Friday, February 11, 2005
Top 5 favorite Simpsons moments:
1. Sideshow Bob steps on rake after rake in "Cape Feare"
2. Third base coach Monty Burns' signs to Homer at the end of "Homer at the Bat"
3. The final moments between Lisa and Mr. Bergstrom
4. Homer saving Bart from jumping the canyon, then d'ohing his way all the way down, up and back down again.
5. The commercial for "Mr. Sparkle"
Top 5 worst wastes of money:
1. Jungle's Gym.
2. RL Stevens - career assistance. Based out of Boston. Oy.
Top 5 blogs:
2. The Big Ticket
Top 5 most embarrassing movies of my youth:
1. Bad News Bears in Breaking Training
2. The Black Hole
3. Six Pack
4. The Toy
5. My Bodyguard
Top 5 videos, like, ever:
1. Coffee and TV
2. Last Stop: This Town
3. Pumping on Your Stereo
4. True Faith
5. Pyramid Song
gorillaz - dirty harry
paloalto - breathe in
doves - black and white town
scissor sisters - tits on the radio
xiu xiu - i love the valley OH
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
The Super Bowl has (had) Paul McCartney as its halftime entertainment. For the umpteenth year in a row, we had Mize.
Mize is a guy who comes out in a XXXL hockey jersey, looking like an extra from "Slapshot." He enters a makeshift boxing ring, set in the middle of the arena floor, and sets out ten beers in front of him. Again, the lights go low, the spotlight shines down on him, the audience waits, expectant, and...
Mize proceeds to whack himself in the forehead with beercans, a can in each fist, at such velocity that the cans eventually spray and break open. He does this for nine of the cans. In years past, Mize has cut himself, knocked himself unconscious, bled all over himself... God only knows why Mize does this, why he does this in front of tens of thousands of people... but something or someone has suggested to him that this is HIS SKILL.
He looks at the tenth can, looks at his assistant... let's call her Heidi Fleiss. She proceeds to bend over, and, as Mize grabs the tenth can, he starts absolutely flogging her on the ass with a fist full of brew, over and over again, until the (her) can explodes. The crowd goes wild, despite (a) having seen this same act for years and years, now, and (b) knowing that all they have witnessed is an insane person, hitting himself on the forehead with cans of beer. Mize's forehead is red, and I would imagine, is still red today.
Sweet Jesus, where am I? What concentric circle of hell is this?
Evidently, a far-away one, as my father suggests that we take this oppportunity to go downstairs for better seats. "Why?" I ask... "What are we going to see? A better view of the fat people eating themselves to death?"
My Dad looks at me, very serious, and says "Yes!!!" as if my question were the dumbest he'd ever heard. In retrospect, it very well may have been.
So we go downstairs... to watch the second half. The 14 minutes go by incredibly fast... and it sure is fun to watch these fat people eat. When it gets to be a bit much, when I need a break from it all, it sure is fun to see the hookers and strippers continue to take their tops off. Again and again.
All of the sudden, the bell rings, the whistle blows, the gun bangs, whatever it was that marked that the half had ended. All contestants were told to drop their wings immediately. A crowd began to gather around Eric "Badlands" Booker... the crowd murmuring "what's happening? what's going on?" to one another. Seems that Badlands has a mouth full of wings... and just can't swallow it down. He gets a warning from Eric Gregg, that he must swallow it, or it won't count... but the big man simply can't get it down. He can't drink, can't swallow... our man Booker is between a rock and a barf bag. We've all been there, right?
All of the sudden, Gregg waves his arms... AND DISQUALIFIES BOOKER. At first, we are appalled... thrilled to have this foreigner out of OUR competition, yet appalled, still... how can the early leader be thrown out, simply for being unable to swallow (rather than having the contents of his mouth ineligible towards his total)?
Well... the real problem was quite the opposite. Seems that Booker's problems started far earlier, before the audience had realized anything was afoot. Booker had gotten sick... and tried to scoop his sick back into his mouth, hoping that no one would notice.
Read that again. I dare you.
Eric Booker was thrown out for disturbing the most sacred... the Golden Rule of Wing Bowl: "You Heave, You Leave." And so it came to be that the fat man was escorted out, to jeers, insults, and more than a few extra steps taken away from the man.
