Archive for January, 2009

So a new study has revealed that frequent masturbation among twenty and thirty-somethings can lead to cancer. At first I was terrified…but then I figured it out. And all I have to say is…

Very clever, Mom and Dad.

Over my pre-teen and teenage years, you told me so many lies. That it would make me go blind. That it would give me hairy palms. That it would make my head swell up like a balloon and that I would float up into space. That if I kept doing it, an army of banshees would visit our house in the middle of the night and kill our cat. That God videotapes us when we’re alone and that he plays the video on a constant loop in Heaven.

But come on guys, I’m twenty-six now. You really think you’re going to fool me by performing a fake study and getting it printed in various newspapers, magazines and websites (like in the above link to “Popular Science” – an oxymoron and obviously entirely made up publication). Besides, it’s not like I’m doing that anymore anyways. Geez, I’m an adult for Pete’s sake.

Anyway, I’ll write more later. For some reason I can barely see the keyboard right now.

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My parents Tivo-ed absolutely every piece of Inauguration week coverage they could find. HBO’s coverage of the concert, CNN’s coverage of the Inauguration ceremony, MSNBC’s coverage of the parade, and of course FOX News’ coverage of small babies crying and the sky opening up to welcome the impending apocalypse. Well guess what? Here’s some Brooklyn Skeptic inauguration coverage!!!

So I got a ticket to the inauguration. A ticket in the purple section. I hadn’t gotten my hopes up too much, but my sister, who worked in the election field office in New York as well as on the Inaugural team in DC, totally came through. And I was insanely excited. Here I was, getting the chance to participate in an historic event, the kind that I would be able to tell my friend’s grandkids about (I’m going to die alone). My imagination went wild. A purple ticket! I pictured myself walking up to the Capitol building, handing them my purple ticket, and then nestling snugly in between Dianne Feinstein and Michelle Obama. I pictured myself doing Madlibs with Sasha and Malia when we got bored during the ceremony (“Albert Einstein is most famous for his theory of farts” – oh Malia, you’re hysterical!). And after Obama gave his speech, I pictured myself walking up to him and saying “I get you, man,” and him responding “I get you too, plainclothesman. You’re the coolest guy I’ve ever met in my life. Let’s totally go water-skiing.” It was perfect. But it didn’t exactly go down like that.

Because eighty bajillion other people decided to come too.

So we got to the purple section, and it was asses to elbows in there. My dreams of being the Obamas best pal and potential Secretary of Awesome immediately flew out the window. With probably a million people between me and the (then) president-elect, I was beginning to wonder if he would even be able to pick me out of the crowd to wave hi and make silly facial gestures when they announced Joe Lieberman! So we stood there for several hours. Yes, it was cold. Yes, our feet got tired. Yes, when several million people gather in one place, a good percentage of them are really annoying, no matter their political affiliation. They announced Bush and people booed. Some obnoxious people chose between the two songs on their repertoire, deciding that “na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” song was slightly more appropriate to sing in this situation than Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline. More time went by. And finally, Joe and Barack were sworn in. And the world record was set for most people holding cameras blindly over their heads while saying “I can’t really see anything. Can you?”

And then came Obama’s speech. You’ve all heard it or watched it already, so I won’t recreate it here. Suffice it to say, Obama could’ve recited the Declaration of Independence backwards and in Portugese while taming a griffin, and it still wouldn’t have lived up to everyone’s expectations. It was an eloquent and poignant speech delivered by a man who is no doubt ready to lead this country and the faces of the crowd around me did nothing but represent that. Pundits may have gone on television and said that it was average, but at the time, it didn’t seem like anyone thought it was anything short of spectacular.

After Obama’s part in the ceremony was over, however, people just left. They awkwardly filed out of the designated standing area, leaving poet Elizabeth Alexander to speak with a parting crowd. It’s interesting that Kennedy’s inauguration is synonymous with Robert Frost and Clinton’s inauguration with Maya Angelou, whereas Obama’s, for me, will always be synonymous with people walking out of the Capitol saying things like “want to get something to eat?” and “is it bad that I can’t feel my ear lobes?” I guess the only thing I associate the Bush Inauguration with is Ricky Martin, and apparently even he turned his back on Bush.

We left towards the very end, as the United States Navy Band played the National Anthem. As we walked down the street outside of our gated area, Bush’s helicopter flew overhead as he made his way to Andrews Air Force Base, where he would then head home to Texas. I slowly made my way home too. The apartment felt quiet, and empty. I almost began to yearn for millions of annoying spectators to surround  me once again. I smiled to myself, and sat down. The day was over. It had all gone by so fast. It felt almost like it had all been a dream.

