Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Please stop making Saw movies

Whoever is responsible, can you please just give it up? I fear a possible future in the year 2025 in which there will be a Saw 22. Producers, studios, there's no reason to proceed with this nonsense other than sheer greed.

Or at least change things up a little, like make Saw 9 a musical and Saw 13 in black and white.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Coke has this high school football themed commercial that plays before movies that shows a 1950s team taking on a modern squad.

The 50s team is stocked with skinny kids wearing pathetic shoulder pads. They're cheered on by well-mannered cheerleaders.

The modern team has players that look like they're sponsored by Nike. Their cheerleaders are anorexic gymnast strippers. The modern players are all five times larger, faster and smarter than their 1950s counterparts.

During the opening kickoff, one of the 1950s players tackles one of the modern players and everyone realizes that they are all equally good at the game, despite advances in equipment, anabolic steroids, school integration and cheerleaders' sex appeal. The 1950s player, a white kid, who makes the tackle helps the black modern player up, as if to show him that although his school has separate drinking fountains for blacks and whites, he and his teammates are ahead of their time and are poised to become civil rights activist in college.

I learned a valuable lesson from that commercial - it's not an advertisement for Coke as in Coca Cola, but coke, as in cocaine. Crack cocaine. I can't believe the DEA allows ads for crack cocaine to play in movie theaters. Amazing.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Way back when that reggae song "Informer" by Snow was popular, we all used to guess what the lyrics were. My closest approximation was "Informer, can't know you can't stop me on the way. I seek ya boom boomb way..."

Now the magic of the Internet has unearthed the true lyrics:

You know say daddy me snow me-a (gonna) blame
A licky boom-boom down
'Tective man he say, say Daddy Me Snow me stab someone down the lane
A licky boom-boom down

And I've discovered that mine made more sense by a score of .00001 percentage of logic to .0000000025. So Snow, if you're reading this I request that you retroactively replace your lyrics with mine. Thank you for your time, sir.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Smells like Nirvana

One easy way to know how you smell to other people is to walk outside your house for a few minutes then go back in. Your nose will give you your answer.

If it's chicken soup, pot roast, paint or Pine-Sol you're OK. Mildew, urine, cat, cat urine and mildewy cat urine are smells you'll want to avoid.

The caveat is there's really no way to change the way your house smells, and thus no way to change the way you smell. So if it smells bad in there, move or invest in a Christmas tree, preferably one not sprayed with mildewy cat urine.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Liquid Patience

I'm without my DS for the next couple weeks or so, until Nintendo customer service can warranty me a new one. I don't know how I'll survive life without my trusty sidekick, which I've nicknamed Liquid Patience. Because alcohol is liquid courage, and even though a DS is in no way a liquid I just like the way it sounds.

I'm fairly sure the writer of the Family Ties theme song had the DS in mind when he penned the words "What would we do, baby, without uh-uh-ussss, shalalala" (the word "us" later being substituted for "DS" by a meddling editor).

The DS makes me look forward to red lights, traffic jams and doctor's appointments rather than dread them, as I did before Liquid Patience first came into my life in October 2004. It's my little elf who talks me down from my frustrations, easing my misery with Mario, canceling out my trepidation with Tetris and absolving my agony with Advance Wars.

Books are one possible substitute for the lack of a DS, but their fatal flaw is illegibility in darkness. They won't comfort me in those trying minutes before a delayed movie screening gets started, nor when I'm driving through construction zones at night.

Another issue with books is how tough it is to mark exactly where you left off, so you end up needing to re-read to much as you drive.

The answer is a Kindle-like program for the DS, with touch-screen functionality that allows you to mark exactly which word you stop on as the red light turns green. Now that I've written that sentence whoever ends up making that owes me a percentage of the profits.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The problem with motorcycles is there's no manly way to ride along with whoever's steering. Your choices are to straddle the driver from behind or sit in the sidecar.

