Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rickey’s Life Through Music Part II: The Roaring 90’s

This is the second installment in our epic three part series: “Rickey’s Life Through Music.” For those of you arriving fashionably late to the party, the inaugural edition of this meme can be found hither. Think of this sweeping anthology as Rickey’s own personal version of a Ken Burns PBS documentary, only with a whole lot more dick jokes. Today we forage ahead to a brave new era in our middle section: “The Roaring 90’s.” This was a time of great change and upheaval, marked by the rise of the Internet, America’s first desert adventure in Mesopotamia, and widespread economic prosperity which the G.O.P. would later refer to as “Our Long National Nightmare.” Indeed, most of what took place in the 90’s laid the framework for today’s commodities such as 99 cent songs from iTunes, the infallible truths contained in Wikipedia, and an ever increasing number of gadgets for Americans to squander their newfound disposable income on. So let’s take a peek at some of the very best musical offerings to come from this fascinating decade, shall we?

The Roaring 90’s: 1990 – 1999

1990 – In the U.S.’s ongoing effort to play “Rear Window” with alien civilizations, the Hubble Telescope is launched into space, the captain of the Exxon Valdez decides that he can steer a 50,000 ton tanker better after he’s had a few, and our Microsoft overlords unleash something called “Windows 3.0.” From this year, we’re going with “Flood,” an album by They might be Giants, quite possibly the dorkiest band known to mankind. But they’re also all sorts of fun, combining a book-smart, funny love of history, junk culture, and film noir references. Also worthy of mention is “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm” by A Tribe Called Quest. Can Rickey kick it? (yes he can).

1991 – War! Much to our chagrin, Rickey remembers trading Topps “Desert Storm” baseball cards with his friends during this year. To this day, we are just one Norman Schwarzkopf card short of a complete collection. This is also the year when Grunge started to pick up steam. Still being relatively young and happy, Rickey missed the boat on all the angst ridden stuff and was happily listening to the adult contemporary musical stylings of Genesis, Spin Doctors, and “Clapton Unplugged” (yeah, don’t ask). But we’re pleased to report that Rickey’s music taste has improved substantially since then and this is why we’re picking “Gish” by the Smashing Pumpkins and “The Globe” by Big Audio Dynamite II for this year. “Gish” is just a great grunge rock album and we dare you not to listen to “Rush” by Big Audio Dynamite without dancing around a bit. Go ahead, try. We’ll wait.

1992 – Joe Gibbs’ aviator sunglasses of doom propel the Redskins to Super Bowl victory, an ebullient Bill Clinton wins the White House, and a 29 pound meteorite lands in the driveway of the Knapp family in Peekskill, NY, destroying the family’s car (it’s official: Wikipedia is awesome). It shames us to inform you that Rickey still has the Soup Dragons album from this year, “Hotwired.” Seriously, come over to Rickey’s apartment sometime—he’ll show it to you. Then he’ll bang his head against the wall for ten minutes straight while openly weeping. In search of a bit of redemption, our top prize for this year is a split between “Core” by Stone Temple Pilots and “Automatic for the People” by R.E.M. Rage Against the Machine’s self titled debut album, “Rage Against the Machine” snags the silver medal.

1993 – The year that Rickey added Better than Ezra’s “Deluxe” to his extensive music library! You know it’s funny, kids had no problem teasing the hell out of each other in middle school about a variety of things, but no one bothered to confront anyone and tell them, “Seriously man, you have really shitty taste in music. You should look into that.” This would’ve saved Rickey hundreds of dollars on one hit wonders and disposable pop bands from the 90’s. 1993 is the year comedy albums got huge: we’re talking Jerky Boys, Adam Sandler, and Dennis Leary all releasing CDs. Rickey’s pick from the group is Adam Sandler’s “They’re All Gonna Laugh at You” due to the fact that to this day the goat routine still cracks Rickey up. If you’re looking for something more harmonic and, uh, mature, “Laid” by James garner’s Rickey’s pick for musical album of the year.

1994 – Rickey remembers watching the Knicks/Rockets NBA Finals this year with his dad when news reports of a police chase involving O.J. Simpson came across the television. Rickey pointed out that this car chase seemed somewhat important, but Rickey’s dad absolutely refused to change the channel (this was game 5 of the Finals after all). This is right around the time when Rickey was starting to discover Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Stones, and other gods of Classic Rock. Things were definitely looking up—freshman year of high school had commenced and Rickey was preppy, yet totally rocking out. But Rickey was still very much a man of his times and we’ll freely admit to owning an Oasis album or three. Britpop withstanding, a ton of great music was coming out this year and we’re pleased to report that this is the year when Rickey’s music tastes started to more closely reflect his tastes of today. We’re talking “Dookie” by Green Day, “Park Life” by Blur, “Parachute” by Guster, “Under the Table and Dreaming” by DMB, and of course, “Vitalogy” by Pearl Jam. These are all seminal albums which Rickey proudly owned as he pulled himself out of the primordial muck of poor taste in his evolution towards an upright musical existence.

1995 – DVD, a newfangled video format is announced, Windows 95 launches, and Mississippi ratifies the 13th Amendment, thereby becoming the last state to officially abolish slavery (hey, better late than never, right?) Meanwhile, Radiohead creates and publishes “The Bends, which is easily our top pick for the year. In Rickey’s opinion, “The Bends” takes the distorted sounding guitars of grunge music and adds a sense of melodrama and good old rock-n-roll majesty that for the most part is still missing from popular music today. “Melloncollie and the Infinite Sadness” by Smashing Pumpkins weighs in as a close second, due to the sheer scope and intensity at work in this double disc concept album.

1996 – This year, we move one step closer to the realm of science fiction as Dolly the sheep becomes the first mammal to be cloned, Deep Blue trounces Garry Kasparov at chess, and much to our bewilderment, Alanis Morissette wins a Grammy award. Modest Mouse’s debut album, “This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About” is our choice for album if the year—it’s the sort of album you can listen to in it’s entirely without wanting to skip over a single track. This is followed closely by Weezer’s “Pinkerton” which was viewed as a massive failure when it was released, but Rickey heartily endorses nonetheless.

1997 – Against all odds, the Marlins win the Series against the Indians (and are promptly dismantled), a strange and ominous new initiative called The Kyoto protocol is adopted by the United Nations, “Judgment Day” referenced in the Terminator movies passes rather uneventfully, and the first color photograph appears on the cover page of the NY Times. For our album pick, we have to go with the obvious: “OK Computer” by Radiohead. Forget album of the year, how about album of the decade? And while it’s not even in the same league, “Goldfly” by Guster is Rickey’s runner up for best album in this year.

1998 – As a bright eyed Rickey heads off to college, the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal opens the eyes of a formerly prudish nation, MCI Communications and WorldCom merge to form a company that will undoubtedly withstand the test of time, and the Imperial Wizard of the KKK is fined for burning a cross in his garden and infringing air regulations in California (hey, they nabbed Al Capone on taxes, right?) We’ve discussing this band before, but “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel is just sheer brilliance. Far and away our favorite of the year. How many other bands do you know that can make an incredible opus out of the Anne Frank story? “XO” by Eliot Smith is another great little album that deserves much praise.

1999 – In our final year of the decade, the last checker cab in NYC is retired, Apple computer signals their intentions for world dominance with the release of the Power Mac G4, and Y2K fever sweeps the country. We’re concluding on a subdued note with “Summerteeth” by Wilco. Rickey really can’t say enough about how phenomenal this band is. They blend rock, pop, and country music into an amazing tapestry of sound—definitely check ‘em out sometime. Also garnering Rickey’s attention is the “Magnolia” OST by Aimee Mann et al. More than any other album from this year, this absolutely embodies how Rickey feels about the end of the 90’s with some of the best moody, angsty music that we've ever heard.

Whew, ok, that’s all for today. Rickey’s starting to feel like he’s creating the blogging equivalent of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Check back tomorrow for our final installment: 2000 – 2010: “The World of Tomorrow.”

