Friday, September 30, 2005

Baltimore Film Program

Hey, check out the great poster my colleague Michael Rios made for my upcoming film program at Enoch Pratt Free Library that celebrates Bygone Baltimore in rare films and videos.

This event will be held in Wheeler Auditorium at Pratt Central on Saturday, November 19th, 2005. For more information, including a full program listing, check the Enoch Pratt Web site in the coming months.

The program is highlighted by two very rare local sports shorts: ORIOLES IN ACTION 1962 (27 minutes) and STICK HIM (1978, 12 minutes).

STICK HIM is Angela Mays' short documentary about West Baltimore's legendary boxing trainer Mac Lewis. Many local pugilists have trained at Mac Lewis' Gym, but none more famous than Baltimore's former WBC-IBF heavyweight world champion Hasim Rahman.

ORIOLES IN ACTION 1962 is narrated by Chuck Thompson (who else?) and contains the oldest known existing COLOR footage of Brooks Robinson and rookie John "Boog" Powell! The film starts off at the O's minor league camp in Thomasville, Georgia (where you can see Earl Weaver swatting grounders in his pre-managerial days), and continues through Spring Training in Florida. But the most interesting part of all may be the game-action footage from games in 1962, featuring Opening Day at Yankee Stadium and the O's home opener against the Red Sox (where Brooksie hits his first homer of the season and rookie John Powell gets his first major league hit in Memorial Stadium). Throughout the film, you’ll see many other players of the ’62 team: pitchers Darold Knowles, Wes Stock, and Robin Roberts, infielders Robinson, Jerry Adair, Ron Hansen and slugging first sacker Jim Gentile, outfielders Russ Snyder, Jackie Brandt, Earl Robinson, and (future MLB manager) Whitey Herzog and catcher Gus Triandos.

Other highlights will include:

  • John Waters' starlet Edith "The Egg Lady" Massey in LOVE LETTER TO EDIE (1975, 14 minutes)

  • Legendary local magician Vincent Dantini ("He Knew Houdini!")'s tribute to Charm City, STAR SPANGLED BANNER CITY, which features guest appearances by Blaze Starr, Dee O’Toole, and a look at the first Baltimore City Fair.

    Lowell Thomas, the world famous broadcaster and journalist who helped pioneer the travelogue film genre, narrates this look at post-War Baltimore. Delightfully kitschy, it features footage of everything from Goucher coeds practicing archery to swarms of behatted men and women entering Pratt Library.

  • Classic Natty Boh beer commercials

  • Excerpts from Hampden's HonFest as seen in the PBS documentary PEOPLE LIKE US: CLASS IN AMERICA

  • Steve Yeager (DIVINE TRASH)'s AQUARIUM short

Jesus Cries When You Touch Yourself

Thanks to the Mobtown Shank for alerting me to this clip produced by Americans Against Masturbation:

Jesus Cries When You Touch Yourself

If Jesus' tears aren't enough to sway you touchy-feely folk away from the error of your ways, see also the "Operation Infinite Purity" discussion on the The White House Web site. We may not be able to win the War on Terrorism, the War on Iraq, the War on Drugs, or the War on Cronyism (see Michael Brown and FEMA), but we CAN win the War on Masturbation!

And remember, God was so offended when Onan spilled his seed upon the ground that God struck Onan dead! Every sperm is sacred! So stop fiddling about!

Ridiculous Infomercials

Thanks to my friend Scott Huffines for sending me this great link!

Ridiculous Infomercial Review

This website gleans laughs from the tacky world of shameless television infomercials, from such renowned pitchmen as Tony Little, Matthew Lesko and the most bizarro of them all, Santo Gold!

Santo Gold
This infomercial tries to do two very different tasks at the same time: sell a gold jewelry business opportunity and promote a "science-fiction space wrestling movie" called Blood Circus about aliens from outer space who come to Earth to fight has-been professional wrestlers. No copies of this film are known to exist, outside of clips aired in producer Santo Rigatuso's "Santo Gold" infomercials. The original reel is presumed to be lost.