So, the leader on the scoreboard going into the second half is DQ'd-- DQ'd!-- and it's down to the final three (if I said five, earlier, I apologize). We have Ed "Cookie" Jarvis, yet another 400 or 500 pound behemoth from New York; Sonya Thomas; and yes, El Wingador. What we have, is the potential for a Wing Bowl gone horribly wrong. Only Wingador can save us now. He is our Saviour. There simply is none else.
At this point, much of the crowd had left... to go to work, to put bandages on, to shower, to shower again, to disinfect, whatever. So our row was a bit empty at this point. So I didn't think much of it when a member of the radio station, WIP, sidled in next to my Dad with a mic and asked, "hey yo, pal, what's your name and where you from?" "Michael, from Holland PA."
"You know all the words to the Eagles fight song?" My Dad, embarassed, admits that no, he does not quite know them all.
"Yo, what's your name?" "Dave." "If you can sing the Eagles Fight Song, and lead the crowd, getting every word right... you'll get a prize."
I am shitting bricks at this point. Get to lead the stadium in the Eagles Fight Song? At Wing Bowl? The Friday before the Super Bowl? With my face on the Jumbotron??? I cannot wait; I am, in fact, hyperventilating. As Chris and Jeff know, not only do I know the friggin' fight song, but I've been regaling them with the damned thing for weeks, now. I tell all of this to the guy, he says for me to stay put, he'll be right back.
The Final Period begins and ends, a two-minute wind sprint of Belushian proportions. Judging it with my expert eye... Wingador looked fatigued, Sonya looked like a machine, and Cookie Jarvis looked one wing short of a heart attack, and/or emergency bypass. So imagine my surprise when we are told... that there is a TIE. We will need an emergency Wing-Off!!! Between... Sonya Thomas (BOOOOOOOOOOOO) ...
... and El Wingador!!! The crowd absolutely erupts, Philadelphia gone even more batshit insane than ever before. People are singing, high-fiving one another, laying odds... completely forgetting, yet again, what was actually going on.
Perspective is the enemy of Philadelphians, particularly on Wing Bowl morn.
At this point, another spotlight. Whereas in years past, Pat Croce, or other esteemed Philadelphians have shown up, this year, it was St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli. Introduced as the greatest prognosticator the world has ever seen... El Baldo picks the Iggles, of course, yet again bringing thunderous applause and yelling and cursing and God knows what else.
The WIP guy comes back to us, apologizes, says they're running late given the late start and the overtime, but asks us to sit tight. The guy and I start talking... small talk, mostly... and he starts to look familiar. Turns out that he was a contestant on ESPN's Dream Job-- he placed 6th-- and now works for WIP. We were getting along famously, when suddenly he announced that he had to leave again.
The Wing-Off, then. Everyone on their feet, praying for one fat man to pull off the miracle, this instantly becoming the only sporting event that could ever possibly knock the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team off their pedestal... and with a few final words, they're off. Again, Wingador looks tired, borderline frustrated. Sonya Thomas' jaws could star in a horror film... nothing could escape. Wings go in, never to be seen from again.
An arena soaked in sweat, for a final two minutes, until the tally is announced.
In second place...
Wingador with the upset of a lifetime, coming back to smack that-- oh. Sorry. Nevermind. Wingador over the Black Widow, 162 wings to 161. In 32 minutes, mind you. Confetti falls down, noises, pops, possible gunfire, it is so loud... amazing, considering the fact that half the stadium has left. Thomas walks away in tears, without commenting to the media.
El Wingador is the five-time Wing Bowl Champion; the Once and Future King. He won a small car, which everyone immediately wondered how he would fit into.
Sonya shouldn't have cried... for her prize was a trip for two to Aruba, and some serious cash. And besides, she'll be back.
And so it was over... except for the fact that I'm still waiting for the WIP guy to come back. He eventually does... but the show ends. It is 10am, and we are done. The Wing Bowl is officially over. So he says to me, he sez, "yo... I know what I promised you, and I told you I wouldn't forget about you. Let me take your name and address, I'll speak to the station GM... I'll hook you up. We had two of these to give away, and we only gave away the one... so I'm sure you'll get this coming your way soon."
