more free time.  You think Ted Kaczinski would have been as crazy if he didn't have spare time.   You think Einstein would have created those wonderful children's tapes?  Seriously, look at people like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.  They have more time (and have done more time) that they know what to do with.  They seem to be productive adults.  I read about them weekly.  They have to be doing something right.

It's about time we all form some type of non-working union.  Four 6.5-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.  Tell me you wouldn't work harder and spend less time playing fucking solitaire and free cell on company time?  I know if I had a four day work week, I'd be psyched to come to work.  I'd be giddy.  Then again, I'd know it was the only 26 hours of the week I wasn't travelling down the road to cirrhosis.  Not to mention your boss wouldn't be such a hard ass, because he wouldn't see you every five minutes walking to the break room with the hopes to catch a glimpse of the cutie down the hall who always seems to forget to wear panties on Friday mornings.  I don't know the answer, but mine has to be better than the system we have now.  Hell in some countries in Europe they have a feast and go to sleep for a few hours before going back to work.  Every time people go away and show me pictures, everyone is smiling.  Not in this country.  We're misery stricken, because for the most of us it's a daily grind.  We work week to week, hoping that one day we'll get that lucky scratch off and win just enough that we blow it and  live a life of solitude and shame.  So if we're going to be miserable, let us only be miserable for four days a week.

Plus, if I hear one more person quote Office Space and say "someone has a case of the Mondays," I'm going to beat them with a stapler.  And enough of this TGIF.  Friday sucks, because it's the longest day of the work week.  The clock slows down and the light at the end of the tunnel is made by Coors.  Fucking Nazis.  What's so great about Friday?  Nothing. Saturday kicks Friday's ass because you get to sleep late and go out not having to worry about the ramifications.  The only great thing about Friday is the plethora of drunken females who have apparently left the inhibitions and dignity at the office. Amen for that.  But even better is Saturday when you get to tell your friends about how she was gorgeous at 11pm, but you had to pull a coyote ugly to get your arm free Saturday morning.  And Saturday's are special because of breakfast in bed.  Although granted, it's usually something I bought or made the night before thta I wake next to, half eaten and calling my name.  Imagine if we could do this on Wednesday too?  I think I'm on to something.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Curious Case of Jon Hopper

Like all of us I have gotten older.  I'd like to think wiser, but that's up for debate.  In the past I used to get in trouble, get in fights, and on occasion got people to hate me.  I still do, but with much less frequency.  I love debates, but hate fighting.  Fighting is a tiring process.  Physical fights are usually less stressful than yelling matches, because at least there's an outlet for your anger.  When you have a verbal argument there is a level of stress that you achieve that isn't healthy, because in the end, both parties are most likely going to agree to disagree and that is just damn frustrating.

When I was younger i used to get into a lot of physical fights.  I mean a lot.  I noticed something very strange about it.  I'd almost get aroused when there was about to be a fight.  It was an adrenaline kick that I got very excited about.  Most of these fights lasted a few seconds, but the thrill was always exhilirating.  These days, as I've entered my forties, the last thing I ever want to do is fight.  I guess I'm growing up in that sense.  That may be the only way I am.

When I was 13, some friends of mine took me to a party where I stuck out like a sore thumb.  The group was about 16-25 years old, so I was the baby.  Oh and did I mention I was the only white person in the room?  This was an old school house party.  In a basement, electrical cords running out the window the the house upstairs and a dj was scratching and mixing records.  I was in the corner drinking gin.  This was not a wise choice.  From what I was told I was grinding on some girl who was about 20 and thought I was adorable. A few hours later my friends walked behind as I literally crawled four blocks to my house.  My parents made me drink a bloody mary the next day to teach me a lesson.  The lesson learned - everything is more fun with alcohol.

As I entered my teen and college years I would go through a process almost every night I went out.  Drink as much beer as I could and then puke.  Then go home, because the thought of another drink would make me puke again.  As I got a little older, I could drink a little more and I'd puke a little less.  So when did it happen that I started becoming a fucking professional drinker.  It's been years since the last time I got sick from drinking and I can pretty much drink anything, for incredibly long periods of time.  It's not a stretch for me to go ten to fourteen without really showing the effects.  In some cases this is good.  In others it's horrifying.  There's something depressing about knowing the one thing you're really good at is going to kill you one day.  Until that day, I'll keep living the dream.  The dream of being the world's oldest frat boy.  OK, not as inspirational as MLK's dream, but hey you gotta start somewhere.

