Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Capital Time Indeed

I love weddings.  Going to a wedding is like a chance to steep yourself in undiluted happiness for a day.  Unless the event royally sucks, odds are you'll come away feeling better than you did going in.  With Purdue pals Laurie and Jonathan slated to get hitched last weekend, my sometimes popular wife and I teamed up with with good friend/semi-sister Spronk, loaded up Spronk's tricked-out V-12, 310 horsepower Honda Civic (with optional flamethrower), and, anticipating a capital time in the Tarheel State, tore up the 500 miles of highway that lay between West Lafayette, Indiana and Banner Elk, North Carolina.

Never heard of Banner Elk?  Neither had we, and we're still trying to figure out why they chose this godforsaken wasteland to celebrate what was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives:

In spite of the post-apocalyptic setting, the proceedings came off with nary a hiccup--no flubbed lines and no runaway bride.  Nuptials exchanged, the love-drenched ceremony was followed by a spectacular repast.  I'll admit I was wary.  Wedding cuisine too often wavers between the 'marginally edible' to the 'unrecognizable as food.'  I suppose everyone would have commented on how good the grub was if we weren't so busy stuffing it into our gluttonous maws.  And I really appreciated how the wine and beer flowed in quantities unrestrained.  The beer was locally crafted and especially delicious.  I wish I could tell you all the name of the brewery, but, true to form, I drank too much to remember.

Random dudes
Dinner was followed by dancing, affording bride and groom the chance to shake their respective 'things' while being showered by a truly Welkian display of bubble blowing.

A lifelong phylatophobe, Jonathan used love to overcome his crippling fear of bubbles

The Purdue cohort, sans bubbles, groom and random dudes
Things really got cooking when the newlyweds, perhaps in an amorous state of delirium, started chucking handfuls of money at their guests.  I was lucky enough to catch a 'garter' constructed of neatly folded fifty dollar bills, which I wrested away from a young pack of toughs in a superior display of athleticism.  Behold what remains of the wad:

Not sure how that Washington got in there.
As the festivities were winding down, the young couple took its leave of us, bound perhaps for a tropical getaway in some lover's paradise.  That's when the night took a strange and fortuitous turn.  Fellow revelers Jess and Rick invited us to their mountaintop lodgings to hit the bar, catch the band and cap off the night in the time honored tradition.  After careening down one winding road and up another we found ourselves in the convivial confines of the Jackalope's View.  In what I assumed was an alcohol fueled hallucination, I spied an old cross-country teammate from my early years at Firestone High School.  This seemed a longshot at best, and yet I couldn't shake it: there Kim was, unchanged after nearly 20 years.  And yet, how could it be?  Still skeptical, I hatched a plan.  Hearing through the grapevine (facebook) that she had in recent years become immersed in the dissolute subculture that is bass playing, I made a bold declaration to my comrades: If the young gal with the curly hair picks up the bass, we went to high school together.

Not five minutes later, Rick sounded the alarm: 'She's picking up the bass!

Yes, life is nuts.  Sheepishly, I approached the stage and identified myself.  Kim, who, in spite of being older, cooler and generally superior to me in high school, never seemed to mind dorking up her car by giving me rides home from practice.  Gracious as ever, we exchanged a hug...

...and after brief introduction to my sometimes popular wife, the band launched into a delightful set.  Thanks to all of them for putting up with our incessant requests.

Well, all things must end and so we said our goodbyes.  Not long after, the Spronkmobile was roaring back toward our humble accommodations at the Banner Elk Ritz.  I peeled a fifty from the garter and instructed a pimply valet to 'take good care of her.'  The three of us nestled into our beds and took a moment to appraise the festivities and marvel at the unlikelihoods that make life delightful.  We were unanimous: it had been a capital time indeed.

Laurie and Jonathan: a long and happy union to you! We are only too happy to stamp your marriage with the McBone Seal of Approval: McB.  Thanks for the invite!

