Tuesday, January 31, 2006

To Insure...Progress?

Mark Evanier writes Groo The Wanderer.

That alone should earn him your undying respect and gratitude. Oh, you should include Sergio Aragones too, since he's the one who draws him.

But Mark also has his blog, and recently he posed a question on tipping. Any longtime Churn Readers [besides me and...me] will remember that back in 2005 I voiced my own concerns on the subject. The reason it's on Linds' blog is that it was a guest post during last years Blogathon.

Anyway, I thought that maybe Mark or his legions of fan could help me, so I sent him this, which is also posted on his blog, along with his response:

Even though this is only slightly related to your question, I hope either you or
your readers can help me out.

Are we as a society at the point where we can't question the act of tipping? [or have we been here all this time, and no one told me about it?]

Should I just stop asking why I have to subsidize the service economy?

If a plate with filet Mignon weighs about the same as a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, why do I have to tip more?

At the very least, I'd like to know where the boundary line between what the employer's paying for, and what my tip is paying for. In the example you gave, isn't the bellhop supposed to handle your baggage for you? Unless I'm mistaken, he was
likely hired by the hotel to do just that, among other things. If we're talking about asking someone in the next room to carry your bags, that's a different story.

Is the tip a plea so your bags won't get thrown down the stairs, or rifled through by the staff? Or is it a bribe so they'll do it to someone else's? And what if they did it anyway? "Wow, that meal was great. And, because I said no pickles and there were no pickles, I'll throw in another 8%"

I will admit, so far in my life I've yet to work in a field where tipping was a
part of my livelihood, so my perspective might be skewed.

Look, Ticketmaster sticks you for a 'service charge', why can't other places do it
too? At least you won't have to wonder what formula to use, or you could choose
to avoid places that have them.

After reading his reply, I'm not sure if I'm totally convinced. What bothers me is that his pragmatic answer boils down to "its the way it's always been done", and the philosophical one really isn't a nicety, when you think about it. If the business world and the government assume you're going to tip anyway, than the level of service is no longer part of the equation. Somehow we've managed to put the 'guilt' of not tipping on ourselves.

I have nothing against the service industry. I just think we should be honest with each other. If I tip x percent, what service will I get? If I choose not to tip the maid service at my hotel, will they only give me one handtowel and a smashed mint on the floor? When I go out to eat, how much money will make sure my iced tea never gets empty?

How about we just call them bribes? Or, in this age of Abramhoff, strategic lobbying?

Mike G.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Ominous Rumblings...

Actually, it's just the one. Tomorrow marks the return of the Royal Rumble, and the annual Road To Wrestlemania. I'll be giving you a breakdown of the matches on the card, followed by my take on the Rumble match itself. [Smackdown matches in blue, RAW in red]

JBL vs. The Boogeyman

I could complain about the overall absurdity of this match, but I have to give the WWE credit for having a feud develop over more than one week. The Boogeyman was intended to be some sort of malevolent demon in the vein of The Undertaker, but then was recast as a character forced upon Smackdown by UPN executives. For some reason, The Boogeyman and his worm/cancer eating have clicked with the fans. I see JBL taking this match, due to a Flavor Flav run-in where he attacks The Boogeyman for ripping off his big clock gimmick.

Mickie James vs. Ashley - Trish Stratus as special referee

I have high expectations for this match, even though it's just a placeholder for the inevitable Mickie/Trish match at Wrestlemania. Their relationship has taken some nicely creepy turns, with Mickie descending from admiration to dangerous obsession. WWE did make a false step trying to gild the lily with some lesbian overtones, but they seemed to catch on quickly. Diva Search winner Ashley seems to be the odd woman out here, but I'm sure she'll wear something to keep the fan's attention. Mickie cheats to win, but Trish catches her and awards the pin to Ashley. Mickie is enraged and destroys both of them.

Open Invitational Match for the Cruiserweight Championship

As of this writing, there is little info about the details of this match. In fact, it's unknown if there will be more than one opponent. I expect that the match details will depend on the rest of the show. Last year's Rumble almost ran over the three-hour mark, so I see this match acting as a safety valve. No matter what the match turns out to be, I see Kid and his almost infringing theme music retaining the belt.

