Friday, February 6, 2009

The Boss doesn't pump his gas - he pumps his fists

It has only been a week since we last checked in on him, but Bruce Springsteen has been so damn busy making headlines that it feels like we need to run a weekly recap on all things Boss. In true Garden State fashion, we're going to attempt to bring you up to speed on The Bruce by rating his recent newsworthy moments on a scale of one to five Rockin New Jersey Fist Pumps. Five Jersey Fists for the most bitchin possible news, one Jersey Fist if you'd rather pump your own gas than read that story. And away we go!

So, back in January, Springsteen released a greatest hits collection exclusively with Wal Mart. Just ten bucks for E Street's greatest hits? Not a bad deal, right? Well, not until you recall that Wal Mart has been accused of anti-union practices, paid major fines for violating labor laws, basically represents all that is soulless and evil in the world of corporate sleaze, and, you know, pretty much violates all of Bruce's core principles. The fans called him out on it, and Bruce issued a heartfelt mea culpa, calling the Wal Mart deal a "mistake." We can't let him off the hook entirely for the Wal Mart exclusive, but for hearing his fans and copping to his misstep, Bruce gets 2 Jersey Fists here.

Springsteen's PR blitz continued and really kicked into high gear at the Super Bowl, where he and the band gave their first press conference since 1987 (this still makes no sense to me) to joke about The Boss' complete lack of interest in football and speculate on the highly anticipated halftime show. No details were given, but Springsteen promised a "12 minute party," and on Sunday that's exactly what went down. The show was every bit the electric, rollicking performance that Springsteen fans have lauded for the last 30 years, and The Boss cemented his Super Bowl legacy when he delivered the most widely watched crotch-first into-your-living-room power slide in television history. Around the world, it was Boss Time. This is a no brainer: 5 Jersey Fists. Great 4-song set, vintage Springsteen ebullience, and a power crotch slide smack into a cameraman...come on. The look he gave to the camera right when it happened was worth 3 fist pumps by itself (Yes, I am aware that only Bruce's vocals were actually "live," but if the National Anthem can be pre-recorded, then so can Steve, Max and the Big Man. My opinion on this will not change. The 5 Jersey Fists stand).

Everyone loves the halftime show, except for Stephen Metcalf, Slate's resident high-minded shit-eater who trashed the performance because the set list failed to include "The Wrestler." Really? Granted, the song is wonderful and just won a Golden Globe, but really? Stephen Metcalf, you sir have earned yourelf one single solitary Jersey Fist - right in your fucking eye. That's how we handle things in the Meadowlands.

Not long after the Super Bowl performance (the very next morning in fact), tickets for Springsteen's "Working On A Dream" world tour went on sale on Ticketmaster. Legions of fans tried to log on and buy tickets at 9:00AM, but many encountered erroneous error messages and, worse still, were automatically redirected to Ticketmaster's reselling secondary site, TicketsNow, which offered tickets at far above face value. Once again, corporate America was putting the screws to The Bruce. Bad idea, Ticketmaster. You do not fuck with E Street Nation. Having learned quickly from the Wal Mart flare-up, Bruce, manager Jon Landau and the Springsteen Tour Team posted a strongly worded apologetic letter to fans on Springsteen's official site, condemning Ticketmaster and publicly railing against a possible merger between Ticketmaster and LiveNation, who just one week prior had infuriated Phish fans with a similar fiasco (and actually managed to make hippies everywhere nostalgic for their longtime nemesis, Ticketmaster, which has in fact always sucked). The New Jersey Attorney General announced an investigation into the incident, and Ticketmaster has since apologized to Springsteen and vowed to make amends to befuddled fans (riiiight....). You have to applaud The Boss' reaction to the situation, and at least Ticketmaster is admitting that they effed up, but none of that changes the fact that I didn't get tickets for shit. 2 Jersey Fists.

