Sunday, March 6, 2011

Taking On Jersey City

Hey all,
       It's your favorite Rambling man (yes I realize I am neither Hank Williams or a member of the Allman Brothers band) back to verbally abuse the "interweb" as only I can. My words can often go off on tangents and I wouldn't have it any other way, but for today's ramble I'm gonna do my best to stay a little more focused on the topic at hand. What's the topic you ask? (I thought I explained in the Red Hulk blog that I don't like questions?)Well I'm about to tell you.
       I decided to take some of my precious free time this evening and watch the new animal planet show "Taking on Tyson". Now before I even start, let me just say, I hate reality TV. I find 99.9% (there's always one or two diamonds in the rough.... Season 1 of the Joe Schmo show from 2003, I'm looking at you) of it detestable and the reason that pretty much any insightful, thought provoking, serialized show (that is not based on some sort of crime scene investigation) simply cannot survive nowadays. Now despite all this pent up rage towards reality TV, I still wanted to see the show. There were two main reasons for this: First, I find Mike Tyson interesting. His story throughout the years despite all the controversy has been one of a tortured soul striving to make it through life and his appeal is evident anytime he steps in front of a camera. The second reason (and much more of the selling point for me) is that a huge portion of this show was shot in Jersey City, N.J (J.C.)., MY HOME TOWN! Finally I could see a story told from inside the walls of the place I grew up. Mike's pigeon coup is a few blocks from my house and I know the scenery of the show like the back of my hand. I could not wait to enjoy a good Jersey City story that did'nt have to pretend it was shot in NYC. But unfortunately that is exactly what I was given.
       I took a few notes (I know, I'm neurotic) while watching the show once I realized that it was clearly no love letter to J.C. Here's some of the stats I came up with :
                        -  at least 1 shot of the Empire state buliding
                        - 1 shot of the Statue of Liberty
                        - at least 10 references to New York(not counting signs), Brownsville,Brooklyn & the Bronx
                        - 2 references to Hoboken
                        - 1 to Lyndhurst
                        - 2 to NJ in general
                        - even one to Carlisle PA!

So with all this you can imagine that a show that was shot mostly in Jersey city would reference it several times in the episode, but nope, NOT ONE mention of J.C.(there was a brief 1/2 second shot of a sign in the background on Tonnelle Ave. that had the words "Jersey City" on it but I only noticed it when pausing the DVR to check)!
         I cant lie, it stung a bit. There was even a point where I had all but given up, only to be tricked into false hope when I saw on overhead shot of the White Mana, a Jersey City landmark, across the street from Mike's pigeon coup. I thought, "here we go, time for some talk about J.C.", but to my dismay, here are the actual words said by the shows narrator: "In Mario's Diner, Next to the Ringside gym in Jersey..........". ......that was J.C. at all, not even a reference to the Mana itself, just a diner in Jersey.
       I realize that it was probably naive of me to assume the show would be about Jersey City just because it was shot there.I get it. New York is always going to be the big brother looming in the background, but from someone who grew up rooting for a team from Cleveland because both of my states football teams claim to play in New York, it just would have been nice. But hey, it is what it is and I don't blame Mike Tyson, Mario Costa ( I mean c'mon, the man is Jersey City and both the Mana and Ringside are iconic) or any of the people from Jersey City involved with the show for its inability to mention its hometown's name. They don't control what a narrator says nor what a network decides to focus on. I won't even say people shouldn't watch the show, because it's still quite interesting. Just know that if you do, your watching a show about Jersey City, N.J., that was shot in Jersey City, N.J., with people from Jersey City, N.J. and anything else is just the magic of television. I'll see ya when i see ya people. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dodgeball: the sweet, sweet contraband of middleschoolers

While watching a group of middle schoolers play dodgeball this evening (yes i understand it sounds creepy that a grown man was watching middle schoolers play dodgeball on his Friday evening, but just hear me out) I made an observation to a friend about how utterly thrilled to be playing the kids seemed. It dawned on me that for these kids, dodgeball, once often the staple of any good schools P.E. program is now all but banned in most schools throughout the U.S. (or so it has been explained to me). To put it as simple as possible, I HATE THIS! Look, I understand that kids are gonna get hit in the face, they'll probably cry even. Is it really that horrible of a thing to expose our children to the concept of "hey, sometimes in life people are gonna throw crap at you and your gonna either have to get out of the way or take a hit and get back up". Sure, dodgeball and sports in general are not for everyone. I fully understand that there are going to be kids that don't want to play or like to play but don't want to deal with bigger, stronger kids hitting them. Good for these kids! They'll probably be running our country in 20-30 years while their ball throwing, neanderthal counterparts are washing their cars for them (Biff Tannen style). But removing the obstacle is not the answer to helping them reach their goals faster. Would Bill Gates and Steve Jobs be captains of industry today had they not had to deal with more than their share of what I am sure were awkward moments in gym class? Well maybe that's a stretch, but seriously, why does it seem to be our goal nowadays to remove all obstacles from children's paths. Personally I think its our ability to overcome obstacles that defines us, and although something as simple as throwing a ball at another kid isn't really a "moment" in someones adolescence it is an momentary obstacle,  not to mention exercise and fun (which apparently have also both been banned from most schools). Hey, I'll get off my soapbox for now but i just felt it was necessary to comment on a game that has been banned as though it were ruining children's lives, when clearly I saw a room of young people have the time of their lives tonight all because of the contraband that was dodgeball. I'l see ya when I see ya folks.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Self Aware Red Hulk Stole My Blog....

