Jones of the Nile

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Go, mama, go go go!

To say that I'm looking forward to seeing the new film adaptation of Hairspray is a bit of an understatement. You know those people who camp out to buy Nintendo Wiis or I-Phones? Well, that's my relationship with film adaptations of musicals.

Dreamgirls? Check.

Chicago? Check.

Evita? Check.

Rent? Not yet...the musical was just such a huge part of my growing up and coming out, that I haven't brought myself to check out the movie yet. Or maybe it's Rosario Dawson.

So with Hairspray I'm really looking forward to getting my Tracy on. Check out a review for the movie on Towleroad. Andy Towle was able to catch a sneak preview last week, and gave his two thumbs up. He even quells any concern that John Travolta might be unbearable as Edna Turnblad.

July 20 won't come soon enough :) Oh, and for JR the Otter, who told me a few weeks ago that (I'm paraphrasing), "Your blog is really interesting to read, but it tells me nothing about your life," here's some Mike Jones trivia. The last five songs I've listened to on my I-Pod were from Hairspray. The song before that was Natalie Cole. What can I say...she ended my melancholy phase and allowed me to transition into musicals. Next I'll probably move on to Wicked, much to the chagrin of my friends who convulse at Broadway tunes.

These, of course, do not count the times I go to the gym, when it's all dance, all the time. Jenna Drey is my latest taste of the month within the confines of the Boston Sports Center.

Anyway, this one's for those who are looking for a peak inside my music sensibilities. I imagine my reputation just went down among the lot of you :)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

"The dog eat dog world of competitive eating"

There are sentences I've never expected to read in my life. "New Jersey becomes top honeymoon destination." "Gay men flock to Nascar." "Tom Sizemore sobers up."

Add this one to the mix..."A half-dozen years of inhaling hot dogs at the rate of one every 14 seconds really has hurt Kobayashi's overworked jaw."

Takeru Kobayashi, for those who don't know (I didn't), is the six-time defending champion of the of the Nathan's hot dog eating contest. On his blog (yes, even he has a blog), Kobayashi admitted that his jaw has been hurting him, and he's gone to see a chiropractor and a specialist for relief.

How about a psychiatrist, too?

Y'all have to read this article about Kobayashi's ordeal. Better yet, let me post a few of my favorite lines.

The disclosure by the Japanese eating machine set stomachs rumbling throughout the dog-eat-dog world of competitive eating in the days before the annual Independence Day chowdown.

Some believe it is a ploy to unnerve his bun-swallowing rival, Joey Chestnut, who recently broke Kobayashi's world record by downing 59 1/2 dogs in 12 minutes.

(Editor's Note: His main rival is a guy named Joey Chestnut? And Joey Chestnut ate 59 1/2 hot dogs in 12 minutes? I actually feel a bit of disappointment about that. He couldn't have fit that last half in? There's no room for slackers in the 'dog eat dog world of competitive eating'.)

Or maybe it's true: a half-dozen years of inhaling hot dogs at the rate of one every 14 seconds really has hurt Kobayashi's overworked jaw.

(Editor's Note: You don't say.)

A weak jaw won't cut the mustard in a competition where the winner will likely need to down more than 50 hot dogs and buns. During his six years as champion, the 165-pound Kobayashi has consumed 301 1/4 hot dogs — a string of performances that made him the Michael Jordan of mass consumption.

(Editor's Note: So the guy eats a hot dog every fourteen seconds for six years, and he weighs only 165 pounds? Bitch, I did the raw diet for two weeks and I still have this tire swing around my waste.)

(Editor's Note: The Michael Jordan of mass consumption? I think there's got to be a limit to where Michael Jordan can be used as an analogy. Appropriate: Tiger Woods is the Michael Jordan of golf. Inappropriate: David Berkowitz is the Michael Jordan of killing.)

Chestnut, despite his skepticism, acknowledged Kobayashi might have strained his jaw while training for the event. "Your jaw and the muscles in your esophagus are the first to get sore," he explained.

(Editor's Note: Funny...I'd have thought that eating a hot dog every 14 seconds for six years would mean the colon would be the first to go.)

"I think, like all great champions, Kobayashi doesn't want to shy away from competition," said Shea. "But I don't want to put words in his mouth. And if I did, they'd have to be monosyllabic — not too much for him to swallow."

