Saturday, March 27, 2004

Chuckle-worthy: I was very pleased to see a short blurb on Business As Usual over at Midwest Book Review. I will quote it in its entirety:
Business As Usual by David Mazzotta is a wry tongue-in-cheek novel of two up and coming corporate stars - who may at first seem overrated for their slimy true characters and resistance to doing actual work, but who just might be well suited and upstanding individuals compared to the mindless company figurehead, the utterly ruthless albeit beautiful vice-president, the blackmailer who doesn't know what he's doing, and others. A chuckle-worthy tale of schemes and office politics spiraling out of control, Business As Usual is highly entertaining reading from start to finish.

Rockin' good news.
Wheel of Misfortune: My Vegas recounting is only about half done (sorry), but I'm proud to say that I actually finished a couple hundred dollars ahead this time around, mostly thanks to a killer session at blackjack. I never bet games I don't understand and I don't understand roulette, or at least I don't know a good betting strategy, but I made a proxy bet for Miss Kate of $20 on 18. So she finished my trip down $20. But here's an interesting tale of how a group of people beat the roulette wheel using a laser in a cell phone. Paging Dr. Evil.
Slapping to the Oldies: Three reasons you Richard Simmons-haters need to turn a 180. Fast.
  • He is a goofy, rah-rah, semi-fruit nebbish, but he has a certain audience that responds to his particular form of encouragement. He has never forsaken them, which is both smart and decent.

  • Unlike many diet fad guru scam artists (*cough* Atkins *cough*) who claim it's what you eat, not how much, and uncountable infomercial shills for bizarre contraptions to give you rock-hard abs in five minutes a day, he doesn't sugar coat anything. Cut away the treacly sop and he makes it clear to all his followers that losing weight is a matter of willpower.

  • Most importantly, anyone who pisses him off, even an ultimate cage fighter, is subject to a right and proper public bitch slapping.

Something tells me that cage fighter is not going to strike fear into many opponents anymore.
Something You Don't See Every Day: The Exorcist in thirty seconds, re-enacted by bunnies. Magnificent.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Et Cetera: My Vegas essay is coming along, with luck it'll be up this weekend. In the meantime, I'll just set these links down here in case you're interested.
  • A new scent for the man who's looking for that three-years-in-a-cave fragrance.

  • For your inner Emeril, cook-it-yourself restaurants. The author is down on this trend, but I think it's brilliant. The ultimate solution for the gather-in-the-kitchen syndrome. Plus, no dishes to clean.

  • "...table tennis is an intense sport with all the earmarks of big-time athletics -- steroid scandals, colorful characters, Byzantine romances and groupies. Also, there's a lot of glue sniffing."

  • Now that crucifixtion is all the rage, in a particularly grisly development, it seems some guy decided to commit suicide by nailing himself to cross. Turns out, this is not physically possible, as the article deadpans: "When he realized that he was unable to nail his other hand to the board, he called 911." I'm hoping this shows up on an episode of Cops.

  • But perhaps even stupider are the City Council of Aliso Viejo, Calif., where they almost banned Styrofoam cups after learning they were processed with Dihydrogen Monoxide, which was claimed to be a dangerous chemical. To wit: "Dihydrogen monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and kills uncounted thousands of people every year. Most of these deaths are caused by accidental inhalation of DHMO, but the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. " Its other name is water -- H2O. Snopes has the scoop on this long running hoax.

  • "Omigod! I have Chris Rock's old cell phone number!!" And, to coin a phrase, high jinks ensue.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Where Am I?: I think the last week was devoured by locusts. I guess I never really recovered from Vegas. I have spent the entire week unable to stay awake. It's bizarre. Up until this weekend I could barely keep my eyes open -- no excuse for a five day jet lag, so it must have been something else. Who knows? Plus, I just can’t figure out what happened to the little time I had awake this week. It was like some kind of time warp or something. It's all just gone. I did get some fiction written but unfortunately that leaves you high and dry for the time being.

In any event, now that the book signings are over and my weekends are free again, I'll be able to get some stuff going. The Vegas article is coming. And sadly, my tan is fading away....

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Tan, Rested, and Not Quite Ready: I have returned....from Vegas! I got in late last night and am in decompression mode. I got the glistening tan that I wanted so badly when I was in El Lay over the holidays, plus I finished up a couple hundred dollars. Worship me!!!! You will be treated to good long article filled with the requiste judgemental savagery -- not that I'm opinionated or anything. (I have lots of notes to put together so please be patient.)

In the meantime, make plans to come to my book signing this Saturday (March 20th) from 1-3PM at B. Dalton in the Genesee Valley Mall in Flint (map). You will be under no pressure to buy, just stop by and say Hi, or to talk about blogging, or to talk about Vegas, or for no good reason at all. Be there.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Somebody Stop Me: I had hoped to have some original content, but the best I can up with is yet more curious links. Plus, it'll probably be around ten days or so until my next post but at least you have a lot of reading material to keep you nice and unproductive.
  • An English expat football fan hits an Irish bar in New York to catch a football game and gets nasty grub and loads of Guinness all before 10AM, plus some insight into American football fans. By the way, we're not talking about proper football here, this is soccer or, more correctly, metric football.

  • If you know how many halves there are in a basketball game, then you are well on your way to a University Diploma. Guys, at least pretend it’s a real education. Of course, you can get your kids an early start by encouraging them to do nothing.

  • Comical quotes from Murray Walker, who is the Yogi Berra of Formula 1 auto racing.

  • A French study approves of the Big Mac over Quiche Lorraine. Vive le malbouffe!