Kim: it really was awesome catching up with you.  May we meet again in Akron someday soon!

nwb

Photos courtesy of Jess!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Attention 99.8% of Americans

For the past two years, Republicans in congress have worked only to scuttle and weaken any reform meant to help the vast majority of Americans.  

They don't care about you.

They don't want to care about you.

Do not support them.

Vote Democrat.


nwb

Monday, October 25, 2010

McBone Mini-Reviews; The McBone Week in Movies

Babies - The concept of the French documentary film Babies is total genius.  A filmmaking crew led by director Thomas Balmès follows four children chosen from four corners of the globe through the first year of their respective lives.  For 80 minutes we see how different cultures feed, wash, play with and generally raise their children.  The families in question hail from San Francisco, Tokyo, Mongolia and Namibia.  With no narration, Balmès makes a wise choice in letting the babies tell their own stories.  You'll be amazed by how articulate they are.

Unfortunately, the film comes with a built-in disadvantage.  Most viewers will be at least somewhat familiar with the largely westernized lifestyles of the San Francisco and Tokyo families.  Not so with the agrarian Mongolians and the tribal Namibians, both of whom far outshine their American and Japanese counterparts.  We've all seen a kid playing in a metropolitan park before.  Few of us have seen a Namibian mother use her knee to wipe her child's ass and then clean the knee with a corn cob.  That's how this African mom rolls in her village, where there is no toilet and sure as hell no toilet paper.  Indeed, I found myself longing with great impatience to spend the majority of my time in sub-Saharan Africa, and in Mongolia, where the goats amble up to drink from the baby's bathwater.  As the film progresses, you can feel the same longing from Balmès, who can't help but revel in the unfamiliar displays of humanity.  For a documentary that is one half a revelation, one half a letdown and 100 percent well conceived, I say that Babies deserves: 3.5 McBones

nwb

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Meet the New Governor of McBone

As a karate expert (and former resident of New York City), I'm with Mr. McMillan when he tells us:



Maybe he won't win in New York, but Jimmy McMillan has been officially elected Governor of McBone.

nwb

Monday, October 18, 2010

McBone Mini-Reviews; The McBone Week in Movies

Easy A: For me, high school was an unbearable hell filled with goblins, imps and, scariest of all, girls.  I doubt I was ever popular enough to merit a rumor of my own, but I certainly remember how something told in confidence had a way of coming back to kick you in the crotch.  I guess that's why I liked Easy A so much, which distills the worst that high school has to offer--pettiness, grudges, cliques and douchebags desperate to get their rocks off--into a 92 minute entertainment.

Easy A treats of good girl Olive who, through a misunderstanding with her bff, is believed to have lost her virginity during a weekend getaway.  The school's resident Jesus freak gets wind of the indiscretion and soon cellphones are ablaze with gossip.  Texts start flying and, in a matter of milliseconds, everyone knows.  That includes classmate Brandon, bullied into depression for his homosexuality.  Brandon begs Olive to free him from this torture by pretending to have sex with him.  She does, and soon every outcast in school is vying for her unique services.  Olive's popularity soars, but at what price?  Soon she's flaunting a big scarlet A that she stitches onto an increasingly skimpy wardrobe.

Recent events surrounding the fallout from bullying makes Easy A a timely story.  Our hunger for John Hughes-style high school dramedy should get people to the theater.  Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci excel as Olive's parents, and look out for Malcolm 'Little Alex' McDowell as the unsympathetic, slightly belligerent principal.  Most of all, this is Emma Stone's coming out party.  Smart, sardonic and whisky-voiced in the tradition of Hollywood's most sultry icons, she takes this role and runs.  As good as she was in Zombieland, her turn as a latter-day Hester Prynne is one she deserves to be remembered for.  3.5 McBones