I also have noticed that my sleeping habits have become unnaturally odd.  I can literally go three or four days in a row without getting more than four hours of sleep a night.  When I was younger I'd sleep twelve hours a night easy.  I can even drink, not sleep and function the next day.  Today probably isn't the best day to brag about this, since I went out til 3am, woke up at 7:45 and thought I texted my boss to say I would be late.  I awoke at 1:20pm to see I hadn't sent the text.  The rest of the day was spent in bed.  The funny thing is I never sleep, but I love to sleep. I love naps especially.  Maybe it's my age, but if I could sleep from 5-6:30pm every day, I don't think I'd need sleep at night.  A 90-minute power nap makes the whole world brighter.

I've also notived with age, my sarcasm has reached new heights.  Maybe it's because as a teen I wasn't clever enough to use it properly.  You know when sarcasm is really fun?  When the person it's aimed at isn't smart enough to realize.  It's hilarity at its finest.  I also think my sense of humor has evolved.  I've grown tired of the nut shots and petty insults.  I find that wheat really makes me laugh is situations.  Situations that when you relive them in your mind, you can't help but chuckle.  So many times something happens, that may not actually be that funny, but the perfect situation occurs and it's hilarious.  This is what I crave.

I've also noticed that what I find attractive in women has changed.  I used to go after one type and one type only.  Big chested brunettes were my flavor of choice.  Oddly enough, I find that the more I expand my likes, the less I seem to have success.  To be honest, I don't even really try anymore.  It's somewhat sad, but my "game" as the kids like to call it, is pretty much, well, minor-league.  I like having in-depth conversations with people and actually getting to know them first and usually by the time this happens they've moved on to someone who is more aggressive.  It's been the story of my life.   When I was younger and a bit more of an asshole, I used to actually get a little.  Now, the adult version or Hopper 4.0 as I'm going to refer to myself from now on, seems a little hesitant.  People always say, be yourself, but maybe that's the problem.  I sit and watch as people dumb themselves down, act like jerks and then walk home with the hottest girl in the place.  This has always amazed me and makes me really question women that say men are pigs. Pigs are actually very clean and faithful animals. If that's not enough of a reason to wanna be a pig, there is always bacon!  Because really ladies, if we tasted like bacon, well you know.

So what has happened.  I used to be an angry, beer slugging, sleepaholic, jerk who actually got girls.  Now I'm a calm, intelligent, vodka sipping,  insomniac funny guy who is actually nice to people and I've been single for over a year.  It begs the question.  What the hell have I done to myself? 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Terms: Am I Really Getting That Old?

Texting and instant messaging have taken over the world.  People now text, instant message and e-mail more than they talk.  Talking seems so passe.  Even I am guilty of this. I find it's easier to get an answer from a text than to ask someone, because it cuts to the chase.  I don't have to hear about their day, their wife and kids or the odd growth that has appeared on their under carriage.  Texting has made life simple, but it's also skewed the way we look at some terms.

Remember the good old days when the word WHATEVER was not a sufficient answer? It still isn't but I'll be damned if it isn't the answer to every question for teenagers.  If I ever said whatever as an answer to one of my parents questions, I'd be whacked in the head. It's a not so polite way of saying, fuck you and fuck off.  It's not an answer, ever.

BTW aka By The Way.  It's an IM staple and a phrase I use way too much.  I use this phrase more often than I use shampoo.  I use it in speech, in text and in E-mails.  I use it so much, I start conversations with it.  It's become a joke to some friends, because I use it so often.  And usually, it's used in connection with some bad news. So when you think I'm done talking and you hear!

CUL8R - See you later.  WTF is this you lazy wanker?  WTF is the only acceptable way to say fuck without sounding rude. People write WTF like it's their job. I see more WTF's on Facebook than I see faces. It has become America's slogan. 

ATM - this used to be Automated Teller Machine, but now it's become a sexual situation which some bizarre people take great pride in having achieved.  If you don't know what it is, it's probably is for the best.

