Friday, April 28, 2006

Yo momma is SO bad…

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my new favorite television show, “Yo Momma.”

I, for one, have been telling “momma jokes” for the past twenty years, except that I stopped about fifteen years ago, when I a) outgrew them, and b) started to fear that I would insult someone whose mother was either deceased, or who was, in reality, really, really, really fat. But I also retired from telling momma jokes for another reason. I couldn’t foresee a situation in the near future where I’d be provided a forum for telling momma jokes; a forum where I could earn as much as $500 for insulting the mother of a person I didn’t even know (unless momma jokes are taxed, in which case, make that $300). Instead, I decided to go to high school, as you can probably tell by the mathematical equation I just solved in like, two seconds.

But high school was an obvious mistake. If I had held out just a little while longer, I could have appeared on the MTV show “Yo Momma,” hosted by (who else?) Wilmer Valderrama (who did you think was going to host...Mario Lopez? Don't be an idiot). Valderrama is quite famous, and is nationally recognized as “the undisputed king of momma-related entertainment,” or, as he’s known in other circles, “that douchebag from that overrated TV show.” The premise of the show is pretty basic, and manages to combine other MTV themes at the same time. Two people who will never make it in the “Real World” battle each other to see who gets “Punk’d” worse, an outcome that is only determined by whose side is “Wild N’ Out” the most. As you can imagine, left behind is a long trail of insulted mothers. So watch your step.

It is like the “American Idol” of momma joking, except with more street cred (check out the randomly placed drop-top Cadillac in the background), less talent (if that’s possible), and no Kelly Pickler (“What’s a donkey punch? Ya’ll ain’t making any sense”) And replacing Randy, Simon, and Paula is Valderrama and his esteemed panel of other random dudes, with whom he confers with towards the end of each battle. This is really the part of the show where Valderrama shines, saying things like, “He really brought in the beginning, where he said that thing about his momma. I was like, ‘Oh, no! – He didn’t just say that!’ But then he tailed off a little bit; I wasn’t feelin’ the joke about the snake. I heard that one, like a million times. What do you guys think?” Then, the entire group does a “dope hand pound,” as if they’re about to go play a game of 5-on-5 basketball, and Valderrama dramatically announces the winner, to much fanfare.

As far as the contestants are concerned, or “battle-jokesters” as they prefer to be called, I should mention that MTV - like it does for any of their esteemed programs - only casts the best of the best of what America has to offer. They literally scoured street corners throughout the nation, looking for momma-joke battles. Unfortunately, they didn’t find any, because there are no such thing. So instead, they blew through some old Real World casting “reject” tapes, made a few calls, and surgically detached Valderrama from Ashton Kutcher’s testicles just in time to slap together a TV show.

And what a TV show! The battle-jokesters are given topics by Valderrama or his random friends, like, “Okay, guys – check it out, check it out…This round, we goin’ wit ‘cheap’ and ‘weight’…GO!” Then the battle ensues. Here is a hypothetical example:

Battler No. 1: “Okay, all right…check it out, check it out…Yo, yo…check it out,..okay. Check it out…Yo’ momma is SO cheap…that she went to the dollar store and put something on layaway…”

(The entourage behind Battler No. 1 goes ballistic, jumping up and down, some giving each other man-hugs and pounds, while others hold their fist over their open mouth to display the voracity with which their “boy” just “brought it.”)

Battler No. 2: “Aiiight, aiiight, aiiight. But yo, yo – check it out. Yo…Yo’ momma…is so FAT…that she went to Burger King and ordered a whopperandtheysaidain’tyouhaveaznzn! OH, OH! YEAH, WHAT? WHAT?

(Battler No. 2 has made the crucial mistake of becoming SO excited by his punch line, that he says it way too fast, to the point where nobody understood it. Both entourages are left utterly confused, while Battler No. 2 embarrassingly romps around the stage as if he just scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl.)

