Archive for February, 2009

The Captain Listens To His Sister

My sister and I have always been close.  We got along great as kids and we still do today.

The relatively small 13 month gap in our ages resulted in us mutually enjoying mostly the same things throughout our lives.

Sometimes we loved the exact same thing.  As kids, we were both fixated on Pee Wee Herman and The Goonies.  Other times we enjoyed different aspects of the same collection.  She liked Ernie, I liked Bert.  She liked caramel Twix, I liked peanut butter Twix.  And so on.

And while there were always things that we disagreed on, often my opinion would change over time due to repeated exposure on my sister’s part.  Spending so much time with Cathie would eventually wear me down enough to either accept or grow to love things I would normally avoid.  So in that vain here is a Top 5 list for her.

Top 5 Things I Was Exposed To By My Sister

1.  Every Teeny-Bop Girl Movie Of The 80s

Growing up with a sister and only one television meant we had to share.  She had to watch my crap and I had to watch hers.  I got to rent a movie and so did she.  I tended to watch dumb boy stuff like the animated Transformers Movie.  Cathie always picked movies about teenagers.  As a result I’ve seen just about every teen-girl flick of from roughly 1984-1991.

I actually liked some of Cathie’s selections, most notably Heathers.  But for every good flick like Heathers there were two or three terrible ones like Can’t Buy Me Love or Girls Just Want to Have Fun.  I must have seen Dirty Dancing fifty times before I hit puberty.

Back then I used to complain non-stop about be subjected to such drivel.  Now I feel strangely nostalgic when I happen across one.  A couple of weeks ago my wife came home to find me watching Adventures In Babysitting.  I immediately blamed it on my sister, but I didn’t change the channel…

2.  Stone Temple Pilots

Being a teenager in the early nineties meant constantly proving to everyone how authentic and non-mainstream I was.  I rebelled against anything that was deemed as a copy-cat or a sellout.  As such, I was required to dislike Stone Temple Pilots.  Everyone said they were big rip-offs of Pearl Jam and Nirvana and not to be trusted.  Everyone except my sister; she proudly declared her love for STP whenever she was given a chance.

Even when the local alternative radio station decided to play “Big Empty” twice an hour every hour after The Crow was released and everyone declared them too popular, my sister still stuck by them.  She didn’t give a shit when people would call the band fake or call Scot Weiland a hack or a junky.

Eventually I got over my need to prove my uniqueness and embraced the group as a great band.  I still listen to STP on my iPhone quite often and I have Cathie to thank.

3.  Cream Of Mushroom Soup In Queso Dip

Cathie inherited a recipe for queso dip from a friend in college that required adding a full can of cream of mushroom soup into the dip.  I flipped out the first time she told me about it.  I remember refusing to believe that it would be anything but horrendous.

Eventually she got me to try some and I was blown away.  But I still refused to believe that there was something as vile as that soup in the wonderfully cheesy concoction I was ingesting.  It wasn’t until I actually watched her make it that I was turned into a believer.  Now I’m hooked on the stuff; you should try it!

4.  Absurd Dance Trends

While I never shy away from dancing, I’ve never been particularly good at it.  That was always Cathie’s department; she started dancing as soon as she learned to walk.  I was always puzzled by her fascination with dancing, especially with the slew of late-eighties/early-nineties dance fads.  The Roger Rabbit, The Running Man, The Cabbage Patch, The Tootsie Roll – she did them all.  All I was able to master was the Axl Rose microphone stand dance.

Over time I have developed an appreciation for these goofy dance styles.1 Cathie, she never stopped loving them.  Just last weekend at Mardi Gras she was running around showing everybody the Stanky Leg.

5.  Competitive Dog Shows

Over the decade my sister has become obsessed with watching competitive dog shows.  She’s the only person I know that watches the full day’s coverage of the Westminster Dog Show.  I’m pretty sure her dream is to enter a bichon frise in a national contest.

Given the still high reading on my resistance to owning a dog meter, one would assume I am opposed to watching any kind of program like this.  Yet I find myself putting up less and less of a fight when one pops on the television.

I think these shows are slowly working their way into my subconscious.  Last nite I saw my neighbor walking her dogs and I thought to myself “That jack russell terrier has great angulation.”