Tan - this used to be something you did by laying in the sun for hours on end.  Now it's done by laying in a machine for ten minutes or spraying on yourself.  Has anyone ever noticed that the color achieved by spray tan and the color of cheez whiz is eerily similar?  Makes me want to eat Snooki on a Ritz cracker.

Bitches - this term used to get you chased down the street in fear of getting a heel embedded in your skull.  Now it's an affectionate term for a girl's girlfriends.

Tap - when I was young this was the thing that water came out of.  As I got older, beer came out of it.  Now it's a derogatory term for having sex.  And for the most part, you don't want to drink after that's been tapped.

Cell - Ah, looking under a microscope as a child you learned all about the cells that make up the body.  Remember taking the cotton swab and running on the inside of your cheek and then looking at the weird things crawling around?  Now it's a fucking phone.

Digits - used to be my fingers and toes, but now it's a phone number.  Is everything about the phone now?

And finally...Two Girls One Cup.  This used to be the cute picture of two friends sharing ice cream.  Now it's an Internet sensation that nobody should ever have to see. Twice!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quickie Blog: People That Bothered Me Today

1. People who drive with tickets still under their wiper blades. And we're worried about cell phones?
2. People who pretend not to notice you and then discuss something you'd rather never hear about.
3. People who take up two spots.
4. People who speed up for red lights when they see you are crossing the street.
5. People who walk through parking lots like there isn't a chance of a car driving through.
6. People that don't get to the point.
7. People whose armpits I have to look at while ordering food.
8. People who are orange. Seriously, I saw Snooki again in Scarsdale singing the Lollipop song.
9. People who don't signal - I Know I've covered this.
10. People - for the most part....everyone does something that annoys me....I'm just trying to get you all back.  One person at a time.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Michael Vick: Starting QB

There has been a lot of talk about ex-dog trainer/breeder/killer becoming the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. A local newspaper wrote a headline stating Dog Electrocuter Named Starting Quarterback.  Is this really that big a deal?  The man did his time and while I don't condone cruelty to animals, this was a dog, not a person and he paid his price.

Why didn't people picket Matthew Broderick films and plays when they were going on?  You do know he killed two people in Ireland and his defense was "I don't remember."  He received a $175 fine and a slap on the wrist.  What about Kobe Bryant telling three cops that he had consensual sex, but admitting the girl asked him to stop when he tried to go somewhere normally used as an exit and he admitted he didn't stop.  Isn't that rape?  Kobe's sentence?  A huge diamond ring for his wife and an NBA championship.  What about the media men on FOXNews who make stuff up that is slanderous and destroys peoples lives, only to use "we're an entertainment show, not news, so it's OK?"  What about Michael Jackson admitting to sleeping with young boys and giving them wine? People were so outraged they made him the #11 selling artist posthumously.  What about A-Rod using steroids, basically admitting he got them from someone who brought them across the country's border (a felony) and walking away. His punishment?  A shiny diamond championship ring.

The reason why people are so up in arms about Vick and not the others is very simple.  People, especially those in the sports world, really don't think he's that good of a quarterback.  Do you think the NFL was ready to make Ray Lewis the face of the league when he was in trouble with the law?  Of course not, but then he won, so it's OK.  If Michael Vick can bring Philly to the promised land, all will be forgiven. Trust me, it's just the way it is. Antonio Cromartie has eight kids with six different women in five states and people call him a piece of shit deadbeat father.  Larry Bird had seven kids with seven different women and he's labeled the greatest white basketball player to ever live.  That conversation might have a little more to do with just winning, so I'll leave it alone for now.

Winning and success do funny things to us.  Last year when Michael Jackson died, thousands sobbed.  Was he a wonderful entertainer with classic tunes?  Of course.  But, was he a low-life pedophile who used his notoriety to dodge the law.  Absolutely!  If anyone has ever known anyone who has been abused, it's very easy to see why they took the money and ran.  In their minds and the minds of their parents, they only wanted to make it go away.  It's odd, but understandable.  So why is dog fighting bothering so many?  Why is it that this man has been made such a menace? Isn't punching another human being in the face, because they looked at your girlfriend in her skin tight jeans and cleavage revealing blouse a little worse?  I know a lot more people who have done that and walked away unscathed without any legal repercussions.  The difference is that Vick is a celebrity, albeit a minor celebrity.  The same way people hope and pray for the demise of Paris, Kim and Lindsay, they cried for the deaths of River, Kurt and Heath.  When in actuality they all shared the same trait.  They have destructive personalities and beneath the polished exterior they were, at the end of the day, just like you an me. Flawed.