Blood Circus Trivia:

  • The wrestling scenes were filmed at the Baltimore Civic Center. Producers billed the event as a wrestling match and concert, and charged $9 for admission.

  • Only three people showed up to the premiere: an extra and two movie critics.

  • Producers were forced to rent a theater in Baltimore to show the movie after they were unable to find a distributor.

  • The movie was heavily advertised in infomercials for producer Santo Rigatuso's "Santo Gold" mail-order jewelry business. The movie's price tag of $2 million was paid for by the proceeds from the business.

Sing along with the theme song, "Santo Gold:
I got chains. I got charms.
I got bracelets for your arms.
Money back guarantee.
Five-year warranty...

Santo Gold. Santo Gold.
We know you're going to like it.
24-karat Santo Gold

Blood Circus Clips:
Santo Gold Song

Related Links:
"Santo Gold & Blood Circus" (

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Top 10 Library Reference Questions

Top 10 Reference Questions Asked at My Public Library

Guarantee: All questions are verbatim. No artistic license taken or implied.

1. Where are your bathrooms? (THE most frequently asked question on a daily basis.)

2. Do you have the version of Amistad with the real people in it?
(Asked by an old lady who was shocked to find out film cameras were not invented until centuries after the the slave ship Amistad set sail.)

3. Where are the dirty movies?
(Asked by giggling teenage girls. One winked at me.)

4. Is this (HERO) the same movie as that (HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS)? (Also asked by an illiterate patrons, confused that both videos had Chinese people on the covers, and hence must be the same. Because, ergo, all 1 billion Chinese people look the same. And, in fact, ARE the same. And they all know kung-fu. Because of Bruce Lee.)

5. Anything good?
I'm assuming the implied question was "Do YOU have anything good [in an unspecified topic and media].(Also the follow-up question: You have anything I'd like?)

6. Change? (Asked by a pandhandler who thrust his hand out while I was on the phone with another patron. When I confusedly blurted back, "Change??" to him, he once again repeated "Change?" before being escorted from the premises by Security Staff.)

7. Is this infinity?
(Asked by Sixth Sensai, AKA Bruce Lee Guy, a schizophrenic regular who is convinced that: a )Bruce Lee is alive and well in China b) he can predict the future by listening to the voices in his head via "pre-Deja Vu" and c)that the outcomes of various wild kingdom animal fights, such as cougars vs. hyenas, has a deep meaning.)

8. Who do you think would win a fight between a Siamese cat and a long-necked weasel?(Patron source: same as above.)

9. Don't you think coyotes are sneaky, you know, kind of like Jackie Chan, you think they be laughing but they really ready to whup your ass?

Also, follow-up question to the above set-up question:

Who do you think would win, Wile E. Coyote or Jackie Chan?
(Same source as above.)


10. Have I seen this before?
(Asked by our Methadone Clinic regular, who seems to get all movie plotlines confused in her head. And sweats a lot.)

Stop Looking At My Crotch!

We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

- Joni Mitchell, "The Circle Game"

Joni had it all wrong. You can only look down. And get punched.

Guys called it "The Circle Game."

Girls, for some reason, called this childhood game "Stop looking at my crotch!"

My associate Caprice says that they're basically the same game, but in the guys version, victims get punched whereas in the kinder, gentler female version, victims merely get the verbal reprimand to "Stop looking at my crotch!"

Whatever. Vive la difference, etc.

It's experiencing a revival. Just this week, two colleagues experienced it at events as disparate as a wedding and a goth dance club. Perhaps this golden oldie game is enjoying a resurgence because of new-fangled references to it on Fox TV's Malcolm in the Middle (which gets bonus points for its politically incorrect depiction of someone punching a a wheelchair-bound victim!). Who knows. The important thing to remember is, it's back, so be on your lookout!

