Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Definitive 1000

We are going to be counting down the Definitive 1000 things. Why are they Definitive? Because The Friendly Friends have deemed them as such.

#980 - Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

To complete the Halloween Hat Trick I hereby enter the best candy ever made, the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, into the Definitive 1000.

Mr. Scampers, Ph.D., in heaven.

And I know, I know. Back-to-back peanut butter entries in the D-1000. I gotta call 'em like I see 'em.

I'm sitting here, alternating between handing out candy to little panhandlers and watching old Treehouse of Horrors (some of the best Simpsons episodes ever), and it occurs to me:

I'm hoping the kids don't take the PB Cups because I will have to break their hands and take them back. Or lie in wait in the bushes around the corner and steal them back.

I got the Soul-Crushing Massive Amounts of Everything Store-sized assorted Hershey product bag. There are only a few Reese's Cups in there.

Look the whole gang stopped by!

I need to do something about this. I can't deal with the idea that some ungrateful little punks will be eating my Peanut Butter Cups. That sweet, sweet Hershey's chocolate smothering that sweet yet salty peanut butter. They won't understand that you're supposed to freeze them and then bite off the chocolate edges and then eat the middle. They won't savor them the way I....uh....sorry.

Problem solved. I just put them all in the freezer. Now I just need to keep Mrs. Jewbacca away from them.

Due to their awesomeness, I hereby make Reese's Peanut Butter Cups #980 in the Definitive 1000.

These two just knocked on my door. THEY didn't even get Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

Mom Mom's Ghost vs. The Friendly Friends

Since it is Halloween and all that, here's another true scary story, much like the one with poor Mr. Scampers, Ph.D.

FFJewbacca: So. I don’t really believe in ghosts.

But since it’s Halloween, allow me and my fellow Friendly Friends to throw down The Official Ghost Story ™ of the Friendly Friends.

It’s a late summer night approaching 15 years ago and FFMatt is watching his parents’ house in suburban Philly while they’re at the Shore. The house is located on a green leafy, quiet suburban street. FFMatt is living in the city at the time, but was staying there to keep an eye on things.

Sweaty and I are bored.

FFSweaty: Incredibly bored.

FFJewbacca: We decide it would be a wonderful idea to head over to FFMatt’s parents’ house and wait for him to get back from work.

Me and Sweaty get there and we shoot hoops in the driveway for a little while. Since we’re both large, unathletic white men it’s not pretty and we tire of it quickly.

We realize at this point that there is no electricity in the neighborhood, due to a prior storm. It’s getting dark so we do what only true Friendly Friends would do:

Sweaty had a key to FFMatt’s parents’ house so we went in to lie in wait in the dark for his arrival.

As darkness had completely set in by this point we feel our way through the house and decide to sit on the sofa in the living room. Of course we didn’t bother to grab flashlights or anything like that. We sit in the dark. Me, Sweaty and Peeper the Cat. It was so dark so quiet and so hot. You could hear Sweaty audibly sweating. It was the most unsettling noise we had ever heard to that point, more on that later. We sit there, giggling at the devious duplicitous and divinely juvenile plan in store for FFMatt.

As a brief aside, FFMatt is almost a ninja. In real life. He knows a lot about killing people with his bare hands and has taken a lot of ju-jitsu and kung-fu and some other Asian sounding stuff. If not for his cowardice and oafish stupidity Sweaty would have died at his hand many different times growing up.

This fact is important, because as the sitting on the couch in the dark, waiting to scare the living crap out of FFMatt drags on, me and Sweaty start to debate the sanity of scaring a trained ninja assassin on his entry into a pitch black house. Images of one of us looking at their beating heart while the other stammers an excuse start to fill our heads. Another possibility we considered was that FFMatt would deftly launch the closest thing available to him (most likely the cat) at the sound of our childish attempt at a good-natured scare and in the same motion leap himself towards the sound of danger. He would then meet the cat in midair; high five it, and then turn their attention to the two idiots cackling in the darkness. This possibility was enhanced by the fact that the cat was freaking us out. To paraphrase Brian Fellows, That cat had devil eyes!