Personally I'd choose the sidecar, but I'd be ashamed of myself for the entire ride. That sort of self-loathing is likely what drove Robin to an early grave. (You'll always be with us, Chris O'Donnell!)

If I were a braver man I'd grab a skateboard or rollerblades and hold onto the back of the seat.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Free Blago

I applaud Chicago governor Blago for refusing to step down amid calls for his head. This is an entertaining spectacle, and an endearingly impressive display of brass tacks. He reminds me of a WWF* villain, standing on the turnbuckle, jeering on the crowd, readying to bust the ref over the head with a folding chair.

I'm of the opinion that one should rarely quit a job, least of all when others without the power to fire you are calling for you to step down. If they want Blago they've got to come and get him. No retreat, no surrender. Fight on, your corrupt, fun-to-read-about egotistical freak.

*WWF in this case of course stands for the official trademark holder, the World Wildlife Fund. And the greatest WWF villain, incidentally, was always the dingo.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Return of the 360

My Xbox 360 finally returned after its three-week hiatus. Well, not mine, but someone else's that broke and then was fixed well enough to send out to some other fool, that fool being me. I hope this one lasts several months, but if the disc drive is destined to break again I hope it happens within a year, because I don't want to have to lie again.

Ah, who am I kidding? I don't care when or how the 360 breaks because I'm blanketed in the comfor that Microsoft is aware that its products are crap and has agreed to replace them all for free in perpetuity (perpetuity in this case equals three years from purchase).

On the downside, it sort of blows to have the machine back because I was so productive in its absence. Now look at me - I should be going to sleep right now but I have yet to even finish this blog post because I've spent the past couple hours catching up on my gaming backlog. And I'll spend the next couple hours doing the same.

In positive news, I don't have a cold. Of course I'll probably get one now that my 360 has resumed depriving me of sleep.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Viral marketing

The congestion in my throat seems to be signifying that I'm about to catch a cold once again. What I guess is happening is what they call "viral marketing." The germs that visited my throat, nose and chest a couple weeks ago and had a great time told their friends and relatives, who have now decided to stop in and see what all the hype was about.

I hope you enjoy your stay, guys. Try to take advantage of the free buffets and all-night dance parties that result in my nose running and me getting up in the middle of the night to hock phlegm into the toilet. I know you'll enjoy making me sniffle through movie screenings this week, so have fun with that.

And if it's not too much to ask, after you're through with me please give me at least a month to renovate the place so I can do a few upgrades and make your visit even more enjoyable in the future.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Christmas card letter

Merry Christmas, everyone! It’s been quite an eventful year in the Vilarreal household. As busy as Jessica and I have been, the most accomplished member of our family is most definitely Luke. A year ago at this time he was little more than a mute, stumbling blob, but now he’s a dashing, jumping chatterbox who has taken over the run of the place. His theory, it seems, is today 5721 W. Cactus Garden Dr., tomorrow the world.

Jessica and I continue to tempt fate by doing the single-income thing. We’ve asked for a piece of the $700 billion government bailout but were denied because we foolishly flew into D.C. in separate corporate jets.

Jessica is having fun staying home with Luke, listening to him share his stories about the magnificence of garbage trucks and his theory that choo-choo trains are driven by genies. They engage in a constant, fluctuating philosophical debate on whether or not it’s appropriate to climb atop furniture and then leaping to the ground. Jessica’s contention is that the activity is dangerous, while Luke’s counterpoint is that not only is he invincible, but he’s sure to tell himself to “be careful” over and over whenever he does something dangerous.

I’m feeling great that I was seemingly the one newspaper movie critic in the country not to be laid off in 2008. My book, “Stormin’ Mormon” was released in January and while It has yet to attain bestseller status, surely it’s only a matter of time. It was moderately well reviewed, save for a rather harsh judgment from Luke, who dismissed the tome for its lack of garbage truck pictures, pop-up race cars and Elmo songs. His criticism was tough but fair, and I vow to fix the shortcomings in any future literary endeavors.

