Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ichiro Hit No. 1500 in 1977!

It kills me that I missed today's Mariner game, one that I bought tickets for way back in April. It was another Turn-Back-the-Clock affair, this time with the Seattles decked out in their '77 unis. It looked as cool as last year's TBTC game, when the Mariners wore Pilots uniforms... Not only did the M's beat the A's today, but Ichiro got his 1500th career hit, as seen in this bitchin' pic. However, I couldn't turn down a free trip and a chance to be on the BBC. Opportunity costs, sigh.

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Hot Butt Butte Pix

I'm back in Seattle now, but here are a few pictures taken yesterday in Butte with my new digital camera...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Simpsons Take Butte

Tonight I'm in Butte, Montana, 'cause the BBC flew me here for an interview during the town's annual Evel Knievel Days. I talked with this guy on the railroad tracks behind Matt's Place, where I ate a so-so cheeseburger. Then I walked around the Knievel Days street fair, where I sipped my first-ever energy drink -- blargh! A few hours later, Trigger Gumm was scheduled to jump 39 cars -- which was cut down to 19 -- but I was already bored and not willing to deal with the impending crowd.

Frankly, I preferred to see The Simpsons Movie, so I did. It was funny, and the fancy, big-screen animation was great, but it fell short of killer. Some curious connections... SPOILER ALERT! The pollution in Lake Springfield is so toxic that the EPA declares the Simpsons' hometown the most polluted in America, while Butte is home of the Berkeley Pit, whose lake of ultra-toxic groundwater has made it one of the nation's biggest Superfund sites... SPOILER ALERT! Homer rides a motorcycle around a globe of death, much like the one I saw this afternoon at Knievel Days... SPOILER ALERT! The best-ever Evel parody, Captain Lance Murdock, is briefly seen in the audience of Lisa's "An Irritating Truth" lecture (here's a full-size version of the above image, a spoof of the familiar Evel toy ad that appeared in countless '70s comic books)... SPOILER ALERT! Homer and Bart jump a motorcycle over the Springfield Gorge, a reference to the 1990 Capt. Lance episode, and a meta-reference to Evel's Snake River jump... SPOILER ALERT! The Simpsons go to Seattle!! Well, Marge and the kids, anyway, a fitting addition to the blog entry below.

I can see this fucking thing outside my motel window.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Simpsons Take Seattle

Seattle's a lot like Springfield: we both have a monorail, a revolving restaurant in the sky, and, for this month anyway, a Kwik-E-Mart (Eliza and I got Squishees there). Adding to the hype leading up to tomorrow's opening of The Simpsons Movie, here are all the Seattle-related references I know of among the show's 400 episodes thus far...

Lisa’s Pony (November 7, 1991).
When Homer takes the night shift at the Kwik-E-Mart to pay for pony for Lisa, there's a brief mention of Seattle Slew, the thoroughbred who won the Triple Crown in 1977... A bit of a stretch, but it still counts.

Lisa the Greek (January 23, 1992).
Homer exploits Lisa's football prognostication skills for his own gambling habit. Homer: “Who do you like in the afternoon games?” Lisa: “Well, I like the 49ers because they're pure of heart, Seattle because they've got something to prove, and the Raiders because they always cheat"... Side note: When this episode aired, the Seahawks just wrapped a 7-9 season, and the following year, went 2-14 -- something to prove indeed.

Homer at the Bat (February 20, 1992).
Then-Mariner superstar Ken Griffey Jr. is recruited with a bunch of other major-league stars to help Mr. Burns win a million-dollar bet over a softball game. However, Junior keeps swilling some sort of tonic, bringing on a case of gigantism that prevents him from playing... Side note: Ken Levine, who co-wrote the 1990 episode "Dancin' Homer" -- Homer becomes a baseball mascot with the help of the Capital City Goofball -- went on to join the Mariners broadcast team for a four-season stint beginning in '92.

Marge vs. the Monorail (January 14, 1993).
Everybody's seen this episode like a million times and everybody here is sick of our own monorail woes -- enough said... Side note: Episode writer Conan O’Brien's wife is from Seattle, and they got married here in January 2002 at the St. James Cathedral.

Homie the Clown (February 12, 1995).
Homer enrolls in Krusty’s clown college. In the first class, Krusty tells his pupils, “Okay, memorize these funny place names: Walla Walla, Keokuk, Cucamonga, Seattle…” Homer laughs uproariously at “Seattle”: “Stop it, you’re killing me! A-ha-ha-ha, Seattle!!”... Side note: Krusty is believed to have been largely based on Seattle TV clown J.P. Patches, who had his own Krusty-like kiddie show here from 1958 to 1981.

Bart Sells His Soul (October 8, 1995).
"Skinless in Seattle" is one of many classic “Itchy & Scratchy” mini-episodes. Scratchy stands at the Space Needle's base, lookin' for love (in his hands are a bouquet and a handwritten invitation: "Meet me at the Space Needle," with a heart drawn at its bottom). Itchy, having lured Scratchy to the Needle with the intent to kill him, drops a penny off the tower's top toward Scratchy, where it plunges deep into the ground just inches from the oblivious, lovelorn cat. The frustrated mouse then grabs a couple dozen mini Space Needle souvenir models and also drops them; they stab the ground like darts, forming a heart shape around Scratchy, who’s touched by the inadvertent gesture of love. Finally, Itchy saws through the Space Needle’s narrow mid-point, causing the top of the structure to topple and fall, its sharp antenna plunging into the cat's left eyeball... Side note: The Space Needle also serves as the basis of the Springfield Revolving Restaurant, where Principal Skinner takes Selma on a date. Skinner: "You know, food tastes better when you're revolving."

