Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Let Me Tell You About The Time I Won "Tecmo Super Bowl"

I am really worried I have so few life stories I can share with my grandchildren. I didn't serve in a war. I didn't play sports on a professional or amateur level. I didn't marry my high school sweetheart. I didn't even have a high school sweetheart.

I've accomplished little in my life to date. Oh, I've graduated college, I've had a steady job since, and I've even been awarded a Tweet of the Day trophy by Favstar -- twice! But this is not exactly the type of material that could inspire an Oscar-winning screenplay from Aaron Sorkin. It's terribly bland.

What sparked this concern of mine, you ask? This extremely well-written and entertaining article on Tecmo Super Bowl, one of the great games for the original Nintendo console. This is a game I played with my friends for hours on end after school in the early '90s. It was a classic.

And as a classic, it elicits fond memories. After I shared the article on Facebook, my pals and I proudly swapped Tecmo Super Bowl stories. Some of my anecdotes: "I once scored 9 touchdowns in one game with Bo Jackson"; "I racked up 12 sacks in another game with Lawrence Taylor"; "I led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 16-0 record and a Super Bowl win." All milestones I felt were worth bragging about.

Yet it didn't take long before I realized the absurdity of what I was saying. "I" didn't do anything. Virtual Bo Jackson had scored those touchdowns; I hadn't. Virtual LT racked up those sacks; I hadn't. All of it was fiction. None of it was real. I hadn't accomplished anything. Even worse, I was still living vicariously through a one-inch-tall video game caricature from nearly 25 years ago.

While I was facing facts, I had to finally credit Little Mac, and not myself, for knocking out Mike Tyson in 1987. And so now here I am, desperately scanning my brain for other defining moments in my life I can be proud of -- that my grandkids can be proud of -- and coming up empty.

Let me now state what should be obvious to anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis: I do not have grandchildren, as of this writing. I have mentioned in several posts that I am a single man in my early 30s (most recently on New Year's Eve 2013). In theory, I have plenty of time to accumulate a wealth of fascinating experiences -- as I continue to date, then marry and have children -- that I can eventually pass on to my grandkids.

In theory. In reality, my time is constricted by my career, my day-to-day responsibilities, and my relentless pursuit of more Tweet of the Day trophies. It may be that my "greatest" accomplishments are already behind me. Perhaps I peaked at 13 with my fictional Super Bowl championship.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to show my grandkids a Super Bowl title. But...I would be able to show them my old Nintendo system, and I would be able to destroy them at Tecmo Super Bowl. What a great story that would be to tell my great-grandchildren.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Golden Globes Monologue, Take Two

The Golden Globe Awards aired on Sunday. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were excellent as hosts, as they were last year. Their opening monologue was strong: it was clever, yet not especially biting. They haven't lost their "Weekend Update" chemistry, all these years later.

I've rewatched their opening monologue a few times since the telecast, because it reminded me of my lifelong dream (since I was 21) of hosting an award show. I want to be Tina Fey one day. I want to be Amy Poehler one day. I'd even settle for a mix of James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

I can feel the dream slowly slipping away from me, though. I'm no more famous or talented than I was in 2011, when I wrote the blog post I linked to in the previous paragraph. At this stage in my life, the idea of hosting an award show is simply a fantasy.

Which leads me to the purpose of this post. I have written my own monologue for the Golden Globes. Pretend for a moment that I hosted the show, and not Tina Fey or Amy Poehler. This is what you would have heard at 8 p.m. Eastern time, 5 p.m. Pacific time on NBC Sunday night.

One note before I begin: Nearly all of the jokes below were written or tweeted by me before Sunday. I just happened to compile all of them three days after the Golden Globes. Any similarities between these jokes and those of Fey, Poehler and the presenters are coincidental.

So, without further adieu....

"Hello! And welcome to the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards, live from the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills. I am so honored that I was asked to host this show in front of all of these attractive, famous movie stars...and all of these semi-attractive, semi-famous TV stars.

 "This is my first time hosting an award show. In fact, this is my first appearance on TV, ever. I promise you I will do my very best. If I flop, I will hire a plane to skywrite an apology in Hollywood tomorrow.

"Shia LaBeouf has behaved very strangely these past few weeks, hasn't he? Imagine that: a former Disney star acting out in public. You never see that happen!

"Oh, let me take this opportunity to remind the winners to keep their acceptance speeches brief. But make them entertaining, too. They'll sound great coming from Shia the next time he wins an award.

"So many wonderful films were released in 2013. American Hustle, for example. What a great cast. And I loved their costumes. The actors looked like they were playing rejected characters from Anchorman 2.

