Monday, July 30

I Heart John Waters

I love John Waters' "Hairspray," and I'm delighted that he got a cameo in the new musical movie. His cameo is brief, but so fitting and apropos for Waters that it's worth the price of admission alone just to see it.

If you're going to see "Hairspray," make sure to watch out for the cameo. It's fairly early in the film. And it's over in a flash.

Other favorite moments from the new "Hairspray" movie:

-- When Motormouth Maybelle tells Seaweed and Penny Pingleton, "Oh, so this is love? Well, love is a gift, a lot of people don't remember that. So, you two better brace yourselves for a whole lotta ugly comin' at you from a neverending parade of stupid," and Penny replies, matter-of-factly, "So you've met my mom?"

-- When Penny Pingleton protests her punishment by saying, "Without that show, I have nothing," and her mother, Prudy Pingleton, snaps back, "Having nothing builds character!"

-- Edna Turnblad's quick Pulp Fiction gesture in the final number.

-- Edna Turnblad's wide-eyed reaction upon seeing Motormouth Maybelle's buffet table: "Is that braised?"

-- Tracy Turnblad's exclamation -- "This is just so afro-tastic!" -- followed by Penny's polite, "I'm very pleased and scared to be here," as they are introduced at Motormouth Maybelle's record shop.

-- The entire "Miss Baltimore Crabs" song and dance. Why don't we see more cha-chas in musicals?

Sunday, July 29

Baby At The Beach

My nephew Ryland took his first trip to the beach.


Best. Simpsons Movie. Ever.

I can't even begin to explain how much I loved "The Simpsons Movie." I saw it twice this weekend, and I may see it a third time this week if Britt has to teach late.

I have converted more friends and family members into Simpsons characters, including my parents, Britt's mom and sister, and the rarely seen Ali Jenzarli. Check it out on Flickr.

Stewing In My Own Pop Culture Juices

For the past few days, I have felt like someone flying standby on a flight that keeps getting delayed. I keep waiting for my name to be called -- or, to be more precise, since gate agents don't call out names any more, I keep looking up at the monitor to see if SIM/D has been added to the standby list. I don't know what time the flight will depart, or if I will be aboard when it does.

This whole airport scenario is just one big metaphor; the actual practicalities and details of my life are much less interesting and are hardly proportionate to the level of angst they have stirred up.

Anyway, with so many variables out of my control, I have turned to pop culture for relief and a few laughs. This weekend, Britt and I saw "The Simpsons Movie" on Friday night, returned to the theater Saturday afternoon to see "Hairspray" for the second time -- we saw it last Friday, opening night, and we haven't been able to get the songs out of our head since then. Today, we made our way back to the AMC WestShore 14 for a second helping of "The Simpsons Movie."

At my curmudgeonly old age of 35, a film has to deliver extraordinary to reel me back to the theater for second viewing. The last film I saw in the theater twice was, I believe, "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace." The first time I saw Phantom Menace, I rushed to the theater giddy with anticipation. The second time, I forced myself to return, as I couldn't believe that the film I had just seen was really as dreadfully bad as I thought it was.

In addition to double-helpings of "Hairspray" and "The Simpsons Movie," I have been occupying myself with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." Britt and I finally tore into two of the three Netflix envelopes that were collecting dust on the coffee table: "Pan's Labyrinth" and "The Bourne Supremacy." And we also saw "High School Musical," a rather predictable yet harmless Disney film that has become canon for anyone under the age of 16. One of the "High School Musical" stars has a secondary role in "Hairspray," so I figured I would borrow the DVD from someone at work.

I have always loved pop culture because it gives us a wealth of stories, characters and histories through which people can relate to each other.

Now, I am finding that pop culture can be a powerful diversion. When you're waiting for your name to show up on a standby list, and you don't know if you're going to get home that night -- and when there's nothing you can do to change the situation -- you can worry. Or you can reach for your book or your iPod.

So here's to pop culture -- hip, hip, hurray!

More Mustachioed Words Of Wisdom

Aaron Perlut (my red hot hetero lover in St. Louis, and the brains behind the American Mustache Institute, in case you missed the previous post) forwards the following two pictures to the Daily Dave.

In this picture, Aaron shows off his own mustache. It's fabulous in a 1970s kind of way. It's the sort of mustache I expect to find on an aging cardboard baseball card, not attached to the lip of one of the funniest public relations and communications guys I know.

