Feb 28, 2006

Un poco para ti

  • Roger Clemens brushes back his own son after giving up a home run to the 19 year old.
  • Put on your tin foil hats! Chapelle for conspiracy theorists.
  • Autistic kid plays an awesome game of basketball. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!
  • Cubs season fast approaching. A good Cubbie site to keep an eye on is Bleed Cubbie Blue.
  • Who knew Nat Lampoon was internet (and shitty movies) only? What ever happened to Spy magazine? Any leads is appreciated. Don't google "Spy magazine" the NSA will tap your phones.

Allow me to take a minute and talk up an upcoming Blasphemes exclusive. Coming soon, the story of my three toed dog. Yes, Leo has lost a toe. Story, pictures, and eyewitness accounts all coming soon only on Blasphemes.

Also, stay tuned to the Blasphemes top lists that will be coming in March. Best movies, books, and music of the last year (2005) by the staff here at Blasphemes.

Feb 23, 2006

Quote of the day

"And so people don't need to worry about security. This deal wouldn't go forward if we were concerned about the security for the United States of America."


Feb 22, 2006

We get mail

Exhibit A: verneuil process

Exhibit B: movie posters from Poland

Exhibit C: Superhero Werner Herzog saves the day and gets shot.

Exhibit D: Violent Femmes play Brat Days, Sheboygan.

Exhibit E: Lollapalooza back in Chicago.

Thanks happy writer-inners. Any more niteresting stuff out there?

Feb 16, 2006

Open Thread

  • About f'ing time. How many conviction have we had? None?
  • Imagine if Michael Moore said this: Every democrat, liberal, and undecided would have apologize on his behalf. Any information of one republican, religious righter, or neo-con apologizing?
  • The headline beats me to the punch. But is it me or is this a little odd?
  • Funny because it's almost true department.
  • Howard Stern might have been worth the money. XM in trouble. Maybe Oprah's 30 min once a week for 32 weeks will help.
  • Tomorrow the new Neil Young movie "Heart of Gold" debuts. Directed by Jonathan Demme ("Stop Making Sense"). Should be good. Full review when I return from NC.
  • Cub fans - look at the shape the (formerly) Big Z is in!!

Feb 14, 2006

It's Valentine's Day again

Every February 14th men and women around the world proclaim love to each other in an unnecessary and overpriced holiday brought to you by the fine people of Hallmark. Half dead roses are purchased, shitty left over cards are reluctantly bought and millions of dollars are spent from the time man leaves work until he gets home.

Here in Chicago there is another annual tradition that takes place on Feb 14. The remembrance of one of the coolest gangland mass murders in history, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. It was the beginning of the end for Capone but the beginning of a love affair with the mob that would infiltrate our culture forever. Movies like Some Like It Hot and Roger Corman's The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (with Jason Robards as Capone) are still being produced even though my examples are from the 50's and 60's.

Every year I love to look into this event a little more and this year I have an outlet to share my findings with random people that may read this. Join me as I go back through time for a little Chicago history. First, Al Capone:

Son of Italian immigrants, Al Capone was born in 1899 in Brooklyn, NY. He quit school in the 6th grade to join a street gang. As it turns out not a bad career move. During this time he becomes acquainted with a Johnny Torrio, crime boss in NY and Chicago. At 18 he is employed at a Coney Island nightclub run by Frankie Yale (also a mobster). During his employment at the nightclub, a brawl breaks out and Capone's face is slashed with a knife. This creates one of the coolest nicknames in gangster history, Scarface. Without this incident he would have wound up a "Tiny," "Buddha," or "Big Al."

The same year as the brawl, Capone knocks up his girlfriend and {drum roll} has a shotgun wedding. Not wanting to raise the kid in a life of crime (well, he was young and an idealist) he moved to Baltimore with his family to start a legitimate life as a bookkeeper. Two years later in 1919 a terrible tragedy befalls the United States . . . Prohibition. After two years of sobriety (as far as we know) Capone is lured to Chicago by Mr. Torrio to run a speakeasy.

