Monday, July 27, 2009

Oh, we're halfway there...

...but we're nowhere near "Livin' On A Prayer"'s countdown spot. It unsurprisingly (and deservingly) garnered a spot in the top 10. It doesn't make a difference if we make it there or not, but we definitely will...eventually...


275. "I Wanna Be Rich," Callaway (1990)
274. "Stand Back," Stevie Nicks (1984)
273. "Roll To Me," Del Amitri (1995)
272. "What's Love Got To Do With It," Tina Turner (1984)
271. "Macarena," Los Del Rio (1996)
270. "Everybody Hurts," R.E.M. (1993)
269. "Jungle Love," The Time (1985)
268. "Foolish Games," Jewel (1996)
267. "Everybody Wants To Rule The World," Tears For Fears (1985)
266. "Into The Groove," Madonna (1985)
265. "Change The World," Eric Clapton/Babyface (1996)
264. "Word Up," Cameo (1986)
263. "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover," Sophie B. Hawkins (1992)
262. "What About Me," Moving Pictures (1982)
261. "In The House Of Stone And Light," Martin Page (1995)
260. "Glamorous Life," Sheila E. (1984)
259. "Hold On To The Nights," Richard Marx (1988)
258. "Wonder," Natalie Merchant (1995)
257. "Right On Track," Breakfast Club (1987)
256. "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong," Spin Doctors (1992)
255. "Love Is A Battlefield," Pat Benatar (1983)
254. "I Want It That Way," Backstreet Boys (1999)
253. "Bad Medicine," Bon Jovi (1988)
252. "Forever Your Girl," Paula Abdul (1989)
251. "Back 2 Good," Matchbox Twenty (1998)

Not feeling like adding any commentary this week. Not sure why, but it's probably due to one or more of the following factors:

1) I'm too stressed about finding someone to take my apartment when I move next week.
2) I'm too busy packing and otherwise getting ready for said move.
3) My extreme dislike of the Spin Doctors has left me in no mood for jokes.
4) Typing that swear word left me embarrassed (oh no, there's another one embedded in that last word!).
5) I'm too stunned about the high placement of "Macarena" on this list to think straight.

So do your best Jeff impression in the comments. What joke would I have made about "Word Up," or the Backstreet Boys? Links are always appreciated.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Assorted flavors

Here's a brief rundown of some of the unusual and/or memorable events of the past two weeks, some good, some bad. In roughly chronological order, I...

--received a job offer, only to have it rescinded less than five minutes later. It was only temporary work, but still...

--helped chaperon a field trip to the South Street Seaport. My favorite part of the museum was a model ship called the Pardon Me, made by an inmate and sent to FDR (an avid collector) in hopes that the Prez would do just that.

--accompanied cousin Rachel to sound check for Amateur Night at the Apollo. So many memories of my own experience came flooding back...can't believe it's been more than 15 months since I performed there.

--watched and listened to Rachel knock it out of the park with her performance at said Amateur Night. She was amazing. So were several others...probably five of the seven acts were good enough to win the other times I've been to Amateur Night, and nobody got booed off. Not really fair to the performers or the crowd. This event deserves its own super-long blog post, which Rachel kindly provided.

--battled dehydration.

--purchased a one-way plane ticket to Utah. It's true--I'm leaving New York indefinitely (I don't like to use the term "for good") in two weeks.

--climbed to the crown of the Statue of Liberty with my friends the McCunes. The last 140 or so of the 350+ steps are very steep and incredibly narrow. It was about 95 degrees in the head. But it was cool to get to go up there since so few do.

--rode the tram to Roosevelt Island, then rode it right back to Manhattan. No Spiderman sightings.

--went to Serendipity 3 and had the Outrageous Banana Split. (Thanks David!) You can see a picture of how much I enjoyed it (as well as some of the other places I visited with my friends) here; for some reason I can't save a copy of the picture to post here on its own. They sell a "coward's portion" of that sundae, but I'm a brave glutton.

--went to my former roommate's wedding reception on the roof of the Central Park Arsenal--a fittingly unique place (and a happy ending!) for people who would come up with something like this. Congrats Ryan and Kim!

--walked through Fort Tryon Park, near the Cloisters, and saw a six-year-old climb into his little brother's stroller, and have his dad send it down some stairs until it tipped over. And they all laughed. Weird.

--had a very pleasant taxi ride through Central Park and Times Square that cost me absolutely nothing.

--tried to put a dollar on my backup MetroCard (I had left my regular one at home), but the touch screen refused to respond to my fingers. Luckily, Aja and her, well, normal fingers were there to save the day.