I think my sister has been conspiring with my wife to trick me into getting a dog.  Even if they are, they’ve still got a long ways to go.


The Captain

1  That’s probably why I’ve watched all three seasons of America’s Best Dance Crew.  Well, at least that’s what I tell myself anyway…

The Captain’s Weekend Was Underwhelming

In which the Captain laments over a slightly-above average weekend.

I was really looking forward to this past weekend for two big reasons:  Mardi Gras and the Oscars.  Both events turned out well, but I think my high expectations did me a disservice.

Mardi Gras Saturday in Soulard is a St. Louis tradition, one that I have not participated in since 2006.  This year had all the trappings of another classic celebration.  I had plenty of beverages pre-dropped at my buddy Tim’s place in Soulard and my buddy Brian was in town from Baltimore just for the celebration.  Good times ahead!

I should have recognized the first bad sign on Friday.  I decided to stay in that nite and get plenty of rest.  Right before I went to bed my building went completely dark.1 There was a fire underneath my street which resulted in a 24-hour power outage in my building.

I awoke on Mardi Gras Saturday to no power and a view of falling snow and howling wind.  Not an ideal start.  By the time we made it down to Soulard the snow flurries had stopped and the Sun came out.  But the temperature was still in the twenties and the wind continued to howl.  As expected this put a large damper on the days’ festivities.

We made it to the parade long enough for me to snap a picture with a fellow Captain

But the cold quickly forced us over to Tim’s house for the remainder of the afternoon.  When the sun went down that nite the temperatures followed and the street emptied accordingly.  We called it quits around 8ish, which is by far the earliest I’ve ever left a Mardi Gras celebration.  The temperature really stifled the whole day.

On Sunday I spent the day with Meg cleaning up from the power outage and getting our place ready for the Oscars.  See, Meg and I are real film buffs.  As such we treat the Oscars like many treat the Super Bowl.  We usually have people over, we do our background research by trying hard to see all of the nominated films, and we get really competitive over our predictions.  We managed to see all of the major nominated films except Frozen River and Vicky Christina Barcelona2.

Normally Meg is quite a ringer when it comes to picking the Oscar winners.  She had a three-year streak of beating me working until my surprising one-point victory last year.  It all came down to the Original Song Category.  Meg went with one of the crappy songs from Enchanted and I wisely picked “Falling Slowly” from the wonderful little film Once.  She was mad about that one for months.

This year looked to be a good year.  Meg made a nice dinner for our friends, everyone filled out a ballot and I ponied up a bottle of Kahlua Mocha for the winning ballot.  We were all set for the show but completely unprepared for the 3½ hour snooze-fest that followed.  I’m used to the middle part of the ceremony dragging a bit, but this year the whole show seemed dreadfully long and dull.

Also, why in the world did they think that two huge musical-dance numbers were the proper way to tone down the ceremony this year?  They only interesting parts of the show were the Tina Fey & Steve Martin bit, Ben Stiller’s dead-on impersonation and the Pineapple Express montage.

And on top of it all, I managed to lose to Megs yet again.  I guess I should have put it all on Slumdog, or better yet just copied off of Brian’s sheet.  Seriously, he handicaps better than De Niro did in Casino.  He won the prize but luckily he had a flight to catch the next morning and donated it to my liquor cabinet.

So yeah, not the end of the world but still a bit of a letdown.


The Captain

1  Which mean I had to miss Conan’s last Late Night when it aired.  Thank goodness for streaming video on the internet.

2  Stupid Netflix and their stupid “very long wait.”

The Captains Crew VIPs: Part Eins

My friends are awesome.  I don’t say that enough, so I will do it again.  My friends are awesome.  They are wicked funny, very creative and extremely loyal.  And thanks to a recent flood of friend requests in Facebook, I am now in contact with several of them that I haven’t heard from in ages.

I’ve run with several groups throughout my 30 years on earth from a wide variety of places, too many to name.  I usually move through multiple different circles instead of having one established group of friends.  This tends to leave me well known to many, but close to few.  There are a select few of my friends who, like me, also tend to float through multiple circles and thus always seem to be a part of my life.  They are my constant , as Daniel Faraday would say.