*if it so pleases you, feel free to rate Rickey's post at Humor Blogs.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rickey’s Life Through Music, Part I: The Formative Years

A while back, Mr. Furious tagged Rickey for an exceedingly ambitious meme: “Your Lifetime Through Music.” We know, it sounds like a syrupy Time-Life audio CD collection, but we assure you, it is far superior (and mercifully devoid of Dick Clark). What this meme boils down to is that those tagged are responsible for selecting their favorite albums for each year they’ve been roaming about on this crazy blue marble called Earth. You proud few should begin at the specific Wikipedia page for the year you were born, and proceed to pick what you consider to be your favorite albums from each year you've been alive. Bear in mind that this is based purely on personal preferences, so opinions will undoubtedly vary somewhat. But we’re telling you right now: if just one of you jackasses says something along the lines of “Hey Rickey, why didn’t you pick the Jethro Tull album for 1982?” we will promptly delete your comment without any hesitation whatsoever. We refuse to recognize bands containing flutists here at RwR (doing so would only encourage them). Anyhow, here’s the first installment in a three part series:

The Formative Years: 1979 - 1989

1979 – December 8, 1979: Emergence Day. This is when Rickey hit the ground running and never looked back. In world events, the Iranian hostage crisis had the public glued to its tv screens, “Alien” was tearing it up at the box office, and Jimmy Carter was attacked by a terrifying killer swamp rabbit. So to commemorate this magnanimous year, we’re selecting the epic and trippy album “The Wall” by Pink Floyd to kick things off. It seems quite fitting, doesn’t it? Honorable mention also goes to “The Specials” by The Specials, one of the very best ska albums ever made. A band that combines danceability and reggae with the raw aggression of punk? Oh yes please.

1980 – In this year, Mattel started us down the slippery slope to Grand Theft Auto with their release of the Intellivision video game system, Richard Pryor burned himself while freebasing cocaine, and moustache aficionado Rollie Fingers shattered the record for career saves. Rickey’s top pick from this year is “Making Movies” by the Dire Straits. Rickey is a massive fan of Mark Knopfler’s twangy guitar playing—the dude’s flat out incredible. “One For the Road” by The Kinks is noteworthy as well if you’re looking for a terrific live album that presents a band at its creative zenith.

1981 – “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” one of Rickey’s favorite movies of all time is released, Ronald Reagan figured it would be fun to fire 11,359 air traffic controllers, and Simon & Garfunkel performed live in Central Park before half a million people. Musically, this is a pretty tough year to pick from. Screw it, we’re going with “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC. Like clockwork during the 80’s, this band published an album every year for roughly 10 years so let’s give ‘em some lip service shall we? Besides, how can you go wrong with an album containing a song entitled “Big Balls”? Honorable mention also goes to “Chariots of Fire” by Vangelis. What? Rickey’s a big fan of jogging on the beach…

1982 – MCMLXXXII, the year that Margaret Thatcher dispatched the British military to conquer Puffins living in the Falkland Islands. In case you were unaware, this is the year when Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” hit the streets. Thriller, people. But if we’re going to talk about androgynous pop musicians with highly charged sexuality, why not go for broke? This is why we’re selecting “1999” by Prince as Rickey’s top pick for the year. To hell with the idea that Ronald Regan won the Cold War. If you don’t agree that Prince’s infectious backbeats and lyrics such as “Mommy, why does everybody have a bomb?” didn’t single handedly end the conflict with the Soviets then Rickey will beat you senseless, all funky Purple Rain style and whatnot.

1983 – Ah yes, the year that Lotus 1-2-3 was released for IBM computers everywhere, thus boldly paving the way for office dwellers everywhere to stare endlessly at spreadsheets. Obviously you’ve got U2 breaking loose with “War’ and “Under a Blood Red Sky” but criminally overlooked in this year is “Murmur” by R.E.M. Since we here at RwR fashion ourselves as modern day nightwatcher flamekeepers, top honors for this year must go to “Swordfishtrombones” by Tom Waits. The first album in his trilogy consisting of “Rain Dogs” and ‘Frank’s Wild Years,” this album (and Waits in general) is definitely an acquired taste: a combination of spacey jazz, blues, spoken word poetry and down-and-out lyrics combined with vocals that sound like Bob Dylan's older barfly brother. Damned good stuff if you ask us.

1984 – Scarlet Johansson is born (huzzah!) Ronald Reagan defeats Mondale (boo!), the Brewers and White Sox play the longest game in MLB history (uh, push), weighing in at eight hours and six minutes, and “Let it Be” by The Replacements is released to critical acclaim. This one stands alone as Rickey’s pick for the year. What other punk band opens their album with a pop song? What punk band out there churns out blistering hardcore beats, then slows the tempo and throws in a piano? What band captures teen angst better than John Hughes ever did with "Sixteen Blue?"

1985 – Since we’re big fans of any band that fuses Celtic tradition with punk rock, “Rum, Sodomy, and The Lash” by The Pogues gets Rickey’s top selection for this year. (Coincidentally, the album shares its title with Senator Larry Craig’s forthcoming autobiography). Moving on, “The Firstborn is Dead” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is another album we’re compelled to mention—it’s feels timeless yet extremely experimental. The album includes a cover of Dylan's "Wanted Man" that makes every other cover of the song sound childish in comparison. "The Six Strings that Drew Blood," Rickey’s personal favorite from the CD, is a dark western-blues jam that sort of reminds us of a heroin induced vision of a guitar player. Highly recommended.

1986 – A rather good year for Mets and Giants fans. In keeping with the gleeful raucousness of these victories, we’re selecting “Licensed to Ill” by the Beastie Boys as our pick of the year. Back when Eminem was bully bait in a preschool playground in Detroit, these three Jewish gentlemen were crafting the most crude, fun, and original white boy rap that has ever been recorded. As Rickey gets older, it makes him sad to see the generation gap exhibited as "Fight For Your Right" and "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" are no longer part of recent generations’ collective memory. And when Rickey has a child, you damned well better believe that he’s buying the cassette tape for this album, sticking it in a boombox, putting that boombox on his shoulder, and blasting "Paul Revere" as the child exits the womb. Also from 1986, “Strength in Numbers” by .38 Special is a fun album too, provided you’re in the proper environment for that sort of thing. *Note: typically, the “proper environment” for a .38 Special song is defined as frequenting a strip club and receiving a lapdance, but hey, we dig the southern rock…

1987 – In this thrilling year, “The Untouchables” garnered Sean Connery an Oscar, “The Simpsons” first appeared on the Tracey Ullman show, and Bruce Willis released quite possibly the worst music album ever: “The Return of Bruno.” Mere words cannot describe just how shitty this vanity project was. Meanwhile in the realm of reputable music ventures, Guns N’ Roses was tearing it up with “Appetite for Destruction” which garners Rickey’s pick as top album for the year. If Rickey needs to explain to you how great the album is then you are a complete fool and we pity you as we would a lost child at the mall. Also from this year, “Sister” by Sonic Youth is a great listen (for those not in the know, the album was inspired by the life and writings of Philip K. Dick).

1988 – Aided in no small part by Prince’s unbridled awesomeness, Perestroika sweeps through the Soviet Union, “Mystery Science Fiction Theater 3000” premieres on tv, and in a rare moment of levity, the U.S. Supreme Court tosses out Jerry Falwell’s defamation case against Larry Flint. In the Year of the Rabbit, it’s hands down no contest: Rickey’s top pick is “The Travelling Wilburys, Vol. 1” by the Travelling Wilburys. This is one of those few supergroups that actually lived up to its promise, primarily because they didn’t try too hard to be anything other than a terrific pop band. Harrison, Lynne, Dylan, Petty, and Orbison make one helluva great album here. For Rickey’s money, it doesn’t get much better than “End of the Line.” On the other end of the spectrum is “Surfer Rosa” by The Pixies which is a superb mix of brilliant songwriting, insane lyrics, abrasive guitars and stunning melody. By far their rawest album and one of Rickey’s all-time favorites.

