Saturday, January 31, 2009

Super Bowl Facts

The most watched television event of the year is upon us once again. No, it's not the Presidential Inauguration. No it's not some over hyped Hollywood award show. It's the Super Bowl.

This year nearly 90 million people are expected to be glued to their seats watching the game. In the 10 most watched events ever on television, the Super Bowl was 9 of them.

But not everyone is sitting there watching the touchdowns. Nearly 50% of the views are there for... you guessed it... the commercials. The average 30 second commercial shown during the Super Bowl this year cost around 3 million dollars. The fact that most bathroom breaks are taken durning the game and not the commercials must bring some relief to the companies that are shelling out the big bucks for these ads.

Here's a few more interesting facts about the Super Bowl.

1. The Super Bowl is a trademarked name and can not be used in advertisements without permission. That's why so many commercials use the name "The Big Game" instead of Super Bowl.

2. The only day of the year when more food is consumed than Super Bowl Sunday is Thanksgiving. This year nearly 60 million dollars of food is expected to be bought for this one day alone.

3. Nearly 15 tons of chips will be eaten during the game.

4. The name Super Bowl wasn't used until the 3rd championship game which was played in 1969.

5. There are no known video tapes of the first two championship games and the NFL is willing to pay 1 million dollars to anyone that has a copy.

6. MTV is banned from producing any half time shows since it's famous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction.

7. The average game time for a Super Bowl is 60 minutes. The average commercial time is 30 minutes.

8. The state of Florida holds the record for the most hosted Super Bowl games.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

B-Horror Movie Madness

Every saturday as a child I couldn't wait to sit down in from of the television, turn it to channel 11 WPIX in NYC and watch "Chiller Theater".

There I would see the six fingered claymation arm rise up from the quicksand and then ominously pluck away each letter of the C-H-I-L-L-E-R title and then sink back into the evil depths it came from.

Yes this was some serious B-movie, cheesy, low budget viewing but this was also enough to capture my young imagination along with millions of others.

Invasion Of The Monsters And Other Misunderstood Outcast.

Where else could you view such B-movie classics as "The Ghost Of Frankenstein", "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers", "Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman" and the ever popular "Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Monster" ?

There was no digital special effects, no multi-million dollar budget, A-listed actors. They were made up of unknown wanna-be players. Some special effects were so bad that you could actually see the strings holding up the invading spaceships. The acting was bad, the story lines even worse but when you're a 10 year old boy you couldn't ask for more.

I was a faithful fan of not only "Chiller Theater" but also to it's rival "Creature Feature". Both shows featured the frightening results of radiation on man and beast causing a woman to tower as high as 40 feet high or shrinking a man to the size of a pin. Giant man-eating spiders roamed the streets and a gigantic octopus would down a massive bridge, along with everyone driving over it.
From deep space they would show the horrors of the aliens that seemed to dislike us for no reason. They traveled as far away as Mars just to shoot us with lasers. they fell to Earth in meteors and oozed around like growing jelly fish to feast upon us.

This was some good quality viewing as far as a 10 year old was concerned!

These movies never really scared me. Even at 10 years old I knew they were cheesy but yet they fascinated me. The idea of a giant spider running around chasing people as in "Tarantula" or a gooey, messy pile of sludge that ate everything in it's sight as in "The Blob" was my idea of thrills.

Ghost Of The Past

I look at the horror films of today and I see that even with all the incredible special effects and over paid actors, most are missing something that these little b-movies all had. They lack heart.

On the left hand side of my blog I listed my "Top 10 Favorite B Horror Movies". If you have any favorites you want to share with me please posted them in the comment section under this post.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Are You On Facebook?

It all started with the question, "Are you on Facebook?"

I was ask that question more than a dozen times by friends and family before I decided to brave the web's superhighway and head to this cyber hotspot.

What I did now about Facebook was that it was a "social network". It was developed by a student at Harvard University so students there could interact with each other.
With in a couple of years the site spread well beyond Harvard and college students and was now the cyber meeting place for over 150 million people world wide.

What I feared about Facebook was that it would be a mirror image of the spam infested, tricked out ghetto world of MySpace, a site that I personally couldn't run far enough away from. This was the main reason I resisted the call from my friends to join.

I admit when I joined Facebook, I was confused. I didn't see what the big deal was. I connected with a couple of people I knew that were on FB and we became "friends".
Then it started.


Almost immediately I started getting friend request. They were from family member, friends, people I work with, and even people I haven't seen in years.
I had no idea how they were finding me. I then realized that you could search for people you knew on FB through your email address book, the town and state you live in and even the schools you went to.

My friend list was growing and I admit I was liking it.

