Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Deal or No Deal

I usually review shows NOT on major networks, but this show deserves a review. It is hosted by Howie Mandel, the germophobe. You won't see anyone hugging or kissing the host. He won't even shake hands with them. He does this knuckle-punch thing.
The show has a lot going for it. It features really big prize money. Each episode has a top prize of $1,000,000, and special ones have been as high as $6 million. No one has ever won that much, but they have had episodes where players won many hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Premise is very simple: 26 cases, each with a dollar amount from 1 penny up to a million bucks. Player chooses one case. Then, by opening the others, has to try to figure out how much is in their own. Along the way, the villian, "the banker" offers them money for their case. The amount he offers is based upon their odds of having a big prize amount.
For example, suppose at the end of the game, there are 2 cases left, the player's and one of the others. And every amount has been shown except the million and a dollar. The banker would offer maybe $500,000. (it's not always so cut and dried, but that is more or less how the odds are determined.)
The player has the option to either take the money or keep the case.
The game can get very exciting. I've seen players turn down huge, life changing amounts of cash to get zonked and wind up with almost nothing.
I've also seen the players at some point in the game sell their case, and get a huge return when the case only contained a few bucks. It's about 99.9997851% pure dumb luck.
And, of course, it features 26 really hot women dressed in classy formal attire.
It takes about 15 minutes to discover all the nuances of the game, and after that you realize that it is fun, nothing more. This ain't Jeopardy. It's not even a dumbed-down version of Wheel of Fortune. Any booger eating moron can become a millionaire. The skills can be learned in about 5 minutes or less.

I love this show.

I rate it a 9, just because it is so exciting and because Layla, case girl number 13, is a smoking hot honey.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Rooting for the bully

The Yankees won their 9th straight pennant last night, and as a Yankee fan, it is pretty much old hat. SSDD. But, I always hear and read from fans of other teams snarky comments about the payroll, etc. The Yankees do have an unfair advantage because they have the highest payroll, by far.
So, what is the answer? The Yankees have invested vast sums of money into the team. Boss George spends every penny he can to make the team better. I remember years ago, when he wanted to get Tommy John in pinstripes, he took John on a whirlwind tour of NYC that was not really done much before that. Today, it is standard procedure, but George was the first one to really "court" free agents like Reggie and Tommy John.
The first big free agent, Jim "Catfish" Hunter signed with the Yankees because George saw the advantages of free agency and took advantage of them. George understands that victories=money. You can walk into any city in America and find Yankees fans. The franchise is the most famous in the world, which means you can walk into almost any country and find Yankees fans buying Yankees hats, shirts, and everything else. I wonder how many Kansas City Royals hats were sold in Japan last year?
I'm not only rooting for the same team I've supported for many years, but I'm helping to share the American ideal whereby hard work and smart business pratices are rewarded.
Kind of makes you want to wave an American flag while wearing an A-Rod jersey, doesn't it?

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Day of Solemn Remembrance

September 11, 2001.

Much has been written about it. But no matter how much I read or watch, the pain never seems to dull.

On that day, a good friend of mine (A PA Cop) was in the Towers and tried to help others. If you see the most recent movie (I don't remember the name, because I won't go to see it) they mention my buddy's name (Jimmy) as one of the guys who was trapped and they were trying to get to him. They never did get to him in time. He was a highly decorated member of the Port Authority Police force and my daughter is a good friend of his son.

At my job (I'm a tutor) I had a brother and sister who lost their Dad in the attack. I didn't know them before the loss, but I met them afterwards. They were both perpetually sad, it seemed. They never expressed it openly, but I never saw them smile. Their dad wasn't one of the heroes, but instead was a victim. He was a guy trying to make a better life for his family. He was at a business card exchange when the planes hit. He was just going about his daily life, doing what he could to support his family.

I can't imagine how bad it must be for the kids and other family members who survived. Not only did they lose a loved one, but they are constantly reminded of it and today must be one of the worst days of the year. My buddy's kid is most likely going to be at some ceremony today, I'm sure. I hope this helps him heal in some way. I hope all the children and family members find peace.

Greg The Bunny

Greg the Bunny is a series of shorts that appear on IFC. There does not appear to be any set schedule, nor any set lenghth of the vignettes. Most are loosely based upon scenes from famous movies. The original show has a history (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_the_Bunny) that is available on DVD.
But before you sit down with the kids to watch a cute show with puppets, be forewarned: This ain't Jim Henson's Muppets.