But then, the phone rang.

“Hello?” I said. There was a brief silence. Finally a voice that I knew all too well rang back through the phone. “You didn’t think I’d forgotten about you, did you?” it said. “Now get your butt over to Air Force Fun, we’ve got some water-skiing to do.”


I’ll never forget it. Thanks Obama.

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A first (and late on opening night) look at Brook-vin, the new wine bar by the crew of one of South Slope’s top wine stores, Big Nose Full Body, was a groovy experience. Reasonable prices, excellent wine selection, a tempting list of small plates, and thank god, some good tunes (in the form of PJ and some STP), are what you can enjoy at this valuable addition to the promising length of 7th avenue between 9th and 15th streets.

The decor is sober and tasteful. A long bar commands comfortable stools and most everything is wood and bricks. There are a small number of tables in front and back, and they have a patio (please please hold a spring pig roast!!). It’s comfortable and the lighting is dim. A small kitchen in the back is run by Chef Dave, who used to work in Manhattan at Savoy. Like ChezJJP and steaklover plainclothesman, he must like his meat – the charcuterie is made in house and cures in the cellar,  and his food items on the menu don’t go far beyond $10.

hannah whitaker

photo: hannah whitaker

Vintly-speaking, if you trusted the guys at BNFB across the street (and you certainly can, for my money), you can sit back, enjoy what the wine list throws at you and you can soon enough stumble home.

Brookvin’s house wine is a $8 Bordeaux-style blend that is  full bodied and jammy. and deserves some food to go with it (we weren’t able to order at such a late hour).

A $10 glass of 100% Grenache grape (Higo, Russian River Valley) offered all the bouquet and earthy notes I wanted for a Thursday late night after lots of pho and beer.

Brook-vin sports an interesting cocktail list that offers several concoctions at $10 a pop, with a make your own option below that involves their homemade vodka infusions (which is a great idea to do even in your own home). A watermelon and basil cocktail was on the subtle side.

BK commenter Boomstick ventured out earlier when the place was less crowded, and said the portions were really good and well-priced, but pretty small. A cured ham came in four slices, and there was a butternut squash spread for  toast points in place of butter.

The BNFB crew has always done an exceptional job at nailing the wine descriptions in the store, and this has carried on to Brook-vin. One of the sauvignon blancs by the glass is listed as having an aroma of tropical fruit punch, and that’s exactly what it smelled like.

Add to all this that manager Brian Mitchell is a pretty nice guy, and you can’t ask for much more in a neighborhood bar.

Check out more pics at Grub Street.

Brookvin is located at 381 7th Ave. between 11th and 12th streets in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

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The Oscar Nominations were announced yesterday. As per usual, there were few surprises. Among them:

  • The Dark Knight and Wall-E were not nominated for best picture. Everyone has been talking about this being the year of the blockbuster (and by everyone, I mean my mother and I while I was home for the weekend). Both films, with their ridiculous box office intake, were supposed to revitalize the ratings slump the Oscar ceremony has been in for sometime. Instead, the most nominated film of the year was an adaptation of an F. Scott Fitzgerald story that was met with more “meh, I guess it was alright” audience reactions than any other movie in recorded history.
  • Bruce Springsteen got snubbed. Who cares if the song he wrote is just another “I’m an older guy who made mistakes in the past but that’s okay because this is America and my boots are dusty but I luckily have a red bandana on me at all times to wipe them off, if only it could wipe away the sadness that I feel when I realize that she left me hey why is there an American flag that is following me wherever I go” song. It’s the fucking Boss. Show some respect.
  • Robert Downey Jr. gets a nomination. If he wins (which he definitely won’t – he’s up against Heath Ledger) maybe he’ll give his speech in character?
  • Revolutionary Road gets virtually no love. Okay. So it’s a period piece. Check. It’s an adaptation of a famous author’s novel. Check. It stars a pair Oscar nominees who haven’t been in a film together since they were in Titanic, the highest grossing movie ever that also won best picture. Check. Oscar winning director. Check. White people’s angst in suburbia. Check.  A scene where a wife-beater clad Leonardo Dicaprio runs in the street with no reason other than I guess a metaphor or something for running from his problems. Check. Seriously, what’s missing? Dame Judi Dench can’t be in every fucking movie, guys.