Maybe this week, then, I will be receiving two plane tickets, courtesy of US Air, roundtrip, good to anywhere in the country.
How great is that?
As I walked away, Dad insisted on taking the train home, so I could head out to my meeting sooner... thankfully, the meeting went very well. Turns out that Cari's an Eagles fan, knew what the Wing Bowl was, and was in hysterics as I told her where I'd been.
So... Who wants to join me on a trip to next year's Wing Bowl festivities? I've got a plane ticket to spare.
(1) Just for reference, there are now 20,000+ people in the building... and give or take a few, the same number (potentially) outside of it. Wing Bowl has grown every year, but with the added significance of the Eagles being in the Super Bowl... this turned from mere eating spectacle/spectacular into the city's largest pep rally. I would estimate that there were at least 10,000 Eagles jerseys in the building... a very, very safe guess. Regardless of the numbers, this was a SHOW.
(2) Throughout the four-hour Wing Bowl, various Eagles appeared on the Jumbotron, one at a time, to say "hello" from Jacksonville, to wish the contestants luck (???), and to keep hope alive or some such thing with respect to the Super Bowl. This started with the scrubs, then the name players, then the superstars. It was impossible to hear any of them, though, because any time an Eagle showed up on screen, the arena immediately exploded.
Either we love our Eagles...
... or some chick was taking her top off again. Impossible to know for sure.
(3) On that note... I grew up in the Philly suburbs. My parents' house was about a half-hour outside of the city... and so on the rare occasions when I came in to Philly (this was well before I left for college), I came in for Phillies games and cheesesteaks. That was it. As such, my view of the city became tainted... that, apart from the Vet (!) and South Street, the place was a shithole, with little to nothing to actually offer, especially when compared to some of the other cities in the Northeast.
As I got older, I learned to appreciate Philadelphia's charms. The historic side of the city, the almost endless parade of culturally significant places and people therein, the food, the unmistakable beauty of the neighborhoods. Everything. I love Philadelphia.
I mention this because I had a similar moment of clarity on Friday morning, with respect to the city's whores.
Now, I've never been much for the strip clubs, least of all in Philadelphia. But when you grow up going to the Vet and to the Spectrum, year after year, the one thing you can count on (other than teams that disappoint you year in and year out, at best) is the almost ungaugeable, immeasurable horror show of the women standing outside, handing out flyers after the games, trying to get all the guys into their nudie bars free of charge. They were always there, always handing out papers and tickets and photocopies, always looking to be on the wrong side of 50 years old, always looking like they had gotten into a fight with their makeup kit, always looking like they'd lost. Horribly.
Friends, when I tell you that the strip clubs in Philadelphia not only seemed to generously agree to sponsor half the participants, but that they had a certain, how you say, porn star-esque je ne sais quoi (please pardon my French, honestly), it is an understatement.
Friday morning was a turning point in my life.
You have videos in your collections that do not represent like the women did on that glorious Friday morning. All of them wearing their respective clubs' shirts, all of the flashing continuously, like an ad campaign that somehow sucks you in the more you watch. A girl dressed up like Robert Smith of the Cure, sitting behind us, asked to everyone in the section, and anyone who would listen, "why do you keep looking over there at her? You've SEEN those already!!!"
Which is why women will never, ever get it. ;)
Before we get started, the giant faux-Lombardi Trophy which has been sitting in the middle of anything began to move. A float itself, this giant piece of tin foil (which actually looked good from afar) crept slowly to the stage... the lights dimming down, the spotlight shining on it. The crowd was going ballistic, yet again, both for the Eagles chances at bringing home the real Lombardi trophy on Sunday, as well as their knowledge of what was about to happen.
Not merely the arrival of the competition. No, no, no. As in years past, Wing Bowl always begins with a bang, and this year was no exception. That bang took the form of yet another woman (shocking!). But this time, it was no mere classy lady-- it was the venerable high priestess of the morning. Miss Wing Bowl erupts out of the Lombardi Trophy, wearing lingerie and an enormous pair of Eagles wings on her back. She looks like she's stepped out of that Victoria's Secret "Angels" TV campaign from a few years ago. She turns around a few times, looking well beyond fetching, and nods her approval. It is time.