Now I admit I'm picky about who my "friends" are. I have some friends that I secretly call "friend whores" (opps, it's not a secret anymore.) These are the people that will take in anyone as friends just so their friend list is huge. OK, maybe it sounds like I might be a bit jealous because they have more friends than me but it's not. I could have as many friends if I wanted to. Maybe I don't want that many friends. I'm as popular as they are.... right? OMG I am jealous.

Within days of joining I found I was part of my very own network of friends who all hung out at this cyber club called Facebook.

We were sharing pictures, posting our thoughts in small blurbs that would instantly appear on the screen for all of our group to see.

The more they posted, the more I learned about these friends of mine. This tangled web of friends and family was proving a fun place to be.

In a typical day I might receive a cyber plant that would take a few days to grown into anything from a beautiful flower to mouth watering cheeseburger.
I would be part of my friend Joe's crime syndicate and make money for the Godfather in the game Mob Wars.
I would battle Todd to near exhaustion while looking for hidden words in the game Scramble.
I was competing with Gabby to see who was the biggest egg head in Brain Games.
We would all pass around cyber drinks to celebrate an event.
Cyber Halloween pumpkins, Christmas stockings were exchanged.
I was even kidnapped by being captured in a huge mouse trap and held in Las Vegas and wasn't released until I answered trivia questions correctly.


I was beginning to see why this site was so popular. It was fun. It was a place to interact with people you care about. It was almost addicting.
If I was near a computer I found myself checking in with my friends. I was keeping up with people I seemed to have lost touch with over the years and saying hi to people I just saw a couple hours ago at work.

Facebook was a pleasant surprise. It's a comfortable place where you could go online and just pop in for a few minutes to catch up on some friends or even spend some serious time playing games, laughing and hanging out with people you might have lost contact with in the past.

I now find myself to be one of those people that ask others if they are members of this not so exclusive internet club and if they are I'll most likely welcome them into my social circle with open arm.

Now my question to you, the reader, is, "Are you on Facebook?"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How Far We Have Come. Welcome President Obama

How far we've come.

The year 1959.
A mere sixty years ago. It was common to see colored water fountains, colored seating in restaurants, colored entrances to building. These colors were not vibrant or beautiful. These colors were black and white. These colors were in the shades of racism and hate.

A black man had a better chance at winning the lottery than he did at winning a court case against a white man.
A black woman could only sit in back of a bus until the day came when she said no more.
A black child could not attend the same school as a white child.
A human being that happened to be black could be beaten to death as people looked on and no justice would be served.

The year is 2009.
Today, the people of the United States Of America witnessed the swearing in of our first African-American President, Barack Obama.
We have all united. We are black, white, jewish, catholic, muslim, gay, straight. The list goes on.

If you voted for Barack Obama or not, you can not deny the fact the world today is a closer, more united planet.

You can not deny that the United States Of America has not seen this scope of hope in decades.
You can not deny the fact that this was the first election in the history of this great country that all races, religions, ages and sexes joined forces to correct the course this country has taken in the past years.

Hope is a powerful thing. Action is even greater. We stood together and took action.

The challenge now is for us to keep united and to eliminate bigotry and hate toward not only race but toward the sexes, religions and the social classes.

Today we saw that anything is possible as long as we all stand united and act as one.

God Speed President Obama.

Welcome President Obama


Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Dog's Life

I sat in bed last night with tears rolling down my face. I felt as though I lost someone dear to me. I was almost weeping.

It was the sentence that read "You know all that stuff we've always said about you?" I whispered. "What a total pain you are? Don't believe it. Don't believe it for a minute, Marley. "

That was what started the tears as I reflected on my own pets in the past and the ones I love so much today.

I was finishing the book by John Grogan called Marley & Me. It was based on the true events involving his family and an out of control, lovable Labrador retriever.

I saw the movie and kind of knew what to expect from the book but I was pleasantly surprised that the book was somewhat different from the motion picture.

This book is a true look at John Grogan's dog. He doesn't glorify him into some kind of Benji or Lassie. He speaks honestly about the short comings of this crazy dog and how, in the end, he realized Marley was an important part of what his family was.

A couple of post down I wrote about George (click on "George" to go to post), my friend's yellow lab. Drop down and read it if you have a moment.

Pets bring so much joy and happiness into our lives and it's important that we remember this when they're being bad. It's even more important to remind them of how much they mean to us.

I would love to hear about any pet stories that anyone would like to share in my comments section.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


As I was driving my Jeep today through the freezing below normal cold temperatures of a Connecticut winter, I passed a bill board that sat along I-91 that read "Powerball Jackpot 165 Million Dollars".

165 million dollars. How I would love to win that I thought to myself.

I knew the first step in winning a lottery game would be actually going into a store and buying a lottery ticket.


