Stop Breaking Down: What the Cars on “Breaking Bad” Tell Us About the True Nature of the Characters

Let’s be frank. I am not a big car guy, by which I mean that I have no interest in cars of any kind.  I drive infrequently, which is probably a good thing because I’m a terrible driver. Have you heard bad things about Boston drivers? That’s my fault.  I have no idea how cars work (something to do with fire, gas and accelerometers) and I’m scared of auto mechanics and their giant drooly guard dogs.

I am, however, a big television person. Unlike you with your one sad little TV, I own FOUR televisions, including one 42″ flat screen beauty and not including the old Tandy model in the attic. So, yeah, I’m kind of a TV expert (although I must confess that I have no idea how they work – something to do with tubes and accelerometers).

I enjoy many programs on television, but none more so than prestige cable dramas like Breaking Bad.  Now Breaking Bad is probably the greatest show in the history of television for many reasons (e.g. writing, acting, cinematography, sound design), none of which include my love for delicious, tasty meth. I get all a-twitchy just thinking about all of that blue sky meth*!

(* Legal note: I have no idea what meth is, but I do like Sudafed.)

Recently, while obsessively watching Breaking Bad, I realized something important. I’d go so far as to say that I’ve figured out all of Vince Gilligan’s secrets and I now know everything there is to know about the show. So what’s the big discovery?

THE CARS THAT PEOPLE DRIVE ON BREAKING BAD REVEAL THEIR TRUE NATURE

Let’s get to it with the major characters:

WALTER WHITE famously drives a Pontiac Aztek with an oft-smashed windshield. The Aztek is a car entirely about exterior image – a shitty car in an inauthentic wrapper that was meant to re-position Pontiac as a hip brand for Gen Xers. Walt’s life was all about maintaining an image of a mild-mannered school teacher while repressing his inner rage (the Heisenberg persona). The cracked windshield represents Walt’s inability to keep his true self hidden under his exterior image.

JESSE PINKMAN goes from driving a Monte Carlo to driving a Toyota. Again, this is no accident. When we first meet Jesse he is playing at being a ‘bad guy’, so he drives a Monte Carlo, the official car of 20-something bad boys in AC/DC shirts that creep around high school parking lots looking for underage girls. Ultimately Jesse accepts that he’s not really a bad guy (regardless of what he says) and he gets a dependable, boring family sedan – a Toyota – because all that Jesse really wants is to love and be loved. He craves a normal, dependable, suburban family life.

 

HANK SCHRADER drives a late-model Jeep. Jeeps are macho sporty cars for adventurous people who don’t like doors or roofs (but love Dave Matthews). Hank is the moral center of the Breaking Bad universe – a solid guy with a solid car. But Hank’s Jeep does have doors and a roof, because we all know that Hank is not really as macho as he seems, suffering from PTSD and anxiety.

SKYLER WHITE also drives a Jeep, but it’s an old junky model. It’s no accident that Skyler and Hank drive variations of the same car. That’s because we initially see Skyler as a paragon of virtue (like Hank) but we ultimately come to realize that she’s bad. Bad, I tell you! (She was even mean to Sherriff Seth Bullock, and he’s just dreamy.)

GUS FRING obviously drives a Volvo because he is a cautious man, and Volvos represent safety. Plus, they have large cup holders for Los Pollos Hermanos take-out.

MIKE THE CLEANER drives a classic old man American car – probably a Lincoln – because he represents old American power and dependability, just like when Lincolns, Caddys and Buicks ruled the automotive world.

I could keep going with the minor characters (MARIE SCHRADER drives a new VW Beetle because she’s a flake; TED BENEKE drives a BMW because he’s a cheating, embezzling asshole, etc.) but I think you get the idea: the cars on Breaking Bad matter.

UPDATE: Now that WALTER JUNIOR has turned 16 he’s finally gotten his car. Well, two cars actually. The first car was a Dodge Challenger, courtesy of Walter Senior. Senior, in one of his now-patented “bad decisions spurred by a bruised ego” impulsively bought a modern muscle car to prove that he can control his own destiny. This is a manifestation of Walter Senior’s desire for power and recognition in a season where he’s seriously lost his mojo. After Skyler made Walter return the car (with a little help from Mr. Fire), Skyler buys Walter Junior a Chrysler PT Cruiser. The PT Cruiser does a nice job of illustrating Skyler’s two overriding character traits: cautiousness and obliviousness. Skyler is an extremely intelligent woman that refuses to accept some obvious facts: 1) the drug trade is violent by definition; 2) Senior can’t get out even if he wanted to; and 3) PT Cruisers – even with CD players – aren’t cool.

Please note that we don’t really learn anything about Walter Junior through these cars, aside from the confirmation that he likes pancakes.