  • Speaking of Mickey D.'s, they are running a no purchase necessary, just be in the restaurant to win, contest after losing a lawsuit over previous contests being misrepresented.

  • A short list of books that should never have been written. One author even selects one of her own. This is one list I'm happy to not be on.

  • A fascinating series of photos from a Ukrainian woman who rode her motorcycle through the 'dead zone' of Chernobyl.

  • The Sopranos starts tomorrow, but here is some advanced info -- nothing so detailed that it will ruin the season for you.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Tube Notes: Recent TV news that has caught my eye.

Monk Season Finale is Friday. If you don't watch Monk you are missing one of the very finest extended comedic performances seen in a long time, courtesy of Tony Shaloub.

You can think of Monk as a modern day Columbo with a better sense of humor. Ostensibly a police procedural, the "mysteries" range from clever to cheesy and there is no violence to speak of. The charm is in the interplay of the characters with Adrian Monk, an extremely obsessive compulsive Sherlock Holmes. That premise may make Monk seem like a one-trick pony, using the gimmick of Monk's fastidiousness and limitless compulsion for order to generate gags and punch lines. It is to a point, but there's enough leftover personality to care about and Shaloub plays it without any sort of bombast and with utter conviction.

It will run thin eventually, but not yet. Episodes should rerun all summer; catch 'em if you haven't yet.


The Sopranos begins a new season on Sunday and I have mixed feelings about it. They can certainly do good previews -- the one running on HBO is more riveting than most of last season's episodes were. The past three seasons have been uneven with occasional flashes of the brilliance of the first. The movers and shakers behind the series maintain that the topic always was and will be Family, as opposed to Mobhood. That's a good sentiment, but they haven't really meshed the two very well since season one. We know Tony's family is falling apart; he's a scummy husband and a misguided father whose self-delusion shields him from change and guilt. Those facts really do not depend on Tony being the mob boss to be valid. There are plenty of non-mob bosses like that. Since season one, the relationship between the two has been tenuously held through circumstance. Tony's mob connections just accidentally play into the family problems, they are not as deeply interwoven as they were.

The end result is a bit of a disconnect between family soap opera and mob drama. Still, James Gandolfini is one of the most spellbinding actors around and besides, I wanna know what happens and I wanna know who gets whacked. How can you not watch?


Iron Chef U.S.A. redux? I have only seen one report of this so far, so I suppose it has to remain classified as a rumor, but it has been reported that Alton Brown of Good Eats fame is set to host another attempt at an American version of the cult hit Iron Chef. The previous attempt by UPN featuring William Shatner didn't fare too well. This one is from FoodTV so it may fare better (and perhaps have more realistic expectations).


The Family Guy lived in the animated area between The Simpsons and South Park on the outrage scale. It was very funny at times -- anyone who says they never harbored secret dreams of being Stewie is lying. Over the years a cultish following has developed. (I know I watch the reruns while chanting Quahogian incantations.)

It looks like The Family Guy is scheduled to make a triumphant return either to the Cartoon Channel (on Adult Swim, no doubt) or to Fox. If they can recapture the original season or two of top notch shows, they'll have a hit this time around.


The reality of reality. The Wall Street Journal provided a nice list of recent reality TV "concepts" that were under network consideration. It's a subscriber only site so I won't bother with a link but here's a list:
  • "Convict Island" -- former convicted felons live together on an island, competing for prize money to donate to a crime victim's relatives. (NBC passed)

  • "The Contender" -- 16 men learn how to box and take turns fighting each other, with Sylvester Stallone as their task master. (NBC would like to run next winter)

  • "The Jackson Five House" -- Five Michael Jackson impersonators live together, and high jinks ensue. (NBC passed)

  • "The Benefactor" -- Internet tycoon and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stars and promises to give away $1 million to one winner from about 30 contestants. (ABC will run this summer; Cuban says the only goal is to make him happy by any means necessary)

  • "Amish and the City" -- Several Amish 18-year-old men and women leave their community to live in a house in a major city. (UPN plans to run this year, but Amish groups are up in arms. Two questions, why would an Amish person agree to this and what are they doing with TVs anyway?)

  • "I've Got A Monkey on My Back" -- A cross-country relay race that sends two teams passing a monkey as a baton at each leg. (Fox passed)

  • "The Swap" -- Two mothers trade places, and the show follows how the families react. The show is a hit in Britain. (ABC plans to show in 2004)

  • "Iron Lung" -- Smokers in a house compete to see who can quit their habit. The winner would get a lung transplant. (rejected by an unspecified network)

  • "The Virgin" -- A sexually inexperienced guy seeking a mate among women he has been told are equally inexperienced. The twist at the end when he selects one woman as his love: Not only is she not a virgin, she's a porn star. (rejected by an unspecified network)

A single word comes to mind. And that word is cesspool.
And The Rest: More links to make up for previous anemia.
  • All Hail Helix! Thanks in part to your help, Helix is's Ms. February. You folks are the wind beneath my wings.

  • I didn't realize the wolverines had disappeared from Michigan 200 years ago. I'm very disappointed in my alma mater for perpetuating such disinformation. The good news is they're back.

  • I'm also disappointed that my alma mater is not a top ten party school. Clearly they don't understand the real purpose of college.

  • The most pointless research imaginable regarding some flippin' coins. Stanford would have done better to have spent the money on partying awareness.

  • My current favorite travel site. I really wish I was rich. So do the airline and hotel industries.

  • About Last Night, an exceptional arts blog by Terry Teachout, writer for the Arts page of WSJ. Good, smart reading on all forms of art.

  • How to deal with a rodent problem. "So I jump ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas..."