Friday, January 30, 2009

Bonus Question(able)

I'm a couple of days late on this, but I've been busy. Apparently, I should have been busy losing other people's money.

Wall Street firms slashed cash bonuses for New York City employees by 44 percent in 2008, as they reeled from record losses in the securities industry, New York State’s comptroller said in a report issued on Wednesday.

Bonuses fell to $18.4 billion from $32.9 billion in 2007, the largest decline ever and the biggest percentage drop in more than 30 years, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said. The size of the bonus pool is the sixth-largest on record, he said.
So the people who helped us lose a significant chunk of our national wealth punished themselves by rewarding themselves with a measly $18 billion. I would like to second Joe Biden:

"I'd like to throw these guys in the brig," Biden said in an interview with CNBC.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

80's Movie Line of the Week

You know those people who kind of sound like they know what they are talking about, but really have no clue whatsoever? And you know how they are usually the most likely people to really believe that they know what they are talking about, which is the best proof that they have no clue whatsoever? Well, A Fish Called Wanda understood those people.

Wanda: Aristotle was not Belgian, the principle of Buddhism is not "every man for himself", and the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


There is an article on the NY Times website about places in the UK with funny names. Not just funny names, but sophomorically funny names.

These include Crotch Crescent, Oxford; Titty Ho, Northamptonshire; Wetwang, East Yorkshire; Slutshole Lane, Norfolk; and Thong, Kent. And, in a country that delights in lavatory humor, particularly if the word “bottom” is involved, there is Pratts Bottom, in Kent, doubly cursed because “prat” is slang for buffoon.
The funniest towns I have ever been to are Intercourse, Pennsylvania and Ballingarry in Ireland. Anyone else have any?

Friday, January 23, 2009

More Explanation Please

There is a story on the Star website talking about charges being dropped against two sisters because a Kansas sheriff was too busy being charged with extortion of a strip club to pursue the case.

Supposedly, the two sisters had robbed a church. The story goes on to talk about the criminal records of the sisters, and it looks pretty unlikely they are innocent. But in the middle of the story is this paragraph:

In 2004, they were accused of plotting to enroll Birdie Hoaks at Galena Middle School, where she posed as a 13-year-old boy. Felony theft charges in that case were dismissed in 2005.
No further exposition on this topic is presented in the article. I know it isn't integral to the point of the story, but if anything ever cried out for some explanation it has to be that paragraph, right?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Let There Be Rock

My ears are still ringing. I’ve got a bit of a headache. My wallet is a little lighter.

Totally worth it.

As a high school kid, I was a huge AC/DC fan (as a high school kid, who isn’t). I still listen to the boys from Australia, but not regularly. When I found out they were going to be playing at the Spring Center, however, I was ecstatic. There are only a few bands on the planet with the stature of AC/DC that you still have the good fortune to be able to see play.

I went last night with a buddy and a couple of other good guys who were buddies of another buddy. The show was everything I hoped for. Really loud, a little sleazy, visually spectacular and, for all intents and purposes, just a giant party.

It really doesn’t matter that most of the band is about 60 years old. It doesn’t matter that Brian Johnson looks like the spawn of Harvey Keitel and Bette Midler (see below). It doesn’t matter that Malcolm looks like the spawn of Iggy Pop and Gollum. It doesn’t matter that Angus has a clearly visible elastic waistband in his classic schoolboy shorts.

It doesn’t matter because they still rock. They don’t just rock for a bunch of 60 year-olds, they just plain rock. They rolled through their set with more energy than you see out of most bands half their ages.

Tim Finn put a review up on The Star website and, as always, helpfully included a set list.

Setlist: Rock 'N' Roll Train; Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be; Back in Black; Big Jack; Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap; Thunderstruck; Black Ice; The Jack; Hell's Bells; Shoot To Thrill; War Machine; Anything Goes; You Shook Me All Night Long; TNT; Whole Lotta Rosie; Let There Be Rock. Encore: Highway to Hell; For Those About To Rock.

The highlights of the show were the back to back playing of two of my favorites, Dirty Deeds and Thunderstruck, and the back to back playing of TNT and Rosie. TNT included fireballs busting out all over the stage and the classic “oy” chant from the crowd. They followed that up with Rosie, which isn’t one of my favorite AC/DC songs. But anytime you produce a Macy’s Day Parade balloon of an overweight stripper who taps her feet to the beat of the song, you have a pretty good shot at winning me over. If anyone has a decent shot of this, by the way, please let me know and I will link to it. My camera phone is a piece.