The Rules of the Game

According to Clare Daly on the great online site The Law of the Playground ("The Least Coherent Encyclopedia of Playground Insults on the Internet") - also available as an import book of puerile pranks compiled by Limey Jonathan Blyth (a great book, BTW, I purchased it for my Jinx! research):

The object of the game is to get the victim to "see" the magic circle, made from your thumb and index finger (in the classic "OK" sign). The magic circle is only "active" when the victim looks directly at it when it is held below waist level.

The victim’s attention is drawn to the magic circle using diversion techniques such as pointing out untied shoelaces, dropping coins etc, anything where one must look below waist level. The magic circle can then be introduced into the victim’s field of vision. When the victim looks directly at the magic circle, you are permitted to punch them on the arm for their gullibility. A pain in the arse to explain, breathtakingly simple in practice.

Variations abound. For example, a site called Kempa Dot Com has this description:
Much like the old school game Tip 21 I have ran across so many different rules to this game, some of them are...

1.After punching someone you have to "wipe off" your punch.
2. Using 2 hands to make a bigger circle makes a 10 point bubble which gives you 10 free punches.
3. Holding both your arms together in a large circle and counting to 10 out loud activates a 100 point bubble. (This is best done standing across a room from someone because of the following rule...
4. Any bubble may be popped and the punch points are transferred to the other person.
5. If someone grabs hold of your finger while you are popping their bubble they get to hit you for the entire duration they can hold onto your finger.
6. All bubbles must be below eye sight (but theres also)
7. All bubbles must be below shoulder level (and even still)
8. All bubbles must be below waist level.
9. No bubble can be forced into someone's eye sight.
10. You can form a bubble and put it on your own eye which gives you goggles to look down and find potential bubbles to pop.

Thats all I can remember right now, but I know I've heard another 10 or 20 rules in the last few year. So if you break this game out with someone who didnt grow up in the same neighborhood, make sure the two of you are usuing the same rules or else a 100 punch burst could be coming your way.

A site called "The Game" also has an incredibly detailed analysis of this playground insult that is now sweeping the Nation as "hot" trend. So read up on it, practice practice practice, and get with the program!

Further sources for "The Circle Game":
The Game
- the best info is here!
The Law of the Playground

Kenpa Dot Com

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Trepanation: A Game We All Can Play

Jeff Koyen's CRANK was one of my all-time favorite magazines back in the pre-Internet, pre-Blog halcyon days of early '90s Do-It-Yourself Zinedom.

CRANK stood out against the competition because of its signature clip art and such great columns as MY FAVORITE ASSHOLE and MY FAVORITE CUNT. And the "How to Drive Drunk" article is legendary. But perhaps his greatest moment was Issue #2, the TREPANATION issue.

What is trepanation? The fine art of drilling a hole in one's head. THE ULTIMATE BODY PIERCING. For - get this! - Enlightenment! The Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians all did it, and they weren't exactly on the intellectual Short Bus, what with their iambic pentameters, aqueducts and pyramids. Want to know more? It's all explained in the easy-to-follow illustrated guide excerpted below:

Trepanation: An Illustrated Guide

"I need ____ like I need another hole in my head."

Well, baby, maybe you DO need another hole in your head! Ever consider that? Here's THREE FUCKING PAGES dedicated to how we, at CRANK, would acquire new holes of our own. Ink by the incredible Dennis McGee.

So remember: He who hesitates is lost. He who trepanates is found. With a hole in his head! So all you Modern Primitives out there, get over your kid stuff pierced nipples and tongue studs and get drilling! To read the entire article, follow the link below. Enjoy!:

Dispatches From a Public Librarian

As a long-suffering public librarian, I can certainly relate to Scott Douglass' periodic dispatches from the field for McSweeney's Magazine. And the "Patron of the Week" idea is great! There are SOOOOO many candidates, it's hard to pick just one a week!