This goes on for a while, with mixed results (actually, all the results are bad, but they mix with really bad, and totally awful). Now, you may be saying to yourself, “I’ve heard all these momma jokes before. Aren’t they going to run out at some point?” Well, duh. Obviously, the battlers don’t make up their own momma jokes…that would be ridiculous. They use the same ones that have been handed down for generations. But to counteract that, Valderrama and his crew allow for other, non-momma related topics. For example, the battlers are allowed to bring one (1) friend of choice on stage with them at some point, basically so that the other battler can rip on that friend. Here is a note of caution: If someone you know asks you to be their “friend” on an upcoming episode of “Yo Momma,” and you don’t look like Brad Pitt or Jessica Alba, say “no.” (It would be like if your significant other asked you to go on “Jerry Springer” because they had a “secret” to tell you.) You will just awkwardly stand there while some random jackass makes fun of your shoes or the size of your thighs on national television as you stand in stunned silence, wondering why the hell you ever became friends with the person standing next to you in the first place.

But that’s not all. The contestants are allowed to search through each others’ houses in an attempt to find items that would be truly embarrassing to the other were it brought into a public forum, like baby photos, striped socks, their momma, or even penis enlargers. If I, for one, knew that my opponent in an upcoming momma battle was coming over to find some dirt, I would probably hide my penis enlarger (ya’ know…if I had one…an enlarger, not a penis). But this was NOT the case during an episode from last week, which played out like this:

Battler No. 1: “Yo, yo, check it out, check it out…Dude had a penis enlarger at his crib, yo!”

(Battler No. 1’s entourage goes predictably wild, only to be interrupted by…)

Battler No. 2: “What can I say…your momma likes it big.”

It was at this point where my television set self-combusted, as a result of how badly Battler No. 2 “brought it.” Or, it could have been the outset of the apocalypse. Nevertheless, my own shattered dreams of becoming a professional momma joke teller are now mixed with the actual shattered glass on my floor. So watch your step.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Classic card of the week

1988 Topps Phillies Leaders

Here is one of my all-time favorite “team leaders” cards, because it shows two Phillies’ stalwarts - Mike Schmidt and Kevin Costner - doing just that...leading. Of course, these two guys weren’t leaders in the “rah-rah” sense, or even the statistical sense (if so, Juan Samuel would have certainly replaced Costner). They led more by example. Or, just by squatting. “This is how you squat, rookies! Now get me some sunflower seeds!” Schmidt was overheard saying shortly after this photo was taken. (To which Costner replied, “Yeah, listen to Schmidtty!”)
It is only appropriate that Topps sampled the “dream sequence” borders for this series, because when I was young, I used to see this card in my sleep, mainly because there were at least four in every pack. It remains uncertain as to how, exactly, Costner got his hands on a Phillies uniform, although this was around the time of “Bull Durham” and “Field of Dreams,” when Costner had convinced himself that he actually was a Major League Baseball player. (Kind of like how Sly Stallone still thinks he’s a real boxer.) There are still conflicting reports as to what incident these two guys are in the process of leading the Phillies through. Some say it’s a pitching change. Others say a squirrel was on the field. I say it was during “God Bless America,” and Schmidt was pulling a Carlos Delgado. That unpatriotic son of a bitch. Some leader. At least Costner took his hat off.

Did you know?
Mike Schmidt's retirement speech is often aired on the Lifetime Network. It's true!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Classic card of the week

Garth Iorg, 1986 Topps

Garth Iorg was probably the most talented of the Iorgs, baseball’s “first family” even before the days of the Boones, Alous, or Griffeys. His father, Thor, was a relief pitcher for the then Milwaukee Braves from 1962-1963 (and would later go on to manage the Class A Harrisburg Hooligans). He also has a half-brother, Jamaal Iorg, who served as the backup left fielder for Garth’s AL East rival, the Red Sox, from 1984-1986. Actually, Iorg has a real brother, Dane, who – and this is 100% true – has two World Series rings. Look it up. As evidenced from this photo, Garth Iorg was the only major league player at the time who was allowed to hit without wearing a batting helmet, because, as one former AL umpire who wishes to remain anonymous, put it, “He had a head like a bowling ball.” Garth’s lack of power in 1984 (one home run) can be attributed to the fact that, at the time, steroids were not readily available. Had they been, Iorg would definitely be in the Hall of Fame. In an exclusive “20/20” interview from 2003, Iorg’s third wife told Barbara Walters, “Garth always lamented the fact that he was born 20 years too early. He blamed his dad.”

