Thursday, December 31, 2009

PhillyBurbs looks at the book

The article is here. Looking forward to reading the writer's book, called Assholology.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Our 2009 Christmas letter

Dear friends, family and mail thieves, we the Villarreals have
gathered together to submit to you our annual report.

As most of you are aware we welcomed a new member to our family this
year. The new addition has brightened our lives in ways we never
thought possible, giving us a powerful sense of purpose, the assurance
that God has truly blessed us, and helps us feel as though we're truly
complete. We spend hours giggling and gasping in awe every day as we
stare at our new beauty as she blossoms and smiles back at us with a
sense of wonder.

Yes, I'm talking about the 47-inch 1080p LCD HDTV. Four HDMI inputs!

Oh yeah, and Jessica popped out another one of them - what do yo call
it - oh yeah, babies. Forget the name. Irma? Imma? Something like
that. You can forgive us for losing track because let's face it - that
TV is frikkin' amazing and we spend so much time watching it that
nothing else really matters. But still, little Izzy is important too,
so bear with us and we can dig up the birth certificate and get back
to you.

2009 was all about give a little, get a little. First, the bad: We
lost our dog, Goose, who in Luke's words, is "God's dog now." And the
economy hit us hard, with three of the four members of our household
remaining unemployed. Even worse, Obama's rogue, Marxist White House
tried to shove socialized medicine down our throats, threatening the
pristine system that allowed us the pleasure of spending half our
life's savings on hospital bills. Another tragedy, at least to
Jessica, was the publication of Phil's book, "Secrets of a Stingy
Scoundrel," (makes a great stocking stuffer!) the contents of which
embarrassed her.

On the plus side, DID WE MENTION WE GOT AN AWESOME NEW TV? Yep, and
the purchase allowed us to move our old 32-inch LCD into the master
bedroom. On top of that, we even bought a second PlayStation 3 (they
double as a Blu-ray players), so now we can even bask in the benefits
of high-definition entertainment without exerting the exhausting
effort of sitting upright.

Also, we're healthy and stuff, and are one of 27 Arizona households
not to have slipped into foreclosure during fiscal '09, so there's
that. We're so happy, we'd even be OK without that TV.

OK, that's a lie. Hyperbole, you know. The TV means everything.

Oh, and the daughter is Emma. Told you we'd get back to you.

The Villarreals

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jenny Blake's Interview

Jenny Blake of Life After College bestows her interview powers on me. I like how she sells it:

In this interview, Phil talks about:

* Wanting to be fired
* Why he will never be able to pull a fast one on his wife
* His love of criticism (complete with protesters at his first book signing)
* How he made his publishing dream happen after seven years of failure
* How to use aspects of yourself that you are ashamed of to your advantage

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Review: Planet 51

In case you missed the movies Planet 1 through Planet 50, let me get you up to speed: Planet 51 is a sequel/remake of every animated movie involving aliens to come out before. It’s full of snarky pop culture references, slapstick gags for the kiddies and hammy performances from likely overpaid voice actors.

That said, it’s a rockin’ good time, particularly with the knowledge that you’re missing out on the sparkle motion vampire extravaganza in the next auditorium over, packed with squealing tween girls of all ages.

Just like Monsters vs. Aliens the movie is a silly social satire and vintage B-movie takeoff involving an alien invasion of a 1950s town. And just like The Battle for Terra and the forthcoming Avatar, the premise is about clueless humans invading a peaceful planet.

Dwayne don’t-call-me-the-Rock-no-more Johnson voices Captain Baker, the bumbling astronaut who terrorizes the planet of Shrek/Ork-like inhabitants by thinking he’s conquered it. Awkward teen Lem (Justin Long), who’s harboring a hopeless crush on the girl next door, Neera (Jessica Biel), and his pals work to protect Baker from the planet’s government, which aims to capture him and dissect his brain. Not that they’d find anything inside if they opened up his head.

Planet 51 doesn’t belong anywhere near the best animated picture race, but you can do a lot worse when looking for a family flick to pass the time. Its lack of silly vampire tropes is also a plus, and yet another bonus is you’ll probably have the theater to yourself, since everyone else will be flocking to the blockbuster du jour.

Starring the voices of Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long and Gary Oldman. Written by Joe Stillman. Directed by Jorge Blanco, Javier Abad and Marcos Martinez . Rated PG. 91 minutes.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Nina Sankovitch of Read All Day listed Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel as a perfect stocking stuffer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Review roundup

Frugal Dreamer pre-emptively blames me for the potential decay of her relationship, No Debt Plan sings the praises and Krystal at Work joins in.

And Top Cat has the first negative review.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Monday, October 05, 2009

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Wisebread review

Wisebread reviewed my book.

What Phil does is shatter the facade of decorum and say out loud (on writing) what most of us just don't have the guts to pull off. He doesn't hold anything back, revealing his most outrageous and creative tips on saving some dough. Not all his tips walk the fine line of ethics by the way. He shares important ones like cutting your hospital bill just by calling their billing department and asking for a discount for paying in full. True story: he knocked $1000 off a $4000 bill with that simple phone call. No super negotiation powers needed.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Giveaways Are Sexy

J Money of Budgets Are Sexy reviews the game and runs a givewaway

I still don't know whether to hug or punch him, but needless to say it was damn entertaining.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bargaineering review

Bargaineering's review continues the hot streak of positives from the personal finance blog community:

You have tips for getting into free movies, getting free swag (scamming banks no less), and all sorts of other little hacks. And all throughout the tips, his writing is funny and entertaining.

So, my recommendation is that you should buy the book, read it, and then return it. It would put a smile on Phil’s face.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tucker Max talks

I spoke with "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell" writer/producer Tucker Max. Here's what he had to say.

On his press tour to Tempe: "I was only in Tempe for seven or eight hours. I hooked up with two girls. It was nice. Tempe was ridiculous."

On what he looks for in a girl: "If a girl wants to hook up, she has to be cute, kind of. I do not want to deal with nut jobs. I have been doing this for seven years now, and I have run into more than my fair share of nut jobs. You just kind of learn to sit back and observe. It's pretty easy to figure out the basic components. I'm pretty good at sussing out crazy."

On what he thinks women want from him: "That's a really good question. It's f*cking weird. Here's the irony: I got famous by writing stories about hooking up with drunk girls who I absolutely do objectify. Now that I'm famous, all the girls who come to me to hook up objectify me worse than I ever objectified women. I've had girls literally roll off me and text over their phone, "OMG, I just f*cked Tucker Max." They'll steal a piece of my clothing and show their girlfriends. I'll f*ck a girl who will give me a script or something to read. I would never, ever sleep with a girl to get her to read a script."

On what's in his upcoming book, "Assholes Finish First": "It's mostly stories from the same era as 'Beer in Hell.' It covers ones I either didn't write up at the time or didn't put up for some reason or another."

On what it's like to pick up girls now that he's rich and famous: "There's a fundamental difference in going out and picking up a girl and having a girl come to you. Now it's not only do I not have to work for it, the question is 'who,' not 'if.' "

On how he's nothing like David Duchovny's character in "Californication:" I think that's very much an extension of Charles Bukowski. The Duchovny character is depressed, sad, pitiful and angry. I'm absolutely the complete and total opposite emotions. I'm all about happiness, joy and fun, all that kind of sh*t. We're totally polar opposites. Saying similarities exist between us with drinking and hooking up is like comparing 'The Sopranos' with 'Throw Momma From The Train.' "

On his detractors: "I just think I have to be grounded and self-assured. It never even occured to me I should listen to those people. Ninety percent of the criticism has nothing to do with me. They're protecting their own issues onto me. Why should I care about someone else's f*cked up life? I don't give a sh*t. Most people who don't like my stuff (and protest) are crazy. I think 'CSI' sucks but I don't, like, write blogs about it and protest it. What's so funny is the haters are obsessed with me. These people know more about me than my f*cking friends and family. When you hate something so much you're obsessed with it, it doesn't mean you hate it. Something else is going on there. These people are kooks."

On the actor who played him in the film: "He actually takes the character new places and is better than me because he's a lot more likable; a lot more redeemable. Friends will tell me, 'Due, you're not this cool. You're not this fun to hang out with. Dude, I would actually like you more if you were like that. You're just kind of a dick.' "

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Caliente Hot 5

My next signing is at the University of Arizona BookStore at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29. The Arizona Daily Star's Caliente featured the signing as one of the Hot 5 events of the week.

CanadianFinanceBlog Raves

Tom Drake of CanadianFinanceBlog hands over some Maple Leaf love for the book:

Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel is an easy read, with most of the tips coming in at about two pages. Phil’s writing is cynical and sarcastic, which I guess I should have expected coming from a movie critic. I’d recommend this book to anyone who can enjoy the humor without taking it too seriously. I really hope there’s no one out there that actually tries to accomplish all 100 dirty little money-grubbing secrets!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fabulously Broke's Review

Canadian PF blogger Fabulously Broke in the City writes a brilliant review:

3 Things I loved about the book

1. It’s written like an archive of a blog. Short, bite sized posts, just a couple pages each topic. A solid read. And the corners are nicely rounded, and the paper is of a good weight to hold and read.

