Thursday, December 30

12 Days of Karaoke- Day 12

J. Geils Band- "Love Stinks"

Sadly, we have reached the end of our karaoke madness. Of course, that's no guarantee that I won't continue to slip in songs for your eardrums, since I'm all about that sort of thing. You can bet as soon as Cee-Lo's "F*** You" becomes eligible it will get a mention on here, if only to show that delightful music video a second time.

But the song we're looking at this time is one that is especially potent if performed on Valentine's Day. It's also a good song to sing aggressively, as Adam Sandler does very well in The Wedding Singer, which is also included below for your listening pleasure. As most songs from the 80s do, "Love Stinks" has a fantastic music video, complete with a drummer that appears to be using a fish in lieu of a drumstick, simple to follow dance moves, and best of all, karaoke lyrics! Now you can sing along at home so you won't even have to look at the screen when you perform. Fantastic!





This Day in History

1922- In post-revolutionary Russia, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is established, comprising a confederation of Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine, and the Transcaucasian Federation, which would later be divided into the Georgian, Azerbaijan, and Armenian republics. Also known as the Soviet Union, the new communist state was the successor to the Russian Empire and the first country in the world to be based on Marxist socialism.

Wednesday, December 29

YouTube Videos That Are Actually Kind of Impressive

Anyone who has ever used a computer knows that YouTube is both a fantastic invention and an amazing timewaster. If I want to pull up an obscure music video (like, say, Rainbow's "Since You've Been Gone,"), it's incredibly easy to do so. Or maybe I want to watch a failing temple run from Nickelodeon's Legends of the Hidden Temple. No problem! Or perhaps I just want to enjoy the 1987 National Aerobic Championship, and believe me, you will enjoy it as well. The point is, it's incredibly easy to get pulled in and watch videos until your brain turns to mush. And therein lies the dilemma of YouTube.

The biggest issue I have with the site, though, is that just about anyone with a digital camera and a cable to upload footage from said digital cameras can do so. And that means there is a TON of awful videos out there. But every once in awhile someone will come along and present an activity or event that kind of makes you smile or laugh or think, "Wow, that actually took some effort, even if it is staged!" Here are a few of those videos below.












This Day in History

1890- In the final chapter of America's long Indian wars, the U.S. Cavalry kills 146 Sioux at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. While it's classified as a battle, a more accurate description is an unnecessary and avoidable massacre.

12 Days of Karaoke- Day 11

The Young Rascals- "Good Lovin'"/Manfred Mann- "Doo Wah Diddy"

I'm a HUGE fan of songs that allow audience participation, and both of these songs have quality backup vocals that encourage a group to sing along. Whether it's the "doctor!" part in "Good Lovin'" or basically singing the title of the song in Manfred Mann's hit, you'll get the crowd involved, and they'll love you for it. "Good Lovin'" is listed first because you can sort of 60s dance to it. Enjoy both below.



Tuesday, December 28

My, That's an Impressive Monument!

I'm a big fan of statues--there's just something amazing about being immortalized throughout time (or at least until the stone/marble/wood/bronze/other material crumbles or is destroyed) and the creators of these monuments always do an excellent job. Here are a few of the ones that any traveler should see, assuming it's not snowing too much and you can leave your local airport.

Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Rio gets everything, don't they? The Olympics (2016), a World Cup (2014), a song by Duran Duran, and possibly the most impressive statue in the world, at least in my opinion. It's positioned in a similar way to the Statue of Liberty, but this symbol of Christianity just seems so welcoming, and seeing it overlook the harbor is just amazing.

Lincoln Monument (Washington, D.C.)

This one gets bonus points because it's right next to the National Mall as well as the Reflecting Pool, so you get three places in one. Obviously the U.S. capital would give some dap to our previous leaders, and while Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt also have nice memorials, Lincoln's takes the cake.

Sydney Opera House (Sydney, Australia)

What is it about being by a harbor (or in this case, harbour) that makes a place that much more impressive? I don't know, but the Sydney Opera House is probably one of the most distinctive pieces of architecture, and it serves as a multipurpose performing center too. So if opera's not your thing, you can still enjoy the magnificent work of its designer, the Danish Jørn Utzon. Really I just wanted an excuse to use a "ø."

Great Wall (Beijing, China)

Sure, it was used to keep out unwanted intruders, but what's more incredible is just how LONG this structure is! It stretches in either direction for as far as the eye can see. A gondola ride to the part of the wall that's walkable gives you an eagle-eye view of the scenery, and it really makes you feel tiny in the midst of its massiveness. I recommend not trying to run up the steps because it's quite exhausting at that altitude, but hey, if you only visit it once, go wild!

Colossus of Rhodes

This statue only lasted 56 years before being destroyed in 226 BC, and it wasn't even positioned like that, with one leg on each side, straddling the Rhodesian harbor. But come on, how awesome does that look?

This Day in History
1895- The world's first commercial movie is screened at the Grand Cafe in Paris. The film was made by Louis and Auguste Lumiere, two French brothers who developed a camera-projector called the Cinematographe. The brothers showed a series of short scenes from everyday French life and charged admission for the first time.

Monday, December 27

12 Days of Karaoke- Day 10

Weezer- "If You're Wondering if I Want You To (I Want You To)"

This is easily the newest song on this list, but since it has been in heavy radio rotation for a good year and a half now, your favorite karaoke hotspot most likely has it. And if not, demand it, because this is certainly a good number. As any fan of music knows, Weezer's radio singles are almost always top notch. However, a good song does not always translate into karaoke goodness. Take, for example, another Weezer song, "Buddy Holly," is an amazing little tune (with an excellent guitar riff in the bridge/solo), but for whatever reason it doesn't go over very well when Rivers Cuomo is not singing it. For shame.