(Editor's Note: You know, I bet Kobayashi is just relishing this attention. There, I did it. You all knew I was going to, anyway.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Improv Redeux

Most of my friends know that I once took an improv acting class at Second City, the landmark improv stomping ground of folks like Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, John Candy. At the time Second City had a theater in Cleveland, which unfortunately has since closed.

It's been like seven years (My God...the 20s go by so flippin' fast!), but this morning I just signed up for an improv comedy sketch writing class at Improv Boston. I start next month, which gives me a few weeks to work out the nerves and anxieties of having to write weekly AND be funny.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Eight random facts for dating my teenage daughter

So Mags at You Forgot Poland! tagged me with a damn meme, "Eight Random Facts About Me." Given that I'm eating lunch at a noisy, busy restaurant in Harvard Square, with lots of nosy people lurking around, I can't think of a better time to divulge eight secrets from the Mike Jones lockbox.

Here goes:

1. The state of Massachusetts still refuses to issue me a driver's license. Apparently there's another Mike Jones from Pennsylvania with a catastrophic driving record. He's not me. But he shares the same birth date and middle initial, which for Massachusetts bureaucratic purposes, is as good as actually being me.

2. Speaking of birth dates, I share a birthday with the critical date in V for Vendetta.

3. Each day I find myself looking more and more like my father, and acting more and more like my mother.

4. I love puns. (e.g. I had a nightmare the other night about a snowstorm in Panama. Yeah, I guess you could say I was dreaming of a white isthmus.)

5. I was thrown out of an amusement park in 4th grade for spitting on an old lady while riding the "sky ride."

6. My penis is eleven inches.

7. OK, it's not. But memes like this are just asking for statements like that.

8. Embarrassingly, I'm actually really good at bowling. I even own shoes.

Oh, the horror of memes. Hope y'all are doing well!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Five reasons I hate this article

Sen. Barack Obama spoke today (or is speaking this weekend) at a convention of the United Church of Christ. Here's the article from the AP covering his speech.

Obama says some have "hijacked" faith

Stephen Singer, AP writer

Hartford, CONN. - Sen. Barack Obama told a church convention Saturday that some right-wing evangelical leaders have exploited and politicized religious beliefs in an effort to sow division.

"Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and faith started being used to drive us apart," the Democratic presidential candidate said in a 30-minute speech before the national meeting of the United Church of Christ.

"Faith got hijacked, partly because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, all too eager to exploit what divides us," the Illinois senator said.

"At every opportunity, they've told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design," according to an advance copy of his speech.

"There was even a time when the Christian Coalition determined that its number one legislative priority was tax cuts for the rich," Obama said. "I don't know what Bible they're reading, but it doesn't jibe with my version."

A call to the Washington, D.C.-based Christian Coalition of America seeking comment was not immediately returned Saturday.

Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ, a church of about 1.2 million members that is considered one the most liberal of the mainline Protestant groups.

In 1972, the church was the first to ordain an openly gay man. Two years ago, the church endorsed same-sex marriage, the largest Christian denomination to do so. Obama believes that states should decide whether to allow gay marriage, and he opposes a constitutional amendment against it.

Conservative Christian bloggers have linked Obama to what they call the "unbiblical" teachings of his church. Theological conservatives believe gay relationships violate Scripture, while more liberal Christians emphasize the Bible's social justice teachings.

Obama trails Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York by 33 percent to 21 percent in the most recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll among Democrats and those leaning toward the party.

I hate this article, which is such a sloppy, piece of trash style of reporting that I'm not even sure I'd line a bird cage with it. Where to begin with why this article is just a mess.

1. Let's start with the sentence "Conservative Christian bloggers have linked Obama to what they call the 'unbiblical' teachings of his Church." The next sentence then goes on to talk about gay marriage, but cites ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in regards to 'unbiblical' teachings of the United Church of Christ, but instead talks about how liberal Christians emphasize the Bible's social justice teachings. Is Stephen Singer saying that the social justice teachings of the Church are 'unbiblical'? If so, shouldn't he give examples, possibly even quoting some of these Conservative Christian bloggers?

2. Singer's characterization of the United Church of Christ (UCC) makes them sound like they're the Ted Kennedy's of the Christian world. Pariahs, even. But the UCC has been around for 50 years. A Catholic bishop even opened up Saturday's UCC conference, applauding the work of UCC members in areas of social justice. But Singer makes it sound like all the UCC does is ordain and marry gays and lesbians.

