The Year 2010, With a Side of Avocado

Image courtesy of bttf.com

So this is the future, huh?

* sniff* I’m not impressed.  

Sure, I own a car.  It just doesn’t hover, is all.

Yes, I have a home.  Just ignore the fact that it lacks conveyor belts and automatic sliding doors.

I have pets.  They are of the molecular– not titanium steel– variety.  It seems a little archaic, but they are nonetheless quite lovable.  And none of them are named Astro.

I know it’s a bit early in the new year– hell, it’s only January– but isn’t 2010 the year we make contact?

Maybe, my expectations are too high.  Maybe, we’ve reached the summit of humankind’s capacity to evolve.  Or maybe, we’ve reached a saturation point in our intellectual curiosity.

I mean, who gives a sh*t about space travel when we can just Twitter each other about what we had for lunch.

Maybe that will be the theme of the 2010:  Instead of progress, let’s regress!

If we’ve reached the crescendo of human thought, why not start devolving back to our original single-celled form.  Life was so much easier as a protozoa, anyway.

Or maybe, we’ll take a ride down the nostalgia turnpike and revisit each decade in reverse order!

Let’s start with the 80’s, the decade of my misguided youth, where hitchhiking, driving without a seat belt and drinking from your neighbor’s hose was safe and acceptable behavior.

Ah yes, the 80’s.  Transformers were animated and not CG, Magic and Bird were in The Finals and Clear Pepsi was a viable drinking option.  *sigh*

Then we’ll revive the 70’s where first I was afraid I was petrified/ kept thinking I could never live without you by my side/ but I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong/ I grew strong/ I learned how to carry on and so you’re back from outer space/ I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face/ I should have changed my stupid lock/ I should have made you leave your key/ if I had known for just one second you’d be back to bother me.

But, I digress.

What about the sixties?  Where the courageous application of radical thoughts and ideas created a forward thinking momentum that would pave the way for this country to one day choose an African-American president.

Oh, and free love wasn’t bad, either.

So if 2010 is the future– and by every measure of Stanley Kubrick’s undeniable genius, all things indicate that it is– then I’m pretty disappointed.

In this age of information, it seems we know maybe too much about everything.  We have become calloused by our own knowledge; jaded by things that used to cause wonderment; unimpressed by the impressive.

In sum, dear reader, I submit to you that maybe the path to progress is to regress.

Collectively, we should reduce our perspective to that of a three-year old child, when we were enchanted by the world around us and were driven to discover more about it.  We should continue to be romanced by our universe.

Or, if that doesn’t strike your fancy, we can keep things as they are:  If anyone cares to know, I had a turkey sandwich for lunch.

With avocado.

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Trade Secrets Revealed

Houdini once shackled himself in chains, was submerged in a tank of water and escaped in less than a minute.

David Blaine took a stroll down the side of a skyscraper.

David Copperfield convinced that supermodel to marry him.

Impressive efforts, all three.

Read on, dear reader– I’ve done one better.

Be prepared to be astonished; brace yourself for the improbable; be ready to raise an eyebrow and say “damn.”

Behold, the greatest magic trick ever to be perpetrated on mankind:

I have watched an obscene amount of sports on TV this year and have managed to successfully stay married.

(Dramatic pause to let the certain tidal wave of  “oooohhhhs” and “aaaahhhhs” wash over this post).

The proprietors of Bacon Makes It Better can feel your skepticism.  We can sense your disbelief.  We are abundantly aware that despite popular sentiment, not everything you read on the internet is true.

But it is most certainly real.  I can tell you, in breathtaking detail, who has qualified for the NFL playoffs all while an engraved platinum band still rests on my finger.

Marriage and sports can coexist– and we are willing to share our trade secrets with you.

We have tested the method in our state of the art facility (my living room).  We have applied it generously under a variety of conditions (College Bowl Games, Pro Football, NCAA hoops, golf).  We have even adapted our system into a user-friendly format that we have named, during an epiphany of creative genius, the S.A.V.E. method.  It is an acronym for:

S is for set-up.

Possibly the most critical part of the process.  Without a proper set-up the best laid plans of mice and men would be smashed to bits.  Know the day and time of the game.  (NFL note:   Do not assume that your game is on Sunday.  The complex football schedule will squeeze games in on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Is it a local game or out of market?  Morning or afternoon)?

Know the schedule, understand the logistics involved, plan ahead.  Store this knowledge safely into the recesses of your brain, right next to what’s for dinner and don’t forget to take out the trash.

A is for Approach.