There are 25 or so contestants in this year's Wing Bowl, with ten at the top table and fifteen at the bottom table, or thereabouts. There is no rhyme or reason to their placement. The rules are read aloud: there are to be two "halves" of fourteen minutes each, after the first of which the 25 contestants are to be whittled down to 10. After these 28 minutes, the final five contestants will have a 2-minute period... a final sprint to the finish. So. 30 minutes total, with a few intervals.
The stadium, by the way, does not smell like buffalo wings. This is not so much a knock on the makers of the thousands of buffalo wings that were placed tableside, ready to be devoured, so much as a testament to the overpowering stench of drunk Philadelphians waiting in their seats, trying to determine when the fuck they were going to be able to empty their bladders... and where.
Someone releases a live chicken (I wish I were kidding), Angelo yells to get started, and the contestants do so. It's a mad dash, with tons of media present and up on the dais (this made Good Morning America, Sportscenter, and God knows how many other national outlets, by the way), cameras in the faces of these fat hogs and their respective Wingettes.
In case you were wondering, Eric Gregg, MLB umpire of years past and all-around fat guy, is your referee. He will become more important as we go on.
The Jumbotron is filled with the images of fat men eating buffalo wings, plates of 20 at a time. If you finish a plate, that does not mean that you get credit for all 20 wings, as you no doubt know... each wing must be cleaned off properly and completely, otherwise, the athlete in question gets no credit for said wing. Great care is taken to eat the entirety of each wing, in as little time as possible. It is a delicate balancing act.
The 14 minutes come and go, with nothing out of the ordinary (all things considered), save a cameraman who insists on shooting the Black Widow (crowd: "BOO!!!"), then El Wingador (crowd: "YES!!!"), then back to the Black Widow (BOO!!!), El Wingador again ("HOORAY!"), Black Widow, Wingador, ad nauseum. This only lasts, say, for two minutes. Two long, funny minutes.
The gun sounds, or some such thing, and we learn that there have been a number of prominent eaters who have NOT made the cut. Eaters on the competitive eating circuit were not able to break the Top Ten, including vaunted matzoh ball and baked beans eating champion Don "Moses" Lerman of New York. Hit the road, you bum! The leader, going into the second stage (the mountain stage, it could be argued), was a 4:1 favorite to win it all, a New Yorker (BOO!!!) named Eric "Badlands" Booker. This gentleman may have topped 600 pounds, in case you're keeping score.
Surprising entrants in the second round included the Sledgehammer, the Berminator, and of course, perennial favorites Wingador and his arch-nemesis, the Black Widow.
Coming soon: the exciting conclusion!
So, we make it into the stadium, and try to get seats on the lower level. That attempt takes about two seconds-- the time it takes for us to realize we'd better get to the upper level, and quickly. All the concession stands are open at this point, by the way, and I'm seriously considering beer, nachos, and other things that shouldn't be put into one's body at 6 in the morning. But because I'm driving 3 hours, because I'm with my father, and because I'm meeting a co-worker for the first time... none of these things happen. I must be the only sober person in the building... radio personalities, participants and fans all included.
We get up to our seats, waiting for the radio show to start. Before it does, after it does, and well after that... all hell breaks loose. All of the sudden, Mardi Gras erupts (tons of people wearing beads, too... where these people got them, why they thought to bring them... who knows?). Women start flashing everyone like it's going out of style. All of the strippers in attendance go to work, and inspire the amateurs in the crowd to do the same. Fistfights that somehow start with two drunk fraternity guys grow and develop into section-wide brawls. There were at least three instances that looked *exponentially* worse than the Indiana-Detroit brawl. So many people got thrown out of the arena... but not before taking a shitload of punches.
Punches were not simply being thrown... they were LANDING. People were falling from row to row, down the stairs... all while tits were being flashed faster than you could turn your head... when I would turn around, I could see hundreds of men at any given time, binoculars pasted to their face, all staring at the same section across the way. Funny as hell.
Wing Bowl had barely started, in other words, and it was already the greatest day of my life.