Also seen

The Gleaners and I: My sometimes popular wife named her website after Agnes Varda for a good reason: the woman is a genius.  As much as I loved Cleo from 5 to 7 and was blown away by Vagabond, The Gleaners and I has raised the Varda bar to a new level.  In this documentary/meditation, Varda takes us through the history of gleaning in France, a once respected way of gathering every last trace of a harvest that is now generally seen as the work of outcasts, vagrants and the most downtrodden.  Varda travels across France to meet those who comb fields, sometimes legally, sometimes not, in search of potatoes, tomatoes, grapes and whatever else would otherwise go to waste.  In her journey she meets those who glean not just for survival, but for the sake of art, pleasure or simply as a way of life.  In The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck made us aware of the tragedy of hunger in the face of bounty.  Here Varda, a first rate gleaner in her own rite, documents it in real life through the quirky lens of her inimitable vision.  5.0 McBonesThe Gleaners and I is an official McBone Must-See

The Bond Project: My sometimes popular wife and I will be watching the James Bond movies in chronological order and offering succinct yet cutting edge insight into the evolving world of 007.

Dr. No

N: Goes to great lengths to tell us that the height of human civilization is the white English male.  Otherwise, this is a veritable orgy of firsts: first Bond girl, first 'Bond. James Bond,' first vodka martini, first Walther PPK. Most importantly, we get our first glimpse of perhaps the most inspired bit of casting ever: Sean Connery as 007. Mix a superb villain into the cocktail and you get a killer debut for one of the great franchises. 4.0 McBones

A: It's much more of a racist and sexist nightmare than I remembered.  I had no idea what was going on with the technological drama were were supposed to be following, but Sean Connery is still very charming and it's quite fascinating as a document of the era's fears, aesthetics and camp.  2.5 McBones

nwb

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

They Don't Deserve It

In the midterm elections of 2006 and again in 2008, America fired the Republican party.  There was a reason for that: Republicans had spent damned near a decade laying waste to everything.  Subsequently, the Democrats earned round and sweeping victories in the most unlikely of places.  The Republicans had fucked up so royally that even that infamous move of hypocritical genius/lunacy--vetting Palin--proved utterly futile.  Americans were energized, open minded and too smart to fall for it.

How can it be then, a mere two years into this thing, when the minority party has instituted a knee jerk policy of opposing the president at every turn, when that same party was dead and buried under 8 years of incompetence, belligerence and cynicism, that the Repubs are back in the game?  McBone understands why you may be frustrated with the Democrats.  Honestly, I'm not crazy about them either.  But if you think the solution to the nation's problems is putting the elephants back in power, please take a moment to revisit the gallery of horrors that was 2000-2008.  Trust me, the GOP is counting on the average American voter to be so deficient in memory and so devoid of nuanced thought that they will bank on the tried and true platitudes, fueled by some timely Tea Party mouth foaming, to get them back in power:

Taxes = bad!  Incidentally, Obama and the Democrats are responsible for some of the largest tax cuts in the history of the country, but never mind that for a moment.  Consider instead that the United States is an expensive country to operate and maintain.  This ain't the US of the 1770s, when there were roughly as many citizens as live today in the greater Cleveland area.  We like to consider ourselves the biggest and the best, and yet, and yet, we have neither the world's best interstate highway system, nor the best public education, nor the longest life expectancy, nor the best literacy rate, nor the best health care.  You wanna be the best?  You'd better be willing to pony up for the general good.  

Big government = bad!  In spite of their rhetoric, Republicans will NEVER shrink the size of the federal government, because doing so would be their ruination.  Sorry, but it's true.

Please do not buy into the bullshit.  Do not follow the ones demanding to see Obama's birth certificate or those who slip the word socialism into every political conversation.  Turn away from any who would rather dissolve the Dept of Education than slice into defense spending.  Turn a deaf ear to those who claim gays and Mexicans are a threat to our way of life.  Ignore anyone who still believes death panels are a legitimate component of the health care bill.

And for mercy's sake, if you see a misspelled mess like this, run, run, run away!

Unless you feel they have earned your support, vote liberal this November.

nwb

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LAKE ERIE MONSTERS 2-0

Stand up Cleveland and recognize the only undefeated team in town: The Lake Erie Monsters.  2-0 start and opened up in front of over 12,000 for opening night last Friday.  The largest opening night crowd in the entire American Hockey League over the weekend.