This one, however, gets everyone's toes tapping and sometimes even provides some actual backup dancing. The call and response chorus is another benefit that can help out an otherwise timid singer. And since the song is sort of about being timid itself, it fits. Enjoy the music video below.



This Day in History

1932- Radio City Music Hall in New York City first opened to the public. It was especially well-received as this was during the height of the Great Depression. The hall was designed as a palace for the people, a place of beauty where ordinary people could see high-quality entertainment. Since its opening 78 years ago, more than 300 million people have gone to Radio City to enjoy movies, stage shows, concerts, and special events.

Sunday, December 26

12 Days of Karaoke- Day 9

Dion and the Belmonts- "Runaround Sue"

It's a little known fact that Dion was supposed to be on the ill-fated 1959 flight that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, also known as "The Day the Music Died." However, he thought the $36 fee to ride the plane was too expensive--his parents paid that much every month for rent in his childhood apartment. If I had to blow a month's worth of rent to fly I'd probably not want to do it either, and Dion escaped with more than just his money after the plane crashed with no survivors. Dion would go on to have a couple of Top 2 hits, and one of them is your karaoke song for Day 9. And since today (Boxing Day) is actually one of the 12 Days of Christmas, it's twice the fun. Or something like that.

In any case, this song is excellent because it gets people sock-hoppin' on the dance floor and is also really fun to sing along with, seeing as how about a third of it is either cool backup vocals or "whoas," which everyone loves, aside from punk band NoFX. So while February 3, 1959 was certainly a tragic day, fortunately for Dion (and our ears), he was able to record this song two years later, reaching #1 on both the Billboard Charts and our hearts.

Please note that the song is missing the first line, which is: "Here's my story, it's sad but true."

Winter Wonderlands

Once again, a Christmas has come and gone, but does that mean we're done with the holiday? Of course not! There's still snow on the ground (quite a bit of it, in the Midwest at least), so that means there's plenty to do in that festive atmosphere. You could try plowing snow with a train:



Maybe go with a snowball fight:





Or you could be extremely stupid and see if your tongue sticks to a cold pole in the dead of winter:



But you know, maybe you don't have any snow where you're from, so sometimes it's best to just dance.



And even if you don't celebrate Christmas, we've got you covered:





And if you want to be somewhat offended by two not very funny white women singing a song about Ramadan (in the vein of Adam Sandler's "Hannukah Song," why, you can just click right here. I don't really want to dignify it with a spot in this blog though, so I think maybe we should just be done with this post.

Hope the holidays will continue to be fantastic for everyone and that you can all end in 2010 in style. Unlike this guy:


This Day in History

1966- The first Kwanzaa is celebrated in Los Angeles under the direction of Maulana Karenga the chair of Black Studies at California State University at Long Beach. The week-long holiday was designed to embrace African American family, community and culture.

Thursday, December 23

12 Days of Karaoke- Day 8

Fountains of Wayne- "Stacy's Mom"

Fountains of Wayne is probably one of the greatest groups that nobody really knows anything about, save that their biggest hit is insanely catchy and has a funny music video starring Rachel Hunter and borrowing heavily from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Oh, and they love their Cars references. In fact, Cars frontman Ric Ocasek was allegedly supposed to cameo in this video but declined. That could have been the greatest combo of pop ever witnessed, but alas, we just have this piece in its stead.

Anyway, getting back on track (or off of it), Fountains of Wayne have a TON of good songs that sadly have not graced nearly as many eardrums as they should. Songs that mention a monkey reading Playboy magazine. Songs with clever lines and great videos. songs that are cheery and depressing at the same time with a catchy riff to boot, and possibly the best recounting of a night gone that the singer can't remember.

But the only song anybody knows (except you readers, since you no doubt clicked on all those links I scoured YouTube to find!) is "Stacy's Mom." And boy, do people know it. Which makes it a great karaoke song.

Fountains member Adam Schlesinger co-wrote "That Thing You Do!," so he is no stranger to one-hit wonders. And while you may not get Rachel Hunter as a backup dancer during the instrumental break, this song is good enough on its own.



Bonus "This Day in History"

Since there will likely be a break during the next few days, we'll give another bonus "TDIH." In 1888, Vincent Van Gogh, in a fit of dementia, sliced over the lower part of his left earlobe. While Van Gogh is generally considered one of the greatest artists of all-time, during his lifetime he only sold one painting. He shot himself two years later and died only 37 years old.

And with that, merry Christmas!

A Festivus for the Rest of Us!

Well, it's December 23, so that means many a discontented person will be celebrating Festivus, the holiday created during a memorable episode of Seinfeld. Although not everyone believes it's so fictitious, as this Los Angeles Times article points out. A brief synopsis of the festivities, if you will.



This Day in History

1972- On this day 38 years ago, one of the most famous NFL plays occurred. And it happened during the AFC playoffs (remember when playoffs were in December and not mid January? Yeah, I don't either), between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders. Yep, the Immaculate Reception. Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw evaded some pressure, heaved the ball downfield, where it appeared to be broken up by the late Jack Tatum, who delivered a big hit on Frenchy Fuqua. As the ball hurled toward the turf, Pittsburgh's Franco Harris caught the carrom and raced toward the end zone, scoring the game winning touchdown for the Steelers. NFL Films has dubbed it the greatest play of all time, so enjoy below, and have a strong and righteous Festivus!