DOUBLE UPDATE: During the cold open of the season 5 premiere a waitress at Denny’s mentions to Walter that she once lived in Swampscott, MA, which happens to be where I live. Was it a coincidence or was Vince Gilligan sending me a signal that he agrees with the theories presented in this essay? Also consider this: we ate at Denny’s yesterday morning for the first time in at least a decade. I had the western omelette. It was delicious.

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WBMYNQAY2KMU

In My Time of Dining

When celebrating my victories on the field of business, I do like so many other super-premium executives that have come before me: I lay claim to a table at the O’Hare Chili’s and avail myself of their many delicacies.

Ironically, I never eat chili at Chili’s for the simple reason that chili is terrible. The only reason that anyone eats chili is because it has a cool name (for a hot dish!) If I said “hey, want some bean stew?” you would probably punch me in the face and I would painfully concede that you were right to do so. I do like their beer, unless I am still coming down from watching Rock Candy play Lady Gaga covers at the Cubby Bear following the previous night’s Cubs game. Now, no offense to Rock Candy who ably played Born This Way, but I am highly disappointed in the people of Chicago for enjoying it so thoroughly. I was under the impression that Chicago was a city that treasured good music and tried to keep the old traditions alive, but apparently they like the same crap that everyone else does.

Passing on the beer I helped myself to Chili’s fine selection of soft drinks and naturally chose Coke Zero, which is apparently the boy version of Diet Coke. Why boys get to drink delicious sucralose while girls are stuck with stinky old aspartame is beyond me, but it is obviously some kind of corporate sexism/mind control experiment.

The only bad thing about eating at the O’Hare Chili’s is that the tiny tables are so close together that you feel like you’re dining family-style, except that every third relative has been replaced by a black wheely bag.  I was immediately apprehensive about my seat because I was next to a lady that had a baby. Obviously babies are too stupid to enjoy the many fine foods at Chili’s and they shouldn’t even be sitting there because they don’t have any business successes to celebrate. But imagine my surprise when the baby turned out to be a perfectly lovely lunch mate and the real trouble was on my left, in the form of a horrible business couple.

There’s nothing worse than a horrible business couple because all they talk about is their stupid jobs and complain about co-workers who aren’t lucky enough to be at Chili’s. The only time business couples are good company is if they’re: 1) having an affair with each other; or 2) running a drug cartel, because then I can pretend that I’m watching an uglified version of Mad Men or Breaking Bad.

Over the years I have noticed that horrible business couples at Chili’s will always do the following things, and Tammy and the silver-haired guy with the unironic moustache hit all of the marks:

1) Someone will take a phone call at the table, which is rude because now I have to listen to half of a boring business conversation. (Tammy)

2) Someone will choke on their Chili’s food and try to act cool about it by saying “I wasn’t choking, it was just my gag reflex”, which, by the way, is way more disgusting than just choking. (Tammy)

3) Someone will reveal themselves to be a stupid Republican* by yammering on about Obammer and extolling the virtues of Ron Paul and Donald Trump while trying to pass themselves off as being reasonable by saying that they wouldn’t vote for Sarah Palin. (Tammy)

(*Please note that I’m not saying that all Republicans are stupid. Obviously rich people need a political party to help them hoard their money. I’m just saying that non-wealthy Republicans are stupid.)

4) Someone will explain the Iowa caucus system in such explicit detail that I’d desperately wish that they started trashing Pam in HR again. (silver-haired guy with the unironic moustache, damn you, I had such hope for you, too.)

5) Someone will throw a pack of saltines at another table, miss the table and not think twice about it landing on the floor while the waiter and I exchange “did that just really happen?” looks with each other. (Tammy, obviously.)

6) Someone will start bragging about going to the fancy schmancy Admiral’s Club (which, incidentally password protects their wifi so I can’t steal their bandwidth, thanks for nothing) after paying the check at Chili’s. (fuck you Tammy, you elitist scum.)

Needless to say, none of this should dissuade you from enjoying a delicious celebratory meal at the O’Hare Chili’s, but if given the choice opt for the seat near the baby instead of one next to Tammy and the silver-haired guy with the unironic moustache.

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Summer Television Viewing Guide

Alright already! I’m tired of all of you people on the street asking me what I’m watching on TV these days. Here’s my official Summer Television Viewing Guide:

Men of a Certain Age (TNT): Before this show started I couldn’t get over Scott Bakula’s ridiculous hair in the promos. Bakula’s hair is still ridiculous, but the show is definitely not. It’s one of the smartest, best written shows on TV. The leads are terrific and it’s funnier than most sitcoms and more touching than most dramas.

Game of Thrones (HBO): After a few episodes of table setting, this series really took off. It’s kind of like Lord of the Rings crossed with a softcore porn version of Lord of the Rings. And I’m officially on the record as rooting for the Lannisters, as the Starks are way too stupid to run a (sexy) kingdom.