2. Phil’s writing was really witty. And I don’t say that lightly about anyone who writes a book because I’m one picky mofo when it comes to tongue-in-cheek literature. (Did you really get rejected by publishers 12 billion times? Ouch, yo.)

3. This was not a dry, boring personal finance or frugality book. But if you can read in between the lines while throwing grains of salt over your left shoulder, the overriding message of the book is: don’t spend money frivolously and don’t live on credit but use it wisely to gain the most rewards both of which I am down with.

Bonus: In the review, she even describes how to get the book for free!

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Two Dollars Review/Giveaway

My Two Dollars gives the book another endorsement:

Overall, a great read that is both entertaining and educational – I recommend it to all my frugal friends!

FreeMoneyFinance Wraps Up Its Excerpt Series

On Friday the site excerpted the sodas chapter. I'll admit the comments are probably funnier than anything in the book.

Quad City Times Writes About The Book

Kay Luna of the Iowa newspaper gives Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel a nice little mention:

The point is, young people - especially those struggling to pay for college - need all the help they can get in the money-saving department. So I giggled when I saw a story about this new book called "Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets."

It's written by Phil Villarreal, a reporter for the Arizona Daily Star who says he was inspired by his time spent as a student at the University of Arizona. His tips in the book are geared toward that college age bracket and are not really viable for "grown-ups."

For instance, he talks about pouring milk - leftover from his cereal bowl - back in the jug for reuse. Eeeuuuuwww.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Review: Jennifer's Body

Guess I'm a Diablo Cody sycophant, because I loved "Jennifer's Body." All the complaints I read going into the film -- that it was too self aware, the dialogue was too cutesy and funny for its own good and that the plot was inane and predictable -- were exactly the reasons I loved the movie.

I hate to be the guy who comes out and complains that few understand this film like I and the small cadre of supporters do, but screw it, I'll be that guy. This movie thrives on its intended level of "Scream"-style horror comedy, blazes through its running time and had me laughing throughout. I suspect a subliminally orchestrated mass takedown of screenwriter Diablo Cody, who some whined undeservedly took home an Oscar for "Juno." The inexplicably negative reaction to the movie reminds me of the hateful burning of Kevin Smith's "Mallrats." Not that "Jennifer's Body" comes anywhere close to the majesty of "Mallrats," but at the risk of sounding like a right wing radio George W. Bush apologist, I'll declare that history will look back fondly on this movie.

Enough about how others reacted to the movie. I'll spend the rest of the time here gushing about what I loved:

*I loved Megan Fox. In her first true lead role, she handles the character of maneater Jennifer Check with aplomb and nuance. She owns this sucker thoroughly, and if she ever evolves into a respected, awards-flirting actress, this film will be the launching pad that made that happen. For the first time she proves she has a real talent other than uttering attention-drawing press junket quotes. She sells Cody's verbal gymnastics with skill and conviction, and shows excellent range, displaying viciousness, seductiveness, insecurity and misery, sometimes all at once.

*I loved Amanda Seyfried. As strong as Fox is in this movie, Seyfried is twice as great. Through "Big Love," the disaster that was "Mamma Mia!" and a few spot roles, she's always been strong, but Seyfried carries the crucial beating heart of the film in her bespectacled doe eyes. A lost, desperate soul hopelessly in love with her too-aware user of a best friend, her cheekily-named character Needy Lesnicky (props for Cody for not going overboard and replacing the "i" in the last name with "oo") grounds the film just enough to prevent the antics from skidding off into "Scary Movie" territory.

*I loved that the movie made dirty jokes about tampons, PMS and periods. These are jokes male screenwriters wouldn't have been able to pull off, and Cody not only uses her feminine license but makes the jokes stingingly funny rather than gratuitous.

*I loved Cody's writing. Sure, everything in this movie seems like second-string pop-culture referencing wordplays that didn't make the cut for "Juno," but guess what -- Cody is apparently so damn good that her fifth-string material could still best 90 percent of what passes for high school-set horror flick dialogue. Sure, her characters don't talk the way real people talk. Her stylized patter this time out got me as giddy as "Brick," a movie everyone gushed over.

*I loved how deliberately awful the special effects were, and how the characters poked fun at the silliness of projectile vomiting and demonic levitation. Her characters are aware they're in a movie without being aware you're watching, if that makes sense. Cody hits the same notes Quentin Tarantino did in "Inglourious Basterds," and he gets worshipped while she's reviled. Not fair.

*I loved the bit that takes place during the end credits, set to Hole's "Violet." The triumphantly vengeful tone of the epligoue helps underline the movie's underlying message of the dispiriting lie of outward beauty, humankind's fallacy of overlooking flaws in blind pursuit of that hypnotizing quality, brought to life with the sick dynamic of how groupies and celebrities exploit one another.

"Jennifer's Body" doesn't fulfill the promise Cody displayed in "Juno," but if the release order of her films had been reversed, this movie would have been given a much better chance of success by the tastemakers. Now Cody will probably face the Richard Kelly stigma of being a flash in the pan who fell into obscurity. But Kevin Smith faced a similar obstacle and overcame it with the magnificent "Chasing Amy," and Kelly, well, hopefully "The Box" will at least be OK. Cody, here's hoping you've got a "Chasing Amy" in you to make the doubters make like Jennifer Check and eat their hearts out.

The Centsible Life Review

Kelly at The Centsible Life adds to the cacophony of raves. She writes:

One of the most entertaining frugality books ever.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Finance for a Freelance Life review

Mrs. Micah at Finance for a Freelance Life does some reviewing. She's also running a giveaway. An excerpt:

And lying about any number of things (oh the lies he comes up with), would make me feel worse about saving the money than I would about spending it. This book is not a reliable life guide.

What it is, is hilarious.

Villarreal keeps you guessing–sometimes it’s hard to tell whether he’s recommending one of his tips or writing about it because it could work and he finds it hilarious to think of someone trying it.

Some of his tips are quite good and sane, though approached with his quirky style. For example, he has great tips for getting around ATM fees (commonsense stuff, but something to remember). Or he recounts calling the hospital after his second child’s birth and asking for 25% off the bill if he paid in cash. The hospital agreed. No hassle, simple call.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Financial Methods review

Financial Methods reviewed the book. Excerpt:

If you like shock value with your money-saving tips, then check out Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel. You will end up laughing out loud!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New review: No. 1 with a Missel

Rebecca Missel over at Shtetl Fabulous, whom I've known since my Daily Wildcat days, is the latest to review the book. Excerpt:

The section of the book that I would seriously consider implementing, societal judgment be damned, was the portion covering Finance. Villarreal offers such logical suggestions of avoiding ATM fees, paying down debt and taking advantage of rebates.

He even manages to challenge fiduciary stereotypes while bringing an element of humor to the art (or tedium) of coupon clipping, “It saddens me that coupon clipping is viewed as the pastime of the desperate housewife…Here and now I want to start an effort to reclaim coupon clipping for men everywhere. I want Harley riders to start keeping plastic, accordion-style coupon holders in the back of their hogs. I want UFC fighters to tout the benefits of $1 off Raisin Bran coupons after bouts. I want John Wayne to rise from the grave, visit a Circle K, and push a buy-one-get-one-free Thirstbuster card over the counter.” Classic.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Eastside Barnes & Noble Tucson signing

It went well. Filled all the seats and sold a lot of books. Next up, University of Arizona BookStore, 4:30 p.m. Sept. 29.


Friday, September 11, 2009

About Last Night....

Mysterious Arizonan night ranger Deuce of Clubs checks in with a revealing deconstruction of last night's wild protests. An excerpt:

Even though their signs had exactly the look I would be going for if I were staging a fake protest to get publicity for my book (right down to the frowny face and comical misuse of the language and its punctuation), it was obvious from their actual frowny faces that these were genuinely pissed-off folks. They were wary when I approached but, as I've always said, you can get away with almost anything as long as you have a black bag and a purposeful step. When I pulled out my digital recorder to talk with them for a few minutes and snap some photos, they didn't even ask who I was or who I was with (though the answer would have been—and always is—"Barth Gimble, Fernwood 2 Night, howyadoin?")

The four women told me they'd all worked together as servers. So what's their beef with the book? Well, they all admitted right up front—CAREFUL, THIS WILL SHOCK YOU—that they hadn't read the book. (A bookstore employee later mentioned that one or more of the ladies had been in the store the previous day. Research!)


If not for these interesting folks, last night's signing in Scottsdale wouldn't have been nearly as cool.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Poorer Than You reviews SOASS

Stephanie at Poorer Than You delivers a great review of the book. An excerpt:

While the tips range in stinginess and ridiculousness (with the last chapter obviously winning in both categories), the book is truly funny throughout. Just ask my boyfriend, who had to endure my giggles and donkey-braying as I read the book. (But don’t ask my boyfriend if he thinks the book is funny – he’s such a tightwad that he just thinks the book is accurate.)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Protests at tomorrow's Scottsdale signing?

The Barnes & Noble rep writes:

We've gotten a lot of calls on your event after the Republic article. Several have threatened never to shop at B&N again because we are promoting illegal activities. One lady came in and threatened to picket the event. Anyway it should be fun. Its a strange time we live in.