Blake Griffin Top 10 Dunks

After yet another impressive dunk last night, it should be obvious by now that Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin is a complete beast. And fans may have gotten some good news, as Griffin has said he would do the dunk contest this year if the league asks him to. NBA, you know what to do.

Anyway, I did get to see Griffin and the Clip Show live against Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks this year, and while the highlights of that game were a Jason Kidd 75-foot buzzer beater and a DeAndre Jordan dunk after a very amusing scramble that seemed to evade the entire NBA, just the prospect of Griffin rising up and throwing down the thunder was enough to keep fans in their seats when they'd otherwise be in line for overpriced concessions.

In honor of the former Sooner, here is an admittedly outdated video of Blake Griffin's Top 10 dunks. Hey, I'm sure there'll be a new one soon for this month, but these are still amazing.

Wednesday, December 22

12 Days of Karaoke- Day 7

The Cars- You Might Think

For whatever reason, Boston-area rockers The Cars have never gotten the dap that they so rightfully deserve. Sure they've released few clunkers, but when they're on, they are ON. And in this tasty number, you can bet they were in solid form. The music video is also wildly entertaining, so if your local karaoke parlor has a music video going in the background and you can snag this one, well...they might as well just give you the crown right now.

December 22- This Day in History

You know, a lot of interesting things have happened throughout the course of history. So each day, courtesy of www.history.com, we'll post an event that was worthwhile. Or at least a fun fact. Normally this will just go at the end of another post, but I figured the first one deserved its own section. And since it's the first one, you get TWO fun facts! How lucky!

1956- A baby gorilla named Colo was born into Ohio's Columbus Zoo, becoming the first gorilla to be born into captivity. Today there are about 750 gorillas in captivity around the world and roughly 100,000 in the wild. Since Colo's birth 54 years ago, 30 gorillas have been born at the Columbus Zoo alone.

1937- In continuing with a Christmas theme (sort of, if you remember an obscure reference from the movie Elf), the Lincoln Tunnel in New York officially opened up to traffic this day 73 years ago.





More NBA Christmas Songs

Over the weekend we showcased the Chicago Bulls giving their vocal chords a test run with a "12 Days of Christmas" rendition. But D. Rose and company aren't the only ones getting in the holiday spirit. Check out these other videos from teams around the NBA, and have a very merry Christmas.

Denver Nuggets- "Christmas in Hollis remix." Who knew Birdman could rap like that?


The Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks went with more traditional Christmas tunes in their holiday greetings, with varying degrees of success.





And while these are each older videos, Rasheed Wallace and company performing "Jingle Bells" deserves a mention, as well as the Houston Rockets (trying) to sing "Let it Snow." Maybe Yao has a career as a singer ahead of him!





Finally, the NBA in general continued its bobblehead theme with a winter wonderland of sorts.

Tuesday, December 21

12 Days of Karaoke- Day 6

The Proclaimers- I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)

Embarrassingly enough, the first time I heard this song was when I was just a wee lad. It was sung by *N S Y N C (yes, that's how it's actually spelled) in some "get to know the group" video my sister had. It made me laugh then and the song still makes me smile now. I've heard it called the "best love song ever," and it was featured prominently in an episode of How I Met Your Mother.

Sadly, finding the music video of said song has proven difficult, so we'll just have to make do with the below. But hey, you get to do this song in a Scottish accent and have a very fun "da da da" part in the bridge, so everyone's a winner!

Lonely Island's Newest Jam

Those crazy folks over at Lonely Island have come up with another smash hit. Known for videos that are generally about very basic topics with over-the-top production values and very catchy songs, this latest one continues the trend. Called "I Just Had Sex," it stars Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone and features Akon. There are also a couple cameos that have become a staple in LI vids as well. Kind of funny that Akon is in here, as T-Pain was in "I'm on a Boat," and those two performers are very similar in sound. Either way, enjoy, and maybe you'll find yourself singing along.

Monday, December 20

12 Days of Karaoke- Day 5

Wham- Wake Me Up Before You Go Go

Hmm, there seems to be a trend of songs with insane falsetto choruses on this list. Take note, aspiring performers! Wham! themselves predicted this little number to jump straight to #1 on the UK charts upon its release. Well, it took an extra week, debuting at #4 and then going to the top spot for two weeks. Either way, it’s memorable for its unfairly catchy chorus, an incredibly corny Doris Day reference, and as a song featured in the movie Zoolander. Oh yeah, the official music video is notable too for its…well, just watch it. Marvelous.

Sunday, December 19

12 Days of Karaoke- Day 4

R. Kelly- Ignition (Remix)

Before you select this song, you must be VERY careful that it is not the original "Ignition" song. That one is far more vulgar, far less known, and a much more inferior version. And sadly, multiple karaoke kiosks (or karaoke bars, or karaoke arenas, or karaoke street corners) only provide the original, with the remix nowhere to be found. So be sure that mistake is not made!

That being said, once the remix gets going, you'll be hard pressed to find a song that gets everyone as happy as this one does. With sing-along lyrics like "Can I get a toot toot? Can I get a beep beep?" and a feel-good vibe throughout the whole song (even though Kelly says "it's the freakin' weekend," this song works just as well on a Tuesday night) that really can't be beat. Plus it's slightly less risque than the original. Enjoy each version below, starting with Duke University's music video rendition of the remix.



