Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas with the Hoopers ( Holiday Traditions FROM GUEST REVIEWER TRISH HOOPER)

When I think about the holidays, my brain runs around wildly with thoughts of Holiday Breads and Meats and Pickles and Milks!
Holiday traditions have kept my family coming together for generations from all corners of the globes and all over the corners of Ohio.
My grandparents, Lillian and Otto came from across the English Ocean to the great and wild Ohio, searching for religious persecution and a small fruit farm/factory away from the troubles of England and the English in the 1910's, and since then...BOY have the traditions switched from something we do every year to something we all get together to do every year with each other every year!

The Hoopers have always been a proud and strong family.
Hooper, as described by the name book dictionary is:
English: occupational name for someone whom fitted wooden or metal hoops on wooden casks and barrels, from an agent derivative of Middle English hoop ‘hoop’, ‘band’.
Being a Hooper means remembering the family tradition of hoop making.
We (and by "we" I mean my dad, Alden) set up a pole in the middle of the barrel room, and we throw hoops at it until someone makes the barrel hoop around the pole and then they are crowned "King Hooper" for the day and get to decide what we all have for dinner, and what movie or book we read or watch for the night.
Last year, I won on the third Saturday of the month, so naturally I took the whole family to Red Lobster for a Fish Steam and Gremlins at the video store.
BUT, when the BIG day (Christmas Eve) finally comes, we have ourselves a little eggnog drinking, in lieu of the fox hunt that the Hoopers have been known for in generations past. Then, and I know this will sound weird to some of you out there, but my brother Kieth sets up the family kissing booth and to get a kiss, you have to tell Kieth, whom is afraid of EVERYTHING, not to be scared of your mouth and that he has a nice haircut or something else flattering, and then he will give you a kiss.
Two years ago, my dad Alden told him that he was really smart and could build rockets. Boy you should've seen the kiss he got from Kieth!! It was like we were at Lake Havasu with my dad and brother for the holidays!!
Then, we all meet for the pickle hunt around the tree. This is a German tradition, but my Grandma always wanted to be German, so we hide a pickle in the tree and look for it. I never really try to hard at this, because I have plenty of pickles already.
Then we go caroling with neighbors whom I have never met, because our neighborhood is changing and now everyone has lots of kids and takes public transportation everywhere. EVEN TO GO CAROLING!!! I think they don't have a car.
Once we return home, it's time to get in the car and turn around and go right back out to the Veterans Hospital.
If there's one thing we all know from the holidays, it's that helping Veterans is important, especially Veterans from wars that people don't know about.
I spent some time with a 1st Sergeant from the Bay of Pigs War.
He kept wanting to hear "Ave Maria" I really sing it beautifully, but he must've been crazy from the war! LOL!
We don't exchange presents because it's more important to be nice all year long.
I made Kieth a Halloween costume this year, and my dad fixed my oil pan on my car, and my mom is planning a trip to SeaWorld for some of us (more news on that trip later!:))
The it's time for the Hoopers to return to whence from whom they came and back to work in our jobs and place of work, until the next year when we meet and do it all over again!
I hope you all have a great Christmas or whatever Christian holiday you celebrate, and remember the incarnation of the only living God.
A Heavenly Host to ALL!!

Christas with the Hoopers A+
-Trish Hooper, Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Office Holiday Party (Office Party)

I should warn you, this review won't be interesting. Because my office Holiday party was lame. I mean, really horrible. See, no one has any money, so here were the 1st 3 clues that this office party was not going to be a Mad Men style drug fueled sex game:

1 - Pot luck dinner. We couldn't even go out for lunch like we did last year. They made us bring our own food. Hey, jerks, I eat my own food at home. At parties, I like wings and taquitos from Harry Caray's or the Tilted Kilt.

2 - No booze. Are you kidding, office? Seriously, how the hell could we have gotten in trouble for this? We had no money for food anyway, and I can't bring in my special Hot Doggery Purple Panty Punch? I'm telling you, this major oversight ruined everything.

3 - Silly ass games. Seriously. A book exchange and a game where we have to guess which co-worker is lying about something.

Let me explain this for the last time: I work with a whole crew of hot women. And I mean HOT...if these girls had stage presence, they would be great porn stars. I am never going to understand why I didn't speak up a few weeks ago about this. Because I should have said:

"Hey, powers that be, let's have a 50's themed office party! Every one can wear fun slinky dresses and skinny ties, we can all smoke, I'll bring punch and a cheese log topped with spam chunks, and we can make a few dozen pitchers of cape cods. Oh, and no blacks."

