Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
I consider myself to be something of a water bottle connoisseur - I always have one on me and have at one time owned most of the greats including the classic and updated Nalgenes, Klean Kanteen, Kor, and the good old plastic Evians. Although I have made good use of the aforementioned bottles, I'd yet to find the bottle. As such, my ears perked up when, while on the cruise, Maggie claimed to have found the "perfect" water bottle - the Nissan thermos ( http://www.amazon.com/Therrmos-Nissan-Stainless-Backpack-Bottle/dp/B000K604P0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1248100604&sr=8-1 ). Though I was intrigued, I'd been down that road before: someone takes a casual sip from their newest sporty accessory then casually mentions how their life has been revolutionized by the bottle that is getting cooler and cooler the longer you look at it. Skip to two months later after you've invested in the bottle for yourself only to find that the lid doesn't stay on and the bottle doesn't stay upright. Suffice it to say I had my doubts. But Maggie made drinking out of that thing look like so much fun - I had to try it. I've had mine now for about a week. After much contemplation and experimentation, I feel I am in a decent position to review it. Here are my thoughts:
This past week we twice had the opportunity to play Colosseum - once when Mat's friend Mike was in town and then again over the weekend with Maslow and Katrina. Colosseum is a Days of Wonder game that has been well reviewed (according to the sites I viewed when trying to find a good board game to get Mat for his birthday). In general, I like this game - the aim is to put on the best "performance" over five rounds. Each round has five phases in which players either 1. invest, 2. bid on necessary performance components, 3. trade components, 4. put on a show, and 5. tally points. My critique is that 5 rounds each with 5 phases is a bit cumbersome. I have found it difficult to plan far enough in advance to make the most of the later rounds, which are ultimately the most important. I think the game would be much improved with one less round, although Mat pointed out that doing so would require some tweaking to the overall design. In general, this is a game I'd recommend! B
Mat's friend Jason was in town last weekend. He and I are remarkably similar with the exception of one glaring distinction - he requires very little sleep. I decided to take the Jason challenge when he was staying with us, which entails going to bed after him, waking up before him, and drinking... well, there's no point in trying to keep up with him on that front, so the challenge in this domain is really just to function on very little sleep while also sipping on something during the evening. I was sure I'd beaten him on Saturday morning. I of course ended up totally disappointed when I learned that he wasn't still in bed when I came down stairs that morning, rather, he was making small talk outside with the neighbors while finishing up a book he'd started that morning while waiting for me and Mat to wake up. At the end of the weekend all I had to show for myself was a broken finger thanks to some hardcore Wallyballing. Suffice it to say I lost the Jason challenge... AGAIN!
Monday, July 13, 2009
Legendary pop music parodist Weird Al Yankovic has written a touching remembrance for Rolling Stone about the passing of Michael Jackson.
Yankovic, who parodied both Beat It (Eat It) and Bad (Fat), reveals on the magazine's website that Michael was a gracious man who didn't mind being poked fun of and was an avid fan of Weird Al's movie UHF.
The first time around I pursued Michael Jackson about a song parody, it was a shot in the dark. We're talking about the most popular and famous person in the known universe, and here I was, this goofy comedy songwriter. He not only returned our phone calls, but he approved it. He thought it was a funny idea. Then when we did the second parody, "Fat," he was nice enough to let us use his subway set for the video, so he's always been very supportive.
The first time I met him in person was long after I had gotten permission to do "Eat It" back in 1984. There's a contract somewhere that has his signature next to mine, proving that we are the co-writers of "Eat It," which is surrealistic in and of itself. The first time I actually ran into him was backstage at one of his concerts, this was maybe four years later, when Even Worse came out with my second parody, "Fat." I went backstage, and he was seeing a lot of people, but I brought along a gold record of Even Worse to present to him, and he was very gracious and thanked me for it and said some nice things. After the fact, I thought, "That's probably the last thing Michael Jackson needs, another gold record for his storage locker." Seeing him in person was amazing, it was otherworldly. He was and continues to be so iconic, it's hard to even conceive of him as a human being. He always was bigger than life.
Our second meeting was a TV show taping. He was performing "Black or White," and I remember Slash was onstage and I talked to [Michael] briefly afterwards. He told me he would play my movie, UHF, for his friends at Neverland Ranch, and he was very soft-spoken, very quiet, but always very friendly to me.
I considered parodying "Black or White" around that time. Michael wasn't quite so into it, because he thought "Black or White" was more of a message song, and he didn't feel as comfortable with a parody of that one, which I completely understood, and in a way, he did me a huge favor, because I was already getting pegged as the guy who did Michael
Jacksonparodies, and because he wasn't so into it, I decided to go with Nirvana, which wound up revitalizing my career. I don?t know what kind of career I would have today if it hadn't been for Michael Jackson. In a very real sense, he jump-started my career. "Eat It" basically changed me from an unknown into a guy that got recognized at Burger King.