This week one of these friends did something über-awesome and it made me realize how lucky I am to have friends like him.  It got me to thinking, which led to the creation of The Captain’s Crew VIPs.

From time to time I have decided to start big-upping one of my friends for their general kick-assitude.  These select few will make up an elite crew, the Captain’s VIPs.

First up is Mike.

I’ve know Mike for around twenty years.  My earliest memory of him was from Cub Scouts.  Back then his dad owned a restaurant in Florissant, the Charlie Chicken on Lindbergh.  His dad somehow got a hold of an old Firetruck and had Charlie Chicken sponsor it in the Valley of the Flowers parade.  This meant Mike and I and got to ride on the Firetruck and throw candy during the parade.  To a ten year old, that was the height of coolness.

We stayed friends throughout Cub Scouts and into Boy Scouts until an unfortunate incident involving a spoon that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago caused ill will between us.

By the time I reached high-school a couple of years later all had been forgiven.   Mike was now the trifecta of cool.  He was a drummer in an awesome band, Union Jack.  He was an impressive skater and accomplished hoodlum.  And, most importantly, his house had a basement where everyone could hang out.  This famed basement was like Mad Max’s Thunderdome to me1,

Mike is known for his outrageous sense of humor.  My funniest memory from high school was Mike wearing a full body Mr. Peanut costume to class that he somehow managed to obtain.

I continued to hang out at Mike’s basement throughout most of high school and college.  By this time he had formed a better band, Ashtray, and now had a job at the local music store.  His band came down to Springfield my senior year of college to record an album, and wound up playing an impromptu show in my sister’s living room.  Their twang-heavy version of “I Want It That Way” is still by far the funniest cover song I’ve ever heard.

I’ve managed to keep up with Mike over the years due to his extreme versatility.  He pops up everywhere; everyone seems to know him.

He’s still making music with various side projects and for awhile he was drumming in one of my favorite local bands, Grace Basement .  He’s a proud North County resident who now has his own house in Florissant that he shares with his groovy girlfriend, Tracy.

I already thought Mike was quite a remarkable dude when I received a package from him on Tuesday.  The contents of said package had me hysterically laughing for about ten minutes.

After reading my 25 random facts , Mike dug up the old color-changing-Trix-rabbit-cereal spoon and mailed it back to me.  Incredible!  And that is why he is the first official inductee into the Captain’s Crew VIPs.  Well done my friend.


The Captain

1  But instead of fights-to-the-death there was lots of moshing while his band practiced.  And instead of spears and weapons, there was mostly objects stolen from lawns and McDonalds.  I guess the Thunderdome reference doesn’t really hold up…

The Captain Wants A Taste Of The Stimulus

Talk of the Economic Stimulus Bill has dominated over the past few weeks, and it looks as though it may be passed early next week.  I am generally in favor of this proposed legislation. Specifically I support most of the proposed spending, especially when it comes to schools and infrastructure.  I’ve never been that keen on tax cuts and most the ones proposed here are no exception.  However, I’ve been drooling over one of the Senate’s proposed tax cuts since it was first announced.

The Senate wanted to include a provision that would give first-time homebuyers a $15,000 tax credit for homes that were purchased in 2009.  Fifteen grand!?!  Now that’s what I call an incentive!

Meg and I decided earlier this year that we would start saving in 2009 for a down payment for a home purchase.  Upon hearing news of the proposed tax credit we sat down and created a budget that would put our savings plan into overdrive.  Unfortunately, it now looks as though this provision in the Stimulus plan is going to be scrapped in an effort to bring down the overall cost.  Dammit Dammit Dammit!

Granted, I am upset mainly because of how this will affect me personally.  But I also think that this proposal had a huge potential to positively impact the nation’s economy.  The current crisis stems from the collapse of the housing market.  While there are many problems with the current housing market, I think the biggest problem is the record amount of homes currently for sale.  Simply put, the supply of homes greatly outweighs the demand.

This is best demonstrated by looking at the current yearly supply of homes.  On average a one year supply of homes is ideal for most areas.  This means that it would take about one calendar year for all of the current homes on the market to sell. Right now, most areas in the St. Louis region currently have a 1½ – 2½ year supply of homes on the market.  That is quite a sizable backlog of homes waiting to be sold.