Goose, who has reached doggie middle age, is buddying up with Luke, attempting to form an alliance that gives them a filibuster-proof majority. Their hopes rest on the prospect of our yet-to-be named baby girl deciding to break party ranks to caucus with them. Goose has agreed to support Luke’s let-me-stay-up-past-8 p.m. platform so long as Luke continues to dish out the under-the-table bribes of breakfast cereal and peanut butter and jelly crusts. We’ve launched an investigation into the matter but have turned up nothing conclusive. Jesse Jackson Jr. was allegedly involved though.

We hope you’re doing great and wish you the best!

Love, Phil, Jessica and Luke

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

An open memorandum to the makers of the "High School Musical" series

How did you manage to capture the exact essence of what high school really is? Bravo on your depiction of the rich popular girl, who started each school year and summer mean and self-absorbed, only to turn nice at the end. And all the dancing, acceptance, kinship and resounding life lessons, as well as the G-rated dialogue. It really was all there. You really nailed it, dude.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Hillary's mom

I was surprised to check my inbox and see an email from Dorothy Rodham, Hillary Clinton's mother. (Dorothy usually texts me or hits me up on instant messenger.) It was a friendly message suggesting a wonderful Christmas present: Buy a signed copy of Hillary's book for the low, low price of $250! Not only would I be getting the perfect gift but I'd also be helping to pay down Hillary's debt! Check out this e-mail with the smoking deal:

Dear Phil,

I'm so proud of everything my daughter has accomplished and excited about what her
future holds.

Her life is full of amazing achievements, and her story has inspired millions of
people, especially young girls, to achieve their dreams, no matter what they are.

There's a wonderful book about her life I'd like to share with you. It's called
Hillary Clinton: Dreams Taking Flight, and it is the perfect way to share my
daughter's story with a child you want to inspire.

As you know, Hillary is still working hard to pay down the debt from her campaign,
and I hope you'll take this opportunity to help her out. With your contribution of
$50, you will receive a copy of Dreams Taking Flight with a specially designed
Hillary Clinton bookplate.

And for that special person in your life, with a contribution of $250 or more, you
will receive a book that's personally signed by Hillary to him or her by name.

Contribute to help pay down Hillary's debt, and we'll send you a copy of Hillary
Clinton: Dreams Taking Flight.


I know you're just as proud as I am of everything my daughter has achieved, and I
want to thank you for everything you've done to support her!



Me again. How sad is it that the Secretary of State to be is so hard up for cash she's hitting up poor newspaper reporters for donations to fund he failed presidential bid? It's the least I could do to take out a third mortgage so I can buy 10 of these. I'll get right on that.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Ironical cheers to yell out at football games

"Come on, interceptions!"*

"Hark, human growth hormone inflated behemoth. Validate my empty existence with a first down!"

"Yay side judge! Excellent spot!"

"Bend it like Beckham!"

"Be regressive! B. E. regressive!"

"Intelligent-sounding insult at opposing player gleaned from obscure factoids found on a message board!"

"Over-ated, over-ated" (directed at offensive linemen)

*Actually heard and repeated throughout Arizona-Arizona State football game, Nov. 6, 2008.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

How do cars work?

This is a rhetorical question, with the implied answer being magic.

More specifically, dark magic from the netherworld that strands you in bad neighborhoods and sucks money out of your bank account.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I'm lying to Microsoft

Doubt I'm the first person to go this way, but I hope not to be the last. Short story, in case you don't have time to read on: The disc drive on my Xbox 360 broke and I told Microsoft it has a different problem in order to get it fixed for free. I recommend everyone out there do the same to take advantage of that juicy three-year warranty Microsoft coughed up to avoid a potential class-action lawsuit.