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Nature magazine has recently been doing’ some Doin’ it research on the vole- one of the few other mammals that mate for life, or until they get a di-Vole-ce*.  They have been testing oxytocin, a hormone that is partially responsible for those warm fuzzy feelings that makes a mom like her kid, and for those naughty warm fuzzy feelings that makes her like the kid’s dad (sinner).  When it was administered to lady voles, they imediately became attached to the nearest male (sorry to my Sapphic friends, you’ll have to continue to rely on your charm and carpentry skills to woo the ladies).  When they blocked oxytocin’s action, the voles were unable to form bonds.  Finally science, you have delivered on the long sought after cootie shot.  Society, and third graders worldwide owe you a debt of thanks.

*This entire post was a vehicle for making this joke.  I’m sorry for wasting your time.

vole2I make scientists think about sex

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I taped last night’s Golden Globes so that I could forward through most of the shit. And there was a lot of shit. Here are some stray things that I noticed:

  • Anna Paquin won Best Actress in a Drama for the HBO show True Blood. If all you need to do to win a Golden Globe is talk in a shitty accent to creepy vampires, then I think the Hollywood Foreign Press owes Keanu Reeves a little something something.
  • The lyrics to Bruce Springsteen’s song “The Wrestler” sound like a Weird Al Yankovic parody of a Bruce Springsteen song. Lines like “Have you ever seen a one-legged dog making his way down the street? If you’ve ever seen a one-legged dog then you’ve seen me.” Not only is The Boss is making the claim that one legged dogs can walk (which I don’t believe is possible), but also he is saying that were he a shapeshifter, he would in fact turn into a one-legged dog.
  • I have not seen Happy-Go-Lucky but I think that Sally Hawkins needs to eat more sandwiches. And valium.
  • Ricky Gervais should host everything, always, forever.
  • Drew Barrymore was clearly attacked by a weed-whacker.
  • Tracy Morgan should co-host everything with Ricky Gervais, always, forever.
  • Alec Baldwin remembers getting Rumor Willis juice-boxes on set of “the movie.” He also makes references to his own daughter. Could this have something to do with the fact that he got in trouble for leaving a nasty voicemail on his daughter’s phone a while back? Alec Baldwin: not only does he love his own children, but he’ll bring your child juice.
  • Is it me, or did Colin Farrell pretty much tell the Hollywood Foreign Press that they’re idiots for giving him an award, let alone nominating him?
  • David Duchovny makes reference to his wife and family, letting America know that he is no longer a sex-addict, but continues to be a Golden Globe nominated actor for playing one on television.
  • Mickey Rourke totally pulled off calling Darren Aronofsky a “cat” and then talked about how much he loved his dogs (both living and dead). This was officially the highlight of the evening. Oh, and Aronofsky, with a Vincent Price moustache, gave Mickey Rourke the finger on live TV. I know a certain camera man who is getting fired.

What a wonderfully boring awards ceremony it was. On to the next awards show that is not being hosted by Tracy Morgan or Ricky Gervais.

Deal with it, Cate Blanchett

Deal with it, Cate Blanchett

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Last Night, Brooklyn Skeptics ChezJJP, johnbaptisedme, pizappas, Plainclosthesman, and bearclaws went to the weekly Sunday comedy show Tearing the Veil of Maya, at Union Hall.  This week it was emceed by Eugene Mirman (always hilarious),  and featured Jamie Lee (pretty funny), DC Benny (just fucking awful), Pete Holmes (so funny I almost shot a snot rocket at the person sitting in front of me), and of course, Michael Showalter (also hilarious, in depth assessment to come).  The show features different comics every week, and based on my one time going, I give it a 100% approval rating.  Except DC Benny.  So unfunny I wore a black band around my arm, in tribute to my ability to find joy through laughter. 

The following are one audience member’s Showalter-specific reactions:

1. When Michael Showalter talks, he sounds like someone imitating Michael Showalter

2. He has a pattern of facial hair that I think is a map to sunken pirate treasure

3. If his routine is to be believed, he signs his e-mails “Sho(w).”  I’m still organizing my feelings about that, but I don’t think I like it. 


i was just kidding.  please continue signing like that.  you are better than me. love, emBEARassedclaws

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1. Synecdoche, New York – Although I saw this months ago, random scenes still pop into my head like I’m trying to piece together a fever-dream from the night before. Charlie Kaufman has yet again outdone himself, this time taking over as director as well. While more somber than anything Kaufman has put out yet, it is truly an incredible experience watching Caden’s bizarro-world and the simply bizarre “reality” of the film drift closer together before climaxing in the most beautiful and touching ending I have seen at the cinema in ages.