Futurama (Comedy): Sure, Futurama 3.0 isn’t as good as the original run, but it’s still funnier than most things in the world. Plus, if you view the entire series as the ongoing adventures of Dr. John A. Zoidberg, the show takes on an epic, almost Gilgameshian quality.

Next Food Network Star (Food): I don’t understand shows like this. The whole point is to find people that are comfortable being on camera, and yet half of the contestants are horribly nervous when filming their screen tests. Don’t they have auditions? Anyway, I’m watching it, even though I don’t really like it all that much. I like to play a game at home where I have to deliver a 60 second rap about my pizza stylings as if I was on the show. So far I’m winning.

Coming soon…

True Blood (HBO): True Blood is proof that good acting isn’t required to make a good show. Featuring some of the worst Louisiana accents since Gambit joined the X-Men, True Blood excels at delivering great cliff-hangers every week, along with some fun, cartoonish villains.

Breaking Bad (AMC): Season 4 can’t start soon enough. Breaking Bad is probably the best TV show ever (yes, including The Wire) and proof that great acting can make a show great. Breaking Bad is brilliantly written and beautifully shot. Even the sound design is notably wonderful. Somehow they manage to keep the tension high every week. Flash backs, flash forwards, inventive cold opens, even the episode titles are genius.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO): I never realized that most people root against Larry when watching the show, I’ve always viewed him as the hero. Sure, he’s a smidge obnoxious, but he’s always right and he’s always hilarious. Plus, Leon. ‘nuff said.

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Concert Review: Furthur in Boston, MA on 3/4/11

Concert Review:

Furthur
March 4, 2011
Orpheum Theatre
Boston, MA

(You can listen to the show here. Thanks tapers!)

The first Grateful Dead bootleg I ever received was a 1972 practice jam with no set list. At the time I didn’t know much about the Dead beyond the well-established fact that deadheads were considered the worst thing in the history the everything. Prior to receiving that tape the Dead seemed to me more of a concept than a band. I liked the idea of the Dead, of the counter-culture, of the traveling circus, but I didn’t understand the Dead as a band, as musicians, as explorers.

That tape changed everything. Listening to it I had no idea what song was being played or what would come next. The unpredictability was thrilling. Not only did I not know what songs were being played, I didn’t even know what type of music would be coming up next. It was all a mystery, being in the dark, and it was a fitting introduction to the music and the ethos of the Grateful Dead.

Eventually I pieced together what the set list was, and songs like Promised Land, Brown-Eyed Women and Bird Song opened my ears and my mind to a style of music that couldn’t be easily classified. It was psychedelic blues rock with both country and jazz elements. It featured a lead guitar that was unique, delicate and fluid. The rhythm section was driven by an over-powering bass and tribal beats. The sometimes lead vocalist seemed perfectly out of place, bringing an unexpected rock star front-man vibe to the proceedings. And yet it all worked together beautifully well. It was an amalgamation of different musical styles and different personalities resulting in something far greater than the individual pieces. It was in every sense “American” music.

So defined my early impression of the Grateful Dead: unpredictability and a blend of disparate elements (both musical and individual) that improbably work together.

In the 15 years since Jerry left us we’ve seen a lot of iterations of the Grateful Dead, some of them very successful (The Other Ones in 2002), some of them less so (The Dead in 2009). But it seemed like two things had changed forever: first, no one would ever try to fill the “Jerry spot” and secondly, Phil and Bob would chase their own vision of the Dead sound separately (Phil hewing early psychedelic blues, Bob chasing jazzy rock and acoustic cowboys songs). Even when the core four played together again as The Dead in ’03, ’04 and ’09 they brought on people like Warren Haynes or Joan Osborne to fill Jerry’s spot on stage but not his space in the music.

All this changed when John Kadlecik was brought up from AAA (he played Jerry in the accomplished Dead cover band Dark Star Orchestra) and for the first time Phil and Bobby attempted to recreate the sound of the good ol’ Grateful Dead (you can read my review of the Manchester, NH show here). And while it’s sad that Billy Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart aren’t around for the trip, there’s no way to overstate what John brings to the table. Make no mistake: John Kadlecik is the key to Furthur.

Whether John is merely inspired by Jerry or is channeling his spirit is immaterial. The sound of his guitar and his voice is eerie and spot on. He so thoroughly inhabits Jerry’s musical space that you sometimes forget who’s on stage. There are moments where John transports you to “that place”, after we all thought it could never happen again.

Friday’s night show at the Orpheum in Boston was the first night of a three show run in Boston, and the first show of this leg of the tour. The call was made for the traditional Feel Like a Stranger opener, which would come, but only after an unexpected Come Together. Drummer Joe Russo showed that he could ably fill the Rhythm Devils’ shoes with his perfect fills on Stranger. Things then kicked into high-gear with a double shot of Alabama Getaway and Promised Land, with John, and then Bobby, setting the pace for an upbeat night. Next up was the best non-Jerry Althea I’ve ever heard, John just absolutely nailing it. Phil stepped up to the mic for a great Fennario, one of the songs that I actually prefer a Phil vocal on. Then they dipped way back for a trippy Cream Puff War that transitioned into a deliciously cheesy Good Lovin’. Bobby then cued a Come Together reprise mashed into Good Lovin’ before finishing up the set.