7 p.m. Barnes & Noble on 90th. Please come, especially if you're a protester.

Phoenix New Times profile

The New Times rings in with a nice feature.

Tucson Weekly plays nice

The Tucson Weekly made my Friday signing one of the picks of the week, and keeps it positive! (Scroll down).

Ginger Won't Snap

She mentions the book in her post Things I'm Digging.

Arizona Daily Wildcat profile

The Daily Wildcat ran a nice profile. One problem: I haven't had a signing at the UA bookstore yet. That's going to take place Sept. 29 at 4:30.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The book giveaway that barely was

Thanks to Tracy of MyMoneyStory for running a book giveaway. And congrats to the one person who entered and won.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

First review of Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel

Thanks to personal finance blogger extraordinaire Fiscal Fizzle for being the first reviewer of my book, and setting things off on a positive tone.

He writes:

If sarcasm, fun with money, and an open mind are in your vocabulary, you won’t find a more unique personal finance book than this one to enjoy.

Awl love

Choire Sicha of The Awl posted an excerpt of my book. The commenters weren't into it, but that's to be expected. Either my money-saving humor repels you or intrigues you. There's little middle ground.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Review: Inglourious Basterds

Most World War II movies feel as though they're fossilized in amber like a "Jurassic Par" mosquito. There's always a bit of distance and "sit up in your seat there, boy, pay attention"-ness to them.

With "Inglourious Basterds," Quentin Tarantino takes a baseball bat to the amber. He gives us a WWII flick that feels like a dirty story your grandpa would have told you if he got drunk enough. It's officially the most historically accurate film about the war ever made, because it shows how Adolf Hilter actually died in a movie theater, Mike Myers spent his pre-"Wayne's World" career a mugging British officer and everything anybody ever said sounded as zippy as though it had been written by Tarantino.

One of Tarantino's goals in the film seems to be to surpass the grotesqueness of his "Reservoir Dogs" ear-slicing scene. You see Louisville sluggers splatter Nazi brains, knives carve swastikas into foreheads, and let's not even get into all the scalping. It's disgusting, repulsive, and Tarantino through and through. The violence isn't symbolic or profound, it's just there for its own sake. Tarantino just tosses it in there because he can, much the same way he dutifully misspells both words in his title and includes a gratuitous scene to indulge his foot fetish. He's built a mythos on redefining the cinematic world through his own willfully immature, defiantly silly point of view, and Lord bless him for it, because I'd take authoritative voice over talent any day of the week, and Tarantino has both.

Every minute of the film seethes with enthusiasm. Is Tarantino is exposing the moral vacancy of war by swapping the Jewish and Nazi roles as unfeeling slaughterers and meek victims? Maybe, but I doubt such thoughts even crossed his mind as he pounded away at this script over the years. This is revisionist history of the highest order, a Sparks Notes version of trivia culled from drug-addled notes scribbled in the margins.

One of the biggest knocks on the movie from the naysayers, other than the usual gripes about Tarantino's vengeance obsession and self-awareness, is that the characters are among his flattest and his dialogue doesn't sing with the jot-it-down-and-repeat it catch-phrasiness of some of his past work. I think I agree, although it hardly wiped the grin off my face. If this is cardboard cutout puppet theater on a street corner, it's good enough to get me to empty my pocket change into the hat. The performances are all excellently tuned for exactly what the story calls for, particularly Brad Pitt's southern-fried Patton-by-way-of-Knute Rockne motivatinal speeches. Eli Roth is no actor, but his stunned oblivion is exactly what loopy Sgt. Donny Donowitz needs. If mustache-twirling Cristoph Waltz doesn't give a best supporting actor worthy performance as Nazi Jew-hunter Hans Landa is, then I'm incapable of identifying such a turn.

But the real star of the movie is Melanie Laurent, undoubtedly Tarantino's new Uma Thurman, as Shoshanna, the wings-plucked manic pixie dream girl who runs her own theater and concocts a masterplan that changes the course of history.

The movie is perfect for what it is, and a hell of a rebound after it seemed the auteur lost a little off the fastball with "Death Proof." I rank "Inglourious Basterds" behind most of his other films, ahead of only "Death Proof" and "Jackie Brown," but it's in the same ballpark as his ingenious classics and by far the best World War II film I've ever seen.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Review: Ponyo

"Ponyo" makes no sense at all, which is just how it should be for a Hayao Miyazaki movie. His ethereal films move with the sensible illogic of childhood dreams, and are powerful enough to revert you to the state of a 7-year-old as you watch.

That said, I'm not heads over heels in love with any of his stuff save for "Howl's Moving Castle." His movies tend to enrapture me in the beginning and lose me somewhere in the middle as they follow their hyperactive arcs. At that point I start hanging on for dear life, appreciating what I can and checking my cell phone clock more often than I should.

"Ponyo" was par for the Miyazaki course - loopy, silly and funny in points while still able to knock you over the head with deep human truths. His twisted version of "Finding Nemo" meets "Splash," the movie won't go down as one of his best, but it's still better than 90 percent of animation out there.

Ponyo is a Teletubby-like fish with a human baby face who gets stuck in a piece of trash - as Miyazaki ages he leans more and more environmentalist - and washes ashore, where a 5-year-old boy picks her up and keeps her as a pet. His adoring, supportive mother isn't quite sure whether it's wise to keep Ponyo around, but the boy is in instant love and values Ponyo more than just about everything in his life. The mother probably senses that if she were to take Ponyo away, she'd sever a part of her son's soul.

The kid does all he can to protect Ponyo from an uncaring world, dashing away from kindergarten so he can check on her (he places her in bushes widely just outside school property, subverting the school rule that pets aren't allowed on campus) and fending off interested classmates. But there's no defending against elemental water monsters that crawl out of the ocean, engulf your island in a mini-tsunami and take human-faced magic fishies back home. The boy and Ponyo are parted, heartbreakingly just after Ponyo has finally learned to talk, using her first words to declare her eternal love for the boy.

To explain any more of the plot would only make me sound like a rambling idiot while robbing the movie of its joyfully perilous meanderings, but know that the separation doesn't last long, and soon Ponyo, who proves to have magical powers to transform into a human, make things bigger and heal wounds by licking them, joins the boy on a dangerous journey to find someone both of them love.

Spoiler alert - at the end of the movie, the boy has to vow to always love Ponyo, pretty much agreeing to marry her. I love the way Miyazaki handles this. The boy is understandably a little non-committal about the whole thing, perhaps second-guessing himself after he agrees to the setup by not exactly leaping to symbolically cement the love with a kiss, but Ponyo just sort of steals it from him anyway, and you could swear the boy is suppressing some doubt in the back of his mind. Maybe he's thinking, "Hold up, dude. What if I ever meet another hotter, younger fish-chick? What then?" But by then he's already bought the cow. Such is life in the world of Miyazaki.

Friday, August 07, 2009

How I became a lumberjack

It all started with an HOA letter several weeks ago telling me the tree was in violation because my giant palo verde tree, which resembles the plant-monster in Little Shop of Horrors although it grows much faster, loomed over the sidewalk.

Since then every garbage day I've been chipping away at it, using extending clippers to snip off branches, filling the garbage can with foliage twice a week.

Wednesday was particularly windy. I reached the clippers way up high and got the pull-string all tangled up in spikes and branches. It would not come out. I got a ladder out, and it nearly blew down and killed me. I had to get to the base of the colossal branch which was accessible if I unsafely stood on top of the handrail
so I got this dinky hacksaw out that looks like it's a Fisher-Price toy and went to work. It took me more than an hour and I sustained several injuries, but I triumphed over the tree.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Review: (500) Days of Summer

"I must warn you. This is not a love story," or something like that, is one of the first lines in (500) Days of Summer. It's said by the narrator, and he's so right. This is not a love story. It's so much better than that.

What the hilarious, genius-level drama is about is infatuation. It's about Tom, a poor lost soul played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who's convinced himself that the love of a coworker on which he's fixated will solve all his ills. That it will be the opiate that helps him to forget the fact that he hates his job, his life, himself. He wants to orbit Summer (Zooey Deschanel) and draw closer and closer to her omnipotent incandescence and vanish into her, give up on himself and become a part of her.

It's pathetic, everyone around him, including his smartass little sister can see it, especially Summer, who tolerates him for a few months only because she thinks he's cute, likes some of the same music she does and is willing to play silly exhibitionist games in public that would embarrass 90 percent of a potential boyfriend pool she's deemed too small.

Of course I rooted for Tom to defy the narrator's declaration of fate, Summer's disinterest and the writers' precise designs themselves to find his bliss with Summer. Because first-time-filmmaker, long-time music videomaker Marc Webb and his fantastic screenwriters do such a great job of making you fall in love with her right along with Tom (Not that it takes a heck of a lot of convincing once they cast the incomparable Deschanel in the role). Also, we've all been there before, locked in an unrequited love, scanning the offending, oblivious angel for voodoo signs of longed-for interest that just aren't really there. Most of us get off easier than poor Tom because our crushes just ignore us. But Summer is bored enough to take a flier on him, pushing him into a semi-exclusive affair even when she confronts him and he's too sheepish to admit that he likes her as more than a friend.