3. Why does Singer bother to mention the poll numbers at the end of this article? They have nothing to do with Obama's appearance at the UCC convention. Did his editors make him put that paragraph in just to bloat the AP's ego, since it's their poll numbers that are cited? Who knows. But the value added by including irrelevant poll numbers is pretty much nothing, other than to show that Singer's just rehashing dogma that Obama trails Hillary.

4. I just don't personally like the way Singer opens with a line about Obama addressing a church convention, but then later cites "an advanced copy" of Obama's remarks. His opening paragraph makes it sound like he was there in the audience, rather than in his Marriott hotel room writing the story based on a few emails.

5. Why not cite reaction to this talk by members in the audience? Oh yeah, right...because Singer probably wrote this from his hotel room, or the nearby Starbucks.

Anyway, I'm ranting a bit. But in googling a couple articles that Singer has written, it seems he really relies on the press releases sent out by others to do his work for him. See here. Or here. And here. I guess he's no different than other reporters, but at some point I'd hope that our society would demand a little more substance from our journalists, and a little less rehash of company talking points.

So says the guy who works in public relations :) Oh well...we're all hypocrites!

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Now this is a real nightmare on elm street

Freddy Kreuger? Forget that.

Imagine if Pauly Shore lived on your street?!

Now here's the ironic thing...he lives next door to Wes Craven, the director of all those Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Wes Craven is suing Pauly Shore, "alleging that water from the comedian's home seeped down a slope and damaged the director's property." (I added the italics...I'm floored that a major news story actually referred to Pauly Shore as a comedian!)

Craven's lawsuit alleges negligence and nuisance. No word on whether Craven will seek compensation from Shore on making us all sit through "Encino Man."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Bloomberging - Verb. The act of saying one thing, but meaning its complete opposite. i.e. "I am not a candidate for President."

So Michael Bloomberg has quit the Republican party, causing a firestorm of speculation that he's going to run for President. Bloomberg keeps denying such rumors. Thus, Michael Bloomberg is bloomberging.

There's this man who has been living under a rock for thirty years, and even he gets that Michael Bloomberg is positioning himself for President. So I don't see the reason why Bloomberg continues to Bloomberg. Thou dost protest too much, Mayor Mike. Just say you're considering running.

Zombie (D-Punjab)

I can't say I'm disappointed in Obama over his D-Punjab tactic, despite his promise to rise above the nastiness of campaigning. Sadly, though, this reinforces what I think may be my new life motto, courtesy of the picture below...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Yes, even this is more interesting than yesterday's French Open

Given that 11 American men were eliminated in the first week of the French Open, there's gotta be something to liven up the sport of tennis for us Yankees. Could this be the answer?

Bjorn Borg bitten during dogfight

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) -- A severe dog bite has forced Bjorn Borg to pull out of his first grass-court match in 26 years.

The five-time Wimbledon champion was bitten on his right leg by a German shepherd called Wolf when he tried to pull the dog away from his golden retriever, Lipton, at his home in Sweden over the weekend.

Borg, who received medical treatment at a Stockholm hospital, was told not to put any weight on the leg for at least six weeks.

He had been scheduled to play 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash at the Liverpool International tournament this week.

It would have been his first grass-court match since losing to John McEnroe in the 1981 Wimbledon final.

"I'm so disappointed that I cannot play at Liverpool," Borg said on the tournament's Web site. "I've been really looking forward to this event and have been practicing hard for four months to get ready."

So he was bitten by a dog named Wolf, trying to save his dog named Lipton. If only there was a third dog named Salada lurking in the mix...

J'Lem Curses

Check out this headline from the Jerusalem Post: Rabbis curse J'Lem gay parade

J'Lem? I find this curious. Earlier this year a few coworkers of mine started to refer to Johannesburg, South Africa as Jo-Burg. And now J'Lem. Has it become trendy to shorten the names of international cities that begin with the letter J? Let's see...there's Jakarta (J-Kar?). Juba (J-Ba??). Jacareacanga (J-Anga?). OK, I googled that one...but come on, how could I pass up the opportunity to say J-Anga! It would be the only international city synonymous with a board game!

I digress. So conservative Rabbis have placed a pox upon the house of gay. From the curse...

"To all those involved, sinners in spirit, and whoever helps and protects them, may they feel a curse on their souls, may it plague them and may evil pursue them; they will not be requitted of their transgressions from heavenly judgment."

This seriously harshes my mellow. Nothing like a little evil pursuing your soul to make you a bit agoraphobic. Anyone know what kind of car evil drives?