The three-year warranty applies only to the "red ring of death" problem. Any other breakdowns are only covered for up to a year. So what's happening here is Microsoft is all but begging you do to just what I did. If your 360 won't turn on, say it's the red ring. If it starts talking to you in the Exorcist voice, say it's the red ring. If it breaks off its power cord, walks across the room and impregnates your Wii, say it's the red ring.

Long version: This is the fourth time my 360 has gone James Dean on me, so I've become a little bit irritated at Microsoft for doing such a poor job manufacturing these suckers. I told the lie not only to save myself the money (The Google and its internets tell me it's $130) it would take to get them to fix it on the up-and-up, but because I feel as though I intrinsically deserve another 360 without having to pay Microsoft anything.

The beauty of the situation is that Microsoft is so used to dealing with its red ring issue, I doubt they even test your console before shipping you a new one. And by "new" I mean a crappy refurbished number built to last just a few months before it craps out on you. They'll toss your box aside and ship you out a new one pronto, on each occasion generously including a card that will get you a month of free Xbox Live service, valued at over $4. One of the many downsides is if you're like me and bought the original model, the one without the quieter, cooler-running processors and HDMI port, you're stuck in an endless exchange of swapping out your hapless 2006 360 for another, with no hope of upgrading. No matter how hard you beg, and believe me, beg I have in my many heart-to-hearts with the customer service chaps. Company policy.

If there's anything positive about the way Microsoft handles this problem, it's that the company is becoming more efficient. Each time my 360 has broken the response time has been quicker. Last time - September of 07 - took just eight days from breakdown to replacement.

When my disc drive stopped reading games last week, I stupidly - forgetting my last repair was just over a year ago - called Xbox customer service and told them my disc drive had failed. They told me I was out of luck as far as the warranty was concerned, so I asked the fine Indian gentleman on the other line to change my repair reason to red ring of death.

"I can't do that sir."


"Because you already told me your disc drive failed."

"So what if it starts working again and then I get the red ring?"

"In that case you would be eligible for a warranty repair."

So the next day I canceled the original repair order, told them my disc drive miraculously recovered and I was getting the red rings. The warranty went through, I printed out my free shipping label, unearthed the box Microsoft used to send me my last doomed replacement console, which I had kept in the closet sure that I'd one day need it for this purpose, and lugged it over to the UPS store.

Oddly, I got a follow-up call moments later.

"Earlier you said your disc drive was the problem, but I see your new repair order says you have the red ring."


"Did this just happen recently?"

"Happened today. Disc drive was working fine all of a sudden."

"Wow. We don't see that happening often."

"Yeah I was surprised. But then I got the red ring."

"I'm sorry about that."

So I'm on my way. Confident that lying, in this case, is the ethical thing to do. Worst case scenario is my repair gets denied and it costs me $200 to get another used console, so even if Microsoft reads this and denies my replacement with catlike speed and reflexes I'll only be out $70. I think this is what Gandhi would do if he were into achievement whoring and zombie capping.

After all, I bought my original Xbox 360 $400 back in September of '06 and after a six-month fling never saw it again. Hell, I should be so lucky to be caught just so I can justify buying a new 360 just on the off chance something clicked in the last couple years and Microsoft started sprinkling newer products with magical reliability dust that cancels out the problems of the past.

Some other lug is playing it and having it break down on them, only to be sent to someone else, while the 360 they sent off before they got mine is patched up and on the way to me. It's the circle of life of faulty manufacturing.

Monday, December 01, 2008

A prison of my own creation

If I ever build one of those private-sector prisons that are becoming so popular these days, I'll most definitely make it out of the plastic that electronics are sold in at retail. No one could ever escape, not even Tim Robbins.

His tiny hammer, Rita Hayworth poster and dirt-holding pants would be useless. Which would be kind of sad, because he could never escape and share his treasure with Morgan Freeman. So to all my potential investors and government contractors, bear this in mind before you give me the green light on this thing.