The yearly supply number must be lowered if the housing market hopes to right itself in the near future.  In order reduce the larger number of homes on the market a large number of first-time home buyers will be needed.  People like, say, me.

Meg and I would love to buy a home, and we are pretty ideal candidates for a home loan.  We both have steady, well paying jobs and good credit.  The only thing we are missing is the sizable down payment needed for a loan.  I bet you can see where I’m going with this…

So yeah, I’m a bit frustrated that this provision in the stimulus bill is being scrapped.  The total cost of this provision would be $35 billion.  That’s only 10% of the $350 billion that was handed out to the banking industry at the end of last year.  And thus far it doesn’t seem like that $350 billion bailout has done much good.

Just yesterday Congress reamed the banking industry over their decisions on how to spend the initial bailout money.  Then again, Congress should not have given the industry $350 billion with no strings attached.  What did they think would happen?  Is anyone really surprised that the same people who managed to bankrupt their companies didn’t spend their government handout wisely?!?

While we’re on the topic of the bank bailout, let me close with this cartoon that has been making the rounds on the internet lately.  It’s an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon that sums up the current bank bailout rather nicely.  That Calvin was ahead of his time.


The Captain

The Captain Catches The Skank Bus

Warning:  This entry is mostly about VH1’s Rock of Love .  Anyone above this sort of activity please scroll down to the bottom for more cultured fare.

Ok, now that it’s just us shameless types allow me to profess my love for this god-awful show.  Currently in its third(!) season, Rock of Love is a celebrity dating show where skanky, unstable fame-whores compete for the attention of Poison’s frontman Bret Michaels.

Normally I find dating shows like this unwatchable.  The idea that one person can select a mate by simultaneously dating ten people living in a television studio cannot be taken seriously.  Luckily, nothing about Rock of Love is remotely serious.

The first two seasons were terribly entertaining for many reasons:  Bret using the adjective “awesome” to describe anything and everything, heavily intoxicated women trying to start cat fights, Bret’s ultra-real-looking-and-completely-convincing blonde wigs,

the latest in stripper fashion accessories, and my personal favorite, the phrase “we connect on a party level.”

The third season started airing in January, and has already exponentially increased the sleaze and ridiculousness.  This time around, Bret loaded twenty women with serious daddy issues onto two tour buses and is now driving them around the Midwest in a race to the bottom.  It’s like a mobile STD clinic!  Ingenious!1

While only a couple of episodes into this season, the show is already better than its predecessors.  The first episode featured one contestant shooting alcohol out of a shot glass placed in another contestant’s lady parts.  Skank-tastic!

On last nite’s episode, the Rock of Sore bus pulled into St. Louis!  Imagine my excitement when the first stop in town was East St. Louis.  The contestants competed in a challenge at our local skank-factory, Larry Flint’s Hustler Club.  After the challenge, Bret actually invited three girls from the club to join him on his mobile porn set tour busses.  The girls agreed to join the show, and he rewarded them with a limo ride to Flamingo Bowl.

As you may recall, Flamingo Bowl was the location of my surprise thirtieth birthday party.  That’s right, the scumdog quarter-millionaire himself was right down the street from my place!  Bret and his three new floozies bowled a round and had enjoyed food and beverages.  This was remarkably similar to my party, except for all the hussies.

Bret also took three of the tarts to the Landing and hopped on the Tom Sawyer for a riverboat ride.  Later Bret took the entire trampy crew downtown to the Orpheum Theater for the elimination round.  At the Orpheum he decided to send home the cool, relatively normal girl instead of the one of the imbalanced freakshows with circus-tits.  Way to do St. Louis proud!

If you didn’t manage to catch this remarkable piece of trash/art yesterday, you are in luck.  VH1 will be replaying this episode a bajillion times this week.  Tune in and skank out St. Louis style!

And now let me shoot for a bit of redemption.  Check out this clip of Radiohead playing with the USC marching band on last nite’s Grammy award show.  See, I like good stuff too.  Really.


The Captain

1  Actually, putting these strumpets on a bus does add an tiny bit of reality to the show.  Bret Michaels does not spend most of his time in a Hollywood mansion.  Guys like him travel the Midwest in tour buses playing shitty rock festivals.

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