Instead, I won a used copy of "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" and had to go back to my cubicle after the "party." Screw you, Jesus!


-Eric Roach, Anderson Lawfer

The Sing Off! (NBC Television Show)

There has been one television show this season that seems to have captured the hearts and minds of all the females I know and also the gays, while not totally alienating the heterosexual men that are forced to watch the tee vee with them, and it is called "Glee"and it is on FOX.
It follows the exploits of a second rate high school glee club. People are having babies, and hating glee clubs and having race issues and drinking underage and cheerleading and taking math tests and balancing work and family life and wheelchairs. But the thing that separates this show from every other stupid drama on television is its intricate and wildly inappropriate dance and song numbers.
They take hugely popular arena rock songs and turn them into almost interesting a cappella tunes.
Well not to be outdone, NBC has gone out and made a reality game show where different acappella groups compete for a "record contract" (like anybody wants a record with no instruments on it) and $100,000 cash in twenties.
They started out with 8 groups, I think.

There are the:
Maxx Factor- a group of retired airline stewardesses that somehow escaped from Branson, and covered everything in sequins.
The Beelzebubs- a group of young men who have never got laid from Boston or somewhere and look like they are in a commercial for GapNerd.
The SoCals- some other kids that have acne and attitudes. They sing songs by Journey and Abba and all look like jerks.
The SweetHammers- This is not their name, but I forgot it. (See SoCals.)
Nota- a bunch of Puerto Ricans that are clearly the best ones, but everyone hides their wallets and children because any time a Puerto Rican is singing, it's just because he is figuring out a way to rape your family of everything you love.
And then there are some other groups too.

Then there are the judges:

Ben Folds- Ben tries to act smart and like he doesn't need the money, but I see right through him.
The Pussycat Dolls Lady- I don't know her name, but she is always nice to everyone and dances around, probably to try to stop thinking about how much her vagina itches from being a whore.
Shaun Stockman- A guy who was in Boyz II Men and makes sure to tell everyone anytime anybody asks him, or doesn't ask him.
"You know it's hard to be the bass. We had a bass in my band, Boyz II Men, and it was hard for him."
Shaun, I hate to break it to you, but most of these people weren't even born when the East Coast Family was running the game.
Get a job as a security guard or a butcher like everybody else did.

All of this extravegance is hosted by the multitalented Nick Lachey, it just so happens that hosting a show is not one of his talents.

Well, this show manages to delight my wife and I as we lay in bed and pick on these poor bastards that can't hear what we are saying about them.

It's worth a watch, but don't get any big ideas about starting an acappella group, because these are the best ones there are, and they still blow.

-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


My two children have recently discovered Tom & Jerry with a near-maniacal vengeance. And by maniacal, I mean THIS SHOW IS ALWAYS ON. I come down in the morning for breakfast, and it's on. I come home from a long day at work, and it's on. Weekends, lunchtime, dusk --- these children are into this show.

This obsession with cat-and-mouse games is different from other cartoon fixations. There was Scooby-Doo, which was intense but mercifully brief ("The bad guys here ALWAYS get caught," sniffed my 4-year-old daughter in dismissal). There was also Space Ghost, which led to a whole bunch of bad Gary Owens impersonations around the house but also died away after a short while. Care Bears continues to rear its nasty head now and again, but its hold on children is undeniable. The kids absolutely stop dead what they're doing to watch.

"I really like Care Bears, Dad, but PLEASE don't tell anyone that I do," pleaded my 7-year-old son. No worries, Declan! Your secret is safe with me.

Christmas is a mixed bag. The Rankin/Bass cartoons retain their power, and Keenan Wynn in particular is off the hook as the Winter Warlock in "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town". I get creeped out everytime a drunken-sounding Mickey Rooney invites some small child from Sombertown to come sit on his lap, though. BUT -- I really dig the groovy psychedelia of Mrs. Claus' solo song when she unties the bun in her hair and discovers her sexuality in "My Love Is Beginning Today". You're darn right your love is beginning today! I love them redheads.

Unfortunately, there's also the "Home Alone" series, which have captivated my children to the point where I recently received a formal pitch from Declan to put the first "Home Alone" on stage, starring himself as Kevin and me in the Daniel Stern role. Read into that what you will.

But I digress. Even in these holiday times, when I try to shove "Olive The Other Reindeer" and "Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas" down these poor children's throats, it is "Tom And Jerry" that they return to. As a result, I have watched more "Tom & Jerry" than I ever did as a child. So....I have formed some definite thoughts on this long-beloved cartoon.