It's funny.  I remember as a kid, going into a butcher shop and you could watch them do their craft.  Aprons covered in blood, parts scatter about the massive butcher block.  It was riveting.  A neighbor a few blocks away bred rabbits and would sell them, freshly skinned out of his garage.  I remember walking through Chinatown in the seventies and early eighties and watching children and adults putting quarters in a machine that would electrify the grate a chicken was standing on.  I remember people with the heads of animals adorning their walls.  Proud of their conquest.  That doesn't fly today and maybe it should never have been the norm.  For thousands of years man has been killing animals for food and for sport.  It has always been the way and it always will.  That's why, every once in a while, when a coyote attacks, or the pit bull strikes back or even an unsuspecting surfer gets eaten, you have to wonder.  Should we feel bad?  Maybe that coyote was the king of his pack.  Maybe that pit bull was beaten. Maybe that shark really is the champion, not only of the sea, but of the planet.  It's been around longer than us, so maybe we should give it a pass and not go after it. 

I'm not condoning what Michael Vick did.  I do like dogs and all animals.  I just think people should either hold everyone to the same standard or shut up.  When he starts Sunday, pat your dog on his head and be thankful that Michael Vick isn't his owner.  But the next time, you or one of your loved ones gets in trouble for something stupid, just remember.  They don't have any rings, titles or awards.  They don't throw a ball or grace the silver screen. So they deserve what they get.  Right?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

I've been down in the dumps lately.  No money, single for way too long and frankly living in excess that is probably taking years off my life.  At times, I sit alone, think and get down.  I go out way too much in an effort to abort a life of solitude and to get me through this rough patch.  I know it won't go on forever.  It never does.  There is always a silver lining, or so I'm told.  Mine might be bronze, but I'll take it.  I'm usually the one cheering others up, but this past weekend a few events took place that caused me to do what I love to do most.  Laugh.

Sure there are funny things that happen every night, but this weekend, for whatever reason, the laughter was plentiful.  The laughter was the kind that made your cheeks turn red and your eyes run with tears.  Moments like these are special.  Usually it's something that is said or done.  Many times someone is the target of a joke and as long as their is no malice, it's appreciated by all parties involved.  This weekend had so many of these moments. 

Saturday night looked as if it were going to be a quiet night. A woman set up a karaoke stand in a near empty bar.  People looked around and wondered who, if any, would perform.  The music began and an elderly (not too elderly) man got up and started.  His high pitched voice made some smirk, but he was doing it.  Rumors of me redoing my classic Bad Romance butcher job surfaced, but never panned out despite the chanting crowd.  Two of my friends swore they wanted no part of this.  They even left the palce, only to come back when the band at the other place had not been given the opportunity to perform.  All of the sudden I turned and there were nearly forty people in the bar and in the course of the night some of the worst and some of the best singing took place.  But through it all, everyone joined in and laughed.  The night became a sing along with an older crowd version of Glee (in which I took part) sang Don't Stop Believin'.  My good friend sung songs, throwing her own little bits and pieces into it, while her boyfriend played drums with his fingers on the bar, much to the dismay of most around him.  I threw a little Gaga, Hanson and Spice girls into the song I sung (which I couldn't tell you what it was).  I even did a little Shakira hip shake which might have either dislodged my spine or corrected it. People laughed the whole night and when the night ended at 3:45am, with my cheeks hurting and my spirits raised.

Sunday Funday started with many of the same culprits returning to the scene of the crime.  Apparently, my affinity for drinking orange flavored vodka was realized Sunday morning when all the different brands appeared to be emptied from the evening before.  This apparently happens when I go out.  Sunday started with glasses of water replacing shots in the early day.  And then it started. A Sunday regular was overheard with this gem, "Movies that start with C....Seabiscuit!"  And then it began...another evening of laughter that culminated with someone in our inner circle seeing who he thought was the little drummer boy from the previous night and before the patron could walk in the door he yell "hey fuckhead, no more drums."  In about a half a second he realized that this was not actually the same person as the night before and while apologizing for the case of mistaken identity we all began to laugh uncontrollably.  It was classic.

