Friday, December 31, 2010

Movie of the Week

This week,


Starring- Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby

I would call this one of, if not the, definitive New Year's Eve movie. Most of the action takes place in other times of the year, but the critical part, the ending, takes place as the ball drops. Not only is this film a great vehicle for its two stars, it also made the romantic comedy a genre unto itself. Crystal and Ryan are a fabulous tandem that perfectly balance neurotic tendencies with funny quirks as they develop a friendship that ultimately turns into true love.

Directed by Rob Reiner and written by Nora Ephron, this film has the perfect blend of behind the camera and onscreen talent. I can only see the lines being said by Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan because it feels as if the roles were tailor-made for them by two people who actually lived lives that paralleled the characters. Beginning with Harry and Sally's meeting at the end of college, we are taken on an eleven year journey that sees their relationship evolve as they progress and mature. It is great to see how people can change over time and still maintain who they are at their core. Harry is forever the pessimist, seeing the dark side and never really giving himself over to love, while Sally is the upbeat optimist who works hard to see the bright side of things. I have always marveled at how these two characters slowly come together and meet in the middle by the end of the film, having been through so much together.

The heart of When Harry Met Sally is undeniable, but it is the persistent comedy that makes it a special movie. Never before, or since, for that matter, has a film so brilliantly captured the humor of dating, sex, men and women, and the differences between them. I have applied much of this film to my own marriage, which started as a friendship. So much so that I have used lines from it in my daily life. In fact, here are some of the maxims which I have learned from When Harry Met Sally.

-Men and Women can't be friends because men always want to have sex with their female friends
-Women fake orgasms
-Men can't tell when they fake them
-Sex complicates things
-The little things are what you come to love most about a person

There you have it. If you need more clarification, pop in this movie and see the many sides, moods and jokes of friendship and love.

Things to watch for-

Mr. Zero
Surrey with the Fringe on Top
The Wagon Wheel Coffee Table
Baby Fish Mouth
Days of the Week Underpants
Pecan Pie

"Someone is staring at you in 'personal growth.'"

Thursday, December 30, 2010

We Hardly Knew Ye 2010

Here is a list of some of the people we lost in the last year. Think of it as my version of the Oscars' "In Memoriam" video montage.

LESLIE NIELSEN (Actor- The Naked Gun movies, Airplane!)

RONNIE JAMES DIO (Badass rock star)

GARY COLEMAN (Child Star, Utah Resident)

TONY CURTIS (Actor- Some Like It Hot, Spartacus)

BARBARA BILLINGSLEY (Actress- Leave it to Beaver)

BLAKE EDWARDS (Director/Writer- The Pink Panther movies, Victor/Victoria)

TOM BOSLEY (Actor- Happy Days)

RUE MCCLANAHAN (Actress- The Golden Girls)

GEORGE STEINBRENNER (Owner, New York Yankees, The Boss)

PETER GRAVES (Actor- Mission: Impossible, Airplane!)

MANUTE BOL (Basketball Player, Activist)

DENNIS HOPPER (Actor- Speed, Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now)


Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 In Review

2010 was a year that saw some big things happen for yours truly, let's review shall we?

I met film director, and my birthday buddy, Spike Lee.

I had the privilege of working as an intern at KUER for RadioWest with Doug Fabrizio. It was truly an enlightening experience and I learned a great deal from everyone at KUER, especially RadioWest's producer, Elaine Clark. (P.S. That's how I got to meet Spike Lee)

My wife surprised me with tickets to see one of my all-time idols- Paul McCartney. He was in The Beatles.

We took a trip to Napa Valley with friends. It was a great trip and I learned a lot of wine factoids. For example, did you know that wine is made from grapes?

After almost a year of not having full-time employment, I got a job. A real big boy job.

I ate a really good dill pickle.

The dog and I built a fort.

I taught little kid P.E. for a brief period in the Spring. I discovered that my skills at corralling first graders still need developing.

We took our annual trip to the Utah State Fair. I ate a bunch of fried stuff on a stick and rode the Tilt-A-Whirl.

Mary Anne and I celebrated our fourth anniversary.

That about does it. Let's hope that 2011 has as much awesomeness in it as 2010 did.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Movie of the Week

This jolly week,


Starring- George C. Scott, David Warner, Edward Woodward, Roger Rees

Of all the versions of A Christmas Carol, this one starring Oscar winner, George C. Scott, is the darkest and scariest. The ominous nature of this retelling of Dickens' classic works well for the most part, but there are some things that make it hard to believe that Scrooge will become a better man by the end of the movie. Scott's portrayal of Scrooge is a bit evil and he seems to enjoy being mean to Bob Cratchit and everyone else a little too much. I have always thought of Scrooge as bitter and angry, not vengeful. Having said that, there is a good deal that I enjoy in this made for T.V. movie.

The acting is of a high caliber, with strong performances from the supporting cast. David Warner as Bob Cratchit, Suzanna York as Mrs. Cratchit and Frank Finlay as Marley's Ghost stand out, as does the tiniest, most sickly and cute Tiny Tim ever. Looking at him, you think that he truly might not make it to another Christmas, which is more than can be said for the Tim's of other Christmas Carols who are far to healthy looking and not at all tiny.

Humor is at a premium in this version, but there are some funny moments peppered in between the ominous overall tone of the film. Of note are the interactions between Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present (Woodward), as well as the charming Fezziwig's pearls of wisdom for a young Scrooge. In the end, Scrooge makes the transition from miser to good man, but the way Scott plays it is more understated, making it seem like Scrooge will have a long road to redemption. Truly, this is more realistic, but it doesn't leave you with the same joyous feeling that A Christmas Carol usually elicits. Watch and enjoy this for the parts rather than the story as a whole, and also watch it for General Patton as Scrooge.

Things to watch for-

The Ghost of Christmas Past's fright wig
Ignorance and Want
Mrs. Cratchit takes Scrooge down a peg
Michael Gough- (Batman's Alfred) as a businessman

"Another sound from you... and you'll keep your Christmas by losing your situation."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Do Ask, Do Tell

I, for one, am glad that the Senate voted to repeal 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' today, allowing gays to serve openly in the military. The argument that many are making in favor of the repeal is that anyone willing to serve, and potentially die for our country deserves the dignity and respect of everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, and should be allowed to serve openly as a gay man or woman. I agree with this logic, but I hope that this act is only the first step in a long line of measures that grant homosexuals more equality in this country.