It’s go time.  With your knowledge of the schedule neatly tucked away plan which game you really want to see.  (Don’t get greedy!  You can’t see ’em all)!  Tell the wife, well in advance, that you plan on watching your chosen game.  Don’t dance around the subject– be direct.  She will appreciate your advance planning and will be impressed by your consideration of her time.

Tread lightly, dear reader, for timing is crucial.  If her favorite couple gets booted off of Dancing With The Stars or if those handbags she’s been keeping her eye on are no longer on sale, abort mission.  I repeat, abort mission!

V is for Value.

Help the wife to understand the importance of the game.    Tell her what’s at stake.  Will a champion be crowned?   Does an invite to the playoffs hang in the balance?  The more value attached to the game, the more likely it becomes that she will accept your need to be a captive audience member.

Remember, this is where salesmanship is at a premium.  Placing value on the game can cover a wide range of popular subjects:  Is a favorite actress of hers dating the star quarterback?  Plug it.  Isn’t that defensive end the guy from Dancing With The Stars?  Plug it.  Aren’t they playing in San Francisco, the city that she loves to visit?  Plug away.

Maybe you’ll even convince her to watch the game with you.  Hell, it just may be the start of an activity that you’ll share together.
This may not be such a bad alternative– just so long as you are able to see the action.

Note: At no time during the approach and value stage should you whine, snivel or pout.  When executed properly, you will advance to the final level…

E is for Enjoy the Game.

Spoil yourself with the fruits of your labor.  Kick up your feet.  Crank up the volume.  Guzzle a cold one.  You’ve done your due diligence, so watch your chosen game with the uninterrupted peace that you’ve created.

WarningBe certain that such behavior is not conducted within plain view of the wife.  Poor sportsmanship or excessive celebration may jeopardize future athletic viewership.

Suck, my life does not.

In summary, dear reader, the proprietors of Bacon Makes It Better implore you to try this battle-tested system, which has been made publicly available just in time for the NFL playoffs.    What have you got to lose?

It may just S.A.V.E. your marriage.

The proprietors of Bacon Makes It Better assumes no liability for the poor application or general misuse of the above described method. Results may vary. Actions outside of this method should be conducted at your own peril. May cause rash or irritation.  Discontinue use and call a doctor if symptoms persist. Use as directed.

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‘Tis The Season To Prove Your Manhood

O, what a tangled web we weave!

I’m all for gender equality.  I’m completely comfortable in a world where men wear pink and women sport blue; where women mow the lawn and men wash the dishes; where women crop their hair and men wear ponytails.

But even in a world as diverse and flexible as ours, there are certain activities that require a specific division of labor.  In my universe, there are things that I would not ask or expect my wife to do.

As liberal as I can be, I see it as my MANLY DUTY to perform the following list of tasks, no questions asked:

1.  Take out the trash.

2.  When in the car together, I drive.

These things have always been assumed; they are intrinsic to both of us.  We have never had a discussion about it, nor do I expect to have a discussion about it. They are automatic.  Simply, it is what a man does.

Well, dear reader, that short list of required man things just got a bit longer.  The list now reads:

1.  You still take out the trash.

2.  I don’t care how little sleep you’ve had, you are still driving.

AND

3.  Hang Holiday Lights on the House

The above words were my exact thoughts as I stood balanced at the top of a rickety expandable ladder, a tangled cord of holiday lights in one hand and a staple gun in the other.  That, and Shit!  Don’t look down… just concentrate on what you are doing… what a great post this would make… don’t look down…

From my vantage point, my wife looked like a miniature version of herself at the top of the driveway, blanket over her shoulders, nursing a hot mug of coffee.  She watched me defy gravity, risking life and limb for the entertainment of the entire neighborhood.

“Damn, it’s cold out here,” she said as she disappeared back into the house, leaving me during the pinnacle of my life and death struggle.

All in the name of holiday cheer.

I called down to my brother-in-law, who was holding the base of the ladder.

“My life is in your hands.”  He didn’t answer right away, which made me wonder if he took my words as the statement that it was, or a direction.

The ladder shook.

*   *   *

Back on Earth, with the ground firmly beneath me, I looked up at the house to admire the final outcome:  Not quite the Griswold’s, but a noble effort nonetheless.  Our lights burned into the night, boasting to the rest of the community of the holiday spirit that lived within.

A neighbor down the street, in the process of hanging his own lights, nodded his approval at me.  Our next door neighbor called over at me.  “I’ve got to do that tomorrow,”  he said.  “I leave for a business trip next week, so I promised the wife that I’d hang our lights before I flew out.”

“That’s what we do,”  I called back, meaning, that is our manly duty.

He caught my drift.  “It’s what we do,” he echoed before driving off to the store to stock up on his own holiday lights.

