Nov 23

You can pretty much just send me that Husband of the Year trophy. No, it’s not for taking out the garbage, or cleaning the litter box of a cat I neither wanted nor like, nor even the lavishly expensive birthday gift. I should win Husband of the Year for escorting my wife to Breaking Dawn: Part I.

And judging by the lack of other wedded males in the movie theater, I may just take home the crown. Yeah, I know you’re shocked: The show was probably 97% female. Hell, the female to male ratio was lower for the damn Lilith Fair. There were more men on the East German women’s swim team than sitting in plush movie theater seats for the 10 a.m. showing.

Even so, I didn’t feel so bad because there was some dude – chubby, bespectacled, aloof – who actually had the balls (or lack thereof?) to attend the show BY HIMSELF. At least I managed to score some brownie points with the little lady and earn my Husband of the Year nomination.

So let’s talk about this movie. Think of the worst movie you’ve ever seen. Then magnify it by 10 or so. For example: The movie wasn’t even 10 seconds old before fans of Team Jacob were moistened because the team’s namesake had forsaken his shirt. Just ripped that bad boy right off and started running. That level of shirtless abandon hasn’t been seen since Ronnie from Jersey Shore was frolicking around Italy bare-chested and loving it.

And acting. My god. I think when I played Prince Charming in second grade I was more believable. You rarely see overacting this bad outside of a Vlade Divac flop. Or a porno. Now that I think about it, it was like if Vlade played the lead role in “Vlade Does Croatia.”

And let’s not forget the beating the English language took. Apparently, words in vampire-and-werewolf universes only have one syllable. And the pauses between saying those words must be at least 4.2 seconds. But no more than 5 to 6 words per sentence please. Vampires may be able to leap 20 foot canyons in a single bound and run faster than a cheetah on crack laced with Red Bull, but apparently all that physical prowess stunts their capacity to understand polysyllabic words. And slows their speech pattern to a crawl.

So they at least had good special effects right? Holy shit, no. The CGI werewolves were terrible. Hell, Michael J Fox in Teen Wolf was a more believable werewolf. Of course, he gets bonus points for having a Chris Paul-esque ankle-breaking crossover. All the Breaking Dawn werewolves had were annoying voices and terrible howls. And lots of menacing, saliva dripping teeth.

And let’s not even talk about the plot. Or maybe we should. So Bella (the main character played by a stonefaced – and later anorexic – Kristin Stewart) saved herself for marriage. Way to go kiddo. Only problem: As we found out at her wedding ceremony when Jacob (wearing a shirt, no less! Classy dude!) threw a hissy fit, vampires can’t have relations with regular folk because they’re too strong and just mash ‘em to death. “You’re going to kill her!!!!!”  Seriously screenwriter? Your conflict is the potential for death by vampire sex? My lord.

Well, lucky for Bella, the randy vampire didn’t kill her. You know, because he loved her so much he didn’t let his baser self take over and destroy her. Talk about self-control. But he did forget his rubber and impregnated her with a blood thirsty vampire. That slowly sucked the life out of her.

And that setup the rest of the movie as vampires and werewolves did their best to kill and/or save said demon spawn. So, yeah, it was pretty much downhill from there.

The most disheartening thing about the whole affair? The audience loved it. Like they laughed out loud multiple times. It was like a laugh track on a terribly unfunny sitcom. Except completely unlike that because it was real.  And the worst part? These folks actually clapped – put their tiny little hands together, mind you – at the end of the movie. Like they enjoyed it or something.

It was at that moment I knew I was getting old. The only reason I would have been clapping was a joyful clap knowing the damn thing was over. I mean really, people don’t actually enjoy that movie, do they?

OK, I admit it. I enjoyed the whole damn experience. It was like a five car pile up: Bloody, terrible, disturbing. Yet, I couldn’t keep my eyes off it. It’s like when persecuted groups take a derogatory term (queer, nigger), use it, and turn it on its head. In other words, the movie was so damn bad, it was actually enjoyable to watch.

<Starts Slow Clap>

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Aug 10

In 1992, I bought a Ricky Ervins football card at a baseball card show for $6. Why? Ervins looked to be the next great NFL running back, piling up nearly 700 yards in his rookie season, topping it off with 72 yards on 13 carries in the Super Bowl. His rookie card, along with the famous Juan Gonzalez Donruss reverse negative, were going to be the centerpieces to my college tuition and financial freedom.