Did you know?
“Iorg” is Scandinavian for “not very good at baseball.”

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

For Knicks, more failure not impossible

If my math is correct, and I think it is, the New York Knicks are not making the playoffs this year. In fact, the 2005-06 season has been THE low point of the past few years, which is saying a lot considering the last few years have prominently involved Scott Layden, the knees of Antonio McDyess and Allan Houston, and a 300-pound Clarence Weatherspoon.

You may be asking yourself, “Why the heck is he devoting an entire column to the Knicks, especially when the baseball season just kicked off? I stopped thinking about the Knicks like, four months ago.” And you would have a point. However, when you think about it, this season has been truly special. In an amazingly awful kind of way. I mean, if we’re so quick to celebrate greatness, why can’t we celebrate greatness in the realm of total, unabashed failure? After all, this a team that lived by the motto, “Rock bottom is only a game away” all season long. In fact, I think there was a sign above the locker room door with this saying, and the players slapped it before going out to the court for every game, similar to the way Notre Dame football players do, except their sign says something about “victory,” which is totally not the point.

Yes, this was quite a year. The players – if you can call them that – blatantly mailed it in on their coach about three weeks into the season. But even the coach was a less than sympathetic figure, since he sporadically sat the young players for no reason, stooped to the level of his veteran players regarding petty differences, and did so while wearing women’s glasses. And I won’t even get into the job of the general manager, who generally managed to bring down an entire franchise in the span of several months, and who would often leave his luxury box to stare blankly at the bumbling, overpriced circus he produced.

But the question remains, how can the Knicks continue this run of success heading into next season? It seems inconceivable that the team could equal their ineptitude. Even if they just took a year off, and went backpacking through Europe, it would be better than this year, because they wouldn’t be playing basketball. But I have a few pointers on how this franchise can do the unthinkable – be worse. Because if anyone can do it, these guys can.

Get another shoot-first point guard. Why not? I’m thinking along the lines of Jason Williams, or maybe Baron Davis (which would be a bonus since he’s always hurt). I mean, could you imagine Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, Jamal Crawford, AND Baron Davis competing for shots?! Passing is soooo five minutes ago, anyway. To boot, it would be another “asset” that Isiah Thomas claims to keep acquiring, although I’m not exactly sure that he knows what the word means. He knows the first part of the definition, in that an asset is “something,” although he often ignores the latter part, which is, “that somebody else wants.” He thinks the flu is an asset.

Sign Allan Houston to an extension. Here’s a riddle. What is a salary cap if you can go over it? Tough one, huh? Well, the answer is…the Knicks! Sure, Houston is already retired, and hasn’t played in about a decade. But the Knicks have been paying him this whole time anyway, so why not keep it going? They don’t want that money coming off the cap! That would mean they’d have to give that money to somebody more deserving of it, like someone who is physically capable of playing basketball (in the sense that they can run up and down the court without falling). And that’s NOT the sign of a great team.

Trade away draft picks for the years 2009 until infinity. This is one of the Knicks strong points already, so I don’t see any reason why they can’t continue this trend. The Knicks are trailblazers (another great team) of sorts in that they realized very early on that draft picks can only make you better, which is why they avoid them. Why go young, good and cheap, when you can go old, bad and expensive? Hopefully, David Stern will simply eliminate the Knicks from the NBA Draft altogether, giving their pick to another team just in case the Knicks forgot to trade it already. But they won’t forget. The Knicks are aware that draft picks are not “assets.” They are more like herpes, in that you can give them to someone else if you try hard enough.

Make Larry Brown wear a black cloud over his head at all times. I’m thinking he can stick a coat hanger in the back of his suit jacket, which angles over his head, and has a large piece of black cotton at the end. This is the only way I can think of to make the most miserable $10 million coach in the world even MORE negative. I mean, how funny would it be to see Larry Brown’s reaction on the bench after another Knick turnover, while he literally has a black cloud over his head? I’m laughing already. And also crying. This may seem far-fetched, but if the Knicks are going to be better (a.k.a. worse) than this year, they have to take this thing to the next level.

