Archive for the ‘Life’ Tag

Where Have You Gone, Charlie Tweeder??   Leave a comment


A nation turns it's lonely eyes to you?

My wife and I have very different tastes when it comes to movies.  She’s a fan of drama, mystery/crime, and horror – aka movies you watch one time until you forget most of the plot then you can watch them again (I bought her Alpha Dog as a joke present once and she loved it).  I am more a fan of comedy movies where you can re-watch them many times as the plot of the film isn’t as important as the jokes that remain funny no matter how many times you see or hear them (I have seen Step Brothers and The Burbs roughly three hundred times each).  Because of that difference of opinion, it is rare that we both agree on a movie to watch.  One exception to this rule is Varsity Blues.  My wife likes it because, well, to be honest, it has just enough drama and more importantly Dawson and the guy from The Fast and the Furious either have their shirts off or wear shirts without sleeves for a good portion of the film.  I like it because of Charlie Tweeder, the hilarious, over-the-top party character who was basically Stiffler from American Pie with a 4.4 forty-yard dash and hands that could catch any pass thrown in his direction…and because when compared to Billy Bob I actually appear to be in half-way decent shape.

I re-watched the movie a little over a week ago and began to wonder where movies like Varsity Blues went.  Remember teen movies from the 1990’s?  Specifically 1999? American Pie, Can’t Hardly Wait (1998…sorry), She’s All That, 10 Things I Hate About You, Drive Me Crazy, and Varsity Blues (basically all the movies Teen Movie made fun of)?  What happened to over-the-top, exaggerated teen movies?  Most had every high school demographic represented:  the overly popular jock, the less popular but more easy-to-relate-to-guy, the gorgeous cheerleader/snotty/morally questionable girl, the not as gorgeous but still cute and much more down to earth “other girl”, the somewhat lovable geek, and the crazy party guy.  The plot usually centered around a party, prom, or game that was so larger-than-life it usually involved a choreographed dance number or participants who looked like pro athletes.

This man changed teen movie history?

Somewhere between 2000 and 2004, the “teen movie” concept changed.  Loser, although a huge bomb, and American Wedding, where the band geek and Jason Biggs (coincidently, the lead in Loser) ended up together and Stiffler became a softie instead of the party-hard lacrosse jock we met years earlier, started the trend that Napoleon Dynamite eventually mastered.  Instead of glorifying how high school unfortunately tends to be with the rich, attractive, and athletic kids getting the majority of the attention and always coming out on top, the movies focused on portraying what some would call the “lesser” groups and showed them winning (Charlie Sheen your copyright money is in the mail…I promise) over the popular groups.  Napoleon shopped at thrift stores and could barely handle riding a bike.  Despite those “limitations”, we couldn’t get enough of him and we couldn’t stand the former over-the-top jock Uncle Rico.  “Ligers” and “bo staff skills” became regular topics of conversation.  “McLovin” became a cultural icon.  Michael Cera and Jonah Hill, two guys who would have been cast as “the Sherminator” and a sober driver in 1999, were able to be leading-role caliber movie stars in the new century.

As a former high school cross country and track runner, I appreciated these movies as they were about guys like me when I was in high school.  I weighed 120 lbs soaking wet.  I was a smartass, but wisely always avoided running my mouth to the wrong people.  My friends and I did really dumb things with a lot of our weekends, including filming our own versions of “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” music videos and marching through Wendy’s restaurants chanting “I’m the Whiz” from Seinfeld.  I dated girls, but they were never the future model, “prom queen”-types (if any of you are reading this, sorry, but it’s true…also, my phone and address are unlisted and my wife, thanks to the massive pregnancy hormones, now has Hulk-like strength).  They were smart, normal, and down to earth …and according to 1999 teen movies, they, and I, were bad things.