Saturday, December 18

12 Days of Karaoke- Day 3

Mariah Carey- All I Want for Christmas is You

Since we're in the holiday theme per our last post, this is as good a time as any to include a Christmas song in the karaoke pack. Sorry, Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song, you just don't compare in terms of sing-along-ability. Although Sandler's song is a lot easier to sing.

And that makes Carey's Christmas song a risky pick--you really do have to be able to sing, at least a little bit. At her peak she was one of the greatest voices of all-time. And this song was recorded in 1994, which is also known as her peak. So going in, this ain't no "Don't Stop Believin'"--you can't just hold up the mic and let everyone else sing. But if and when you pull it off, it's amazing. And honestly, find me one person who doesn't enjoy this song and I'll show you a robot or some other soulless abomination, because that's the only category of subhuman I can imagine not liking this song. But I digress...

Holiday Greetings from the Sports World

It's not uncommon for most professional sports (and really, any business) organizations to do cheesy holiday greeting cards. Some of these are showcasing a new stadium to be built, a la this Marlins one. Some of them involve embarrassingly catchy songs from the behind the scenes people that do their best to make sure every trip to the ballpark/stadium/arena/whatever is a great one. The Diamondbacks do a good job of that, and get bonus points for including a "more cowbell" reference.

But let's be real, what the fans actually want are the players themselves. Cue the Chicago Bulls:



My personal favorite is Ronnie Brewer's alley oop, since it looks more like a shot than his actual jump shot. But I'll let you decide for yourself which Bull can croon the best.

Then there are some videos that start off promising and then just fall apart, like the EKU Colonels one here.



Either way, A Hot Cup of Joey wishes you and yours a very happy and safe holiday season.

Friday, December 17

12 Days of Karaoke- Day 2

Billy Ocean—Get Out of my Dreams (Get Into my Car)

I’m pretty sure it’s a rule that any song created in the 80s has to have an awesome bassline. Fortunately, this song has no trouble adhering to that rule. I actually first heard this song on EA Sports NASCAR Thunder 2003, as a cover by Fenix TX. That version is quite amazing itself, but it’s doubtful any karaoke establishment will have it among its song selections. So I had to venture into the decade of my birth and check out Billy Ocean’s rendition. And yes, it’s just as good, and far more danceable. Enjoy each version below, starting with the karaoke classic (and the necessary cheesy music video).





Thursday, December 16

The 12 Days of Karaoke- Day 1

As anyone who is even remotely familiar with me knows, I love karaoke. Whether it's crooning to a select group of friends or belting something out to a ton of strangers, if I have a mic, you're going to get rocked. And since Christmas is right around the corner I'll include 12 karaoke songs that not everyone thinks of but are guaranteed to get you cheers. Assuming you can pull them off, that is. And yes, I know there are fewer than 12 days till Christmas, but since a few of the actual 12 days ARE after Christmas anyway we'll make it work. Here we go with our first entry!

The Darkness: "I Believe In a Thing Called Love"

This song is so good I even wrote a post about it on AOL's Spinner. That link also has the hilarious video accompanying it, so be sure to click on it when you're done here. If you can hit the high notes (and every self-respecting person should be able to), it's a sing-a-long dream. The only downside (or upside, if you're an air guitar pro) is the long solo in the middle. While it's fun to play on real guitar, it leaves you without vocals for nearly 20 measures. 17, to be exact. Either way, is it amazing? Oh, yes, you better believe it!

Wednesday, December 15

Best Dance in Recent Memory

I know I've been gone for forever. Hopefully that will change! Anyway, here's a great sack celebration, courtesy of Barry Cofield of the New York Giants:




It conjures up memories of Kelley Washington's "Squirrel Dance," shown below for comparison's sake:



There are plenty of other celebrations--in fact, a countdown may be necessary. For now, though, let's just enjoy the creativity and hope the NFL doesn't continue to crack down on these kinds of celebrations!

Monday, August 2

We're Back...With a Movie Extravaganza!

The Skokie Public Library might be the best-kept secret of this modest suburb I call my home. Books, CDs and movies (among other things), all available for free. Considering it costs money to use the bathroom in some places, that's pretty fantastic. I've been taking advantage of all of these free movies and have picked up a ton that I wanted to see or had been recommended to me. And now, a brief synopsis on those I can remember! Go!

Run Fat Boy Run
Maybe this one gets bonus points with me, because Simon Pegg's character runs a marathon to prove his love to Thandie Newton's character. Since I'm training for a marathon myself (as you loyal readers no doubt know), I can sympathize with nearly everything in the movie--the chafing, the blisters, the runner's wall, you name it. There are a few hilarious lines in there, and Pegg always has some comedic moments just in his facial expressions. Plus, any movie that says "whilst" makes me giggle, and gets brownie points.
Grade: B

Memento
This was basically Christopher Nolan's coming out party. It stars Guy Pearce, an Australian who can do a convincing American accent, as a man with anterograde amnesia--that means his brain can't store new memories. And the movie does a great job of putting you in Pearce's shoes by starting several scenes in the middle of something happening--for example, a car chase. It's an accurate portrayal of what anterograde amnesia is actually like, and even though the movie starts with the ending, it's still an intense thriller throughout--you're not trying to figure out what happened, but why it happened, and it'll keep you at the edge of your seat.
Grade: A