World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle vs. Mark Henry

Necessity is the mother of invention, and so is this match. WWE was planning on Batista headlining Wrestlemania, but a pair of injuries have put him on the shelf for the near future. This left Smackdown without a champion. WWE's solution to this problem was found in Kurt Angle, who jumped from RAW to claim the Big Gold Belt. In an odd twist, Angle's opponent is the same person who quite possibly caused Batista's injury, Mark Henry [brought in by MNM manager Melina as a bodyguard during their sexual harassment angle]. Mark's actually been under WWE contract for 10 years, but injuries and various failed gimmicks have kept him off of the air. The end result? Angle gets to headline another Wrestlemania, and Henry gets carried to a quality match as he spends the rest of his contract back in Silsbee, TX.

WWE Champion Edge vs. John Cena

After surviving the Elimination Chamber at New Years Revolution, John Cena seemed sure to take the WWE Title to the Rumble and eventually, Wrestlemania. However, Edge seized the opportunity and cashed in his Money in the Bank title shot[won at last year's Wrestlemania]. After two spears, Edge claimed the WWE championship. In the weeks afterward, Edge has proven to be more than a 'placeholder' champ, though I would feel better if he got a new belt, rather than Cena's spinning 'bling belt'. Speaking of which, Edge's popularity could be bad news for Cena, whose 'Chain Gang/Thuganomics' persona is becoming less popular with the live crowds. Edge retains to headline Wrestlemania, which leads us to...

The Royal Rumble Match

The rules are simple. Two wrestlers start out in the ring and at regular intervals, another wrestler enters until all 30 have been called. A wrestler must leave the ring over the top rope and have both feet touch the floor to be eliminated. The last man standing wins the Rumble, and a title shot at Wrestlemania.

On the RAW side we have:

1) ROB VAN DAM - Making his return after almost a year on the shelf due to injury

2) BIG SHOW - Always a formidible opponent in the Rumble

3) KANE - My personal dark horse winning pick

4) SHAWN MICHAELS - Will get screwed by Mr. Mcmahon; furthering their angle

5) TRIPLE H - Never underestimate his ability to turn the spotlight back on himself

6) CHRIS MASTERS - Fortune Brands sues Chris for trademark infringement, forcing him to quit wrestling forever

7) CARLITO - Eats an apple, gets destroyed by Kane

8) TREVOR MURDOCH - Is it too late for him to reunite with Lance Cade in a Brokeback Mountain gimmick? It worked so well for Billy and Chuck

9) SHELTON BENJAMIN - Miscues with his mama lead to early elimination, and in a dramatic scene, we see tempers flare between pretend Mother and Son

10) VISCERA - If he makes it through the entire match without humping anything, it's a victory for everyone.

11) CHAVO GUERRERO - his performance will prove whether he or I profitted more off of the death of his uncle Eddie.


13) RIC FLAIR - If you never got to see your grandfather prance about in a feathered sparkly robe and subsequently get beaten to a bloody pulp, here's your chance

SMACKDOWN gives us:

1) CHRIS BENOIT - One of the greatest wrestlers ever. Sadly will not win, but will make a good showing

2) REY MYSTERIO - Rumors are swirling about a title shot and possibly a title run. Would be strange to have a World Champ that couldn't ride most roller coasters

3) RANDY ORTON - Calls in his favor to Booker T who refuses, leading to a match at the next Smackdown PPV

4) MATT HARDY - Gets eliminated early due to his trying to figure out where he went wrong in life

5) ORLANDO JORDAN - With a bisexual angle heading his way, Orlando tries to distract himself by staring at a copy of his credit card statement

6) LASHLEY - Makes the final five, but his Small Voice renders him unable to intimidate the other wrestlers, leading to his elimination

7) SYLVAN - He's still French, right?

