Sopranos and Entourage Episode Reviews

Sunday, June 10, 2007
The Sopranos: Episode 86
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

The curtain closes just like that. No encore, no outtakes during the credits, just a black screen. And the audience sits there staring, wondering… was that good or bad?

Lots of AJ here, more than we need. He brings up the ‘Made in America’ theme (the title of the episode) during the after-funeral event as Paulie makes wisecracks. He and his girlfriend look to be committing suicide in the SUV but no! It catches fire! Then he suddenly wants to join the army, and I stood and applauded. Why not? The boy finally finds something he wants to do. I wish I was so sure about my future. Instead, his parents get him an entry-level job in the movies. Our little chubby ziti-eatin’ boy is now all grown up.

Meadow wants to become a lawyer and will be making $170,000 a year. For that amount of money she can hire someone to park her car for her.

Janice decides that she will give motherhood a shot, continuing the Soprano tradition of maternal love. Harpo, you don’t know what you’re missing.

The Christopher vs. Paulie saga continues as Paulie gets mad at this cat that keeps staring at Chris’s photo on the wall (I could make a Chris-always-got-more-‘pussy’-than-Paulie joke here but this is a family-oriented blog).

Silvio spends the rest of his days in a coma, which is very appropriate considering the guy who wrote his character was in a coma (somehow I’ve seen that scene from Little Miss Sunshine a million times but not the rest of the movie).

More with Paulie. He passes on the crew chief job because it’s jinxed, then accepts when he finds out Patsy would get it instead. He saw the Virgin Mary at Da Bing. He hates cats. But there’s one thing that’s certain. “I live but to serve you, my liege,” he says to Tony, then puts that mirror thing under his neck while sitting outside the pork store. Good ole reliable Paulie. Barber scissors for everyone.

CRUNCH! Phil gets it in the head, just as he waves bye-bye to his grandkids. Glad his wife was there to pray for him. Couldn’t they have at least shown the head as the car rolled over it?

On to Tony. Gets help from FBI Agent Harris to locate Phil, our tax dollars hard at work. Goes to AJ’s therapist and starts complaining about his mother again, getting straight to the source of HIS problems. He pays a visit to Uncle Junior in a boring scene that resolved nothin’. Unless, of course, Junior remembers where his stash is, then gives it to Janice and Bobby’s kids.

We all knew someone would flip, and we find out that it’s Carlo! Carlo? Why him? I guess because he’s one of the few left in this family of new characters that we even remember the name of…

The final song? Yeah, buddy… Journey (I’ve seen them in concert twice!), with Don’t Stop Believin’. Tense moments in Lil’ Italy. Strangers all around. The family coming to the table to eat onion rings (Why didn’t they do this at Artie’s place?), my clock reading 10:02. Meadow running in. “Don’t stop…”

The end.

Episode grade: B-

Series grade: A+
Sunday, June 03, 2007
The Sopranos: Episode 85
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Now we’re getting somewhere. The show starts out with Silvio killing someone with chicken wire, the way they did it before guns were invented. Phil decides to wipe out the top three guys in the Sopranos (imagine how mad Paulie would be if he found out that they didn’t consider him part of the top three). However, there’s a snitch in the crew, otherwise the FBI wouldn’t know and promptly warn Tony.

AJ gets out of the hospital. Hopefully we’ve seen the end of this. Med doesn’t want to go to med school and wants to become a lawyer. Do I hear… spin-off???

Melfi has dinner with therapists and that Elliot guy spills the beans to everyone that she’s been treating Tony (which actually makes his character relevant for the first time in the series). Then Melfi stops treating Tony, all because he tore some paper out of that magazine (was there really more to it?). Okay, so if Tony didn’t have bigger fish to fry, I’d say Melfi has it coming.

Welcome back that Italian-talking loser who sets up the hits with the fresh-off-the-plane cousins. Man, did these guys screw up, killing someone wearing a Phil Leotardo mask who speaks Ukrainian.

Poor Bobby. Gets it in a toy train shop in a beautifully-directed Mafioso whacking scene. (After that, do you think Janice will continue bugging Tony for the money to keep Uncle Junior in the nice psychiatric hospital instead of the state one?) And so much for everyone’s theory that Bobby will go to jail for that one murder he committed. Man, the surprises just keep coming.

Silvio gets shot (and might as well be dead), and Patsy gets away. Tony drags AJ kicking and screaming (completing the character’s parenting arc, of course). Then Tony and the boys hole up somewhere, and Tony goes to bed while holding the machine gun that Bobby gave him.

Might this snitch reveal himself in the final episode and become Phil’s ultimate downfall? Will master chef Artie Bucco save the day? Find out in next week’s episode of the Sopranos (which won’t be followed by Entourage).

Episode grade: A
Sunday, May 20, 2007
The Sopranos: Episode 84
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

What a depressing episode. Makes sense, considering the series was pitched with the line, “Mob boss in therapy.” But isn’t therapy supposed to take us somewhere? This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Phil and Tony battle over money, while Lil’ Carmine plays the man in the middle. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Melfi talk to her therapist, that Elliot guy. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Silvio read the book “How to Clean Practically Anything – Third Edition” (or was it?).
Let’s be honest – who didn’t see the AJ-attempts-suicide subplot? But, let’s say, he did die… wouldn’t that really change Tony? The whole character arc we’ve been waiting for? Are we really waiting for the last episode for this to happen?

Other things…

FBI pays Tony a visit, tells him those Arab dudes may be funding terrorists. Again, I refuse to believe anything will come out of this.

Meadow dating Patsy’s kid. They run into a guy named Coco, who messes with Meadow, then Coco gets puffed by Tony.

Two more episodes left. We’ve already seen the end of the arcs for Uncle Jr., Artie (last season), Christopher, Paulie (he’s still around but what more can they write about?), and Silvio (84 episodes really wasn’t enough to get to know the guy).

Who’s left? Bacala will go to prison for life, while Janice continues her treachery. Carmela and Meadow will be a-ok. AJ will come home, remain the same. Phil will die. And the series will end after Tony visits Melfi, then goes home to stare at the ducks in his pool.

Episode grade: C+
Sunday, May 13, 2007
The Sopranos: Episode 83
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

So this is the end of the great Christopher Moltisanti, one of the best-written characters in television history (come on, name someone better – besides George Costanza). And it happens because of a car accident, aka what television writers write when they’re out of ideas.

Okay, that isn’t really fair. Chris didn’t die just because of the car accident – Tony helped him along (probably because Chris said he was on drugs). Even though that was an abhorant thing to do, at this point in the series we believe the very lies that he tells, though we witness the truth. Right?

The Paulie-Christopher rivalry lives on even in death. Paulie’s ‘mother’ dies at the same time. Everyone goes to Chris’s wake, leaving Paulie alone with 500 prayer cards. Funny.

AJ and friends beat up a Somolian, then AJ cries about it to his therapist. Either AJ will walk away from these jerks, or he’ll sink another level deep into it. There are three episodes left to resolve this. Or leave it hangin’.

Tony flies off to Vegas, sleeps with Chris’s former flame, does drugs, bets on 24, and starts yelling at the sunrise, while asbestos is being dumped into a Jersey river. When the episode ended, I thought there was a problem with the cable box. I kicked it a few times, then the credits rolled.

Episode grade: C (except for the Paulie part, which is an A)
Sunday, May 06, 2007
The Sopranos: Episode 82
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Now here’s some good writing. Not mine (as usual), but the show. No big surprises that AJ gets depressed over Blanca, and that Tony lets him attend a party at da Bing. Gotta love AJ getting in good with the frat bookies and watching them pour chemicals on some kid’s leg. We haven’t seen the end of this.

This little terrorism thing creeps up again. The big question is whether it will actually lead to something. My money is on that it won’t. Dragging an actual terrorist moment into this show would make it jump the shark, but it’s not bad to tease us with it is just enough to make us wonder. It’s for the best.

Christopher vs. Paulie. I don’t see how this series could possibly end without one of these two guys killing the other. Great writing with the AA, the power tools, Chris throwing Lil’ Paulie out the window, Paulie spinnin’ out on Chrissy’s lawn, and Chris crying to JT. The only part that baffles me is, what’s the point of Chris shooting him? Right when Chris becomes a sympathetic character, he goes and screws it up again. Which is just like Chris. But again, what was the point? That will need to be answered. There are four episodes left to answer that question.

Episode grade: A-
Monday, April 30, 2007
The Sopranos: Episode 81
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

This ep will forever be known as the one with Lil’ Vito. What he did will be forever etched into my head and I will instantly be reminded of it every time I hear the word ‘Soprano,’ the show or the singer. Ewwwe.

Kind of surprising that with only a few episodes left, they’re writing in subplots that no one would’ve missed. Lil’ Vito was entertaining, especially when Leotardo sat down with him over a milkshake, but aren’t there more important things to wrap up before the series ends?

AJ proposes to Blanca, who breaks his heart. It’s clear this ain’t over, particularly because they show AJ going cuckoo on next week’s show. Sometimes I wish they’d stop showing previews after each episode. At this point in the series, what’s the point?

Carm sells her spec house and refuses to put the money down on the Jets. Stupid woman.

Melfi tells Tony that he needs to come to therapy more regularly. Sometimes I forget he goes at all, even when I’m sitting there watching the run-its-course character.

As for the meat of the show, Tony is chasin’ it. It’s actually surprising that so little had been focused on Tony’s gambling until now. Hesh gets his cameo, and Tony causes tension as he keeps paying points. No big whoop that Tony finally pays him the money he owes, but they could’ve done it without Hesh’s shvarts shikse (or is it shikse shvarts, grandpa?) passing away.

Anyone notice that the tension between Tony and Bacala is gone? It’s like the fight never happened. Nancy Sinatra… still looking good at 80.

Episode grade: B-
Sunday, April 22, 2007
The Sopranos: Episode 80
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Junior finally gets an episode… and it resembles parts of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Pitty that his fall-boy happens to be an Asian kid in wake of this Virginia Tech tragedy. It was certainly fun watching Junior running the card game, telling jokes, writing to Cheney, bribing the orderlies, pissing himself, and getting beaten up during a John Denver song. Unlikely we’ll see him again. Buh-bye, Corrado.