6 am comes, and Angelo (the host) announces that 25,000 people are locked out-- that instead of opening the doors at 5 am, they had to SHUT them at 5, given the immense turnout. He apologizes, says they're running late, and tries some patter. At this point, he can barely be heard, because the crowd is roaring whenever someone lifts their top or punches somebody. Eventually, finally, the procession starts. WWE has nothing on Wing Bowl. Lights dim, theme music comes on, and everyone forgets just how asinine this whole thing is.
Everyone who entered the competition had a nickname, costume or skit... some funnier than others. All had entourages, all had Wingettes (local strippers)... between 3 and 30 of them, depending (no kidding). None of them were safe from flying beer, popcorn, glasses, nachos, hats, shirts, drinks and other miscellanous debris. I have not heard of a single injury that took place that morning... but I'd be shocked if someone wasn't sent to the hospital.
Now, the best thing about the procession (apart from the still non-stop parade of tits and fists) was that the Jumbotron had video of each contestant's try-out, along with their vital statistics. Name, height, hometown, eating stunt, strip club that sponsored them. This was somehow hysterical, that these people were being treated like bona fide athletes.
The best video was of a guy named Sloth. A perennial contestant, Sloth comes and goes every year. But last year... he fell victim to the rarely-enforced "You Heave, You Leave" rule. Which would not be unexpected... people are going to get sick... it's an eating contest. But when Sloth got sick last year, he stood up beforehand, in front of an entire stadium, and let loose the most unbelieveable, 10-second long torrent of puke that anyone has ever seen. It was so grotesque that it was magnificent. And so, rather than showing his audition for this year's Wing Bowl, they just kept showing him yakking, over and over and over again. And even though it was vomit... repetition means comedy. I was laughing so hard, I could barely breathe.
My favorite procession / particpant was Yao Wing. Yao is a short Asian dude who, apparently, speaks no English whatsoever. He simply eats. He came in on crutches, in a T.O. jersey. He had a bunch of women around him, all in costumes (not uncommon... but this was a masterpiece). His float (everyone had floats, as if it were the friggin' Rose Bowl) was a football field, with real turf... looked pretty impressive. So the dude hobbles over to one of his women... a nurse... who takes the mic and says that Yao Wing has been cleared to eat in this year's Wing Bowl. Huge ovation. Chick wearing just a towel (Nicolette Sheridan) jumps into Asian dude's arms. Applause. Guy he's with throws him a football, which he catches in the end zone. Roar. He goes over to one of his cheerleaders, takes her pom-poms, does the T.O. dance. He gets on the ground and does the sit-up bit. Then, he grabs a Sharpie from another friend, signs the ball, and gives it to a fan.
Best Asian eating contest participant ever.
El Wingador comes in to thunderous applause, of course... met only by that bitch, the Black Widow, Sonya Thomas... the (again, Asian) participant who won last year's Wing Bowl. When I say met, I mean met by the most vile, racist taunts ever. Shit is getting launched at her so badly and so furiously, that she has to duck and take cover rather than continue taking her pre-Wing Bowl lap. She eventually made it around, but got hit in the face by so much, and had to take so many "USA! USA!" chants, that, well... she had to have been rattled.
And so now, the stage is set. All the contestants are seated, all the wings have been placed in front of the contestants, and the only question in anyone's drunken mind is "can El Wingador vanquish the foreigner (Alexandria, VA, by the way), and bring Philadelphia back the Wing Bowl crown... and so doing, become the first ever five-time Wing Bowl champwin?"
To say El Wingador was a clear favorite is like saying that Stuart Scott has no talent. It's just clear as day.
The time is now 7:45/8:00 am. No wings have been eaten, but I have laughed my ass off, and seen an ungodly amount of nudity. Thankfully, female. The Wing Bowl was about to begin.
Monday, February 07, 2005
Dad and I both woke up well before our alarms, and ended up leaving the house by 3:45 am Friday morning. The Wawa by our house was closed-- amazing, we thought it was a 24/7 store-- so we went to the next Wawa on our route. At 4 am, we saw roughly ten people in Eagles jerseys. Everyone going to the same place.
