Saturday, May 31, 2008

Seen The Movie Many Times But Couldn't Remember That His Name Is "Al Czervik"

Chien-Ming Wang is pitching for the Yankees against the Twins tonight. I think his name is pronounced "Wong", but that won't stop me from quoting Caddyshack:

"I hear this place is restricted, Wang, so don't tell 'em you're Jewish, okay?"

Speaking of Caddyshack, I have failed to brag that two years ago it wasn't available via Netflix until I contactedt them and requested it. You're welcome.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Go Lakers

Phil Jackson, formerly of the University of North Dakota, deserves yet another championship. Go Lakers.

I have never liked the Celtics.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Heart Renting

Steve Almond in about home ownership:

How vastly overrated and costly and crazy-making an enterprise it turns out to be.


I was assured by the panting chorus of fellow homeowners who take it upon themselves to advise you in such situations, real estate never-ever-gabever goes down, so I wasn't even spending my money, I was just "investing" it.


These things it calls to mind those reality TV shows whose central myth of transformation centers on the home. "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," "Trading Spaces," "Flip This House" and so on. These programs are the new pornography of the landed middle class, and they are, in their own way, as cruel as the old pornography. Just as the libidinal 13-year-old will someday discover that not all naked women look like Playboy centerfolds, so too, the first-time homeowner will have to learn that refurbishing your den, even on national TV, does nothing to heal the cracks in your foundation.


But maybe it's time to admit that many Americans are like me: unfit for the privilege. We buy homes we can't afford, we treat them like piggybanks, and often we lack the aptitude or interest required to care for them.

All I can add is this: Last night I waved to my building's caretaker as he mowed the lawn. This morning I saw a tree-maintenance guy throwing some debris in the dumpster. And in about six weeks I'll get my propety tax refund!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I'm Gonna Beat This "Deserves" Routine Into The Ground

I'm cheering for the Detroit Pistons to beat the Boston Celtics: Flip Saunders deserves a championship. So does Rasheed Wallace, who already has one but deserves another just for his great facial expressions.

In related basketball stuff - on the Strib's opinion page today an annoying and pretentious Celtics/Garnett fan compared Kevin Garnett to Philip Roth and Mark Twain:

I used to read his remarks in the Star Tribune as happily as I read Mark Twain or Philip Roth: for the brilliance, the subtle self-knowledge and, yes, the humor.

Humor? Repeatedly? I admit the number of the Strib's Timberwolves stories I have read probably exactly matches how many playoff games they played in 2004, but no way was Garnett consistently humorous.

Sure, pro athletes can sometimes come up with a great line - I'm thinking of Patrick Roy's comment about Jeremy Roenick's mouthing off (couldn't hear him because he had two Stanley Cup rings plugging his ears.) I also remember the Broncos beating the Purple in Metrodome in the mid-nineties on a last second play. I don't remember the exact circumstances, but I believe a John Elway pass bounced off of somebody's helmet and Ed McCaffrey hauled it in the end zone for the winning TD. After the game, McCaffrey deadpanned that the play had been planned all along. (Randy, chime in if you remember this play. You called me right after the game laughing about McCaffrey's interview.)

But for the most part, pro atheletes generally just spit out the same old platitudes about "giving 110 percent" and "individual accomplishments don't matter to me." When they try to be funny ... well, you know what "locker room humor" is, right? The truth is that there have only been two genuinely funny - funny enough to be mentioned in the same sentence as Mark Twain - professional atheletes in my lifetime: Muhammad Ali and Charles Barkley.
This Guy Is Hilarious In All Roles ... Not
(couldn't resist)

I've been seeing the trailers for The Love Guru for what seems like months now. Undoubtably, it will turn out to be a yawner of a non-funny movie - similarly boring and repetitive to that Austin Powers movie I tried watching once. (And that was only ten minutes' worth.)

Mike Myers is only fit to play one role, ever: Wayne Campbell. This was true on Saturday Night Live, it's true to this day.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'll Take (A) Manhattan

I had never had a Manhattan before, so tonight I mixed one up at my bar. I used rye, the orginal whiskey used in this cocktail. I don't have sweet vermouth on hand, so I used all dry vermouth instead and hence made a Dry Manhattan. Verdict? It's dry, though the rye flavor stands out nicely. (Oh bourbon, you used to be such a steady friend. Now you're "that whiskey that's much preferable to Canadian but not what I want either.")

Oh, and I used an old fashioned glass instead of a cocktail glass (acceptable, at least according to Wikipedia.) I need to get some sweet vermouth and see how a true Manhattan tastes.

