Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Movie of the Week

This week,


Starring- Chevy Chase, Ted Knight, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray

Caddyshack is to golf what Animal House is to college. This movie has done more for the sport of golf than Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson combined. Even if you are not a golfer, there is enough hilarity to make you laugh til you cry, and enough memorable lines to keep you quoting forever. Based on some of the experiences of writers Doug Kenney, Harold Ramis and Brian Doyle-Murray, the film follows the action at the posh Bushwood Country Club. Among the members of the club are the aloof playboy, Ty Webb (Chase), snobbish Judge Smails (Knight) and crass developer Al Czervik (Dangerfield). The club also boasts some great employees, mainly caddy Danny Noonan and greenskeeper Carl Spackler (Murray).

The overall story doesn't matter as much as the side splitting scenes that occur throughout the film, but generally the movie is about the struggle between snobs and slobs. It all culminates in an epic match play round between the team of Smails and Dr. Beeper against Ty and Al, and eventually Danny Noonan. Rather than give a blow by blow account of Caddyshack, I will instead do an extended "Things to watch for" because there is so much classic comedy stuffed into 98 minutes.

Things to watch for-

The Lama- big hitter, long
The Haverkampfs
Spaulding picking his nose
Rat farts
Ty sings Lacey Underall a love song
This nape of the woods
Varmint Poon Tang
Mitch Cumstein
Cannonball with the Bob Marley joint
Winter Rules
The greatest slow burn artist ever- Ted Knight
A Cinderella Story
Kenny Loggin's great title song- I'm Alright
Baby Ruths can be dangerous
Making $14 the "hard way"
Fuzzy little foreigner

That's all I got, but I could go on for a lot longer. Just watch the movie again, and who knows you might get laid.

"Your honor, Your Honor."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Companies That Should Sponsor Me

I think that I would do very well as a walking billboard for certain companies, and in fact, I already feel like I am some of the time. This blog entry is a plea to all those company presidents and marketing people to send me free stuff, so that I might tell people how awesome said stuff is.

Ralph Lauren Polo Brand Polo Shirts

I wear pretty much exclusively these shirts. If you know me, you know this to be true. I think its a no-brainer. Send me some shirts, Ralph! I'm already like the Salt Lake City branch of your company, deputize me already.

Crystal Light

This stuff is great. I mix up a big batch of lemonade or raspberry lemonade a few times a week to quench my thirst. Send me powder packets please, and I'll tell everyone about the deliciousness of Crystal Light.

Apple Computers

Guess what kind of computer this blog is written on? That's right, the old MacBook does pretty well, but I could use a new one. I also love my iPod, but its a little outdated too. I tell everyone I know that Macs rule, and that they blow PCs out of the water. That alone should get me a coupon for an iPad. Whattaya say, Jobs?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Top 10 Albums of All Time

Music makes the people come together, and these ten albums have brought many together over the years. It is hard to pick only ten albums, and while there are many deserving bands and records, these are the ones that I feel are the cream of the crop. Here now is the list...

10. THRILLER- Michael Jackson

The top selling album of all time starts us off on the list. It spent 37 weeks at number one and includes some of the King of Pop's biggest hits including- Beat It, Billie Jean, Wanna Be Starting Something, and of course, Thriller. Jackson would have other great albums as well, but none would ever come close to this seminal work.

9. GRACELAND- Paul Simon

This may seem like kind of an odd choice, but I think it is one of the most complete albums ever made. From start to finish, Graceland is great. All of the songs on it are listenable, which I feel is the ultimate test a great album must pass. Paul Simon used a liberal dose of South African music and musicians on the album, as well as the talents of Linda Ronstadt and the Everly Brothers on select tracks. It won the Grammy for best album, and gave us classics like You Can Call Me Al, Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes and Gumboots.