So me and Sweaty sit there a bit longer, describing in great detail how FFMatt would probably make us ex-Friendly Friends (and we were calling ourselves that 15 years ago so it story for another time) when we hear it.

It being: BANG (pause) BANG (pause) BANG.

FFSweaty: From the room directly above the living room in which we were sitting.

FFJewbacca: To reset, me and Sweaty and Peepers the cat all in the living room of an electricity-free, pitch black house, waiting for the next coming of Bruce Lee to get home and give us what-for. We both wondered what the noise was and almost simultaneously come to the conclusion that it was Peeper who must have gone up stairs. Sensing our lame attempt to sooth our nerves, Peeper promptly meows at our feet in an “It wasn’t me bitches!” kind of tone.

Then there it is again.

BANG (pause) BANG (pause) BANG.

Exactly the same as before.

I could actually see Sweaty turn pale in the darkness. He said “Get up. Follow me. We need to get out of here NOW.”

I figure this is another Sweaty joke (like the time he sent me for aspirin for his asthma or when he grabbed the lighter out of my car to “show that Trooper” why he shouldn’t write me a ticket) and I just kind of laugh and say “Ok. And by the way, what was that sound?”

We actually run out of the front door of the house, leaving a very bewildered Peeper sitting there.

I keep asking what’s the matter. We get in the car, Sweaty won’t answer. We get about two miles from the house, Sweaty shaking and visibly upset. He finally turns and says:

“That banging was coming from the room where my grandmother died. She used to bang her cane on the floor three times when she wanted someone to come up and get her something.”

I don’t think we spoke again that night.

So there you have it Friends. A true story. My only encounter with a ghost.

FFMatt: So I had a long night running a synagogue (true, no lie) and I headed to my parents house to feed my awesome cat Peeper. I noted that the power is out in the neighborhood again. Peeper is cool with that, he kicked ass and fears no darkness. I pull in the driveway, come in through the back door…

… memories are memorable when an emotional charge burns what you experience with your senses into that monkey brain you rent. Here’s what I felt:

I remember a bank of moonlight coming through the back kitchen window into my face and against the wall. I remember seeing dust motes swimming through that moonlight, glowing against the blue-black interior rooms behind it like a bedsheet rippling on black water. I remember my inner monologue parsing things like, “stirred air” and “something not Peeper here.” Also, the lack of the cat coming to greet me… well, that was it. In that one second of time I ran over eleventy seven scenarios that all involved "somebody not a cat in the house" or "somebody had just been there." I still had my hand on the half-open door. I was standing still in mid-step. Unblinking, I calmly but urgently backed out of the door, drove to the end of the driveway and watched the dark house for a few minutes.

Pure instinct. I drove home to Philly. WTF.

I think it was two days later Sweaty got ahold of me and once he said he was at the house that night we barked over each other to say what happened next.

I think I knew somebody was just in the place and I reacted well enough but when Sweaty and Jewbacca added the wrinkle about Mom Mom and her cane I lost it.

I was there when she died, when she came home to die in our care with loved ones. I got her ice when she banged her cane on the floor because she had stroked and couldn’t speak anymore.

Hearing that of all things broke something inside me for good.

Peeper was fine.

The Terrible Ghost of Mr. Scampers, PhD.

Some close to me know the terrible secret of what happened in my basement last year and what gave rise to the terror that roams my house at night. In the spirirt of Halloween, the guilt I carry ala The Telltale Heart or from paying full admission to Highlander 2, I give you the strange happenings in my house that brought forth a hellish spectre that haunts me to this day… may God have mercy on my soul.

... One chilly Fall Saturday morning saw me in the basement, doing laundry before my afternoon class. I heard a strange noise behind me and inwardly moaned because I had already guessed what it was. Something was in the ductwork. This happened before with bugs in the summer, they fall down the chimney and breed in the flue dump at the bottom of the chimney. Sneaking close and listening at the exhaust duct that runs to the chimney I heard quiet grunting noises. Tapping the duct started a cacophony of screeching and banging. It wasn't a bird. Too big.

I then realized urine was dripping from the ductwork onto the floor. About that time the heater ticked on and more frenzied banging began as the thing tried to get away from the red-hot blower dumping scorching air and carbon monoxide out the flue. It occurred to me I heard noises the night before but I thought it was air coming down the chimney.