Major League (I and II)
Since these movies are fairly similar, I'll just give them a review-in-one. It's like a hole in one, but doesn't involve golf. At all. Anyway, I watched these movies because it seems like they're part of the "indispensable-must-see-at-least-once sports movies" collection. Frankly, I don't really know why. Sure, Bob Uecker (the play-by-play announcer for the Brewers for nearly 40 years) does a bang-up job as the alcoholic broadcaster for the fictionalized version of the Cleveland Indians, and there a couple of other solid one-liners here and there, but there are also tons of slow spots, kinda poor acting and even worse writing. The first one is worth seeing to hear Uecker, but really, one's enough. Honorable mention to Wesley Snipes being in this movie--as any avid hip-hop fan knows, my group at Miami was (and I guess still is) known as Me Versus Wesley Snipes.
Grade: C+

Greenberg
This was supposed to be Ben Stiller's foray into the "serious" side of acting. And he does it well, but really, the only difference between serious Ben Stiller and funny Ben Stiller is the script. I still see a lot of the same emotions from the uproarious airport scene of Meet the Parents as I do in Greenberg. What's different is that instead of threatening airport security, Stiller is now tending to a sick dog. It's not a bad movie, but it's not necessarily a great one, either. It also marks the major-label debut of Greta Gerwig, who does a solid job as Stiller's love-ish interest.
Grade: B

The Blindside
I may be the only person who saw ESPN's parody of this movie before the movie itself. But both are worth watching--it's a nice heartfelt story about Michael Oher, an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens. It's saddening to see what he went through, but all ends well. Sandra Bullock does a terrific job (she did win the 2009 Academy Award for Best Actress for her role) as Michael's "mother," and Quinton Aaron, who was 25 when the movie was released, somehow convincingly plays Oher as a high school senior.
Grade: A-

Well, there you have it, folks. Maybe the next movie can be about Oregon Trail. We'll see. Til next time--here's a joke! And a bad one, at that.

Joey's Bad Joke of the Day
What did one prisoner use to call the other?
A cell phone.

Tuesday, July 20

So It's Come to This...a Clip Show


After running a career-high 13 miles in preparation for my marathon (that's roughly half of the total distance of the actual 'thon), I felt dehydrated and exhausted, but you know what, I still felt pretty proud of myself. And while that was about four days ago now, I figured it's never too late to resort to an old memory of something else where I felt stupid while I was doing it, but really good after it was all said and done. And that memory was climbing the Great Wall of China during a study abroad trip. More specifically, running up a tall tower of stairs. And while I'd be remiss in my duties as a blogger if
I didn't link to our class's blog. Let's bring out the old clip!

One of the sights we saw near Beijing was the Great Wall. And no, it's not just a clever name.

That thing is HUGE. While some of our crew was smart enough to remain back in the shade (i.e., the ones who had been here before), the rest of us were a bit more adventurous.

And that would eventually come back to bite us.

You see, when we visited the Great Wall at Mutianyu north of Beijing, it was a very hot day. It didn't feel too hot, though, which again, came back to bite us. But I think the worst decision we could have made was when we came to a stretch of steps about 1,000 feet long, all going up.

Bryan and I thought it was a good idea to try and run up these steps. The Great Wall's steps are made for people with tiny feet, not me and my size 13 (or 47.5 in Europeanmeasurement). On a related note, when we were haggling in a shop, a woman told me I wouldn't find my size in all of China. So yes, these steps are small for me.

But then there are some decent-sized steps thrown into the mix. Thus, trying to run is even more difficult, because not only are we stepping on slabs of uneven rocks, we were at a high altitude and we had also just walked about forty-five minutes to get to these steps in the oppressive heat anyway.

Sometimes I just question where we get our dumb ideas--- but I guess our reasoning (well, mine at least) was that this is realistically going to be the only chance to climb the Great Wall and, if we wanted to run up it, then by golly, we were going to run up it!

We made it probably two-thirds of the way up in two separate bouts of sprinting. And aside from a little 10-minute stretch where Bryan was sprawled out on a stair and I was hanging over the edge of the wall, one strong breeze away from losing my breakfast.

But, as any good traveler does, we persevered and made it all the way to the top. Granted, our legs were like noodles and the walk down was no picnic. But it hit me as we reached the parking lot--- I had just done something few people are brave enough (perhaps wisely) to do: I ran up the Great Wall of China. And I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.

Awesome. We'll see if the rest of the marathon training (or the actual running of it) gives me that same sort of good feeling. If not, I'll just have some s'mores. Those things are delicious.

Joey's Bad Joke of the Day
Two atoms walk into a bar. One suddenly turns to the other and says, "Hey--I think I've lost an electron!" The other one says, "Are you sure?" The first replies, "Yes, I'm positive!"


Friday, July 16

Movie Face Off!

So, in the past 24 hours, I have seen both Zombieland (yes, I know I'm behind the curve on that one) and Inception (hopefully ahead of the curve, although it wasn't in IMAX or 3-D or whatever other fancy features it comes with). And you know what? There are some interesting parallels between the two. Let's discuss!

Before we begin, though, let's establish what each movie is about. Zombieland is simple--a nation (America) is overrun by zombies. It's up to a fearless foursome (or something like that) to outwit the undead and live happily ever after. Inception is a bit more complex. I couldn't tell what it was about through the trailers that I only half-paid attention to, and even after seeing it I'm not sure if I understand completely. But that's part of the allure of the movie. The (very) basic premise is the ensemble cast bands together to go into people's dreams, and then wreak various types of havoc to try and obtain information.