Late Monday night into Tuesday morning, long-standing rumors were finally confirmed when Bonnaroo announced its lineup, which will be headlined by 2 nights of Phish and one night of Springsteen and the E Street Band. I stated my opinions (and got Cartman's thoughts) on this matter months ago when the rumors came out, and I have since made it abundantly clear that I plan to be haulin ass to Tennessee come June. The lineup could not possibly be better, but it's worth raising an eyebrow over the fact that fans of Bruce and Phish just experienced epic ticket on-sale disasters, and as the two companies who perpetrated said disasters now talk of merging, the two bands will meet as headliners of the biggest festival of the summer. I'm no less excited, but there is reason for pause when the first wave of 'Roo tickets go on sale Saturday at noon, and though we can be glad that Bonnaroo at least takes care of ticket sales through its own site, this tiny seed of doubt knocks this news down a peg to 4 Jersey Fists.

Finally, Wednesday we learned that "Working On A Dream" became 2009's biggest debut, selling nearly 224,000 copies in its first week for a No. 1 ranking on the Billboard top 200. Most of those sales actually came before the Super Bowl performance. The album was given a 5-star review in Rolling Stone, and following all the crotch-sliding, Bonnaroo hype, and Ticketmaster hoopla (any publicity is good publicity!) should only go on to sell even more. More importantly, Springsteen finally knocked Taylor Swift (ok, I'm sorry, but... who?) out of the top spot after an eight-week reign. Long live The Boss!
4 Jersey Fists

So now that you're all caught up, don't forget to buy your Bonnaroo tickets on Saturday. Until next week, when I'll inevitably have to recap yet another blitz of Springsteen news, enjoy Conan O'Brien's best attempt to recreate Bruce's Super Crotch Slide. This should keep you well entertained all weekend.

Football is over, might be time to start exercising again

I've been going back and forth over whether I should sign up and train for the Charlottesville Ten Miler on April 4. I'm always looking for another reason to go back to The University and relive the glory days, and usually the only way I can motivate myself to start exercising after a long period of Phelps-like inactivity and degeneration is to pony up the cash for an upcoming race and just sign up. Sad though it may be, I can only be moved from perpetual couch-sitting if I know I've got money tied up in the effort. It's one thing to be an out of shape slob when I have excuses at the ready, including but not limited to "it's colder than Eskimo taint outside," but it's an entirely different situation when I've got my hard earned money invested in my relatively ordinary simple human ability to place one foot in front of the other in somewhat speedy succession. And I know what you're thinking, you cheeky little buggers, that I should tweak "hard earned" just a bit to "half-assedly attained in between blogging and gchatting all goddamn day." Well it's still my money, damn it, and that's the point - once I've made the down payment on myself, there's no turning back. I'm training and running the motherfucker and getting my money's worth. I paid 30 bucks for this shit? You're goddamn right I'm getting my ass in shape to race all you fuckers. And don't skimp on the race pack either. I want my t-shirt and my medal, and I'll be a redneck Hokie if I don't get my gift bag filled with useless coupons, a LiveStrong bracelet, free samples of disgusting runners' laxatives energy goo and Bengay anti-chaffing lotion.

Bottom line - signing up for a race is my only hope to start running again, and the Cville Ten Miler gives me that plus an excuse to go back to The Hook and revisit the power and the glory of college by buying rounds of dirt cheap shots and Natty Lights for underage coeds. Ten miles is no small undertaking, but as long as we're talking about living the dream, it should be noted that tomorrow morning at another fine ACC institution, over 5,000 people are expected to participate in NC State's 5th annual Krispy Kreme Challenge. Though not nearly as far as the Ten Miler, the Challenge probably better encapsulates the stereotypical college experience of engaging in asinine behaviors and traditions, throwing up all over yourself, and repeating it the next night. Observe the genius that is Krispy Kreme Challenge:
Beginning at the NC State Belltower, each runner
runs 2 miles to the Krispy Kreme store located
on Peace St. in Raleigh. After downing a full dozen
of the famous Krispy Kreme doughnuts, the runner
must run the two miles back. All in one hour.
Now that is how you binge-and-rally like a true collegian. It should be safe to say this this is the only 4-mile race with an answer in the FAQ that reads "We can't techinically stop you from throwing up, and quite frankly, that's just part of the race." Thank goodness this mess is for a good cause, the NC Children's Hospital. This may explain why the minimum age requirement for the Krispy Kreme Challenge is 6, because the hospital is pretty much the only place you could end up if you attempted this as a freaking first-grader. More power to any kid that small who completes this challenge. You're going to make a fine undergraduate one day, son.