This second picture was taken a while ago, because Aaron hadn't yet grown his mustache. Aaron is posing with some guy who looks suspiciously like a smutty Mario from the Super Mario Brothers games. Aaron insists this person has been in hundreds of movies, but I can't say I can recognize him from any movie I have ever seen.

I've got to say this about Aaron: I don't get to interact with him often, but he never fails to make an impression on me. He's handsome, clever and knows how to be sarcastic without being cruel. I know when I see a new message from Aaron in my inbox, it's the start of a long volley of e-mail messages and replies that will brighten my day.

On Friday, after Aaron thanked me for my original post about the American Mustache Institute ("Um, Skip, I just shit myself. Well done my friend."), I asked him if he'd agree to a quick follow-up Q&A for Daily Dave readers. Of course, he said yes. Here's how it went.

Q. What is your earliest mustache memory?

A. As a child my two closest uncles had large, manly mustaches that I always admired for the left-over food they could save in them. Why pack a lunch when you could carry a meal on your upper lip?

Q. What inspired you to grow your first mustache?

A. As I would stroll down the street and see these slack-jawed humanoid with bare upper lips, I perceived a sense of weakness. A real man -- a strong man -- wears a thick coating of fur on his mustache and that’s the kind of man I wanted to be.

Q. What is your favorite style of mustache?

A. I tend to favor the Fu Manchu, as it is similar to the world’s largest mustache -- the St. Louis Arch.

Q. Why do you believe so many people have such negative attitudes about mustaches and the men who wear them?

A. A good question. One that deserves a carefully thought out answer. But in the absence of that, I would suggest that is one of the tasks the American Mustache Institute is set to explore. A mustache think tank is something this nation needs. Why is there such a negative perception of the mustache? Why is the mustached American discriminated against to this day? Who invented liquid soap and why? These are the hard questions we intend to explore.

Q. What are you hoping to achieve with the American Mustache Institute?

A. Besides world peace, of course, AMI is focused on protecting the rights of, and fighting discrimination against, mustached Americans by promoting the growth, care, and culture of the mustache. We are the ACLU of mustaches, and like the ACLU, we are hated by many including a rogue part of the Barber’s Union, The Amalgamated Metro-sexuality Local No. 14, all the residents of Provo, Utah, and my former neighbor in Raleigh, N.C., who doesn’t care about mustaches but he hated that I didn’t walk my dog on a leash. More importantly, we battle negative stereotyping that has accompanied the mustache since those glory years of the 1970s -- the peak of mustache acceptance -- fighting to create a climate of acceptance, understanding, flavor saving, and upper lip warmth for all mustached Americans alike.

Q. Why did you limit the institute to the United States? Would you consider founding a World Mustache Institute in the future?

A. Mustache acceptance is far greater in other parts of the world with the exception of the Dutch -- where there is an equal -- if not greater bias against mustached humanoids. So for now, we shall focus our efforts on the mustached American.

Friday, July 27

Mustache Waxing

Überflack Aaron Perlut, who is straight and lives in St. Louis but still insists he is my superhot secret lover, e-mailed me yesterday to introduce me to his latest project, The American Mustache Institute.

He writes, in Perlutese: Not sure if our mutual friend Cherie J. Cobbs has shared this with you, but you must go visit my new invention and share with all your friends, the gay nation, and anyone else who may be interested. And please vote for the best sports mustache of all time.

Cherie J. Cobbs is, of course, Cherie Jacobs, aka Miss Cherizon, one of my favorite humans and one of Aaron's former coworkers at Progress Energy in St. Petersburg.

As I wear a goatee, I asked Aaron for the American Mustache Institute's official stance on alternative forms of facial hair. I was somewhat nonplussed by his reply:

If there’s coverage on the chin, we do not recognize it as a mustache. A mustache stands firm, proud, and alone. Not that there’s anything wrong with a goatee – but a mustache is simply a different animal. A furry, thick, rich animal.

I had assumed that, as staunch supporters of mustache rights, the American Mustache Institute would also stand up all kinds of facial hair freedom of expression.

Still, I can't fault Aaron and the institute too much. I know it's their club, and they have the right to express whatever views they believe are appropriate -- even if they're not as enlightened as I had hoped they would be.

Thursday, July 26

Britt And Dave Have Been Simpsonized

I have turned complementary spouse Britt Shirley into a Simpsons character. I call it Britt Shirmpson.

Here we are together, in all our two-dimensional yellow glory:

I have started wondering if there is any way "The Simpsons Movie" can live up to my expectations. The most likely answer: no. The chances that, even if I am disappointed, I'm still going to see the Simpsons film several times this weekend: very good.