Satisfied, I strolled into the house, logged on to the laptop and started this post.

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The Ten Greatest Cinematic Collaborations of All-Time

Here’s a Top Ten list for you to chew on, dear reader:

As 2009 draws to a close, the chic thing to do is to create a Top Ten list for the decade.  Here at Bacon Makes It Better, we are more concerned with the larger scope of things;  how about an all-time list about one of our favorite subjects?  Hoo-ray for cinema!

No other artistic medium requires more collaboration than cinema.  Where an author needs only a pen and a page (and a good agent), a filmmaker enlists the efforts of a small army:  writers for a script, a cinematographer for his visuals, a production assistant to fetch his BLT, etc.

In the process of making movies, no other relationship is more critical than the director and his lead actor.  Most times, the relationship is merely a working arrangement.   For the duration of the shoot, the director and his lead talent merely co-exist.  They tolerate each others’ egos with the comforting knowledge that after six more weeks of shooting, they’ll be vacationing at separate Caribbean destinations.

Other times, the relationship becomes volatile; like the time that George Clooney and Director David O. Russell got into a fist fight on the set of Three Kings.

But sometimes– and this is more the exception than the rule– great miracles occur.

Cinema history is full of these wonderful moments when space and time grind to a resounding halt; when the cosmos aligns perfectly to allow a director and his lead actor to produce an amazing movie with an unforgettable performance.  And when the chemistry is good, the final product shows.  Lucky for us– the movie-going fan– when a director finds this connection, he usually works with the lead actor again.  The result is a series of work that defines careers and elevates reputations to legendary status.

That is the service of this post; to recognize the Top 10 All-Time Cinematic Collaborations between a Director and a Lead Actor:

10.  John Woo & Chow Yun Fat (A Better Tomorrow, A Better Tomorrow II, Hard Boiled, The Killer)

Woo created the template for the modern action film.  The requisite ingredient?  An unapologetic, bad ass male lead.  Chow Yun Fat was that guy.  Who knew bullets and blood in hyper slow-mo could be so beautiful?

9.  Frank Capra & James Stewart (Mr. Deeds Goes To Washington, It’s A Wonderful Life, You Can’t Take It With You)

Capra had a knack for stories about the principled, every-day man overcoming long odds.  Stewart was the man who made us believe, even when all hope seemed lost.  Together, they combined for such classics as It’s A Wonderful Life and Mr. Deeds Goes To Washington.  The filibuster scene in Mr. Deeds validates their position on this list.

8.  Spike Lee & Denzel Washington (Mo’ Betta Blues, He Got Game, Malcolm X)

Before Washington became seduced by the action blockbuster genre, he made some really great movies!  Under Lee’s actor-friendly direction, Washington’s performances flourished.  Malcolm X is the best work of either artist.

7.  Elia Kazan & Marlon Brando (A Streetcar Named Desire, Viva Zapata!, On The Waterfront)

Post World War II movie audiences universally rejected the idealism that popularized the musicals and comedies of earlier times.  They craved qualities in movies that were more identifiable to their daily struggles.  Kazan and Brando collaborated to provide the grit and realism they sought.  And in the process, the two artists pushed cinema into a brave new direction.

6.  Woody Allen & Diane Keaton (Annie Hall, Manhattan, Interiors, Play It Again, Sam, Love And Death, Sleeper, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Radio Days)

It still seems that after all these years– and a thousand movies later– Allen is still trying to recapture the magic of his earlier successes.  The same can be said of Keaton.  And why not?  The chemistry of these two talents working in the same movie is a delight to behold.  Every romantic comedy made after 1979– to a greater or lesser degree– has a bit of Annie Hall in it.

5. Billy Wider & Jack Lemmon (Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Erma La Douce, Avanti!)

Watching these two cinematic luminaries collaborate was like watching Magic dish to Kareem, McMahon feed Carson or Robin carry Batman’s utility belt.

4.  Francis Ford Coppola & Al Pacino (The Godfather; The Godfather, Part II;  The Godfather, Part III)

Proof that even the most combustible of relationships can yield high quality cinema.  Coppola and Pacino may have teamed up only three times for one role– but what a role it was!  Without Michael Corleone there is no modern mobster genre.  Tony Soprano had better kneel down and start kissing ring fingers.

3.  Tim Burton & Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, The Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

A bold visual style and fearless acting.  When combined, as in the case of Burton and Depp, the results can be both haunting and memorable.  Actors give their best performance when they are free from constraints.  Burton provides the environment for Depp’s talent to roam free.