While considering making calls to our heater repair and exterminator I witnessed a squirrel's face peeking out from the cone shaped flue over the top of the hot water heater, the duct being an artery off the main exhaust duct going to the chimney. It was too small an opening to get out but it could breathe and not get baked alive down the ductwork the way it's excrement was.

So much for doing it myself. Visions of scorched animal clamped to face did the dialing for me.
But making the calls was pointless since it was now noon Saturday and hearing the agitated animal was heart-rending. It had probably been in there for at least a day and alternating between roasting and freezing the whole time.

Finally a call came back from the "humane" exterminator and he was on his way, five minutes out.

2 hours later, after the basement was completely destroyed by the squirrel escaping into the basement and not into the net and the subsequent clearing of objects it can hide in and spray with urine/feces, I cornered it with a net... and then the exterminator brutally beat it to death on my floor with my painter's pole. Not his. Mine. The exterminator was obviously in the midst of an amygdala hijacking and working out some demons as he "humanely" and expertly beat it about 30 times to put it out of it's misery. Who would put me out of mine? I called him because he was supposed to be humane. Now I have literally have sh!t to show for it. On everything.

I could've done all of that for free.

The squirrel was now in better shape than my ductwork. BTW, the furnace has now been off for hours at this point so the house was freezing with windows open in case it felt like just running out the open windows.

After 6 hours in the basement, after disassembling the ductwork to clean the excrement out of it and reassemble, adjust pitch and foil tape it all back together and make sure the house doesn't immolate from it all I went out and bought carbon monoxide alarms for the house.

75 dollars for the hit out on the squirrel.
75 dollars for the new screen for my chimney cap.
100 dollars for the alarms.
Remembering a tiny animal cowering in your corner crying from fear/wounds... priceless.

(To satiate and sooth the spectral squirrel (or spectuirrel) I named him Mr. Scampers and used the power as an administrator at a large university to bestow an honary doctorate upon him, to make up for the road not traveled and hopefully put him to rest.)

Happy Halloween and sleep tight... or try.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Definitive 1000

We are going to be counting down the Definitive 1000 things. Why are they Definitive? Because The Friendly Friends have deemed them as such.

#981 - The Argument Over Which Peanut Butter is Better

Friends, we've run into a little bit of a roadblock in our odyssey to name the Definitive 1000 things out there.

We wanted to make Peanut Butter #981 but have run into the age old debate.

Which debate is that?

Is it crunchy vs. smooth?


Is it Peanut Butter on the top slice vs. Peanut Butter on the bottom slice?


Is it on an apple vs. on celery?


The big debate...

The age-old quandary....

Skippy vs. Jif

The Friendly Friends are nothing if not loyal. And this loyalty extends to peanut butter. Who knew?

We break down thusly: Jewbacca and FFMatt are true Jif lovers, while Sweaty swears by Skippy.

This debate has been going on now for days, via email and angry telephone calls.

Here is the tale of the tape for you, broken down into easy to digest (unlike Skippy) categories:

How do you know God hates Jif?

#1 city for the consumption of Jif - New Orleans.

#1 city for the production of Jif - San Francisco

#1 over seas consumers of Jif - Indonesia

#1 overseas producers of Jif - Pompeii

#1 Airline to serve Jif - Value Jet

#1 on the stock market in October 1929 - Jif

#1 College to serve Jif - Marshall

#1 Celebrity endorser of Jif - Britney Spears

#1 TV show with Jif product placement? Full House

#1 word associated with Jif according to a recent poll? Botulism

#1 film with Jif product placement? Birth of a Nation

#1 French lover of Jif - Maximilien Robespierre, who's reign of terror was more about his choice of peanut butter.

#1 Monster supporter of Jif - Nosferatu.

I heart Jif!!!

How Do We Know God Hates Skippy?