What made the first set so impressive, aside from the lack of rust, was just how unpredictable the song choices were. Starting with Come Together, there was no way to predict what was coming next. All of the familiar runs and song patterns seemed to have been thrown out the window. The mystery was back.

The second set would prove itself to be a deadheads dream set, with lots of crowd favorites surfacing. Things kicked off with a nice The Music Never Stopped and then the crowed exploded with a great Wheel. Up next came a very solid Uncle John’s Band>Playin’ in the Band run, which then culminated in a very unexpected and greatly appreciated Crazy Fingers. Next up was a stellar The Other One which set up the highlight of the night (which is saying a lot in a night full of highlights) – a gorgeous Morning Dew. I was already completely sated at that point, so I almost couldn’t believe that they would drop a Help on the Way>Slipknot!>Franklin’s Tower on us (the Slipknot! Was insanely good, by the way). It (almost) felt greedy getting so many nuggets in one set. After the donor rap, things finished up with a fun Golden Road. It was perhaps the greatest, most deadhead-friendly, epic set of recent memory.

This is a band playing at such a high level it’s hard to believe that it’s happening at this late hour in the history of the Dead. Jeff Chimenti is probably the best keyboard player on the planet right now (excepting Bruce Hornsby, of course, who resides upon Mount Olympus and cannot be compared to mere mortals) and I’m not sure whether I prefer his B3 or piano playing. He consistently killed it on so many tunes that it’s nigh impossible to pick stand-outs. (Okay, his playing on Althea was a big highlight.) Joe Russo provided a steady beat as well as great fills on the drums, Phil Lesh and Bobby Weir are both playing and singing at a consistently high level and then there’s John Kadlecik, the heart of Furthur.

Needless to say, this was an outstanding show by an incredible band. If you’re already on the bus, sit back and enjoy the ride. If you ever got off the bus, it’s time to get back on – we’ll pick you up at the next stop, destination unknown.

Set List:

Come Together
Feel Like a Stranger
Alabama Getaway>
Promised Land
Althea
Peggy-O
Cream Puff War>
Good Lovin’>
Come Together Reprise>
Good Lovin’

Set 2:

Music Never Stopped>
The Wheel>
Uncle John’s Band>
Playin’ in the Band>
Crazy Fingers>
Other One>
Morning Dew>
Help on the Way>
Slipknot>
Franklin’s Tower
**Donor Rap**
E: Golden Road

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If you liked this review, you can find many more music reviews, essays, lists and podcasts here. Also, please check out the Steve Gorman Sports! podcast, our hilarious weekly podcast about sports, music and pop culture, featuring Steve Gorman of The Black Crowes, and lots of great celebrity guests.

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The State of the Professional Sports Union

Friends, Americans, fellow podcasters, it is with great pride and humilty – let’s call it primility – that I deliver the 2011 state of the professional sports union address.

The state of professional sports in America is strong….ly concerning.

Our greatest sport, American football, is under the dual threat of head injuries and a potential lock-out.  Even worse, legendary Patriots quarterback Tom Brady seems incapable of winning in the post-season anymore. I fear that he is suffering from the Curse the Babe-ino. What self-respecting Bostonian would dump a beautiful Irish lass like Bridget Moynahan for a dime-a-dozen supermodel? Tom, please come to your senses, divorce Gisele, get back together with Bridget – who just happens to be the star of America’s #1 new drama, Blue Bloods – and win another Super Bowl.

The NBA is currently enjoying one of its greatest regular seasons in recent memory. But once again, greed and avarice threaten to shut down our favorite winter sport after this season. Even worse, NBA fandom has sunk to such a low that alleged dream teams in Miami have to teach their fans how to show up on time and root for their team. It’s an embarrassment.

The other great winter sport, hockey, still suffers from over-expansion. I propose that this year we finally merge the NHL with NASCAR, and split them along geographical lines.  I call it the Pancake-Waffle line, with stock car racing exclusively in cities with a Waffle House and ice hockey in cities with a Bickfords.

Sadly, the nerds continue to ruin baseball, with their spreadsheets and their VORP and their stupid math. Let’s be honest here, America only has the attention span to follow one event that runs for 4 hours a day 6 days a week – and that event is Dancing with the Stars.

In closing, the only thing we really learned this past year, after watching the World Cup, is that soccer is truly the boringest sport known to man. If I wanted to watch some Greasy Europeans running in circles and kicking each other in the shins I’d just buy tickets to Riverdance.