Unfortunately, if the ebb and flow of teen movies of the past is any indication, teen movies will eventually swing back to the Usher-led dance number movies of the late 1990’s.  After doing a little research, I realized this had already happened in the 1980’s.  Movies like Risky Business, All the Right Moves, and Sixteen Candles opened the decade with the same types of parties, proms, and characters seen in films like those in the late 90’s.  One could argue the turning point of the decade was Teen Wolf, where we saw Michael J. Fox be a part of both sides of the spectrum, with the nerdy, unathletic side eventually winning out over the cool, white leisure suit wearing, unstoppable basketball player “wolf” and the less attractive, girl next door character of Boo winning Fox’s heart over the gorgeous and extremely popular blonde Pamela Wells character.  Following Teen Wolf, movies like The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and The Goonies featured beloved “geek”-like characters who triumphed over or won the respect of the high school elite.  When this will happen again, I have no idea.  My guess would be sometime after Glee runs it’s course on TV and once the Jonas Bros. hit the weight room.

To close and answer your questions, yes, I really did go through and look this stuff up.  Yes, I had that kind of spare time today.  Below is a list of teen movies in chronological order with release years from the 1980’s through today that shows what I am talking about:

Risky Business 1983

All the Right Movies 1983

Sixteen Candles 1984

Footlose 1984

The Karate Kid 1984

Teen Wolf 1985

Weird Science 1985

Just One of the Guys 1985

Breakfast Club 1985

The Goonies 1985

Pretty In Pink 1986

The Karate Kid Part 2 1986

Lucas 1986

Ferris Buehler 1986

Say Anything 1989

The Karate Kid Part 3 1989

Clueless 1995

Can’t Hardly Wait 1998

American Pie 1999

Cruel Intentions 1999

She’s All That 1999

10 Things I Hate About You 1999

Varsity Blues 1999

Drive Me Crazy 1999

Bring It On 2000

Road Trip 2000

Loser 2000

Van Wilder 2002

American Wedding 2003

Napoleon Dynamite 2004

Juno 2007

Superbad 2007

Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist 2008

The House Bunny 2008

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World 2010

Easy A 2010

Thanks IMDB.com

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A Bite Out of Bluetooth…   3 comments


Technology improves people’s lives.  I have been a firm believer of this ever since I put my first copy of Oregon Trail into the old Apple IIe and promptly learned to stay away from any situation where cholera and dysentery may end my life or that of any member of my family.  Who knows, without that knowledge I may have been lost fording a river or passed on to the other side due to exhaustion years ago.  That explains my stellar 60% completion rate of the lists my wife leaves for me on my days off.

Andy and I could very well have shared the same fate...

Unfortunately, after moving to the far suburbs and being exposed to it everyday, I have found a technology that I am convinced was created solely for the purpose of annoying me to no end – Bluetooth Technology.  Please don’t get me wrong, I am all for safe driving and I see the validity of using Bluetooth in your car.  I actually enjoy pulling up next to a person who appears to be talking to his or her self as it makes me feel a little saner.  Professionals in a busy office or workplace?  Bluetooth until you’re blue in the face as I am sure you have a million things going on during your day and need both hands free.

Where I don’t see the necessity of Bluetooth head sets is in public places like Panera Bread, the Panera Bread right by my work, to be exact.  You may be asking yourself, “How is talking on Bluetooth in line any different than talking on a cell phone?” and I am glad you asked.  When one talks on a cell phone, the mouth piece is near one’s mouth and the talker realizes this and generally speaks at a normal level.  This is different with Bluetooth as the earpiece with the seizure-causing blinking light is far away from the speaker’s mouth so the speaker yells his or her end of the conversation.  Did you know that Ashley went into an empty bedroom with Ryan, who happened to be dating Amanda at the time, at Gia’s New Years Eve party while Gia’s parents were away for the weekend in Wisconsin?  I did because I was lucky enough to be in the same zip code of the nameless friend of Amanda who was conflicted as to whether she should tell Amanda because she kissed Ryan at a party a few weeks back and doesn’t want Amanda to find that out if she confronts Ryan and he comes clean about everything.  OMG.