1989 – Heralding our impending doom, George H. W. Bush is sworn in as the 41st President of the United States, Prozac is introduced to consumers everywhere, and a little known show entitled “The Seinfeld Chronicles” debuts on NBC. Since we’re big fans of jam bands, “Junta” by Phish gets our nod for pick of the year (and arguably their best album). And for a smashing display of British humor, “Monty Python Sings” by Monty Python is a freaking riot. All together now folks: “Alllllways look on the bright side of life…”

Now then, if you’ve read this far and still feel like giving the meme a shot, by all means consider yourself tagged (be warned, if you want to do it right, you’ll find that it’s time consuming as hell). Rickey will be back tomorrow with the second installment, “The Roaring 90’s.”

*if it so pleases you, feel free to rate Rickey's post at Humor Blogs.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rickey’s Overdue Mets Update: The “Holy Shit, We’re Relevant Again!” Edition

No, it’s not Shark Week at Shea Stadium, evidently that’s some kind of rally cap routine that Rickey was previously unfamiliar with. (Note that Damion Easley cares not for your silly baseball superstitions). See, this is a big reason why Rickey digs baseball: in no other profession will you ever see a group of multi millionaires doing goofy stuff like this. Anyhow, make no mistake, as far as the Mets season is concerned, it's on like Donkey Kong. Nervous that this newfangled recent winning trend was merely the latest of many stutter starts in their 2008 season, Rickey waited a while before discussing the Mets current hot streak. Then we waited some more. And a bit more. And lo and behold, we are now faced with incontrovertible statistical evidence that the Mets are once again a team to be reckoned with. A relevant sporting club.

Just how good are your New York Mets? Well, they’re a solid enough team to bounce back from two tough losses in one week and proceed to win both series—a feat that would’ve been insurmountable a mere month ago. They’re a team featuring dominant starting pitching. They’re a team that battles back from run deficits. A team with its eyes fixed on the postseason and a certain swagger in their step. Furthermore, they’re a team with enough of a presence to once again attract outlandish trade rumors such as the potential acquisition of Manny Ramirez. (From a humor perspective alone, you have no idea how much of a wet dream this would be for a blogger like Rickey—the guy is a comedy goldmine). And of course we’d be remiss in discussing the new look Mets without mentioning Carlos Delgado’s recent rebirth from the valley of ashes in Flushing Meadows. It’s officially safe to start complimenting him now, yes? A scant six weeks ago, Rickey was eagerly shoveling dirt on the guy’s grave, so how did we end up here? Rickey suspects that a conversation much like this one transpired in late June:

Carlos Delgado’s Agent: “Hey Carlos, were you aware that this is a contract year for you?”

Delgado: “Contract year you say? What the deuce is that?”

Carlos Delgado’s Agent: “Well it’s the last year of your contract, and a time when most baseball players seek to improve their value on the free market.”

Delgado: “Go on.”

Carlos Delgado’s Agent: “There are a number of ways to improve your value, but the main ones include timely hitting, good fielding, and an adherence to the fundamental mechanics of baseball.”

Delgado: “Your ideas intrigue me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.”

And scene. Flash forward to present day where this greybearded phoenix is batting in the cleanup spot and has emerged a force to be reckoned with once again. And while he continues to light it up, the rest of the team is following suit behind him, playing at a level not seen since the 2006 season. A 12K gem from Oliver Perez? Fernando Tatis being the very definition of clutch? Santana pitching (shudder) a full nine innings? Beltran’s absurdly awesome catch two nights ago? Jose Reyes flashing gang signs while consistently proving himself to be a far better player than Jimmy Rollins? These are all quite good things. Exciting things. Things that keep Rickey glued to the tv screen with a bowl of pistachios in his lap (pistachios have replaced peanuts as Rickey’s current ballgame snack of choice—we find that they’re easier to shell and far more sophisticated).

All this having been said, a substantial portion of the season remains to be played and Rickey remains guarded after last season’s epic tailspin. We don’t care how hot a team gets; courtesy of last year, it’s still going to be DEFCON 2 in Rickey’s mind for quite a while. Moreover, we are all too familiar with Billy Wagner and the rest of the bullpens’ uncanny ability to suck at the most inopportune of times. Oh and for a moment, forget the Phillies because the possibility of the Marlins and their $6,000 payroll screwing over everyone else in the NL East is alarmingly real. So don't break out that anointing oil just yet. In reality, the Mets are probably somewhere right in the middle: they were never as bad as they appeared earlier this season and they’re probably not quite as good as they appear to be now. (Yes, Rickey’s playing the “pessimistic Mets fan” angle with the hopes of being pleasantly surprised in October).

Note: for those who are gluttons for fiduciary punishment, the Mets released their preliminary seating prices for the 2009 season at Citi Field. It should come as no surprise that they’re roughly a 50% increase over current ticket prices. Look, we’re not expecting the Wilpons to run a charity or anything here, but they really are pricing the average baseball fan right out of the stadium altogether. Who knows, maybe this team should start failing again so we can all snag affordable seating at Citi Field and Rickey can finally get back to writing funny posts mocking the Mets. We miss those…

[posted at Humor Blogs]

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rickey's Weekend Update

We usually forego a weekend post due to the fact that this is the time when Rickey likes to run around outside and cavort with small woodland animals. But on advice from their lawyers, the chipmunks appear to have taken out a restraining order against us, Ms. Henderson is at work, and other than a few miscellaneous errands, Rickey has very little to do. So we figured we'd briefly check in with a quick update of the current goings on in Rickey's life.

For those Hitchcock fans residing in the NYC area, Rickey strongly recommends checking out the Broadway version of "The 39 Steps" playing at the Cort. It's a goofy and light hearted little production of the old black & white British spy thriller which Rickey and Ms. Henderson enjoyed immensely. While the comedy can be a little too slapstick on occasion and the repeated references to Alfred Hitchcock's oeuvre can get a little grating, the stagemanship more than makes up for these weaknesses. The production consists of four actors and an extremely sparse set and most of the fun in watching this comes from beholding these four people swap in and out of roles seamlessly and use common place items like trunks, chairs, and cloths to create incredible stage illusions. Definitely check it out while it's still running, and be sure to wear you very best "Hitchcock 'N Ballz" t-shirt whilst doing so.

In the latest troubling sign that Rickey is becoming a bit too neurotic about this whole wedding thing, he and Ms. Henderson scouted out the site where they'll be having their engagement photo session: the New York Botanical Garden. For those of you who have never been there, it's a terrific day trip: a lovely and well groomed location that's rife with flora, fauna, and serves as a symbol to man's drive to subdue nature and bend it to his will. (And their Christmas model train show is the tits). For those of you in the area who are fearful of making a trip to the Bronx, Rickey advises you to cast aside your inhibitions and check the Botanical Garden out sometime--it's a dynamite place for a date, complete with a myriad of quiet trails that make for excellent snogging locations.

How did Rickey follow up these two highbrow ventures? Why, with a trip to the fabulous Empire City Yonkers Raceway for some hard core gambling, of course. For those not in the know, this is a joint racetrack/casino in Yonkers, NY which easily qualifies as the top five most depressing locations on the eastern seaboard. But it was along the road home and having never been there, Rickey managed to successfully convince Ms. Henderson that it would be a fun adventure to stop off and check it out. And it was, if by "adventure" you mean squandering $40 at slots machines in a mere 30 minutes while thronged by the impoverished and elderly. Clearly, Rickey's not exactly a gambler (or a high roller), but still, losing $40 at nickel slots in 30 minutes seems like an exceedingly poor investment. And to make matters worse, the casino is comprised entirely of slot machines with cartoon images of coy mermaids, buxom viking women, and Cleopatra. Evidently anachronistic cartoon figures are like catnip for the elderly?

Ah well, it's off to the gym for Rickey. Enjoy the remainder of the weekend folks.

[posted at Humor-Blogs]

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rickey Presents: The Carnival of Cinema

Courtesy of Scott Nehring at Good News Film Reviews, Rickey has been selected to host an informal get together known as “The Carnival of Cinema.” We think you’ll find that this little symposium is like any other small town carnival: brimming with psychological disorders and by no means an ideal place to leave one’s children unattended. This is due to the fact that no other art form lends itself to disagreement like cinema, and no other medium fans the flames of this conflagatory disagreement quite like the internet. And because this perfect storm of jackassery has clearly manifested itself in this week’s carnival, we are obligated to inform you that any jests, jibes, and sneers that Rickey might cast in your general direction are all in good humor. Indeed, we kid because we love. (Except those of you we do not love—we hate you bastards). We think you'll find Rickey's commentary on these reviews a bit more enjoyable than the typical cut & paste format employed in most blog carnivals, so sit down, pour yourself a tall glass of sarsaparilla and enjoy the madness.