And yes, I wish I had a more timely reference for that joke than Riverdance, but I don’t.

Thank you.

(Speech originally delivered on episode #34 of the Steve Gorman Sports podcast)

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My Interview with Black Crowes Drummer Steve Gorman

My life as an obsessive music fan started early.  The first records that I can remember buying with “my own” money (a.k.a. allowance/gift money) were the 45 of Stevie Wonder’s hit single Master Blaster (Jammin’) and the LP of KISS’s Rock and Roll Over. The summer of 1980 was a big year for me.  For my 9th birthday I received Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes and the epic double album soundtrack to the Village People’s Can’t Stop the Music (starring Bruce Jenner).

Okay, I might not have had the best taste in the world, but I had passion.  Over the years my passion for music has never diminished, although my taste has settled into blues- and country- based rock that sounds like it comes from 1972.  It’s not surprising, therefore, that my favorite band over the last 20 years has been The Black Crowes.  To my ears, The Black Crowes are one of the few remaining bands that plays new music that sounds like it comes from the heyday of guitar rock.  They are the torchbearers of a dying tradition.  And while the flame of rock and roll has been diminished, it hasn’t been extinguished – and it never will as long as bands like the Crowes keep on keepin’ on.

Life twists and turns in unexpected directions and in the last year I’ve found myself working with the drummer of The Black Crowes, Steve Gorman, on a sports and pop culture podcast.  With the Crowes about to celebrate their 20th anniversary with a new double album, Croweology, that features acoustic versions of 20 of their classic songs, I asked Steve if I could interview him on the podcast about the new album, the last 20 years of music and a lifetime in rock and roll.

If you have a passion for music (especially if you love rock and roll and The Black Crowes) I think you’ll really enjoy this conversation.  Please let me know if you do.  Thanks.

Click to listen: SGS! Episode #15

Please consider checking out the Steve Gorman Sports! website (where you’ll find podcasts and more), subscribing to the show on iTunes, and joining our facebook community.

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Strangers I Love: Jesus Is Lord Guy

Another entry in a series of love letters written to random people that I don’t know. Think of it as nothing less than a celebration of humanity!)

Dear Jesus Is Lord Guy,

Please know that today and forevermore I love you.

I love how you stand outside of every sporting event and music concert in Boston handing out your pamphlets offering me the choice between heaven and hell. I love how you don’t presume to tell me to pick heaven, but you kindly offer me an option. I really appreciate that. I’ve never quite figured out whether you frequent big events due to the crowds or because drunk people are more receptive to your message or because drunk people need to be saved most. Does it even matter?

I love you because you’ve been doing this every day for as long as I can remember. As a matter of fact I can’t recall the last time I went to the Orpheum or the Garden and you weren’t there. Honestly, it wouldn’t be a show without you.

I love you because you be-dazzled the bag that you carry your pamphlets in with the same ‘Jesus Is Lord’ message that’s on your vest. Most people don’t appreciate the importance of consistency and simplicity when delivering a message. But when I see you, I know where you stand on the whole Jesus issue. Well done.

I love you because you use every square inch of your body to deliver that message. You’ve got the hat, you’ve got the pinny, you’ve got the front placard, you’ve got the rear placard and you’ve got the bag. A NASCAR driver could take lessons from you on using all of the available real estate.

I love you because you’re in great shape. While my weight has yo-yo’d up and down over the years, you’ve always maintained that trim figure. Hey, maybe that’s shallow, but I really respect a man that takes care of himself.

Obviously I have a few questions for you, like: ‘what motivates you to do this every day?’, ‘how many people have you saved over the years?’, ‘how do you pay your rent?’ and ‘have you killed any prostitutes?’, but those can wait for another time.

Jesus Is Lord Guy, I sincerely consider you a Boston icon, seeing you makes me happy and makes me feel grounded to this city that I love so very much.

Either way, I just wanted to say that I love you. And good luck with the whole salvation thing.

Love Always,

Mitch

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A List of People I Don’t Mess With

Over the years I have clearly established my bona fides as a legitimate tough guy. And while my lifetime street brawl record stands at an unimpressive 0-1-0 (please bear in mind that there were extenuating circumstances,) I like to think that I haven’t been involved in more street brawls precisely because most people recognize my substantial badassness.

Sensei Harry Rosenfeld of Freehold, New Jersey obviously trained me well. Some would say that he trained me too well. I like to think of myself as one of the most accomplished green-belt-with-two-stripes karate experts in the Northeast. Look, 4th place 12-and-under sparring ribbons don’t come easy.

Many years ago, I learned a valuable lesson from a wise, kind, bearded, young spiritual master with long hair. He encouraged me to turn the other cheek. Sometimes, taught my Sensei, the best way to win a fight is to not fight at all.