We live in a world where people have been marginalized and discriminated against to the point of extermination. While many seem to think that we are in some post-modern wonderland where prejudice is a faint memory that only rears its head when a new film about the Holocaust is made, I say that we need to reexamine why something like 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' took so long to repeal. Anytime something like this comes up for debate, people who are afraid of what change might bring forget about the effect it has on the group being discriminated against. Many have trouble thinking about what it would be like if they had to deny who they are, and keep it a secret for fear of what might happen if others found out.

As a straight, white, well educated male I am never asked to not be who I am, or given a back seat because of my race, sex or orientation, but I know those who are. Everyone does, whether they want to admit it or not, and I cannot say what something like this act by Congress does for a group of people who yearn to be treated like everyone else. I see this as a good step in the right direction, but I hope that those in power will not be content with this one act. There is still work to be done.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Book of the Month

This Month,


by Jay Parini

This 1990 novel about the last year of Leo Tolstoy's life was recently made into a very well received film. I have not seen the film, but the book is definitely worth your time. I had very little knowledge about Tolstoy before reading the book, and while it is a novel, it draws heavily on true accounts and journals from the main characters. The characters and their personal stories are what drives the narrative. Parini deftly switches the storyteller in each chapter, so that the reader is aware of the feelings, thoughts and agenda of the major players in Tolstoy's life. Sofya (the Countess Tolstoy), Bulgakov (Tolstoy's idealistic secretary), Chertkov (the devoted leader of the Tolstoyian movement), along with Tolstoy's doctor and daughter make up the book's narrators. Every one of these characters yearns for the great man's attention and confidence throughout the book, and some do better than others.

The real conflict is between Sofya and Chertkov, who are at odds over what will become of Tolstoy's works once he is dead. Chertkov and his many followers hope to elbow Sofya out and convince Leo Nikolayavich to sign over the rights to his writings to the public domain, so that the people can enjoy them, and so that profit cannot be made from them. It is a core tenet of the Tolstoyian movement to reject personal property. Sofya, on the other hand, wishes to keep his writings private so that her family can survive on the money they generate. Caught in the middle of the conflict is the Count's new secretary, Blugakov, a young Tolstoyian who is recruited by both Chertkov and Countess Tolstoy to spy on the other. He ends up finding that his loyalty is to Tolstoy himself, and not to the factions on either side.

This book is at once a study of political dealing, a snapshot of pre-revolutionary Russia, a love story and a portrait of a great author. If you allow yourself to get lost in the world that Jay Parini creates, you will find an engrossing story that takes you right up to the end as Tolstoy arrives at the last station.

P.S. My girl Helen Mirren is in the movie.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Interview with Santa

Rarely does Conned! get to interview famous people- in fact, this is the first time. Here now is my exclusive interview with Santa Claus. He and I sat down in his workshop earlier this month.

CB: Santa, thanks so much for taking the time today, we all know how busy you are this time of year.

Santa Claus: No problem.

CB: I just want to start by saying thanks for all the presents over the years.

SC: My pleasure, you were always pretty good as a kid.

CB: I tried. Anyway, let's get down to it. Do you think that kids nowadays are as good as they used to be?

SC: Some years are better than others. I could sit here and tell you that kids in this decade are worse than kids in the 1960's, but I'd be lying. The naughty list varies from year to year, like this year the list is actually much shorter than last year.

CB: Any particularly naughty years that leap to mind?

SC: 1996. That was the worst Christmas for me in all my years of delivering presents. So many naughty kids that year.

CB: How come?

SC: That damn Tickle Me Elmo. Never before were so many kids nasty to their parents, and all for that ridiculous giggling muppet. I really considered hanging it up after that year. Luckily, Mrs. Claus talked me out of retiring.

CB: Lucky for all of us. I wanted to ask you, of all the movies about you, what actor captured Santa the best on screen?

SC: I think probably Ed Asner in Elf. I always liked him on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and I felt he had the right twinkle in his eye when he played me. I'm also partial to that goofball Andy Dick as my evil son in The Hebrew Hammer. That movie is hilarious.

CB: Favorite Christmas carol?

SC: It's a tie between Bing Crosby's White Christmas and Eartha Kitt's Santa Baby.

CB: I see. What is the hot toy for this year?

SC: The buzz around the workshop is that it's these Pillow Pets. I'm really encouraged that kids are going for a plush toy this year instead of so much electronic gadgetry. Plus, stuff like the Pillow Pets are so much lighter to carry in my sack than PlayStation 3s. Do you know what that's like?

CB: I don't.

SC: It's heavy. I'm not as young as I used to be, Conor.

CB: We don't want to keep you too much longer since Christmas is only a couple weeks away, but I have to ask, who is your Super Bowl pick?

SC: I'm a lifelong Browns fan, but they always stink. I've got a good feeling about the Atlanta Falcons this year.

CB: Thanks so much, Santa.

SC: My pleasure.

Eat your heart out, Doug Fabrizio.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Movie of the Week

This merry week,


Starring- George Lazenby, Diana Rigg, Telly Savalas, Bernard Lee

This film is what I refer to as the Christmas Bond, because a majority of the action takes place around that holiday. No, Bond doesn't foil a plot by SPECTRE to steal Christmas, he instead must stop a deadly virus from spreading while navigating a bevy of beauties, and out-skiing the bad guys with his bride to be. The film not only contains the best ski chases ever, it also features the debut of George Lazenby as James Bond. After a worldwide search for Sean Connery's replacement, producers Broccooli and Saltzman settled on the Australian model turned actor for his good looks and strong presence in the fight auditions. It was up to veteran Bond editor Peter Hunt, who was directing his first 007 feature, to make Lazenby as believable in the dramatic scenes as he was in the action scenes.