2. Rachel Getting Married – Director Jonathan Demme shot this entire film with hand-held cameras, much like you would ask a close friend to do at your own wedding. The difference is, instead of shooting the generic footage of the ceremony and people dancing around afterwards, Demme sticks around for all of it – the fighting, the sadness, the ugliness, the lies, and ultimately the forgiveness. Working with an incredible first script by Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married doesn’t just make you feel like you are attending a wedding, it lets you in so close that you feel like you are a member of the family, whether you want to be or not.

3. Let the Right One In – Since I like vampires so much, few of my friends took my advice of going to see this Swedish vampire film thinking I’m merely a slut for anything with fangs. This might be true, but while they were out wasting their money on Twilight, they missed one of the best films of the year. The film is about the brief relationship between a bullied, young boy and a mysterious girl who moves in next door to him. A series of gruesome murders take place as the two kids become friends, and she slowly starts to open up about certain aspects of her personality.


4. A Christmas Tale – Similar to Royal Tenenbaums in plot, but not at all in character, this French film from director Arnaud Desplechin is the story of a relatives reuniting over Christmas when the matriarch of the family has fallen ill. The ensemble consists of some supremely depressed children, their lives ruined by love and loss, and there extended family of children, aunts, uncles, etc. Featuring an incredible and massive cast including Catherine Deneuve and Mathieu Amalric, we officially have a new Christmas classic.

5. Dark Knight – The most hyped movie of the year (and possibly one of the most hyped ever, due to the death of Heath Ledger and blog-talk) turned out to be just about as good as everyone thought it would be. The sequel to Batman Begins has set a new standard for comic book movies. Seriously though, get Batman some throat lozenges.


6. Wall-E – Every year there’s a new Pixar film to put on this list. While I didn’t like this quite as much as last year’s Ratatouille, you can’t help but marvel at a film that finds so much emotion and amusement in two robots who can barely speak.

7. Shotgun Stories – First time director Jeff Nichols wrote this small tragedy about two sets of sons with the same recently deceased father. One set knows him as an abusive monster, and the other knows him as a loving, born-again Christian. With a focus on the first set of brothers (their names are literally Boy, Kid and Son), Michael Shannon in particular emerges as one of the best male actors working today (he’s also great in Revolutionary Road – too bad the movie wasn’t as good). The film is quiet, and patiently shot in a way that echoes David Gordon Green, which is not surprising as he was one of the film’s producers.

8. Reprise – Time is manipulated in interesting ways in this Norwegian film, where two friends send their novels to publishing companies at the same time with hopes of fame, fortune and women. When we move ahead six months we find that the one who has achieved success has since been hospitalized after a breakdown, and the one who hasn’t achieved success has narcisistically broken up with his girlfriend and is trying to track down his favorite writer and help re-adjust his friend. The film and its narrative shoot back and forth in both real and hypothetical time, using innovative filming techniques to tell a great story.


9. Forgetting Sarah Marshall – Jason Segal wrote this fun Apatow-produced comedy about a guy who is dumped and goes to Hawaii only to find that he is staying at the same resort as his ex-girlfriend. It’s a pretty stupid and entirely unlikely plot, but the film itself is sweet and consistently funny from start to finish. Segal included several moments from his actual life, including being dumped by his girlfriend while naked as well as music from a Dracula musical he was writing. This was easily the funniest movie I saw in 2008.

10. Slumdog Millionaire – There’s always a movie like Juno, or My Big Fat Greek Wedding or Little Miss Sunshine that people label as “the little movie that could.” The movies usually have a pretty small budget and are crowd pleasers that no one expected to be huge hits. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they’re not. This year that movie is Slumdog Millionaire and yes, it was pretty damn good.


Honorable Mention: Paranoid Park, The Band’s Visit, In Bruges, Iron Man, The Fall, Milk, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Right At Your Door, Man On Wire, Pineapple Express, The Wrestler

Some movies I Haven’t Seen Yet so Don’t Get Mad: Wendy and Lucy, Ballast, Che, Happy Go Lucky, Chop Shop, Waltz with Bashir, The Class, My Winnipeg, Momma’s Man, Trouble the Water, Frozen River

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