As for now it's on to a rye and ginger (always get your mixers before heading up north, I learned this the hard way over this past long weekend ... though drinking rye on the rocks with a splash of water wasn't exactly toughing it) and cracking open Nixonland, which I just got from the library today.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Top 30 Rock Books I Own: #10 Paperback Writer

Title: Paperback Writer
Author: Mark Shipper
Year Originally Published: 1977
Edition I Own: First Ace Printing, 1980

What They Say: 1) The Village Voice (Greil Marcus): "The finest novel ever written about rock and roll." 2) San Francisco Chronicle (Joel Selvin): "Devastatingly funny."

Tuomala's Attempt At A Take: I bought this last year used via Like the Rutles movie that came out around the same time, it's funny at times but didn't really have much humor that stuck with me. Except for the likes of this concert flyer which cracks me up if I even think about it. The photo link is from the site, which has a fine discussion between Scott Woods and Richard Riegel about the book.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"They Smile In Your Face ..."

Last night while watching season three of Homicide, I practically lept from my seat and then yelled: "He stabbed Pembleton in the back!!"

A couple of weeks ago, I speculated that this might happen: "If Pembleton's fate is anything like mine, he'll be lied to and stabbed in the back by management." What I saw last night was the Homicide version of what happened to me about fifteen years ago:

One time I went to a propaganda gathering and while I was sucking on an imported brew and yukking it up with a fellow coworker about The Simpsons, my boss came up and made it a point to tell me that I had put a wrong number on some report and that the big shots had quizzed him intensely on it in a meeting that morning. I reminded him that he had told me last week over the phone to change that number to the one I used. He emphatically denied this, and funny - he brought the whole issue up while HIS BOSS was standing right by us, making sure I would be implicated in the fuckup.

This is really quite eerie to me, with the similarity of both Frank and I having a superior lie to his superior about us right in front of us.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Reusse Strikes Again

Patrick Reusse writes that Mike Guentzel (some Gopher fan friends of mine call him "Intensezel") was forced out of his assistant coach job and did not resign, as was previously reported. Excerpts:

A number of upperclassmen on this winter's team had tired of Lucia's haranguing. Guentzel was the coach on this staff with a positive personality and served as the Good Cop with the players.

Guentzel brought feedback from the players to Lucia, and The Don didn't like it when that feedback included criticism of him.


The dilemma for Lucia is this: If Osiecki (Mark Osiecki, a former Badger player) replaced Guentzel, that would give the coach a full-time staff with no Gophers, which doesn't exactly fit the Pride on Ice model.

That last possibility is a curious one. Though Gopher loyalists could argue that Lucia has won two national titles and Guentzel was a holdover from the Woog regime. They could also point out that Lucia did not attend Minnesota, but would probably avoid doing so. Anyway, I just want to share my one good Guentzel story. It was during the Woog years and a second game loss in a series against the Badgers turned ugly. Nasty scuffles broke out in the third period and when the final buzzer finally sounded, Woog and the Gophers were headed off the ice to the locker room and were ignoring the customary series-ending handshake. Suddenly on TV I saw Guentzel on the ice at the Gopher bench yelling at his players: "Get out there! Get out there and shake hands!!" And the Gophers skated over to shake hands with the Badgers.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Being An Accountant Back Then Must Have Been Hell

I've been writing and typing up some notes on an essay the past few weeks. Last week I thought my ramblings had turned into what would likely be two essays, this week I think that it could work as an essay in two parts. So tonight I am doing something I rarely ever do as a writer: I am making an outline for the essay, just like we were taught back in English class. Thing is, I'm actually using Roman numerals, just like we were taught back in English class. Generally, I mock Roman numerals as example #1 why the Roman Empire fell ... who the hell could ever do math with these?? (God bless those Arabs!) These days you only see Roman numerals in Super Bowls and credits of old movies (maybe new ones too, I haven't checked), but for whatever reason they make the outline I'm working on look like it has some authority.

On a related Roman note, after hearing Frank Pembeton speak Latin I thought it would be cool to learn Latin. File this under heady things I would like to do (but won't) like learn to be a good chess player.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"I'm A Capitalist, Nat! I've Got Untapped Reserves. I'm Rich!"

I just watched The Lost Weekend, a movie about a struggling writer who enjoys rye. (Why does this sound familiar?) The movie inspired me to come up with a list of ten great places to hide a bottle. Some are from the movie, some I came up with on my own:

Top shelf of the bedroom closet (movie)

In the light fixture (movie)

In my brother's suitcase (movie)

In the big bag of cat food (me)

In the vacuum cleaner bag (movie)

Behind the vinyl, top shelf (me)

Under the mattress (movie)

Behind the family's Finnish-language bible (me)

Tied to a rope, hanging outside your bedroom window (movie)

Behind that little door in the wall that leads to a space where you can work on the plumbing for the bathtub (me, inspired by the movie)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Quiet American

I just finished reading The Quiet American by Graham Greene. It was mentioned in the last Vietnam book I read, Dispatches. This book is brilliant. Highly recommended, and a quick read. Written in 1955, it's a short novel that describes the French's failures in Vietnam and also foreshadows America's fiascos there over the next twenty years.