A friend of mine used to list his “dislikes” on his Facebook page when we were in college and #2 on his list was “Bluetooth Technology” (#1 was Elijah Wood…BT came in a whole three spots ahead of Harry Potter and five above “grown men on razor scooters”…nice work, AJ)  I never really agreed with him because I thought “grown men on razor scooters” was one of the more ridiculous things I had ever heard, but I have seen the light, AJ – the irritatingly intense, bright, blue, blinking, brain-bedlam-inducing light.

Consider this a public service announcement

“S#*% My Wife Does That I Don’t Understand” Vol. 2   4 comments


As this is the second installment of “S#*% My Wife Does That I Don’t Understand”, I must preface this entry by again saying that I love my wife and that if she ever had time or the desire to write anything like this about me, she would have enough material to fill a 12 volume set.

A few nights ago my wife and I were peacefully asleep when I woke up to a low growl coming from our dog at the foot of the bed.  I assumed she was dreaming and thought nothing of it until I felt her stand up in bed.  I looked up and she was standing over me growling at the main entry door to our bedroom (there is a second door that goes through the master bath…that’s important for later…).  At the same moment I began to hear a faint rendition of the creepiest Christmas song of all time (click here and listen before continuing your reading).  A wave of terror swept over me but promptly left as I decided that the cat must have hit a Christmas decoration that played that song.

Then the song got louder.  And louder.  And louder.  I realized we had no decoration that played that song because, no matter how nice the words were, I always thought the tone and chanting of it were too creepy to be enjoyed during a holiday.  Our dog started growling louder.  And louder.  And louder.  Uh-oh.  That same wave of fear swept over me again as my wife popped up from her slumber to ever-so-loudly yell, “What the $#%@ is that?”  A childhood of staying up late to watch Child’s Play, Halloween, and Friday the 13th movies caused my mind to snap into “there is a psychotic man dressed in a Santa costume with a radio and gun/sword walking down my hallway” mode.  Do most people EVER enter this mode?  No, but it was 3:00 AM and again my formative years were filled with me witnessing indestructable serial murderers killing teenagers for fun.  Also, it didn’t help that a few months back we were informed from a detective from the police department that our house used to be rented by drug dealers.

“I have no idea…I’ll check it out, stay here.”  I put on my glasses and climbed out of bed.  I realized then why my dad always had a 2 x 4 underneath his side of the bed.  There I was in a pair of polar bear boxers with nothing to defend myself with against whatever was coming down the hallway but Jack Johnson and Mr. Tom O’Leary.  Crap…this is absolutely not the story I want in my obituary.  The song was so loud it sounded like it was right outside the door so I ran around the bed and into the hallway ready to be instantly mauled by Satan with a Santa hat.

Nothing.  Not a damn thing.  I crept down the hall and the music started to sound like it was coming from back inside the room.  As the dog started to bark I realized whoever/whatever was out there must have heard my wife yell and went around to the other entrance to the bedroom and was now inside.  That means he/she/it is fast, too.  That’s exactly what a guy who polished off two Whoppers (fine, you caught me, I had onion rings, too…are you happy?) for dinner wants to go up against in the middle of the night.  Super.

I ran back into the bedroom donning my very intimidating polar bear boxers again ready to do whatever it is I am supposed to do in that situation.  Yet again, nothing.  It then became crystal clear what was going on.  We were dealing with some sort of crazy, invisible gremlin creature hell-bent on ruining Christmas by torturing a young suburban couple with creepy chanting music and spells of invisibility.  (Did I mention this took place at 3:00 AM?)

As it turns out, I was wrong on all accounts (go figure).  “Oh God!” my wife yelled, again making me think something is about to jam an axe into my back, “It’s my Iphone.  I must have turned on Pandora radio in my sleep and it went to the Christmas station.  Sorry, baby.”