Das Bus (February 15, 1998).
Bill Gates visits Evergreen Terrace to acquire Homer's online business, CompuGlobalHyperMegaNet. The nerdy yet bullying Gates -- not actually voiced by Gates -- commands his henchmen, "Buy him out, boys!", and they obediently smash up Homer's little dining-room office... Side note: Starbucks, another Seattle-based corporate giant, figures into jokes in other episodes, usually referring to how its ubiquitous coffee shops are quickly permeating the globe.

Bonfire of the Manatees (September 11, 2005).
Homer gets involved in a football betting scam and winds up owing money to mobster Fat Tony. At one point, we see a final score flash on a TV screen: "Broncos 19, Seahawks 14." Boo... Side note: The unnamed football announcer heard in multiple episodes (catchphrase: "Whoa, doctor!") is based on Keith Jackson, longtime ABC college football announcer (catchphrase: "Whoa, Nellie!"). Jackson started out here before going national, including the play-by-play of Evel's August 20, 1974 jump in Toronto for Wide World of Sports.

So I'm excited about the movie -- I hope it amounts to more than an extended episode of the series, like many other TV-to-movie adaptations -- but I've increasingly felt over the last decade that, like this guy Steven: The Simpsons should retire.

Happy 64th, Mick!

Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger hits the big six-four today.

He's the second-oldest Stone.

Wow, 40-plus years in rock 'n' roll and still posing in front of brick walls... Unfortunately, he's more than qualified for the Hall of Douchebags.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hot Hell Ghost Rod Rider Drivers

2007 is shaping up to be a banner year for movies featuring Evel-inspired characters. To wit:

Ghost Rider.
A big-budget film based on the '70s Marvel Comics character, himself based on Evel. By day, motorcycle daredevil Johnny Blaze (Nicholas Cage) is the world's greatest stuntman; by night, due to a misguided deal with Satan, he becomes a badass, black-clad biker whose head turns into a flaming skull. The movie sucked on many levels, yet I couldn't help but dig it. I've since bought this, have had my eye on this, and come Halloween, I might be wearing this... Official site.

Ocean's Thirteen.
In this third installment in Steven Soderbergh's caper franchise, Don Cheadle reprises his role as Basher Tarr. This time 'round, Tarr disguises himself as "Fender Roads," an Evel-style Las Vegas motorcycle daredevil with a red-white-and-blue jumpsuit and an American flag on his tooth. Or so I've read -- I haven't seen the movie myself, and have no immediate plans to... Official site.

Hot Rod.
Andy "Dick in a Box" Samberg plays amateur daredevil Rod Kimble, whose stunts fail to impress his father, Ian "Cocksucker" McShane. (Vaguely related note: whenever Samberg's goofy face appears on my TV screen, I always think of Dan Savage's remark: "He could suck your dick sideways.") The trailer promises references to Gymkata, Project Grizzly and The Devil at Your Heels, and uses AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" -- just like Mariner closer J.J. Putz! We plan on seeing this one upon its August 3rd release... Official site.

Hell Drivers: America's Original Crash Test Dummies.
Last but not likely least is this upcoming documentary about stunt cyclists Doug Danger, Louis Re and "King Kong Knievel," as well as Crash Moreau and Rocky Hardcore, a couple of guys who specialize in smashing up garbage trucks, school buses and motorhomes (that's Crash in this here photo -- looking at his jacket, he apparently likes Ghost Rider too). Among those responsible is Boston Herald blogger Darren Garnick, who tipped me off to this project. Their trailer looks killer -- can't wait for the real deal.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

We Hardly Knew Ye: Tammy Faye Bakker

Tammy Faye Bakker died Friday at age 65.

I never much cared for her, yet I always found her amusing.

Go figure.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Happy 40th, Will!

Will Ferrell hit the big four-oh today...

I will not eat cat poop!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Eee-Chee-Ro, Yeah!

Not only was shit-hot Ichiro the MVP of tonight's All-Star Game -- 3-for-3, including an inside-the-AT&T- Park homer -- but more importantly, it appears he'll be a Mariner through 2012!

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Thunderstruck, Yeah!

Tomorrow night in San Francisco, Ichiro’ll will play in his seventh All-Star Game (and make his sixth start), while Mariner closer JJ Putz will make his first All-Star roster. Overall, in the 31 All-Star Games played during the 31 seasons of Mariner baseball, the franchise will have sent 33 different players to the midsummer classic... Here's my breakdown of every Mariner All-Star since 1977, which I'll update in its comments section following tomorrow's game.

BWT, AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" blares at Safeco Field whenever Putz comes in to close a game, while Usher's "Yeah!" often plays when Ichiro steps up to bat... And the cool Fisk/Parker/Luzinski sequence above comes from an ad in my program for the '79 All-Star Game, depicting action from the '77 game at Yankee Stadium.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Crossword Report: June '07

Haven't posted in a month of Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, etc. Loads of stuff going on both at work and at home, plus I've been out of town for a couple weeks -- how can I possibly be expected to keep up my white-hot crossword pace? It's already July 7, and I've yet to work on a single crossword this month...

Crosswords in Pop Culture:

Early in the movie Hot Fuzz -- which we saw last night -- the lead cop character checks into a hotel, where the woman at the desk is solving a cryptic crossword (it's a British film). She yells at him "fascist!", her answer to one of the clues. He responds with an answer to another clue, "hag!"

Crossword Report: January '07
Crossword Report: February '07
Crossword Report: March '07
Crossword Report: April '07
Crossword Report: May '07
Total crosswords solved in June 2007: 48
Total crosswords solved in 2007: 397
On pace to solve in 2007: 800