Hunt does a serviceable job in making Lazenby a strong 007, and surrounded him with gifted veteran actors to help him. Diana Rigg as the lead Bond girl, Tracy, turns in a fabulous performance. She's so good in fact that our James can't help but ask her to marry him. Menacing the happy couple is Telly Savalas as Blofeld. Savalas is a bit uncouth and too American as the super villain, but he poses a nice physical threat to 007, especially in the deadly bobsled chase. Rounding out the cast are Bond staples Bernard Lee (M), Desmond Llewelyn (Q) and Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny) who provide continuity, and Gabrielle Ferzetti and Ilse Steppat as Tracy's likeable crime lord father and Blofeld's nasty henchwoman, respectively. If this film had starred Connery, it would have been the best in the series, but alas, it does not. Lazenby does his best, and while not great he is not bad enough to derail a stunningly beautiful and action packed movie.

Right off the bat the story grabs you and doesn't let go until the tragic climax. In between we get treated to some witty dialogue courtesy of writer Richard Maibaum, brutal fight scenes cut together in an innovative new way by editor John Glen and groundbreaking ski action filmed by Willy Bogner and Johnny Jordan. This film did for skiing what Thunderball did for underwater work. I am still amazed by some of the stunt work in this film as Bond skis away from Piz Gloria on one ski while being chased by SPECTRE agents, or when he avoids a giant avalanche. While Lazenby is a bit wooden at times, he has some nice moments that shine through. It is a pity that we never got to see what he might have been capable of since he decided to leave the role of 007 after one film.

Many say that this film is marred by Lazenby's work as Bond and do not rank it with the best of the series, but that is unfair to Lazenby and to the film. I do put it in the top ten, and say that the shortcomings are far outweighed by the strengths. Connery would return in 1971's Diamonds are Forever and while it would be nice to see him back as 007, I can say that his return was not anywhere near as good OHMSS. So for a little holiday action and adventure, strap in and say- Merry Christmas, 007!

Things to watch for-

The janitor whistling the 'Goldfinger' theme
The stock car race
John Barry's iconic theme song
M's house
Louis Armstrong's 'We Have All the Time in the World'

"This never happened to the other fella."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Hero

One of my great heroes is a man who made as big an impact on the world as any musician ever has. He changed what it meant to be a star, an activist and a rock and roller. John Lennon was one of a kind. From his humble beginnings in Liverpool to his time with The Beatles and after, John Lennon was an innovator in the field of music and art.

I first took notice of John Lennon in middle school when I went mad for The Beatles. Everything became about John, Paul, George and Ringo for me. I wanted to wear my hair like them, I spent hours each day in my room listening to their music and studying them, I even wore round glasses like John's. I admire so much his talent, his songs and his message of peace and love. While I outgrew my hardcore Beatles obsession, I never outgrew the music. I still listen to their music all the time and read about them on occasion. The Beatles, like John Lennon were a phenomenon that can never be forgotten.

Thirty years ago today, we lost John Lennon. I wasn't even born yet, but I still feel the loss that so many of his fans felt that day. While we have had to go without new songs, inspiring words, and a complete Beatles reunion in the time since 1980, his is an enduring legacy that will always live on. I am grateful for the rich catalogue of work that we have to look back on, and for the way he inspired so many to imagine a better world.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Worst Sports Franchises

There are certain teams in every sport that never cease to make terrible choices and are perennial bottom feeders. Here now, are three of the worst.


L.A. Clippers

These guys could screw up a cup of coffee. Year after year the Clippers fail to even attempt to come close to dethroning the Lakers as L.A.'s favorite team. As far back as I can remember they have been losers and laughingstocks. They continually fail to keep good players and make huge mistakes with who they bring in as free agents. Blake Griffin is a legit star, but knowing the Clippers, they will find a way to lose him too.

Detroit Lions

I feel bad for Lions fans. They are forced to live in a city that has been deeply affected by the bad economy, and then to escape the hardships they have to go watch the only team to ever go 0-16 in NFL history. Trying to overcome the culture of losing is tough, but the current management seems to be on the right track. Let's hope they can do it and get the Lions of this list.

Pittsburgh Pirates

I don't even watch baseball, but I know enough to know that this team stinks, and has for along time. Even when it seems like they have a good team and some momentum, the front office dumps their good players and sends the team back to the MLB cellar. Good thing that the citizens of Pittsburgh have the Penguins and Steelers to root for.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Movie of the Week

Christmas movie time, kids.

This merry week,


Starring- Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe, Alfre Woodard

The greatest Christmas story of all is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. If Dickens had been working 1988 it's likely that Ebenzer Scrooge would have been a jerk T.V. executive who treats his employees like crap, hates Christmas and tries to staple antlers to a mouse's head. Even though Dickens was long gone by 1988, filmmakers gave us a very apt update of the classic tale of redemption in the form of Scrooged. In the film, Bill Murray plays Frank Cross, a jerk T.V. executive who treats his employees like crap, hates Christmas and tries to staple antlers to a mouse's head- go figure!

Murray is the perfect blend of smug and silly as Cross, who is forced to reexamine his mistakes when three ghosts take him on a Scroogian journey of Christmases past, present and future. Along the way, Frank sees his somewhat unhappy childhood, how he won and lost the love of his life, Claire (Allen) and how he became the vindictive head of the IBC television network. Among the shows that Frank has on his network are the violent, The Night the Reindeer Died, and a cheesy, live version of A Christmas Carol that nicely parallels his own journey throughout the film. Just like you would expect, Frank is redeemed in the end, but only after some of the funniest scenes in Christmas movie history.

Of particular note are the ghosts of Christmas Past and Present who steal the show. David Johansen is the crude, cab driving, cigar smoking Ghost of Christmas Past who uses his knowledge of T.V. to call Frank on his made up childhood, and Carol Kane is the sweet fairy-like Ghost of Christmas Present who beats the snot out of Frank to get her point across. I always laugh hysterically when she hits him in the face with a toaster. Conversely, I always tear up at the end when the film's version of Tiny Tim makes us all aware of what Christmas is all about. Even though Scrooged is absolutely a comedy, it has heart and harkens back to Dickens' original message about the true spirit of the season and why people need a little love in their heart.

Things to watch for-

Bob Goulet's Old Fashioned Cajun Christmas
Five pounds of veal
Bobcat Goldthwait as the shotgun toting Eliot Loudermilk
Vodka and Tab
Robert Mitchum says 'butt head'
The Ballbreaker Suite
Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim

"If you TOUCH ME AGAlN, I'll rip your goddamn wings off! Okay?"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Ornaments

Here are some of my favorite ornaments that I have collected over the years. There are many more, but I have to save something for next year, people.