Also pretty incredible was the Angus guitar solo 20 feet in the air in the middle of the arena. I was on the floor not quite halfway back, so the whole thing took place within a distance that might have been traumatizing if he had fallen of the platform. And I must say I was afraid he might.

Of course, it wouldn’t be right to talk about the show without mentioning the crowd. For one thing, there were a whole lotta Rosies. Seriously, if they don’t know better, shouldn’t their significant others step up and tell them? Anyway, there were a predictable number of mullets and tanktops.

But most of my entertainment from the crowd came from the guy in front of me who held is arms in the air through most of the concert as though he had just won an Olympic race. The poor guy next to him got a forearm to the face at least 15 times throughout the evening, and handled it pretty well. I managed to avoid his beer-clenching left hand a couple of times as he swayed somewhat in time with the music. During the break between the main set and the encore he tried to sit in his seat, which he had earlier folded up. His lady friend watched him go down and chose to leave him there until the encore began. At the point she helped him to his feet, and he resumed his victory celebration.

I also had the good fortune to meet Rick of local band Local Stranger. Rick told my companions and me about the awesomeness of Local Stranger, their website, and their upcoming show at the Ameristar. More importantly, mid-conversation he pulled out the best David Lee Roth wail I’ve heard since, well David Lee Roth. I will definitely be going to see Local Stranger.

So, it was an awesome show. Worth the time, money, and potential hearing loss. If they come around again, go see them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Movie Quote of the Week

It isn't from the 80's, but it seemed too good to pass up as I watched Aretha Franklin sing on the Capitol steps. The movie is My Fellow Americans (1996), and Jack Lemmon and James Garner are two former presidents on the run.

Russell Kramer: When you were in the White House, who was the person you were most excited to meet?
Matt Douglas: Nelson Mandela.
Russell Kramer: I'm not a reporter.
Matt Douglas: Ella Fitzgerald.
Russell Kramer: Ah.
Matt Douglas: Mandela was a great man, but he couldn't sing worth a shit.

Testing Me

Well, the first possible frustration with Obama came quickly. I wanted to write a little blog post about Dick Cheney, the wheelchair and probably a man-sized safe. But President Obama made a heartfelt and beautiful plea for unity today. I'm going to honor that plea... and maybe I even feel good about it.


Enthusiasm heightened. What a moment!


Can I just point out that I am unreasonably enthusiastic about the Obama presidency? I am caught up in the excitement of this moment. I am caught up in the possibility of new and great things.

I am sure that there will be bumps in the road, disappointments and frustrations. Obama has an incredibly difficult task ahead. But the promise of what is possible is seriously outweighing all of those concerns at this moment.

Happy Inauguration Day!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bushisms Retired

Jacob Weisberg has the finale of his Bushisms series at Slate. It's a top 25, and it is filled with all the classics. Food on your family...Fool me once...Is our children learning... All classic stuff.

But I looked at the series trying to decide which one best summed up the legacy of the man. There were three or four contenders, but I've decided on this one:

23. "There's a huge trust. I see it all the time when people come up to me and say, 'I don't want you to let me down again.' "
—Boston, Oct. 3, 2000
The best part is that this was uttered before he actually became president. It was a warning... an unheeded warning. We can only blame ourselves (and maybe the Supreme Court) for giving him the opportunity to let us down again.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Science Day #3 - Chemical Romance

John Tierney writes amsuingly in the New York Times about the scientific basis for a love potion - and an anti-love potion.

In the new issue of Nature, the neuroscientist Larry Young offers a grand unified theory of love. After analyzing the brain chemistry of mammalian pair bonding — and, not incidentally, explaining humans’ peculiar erotic fascination with breasts — Dr. Young predicts that it won’t be long before an unscrupulous suitor could sneak a pharmaceutical love potion into your drink.

That’s the bad news. The not-so-bad news is that you may enjoy this potion if you took it knowingly with the right person. But the really good news, as I see it, is that we might reverse-engineer an anti-love potion, a vaccine preventing you from making an infatuated ass of yourself. Although this love vaccine isn’t mentioned in Dr. Young’s essay, when I raised the prospect he agreed it could also be in the offing.
Tierney raises some interesting points about the usefulness of the anti-love drug. But if you ask me, you have to be pretty cynical not enjoy acting like an infatuated ass when you get the chance.

Science Day #2 - Face Off

This is one I meant to post about awhile ago, but didn't get around to it. Apparently, doctors can now exchange your Nicolas Cage for somebody else's John Travolta.

