Monday, April 12, 2010

Bob Ross

I contacted about acquiring an authentic Bob Ross painting. Here was their response:

"Hello James,

Thank you for your interest in Bob Ross and the Joy of Painting.

Most Bob Ross paintings had many years ago been donated to PBS and educational television stations and numerous charities for fund-raising events, while others are currently in a private collection in the Bob Ross Art Workshop and Gallery in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

While our company does not offer any original paintings or prints for sale, there are occasional Bob Ross paintings offered on e-bay, some of which, unfortunately, are of questionable authenticity.

We have so many other wonderful Bob Ross items available -- be sure to visit to see all the paint kits, t-shirts and more.

Bob had put together a series of his favorite paintings which will be aired on public television as The Best of the Joy of Painting. Watch for this series to appear on the PBS educational channel in your area. If you take a few moments to call or write your local PBS stations requesting this series, through the magic of television, Bob will be with us for many years to come.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to write.

Happy Painting,

Joan Kowalski
Bob Ross Co."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Good Gravy

Fury Fans,

I started smoking within the last two years, because I'm dumb. I have tried to quit a few times.

I started to quit again after Sunday night. I usually choose to quit at 'the wrong time', like before we start a production, or before partying with people who smoke too. This latest attempt is no exception. However, I'll probably always rationalize it being the wrong time, and pick it up again, so sayeth THAT string of logic.

I'd like to stay quit this time, and earn the right to consider myself less dumb. As I sit in my room tonight I very much want to buy a pack to kill some time and this headache. Instead I put on my fancy new record player(thank you, Navarro), The Beatles, and logged into this thing for the first time in 11 months.

Hello goodbye for now.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Royally Rumbled

Fury Fans,

Tonight is the 22nd annual Royal Rumble PPV event, which I will be skipping due to budgeting concerns, not a lack of interest. I love the Royal Rumble as it's always a fun match and the PPV itself is always used to set up the main event(s) for the following Wrestlemania, which is THE best show of the year(most years, anyway). With the Rumble tonight, it got me thinking about the live events I've been to. I have NOT attended a Royal Rumble event yet in my years as a wrestling fan, and it's priority #1 as next year it will be taking place at the Staples Center, right here, in Los Angeles, CA(thumbs up, smile, cheap pop).
The train of thought drifted to matches I've seen live, and which I would consider to be the best that I've witnessed with my own two eyes and two ears. So I present my Top 5, and a little bit about each.

1. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan - Wrestlemania X8, March 17th, 2002, Toronto
-- This match was between arguably the two most popular main stream wrestling stars of all time, and the crowd went absolutely nuts for the entire match, myself and Wakal included. The Rock came in as the 'Face' with Hulk as the 'Heel', but the crowd was 90-10 in favor of the Hulkster. This was Hulk Hogan's first Wrestlemania appearance since Wrestlemania IX before he jumped to WCW, and the crowd wanted nothing more than to see the big boot, leg drop, and pose down. Storyline wise, The Rock HAD to win as it was a 'passing of the torch' moment for the biz and even though the crowd wanted to see Hogan win, we all respectfully went crazy when The Rock eventually scored the 1-2-3. The Rock was incredible in this match playing off of the crowd which had turned against him. He reverted to 'heel' Rock mode, which only made the crowd intensify. I remember with vivid detail the moment Hogan stepped out onto the ramp, and the energy in the crowd just exploded and didn't let up. One for the ages, I say.