My Grandma Pat and Grandpa Chuck gave me this great basketball themed ornament back in 1995. It was great because it showcased our shared love of the Jazz. I'm always glad to pull this one out of the box, but I was even more glad this year because the team went back to the old music note logo this year. Christmas 1995 never felt so timely.


I'm not sure where this one came from, but it's been around as long as I can remember. What's that moose got wheels for, you ask? Well, maybe he is like the Six Million Dollar Man and was rebuilt after an accident, or perhaps moose had wheels in prehistoric times and evolved out of them. Whatever the explanation is, one thing is for sure- he looks great on a Christmas tree. Sorry, She. Only the females have red antlers and blue bodies.


This one is from a series of ornaments that we have of Santas from around the world. It depicts Santa forcing a child into his sack against his will. Obviously this kid was on the naughty list, but why is Santa putting him in a sack? My guess is that this country's version (probably Germany) of Santa takes naughty children home to feast on them. I hear that in an early version of The Night Before Christmas, Clement C. Moore had a short scene describing Santa throwing kids in his sack and melting them down in a large vat at the North Pole to use in his sugarplums. It was edited out of the story. I can't imagine why.


These angels were made by my great grandmother. At one point there were enough to cover several Christmas trees worth, but over the years they have deteriorated and now there are only a handful left. Notice the pipe cleaner halo and Ivory soap flake hair on her. Pretty cool, huh? I think more people should try to make ornaments like she did.


Don't get all scandalized by Santa's blurry little weenus. This charming ornament was given to me by my Auntie Cher. It's really funny and always makes me giggle when I take it out of the box. I know I'm a child, but I don't care. All I have to say is it must be cold at the North Pole. Zing!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why the BCS Sucks

I am like many who feel that the BCS is a huge joke that robs fans and college football teams of a real chance to win the national title. Imagine any other sport, professional or collegiate, that allows a biased and imperfect ranking system to determine which team is the National Champion. It wouldn't happen in the NFL, NBA or any other college sport. That is the main reason that the BCS system needs to go. It would be unthinkable to any sports fan for the NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament to be done away with in favor of an arbitrary ranking system that allowed only two chosen teams to play for the championship. Anything is possible if there is a playoff, but instead we get whatever SEC team that wins the conference title, and a Big 12 or Pac 10 team in the BCS Championship, while other, possibly more deserving teams get relegated to lesser bowls. It still angers me that the great Utah team that beat mighty Alabama in the Sugar Bowl a few years back didn't get a chance to play for a title and wound up at number two at season's end.

The system is flawed beyond belief and even as those in favor of it try to make valid arguments for it, we all know the real reason why they want to keep the status quo. Money. Money is the driving force behind why we don't have a playoff in college football. The big automatic qualifying conferences want to keep it a closed shop so that they can line their pockets, but year after year the AQ conferences are challenged by the TCUs and Utahs and Boise States of the world, and a mockery is made of the precious BCS. You can't sit here and tell me any ACC or Big East team is better than either TCU or Boise State this year because they aren't. Unless the big time conferences get their act together and put some good football teams on the field, the argument for keeping the current format gets thinner every year.

I hope that eventually teams will have the opportunity to have a playoff and see who really is the best team in the country. For now, it seems we are left wondering whether or not we have seen the best matchups the NCAA has to offer. The almighty dollar rules the landscape, not the spirit of honest competition.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Movie of the Week

This week,


Starring- Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Donald Pleasance

Few movies are more fun to watch than this one. Based on a true story that inspired a popular book and then this film, The Great Escape is a rousing adventure about British and American POWs in a German camp during World War II. Unhappy with many escape attempts by their prisoners, the Germans put all the best escape artists in one super camp to keep a very watchful eye on them. It isn't a stretch to guess what happens when all the top escape artists get together- they plan to escape.

Leading the escape is British Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett (Attenborough) who is also known as 'Big X.' Under Bartlett's supervision each aspect of the escape is planned out to the nth degree, as the prisoners work to free 250 men. Among the fabulous cast of characters are Henley (Garner) who serves as the Scrounger, helping to obtain anything the men may need. There is also Cavendish, the Surveyor, Danny (Charles Bronson) and Willy who work as the Tunnel Kings, Sedgewick (James Coburn), the Manufacturer and Blythe (Pleasance), the Forger. Working on his own is Capt. Hilts (McQueen), whose many escape attempts land him in solitary confinement and earn him the nickname of 'Cooler King.' Menacing the prisoners is Kommandant Von Luger, who thinks any escape attempts from his compound are futile.

The Great Escape is full of great action, suspense, humor and various story lines about the many aspects that go into the massive escape effort. The film can really be divided into two halves, the prep work before the escape, and the aftermath of the escape. Both sections of the film are great, but the tone changes from suspenseful and expository to action packed. Even though the film seems tame by today's standards there is a great sense of tension during the actual escape as the Germans threaten to discover it. I always get sweaty palms during certain scenes even though I know the outcome. Also, the action scenes are as good as anything in today's action films. I am speaking mostly of Hilts' skillful motorcycle riding as he evades Nazi pursuers.

If you have an appreciation for the action genre or World War II, this film will satisfy on both counts. McQueen's reputation as an action star was cemented with his work as the 'Cooler King.' The Great Escape serves as a who's who for stars from this time period, and even the minor roles are filled by superb actors who bring a sense of camaraderie and realism to the film.

Things to Watch for-

Elmer Bernstein's iconic musical score
Flying Officer Ives (aka The Mole)
Tom, Dick and Harry
Potato vodka
Ya vas lyublyu

"I was trying to cut my way through your wire because I want to get out."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanks for this

Thanksgiving is the time where we sit down, eat a ton of food and attempt to enjoy our families. What makes it different from every other day of the year is that we take a moment to give thanks for all the things we are grateful for. Here is my list.

I am thankful for Edamame, that is some awesome soy bean goodness. Costco sells them in small frozen pouches.

I am thankful for the fact that my Fantasy Football team has rebounded nicely from an 0-2 start.

I am thankful for my toaster oven. It does things a toaster and a microwave can't do.

I am thankful that I have a great group of friends.