In New York, all it takes is two quick scenes to show that Phil is back on top. Something like that, including the murder, could have easily stretched an episode or two, but then I’d be complaining that they dragged it out.

As for Tony, good sequences with him and Paulie. It took me a moment to remember who Beansie is. Great tension on the boat with Tony trying to get Paulie to admit that it was him who told Johnny Sac about Ralphie’s Ginny joke. I didn’t think Tony would kill Paulie. That would’ve been too sadistic. But Paulie has something coming. And it’s not his own Espresso machine.

Bonus points for the Big Puss cameo.

Episode grade: B
Sunday, April 15, 2007
The Sopranos: Episode 79
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Finally! Christopher’s movie gets made! (Now I gotta check out ‘The Making of Cleaver’). And I was thinking the same thing as Chris – Ben Kingsley can’t hold a candle to Daniel Baldwin.

The Johnny Sac death sequence stretches out the entire episode, which is only good cause that means more screen time for Ginny and Allegra.

Suddenly Meadow is back from Cali and Finn is out of the picture. No  good explanation. Ugh. At least we see Blanca and AJ getting into it, so that breakup ought to be more interesting. Still, AJ, love that Blanca tattoo.

When will this FBI-terrorism thing go away? Does anyone really think David Chase will allow something to happen terrorism-related in any of the remaining episodes? At the very least, it’ll be Tony ‘doing the right thing’ and blabbing to the feds about something to save his own.

More Lil’ Carmine. Gotta love that guy for the dialogue alone. Our intellectually-challenged Italian-American family man refuses to take a course of action that would lead to his being king of this New York criminal association.

A Geraldo Rivera cameo… Seinfeld did that in their final season, too. What other ideas will they steal?

Why, after all these years, is Silvio Dante still a one-dimensional character? That murder in the restaurant was cartoonish just with him being in it. Silvio makes the movie ‘300’ look like Casablanca.

Cleaver suddenly becomes this huge metaphor involving Christopher (who would never have thought of such a thing), Tony and Adrianna. Carmella calls him out on it, Chrissy threatens the writer into telling Tony it was his idea, and Tony cries to Melfi that Chris suddenly hates him. I’d hate to think that the finale of this series would involve a Chris vs. Tony situation, but it very well could.

So that’s how Phil got his last name. What was supposed to be Leonardo turned to Leotardo at Ellis Island. I can top that, Phil. Mine went from Zundolovitz to Sumner. How’s that for some disrespect? But one thing is now clear. He’s going after Tony.

Bonus points for the song they played at the end.

Episode grade: A-

Another great ep of Entourage, too.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
The Sopranos: Episode 78
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Season 6 1/2 begins with the writers deciding to put a kid into a scene that happened three years ago, which leads to Tony getting arrested by the local authorities, which pisses off the FBI. Not too bad of a beginning but it’s not ideal to essentially rewrite old scenes to make it fit with something new.

For a moment there I thought I was watching Goodfellas when Phil was standing around, breakin’ balz with the crew. I’m wondering how much his heart attack at the end of last season will mean anything if he’s already back on his feet.

AJ with Blanca’s name tatooed on his arm – excellent.

Bobby giving Tony a machine gun for his 47th birthday – loved that on surround sound.

Then I watched them sing kareoke and play Monopoly for the next 15 minutes. Sure, it was leading to something, and they had to slowly add tension, but good lord did that drag on. Then Tony and Bobby fight and there’s what this episode really needed.

Great Christopher moment – which was more like 3 seconds – when Chrissy calls Tony, wishes him a happy belated birthday, and Tony hangs up immediately.

With eight episodes to go, it’s virtually a lock what will happen to Bobby. He shoots a guy and leaves his shirt behind. Certainly filled with DNA. Poor Janice will have to raise lil’ Dominica on her own – with the nanny.

Episode grade: B

By the way, no Entourage blog this time since it’s on right after the Sopranos. However, I give the new episode an A (although, I was expecting Drama to go and fix the light on the billboard).
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Entourage: Episode 34
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

First of all, Myspace is awful. I typed a blog, I hit submit to publish it, and Myspace killed it. Technical problems. Gone. Stupid jerks. Get some new servers to handle the data if you claim to be a company that can handle this mess. So heres what I remember what I typed before Myspace killed it:

Wow. A season finale that ends on a downer. Ari frantically tries to get back the Ramones flick while Vince and the gang shop for new agents. No big surprise, Vince finds out the Warners has no plans on making the film. No big surprise, Ari tells this to Bob and Bob signs the film over to Warners anyway, for no other reason than hes an idiot.

Meanwhile, Vince & the Gang get Powerpoint presentations from prospective agents with photos of Vince next to name brands like Microsoft and McDonalds. Instead of saying hes sorry, Ari makes the same mistake and gets canned.

Great Lloyd lines, by the way. He gets Vinces entire meeting schedule from other gay receptionists.

Episode grade: C+

Predictions for next season: More girls. Dramas pilot gets picked up but he quits to do a movie that doesnt get made. Ari has a gambling problem. Turtle goes to rehab. Eric breaks up with Sloan and gets back with Kristen. Vince gets a new agent who is awful, and eventually winds back up with Ari. More girls.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Entourage: Episode 33

Just when we thought Drama was only capable of getting fired from a job, he ends up excelling because he roughs-up-the-suspect in his trailer while the crew listens in with the boom mic.

Vince and Turtle go shoe-shopping, with a cameo by that DJ who used to date Nicole Ritchie. Of course they can’t get a pair from the store just because Vince shows his face. But no surprise that Vince drops 20 g’s to the graffiti artist himself (high-pitch voice and all) just to make Turtle happy.

As for the meat of the ep, old man Bob ruins a meeting while pitching the Ramones flik, so on the way to the next studio Ari tells Bob that it’s at Disney while the others head to Universal. Funny. So Bob takes revenge and sells “I Wanna Be Sedated” to another studio.

Looks like the season’s cliffhanger will be about Eric and Vince deciding to fire Ari after that trick on Bob. Of course that won’t happen. Ari, with the help of Lloyd, will either get the Ramones film back – or something better – and they’ll live happily ever after.

Episode grade: A-
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Entourage: Episode 32
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Turtle’s big day and… DENIED! Stood up by his own client. Like a rap group would’ve really stuck around with him in the first place. So Turtle and Drama go Saigon hunting, first to the ‘hood where Johnny regrets not bringing his nunchucks. Then over to the hotel where they knock on every door. And finally, they follow the girlz and there he is, Saigon, new manager and all. Turtle still gets paid, Drama nearly gets thrown over the balcony, and that’s the end of the plotline. Turtle, once again, has nothing but Vince.

As for Vince, he takes the day off, goes to the book store, picks up a girl who turns out to have him on her celebrity-can-do list. I’m sure Vince felt all icky after finding that out.

Now the heart of the episode… Eric spends some quality time with some washed-up producer played by Martin Landau. They eat. They talk. They smoke. Eric realizes the guy is full of crap. They find Vince’s next project… Joey Ramone! Great idea. Love it.

Sorta disappointed that we didn’t get to see any of the fallout from the rumble in Vegas, other than Vince looking at the tabloid photo.

Episode grade: B
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Entourage: Episode 31
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

It’s about time they did a Vegas ep, with Vince losing big on the blackjack table, Ari screaming at him for losing so much money and Turtle making deals with the strippers.

Even the Drama subplot here was good. Our favorite now-employed has-been actor gets obsessed with his masseur, flattering the guy to the point the poor man gives in to his homosexual feelings… and then Johnny retreats to the strip club.

Eric vs. Family Guy’s Chris Griffin. Somehow I knew this would get violent (probably because the entire contents of this episode was leaked prior to the season). I wish it were me punching Seth Green… lord he’s annoying. Good job Drama, jumping into this mess. But it would’ve been nice if Vince also stepped up for his boys and throw some punches.

Bonus points for the Rob Zombie soundtrack over the credits.

Episode grade: A-
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Entourage: Episode 30
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Re-enter Queens Boulevard, now colorized and ready for the masses. That means we get to see our favorite Sundance-winning director Billy again, partying and cursing the suits.

Ari gets tricked into attending a meeting with the other honchos and he has at it with Terrance. At least he’s got Babs on his side now, but obviously this relationship will fizzle as of… next week I’m betting.

And then there’s Drama, complaining about a parking ticket then getting in trouble over not getting a free cup of coffee. Ugh… way over the top. Then he gets a job! The only good thing about Drama getting a job is that it opens up an episode for a hilarious fall off his high-horse, like the time he got fired from working with Brooke Shields because he got excited while kissing her on camera.

Obviously Shawna had her kid, which is likely why she hasn’t been in the last few eps. She hasn’t lost the weight, though.

The entire episode is saved when Vince gets in front of the press and blasts the execs for colorizing Billy’s film. That was great.

Episode grade: B
Monday, July 24, 2006
Entourage: Episode 29

These eps are getting seemingly less and less complex. There was no Turtle or Drama subplot in this, just a continuation of the Eric/Sloan/blonde chick fiasco. Glad it’s finally over because it’s about the most unrealistic thing on the show that a guy like Eric would have that kind of luck.

The meat of this show, Ari settling – in principle – for $11 million with his former agency, getting caught by Davies at the office he was thinking about getting, spending too much money… blah blah blah… kind of boring, other than the fact that we get to hear more great Ari soundbites.

This was bound to happen – at some point Vince had to be auctioned off for something… happens in every series, from Seinfeld to My Name is Earl (actually, not sure if it happened there yet but it’s bound to). The great line here was when the waitress said she couldn’t afford to bid on him, so Vince said he’d loan her the cash. I laughed out loud. And of course the old lady wins the bid while Vince is in the coat room with the waitress. I’m fairly certain that’s the first time Vince hooked up with a girl this season. More interesting stuff to get to, at least.

Episode grade: B-
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Entourage: Episode 28
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Not much to write about this one.

Eric is an overachiever. Two women at once, for this guy? Okaaayyy… There wasn’t much to that subplot.

Lloyd finding Drama an audition… that is funny, and they’ve got room to play this one out a bit more.