"The Hulk is Red now", you ask? Short answer: no he's not... Red Hulk is actually General Ross...."Who's General Ross", you ask?.... Look I don't have time for this, I'm just here to ramble. If you want a quick history lesson check out it will give you an insight into 1/100000000000th of the useless information that exists in my brain. "Okay Then, Why are you bringing up this Red Hulk if you don't want us to ask about him?" know that's actually a good question, maybe you guys aren't as dumb as I imagined (ohhhh Lord, I just wrote that didn't I?.....ohh well, its not like there's a delete button on these things....Ill just have to hope you can forgive me and we can both move on from here)...Look theres really no reason for you to know who he is, I just wanted you, the reader, the handsome/beautiful, highly intelligent and well groomed (that should make up for me calling them an idiot...They're so dumb they'll probably eat it up with a spoon.....whats that? parentheses aren't thought invisibility barriers?.......ohhh boy, this is awkward....) gentleman/gentlelady that you are to have some background info..... with that said, I documented a particularly interesting phenomenon at my home the other day that I thought needed sharing.

I came home from driving my children to school to find that one of several action figures that litter my home had apparently become self aware (I say self aware because everyone knows toys cant come to life that's just silly!) .... now I won't expound on the how or why this small red symbol of destruction became self aware (I'll leave that up to the good folks at Ikea and other such centers of learning) I will simply say that upon seeing this moment of opportunity to grow the bonds of human/plastic friendship I simply grabbed my closest camera (the 8mp one found on my HTC EVO, which works quite nicely might I should this ramble find its way into the hands of one of the fine hardworking people who run HTC or Google, Thanks for the fine product folks and I'd love to talk great about future products of yours in the ,well, future....:Wink:) and did what I could to document these first steps of a new frontier. Please enjoy:

So here is how I found him. perched on my Xbox 360 pounding the snot out of it. My initial reaction was "Hey!, you there!, yes you, the red fellow!...stop doing that!" (in retrospect my initial reaction should have been about a fully functional toy seemingly alive in the midst of my living room.... but I've seen a lot in my life and at this point nothing surprises me)

Surprisingly He was quite eloquent in his retort. He explained to me that upon becoming self aware he decided to explore my home and noticed that I owned a copy of Marvel Vs Capcom 3 and because he saw himself on the cover (well the truth is he saw the green hulk but I didn't have the heart to explain to him that he was different....personally I was quite moved that this small little being saw no color difference...I think we can all learn something from my new friend, the self aware red hulk) he wanted to try it out. So I told him have at it..

After a few more moments of pounding on it he figured out the Power button and was on his way (I made the snide remark, "good thing it didn't RED ring" which I had a good laugh, but honestly he was not amused).

He actually made it up the wire and to the controller pretty quickly if you ask me. I mean, not for nothing but he is pretty stocky, yet quite agile for his build (please don't let him know I said this, he seems to be very self conscious).

upon making it up he began pounding on the controller (apparently this is his "go to" for trying to get things to work) but after a few quick instructions from me he was able to understand how it worked this was weird. He stood up on the face of the controller and began rambling about "victory was his" and something about "gangs of drugged cockroaches" (I honestly think he was just watching Gaddafi on TV before I got home and decided to use some quotes to express his joy at making it to the top of the table.....nonetheless it was a tense moment for all involved)

This was actually a beautiful moment in my the game credits rolled he just froze in awe at the sight before him. there was a point where I thought he may have actually become inanimate again (or worse yet I had been imagining this the whole time....but there's pictures so that couldn't be true...right?...I mean there's pictures after all.....everything is fine just keep smiling and writing..)....but right when I was about to put him back in the toy box.... was like he was lit on fire...seeing "himself" on the screen produced so much pride in him that you couldn't help but be happy for the little guy (I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a little tear in my eye now just thinking about it)

 from there on it was smooth sailing (other then constantly having to remind him that he couldn't just punch his way to a victory... the poor controller stick took a beating, but he had fun and that's what matters most). A good time was had by all and this last picture really sums up the scope of what i think the day meant to him...

Overall, it was a pretty crazy day for me. I can't say what the future holds for the self aware red hulk and I but I can promise that I'll do my best to document any further misadventures that take place. I know this story somewhat deviates from my "normal" ramble, but I felt it was just an important moment in human history and that it needed to be shared.....with that said, I'll see ya when I see ya