First up this week is Rickey’s Review of “The Dark Knight.” One of the bonuses of hosting this carnival is that Rickey gets to put his work front and center. As Mel Brooks said, it’s good to be the king. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Rickey dug the hell out of this movie, and thought it was an extremely compelling crime drama. This is an opinion which some of our more contrarian contributors to this week’s carnival thought it would be prudent to disagree with, but more on that later…

Thanks to Naomi Stevens of Diary From England, it is with great sadness and reluctance that we are now contractually required to discuss “MAMMA MIA!” As is made clear in her review of the film adaptation of the hit musical, Naomi enjoyed the movie immensely. (We’re guessing that Pierce Brosnan’s bare chest had a great deal to do with it). Sorry Noami, but if Rickey was going to see a movie that is gay-friendly, it was going to feature codpieces and a guy wearing makeup telling another guy “you complete me” (that would be TDK) and not a musical derived from the Swedish pop band ABBA.

Jeff, author of the film website The Daily Naked (thanks for setting off the NSFW klaxons in Rickey’s mind Jeff!) has managed to get his hands on a copy of Quentin Tarantino’s script for “Inglorious Bastards.” Read Jeff’s thoughts on the matter here. Rickey, for one, likes the idea of QT made spaghetti western style WWII flick and eagerly looks forward to listening to long diatribes about French food and Nazi foot massages in the upcoming movie.

Margaret, an unusually literate Wiccan who runs a website known as The Earthly Paradise takes a time out from doing her very best Ophelia impression to write in with a look at Fred Zinneman’s 1977 film “Julia,” starring Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave, a film which is relatively unknown today. Margaret then proceeds to examine the reasons why it took so long for a movie that was nominated for 11 Academy Awards to be released on DVD. Hey, better late than never right? To this very day, they still haven’t released Michael Mann’s masterpiece “The Keep” on DVD and it absolutely kills Rickey.

Missy of the website Observations From Missy's Window brings horrific news: MGM is remaking the 1983 movie "Valley Girl." Like, ohmigod, this is just so totally uncalled for. It's official people: now that Hollywood has learned how to auto-fellate itself, it will never leave the house again.

Sean Kelly, an apparent madman, decided that Brendan Frasier’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth” wasn’t getting enough press and decided to write a positive review about it. (On that note, buy Rickey a beer and he’ll explain to you why “Space Chimps” is actually a terrific and nuanced movie. No, seriously.) But hey, perhaps it’s worth seeing the film that the Bush Administration is using as a scientific justification to drill in ANWR.

And while we’re talking about our impending environmental doom, liberal scientist wonk Greg Laden (a breed of individual which there can never be enough of) writes in with a review of a movie you’ve probably never heard of: “Sizzle.” In his article, Sizzle: An Inconvenient Truth meets Get Shorty? Greg concludes that the movie unfortunately doesn’t succeed as a comedy or an informative documentary, but it can’t be any worse than that “Day After Tomorrow” movie, right? To this day, Rickey’s still not entirely sure how or why climate change causes wolves to get loose and kill people…

Rickey will be the first to admit how ridiculously easy it is to critique rather than actually create. And that’s why Kely McClung’s submission to this week’s carnival is one of Rickey’s favorites. In his blog, Kerberos, indie film director Kely McClung discusses a wide range of topics all pertaining to the art of film direction. Kely's directorial debut, "Blood Ties," won a whole bunch of awards at the International Film Festival, so it's probably safe to say that he's past the stage all indie filmmakers go through where they consider directing porn movies for Vivid Video to pay the bills. And while we are sad that Kely's masterpiece, "Pulp Friction," will never see the light of day, we nonetheless wish this talented young man the very best in his future endeavors.

We are pleased to report that this post hails from the Orient and comes courtesy of Linda, a South Korean blogger (we're assuming she's from the South one, because she would have been publicly beheaded for not blogging about Kim Jong-il had she lived in the North). From what we're able to piece together, Linda gives us a review of a movie called "Daisy" which is by the same director who made "Infernal Affairs." At least we think. Look, in all fairness, there's a lot of Korean lettering and Hello Kitty super happy fun time going on over at Linda's site, so we could easily be wrong. Regardless, uh, thanks a million for Jae Seo, Linda! That pitcher worked out just smashingly for the Mets!

Take note you screwballs, because Barbara Schreiber of The Britannica Blog is about to demonstrate how coherent film analysis should be done. First up is a retrospective on Merrian Cooper, the cinematic pioneer and creator of the original “King Kong” and next is an analysis of similarities between WALL-E and E.M. Forster’s short story, “The Machine Stops.” Both articles employ logic, reason, and an adherence to the basic principles laid forth in the MLA handbook and we applaud them for that.

And now, get ready to cast aside all levity as we proceed onward to the Batman reviews… Sweet fancy moses, this is where the crazies really came out to play. We’re talking grade-A fuckwits here, people. First up is George, author of the blog Bored? Just Think… who chimes in with his analysis of social themes in “The Dark Knight”. Quoth George:

“Squirrels in Russia, are always on the move. They live in, for example, a tree for a while, leave it, and move into another tree that was occupied by another pack, which moved into another tree, and so on. Each pack, collects food and leaves it in the tree for the next pack. When the new pack gets there, they eat it while they try to find where the food sources are. They collect more food, after they find where it’s located, fill up the tree and move out, leaving it for the next pack. Now whether or not this is true or not isn’t the question. But, it is certainly possible and there are many notable cases of animals acting selflessly. This is what our society needs to strive for. We need to act as a one large conglomerate unit rather than a countless number of little pieces working for their own share. The idea might seem Communistic, which it probably is, but I believe in it."

And we now believe in the necessity of anti-psychotic drugs. Now if you’re like Rickey, you’re probably wondering what in the hell all this has to do with a Batman movie. And as far as we can tell, very little, just a bit about the social dilemma Gotham City faces at the end of the film. But hey, that’s a heckuva senior thesis if you want to run with it George. Just be sure to dress up like Batman when you present it (otherwise your teachers won’t take you seriously).

Since being an unrepentant moron is not a crime, Alan of hdfest is perfectly free to write in to this week’s carnival with his review, The Dark Knight Rides Once More to Protect the Rich. And we are perfectly free to heap ridicule upon Alan as much to our general consternation, he pontificates that Batman/Bruce Wayne is a rich oppressor hell bent on keeping the downtrodden masses in their place. Er, pardon? And then Alan completely flips the batpod by attempting to shoehorn a parable about greed and nepotism in Hollywood into the review. Way to double down on your insanity quotient Alan! Jesus, who in the hell are you people? At least spell check your posts Alan, because being merely insane is cool, but being insane and sloppy is just inexcusable.

Dr. Rus Jeffrey over at Frame by Frame opts to get semantically cute and poses the question, Is the Dark Knight actually Dark? His protracted answer is ‘no’ but with all due respect to the good doctor, we’re thinking that any movie that features people with bombs sewn into their bodies, horrific disfiguration, psychotic acts of terrorism, and an unflinching look into the face of unrepentant madness does indeed qualify as “dark.” Thanks for playing along though Rus—we look forward to your follow up post: “Is The Incredible Hulk Really Incredible?” (this sounds even funnier if you say it in your very best gravelly Larry King voice) The Fantastic Four: are they really all that fantastic? Tune in to Larry King Live tonight!

Trench, creator of 7milesdown also took issue with The Dark Knight in his review, but for a rather unique reason: the lack of Katie Holmes. Right, because Katie Holmes crawling into Bruce Wayne’s bedroom through an open window “Dawson’s Creek” style would’ve vastly improved upon the movie. Ok, you people are officially bat-shit crazy. Does being constantly contrarian for it’s own sake ever become tiresome? Does anything make you lunatics happy? Puppies? Sunshine? Oxygen?