In a recent episode, Greg, a puppet with a touch of autism (their description, not mine)wanted to get back together with his friends from their old show. They are going to do a Greg the Bunny reunion special. Greg and his best bud, a Gorilla puppet named Warren, head to Vegas to meet up with Count Blah. Blah is similar to the Count from Sesame Street, but in the context of the show, he is the Count's bitter rival. Blah now works in a lounge act in Vegas.

When they get to Vegas, Warren starts to gamble (yes he has some "problems") and smoke cigars and gets drunk at the blackjack table. He loses all their money. Greg then sits in and proceeds to win that back plus enough to make them rich. Greg is like Rain Man in that he is a mathematical genius when it comes to playing blackjack. With their big winnings, Warren convinces innocent Greg to hire some hookers. Warren accidently kills one of the hookers, and the show ends with Greg and Warren in prison in orange jumpsuits.

If your sense of humor is is warped enough to laugh at drunken, smoking, cursing, womanizing puppets, you'll love Greg the Bunny.

I rate it a very strong 9.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Tax relief services

I've been seeing commercials on TV offering tax relief for people who owe at least $10,000 or more to the IRS. I'm not a big fan of taxes, and I believe our tax structure is set up rather unfairly. But I'm not interested in that debate today.

Everyone should pay their fair share. I realize it's only a commercial, but one example shows a professional (appears to be a dentist) who owed $250,000 and settled for $60,000. He stated that he was glad that he didn't lose his practice. I realize that this example they gave was probably not the norm, but it must be a possibility that someone who owed that much money would try to settle.

Now, here's my point: how did he owe so much?

I could see someone owning $10,000. They made a miscalculation with a large inheritance, or some other such mess. It can happen. But here's where I have a problem. Why is it settled and forgiven? Shouldn't they also have a re-payment plan? You can't owe 10's of 1000's of dollars unless you made and most likely will continue to make, 10's of 1000's of dollars. A working schlub like myself doesn't get a chance to settle for less that what we owe. The government gets its cut up front, before I get my pay. It's taken out before I get the chance to screw up. So why are others given the chance, and not only forgiven for the mistake, but seemingly rewarded? Just a bit more of the inequity of our system. The wealthy get an opportunity to take advantage of the system while the guys in the middle continue to get slapped around.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

If you can't drive it, park it

It seems as if every day, I find another reason not to go out on the highways of my beloved state of NJ. I don't expect everyone to have the driving abilities of professional NASCAR driver. But, when I am behind a car and the lane has a green arrow pointing the way the driver in front wants to go, why, oh why, can't he or she GO? Is it the first time they have ever seen one of these arrows? Did they get their license within the last 15 minutes? Did they just arrive from Lithuania? How freakin' hard is it to turn on a green arrow?

OK, now I'm on a roll. I drive the speed limit. I don't need an SUV driven by someone who can barely see over the freakin' steering wheel to be up my ass. What is up with that?

Mom and a 3 year-old need a friggin' assault vehicle to pick up the dry cleaning and a Happy Meal? What are they expecting to encounter on the highway-- the Iraqi equivalent of the 81st Airborne? The Terminator? Godzilla?
And I will bet dollars to donuts that Mom can't park the behemouth. I've been in parking lots and seen first hand Soccer Mom trying to turn a Suburban around and get it into a parking space. The USS Intrepid had fewer problems docking in its NYC port. And, on the off chance Soccer Mom is able to turn the beast around and head towards a parking space, does she understand that those white lines serve a purpose? They aren't to decorate the lot. The idea is to park between the lines. And not just any random combination of lines. Pick two and try to stay between them. I realize that this is asking a lot, but maybe even park evenly so that another car can fit into the space next to Soccer Mom without fear that when Soccer Mom returns, she will open the door of her assualt vehicle and scrape the crap out of the car next to her?

I'd also be really pleased if the jerks driving pickups with crap in the back like rocks and sand would at least make an attempt to cover the stuff so it doesn't blow all over the place while they drive mindlessly down the highway.

And I haven't even gotten into the jerks who drive along the shoulder or pass in nonexistant lanes. Just because you can squeeze through, that doesn't make it a 4 lane road. Get a friggin' clue.

I'm done. I feel better.