Thoughts On Being LinkedIn With My Brother

The following is cross-posted at The Mike Simanoff Memorial Blog:

I recently have discovered, the social networking Web site that's designed to be the MySpace for professionals.

Yesterday, I came across my brother Michael's profile on LinkedIn. He is a second-degree contact from me, according to the Web site. He died last year.

It's hard to describe the emotions that run through your brain when you stumble across something like this. My first impulse was to click to invite Michael to join my LinkedIn network, making him a first-degree contact. Then, with a jolt of sadness, I realized that he wasn't around to respond to the request.

When you lose someone, the loss seems so abstract. I'm finding that over time, the reminders become tinier and more tangible. In this case, Michael's death means that he will always remain a second-degree contact on LinkedIn.

It's such an insignificant thing, really.

On LinkedIn, there's a place where people can write recommendations for business partners, suppliers, coworkers and so forth. On Michael's profile page, there's a recommendation from Ben Saitz:

"Mike gets media and online advertising better than almost anyone I've worked with. He's technical, highly engaged, and extremely customer focused. I've been lucky enough to work with him at 2 different companies -- he's a great guy to have on the team!" -- July 13, 2006

-- Ben Saitz, Vice President, Client Services, DoubleClick
managed Michael indirectly at DoubleClick

Michael segregated his friends and his family. He separated his work friends from his school friends. He did this, I suppose, to maintain a sense of balance in a world in which he felt he had perilously little control. I don't know the reason, so perhaps I shouldn't speculate at all.

After Michael died, the people that he had kept apart for so many years all came together to mourn him. Seeing Mike's friends -- some, for the first time in years, and others, for the first time ever -- I'm reminded of how special, talented, smart and caring he was. Reading Ben's recommendation on LinkedIn, I'm reminded of those things all over again.

So, no, I don't get to have a first-degree contact with Michael on some Web site. That's impossible. That doesn't happen now. But maybe I get to build relationships with some of Michael's friends, who are amazing -- people like Ryan Dawson, Ben Saitz and Nicole Pruess. And maybe I get to be fortunate enough to call these people my friends too, and get to understand my brother a little better as well.

The Simpsons Movie D'Oh-pens Tomorrow And The Anticipation Is Killing Me

To tide me over, I attempted to create another Simpsonsesque replica of myself. This time, I used the Simpsonize Me tool over at the Burger King Web site.

Why oh why can't it be Friday yet?

Sunday, July 22

Harry Potter And The End Of The Line

Kings Cross Station, London

Britt and I walked to Inkwood Books, the independent bookstore about five blocks from our house, at about 11:30 p.m. on Friday night to pick up my copy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." I had pre-orded my copy about a month ago.

Britt hasn't read a single word of the Harry Potter books and has only seen some of the films, always at my side. I don't think he was expecting to encounter a crush of people, some dressed as witches and wizards, at the end of our sweltering five-minute walk. He ignored all the talk of snitches and Snape, and found a relatively undisturbed area near the cookbooks, and entertained himself for several minutes until it was time to line up. By 12:05 p.m., I had my copy of the book.

By 12:15 p.m., I was home and had begun devouring the first chapter.

I didn't really keep track of time, but I suppose it took me about 6 or 7 hours to complete the book. I read about half of it in 3 hours that night, slept in until about 10 a.m., and read the rest that afternoon as rain thunder crackled and rain lashed down outside -- fitting sound effects.

I thought the end was satisfying, but I'm not going to write anything else as not to give away any information that could spoil the plot for other readers. I haven't even told Britt how the book ends, hoping to pique his curiosity and, perhaps, entice him into picking up "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and seeing for himself how the whole story begins.

Friday, July 20

You Can't Stop The Duh (Updated)

I read an essay online today that faulted the new version of "Hairspray" for not being a full and accurate portrayal of the Civil Rights Movement.

Um, what? You were expecting verisimilitude from a musical drag comedy?

I don't remember the author's name, but I suspect he or she will diagnose the Simpson family with jaundice next week.

Update: I found the essay and read it again. It's located here at Newsweek Online. After rereading the article, I see that the writer's problem isn't so much that "Hairspray" isn't an accurate reflection of the Civil Rights Movement, but that it's not depressing enough for a film that's supposed take place during the Movement. Check out this sarcasm-laced excerpt:

"Yeah, there’s fun all over the place. In fact, the only thing threatening to ruin all the fun is the pesky civil-rights movement, which, inconveniently, happens to be taking place around the same time."