Sorry??  Sorry, you say??  My heart rate is in the thousands and I get “sorry”.  Thank you, honey.  I may not have died defending the house and your life that night, but those few minutes will most likely end my time on this earth five years earlier than I was set to go before.

Merry Christmas and watch out for those invisible gremlin creatures.  They’ll get ya…

Here Comes D-Rose…   4 comments


In Chicago, the collective sports fan base desires and demands greatness each and every season.  Greatness alone isn’t good enough for us, though.  We need greatness with some flare, some pizzazz.  The ’85 Bears wasn’t just the greatest football team ever assembled, those guys were monsters (monsters who could awkwardly dance and pretend to play instruments better than anyone else…ever) led by a coach with a fictional hurricane named after him.  The Bulls of the 90’s?  It wasn’t enough that we had the best player to ever play the game, the best “Robin” to set foot on a basketball court, and the best pro basketball coach of all time, we also needed Horace “Fo-Man” Grant with his crazy goggles and Dennis “The Worm” Rodman with his hair follicle antics.  The 2005 Sox won with the most hated catcher outside Chicago and most beloved instigator in the Windy City behind the plate.  Last year’s Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup thanks to an overtime goal by a kid we embraced for beating up a cabbie in Buffalo.

When we as fans finally witness such greatness, we cherish it and hold onto the memories for the rest of our lives.  We carry it around with us ready to throw it in an out of towner’s face anytime he or she tries to tell us that Tom Brady’s near perfect Patriots team could have beaten the Bears Shufflin’ Crew.  When Bill Simmons in his Book of Basketball told the world his hometown 1986 Celtics were the greatest NBA team of all time, we scoffed and (seriously, I might add) asked, “Who would cover Tony Kukoc on that team?”  There is a reason the Chicago Bulls 1990’s Dynasty DVDs are selling on Amazon.com for almost $300 right now while the Lakers Dynasty DVDs are going for a mere $15.  The demand for those memories is just that much greater in the Chicago sports fan population.  I can guarantee that if you are a true Chicago sports fan, either you or someone you know owns the Super Bowl Shuffle VHS or you have downloaded it onto your MP3 player and you can probably still recite at least some part of the song.

I am here to let you know that we are on the cusp of greatness yet again.  There is a hometown kid, born and raised right here in the Second City, who is in the process of making the leap to being not only a solid MVP candidate this year (give Tim Legler two weeks before he’s saying the same thing), but one of the NBA’s greatest players.  He has rejuvenated a franchise that has been in the dumps for over ten years and is doing so with speed we haven’t seen before and new-found gusto (have you seen the commercials with “Slim Chin”?).  Through 20% of this season, Derrick Rose has led a team without its major free agent signing power forward to a 9-6 record atop the Midwest Division, including the first winning record on the dreaded “circus trip” since The Statue won his last ring.   Through fifteen games he is averaging 27 points, 8 assists, and nearly 5 rebounds per game.  Of course you can say the scoring numbers will drop when Carlos Boozer returns to the line up, but with a solid and consistent (sorry Taj Gibson) post scorer, his assist numbers will only increase.  Just for argument’s sake, if Rose conservatively averages 24 points and 9 assists per game for the rest of the season, he will finish the season in a group occupied only by Oscar Robertson, Nate Archibald, and Jerry West.  Of these players all achieved First Team All-NBA Honors and all but Archibald won the MVP (Archibald had a bit of an attitude problem that led him to be traded twice in the prime of his career…D-Rose has no such attitude problem.  In fact, players around the league like Kobe Bryant and even the spurned child of Chicago Kevin Garnett go out of their way to compliment him and his dedication to the game).  In addition, all were honored as members of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996 and are enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

If you aren’t already one of the bandwagon jumpers who have joined in the Chicago Bulls herd, you should look into doing so and fast (at the very least for the United Center Nachos…).  I have noticed people who couldn’t tell me the difference between a small forward and a hole in the ground posting Facebook status updates about the resurgence of the franchise and it is only going to get better from here.  In the words of the immortal Stacey King (see, my argument exactly, in no other town would a former bench player turned color commentator like Stacey King be so loved and revered as in Chicago), “this kid is special”.  Stacey’s right and I hope ALL of Chicago and the rest of the NBA start to take notice.