I am thankful for the fact that I am close with my family and don't dread seeing them. I know many people don't get along with their families and that is sad to me.

I am thankful when my dog does his 'business' quickly on cold mornings.

I am thankful for Hooked on Phonics. It worked for me.

I am thankful for Tylenol. It saved my ass recently when I had a wicked bad cold.

I am thankful for Facebook. I'm not sure how I wasted time before it came along. I guess it was T.V., but I can't remember.

I am thankful for the internship I had at KUER this summer. It was one of the best and most interesting experiences of my life.

I am thankful that I have a job and am not unemployed anymore.

I am thankful for stuffing and mashed potatoes- they are the best part of Thanksgiving dinner. Just ask the pilgrims.

I am thankful for my wife's Pumpkin pie. It is the best- don't try to dispute me.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Book of the Month

This Month,


By C.S. Forester

This is the first of eleven books about Horatio Hornblower, an officer in the British Navy and his adventures during the Napoleonic Wars. While this is the first book in the chronology of Hornblower's career, it is actually the sixth one written by author C.S. Forester, who also wrote The African Queen. Unlike the other books in the series which deal with one long narrative over the course of the book, this one is episodic and features ten separate vignettes about Hornblower's early career.

The entire series, and indeed this book, are fabulous works of historical fiction. Hornblower's adventures are set against the backdrop of real events, and paint a very accurate portrait of the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. When we first meet Hornblower, he is a seasick new midshipman who is coming on board his first ship, the HMS Justinian. It is hard from the first story to see anything of the great commander that Hornblower will become in the later books. He is a sad, withdrawn and pathetic officer who struggles to feel at home in the navy.

It isn't long, however, until he is transferred to the HMS Indefatigable under the command of his great mentor, Captain Edward Pellew. Under Pellew's watchful eye we see Horatio distinguish himself in some fun and dangerous adventures. Among the more exciting reads are the chapters entitled, Hornblower and the Cargo of Rice, Hornblower and the Man Who Felt Queer, and Hornblower and the Examination for Lieutenant. Despite some adverse circumstances, poor decisions by the young officer and a liberal dose of dumb luck, by the end of the book it is clear that Hornblower is going to become a great commander that will be the stuff of (fictional) British Naval legend.

If you are at all interested in the Napoleonic Era or the British Navy, the Hornblower books are a great read. I prefer them to the Master and Commander series by Patrick O'Brian because they are much less heavy on the terminology of ships and seamanship. While to O'Brian books are great, the Hornblower books are more about the characters and the adventures and do not require reference books to get through them. Ahoy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Movie of the Week

This week,


Starring- Al Pacino, Chris O'Donnell, James Rebhorn, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Nothing says Thanksgiving like the adventures of a prep school kid and a blind, alcoholic Army colonel. Set around the upcoming holiday, this film is funny, charming, touching and inspirational all at the same time. As Lt. Colonel Frank Slade, Al Pacino delivers one of his greatest performances, as does a young Chris O'Donnell who plays the naive prep school student, Charlie Simms. The two get paired up when Charlie agrees to take a job taking care of the blind Col. Slade over Thanksgiving weekend to make some extra money.

It becomes clear that Col. Slade has big plans for their weekend together, and he forces Charlie to help him travel to New York for a wild time that will serve as the lonely man's last hurrah. As Slade wines, dines and dances his way through the big city, Charlie struggles with keeping the Colonel under control as well as with some disciplinary issues that await him back at school. Charlie learns a lot about life from Col. Slade over their time together, but as Slade prepares to kill himself, it is Charlie who teaches the older man a valuable lesson. Through their time together, Charlie is able to help Slade realize he has something to live for, despite his handicap.

Once back from their tour in the Big Apple, Slade returns the favor, and helps Charlie avoid expulsion for his involvement in a school prank. The final scenes in the hearing have become iconic. Pacino's gruff, impassioned defense is what I am sure cliched him his first Oscar for Best Actor. It makes you wish you could bring Frank Slade along with you to argue parking tickets, just so you can hear him take the opposition down a peg or two. O'Donnell is a stellar foil for the loud, brash Pacino and makes you feel real emotions as he struggles with his predicament.

If only every Thanksgiving could have Frank Slade around to tell stories about threesomes and juggling hand grenades. Hoo-Ah! That would be something. If you can't get the real thing at your Thanksgiving table, put on Scent of a Woman and enjoy the humor and the drama of a great story.

Things to watch for-

The Tango
Mr. John Daniels
Bradley Whitford as Randy
Baird Men

"Are you blind? Are you blind?"
"No, of course not."
"Then why do you keep grabbing my goddamn arm? I take your arm."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Things I Think

Here are some thoughts from the Brain of Bentley.

I think the Monday Night Football announcing crew of Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron 'Jaws' Jaworski is the best in the business.

I think a really scary idea for a horror film would be something called 'Mickey Rouke's Hands.'

I think that there needs to be some kind of law for how long holiday decorations are allowed to stay up. I'm always appalled when I see nasty rotten pumpkins in December, or Christmas wreaths, lights and garlands in June. I know there aren't a lot of decorations for holidays like Arbor Day, but that's okay.

I think I enjoy certain household tasks. Laundry and vacuuming are my top two. I'm not so excited about washing dishes.

I think it is really hard and kind of a mistake to re-make and re-cast iconic roles that are synonymous with certain actors. This isn't always true (See J.J. Abrams' Star Trek) and I hope it isn't true for Jeff Bridges in the new version of True Grit. I like Jeff Bridges, but I don't think he can fill John Wayne's shoes.

I think I am very lucky that Mary Anne Wetzel agreed to marry me.

I think Robert Downey Jr. would be fun to hang out with.

I think that the McRib is McNasty. I had my first one the other day, and I was underwhelmed beyond belief. The meat was grey and unidentifiable, the pickles were limp and the barbeque sauce had no flavor.

I think the best and most unbeatable super hero team would be, Iron Man, Wolverine, Batman and Hawkman. Why Hawkman, you say? Every team needs someone that nobody likes.

I think it's time for dinner.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Like You

Once again I bring you some people that I like/enjoy/admire/think you need to be aware of. I'm sure you already know about these three individuals, but I'm doing this to offset my Schmohawk posts so that I even out my karma.