--made a modern-day pioneer trek to see the plaque commemorating the ship Brooklyn, and the site of the building where Joseph Smith stayed when he visited NYC.

Good times. Well, most of them...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Nine times? I don't remember reading these pop song countdown posts nine times...

Here we go again.


300. "St. Elmo's Fire," John Parr (1985)
The best soundtrack song in this section of the list.
299. "Run Around," Blues Traveler (1995)
298. "Hard To Say I'm Sorry," Chicago (1982)
If there's one music-related joke I've told more often than any other, it's my quip that all Utah households are required to have at least one copy of Chicago's Greatest Hits 1982-1989. And maybe it's not actually a joke.
297. "Thriller," Michael Jackson (1984)
If you haven't seen this great cover yet...well, that's what the Internet is for, and one of my top reasons for keeping a blog.
296. "Time Of Your Life," Green Day (1998)
After this song came out, it was probably at least 2003 before any other song was used to create a montage or retrospective.
295. "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go," Wham (1984)
This just might be the quintessential '80s music video. Click the link, and choose life.
294. "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman," Bryan Adams (1995)
293. "Hold Me Now," Thompson Twins (1985)
292. "The Boys Of Summer," Don Henley (1985)
291. "I'll Be There," Escape Club (1991)
290. "Footloose," Kenny Loggins (1984)
The best soundtrack song in this section of the list, if you're at a dance.
289. "Everyday Is A Winding Road," Sheryl Crow (1996)
288. "Baby I Love Your Way," Big Mountain (1994)
287. "I Ran," A Flock Of Seagulls (1982)
No, not this song. A different one.
286. "Wind Beneath My Wings," Bette Midler (1989)
285. "Where The Streets Have No Name," U2 (1987)
I unfortunately cannot verify that this song is about Salt Lake City. But the video is cool.
284. "Hold On," Wilson Phillips (1990)
283. "Let It Whip," Dazz Band (1982)
282. "Wait," White Lion (1988)
I couldn't remember this song just from the title. How could I forget this?
281. "Come Go With Me," Expose (1987)
280. "Walking In Memphis," Marc Cohn (1991)
279. "I Would Die 4 U," Prince (1985)
278. "The Warrior," Scandal (1984)
Before he was a wisecracking DUI machine, Charles Barkley was an impressive and intimidating basketball player. And this song fit him perfectly.
277. "Right Here Right Now," Jesus Jones (1991)
This song was definitely used in at least one of those motivational "Pepsi assemblies" we had in junior high...does anyone else remember those?
276. "Walking On Sunshine," Katrina & the Waves (1985)
This song should be ranked much higher. It's pretty great.

Walking in Memphis, on sunshine...I ran/run, there was actually a theme this week!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Miracle whip

This pretty sums up my thought process right now.

This one does too, but less so as each day passes.

Also wouldn't mind a visit from this guy, even if he's just bringing me a nice mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Eight is not nearly enough

Here's the 8th installment of the weekly countdown, which means it's the fifth or sixth installment since most people stopped caring. Let the good times continue to roll!


325. "I Wanna Sex U Up," Color Me Badd (1991)
324. "We Belong," Pat Benatar (1983)
323. "Sunglasses At Night," Corey Hart (1985)
How dare the Milwaukee Brewer of the same name use anything but this song when he comes to the plate?
322. "(Can't Live Without Your) Love And Affection," Nelson (1990)
Before The Jonas Brothers, before Hanson, there was...Nelson!
321. "It's The End Of The World As We Know It," R.E.M. (1988)
320. "Rosanna," Toto (1982)
319. "Nobody Knows," Tony Rich Project (1997)
318. "Your Love," The Outfield (1986)
Thank goodness for having the years added on the list...I might've mistaken The Outfield with Fastball.
317. "Man In The Mirror," Michael Jackson (1988)
Two of my friends have blogged about various interpretations of this song.
316. "Secret Garden," Bruce Springsteen (1997)
Bruce's gritty songs fit in well on the soundtracks of "Philadelphia" and "The Wrestler," but I always thought letting him do the title tune for this children's classic was a mistake. Oh wait. That's not the movie it was in? My bad.
315. "Lovefool," Cardigans (1997)
314. "Mony Mony," Billy Idol (1987)
Picture yourself at a church or school dance, and all together now..."whoo...whoo whoo (uhh uhh)."
313. "Love Takes Time," Mariah Carey (1990)
312. "Born To Be My Baby," Bon Jovi (1989)
311. "Live To Tell," Madonna (1986)
Already the 7th Madonna song on the list. Impressive.
310. "Mr. Jones," Counting Crows (1994)
309. "We Got The Beat," Go Go's (1982)
308. "Don't Forget Me When I'm Gone," Glass Tiger (1986)
I always thought it sounded like Bryan Adams provided vocals on this song...and it turns out I was right! Sweet.
307. "Touch Me (All Night Long)," Cathy Dennis (1991)
306. "Sister Christian," Night Ranger (1984)
As we go farther on the list, it stands to reason that the songs will get better and better, which means the jokes might be fewer and fewer...this seems like a song, video and band that I should be making fun of, but I like it too much.
305. "I Can't Wait," Nu Shooz (1986)
304. "Walking On The Sun," Smashmouth (1997)
A more painful activity and less pleasant song than "Walkin' On Sunshine."
303. "No One Is To Blame," Howard Jones (1986)
302. "Nasty," Janet Jackson (1986)
A pretty great video for this one.
301. "Dreams," Van Halen (1986)