Vince being offered 12.5 for Aquaman 2… losing the Pablo Escobar flick and then not showing for the breakfast with the producer… Now he’s really screwed.

Not to worry, though. Everything will turn out okay for our boy Vince. I’m just not too concerned about this.

Episode grade: B-

Sunday, July 09, 2006
Entourage: Episode 27
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

I gotta give em credit – after last week’s awful Shrek doll episode, Entourage appears to be back on track. Maybe it had something to do with writing off Dom. That’s it? He’s gone? I’m not complaining, but some closure would’ve been good for the viewer.

The Ari vs. Max fiasco appears to finally be over as Ari gets him shipped off to Kazakstan for a movie. Bonus points for casting Ms. Penny “Laverne” Marshall.

The Turtle/Drama meeting with Ari was hilarious. He’ll now rep both of them, but of course, Drama won’t go anywhere. And if he does, he’ll screw it up. But this Turtle/Saigon thing has gotta take a turn somewhere – it can’t be all smooth sailing. If the Sopranos taught us anything, a rapper can only get huge if he gets shot.

Now onto to the meat of the ep, Vince and this Aquaman vs. Pablo Escobar subplot. Yawn.

It just occurred to me – Vince hasn’t been out with any women since this season started. They’re really cutting out the chicks so far. They’ll be back.

Episode grade: B

Sunday, July 02, 2006
Entourage: Episode 26
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

An episode about a stolen Shrek doll? The concept  sounds like it could be funny but the execution  wasn’t at all.

The gang goes to a producer’s house to talk to him about a new movie and our new friend Dom steals the guy’s original Shrek doll. The rest of the ep, everyone is accusing Dom of doing it but of course he denies it. And then he comes clean… he was hiding it in his pants leg.

The only funny moment in this episode came when Eric calls Ari at 6 a.m. and Ari is already up, running his mouth. It was also funny when Dom comes in with a tank top and says that Lloyd is into bad boys. Those were the only times I laughed. Pretty sad.

Now we’ve got the real tense moment… the Pablo Escobar movie is set to be filmed at the same time as Aquaman II. Oh my lord, how will Vince get what he wants AND get millions at the same time?

Could it be that… after a brilliant first season and a well-written second season, the gig is up? I’m sure they can come up with good one-off eps here and there for the rest of the year (the first three were good so far), but when the overall story revolves around which movies he gets, he can only be on easy street going forward. To save this season, we’ll need some potentially life-changing conflicts as well as the silly situations. None of this Aquaman II vs. Pablo Escobar absurdity.

Episode grade: D
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Entourage: Episode 25
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Good addition to the cast with this Dom guy… even if it’s only temporary. He totally seems like a character who would’ve hung with the boyz back in Queens and done something as stupid as punching a cop after getting caught with a couple of joints.
And yet, he totally seems like that character who you really, really want to like but he just keeps doing things to make you wish he would just go away. Who hasn’t had a friend like that? Someone you’d bend over backward for, someone you had some of the best times of your life with, and yet you want to ring his neck. At least we’ll be getting another ep out of him now that he’s head of Vince’s ‘security.’
I just knew there’d be a seen with Shawna and her assistant meeting the new guy. Good lord is Shawna pregnant… looks like going on twelve months.
The Ari subplot could’ve been funnier. His 13-year-old daughter ‘dates’ a cocky actor. So what?
Episode grade: B-
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Entourage: Episode 24
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Lots of filler in this episode but ultimately, it was good.
Because of a rolling blackout, the boyz decide to hang out at a high school party. Vinny hooking up the nerds with the hot high school chicks… nice to see, but they could’ve cut the scene later when the boys come back and Vince gives them his car.
Drama obsessed with staying cool because they’re in the Valley… sorta boring, but when he was the first to jump in the pool I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
Ari’s wife making him go to a sex therapist – funny.
Turtle ignoring the girl at the party because he thinkgs she’s in high school, then giving her a creepy look when she says she isn’t… funny.
Lloyd giving Ari a statue and then Ari destroying it because of the blackouts… not funny. The Ari-Lloyd chemistry is usually pretty good but Ari getting physically upset is a little disturbing.
Drama wrestling the high school kid and getting thrown to the ground… who didn’t see that coming? Happens every time Drama gets in a fight.
Vince on the roof yelling… not too funny.
The most unbelievable part… Aquaman would NOT beat Spiderman at the box office. But it was cool getting a glimpse of what the movie could be.
I’m curious how much longer they’re going to milk this whole Aquaman subplot. It started at the beginning of last season and doesn’t look like it’ll end any time soon. After all, there’s Aquaman II and III. Something else has gotta happen.
Episode grade: B
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Entourage: Episode 23
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Season 3 starts with a bang, in the exact right place with the boyz rating women and giving out Aquaman premier tix. Ari yelling at Lloyd for dust on the pictures, wonderful. The broken elevator in Ari’s office, excellent. One plot point they didn’t touch but was loud and clear – Shawna got knocked up in the offseason.

Gotta love Vince wanting to invite his mother to the premier, on the radio. Made me think of the time Affleck and Damon brought their mothers to the Academy Awards the year they won for Good Will Hunting.

The James Woods-Drama conflict could’ve been better. Would’ve been funnier if Woods punched him or something at the premier, something a bit better than a playful headlock. Turtle’s mother looks exactly like him.

Episode rating: B+

Sunday, June 04, 2006
The Sopranos: Episode 77
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Christmas in June, my how time flies. The ep starts with Carlo taking a head from a box and stuffing it in a sewer. Who was that, Jimmy Hoffa? No, it was that fat Dom guy, the one they after he killed Vito.

The real estate chick is back in the picture with Tony trying to bang her again.

AJ gets the hots for a Puerto Rican chick with a kid, gives a bike to some punks so they’ll go away and AJ can live la vida loca.

Lil’ Carmine screws up a meeting between Tony and Phil.

Carm still obsessed with finding Adrianna so Tony gets her back on the spec house.

Phil has a heart attack. Bobby goes to visit Junior. Feds tip off Tony that Brooklyn hates him.

Chris and the real estate chick. They use drugs together. Chris tells Tony about their affair and Tony says he doesn’t care but cries to Melfi.

We fade out on this season with a family shot at Christmas.

Last season, Johnny Sac gets busted in the final episode, leaving us anxiously awating the next season. Now, I’m not quite sure what we’re anticipating. An all-out war with Phil? If so, why slow him down now with a heart attack? For a season finale, nothing was resolved here. No one moved from point A to point B (except maybe AJ). The biggest surprise in this episode was that NOTHING REALLY HAPPENED.

There are eight episodes left, not a one until 2007. We’ll be watching no matter how bad these last few were. Here’s to the final eight. Until then, enjoy my Entourage blog.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
The Sopranos: Episode 76
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Horrible episode. I can’t even believe they wrote this.
Carm and our throaty friend Ro in Paris. We watch them look at statues. I should have tevoed the episode and fast-forwarded through those parts.
The only good thing was that Carm sees Adrianna in a Paris dream. That was about the only worthwhile seen in the entire episode.
Meadow decides to go to Cali. A.J. continues to be an idiot.
Tony cheats on Carm, in the car. I thought he was over that! But now he’s back to his old self, meaning we’re ultimately back to Square One.
Now the meat of the ep… Vito. It starts off promising enough. He comes back with a plan. He pitches it to Tony. Tony is mad but knows Vito has got to go. Phil gets to Vito first. We learn, through symbolism, that Phil, too, is a homosexual (a self-hating one, like in American Beauty). After all, when he appears in Vito’s motel, he comes out of the closet. Coincidence? Phil was in prison for 20 years. Of course he is a homosexual.
Fat guy from New York pays a visit to Sil and Carlo, ticks them off with Vito jokes, gets stabbed to death. As his body rots on the floor, Sil and Carlo play cards. Where does this leave us? There will be tension between Tony and Phil over this. Oh, lord, I am soooo nervous just thinking about that.
Vito’s big fat sendoff? His kids read about him in the paper and find out he’s not a spy. Then a photographer shows him in his old pants, before he lost all the weight. We’re we supposed to laugh?
When a senior in high school gets accepted to college, he doesn’t typically put forth 100 percent the rest of the semester. Seems to me that coming down the stretch – one episode left in the season and eight more total – David Chase is now suffering from senioritis. This should have been a better set-up for the season finale.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
The Sopranos: Episode 75
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

So so ep. What did we learn? So Tony is a good guy after all, getting a nice big house for his sister at the expense of Johnny Sac.

The Vito subplot. Yuck. I hate watching men make out. And then Vito just leaves our dear mustached fire-fightin’ Jimbo and goes back to Jersey, killing a man along the way.  To think that man gets killed for checking the mail, while Vito will get killed for… checking the male.

So now even Bobby Bacala Jr. thinks his pop’s a loser. Then big daddy gets it in the eye while being mugged by thugs. As long as he can still operate the toy trains.

Carm and her spec house. Who cares?

Sal and the Sac’s lawn. I swore Tony was going to beat the weeds out of him… didn’t happen and that’s one less moment of violence, for better or worse.

Don’t you hate it when they introduce new characters into the family and hardly develop them? Who is this Carlo guy? I know he took over Vito’s business, but there are so many of these dudes around it’s hard to keep track when they finally get a few lines of dialogue.

The best line of the show (I’m paraphrasing cause I can’t remember exactly): “You know a good person to talk to about this? Your mother.” Tony says to Meadow when daughter is crying about her boyfriend Finn.

I was wondering when Christopher would make an appearance. Finally he shows, getting his car taken away because of the Sac’s asset collection. But how’d the collectors know to look for it at Chris’s?

Paulie has prostate cancer. So he’ll get radiation and be done with it. Where else can this subplot go?