We make it to Broad Street at 4:15 am or so... and find a mob scene. Traffic, horrible parking (most of the close lots were closed), and it was still pitch black out. Dad was on the cell, furiously trying to get in touch with Gary Goldsmith and his friend's son, who were supposed to meet us at the stadium. At that point, we felt that if Gary got in first, perhaps he could save us some seats.
As we walked from our car to the stadium, it became very clear that there were not hundreds, and not thousands, but quite possibly tens of thousands of people standing in line. Drinking. Yelling. Screaming E-A-G-L-E-S-EAGLES and "Fly Eagles Fly" and God knows what else, over and over again. More beer bottles and broken glass than I have seen collectively in my life, quite possibly.
I look at the line, which is stretching back to Citizens Bank Park (in other words, a three stadium-long line, which might have a mirror on the other side of the stadium), and suggest we get moving to the back of the line. Dad sees a few people milling at the front, and insists we try to see what's up front. Cutting in line. For shame.
We immediately get pelted (almost; drunks have notoriously bad aim) with snowballs. Curses, chants of "asshole," as suddenly we have entered Vietnam. We are ducking the incoming fire, weaving in and out of cars with others who had had the same idea, just missing people by the tens who are pissing on the cars in front of them... just... not fun. We make our way forward to see a mass of people.
At which point it becomes a mosh pit. No one is moving-- not really-- so people start swaying. All of the sudden, Wing Bowl has become Lollapalooza, involuntarily. Rumors that the doors are already shut, that we're not making it in, unsuccessful attempts at calling Gary... things are not looking good at this point. I haven't even begun to mention the combination of fluids on my shoes, creeping up my jeans. Have I mentioned that, after the Wing Bowl, I was to meet one of my co-workers for the very first time, and I was looking (for me) relatively sharp? Easily, the most overdressed person for miles around.
Needless to say, the male to female ratio was staggering.
People start moving, a fence gets pushed out of the way and/or broken down, and we gradually start to move forward. It becomes apparent that security people are frisking people one at a time, which accounts for the slow speed. We move forward, with more bodily contact than I ever could hope for, and never wish to encounter again, and get through.
At which point my Dad nearly slips and falls, as if on a banana peel in a Warner Brothers cartoon. Seems the security boys made everyone drop their beers before moving forward. A venerable lake of beer bottles, beer, urine, snow, and again, God knows what else, nearly took down my father like he was Luke in the goddamned trash compactor.
It is 4:55 or so, and we are only just entering the building.
At 5 am, the doors have shut, and while we were lucky enough to make it in... Gary and his friend were shut out. Oh, yes. Them, and (depending on who you believe), between 5 (at least) and 25 THOUSAND other people. We would later find out that the first person in line got there at 6 pm the night before, and that the crowd had become surly and/or unmanageable by midnight.
All this, mind, for fat people eating wings.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Found out today that one of my clients wanted to hire me, but that my company's president said "no, he's ours, he's working out great," etc. It made my day.
I'm going to Wing Bowl in one day. Can't wait... though I don't exactly know why. It will be good to see Cari, though.
Abby is almost done viewing every CSI episode released to date. Thank God. It will be nice to have her back.
Where's Jill? It's not like her not to want to discuss the Arcade Fire, or some such thing.
Made a mix that I'm proud of.
1. That's When the Audience Died - Final Fantasy
2. Snowden - Doves
3. Sexualized - Relaxed Muscle
4. Freakin' Out - Graham Coxon
5. My Fair Lady - David Byrne
6. Born On A Train (live) -The Arcade Fire
7. E-Pro - Beck
8. What You Give Is What You Get - The Hollow
9. Grey Will Fade - Charlotte Hatherley
10. I'm a Loser (Beatles cover) - Eels
11. Hounds Of Love - The Futureheads
12. Bittersweet Bundle Of Misery - Graham Coxon
13. I Have Forgiven Jesus - Morrissey
14. Unconditional - The Bravery
15. I Wanna Be Adored (live, Stone Roses cover) - Death Cab For Cutie
16. Bring On The Terror - Robbers On High Street
17. We Are All Made of Stars - Moby
18. Educated Fool - Vagenius
19. Peach Plum Pear (Joanna Newsom cover) - Final Fantasy
20. 18 and Life (live, Skid Row cover) - Nina Gordon