8. WHO'S NEXT- The Who

Who's Next is a hugely important rock album because of its use of the synthesizer and advances in sound engineering, and also its list of many fabulous tracks. A bit of a departure for the group, this album is marked by the variety of sounds and styles- going from loud rock anthems like Won't Get Fooled Again to quieter, introspective songs like Behind Blue Eyes. In addition to these songs, Who's Next includes some of the group's most well known hits like, Baba O'Riley, Going Mobile and Bargain. Well done, lads.


The Beatles sixth studio album is arguably the most influential one ever made in the history of rock and roll. As the first true concept album, it raised the bar for what rock bands could do with instrumentation and song writing. The songs on the album are not the best the group ever produced, but this record signaled the beginning of the 'Summer of Love' and was the epitome of hippie culture. This album is less about the music and more about the message, but there are still amazing cuts on it, including A Day in the Life, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Lovely Rita.


Written as a tribute to fallen lead singer Bon Scott, Back in Black is the best hard rock album ever. Taking over for the late Scott, new singer and lyricist Brian Johnson gave it to audiences with both barrels by teaming with the brothers Young to create some of the band's most memorable songs. Every song on this album kicks ass, and lets you know AC/DC is still out to rock as hard as they can. I could list any song on this album as a classic, but the best ones are Back in Black, You Shook Me All Night Long, Shoot to Thrill and Hells Bells.

5. ABBEY ROAD- The Beatles

Not only is the cover iconic, so is the music. The last album recorded by the Beatles, Abbey Road boasts perhaps the best collaboration by the band since their early days. Each Beatle is given room to shine, and does so in impressive form. Unlike Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road is a complete record, wowing the listener from start to finish. George Harrison also emerges as a songwriting equal with Lennon and McCartney on this album with his hits- Something and Here Comes the Sun. The Beatles sure knew how to make an exit.

4. LED ZEPPELIN II- Led Zeppelin

Many point to Zoso as the band's best album, but Stairway to Heaven does not an album make. The group's second album is its best, being the most complete throughout. Led Zeppelin II is devoid of one truly great song, but is rife with very good ones. In fact, the album's most recognizable song, Whole Lotta Love, might be one of the weaker ones. I really like Living Loving Maid, Heartbreaker and Bring it on Home the best, but let's also not forget the fabulous instrumental Moby Dick. Don't feel the need to skip songs here- you'll miss something awesome if you do.

3. LET IT BLEED- The Rolling Stones

This 1969 effort from the Stones marked an era of change for the band, as they infused their music with a larger variety of styles. Let it Bleed was also the last album to feature founding member Brian Jones. It can be said that any of four albums from the late '60's and early '70's is the group's best, but this really captures a great mix of sounds, as well as some of the Stones' biggest hits. I think I like this album best also, because it signaled a shift in the mentality of society- away from the flower power sixties toward the darker, edgier seventies. The songs Midnight Rambler, Monkey Man and Gimme Shelter indicate this shift best.

2. PET SOUNDS- The Beach Boys

Just like Sgt. Pepper, Pet Sounds changed the game for rock and roll. The work that Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys put in on this album made not only Sgt. Pepper possible, but many other future works as well. Using new technology and sounds, Wilson tried to copy and one-up the famous wall of sound, created by Phil Spector. It was not common to use so many orchestral elements and multi-tracking on rock records until Pet Sounds came along, and it ushered in a new age where anything was possible in rock and roll. The best cuts are Sloop John B, Wouldn't it Be Nice and the classic ballad, God Only Knows. Listening to this album is like hearing history.

1. REVOLVER- The Beatles

Prior to Sgt. Pepper, but after the release of Pet Sounds, The Beatles came out with the best album on this list. Revolver is more innovative and experimental than anything the group ever did, and there is not a bad song on the album. Drug culture, social commentary, existential thought, Eastern philosophy and children's imagery are the basis for the tracks on Revolver, showing the world that there was more to rock than just songs about teenage love. This album marks a growth in sophistication for the medium of rock music, and it is beautiful to behold. John, Paul, George and Ringo's masterpiece together is Revolver. Taxman, Eleanor Rigby, Dr. Robert, Got to Get You Into My Life and Tomorrow Never Knows are highlights, but to be fair- every song is a highlight.