#1 Reich for the consumption of Skippy - The Third One

#1 Italian Spokesman for Skippy - Mussolini

#1 US Mountain to Serve Skippy in its Mountaintop Restaurant - Mt. St. Helens

#1 Salesman for Skippy, Midwest Region - Jeffrey Dahmer

#1 Salesman for Skippy, Eastern Region (tie) - Uncle Eddie Savitz and Gary Heidnik

#1 Movie with Skippy Product Placement - Ishtar

#1 TV Show with Skippy Product Placement - Cop Rock

#1 PB served at Columbine High School on 4/20/99 - Skippy

No one said life was fair! The case against Jif:

Is Jif being forced fed to prisoners of war in North Vietnam fair?

Is Jif being used as an at home abortion kit fair?

Is it fair that Jif single handedly brought about racism in America?

Is it fair that Jif was used to train Michael Vick's dogs?

Is it fair that early German U-boats who preyed on innocent passenger vessels in the early 20th century were fueled by Jif and liquid evil, which is almost redundant?

Is it fair that one drop of Jif illegally smuggled into Ireland by the tyrannical British caused the potato famine?

Is it fair that Jif ate through the hull of the USS Indianapolis causing it to sink and aiding in the eating of hundreds of brave sailors by hungry sharks, whom showed no interest in the Jif.

Is it fair that the gaseous build up inside a jar of Jif cause a railroad spike to shoot into and through Finneus Cage's frontal lobe?

Is it fair that the AIDS epidemic can be traced back to one jar of Jif peanut butter?

Is it fair that Jif is responsible for Patrick Swayze?

Is it fair that Barry Bonds has rubbed Jif all over his torso for the past 11 years?

Life certainly was not fair to Mr. Gage. If only he had eaten Skippy instead...

No one said life was fair! The case against Skippy:

Is it fair that in homes with Skippy, children are more likely to have
monsters under their beds?

Is it fair that Skippy caused the death of beloved cartoonist Charles Schultz?

Is it fair that Skippy causes all of the mining disasters around the world?

Is it fair that opening a jar of Skippy causes Gozer to arise and eat
the hearts of the pure?

Is it fair that Skippy consumption caused the Omegas to not admit
Mohammed, Jugdish, Sidney ans Clayton into their fraternity?

Is it fair that Johnny Tremaine's fingers were fused together when a
jar of Skippy spilled on his hand?

Is it fair that the Red Sox are in the World Series because they
slipped Skippy into the Indians' lockerroom?

Is it fair that the Indians are all on reservations due to several
political and religious leaders coming down with brain fever in the
1800's all traced back to a can of Skippy Peanut Butter?

Is it fair that the Flyers lost the Stanley Cup in 1980 because Leon
Stickle had the same brain fever caused by Skippy and missed the
obvious offsides call?

Is it fair that a spilled jar of Skippy disintegrated the maps and
charts aboard the SS Minnow turning a three-hour tour into a three
year odyssey of heartbreak and terror...and inexplicable visits from
the Harlem Globetrotters?

If only Johnny had a choosier mom, none of this would have happened...

Facts*, Historical and Otherwise That Everyone Knows About Jif:

What was found in Al Capone's vault? Jif

How was Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassinated? Jar of Jif to the temple.

Official Hockey Team of Jif? New Jersey Devils

Although an excellent flame retardant, Jif is deemed too dangerous so asbestos is used instead.

The substance oozing it's way to the surface in the Love Canal scandal? Jif.

A NASA jokester slips a jar of Jif onto the Apollo 13 spacecraft. This crucial fact is left out of Ron Howard's hit film due to several injunctions levied upon the movie studio by an underground evil empire which may or may not include Mark Wahlberg, Tupac and Margaret Thatcher.

Japanese code word for the attack on Pearl Harbor? Jif.

In his final days George Washington Carver, in an act of repentance tries but fails to infiltrate the JIF factory and destroy all means of production. He is shot in the back by the founder of Jif. His final words are thought to be..."Vivat Skippy."

JIF originally named Big Top Peanut Butter, and owned by a Southern Aristocratic race horse owner was primarily made up of the grindings of aging circus animals.

Rwanda genocide? Jif

Wounded Knee? Jif

In the 1980's, USA for Africa and Band Aid collected 20,000 jars of Jif to send to Ethiopia. Ethiopia sent it all back with a note that read "Thanks, but we'd rather starve, and yes, we do know it's Christmas."

Jif kidnapped the Lindbergh baby.