And while I may possess only a small fraction of Sensei’s impressive knowledge (I was tragically forced to quit karate after an unfortunate incident at Hebrew school) I felt that it was important for me to pass along whatever meager wisdom I have before my untimely demise. Today’s lesson will focus on knowing when to turn the other cheek, or as I like to call it:

A List of People I Don’t Mess With

1) Naturally, all lists of people not to mess with begin with the standard warning to stay away from crazy hat people;

2) It’s smart policy not to pick fights with people that use a little igloo cooler as their lunchbox.

3) Similarly, don’t pick fights with people that eat lunch at 10:15. (Usually from a small igloo cooler.)

4) Tattoos are always helpful guides. I never mess with a neck tattoo wearer or anyone with a tattoo of a bloody dagger that says “a deal is a deal” in that scary gothic font.

5) You might be surprised to learn that I DO mess with people with droopy pants. Now, I’ll confess that I was initially terrified to learn that the droopy pant look is an homage to prison (no belts in prison), but I also learned that people with droopy pants have trouble running after you.

6) Never, ever mess with a woman in a hockey sweater (jersey), especially if she’s got a mullet.

7) I used to be scared of people that liked ‘80s heavy metal (e.g. Judas Priest) until I grew up and realized just how gay heavy metal was (e.g. Judas Priest).

8) Generally, I try to avoid most of the fighty countries south and east of Spain. Let’s just say that if I was running the U.S.’s foreign policy apparatus the phrase: “we didn’t really want that land anyway” would be heard a lot more frequently.

9) I used to mess with the Scientologists, but when you learn about the bridge to total freedom and start operating at a higher thetan level, well, then, there’s a lot less to make fun of, isn’t there?  Or maybe you’re just a suppressive person?

10) Babies. Their creepy little eyes look so human. It’s unnerving!

I hope you found this guide helpful. May I suggest that you clip-and-save it for future reference?

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FAQ: “Fat Boy Shuffle”

Q: What is the ‘Fat Boy Shuffle’?

A: The Fat Boy Shuffle (FBS) is a dynamic physical movement that deceptively gives the appearance of hurrying-up when walking but doesn’t involve any actual hurrying-up.

Q: When does one employ the FBS?

A: The FBS can be employed at any time when one is walking in the street but it is best used when someone in a car lets you cross in front of them.

Q: How does one perform the FBS?

A: The FBS is easy and fun to do! First, wave and smile at the driver as an acknowledgement of their generosity. Secondly, lift your knees up high when walking so that your legs appear to be moving faster. Finally, swing your arms vigorously to give the appearance of increased effort. Note: you should swing your right arm back when you lift your left knee up and vice-versa.

Q: Why should one do the FBS?

A: The FBS is a majestic sign of civility that has been tempered by laziness. To whit: you are at an intersection. A car comes and decides to let you cross. As a token of appreciation you want to acknowledge the driver’s generosity by hurrying-up across the street. But you really don’t want to break into a trot (which could jeopardize the sweat shield) so you bust out a FBS.

Q: What is the ‘sweat shield’?

A: That’s easy. The fresh feeling garnered from your morning shower is officially declared over when the first bead of sweat is produced. That feeling of freshness is actually created by a microscopic layer of soap between your skin and clothing. This layer of clean soap is the ‘sweat shield’. Sweating destroys the sweat shield and eliminates the fresh feeling until you shower again. Your daily goal should be to preserve the sweat shield for as long as possible.

Q: Do you recommend bar soap or body wash?

A: Body wash, always. With a loofah, if possible.

Q: Who can do the FBS?

A: Anyone! You need not be fat or a boy to employ the shuffle. All you need to be is mildly polite and lazy.

Q: So why is it called the FBS?

A: Because it was named after a well-mannered fat boy who lazily shuffles across the street when cars let him cross in front of them.

Q: Can I meet this well-mannered fat boy?

A: You already have!

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2010 World Cup Handicapping for the Non-Football Fan

Introducing…the World Cup

Every four years, like clockwork, the non-U.S. portion of the world re-commences their long-standing crusade to teach Americans about football, allegedly the world’s most popular sport. So desperate are our Euro-African-Asians friends to convince us of football’s greatness that they created an international tournament called the World Cup with the sole objective of trying to get Americans to watch their stupid game.

Of course, Americans are already familiar with the sport of football. It’s obviously the greatest sport ever played and it was invented right here in America. You know it as the entertaining game with the touchdowns and the field goals and the Tom Bradys.

(Side note to Europeans: when trying to convince Americans how great your sport is, don’t name it after a better sport that Americans already like.)

In order to distinguish real (pigskin) football from fake (boring) football, we’ve taken to calling the game ‘soccer’ in the U.S. The proper way to use the term ‘soccer’ in a sentence is:

“Sorry man, I can’t drink Bloody Mary’s at brunch with you today. I have to go to my kid’s stupid soccer game at noon.”