What a babe. She's not only the best actress every year, she continues to be hot even at her age. I'm not usually into older ladies, but I'd be hard pressed not to put her high on my list of celebrity fantasy hookups. She's such a well respected woman and she keeps getting better- like a fine wine. The Queen is a great testament to her ability as an actress. (This one is for Elaine)


Who doesn't like this guy? He was my idol as Marty McFly in Back to the Future and won America over as Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties (or as my wife called it as a little kid, "Shoelaces"). He has also overcome a great deal in his struggle with Parkinson's disease and continued to work in spite of it. I admire him a great deal for his skill as an actor, and his perseverance as a human being.


He is by far the best basketball commentator working today. His frank and well informed opinions are at the same time hilarious and insightful. I had some difficulty cheering for him when he played, but now I make sure to catch him whenever there are NBA games on TNT. The Round Mound of Rebound has transitioned nicely into his current gig, and I hope he stays with it for a long time to come.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Movie of the Week

This week,


Starring- Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench

This time of year makes me eager to watch James Bond movies because since 1995 a 007 movie has come out every couple of years around Thanksgiving time. Since there won't be a new one this year due to financial issues with MGM (see my last blog entry), I will review one that came out four short years ago. Like many, I was very skeptical about Daniel Craig taking over as 007, but I tried to be objective as I went to see the film on opening day.

Casino Royale marked a reboot of the 44 year old series, telling the story of James Bond's first mission as a 00 agent. After dispatching two enemies in the pre-titles sequence, Bond gets his license to kill and we finally get to see the target of the famous gunbarrel sequence. What follows is one of the most innovative and fun titles sequences in the series, accompanied by a great song. I remember feeling immediately reassured once the first five minutes had gone by because I knew I was in for a special experience.

Bond's main mission in the film is to financially take down the banker behind the world's terrorists in a high stakes poker game. The banker in question is the slimy LeChiffre, an inhaler toting, blood weeping poker genius who has some tough customers for clients. Bond succeeds in setting up the game, but gets distracted by the mysterious and beautiful treasury officer, Vesper Lynd, who is in charge of 007's poker money. The action is very fast paced to start in this film, but slows down when the story focuses on the card game. Veteran Bond director Martin Campbell does a nice job of peppering in some fights around the poker game, as well as ratcheting up the tension as the stakes get higher.

Vesper and Bond fall in love over the course of the film, and it becomes clear why the James Bond we know and love is somewhat closed off with women after his experience in Casino Royale. Even though this film differs from the book in the details, the main characters and sequences are retained, and we see the character of Bond evolve before our eyes. The tragic ending sets up 007's future as an agent and leaves some interesting threads for films to come. We know now what happens thanks to Quantum of Solace, but until that film came out I couldn't wait to see James Bond's next mission with the great Daniel Craig playing the part.

Things to watch for-

Free running on a construction site in Madagascar
M's apartment
Aston Martin DB5
Bond has an itch
Felix Leiter- a Brother from Langley
Chris Cornell's song "You Know My Name"

"How did he die?"
"Not well."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Here Come The Schmohawks

Check out the latest Schmohawks.


These Schmohawks whined and complained for the last two years about how Obama has not done enough to fix all the problems that their boy George W. Bush got us into. With the election last week they got what they wanted and now they need to put their money where their mouth is. Solutions are more than just offering criticism and I'm glad that they will be on the hook to work with the Democrats to get things done in Washington. Responsibility is now the word of the day. Be careful what you wish for, Schmohawks, you may get it.


The symbol of the Schmohawk might as well be a donkey. The Democrats failed once again to get together on a consistent message, and as a result, lost a pantload of seats to the Republicans. Obama can't be held completely responsible for his party's failures in the last two years, but he also hasn't been perfect. Neither have other Democratic leaders who tried to throw the President under the bus in their campaigns. Let's hope that they get out Schmohawked by the GOP in the next two years and regain what they lost this week. Don't be surprised if the Schmohawkery continues, though.


Hawk. Schmo Hawk. There hasn't been this much enthusiasm for James Bond since the 1960's, but you wouldn't know it. MGM, the studio that has produced 007 films for a long time, is in the process of being sold and that has stalled production on Daniel Craig's third outing indefinitely. It is sad that we might have to wait three or four years, or maybe more, before Bond is back on the big screen. Craig will want to move on if the Schmohawks in charge can't get it a script together and decide what is going to happen with MGM. Here's a thought, take 007 somewhere that isn't mired in financial woes- anybody who isn't a Schmohawk would love to be in business with 007.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vietnam Thesis- Part XIII

Here is the conclusion of the series taken from my undergraduate thesis.

No war before or since Vietnam has unleashed such doubt about the U.S. government. The soldiers who fought were given what was thought to be every advantage available, but that turned out to be wrong. For America, Vietnam was a pivotal juncture in the Cold War, but for the Vietnamese it was just another war in series of attempts to gain independence. The United States had forgotten its own roots when it entered Vietnam in force in 1965. “This time we were the Redcoats and the Viet Cong were the Minutemen,”said William Bentley of the war; “Not a reversal of roles we should ever emulate again.”  The consequences of that role reversal became clear as the troops came home and enlightened the civilians. 

Ideals had trumped military might, and the men in charge could not see why; the soldiers could, however. The only real victory that can be agreed upon by everyone who lived through Vietnam is that prisoners of war were set free from the clutches of the North Vietnamese. Other than that one thing, the peace in Vietnam was not “with honor” as Nixon had promised.

The South Vietnamese were able to hold out for two years, and then in April 1975 Saigon fell to the communists. It was the final insulting chapter of the war, as the South Vietnamese finally collapsed without the aid they had come to depend on from the United States. Of the horrific end of the war CIA, agent Thomas Pulgar said, “It’s like a goddam circus parade gone haywire! The elephants have moved out in front and everybody else is stumbling through their shit.” The vivid imagery in that quote defines how absolutely awful the Vietnam war was handled by the government. Even someone like Pulgar who had ties to the government saw that the handling of the war was a complete fiasco by the end. Very few elements had gone the Americans’ way, and the fall of Saigon was just one last mishap. 