What Really Grinds My Gears…   2 comments


 

Taylor Swift has a new album out.  I know this because my mom drops off old copies of People magazine whenever she sees me and I read them.  Yep, I said it.  I read People magazine.  Go ahead and take a few minutes to laugh at my expense or take the extra step and send an email questioning my masculinity and come on back and continue reading.

In the last issue I read a piece on Taylor Swift and her new album filled with her self-written songs of heartache and broken relationships.  The article talked about how strong of a young woman she is to not only continue on through such heartbreaks but to be able to put them into words, especially after dealing with the embarrassment that came from the Kanye West debacle in September of 2009.

Warning:  This is about to take a Peter Griffin “You Know What Really Grinds My Gears” turn.  A teenage girl has some heartache and is strong for “continuing on”?  In high school I had a girl tell me she wouldn’t date me because she “needed some sort of looks in a relationship” and I managed to not jump off a cliff.  Where was my People photo shoot?  Actually, that makes sense…a kid who was too ugly to date is most definitely too ugly to appear on the cover of a magazine. 

But seriously, I am supposed to feel sorry for Taylor Swift for having her heart broken by John Mayer – the same John Mayer that has privately used and publicly dumped Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Simpson, and countless others?  How naïve can someone be to think that wouldn’t turn out poorly?  People is applauding Taylor for falling into the “good girl who thinks she can change a bad boy” role that has plagued women for centuries, just ask Kelly Taylor about alcoholic millionaire Dylan McKay or Kelly Kapowski about NBC star and pot smoker Johnny Dakota (“There’s no hope with dope” – thanks SBTB gang).  Joe Jonas wasn’t the wholesome knight in shining armor you thought he would be?  You’re right, a former Disney star has never grown up to be something other than the chastity-loving model citizen the network made him or her out to be (see Spears, Britney; Aguilera, Christina; Cyrus, Miley; Hudgens, Vannesa; and Timberlake, Justin).  Who would’ve thought guys usually aren’t exactly what they claim to be on the first few dates?  Like Van Wilder said, “first dates are interviews” and most people are out to make themselves look as desirable as possible.  I told my wife that, despite what the inside of my car looked like on our first date, I was not a messy person.  Guess what?  I’m probably one of the messiest people you will ever meet.  Just a warning if you are planning on trying to date the likes of Dave Coulier (he’s not really like Uncle Joey, just ask Alanis Morissette) in the future, T-Swift.

 So, in conclusion, if we are going to appreciate Taylor Swift, let’s do so for her musical talents and the fact she has managed to be a famous young woman that has avoided rehab and sex tapes instead of her ability to get over failed attempts at romance with guys she is too attractive for anyways. 

Oh, and I was totally not too ugly to date.  And that girl had way too much gum in her smile anyways…just saying…

World Premier…   4 comments


Let me start this off by saying that I love my wife.  She’s an amazing woman who does things on a daily basis that impact others’ lives in ways I can only dream about.  Having said that, on occasion she also does things that leave me shaking my head in confusion.  This story is one of those instances and the premier of “S#*% My Wife Does That I Don’t Understand”.  (Disclaimer:  If she ever had time or the desire to write anything like this about me, she would have enough material to fill a 12 volume set.)