Monday, June 21, 2010

PAC 12

Just like every other graduate and fan of the University of Utah, I was very pleased to see the Utes join the ranks of the PAC 10 Conference last week. Having been on hand for the Utes' two best football seasons ever, it was great validation for the hard work the athletic program has done to make our football team a national power. It is so nice to know that the next time the Utes go undefeated, they are more than likely going to be in the BCS Championship game because they are now a member of a BCS Conference.

With all that said, the BCS is still garbage and needs to be changed. I can solace myself, however, with the fact that in addition to usual rival, BYU, the Utes will have a much more interesting schedule- every year. USC, UCLA, Arizona State, Cal and Oregon will be filling Rice-Eccles Stadium with a better vibe than the likes of Mountain West opponents Colorado State and Wyoming ever could, and I mean no disrespect to those schools. Football is clearly the main focus of this blog entry, and the primary reason behind the invitation for Utah to join the PAC 10, but the move to the bigger conference has other effects as well.

The revenue that will be generated by the move will be beneficial for the school's athletic program, and all its teams, as well as the University of Utah's non-athletes. I hope that the money will get to all the programs at my alma mater that need it, and make the U a better institution overall. Also, there is a prestige that comes with being mentioned in the same breath with schools like Cal and Stanford that will hopefully make a diploma from Utah worth more to those who have one. I am really banking on this, by the way. I have always felt like the University of Utah was a very good, maybe even great, school, and this move to the PAC 10 simply reinforces the belief of many that the U is now in its rightful spot as one of the best universities in the western United States. GO UTES!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Movie of the Week

This week,

JAWS (1975)

Starring- Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw

As people start to head to the beach for the start of summer, I am here to make sure they are afraid to go into the water with a review of Steven Spielberg's classic shark tale. Based on the bestselling novel by Peter Benchley, Jaws is the story of a hungry little great white shark that chooses to make breakfast out of the residents of Amity Island. It is then up to an unlikely trio of heroes to hunt down the beast and make sure that it cannot return for many, many sequels.

Sheriff Brody (Scheider) is afraid of water, and that's even before a nubile coed gets gnawed by the shark, but after her death, he takes on the tough task of figuring out what to do to protect the beach goers of Amity. Despite little help from city officials, Brody does his best to be vigilant, especially after a little boy falls prey to the shark. Help arrives from Brody in the form of Matt Hooper (Dreyfuss), a marine biologist, who specializes in great white sharks. The two men finally determine that it is indeed a great white they are hunting, and go to kill it. It is then that they enlist the help of Quint (Shaw), the eccentric shark hunter, to help them find and destroy the shark in his boat the Orca.

So much of Jaws is now iconic, the score, the opening scene, the fact that we don't see the shark until more than halfway into the movie. Even though this film was incredibly difficult to film, and the mechanical sharks were very uncooperative, it stands out as one of the all time greats. The main characters of Brody, Hooper and Quint are now iconic as well, with their fabulous interactions on the boat as they track the shark. I think this film ranks among Spielberg's best, and it has appeal beyond just being a thriller. Jaws is an adventure story that makes you want to go along with Hooper, Quint and Brody. It also has some great comedic moments as well that are expertly balanced with the ever present tension.

Don't let Jaws ruin a summer trip to the beach for you, but do be careful if you are a sexy teenager or a little boy because to sharks you are like filet mignon.

Things to watch for-

Fingernails on the blackboard
Quint's shark monologue
John Williams' score
The mayor's anchor blazer
The Amity Billboard

"Here's to swimming with bow-legged women."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Vietnam Thesis- Part V

Here is part five of my ongoing series on the Vietnam War.