The operation, announced yesterday at the Cleveland Clinic, was a face transplant from a corpse. Similar procedures have been done three times before, but this was the biggest. Doctors replaced 77 square inches of the patient's face, from her eyelids to her chin. Go look at yourself in the mirror. That's practically the whole you.

... Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and risk a patient's life to fix a nonlethal defect? The Cleveland doctors give three reasons. First, this patient had facial damage that impaired her physical functions. She couldn't eat normally, and she could breathe only through a hole in her windpipe. Second, faces, unlike kidneys, have social functions. "They are essential to our communication with the world," argues Maria Siemionow, the doctor who led the Cleveland team. They convey emotion as well as speech.
I, for one, cannot wait to go get my new corpse face put on.

Science Day #1 - Planets

Dan has been hitting local politics really hard. Brian has been talking about math and english. Rusty has been discussing high fashion.

Meanwhile, I've been talking about drinks and local talent shows. I feel like I need to get a little education back into this thing. So today is science day. The first order of business on science day is to check in on the universe. It appears we are getting better at identifying planets outside our solar system.

Two separate teams of scientists reported Wednesday the first-ever detection from Earth of the atmosphere of planets outside our solar system.

Taken together, the studies open a new frontier in the study of exoplanets, hard-to-detect celestial bodies circling stars beyond our own solar system.

Barely 300 exoplanets -- some of which may have conditions similar to those that gave rise to life on Earth -- have been identified so far, though astronomers assume that far more are waiting to be discovered.
The planet we found has absolutely zero chance of being hospitable to human life, but you have to start somewhere. Now all we need is a spaceship that can travel at pretty near the speed of light, and people whose lifespans are a couple of hundred years. That's the easy part right?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Old Fashioned

I got an email from the fairer member of the Gone Mild household (hint: not Dan) linking to an article on the NY Times website that covered the subject of my favorite drink, the Old Fashioned. The point of the article is that it is a drink that inspires much debate.

I soon realized that the Old Fashioned is merely one battle line, albeit a significant one, in a much larger discussion among cocktail fans online that sometimes flared with passion (for regardless of the topic, the Internet has become no place for even-tempered debate). And while the subject of how to mix drinks is typically a pleasant one, the debates over proper recipes, spirits, tools and techniques that are conducted in person — typically over cocktails that have been exactingly described to an increasingly exasperated bartender — or on blogs or online forums such as eGullet and the soon-to-be-defunct Drinkboy forums, can sometimes veer into serious, clinically dry and even belligerent arenas.
The author then gives his recipe for an Old Fashioned. I don't completely agree with his recipe, so I thought I would present to you my Old Fashioned instructions (with commentary).

To make a great Old Fashioned you need the following ingredients:

1. An Old Fashioned glass:

2. Ice:
Enough ice to fill that glass beyond where you think you should. This drink should be cold after all.

3. Simple Syrup:
There are a lot of purists who argue for a single sugar cube muddled with a splash of water. Fine I guess, but simple syrup is a mixture of water and sugar. And it is way faster. I usually use about 2 teaspoons.

4. Fruit:
The author of the article derides the addition of fruit a little bit. I disagree. A maraschino cherry and a and a slice of orange (peel on) add some interesting flavor, beautiful color and a little treat while you're waiting for the next one. And if your complain is that it masks the flavor of the whiskey, then you probably shouldn't have put bitters and sugar in your drink either.

The fruit should be muddled at the bottom of the glass with the simple syrup. It helps bring out the flavor that is hidden in the orange peel and helps distribute the flavor throughout the drink. There are a lot of different muddlers in the world. I like this kind:

5. Whiskey:
I like rye whiskey. It's a little spicier and a little less sweet. Those are good things when you are making a drink with a bunch of sugar in it. There are several varieties of rye for sale in KC. On the high end, Sazerac is fantastic. Kind of unnecessary in a drink like this though. I would suggest Old Overholt. It's $10.99 at Berbiglia.

Bourbon works fine, but I would suggest using a less sweet one like Jim Beam rather than something like Knob Creek.

You need two measures of whiskey, if you're into measuring. Otherwise, fill the glass about halfway (with the ice already in it).

6. Bitters:
When you order an Old Fashioned, 9 times out of 10 you will be served a drink made with Angostura bitters. The 10th time you will wonder why you're drink tastes so much better. The answer is likely that it was made with Peychaud's bitters.