This is one of those rare movies that lulls you in with laughter, longing and armrest-squeezing angst down a certain path before slyly slipping in a few revelations that turn the plot on its head and make you consider that maybe you've been watching the whole thing the wrong way, and that you'll need to give it a fresh look someday when you find it on DVD, or maybe next weekend. Or maybe in half an hour. I loved the movie so much I would have sat eagerly while they re-spooled it and gave it another go. The second time around you'd see things the right way. That's what Tom is thinking so the thought enters your head as well. He was in love not with Summer, but the idea of being in love. At the end of the film it's not that he hates her, but that she helped reveal to him his silly second-adolescence fantasy never really existed. Tom is unlovable because he gave up on himself.

It's no surprise that IMDB voters have already lifted it into the top 250 movies ever made, because it gives you so damned much to love!

The dialogue has the cleverness of Juno melded with the honesty of Once and Before Sunrise/Sunset. The characters don't quite talk the way real people do, nor do they seem like their words are test-tube babies cooked up in a screenwriting lab.

The sequence in which Tom and Summer play house inside an IKEA is just perfection. They shoul cut the sound from that clip and sell it as a single for iPods. It's iconic and everlasting, like Rocky sprinting up the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps with pumping arms raised. It's the Death Star blowing up. It's the characters in Band of Outsiders sprinting through the Louvre. And the IKEA moment is barely better than any other 5-minute stretch in the film.

The novel-like construction and time-skipping plays out perfectly, alternating from fleeting moments of bliss in the earlier days, onto the agony and despair of the latter days, then back again. There is rhyme and reason to the way the story is told. You're literally inside Tom's head, sulking unshaven, crying into your pillow, thinking back as to what convinced you this thing with Summer would work out, only to allow your cruel memory to jerk you back into reality -- it's a violent, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-like debate.

Look, here I am a million paragraphs into the review and I've made the movie sound so serious. The fact is it's incredibly funny, often inappropriately so, which makes it all the better. There are levels to the humor. At any given moment a third of the theater was laughing at one thing the others missed, only to have another third laugh at the next thing. You could read the entire film as a comedy, all the way up to the stinging final line, which is one of the rare universal howlers in the film.

The narrator -- can't find the guy's name -- is the one who pushes the movie from excellence to greatness. And the performances are pitch-perfect, because Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel don't so much act as play themselves, or at least the same characters both always play in every movie they're in. Deschanel, or maybe someone who sounds just like her, sings throughout soundtrack. At first I found the inclusion of the She & Him music to be a little too cute, but midway through the film I was fine with it. And by the end I think the choice to have Deschanel or a voice-clone sing the soundtrack was the only one possible. If the idealized Summer is haunting Tom's every thought, why not have someone who sings with her voice haunting his subconscious as he recollects his 500 wasted days?

Lord, do I love this movie. Walking out of the theater I felt just as staggered as after I watched Before Sunset and Once. It's a romantic anti-romance, a self-help video, 96 minutes of stand-up comedy and escapist bliss. It's a movie that makes me wish I were still a film critic so I could beg tens of thousands of readers to see it rather just the few who will read this post.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Too Hot For TV: The Costco-Sam's Club Two-Step

In a miniseries I've dubbed "Too Hot for TV," I'll be sharing the tips that my editors didn't allow in the final version of my book. Today's tip is called The Costco-Sam's Clube Two-Step:

Glory be to any business with a no-questions-asked, no time limit, full money back guarantee. Both warehouse wholesaler giants Costco and Sam’s Club will refund your annual membership fee at any time and for any reason. I choose my refund time as the day before my membership is set to expire, and my reason as the sudden urge to join up with its competitor. After nearly a year has passed, I run the same game at the other place and go back to where I started. Think of Costco and Sam’s Club as your own personal Betty and Veronica, then ask yourself the question that always eluded
Archie – why choose when both are equally lovely and willing to take turns?
Annual memberships at both places run more than $50, and grant you access to what seems like square miles of amazing deals. Just don’t fall into the trap of over-buying stuff you don’t need, such as that 10-gallon tub of peanut butter.

What’s great about Club/Costco is that even if you don’t follow my insidious advice, memberships can easily pay for themselves in just a couple months, and even provide you a source of alternate income. Tapping the businesses makes for excellent resale opportunities, whether you’re fundraising for a school, club or yourself. You can find candy bars and sodas for less than 20 cents apiece and sell them for far more than double that amount at yard sales or community sporting events.

Savings on gas is also a hefty bonus, with prices per gallon nearly always running a few cents per gallon cheaper than the lowest-priced outside gas station.

One thing that annoys me is how paranoid both places are, automatically accusing every customer of shoplifting and refusing to let them out of the store unless they submit to a grocery cart eyeballing and receipt scan. What are they thinking? Of all the customer bases most likely to rip a business off, the Costco/Sam’s Clubsters who actually pay for the very privilege of being allowed to step inside the cavernous stores would seem to be the least likely.

One of these trips I’m going to sprint out of Costco after I buy my stuff and see if anyone tries to chase me down. I hope they tackle me, pin me to the ground while they check to see what I stole, then after they discover I’m clean, apologize profusely with free coupons for hundreds of dollars worth of groceries, which I would gladly accept before pursuing a lawsuit against them. And then I’d use false arrest as my reason for asking for a full membership refund before flipping to Sam’s Club and starting the process over again.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Litte Bit Time

Luke heard the song "Live and Let Die" today in "Shrek 3" and interpreted the lyrics as "Little Bit Time," then proceeded to rock out to his newfound favorite song, which is a vast improvement over the original. Incidentally, this is not one of his Weird Al-style song paraodies, which include the lyrics "Yo-ho, yo-ho, a robot's life for me" and "Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for robot."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I am tracking down my friend's Wii

My friend's Wii was stolen from his house during a break-in a few weeks ago. Since he was my Wii friend, I e-mailed my friend, who was now the thief or someone the thief sold the Wii to, and told him he was a bastard because he stole my friend's Wii.

The guy wrote back tonight telling me he bought it from a pawn shop. So it turns out the thief was dumb enough to take it to a place that's required by law to take a record of the pawned item and its serial number. This guy is going down because my friend can give the serial number to the police even if the current owner of his stolen Wii doesn't cooperate.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Luke will grow up to be a comedian

Today when I was giving him a bath he took the shampoo bottle, placed it between his legs and said "Look, I have a huge penis!" He's only 2 and already an ace with the improv. A little Richard Pryor, this one.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Stormin' Mormon is a reasonable price now, for once

My novel Stormin' Mormon is now $6.99 on You'll have to type the title into the search box, and don't forget the apostrophe. If you are absolutely crazy and rich, you can opt for the hardcover for $30. Sadly I might break my own rule about not ordering one of those books myself and actually order buy a hardcover because I don't own one.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

That's Enough, Van Wilder Makers

No more awful sequels/prequels ever. Stand over there with the American Pie and Bring it On franchises and just stop. Please. Unless you can ever get Ryan Reynolds back.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Seth Rogen and John Goodman

They both sounds exactly the same. Which is the voice of giant, one-eyed monsters. I came to this conclusion through extensive research, studying Monsters Inc. and Monsters vs. Aliens.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel signings schedule

Catch the magic at these places and times. Hopefully more to come.

7 p.m. Sept. 10 – Barnes & Noble, 10500 N. 90th Street, Scottsdale, AZ

7 p.m. Sept. 11 – Barnes & Noble, 5130 E. Broadway, Tucson, AZ

4:30 p.m. Sept. 29 – University of Arizona BookStore, 1209 E. University Blvd. Tucson, AZ

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Scottsdale Signing Sept. 10

I nailed down another signing - my first chronologically. 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10 at the Scottsdale Barnes & Noble. I feel so happy for everyone in Scottsdale that they'll finally get the thrill of being able to not only buy a book by me but get my personal autograph and even shake my hand, all in the same day!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


It makes no sense to thank God for food, because you got that food yourself. The rebuttal to this is God gave you the means to get the food. He allowed the sun and water to nourish the wheat that would turn into your bread. Yadda yadda. But to thank God for your food is also to assign blame to him for its content. What if it tastes bad? What if there's salmonella or botulism in there? Does that mean God poisoned you?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Advance praise for Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel

"This book not only pays for itself within the first few chapters, but Phil unearths ways to subvert the scams of cellular companies. Eye-opening at the very least, this money-saving manuscript is less an ode to parsimoniousness, and more a call to arms."
-Maddox (George Ouzounian), author of New York Times Bestseller “The Alphabet of Manliness”

“Phil is a devious mastermind. He'd be the Lex Luthor of tightwads if Lex Luthor was hilarious. Most of the advice in this book will at best destroy your treasured personal relationships and at worst get your butt kicked, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it is awesome. If you've ever done something cheap and blushed slightly, you'll be gratified to know that not only is there someone else doing that exact cheap thing -- he's perfected a system and is willing to share his knowledge with a grateful public.