Three years later, Ervins was out of the league, never living up to the promise he showed in 1991. By the time he retired, his card was worth about as much as the dog shit that dots my backyard.

So I admit I’m not exactly the world’s foremost investment adviser. When I was young I invested in baseball and football cards, not quite understanding the concept that it was scarcity that drove up the price for older cards and that modern cards had more print runs than Lord of the Rings. When I got older, I invested in a pillow under my mattress, shaken by the Great Recession of ’08.

Needless to say, I’m not the world’s greatest investment mind.

But apparently I’m not alone. Last week, Standard and Poor’s, the rating agency, downgraded the US Government’s rating from a pristine AAA to AA+.  I’m no ratings expert so I didn’t have a clue what that meant, but the world was shocked. For the first time ever, the US had a less than perfect rating. Interest rates would shoot up, making it even harder to get money and potentially driving us into another recession. The stock market would crash, wiping out the recovery from the Great Recession. Gold would be worth more than a Honus Wagner in mint condition.

So I waited with bated breath over the weekend to see how the markets would respond. Stocks tumbled, as predicted. Gold inflated, as predicted. But, oddly, money flowed directly into the cause of the collapse – government debt.

Apple, you know, that company with $73 billion George Washington’s cluttering their bank account – so much money that they’ve decided to build a new corporate headquarters that doubles as a futuristic spaceship – saw their stock price drop 20 points, or more than 5%. A company that’s cultivated a cult following that would buy a dried up boogar if Apple slapped their logo on it and did some slick marketing, apparently isn’t a safe investment.

Contrast that with US government debt – that same debt that Standard and Poor’s downgraded – in the form of Treasury bills. Because money poured into them, the interest rate dropped as much as .2%. Why? Investors believe they are the safest investment money can buy. Safer even than a pillow of cash under the mattress.

Which is why I’m reconsidering my thinking that I’m a terrible investor. Sounds like I’m nestled smack dab in the middle of the curve. Time to invest in Toby Gehrhart rookie cards, baby!

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Aug 3

Two years ago I bought a fridge. Mainly because I like to keep things like ketchup, butter and milk cold. That’s kind of what a fridge is supposed to do, right?

Size was also a consideration. Limited space required that the fridge be small. So we looked at models, including a nice model by Fisher and Paykal, a New Zealand company, that was the perfect size and sold for $1500. Go New Zealand!

Problem is, in addition to liking cold things cold, I also enjoy buying cheap shit. If I can save a couple pennies on something, I’m going to do it. Which is how I arrived at Best Buy, the land of cheap shit. Whilst there, I spotted a Samsung model that was the perfect size, but more importantly, the perfect price at roughly $900. That’s $600 in savings for those of you scoring at home. Guess which model I chose?

That’s right, the cheap shit model.

Big mistake. The cheap shit model just up and stopped working one day. Here’s how I found out:

SCLCommish: <Walks downstairs, groggy, hair a mess, in his favorite pajama onesy with feet><yawns>I’m hungry. I better make some cereal. <Grabs cereal box> It’s my lucky day. There’s only enough for one bowl. <Pours cereal into bowl> <Wanders over to the fridge><Stomach growls> Man, I sure am hungry. Can’t wait to eat me some tasty, tasty cereal. <Absentmindedly pours milk while staring out the window. Chunks of milk fill his bowl. Still not looking at bowl, doesn’t notice chunks, spoons chunks and cereal slowly into mouth>Sploof!<Spits chunks out, closeup of them sticking to wall>

Yeah. It sucked. It sucked balls. Luckily, it was still under warranty (a measly year, and we were only 6 months in), so I called the repairman and he repaired it free of charge because of the aforementioned warranty. Problem solved, right?

Flash forward another year. Fridge no workie.

So I sent Samsung a message asking if they would fix the fridge again for free. My initial warranty was expired, but since the flaming piece of cow dung they call a fridge had been repaired while under warranty, I figured I’d give it the old college try.

I was denied faster than a software developer trying to score with a supermodel.

I replied by telling them I would never buy another Samsung flaming pile of poo again. No big screen TV (which kills me, because they rock), no cell phone, no wash machine, no dryer. Nothing.

By failing to spring for a $200 service call on their shitty fridge that failed twice within two years of ownership, they lost someone who could have been a brand champion. Considering this company rakes in more than $200 billion dollars in revenue a year, $200 is about as insignificant as a singlel sperm on the set of a 500 person porno gangbang.