The Krispy Kreme Challenge will have to wait for now. In the meantime, do I do this Ten Miler or what? Let me know what you think in the comments, especially if you've done it before. Perhaps we've finally found an occasion for the first ever Schiff Happens poll...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

You don't score until you score

I'm not saying the Cardinals got hosed or the refs blew it or the Steelers didn't win it or SanAntonio Holmes didn't do Amani Toomer proud with his toe-drag.

I'm just saying...

I will say that watching on TV, when they obviously showed 27 replays of the catch, it looked like he got both feet down and would have been impossible for the refs to overturn. Obviously they do not have the option to review still photographs, and that is definitely not a bad thing. Again, I'm only sayin'....

The Arizona Republic has an "up close" gallery up with a dozen still shots and angles, and I'll admit that 2 of them (photos 10 and 12) seem to show the pot-smoking/selling, rabbit-smashing, brain-hanging Super Bowl MVP dragging that second toe. None of this takes away from what was a truly awesome performance by both squads on Super Sunday.


I'm sayin'....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sans Gmen, Sunday was still Super

Even I am starting to tire of the Whopper Sacrifice, but it’s still not going away. Friday night, yet another strange chapter of the story was written, but we can get to that in a minute. In fact, just scroll down to the next post if you really want more of the story that made Schiff Happens famous, because Super Bowl Sunday has to take precedence in this particular weekend recap.

Last year, the year of the still most glorious Super Bowl ever, I had just moved to NYC, but ventured across the Hudson to Hoboken to watch the Jersey Giants in all their surreal Super glory. In fact, I went back and forth twice, having gone over Saturday to prepare the annual Super Chili. This year, though I was sadly without my beloved GMen, I celebrated the anniversary by jaunting across a different river with a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. My dear friend and fellow internet celebrity Julia, who some may remember from her Vanity Fair e-date at the Waverly Inn or the Monday Night Raw Kiss Cam, successfully got me to leave my crib at the painfully-early-for-me-on-a-Sunday hour of high noon and meet her at City Hall for a Super stroll across one of the single coolest New York and American icons I can think of. The weather was beyond perfect for the City in January – in the 40s and cloudless – and the walk was picturesque, refreshing, downright therapeutic even. We didn’t hang around much in BK, and didn’t get pizza knowing that we had much deep fried, ranch-glazed Super grub to consume later. However, I did eat Wendy’s and see a Zams (sadly after my camera had died), both of which were firsts in a while (an effing long while in the case of Zams pressed sandwiches, and you’d better believe I was ready to take down at least three of the delicious one I used to get at Freehold Raceway with chicken, bacon, American, tomato, fries and honey mustard. I believe it was called a “Number 7.” Sweet, sweet Number 7…)

/wipes away drool

Anyway, the Brooklyn Bridge walk was a great start and I’d absolutely do it again. By the time the game rolled around I was in truly high spirits. Once again chili was prepared on Super Saturday, although this year I did transport it a short distance to the Super Shindig.