“Not only did Phil get me to write this blurb for him, he also convinced me to give him $20 from my wallet.”
-Meghann Marco, author of “Field Guide to the Apocalypse: Movie Survival Skills for the End of the World”

“Phil Villarreal is one cheap bastard, but fortunately he's not stingy with his words. A flabbergasting and funny book from cover to cover."
-Mark Jude Poirier, author of “Modern Ranch Living” and “Goats,” screenwriter of “Smart People.”

“Read this book for free, one item at a time, over 100 days, at your local chain bookstore—while there are still chain bookstores, and there won’t be if all you do is read their books for free. Or, hell, get over your stinginess this one time only and buy the damned thing, because one way or another, this amusing, smart, and sensible book deserves your (free) time.”
-Chris Ryall, author of “Comic Books 101”

New signing

7 p.m. Sept. 11 at the East Side Barnes & Noble, 5130 E. Broadway. This will be the first signing, followed by one at the UA Bookstore Sept. 29. Be there!

Friday, June 12, 2009


Just what creature did Slimer from Ghostbusters used to be? No living thing looks anything like that. I think he was just born a weird, adorable green ghost.

Saturday, June 06, 2009


"This is the happiest place in the world... dammit."
-Jessica Villarreal

Friday, June 05, 2009

A good way to almost crash your car

Is to get less than 4 hours of sleep for five consecutive nights, spend 9 hours at Disneyland with a 2 year old and 3 month old, then drive 400 miles at night.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Damn you, Wii

Why you gotta go disc read error on me when I'm about to finish defending my title belt in "Punch Out!!" And why wait until you're out of warranty to give up the ghost, so as to cost me $75? You're a cruel, cold-hearted machine.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

First book signing scheduled!

4:30 p.m. Sept. 29 at the University of Arizona bookstore. You know you want to be there.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Swan song

I won second place in the Arizona Press Club's film, video and television criticism category. Would have been nice to have gone out on top but there's some charm in a Cardinals-style near-miss, right?

Full disclosure: only six people entered. I'm exiting a game of movie critical musical chairs here, and we've run fresh out of chairs.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ah, my first review!

Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets by Phil Villarreal

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is phenomenal. It will save you money, make you laugh and answer all your hopes and prayers. Try and read it every day for the rest of your life.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I'm annoyed

At how Youtube embeds on fresh posts block out links to my book's Amazon site. Ugh.






to un-block the link until I can figure out a better way to handle this.

Rudo Y Cursi

Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna are sort of a modern Mexican version of Laurel and Hardy. Working together again in a sibling rivalry soccer movie for the first time since they met in the seminal Y Tu Mama Tambien, the guys prove once again to be a formidable comic team. Never mind that neither of their collaborations are true comedies. What makes both films work (although I'm hesitant to lump the movies together because Y Tu Mama is in a class far above this one) is the subtle humor that underscores the tense drama.

The tough, tense stuff simply wouldn't work if Bernal and Luna weren't as good as they are at playing off of one another's comic cues to set up scores of humiliating gags. The actors' chemistry lifts what might have been an average sports melodrama to something near special.

Bernal is Tato, an easygoing striker who fashions himself a night club singer, while Bernal is Tato's high-strung brother Beto, a mustachioed goalie who resents the success of anyone around him, especially Tato. Early on a scout happens by the brothers on a southern Mexico soccer pitch and tells them he can take only one of them with him to a pro tryout up north. It's a testament to Beto (nicknamed Rudo for his rudeness) is willing to wage his future on a single penalty shot, given the inherent advantage of the shooter in the situation. Beto tries to tell his suggestion-prone brother to kick it to the right so he can block it, but the brothers cross signals, Tato scores the goal, and he's on to the big leagues.

It's when Tato rises to fame, earning the nickname Cursi for his flowery, elegant play, that the movie takes on its true spirit, reminding me of the joyous, nobodies-make-good in the early episodes of Entourage. He eventually pulls Beto into the fold, and the brothers wind up living together in an overpriced house, playing for rival squads that you just know will end up meeting in the climactic scene with everything on the line.

The first two thirds of the film are spectacular but the ending is disgustingly contrived - just too cute and telescoped - and leaves you with a sour taste in your mouth. But there are enough thrills and laughs here to justify the price of admission.

Saturday, May 09, 2009


Ah, Zooey Deschanel. The ultimate Manic Pixie Dream Girl, who plays pretty much the same character in every movie and TV show she comes across. She's always slightly aloof, struggling with inner turmoil, falling for sad sack losers and inspiring them to greater heights, then hurling herself into self-caused turmoil in order to be redeemed by her faceless beau.

The indie spinner Gigantic holds form. This time her character has the ultimate Manic Pixie Dream Girl name, Harriet "Happy" Lolly. She meets her man-slave du jour, a mattress salesman named Brian (Paul Dano), by wandering into his shop and falling asleep on one of his beds. She's there to pay for merchandise bought by her dad, Al (John Goodman, playing just as awesome a racist windbag as he did in The Big Lebowski).

Brian is pretty much a directionless loser who saves himself by falling for Happy. His screenwriter-device quirks are that he's obsessed with adopting a Chinese baby and has a tendency to be randomly attacked, whether it be by homeless guys on the street or randomly shot at, Dick Cheney style, on a hunting trip.

Gigantic is ultra-emo but sort of funny, and it's got Zooey, so that should give you enough evidence about whether or not you need to see this. The answer, of course, is that you do, because Happy would be sad if you didn't want to see her story. And you wouldn't like a Manic Pixie Dream Girl when she's angry.

This is now my movie review blog

Now that I've been reassigned and am no longer an official movie critic, I'll be going rogue, with reviews to come on everything I see on this site. I won't be so quick on the new releases anymore, and will probably spend most of my time reviewing movies that have just come out on DVD, or movies that have been on DVD forever but are suddenly new to me. First up: "Gigantic," a movie opening at the Loft in a couple weeks.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Horn or whistle? You decide

A car horn honks as Luke and I are on the way to pick up Papa John's for Jessica's 30th birthday party.

Luke: "What was that?"

Me: "A horn."

Luke: "That's not a horn, silly!"

Me: "Then what was it?"

Luke: "A whistle, silly."

Me: "Huh."

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bread cheers

I'd never considered toasting bread loaves, but Luke decided it was a natural way to celebrate a meal. Today at lunch he picked up a piece of bread, shoved it in front of my face and said "cheers," waiting for me to reciprocate. It felt surprisingly natura.

I now see the trend of touching pieces of bread to those of dinner partners spreading across the globe.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Moratorium on "cats"

No more referring to people as "cats" in an effort to sound like a hipster Daddy-o. The expiration date has passed, the milk has spoiled and needs to be tossed out. It's all done now, OK? Same thing with "tweeps."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I vow to never hashtag

I am morally against placing a # sign before a word in a Twitter (I refuse to call them "tweets" - an unmanly, despicable term that should be curb-stomped and forgotten). It's time we take a stand against this nonsense, people. Who's with me?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Don't think it's gonna happen

After well more than 30 and a half years of life I don't think I'll ever find myself taking part in a life-or-death chase atop moving train cars. One can always dream though.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Close down the NBA

The NBA is boring and is no longer necessary in today's society. Shut it down. Let colleges keep their players for as long as they want to.

Also, slash the baseball season in half. It goes on too long. Reduce NASCAR to a three-race season.

Keep the NFL at 16 games because it's perfect in every way.

Also, move the NHL and college hockey to Canada.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Last pass

Tonight is my last chance to give my manuscript a once-over before the design process kicks in and things are pretty much locked down. I'll go tonight until I can't physically operate anymore. Glad it's a small book.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sit Down, Shut Up

Had a terrible, terrible pilot that convinced me to never watch an episode again. Which shouldn't be too difficult because I doubt it will last more than a few more weeks.

PW book deal announcement

Over at Publishers Weekly they're running the deal announcement on my book being sold to Skyhorse. Still doesn't feel real just yet, but it's getting there.

"Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel" is coming out Sept. 1 and is pre-orderable at the link over on the right. If you care about my stuff enough to read this little blog I can count on you to get a copy or 10 and convince all of your friends and acquaintances to do the same, right? Right?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ninjas versus spiders

Playing Ninja Blade today made me realize that every ninja video game ever created has some sort of gigantic spider boss. As I was hacking the legs off the spider I wondered what it is that makes spiders the natural enemy of ninjas.

Is it perhaps because they regard one another as grotesque, perverted reflections of themselves? The ninja, a master of stealth, wall-jumping and not using guns, views the spider as what a ninja might look like if he happened to have born with an exoskeleton, several legs and venomous fangs. The spider, recognizing in the ninja a similar ability to stalk and trap its prey without resorting to boorish assaults, imagines that he might have been born a ninja had he lacked web-spinning ability and been blessed with the power to sever henchmen's spines with shurikens.

Taking all that into account, it would not surprise me if the spider-ridiculing films "8 Legged Freaks" and "Arachnophobia" were written and directed by covert ninjas. Likewise, the blatantly anti-ninja movies "Three Ninjas" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" were produced by spiders who had managed to work their way up through the Hollywood system by masquerading as humans (advanced knowledge of makeup effects would have been an absolute necessity to pull off this ruse).