The first parallel between the two movies is a set of established rules. In Zombieland, these were rules for survival. Things like checking the back seat, wearing seatbelts, and, to keep your sanity, enjoying the little things. Throughout the movie there are about a dozen mentioned, and several more are named via promo. In all, 33 rules (at least it's assumed, since that's the highest number mentioned). Not too shabby. In Inception, meanwhile, the rules are more about what goes on in the dreamland. For example, if you get injured, it causes great physical pain. Much like in the real world. So getting shot in the leg would hurt. Makes sense. But if you die in your dream, you simply wake up. If you were to be shot, you'd actually prefer to have the bullet go into your face instead of your leg. Assuming you wanted to wake up, that is. As the movie goes on, more "rules" are revealed, and they start to get a little more twisted and far-fetched, which of course makes sense in a science-fiction film, and also leads me to my next parallel.

Ridiculousness. Each of these movies gets more ridiculous as it progresses further into its respective plot. In Zombieland, that ridiculousness is meant to be funny, and oh, how it is. Inception's increasing level of absurdity I don't believe is meant to be humorous, but there were scenes I was actually laughing out loud just due to the sheer ludicrousness of what I was witnessing. Spiderman-esque fights, rules that seemed to be made just to tie up loose ends, and that sort of thing. Which is fine, I understand a movie of this nature can't stick completely to standard logic. I think what irritated me the most, though, was how the film took the "it was all just a dream" paradigm and embellished it quite a bit. It just seemed like it was a cop-out sometimes, though. I'm not saying it's a bad movie, and it certainly tickles your brain with its creativity, but some of the fight scenes look borrowed from The Matrix, and actress Marion Cotillard's (she plays DiCaprio's character's wife) accent goes back and forth from Americanized English to her native French. But maybe I'm just nitpicking.

Either way, both of these movies are worth seeing, even though Inception carried on for a little bit longer than it should have, and the ending caused our local tall friend Putzi to say, "That's unbelievable. I'm so mad right now." But the entire movies tosses out misdirection, and juxtaposes reality and the subconscious together, so he shouldn't have been too surprised.

Wow, I don't even know how much of that made sense. I guess that's what I get for trying to type this in a dream, and in that dream I was already within another dream, which was someone else's dream, and...

Joey's Bad Joke of the Day
What can you sit on, brush your teeth with, and eat soup with?
A chair, a toothbrush, and a spoon!

Thursday, July 15

Summer + School

'Tis the middle of summer, so why not celebrate with some of the funniest answers provided on tests throughout the years? I know when I was going through exams and didn't know answers (and those times were plentiful), I'd always consider putting some sort of comical answer, but I never had the onions to do it. One time I drew a picture of a spider attacking a suburb, but that was the closest to a "smart" answer (and it was on the back of the test after I had finished answering everything). Besides, these answers are much funnier. Enjoy!

I've also got the 2010 ESPYs going on in the background, and they just gave out the Play of the Year award. While I believe two other nominees were better, both Brian Kownacki's insane flip (seriously, watch that--fast-forward to 20 seconds if you have to--and if you're not impressed, then you clearly do not have a pulse) and Mark Buehrle showing quite the impressive athleticism, predictably the award went to Brett Favre's TD pass to Greg Lewis. You know why it was predictable? Because the awards are on ESPN, and Brett Favre was a nominee. There's a strong relationship between those two. But in any case, I will give Kownacki and Buehrle (especially Kownacki, way to rep Fordham U!) their dap. Congrats, guys, for making very entertaining plays. If only this blog could be as entertaining...

Joey's Bad Joke of the Day
So I said to the gym instructor, "Can you teach me to do the splits?"
He said, "How flexible are you?"
I replied, "I can't make Tuesdays."

Tuesday, July 6

Things That Irritate Me--Sports Edition!

After reading an article about poor spelling, I got to thinking--what else is irritating? What else makes me cringe every time I hear/think about/see it? Well, to put it bluntly, there's a lot. But I've been able to narrow it down to two for your reading pleasure. Or displeasure, who knows?

Flopping
This has really gotten bad thanks to the World Cup. Every once in awhile an official will penalize players for a flop, but realistically, it doesn't happen. The last 20 minutes or so of any game that isn't tied is a festival of people falling down as if they had battery acid poured into both eyes, clutching their head and rolling around on the ground (even though the "injury" occurred by their ankle). I'm not gonna lie, when I played basketball, I did flop occasionally, but even I think this is ridiculous. Granted, that video doesn't help my cause at all, since it may be the worst flop ever, but Baron Davis is funny, so he gets a pass.

NBA Free Agency
Remember how Brett Favre and his mulling of retirement (it happened about four years in a row) was EVERYWHERE? Every media outlet was covering it--his every move scrutinized, to the point that it just became irksome. We just wanted him to decide so we wouldn't have to hear anymore about it. Well, that's sort of what the free agency period has been like in the NBA. One day Chicago is the front-runner for LeBron James. The next day it's Cleveland. Chris Bosh is tweeting about things like Twitter (or his thumbs) are going out of style. Dwyane Wade can't decide if he'd like to stay in Miami or come back to his home in Chi-town. And that's just the beginning of it. Thursday marks the first day free agents can officially sign, but of course that won't mean the madness will end then.