There were other instances of hilarity as news spread quickly about the bottle of hand cream in my car.  Rumors swirled about my love of red lights, incurable chafing and of course my infatuation with Justin Beiber (which I actually believe I started).  Of course some people also noticed napkins on the floor and took it upon themselves to stick the napkins to my dashboard and gear shift.  Thanks. It was both hilarious and degrading at the same time and I'm totally cool with that.  There was one friends inability to read the karaoke words fast enough to muster any words, so he just stuck to the chorus of "I did it all for the nookie, the nookie, you you can take that cookie and shove it up your ass," which if you know the song is about 75% of the lyrics.  Somehow I think it made the song better than the original.

You know you had a good night when your body aches in a good way.  Your stomach almost cramps from being doubled over so many times.  I'm looking forward to more nights like this, because these are what keep us going.  That get us through the tough times.  That brighten even the darkest of days.  For everyone who took part, who added to the experience, I thank you and look forward to doing again.  Soon!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The End of Summer

OK, this summer actually has a week left in it, but it's winding down.  Kids are in school, the weather has started to change and soon the leaves will become beautiful hues of yellow and orange.  Then again, we could have what we had last year and the beginning of this year and Autumn might go the way of Spring and never actually show up.

Many sun worshipers are saddened by Summer's passing.  I am not one of these people.  I don't like sweating and summer makes me sweat.  There is something special about getting up on an Autumn morning and feeling that slight chill in the air. Having a hot cup of coffee on a brisk Sunday morning, knowing that your day will be filled with football and friends.  I remember when I was younger hitting the field with friends playing tackle football.  Coming home bruised, but refreshed.  A hot shower and some lunch got me ready for a day in front of the tube.  It was a special time. 

Autumn is also the most photogenic of all the seasons.  There's something about taking a ride down a path on a bike or jumping in the car to take a drive along a tree covered highway that takes your breath away.  Little kids playing in the fallen leaves, the sun glistening off the bright treetops, it all feels so peaceful.  In the winter you have to sit and listen to those tell stories of the horrible cold, the snow covered driveways they had to shovel and the near death experiences they had, all because they needed to stock up on toilet paper and bottled water before the white Armageddon arrives.  In the Spring people start saying how hot the summer is going to be and how schools out and they can't handle the idea of actually having to spend time with their children.  Oh, the horror.  In the Summer, I'm always amazed at how all the folks who bitched about the cold have the audacity to complain about the heat. The summer also brings out way too much skin from people who shouldn't ever be shirtless (myself included).  These complaints, these visions of terror don't happen in theAutumn.  The kids are at school, so stay at home moms can get back to banging the gardener. Dad is off the hook because the kids have play dates and he doesn't have to turn off the Internet porn in his man cave to go have a catch with little Joey.  Kids are reunited with their friends their parents don't allow them to see in the summer because of their ethnicity or religious affiliation.  It's a good time for almost everyone.

Everyone smiles in the fall.  Everyone but teachers.  They bitch and moan about their horrible seven hour days, in which they have to endure five 45-minute classes (and do it for about 80 days less than anyone else who works a 9-to-5).  Oh I know, the preparation.  Because you really need to brush up on your quantum physics to teach a six year old that if he traces his hand, he can turn it into a turkey.  Fucking awesome. I know some of you out there actually work hard at trying to get these disobedient little wankers to actually learn something other than the lingo on the Jersey Shore and how to text in class, but I'm just making a point here, so shut it.  Ironically, I love Autumn, because school is back and I get to teach my after school program.  I get to reunite with the wonderful kids I had the year before and meet some new ones.  Every once in a while a kid who has outgrown the program or the school will come back and say hello.  It means the world to me.  It's the only time, for the most part, I'm truly happy.  Sure there are times when Stoli O has me out at a bar, throwing singles at elderly women, but that's got nothing to do with the seasons and in the end, the novelty wears off and I'm sad again. 