Check out Scott's dispatches:

But a word of warning - be prepared for a shock! While the world may look on Library Science as a glamorous, action-packed profession, the reality can be quite sobering!

How the world sees librarians

The harsh reality.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

My Favorite Halvsies

To Half and To Half Not

My girlfriend Amy is Half Japanese (no, NOT the band, the bloodline!), so of course I love Halvsies. There's even a site dedicated to Half Japanese people:

This is Amy:

Amy's other half is Baltimorean, specifically Dundalk (which everyone knows is better than Essex!).

Amy is my favorite Half Japanese person. Some other notables include:
Ann Curry, NBC Today Host, Takeshi Kaneshiro (Japanese actor from House of Flying Daggers), Miki Berenyi (lead singer of the British band Lush) and J-Pop Superstar Namie Amuro.

My Better Halves

I love halvsies of any stripe; they don't have to be Half Japanese. I even like Half and Half in my coffee. And speaking of non-dairy creamers, my favorite porn stars are all halvsies. To wit:

Katsumi is half French, half Vietnamese.

Kira Kenner is half Norwegian, half Vietnamese.

And Bamboo is also half French, half Vietnamese.

(Say what you will about the French and their failed colonization of Indochina...they may have lost Dien Bien Phu, but at least they gave us Katsumi and Bamboo.

As you can see, divisiveness can be a good thing. So divide and conquer!

Why Tennis Is Better Than Football


Much Ado About Nothing

70,000 Baltimorons packed the M & T Stadium this past Sunday night to watch the hapless, predictable, Ravens plod their way to an ugly 24-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The only thing remarkable at all about this night at M & T was the tailgate cookout parties taking place hours before kickoff. That at least was something to shout about, at least according to my sister, who suffered through the borefest on the field and finally got home at 1 a.m. lamenting that Kyle Boller should have been injured earlier to have given the Ravens a better chance.

Nothing Ado About Something

Meanwhile a mere 25,000 "elitist" tennis fans in Flushing Meadows, New York watched the poetry in motion that was this year's U.S. Open final between 35-year-old aging legend Andre Agassi and 24-year-old ruling wunderkid Roger Federer. It was history in the making for both men, one at the end of his road, and one well on his way ascending a road to his place as perhaps the best ever. Of course the broadcast was delayed until 4:30 (usually coverage kicks off at 4 p.m. on U.S Open Final Sunday) so that NBC could hog the airwaves with meaningless post-game recaps and updated scores for the hype machine that is the NFL (AKA the National Felons League). BTW, I usually hate the National Anthem part of sporting events, but I gotta say, I've seldom seen a better rendition than that of another Generation gap duo...namely, Ben and James Taylor. It was poignant and moving, and JT even asked for a moment of silence in honor of the anniversary date of 9/11.

Quest for Fire

At M & T Stadium, there was history standing still. The Ravens offense was (as usual) predictable, clumsy, plodding, unimaginative, sputtering, error-prone. Cavemen fiddling with sticks, in search of the first spark, but continually walking in darkness.

NFL player checking The Game Plan

The majority of players were big, fat, clumsy, Super Size Me hunks of man flesh, pampered with oxygen and Gatorade on the sidelines lest they have to run plays for more than several minutes without rest. On the sidelines, there was a a phalanx of walkie talkies and headsets manned by countless coaches who were coaxing and advising, barking out plays to the gigantic automatons on the gridiron, like a dozen Johnny Sokko's controlling a team of Giant Robots.

During the game, there was a constant barrage of back-and-forth tauting, trash-talking, fouling, late-hitting, showboating, and unsportsmanlike behavior.

At the end of the game, the usual gaggle of platitudes, the winners thanking the usual suspects (God, teammates, coach, etc., etc.) while the losers offered the lame excuses of clueless jocks shocked that reality rained on their overblown hype parade (I loved the one Raven who angrily vented his disappointment by lamenting that "I was expecting us to go undefeated, and now we lost and can't do that." Yeah, when I think of teams going with a bagel in the loss column, the Ravens aren't exactly on my short list - they're not quite in the same league at the Pats or the Steelers. Hell, we lost to the Bengals alone TWICE last year!).


At Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, there was history moving forward on the racquet of Roger Federer, whom Andre Agassi - the only marquee player in his sport that non-tennis afficionados can identify, if only for his TV commercials and famous wives - called the best he's ever faced, while there was also history passing - a realization that at 35, this may be Agassi's last hurrah in a career that spans three decades.

The players were well-toned, incredibly fit athletes, able to run around for hours on end, without coaching, man to man, head to head, toe to toe, reacting, acting, playing out the mental and physical chess match that is a tennis game.

All Tennis Players Have Sixpack Abs

During the game: passion, competitiveness, and sportsmanship. Rarely is there showboating or taunting, post-McEnroe/Connors BratPack Era,  in this sport (OK, the Coria-Massu match came close, and Elena Dementiva was a bit catty about Mary Pierce's "injury" time outs, but usually it's quite cricket.) in which even tossing one's racquet in a pique of anger is potentially penalized as "racquet abuse."

After the game, the players spoke elegantly, almost poetically. We take it for granted that international stars in tennis, soccer or whathaveyou understand and can convesre in English, but it is not a given. How man times have you seen an American athlete speak in French at the Tour de France, or French Open or whatever? Yet, in tennis we get Federer, who speaks three languages, or a Justine Hardin-Hennin or Kim Clisjters, or Marat Safin, or Rafel Nadal, or countless others step to the plate and take mighty swings at the English vernacular. It's not a given - it's another mark of sophistication.

Mitigating Factor: Cheerleaders vs. Tennis Girlfriends

Admittedly, there is no equivalent to the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders in tennis, although the press love to go on about how purdy Sharapova is and Anna "Never Won Anything Except Endorsements" Kournikova was - though for my money, no one comes close to another Rooskie, Elena Dementiva, for classic model looks and the best legs in the game. This cheerleader factor might sway me, but the TV cameras never dwell long enough on the gals, opting instead to dwell on the homo-eroticism of Ray Lewis' pre-game bump-and-grind dance moves. NFL cameramen obviously watch too many gladiator films! And then there's Marat Safin's girlfriend (see below):

Advantage, Tennis: Marat Safin's Girlfriend Lets It All Hang Out

Yup, tennis players have the hottest girlfriends. And, unlike NFL players, they tend not to beat them up.

And meanwhile, back at Jurassic Park - I mean M & T field - some pumped up Raven player is whining about "We didn't play together as a team" or some such other flair-for-the-obvious nonsense and is almost in tears about not getting the undefeated season and the meaningless stats it represents. Suck it up - both your pot-bellied guts and your lame excuses -and just do it. (And stop eating and drinking so much, you fat fucks!)

Or, as Pete Sampras says in those new bank ads that aired during the U.S. Open, "Make it Happen."

The Boy's a Bit Special

Hail to the King, baby!

Here are some articles backing up what I say about the grandeur of the moment the 2005 U.S. Open match represented.

Federer Reigns Supreme Despite Agassi's Valient Try (International Herald Times)

Federer the Fantastic (San Francisco Chronicle)

And here's a nice comparison of Federer vs. Sampras at the respective stages/ages of their careers:

Federer Vs. Sampras

MiniCooper:Less Is More

Marc Bolan died in one. (R.I.P., September 16, 1977.)

Mary Quant named her most famous creation after it.

Michael Caine used it as a getaway car to tote booty in The Italian Job (it handled off-road driving - stairs, rooftops, sewers - exceptionally well!).