2.  Akira Kurosawa & Toshiro Mifune (Yojimbo, Sichinin no Samurai, Rashomon)

Only Mifune– with his silent restraint or his over-the-top Kabuki style– could project the meticulous vision of Kurosawa, the undisputed sinsei of cinema.  Said the great Kurosawa of Mifune, “I am proud of nothing I have done other than with him.”

1.  Martin Scorsese & Robert DeNiro (Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, King Of Comedy, Casino)

Their careers followed the same arc; first as struggling amateurs, then as rising stars, appropriately as Oscar winners, ultimately as the greatest creative force to collaborate in cinema.  Always trusting each other, never compromising on passion and intensity.  Nine times they have worked together; each film an undeniable classic.

Just Missed The Cut:

John Hughes & Molly Ringwald (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink)

Joel and Ethan Coen & John Goodman (Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, O Brother, Where Art Thou?)

Orson Welles & Himself (Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil)

Agree?  Disagree?  Agree to disagree?  Tell me about it!

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Obligatory Thanksgiving Post

Let’s demystify Thanksgiving with an amazing array of facts:

1. In a gesture to commemorate the safe passage across the Atlantic the year prior and to give spiritual thanks for surviving one year on the new continent, the Pilgrims celebrated with a feast in the autumn of 1621.

2. The Wamponoag Indians forged a friendship with the Pilgrims; teaching the Europeans how to cultivate and live off the land.  Pilgrim Governor William Bradford  shows his appreciation by inviting the Wamponoag to their celebration.

The Indians RSVP immediately, arrived early and stayed late.

3. The original Thanksgiving feast lasted three days.  The feast ceased to become known as a celebration and officially became a part-tay!

There were no leftovers.

4. The Pilgrims supplied the beer.  (The proprietors of Bacon Makes It Better have decided to refrain from inserting a culturally insensitive joke at this time).

5. President George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving Day Proclamation 1789, and later, in 1795.

6. In 1817, the state of New York officially made Thanksgiving into an annual custom.

7. Abraham Lincoln, not to be outdone by Washington, issued his own Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in 1863.  This officially set aside the last Thursday of November as a National Holiday for Thanksgiving.

8. Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the Thanksgiving holiday to the THIRD Thursday of November in an effort to expand the Christmas shopping season and do some economic stimulation.  Congress has since moved the holiday back to Lincoln’s proclamation.

9. The Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October.  They then emigrate to the US and celebrate OUR Thanksgiving, too.  This is a blatant double-dipping of partying.  Sneaky, Canucks.

10. Benjamin Franklin lobbied for the turkey to be the national bird of the United States.  He was ardently opposed by Thomas Jefferson.  It is believed that Franklin perpetuated the term “tom” when referring to a male turkey, a stealthy rebuttal to Jefferson’s opposition.  The term still exists today.

11. Almost 88% of Americans said that they eat turkey during Thanksgiving.  It has been estimated that 46 million turkeys– one-fifth of the annual consumption total– are eaten during Thanksgiving.

Made you look!

12. Cranberries are one of three fruits that are completely indigenous to American soil.  The blueberry and the Concord grape are the others.

Cap’n Crunch Berries, while unique to the US, do not count.

13. The Detroit Lions have played a football game during every Thanksgiving since 1934 (except during World War II).  The first televised “Turkey Bowl” game was in 1956.

14. It is estimated that 38.7 million Americans will travel 50 miles or greater from home during the Thanksgiving holiday.

15. Now go out and share your gluttony of new found knowledge to your friends and relatives during Thanksgiving!

Happy Turkey Day!

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The ‘State of the Blog’ Address

Sez Me Street

2009 milestones:

Sesame Street turns 40.

The Berlin Wall came down 20 years ago.

Bacon Makes It Better receives its 3ooth visit.

It’s been said that maintaining a blog is a lot like a visit to the Grand Canyon; you shout your viewpoint into the open abyss, hoping for an intelligent reply, but the only thing you get in return is the sound of your own voice.

It is an apt comparison.

The proprietors of Bacon Makes It Better understand this frustration.  The daily ritual of checking the Blog Stats on the Dashboard can feel like studying the charts of a cardiac arrest victim.  My graphs would flatline for what seemed miles, taunting me in every measure, like a visual model of my own lifeless writing career.

I started to think maybe, I should just give up this blogging thing. My ‘fight or flight’ instinct was leaning towards the latter.

Then something funny happened.

Someone– other than my wife– actually read my blog!  Days later another poor soul stumbled upon my site.  Then another.  And another.  Soon, comments appeared and asked for my moderation.

If being an artist means that you’re able to provoke an emotional response with your chosen medium– my blog posts, in this case– then mission accomplished.  I’m ready to get all bohemian, start shopping for ascots and chop off my ear in the name of art.