Luckily I belong to the religion of Cher (see Moonstruck) and the Boston Red Sox, so curses don't particularly frighten me.

In other wonderful news, Stones, Tear Gas Mark Gay Pride Rally in Bucharest, Romania, Gay Rights Rally Held in Latvia Amidst Massive Police Presence, and Boy Killed Himself on Train Track After Gay Bullying. Shit, and you want to place an evil curse on our people? Just turn on the damn television.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

So long Studs

A dream I don't often share with people is that I'd like to become the next Studs Terkel. Studs, for me, is one of the best of the bunch when it comes to combining writing and activism. But there's an element to Studs' work that's even more important.


Studs is an oral historian of sorts, and his books tell the stories of the "non-celebrities" who inspire and challenge us in this world. He listens to everyday people, and in turn, everyday people reward us with life lessons.

Want to hear about remaining graceful and confident as we age? Read Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who Lived It.

Curious about whether there was an anti-war sentiment in this country during the time of World War II? Read the Pulitzer-Prize winning The Good War.

Want to find out what keeps activists hopeful during times of deep cynicism? Read Hope Dies Last.

Want a recipe for Fried Bananas? Click here!

At 95, Studs is about to publish his last book, an autobiographical account of his career of sorts. The book will come out this September, and it's called Touch and Go. But for a really sweet interview, check out Laura Washington's piece in In These Times, Curiosity and a Cat Named Studs.

Telling stories that matter is what made Studs famous. Making ordinary people feel like they mattered is what will make Studs remembered.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

2007 Corporate Hall of Shame

Couldn't resist posting this...take your pick in Corporate Accountability International's ( 2007 Hall of Shame.

You can vote for Coke, Wal-Mart, Halliburton, Exxon Mobil, Merck, Nestle...a who's who of corporate evil-doers. Go vote!

Send me picture postcards from Kentucky: The Web site of Steve Beshear, Democratic Candidate for Governor of Kentucky

I’ve been slacking off on my “political website” reviews. Truth is, I had started with the idea of doing just the presidential candidates’ websites, but then I got bored. However, earlier this week I came across this link on the Albuquerque Tribune…Jones of the Nile hits the mainstream press!

One way to liven up the website reviews is to focus on more than just the Prez candidates. So here goes our first entry for an office beyond the beltway. And given that he just won the Democratic primary with more than the required 40% to avoid a run-off, it only seems appropriate to start with the website of Steve Beshear, candidate for Governor of Kentucky.

I’m not a website expert, nor do I have the best grasp on how social marketing can be incorporated into a candidate’s website to build a netroots base. What I can do is tell it like it is, letting folks know whether the information architecture is organized, whether the site is easy to navigate, and whether the site looks pretty. At times I might even read the content, and let folks know what catchy things I find. With that in mind, on to Beshear’s website!

Look at that homepage banner. I’m trying to think what this banner reminds me of more: (1) Blue Mountain Arts circa 1996, (2) a powerpoint presentation gone awry, (3) an advertisement for a gay retirement community in the wilderness. Right now I’m leaning toward number 3, only because I think Steve Beshear and his lieutenant governor, Daniel Mongiardo, look like realtors with their photoshopped bodies. Plus, the site also uses the same colors as mega-realtor Howard Hanna.

A web equivalent of a billboard takes up a chunk of the homepage (see above), inviting the user to “read more of Steve’s welcome message.” The first line: “Thanks for visiting our campaign website—our cyber headquarters.” I find the phrase “cyber headquarters” to sound sexual. I’m probably the only one.

The welcome message is about as welcoming as the cashier who says “Hi, how are you?” to every customer who comes through her line. It’s pleasant, but something no one will really pay attention to, let alone remembers.

Hmm…I change my mind. The colors on this site are less Howard Hanna, and more Green Bay Packers.

There are six menu links on the left-side navigation bar, and four incognito menu links at the top of the page (they blend in with the rotating pictures of waterfalls, and a fenced in yard that might be Churchill Downs). The six on the side start with a photo gallery.

Here is my favorite photo (see below). The caption says “Western Kentucky Campaign Swing.” A barren Church. Now that spells campaign excitement. Shoot, I think I’ve seen happier images depicted in “The Grapes of Wrath.” Overall, I’m not crazy about this photo section. It might just be my browser, but there’s all sorts of text crawling behind the thumbnails, and the page menu at the bottom is squished in with lots of other text. And no rally shots. Not one. Where’s the movement?