Showing tremendous acumen for the business side of illegal activities, Torrio puts Capone in charge of Cicero, a suburb of Chicago. At the time Cicero was not as integrated into Chicago as it is today. Many things happen at this time that would make this post even longer than it already will be but suffice it to say that soon after Tarrio/Capone take over the South Side of Chicago and the Dion O'Banion gang takes over the North Side of Chicago.

If you know anything about North Side / South Side relations through Chicago baseball you can only imagine what this must have been like. Until interleague play started, this is what Chicagoans had to watch an incompetent boob on the North Side and an over-aggressive bully on the South Side.

At this time a lot of shooting occurs but for this story all you need to know is this: O'Banion is assassinated in 1924, Tarrio is shot and seriously injured in Jan 1925 by two thugs named "Hymie" Weiss and "Bugs" Moran, Capone is targeted in 1925 and though not shot himself he sees the damage that his car takes from the Tommy Gun and a love affair is born. Within a few months Tarrio "retires" (from jail none-the-less) and Capone moves into the entire fifth floor of the Metropole Hotel. By the end of the year "Bugs" becomes a famous gangster name and in charge of the North Side through a series of unfortunate "accidents" to the mob bosses before him (including Weiss) and Capone becomes a powerful, well-known and loved citizen of Chicago.

Now bad things happen. Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn was Capone's go-to killer guy. Actually, often Capone didn't go to him, he just killed. This made Capone unhappy. He asks McGurn to not kill anymore without his permission. Then "somebody" kills a prosecutor looking into Capone's activities. This made the Chicago cops a little unhappy. A lot of people are unhappy now. To flee the unwanted attention (and unhappiness), Capone buys a place in Miami to "chill."

At this time "Bugs" Moran assassinates Jack McGurn. Well that was the plan anyway. While in a hotel lobby McGurn is shot repeatedly. Being knock unconscious by the first few bullets entering his body, he falls behind the glass of the payphone he is using. Being in a hotel lobby he is quickly taken to a hospital where he makes a full recovery. Whoops.

Capone decides to visit his new digs in Miami and McGurn decides he does not like being shot. "Machine Gun" begins the planning of the assassination of "Bugs" Moran.

McGurn gets fellow Caponees Albert Anselmi and John Scalise as well as the outside help of Fred Burke and three other unknown persons. On February 13th a bootlegger calls Moran and offers a truck of Canadian whiskey at a low price. Moran likes what he hears and sets up the transaction for Thursday February 14, 1929 at 10:30AM at 2122 N. Clark Street in the S.M.C. company garage. McGurn grabs himself some policemen uniforms and prepares for the big day.

One problem with hiring lookouts, make sure the lookouts know what the person they are looking out for looks like. The lookouts report at 10:35 that Moran is entering the garage. This is not the case. Moran was fashionably late. In fact, he did not leave his house until 10:30 with Willie Marks and Ted Newberry.

The men that the lookouts saw were Frank and Pete Gusenberg, who were in charge of gathering the trucks and driving the whiskey to Detroit, James Clark, Moran's brother-in-law, Adam Heyer, Al Weinshank, and Reinhardt Schwimmer, an optometrist who got his wish and got to rub shoulders with real life gangsters.

Getting the news that Moran was in the garage, six men drive up in a squad car with sirens blaring. Witnesses say six cops leave the car, two plainclothes cops and four in uniform. They enter the garage and announce that everyone is under arrest. They disarm them and place them against the far wall of the garage. At this time Moran drives up and sees that there is a raid and waits outside to see what will happen. What happened was all six men shot in cold blood. Once the bodies had fallen to the floor the gunmen stood above them and shot them more. The "police" then left the scene of the crime. Moran was long gone. The only witness alive in the garage was a dog tied to a bumper. The dog's barking was probably not heard until the shooting was over.

When the real police arrived, they saw carnage that had not been seen in decades. Witnesses were confused. One famous account has the witness unsure if the police left or if they were still there interviewing her. No facts could be gathered. The next day the papers printed the picture above upside down so that it would be easier for the public to identify the bodies.