Look, I know they don’t have to fix my fridge for free. I also know that stuff fails – for all I know, this is the only shitty pile of shit fridge they’ve ever built (though the odds are stacked against it). I get that.  But if they’d done it, they’d have garnered a customer for life.

Instead, they’ve cultivated a pissed off former customer drinking warm, chunky milk and spewing his frustrations to the internet. And that’s not a good combination.

So, like Time Magazine before it, fuck you Samsung. You’ve earned the SCLCommish Go-Fuck-Yourself-Award for 2011.

Got a story to share about how shitty Samsung products are? Throw it in the comments.


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Jan 15

The shooting in Tucson has a lot of people on the left screaming for gun control. And those on the right screaming it’s their constitutional right to bear arms.

That got me thinking about what I should believe. In this black and white, left vs. right  America,  I should either be for gun control or against it.  You can check your shades of gray at the door.

So I spent five minutes with my friend Google and searched for Gun Control Legislation to see what, if anything, was actually being proposed by our legislators. What I found fascinated me. Even my source was fascinating: The Blaze, Glenn Beck’s site.

Here’s the link to the story:

It is ostensibly about a NY Representative introducing gun control legislation. Which, I have to admit, surprised the heck out of me.  I figured the left would be prominently attacked for their stupid knee-jerk reaction to the shooting in Tucson. Not so. They were pimping a Republican’s bill. Or so I thought.

So I read further. Specifically, it will “make it illegal to knowingly carry a gun within 1,000 feet of the President, Vice President, Members of Congress or judges of the Federal Judiciary…”

Huh? Really? Think about it: What affect would this law have had on Tucson? Absolutely none. The suspect would have still bought a gun, purchased a 30 round clip, and shot indiscriminately outside of a Safeway. Sure, after the fact, they could have charged him with yet another crime. But let’s face it, I don’t think he’s getting out of prison any time soon (assuming he’s convicted).

What this law would accomplish, however, is an opportunity throw people in jail who may not have murderous intent. You routinely hear about folks mistakenly putting guns in their carry-on and forgetting about it. Until they get to the airport and trouble ensues. Likewise, presumably, lots of folks could, in the course of their daily business, legally have a gun on them and drive or walk by a federal building, a rally, etc. Boom – potential for arrest and a federal charge without any shred of malicious intent.

So let’s call this proposal what it is: An attempt by a legislator to capitalize on the shooting, get some press, and look tough on guns. But the reality is, his legislation does nothing. In fact, as the story indicates, it would have been detrimental in the case of the Tucson shooting: the cops could arrest anyone who legally pulled their gun and shot at the suspect. Cause, you know, a federal judge was dying there.

The story also briefly mentions a second proposal by two Democrats that will ban the use of large capacity clips. (I later learned those same large capacity clips were illegal from 1994 until 2005, when Congress decided not to reauthorize the bill outlawing them. Interesting, eh? No one’s brought that little nugget up.)

“Now that’s some serious gray right there,” I thought.

Here’s why:

1. It doesn’t infringe on your right to bear arms. You can still carry a gun. And ammo. Just not an amount that would allow you to shoot all of Tiger’s mistresses in less than a minute.

2. It minimizes the damage. My understanding is the Tucson shooter had a 30 round clip. A 10 round clip would obviously mean 20 less bullets. That shrinks the casualty rate by 1/3. We just saved 4 lives, folks.

3. It doesn’t infringe on hunters. Let’s face it, the only people with 30 round clips are either poachers or mass murderers. And neither is legal.

Now it’s time to make a prediction: The first bill will become law. The second will not. The common-sense approach will be beaten because it does actually do something substantive – it bans the use of certain clips. Manufacturers will lobby, worried their profits will fall. The NRA will complain, arguing the slippery slope theory – if we give in on this, they’ll take more until all our guns are gone. And the bill will be, pardon the pun, shot down.

But the Republican proposal isn’t objectionable in any discernible way. Nothing is really being taken away. Who’s going to complain about it? Sure it’s stupid and serves no purpose. But it does no real harm. Gives a representative a chance at some publicity, and in 2012, when he’s up for re-election, he can point to this bill and say “I was tough on crime.” And no one will track down the bill and realize it for what it is: A fraud.