Johnny Sac pleads guilty, gets 15 years. Too bad we know the series will end before he gets out.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
The Sopranos: Episode 74
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

The Ep starts great. Christopher’s girl who we don’t even know yet says to him that she’s knocked up. We knew Christopher wouldn’t flip out – that’d be too easy and the exact opposite would do more for the plotline. Cheers on your new bride, Chrisy. Don’t pull an Adrianna on this one.
Tony and Chris stealing wine as the Vipers were stealing it themselves – excellent. I’ll raise a glass to that. “We’re the Vipers, te-he.”
Spare me watching Christopher ‘relapse.’ We’ve already seen him relapse, and snort coke in Cali. Watching him waste away at the carnival… I want my five minutes back.
And what was with that Tony-Christopher heart-to-heart? For a moment there, I thought they were going to make out. Then they had the flashback to when Christopher confessed to Tony about Adrianna yapping to the feds. Pointless. That moment has passed. We knew it happened, we just hadn’t seen it, and seeing it now did nothing to further the plot. However, I’m glad they didn’t show it in the original episode, because then we would’ve realized what was going to happen. Before, we were led to believe Christopher had attempted suicide.
Carm running into Adrianna’s mother… will anything happen with this? Of course Carm should be suspicious about Adrianna’s disappearance. What’s she gonna do? Play detective? Where’s this going? I understand her concerns, but nothing can come of this in the end. And if it does, series over.
And now onto the heart of the show… Paulie, his biopsy, his mother, him ruining the immigrant festival carnival whatchamacallit. Typical Paulie, always trying to save a buck, so he skimps on the safety of the carnival ride. Janice tries to take advantage, and soon we see Bobby trying to get money from Paulie he doesn’t deserve. On a side note, how has Bobby remained likeable since he married Janice? I found myself rooting for him more than Paulie on this matter, though Janice is full of crap, as usual.
I realized I made a mistake a few blogs ago. I thought Paulie had patched things up with his ma. Not because they showed it on screen, but because they implied it. Paulie shook down the waste management guy for four grand a month at the end of an ep – the same amount it cost per month to keep his mother in the home. That right there told me Paulie decided to forgive his ma/aunt for lying to him all those years about who his real mother was. But then, we see that apparently wasn’t the case. However, unexplicably, Paulie goes back to his ma’s, sits down, watches TV, and she gets him cookies. I say the writer’s dropped the ball on this one.
Coming next week – looks like more Vito. That’s an enjoyable subplot (not watching him make out with the biker dude, though), and they’re milking it. Maybe they’ll join the Vipers. One last question – when are they gonna make that slasher movie?
Sunday, April 30, 2006
The Sopranos: Episode 73
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

They were do for a so-so ep. Lots of good ones the last few weeks, but I can manage to go without seeing this one again.
Big whup with the Vito plotline. So he finds another gay guy in a small town. Tension is added when they fight like a couple of cowboys, but all’s well that ends well for those lovebirds. Again, that entire plotline can just end, but I have the feeling it’ll be brought up again. My thought is, Phil LeRetardo, or Leotardo, whatever, will use Mrs. Spatafor to track down Vito after Vito decides to see her somehow. Phil will do the job, ticking off Tony, and starting a war. None of that probably will happen but I’m just speculating here… cause we know Vito won’t be home free by the series’ end.
So AJ really does try to kill Junior. Wouldn’t they have searched him before he entered that facility with a knife? Not exactly the best writing the series has seen. In fact, I can’t help but get bored watching the AJ plotlines when people are sucking up to him cause of who his dad is. They can be somewhat humorous, but at the end of the day… what a loser.
As for Tony… so he actually does the right thing and turns down a broad. Who didn’t see that coming when the real estate chick starts unbuttoning his shirt as he thinks of how Carm had buttoned it for him? Bid deal… he sells the chicken store and his thugs find out while collecting protection money.
What else happened? A few visits to Melfi. Boo hoo.
The episode wasn’t a complete waste. I’m sure it moved the overall plotline along a little, but it certainly wasn’t the most intriguing.
Next week it looks like there will be some tension between Paulie and Bobby. Should be good.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
The Sopranos: Episode 72
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Christopher punches Lauren Becall and takes her bag of goodies, after following Ben Kingsley around. Artie and Benny have at it. Frankie Valli gets whacked. Tony was hardly even a part of this episode. Also got a needed break from Paulie.
Now that we got the Artie-centric episode out of the season, we probably won’t see much more of him for the rest of the season. Unless of course he decides to go back after Benny for the credit card fiasco and burning his hand, but that’s unlikely. There’s always one Artie episode a season.
More on Christopher… back on the smack, and there’s no way this movie is getting made. But it has to get made, one way or another. Sure, there will be crazy things along the way. But who doesn’t want to see The Ring meets The Godfather (well, I don’t want to see it, but I want to know it gets made – on the show).
Also glad to see the Vito subplot isn’t over. They very well could’ve written him off the show but might as well milk it for what it’s worth. But that’ll be next week.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
The Sopranos: Episode 71
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Virtually the entire ep surrounding Vito… This needed to happen eventually, but now I’m curious if that’s the end. It certainly could be, as Vito befriends a gay guy in a New England antique shop. If that’s the end, that’s ok… better things are to come. But it still seems to me that they can squeeze a bit more out of this plot. Did anyone laugh as hard as I did when Paulie screamed after Finn said it was Vito being the ‘giver’?
These two Arab guys… they can’t be terrorists, they just can’t. After all, it ‘crossed’ Christopher’s mind. And the writing would suck since that’s what we’re being led to expect. But something will happen with those guys, and I’m anxious to know what.
Seems that the ep next week will have to do with Artie and his restaurant. Without even seeing it, it seems that it could be a standalone episode, one that anyone can watch and enjoy without having to see previous episodes, and can be missed by devoted fans without losing much. That’s just my hunch. Most Artie subplots are like that. They’re entertaining, nonetheless.
Seemed like there were lots of wasted moments in this weeks episode. The first minute was devoted to Tony being annoyed at the rattling sound of the AC. I suppose that’s foreshadowing of things to come. But it still doesn’t add much. Oh well.
Monday, April 10, 2006
The Sopranos: Episode 70
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Gotta love Tony punching that muscle-headed flunkie and then going to the bathroom and spewing. Imagine for a second if you saw the side of Tony Soprano only when he’s around other mobsters. No one would like him. He might be better than, say, other, more ruthless characters, but he certainly wouldn’t be a likable character. But for us, the fans, he’s still our hero, even when he goes off and does something like that. Why? Because as we saw, behind closed doors, his own behavior can make him sick.
Vito… this has been a long time coming. The gay subplot was pushed to the backburner for a while there. Did he kill himself after getting caught in a gay club by a couple of buttonmen making a collection? There was an article today about fans putting bets on it. The only reason I’d hate for him to kill himself now is that we just had a suicide a couple of weeks ago… in that very same crew! If anything, I’m hoping he goes and kills those two guys who caught him. But that seems unlikely. Regardless, I hope that’s not the end of that.
Christopher… everyone is anxiously waiting to see what becomes of these two Arab guys he’s doing business with. But what happened to the movie subplot? Obviously it will return but it’ll be nice for at least a quick scene each episode.
Silvio… still one dementional.
The wedding was great, especially when Tony and John were discussing a hit at a table with hearing-impaired relatives, just to throw off the security guards. And the way the guards crashed the bride’s exit… excellent. Although, I have to admit, I felt sorry for John as he walked off crying. No matter how evil the person, no matter what they did, I can’t find myself to be heartless enough to spoil something that means so much to someone (then again, I’ve never gotten the opportunity).
Next Sunday can’t come soon enough.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
The Sopranos: Episode 69
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Another great episode, this time the focus more on Paulie, which can sometimes get annoying, but not this time. It’s fine that Chase squeezes in these sort of subplots, a bit off topic when it comes to the true focus of the show, but good enough to keep the viewer intrigued. At the end, I knew Paulie would do right for his ma/aunt (at the expense of that garbage guy, no doubt).
And the Bacala subplot with shooting the rapper – very funny. This guy is really a mobster?
And now, on to Tony and this garbage business. It’s always fun when it’s about actual business instead of some sideshow. While some would argue the show is more about Tony and his relationship with his family while going to therapy, it wouldn’t be a show if he didn’t have shady business practices that pays the bills.
Again, great ep, looking forward to next week, as always.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
The Sopranos: Episode 68
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Excellent episode. Paulie taking it between the legs while scoring a million, Chris forcing the screenwriter to write a feature and holding an investors meeting about it… all great moments.
Still not a fan of Silvio in his all-of-the-sudden expanded role. Suddenly he has asthma? That’s the deepest David Chase has every gone into his character. The funny thing is, everyone likes Silvio. Not because he’s a well-written character, or even because they watch the show, but because they have their lips glued to Bruce Springsteen’s behind and worship the people around him. Silvio – Steve Van Zandt – is good for a one-liner each episode, or the occasional temper-tantrum. But what else has he really done?
Back to Christopher – one of the best-written characters on television. He’s great when he’s strung out on drugs, he’s great when he’s sober. Godfather II meets Saw? Hey, why not (although I don’t see what his idea has to do with Saw)? Seeing how this plays out will be great, although it can’t possibly have a happy ending.
While watching this episode for a second time, I found myself fast-forwarding through the dream scenes with Tony (even the Blundetto cameo), and past the parts with Carmela and Meadow taking care of Tony.
Seems that we still have a few more episodes of Tony being bed-ridden (hopefully that means an end to the dream sequences), but it ought to be full-steam ahead with the show.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The Sopranos: Episode 67
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

It would be very easy to dismiss this episode of the Sopranos as boring, or even awful. I mean, Carmela sitting there talking to Tony with that Tom Petty song playing – I almost changed the channel! And that subplot with the mistaken identity? Couldn’t Chase have come up with something more exciting than that?
But what this will all lead to, ultimately, is unrest among the mob as Tony lies in bed. And that’s when it gets good. We certainly can’t go through with Tony being in a coma for much longer. He’ll get well eventually. After all, it’s only the beginning of the season.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
The Sopranos: Episode 66
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Junior shoots Tony at the end of the episode. Big deal. What, are we to believe that Tony will die? If the audience has no knowledge of how many episodes are left, then yeah, that could be a shocker. But we know, so we can all breath easily knowing that Tony will be back.
Regardless, it’s not a bad subplot, though it could only lead to Junior being put away somewhere and dwindle further into irrelevancy for the show, the way Tony’s mother did years ago before she died. Even David Chase contemplated killing off Junior. Now, I wish he would. He’s milked that character for all he’s worth.
As for other parts of the episode… a huge spoiler was let out of the bag prior to it airing. It was said that a character would commit suicide. When it was clear that Eugene was trying to get out of the life, I knew instantly it would be him. And it was. He wasn’t much of a character, anyway. Very few lines. Very few memorable moments. I think he once smacked the hell out of little Paulie Germani, but not much else. Eugene was the guy who got ‘made’ with Christopher. Good riddance, Eugene. We hardly knew ye.
Kudos to David Chase for giving AJ the long slacker hair. I hate David Chase for the closeup shot of Janice breast-feeding her newborn. No one wants to see that, dude. I love David Chase for giving Baccala the train-set hobby. Hilarious.
As for Vito, the closet homosexual, am I the only one who thinks he’ll wind up as boss of the family at the end of the series? Wouldn’t that be a trip?