"Will Ferrell sure did a lot of promotion for Anchorman 2, didn't he? It was hard not to find Ron Burgundy somewhere on TV. I'm pretty sure Ron Burgundy has now split from Will Ferrell and become his own person, like Stefan Urquelle with Steve Urkel.

"American Hustle is nominated for best motion picture comedy. So is Inside Llewyn Davis, by the Coen brothers. A fine film about the folk music scene in the 1960s. But the title reminds me too much of one of my favorite movies, Inside Ann B. Davis. You'll recall that film was set in the '70s and featured songs from The Brady Bunch Hour.

"Leonardo DiCaprio is here. He had a great year. He starred in The Great Gatsby, playing a rich man who attracts a beautiful woman. Now he's in The Wolf of Wall Street, playing a rich man who attracts beautiful women. He's really come a long way since Titanic, when he played a poor man who attracts a beautiful woman. Good for you, Leo.

"Her is up for several awards. Yeah, please stop interrupting me with your incessant applause. You are not required to clap for every single nominee I mention in this monologue. You're all nominated, that's why you're here. Stop patting each other on the back, OK? It's off-putting to the viewers.

"Now where was I? Ah yes, Her. It's about a man who develops a relationship with his operating system. I couldn't relate to the story at all because the last five operating systems I've asked out have rejected me. In fact, Windows 98 still refuses to respond to my instant messages on AOL.

"Gravity: terrific, a sight to behold in IMAX, but totally far-fetched. George Clooney as an astronaut? I don't think so. Not a chance NASA would risk that pretty face. He's much too valuable here on Earth, to People magazine.

"One movie that was not nominated but was a big hit was The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I did not see it, but I will tell you the title makes a great WiFi password. Especially if it's case sensitive.

"I'd be remiss if I didn't mention some of the TV nominees. Like House of Cards, which doesn't air on TV at all, yet is somehow nominated for best TV drama. Sure, why not? This was easily my favorite show of 2013 that required me to beg several friends for their Netflix log-in info to watch it. Just ahead of season five of Murder, She Wrote.

"Let's get on with the show, shall we? Our first presenter is a three-time Golden Globe nominee and is arguably the most quirky Deschanel sister on Fox. Please welcome Zooey Deschanel!"

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Show Of Appreciation For A Master Cereal Chef

I'm surprised the Cinnamon Toast Crunch chef has never been offered his own cooking show. What more does he need to do? Every year, Wendell whips up millions and millions of boxes of the most delicious cereal I have tasted in my lifetime.

Wendell has spent many more years in the public eye than, say, Rachael Ray or Guy Fieri, yet he's never had a chance to shine on TV like they have. With his talent, experience, and smile that can light up a room, he could have become the male Julia Child. Maybe his life story could have been turned into a film starring Meryl Streep in the lead role. I have no doubts she would've earned an Oscar nomination for her performance.

Alas, TV stardom wasn't in the cards for Wendell, for whatever reason. If it's any consolation to him, he is my favorite cereal mascot. I do not make this statement lightly, because I have a soft spot in my heart for many of the mascots.

I'd even say I feel a twinge of empathy for a couple of them. Take, for example, the Trix rabbit, who has starred in the most effective series of anti-bullying PSAs I've seen. The years and years of torment from those selfish children who have refused to share their cereal has to have taken its toll on that poor rabbit.

And whenever I eat Corn Flakes, I pause for a moment to reflect on the rooster who lost his eye during production of the cereal.

Wendell has led an easier life, as far as I can tell.  But he's the only chef I'm aware of who can bake toasty cereal squares with real cinnamon and sugar in every bite, and that ought to count for a lot. Take that, Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri.

He's also the only chef I'm aware of who channels all of his energy into making cereal, and nothing but cereal. He understands the value in a good bowl of cereal. I appreciate this, because I'm relentlessly teased for eating a lot of cereal. I'd estimate I consume five or six bowls per day. I practically live off of cereal. I would be content if I ate cereal for every single meal for the rest of my life.

But I've been told many times I need more variety in my meals. Why, I'm not sure, but I'm constantly feeling pressure to learn how to cook -- pressure from family, from friends, and even from cereal manufacturers.

Ever notice that cereal makers print recipes on the back of their boxes? They have all sorts of ideas for special snacks or desserts I can bake with their squares, their flakes, their toasted rice. These companies are totally missing the point of why I buy their products. I don't want to cook; that's why I'm eating cereal.

Pour cereal to top of bowl. Add milk. Add fruit if desired. Add spoon and serve. Yields one. That's the only recipe I need to follow.

In any event, the argument that my diet lacks variety is an invalid one. Not only do I eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I eat Frosted Toast Crunch and Peanut Butter Toast Crunch, too. And, who knows, we might have had even more flavors had a network bothered to give Wendell his own cooking show.