Give Isiah Thomas a TV show. This is a no-brainer. The entire free world is interested in how Thomas goes about his daily life. How much does he ruin on a day-to-day basis? Do fires start out of nowhere when he walks by? Hire a cameraman, and let’s find out! This way, we can watch his show on MSG, where he will have interactions with the concession stand workers like this:

Isiah: How much for that hot dog?

Worker: $4.50.

Isiah: I’ll give you $7.50 for it.

Worker: Ummm, okaaay. But the one you’re pointing to fell on the floor.

Isiah: Okay, fine. $10.00, but that’s my final offer! You drive a hard bargain (squinting to read name tag)…Steve.

Worker: My name is Jim.

Sign someone with a serious heart ailment, who is always at least 25 pounds overweight, and who exerts as much energy as a chair. Oh wait, they already did this?! Well, find somebody else like this! Do some research, Knickerbockers.

And finally,

Keep everyone on the current roster - except for David Lee, Channing Frye, and Nate Robinson (they showed too much promise) - but give them more money. If the Knicks can manage to exchange Lee, Frye, and Robinson for, say, Baron Davis, Shawn Kemp, and Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, I think they will be in good shape for next season (well, not literally in good shape, considering Kemp, but you get the point). That’s a lot of assets right there. Plus, the other guys who it gave it their all this year, like Jerome James and Eddy Curry, deserve more money. Why, you ask? Why not?! Extensions all around!

Using these guidelines, it’s entirely possible that the 2006-07 Knicks can do the impossible, and be worse than their predecessor. In fact, they’re already off to a good start, considering the Chicago Bulls have their draft pick this June, a result of the Eddy Curry deal.

Man, I just have to laugh. I mean, what were the Bulls thinking?

What they need is a good motto.

Monday, April 10, 2006

New feature

I'm adding a new feature called "Classic card of the week," where I'll profile some of my favorite baseball cards of lore. The first installment is below.

Classic card of the week

Willie McGee
1994 Topps “Gold Series”

Also known as the infamous “Willie McGee glamour shot,” it took the photographer a reported 17 takes to get the appropriate “quiet confidence” look you see here. McGee was actually the father of popular TV personality Steve Urkel (little known fact), yet somehow managed to carve out for himself a nice little pro career. Believe it or not, Willie led the National League in hits (216) AND average (.353) in 1985, bringing the retail value of this card up to a whopping two cents (it has since gone down). So if it looks like Willie is wiping something from his lip in this picture, maybe he is – the sweat of success. Or it could be mayonnaise.

Did you know?
Willie McGee was not the father of popular TV personality Steve Urkel! It’s true!

Friday, April 07, 2006

It’s the new age! Sorry we’re late…

Our office is slowly but surely succumbing to the latest advances in technology. Of course, no one is mistaking us for the CTU headquarters on “24,” but, in our defense, we DO have a microwave oven, which is more than I can say for “24,” because I have never seen Jack Bauer eating a hot pocket at 9:15 in the morning.

One thing that needs to be understood is that our office is very old skool (the “k” is on purpose…act like you know.) The premises is littered with machines and devices that were outdated as of 1979, but some of those machines are actually still in use, like our manual paper cutter (injury free for 3 years now, mainly because nobody really has that much paper to cut). Our heating and air conditioning system pretty much shows up when it feels like it, and I doubt we will ever enter the scary world of “direct deposit,” because electronic transactions are an unknown, and should be approached very carefully, if at all. But, that said, we are making strides.

Our recent entrance into the technology age (1989-2000) officially started last week when we received our new copy machine slash fax machine. It’s both! It’s kind of like a transformer, without the overly dramatic transformation (all you have to do is press a button). Actually, I have to admit, we always had a copy machine slash fax machine, but there were serious drawbacks. For example, it did not copy or fax. I am fairly certain it was the first multi-task machine ever invented – even before the AM slash FM radio - and thus, it had “kinks” that even Thomas Edison could not foresee. In its last days, it was like a disgruntled old man that refused to perform the most basic of tasks, and also had unexpected bowel movements. It stopped printing from the computers altogether, and manually, it could not copy more than two pages consecutively. When it did manage to make a copy, it let out a screech that sounded like the preface to a very bad car accident. And then there would be a paper jam. As far as its faxing capabilities, to say that it faxed slowly would be an understatement of epic proportions. In fact, one day we had a race to see which method was more efficient – faxing from our fax machine, or tying a copy of the same document to a pigeon and then sending it off. The fax machine won that day, but we think it was because the directions we gave the pigeon were from mapquest. That site sucks. Anyway, the fax machine celebrated its victory with a paper jam.