The second area is “Meet the Team.” You can click on links to get to know Steve, as well as his Lt. Gov running mate (Dr.) Daniel Mongiardo. Click on Steve’s name, and you’re greeted with the headline “STEVE BESHEAR IS A LEADER!” This, I believe, is one of those instances where an editor thinks it sounds more leader-like if you put an exclamation point at the end. (e.g. BUSH MEETS WITH POLAND ABOUT MISSILE DEFENSE! We all know that Bush probably knows more about tumbleweed than he does about missile defense, but darn it if that exclamation point doesn’t send a leadership signal.)

Steve Beshear has another problem. When I google “Steve Beshear for Governor,” his website shows up fourth on the list. Beshear’s wikipedia entry and a Kentucky blogger come up first. Is this a sign that, really, no one is interested in the Kentucky governor’s race? Save for some yokel blogger who likes to write petty comments about website design – a subject he knows even less about than tumbleweed (see earlier paragraph)? As the Magic 8-ball would say, “All signs point to yes.”

(Tumbleweed, for those curious, was the name of a pony I rode at Horse Camp back when I was in 5th grade.)

The rest of Beshear’s website has some issues for me. If you click on the campaign calender, you’re taken to a blank page. There are links for “day,” “week,” and “month,” but I can’t help but think it would be better to list some events, even if they are the most immediate. I also like the link “Email this page,” because there’s nothing more fun than emailing a blank webpage to all of your friends. While you’re at it, go ahead and sign them up for random email newsletters, too.

(Side note: the homepage also has no scheduled events listed on it. Beshear, come out of hiding!)

As far as actual issues go, Beshear hits on them all: reforming pardon power (a nasty slap at Beshear’s opponent, Pardon Powerful Ernie Fletcher), the minimum wage, veterans, expanded gaming (I assume that means hunting, and not universal wiis for everyone), energy, economic development, and health care (Beshear’s lt gov running mate is Daniel Mongiardo, a doctor, who nearly beat Sen. Jim Bunning in 2004 during a race for the Senate, after Bunning joked that Mongiardo was so plump and dark-skinned, he looked like Saddam Hussein. Jim Bunning was the Pete Domenici of 2004.) My favorite issue, however, is “Putting Kentucky First.” This is the type of thing candidates say because it sounds really good, even though presumably a state’s governor would always place their state first. It’s like me saying, “I’m going to breathe today,” or “everybody poops.” It’s like, duh.

But the part I like the best is the Beshear Gear. It’s basically his campaign store, where you can buy t-shirts, coffee cups, more t-shirts, keychains, more t-shirts, campaign buttons, and t-shirts. BUT, what I like the best is that you can request a free bumper sticker. For those of us with scrapbooks of campaigns past, this is something that’s hard to pass up. Sadly, you must live in Kentucky. Or lie.

The only thing that drives me nuts about the Beshear Gear store is that once you’re there, there’s no way to get back to the candidate’s actual webpage. Ordered a t-shirt, but now want to find out what Beshear thinks about the minimum wage? Tough luck. Priced a campaign button but now want to view pictures from the rally in Hazard? Better luck next time. Bought t-shirts for all of your friends, but now want a recipe for Fried Bananas. Click here!

In all, on a scale of one to five Secretariats, I give this site a 2. That said, Beshear could have this website, and he’d still likely win the election. His opponent, Ernie Fletcher, is about as popular as Phil Specter right now. Ah, the joys of running against a corrupt and weak opponent.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

How does Representative Drescher sound?

Answer: Like a nasally herd of cats.

But low and behold, the gossip rags are saying that Fran Drescher - yes, that Fran Drescher - may run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She's progressive, a strong (not to mention LOUD and BOISTEROUS) advocate for cancer patients, and she'd be running against incumbent Rep. Peter King, an open advocate of racial profiling at airports, and someone who thinks 85% of mosques are run by terrorists.

So, what the hell, I'd vote for Fran Drescher. The U.S. Congress could use some more eye shadow as it is.

Other annoying voices I'd like to see run for Congress someday:

- Kathy Griffin

- Neil Young

- Fred Schneider

(Speaking of annoying voices, click here for a great rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by comedian Rick Miller, where he sings to the tune of 25 of the most annoying musical voices around. My favorites are when he does Jon Bon Jovi and Meatloaf)