The songs do seem to be getting better. Back with more of them next week.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I've been reading Les Miserables. The unabridged version. I've read over 400 pages, but still have 1,000 left. When I finish, it will rank between the Bible and Stephen King's The Stand on my list of longest books read (strictly in terms of page numbers; I'm not sure which book is actually the longest).

There's a monologue near the beginning of the novel, made by Tholomyes, the man who would soon abandon Fantine, that stood out to me. Here's part of it (there are probably formatting rules for running an excerpt this long, but I'm not too bothered to find them out. I ain't the AP):

"[The] pun, though it falls from heaven, should not be welcomed with too much wonder. Everything that falls this way is not necessarily worthy of enthusiasm and respect. The pun is the droppings of the soaring spirit. The jest falls where it will. And the spirit, after freeing itself from stupidity, seeks the skies. A white spot on a flat rock does not prevent the condor from soaring above. Far be it from me to insult the pun! I honor it in proportion to its merits--not beyond."

I love puns, as most reading this are already aware. I make them wherever I can. I don't agree with Tholomyes that puns are no more than the excrement of the soul (which seems rather insulting to puns, to me, despite what he said), but I do recognize that not all puns are created equal. Some deserve laughs, some deserve groans, and some deserve to simply be ignored. (I will admit that I often take as much satisfaction in making a groan-inducing pun as a good one.) I don't expect people to laugh at all of my puns, just because some of them happen to be really, really funny.

For example...tonight I will be going to a Tom Cruise-themed party. Guests are expected to come dressed as Tom, a member of his family, or a character from one of his movies. Within a few minutes of receiving the invitation, the following puns came to mind. React to them how you will; I won't mind.

The easiest costume choice would be to carry around trays of ice cubes, and be "Iceman." But the trays would have to be empty, because you don't want anyone to slip on ice cubes--only Maverick would do something that dangerous.

Or, I could carry a can of Pledge and a rag and be the Rain Man, aka "Dustin' Hofmann." Definitely, definitely a good pun.

If I had a humidifier, I could turn it into a costume somehow, as the logical progression of Cruise character nemeses: Iceman, Rain Man, Mist Man! Right?

I plan to have a small bottle of the Mountain Dew spinoff with me, so I can pull it out from time to time and ask people, "Did you order the Code Red?"

I saw on the eVite guest list that Mindy Booth, a woman who is very nice and very nice-looking but who I don't really know, will be there. Upon seeing her at the party, I plan on yelling "I want the Booth!" If she responds "You can't handle the Booth!" I'll be very pleased, and she'll probably be right.

Never shy about recycling puns, I could approach the drink table at this Mormon party and say "I want vermouth!" And, after realizing I can't handle vermouth, I could settle for a Sodapop Curtis.

This is fun, isn't it? Got any of your own to add? Oh, puns...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Magnificent 7th

If you want to equate some great songs from this list with memorable sporting events, check this out. In the meantime, here's part 7 of the top 500 countdown.