As missions intensified and more men came home in flag draped coffins, the U.S. Government continued to support its troops and the war as protests against the war became more prevalent. Many times it was the troops themselves who reassured the public about the reasons for the war, and even with the horrors of Vietnam mounting, they still were able to see the silver lining. As Lieutenant Marion Lee Kempner put it, “We were given no choice and we must fight where the confrontation is, despite its cost, infeasibility, and possible illegality and physical and mental toll upon the participants...” Just as so many others had said in similar ways, Kempner saw just cause for the war not because he wanted to, but because he had to in order to give his military service meaning. Unfortunately, Kempner died in Vietnam, for a war he did not wish for, but fought anyway. 

The attitude of doing a job that was potentially meaningless and very harmful, merely out of obligation, is the way a great many soldiers fought the Vietnam War up to and including 1967. Most of the letters from soldiers, and their reflections after the war illustrate that while Vietnam was not the right war for America, it nevertheless had to be fought, despite all the signs that it was not going exactly as planned by the government.

By the end of 1967, it was clear to President Johnson and his staff that General Westmoreland’s new strategy of offensive campaigns were relatively successful, despite costing 15,000 American lives in 1967 alone. The enemy, however, had lost considerably more. In a bloody battle at Dak To in November, 287 American soldiers were killed, but the U.S. military deemed it a victory. Victories like the one at Dak To were becoming routine, and in this war of attrition the U.S. appeared to be winning. What the U.S. did not realize was that battles like Dak To were strengthening the enemy’s resolve, and weakening the determination of their own men. 

Whether this was known to Westmoreland, he did not show it, and said of 1967, “I have never been more encouraged in my four years in Vietnam...We have reached an important point when the end begins to come into view.” 1968 would blur the end from the American view, granting new life to the enemy, and the anti-war movement.
A feeling of foreboding began to creep into the American psyche in January of 1968 as word of a North Vietnamese buildup at Khe Sanh came to General Westmoreland’s attention. Northern troops were creating a stronghold in the Northern part of South Vietnam, presumably to mount a large offensive against U.S. forces. Westmoreland became convinced that during the impending North Vietnamese offensive, Khe Sanh would need to be a primary target for the Americans. Unfortunately for Westmoreland and the Americans, the build up at Khe Sanh was a diversion created by the Viet Cong to draw U.S. troops away from the cities and other areas in the South.

This elaborate ruse on the part of the North Vietnamese would haunt the rest of the United States’ involvement in Vietnam. The plan was for Viet Cong agents and North Vietnamese soldiers to infiltrate major Southern cities and attack without warning while the major part of the U.S. force was busy surrounding the base at Khe Sanh. The attack came during the Vietnamese holiday of Tet on January 31st. The complete and utter surprise that the Tet Offensive had on American troops once again showed the soldiers and government how unprepared they were to fight this war, and how little they understood their enemy. The attack on the American Embassy in Saigon was not ultimately seen as a North Vietnamese victory, but the destruction of the outer part of the building left a lasting impression on U.S. soldiers who saw that nothing was safe from attack.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Things I Think- Summertime Edition

Summer is a great time of year. Despite the heat, I really enjoy much of what summertime brings- golf, staying light until 10 P.M., fireworks, baseball, popsicles, etc. This Summer is special because I have several awesome things planned like going to the Paul McCartney concert in July, and taking a much needed vacation with my wife to Napa in August. Here now are some of my thoughts on Summer.

I think nothing says Summer quite like the smell of freshly cut grass.

I think the Beach Boys are a must for any Summer iPod or CD mix. I think 'I Get Around' and 'California Girls' are two of the best songs for said mix.

I think I'm actually excited for the World Cup this Summer. Go Portugal and Cameroon!

I think you can't be too careful when it comes to preventing sunburns. Wear sunscreen and hats, people! This is dedicated to Mary Anne and Jessica Gleim.

I think the best made up holiday comes in Summer- Pie and Beer Day on the 24th of July. This is a pun on Pioneer Day which occurs on July 24th in Utah. Funny huh?

I think Wimbledon is another great Summer sporting tradition, in addition to the U.S. and British Opens for golf, and the NBA Finals. Go Celtics!

I think I love the fact that we have central air conditioning at my house.