And of course, there was the game, which, you may recall, was pretty damn good. At this point, you’ve probably consumed all that you care to about it, so I don’t really need to recap it. And since I was recently told I should get on twitter, now is as good a time as any to test my abbrevs and twitability. So here we go, Twitter practice – The 140-character Super Recap:

steelrs rollin-maybe game ova. BOSS TIME. 4th quarter insanity. Fitz is ridic. Like rly good. Wtf was that? Miracle catch 4 the win! CGs to Steelers. Best SB ever? No way
about 10 seconds ago from couch

Not bad at all, methinks. Still not sure I’m ready. I need some sort of Twitter Miyagi to guide me.

The King works in mysterious ways [Another Whopper Freakout]

Yea yea, we're famous, I know, can’t we talk about anything else? Try as I might to show off my versatility, the Whopper Sacrifice Facebook New York Times Schiff Happens pandemonium continues to sweep the nation. Just tonight I got a shout out from a friend in Chicago who spotted me, and over the weekend I got a friend request from a certain vindictive, passive-aggressive facebooker. But the Whopper Freakout Of The Week happened on Saturday night. I was talking to my good old buddy, Stone, about his meeting with Facebook that he recently mentioned in the comments (albeit way too late), and the following dialogue transpired:

Stone: Schiff-ha, facebook took it down but it’s still in my profile.
me: Yea, mine too, but if you click it you get directed to a page that says “Whopper Sacrifice has been sacrificed.”
Stone: Schiff-ha, I know, but I was pretty bummed because I didn’t get all the way to unfriending ten people. /looks up with hangdog eyes. I only got 6.

What a bugout. I blog some bullshit about defriending ten people I don’t even know for a scrumptious, free Whopper, next thing I know I’m famous. Then I blog some bullshit about the success of the Whopper Sacrifice, and I wonder who the poor sonofabitch was who only got through axing six friends and couldn’t earn his free burger when the application got pulled down after 233,906 friends were sacrificed. I even joked that the reporter who wrote the story should try to track down the sorry excuse for a burger lover and find out how he could possibly disgrace himself in such away, and not three days later I hit on a 1-in-23,000 chance of finding the em-effer. As if that weren't enough, I legitimately know him and have been good friends with him for years (although only recently learned about his sock-throwing antics). I really must have awoken the beef gods, because the Whopper Sacrifice continues to have a life of its own. Every time I think it’s going to fizzle out, it returns, so I’m gonna assume I haven’t heard the last of this. Long live the King.

The post that started it all: Because "People you may know" sounds nicer than "People you don't like"
The first update: Apologies for my absence, please accept my humble Whopper Sacrifice
The article: Friends, Until I Delete You [New York Times]
The fame: Schiff Happens in the New York Times [We're totally famous now!]
The beef: NYTimes facebook beef [Nontroversy]
The persistence: The King can't be stopped


Well, it happened. As we kind of knew, Little Eric was right, and the initial lineup announcement for Bonnaroo ’09 means the end of mankind and my face as we know it. Mind, you’re about to be blown. It’s been great knowing you. As if confirmation of the PHISHSTEEN rumors wasn’t enough, I get to see Beastie Boys again – and I thought I was lucky to have seen them once. That’s the holy trinity of Schiff Happens: The Hippie, The Tribesman and The Boss. Plus, there really is no party like a Snoop Dogg party. Warm up the RV, I’ll bring my green hat.

So much good music I already know and love, and so much that I have heard about and wanted to get into that I will now be able to see live in concert. As glad as I am that I get to spend a bunch more money I don’t have, a twin headliner of the best two bands I’ve ever seen, period, is worth the price of admission. And by the way, with complete and total Jersey domination descending on the year’s annual keynote summer festival, this WSJ article (which I have been trying for a minute to find the right context for) is really worth noting.


Oh yea, I almost forgot.... the lineup.

Who decides? The Boss decides.
If I had a penny for my thoughts I'd be a millionaire [Beastie Boys]
It's (almost, ok not really but pretty much) official!
Suck It Philly: Springsteen Edition
Phish Happens? [Rumors, Speculation and Hearsay]