What really irritates me (hey, it's the title of the post) is LeBron's recent announcement. From the time he's come into the league, I've always thought of LeBron James as a bit of an attention seeker. Well, I guess having YOUR OWN HOUR-LONG SPECIAL just to announce a decision you've made is a great way to get some attention. This literally made me physically ill--the only saving grace is the sponsorship money the show gets will go to the Boys and Girls Club of America, although even that seems a little staged. It's just too much information overload, and there's really no information to share. So until everyone makes a decision, I'll just close my eyes. Guess that means I'll be sitting for about 72 hours, doing nothing. But first, a joke!

Joey's Bad Joke of the Day
Why did the king go to the dentist?
To get his teeth crowned.

Sunday, July 4

Stand By Me

In honor of the 4th of July, I figured I'd throw up a video that symbolizes the unity that this holiday is supposed to represent. Except instead of just our country, it's the entire world coming together through song. How very cliche, right? Well, this is an excellent song already (probably Ben E. King and the Drifters' most popular), and it really is amazing seeing how people from all walks of life can cover a song in their own unique way, yet they're all still bonded together simply from their love of music. That and trying to make people happy. Which is what I do, or at least try to. Happy fourth everybody!

Joey's (Patriotic) Bad Joke of the Day
What did one flag say to the other flag?
Nothing. It just waved!

Friday, July 2

Quick Taste of Chicago Update

Well, I've been to the Taste twice thus far, but there are still PLENTY of tickets to use, so we will head off one more time tomorrow. Hopefully the video I have is better then, but since my camera died fairly quickly after I brought it out (I knew I should have charged the battery), we didn't get much. What we did get (aside from full) was a taste (haha, you're so witty Joey!) of some stranger concoctions around town. This particular dish that my taste connoisseur Putzi and I reviewed was a mashed potato stuffed chocolate cupcake from the Polo Cafe.


video

Yes, you read that right. A chocolate cupcake with mashed potatoes inside of it. It was...interesting, to say the least. But that's really what the Taste of Chicago is all about. We have our favorites (for me, it's Robinson's boneless rib sandwich or the cake roll from Original Rainbow Cone), but testing out something new, without having to pay out the rear end for it, is always part of the joy. Here's to more adventures tomorrow, and as always, we'll keep you in the Loop.

Get it? Another bad Chicago-related joke? Eh? Eh? I shouldn't even have to give you a JBJotD, but here it is:

Joey's Bad Joke of the Day

It's long, but worth it.


Say the word "cow" BEFORE each word.
1 - Cows
2 - About
3 - Talking
4 - Idiot
5 - This
6 - Got
7 - I
8 - Long
9 - How
10 - Look

Now say the word "cow" AFTER each word.
1 - Cows
2 - About
3 - Talking
4 - Idiot
5 - This
6 - Got
7 - I
8 - Long
9 - How
10 - Look
Now say the word "cow" BEFORE AND AFTER each word.
1 - Cows
2 - About
3 - Talking
4 - Idiot
5 - This
6 - Got
7 - I
8 - Long
9 - How
10 - Look
Now read the words upwards from the bottom.
1 - Cows
2 - About
3 - Talking
4 - Idiot
5 - This
6 - Got
7 - I
8 - Long
9 - How
10 - Look


Thursday, July 1

The Issue of Name Brands

My buddy Ian posted a video earlier today, and it's quite hilarious (be warned, though, this video does have a fair share of cursing in it). But it does lead to a somewhat serious question, which I'll address after the jump.



The main issue that comes to my mind is that this isn't so far off from the truth. I've never been a guy to have brand loyalty, but I do have some favorites. I support Apple products (in fact, I'm typing this on a MacBook Pro), and I have two iPods (only one fully functional one) and an iPod Touch that came with the MacBook. But it's never even crossed my mind to purchase an iPhone, because, frankly, I just don't like how it works. Sadly, though, there are tons of people like the bear/bunny hybrid in this video who will rush out and buy the latest product just because it has a name on it they recognize. It happens all the time--athletic gear, clothing, even cereals.

Now, I'm not saying I never buy something expensive, but I'm not helplessly drawn to something just because a company throws a "friendly" name on it. Especially if the newer stuff isn't much of an improvement over what's already out there, and I'm not just talking about the iPhone 4. Maybe I don't have a very coherent point (although I did get to show that awesome video), but mainly it's this: don't be suckered into something just because it has a big name. If I was really clever, I could tie this into another current event, like maybe Wall Street's fluctuations or the impending NBA free agency period. But I'm not, so we'll just leave it at that.

Joey's Bad Joke of the Day
What do you call a sleeping bull?
A bulldozer.

Tuesday, June 29

Bad Joke Extravaganza


Oh boy...I'm sick today, and due to popular request, it's been...well, requested that I put up a Joey's Bad Joke of the Day (patent pending). So, you'll get one for each of the previous posts, one for this post, and a bonus one (that one will be one with a realistic ending). Then, each future post will have one, unless I forget to put it. But that's unlikely since it's sure to be the highlight of the post. It's a great way to avoid having to write about anything of real substance, but hey, the news doesn't stop even if you have a fever! Just don't touch my computer after I'm done with it. And with that, we're off!

A snare drum and a crash cymbal fall out of a tree.
Baduuuum tssshhhh!

What's the difference between one yard and two yards?
A fence.

Where do hamburgers go to dance?
To a meatball.

What do you get when you cross a loaf of bread with a buffalo?
A buffaloaf.

A duck walks into a bar...Animal control is promptly called. The duck is then taken to a nearby park and released.

Hey, I never said these were good...