Seriously, the cool weather and the two hours a day I'm with "my" kids is the most special time.  It's the only time I feel I make a difference in this fucked up world.  Sometimes it's teaching a kid how to hold a bat, sometimes it's explaining what sportsmanship is or the importance of being part of a team.  Sometimes it's as simple as showing a kid who is down some attention.  It's these little things that sometimes take nanoseconds that make my day.  Being appreciated, even more, being looked up to, is a wonderful feeling.  Overhearing a kid in the hall telling his friends how awesome you are is the single best feeling you can have.  At least for me.  I do this class throughout the school year, but Autumn is special, because it's the birth of a new year and they just seem to get better.

So next Thursday, while the radio and TV hosts lament about the end of summer.  The person you work next to begs for "one more week."  Or your neighbor starts his leaf blower at 7am.  Take a moment, go outside and take a deep breath.  There will be no humidity in the air and the crispness of the cool air will fill your lungs with excitement.  Realize that the day will look beautiful and the trees and sky will smile back at you. When the day comes to a close, you can curl up with your Snuggie and watch some Norwegian Nazi Zombie flick (no really, there is one called Dead Cold and it's not half bad), while sipping your favorite soup.  I don't know about you, but that's a perfect day for me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Favorite Foods A-Z

I'm always thinking about food.  Cooking it, eating it, just watching shows about it makes me happy.  I love talking about food almost as much as I do sports.  Recently, it dawned on me that I spend almost as much time reading cookbooks and magazines about food as I do reading about anything else. I love thinking about something I'm going to make when I win the lotto and have a kitchen big enough to make something other than eggs and bacon.  I know it's an excuse that pretty lame, because I have made some pretty nice stuff in my tiny space. 

Since I'm similar to most in that I'm consumed by reading lists, I'm going to write a little A-Z about my favorite foods.  Some might have descriptions or reasons, some I feel are self explanatory.  Now realize, these are foods, not dishes. So here it goes.  Bon Apettit!

Avocado: I used to hate them, but now a nice slice or two on a burger makes it "california-ized."
Bacon: Everything is better with bacon.
Chorizo: A week doesn't go by that I don't eat something with chorizo.  Usually a Burrito.
Duck:  There are few things more decadent than a perfectly roasted duck.
Escargot: Buttery goodness in every bite and the consistency adds another layer to the enjoyment.
Feta:  Recently I've really been into feta cheese.  Coupled with grapes, figs and a nice bottle of wine. Perfect!
Garlic:  See bacon.
Haricot Vert: OK, So it's French for green beans, but they are thinner and tastier than American beans.
Italian Ice: Although I've always found the ones sold by Spanish street merchants better, it's pretty close.
Jam: I don't love jam, but I'm at a loss with Js. I don't use Jam on toast, but love it to sweeten marinades.
King Crab: I just recently realized how great this lump crab meat is. Makes lobster taste like cardboard.
Lamb: If I was on death row. I'd have lamb chops, with a lamb burger and then a lamb shoulder and mutton!
Mushrooms: This is funny, because I've only been eating them for three or four years.
Nectarines: Can you think of another food that starts with N?
Onion: Sorry oysters, oxtail and okra. The onion can be done so many ways for me to pass it up.
Potatoes: For the same reason as onions, I skip peaches, pineapples and pork. My favorite veggie.
Quail: A slightly stronger flavor than chicken with some oiliness makes this great to fry or in stews.
Rice: I know, pretty boring, but put a delicious sauced dish on a bed of rice and it's like two meals in one.
Scallops: The subtle taste of the sea goes with just about any dish. Sorry shrimp, swordfish and spinach.
Tuna: Raw or seared, I could eat this almost every day.
Ugli Fruit: A cross between a grapefruit and a mandarin orange - only had it once, but it was wonderful.
Venison: For those of you who have been scared off by the word "gamey," it's all a load of bull. It's amazing.
Watermelon: Wasabi is a close second, but nothing is better in the summer than a cold fresh watermelon.
Xia: OK it's Chinese for Shrimp, but I wasn't writing Xantham Gum.
Yuca: If you know anyone of South American decent, you've had this glorious potato like food.
Zucchini: Another childhood nightmare food, I've come to love. Rollatini anyone?