My thoughts, after rereading the article, haven't changed much.

To paraphrase my original response: Um, what? You were expecting Sturm und Drang from a musical drag comedy?

Saturday, July 14

Barbie, Now In Pop Tart Form!

When I scoffed at Kellogg's Fruit Loops Cereal Straws, it was before I knew about the existence of the following item.

Presenting the world's most useless foodstuffs: Barbie Island Princess Printed Fun Pop Tarts.

I didn't actually look at the nutritional information printed on the side of the package, but if these Pop Tarts are like other Pop Tarts, eating too many of them won't help you look like Barbie.

Barbie Island Princess Printed Fun Pop Tarts

The Frito Bandito You Must Not Offend

As you can tell from the picture below, either (a) the people who stock the Vending Machine O' Death in our office have come across a stash of 50-year-old Fritos corn chips; or, (b) the marketing people at Frito-Lay have revived their advertising characters from the 1950s in an effort to sell more snacks to nostalgic Baby Boomers. Either way, if the Frito Kid boosts sales for Frito-Lay, I fear the company might bring other cartoon mascots out of retirement. That can't be good for anyone.


Something New At Tampa International Airport

Perusing the magazine racks at Tampa International Airport this morning, I came across a title I had never seen before: "Garden & Gun." The publication bills itself as an upscale luxury Southern lifestyle magazine.

I shall make no further comment as, I believe, no further comment is necessary. It is somewhat odd, though, that of all the times I have poked through the shops at Tampa International Airport, it would be be before a trip to Alabama that I would espy this particular magazine.

Wednesday, July 11

I Get My Hands On The iPhone

I have touched the future ... and it is shiny. After playing with an iPhone for a few minutes in the Apple Store, I'm a believer. The phone is gorgeous. The multi-touch interface feels like second nature. And the first page I called up with the iPhone's Safari Web browser might look very familiar:

I get my grubby hands on the iPhone

I am now counting down the days 'til my my cell phone contract expires -- because that's the day my I enter the world of iPhone nirvana.

If I win tonight's lottery, you'll see me at the Apple Store first thing tomorrow morning, willing to pay top dollar for the most jaw-droppingly cool gadget I've held in ages -- and willing to forfeit a ridiculous amount of money to switch my phone number from one carrier to another.

As Long As We're Talking About The Simpsons

I am so excited about the upcoming Simpsons movie that I fear I might wet myself.

Uh-oh. Too late.

I am trying to temper my anticipation with prescription drugs. When those don't work, I try to construct my doppelgänger at the Simpsons movie Web site. Here's the best one so far:

D'oh! Life Imitates Art

I have a theory that everything that happens in life can somehow be linked to an episode of the Simpsons.

For example, there's an old episode of the Simpsons in which Homer tells Bart:

"Getting out of jury duty is easy. The trick is to say you're prejudiced
against all races."

Yesterday, the Associated Press reported:

BARNSTABLE, Massachusetts (AP) -- A Cape Cod man who claimed he was homophobic, racist and a habitual liar to avoid jury duty earned an angry rebuke from a judge on Monday, who referred the case to prosecutors for possible charges.

Daniel Ellis' excuses to try to get out of jury duty didn't sit well with the judge.

"In 32 years of service in courtrooms, as a prosecutor, as a defense attorney and now as a judge, I have quite frankly never confronted such a brazen situation of an individual attempting to avoid juror service," Barnstable Superior Court Judge Gary Nickerson told Daniel Ellis, according to a preliminary court transcript of the exchange.

Ellis, of Falmouth, had been called to court with about 60 other potential jurors for possible service on a 23-member grand jury.

On a questionnaire that all potential jurors fill out, Ellis wrote that he didn't like homosexuals and blacks. He then echoed those sentiments in an interview with Nickerson.

"You say on your form that you're not a fan of homosexuals," Nickerson said.

"That I'm a racist," Ellis interrupted.

"I'm frequently found to be a liar, too. I can't really help it," Ellis added.

You see? To paraphrase the Bard: all the world is Springfield, and all men and women are merely players in it.

Monday, July 2

The Ryland Gallery

Photos of my nephew are now online here.

Sunday, July 1

New Products I'm Convinced No One Actually Needs

Would someone kindly explain to me the reasoning behind this new Kellogg's product? I'm fairly certain that Americans, while accustomed to putting milk in cereal, haven't been clamoring for a new foodstuff that will allow them to suck milk through cereal.

Cereal Straws? WTF?