As anyone who read my last post knows, we had a furnace put in this past Friday.  Our utility room where the furnace is housed is also home to a good amount of random crap.  My wife, being the considerate person she is, cleared out the room so the workers could easily move around.  In doing so, she also disturbed some of the uninvited guests we’ve had come into our warm house from the cold outdoors through the backyard access door in that room.  As I later found out when I noticed what appeared to be a slow moving black golf ball with legs on our bedroom wall, one of these guests was apparently the spider from the wine cellar scene in Arachnophobia.  With the string of obscenities that flew from my mouth, she woke up in a panic and asked what was wrong.  I told her about the spider and she casually responded, “Oh yeah, I saw that thing earlier.  It was in the towel under the litter box.  It ran into the bedroom after I screamed.  I looked it up online and I think it’s some sort of wolf spider or something.”  Phew, good thing Al Gore invented that internet and thanks for the creation story of the tyrannosaurus rex arachnid twenty feet away from where we sleep, honey.  The part I failed to catch was where you stepped on it with your shoe instead of welcoming it to kill us in our sleep.

I don’t want to be married to Xena the Warrior Princess or anything, but is killing a spider that tough?  Maybe I am asking to have my cake and eat it too here, but when I’m home, feel free to act like you’re really scared and let me get all Rambo/Boba Fett on insects 1/100th my size, but when I’m not around throw on some Pink/Alanis Morissette angry woman music and channel your inner G.I. Jane/Ellen Ripley/Chun Li/Sarah Connor and take care of business.  You are the same girl who took a softball off the face, picked up the tooth from the infield dirt, and tried to reinsert it into your gums with your only fear being the possibility of looking like a carnie for the rest of your life.  You walk a half mile through Hyde Park’s finest dimly-lit streets each day for work.  Next time, just smush (not Jersey Shore style) the bug and move on.  Also, the beef in the chilli last week was a little dry…just saying…

Jealous? You will be…   2 comments


We are getting a new furnace put in this Friday because we used Mr. Magoo as our home inspector and he failed to notice the almost 40 year old furnace in the house was shot and spewing out chemicals like a freshman at his first frat party.  I find it weird I get excited about things like new home appliances now.  I remember as a kid I would look at toys and video games in Christmas catalogues and Sunday newspaper ads and get excited about how cool they looked and how much I wanted them.  I used to rummage through closets and drawers and even crawl around in our attic and crawlspace looking for presents each December.  I used to get so excited when I found the presents that I once opened a bunch of Power Ranger action figures and played with them anytime my parents would leave the house and then re-packed and resealed them in their boxes only to put on one of my best acting performances on Christmas morning. 

Now a heating contractor hands me a flyer with specs for my brand new Rheem 95% Efficiency Upflow Gas Furnace and I shoot right back into kid mode.  In-shot burners with a 24-volt slow-opening valve!?!?  Get outta here, I would totally trade my Shaq rookie card for that!  Integrated Furnace Control WITH Standardized On-Board Diagnostics!?!  I’m not sure, but I think the Millennium Falcon had one of those!

The thing is, I have to talk myself into things like this for a couple of reasons:  First, as an adult, the cool presents are just not as plentiful.  I really like to cook and all, but if I told my 9 year old self that I would one day get excited over a spice rack as a Christmas present I would have probably kicked myself in the nether regions and ran away crying.  Secondly, I have to figure out a way to justify spending that much money on something as unfun as a furnace.  “What are you doing this Saturday night, Joe?”  “Oh, its going to be awesome, I am staying in and saving up for my direct spark ignition furnance!”  That just doesn’t sound quite like going to Sluggers’ piano bar and batting cages, does it?  Finally, I can blame my sleepless nights on the pure excitement of a freshly cleaned air conditioning coil getting thrown in for free instead of my wife waking me up just to let me know the temperature in our house just dipped below 45.

So if anyone is looking for an exhilarating experience, give me a call this Friday night and I will gladly let you come out and tell me how jealous you are of my brand new furnace.  If I get a solid enough head count, I will even make a zesty dinner filled with some, but not all of, the 36 spices neatly organized on the metal and wood rack over my oven.