So there you have it. A-Z.  I'm sure others will come to mind and obviously, this almost has to lead into an A-Z of my favorite dishes, but for now I'm going to leave it as best foods.  I should point out I've never tried Foie Gras, can't remember what urchin taste like and have yet to indulge in Ostrich and Kangaroo.  So there are many things waiting to replace some items on my list. Any thoughts?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Droid: A Love Story

Remember when we were young?  You would pick up the phone, stick your finger into the dial and turn it.  Calling a friend was a workout compared to today's technology.  Your friend would answer and you'd get together and hang out.  Chatting away like crazy until you left.  Many times you'd return home and call that same person up and talk even more on the phone.  Wow, how things have changed.

Now you text five friends and hope that someone meets you out.  Once out, you chat lightly, all the while, checking your phone for messages from people you aren't with. It's disgraceful. I am guilty of it too, so I am not judging.  The other night, while laying in bed, recovering from my weekend of debauchery. I was checking my phone. People were saying hello on Facebook to each other and were in the same restaurant.  What have we become?  Sure it's funny, but have we gotten to the point where a 10-step walk to say hello is too difficult?  How is it that we find it acceptable to say hello via technology instead of a handshake or a tap on the shoulder.  I fear that we have lost the ability to socialize the way we used to.  Sure, we go out, laugh and get into debates, but all the while we're checking our phones for some other stimulation.

The other night while discussing who was the greatest quarterback of all-time, the conversation quickly turned, as it must, to Internet porn.  I made a comment about how porn on your phone is so much greater, because on that tiny screen the guy's cock isn't that big. Porn stars scare me.  Not for any other reason than I worry someone I might become intimate with might have seen John Holmes, Ron Jeremy, Peter North or any other of the wonderful actors who have units that resemble a baby's arm holding an apple. How can I, er measure up? (Did I go overboard by naming three male porn stars?)  Anyway, it is my feeling that phones will eventually make their way into the bedroom. I feel that sooner or later, you'll meet someone online, you'll get into separate beds and text (or sext as the kids say) instead of sharing tender moments while handcuffed to a bed post yelling through a ball gag.

I recently entered the new era of cell phones when I lost my piece of shit Versa and acquired a Droid. I didn't get the newest model and I'm somewhat thankful.  I can't imagine having a better phone with more gadgets and gizmos.  I might spontaneously combust.  The damn thing chooses words for me.  OK, sometimes it picks the wrong word, but hey, sometimes I'm just in the mood for a sovereign donut.  I love my Droid. I love the fact it says "Droid" in a robotic voice, I love that it's not a half an ounce and it's dependable. I sleep with the fucking thing for Christ sake.  I don't mean in an intimate way.  My Droid has never been to me what gerbils are to Richard Gere, but I woke up to find it covered in saliva.  God I hope that was saliva!  I do take comfort in it being by my side.  I'm a single male and anything that can tell me the time, let me talk when I want to, let me know the score of the game, beats me in chess and has the ability to watch Laurence Fishburne's little girl having sex, all while I'm sitting at a bar talking to friends is something I can't live without.  I can do without food, shelter, and clothing (although many out there are happy I have some), but I can not live without the one love of my life.  My Droid!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

College and Pro Football Predictions.

Ok, this isn't really a blog, but more like evidence of my brilliance.

So here it goes - first college.  The Preseason Rankings have Alabama, Ohio St, Boise St., Florida and Texas

The final rankings going into the bowls will be
1. Ohio St. - Terrelle Pryor proves he's the beast with the Heisman and a National Championship
2. Florida - undefeated season without Tebow shocks the nation
3. Oklahoma - the post Sam Bradford Era starts with a bang, but nudge even though undefeated
4. Boise St. - loss first game of the season to Virginia Tech ends National champ hops
5. Alabama - early season loss to Florida and late season loss to Auburn dooms them

As for the  NFL

East - Patriots 11-5
North - Ravens 10-6
South - Colts 12-4
West - San Diego 13-3
WC - Miami 9-7, Houston 9-7

East - Cowboys 13-3
North - Minnesota 12-4
South - New Orleans 11-5
West - San Francisco 10-6
WC - Green Bay 9-7, Chicago Bears 9-7 (that's right, three playoff teams from one division)

AFC Championship San Diego over Baltimore
NFC Championship Cowboys over Minnesota
SuperBowl Champs - it kills me to say this, but Dallas Cowboys!