Touring Israel: What You Need to Know

Touring Israel: What You Need to Know
If the numbers are anything to go by, the tourism drought in Israel appears to be receding. With decade lows between 2001 and 2003 due to an escalation in violence, Israel has seen clear signs that visitors are coming back. Even before the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005, the number of tourists more than doubled in the first half of 2004 and the number of first-time visitors in the first six months of 2005 increased 73 percent, according to the semi-annual Israeli Inbound Tourism Survey. In all, 2005 witnessed a 26 percent increase of visitors from the preceding year.

On the ground, of course, it can be a wholly different story, and travelers should naturally be aware of ongoing security concerns. And certainly, in-country security precautions may seem daunting by Western standings, but to most Israelis it’s life as usual. Adopt their point of view, and the roadblocks, soldiers, and the need for vigilance can become part of the local atmosphere rather than a reason to stay away. After all, life in Israel goes on, and there’s still plenty to discover and enjoy.

About the size of New Jersey, Israel is ripe with places to go that encapsulate thousands of years of world-shaping history, and it’s nearly impossible for travelers to hit everything. However, for first-time visitors, especially those staying a week or two, there are several obvious choices that should be featured on any itinerary.
Don’t-Miss Destinations

 

Jerusalem, particularly the Old City, is a must, but anyone going to Israel already knows that—in fact, it’s typically the first destination after flying into Tel Aviv and taking an hour-long bus ride. Walk the narrow cobblestone streets. Tour the tunnels by the Western Wall. Enjoy the view of the city along the ramparts. Visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, a monumental, ancient shrine that straddles Calvary, the hill on which Christ was crucified. But wherever you do decide to go, don’t pet the stray cats. Also, beware souvenir prices in the Old City. The merchants offer items at nearly twice the price that they’re ultimately willing to settle for, so be prepared to haggle. Whether you’re purchasing a wooden camel, a decorative candle, or an Israeli Army T-shirt, the merchants may get pushy, and sometimes rude. If you’re due change, they may claim they don’t have small bills and then try to up-sell you.

Another must-see location in Israel is Ein Gedi, a lush oasis in the midst of the barren desert and gateway to the salty Dead Sea on the country’s eastern edge. People come from all around the world, sometimes exclusively, to bathe in the therapeutic baths by the Dead Sea, rub mud over their bodies (making for a great photo op), and float in the salt water at the lowest spot on earth. First-time visitors typically stay overnight, wake before dawn, and hike up Mount Masada to view the brilliant sunrise before taking a tour of the history-rich plateau. The fortress here has served as a mountaintop refuge from pillaging Syrians and Greeks, Herod’s pleasure palace, and the vanguard of a dramatic revolt against the Romans in the first-century AD, so you’d be forgiven for taking your time to absorb its millennia of history.

When most travelers arrive in Israel, they land at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, and then head to Jerusalem. It’s not uncommon, however, for them to spend their last couple of days in Tel Aviv before their return trip home. Unlike Jerusalem, Tel Aviv is a very modern city that’s only been around since 1909. It is the country’s modern cultural capital and commercial center, and beautiful beaches line the Mediterranean coast. The city is known for its openness as well as superlative nightlife. It has quite a few museums, too, like the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Eretz Israel Museum, and the Diaspora Museum, which features a multimedia exhibit that illustrates the history of Jewish communities throughout the world.

Visitors who have time should travel a couple of hours south to visit Eilat, a resort city that closely borders Jordan and Egypt on Israel’s southernmost tip. The border to Taba, Egypt, is accessible by foot, and tourists who want another stamp on their passport often spend part of the day exploring the small town. Tourists frequently take a worthwhile day-long tour to Petra, Jordan, by way of Aqaba. It’s expensive, but an unforgettable experience amidst the World Heritage-listed “City in the Rock”—the same amazing locale that Indiana Jones and his father explored in The Last Crusade. In Eilat, be sure to take a glass-bottom boat ride, and when the weather is warm, enjoy the beaches and the soothing waters of the Red Sea. Eilat is also a birder’s dream destination, sitting under the migratory flight path of birds beating a path each spring from North Africa to breeding grounds in Europe. Hotels and resorts here abound, among them the five-star Neptune Hotel and Herods Vitalis Spa.
Access & Resources

 

Good to Know:
Security is tight in Israel. Expect to go through metal detectors frequently and answer many questions about what you’re doing there, whether you’re at the airport or cruising the shopping mall. Though Hebrew is the main language, English is widely spoken. Often, travelers can spend time in Israel without needing to understand a word of Hebrew, but it’s still wise to pick up a few common phrases. Remember that many attractions are closed on Fridays after sunset until Saturdays after sunset in accordance with the Jewish Sabbath, and there is no bus service in most places during those times.

Getting There:
El Al Israel Airlines, Delta, Tower, World Airways, CSA/Czech Airlines, Air Canada, and British Airways, among others, all serve Israel from a variety of international hubs. About 90 percent of visitors arrive at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. Check the airport website for a complete listing of airlines and contact details. Travelers from the U.S., Canada, and most European countries don’t need a visa to visit Israel, just a valid passport (visit the Israeli consular website for full details).

Getting Around:
The most practical way to get from place to place is on the bus. All cities have extensive bus service, but most do not operate between Friday night and Saturday night. However, buses do operate in Haifa and in eastern Jerusalem on the Jewish Sabbath. Taxis are available in every city, but don’t be fooled by drivers who offer you a special price, which is often higher than the meter. Car-renters need only a passport, credit card, and U.S. or Canadian driver’s license. Most traffic signs are in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. And don’t worry—they drive on the right-hand side of the street.

Communication:
To call Israel from North America, dial 011-972, then the number (omitting the initial zero). To call home, AT&T, MCI, and Sprint all have toll-free access numbers in Israel. Ask your hotel operator how to dial from your room. You can also rent a cell phone at the airport. As for the Internet, there are cafes and public Internet outlets all over the place.

Electricity:
Israel’s voltage is 220 volts, like Europe, so break out the converters if you’re coming from North America.

Vaccinations:
No vaccinations or shots are required for U.S. or Canadian visitors to Israel, but if you’ve visited a country prior to coming to Israel where cholera, typhoid, or yellow fever is endemic, you will need a vaccination certificate.

Young travelers:
For college-aged travelers looking for adventure, there are volunteer programs that will offer memorable experiences. If you find the right Kibbutz (a communal farm), you can work for your room and board and meet people from all over the world. Whether you’re gardening, washing dishes, or working the fields, the Kibbutz experience is a way of life you won’t soon forget.

Jewish adults aged 18 to 26 who have never been to Israel before can take advantage of the Birthright Israel program (www.birthrightisrael.com), which is a ten-day expenses-paid educational trip.

How I Became an Iron Maiden Fan – 23 Years Late

It was the Spring of 2003 when I was finally blown away by the music of Iron Maiden. It’s one thing to discover your favorite band when they’re brand new, and to anxiously await its new album every few years. But to discover it 23 years late, well, let’s just say I’ve never felt so treated in my life when it comes to music, not with one album, but more than two decades worth.

I had heard of Iron Maiden in the 80’s, when my friend, Dan, a jean-jacket wearing bully, told me that I couldn’t handle their music – I just wasn’t cool enough, apparently. My relationship with Dan was like Bart Simpson’s relationship with Nelson Muntz – we were friends by location, not because we had much in common. So, I never really heard an Iron Maiden song – well, maybe Number of the Beast once – until years later. Instead, I grew up listening to Bon Jovi, Genesis, Def Leppard, and Madonna, having no idea of what I was missing. I blame radio and MTV, which never plays Maiden’s music. But I could have heard their music, only if Dan had played it for me. This missed opportunity cost of more than 15 years.

It wasn’t until the invention of the MP3, and file sharing on college campuses around 1998, when I illegally obtained a copy of Run to the Hills.

I loved it, but I didn’t think to listen to other songs. I can’t count how many one-hit-wonders there are out there, and I’ve spent too much money on albums because of one good song. And if it was so good, why was it the only one available on that illegal file-sharing network at one of the University of Maryland dorms? It must be their only good song, I thought, and didn’t bother listening to any others.

Though I had never really listened to Iron Maiden’s music, I always enjoyed their artwork. Heavy medal albums with grotesque figures on them, like Metallica’s or Megadeth’s, have always appealed to me for some sick reason. One day in Vegas, I bought The Wicker Man T-shirt, and wore it though I had never even heard the song.

Now, keep in mind, even with MP3’s and illegal file sharing prevalent, I still didn’t bother checking out too many of Iron Maiden’s other songs. Somewhere along the line I got a copy of Aces High and 2 Minutes to Midnight, but I was still too busy listening to Run to the Hills and Number of the Beast to realize that I really liked those, too. I’ve noticed that sometimes I must listen to a song a few times before I know how much I like it. I had mixed feelings the first time I listened to Dance of Death, but now I listen to it regularly.

In 2003, I decided to buy the albums of my favorite artists, even if I already had copies of them. I suppose you could say I felt guilty about illegal downloading, especially with entire albums that I love. Before Korn’s Untouchables even hit stores, I was playing it repeatedly. So much, in fact, I went out and bought the real copy because I wanted the album art, too.