I remember at a time in my life when I needed extra cash and I started working part time in a small convenient store near my house. One of the first things you learn about small store customers is their love and need for a gamble.

Not a gamble as in buying a dairy products with no expiration date on it or a mystery favored slushie. I'm talking about a good old fashion shot at the riches. A toss of the coin, or in this case a dollar, on a bet that might bring them up to the status quo of Donald Trump. I'm talking lottery here.

The once poor, now I'm filthy rich ticket to the good life.


There was so much to choose from. There is your daily 3 numbered games, your 4 numbered, your 5 numbered and the holy grail of all games, your 6 digit Powerball Game which was a sure way to catapult you to a status only know by the Hiltons, the Gates and the Clampets.

Some could hardly contain themselves as they fantasized about the luxuries of winning. The quitting of the job, the mansion, the fact of knowing so many of your friends envied you.

Some say that money can't buy you happiness but it sure could buy you one hell of a nice car.

Now along with these "pick a number and hope it comes up" lottery games there were also the instant scratch off and win an instant prize games.

There were dozens of different instant games that ranges from 1 dollar to 30 dollars a ticket.

These games were total instant satisfaction. You could win a prize ranging from a free ticket all the up to hundreds of thousands of dollars right on the spot. No need to wait for a drawing on TV. Just a swipe of a coin or your finger nail across the thin coating that hide the life changing results was all it took.

The tickets all had catchy little names such as Moola Money, From Trash To Cash, Trailer Park Place and The Bitch Is Rich.

This was the game of choice for the majority of the daily gambling crowd in the little convenient store.
This crowd was made up mostly of nice little old ladies with a dark side that consisted of a gambling habit they kept well hidden from their spouse.
There were also out of work slackers that knew in their hearts that there was no need to find a job because the lottery had all the answers to life.

Now I'm not saying that was the only type that bought the tickets but trust me, it was a large part of them and they happily handed over their cash knowing it was a sound investment in their future.

As we know, the odds of winning a mere free ticket in this instant scratch lottery are a lot better than winning the grand prize. And the odds of winning nothing at all were even greater. But this was their fix as crack is to a junkie. These odds wouldn't begin to even slightly discourage our hopped up, adrenaline pumping future money moguls.

Some used an excuse to go to the store just to take a chance on playing. Some came in for cigarettes some for a pack of gum and some for a gallon of milk.

After purchasing their tickets they would be off in a corner or sitting in their car in the parking lot frantically scratching away. Silver shavings from the prize area's thin cover that hide their prize were flying everywhere.

Some scratched slowly, savoring the anticipation of winning the big one. Others couldn't hold back and rushed through it, holding their breath. Some scratched with a coin, some with their car keys.

I could see the pale blank look on the faces of some of these people as they walked back up to the counter to buy another ticket. After all, the one they just scratched off didn't win so the next one MUST be the winner.

This pattern would go on until the person realizes that they didn't have enough money left to buy the gallon of milk they came into the store to buy in the first place.

They now would have to settle on the 1/2 gallon.

No wait, I could use that milk money to buy one more ticket. The next one has to be the winner than I could buy a whole cow.

In the end they would leave the store hoping that water with cherrios goes well together.

With this past experience behind me I purchased my lottery ticket, got in to my old Jeep, knowing that in a couple of days I'll be trading it in for a Ferrari.
I drove one last time to my little house which I figured I'd give to some out of luck person as I moved into my stately mansion in Palm Beach.
I got out of my Jeep and made my way up the walkway, snubbing the neighbors who I would surely leave behind in my unspoken poorer past and day dreamed about how exactly I would quit my job after my lucky 6 digits came up.

But for now, I'm just grateful I had enough money and resistance to buy a gallon of milk.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Understanding George

Sometimes the simplest events remind us to keep focused on the lives we lead.
Sometimes they remind us of what is important in life and sometimes they make us take a deeper look in who and what is in our lives and what it all means to us.

I went to the movies a few days ago to see "Marley & Me". It was a true story about a family that was turned upside down by an out of control but lovable Labrador retriever.
This would turn out to be one of those times that I unwittingly looked at something so different in my life.

George the dog

George, very much like Marley, is a one hundred pound, lovable, goofy Labrador that believes the world around him is all his own.

I am somewhat responsible for George. I was with my friend Gary when we went into a pet store a few years back to buy a new collar for Sheffield, his Labrador. Gary made me promise I wouldn't let him buy another puppy if temptation called.

An hour later we were driving home with one of the cutest, sad eyed puppy I ever saw.

Because of me dropping the ball, I promised to always be there for George and Sheffield and to help out as much as possible.

George the misunderstood

People don't see George for what he really is. They see him as the over sized, in your face, eating machine he sometimes proves to be.