Oddly, while reading on the net about the book, I found out that the President actually quoted the book last summer in defense of his failed Iraq war (i.e. the new Vietnam War.) I guarantee you that Bush has not read this book, and probably nobody on his speechwriting team has either. Thinking about this Bush-quotes-Greene thing is totally tripping me out, and it's not just the rye and gingers I'm enjoying tonight kicking in. In The Quiet American, Alden Pyle - the earnest "let's bring democracy to the childlike Vietnamese" CIA agent idolizes an author named York Harding, who advocated a way of bringing democracy to Indochina that was questionable on paper and would fail miserably in the field. York Harding, fictional father of the neocons. Alden Pyle, forerunner of George Bush. That's not just me saying that last one, it's also on the pages of The American Conservative:

Back in 1987, Greene was one of the most vocal critics of the Israeli government following the abduction of Mordechai Vanunu from Italy by Israeli agents. Vanunu’s “crime,” in the eyes of the Israelis, was to have exposed the fact that Israel possessed nuclear weapons that, by any stretch of the imagination, can be described as “weapons of mass destruction.” Why is it, one wonders, that some countries in the Middle East can possess weapons of mass destruction, with Bush’s blessing, while others cannot? Why did previous American governments arm the Taliban and Saddam Hussein in the name of “Freedom” and “Democracy”? Why did Bush’s own government declare war on the only secular government in the Middle East capable of resisting Iran? These are questions that only George W. Bush or Alden Pyle could answer. The rest of us remain baffled.

Bush quoted a character in The Quiet American who said of Pyle that he had never known a man “who had better motives for all the trouble he caused.” Like Pyle, Bush is well-intentioned. Like Pyle, he is dangerously naïve. Like Pyle, his noble motives have caused a lot of trouble. And, like Pyle, he needs reminding of the old adage that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cinema's Secret Influence?

Three great movie scenes from the past ten years:

1) Kevin Spacey sings along with "American Woman" in American Beauty.

2) Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs in Almost Famous ... his scene starts 2:28 in, and the below quote starts at 3:03. If you don't have the patience to wait for the clip to load that far, he says:

"The Doors? Jim Morrison? He's a drunken buffoon posing as a poet. Give me The Guess Who. C'mon - they got the courage to be drunken buffoons. Which makes them poetic."

3) Micheal Cera (he's Canadian!) sings "These Eyes" in Superbad.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Insert "Here Comes A Regular" Lyrics Here

The new Esquire has their annual feature on the best bars in America. No Twin Cities bars made the list, the only Minnesota bar that made it was one up on the North Shore. The feauture does have some entertaining sidebars, including one about the regular bar. An excerpt:

We started thinking about how you cultivate a relationship with a bar. We came up with some criteria for a regular place. It needs to be within walking distance of where you spend most of your time. And you have to get generous drinks there. You just do. And the bartender has to be there every night. If he goes on vacation, you have to notice. And you have to be able to get a seat at the bar, like, 85 percent of the time. And it really helps if there is a charming woman there who kisses you on both cheeks every single time you walk in. And she needs to be good at consoling.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

This Crack Is Directed At Twin Cities Fans Of A Certain Boston Player

I'm cheering for the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Boston Celtics in the NBA playoffs. Wally Szczerbiak and Joe Smith deserve a championship.
Don't Know Where All These Red Sox Fans Came From All Of Sudden, But I'm Sure Glad They're Quiet Tonight

Howard Sinker, who I read in the pages of the Grand Forks Herald thirty years ago or so, has a nice recap of the Twins beating the Red Sox in the bottom of the ninth on Friday night.

A note to Howard (who I dig): I was oozing confidence when GoGo was up to bat. Young had already gotten a hit off of Papelbon, why not Gomez? I was thinking he was going to go yard or at least hit a double (oops, that would be a triple for GoGo) into the gap. Instead, he drew a walk - I think FSN said it was only his fourth of the season - and then stole second. I love this kid!

I was up saying "GoGo! GoGo! GoGo!" all during Gomez's at bat and then kept repeating "Twins win! Twins win! Twins win!" after Lamb drove in the winning runs. I live alone, so it was left up to my cat to give me funny looks, of course it didn't help that I was also doing a PA-via-Common "Ballgame!" while pointing at her.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Tuomala Retracts A Pretty Good Cheap Shot

"A few years back I bought The Best of Badfinger and now only program three songs on my CD player - "No Matter What," "Day After Day," and "Baby Blue." But I guess anthology EPs would be asking for too much from the recording industry."