Because BMG Music Service gives you 12 CDs for the price of one, I started buying more albums that I thoroughly enjoyed, even if I already had copies. That included all three Eminem CDs. With four more albums to pick, and lousy options (those stamps BMG sends are sometimes horrible!), I decided to get Best of the Beast. After all, it had Run to the Hills, Number of the Beast, 2 Minutes to Midnight and Aces High, songs that were so good, I didn’t mind at all paying for them, and it clears my conscience.

When I listened to the album, I was nearly floored. Fear of the Dark. Virus. I listened to those two songs repeatedly. Each song outdid the previous. Incredible. I looked at Iron Maiden’s web site. What timing. They were coming to my town! I got a ticket, went to their concert, expecting only to hear the songs on Best of the Beast. Of course, they played others, like Iron Maiden and The Clansman. Again, blown away.

So I went back to BMG. I bought Rock in Rio and Brave New World. A couple months later, Dance of Death hit stores, and I bought it on the first day without even hearing it.

Then came Piece of Mind, The Number of the Beast, and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son in the mail. It was like finding multiple buried treasures at once. I was overwhelmed. I listened exclusively to Maiden for months, trying to catch up on those Wasted Years (haha).

I heard that Iron Maiden and Killers had a different singer than Bruce Dickenson. I was skeptical that I would like them. But on Live After Death, which I also bought, I very much enjoyed some of the early songs, sung in concert by Dickenson. I bought them, happy to fork over my money.

BMG didn’t sell any other Maiden albums so I had to go out and pay full price for Powerslave and Somewhere in Time. In total, I bought 12 Iron Maiden albums in less than a year, including two live double-disk albums. I plan to buy more, perhaps even the rest of them.

Never have I discovered a band that I enjoyed so much, so many years after they came about. If I ever speak again to my childhood buddy, Dan, the first thing I will say to him is, why didn’t you let me listen to Iron Maiden?

College Articles

The Generation X Files
Please bury this truth

By Benjamin Sumner
May, 1997

Every generation has a select group of people who define their generation through trends, actions and music. The Roaring Twenties had the flappers. The sixties had the hippies. Now we have this overused name- Generation X.

First, let me single out the people I am talking about. We all fall into a gray area between self and trend, but some people are more ‘one of them’ than others.

They have a chain from their lip to their ear, a ball thing drooping from their tongue, mini-horns poking from their nose, black or blue nail polish (on guys, too), and “Mean People Suck” and “NIN” bumper stickers on their eighties model car they bought for under a grand. They drink lots of coffee and read poetry at Planet X about the first time they had sex and how they got dumped the next day. The barb-wire tattoo around their ankle has the same color ink as the Aztec emblem above their ass. Their hair-dye glows in the dark. They are tree huggers and vegetarians for humanitarian reasons, though they feel abortion is one of the most important rights a woman can have. As for the drugs, (which is typical for more people than have any of these other characteristics), they smoke lots of weed and drop acid every now and then. Lastly, they voted for Bill Clinton.

There is nothing unusual about rebelling between the ages of 12 and 25. Sometimes the age goes beyond that. It is common for select members of a generation to rebel against however their parents raised them, so everything regarding these current trends are typical.

How do they expect to get careers looking the way they do? Though many are college educated, I can’t imagine an employer wanting to hire them after seeing enough metal in their face to hold them back at an airport security checkpoint. Imagine them as doctors and lawyers. Safety procedures will eventually state they must remove their eyebrow rings before doing triple bypass surgeries. When they’re making their case in front of the Supreme Court, the justices will be gaping at the ball thing drooping off their tongue than listening to why marijuana should be legalized.

Many will or already have faced discrimination during job interviews. People with more hooks in their face than a tackle box will be subject to some sort of hiring discrimination. The Blacks, the Jews, now people with rings on the side of their mouths… maybe they can be fit into the affirmative action plans as a minority.

The newest trend of discrimination-waiting-to-happen goes to the metal Mohawk. Spikes are actually implanted into the shaved scalp. Other acts of craziness will appear as time goes on, which will become trendy, then become stereotypical of that generation. The metal Mohawk won’t catch on, but other body markings will, such as body branding. Maybe other things farmers do to animals will become popular.

The next generation will be way worse than this one. They will make body piercings and tattoos look small time. Their name will be the Revolution. Here are my predictions about what kids may be like:

1) Cross dressing is an every day activity, and not just for drag queens, Halloween outfits and those Rocky Horror Picture Show fanatics.
2) Political slogans are shaved in the hair, especially ‘pro-choice,’ ‘Save a tree,’ ‘Meat is murder,’ ‘legalize (leaf),’ and ‘Republicans can suck me.’
3) Body branding will become more common
4) Chrome teeth
5) A new version of rock music- Gruel
6) Turbans
7) Facial tattoos
8) Red dots on the forehead to signify that you are not available (actually, that’s not a bad idea. It will save people a lot of time and trouble at parties.)
9) A real popular Gruel rock star will either die from a heroin overdose or jump off a building, leaving the Revolution to mourn
10) They will purposely contract AIDS so they can smoke their medical marijuana

The select few in the next generation will outdo those of this one. It’s just another thing to laugh at in our society.


The Paradox of Racial Unity
Examining the ‘diversity’ of Maryland

By Benjamin Sumner
1997

For a college that is hung up on diversity, I find it hypocritical that the University of Maryland has an offering of racially segregated student-funded groups. I realize that banning the Black, Hispanic, Chinese, Jewish and all the other racial and religious student unions will not be tolerated among many students, so that is not what I am arguing.

The racially-segregated (though all are welcome) groups do much good. However, the fact that they are classified by race keeps people of other races away. I am white, so why would I want to go to a BSU, CSU or HSU sponsored event? There are people that are not intimidated and do go, but if the racial student unions were not classified by race, more people of different races will get involved. That may sound like a paradox, but it is certainly true.

Though I feel intimidated to join or attend a meeting of a racial group, almost 75% of my friends are of a different ethnicity than me. I am not friends with them because they are of different ethnicity, only because of what we have in common. Also, our gang name is not “The Multi-Racial Friends Club.”

After the Simpson verdict, black and white people are supposedly facing opposite directions. In fact, the JSU and the BSU were doing just that because of those anti-Semitic speakers that the BSU obtained with student funding. Because we have these groups, multi-racial friendliness is not being strived for. I suppose the Cross Culture group is, therefore, it is more productive in that area than the others.

Of all the different clubs and organizations on campus, I could not tolerate spending too much time with my race (Race? There is no White Student Union! It’s called the KKK! Or the college of Republicans.) or religion, when I could be at WMUC or the Diamondback, earning valuable career experience. There is nothing wrong with being a member of a racial student union, but someone who is so dedicated to it should also try something else to gain career experience. I hardly see how racial group members earn as much experience as those in career-oriented groups (with the exception of leadership positions). People who are spending too much time with racial groups are not making the most of their education, nor does it seem that they are making an effort to meet people despite race. If you devote your time to both racial and non-racial groups, more power to you.

People of the same race or religion may have cultural similarities that other races or religions do not have. However, I doubt that every interest in their lives is similar, which gives them reason to join a group that has nothing to do with race or religion. I simply do not have the time to join the Jewish Student Union, because I am too busy gathering career experience at WMUC. If I had the time to do both, sure, I would join. Career experience can get me a paying job, but inborn factors and religious affiliation usually will not.

Anything that has to do with racial separatism creates racism as well as unity among that race. While the Million Man March certainly showed unity among Black men, there were people of other races that discovered their prejudice just by the existence of the march. Same thing applies with the existence of the racial student unions. There are prices to pay even when racial unity is being strived for, and that does not help our goal to end racism.

Racism in all forms is spiraling downward. Thirty years ago in America, racism was much more common than it is today. Thirty years from now, it will be even less common. I honestly believe that if there was no Million Man March, Nation of Islam, racial student unions or anything classified by race, there would be less racism as a result. However, there would also be less racial unity and identity. Intense racial unity creates racism toward that race. Obviously, racism also generates from other sources, but more racism is the price we have to pay for racial unity.

I have a bad feeling that people will not understand the point I am making, and trash me as if I am spreading a racist message. Whether they do or not, I will be hanging out with my friends and spreading the word that one day, we will all live together in greater peace.

After this article was published in The Diamondback at the University of Maryland in 1996, I couldn’t believe what happened.

Someone in my speech class showed me a copy of the article and said she got it from her social psyhology discussion class. She said they used the article as a basis of discussion. Flattering!

A few weeks later I noticed an article in the Diamondback about a forum on the importance of race and culture. I forgot the organizer’s name, but she said she was partly inspired by an editorial in the Diamondback on the issue. I knew it was mine. I called her up and invited her on my WMUC radio show, “No Holds Barred.” She did say that my article helped inspire her to have the very successful forum. I asked her why I wasn’t invited and she appologized for not doing so. I would have made a speech! However, since then I have been invited to another forum on race relations but I choose not to go. I regretted it. It would have been good experience.


No Necesito Hablar Espaniol
Ban foreign language requirements in colleges

By Benjamin Sumner
1997

In certain areas around the world, people are almost forced to know multiple languages because of the diverse surroundings. Here, our educators decide it is best for many of us to learn foreign languages, and require us to do so. Though America is diverse, English is our medium, therefore making it unnecessary to force people to learn languages they do not need to know unless they want to.

After asking several people about the languages they took in high school, they said they can only remember basic words and phrases despite taking two or three years of classes. This is consistent testimony that students who take foreign languages as a requirement may have little use for it and will eventually forget much of what they learned. How can anyone argue that these results are good?

I took three years of high school Spanish. The only use I had for it was ordering fast food from people who were unqualified to be at the register because of the language barrier. Since high school, I can only recall basic Spanish, most of which was taught in Spanish I. I have forgotten those past-tense irregular verb congegations from Spanish III due to lack of use. There is a lack of use because there is a lack of need to speak it.

I have also taken 12 credits of conversational Hebrew to fulfill my abstract thinking requirement. The only time I have spoken conversational Hebrew outside of class was at a video rental store (Actually, they also spoke English so there was no point in speaking Hebrew with them). Since my last Hebrew final exam, much of what I learned has faded from my memory due to lack of practice and reason to practice.

Twelve credits in the journalism major is the same needed for a minor. Those 12 credits could have been better spent in something more useful, longer lasting and employable, than in a foreign language through the intermediate level.