2. John Cena vs. Triple H - Wrestlemania 22, April 2, 2006, Chicago
-- My top 2 matches have a similar theme, they feature the most popular face wrestler in the WWE at the time, facing a heel at the biggest show of the year, and the crowd was decidedly in favor of the heel in each match. John Cena was despised by the vast majority of the Chicago crowd, myself, Wakal, and Lisa included. While the match itself was by no means a technical masterpiece, it featured a heel HHH completely working the crowd as a face Cena was beaten back for almost the entire match. The 'Cena Sucks' vs.'Let's go Cena' chants were off the charts, and the crowd stayed hot through the whole match, there was never a lull. When the finish came, and Cena won, there was no respectful eruption by the entire crowd like there was for The Rock when he beat Hogan. In this instance, there was booing and stunned silence mixed the with cheers of the kids who compromise the majority of the John Cena fan base. It was awesome to be a part of as it marked one of the first times in history the babyface won the main event match at Wrestlemania and the crowd didn't go absolutely bonkers. That's quite a shift in the relationship between the wrestling business and its fan base. We also heard a little kid, a Cena fan, scream out "The Game got played!" as most of the fans around him in our section were dejected by the HHH loss. Kudos to that kid. We deserved the trash talk.

3. Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle, Wrestlemania 21, April 3, 2005, Los Angeles
-- A match that most people would call a classic and was hands down the professional wrestling 'Match of the Year' in 2005. I remember the Los Angeles crowd not knowing what to make of the match in the early goings, these are two of the best professional wrestlers of all time, and one of the best amateur wrestlers of all time in Kurt Angle, so a lot of the back and forth mat wrestling was a little lost on the crowd. By the end of the match however, the crowd was hot as the matched built and built towards the finish. It was an even split between Angle and Michaels fans as the chants kicked in. I was for Angle, Lisa was for Michaels and in their first match up, Angle got the better of Michaels in one of the most intense finishes to a match that I've ever seen. This match is a technical wrestling masterpiece and is recommended for anyone who may wonder 'what can make one wrestling match better than another?'

4. The Rock vs. Kurt Angle, No Mercy, October 22nd, 2000, Albany
-- This match featured The Rock as he was ascending into the upper stratosphere of popularity defending his WWF Championship against Kurt Angle, who had quickly risen the ranks as one of the best heel workers in the company. No-one expected Angle to win this match and walk away with the belt, but that's what happened. At this point, I was rooting against The Rock(wow, am I really THAT much of a jerk?) as I preferred him to be a heel character, his face run was getting tired. In addition, I had been enjoying Kurt Angle with his 'all American' heel act since day 1, and it was a lot of fun to root against The Rock in a decidedly pro-Rock crowd. Much to my pleasant surprise, Angle took home the gold in what has to be the most surprising finish to a match that I have seen live, and the crowd as a whole was shocked. I remember walking out of the arena with a huge grin after that one. This is one of the few PPV events I've been to that I do not own on DVD. This was just before WWE started putting their none Wrestlemania events onto DVD. Punks.

5. John Cena vs. Chris Jericho, in a Cage, House Show, December 28th, 2008, NY
-- Some will scoff at this choice, but this match was awesome. I am shocked that my Top 5 list features two John Cena matches, but I can't hide from the truth. The MSG crowd helped this match go from good to great as it was once again the type of crowd that wasn't totally behind Cena, and as the false finishes piled up toward the end, the fans were going crazy for every move. The turning point of the match from a fan perspective was when Jericho kicked out of Cena's finisher, the FU. Everyone had assumed the match was over after that move, and as soon as Jericho kicked out, the crowd reached a new level of buzz and interest as they went move for move and Jericho ALMOST escaped the cage to win, only to get an FU off the top rope for his trouble and the 1-2-3. I didn't even mind the Cena win, as it was a given going into the match that he'd retain his title. That's the beauty of a good wrestling match. We all know it's pre-determined and I've heard all that hooey before. When you know who's going to win, but the guys in the match are good enough to make you hang on every move, it's an art form.

Some honorable mentions go to: The 'Money in the Bank' ladder matches from WM21 and 22. Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero from WM21, Undertaker vs. Ric Flair from WM18, Mick Foley vs. Edge from WM22, HHH vs. RVD from Unforgiven 2002, John Cena & Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker & Batista from No Way Out 2007, Chris Jericho vs. Ric Flair from Unforgiven 2002.

Feel free to click on any of the Top 5 match listings to jump over to YouTube and see clips from each match.

I Always Make Fun of CNN

But then they go and post a story on their main page about a show I worked on.