Peychaud's is essentially the same thing as Angostura, but it is a little sweeter, a little more flowery and a beautiful red color. You wouldn't want to use Peychaud's in some drinks that call for bitters because of these differences, but in an Old Fashioned they are perfection. Two dashes of bitters do the trick.

To make the drink:

1. Put the simple syrup and the fruit in the glass and muddle.
2. Add the ice (seriously, lots of it).
3. Add the whiskey.
4. Add the bitters.
5. Add a splash of water (I understand that it doesn't make sense, but seems to help blend everything together to me).
6. NEVER EVER TOP THE DRINK OFF WITH CLUB SODA. The worst Old Fashioned's in the world are made with club soda. It turns a wonderful drink into a fizzy, whiskey flavored soft drink.
7. Stir it all together.
8. Drink.

Now if you are someone who thinks I have horribly botched the making of an Old Fashioned, you are welcome to leave your suggestions in comments. I promise I will look at them briefly before continuing to make the drink exactly the same way described above.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

80's Movie Line of the Week

As promised, giving the people what they want -- More Coreys! This time from The Lost Boys.

Sam Emerson: So where're we going?
Michael Emerson: Nowhere.
Sam Emerson: So what's the rush? You're chasing that girl aren't you? Come on, admit it. I'm at the mercy of your sex glands, bud.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Late Night Television

Saturday night I was at a fun house party when my phone rang. The lovely voice on the other end was imploring me to find a television immediately. Apparently, there was some Kansas City version of American Idol on and it was must-see television. How could I decline?

So, I went to the living room and gave a brief explanation of why I was about to turn on the television. The description I gave elicited a mixture of knowing smirks, wide-eyed anticipation and boisterous guffaws. We turned the TV on, found Channel 9 and sat transfixed by what unfolded before our eyes.

It turns out we were watching a show called Harrah's Lucky Break. It really is just an American Idol knockoff filmed at Harrah's featuring local contestants. If you Google it, you will find that you and I may be the only people who didn't know it existed.

Anyway, we turned it on in time to see a single performance and the final announcement. It was only 10 minutes or so, but those 10 minutes contained hours worth of entertainment. The single performance was actually not bad, so it is hard for me to comment generally on the quality of the talent (though it sounds from other reviews that what we saw was an exception). What I can comment on is everything else.

As the oddly decent performance rambled through, the producers felt it important to make sure we got a look at the crowd. Awesome. The crowd seemed to be the result of a casting call for Midwestern casino regulars. The old lady who plays penny slots, the drunk college sports fan who lost his black jack money hours ago, the kids whose parents have reclaimed them after abandoning them to the arcade for several hours and (of course) the all-you-can eat couple. If I get the opportunity, I will watch every episode of Lucky Break just to take stock of the crowd.

There are also the judges, which I gather are different each week, and who are supposedly local celebrities. I recognized no one judging on Saturday night. They were, however, and interesting mix of people who have no business on television. Ditto the host, who perhaps was a local radio host.

At the end, they brought who appeared to be all the finalists to the stage. What I saw there made me sick with remorse that I had not seen the rest of the show. A lady in what may or may not have been a purple velvet dress and a guy in a turquoise suit are quite simply people that I should see perform. Some guy won and made a little speech. Everyone clapped and then it sort of just stopped without a real finish. That is probably the way it should be.

As for Channel 9, they followed this quality programming with a movie that I must believe was designed to enhance the perceived quality of the show that preceded it. The movie was called Theodore Rex. It was about Whoopi Goldberg and a dinosaur that wore tennis shoes who team up to solve mysteries. I am not kidding. Here is the proof:

We watched about 30 minutes of this movie before the curiosity of it could no longer compete with our desire not to see it. The party then resumed normal party activities. I like to think, however, that we all are a little different today because of what we saw. Maybe not better. Maybe not worse. But definitely different.

Friday, January 9, 2009

BCS Not the Dumbest Thing About College Football After All

It is still really dumb. But the voters from the USA Today coaches poll are evidently even dumber. The final AP poll of the year has Florida #1 and Utah #2 (with a few first place votes). Whatever. It's a flawed system, but it is the one we have.

But the USA Today poll has Florida #1, USC #2, Texas #3, and Utah #4. Well, if you don't want to allow Utah into the national championship picture, fine. But to suggest that the perfect season and thoroughly convincing bowl victory over the #6 team in the poll don't merit at least second place is just beyond ludicrous.

Also, the USA Today poll has Missouri 2 spots higher than Oklahoma State, which is farcical. Thank God it's basketball season!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

BCS Bashing Time

With the start of the NCAA basketball tournament comes March Madness. With the Super Bowl comes parties, new commercials and oddly paired classic rockers and modern pop stars. And so on.