At the college level especially, students should have more freedom in deciding what they take. The distributive studies section of CORE forces people to take classes they would probably not take if they had more choices. Distributive studies should be banned and replaced with student’s options. Double majoring and minoring will rise, opening the way for more job options.

The argument for the distributive studies program is that students need a general education. How general is it when much of the information is forgotten due to a lack of interest? Most of my ‘general education’ classes have been a waste of time because I missed out on many of the useful and employable classes, many of which are prerequisites for upper level classes. The administrators fail to realize this, and they continue to constrict student options.

The foreign language option should still be there for anyone wishing to learn. I wanted to learn both Spanish and Hebrew, and I was required (not necessarily those two). After forgetting much of both languages soon after the final exams, I realized that I wasted my time for two reasons, though I had little choice.

The first reason is that there really is no use for me to know much of either language. I have known Hebrew since the third grade for religious purposes, but prayer Hebrew is different than conversational Hebrew. I know few Jews who speak conversational Hebrew. I do like knowing the basic words because at least I got something out of the classes.

The second reason is that I could have taken something more useful, like computer or business courses, both of which I had no room to take because I had to take CORE classes that I did not care about. I’ll take what I can from those classes, but I’d rather be in a class that fits my interests and career goals.

There are many people who speak foreign languages on this campus. But what is the median between us all? It better be English because I’m not about to learn French, Italian, Ebonics, German, Latin or whatever else is spoken here. It’s bad enough that I had an economics T.A. who spoke little English. Because of that obvious dilemma, should I have learned his language, or should he have learned English?

If learning about other cultures is so important, this university would require a multi-culture class. Don’t give me that “diversity class” in CORE because students take classes about their own kind. There wasn’t one gentile in my Jewish philosophy class.

It seems only the Asian students take classes about other cultures because they have so few of their own. Finally they’re doing something about it! They’re getting sick of taking African-American studies courses. Also, they put on one of the best rallies I’ve ever seen. “Gooks, chinks, spicks and japs, take these labels off our backs! We want diversity, yes we do, we want diversity, what can you do? Asian American studies NOW!” That bit alone should be enough to get their own classes.

I’m sick of administrators getting euphoric rushes every time they mention the word ‘diversity’ because they don’t seem to realize how segregated this campus is, despite the great number of so-called minorities. “UMCP- where excellence is achieved through diversity! Call the press, we’re diverse! Hurray for diversity! Oh diversity! OH! YES! OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHMYGOD DIVERSITY!!!!!”

Excellence is achieved through hard work and commitment, and diversity is achieved through time and the fact that everyone else in the world wants to come to the U.S.A. Why do they come? Because it’s the best country in the world, and not because of our educators commitment to force students to take languages of far inferior countries! Except Japanese. I think we should all learn Japanese because they’re buying us out anyway.

Foreign languages in America should not be forced upon anyone because of its continuing failure to be retained by those who were forced to take it. However, it will open the doors for more courses that are beneficial that students may not have had room for in their schedules. If they want to learn a foreign language, they have every right to. Lets start giving the options of courses that matter to the individual rather than courses that don’t.

 
Foreign Languages I’ve Learned and Forgotten

When I think about all the class time I spent in Spanish and Hebrew, and then think about how little I remember, I now understand why the education system is in such a mess. People say that education is lacking in many people because of little funding, television taking away from homework time and unqualified teachers. Yeah, but how about this reason? Students are forced to take certain courses that do not appeal to them, and they soon forget what they learned. I will never argue that a general education is not necessary on the high school level. There they should be taking all kinds of courses, from home economics to anthropology. However, they shouldn’t be forced to take a language, especially through the intermediate level. If anything, one year of a language is enough, because the basics are recalled more often than words taught in the third year of classes. I know this because I asked so many people, and it happened to me as well. One friend of mine took 7 semesters of Spanish, in high school and college, and can only speak the basics. What a waste of time.

The College of Journalism at UMCP requires either 9 credits of foreign language through the intermediate level, or certain math classes. Math is another subject that does not appeal to everyone, especially the upper level advanced honors classes that engineers need. I choose the lesser of the two evils. I took Hebrew, a language that I had some knowledge of. It was only offered in 6 credit lumps.

My first teacher was the strictest grader I ever had. Though I was studying as much as I could, this idiot woman still made the class much harder than it should have been. She expected us to study 2 hours a night. Two hours a night, on top of six classroom hours a week! The fact that she even suggested that should have led to her dismissal.

Anyway, going into the final, I had a D average. That was with plenty of effort. I took the final, and I ended up with a 67% in the class. However, I got a 93% on the final, proving to my idiot teacher that I learned the material, but not at the extreme fast pace she expected. She gave me a C in the class, even with a 67%- it was not a curve, just her being nice.

I was still upset. Six credits of a C is not good. The next semester, I had a different teacher, and I coasted through the class with an easy B. Since then, I have spoken little Hebrew. Meanwhile, the 12 credits brought down my GPA. All I can think is that those dumb idiots who make up the requirements wasted my time, and I paid for it. I could have taken prerequisites for business classes. This is one reason I hate the administrators. They don’t know what’s best for anyone. I don’t care how educated they are- they’re a bunch of idiots if they think they helped educate me with those requirements.


Black History Month
Or is it George Washington Carver’s Nuts Month?

By Benjamin Sumner
February, 1997

Every February not only comes Black History Month, but the complaints and criticisms that go along with it. The complaints come from all kinds of people, black and white alike, ranging from racist views to the-shortest-month-of-the-year-isn’t-enough complaint.

I am very much for the education of Black American history incorporated with American history. In elementary school, I recall starting American history from Columbus through the present, and Black history was incorporated as it happened.

Black History Month only gave us the chance to learn about Black inventors and unsung heroes. I learned about George Washington Carver’s peanuts every February. Black history month should change its name to “George Washington Carver’s Nuts month.” That is all I remember learning year after year until I entered middle school. After elementary school, the only way I knew it was Black History Month was by passing the Black hero exhibit in the middle school hallway.

Much of what I was taught about black inventors and unsung heroes is less interesting than the struggles of the Civil Rights leaders. There are several White inventors and unsung heroes that we never learned about in school, none more important than the Black inventors.

Does it really matter what color the inventor was? How often do Jews mention that Einstein was one of them? That is insignificant compared to what he accomplished. We have the same product despite skin color or religion, so why must inborn factors be an issue?

If teaching about inventors is so important, why not have an entire inventors ed course be required in elementary school? I understand the struggles Black inventors may have gone through because of their race, but many other inventors had major struggles in one way or another, especially Galileo.

This is not a proposal for a White history month regarding inventors and unsung heroes. This is an appeal to question the reasons and importance of learning about the same people every year who, like many White people, were not important enough to be included in the standard passages of American history.

All vital parts of American history involving Black heroes should be dealt with during that era of study, as they were in my school. Some of my favorite parts of American history include Harriet Tubman’s underground railroad, the 54th regiment and the struggles of Martin Luther King Jr. No one should need February to appreciate these events.

March through January are not the White History months. Learning about the founders of this country is not a lesson in White history, but history that changed the course of this world. Columbus discovered America for Europe, and fewer people are appreciating that for various reasons. The early Americans had to rebel and gain independence from the British as the Blacks had to gain acceptance from the Whites. Just as the United States and Britain are on good terms now, all Americans should be on good terms with themselves.

With all that said, what is the point of Black history month? I am not proposing to rid it, but I hardly find any use for it if Black history is taught properly. Black American, Native American, Asian American and all other experiences should be incorporated with American history as they happened, and not during one well-intentioned month.


 

Pro-Choice and Pro-Drug Legalization
You can’t be one and not the other

By Benjamin Sumner
Most pro-choice people are for abortion not because they believe life begins at birth, but because they feel that a woman has the right to do with her body what she wants. Lets take that a step further. Because they believe a women, or in this case, everyone, has the right to do with their body what they want, then how come not all of them feel that drugs should be legalized? Sure, there are several pro-choicers and even pro-lifers that are for the legalization of drugs. However, isn’t drug use doing with your body what you want, just like abortion?

One counter argument is that drug use can cause one to break other laws as well, while having an abortion does not necessarily mean that a woman will break the law. It is quite common to find a drug addict who is guilty of other crimes than just their drug use.

How can someone believe a woman has the right to do with her body what she pleases (in this case, abortion), while denying a someone the right to snort cocaine or shoot heroine? As long as the drug user does not harm a second party, it should be okay, right? Drinking alcohol is legal, but driving while intoxicated is illegal to protect people from getting injured or killed in car accidents. Why should drugs be illegal when the users do not hurt anyone? Why deny them the right to do with their body what they want?

Another argument may be that drugs can drive people mentally crazy, while abortion may not. Many women who get abortions suffer mentally to some degree. There would be no abortion support group counseling if this were not true. The side effects for women who have abortions can vary, just like drug users. I doubt there have been too many women doing cartwheels out of the clinic and having luncheons in honor of the aborted fetus. Some women are so irresponsible that they get pregnant again after their first or even second abortion (The men may me irresponsible, too). Even pro-choicers have said that abortion should not be used as birth control, though many women are ignorant enough to use it that way. Others, who may not be able to afford an abortion, may steal to get money to pay for it. Mental depression, low self esteem, irresponsibility and theft are also related to drug use. Therefore, there are similarities between the side effects.

Now let’s combine the two. The premise is that a woman has the right to do with her body what she wants. The following situation is true. A Wisconsin woman purposely drank while she was pregnant. “I’m going to kill this thing because I don’t want it anyways,” she said in the hospital. The baby was born with fetal alcohol syndrome.

Alcohol consumption is not illegal during pregnancy, no matter how much it is. A woman has every right to drink, smoke and bounce on her belly because, say it with me, “You can do with your body what you want.” That argument cannot at all morally be justified. Does anyone care to justify the right of a woman to purposely injure her fetus?

Pro-choicers in this situation would say that it is better for the woman to get an abortion than let the child live with FAS. I suppose they are saying ‘kill, don’t torture.’ Death or torture. I have yet to figure out which is worse.