From what I can suss out from Comcast's helpful On Demand synopses, the first Tom & Jerry cartoons made their debut around the early 1940s. They were produced and directed by two young and hungry Italians named Willie Hanna and Joey Barbera. These first pieces establish the timeless themes of chase, deception, and the giant lump growing out of an injured animal's head after receiving a direct blow from a baseball bat, golf club, or claw hammer.

The basic plot of these early pieces revolve around the feet and yellow dress of Aunt Jemima, who rules her household with an iron fist while her massa is gone from the house. She scolds her perpetually lazy cat (Tom) for not chasing the only mouse in the house (Jerry) while eating the unseen Massa out of house and home. Her voice, which used to scream "Thomas!" with mammy-like gusto, has now sadly been overdubbed in 2009. As a result, Tom's fear of being discovered by Hattie McDaniel has sadly diminished to being discovered by Michelle Obama. And believe you me, Hattie could kick the everlovin' SHIT out of our current First Lady.

By the 1950s, Willie "The Weasel" Hanna and Joey "The Shark" Barbera had grown bored with racism and zoot suits, and discovered the concept of the "cute sidekick". This concept, which would manifest itself twenty years later in the form of Zan & Jana and Scrappy-Doo, was first born in Tom & Jerry. These early cute sidekicks took the form of a French-speaking mouse clad in a cloth diaper, or a Donald Duck sound-alike bird, or a mute fish with super air-breathing gills and the ability to wield a weapon with its powerful fish tail. But the themes of these later cartoons veered too much toward the maudlin, and lacked the Mafia-style violence of the 40s.

By the late 50s, it was clear that Hanna & Barbera were moving operations from animals and their dangerous games to the wacky adventures of nuclear families in both the Stone Age (The Flintstones) and the Space Age (The Jetsons). So they turned the reins over to a demented, crazy man named Charles Jones, who was better known as "Chuck" in the opium dens and brothels of LA. Jones removed any pretense of friendship from Tom & Jerry's relationship. These two now became mortal fucking enemies, and the stakes and methods of killing and torture rose exponentially. "Tom & Jerry is scary now," whimpers my daughter Jessie whenever a Chuck Jones version comes on the tube. Get tough, girl! Cats don't LIKE mice!

The 70s saw Tom & Jerry become FRIENDS, and fight enemies like Martians, dogs and gangsters. Stupid, and unworthy of your time. The 80s and 90s Tom & Jerry cartoons have not been shown yet on Comcast On Demand. They must really be lousy (if they even exist).

Now a brand new Tom & Jerry is on the WB Network, and they are back to being enemies. This is a welcome development, but they need to get back to the basics of the house and the backyard as a setting. NO ONE is going to buy Tom & Jerry chasing each other inside a rocket ship, or a king's carriage, or a landfill. Sure, there are all kinds of cool weapons, but the human element is missing. That's what the Italian maestros Hanna & Barbera understood.

So overall, Tom & Jerry is a seminal piece of work that has given us some of the best (and worst) of wholesome cartooing for youngsters.

My kids would give this entire series an A+. I'm a little tougher, so I'm going with a B+.

-Mike Beyer, Eric Roach, Anderson Lawfer

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Drug Fueled Sex Games (activity leading to murder)

During the past few years, a shadow has covered the world of drug fueled sex games because of the murder of a young British woman in an Italian villa by Amanda Knox, an American student and her lover, Raffaelle Sollecito, and a drifter from the Ivory Coast named Rudy.
A couple, a roommate and a drifter. Now this seems like a regular drug fueled sex game to me. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary. How could this lead to murder?
I will be the first to admit that a drifter is always a wild card.
So here is a quick guide to drug fueled sex games:
Rule number 1:
No drifters at the house.
Listen, I like strange African men as much as any college girl living abroad, but save it for the bar bathrooms. We all know they have the best drugs AND diamonds around, so be sure to talk to them, but keep your activities to oral, and keep your games to Futbol.
An Ivory Coastian will never turn down heroine soccer blowjobs in a spring break barroom setting.
Rule number 2:
Know your games.
Don't let these men take advantage of the games just because they are more competitive. If it's your time to spin the wheel or roll the dice, don't let that jerk stand in your way! Some simple things you can do to make sure you get a fair shake...
Make sure the board rolls go counter clockwise and always stay in your same spot. I know this can be challenging when a vibrant game of Anal Chutes and Ladders is on the line, but be sure to always return to the same spot and be vocal about it if need be!
Rule number 3:
Make your guests feel welcome.
Is this a drug fueled sex game party or a wake?
Get out there and PLAN AHEAD. I can't stress this strongly enough. Do a little shopping, and remember that your first chance to set the mood is with the invitations, so don't skimp.
Otherwise, you might as well just go get fingerblasted at the OTB.
Rule number 4:
Savvy drug picking.
What drug best fits your party?
Are we playing Balderdash and kissing or are we playing Win, Lose or Draw and digging up corpses?
Put some real thought into what you are looking for.
For example, when my wife and I want to have the neighbors over for a jigsaw puzzle, I get the best Colombian Yayo I can find.
If it's just me and the boys playing DickTag, I will probably lean more towards a clean Chardonnay.
I know my family sometimes likes to just smoke a joint watch the Cubs and touch boobs, AND THAT'S OK TOO.
This is your party so get out there and really throw your spunk all over it!
Now the final and most important rule:
Rule number 5:
Always keep on your shoes.
I can't tell you how many horror stories I've heard about people getting jizm in a foot wound, or having a toe in the box when you least expect it.
These are the things I can tell you that I've learned, and with these simple 5 rules, you can throw a drug fueled sex game that no one is soon to forget!