8) ROAD WARRIOR ANIMAL - A great wrestler back in the day, his roly-polyness proves to be his downfall

9) JOHNNY NITRO - Discovers to his horror that HE'S Joey Mercury, which causes a complete breakdown

10) JOEY MERCURY - Vice Versa

11) SIMON DEAN - Half-heartedly competes, all the while remembering his time as Nova. Also questions why WWE gave him a Segway replica, instead of the real thing

12) BOOKER T - See Randy Orton

13) SUPER CRAZY - Thanks his lucky stars he cut ties with Juventud

14) PSICOSIS - Ditto

Note that there are still 3 spots unaccounted for, which leaves the door open for a surprise celebrity entrant, a returning wrestler, or a debut. Also, Vince McMahon will draw the entry numbers himself on the PPV, rather than before the show. This may affect the betting line, so be forewarned.

Mike G.

Friday, January 27, 2006


"I'm done doing what I swore an oath to God 28 years ago to never do again. I've created, "something that kills people." And in that purpose I was a success. I've done this, because philosophically I'm sympathetic to your aim. I can tell you with no ego, this is my finest sword. If on your journey, you should encounter God, God will be cut."
-Hattori Hanzo 'Kill Bill'

I give to you the Gillette Fusion:

Yup, five blades. And that doesn't even count the trimmer blade on the back.

I bought one of these yesterday, but frankly, I'm afraid to even open the package for fear that I'll somehow sever a major artery. Gillette also makes a battery powered version, but I think there's some sort of federally mandated waiting period before you can buy one.

But somehow, I can't help but feel we've been here before.

Mike G.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

2 Legit...

Thank you Noisebot!

Mike G.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

An Ode To...

The sweet Katie from SpikeTV's King Of Vegas.

Would that I could be the river card that completes the straight flush draw in your heart.

Mike G.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Don't Forget...

The new Season of WWE Fantasy begins tomorrow night at 7:00 PM Eastern Monday night. You can still sign up here, and be sure to join our league "P1WAC 2.0"

Good luck to all,
Mike G.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

It's All About Context...

8:17 PM.

Apparently, one cannot say the word 'scrotum' on the cable channel AMC, at least when they're broadcasting the first Austin Powers movie. The word occurs during Dr. Evil's famous monologue describing his youth: [don't forget to do the voice too]

The details of my life are quite inconsequential... very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds- pretty standard really. At the age of twelve I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum... it's breathtaking- I highly suggest you try it.

Somehow I fear that mentioning that word twice is going to put Churn in some odd web searches.

Mike G.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Eww To The Nth Power...

So what bothers me is that apparently this person knew exactly what they were looking for, and was just unsure of the entire URL. I do think it's funny that they're looking for the retro stuff, since I suppose the modern day version doesn't have the charm of the old school. Maybe there's no sense of mystery anymore, like there used to be. [I have no idea]

The elapsed time tells me that they looked around the site for a while, perhaps thinking the 'good stuff' was hidden a few pages in. Technically, it's all Roger Ebert's fault, since it was his quote in my Planet of the Apes post that led to the search result.

And to think, I used to complain that the only people visiting Churn were those looking for Keeley Hazell pictures and the meaning of "Stand Back, Burrito".

Mike G.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Simple Hypothetical...

Say one fine day, you're minding your own business when suddenly-


Most of your face is now a distant memory, and there's little hope of you leading a normal life.

But a group of doctors and surgeons band together and, in a history making operation, perform the world's first face transplant.

Early fears of rejection do arise, but they subside and the prognosis is good.

So, what do you do?

Well, if you're the French lady in question, you crack open a carton of Pall Malls and start to puffin' with your new lips.

Granted, I find it difficult to put myself in her shoes, but I'm fairly certain that most heart transplant patients don't go on a Thickburger bender.

Mike G.

Face It Tiger...

I am confused.

Everyone's favorite site Ain't It Cool has dropped some bigtime info on the Spider-Man 3. In addition to The Sandman and a mystery villain, Sam Raimi's tossing in another member of Spidey's supporting cast. Now that you've read the article, let's discuss.

So, who's Gwen Stacy? As always, we go To The Internet! [insert music sting]

Oh, here's a pic of a Gwen Stacy statue released a few years ago:

On a more basic level, Gwen is seen as almost the boundary line between what's known as the Silver and Modern Comic Ages. Arnold T. Blumberg gets crazy deep in that issue here.