And then there’s this Dark Knight review from Sean, My Thoughts on the Dark Knight. It’s somewhat hard to evaluate a movie review that’s a mere four sentences long and is essentially a haiku, but suffice to say he enjoyed it, and thinks that you will too. Okey dokey then.

Finally, Martin of MCT Images writes in with a funny little spoof: The Ten Commandments of Movie Going. Amusing stuff Martin, and you’re right: if there truly are a set of rules that have been passed down from Mount Cineplex, one of them must surely be “Thou Shall Not Bring Children to a Movie Not Featuring Talking Animals or Hillary Duff.” Because there’s nothing quite like watching "The Pianist" and having the little boy in front of you remark two-thirds of the way into the movie, "Mommy, I don't understand why he's hiding."

Whew, and that just about wraps things up for this edition of The Carnival of Cinema. Thanks again to Scott for allowing Rickey to guest host (something tells us it’s the first and last time that it ever happens). Rickey’s apologies for the jibes, but let’s be completely honest: if the act of writing an online review praising “Journey to the Center of the Earth” doesn’t signify one’s willingness to subject themselves to the ridicule and scorn of anonymous online strangers, then we can no longer trust our understanding of the universe. Come back again soon folks, we’ll leave a light on and some ABBA playing for you. Now if you’ll excuse Rickey, he has visions of armies of bat winged jackasses coming to get him…

[posted at Humor Blogs]

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Farewell, Whiskers of Glory

For those of you keeping count at home, three hundred and forty eight days ago, Rickey suffered from a complete break with accepted societal norms and opted to grow a beard. And having nothing else to do, you the reader have presumably invested your time and attention in following us as we embarked upon this wondrous adventure. For eight thousand three hundred and forty two hours, Rickey enjoyed a full palate of facial hair that was nicely trimmed, edgy, yet mature. And it with great sadness that we must now report that our long and arduous journey has now come to an end. Indeed, as Ms. Henderson reported earlier, this past weekend, the beard was shorn, the badger hair shaving brush was dusted off, a razor was employed, and Rickey’s face is now once again as smooth as an infant’s bottom. We're back exactly where we were roughly one year ago, and what a long strange trip it’s been.

Because we feel we owe a full disclosure on the history of Rickey’s facial hair to our readers, let’s take a brief trip down memory lane. We first introduced the beard growing venture with this post, Rickey later fancied himself a modern day Ernest Shackleton in his quest for scraggly dominance, we delved into an in depth examination of the varying types of beards here, we further discussed the matter of beards here and here, and finally, Rickey realized that none of you gave a damn about Rickey’s beard and ceased blogging about it altogether. But until Sunday, the beard had never really gone away. It flourished and served as an outward indication to the world of Rickey’s unbridled awesomeness, a clear signal that Rickey was not a man to be trifled with. There is without any doubt, great advantage to letting one’s facial follicles run riot: having a beard decries an air of “getting it done.” In short, when you see a man with a beard, he’s doing better otherwise than he should be doing.

Why shave it off then? Well, one factor was a recent heat wave which made the beard rather unbearable and far itchier than usual. Also, Rickey grew weary of being eyed suspiciously when he ventured out in public (apparently one side effect of having a beard is that it tends to remind people of very bad things that happened to them). But the main reason for the shaving was change. Always mindful of the adage about the rolling stone gathering no moss, Rickey felt like altering something and the beard was an obvious candidate. Sure, we could’ve blogged about Rickey’s recent monumental decision to clip his toenails, but that wouldn’t have been anywhere nearly as entertaining, now would it?

But now we are somewhat stricken with remorse. So you’ll have to pardon Rickey if he’s feeling a bit like a modern day Samson, but at the moment, things seem most definitely askew without his formerly grizzled visage. Rickey is struck by how mundane, commonplace and generally white bread beardless life has been thus far, because let's be honest now: nothing says "why yes good sir, I am legally bonded" quite like a clean shaven face. Ah well, perhaps a rugged Christmas beard will be experimented with in the snowy months. So all together now, let’s sing along with Rickey, as he wistfully recites “Requiem for a Beard” (which just so happens to share the same exact lyrics as a Jim Morrison song):

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

*sniff* [posted at Humor Blogs] *sniff*

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Coulrophobia A Go Go: Rickey Reviews “The Dark Knight”

In case you missed it, this past weekend, “The Dark Knight” shattered box office records previously held by Vincent Chase’s “Aquaman,” garnered breathless Oscar talk, and single handedly ameliorated world hunger. And while this movie is by no means the second coming of a leathery winged Christ that the critics are making it out to be, it’s a damned solid summer flick nonetheless: a well made dark & brooding comic book movie. Not to speak ill of the departed, but we’ve come a long long way from Christopher Reeves’ unshaven Kal-El sullenly swilling bourbon in a bar in "Superman III."

Now the casual observer might ask: “I have a crippling fear of clowns, is this Dark Knight movie right for me?” No friend, it is most certainly not. In fact, let’s dispel any notion that this is a fun filled summer popcorn romp right now, because this film is as dark and bleak as they come, which given the source material, is exactly what we were hoping for. If we may use an SAT style analogy, this movie is to “Iron Man” as a cantankerous Rottweiler is to a yippy Chihuahua. If you’ve been sitting out the recent comic book craze gripping the multiplex (and really, who could blame you?) you’ll be pleased to hear that this one finally delivers the goods: a comic book movie with mature themes intended primarily for grown ups. Sure, you’re more than welcome to bring your doe eyed ten year old child to see this, just be fully prepared for them to ask you “daddy, why do bad things happen to good people?” on the way home from the theater. This is because not one character in this movie escapes an emotionally scarring crisis, horrific disfiguration, or outright death. Whether by land, sea, or air, some seriously bad shit goes down in this film--we're talking legitimately disturbing stuff. And we wouldn’t have our Batman movie any other way.

Think of this movie as a terrific crime drama that just happens to feature Batman. “Heat” with a cape and cowl, if you will. It picks up exactly where “Batman Begins” left off, with the inherent threat of escalation caused by a masked vigilante taking the law into his own hands. Enter stage left, Heath Ledger’s Joker whose rabid insanity not only dwarfs Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the character, it ranks right up there with his work in “The Shining” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” This is very much the Joker’s movie: he shapes the entire narrative of the film, forcing Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon, and Harvey Dent come to grips with how they’d each react in the face of sheer madness. Ledger’s Joker is a screen presence to behold, someone so unhinged and detached from reality that we’re not entirely sure he even hails from this planet. He’s a nefarious schemer, a feral dog, a sadistic anarchist, and ultimately the human embodiment of pure unfiltered chaos. This is a fiend, a menace, and definitely not a Joker that the audience is supposed to be chuckling along with. Hats off to Ledger for capturing the essence of the character and reminding us that fact only person laughing at this lunatic’s jokes should be the Joker himself. You haven’t seen a madman this terrifying since “Clockwork Orange,” a character that doesn’t chew on the scenery as much as set fire to it. His performance is so unnerving yet riveting that the movie seems unsettling even when he’s not present on screen. You’ll feel uncomfortable, uneasy, and completely off kilter for the duration of the film.
More than anything else, this is a movie that excels at imbuing a constant sense of dread then proceeding to repeatedly punch you in the stomach. Yes there are heroics on Batman’s part, but they don’t seem like flashy superhero antics as much as the actions of one desperate man trying to enforce order upon riotous calamity. Thankfully, this movie moves past the insipid “what are you afraid of?” psycho babble that plagued “Batman Begins” and introduces a fully formed crime fighter whose determination is tested in every way imaginable by an interminable evil. Armed with a bevy of high tech gadgets, a batmobile with a carbon footprint that would make Al Gore swoon, an “Akira” inspired bat motorcycle, and more gravitas than Jack Bauer and Chuck Norris combined, Christian Bale’s Batman is as much a study in obsession as Ledger’s Joker. Taken together, they’re two forces of nature diametrically opposed, yet unable to exist without each other. The supporting cast is as strong as they come, consisting of driven civil servants, seedy mobsters, exploitive media figures, and a terrified Gotham City populace, all of whom combine to tell a riveting modern day film noir tale.