An olive branch, which I accept. Keep 'em coming though, you aren't getting off the hook that easy, CNN.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Doh Johan.

Here is a snippit from a Q&A done with Met ace Johan Santana for Newsday:

"Q: Are you behind in your preparation for the season?

JS: No. I’ve been doing everything the way I’ve done it in the past. This year I’ve done a little bit more than I’ve done in the past because now I have to worry about my knee. I have to make sure everything is in place – not do anything crazy."

I hate how dumb he sounds here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Best and Worst of 3200 Solo Miles

Fury Fans,

Since returning to Los Angeles, I have been facing the obvious question "How was that drive?" When asked, my brain automatically goes into "It was great, except this that or the other thing" mode. I don't like this mode, and I don't do it consciously. It just seems to be the natural pattern that a question like that induces. I really do want to describe the trip as best I can, but fear I'm just not eloquent enough to do it justice. I'll try though.

I left Manhattan via the Lincoln Tunnel at around 6:30AM Monday morning. I left NY feeling uneasy. Not because of the drive ahead, it just didn't feel completely real that I was leaving. While I was in NY, beyond getting word that I'd landed my next job, Los Angeles was in the back of my mind. After spending nearly a month in NYC, with a little time upstate mixed in I was having a lot of trouble accepting that it was time to go back. Oddly, it's not that I didn't want to return, and get back to work, I certainly DO want to do both of those things. I just didn't feel ready, and that the NY portion of my 'Winter Jobless Break' felt incomplete. Regardless, I had to leave(though I later come to find, didn't really need to after all) so I started the drive.

From NY to parts of southwestern PA I was able to listen to 'Boomer and Carton' on WFAN. This helped my transition greatly, as I was able to stay distracted by Carton's annoying and almost meatheadish style of broadcast journalism juxtaposed to Boomer Esiason's straight laced and professional demeanor. When I need to be distracted, NY sports talk does the trick every time. This leg of the trip was mostly familiar territory for me as I had done many NY to PA trips with the family as a kid. I passed 'Roadside America' and almost stopped in for old time's sake, but my mission wasn't to lolly gag across America, oh no, it was to get the f home.

Day 1 came and went without incident. My goal was to reach Nashville, TN, but I fell about 100 miles short due to rain and fog. This was most upsetting to the ol'Jamser. When Tart and I had done our initial drive to California in 2002, Tennessee was one of the favorite states to drive through. The terrain changes in TN, from the Appalachian mountains ending near Nashville into the more flat plains near Memphis. This change is impressive and beautiful, if I may be so cheesy. Once you pass through Memphis, and over the Mississippi river into Arkansas, you better enjoy the flat lands!

Day 2 was plagued by rain and fog, all through Tennessee and into Arkansas. My desire to enjoy the scenery of TN had been ignored by Mother Nature. Due to the conditions, I made the commitment to just drive as far and fast as possible to get away from that weather pattern. According to The Weather Channel, after that storm, I would have clear skies all the way to Los Angeles, and they were right. This was the toughest stretch of the trip, so thankfully that was out of the way on Day 2. I felt the strain of this leg of the trip in the morning, especially after the night I would have.

I wanted to make it to Oklahoma City on Day 2, but after the rain and two days of driving for 10+ hours, I started getting heavy eyed in a rural section of Oklahoma, 130 miles outside of OKC. I found I had to stop about 50 miles from the next area that had the potential for civilization. I saw a sign for a 'Budget Inn' and pulled off. It looked decent enough from the outside, but it had a noticeable lack of cars in the parking lot, and the 'office' where you book a room was the same desk where you pay for gas and buy hot dogs. I got my key, some pepperoni pizza Combos, a water, and go to the door for room 128.