Jif was what was served for dinner to the Eagles prior to the 1980 & 2004 Super Bowls.

Pelle Lindbergh was on his way to buy some Jif on November 10, 1985.

Jif was the peanut butter of choice for Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin, Francisco Franco, Emperor Hirohito, John Street and Ben Kingsley.

Jif is owned and manufactured by an anti-Semitic corporation who got its start making the Star of David patches distributed amongst the Jewish population in Eastern Europe.

Jif is used to cauterize wounds.

They have to call the crunchy style version of Jif "Extra Crunchy" because the smooth style is still crunchier than most industrial waste.

1985 - Ramona Africa demands Jif to be delivered to her house. The city firebombs an entire city block...using Jif.

Who made these guys Archdukes? And when were they assassinated?

Facts*, Historical and Otherwise That Everyone Knows About Skippy:

Three Mile Island? A technician in the control room dropped his Skippy-bearing PB&J on the board causing the meltdown.

Amelia Earhart was eaten by savages when she landed her plane due to an emergency thanks to the fumes coming from her jar of Skippy.

Disgraced PA State Senator Fumo eats Skippy.

Rush Limbaugh eats Skippy.

Andy Reid eats Skippy.

In the 1970's the Great Lakes caught fire. This was due to an unreported Skippy tanker running aground and covering the surface of the water with a thick layer of suck.

S-K-I-P-P-Y is an anagram for T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E

The Teapot Dome Scandal occurred when Congress realized Teapot Dome was filled with cans of Skippy instead of Jif.

The Gadsden Purchase only happened to give the US a vast desert wasteland in which to store Skippy away from humans.

The Johnstown Floods (yes all of them) occurred shortly after stores ran out of Jif and resorted to selling Skippy. This led to persons unknown blowing up the dams in an effort to literally cleanse their town of all traces of Skippy. Heroes all of them.

The Titanic crashed because the lookout and pilot were both logy and on the toilet from Skippy consumption.

The Hindenburg burned thanks to a fire in the pantry area of the great airship that broke out when someone opened a jar of Skippy and it reacted with the oxygen in that part of the ship.

The Scopes Monkey trial's lesser known legal precedent is that only monkeys are dumb enough to eat Skippy. And then just the ones that can't get jobs as actors.

Jimmy Hoffa's body has never been recovered because it was packed in a fifty gallon drum of Skippy, leading to his remains, the drum itself, and a 7 square mile area of the New Jersey Pinelands being dissolved by the offending peanut butter. This is also what finally did in the Jersey Devil, after nearly 400 years of haunting.

Skippy makes babies cry.

Skippy is the cause of the wildfires in California.

Skippy was on the grassy knoll.

Skippy singlehandedly brought down the World Trade Center.

Skippy can be used to remove rust, lime stains and calcium deposits from sinks and drains.

Skippy is used to induce vomiting more often than syrup of Ipecac.

Every jar of Skippy is now mandated by law to have the Mr. Yuk sticker in at least 7 places on the label.

Frederick Fleet. Titanic lookout, iceberg spotter, Skippy addict.

FFMatt Weighs in:

Jif mocks Skippy. Skippy has a cowlick and smells of Tarnex. Jif has a pack of Kools rolled up in his sleeve and is one the Most Wanted list for what he does to peanuts

Jif murders peanuts 24/7 and bathes in the entrails, a Jifrey Dahmer if you will. And he is always picked first in dodgeball. You have to respect that.

I can't believe Santa got my letter

One Last Retort From Sweaty:

Skippy Banged this..I win.

And there you have it folks. The case for Skippy and the case for Jif. It's a tie from where we stand. Feel free to vote in the upper right corner over there.

UPDATE! Jif 14 Skippy 11. Jif is clearly the best.

The one thing the Friendly Friends agree on?


The Only Thing Peanut Butter Related the Friendly Friends Can Agree On...

*"Facts" presented aren't necessarily facts...per se.

New York is Full of Actors

Yes, jerk-ass, it's to scale.

Leaving the Javits Center in Manhattan last night I caught a cab to Penn for the train back to Philly. What I hailed was unbelievable.