Let's face it, George could down food, along with other things in the past such as pieces of baseball caps, books, pictures, frames that held the pictures, money, paper, chunks of furniture and candles.
Then there are the strange, chewed up objects that sometimes show up in his poop that make you wonder what it was and how in the world it passed through his body.

Unlike George, his "brother" Sheffield is a perfect example of a good dog. Sheffield seems as though he was raised in a old stuffy English manor where he was taught to be a perfect gentleman.
Sheffield is obedient, loyal and down right polite as far as dogs go. Sheffield even acts as an older brother to George. The type of brother that is sure to tattle on his rambunctious little sibling as he runs to Gary with a funny look on his face while trying to bring attention to the fact that George has his head stuck deep into the trash bin nosing around for pre-dinner snacks or as George chews away on yet another precious household idem. This "tattling" approach earned Sheffield the nick name "Sheriff Sheff".

George on the other hand is the total opposite of Sheffield.

People seem to fear George or lose patience with him, especially when they first arrive at Gary's front door.
George believes in greeting people as though they were long lost friends he hasn't seen in years. In a flash George is standing eye to eye with his visitors.
This could be intimidating to some because George stands slightly over five feet tall when on his back legs.
Then his tongue seems to take on a life of it's own. The saucer sized object shoots out of his mouth and attempts to cover as much ground with saliva as possible.

Gary tells me that George sees me as a "toy". He says this because the minute I walk into the house I'm greeted by this galloping one hundred pound, tongue licking over sized puppy who wants nothing more than for me to kick a ball across the yard so he could chase it.

If I don't immediately respond to his request for play time I'm met with a low pitch whine and a stare of desperation.
This has earned me the nick name "daddy fun". A name that both George and Sheffield identify me with.
Gary told me that with the simple statement "daddy fun is coming over" he gets a response of barking and a race to the window to see if I'm pulling into the driveway.

That's a pretty darn good feeling in the wanted and loved department.

I don't agree that George looks at me as a "toy". I think George sees me as someone you gets him. Some one who understands that beneath this giant, fluffy, hyper behemoth is a loving, playful puppy.

"George & Me"

Some have stated they are taken back by George. Some might think he's more trouble than he's worth. Some might think he's way to much to handle and he's out of control.

I would tell anyone who thinks of George in that way or anyone who has a "George" in their life to go see the movie Marley & Me or pick up the book it's based on and read it and I would guarantee they would see George in a whole new light.

Now I won't tell you the out come of Marley & Me but I will tell you that it made me realize that George, like Marley, is love in it's most simple, purest form.

George sees the world as something that is his own. Something he will always be so loyal to. Something he could give 100% of his love to and all he ask for is some love back.

You could see it in his eyes as you walk through Gary's front door. You could see it in the excitement he expresses when you toss him a ball as his tail wags so hard it seems as though he has a motor attached to it. You could see it when a simple pat on the head is enough to brighten his day. You could see it when your sad and he cuddles up to you, resting his head on you with all the care anyone could ever ask for.

George is a true and devoted friend. A friend that will always stand by you and have nothing less than love to give you.

These are the reasons why sometimes, when the George in our lives are acting up we need to step back, take a deep breath and remember who they are and what they really mean to us deep down inside and then I could only hope you'll see why they are the misunderstood.

They say a dog is a man's best friend. I say George is a true and fine example of that saying. I love you George... even though you ate the top of my brand new 30 dollar winter hat I bought in NYC at Christmas time.

Monday, January 05, 2009

MARLEY AND ME : Movie Review

Marley & Me, a motion picture based on the book by John Grogan is the true story of a newlywed couple who decide to get a puppy to help them prepare for parenthood. The puppy they bring home is in the form of a tiny yellow and cream colored Labrador retriever they name Marley.
Quickly the couple realize that this tiny puppy is growing into a full grown, out of control, one hundred pound dog that gets into more mischief then they ever imagined.

Much to my surprise, the story doesn't focus in on the adventures of Marley and all his antics but it pleasantly shows how this rambunctious k-9 is more a part of this couple's growing family then they realize.
This movie is a honest and true look at the struggle of marriage and raising children and how in the end, a seemingly out of control dog becomes a purest, most innocent form of love anyone could ask for.

Owen Wilson is terrific as John Grogan, a newspaper columnist who is constantly questioning if he's happy at what he's doing for a living. Jennifer Aniston proves she could bring tears to our eyes as John's wife. Alan Arkin gives a great performance as Grogan's rough edged, big hearted editor at the newspaper where he works.

For anyone who ever owned a dog or wished they had I would recommend some time with Marley. It's a terrific family movie that will bring laughter, tears and a understanding in how all the joys and heartbreaks of owning a dog are so worth the while.