I realized this may be a bad idea when I got to the door. It looked flimsy, loose, and as if it had been broken into previously. I step inside the room, and it's shaped like a barn. High ceilings that meet at an angle, and I realize it's cold, and musty. To my left is a mostly wide open space, with a small table and two chairs with fabric cushions. I note the stains immediately on the chairs and say to myself 'remember to not sit on those.' I go to the bed and it looks fine, when it's made. I move the pillows and notice the fitted sheet isn't really fitted. Just a regular sheet tucked in. I pull it back underneath where the pillows were, and see a large, brownish/reddish stain in the mattress. I look at the comforter which I had pulled back with the sheet and see cigarette burns, and various off color stains here and there. I wonder, "C'mon...really? This is a little cliche, no?" Sadly, it was real. Thoughts of the 'Dusty Star' from our BVR trip to Yosemite come to mind, and I start to think "Maybe I can make it another 50 miles tonight." I enter the bathroom and the tub is filthy. "I guess no shower tomorrow."

I turn on the heater, which thankfully worked. I am exhausted, and the money had already been spent on this room and I'm certain they won't be giving me a refund if I bail out. I remake the bed, put my hoodie on, put my hood up, and attempt to sleep, fully dressed on top of the covers. I feel gross instantly. I look at the door a lot as there are various noises inside the room from the creaking, old walls and plumbing that startle me awake. I also hear trucks pull in and out of the parking lot through the night, every time wondering when that axe is going to come chopping through the door. It was at this point that many of you almost got a phone call, but it was late and I was trying desperately to fall asleep. I manage to get 3-4 hours of on and off napping before the sun comes up, and I get out of there as fast as possible. I did take a shower since I felt disgusting, but did so with a towel covering the bottom of the tub.

As I hand in my key, and leave for the morning I grab a cup of coffee from the gas station/convenient store/motel office. About 10 miles down the road I take a sip and something small, soft, and gooey is detected on my tongue that had just exited my coffee cup. I roll down the window, take whatever it is out of my mouth, don't look at it, toss it out the window, and curse the shit out that hellhole, bullshit fucking motel. I don't know what it was, and don't ever want to know.

After Day and Night 2, the trip took a dramatic upswing. The sun was shining, the skies were clear, and there's nothing like cruising through the middle states at 85-90MPH with the radio on and barely anyone else on the road. Additionally, music played a huge part of the final two days of this trip. On the way East with Wakal, we took note of some of the songs we heard on the radio across the country, and found America loves the following: Rihanna, Kid Rock, Lil' Wayne, Beyonce, and Estelle featuring Kanye West. There were others mixed in, but those were the heavy hitters. Alot of these artists have since become guilty pleasures for me. I love me some Rihanna, 'Single Ladies', and Kanye's new singles are superb in my book. Before I left, I made a mix CD of some of these songs so I could satiate my inevitable cravings. This proved a good idea. As I drove through Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico on Day 3 I had different songs on repeat, whatever I was feeling at the time, and they became the soundtrack to my daydreams and thoughts as I zoned out and drove I40 like the dickens. If people were to ask me 'How did you do it?' I'd have to say 'daydreaming', 'Rihanna', or 'Daydreaming about Rihanna.'

Mind you, it's not so much the cheesy, pop-love lyrics that many of these songs employ but instead the music that struck me as a I drove. I'm amazed at how so much can be done with so little on 'Single Ladies' with what I affectionately refer to as 'beeps and boops.' I certainly can't engineer a tune like that, but kind of wish I could.

With the daydreaming and thinking came different ups and downs, but I got through just fine. There were calls and texts with Train, Wakal, Kusens, Dr., the Family and others that helped break up the pattern. I thank you all very much.

When I hit Albuquerque, NM I splurged on a Holiday Inn Express after the 'Great Budget Inn Debacle of '09.' This was an excellent idea as well. I rolled in, eyes bloodshot, legs literally shaky as I walked, and noticed an Applebees across the street. Yes, I was actually excited to see an Applebees considering the amount of 'Subway' I had been eating across the country. After checking in, and almost crying when I saw how nice and comfortable the room was, I walked over to the 'Bees and had myself a steak, potatoes, and 2 tall Sam Adams as I watched the Heat-Nuggets game on TV. Dwayne Wade hit a ridiculous fall way, turn around 23-foot jumper. Thank you, Bill Walton.