350. "Hold My Hand," Hootie & the Blowfish (1994)
349. "Every Little Step," Bobby Brown (1989)
348. "Runaway Train," Soul Asylum (1993)
Probably their most famous song, but not as good as "Black Gold."
347. "Breathe Again," Toni Braxton (1994)
346. "Born In The U.S.A.," Bruce Springsteen (1984)
345. "Gloria," Laura Branigan (1982)
I love this song, and you do too. Admit it.
344. "Wind Of Change," Scorpions (1991)
343. "What Have I Done To Deserve This," Pet Shop Boys/Dusty Springfield (1988)
342. "When I Come Around," Green Day (1994)
341. "If You Leave," OMD (1986)
Not to go all Jeff Foxworthy on you, but if you know what OMD stands for without looking it up, you might be obsessed with the '80s.
340. "Crash Into Me," Dave Matthews Band (1997)
339. "La Bamba," Los Lobos (1987)
Really classy of the listmakers to put a Richie Valens song right after a song with "Crash" in the title.
338. "Shattered Dreams," Johnny Hates Jazz (1988)
Gotta admit, that's a pretty great name for a band.
337. "Uninvited," Alanis Morissette (1998)
336. "Freedom," Wham (1985)
335. "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You," Sting (1993)
334. "Cherish," Madonna (1989)
Madonna had so many good (if not necessarily great) songs in the '80s that I had forgotten several of them, including this one.
333. "Cradle Of Love," Billy Idol (1990)
Billy Idol "gets it," and apparently "it" is the spot that marks 1/3 of the way through the countdown.
332. "What Is Love," Haddaway (1993)
Song not ringing a bell? Maybe this will refresh your memory.
331. "Nothing But A Good Time," Poison (1988)
I hope, by now, that everyone has seen this clip of Bret Michaels getting beaned by a piece of scenery at the Tonys. Classic.
330. "Never Tear Us Apart," INXS (1988)
Probably my favorite song from what I consider a pretty underrated band.
329. "Goodbye To You," Scandal (1982)
328. "We Are The World," USA For Africa (1985)
Ah, the good old days, when the moralizing of big stars was cheesy rather than annoying. Yes, that is Dan Akroyd in the video. I'm confused too.
327. "Where Do You Go," No Mercy (1996)
326. "Freeze Frame," J. Geils Band (1982)
One of my favorite bands to karaoke to.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Narfs and stripes forever

By the time I get all the pictures loaded it will probably be July 4. And what's more American than hot dogs? How about...way too many hot dogs? There's really nothing more American than gluttony and excess.

I'm not condemning, by the way. I'm a willing participant in the American lifestyle. Here, finally, just a few hours before Joey Chestnut and Kobayashi lock horns (and stomachs and esophagi) in another epic Coney Island showdown, here's a rundown of my recent debut in the world of competitive eating. (Thanks for taking the pictures, Seth.)

The day of the competition was very rainy, and the eating podium just outside Citi Field in Queens was uncovered. As we signed in, received instructions, and watched cart after cart of dogs and buns wheeled over from the stadium, they had us sign a medical waiver. Immediately after signing, I wondered if it also applied to pneumonia. It was raining hard. I spent the next half hour sizing up my opponents as we huddled under our umbrellas. Miraculously, the rain let up almost entirely about three minutes before the eating began.
Getting ready to begin, apparently in "just happy to be there" mode. Or maybe I'm enjoying the feel of my new t-shirt. The man in the yellow is George Shea, who along with his brother Rich is the public face of the International Federation of Competitive Eating. George plays the part of the old-timey carnival huckster to perfection, pumping up the crowd and giving each event a sort of high-class freak show feel. He introduced us one at a time as we ran onto the stage. I'm not sure if he thought I was someone else, or just didn't put much thought into my made-up bio--he said I was a recent graduate of the University of Phoenix. He added something after, but I was so thrown off by the lameness of my intro that I didn't catch it.
There's the setup I had--three plates of five dogs each, with two big cups of water. Some people used iced tea, and I saw the guys bring some coffee over, so it's possible some one was dunking their dogs in decaf. As if this event wasn't unhealthy enough already. The mustard was strictly for promotional purposes--nobody uses any condiments on their franks when they compete.
The countdown is on. I'm in the zone. Ready to enter full-on Chuck-A-Rama/Golden Corral/Ponderosa Steakhouse/Cannon Center mode.