Our new machine is so advanced in its capabilities that we needed to have a training session for it. The only people who showed up for the training session were myself and our production manager, mainly because everyone else in the office was content to know that the new machine a) made copies, b) faxed, and c) was in the same spot as the old one. And it wasn’t like the training session was in Atlantic City or something – it was IN our office, AT the machine. But no one got up from their desk to see what was going down. Basically, adding new technology here at the office is like when Jerry Seinfeld gave his father that blackberry-type device, and his dad was convinced that it only acted as a tip calculator. “It does other things!” There are about a million ways that this machine could make life easier for everyone in the office, like faxing directly from the computer, storing documents that are copied consistently, and creating separate folders for each employee. If you press the right buttons, it will actually refinance your mortgage. But nobody cares, because everyone is eating hot pockets. Let them eat cake, I guess.

The whirlwind of technological advances however, did not stop there. We also got a new phone system this week. Sure, we had telephones before, but they were mostly used as devices to have conversations like, “Hey, did you fax it? I didn’t get it.” And there were important features missing from our old phones, like a strange new thing called “voice mail,” which has apparently, been around for quite a while. In the old days (yesterday), someone would call our office, and if nobody was around, or if everybody was in the bathroom, or if we were all outside attaching papers to pigeons, the phones would just ring, and ring, and ring, and ring, and ring, and ring. You see, most of the calls we get at the office are from elderly people who are complaining that they didn’t get the paper on time (my department, by the way…we’re working on it), or they’re asking for the editorial department to complain about the fact that no one did a story on the unveiling of the new barstools at the local Elks. And elderly people think that if a phone is ringing, someone is going to get it eventually (morons). They have nothing else to do, so they’ll wait. I know this because, sometimes when I get to work early, and I’m the only one there, and the phone starts ringing, I will not answer it out of protest that we’re not technically open yet. I have heard the phone ring for upwards of ten minutes straight, and oftentimes I will eventually answer it out of pure amazement that another human being is actually on the other line, wasting away the day. I’ll answer in an out-of-breath voice, as if I had just entered the office, and rushed not to miss the call. And it always ends up being some extremely old woman, who will say “hello” about five times before realizing she is speaking with someone, and who will then ask about her “prescription,” which I translate to mean “subscription,” and then there will be a paper jam.

But that’s not all! Under the old telephone format, relaying phone messages was difficult, because you couldn’t just “transfer” someone to an “extension” or “voice mail.” For instance, if one of us answered the phone, and it was for someone else, we would have to 1) yell out their name using either a loud voice, or our advanced intercom system (we may be behind the times in other aspects, but our intercom system in state of the art, except for the fact the volume control is broken, and many eardrums have been pierced as a result), 2) tell them to pick up the line, and then, 3) hang up. This was okay, but you can only imagine the confusion that ensued when a call came in for someone who wasn’t in the office. We had to take down messages manually (with a pen or sometimes, a crayon), and it was often the case that crucial information was lost in translation, even though everybody here speaks English. It was like playing that game “telephone,” except, in this case, we used an actual telephone, and people’s jobs were at stake. My own job, for example, requires that I be on the road a lot, and I have often come back to the office to find on my desk various sticky notes informing me that “mr azcvxx~ called about sxxpoop call back at –oclock 732-45+x3.” Then, I would throw these sticky notes in the garbage can. But now, I can delete unwanted messages right from my phone!

Speaking of technology, our company website is currently experiencing technical difficulties. In layman’s terms, no one is really “working on it.” It seems as though we are so overloaded with new technology here, that the technology we used to have is suffering. Even the toilets aren’t flushing correctly. But all is not lost because the microwave oven is still up and running. Although, somebody should probably clean that thing soon. It’s pretty disgusting. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it appears as though I have a voice mail, and thus, a prescription to take care of.