I think the best popsicles are the ones with two sticks that come in the big plastic bag, and the best flavors are cherry, blue and root beer. Get away from me with that banana flavored one, that is some nasty crap. Otter Pops are good too.

I think the Utah Arts Festival is a great way to spend a June evening. I also think that the Neil Diamond Experience is being super weak by not playing the festival this year.

I think I need to go get ready for the Paul McCartney concert by practicing my Wings lyrics.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book of the Month

In order to class up this blog a little bit, I am now going to start reviewing a Book of the Month. I read books, in addition to Sports Illustrated and the odd issue of Cracked Magazine, and as such, I will tell you about some of them. One a month to be exact. It's like my movie of the week only with words instead of moving pictures.

This month,

OUTLIERS by Malcolm Gladwell

This book flat out blew my mind. If you have read anything by Gladwell before, you know that his books take some idea, and through vignettes and studies he takes something that should have been obvious to you seem like the greatest innovation since fire. I can't stop telling people about the stuff in this book because it is so interesting, and also very telling about those who have achieved success and the reasons behind their success.

The subtitle of the book, not surprisingly, is The Story of Success, and that is exactly correct. Gladwell takes the reader through many stories of success, and shows through these examples what factors contribute to a person's relative success in life. What was a great discovery to me was the fact that so much of why people are successful is out of their control. Rather than spoil the great revelation for everyone, I will simply say that some of the factors that are out of our control as humans have to do with cultural, socioeconomic and even chronological elements that are sometimes very obvious, but not always. This is especially apparent in the chapter "The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes" where I was thoroughly amazed.

While Gladwell makes it clear that success is not always up to us in every way, there is one area that is an integral ingredient in the super-successful person- work. Those who he sites as the most successful- Bill Gates, The Beatles, et. al. were not only talented, but put in the time necessary to be truly great in their given area. The 10,000 hour rule is key to being truly successful. Look at Gates and The Beatles- they put in 10,000 hours, at least, practicing and honing their skills so that by the time opportunity knocked they were ready. LeBron James, Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods- all gifted, but all have put in the time they needed to become the greatest successes in their sports. Read Outliers because it will not disappoint, and it will show you the true meaning of success in a way you never thought possible.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Movie of the Week

This week,


Starring- Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, Anthony Zerbe

Here is part two of my series on each James Bond movie. Licence to Kill was the most violent and hard edged Bond film of the series until Daniel Craig stepped into the role in 2006. In his first outing as 007, Timothy Dalton had done his best to make Bond more dangerous and realistic, but it wasn't until 1989 that he went all the way. At the time, Licence to Kill was a bit too dark for audiences, but by today's standards it is pretty tame. Either way, it is a very good entry in the series and Dalton's best film as James Bond.

Even though the writers and producers had run out of Ian Fleming plots and titles, the script for Licence to Kill boasts great scenes and characters that were unused in previous films- namely the main thrust of the plot which comes from the Live and Let Die novel. That main thrust is the near fatal wounding of James Bond's close friend and ally Felix Leiter at the hands of the villain. The villain is cold, calculating drug dealer Franz Sanchez (Davi) who feeds Leiter to his shark as a purely "business" move to get the American feds off his trail. Bond discovers Leiter's maimed body and sets out on a revenge mission, but is forced to give up his licence to kill to do it.

What follows is a great story of 007 working outside his usual channels to get close to Sanchez and his operation in order to bring it down from the inside. I call it the old "Yojimbo" treatment. Without his Secret Service support, he must rely on his wits more than ever. He does have some support from leggy CIA agent/pilot- Pam Bovier (Lowell) and Sanchez's smoldering lady friend Lupe (Talisa Soto). Also, Q turns up to dole out some gadgets in the field and to add a welcome bit of humor to this sometimes weighty adventure. Eventually Bond is outed as an enemy, but not before he has made Sanchez destroy much of his cocaine operation and kill many of his own men.