The images that the war evoked in people’s minds were so horrific and damaging that criticism and analysis became indicative of a nation trying to make sense of a wasted effort. The soldiers felt that their work had been for naught, but just trying to do what was asked of them, even though it was not the best course of action, should have been enough to absolve them. The United States should not have gone to war in Vietnam without more planning or better strategy, or they should not have gone at all. 

Richard Barnet concluded about Vietnam that, “The United States cannot make the world safe for America by seeking to shape the political and economic development of other countries...for the attempt will exhaust both our treasure and our spirit.” Vietnam did exhaust the American spirit, and cost many young vital spirits in the process. The soldiers knew that nothing could win them the war, and nobody listened. Hopefully, that will change as we work to free another nation from tyranny and attempt to fight ideals instead of people.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Movie of the Week

This week,


Starring- Bing Crosby

It is not Halloween unless I watch this Disney classic every year. Adapted from the story by Washington Irving, this cartoon does what Tim Burton never did- tell the story the way it was meant to be told. The story tells of superstitious schoolmaster Ichabod Crane who meets the legendary Headless Horseman on a dark Halloween night in the colonial hamlet of Sleepy Hollow. It is told through the narration and singing of Bing Crosby.

Crosby proves to be a good storyteller, and Disney does a fabulous job of mixing humor and suspense as the cartoon works its way to the fiery climax. This short film is from the era of great hand drawn animation, and the way in which the skinny Ichabod is depicted is great, as well as the foreboding journey through the hollow and the attack by the Headless Horseman. The songs are very catchy and memorable- the opening when Ichabod enters the town and Brom Bones' boisterous retelling of the Horseman's legend are the best examples. The structure of the film allows Crosby to both narrate, sing and voice the characters very easily.

This cartoon is very faithful to the original story (albeit with some Disney silliness thrown in) and it scares without being too spooky for the little ones. I have to see this every year out of habit, but also because it is timeless. Trying to find this classic is a bit difficult these days, but if it means as much to you as it does to me, try Amazon.

Things to watch for-

Shovels or feet- you decide
Ichabod's ability to hide food
Brom Bones feeds beer to animals
Katrina- what a babe!
Bing "boo boos"

"Odds bodkins! Gad zooks! Look at that old spook of spooks!"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Next...

Over the past few years we have seen celebrities regain fame as they make fun of themselves or gain cult status for odd, funny or shameful behavior. Chuck Norris, Betty White, William Shatner and David Hasselhoff are among those who have gone from famous to off the radar to wildly popular for their work and/or embarrassing behavior. The Chuck Norris jokes have become a phenomenon, Betty White is in everything after her surprise appearance in a Snickers ad, and Germans love David Hasselhoff. I am now going to predict three celebrities that will be the next in line to come back into the fold. Let's all bask in their reflected glory.


David Hasselhoff's appeal has a lot to do with his nickname- 'The Hoff.' Well, Steve Guttenberg is 'The Gute' and should be making a pop culture comeback soon. I predict some kind of Police Academy reference in a movie or commercial that reminds us all of when we first fell in love with Det. Carey Mahoney, and how he showed us how love, laugh and use that guy who makes all the sound effects to play pranks on people. Tell your agent to sit by the phone, Steve, the call is coming.


I know that you're thinking Gary Busey already made the rounds when he went batshit crazy and when he was on Celebrity Fit Club or whatever, but I foresee a bigger pop culture moment on the horizon for Gary Busey. His prior work in this area makes him a strong candidate to repeat. I'm thinking he'll do some kind of drunken, unintentional You Tube stunt that coins the phrase, "You've just been Buseyed."


I see a child stars from the 1980's Playboy spread, followed by a viral video campaign where she gives robotic public service announcements from the future. The rekindled fame for Vicki will be super ironic, but she won't care- none of them ever do. This one is really obscure, but if it goes well I smell a comeback for Mr. Belvedere's Wesley and Donny Most from Happy Days.

Don't forget, when these "stars" get their next 15 minutes, remember who predicted it. Me, baby.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Decision 2010

As the days wind down to Election Day 2010 I am struck by the apathy of many and the anger of others. Many people right now are upset with the plight of the nation, and I can sympathize, to a point. I am worried though about how extremists threaten to take our government by storm because their outrage and platform matches that of a small, loud mass of people who are pushing the panic button. It is hard for me to see our nation freak out and prepare to take a step backward in many areas with the rise of the Tea Party.

It is true that things have not improved in the way many people, including President Obama, thought they would. I am hoping to appeal to the more level-headed, less reactionary majority that Jon Stewart hopes to rally later this month in Washington D.C. Get out and vote! Show the loud, angry minority that they don't speak for all of us. Voter apathy is abhorrent to me, and if those on the left and in the middle stay home and let Tea Partiers dominate the polls we will lose something valuable. Prejudice and discrimination are at the core of what the extremists stand for, whether they admit it or not. I don't think our country can afford to take steps backward, and the only way to make sure that we don't is to get out and VOTE!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Movie of the Week

This Week,


Starring- Paul Scofield, Robert Shaw, Wendy Hiller, Orson Welles

As a nod to my Halloween costume this year (I'm being Henry VIII) I am highlighting a great Oscar winning film that tells the story of Sir Thomas More and his struggle with Henry VIII over divorce and the king's ultimate break with the Catholic Church. Written by Robert Bolt, who adapted it from his successful play, the story portrays More as the ultimate man of principle- beloved by the common folk for his conviction and loyalty to his values and religion in the face of death. Scofield's work as More is top notch, and it garnered him an Oscar for Best Actor.

While the film takes some dramatic license with the facts, it is quite accurate overall. Henry VIII (Shaw) is upset at the fact that his wife Catherine of Aragon has been unable to provide him with a male heir, and so he wants a divorce. Unfortunately for the king, it is not up to him, but rather the Pope to grant the divorce. Henry's Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey (Welles), urges More to help him let Henry out of the marriage. More refuses and Wolsey dies, disgraced by Henry who is still married to Catherine. More succeeds Wolsey as Lord Chancellor, but angers Henry when he says his conscience will not allow him dissolve a marriage that he feels is valid.