I wrote the above back in 1998 and need to double back on myself (yet again.) This year I popped The Best of Badfinger back into the CD player and love it. I know ten years ago I didn't "get" the Beatles and so certaintly didn't "get" some powerpop like Badfinger. But these days ... well, it's spring and I might have to spin side one of Raspberries' Best before I hit the hay tonight.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Dear Landlord

I sometimes am asked why I don't buy a house. Here's a typical off-and-on discussion that I have with nosy busybodies in my life:

You should buy a house.

I don't want a house. I don't want to mow a lawn, prune trees, shovel snow, or have neighbors that I am obliged to talk to over the backyard fence.

Oh, then you should buy a condo.

I would be paying more per month to live in something smaller than I am in now, and it wouldn't be in this neighborhood that I love.

But you need to build up some equity!

Fuck that. And just to double down, I'm gonna lease my next car!

And these days it turns out it saves me $200 a month to rent over buying ... plus I'll be getting three hundred large in a property tax refund this summer. Sure beats mowing the lawn or paying association fees.
To The Bar

This week I realized a lifelong dream did something I thought of last week and set up a bar in my writing office. Inspired by Chad's new bar and a couple of other friends who have set up bars in their basements, I decided to set up a bar also. Why always go beer and vodka neat when there's a whole world of drinks out there? (New fave: rye and ginger.)

Alas, there is nowhere to sit at the bar - it's simply a place for booze and mixers and glasses. I live in an apartment and don't have a basement. I do have a basement storage space and considered setting up a little bar down there complete with barstools and a transistor radio so that we could listen to the Twins, but as it tends to be the case with preparing cold drinks too far from your kitchen: the logistics of ice got too complicated.

Currently I'm having a dirty martini. No clients tomorrow, just writing and reading. No idiot barfly next to me blabbing on and on. This is sweet (though the drink is salty.)
Did He Just Compare Himself To Frank Pembleton?

After loving the Homicide book, I recently started watching the Homicide series on DVD. Frank Pembleton immediately reminded me of somebody - he reminded me of me, back when I had a real job in Corporate America.

Oh sure, he's black, I'm white. He's incredibly handsome, I'm dopey looking. He's articulate, I have a North Dakota accent so thick that was asked in 1996 if I adopted it after watching Fargo. He dresses well, when I had to wear a tie my fashions were from JC Penney. He invesitagates murders and interrogates suspects, I processed applications for payment and withheld payments to subcontractors over lien waivers. So what's the similarity, other than that he listens to Emmylou Harris and I once bought an Emmylou Harris LP mostly so that I could gaze at the album cover?

It's that Pembleton is accused of not being a team player; instead brilliantly going his own way with his work and shunning social contact with his colleagues. I also had the "team" bullshit thrown in my face (a top three Tuomala wisecrack ever at that job: "I'm too good to play on the junior varsity") (thanks to Turk for the line) and shunned social events with my coworkers (at least the accounting ones.)

It's probably a good thing I didn't watch this show when I had that job as I would have likely adopted some Pembleton mannerisms - like become a sharp dresser and start smoking cigarettes. I would have been out some serious dough and would now have a hacking cough.

Please send no series spoilers my way ... but if Pembleton's fate is anything like mine, he'll be lied to and stabbed in the back by management. But keep going your own way, Frank.

Monday, May 05, 2008

4 OTs!

I watched that Stars over Sharks in four overtimes game tonight from 8 pm until it ended at 1:24 am. Great game and a great cure for the typical Sunday Night Blues.
Just Ask Humbert Humbert

This? This? This is the Miley Cyrus photo from Vanity Fair that is causing all the hubbub? The prudes in this country (the photo was referred to as "child pornography" in the letters section of Sunday's Strib) apparently have just been informed that fifteen-year old girls have skin on their backs.

My, how times have changed. Back in the day, we needed naughty fifteen-year old Brooke "Commando" Shields to stir up some controversy. And being just a few months younger than her and hence also being fifteen at the time - I loved those Calvin Klein ads.

And to bring things full circle ... Shields portrays Cyrus's mom on Hannah Montana.

(A dorm buddy of mine at UND went on to graduate school at Princeton the same time that Shields was there. He informed us that she had tried to jump him as he walked out of the chemistry lab, but fortunately he had on a tearaway jersey! Love those jokers from the dorm!)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

New Podcast Is Posted

Exiled Radio #17