But for the vast majority of fans, none of this matters, which really bugs me. As a comic book fan/geek/nerd, I've had to sit idly by as directors, screenwriters, studios and and nameless people in suits pore over characters I've loved for years and change them at will, so they can make scenes cheaper to film, or to avoid some aspect of the character that might take time to explain.

I've had to deal with organic web-shooters with Spider-Man, Jessica Alba as Susan Storm/Richards, A Dr. Doom with no Latveria, A Hulk movie that delves into inane discussion of fathers and sons [by the way, the word is that for the proposed sequel, he'll be smaller], and Ben. Affleck. [fine, Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin wasn't bad]

What's worse, the movie Tail winds up wagging the comic Dog, introducing new concepts in the very comics that inspired the films [organic webs]

Pointing out these inconsistencies does nothing but make you out as an obsessed comic fan. It's just more shuffling of characters and situations that doesn't seem necessary.

Mike G.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Last-Minute Addition...

Almost forgot...UK Pinup model Lucy Pinder needs to be on that list too.

Mike G.

Begging: Day 1

In honor of the leadup to my birthday, I'll be listing a small collection of things that, should I acquire them, will no doubt solve all my problems and make me happy.

In honor of the new season of 24, Glarkware has released a shirt that sings the praises of everyone's favorite CTU analyst.

2. Star Wars Transformers

Two of my pillars of Geekiness have combined. Series 2 was announced last month, and Series 1 should be in stores now.

3. The eVo3

If I ever bite the bullet and sell enough plasma for the new Ipod, I'll be wrapping it up in one of these babies.

More when my greed flares up again,

Mike G.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Live at 5...and 5:30, 6:00, 9:00, and 10:00

A kind of mixed bag today...we've got a general observation and a personal anecdote, and then you can get back to your families.

For the past few hours we've been inundated by the droning of helicopters. As near as I can figure out, there's been a very serious [read: camera-friendly] fire a few miles from Churn HQ, and every news chopper in town is there to record the scene.

I'm wondering when one of these stations will outfit their copter with a full complement of air-to-air missles and a 30mm automatic Boeing M230 Chain Gun.

"When we say exclusive coverage, we MEAN it!"

And now the anecdote.

I had decided today to try and replicate one of my mom's dishes, her famous [in our house, at least] mexican rice. I did call her for some advice, but it was a bit hard for her to break down the recipe into small steps. A lot of her cooking knowledge comes from experience, and it's hard to express that over the phone. I did add my own touches in sauteing some garlic and onions, and I may have added a bit too much Consomate [tomato and chicken bouillon cubes] but I think it wasn't half bad.

Mike G.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Wanting Some, and Getting Said Some...

The time has come again to challenge for that most revered prize in our industry, the WWE Fantasy Wrestling Belt:

Ok, maybe it's not the real Big Gold Belt and only a kid's plastic replica, but it still symbolizes the heart and dedication that goes into crafting a successful fantasy season.

Speaking of which, Season 6 begins in less than two weeks, and our team P1WAC 2.0 is looking for competitors. Simply go to WWE Fantasy and sign up. Once you've created your team, look for our Team Name [P1WAC 2.0] and join up. Afterwards, please come back here and drop off your team name in the comments thread below.

Good luck.
You'll need it.

Mike G.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


So Telemundo was showing Tim Burton's "re-imagining" of Planet of the Apes last night, And while the FX were amazing, I still get a bit creeped out watching it. If you haven't seen it yet, I'm sorry, but you've had five years to see it on accident.

On to the creepiness...So Marky Mark lands on the aforementioned planet, apes are running the show, blah blah blah. He's captured, but one ape feels sorry for him and helps him escape[Ari, played by Helena Bonham Carter]:

Soon after that, Marky Mark and the girl monkey find a group of rebel humans, along with the daughter of their leader, played by model/actress Estella Warren [She'll be the one in the middle]:

During the movie, there's a fair bit of sexual tension, but I'll let Roger Ebert explain from his review:

...wants to be all things to all men, and all apes...It's a social satire and then backs away from pushing that angle too far. It even has a weird intra-species romantic triangle in it.