But with the end of the college bowl season comes the BCS Championship... and incessent bitching from fans, pundits, teams and anyone else who ever thought about the sport of college football. This year is no different because the BCS, for like the 12th time or something, has screwed up the national title picture again.

Utah proved to be the undoing of the BCS this time around. Rick Reilly has a column in ESPN the magazine declaring the Utes to be his national champion.

Argue with this, please. I beg you. Find me anybody else that went undefeated. Thirteen-and-zero. Beat four ranked teams. Went to the Deep South and seal-clubbed Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. The same Alabama that was ranked No. 1 for five weeks. The same Alabama that went undefeated in the regular season. The same Alabama that Florida beat in order to get INTO the BCS Championship game in the first place...

USC? Great year. Wonderful. Let's all go to SkyBar and celebrate. But it lost to Oregon State, a team Utah beat.

Texas? You think beating Ohio State by a nubby three points gets you the title? The Big Ten was 1-6 in bowl games! That's like pinning David Spade!

Florida and Oklahoma? They lost. Utah never did.

So that's it. Utah is the national champion. The Utes should probably have two now, actually. They went undefeated in 2004, too, and their coach still thinks they were the best team in the land. Smart fella named Urban Meyer. Coaches Florida now.
He makes a pretty persuasive case. And, of course, he is simply one of the legions of pundits and fans all facing this year's incarnation of the injustice that is the BCS.

And just about everyone points to the greedy BCS schools as the reason why this idiotic system remains. Bill James has a BCS-bashing article on Slate, however, that turns the blame around:

In the 1990s there was a strong movement, within the NCAA, to organize a national postseason football tournament. The problem was, had the NCAA in fact organized such a championship, two other events would almost certainly have followed:

1. The smaller schools, which outnumber the big football powerhouses about 5-to-1, would have voted to send a lot of the money to the smaller schools that in fact had not participated in the national championship contest in any meaningful way.

2. The big football schools would have bolted and revolted. They'd have walked out of the NCAA and formed their own organization. The two-tiered system of NCAA and NAIA schools would have been replaced by a three-tiered system with the NCAA occupying the middle tier.

The creation of the BCS system was simply a less dramatic revolt. And, as I said, the BCS schools were right: There is no reason why schools that don't fund programs to participate in the battle for the national championship should share in the proceeds of the contest.
A completely valid point that reminds us that there are two sides to everything... except the argument about whether the BCS will ever produce a satisfying conclusion to the college football season.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What the People Want

Last year I installed a blog counter at the bottom of the page to keep track of how many visits I get. I thought it would be fun to keep an eye on what prompted more people to take a look and what drew crickets. But I hadn't actually gone to the web site to take a look at all the info they collect.

What I found was amazing. In reverse order, here are the top 3 most visited posts in AA history:

#3 - Premier League Fan Zone

I had no idea there were so many soccer fans reading this thing.

#2 - Worthy Cause

This one makes sense because it is basically a list of great restaurants in KC. I love reading other people's lists of favorite eating spots, so why wouldn't other people feel the same way?

#1 80's Movie Quote of the Week (April 17)

This 80's movie quote comes from Haim and Feldman classic License to Drive.

Really? This is the most interesting thing that has ever been on this blog? By the way, it isn't even close. This post has almost twice as many hits as the number two post. I had no idea so many people loved the Coreys so much. Guess it's about time for a Lost Boys quote...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

iTunes Finally Getting it Right

Apple finally moves over to the world of products I would consider using:

Apple said it would begin selling song downloads without the anticopying measures that have been part of its iTunes music store since it opened in 2003. It will also move away from its insistence on pricing songs at 99 cents.
DRM has been one of the silliest parts of the iTunes/iPod experience since they came into existence. The idea that I bought a song but could only use under certain circumstances or burn it a limited number of times was ridiculous. Maybe there is an iPod in my future after all.

Monday, January 5, 2009

He's Good Enough, He's Smart Enough...

and doggone it he's a Senator. Minnesota has ratified Al Franken as the winner of the Minnesota Senate election.

As an aside, I believe this may go down as my least original post ever. It's late in the day, and I'm tired. Cut me a little slack.

80's Movie Line of the Week

So Ghostbusters 2 isn't as good as Ghostbusters. But it does have nerd humor.

Ray: You think there's a connection between this Vigo character and the... slime?
Egon: Is the atomic weight of cobalt 58.9?

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