Licence to Kill suffers a bit from looking a bit too late '80's, but other than being a bit dated as far as fashion, it holds up quite well. The action scenes are great, especially considering Dalton does much of his own stunt work. Of particular note are the underwater/airplane waterskiing scene, and the climactic battle aboard several cocaine laden tanker trucks. Robert Davi stands out as a great Bond villain who exudes charm and treacherousness at the same time, as do the slimy Anthony Zerbe and a young Benicio Del Toro as his henchmen. Dalton's Bond this time around is a loose cannon, capable of anything at any time, and he looks as if he is just barely maintaining control throughout the whole movie.  It is a solid performance that harkens back to Fleming's original creation. A rather poor ad campaign hurt this film's box office appeal, but Licence to Kill had enough success that the producers decided to keep on making Bond movies and for that I am eternally grateful.

Things to watch for-

"He disagreed with something that ate him"
Wayne Newton as Professor Joe
The haunted stretch of Mexican road they used for the tanker chase
Dentonite Toothpaste
Ernest Hemingway's house

"Your licence to kill is revoked."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

100th Post Extravaganza

I made a mistake the other day, dear readers, when I incorrectly said that I had reached my 100th post on this blog. I was wrong- please disregard my premature celebration and enjoy this actual 100th post special.

To celebrate this milestone I have invited several guests to the V.I.P. lounge to help me celebrate.

Wilford Brimley

Paula Poundstone

Jimmy Caan

Steve Guttenberg

And the musical stylings of Hall and Oates

Please enjoy the party and don't forget that we will be playing Twister later. Help yourself to some Yoohoo cocktails and some lovely Chips and Dip that Hall and Oates brought. I told you this party was gonna be off the hook.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Vietnam Thesis- Part IV

Here is part four in my series about the Vietnam War.

Despite the inability to make major gains in the war, 1966 saw no real dip in support of the war even as the body count grew. By early 1967, 400,000 men were stationed in Vietnam with the flow of soldiers and equipment continuing to grow. General Westmoreland’s tactics changed in 1967 in order to give everyone the victory that America sought. Instead of using limited operations and South Vietnamese troops, Westmoreland began his “Search and Destroy” policy which involved major offensives by U.S. troops. 

The change in method altered the course of the war, and began a downhill slide for the U.S. military. Public support and troop morale would never again be the same. Letters home reflected the change in America’s views on Vietnam. “The spirit of the men in Vietnam is overwhelming, for most every man believes he is doing an important job...they are your countrymen, and, believe it or not they have been fighting for you.” Rodney Baldra of 5th Battalion, 60th Infantry wrote this to his hometown newspaper in Berkeley, California, hoping to rally public support for what he was fighting for. His sentiments reflect the growing public skepticism that men in Vietnam began to get wind of in 1967. Public opinion was growing less supportive of the war, and many soldiers like Baldra saw that as a slap in the face. The reasons for fighting in Vietnam seemed very plain to some, and unclear to others. The latter group continued to grow as 1967 wore on.

Many soldiers stationed in Vietnam in 1967 viewed themselves as better than the Viet Cong forces, and this attitude got them through tough times. As Captain Robert F. Radcliffe observed in 1967, the men were, “Armed...with the knowledge that they were members of the most powerful and best prepared army in the world, they were psychologically prepared to meet the enemy.” Radcliffe and men like him saw the U.S. Army’s will and power as greater than the enemy, and that there was no logical reason a small band of communists could defeat them.

While that line of thinking was not theoretically incorrect, the war in Vietnam made the U.S. begin to doubt its military might for the first time. Simply adding troops and equipment to the battle did not guarantee victory as in previous wars. In his final letter home PFC Stephen Pickett talks about the beginnings of anti-war sentiment back in the U.S. “We were well informed here about the demonstrations on both sides...I realize...that an immediate pullout is out of the would mean going back on everything that we have done.”  Like Radcliffe, Pickett saw while he was in Vietnam in 1967 that too many men had died to just give up, and that the U.S. was still doing the right thing, even if not everyone understood that. By doing the right thing Pickett lost his life in December of 1967 on a Search and Destroy mission.