It's the Mini Cooper, born August 26, 1959 to proud pappy Sir Alec Issigonis. And in today's Supersize Me world of Big Gulp excess, it's engaged in an aesthetic battle against its polar opposite, The Hummer. It's an automotive David Vs. Goliath (in fact, it was originally nicknamed "The Giant Killer"), a (British Invasion) Alien Vs. (Gas-Guzzlin') Predator. Like Audrey Hepburn Vs. Pam Anderson, it's a matter of Class vs. Crass.

In addition to all the faceless bandwagon-jumping Yuppies in my neighborhood who own Mini's, here's a short A-List of celebrity Mini owners, past and present. (Alas, all those mindless people who think celebrities set trends will now want a Mini just because the stars have them, but what can you do? Don't hold it against the stylish Mini. I just report the facts, people!). Here 'tis:

  • Brigitte Bardot
  • The Beatles (who had one each)
  • Marc Bolan
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Britt Ekland
  • Dame Margot Fonteyn
  • Goldie Hawn
  • Madonna
  • Steve McQueen
  • Paul Newman
  • Dudley Moore
  • Mary Quant
  • Cliff Richard
  • Peter Sellers
  • Lord Snowdon
  • Prince
  • Prince Michael of Kent
  • Princess Alexandra
  • Twiggy
  • Elijah Woods

    Video Clip of Mini's History

Who Is(n't) Tom Warner?

Will the Real TOM WARNER Please Step Forward?

I am NOT any of THOSE OTHER TOM WARNERs - those false prophets of Tomdom, those pretenders to the throne of the Royal Haus of Warner, those distractions from the one, true path to TW Enlightenment - that I encountered by Googling myself (hey, it felt good!) on the Wondrous World Wide Web:

Florida's Republican Attorney general Wannabe TOM WARNER

Figgers he’s a Republican! Tom loves NASCAR, college football, fishing, hunting, and playing the harmonica. God, he’s like my doppleganger!

Super Plumber TOM WARNER

I like the caped suit and fish head kicks. I wonder if he really made house calls in that get up?

Canuck Queer Activist TOM WARNER

The first openly gay man in Canada to be appointed to a statutory human rights commission. So how’d yew like a reach-around, eh, ya hoser?No? So yew and yer hoser take off then, eh?

Incarcerated Vampire TOM WARNER (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Tom the Vamp invited The Slayer and Cordelia to a frat party where he drugged their drinks, chained them in the basement, and offered them up as a sacrifice to a giant demon snake named Machida. After Tom called her a bitch, Buffy realized He's Just Not That Into You, and subsequently slew Machida and knocked Tom senseless. Tom was taken to prison with the rest of his chums and jailed – for fifteen THOUSAND years! Free Tom Warner!

My Celebrity Lookalikes

This is me. Now check out my clones.

Were We Separated At Birth?

1. Carson Kressely (My Couture Cousin)

2. Keith Urban. (I wish! Dude looks like a lost brother of the Gibb Brothers Tribe)

3. Julian Sands (We have that manly, Slavic jaw thing going on)

4. Martina Navratilova (It's frighteningly true!)

5. Bob (Frank Silva) from TWIN PEAKS (Fear me!)

6. Charlie Watts (Definitely. And I played drums, too!)

7. Martin Short (Some say.)

8. Nick Gilder (Maybe when I had long hair. Does anyone remember "Hot Child in the City"?)

9. The Greaseman (DC 101 DJ Don Tracht) (When his hair thinned, he looked like me on Steroids)


10. Kato Kaehlin. (Conair the Barbarian!)

11. William Hurt (The resemblance is hurtin' bigtime.)

12. Tom Petty (Used to get this all the time when I was gaunt with long, straggly hair.)

13. David Spade (I do love his "No Can Do" attitude!)

14. Southside Johnny of Asbury Jukes fame (God what an ugly fucker!)

15. Jimmy Smits (Maybe if I was retarded, going by this photo.)Well, there you have it People Watchers. Please lemme know if you can think up any more. Suggestions are always welcome. But please limit submitted likenesses to mammals.