Monday, June 28

Toy Story 3 Review


Ah, yes. I guess it was inevitable that there would be a third Toy Story. And hopping on the 3-D bandwagon isn't too surprising either. But where threequels (is that what they're called?) like Shrek the Third, Rush Hour 3, and even to a lesser extent, Final Destination 3 recycle some of the same jokes, I never felt like that watching Toy Story 3. I did groan when I heard this third movie was coming out, because I thought Pixar couldn't top itself from the first two. I don't know if it was the 11 year layoff between the second and third movies, but I was definitely wrong--this one's as good as, if not better than, the first two.

I didn't bother with the 3-D feature (also because it wasn't being offered at the theater), so I can't speak to that. But what I can say is that Toy Story 3 will run you through a gamut of emotions. In just a matter of minutes, I went from falling out of my chair laughing (also known as "roflcoptering"), to choked up emotion, to gripping the edge of my seat, to anger...basically you go through it all as you watch Woody and the gang partake in some zany adventures.

This movie finds the toys' owner, Andy, going away to college. He has to choose which toys to keep, which ones to ditch, and, for the really lucky ones, which ones are coming with him to the university. Of course, nothing goes as smoothly as planned, and the toys end up in a daycare. This is where the creators can really shine, and they absolutely do--TONS of new toys make appearances, including a well-known couple that steals the show whenever they're onscreen.

Of course, all of the favorites are back. I've always had the a spot for Slink, maybe just because I love daschunds and Slinkies. But easily the best performance is by Don Rickles, who once again reprises his role as Mr. Potato Head. Rickles might not even have the funniest lines of the cast, but the situations MPH gets himself into more than make up for it. And Pixar's visuals only get better with time.

I won't spoil the ending (because that would be a pretty terrible review, wouldn't it?), but know this--Toy Story 3 is not just a movie for children. In fact, I'd go so far as to say adults might appreciate it more. Sure, the kids will laugh at the way the toys are used and exploited, but there are quite a few adult themes sprinkled throughout. In one of the final scenes, there was a pause in the dialogue, and a young girl in the theater said, "It's ok, mommy, don't cry." That sums up the experience of Toy Story 3--the ending is bittersweet (and insanely intense), even for, or maybe especially for, adults, but you'll be laughing and smiling so much along the way that it doesn't matter. Who knows? You just might spot some toys that provided, or still provide, hours of entertainment, and if not, the toys of Toy Story 3 are happy to do the job.

Grade: A

Sunday, June 27

And I Ran...


As those who know me most likely know, I'm in the midst of training for a marathon. It is fantastic, and while I'm sure it'll age my knees by about 20 years, it's certainly allowed me to keep myself active over the summer. I'm not as inspirational as Terry Fox, or as fictional as Forrest Gump, but I figured I'd write about some unusual activities that burn the calories clean off.

Jump Rope--According to this article, nearly a quarter of all kids will be obese by the year 2015. This is something even a child can do. In fact, they do it annually right across the street from my house. As always, beats are provided by Bizar Entertainment, who catered to many a bar mitzvah I attended growing up. Gotta love those massive Pixy Stix...but I digress, we're going for exercise, not useless sugar! The point is, jumping rope gets the heart pumping, which is always good. And it leads to mega-calves. Everyone loves strong calf muscles. It's just one of those facts of life.
Recommended exercise: Keep jumping as fast as you can for three straight minutes, then take a minute off. Continue with this pattern trying as many different things as you can, i.e. just jumping on the left foot, right foot, backwards, crossing, etc.

Ultimate Frisbee-- I might be a little biased since I actually play this, but this is a game that's extremely addictive and actually requires a lot of effort. You just need two people to toss it around, but try and get at least eight (ideally fourteen) for an unbelievably active match. When it boils down to it, you are really just running in circles, but it's so much fun you'll forget it.
Recommended exercise: Two teams of seven square off. Play to 15, win by 2. If you're not exhausted by the end, the teams were either horribly one-sided, or you just weren't trying.

Commercial Cardio--This is one for you lazy bums out there that like to watch TV. A lot. Well, you get to watch your TV. But during commercials, you're going to work. The average half-hour show has between seven and 12 minutes of commercials. That's a lot of time to get work done. You have a variety of options, too--pushups, leg lifts, bicycle kicks, calf raises (this guy likes to do his to the Killers)...look, there's a ton you can do. And you can do all of these without having to move too far from your chair, so you can still see the rest of your show.
Recommended exercise: 25 pushups, 25 leg lifts, 25 (each leg) bicycle kicks, 25 calf raises. And you can STILL finish all of that before the commercial break if you push yourself.

Extreme Ironing, although this entire website has great ideas--Granted, this might be a bit more of a stretch, but hey, if England can popularize it, maybe it can catch on in the States too. Combining "the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt," it theoretically would work out everything--your upper body from having to carry around an ironing board, clothes, and all that jazz, and your lower body from running, hiking, climbing, etc. Sounds like a pretty awesome trip to me. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some dress shirts with wrinkles.

Saturday, June 26

The Beginning

Yes, I've started another blog. Why? Because I love to write, and you love to read. Even if you don't, I'll try and make at least SOME facet of this interesting. Or useful. Or all three. But hey, when the dog days of summer come calling, you gotta find ways to keep yourself busy. That's what this is--a way to keep busy. For you, for me, for the world! Well, let's start with you and me first, then we'll move onto the world. So buckle up, because it's going to be a wild ride. I'm also getting all of the terrible clichés out of the way first, so then I can move onto better things, like hot dogs. After all, it is almost the fourth of July.