Of course, there are many differences between abortion and drug-use, but the same argument is used to justify both. If you are going to use the “It’s-my-body-and-I-can-do-what-I-want” argument to justify abortion, it is hypocritical not to use it to justify drug use, drinking and smoking while pregnant, suicide, euthanasia, body piercing or anything else that one can do to his or her own body.

If you are pro-choice and against drug legalization, please take my points into consideration. Question your reasons or at least admit you are a hypocrite.

 

© Copyright April 1997
I am proud of what I did with this article because I completely changed a woman’s opinion on abortion from pro-choice to pro-life. My intentions have never been like the uninspirational pro-life propaganda because they do not succeed too often in changing people’s opinions with their protest rallies and posters of fetuses. Who is inspired by someone standing outside an abortion clinic yelling “She’s a child, not a choice!”? That changes nobody’s opinion. This article did, and I have never felt better in my life.
Check it out:(Note: This is the exact text she sent to me after the article was published in the Diamondback at the University of Maryland in April of 1997)

Oh my.

I am twenty years old. For eight years of my life I have been staunchly pro-choice. This is especially odd in light of the fact that I am also staunchly Catholic, and nothing anyone, including my Church, could say would change my mind about the abortion issue. Not only is it my body to do what I want with, but it’s not my place to tell others what to do with their bodies. Period.

Your editorial changed all that.

I started reading your article because I thought it was another piece of lifer bullshit. I’m still not sure what your point was, whether it was arguing against abortion or against drugs or just against hypocrisy. It doesn’t matter. And I’m not saying your article was an extraordinary piece of literature. But somehow, it changed my mind– something I never, ever thought would happen.

I was reading your article going bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, when I hit the line about “a woman has every right to drink, smoke and bounce on her belly because, say it with me, ‘you can do with your body what you want'”. Again, I thought, bullshit, she doesn’t have that right because that’s attempted murder, just like on ER a couple of weeks ago with that woman who tried to drink her baby to death.

And then I realized I was being a hypocrite.

And suddenly a hundred things fell into place. I realized that if a woman gives birth three months prematurely she can’t dismember the baby on the delivery table, but she can have an abortion at six months and that’s legal. I said, hey, it’s a body inside MY body and so it’s my right to do what I want with. Then I thought, just because the dentist puts his hand in my mouth doesn’t give me the right to bite it off. I thought, Having a child inside you gives you a responsibility, not a right.

I know you didn’t do it on purpose, but you snuck up on me. Here’s what you did do on purpose: you made me face up to my own hypocrisy.

What about feminism? I thought. And then I thought, in a society where motherhood is not sacred but negligible, is it any surprise that women’s roles as mothers are not much respected?

How dare I bitch about the lack of sanctity for motherhood while demanding my right to kill my children?

A man named Milan Kundera once wrote that as humans, it is our treatment of the helpless, not of the able, that says the most about us. Now I think I’m a different kind of pro-choice: putting the choices of my children before my own choices. That sounds like the right kind of feminism to me.

This is getting long, so I’ll end this here. I want to thank you for setting me straight. I think you should be proud. I marched in the pro-choice march in ’93. Though I never believed I could live with myself if I had an abortion, I always vigilantly supported the right of women to do so if they chose. Even my church couldn’t change my mind. And somehow you did.

And I’m surprised because I really feel good about it, like I finally chose the right thing. Thanks.

-Becky


 

Roe vs. Wade is Nothing to Party Over
Nor is anything death-related

By Benjamin Sumner
On this year’s anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the leader of modern feminism, Gloria Steinam, hosted a celebration of the 1973 Supreme Court decision with musical acts including Mary Chapin Carpenter and Joan Osbourne.

What songs were they singing? They were probably holding hands and rocking back and forth, singing (to the tune of “We are the World”) “We have the choice… to kill our children… we get to choose to keep or abort, it’s our decision… it’s a choice we’re making… we’re saving no one’s life… God could- have only wanted life- to end this way.” (repeat with a loud backup singer).

Even many pro-choicers understand that abortion is a procedure that is OFTEN done for a sexually irresponsible woman or couple’s convenience. If we can’t trust them with a choice, how can we trust them as parents? That bumper sticker usually sits opposite the “I have every right to be irresponsible” sticker. We do. Now let’s celebrate that right by having unprotected sex and throwing a concert like the original Woodstock.

How about doctor-assisted suicide? No one will see 70-year old bone cancer victims going to a concert in honor of their right to kill themselves. That party would probably suck anyway.

I have never seen anyone celebrate the death penalty in general, but there have been celebrations when a murderer is fried. They count down to the time of the execution like on New Years Eve, throw confetti and streamers and cheer as a pedophile-necrophiliac-cannibal-serial killer burns down to hell. Then, they dance the Electric Slide.

That is also sick, though I believe cold-blooded murderers should be stripped of their right to live. There are no winners with capital punishment or doctor-assisted suicide, nor are there with abortion or any unnatural death.

“Hurray for abortion! Thank God for the death penalty! Yippie for doctor assisted suicide!” Do any of those ‘cheers’ sound moral, even if you believe in them? One women called a radio show and said her abortion was “self defense” against the child who was invading her body like in the movie Aliens. She probably raised her arms in victory after the procedure, spiked the fetus like a football, cheering, “In your undeveloped face, klumpy! Try and get back in there and grow larger! I’ll abort you again!”

The reason this abortion celebration sickens me is because abortion is something to be pitied, regardless of stance. It isn’t a procedure granted from heaven. It doesn’t feel good.

Wait a minute. A bunch of women right now are asking out loud, “Who are you to tell me what to do with my body? Abortion is a women’s right! Stay out of my uterus!”

All right. I see what they’re saying. Based on their hard-core fighting for the right to choose, I have figured out the real reason they support the right to abort their unborn developing children.

Abortions must be orgasmic. They get off by having their cervix dilated and having a hollow plastic tube shoved up there sucking the fetus out. They make a sound similar to Meg Ryan’s in the restaurant from “When Harry Met Sally.” All women ought to have two, maybe three abortions. After all, everyone should exercise their rights. Just knowing they have the right to this euphoric procedure is enough to party!

Why doesn’t Steinam have a concert in honor of women’s right to vote, which was granted long after it should have been? That amendment is more of a milestone in the women’s rights movement than their right to kill their unborn children. There are plenty of women against abortion, but there are very few against their own right to vote. Maybe I’m wrong, though. Since abortion is so personal (and such a wonderful physical experience), it cannot be compared to the right to punch a hole through a ballot for some crooked politician.

I personally know four women who have had abortions, and all of them got pregnant because they were not using birth control. Sure, it is the guy’s fault too, but that doesn’t justify anything. When are these people going to learn to be responsible? Spare me the incest-rape-life-or-death arguments for a second, and lets focus on the majority abortions- what I call the “oops” procedure.

Who has incest, anyway? “Elly May, you’re looking awfully perdy!” “Thank you, Jethro. Let’s do it like them ferrets was in the kitchen.” “WEEEE DOGGIE!” A few months later. “Jethro, I’m pregnant. Didn’t you use a rubber?” “Only when it’s raining. But if you pregnant, we gotta get you one of them abersions.”

People who have incest are probably greatful that they have the pro-choicers (and many lifers) on their side. Maybe they should throw a concert if incest is ever legalized. One big hootenanny.

Pro-choicers are not the only ones who have moronic ways of protesting or celebrating their right. Some lifers bomb clinics, cause public disturbances and show pictures of dismembered fetuses in public, including to little kids. Those tactics change nobody’s view. They also shouldn’t bother people with useless babbling like “She’s a child, not a choice,” only to be followed by the popular counter argument, “It’s a choice.” “She’s a child!” “It’s a choice!” “Child!” “Choice!” Both of you shut up.

All joking aside, and abortion stance aside, all women and men should practice safe sex. No woman should want to have an abortion. Don’t celebrate the Roe vs. Wade decision as if it will have a direct effect on you, because abortion is one of those things that you should not have to consider having. If that is the case (which it is for many pro-choice women), you do not have to celebrate your right to abort the natural birthing process. I can understand this concert as being an excuse to get drunk and party, but that is how many women get pregnant anyway.

Being responsible sexually could save your life, too. I’m sure you already know this, but for some reason, too many of you ignore this advice (which was probably given to you by more credible sources than me), end up pregnant, with AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases.

Now, is that message so controversial?

 

© Copyright 1997
This was published in The Diamondback, the student newspaper at the University of Maryland in 1997. I wrote it knowing that it would cause much controversy. When I heard that Steinam was throwing a concert to celebrate Roe vs. Wade, I knew that even pro-choicers would think the event was uncalled for because they know abortion is not a glorious thing (though they believe in the right). I spent many hours over a three month period writing this article because I was trying to make it as good as possible. I showed it to a few critics to get some feedback, and they gave me some pointers of how to change it. As for the content itself, I realize it is extremely sarcastic and tasteless, but I made my point very clear. I have no regrets.

The feedback was interesting. Half of it was negative, and the other half was pretty much positive. Some pro-lifers were upset because I didn’t make clear exactly what ‘safe sex’ is, and some said birth control is a form of abortion. Many pro-choice feminists disagreed, while some pro-choicers said it was one of the best articles they ever read. My favorite reply was when a lady walked up to me in the hall and thanked me for taking a moral stand. I wouldn’t call the article moral, but the overall point is. I guess that’s what she meant.

Below are just a few of the replies I received.
Sumna,
That article was a tight piece of work. I congratulate you on your honesty and forthrightness. That type of writing has been lost to the pages of the Dback since….well… since me! :).
Kurt
I like it. Even I, being pro-choice, sort of have to agree w/ you on this riduculous “celebration”. – James
Your writing on the diamondback today is wonderful. I like it very much and appreciate your work. Keep going, and good luck. Thanks, vuhuy
Hi Ben. How are you? Just as tastless as ever I bet, but that’s ok. I actually liked your article and I helped my friend Bridgid write a responce to Liz Baquir’s letter to the editor. Women like that give femininists like me a bad rep.
Take care,
Melissa
hey benny boy,

while cleaning my desk, i found an old diamondback. in it was your abortion article. you’re a moron and your picture isn’t so hot either. tammatha