I got off to a good start, relatively speaking. Although dampened by rain and then immersed in my cup, it was obvious that these dogs were better-tasting than the ones I practiced with, not to mention thinner. My first dog was down in less than 30 seconds.
As I mentioned in one of my training posts, one of many factors that will keep me from ever becoming an elite eater is my daintiness. I was going fast, but I was still taking bites. The top competitors shove and smash the dogs into their mouth as quickly as they can, not caring how messy they get, as you'll see later on.
Oh yeah, there were other competitors. Though not nearly as many as I thought there would be. I was expecting somewhere between 50 to 100 eaters; there were nine, giving their best effort in front of literally dozens of spectators. I don't know if I was one of the lucky few given the chance to gorge, or if there just weren't many people who wanted to do it. The guy in the hat next to me ate nine dogs, two better than his first try the year before. The guy next to him (not pictured) finished ten, I think.
At the other end of the table were the other also-rans. Baldy downed around 20, I think. The guy in the hoody is like a skinnier version of me: he works as a freelance production assistant but wants to be a comedian (he's taking improv classes and performing at open mic nights), and he entered the contest because he thought it would be a cool thing to say he had done. He ate nine dogs. The guy in the fedora was wearing a black bowling shirt before donning the Nathan's tee, which made him look just like Blues Traveler. When I first arrived at the stadium he was giving a lengthy interview to some college newspaper reporter (yes, there were people there with press credentials!) about his technique, his goals, his nickname ("The Eater"...sure, it's what his last name means in German, but it's still pretty boring, especially compared to "The Love Handle"), and the "sport" in general. His size and blow-hardedness made me think he was a veteran of the IFOCE circuit, but it turns out he was a rookie too, and he managed 13 dogs and buns before the ten minutes were up.
There were two guys there who I had seen in the July 4 contest on ESPN in previous years, and they put the "name" eaters in the middle of the stage (and gave them five plates of dogs to start with as opposed to my three). The George "The Animal" Steele look-a-like next to me is Pat Philbin. (I bet George would be the champ if the IFOCE ever held a turnbuckle eating contest.) And then, of course, there's Eric "Badlands" Booker. He raps, he drives the 7 train, and boy does he eat. Check out his resume. Remember when I said the big-time eaters were sloppier than me? Here's some proof. These guys put the rest of us to shame. I won't reveal the results just yet, though.
As you can see, I began to wear down as the minutes dragged on. Once I passed the threshold I had reached in my practice sessions, I slowed down drastically. I had nine dogs finished at about the seven-minute mark, and if I hadn't set a goal of ten I might have stopped there. I slowly munched the tenth, and felt like I was going to die. Then, when Shea began the countdown for the final ten seconds, I realized this was likely my final moment as a competitive eater, and stuffed as much of #11 in my mouth as I could as time expired (that's the last picture there). So I finished at 10.5 HDBs (hot dogs and buns), approximately.
Winning would have been great, but I knew it wasn't possible. I did, however, accomplish all of my realistic goals: averaging at least one dog per minute, not throwing up, and not finishing in last (I was 6th out of 9).
But I never stood a chance against Badlands. Pat ate 32 dogs, a noble effort that would've won several of the qualifiers on this year's circuit, but it wasn't enough on that fateful day in Queens. As you can see, Booker ate an amazing 40 hot dogs and buns in ten minutes! As several of my friends have pointed out, that's an average of one every 15 seconds for the duration of the contest. Unbelievable, impressive and more than a little revolting.
Wait...why am I laughing just moments after feeling like I had swallowed a bowling ball? For starters, about three minutes after time was called, I let out two huge belches that made me feel much better. I certainly didn't feel like eating more hot dogs, but I did feel I could walk off the stage under my own power. But the biggest reason I'm laughing is that Shea is giving the results, and he just announced that the guy who ate in between Pat and Badlands, who finished in third with 20-something dogs, the one contestant I haven't shown yet...had "narfed." What is a narf, you ask?
Be careful what you ask for. A narf, you can clearly see if you enlarge these pictures (which I wouldn't recommend), is a "nose barf." Kind of a gross slang word for a culture that calls throwing up a "reversal of fortune" (interestingly, vomiting will get you disqualified but narfing is apparently ok).
After the contest, Shea started handing out a bunch of tickets to the Mets game that was about to start across the parking lot, and my friends Tamara, Evan, Jessica and I took advantage. We all got free Mets caps, provided by Nathan's of course, and enjoyed our first visit to the new ballpark. It's so much more attractive than Shea Stadium was, a great place to watch a game. I didn't eat anything the rest of the day, but I didn't feel sick either. Around the 5th inning they showed a recap of the contest on the big scoreboard, probably the only time I've ever been on a Jumbotron in my life, no matter how many times I pretended to pick my nose at the Marriott Center.
There you have it. My first and probably last foray into the world of competitive eating was fun, memorable, and unabashedly American. USA! USA! USA!
P.S. I just found the entire thing on video! Part 1 and Part 2--check it out! And it turns out one of the guys had a reversal--I actually finished 5th!