Great game, throw back night honoring the Cleveland Barons, fantastic fan support, and it was highlighted by our enforcer taking out two players in a 90 second span - take a look.


GO MONSTERS!

jab

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How I Like My...

Coffee: black

Whisky: straight

Martinis: dry

Steaks: bloody

Cigarettes: lit

Guns: loaded

Rivals: dead

Nights: hot

Dames: smoking


nwb

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Reason #94 to Love Cleveland Sports: Don Mossi

Don Mossi was 25 years old when he joined the Cleveland Indians in the remarkable summer of 1954.  Understand that it was no small feat for a rookie pitcher to crack a staff boasting future Hall of Famers Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Early Wynn and Hal Newhouser, not to mention all stars Mike Garcia, Ray Narleski and Art Houtteman.  Riding that ridiculous collection of arms, the team won a then AL record 111 games to run away with the pennant.  Things didn't go so hot against the Giants that October, but I'm in a good mood so let's not go there just now.

For his part, all "The Sphinx" contributed in 40 games out of the bullpen was a 6-1 record with a team best 1.94 ERA.  Over a 12 year career as both a starter and relief pitcher, Mossi compiled a respectable 101-80 record.  He was a very good, at times superb southpaw who would get an all star nod 1957.  In other words, he had exactly the kind of career that is doomed to be forgotten.

But McBone celebrates Don Mossi not simply because of his significant tour as a Cleveland Indian, but because there has never, ever been a player, before or since, who looked like this:

Don Mossi was not a handsome ballplayer, even by baseball's lowly standards.  His face was an amalgam of ill-fitting parts, none meant to pair with the others.  Part Alfred E. Neuman, part Nosferatu, he made Yogi Berra seem devilishly handsome by comparison. 

But ears is where Mossi stands alone, unmatched in breadth until the end of time:

Just look those beauties.  I love how he never wore too big a cap in a lame attempt to hide his genetic gifts.  If anything, his hats were on the smallish side:

Indeed it is impossible to post too many pictures of them, even bedecked in Tigers/cowboy regalia:

Giant, sprawling, majestic.  No doubt his childhood was a misery of taunting and derision.  Probably his adulthood was too.  Undaunted, Don Mossi, rose above the name calling.  I imagine today he may even be thankful for those ears.  They, not his arm, not his record, are his ticket to immortality.

nwb

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The McBone Beer Journal; Mothership Wit

In case you somehow missed it, the New Belgium Brewing Company is a McBone favorite.  That their products are gradually creeping east of the Mississippi is good news for those who have never experienced the fine line of brews from the good folks toiling away daily in Fort Collins, CO.  Yes, there is much to be said for successful, small scale breweries with limited distribution, but a brewery as dynamic and as fine as New Belgium, one with a philosophy that stretches beyond moving as many units as possible, deserves far flung success.



I was on the verge of selecting one of my preferred varieties when I spied, crammed unceremoniously into the bottom shelf at my local bottle shoppe, one I had yet to try: Mothership Wit.  The brew advertises itself on a vaguely seventies-looking label as an 'organic wheat beer brewed with spices.'  I loved the name immediately and how it conjures both the inevitable future when alien overlords descend from their mothership to visit doom upon our pathetic blue planet, and the past, when honest-to-goodness Belgians began crafting the wit or 'white' or 'wheat' ales that would become a hallmark of Belgian brewing in the middle ages ('dark' ages indeed!).  McBone is 100% totally pro organic, but I was already willing to exchange nine of my hard earned dollars for a sixer and give 'er, as the kids say, 'a go.'

Let me preface this with an embarrassing admission: Belgian wit beer is not my favorite style, particularly those brewed up on this side of the Atlantic.  Too often they are infused with so much spice that they become obnoxious and cloying, so that my palate is tired by the time the bottle is empty.  But that's my issue, and, since New Belgium has my complete trust, it was with a feeling not unlike love that I popped the cap off my first Mothership.