But I’m not quite finished yet.  There’s still so much to write about; I feel like I’m just getting warmed up.

In this special edition post, I’d like to recognize the key moments in the short lifespan of Bacon Makes It Better:

Most popular post

1st Place- Pick a Team, Any Team.

2nd Place- Deja Vu All Over Again Or:  How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Accept The Yankees.

Most Controversial Post- Flower Power.  It’s all in good fun honey.  Honey?

First Ever Comment- Wretcheddollface about Magic In a Bottle.

Favorite Comment (Tie)- Shoutsfromtheabyss about The Obligatory Holloween Post:  An Open Letter to the Trick or Treaters in my ‘Hood.

Most Honored Guest- Donald Mills from Crabbyoldfart.

Most Frequent Visitor- Olympus Monz.

Favorite Accidental Visitor- The person who did a google search for “How do you say ‘trick or treat’ in Swedish.”  This search brought them to this post.  Hope you found what you were looking for.

Favorite Tag That Generated Traffic- R. Kelly tag for An Open Letter To The Swiss:  First You Poke Holes In My Cheese, Now This? Not quite what you expected, huh?

Best Avatar- The Burger King Head from Chappy81 aka Doin’ Work.

Most Bitter Comment- LuisJPena regarding Angel Baseball Fans on Deja Vu All Over Again Or:  How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Accept The Yankees.

Personal Favorite All-Time Post- Greetings From Antarctica:  An Open Letter To The International Olympic Committee.

Thanks, for making Bacon Makes It Better the runaway success that it is!

All ten of you.

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The Box: A Telepathic Movie Review

Dude, where's my career?

telepathy:  (Greek origin)  The sympathetic affection of one mind by the thoughts, feelings or emotions of another at a distance, without communicating through the normal channels of sensation.

In my high school days, The Book of Questions was a sensation.  The book confronted the reader with an endless stream of questions that challenged one’s moral judgment and ethical make-up.

The questions in the book were usually phrased in such a manner, or some approximation, to the following:  If you had the ability to kill a complete stranger in a unique manner– like say, pressing a red button on a mystical box–  in exchange for a million dollars, would you do it?

My buddies and I would gather ’round and pose these questions to each other; our responses were dissected and laid bare for all to criticize.

Controlled substances were optional.

It was a great way to pass the time and delude ourselves into believing we were complex and sophisticated thinkers.

Little did I know that in 2009, popular culture would try to pull that sh*t on me again, this time in the form of the movie called “The Box.”

Disclaimer:  I have not seen the movie “THE BOX”, nor do I have any desire to see it.  I have no affiliation or vested interest in the success or failure of this movie. See * page of this blog.  Nonetheless, I will review this movie with a wink and a hunch.

Five years down the road when I’m having trouble sleeping at 2 in the morning for whatever reason and the only other viewing alternative is some Tyler Perry suckfest on TBS or the late local news and a Seinfeld re-run is a half-hour away.  I have just described the only conditions where I might see any glimpse of this atrocious excuse for a movie called “The Box.”

Spoiler alert!  Do not attempt to read any further!  Spoiler alert!

1. It’s a flimsy star vehicle. They tried to seduce us by casting Cameron Diaz to salvage this mess.  Her career trajectory hasn’t exactly been upwardly mobile these days.  The producers could have found better insurance from that talking lizard.

2. The first twenty minutes of the movie is devoted to boring characterization scenes.  In order for the movie to function we have to buy into the notion that the main character is totally sympathetic and completely redemptive.  Again, Cameron Diaz as insurance.

3. Be prepared for Cameron Diaz in impeccable make-up, soft fill lighting with plenty of obnoxious close-ups as the director has proactively shot the movie in a user friendly film ratio to aid the inevitable data transfer from big screen to TV screen.

4. Despite the seemingly insurmountable moral dilemma that the trailer is projecting, Cameron Diaz will press the red button in the box.  Of course she does.

5. The person that will die as a result of her pressing the red button in the box will have eventual implications on her life.  The only suspense here is if the audience will still be awake or coherent enough to find out.

Let’s recap:

The movie “The Box.”  Why bother?

Here at Bacon Makes It Better, we don’t just rant, we offer solutions, too:

Top Five Things To Do Instead of Paying Good Money To See “The Box”

5. Clean out storm drains.

4. Visit your dentist.

3. Watch something else.  Anything else.

2. Go to the DMV.

1. Stab your eyes out with a rusty screwdriver.

Look!  I’m a film critic/ movie going consultant!

That’ll be $8.50, please.

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