Shot in Chicago, this movie is most certainly not Tim Burton’s gothic fetishistic vision of the Batman universe, but the tall canyons of glassy sky scrapers and urban areas such as Lower Wacker Drive lend themselves wonderfully as great locales for a gritty crime drama. The score works well, consisting of ominous drumbeats for Batman and what sounded like discordant violins and air raid sirens for the Joker--as if the character's presence wasn't unsettling enough already. Rickey does have a few gripes with the film, most notably Batman’s irritating raspy voice (somebody give the poor guy a throat lozenge already), a superfluous jaunt to China, and a conclusion that’s a bit too special effects reliant and visually difficult to follow. And of course some hecklers might take issue with a few questions of logic such as why Batman’s cape doesn’t get caught on the rear wheel of the bat motorcycle, but come on now, this is a movie about a guy who dresses up like a giant bat and swoops around, how about a little suspension of disbelief here?

Overall, the movie is solidly entertaining and despite it’s nearly three hour run time doesn’t feel long at all. Call us nuts, but strong acting performances and intelligent themes can have that effect on a theatergoer’s attention span. It all comes together in a dark and compelling pulpy comic book yarn that would make Bob Kane smile. As far as talk for a third installment goes, we’re really not sure if it’s even a great idea to make one, because topping this movie is no small order. We won’t spoil anything in the plot (we’d be happy to discuss it in the comments section) but suffice to say that Nolan covers all the bases in the movie, wraps up every character’s story arc and touches upon every major theme you’d hope to see depicted in a Batman movie. This film really is the pinnacle of the subject material and while there’s a wide array of villains to pick from for a sequel, another movie might not seem anywhere as epic and satisfying as this movie does. Rickey’s verdict, this is the Batman movie you’ve been waiting for, if possible, see this in IMAX (it’s stunning) post haste.

[posted at Humor Blogs… …because mass murdering psychopathic clowns are funny, yes?]

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Loafin' It

Rickey was dialed in to the FM radio on his drive into work this morning and was overwhelmed with a wave of nostalgia as Meat Loaf’s 1993 hit “I Will Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” came across the airwaves. And it occurred to Rickey that it’s funny how an old pop song can trigger a flashback, surfacing from one’s memory like a bubblegum submarine from the depths of the subconscious. What record exec ever thought that Meat Loaf would be a viable musician? And furthermore, ladies, if you had to pick, which Meat Loaf would you rather sleep with: “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” Meat Loaf, or “Fight Club” Meat Loaf?

Rickey recalls watching the music video for “I Will Do Anything for Love” on MTV back in the day, and it had a sort of “Beauty and the Beast” theme to it if we remember correctly. Although Rickey doesn’t recall “Beauty and the Beast” having motorcycle chases. Or law enforcement officials being killed by crystal chandeliers. Or the eponymous Beauty splashing around in a bathtub and retreating to a heavily-blanketed bed to have conjugal relations with some kind of vampiric bride. Or the line “Will you hose me down with holy water if I get too hot?” But all that is neither here or there, and hey, what else would one expect from a music video directed by Michael Bay? What really sticks out in Rickey’s mind is the pivotal question: precisely what won’t Meat Loaf do for love? A few possibilities:

Run right into hell and back (or run at all for that matter)
Scrub the toilet
Attempt to master Guitar Hero
Accept REO Speedwagon’s challenge to a duel
Disband his fifteen member fan club
Appear in a Rocky Horror Picture Show reunion
Sue Jason Giambi for impersonating him
Obey fire codes in his music videos
Appear in another film anywhere nearly as good as “Fight Club”
Diet and exercise regularly

All kidding aside, our unease with this song isn’t so much the maudlin lyrics and theatricality as much as the inherent contradiction at work here. The song title reads “I Will Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”. If you break that into two separate sentences but eliminate the conjunction, you are left with two very different declarations:

1) I’ll Do Anything For Love
2) I Won’t Do That For Love

Rickey has seen enough LSAT practice questions to realize that this statement is logically impossible. Take a look at the pie chart below (courtesy of Pinksy) for an idea of what we’re talking about.
One cannot simultaneously do “anything” and also exclude one thing. (To use logic terms, “anything” would be a set of all possible things, a set wherein nothing could be outside of said set, leaving no instance of a thing not being for love.) So either he is lying on the first declaration or the second because both cannot be absolutely true. And as if having this shitty Meat Loaf song stuck in his head wasn’t bad enough, Rickey is also plagued by its inherent contradiction of logic. Bottom line: Rickey’s getting an FM car adaptor for his iPod so that this incident never ever happens again.

[Posted at Humor Blogs—if it so tickles your fancy, proceed to the link and click on the smiley face. Every time you click, a disgruntled blogger gets their wings.]

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rickey’s Tuesday Dispatch: Soaring High on the Wings of Nonexistent Inspiration

*We’ve been waiting a while to use this image and today seemed like as good a time as any. Below follow the assorted thoughts and musings from a profoundly shallow mind…

Driving back from his fishing expedition this past weekend, Rickey had the distinct pleasure of driving through a portion of New Jersey and it occurred to Rickey that some of the names for the towns in the Garden State absolutely could stand to be improved. Hackensack? Mahwah? Tewksbury? It's a rare place that sounds like it smells, but hats off to Jersey for nailing it every time. Look, we can't all live in Celebration or Winter Haven, but at least Florida manages to at least pretend that it's something other than God's Waiting Room, right?

Since we’re on the subject of the Sunshine State, in our ongoing examination of all things fucked up in Florida, Rickey flabbergastedly presents the story of Mike Meehan, a businessman who paid for a billboard showing a burning WTC with the phrase “Please Don’t Vote for a Democrat.” And we wonder, is the political discourse in this country past the point of irreparable harm? Are we just too dumb and shrill to have an intelligent conversation concerning the presidential election? There’s no punch line there, just a whole lot of concern on Rickey’s part regarding where the nation is headed.

In a stunning misappropriation of tuition dollars, Cambridge College has hired a former FBI investigator to find the authors of an anonymous mock newspaper that condemned the chancellor and suggested the college is on the verge of closing. And as if the Dumbledore’s Army parallels weren’t strong enough, the FBI investigator even looks like Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter books (sigh, yes, Rickey has read them). Best of luck with the hunt wench, because as we all know, college is no place for the active and vibrant exchange of ideas. Hey, when did having zero intellectual curiosity about the world--and a corresponding sneering contempt for those who have any--become a positive character trait instead of a flashing warning signal that this person is a stubborn dummy? Oh--right.

Always on the forefront of hard hitting news, MSNBC has posted an in depth article discussing who could be the next Batman villain in the next installment in the franchise. (Rickey’s vote goes for Larry David as Mr. Freeze). Having not seen the movie yet, Rickey is unsure whether all this talk for a posthumous Oscar for Heath Ledger’s performance in “The Dark Knight” is justified or not, but we will say this much: any film that’s drawing critical comparisons to “Heat,” “Godfather Part II,” “Empire,” and “The Untouchables” most definitely has piqued our interest and pried open our wallets. We’ll weigh in on the film with a full fledged review once Rickey beholds it in all its dark ominous glory.

For those not on the wagon, “Generation Kill,” David Simon’s new television drama about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is now required summer viewing. It’s a stunning depiction of how today’s modern soldier is a completely different creature from what we’ve seen in previous wars. The real life characters in this show certainly don’t conform with the conventional Fox News image of soldiers: they’re profane, eclectic, resentful of incompetence, and ultimately noble. Just as he did in “The Wire,” Simon brings a no nonsense treatment to the subject matter: there’s no clean cut by the book plot, no background music, and no warm and fuzzy morals. Just the real deal, which unfortunately includes a woefully underprepared Marine battalion rolling into Iraq without maps or armor for their Humvees. With all the space age high tech military equipment you’ll read about in a Tom Clancy novel, it’s important to remember that war is still war and this show doesn’t pull and punches in demonstrating that. Highly recommended.