While the opposing forces have battled to a draw in the realm of film, it's sad in this age of affirmative action and equal rights that the video game world continues to be vehemently ant-spider and pro-ninja. We're led to believe that spiders, even in gigantic, mutated form, are no match for an average-size ninjas with never-ending continues.

Oh, for a spider-based game in which the end boss is a tiny ninja. That would be one for the ages.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A request

To: Everyone
From: Me

Please shut up about these stupid protests known as Tea Parties. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My 2009 Cardinals season predictions

1 Sun, Sept. 13 vs. San Francisco 49ers FOX 4:15 p.m. Win, 20-17
2 Sun, Sept. 20 at Jacksonville Jaguars FOX 1 p.m. Win, 45-0
3 Sun, Sept. 27 vs. Indianapolis Colts NBC 8:20 p.m. Win, 77-0
4 Bye
5 Sun, Oct. 11 vs. Houston Texans CBS 4:15 p.m. Win, 66-0
6 Sun, Oct. 18 at Seattle Seahawks FOX 4:05 p.m. Win, 99-0
7 Sun, Oct. 25 at New York Giants NBC 8:20 p.m. Win, 255-0
8 Sun, Nov. 1 vs. Carolina Panthers FOX 4:15 p.m. Win, 88-0
9 Sun, Nov. 8 at Chicago Bears FOX 1 p.m. Win, 22-0
10 Sun, Nov. 15 vs. Seattle Seahawks FOX 4:15 p.m. Win, 49-0
11 Sun, Nov. 22 at St. Louis Rams FOX 4:05 p.m. Win, 74-0
12 Sun, Nov. 29 at Tennessee Titans FOX 1 p.m. Win, 55-0
13 Sun, Dec. 6 vs. Minnesota Vikings FOX 4:15 p.m. Win, 48-0
14 Mon, Dec. 14 at San Francisco 49ers ESPN 8:30 p.m. Win, 20-19
15 Sun, Dec. 20 at Detroit Lions FOX 1 p.m. Win, 64-0
16 Sun, Dec. 27 vs. St. Louis Rams FOX 4:05 p.m. Win, 44-0
17 Sun, Jan. 3 vs. Green Bay Packers FOX 4:15 p.m. Win, 63-0

Monday, April 13, 2009

No blog post tonight

Because I'm working all night working on the second draft of my book. Well, unless you count this as a post.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Accosted: A Fictional, Made-Up Tale of Woe

Sitting on the toilet at his en-laws' house Saturday afternoon, a gentleman heard a tap on the door.

"Do you need anything?" he thought heard his wife say.

"What?" I, I mean HE, definitely he, responded, only half-listening because he was finishing up "Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars" while his bowels slowly cranked out the revised edition of last night's dinner.

"ARE YOU OK?" she followed, in a voice that stopped a few miles short of being a genuine inquiry of health and well-being, and resided firmly in the territory of accusation.

"Sure, fine," the guy said, continuing to play his game while continuing to negotiate his contract.

After five or 10 more minutes, who knows, maybe a half hour - time flies when you're running drug deals and hits in Liberty City - the guy hears the knock again. This time not so much a tap as a deafening, jackhammer-like pounding.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE?" It's his wife again. Or it could be the Easter Bunny, or Gisele Bundchen. It doesn't really matter because nothing is getting this guy off the pot at this juncture, and all outside distractions have melted away so he could focus on the task at hand. I mean, this is the end of the freaking game, in one of the hyper-intense, multi-leg final two missions! This demands the full, rapt attention of a man on his throne. Besides, the reservoir is still cranking! What does she expect him to do, respond to her summons immediately, forsaking his past 40 minutes, OK maybe an hour, of work, put the DS in sleep mode and end the proceedings with a hasty, dirty pre-wipe just to appease the whims of his better half? I mean, no one in the living room's going anywhere, right?

So the guy beats the game, concludes his fecal deposits and then hears about what a jerk he is the rest of the night. Is this a happy ending because the man has stood his moral ground, or a tragedy because sticking true to his morals has caused him great suffering? You decide, fair reader. You decide.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The most worthless of all dance styles

Is clearly tap dancing. It's just a guy standing there with tin can tops on the heels of his shoes moving no more than a quarter of an inch in any direction as he stares into the audience like a doofus.

My wife, who is sitting here as I type, just said "I love how you condemn things you could never do."

Damn it. She said something funnier than anything I could come up with tonight.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A trend that needs to stop

OK, Apatow crew, you've made your point. Full-frontal male nudity can be funny.

But go ahead and stop now, m'kay? Bottle this one up. After "Observe and Report" the vampires are clearly playing baseball and the shock factor has worn away. Move on to something else to subvert society. Maybe something involving the board game Hungry Hungry Hippos and a donkey.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Recruit reconsidering commitment

Now that Sean Miller has been named the new Arizona Wildcats basketball coach, a prized recruit is reconsidering his decision not to play basketball in Tucson. Someone other than Solomon Hill. That's right, it's me. Now that I'm out of the running for the top job I'm wavering in my commitment to sit on my couch watching basketball all day Thursdays and Saturdays and thinking about joining the team. I'm ranked as the top player in my entire household by, but not by, which gives the edge to my son Luke. Still, even that service has me in the top five, so I'm not a player to overlook.

The most I'll play for Miller is one year, though. Then I'm on to either the NBA, the Arena Basketball League or the Tokyo Giants.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Me: Time to brush your teeth.

Luke: No.

Me: Time to brush your teeth. One, two...

Luke: Be Og?

Me: Rarr! Og says brush your teeth Luke?

Luke: Want to hug, Og?

(Luke and Og hug)

Luke: I brush my teeth.

(Og is actually a mutant, gigantic Joker from his favorite episode of the Batman cartoon. I've told him several times that the creature he knows as "Og" is actually the Joker but this falls on deaf ears.)

Friday, April 03, 2009

My book is up for preorder

"Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel" is up on Amazon for preorders, listed at $12.95 and due out Sept. 1. Anyone want to help out my chances for success by tossing some shillings into the collection plate?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Rumor: I am the next Arizona basketball coach

Sorry, Jeff Capel, Mark Few and Tim Floyd. It is I, Phil Villarreal, who will be named Arizona's next head coach at a press conference Thursday morning. This is not an April Fool's joke. It's reality, so deal with it. I have no actual head coaching experience but am pretty good at basketball video games. I'll also bring my entire recruiting class with me. The recruiting class, of course, being me, who will start at point guard as a 9-years-redshirted freshman.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I just keep staring at this cover over and over again, not so much out of vanity but because I'm so impressed by the design. This is more than a home run, it's out of the park and into orbit. Just beautiful. Just what I needed to trick people into buying my wacky little book.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Signed my book contract today. My agent gave me word that he'd made the deal in early February, but it's taken until now to nail all the details down. It's a humorous guide about how to save money in ridiculous ways, and will be published by November 2010. I'm hoping they rush it into production to make sure it hits shelves while the recession is still raging. Because how depressing would it be if we're in November 2010 and things are as bad as they are right now or worse?

A bad economy equals a better chance for my book to do well. (As for the title, it's tentatively Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel but I'm pulling for the more succinct Cheap Bastard). Of course, if things get too bad that means people will start to save money by not buying books that help them save money. I need the economy to be ugly but not downright awful.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Judging on how incapacitated I was this weekend because of my cold, I don't think I could function if I ever suffered an illness more significant than a flu. I'd need to move to Oregon to take advantage of their Youth in Asia laws fo sho.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Law school is the new real estate license

It used to be that when people were bored with their career they'd go off and get a real estate license. These days that's not a viable alternative so now the fantasy bailout target is law school.

Once the recession finally drags down law offices I imagine people will start joining the circus again. Ah, circus, we'll always have you around to beckon us with your warm big-top embrace.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Teaching Emma

Will you teach Emma to talk?

Luke: No.

Will you teach Emma to walk?

Luke: No.

How will Emma learn to walk and talk?

Luke: Tummy time.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Arizona is going to win the NCAA title

Just sayin.' The team has that unbeatable feel to it.

That or the Wildcats got lucky and played two crappy teams in Utah and Cleveland State. Whatever, as long as Jim Click buys us Rick Pitino and the tournament streak continues to 26 in 2010.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Is Superman strong?

Luke: Superman's not strong. Hulk's strong.

Is the Thing strong?

Luke: The Thing is not strong. Hulk's strong.

Is the Hulk fast?

Luke: The Hulk is not fast. Dash (from The Incredibles) is fast.

Is Dash strong?

Luke: Dash is not strong. Luke is strong.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tourney Time

The only reason I'm glad I'm not in Vegas this year is that I won't be tempted to lose tons of money betting on UCLA and Arizona to cover their point spreads. My savings will keep my kids in diapers for months.

But next year and every year thereafter I'm going so the youngsters had better learn to use the toilet by then.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Go Tucson Citizen!

Glad to see the rival paper has been granted a stay of execution for the time being. Here's hoping a buyer comes through, saves a bunch of jobs and maintains the competitive journalism balance in town.