Capone was suspected but in Miami. McGurn had an ironclad alibi having been with his girlfriend and her friends for Valentine's Day. McGurn had accomplished a "perfect" murder of the rival gang. But the story does not end well for the folks in the story. It was the beginning of the end for mobsters in Chicago. The public turned on Capone and wanted the bootleg wars to end. The police were even angrier than before. Elliot Ness would soon be the new household name.

Moran's gang never recovered from the hit to the capacity it once had. Moran spent his final days in prison before dying of lung cancer. McGurn was shot by gunmen in a bowling alley on Valentines Day, specifically Thursday February 14th, 1936. Anselmi and Scalise died in the famous "baseball incident" so beautifully filmed in the Untouchables with DeNiro as Capone.

As for Capone, in May of 1929 Capone was sent to prison for carrying a concealed weapon. He spent 10 months there. In June of 1931 he was found guilty of tax evasion. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison and $80,000 in fines (He was worth $60,000,000 at the time). He was sent to the Atlanta penitentiary in 1932 and later moved to the brand new facility, Alcatraz in 1934. Of course by now Prohibition was repealed and Capone's empire had crumbled. He was released from prison after only 6 1/2 years for good behavior. It was easy for him to be on good behavior because the last year of his confinement was spent in the hospital ward with an advanced case of syphilis. He was treated in Baltimore after his incarceration and then moved to his estate in Miami. He died in 1947.

The moral of this story is . . . Well, there is no moral. But maybe you will have something to talk about to the other clowns standing in line at Peggy's House of Chocolate praying that there is one heart shaped box of chocolates left. Even if it is from 1945.

Feb 13, 2006

The Flying Tomato

Long live Shaun White. That dude is awesome. I am enjoying the Olympics this year quite a bit.

This is an open thread.

Feb 9, 2006

For Your Consideration

My favorite genre of movie is probably the mockumentary. Movies such as Real Life, Bob Roberts, and Man Bites Dog have to be about the funniest things ever. There is a scene in Man Bites Dog where Remy (the serial killer) accidentally shoots his "aunt" with the pistol she gave him for his birthday. Or when he teaches the camera crew how to play "dead baby." The picture to the left is Remy waxing philosophical/reciting his poetry while sitting over a body of a victim. Damn! Good stuff. And it is now available as a Criterion Collection movie.

The best of all mockumentary filmmakers however is Christopher Guest. From Spinal Tap through A Mighty Wind the man is freakin' hysterical. I have seen Waiting for Guffman at least 50 times. And I still laugh every time. There is a subtlety to the acting where you know what is happening without having to be beaten over the head with it. Pure genius.

Well, the news is that Chris Guest is directing a new movie called For Your Consideration. The premise revolves around actors filming a "very bad indie film" called "Home for Purim." Awards season buzz begins and starts affecting the cast. In Daily Variety Guest explains that "Home for Purim" is "extraordinarily poorly written movie. It's a melodrama, and it's just awful. These actors never would have imagined that this movie was going to change their lives." A preview here.

Certainly not the most original of his films. In Guffman they actors are affected by the fact that a Broadway producer is arriving. However, this film had Ricky Gervais. You know the guy from the original BBC version of The Office? He with the standard cast of Parker Posey, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer. Well it could be his best.

In an interview that he had on some show around a year ago that I saw Mr. Guest claimed that he was tired of making mockumentaries. I hope that is not true. If so, this may be his last. Keep your eyes open for it's release.

Feb 6, 2006

Worst. SuperBowl. Ever.

Bad referees. Horrible clock management. Censored halftime show. Why don't we just all watch the skating championships nect year? {flag thrown}

This is an open thread. {whistle}

Feb 3, 2006

In The News

We're in the News!!

Yes, that's right. With the debate over what is free speech and what is just offensive, this person mentions us.. Yippee!

"The provocation became a violation of a people's values, not a defense of one's own important values," said Finland's Hufvudstadsbladet. "Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of democracy, but that should not be taken as an obligation to needlessly blaspheme others' basic values," said Ilta-Sanomat.

You go Ilta-Sanomat!!!!