When you stand far away from the herd of hailers you usually get a cab first as it is easier for cabbies to pick up the guy farther away and get away again before other cabs block you in with picking up fares from the crowd on the sidewalk.

So out of the churning taxi pack pops a vintage taxi right to me and not of the newer but still filthy breed. “Wow.” I thought. Just like Taxi.

I get in. Cab takes off. No meter. No license info. No id of any kind. Folded cash paper clipped to the visor. Dude has a cycling cap on.

The cabbie was super cool… he said he’d been a cabbie for 60 years. He told me about the “brownies” or unarmed NYPD traffic cops. He laughed as a cop pulled a “damned” SUV over. He bitched about the new buildings. He complained about West Side Highway. He asked me about my family.

He drove on the sidewalk.

Penn station, in all it’s multicultural confusion and odor, was at my feet in minutes. When I asked him what the damage was he said, “Whatever you want to give me. One million, two million.”

I gave him a 20 and asked for a 10, payment for the character. He handed me back two fives already paper clipped together.

I avail to the Big Apple Friendly Friends... is this a daily thing?

Bill:"You ruined this cab bit, I'll have to make up for it in a future movie." David:"Freemasons are listening to everything we are thinking. Here's a shiv to defend yourself."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Signs of the Apocalypse: I and II

As I shake off the effects of a very busy weekend involving yaks, a Great Space Coaster reunion party and several butternut squashes please enjoy the following signs that the world is indeed coming to an end:

1. Temple University Has More Wins in D-1 (or whatever they're calling it these days) Football than Notre Dame.

2. The Sweaty Irishman is reporting that he is cold.

Thanks to The 700 Level for bringing the Temple > Notre Dame factoid to my attention. And for those of you who don't know Sweaty, for him to be cold is like the Ocean saying it is suddenly dry. Seriously.

In an effort to warm Sweaty back up to his natural body temp of 107 degrees, I hereby present the lovely Juliane who is Temple U's entry in the America's Hottest College Girl contest.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Possibly the Greatest Name for a Band....ever.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as of 8:43 pm Eastern Daylight Time, there is a new perfect name for a band. That name is:


We can thank the amazing writing staff of 30 Rock for this epiphany.

Since this amazing "novelty party" song is not available yet, enjoy these words of wisdom instead:

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Very Happy Birthday to a Very Dear Childhood Friend

When Jewbacca was just a wee lad, Papa Jewbacca decided to get in on the craze that was sweeping the nation.

He bought one of these:

This childhood friend is turning 30 this month and I would be remiss if I did not take some time to mention it.

Since the Friendly Friends are all children of the late 70's and 80's, we have been through all of the various game systems. We've tried to figure out the point of ET for the Atari. We've puzzled over the Intelivision's controller. We've beaten Donkey Kong, entered the 30-man code for Contra and been there for Mario during all of his various adventures. Since my gaming career came to a screeching halt with the PS One, I'll let the experts fill in more games and characters.

But the Atari 2600 and I were close. Saturday mornings were for three things: Starstuff, Candy Apple News Company and Atari. Me and the Mighty Malagan were allowed to play with the volume off so as not to wake the parents.

Getting a new game was like Christmas morning (or how I imagine it to be) every time. We had to go to an actual electronics store, the kind that sold early computers and Atari stuff, about 20 minutes from our house. We got to test it out on the store's set-up. And then when we got it home, it was time to marvel over the amazing graphics and colors coming form the 19 inch Zenith (with actual dials and rabbit ears).

I was the master of many games: Breakout, River Raid, Yar's Revenge, Baseball (not the crappy Atari version that made any hit directly up the middle over 2nd base a home run) and Chopper Command to name a few.

In fact, I was a Chopper Commando. I still am a Chopper Commando. I hit some crazy amount of points, Pop took a picture of the screen and mailed it to Activision and 6-8 weeks later I got a patch and a newsletter. Papa Jewbacca was a Laser Blaster.

If I could get back 1/8 of the time I spent playing Atari back and put that toward more constructive pursuits I could probably speak several languages. But such is life. Instead of being multi-lingual, I can kick your sorry ass at several rudimentary video games.

Just don't make me play anything that has two small joysticks that control which way you look and which way you walk. Bad things happen. Bad things.