It's also great to see that closed papers in Seattle and Denver are still fighting the good fight online. There may be hope for the industry yet.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The right way to eat salad

When you're at a restaurant or in the company of people you need to impress, by all means use the fork. Work methodically, stab individual leafs of lettuce individually, nudge chopped carrots into the base of the fork.

But when it's just you eating with the people you see every day, drop all pretenses and just grab it with your hands. You'll get through it faster and enjoy it a heck of a lot more because the effort-to-taste ratio will be equalized.

This I learned from Luke after I took his fork away because he kept banging it on the table.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I was thrilled and amazed to see that Arizona's excuse for a basketball team somehow qualified for the NCAA tournament. As the last team accepted into the 65-team field, they edged out Penn State, St. Mary's, Creighton, San Diego State and UNLV, the latter of which murdered the Wildcats earlier this year.

It's freaking awesome that I'll get to enjoy one last tournament run before the requisite years of abysmality to which Lute Olson's botched departure has damned the program.

Utah is so dead Friday.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I hate doctors

It's great how every single doctor on the planet deems it appropriate to send me a separate bill in the weeks after the birth of my daughter. I also appreciate how the bills are spread out so I receive one per day. Doctors of the United States, I'd like to trade you all for the friendly, jovial, free healthcare-giving Cuban docs I saw on "Sicko." (I realize the scenes were probably staged, but seriously, how fake could they have really been? I'd rather wait in lines than fork over months of paychecks to corrupt, overcharging physicians).

Hey, Fidel and Raul, would you mind lending our poverty-stricken nation some pointers on how to conduct reasonable healthcare?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I hate ASU

ASU, if you beat Arizona for the third time this year and the fifth consecutive time overall, I won't be able to take it. So please lose. You have a history of throwing games and pointshaving and whatnot, as well as outright sucking. So just do it, OK?

Monday, March 09, 2009

My new nickname for Emma

Is Million Dollar Baby, based on the fact that not a day passes that we don't receive another $500 dollar invoice in the mail from the astoundingly vast variety of good-natured medical professionals who helped usher her into the world.

So far she's actually a $2,500 baby but I'm rounding up for dramatic purposes.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Changing my position on strollers. If you only have one kid they're pretty worthless, but in a two-kid family in which the offspring are separated by two years or fewer, a double stroller is an absolute necessity for grocery shopping. The firstborn tolerates a ride in the stroller a hell of a lot better than he would a ride in the cart. (For non-parents who fashion themselves in such a situation one day, letting a 2-year-oold walk by himself at a grocery store is about as intelligent as lowering taxes to cut a budget deficit).

Double strollers are wide and unwieldly but they work marvels at preserving sanity. I'd like to use this theoretically public forum to apologize for my previous anti-stroller remarks. I was wrong. So, so wrong.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

It fills my heart with joy

To hear Luke, 2, sing "sticks and stones and weed and bones" again and again, echoing a chorus from my 2008 song of the year, M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes." One of those things that makes fatherhood worthwhile.

Another such thing is Luke constructing an unwieldly tower out of giant Lego blocks and calling it "Howl's Moving Castle," then connecting two yellow blocks, making them hop up and down and referring to it as the jumping scarecrow from the film.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Babies cost $2,000

Just in case anyone was wondering. I wish we'd pretended we were illegal immigrants. Damn.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Five of the coolest people in the world

Are those who plunked down the exorbitant amount of cash it costs to take home a copy of "Stormin' Mormon" in the past six months, running my year one sales figures to... 36!

If the book can keep up this blistering sales pace, it will hit triple digits by the end of 2010. Of course if sales activity keeps dropping at its current rate I'll only sell one copy between now and February '10.

Personally I think things are looking up for "Stormin' Mormon" because as the economy gets worse people will decide not to pay mortgages anymore because foreclosures will be imminent, rendering payments obsolete. Which will free up more cash to buy the book.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I am not good at video games

You'd think after 22 years of practice of continuing video game playing I'd be somewhat competent by now, but no. I suck at first-person shooters because I get lost and I have poor reflexes. I'm awful at sports games because I don't take time to read the instruction manuals or online strategy guys to discover the nuances it would take to win. I'm OK at retro games that were made to be simple enough to be aced by 8 year olds but they don't make them anymore so I'm out of luck.

Yet despite realizing my situation I'm sure I'll spend the next 22 years playing them rather than redirecting my energy toward something more useful.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Luke is the second coming of Weird Al

After watching a performance of Sara Bareilles' "Love Song" on "American Idol," my 2-year-old song made up a parody called "Butt Song." It was only one line and change long, repeated over and over ("Butt song... Butt song... Need one... Butt Song...") but the kernel was certainly there. Well done, young man.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Showdown at Applebee's

Here's how it went down. Two years ago my friend Tyler and I went to the restaurant after watching Arizona get beat down against Washington State at home. I just wanted to go home but Tyler wanted to get something to eat and he was my ride so it was out of my hands.

We were seated at a corner table and Tyler ordered some wings. The waiter asked what sort of sauce he'd like, and Tyler ordered mild, which spurred the waiter to comment that mild wings are for girls.

I laughed, but insulting the person who's eating and obviously paying just to get a laugh out of the idiot who's just along for the ride is not a smart pathway to a great tip. Things only got worse from there.

The wings didn't come for a long time, and our drinks sat empty while the waiter stood in the corner trying to flirt with his coworkers.

Tyler gave up on waiter No. 1 and flagged some other guy down to refill the drinks. Eventually waiter No. 1 circled back around to check on things, and he said he'd get us refills, seizing both of our half-full glasses and never returning with replacements. Tyler flagged yet another waiter to get us our drinks, and at long last waiter No. 1 returned with the check.

Tyler asked if he should tip the guy and I told him of course not. So he marked a zero on the tip line and below that wrote "Here's your tip: Stop flirting with girls and actually bring your customers drinks."

We left the restaurant and walked toward Tyler's car, when the waiter popped out from the back entrance like 21 Jump Street and stood between us and the vehicle.

"There was no need to be a dick about it," he said.

Then the three of us got into a shouting match that came to nothing. The next day I called the manager and told on him.

Two weeks later I went to Chili's with my wife and kid, and the waiter was standing outside as the hostess. He either didn't recognize me or pretended that was the case.

Monday, February 23, 2009

This one time at IHOP

I ordered an omelette, which was supposed to come with pancakes but arrived solo. I asked the waiter for the pancakes four times, and four times I was told they were on the way yet they did not come.

I sat there and waited, no longer interested in the pancakes themselves but determined to win a battle of wills. Eventually, after maybe 90 minutes, the pancakes came. I left them there at the table and wrote a little note that told the waiter the pancakes were his tip.

I write this both to brag about how stubborn I am and to warn IHOP waiters that I mean business when I'm waiting for my pancakes.

Tomorrow I will tell you about the time my friend and I were chased into the parking lot by an Applebee's waiter.

As for Wednesday, nobody knows what the topic will be as of yet.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Jessica: You're my angel.

Luke: No, Mommy. I'm a boy.

Jessica: Are you my little boy?

Luke: No, Mommy. I'm not little. I'm a big boy. I'm heavy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Eight Seconds

Was the length of Emma's spectacular bout of flatulence a few minutes ago. Luke Perry, who so memorably played Lane Frost in that 1994 rodeo classic of the same title, would have been proud, for her fart matched the length of his greatest bull ride.

I've foolishly volunteered to stay up with her throughout the night to prove my boastful, highly disputed theory that she's ready to sleep in the bassinet rather than on her mom's chest. So far she's given me 90 minutes' sleep and I hope to collect more than three times that amount over the next eight hours. Let's do this, Emma.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Whenever I watch "Juno" I'm amused by the scene in which Juno takes pity on Jason Bateman's character because his wife allows him to decorate only one room in the house. I think "Wow, that guy gets an entire room? Lucky bastard." I'm relegated to one wall of the garage.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Raising babies

Is war, make no mistake about that. Your kids are beautiful, inspiring and life-affirming, but they are also your nemeses.

No one on the planet gets to know you better than your children do. They discover weaknesses you never even knew you had. There's no hiding anything from them, and they see through all the facades you put up for society, and even your closest friends, and call you out for what you really are. Raising children puts you on the battlefield and it's you and - if you're lucky enough to have a spouse around - and your significant other against the underage enemy. Survival and success depend on your ability to strategize, execute and out-think your unpredictable opponents. Teamwork is absolutely crucial, as is outright luck. You're a bird on a wire with baby hatchlings stacked on your shoulders, unwittingly attempting to tip you over and send you hurtling toward disaster.

I'm told things only get more trying as they age. Newborn Emma keeps me up all hours of the night because she won't sleep unless she's in my arms or Jessica's, and she'll make me just as much of an insomniac once she's a teenager. 2-year-old Luke already knows how to turn me into a speechless idiot, by snidely muttering "eh?" when I ask a question he doesn't like. By next year the kid will have figured out how to steal my credit card to go on online shopping binges.

One thing I've grown fairly certain of over the past week is those who have more than two kids are either certifiably insane or callous enough to hire outside agents to raise them.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

25 things about me

1. My ultimate goal is to travel to another planet and conquer it, rectally probing most of the planet’s residents, enslaving the others and stealing all their water for my personal use.