Super Ad weekend

Superbowl this Sunday. I would put my cash with the Seahawks. No one stops Shaun Alexander. Just ask the people I played against in Fantasy Football this year. The dreaded 3-4 defense of the Steelers only allows for surprise on the blitz not a stop-gap for the run. Spread the O-line and Shaun will still get 3-4 yards a carry. Also, Google maps aerial shot of Qwest Field shows the Seahawks on the three yard line and about to score. That's a google prediction.

Who do you think will win?

Feb 2, 2006

Heart Attack

After the new year I made my annual attempt to get back into shape. I do this every year but I felt a touch more determined this time. In fact, last Friday was my first day below 200 pounds in about three years. It basically comes down to eating under 1000 calories a day and the sweet, sweet magic of Tae-Bo. (BTW, is Shelly Billy's adopted daughter or can a black man father a white child? The Blasphemes investigative crew will be on that next). Things were going swimmingly.

Two weeks ago, I felt a pain in my chest. A bad pain. A real bad pain. The pain lasted for a few days. On more than one occasion I dialed 9-1 and left of the last 1 so I would only have one number to dial if I dropped in a chest-squeezing, sweating hump of premature death. If the bad pain didn't last so long, I would have been in the hospital (or morgue).

I spent much of the following days on WebMD convinced that I had every possible heart condition that I read about. As I read each one that was the one that I had. I had nightmares about every slice of deep dish pizza I ever consumed. I thought about the hours of not moving on my couch making CJ from GTA run. All while laying down (it's a lot of work to sit upright). I cringed thinking about the holiday "treats" that my coworkers brought in that I ate. I don't even like fruitcake.

After two days I set up an appointment with my doctor. She is a very nice lady with two dogs that likes to tell me how fat I am. (I saw her once at a Brian Wilson show and she actually said, "Oh, now we are not exercising and drinking.") She was available the following Monday. A week away. The pain persisted. I started calling her and begging for an earlier time. I got one on Friday.

She asked her questions and then had me take off my shirt for an EKG. I don't know the professionalism of this but she did comment on my slimmer belly. Do you think she actually remembers me topless from two years ago when I last took off my shirt in front of her? Do all my doctors. Does my fat ass leave that much of an impression? Was she amazed by the man-tits that I had developed? I assume so because my belly is still big but the man-tits are whittling down. Maybe that is what she meant but couldn't find the appropriate medical word for man-tit.

I laid down and metal post-it notes were stuck to my chest, underarm, and ankles. Alligator clamps hooked up to a machine were attached to them. Instructions are to breath normally. I tried as best as a man having a panic attack can. I am aware that within an hour I will be in the ER preparing for my septuple bypass. I make a deal with myself. If I behave and make it through the surgery without harassing the medical staff, I will treat myself to a Michaels taco pizza.

The machine spits out a very small (yet expensive) piece of paper with the famous heart-line tick marks on it. She looks it over, looks at me, and looks at the paper again. I decide that I am glad that I am not a doctor. I would hate to break it to 35 year old men that they are about to die. I would also hate to see fat 35 year old men topless.

"Well," the doctor says, "looks like a very healthy heart."

Confused, I inform her that she has to be wrong. Could it be that the twelve aspirin a day regimen that I had put myself on threw the test? No, but she recommends I stop consuming aspirin like tic-tacs. Could the fact that I have been exercising for three weeks have tricked the CPU into believing that my heart was healthier than it was. No, but keep it up you big Billy-band wearing, Tae-Bo punching, girly man. F, relax, it's heartburn.

I have had heartburn before. At least I thought I had had heartburn before. I'd chew a Tums or two and I am on my merry way to a spicy bowl of Green Curry. Never did I think that heartburn could be a crippling painful, frightening, horrible event that could make a grown man weep and have second thoughts about how he lived his life. The phrase "heartburn" had always confused me before. I understand now.

I won't go into the exact kind of "burn" I have. I won't bore you with my medications I had to take. Suffice it to say I am alive and better now. The meds stopped today. I have decided to keep the diet and exercise. The good part is that I spend more time with my wife now. I didn't realize that life is short and I should make the most out of it. I didn't come to the conclusion that every moment is precious. I didn't have an epiphany that love is all we have in this crazy world. No, I simply lost my man-tits.