Rounding out our ever widening list of “Things Rickey Doesn’t Give a Flying Fuck About” is tonight’s All-Star Game. Sorry, but despite MLB’s attempt to make the game relevant by having the AL and NL play for home field advantage at the World Series, the game is still categorically meaningless. As long as both teams continue to be petrified of injuries and refuse to play an earnest baseball game, this contest will never amount to a hill of beans. In baseball as in life, in order for something to count, genuine effort must be put into the endeavor. What makes the All-Star game even more unwatchable is that National League “small ball” tactics are rarely used due to fear of injuries, while American League mindless slugging is the norm. And it’s no wonder why the AL has won this bullshit game year after year… And of course there’s the greatest injustice of all: the possibility of the All-Star break icing the Mets’ current white hot winning streak.

Finally, courtesy of Daily Stab, Rickey has stumbled upon quite possibly the greatest moment in sports heckling history: Hot damn, the look on that kid’s face when A-Rod turns around is just priceless.

[Posted at Humor-Blogs]

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Bastille Day from Rickey

It's July 14th, which means it's time to appreciate the je ne sais quoi of all things French as you celebrate Bastille Day. For those of you who are unaware of precisely what Bastille Day is all about, it is best described as the French version of America’s Independence Day, or Mexico's Cinco de Mayo, or Canada’s …uh, Canada Fest or ...Canadapaloozaok, Rickey doesn't know what Canada has, but whatever it is it’s probably totally awesome.

Anyhow, back to the French. Today’s holiday commemorates the storming of the Bastille Prison (an act that helped a grand total of seven people gain freedom). The storming and subsequent burning of the prison are generally used as the point of reference marking the beginning of the French Revolution. While this oversimplifies things greatly it has the advantage of saving you from listening to Rickey ramble through a lengthy discussion about French history. Bottom line: they gave us modern democracy and freedom from absolutism and we responded in kind two hundred years later by going to war on false pretenses, renaming french fries "freedom fries," and generally carrying on like this fellow to the right.

In honor of the day, we recommend breaking from the mold and being a little festive: set off some fireworks, get your petanque on, or google Sophie Marceau images. It's your day, make the most of it. Now if you'll excuse Rickey, he's off to brush up on his Locke and liberate a bottle of bourdeaux from the clutches of a despotic liquor store.

[Posted at Humor Blogs]

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Stuff White People Like: Fly Fishing

Always in search of adventure, Rickey is headed down to Pennsylvania for a fly fishing expedition this weekend. What does Rickey know about fly fishing? Precisely nothing. (In fact up until recently Rickey was under the impression that “carpe diem” meant “fish of the day”). So as you can gather, these are uncharted waters for Rickey. Now you might wonder, how much skill is involved in fly fishing? Rickey realizes that there's some knowledge involved in picking the lure, the rod, location, etc. But isn't the guy who catches the heaviest fish simply the luckiest? Is it somehow harder to catch the fish with a weight problem? And is the Super Bass-o-Matic still considered an acceptable means of consuming the fish that Rickey catches?

All kidding aside, perhaps there’s more to fly fishing than all this. Sure, to the uninformed individual, fishing might seem like NASCAR on water, but we’ve seen Robert Redford’s “A River Runs Through It” frequently enough on TNT (The New Classics!) to suspect that a certain romanticism lies behind this famed sport. A certain unspoken beauty that the tweed clad fellow on the cover of the Orvis catalog only hints at. Best as Rickey can figure, fly fishing exists at the nexus of science and lyricism. Basic Newtonian physics govern the art of casting the fly rod while a natural beauty permeates one’s surroundings. And from these fertile lyrical grounds emerge the hint of the Divine. As Norman Maclean’s book says:

[fly fishing] "is an art that is performed on a four-count rhythm between ten and two o'clock… …As for my father, I never knew whether he believed God was a mathematician but he certainly believed God could count and that only by picking up God's rhythms were we able to regain power and beauty."So if we’re reading this correctly, Rickey will be prostrating himself before God’s great terrarium. The cathedral of nature, if you will. And while wading in a stream in Pennsylvania, Rickey fully expects to commune with nature and ultimately engage in a profound metaphysical conversation with a higher spiritual power. Some questions Rickey plans on asking the big man upstairs:

-What’s your stance on going bass to mouth?
-Do trout dream of electric flies?
-If Rickey mistakenly reels in an old boot, does that count?
-Is “downstream nymphing” as delightfully fun as it sounds?
-Abe Vigoda: man or ancient water beast?
-Do fish have their own contests to see who can steal the most bait?
-What are the karmic implications of breaking the catch & release laws?
-Do these waders make Rickey’s ass look big?

These and other weighty cosmic questions will be discussed in great length as Rickey becomes one with the stream, the trout, his spirituality, and his nascent fly fishing abilities. Ah fuck it, who are we kidding? Rickey is going fly fishing with a bunch of fraternity buddies, one of whom is named “Clamato Rimmer.” There will be no lyricism to be found this weekend. Somebody’s going to lose an eye, somebody’s going to get lost in the woods, somebody’s going to get shitfaced and pass out in a stream, and nobody’s catching any goddamned fish at all. And maybe, just maybe, some misbegotten madman will find a way to create a fantasy fly fishing league from all this. But on the bright side, at least we can be certain that Rickey won’t be participating in any criminal activity this weekend:

"Lots of people committed crimes during the year who would not have done so if they had been fishing. The increase of crime is among those deprived of the regenerations that impregnate the mind and character of the fisherman.” -Herbert Hoover

So, uh, at least there’s that.

Update: we’ve just been informed that Rickey Henderson (the real one) aspires to one day winning a professional fishing trophy! Nice to see everything come full circle, eh? Rickey's gonna get you fishes! Rickey holds grudges!

[posted at Humor Blogs]

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Jumping the Shark, Marital Style: Finally, the Anna Benson Debacle Has Been Eclipsed

Quoth the papers: Cynthia Rodriguez filed for divorce today, pinning her pinstriped husband Alex as and adulterer who bedded a bevy of babes. Their marriage "is irretrievably broken because of the husband's extra marital affairs and other marital misconduct," C-Rod blasts in the divorce papers, filed in Miami-Dade County, where the couple owns a $12 million waterfront mansion. -The NY Post, July 7, 2008.





For her Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the Petitioner states:

ACTION FOR DISSOLUTION: This is an action for dissolution of marriage which is being filed only after the Petitioner has exhausted every effort to salvage the marriage of the parties. With his lengthy list of infidelities, Mr. Rodriguez has demonstrated a fundamental unwillingness to continue the marriage. Hopefully things will work out with Madonna. We hear she’s a very nice and respectable girl.

IRRETRIEVABLY BROKEN: The marriage of the parties is irretrievably broken due to Mr. Rodriguez’s extra marital affairs which consist of but are not limited to: recent marital infidelity involving famed pop star Madonna, a one night tryst in a hotel room with a muscular she-male, a weekend getaway on Fire Island with Derek Jeter, a lurid dinner and a movie with Yogi Berra, and an encounter with a goat that for the sake of common decency, we are reluctant to disclose. On all of these occasions, Mr. Rodriguez has made it to “first base” which is a good deal more than we can say for his performance in October. Hiyoooo!!! Sorry, we’re divorce lawyers with lousy senses of humor. We’ll show ourselves out…

LIFE AND MEDICAL INSURANCE: Mr. Rodriguez has and is capable of maintaining life and medical insurance for the benefit of his wife and children. Mr. Rodriguez should be required to continue to maintain that or comparable insurance. Insurance benefits shall include the inevitable therapy sessions for the children when their father suddenly starts talking with a British accent and walks to the plate with “Cherish” playing on the Yankee Stadium P.A. system. Additional medical benefits funding shall be allocated to treat the cold sores incurred by Cynthia Rodriguez’s current relationship with Lenny Kravtiz.

STANDARD OF LIVING: Mr. Rodriguez is a prominent athlete and has, due to his incredible earning power, provided the parties and their children with an exceedingly lavish lifestyle. Mr. Rodriguez has the fiscal capacity to continue his high style of living, but his wife does not. Mr. Rodriguez is perfectly free to continue dropping golf pencils into mineshafts, but he must continue to financially provide for Mrs. Rodriguez and her children while doing so.