Big score immediately for the ample layer of yeast sitting on the bottom of the bottle, worthy of one McBone right there, and props for illustrating on the label how to get every last little yeast cell into your glass.  The pour produces a slightly creamy head that vanishes quickly, leaving behind a cloudy mugful of the palest golden hue.  A nasal inhalation detects the expected citrusy/spicy notes.  Then comes an aggressive gulp and swallow and drumroll please...

Now, I'm not saying you should renounce the name New Belgium and replace it with New Milwaukee, but honestly ladies and gentleman, you can do better by the Old World.  Yes, there is lemon and orange zest.  Coriander?  Not much.  These are the standard flavors of a wit, and as a wit, this is a substandard entry.  I know that I was just griping about overzealous witmakers, but give me a little more than this, Mothership!  The taste is clean, brisk and refreshing.  That's great.  The beer was made with the best intentions to be sure, but my overarching evaluation would have to be, and it pains me to say it, watery.  Then again, I'm reaching for another bottle right now, so maybe don't listen to me when it comes to wits.  3.0 McBones

nwb

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Downside of Playing God

In the aftermath of an experiment gone horribly wrong, my brother-in-law is condemned to wander the aisles of a supermarket chain, perhaps in the hope that some sympathetic customer will spirit him home, unscrew him and spoon his creamy insides into a bowl of canned tuna.

Though the cognitive power of an egg and oil-based brain remains unknown, this attempt to wrest the camera from a curious shopper may be linked to a recollection, however faint, of his former life as a prominent nature photographer:

If you should chance upon him and his one gallon (128 fl. oz.) head, please do not to laugh.  Try not to point and do your best not to stare.  Repulsive he may be, but this sad creature is not unfeeling.  He deserves our pity, and our hearts go out to his family.

With an expiration date reading FEB 14 11, my brother-in-law has but to endure a few months more as part man, part mayonnaise.  Nay, do not refrigerate!, lest you prolong this lonely and emulsified form of torment.

nwb

Monday, October 4, 2010

McBone Mini-Reviews; The McBone Week in Movies

Friday - Touted as a bizarro Boyz in the Hood, Friday is actually three movies rolled into one big fat doobie.  What begins as an amusing go-nowhere comedy about smoking weed on a lazy Friday suddenly becomes a High Noon-inspired race against the clock when our two heroes Craig (Ice Cube) and Smokey (Chris Tucker) are ordered to deliver the local drug dealer 300 dollars by 10 PM or face getting 'dealt with.'  Another swing brings us home with a coming of age story when Craig faces a tough decision: whether to use his fists or his firearm in dispatching the neighborhood bully.  Annoying fat and fart jokes abound, but Friday overcomes its infantile leanings to deliver a smart comedy loaded with classic characters (notably Tiny Lister as hulking, villainous Deebo) and an important condemnation of the gun violence that plagues many black neighborhoods in LA.  4.0 McBones

Serenity - Summer Glau is a refugee telepath on the run from a government assassin.  She's also mentally unstable and prone to fits of deadly violence.  What makes her so compelling that a crew of misfits would risk almost certain doom in transporting her across the galaxy?  I was told I needed to watch the TV series Firefly for this Joss Whedon flick to make any sense.  I didn't, and I had a hell of a good time anyway.  Jaunty, jokey and imaginative, this sci-fi romp steals from Star Wars, Star Trek and zombie movies in the best ways possible.  Though the acting is roundly bad (Chiwetel Ejiofor, cool and menacing, is a notable exception) and the cgi cheesy as hell, Serenity shows us how a great story (and an ass-kicking young woman) trumps all.  3.5 McBones

Let Me In - Speaking of women kicking ass, Chloe Grace Moretz knocked it out of the park as Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass, and she's at it again as a 12-year-old vampire in an adept yet pointless remake of a genuine modern masterpiece.  Director Matt Reeves treats his material with an artist's touch, but don't dilute your experience with the vastly superior original by watching this first.  3.5 McBones

nwb