I treated myself nicely in ABQ knowing full well that Day 4 needed to not end up being a Night 4. I had to get back to LA by Thursday night as I knew it would take at least 3 days to recover from this trip, and work starts on Monday. After the 2 beers, I fell asleep almost instantly when I got back to the room.

The next morning, I set off deliberately later than normal to avoid Los Angeles rush hour traffic. I left at 10AM, and my Trip Meter was at exactly 1000 miles(this was actually the 2300 mile point, but I had accidentally reset the mileage for this trip while trying to reset my oil change light...poop). The final leg was more of the same good driving from Day 3. The land you cover between Texas, New Mexico and Arizona is incredible between the mountains, colors, and even the livestock. I tried to take good pictures of Texas(seen on my Facebook profile) but the phone on my camera can't do it justice. Next time, I need to take a real camera and the trip will include many stops to take as many pictures as the heart desires. I can't emphasize enough that if you have a chance to do a cross country trip in your life, just take it. I find the opportunity doesn't present itself often.

Day 4 was great up until about 170 miles outside of Los Angeles. This was when I started to feel impatient for the first time on the trip. Anxiety and fatigue were settling in, and I needed food but didn't want to stop anymore. I just wanted to be home. I need to thank again Train, Kusens, and Drunk Wakal for their time on the phone on Day 4. It got me through a potentially horrendous mood. Finally, I hit the 10Freeway and 40 miles down the road started seeing familiar sites, and signs telling me '30 minutes to downtown.' The heart and spirit were lifted mightily at that point. I finished the day of driving at 830 miles and was greeted by a smiling Scotty Fallis, and congratulatory texts.

I felt damn good.

Friday, January 09, 2009

And Who Do I See...

The night at Jon's Tavern didn't stop with Mary Jane. After some drinking, and the arrival of more locals, The Brother and I joined a select few to the apartment above the bar to escape the noise and hubbub. There was much conversation and drinking and soon a new Stamford resident joined the frey, we'll call her Stacy for the sake of anonymity.

Stacy sat down and commenced talking. Within a few minutes, we learned she had moved upstate from Manhattan 2 years ago(this is unlikely to be true, she didn't seem to have an ounce of NYC in her) and that she recently had to leave her 'baby's daddy' because he started cheating on her with the babysitter from down the street.

We come to learn soon after that the man she was talking about is actually 'baby daddy #2'. 'Baby Daddy #1' was her man down in 'Manhattan.' He had left Stacy after the birth of their son, she couldn't afford to raise the son, so she put him up for adoption. She's keeping her second son though, he is, in fact, the most important thing in her life.

We also come to learn that Stacy rarely hangs out in town, this being only the second time she has gone out in the last 6 months because she doesn't like the reputation she has, as a whore. She explains:

"Before I moved here I only been with two men, and those were the father of my children. And they call me a whore? Fuck that. I moved up here two years ago, and since then, I've only been with 11 people. Fuck that shit!"

Soon after, Stacy heads back downstairs. After another round in the apartment, we all decide to head back down to the bar to see what's shakin'.

I go to the new bartender(Mary Jane had gone home), and as I hit the stool, I see Stacy shouting at the gentlemen next to me.

"Who the fuck are you to call me a whore? You don't fucking know me, etc etc."

The man, middle aged, mullet, mustache is sitting there, slowly swigging his beer, staring straight ahead as Stacy lays into his left ear.

Stacy finally stops screaming, and the gentleman has his turn.

Turning his head just a touch in Stacy's direction without moving his eyes, he calmly states the following:

"You're not a whore, huh? Well, one night I walk out that very door. I get outside, and who do I see, bent over by her car, fucking a n*****."

Monday, January 05, 2009

Spiderman loves Mary Jane

Last year, my parents decided Florida was boring and too hot, so they picked up and moved back to New York. During my almost month long trip to NY, I spent 5 days up in the Agiesta's new hood, a small town called Stamford, NY. This beauty of a berg is a mere hour and a half away from Albany, in rural...rural, NY.