More is also up against the ambitious Thomas Cromwell (Leo McKern) who wants to gain power and take More down for his actions. Henry VIII, tired of waiting for the Pope to grant his divorce, creates the Church of England with himself as the head. He then marries his mistress Anne Boleyn. More refuses to recognize the union and is imprisoned in the Tower of London for treason. More is eventually put on trial where he boldly sticks to his principles. For that he is ultimately beheaded.

The story is a powerful one and is  masterfully executed by Director Fred Zinneman and his first rate cast. It is no wonder that this is still held up as the quintessential film about More and Henry VIII. Scofield was made a popular actor for his work as More and became forever tied to this role. See this film for the history, the performances- especially Scofield and Shaw, and the fact that it is way better than The Tudors.

Things to watch for-

A young John Hurt
The great score by George Delerue
A cameo by Vanessa Redgrave as Anne Boleyn
The epilogue

"I know a man who wants to change his woman."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vietnam Thesis- Part XII

Part twelve in the ongoing series.

To respond to the Easter attacks, President Nixon resumed bombing of North Vietnam in April. In doing so, Nixon made a statement that the U.S. would not fold in the peace talks by being bullied. In July peace talks resumed with the Northern government, and by October Nixon’s top advisor, Henry Kissenger, stated, “Peace is at hand.” While this statement ended up being true, and with fewer American troops in Vietnam every day, the end of the war came for the fighting men, it would, however, not be as easy as signing a treaty. The bombings continued throughout the fall and winter of 1972, after Nixon won re-election in November. In January 1973, the peace talks came to a close, with the U.S. agreeing to pull completely out of Vietnam, knowing that their ally would eventually fall to the North.

The U.S. government did not have to admit defeat in the war because of the nature of the agreement, but defeat was obvious among those who had served in Vietnam. As Charles E. Neu put it, “The war had seared the consciousness of an entire generation, and altered the mood of the nation.” For those who made it home after the active American part of the war was over, life was very different than before. All the sacrifices that the soldiers had made went unappreciated and many resented them because of the reminder they gave of America’s first military loss. Future Senator John Kerry said of his homecoming, “You begin to see a lot of instant insanity and brutality that I don’t think anybody prepared you for, and then one land back in the United States of America. And nobody cares and nobody wants you to be in uniform.” It is sad to think that the men who had done all they were asked to do got little to no recognition for their efforts. 

The “warriors were blamed for the war,” as well as the government who made them fight, but it was not fair to lump those two groups together when assigning blame. Even after a majority of the men came home, the war was still being misunderstood by the government and the public who could not grasp the realities of what Vietnam was like. “The people who had been my closest friends really knew nothing about Vietnam,” said Marine James Hebron, “They were only interested in what the war was like in terms of their preconceptions of what war was about.” The only viable option was for the men who had fought was to educate the world about how wrong the Vietnam war was, and how unprepared the U.S.A. was to fight it. 

Vietnam was not like World War II; it did not have a clear objective or an obvious enemy. In many ways the veterans became the enemy to the nation as they tried to make sense of the mess that Vietnam had made of the country.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book of the Month

This Month,


By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

One of the best known and mysterious Sherlock Holmes adventures is a perfect scary pick for the month of October. I have read this story many times and it never fails to entertain and scare me. Almost all of the Holmes stories are rooted in realism, but this one has an element of the supernatural that sets it apart and makes it a more foreboding tale. It is also different from other Holmes stories because in it Dr. Watson is the one trying to solve the mystery. It is only at certain points and at the end that we see Holmes' active participation in the case.

The story begins when Holmes and Watson are visited in London by Dr. Mortimer who is distressed by the recent death of Sir Charles Baskerville who was found dead on a moor by his home of an apparent heart attack with a large hound's footprints near the body. Mortimer tells the pair of the legend of the Baskervilles which has haunted the family for generations. According to the legend, Hugo Baskerville, an evil man with a sadistic streak, became infatuated with a yeoman's daughter, kidnapped her and imprisoned her in his bedchamber. She managed to escape while he was talking with his friends. A drunken and furious Hugo cried that he would give his body and soul to the Powers of Evil if he could only overtake her. He rode after her onto the moor, his hunting hounds upon her scent and his friends in pursuit. Sometime later his friends came upon the bodies of Hugo and the girl. She had died from fear and fatigue, while a giant spectral hound stood over Sir Hugo's body. With his friends watching, the hound plucked out Hugo's throat and disappeared into the night.

The young heir to the Baskerville family, Henry is due to arrive from Canada any day and it is decided that Watson will return with Henry to Baskerville Hall to investigate. An escaped convict from a nearby prison adds to the feeling of mystery, as more things happen to throw suspicion on Barrymore, the servant, and the Stapletons- a brother and sister who Watson doesn't think look very alike. Holmes stays away to let Watson do the detective work, but arrives at a critical moment to reveal some very important information.

Just like many of the Holmes stories, Conan Doyle pushes the tension to the very end, where there is a complicated, but acceptable explanation which I won't spoil here. Watson proves to be a capable detective in this story, but as always, Holmes is the one who puts all the threads together. This is one of the best and most intriguing mysteries in the Holmes canon, so read it for a good Halloween scare on a dark and stormy night this month.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Things I Think- Halloween Candy

There are a few things I'd like to say about candy this Halloween season. Pay attention all of you who are staying home to give out candy to trick or treaters.

I think that old, funky candy and treats that have been laying around the house for more than 6 months are NOT okay to hand out. Kids don't like taffy that has become hard as a rock or brittle pieces of licorice. Neither do 27 year olds, come to think of it.

I think that the best bet for anyone handing out candy is to get name brand candy that is easily recognizable. Snickers, Twix, Skittles are among the top in my book. Just because Bit-O-Honey is technically a name brand doesn't make it taste good. The same thing goes for Circus Peanuts.

I think that people who tell you to beware of razor blades in apples and brownies are nuts. Has anyone ever ingested a razor blade? None of my friends ever did- except "Bloody Throat" Frank.

I also think that the main concern from homemade treats is not so much razor blades or poison, but rather the odd curly black hair. Ew.

I think toothbrushes or pencils are super lame "treats." What are you, my dentist or my teacher? If you are it's still lame.

I think the best trick or treat experience I ever had was going to the house that gave out full size candy bars.

I think kids without costumes don't deserve candy.

I think if you refuse to give kids without costumes candy, they will probably egg and toilet paper your house.