Soccer is a difficult game to explain. This is because to all outside appearances the entire game appears to involve watching the one good kid hog the ball while the rest of the kids wander in circles and their parents desperately stare at their watches.

But that’s an unfair characterization of the noble and historic sport of soccer.

Soccer is like hockey, with just a few minor differences: there’s even less scoring, it’s not on ice and there’s no checking or fighting. In other words, soccer is like all of the boring parts of hockey.

The History of Football (Soccer)

Without going into a long history lesson, soccer was invented in England in the 1600s by Lord Borington of Little East Strikerham. The first ball was actually a sheep’s bladder stuffed with pig’s intestines. This ball worked well until the game was exported to Scotland and the Scotsmen started eating the ball mid-game. The familiar black and white checkered ball pattern was soon unveiled to ward off the Scotsmen, as they were frightened by monochrome patterns.

For the next 300+ years the British Empire conquered lands across the globe, setting up low-quality developmental football leagues in their far-flung colonies. Even after declaring independence from the British throne, these colonies kept playing football, which psychologists recognize as the first recorded example of Stockholm Syndrome. The only exception to this rule was in the new land of America. Historians attribute this anomaly to the fact that the pilgrims hooked up with the cool-ass Native Americans and spent their time smoking weed and eating popcorn, forgetting all about the boring kick-ball game.

Our little trip down memory lane proves one thing: soccer only became the most popular sport in the world because the mean British people threatened to shoot you if you didn’t play. However, given better alternatives (i.e. smoking weed, eating popcorn) people would gladly not play soccer.

So, here we are in America 400 years later and soccer is still the 7th most popular sport in the country, even after 18 world cups and 5 failed professional leagues. That’s right – in America soccer is currently less popular than football, baseball, basketball, hockey, auto racing and even lacrosse (which is kind of sad, because lacrosse isn’t even a real sport – it’s just what rich white kids tell their parents they’re doing when they’re really out drinking and scoring roofies.)

But I don’t want to play the part of the ugly American. It would be rude for the whole world to throw a whole big soccer party and for us to not even show up. So here goes nothing…

2010 World Cup Handicapping for the Non-Football Fan

If you’re a soccer fan you probably already know which teams are good and which teams are bad, so you don’t need my help. However, if you’re a degenerate gambler looking for an edge you’ve come to the right place. I’ve analyzed every player on each roster to determine my game by game selections.

Group A:

South Africa (#83): I guess South Africa is an okay place now, but growing up it was all apartheid this and FW DeClerk that and I’m still actively boycotting Sunoco (can I stop yet?) Plus, all of those movies about South Africa are so boring.

Mexico (#17) is a totally awesome country with the best food in the world. Sure, their cervezas are crappy and Mexico is just the sunnier, shootier version of America, but, Sabado Gigante!

France (#9): I’m generally a fan of France, even though their food is totally overrated. They have lots of hot chicks, although I’d personally like to see a little more showering and shaving. Oh, and their star player (Thierry Henry) is even more handsy then Ben Roethlisberger.

Uruguay (#61): I think Uruguay might be the country where the Jonestown Massacre occurred, and even if it wasn’t, there are way too many “U”s in their name. Plus, it’s easily confused with Paraguay.

It’s a close call between Mexico and France in Group A, but I’m going Mexico in the upset.

Group B:

Argentina (#7): You’ve got to respect a South America country that’s famous for steak and has a bunch of Jews in it. Then again, Jews suck at soccer (we rock the hardwood.)

Nigeria (#21): Without going into too many details, my life was forever changed when a young Nigerian Prince enlisted me to help him unlock his fortune. Sure, I had to front him a few bucks, but once he gets his birthright we’re both going to be set for life. Big time.

Good (South) Korea (#47): Poor South Korea. Look, we’ve all lived across the hall from a creepy middle-aged neighbor that locked up his under-aged girlfriend in an apartment building that might have been a crack house. It’s very unnerving. Sure, they could break their lease, but then they’d never get their security deposit back. Damn North Korea and that (now probably deceased) Kim Jong Il.

Greece (#13): Talk about a country resting on its laurels. In the last 2000 years we’ve gotten exactly one bad rom-com movie and lots of gross food from the Aegean contingency. And I hate their NY diners.

It’s a walk in Group B – Argentina takes it.

Group C:

England (#8): Football is their game, they’re good at it and they seem to like it. Haven’t they suffered enough with Sarah Ferguson? Can’t we just let them have this one?

United States (#14): Fourteen is a pretty good seed for a country that isn’t even really trying. I’m sure that soccer will be huge in the next 70-137 years, but it’s not our time yet.

Algeria (#30): Algeria still has to answer for Albert Camus – he of the “novel that sounds really cool but isn’t.” Actually, wasn’t Camus French but he died in Algeria? Damn, I wish there was some free online resource to check out things like that.