It could have supported, or attacked, the animal rights movement. It could have dealt with the intriguing question of whether a man and a gorilla having sex is open-mindedness, or bestiality (and, if bestiality, in both directions?).


Sure, Corpse Bride may have been about marrying dead people, but at least they were all the same species.

Mike G.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


I caught some of Larry King's interview with Howard Stern, and it got me to thinking about what might happen in the future of radio. Of course, I had a very minor dalliance in radio, thanks to Richard and the P1WAC. In fact, Richard got to be a part of Stern's final terrestial radio broadcast and even blogged about it.

And now my prediction, which is being made without the troublesome bother of supporting evidence.

I think that either Sirius or XM will declare bankruptcy in the next year and a half, leaving their subscribers with worthless pieces or plastic. Either that, or one company will absorb the other. To me, it looks like both companies are spending way too much money chasing after the same audience. They're slashing the costs of the receivers, hoping to make up the costs on the subscriber fees. They're spending more money to sign up celebrities, musicians, and other personalities to exclusive deals. Beyond that, whole sports are being divvied up between the two.

I've heard people bring up the fact that both DirecTV and Dish Network have been around for a while, but the only major difference is the Sunday Ticket package.

The exclusivity factor is a double-edged sword; you don't have to choose between Comcast or Cable One if you want Comedy Central.

The commercial-free aspect of satellite radio is enticing to many, but remember when we were told that cable wouldn't have commercials? I think that it will be just a matter of time before they start airing them to generate more income. I also predict that the fees will go up, but not the basic monthly charge. More channels will become 'premium' or 'ultra' stations along with the sports.

Finally, I suspect that a lot of people will shell out the money for a receiver and a few months of service, and realize that maybe they don't need 8 hours of jazz fusion.

There is every possibility that I'll be proved 100% dead wrong on all of these points. But if my prediction comes true, I fully reserve the right to dance about the streets, giggling madly.

Which isn't too different from my regular Friday night.

Mike G.


an actual product

MAN 1: "Hey, you got my TV in your Batman!"

MAN 2: "Well, you got your Batman in my TV!"

BOTH: "Wait a minute..."

Mike G.

Fancy That...

For some reason, I was unaware that most ovens have a drawer to store large pans and cookie sheets.

Also, congrats to the Texas Longhorns on winning the BCS Championship. With Notre Dame and the Cowboys losing this past weekend, it was some small measure of joy.

Mike G.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A Bit More Disclosure...

So I've been told I didn't have much of a conclusion to my recent tale. To be honest, there wasn't much of one.

After a school break, she just stopped showing up. There were one or two emails, but that stopped too. I took it in stride, mainly because I try and keep my expectations low.

I was speaking with raconteur and man about town Devin of the Swamp, where I accidentally dropped hints of another instance where I abandoned common sense.

Back in 2004, I blogged about my hidden life as a part of the odd duck known as fanfic. During that time, I veered away from the original porpose of that group until it turned into an early version of what you see now.

Anyways, the two-part story can be seen here and here.

Finally, in refernce to our conversation earlier today, here's a snippet from my blog on August 6, 2004:

The problem occurs when you forget that at the end of the day, it's a Superhero film. You can have all the character development and emotional resonance you want, if Superman doesn't blast Mongul with heat vision and punches him into orbit, I want a refund.

Case in point:Hulk.

Yes, the Hulk did some cool stuff, like throwing tanks and catching missles. But Ang Lee decides to prove that he's not just slumming, and decides to psychoanalyze these characters. I will grant that Hulk, with its use of comic-book style panels and editing looked closer to an actual comic that just about any other movie.

Mike G.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Son Of A...

This blog very rarely delves into the world of Sport, but with Washington's victory over Philadelphia a few minutes ago, I thought I should say something.

I'm no big Cowboys fan, but I've found that living in a football city has its quirks. Like it or not, things are just better when the 'Boys are winning. People are easier to deal with, and the usual annoyances become less of a problem.

Now, the Metroplex has to deal with months of second-guessing and grousing til the draft.

But I mostly feel bad for my Dad and the retro-logo cap he bought in anticipation of a Cowboys playoff run.

Mike G.

Oh, Happy New Year to you and yours.