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Nov 11

Picture it: The year is 1991. It’s central Minnesota. I’m in my bedroom, face festooned with zits. My favorite bands at the time are Guns N Roses and Metallica, whose recently released Black Album was receiving heavy airplay. Which explains why I’m listening to WHMH, the local rocker, in the hopes that they’ll play Sweet Child O Mine, Patience or Enter Sandman. And I can get my rock on.

Instead, something called Smells Like Teen Spirit happened on the radio. By some band named Nirvana. Who knew Buddhists could scream so sweetly? Instantly, I was hooked. The song rocked. To my 15-year-old virgin brain, life didn’t get any better than this.

Nevermind later became the first CD I ever purchased. It still may be the best.

Nirvana ushered in a new era. I felt connected to them in a way I’d never really connected with any other band. Maybe it was their small-town roots, their punk rock ethics or just how different their sound was from anything that was getting airplay at the time, but in some small way Nirvana spoke to me. In many ways, they were the Beatles of the 90s.

Flash forward three years. It’s an April day in Central Minnesota. My musical horizons have broadened a bit since 1991, but I’m still in love with Nirvana. And I’m still pretty zitty. To this day I don’t remember how I heard of Cobain’s death. Given his recent overdose and suicidal public image, I don’t think it came as a shock. Though, at the time, I remember it being one of the saddest days of my life.

And we’re back to the present. I rarely listen to Nirvana, having overplayed those bursts of energy in my teenage years. I’m old now, the innocent passion of youth replaced by the cold hard logic of middle-age. So when Kurt and Courtney, the 1998 documentary that set out to explore whether Cobain was the victim of his own hand or the victim of murder, entered my house via Blockbuster, I let it languish on the shelf for a while.

When I finally plopped it in, it wasn’t because I’m the passionate Nirvana fan I was as a teenager. I just had some time to kill and it was the first DVD I could find that seemed interesting.

Immediately, I was hooked. My long-forgotten love for Nirvana flooded back as documentarian Nick Broomfield thrust himself into the story, going back to Aberdeen, to Olympia, to Seattle, to Portland, to LA, in a quest to track down rumors of a Courtney Love-ordered whack.

All-in all, it’s a fascinating ride through the seamy underbelly of fame. There are lots of dive motels, lots of people disfigured by years of drug use and more than a few deep, dark looks into the closets of Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain.

And the characters populating the documentary aren’t your everyday normal folks.

1. Love’s own father seems to think his daughter has something to do with Cobain’s death. And has written two books about it, one of which he made sure to display – out of the sunlight’s glare – during his interview. Now we know who Courtney got those media-whoring, money-grubbing genes from.

2. A nanny who quit a week before Cobain’s death says a lot without saying much at all, insinuating that Love dominated Cobain and was really only interested in making sure he didn’t modify his will.

3. The odd El Duce, leader of the “rape rock” band the Mentors and an acquaintance of Love’s for years, claims on camera that Love offered him $50,000 to kill Cobain. He said he didn’t do it, but knew who did. His claims even passed a lie detector test with flying colors. A week after his interview, he was hit by a train behind his house.

4. Courtney’s ex-boyfriend Roz, once a lead singer in a Portland-area band whose star was rising, is relegated to a bizarre anti-Courtney rant in his basement.

5. Courtney herself. Let’s just say this movie doesn’t paint strong picture of Love as a loving wife. But it does paint her as a master manipulator interested only in fame and fortune.

Sadly, even Broomfield himself becomes a part of the story. He claims the movie started as an attempt to determine if Cobain did actually kill himself. After great build-up and telling interviews with the fascinating cast of characters, Broomfield quickly changes course, coming up with a quick answer as to whether Cobain killed himself or not, and then moving on to attack Courtney Love for putting pressure on the financiers of the documentary, who subsequently pulled out.

What follows is a bizarre sequence of events that has Broomfield and some hired celebrity stalkers trespass during Love’s tour rehearsal, trying to ask her embarrassing questions. Their camera battery dies, so they decide to hit up Love at an ACLU award. Broomfield asks a few questions of Love, then, after her speech, rushes the podium and insults the ACLU for having Love on because she once threatened the life of a reporter.

What started as a promising look at the life and death of Kurt Cobain became the egotistical director’s personal vendetta against Courtney Love. All because she pressured MTV to pull out of funding his film.

Which explains why, in the end, this film left a bitter taste in my mouth. Like so many people before and after Cobain’s death, Broomfield was trying to ring the register on the Cobain cash cow rather than mimic Cobain and make art for art’s sake. Which, in the end, is why Cobain was successful and Broomfield is not.

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