Slovenia (#25): Is Solvenia a real country? I swear that this is the first I’m hearing of them. That can’t auger well for their chances.

England takes Group C. (Good for them. I’m secretly still loyal to the Crown.)

Group D:

Germany (#6): There’s a lot to like about Germany, but if they win it’s going to be all lederhosen and oompa-loompa music until death’s sweet embrace finally releases us. We can’t let them win.

Australia (#20): What’s not to love about Australia? Beautiful women and rugged men drinking beer and making fun of New Zealanders. Sure, they’re criminals, but that’s the best part! It’s like a whole country full of dangerous women spies and sexy bad boys.

Serbia (#15): I was a big fan of Slobodan Milosevic – not as a murderous dictator, mind you, but as a court-room entertainer. Could you imagine that dude on Celebrity Apprentice?

Ghana (#32): I once had an intern from Ghana. I was impressed by his too-tight designer clothes and his BMW keychain (I never saw the actual car.) That left me with a very favorable impression of Ghana.

Group D is going to Australia. You just can’t beat giant sexy super spy chicks.

Group E:

Netherlands (#4): Are they the ones with the meatballs and the cheap furniture or the wooden shoes and the windmills? I can never remember.

Denmark (#36): Wait, was I thinking of the Danes? Are they the ones with the chocolate and the cheese?

Japan (#45): Japan is beyond awesome. Think about it – they’re the only Asian culture that features non-disgusting food items. Plus, video games!

Cameroon (#19): I don’t know anything about Cameroon, but I know that macaroons are good maybe once a year, at the Passover Seder, if you’re kind of drunk on Manischewitz.

Big Upset in Group E, with Japan winning. Sorry random Northern Europeans.

Group F:

Italy (#5): Another great, great country full of sexy women and delicious food. Plus, it’s my ancestral homeland – hooray for Jewtalians!

Paraguay (#31): Didn’t we already cover this one, with the massacres and all of the “u”s?

New Zealand (#78): Didn’t we already talk about hillbilly kiwis?

Slovakia (#34): Didn’t we already talk about made-up countries like Slovakia and Slovenia?

No contest here – Group F goes to Italy.

Group G:

Brazil (#1): Brazil has really cultivated a solid reputation over the last few decades. It’s almost like a focus group of drunk frat boys designed the country…”all you can eat steak buffets…endless parties…lots of talk about girls’ pubic hair.”

Bad (North) Korea (#105): How did a 105th seed get into this exclusive tournament of 32 teams? Did Emperor Weekend at Bernie’s II threaten to nuke us if they couldn’t compete?

Cote d’lvoire (#27): Look Ivory Coast, it’s one thing to have a weird name for your country. But it’s quite another thing for you to insist that we pronounce it the Frenchy way. I call you the Cote d’Pretentious.

Portugal (#3): I like your attitude, Portugal. In my mind you’re a part of Spain, yet you still insist on having your own culture and language and all. You’ve got moxie.

Tough call between Brazil and Portugal, but…”all you can eat steak buffets…endless parties…lots of talk about girls’ pubic hair”…can’t be beat. Brazil wins.

Group H:

Spain (#2): I’m going to call bullshit on this whole tapas thing right here. Eating overpriced appetizers at midnight isn’t dinner. Stop charging me entrée prices for mini-mozzarella sticks.

Switzerland (#24): Oh, yes, that’s right – Switzerland is the cheese/chocolate/secret bank country. I have no strong opinions on them either way.

Honduras (#38): I want to like Honduras, I really do. But when everything goes all kablooey in 2012 they’re taking the biggest piece of blame pie. Never kill Mayans, capiche?

Chile (#18): Chile, I find your emphasis on being tall and skinny hurtful. It is not my fault that I’m chubby. I have a hereditary glandular issue and an admitted addiction to snack cakes.

As much as I hate to admit it, Spain is going to roll over Group H.

The 2010 World Cup Winner

It would be too boring to run through all of the possibilities of winners and runners-ups, the round of 16, yadda yadda yadda, so let’s just cut to the quick:

To recap, here are the top 8 teams: Mexico, Argentina, England, Australia, Japan, Italy, Brazil and Spain.

And while just being nominated is an honor in and of itself, I’m going to have to throw my support behind the land of my forefathers, Italy.

(Yes, it is true. One branch of my family comes from Italy. We discovered this when we found an old family tree book while cleaning out my grandmother’s house a few years ago. Apparently back in the 1500s my great-great-whatever was one of the leading Rebbe’s in Italy. Obviously being a great Rabbi doesn’t make you smart because he decided to emigrate to Eastern Europe or Poland or some other lame loser country. Needless to say, I could have been a bad-ass Italian Jewboy (instead of your generic soft-ass American Jewboy) if only Rebbe made better decisions in life. So be it.)

Enjoy the 2010 World Cup, my little soccer friends!

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