2. Censored.

3. I used to think that people who liked 30 Rock better than The Office were morons. I am now also a moron.

4. I am a whore in public but a churchgirl in the bedroom.

5. One of my more depressing shortcomings is that I am 11 wives short of attaining a quorum in the Celestial Kingdom.

6. I didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, but Plymouth Rock landed on me.

7. I would have been able to play in the NBA if I hadn’t been discriminated against back in high school for my lack of size, speed and intelligence.

8. I try to work the phrase “You dun smoke yourself retarded” into one conversation per day.

9. I don’t understand the fashion concept of “matching.”

10. Abraham Lincoln was actually a reincarnation of me. The explanation for how this happened is too long to get into here, but bear in mind it includes a time-traveling DeLorean as well as several voodoo rituals.

11. I was Time Magazine’s 2006 person of the year. Look it up.

12. I believe all country love songs by dudes are sung with farm animals in mind.

13. My greatest fear is being buried alive.

14. I believe golf columnists are the most fetishistic and pathetically stalker-like of all sportswriters.

15. I feel sorry for dolphins that live in the wild because they don’t get the chance to jump through flaming hoops.

16. I still own every baseball, football and basketball card, as well as comic book, I ever purchased and keep them stored in shoeboxes in a closet for no reason.

17. I am too lazy to write 25 things about myself, so I must stop at

18. And yet I persevere anyway, deciding that it’s better to half-ass eight more to conform to the demands of the format rather than cut myself off in the name of artistic integrity.

19. When I was a kid I had an imaginary rival named Jacques Jejajeun. I’d play him in paddle ball, Nerf basketball and Rad Racer.

20. When I was in fifth grade I convinced myself that if me and my friends played recess basketball well enough we’d get a chance to play against UNLV in a nationally broadcast exhibition game.

21. I hate yet am in inspired by people with no talent who have lucked into successful careers. (i.e. Matt Leinart, Katy Perry and Ryan Seacrest).

22. I have no sense of direction. This affects me the most when I play first-person shooters.

23. I like reading about video games more than playing them.

24. When I was a freshman in college I would recycle my excess cereal milk and use it the next day. Yep, I went green before it was cool.

25. I’m not even trying anymore and haven’t been after the first seven in all honesty. But I still count this as one so now it’s over.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Goodbye sleep

I see how things will be now for the next couple months. I am the father of a vampire baby who lacks the ability to sleep at night. It's fine because Luke was the same way, and apparently I survived his early days, even though I've blocked most of the sleep-deprived weeks from my memory. At least I'll be able to accomplish a few things, such as re-watching "The Prisoner" and checking Facebook at 3:30 in the morning for several consecutive days.

Bring it on, Emma. I'm ready for round three tonight.

1/40th-life crisis

My 2-year-old son, Luke, is going through some issues accepting his new role as big brother. He made his introductions to newborn Emma by attempting to shove her car seat off a chair. A few minutes later he punched her, earning himself an expenses-paid trip trip to time out.

Today he seems to have made a little bit of progress. He's kissed her several times and although he's often come close to hurting her, every one of today's attempts has been unintentional.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Pleased to meet you

Thanks to the miracles of modern labor induction my baby girl is entering this world tomorrow - at least I hope she is, because I don't know how well I'd hold up after a 14-hour labor that pushed her birthdate to 2/10/09. Hopefully I'll hold up and deliver this baby safely. Women can complain all they want, but when you get down to it childbirth is tougher for the husband (just as war is tougher on the spouses left behind at home than the soldiers who fight) because it's one thing to endure unimaginable pain for several hours on end but it's just as horrifying to stand by powerless watching your wife go through the torture, as two loves of your life hang in the balance.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Book deal!

After 6 years and 7 manuscripts, I've finally managed to get one sold. I can't reveal details just yet, but don't worry because I'll be hitting you over the head with it so much you'll get sick of it soon enough. This is the accomplishment of a lifelong dream and I've never been happier in my life.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My Super Bowl porn complaint to Comcast

Dear Comcast,

I'm writing to express my outrage over the interrupted broadcast Sunday evening. I was sitting at home with my family and friends, taking part in that great American tradition known as porn watching, when suddenly a 30-second clip of the Super Bowl flashed onscreen.

It's difficult to express how offended I was at this - I hesitate to even utter the abhorrent word - football. I mean, there were children and old people in the room! And there we were, attempting to enjoy some honest, wholesome sexual entertainment when we were bombarded with footage of grotesque, chemically-enhanced behemoths throwing one another around and committing acts of grotesque violence on one another.

At first I thought it some sort of plot twist or narrative flourish. After all, beloved porn movies are known for their unpredictability as much as their subversive, ironic and oh-so-erotic humor. I expected the helmets and shoulder pads to be shed in due course for some lovemaking.

After all, it started out innocently enough, with a man approaching a group of fellows who were bent over with their butts in the air. He chose his favorite, stuck his hands onto the gentleman's erogenous zone and and began yelling out orgasmically as all the others remained frozen in rapt attention. But then the players commenced with a revolting display of what lowlifes refer to as "athletics." I watched, waited, and came to realize that as the disgusting display continued it became all too obvious what was really going on.

We were innocent victims of some horrendous, purile prank, and I don't know that we will ever fully be able to recover. We put our trust in you, Comcast, and you violated it as Debbie did Dallas. Who do you take us for? We are not the slobbering, perverse cro-magnons who would put up with such drivel.

I demand a full refund of my last seven years' cable bills and am highly considering a switch to Direct TV or Dish Network, which to my knowledge never let their porn feeds become polluted with such abominations.

Good day, sirs.

Phil Villarreal

Tucson, AZ

Monday, February 02, 2009

Strollers are a fraud

They're not necessary. When babies are tiny and light, you just carry them along without any trouble. When they're too heavy to hold, they're big enough to walk on their own. Furthermore, they are all possessed by the minions of the ancient demon Unfold, who is said to curse plastic devices, rendering them unfoldable.

So for anyone out there who has ever purchase a stroller, you're wrong and have failed at life.

(Jessica, if you're reading this please don't murder me in my sleep. I was just kidding! Sorta.)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Pittsburgh Steelers World champions?

I don't know that the Pittsburgh Steelers are truly world champions. I'll bet there's a team in Azerbaijan, Turkey or North Korea that WOULDN'T THROW THEM 100-YARD PICK SIXES OR ALLOW THEM TO GO UP THE FIELD FOR EASY TOUCHDOWNS WITH LESS THAN A MINUTE LEFT IN THE GAME.

So let's just call them NFL champs, OK?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Decaf coffee is about as necessary and useful as alcohol-free tequila. Or caffeine-free Red Bull. Or the Detroit Lions.

Do people order it because they love the taste of coffee? If so, they should upgrade to Yak urine, which Wikipedia says takes half as many sugar cubes and creamer packets to become palatable.

Monday, January 26, 2009

My talk with Chazz Palminteri

Trent Othick: Chazz, this is Phil, he wrote great things about you in his review.

Chazz Palminteri: I don't read reviews.

Me: Oh, uh...

Chazz: I'm gonna get going.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Three-car garage

Not once in the history of humankind has a homeowner used the bastardized third slot of his three-car garage - the one that's partitioned off, separated from the traditional boundaries of the garage - to park a car. The third slot is used only as a cesspool to stockpile unnecessary garbage the owner deems unworthy of keeping inside the house yet too necessary to expunge to a landfill.

It's not that I fault people for never being able to park their cars in the third slot. Lord knows it's not worth the risk. The walls are so narrow it takes Luke Skywalker ability to navigate your vehicle to safety without sideswiping a wall. I've wondered aloud to just about everyone I've ever met why it is builders can't design three-car garages ultra-wide and partition free, and every time I've gotten the answer "that probably wouldn't be stable enough." I don't buy it. In this world of retractable-roofed football stadiums, Space Needles and Disney Concert Halls, someone out there must know how to sketch up a usable three-car garage.

I'm mystified at those who stack boxes upon boxes of worthless nonsense - Thighmaster atop exercise bike atop worn-out cardboard Costco crates. Most garages I see look exactly the same, crammed with unpacked boxes from three moves ago, beat-up mattresses and the like. They stand as monuments to careless excess.

This is coming from a packrat who still has every comic book he ever purchased when he was 15, more than 100,000 baseball cards and a box of mid-1980s Nintendo Powers. If I can find space enough inside my closets, underneath my bed and inside drawers for all that slop without sacrificing one my two sacred garage parking spots, there's no excuse for anyone to own a three-car garage and not find at least enough space to park two cars.

By the way, if I'm ever elected president of the United States this will be my first state of the union address.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Prince's inspiration

I believe that when Prince penned the song that goes "Could you be the most beautiful girl in the world" he had Google Reader in mind. It's amazing. Like DVR for internet reading. It knows better than you do what it is you'll want to read on the internet and serves it up for you in one long list.

It slashes away the stress that comes from working whether anything cool has been posted. It triples your productivity in all phases of life.

Google Reader, you're the reason that God made a girl.