ALIMONY: Mrs. Rodriguez needs and is entitled to temporary, rehabilitative, permanent, periodic and lump sum alimony, and Mr. Rodriguez is well able to pay all forms of alimony. Assuming that Madonna doesn’t have the same effect on Mr. Rodriguez’s career that she did on Guy Richie’s, he should continue to remain on firm financial ground and be able to make alimony payments. To ensure the continuation of alimony payments, it would however be wise for Mr. Rodriguez to say no when Hank Steinbrenner offers to buy him flying lessons.

CHILD SUPPORT: The children require temporary and permanent support from Mr. Rodriguez, which he has the ability to pay. The lifestyle and background of the parties and children is such that Mr. Rodriguez should provide all necessary funds needed to maintain the existing lifestyle of the children. This lifestyle shall include a home tutor to help explain why their father thought it was a bright idea to swat the ball from Bronson Arroyo’s glove in the 2004 ALCS.
EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION: Mrs. Rodriguez is entitled to an equitable distribution of all assets acquired during the marriage, pursuant to Section 63.056, New York Statues. These assets shall include but are not limited to: one “Sailor Moon” DVD box set, three dozen sequined shirts, and one crimping iron. All revenue generated from the upcoming Lifetime Original movie starring Jennifer Lopez as Cynthia Rodriguez and Queen Latifah as Juanita Jordan shall be the sole properly of Mrs. Rodriguez.

DEBT: The parties have incurred certain debts, which Mr. Rodriguez shall be required to discharge. These should include but will not be limited to: car payments, credit card bills, and Blockbuster late fees for one overdue copy of “Pricilla, Queen of the Desert.” All grounds keeping costs incurred by causing Joe DiMaggio to roll over in his grave shall be the sole responsibility of Mr. Rodriguez.

ATTORNEYS’ FEES, SUIT MONIES, AND COSTS: Mrs. Rodriguez has obligated herself to pay reasonable attorneys’ fees (hey, we gotta eat too, you know?), suits monies, and costs to her attorneys and other professionals in this action and asks for a judgment against Mr. Rodriguez for a sum considered to be a reasonable fee for those services. Additionally, Mr. Rodriguez shall incur the great cultural debt caused by making Lenny Kravitz relevant again.

DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS: We are requesting that divorce proceedings be scheduled for Monday, September 29th, one day after the 2008 baseball season ends for the New York Yankees. Again, have fun with that Madonna thing Mr. Rodriguez. We understand that Kabbalah is firmly against participating in the Home Run Derby.

[Posted at Humor Blogs]

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Rickey's Film Corral: Rounding up Movies You Were too Damned Lazy to See

Mongol. Being suckers for subtitled foreign films and Mongolian barbeque, Rickey and Ms. Henderson decided to check this movie out, which is the first installment in a trilogy of films depicting the life and times of Genghis Khan. Given the fact that the last cinematic portrayal of Genghis Kahn we’ve seen involved him running amok with an aluminum bat in a sporting goods store in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” this flick was a welcome sight for Rickey. And refreshingly, this movie is not at all dependent on massive battle scenes fabricated by WETA, but rather is an intimate look into the early life and times of Genghis Kahn. Think of it as “Genghis Begins” or “Genghis: The High School Years.” The cinematography is flat out astounding consisting of sweeping panoramas of the Mongolian steppes—truly breathtaking stuff. It’s nice to see a director pull funny tricks like holding the camera still and not jumping all over the place chronologically (you know, things we don’t see much these days in modern movies). The movie is a study in all around good old fashioned story driven filmmaking. Highly recommended.

Encounters at the End of the World. This latest documentary by Werner Herzog sets out to capture the bizarre cast of characters from the human world and the natural world dwelling at the bottom of the planet in Antarctica. We like the idea of a film in which spooky jellyfish share the screen with self proclaimed philosopher construction workers. For those of you unfamiliar with Herzog, he’s completely insane, but in a delightfully fun way. We have no idea why, but he begins the movie by pontificating why monkeys don’t ride goats. Then he shows the audience a drawing of a monkey riding a goat. And that’s how the movie commences. And we’ll be damned if Rickey doesn’t want that picture of the monkey riding a goat hanging in his living room. Upon arriving in Antarctica at the beginning of the film, Herzog almost seems disappointed to discover humans living there. When interviewing the eccentric human denizens living in Antarctica as they talk in great length about the unusual set of circumstances that led them to become untethered and slide off the map into snowy oblivion, Herzog becomes exasperated and ends up paraphrasing for the people being interviewed on camera: “long story short, this guy used to be an investment banker, but had a complete break with reality and now harvests seal milk for dubious scientific purposes.” The real highlight of the flick is the stunning underwater photography, some awesome volcanic steam vents, and one mentally deranged penguin. Our verdict: it’s no “Happy Feet,” and that’s a very good thing. Definitely worth seeing, but if it’s not at your local theater, it can wait until it pops up on the Discovery Channel.

Wall-E. It isn’t nearly as phenomenal as the critics are claiming it to be, but that quirky little robot is cute goshdarnit. The underlying message that our consumer culture will one day completely poison the planet and force the human race to live lazy and morbidly obese lives in outer space being catered to by nefarious robots isn’t exactly subtle, but kudos to Pixar for having the balls to put it in a G-rated movie. The problem with this is that being a Disney film, its tough to overlook that fact that the movie’s target audience is being asked to spend money on Wall-E themed games, toys, and stuffed animals. Furthermore, despite the film’s didactic tone, the average moviegoer will plop down $30 on soda, popcorn, and candy, gain two pounds in the process and leave their trash on the sticky movie theater floor for the theater usher earning $5.45 an hour to clean up. And just in case you forgot which parent company owns Pixar, Wall-E just happens to make the same nose that Rickey’s Powerbook does whenever it powers on. Cute. Sorry folks, but you can’t have it both ways: lambasting Walmart in a movie which also fetishizes Apple products seems a tad hypocritical to Rickey. What redeems the movie are the scenes when there’s no dialog spoken (the first third of the movie) and it focuses on a Charlie Chaplin styled love story between the two robots. There’s a certain sad and subtle beauty at work in those early scenes. The wee ones will get a kick out of it and so will you. Just don’t go in expecting anything on the same level as “Ratatouille.”

Wanted. Ye gods, this was one atrocious movie. Take one part “Fight Club,” one part “Matrix,” and one part bleak Russian nihilism, stick ‘em in a blender and hit puree until the sickly sweet incomprehensible mess erupts from the top. Hats off to Russian director Timur Bekmambetov for exposing the severe mental havoc that the Vladimir Putin regime has wrought on that country’s artistic community. After suffering through this disjointed mess of guns, gore, and gams, we’re not entirely sure what a 1,000 year old league of assassins has to do with weaving (yes, weaving) and neither will you if you manage to stay seated for the full two hour run time. The film is a sartorial nightmare in the truest sense of the phrase. Rickey’s verdict: approach this crapfest as you would Angelina Jolie: with extreme caution.

Hancock. This one falls into the same genre of films as “Ghostbusters” or “Men in Black.” It’s a sci-fi action/comedy with a terrific premise, but unlike those two movies, its ideas aren’t ever properly developed. You know the premise: the movie asks us to wonder “what if Superman let himself go?” with Will Smith playing a complete schmuck of a superhero. Imagine Dennis Rodman or Barry Bonds with superpowers and you’re on the right track. It’s a great idea for a film, and Rickey would’ve liked to see more scenes of Hancock behaving like a misanthrope and his transformation into a better person happens a little too quickly for our tastes. Jumping from crass comedy, to action, to romance, the movie feels somewhat schizophrenic, but Rickey still has to applaud the filmmakers for creating a superhero movie that’s different from the norm. The acting is strong (Jason Bateman’s comedic stylings alone are worth the price of admission) and those looking for a fun summer action movie that breaks the mold a bit will get a kick out of this.

Yeah, always on the lookout for a new audience, we're bringing it back. If it so pleases you, click hither, and rate Rickey's post. Go ahead, we'll wait. No pressure.

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