As it pertains to my parents, the town isn't all THAT bad for them in terms of townsfolk, as I doubt they will do much drinking at the local pub in their retirement years. The winters up there are another story. But this particular tale involves a night out with my Brother Rob, who lives a town over from the folks.

Rob has always preferred the more rural lifestyle, and I had met a few of his friends from upstate once while I attended Syracuse. On the night in question, I visited a place called Jon's Tavern. I need only discuss the first 3 minutes of my time there in this particular post.

I enter with Brother Rob and make the rounds saying hi, being introduced to all the locals as Rob's little brother. I am in fact, almost 30 years old, but it still seems appropriate to call me his little brother. It just so happens Rob is 6'3" and has long red hair. The resemblance, is uncanny. We get past the main room, and head to the billiards area where a woman in her mid-40's approaches. She has what I discovered is a very typical for middle aged women in small town upstate NY look: weathered, with makeup caked on, and a few noticeably gnarled teeth. Once she gets within a foot, I can sense she's been drinking. She smothers Brother Rob for an extra long, extra tight hug and whispers in his ear as he cringes and looks for an out. He finds it.

"Mary Jane, this is my little brother James..."

I am met with a wide...incomplete grin, and she says, "Ohhhhhh, the good loooooking one!"

The hug begins, and it's a doozy. I smell liquor and perfume, and proceed to get more than a few kisses along my neck and ear, complete with some heavy breathing. I break the hold, but she stays close and slurs out, "Spiderman loooooves Mary Jane..."

The brothers laugh nervously. She continues:

"It's the body..." and she...shimmies a little, while rubbing her hands down her body to her hips.

She literally stumbled away after telling us to get to drinking. Did I mention she was the bartender and this was at 7:30PM at a Christmas party?

Mary Jane, I'll never forget you.

Zaxby's Girl

As most Fury Fans know, I recently drove cross country, from Los Angeles to New York in order to enjoy an extended stay with family and friends. It's been nearly a month since I left with co-pilot Joe Wakal on a 6 day journey that spanned 3,200+ miles and saw us touch 12 U.S. states. I'm currently on the way back to Los Angeles as a solo artist, having just completed the first 800 miles by stopping in Tennessee.

During the Eastern swing, we were in Arkansas, looking for food one afternoon when we happened upon a southern fast food chain called Zaxby's. This chain fancies itself 'Indescribably Good' and it has a classier feel than your average fast food chain. I did in fact enjoy their chicken tenders.

We drove up to the window, and asked for a moment to decide on what to eat, which was met with a polite greeting in the affirmative. The accent was one of the heaviest southern twangs I've ever encountered. A glance was exchanged with Wakal. After a few moments, we decided, and placed the order.

Joe was concerned however, he did not know if the meal he ordered included a soda. He asked for clarification.

Wakal, in his deep, somewhat slow NY cadence: "Wait, Uhhh, does that meal come with a soda?"

Zaxby's Girl, in her thick southern drawl: "Noweit downt."

Another glace, and some stifled laughter ensued. Call us jerks if you will, but it couldn't have been a more perfect response in the middle of nowhere Arkansas.

As we got our food, the Zaxby's girl made some intense eye contact with yours truly.

Arkansas Zaxby's girl, I'll never forget you.

A Small Tale From NY #1

I was walking along St. John's Place in the Prospect Park section of Brooklyn the other day, old school clam shell suitcase in hand.

The thing is, I sometimes will walk or talk in an idiotic fashion in order to embarrass friends that I may be walking with while in public. I decided it would be a great idea to walk bowlegged while swinging my suitcase about in my right hand while Lee and Tanya followed close behind.

Suddenly, my suitcase burst open as I walked and swung like a dummy, spilling my clothes out onto the sidewalk. All three of us were laughing our asses off as I begin to pick up my clothes.

Through the laughter, Tanya points and manages to exclaim:

"Ohhh, there's poop right there!"

Yep, sure enough, dog poop was in the area all around where my clothes had just spilled out.

A monumental moment in the history of PhilSelway.