-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

1997 (year in history)

Now, this is not an encyclopedia service, but every once in a while a year or another piece of history will stand out and speak to me or Eric in a way you can't describe with words. It's like an angel has come down from the rafters of Heaven and touched my shoulder and made me walk into the other room and opened a book and in that very book is a page that says the word "1997" and then I know that's what I need to review for you.
To write about an entire year is very difficult for a reviewer. Do I hit the big historical implications of that year, or do I spend time with how that year helped to mold me and the effects on the rest of my famed, storied years?
Well, let's start with the big stuff.
MCMXCVII is a thing that happened almost 20 years ago.
There was an inauguration of Bill Clinton. Many died in an Israeli helicopter crash. The Dow closed over 7k for the first time ever.Notorious B.I.G. was brutally murdered in a fried chicken house. Billy Crystal hosted the Oscars. Weirdos thought they would be picked up by a comet and killed themselves, making it next to impossible to board a comet.
But what REALLY happened that year?
I filled out many college applications, that's for sure. I physically loved high school girls for the last time, so far. I smoked as much weed as I could find. My favorite drink was Dr. Pepper.
Internets poured out of every computer, soft and smooth. Everyone bought shares in Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and drove Corvettes.
No one had heard of Judge Mathis yet. Boy were they in for a SHOCK!!!!
We were an innocent nation, in an ugly world. We hadn't yet begun to fight in misplaced wars, or blindly drive up the stock market. OJ was innocent, and so were we. Our hands were clean from the blood of our naysayers and dancing to the smokey beats of a new millennium around the corner.
Well, I hope you guys are happy because those days don't exsist anymore.
Because of YOU, we dance in darkness. Because of YOU, Tiger Woods is hurting. Because of YOU, Julius Chan has resigned as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, ending the Sandline Affair.
Here is a poem from that, the year when we lost our hymen of innocence:
" I wanted so badly to tell you that I loved you. The words, each time, graced my lips like an impostor, only to fall away like some great blizzard that was taken out to sea to rain it's fury on the dark ocean, alone, unbeknwowsnt to any hearing... And whether that day is tomorrow, or next week, or next year, or next lifetime...I will finally get to tell you to your sweet face. The face I will miss more than I could ever tell, that...I love You. And you'll smile wryly, close your eyes, say 'catch me baby,'...and fall. "

So let that be the beacon that glides you down the wicked hearth you have created, America.
This world was supposed to be fun and wild, and you have made it deep and autistic.
1997, you are still in my teary eyes, if I look into that yearbook and wish like I had once wished before for another Dr. Pepper.


-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

All The Fame of Lofty Deeds - The House Theatre (play)

Perhaps you've heard of the House theatre. They are the ones who write comic book plays that everyone takes VERY SERIOUSLY, even though they are about fairies and space monsters but have emotions and great sets. They also seem to have a bunch of women who never write the plays, but get to dance and do administrative work.

The above mentioned play is a departure from their standard fare, yet still in the House oveure (canon). Written by a rock journalist named Mark Guarino and based on the music of Jon Langford (a British drunk who plays American alt-country...which is fair play because the Brits can't really sing about anything without ripping us off (see Led Zepplin)), this is a story about the last living cowboy, Lofty Deeds (played by a thin and energetic Nathan Allen). The set is of course a rip-roaring hoot and the idea of a band onstage is always a winner. The music is pretty fun, and great to snap along to and tap your feet with.

The story is basically a philisophical treatise on what it's like to be famous and cry about how everyone ruins your art and gives you money. This I found awesome, in the same way I found Walk The Line, Ray, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story pretty awesome. It's like the writer watched those movies too!

The cast is ebullient, and my friend and cohort Anderson Lawfer is once again a toothsome wonder as the Host. Anderson makes the most out of laugh-lines and talking in an easy-going manner to the audience who hangs on his every word. I'm glad people like him, because he's so nice.

Also, Corri Feuerstein plays the Tumbleweed and has lots of things to say! She also sings, and look-out because she's great and will blow your doors off! The piece really showcases her talents, which is good since she has so many of them. She's also really good at Excel spreadsheets, The House! Hint hint!

All in all, this is a really good concert with some long onstage banter in-between songs. This banter is long, guys. But, the cast and band do some fabulous work and I really think this review should help out these young upstarts, The House. They've got interesting things to say and I think their next show should be about a dragon who misses his mom! That would be worth it.


-Eric Roach, Anderson Lawfer

1985 -Factory Theater (Play)

Since Eric Roach and I have started our little reviewing blog, we have become staples in the Chicago theatre and restaurant communities and heroes on the discussion panel circuit. Benefits include not paying for meals, getting backrubs from lead actors and handshakes with the greatest other minds of our time.
So when I was asked to pay $5 to attend Eric Roach's new opus, he received his first strike.
"Strike one!" I exclaimed.
"Just shut up already" Eric protested.
"Whatever" I retorted, in vain.

Now an important part of my reviews are the overall audience experience, since how else can you separate one stupid gay play from the other?
This experience was nothing short of oppulent.
When I arrived, I was greeted by a "hello" from a nice, fair chested, young woman. Then, when asked for my billing information, I refused, sending her into a great deal of apologies, the likes of which I haven't seen before from someone with breasts of that caliber.
I forgave her, much to my wife's dismay.
Upon entering the theatre, turned football mosque (an incredible shrine to football and some guys face by Angelina Martinez) I grabbed my seat in the front pew.
I was ready to believe in something bigger than me. Something that unites us all over the civilized world. A game of peace and credibility immortalized by role models for our children and friends for our men. A game of SUCCESS that touches the very heart of America with it's glove covered fingers and AX body-sprayed biceps.
Now I was just about to finish saying this out loud when the same breasted lady from before asked me to keep my voice down as the play was about to begin.
Strike 2.
1985, written by Chas Vrba, achieves a lot before intermission. As any real American has, I read the great british novel 1984 in high school.
So the material was fresh in my mind as we began our journey together.
The play begins with our hero Winston (a charmed Chas Vrba) doubting his loyalty to Big Brother. In this case though, and it being 1985 Chicago, the bears have taken hold of the city and are watching our every move. The gang of friends he has collected to live in this hellish prison are wonderful and care about him very much.
There is Rachel (played with fresh verocity by Stacy Barra) that loves her hair and bears and cares about Winston but is married to the controlling Ross (a drug fueled performance by Manny Tammayo). Phoebe (an angsty Christy Arrington that seemed stuck in time, much to my delight!) a youngish lady with a penchant for cursing and beer guzzling. Chandler (a mighty Scott Oken who rides the show up and down like an oil covered horse that does not want him to be on top of it) a policeman with the right attitude, Joey ( a tight lipped Tim Amos, just right for this mix of despair and nutty perfunctory glee) as a Nascar loving member who is eventually sent to fix his sports favorites in "Room 101". Gunther ( Mike Ooi in his finest performance to date) as a homosexual guzzling Beef Store Magnate.
WEith his friends, Winston carries along, finishing his responsibilities and loving his glorious Chicago Bears until a young lady arrives named Monica (Laura MacKenzie in the sexiest of all womens roles), a Howard Jones loving sparkplug with all the right moves to make Winston rethink his loyalties.
Now, as far as drama goes, you'd be hard pressed to find another piece with this kind of momentum just from the yelling alone.
Not to mention the comedy chops you couldn't find anywhere else in town.
Well, it all leads up to the moment of decision, when the lights come up, and they tell you it's only half over.
Not to worry, I have brought cigarettes and many conversation starters.
Well, after not bringing a lighter and no one to talk to, I returned to my seat, and sat back, clinging to my money (it's very dark in there) ready to enjoy the second act of this epic play.
And I did.
I enjoyed the hell out of it.
Now there's not much I can tell you without giving away the ending, but Ernie Deak was wonderful as a television screen, there is snow and everybody dies at the end.
Eric Roach, my good friend, has outdone himself this time, and should take a break, because raising the bar again so fast could literally shut down the theater scene in Chicago.


-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach