Friday, July 24, 2009

Paulo's Book Club: "Entwined Lives"

"Consider the case of the so-called Jim Twins, which appears in the book Entwined Lives by Nancy L. Segal, director of the Twin Studies Center at Cal State-Fullerton. Split up at four weeks and then living separately for 39 years without knowledge of one another, the men, both named Jim, married women named Linda, divorced them and then married women named Betty. They gave their sons the same name. The twins smoked the same brand of cigarettes, drank the same brand of beer. They vacationed at the same Florida beach and drove light-blue Chevrolets."

That's the paragraph (from a Sports Illustrated article on the Sedin Twins), that made me interested in reading "Entwined Lives" by Nancy Segal.
If that paragraph doesn't intrigue you then you are either dead or not very smart.
And the book was well worth it. Beyond just the Jim Twins there was the fascinating story of identical triplets, reared apart, who were reunited later in life and eventually went to work at the Concierge's favorite restaurant, Sammy's Roumanian, before starting their own, Triplets' Roumanian.
The chapter on twins reared apart was probably the most intellectually fascinating because that's Segal's area of expertise.
For instance, identical twins reared apart are more alike than even fraternal twins who were raised together, showing the impact of nature vs. nurture.

And that really is the main theme of the book, by looking at twins, especially identical twins reared apart, we can see how much of behavior, and physical appearance is influenced by genetics, and how much by environment.

The universiality of that theme makes the book a great read for singletons, but the book is a must-read for twins and parents of twins.

I know several families raising or expecting twins and I think they all would benefit from Segal's perspective on how to raise the kids, as it pertains to treating them equally while encouraging and preserving their own identities. Every parent of twins will someday be confronted with the following conundrum: when the kids are old enough to enter school, should they be placed in the same class, or separated? Nancy Segal has an answer.

There is one drawback in this book. Nancy Segal is a doctor, a researcher and an expert who has spent her entire career studying twins. She is not a writer. The book is somewhat hard to read because it is written with a lot of medical jargon. It goes heavy on the numbers and the research, and light on the anecdotes. You can skip some chapters, like the one on twins in the animal kingdom, but I wouldn't suggest that because you can learn great things such as: armadillos have kite-shaped uteruses.

I recommend this book whole-heartedly to twins and singletons alike. It is a must for people with twins and people with curious minds.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Poop's Movie Reviews

Because we have built-in baby sitters on vacation Mrs. Poop and I took advantage of this opportunity to go see the movie everyone has been talking about, “The Hangover.”

But before I get into that let me first review a couple other movies we have seen recently and establish the baseline for the Poop movie rating system.

We start at 0 Poops with “Borat,” one of the worst movies ever without a single funny joke or redeeming quality.

Next on my scale is 1 Poop, which I generously give to “Napoleon Dynamite.” A movie only an idiot could love, but at least it had some cute moments and quotable lines.

With those parameters laid down, I give “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” 2 Poops. The first time we tried to watch this Mrs. Poop and I both fell asleep in the middle because it was so awful. And we both hated it so much we debated whether or not to even finish. Other than poking fun at a couple Israeli idiosyncracies like the “Going Out of Business” store, I found nothing funny about this movie at all.

Then there was “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” which I found to be really funny. Certain types of humor I just don’t enjoy like outrageous sight gags (Jason Segel’s cock, Russell Brandt humping a giant chess piece) and awkwardness (any scene involving Jonah Hill), but barring that I thought this movie was well-written, smart and had some hysterically funny moments. It gets 7 Poops.

Which leads me to “The Hangover.” I loved it, absolutely hysterical movie. An all-time great guy comedy. I can’t even point to specific jokes or scenes, the whole thing was hysterical, and the photo montage at the end was a great way to tie it together. Once again I could have done without the male nudity and some of it was derivative (the tiger in the car was stolen right from “Tommy Boy” only with a different animal so no one would notice). In fact, the whole thing lightly reeked of “Old School,” same director, and I believe same wedding singer, though that seemed more of an homage than a rip-off. I loved the cameos of Mike Tyson and Heather Graham’s nipple. I will start saying “your language is very offensive” whenever someone curses from now on. And I was actually quite glad a lot of the movie’s funniest parts were not given away in the trailer.

he does look more like a Carlos

But the funniest part of the movie for me occurred thanks to Mrs. Poop. Right when Stu (Andy Bernard aka Ed Helms) was about to give the tiger the steak, she was anticipating a huge roar. And right when the tiger roared, Mrs. Poop let out the loudest, highest, shrillest shriek ever. Then she was so shocked and embarrassed she let out a yell that she laughed hysterically for about five minutes.

this tiger scared the shit out of Mrs. Poop

I’m not including that special moment in my review, but even without Mrs. Poop’s horrified yell, I still give “The Hangover” 8 Poops.

First Visit to CitiField

It was a long time overdue but on June 20th, I finally made my first trip to CitiField which in itself was long overdue.

Long overdue is a phrase that could easily be used to describe CitiField itself.

After years of suffering in Shea Stadium Mets fans are finally able to go watch our team in a beautiful ballpark with character.

The first key monument is the Jackie Robinson Rotunda just inside the stadium's entrance. But before that, you have to traverse the CitiField fanwalk a huge collectrion of bricks inscribed with personal messages. Because the bricks were't outrageously expensive, we decided to buy one for Papa Poop one Hanukah, so we located that before we went inside.

One disadvantage of the Fanwalk, there are so many bricks you'll never find the one you're looking for if you don't know exactly where it is. But since the Mets weren't greedy and donated most of the proceeds to charity, that's a good thing.

Papa Poop's brick

Inside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda (reminiscent of Ebbets Field), is a huge number 42 which is cool to be photographed in front of.

the huge 42 in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda

One of the great things about CitiField is the access, you can walk around the lower bowl of the stadium and see the field the whole time. The centerfield bridge is a great attraction during or even before the game.

the centerfield bridge
In front of the Fox Business sign

On the other side of the bridge is the much ballyhooed food court area. To be honest, I was a little disappointed, the Shake Shack, Blue Smoke and even the Taqueria provide a nice variety to the traditional ballpark food, but at each place the variety was actually limited. Not wanting to eat ribs at a ballgame or wait half an hour for a $10 hamburger, we instead opted for the hdiden jewel of CitiField, Box Frites. A decent-sized box of delicious fries for a reasonably priced $6. But the best part was the dipping sauce, we had smoky bacon. And it actually tasted like bacon.

in front of Shake Shack and the skyline from Shea Stadium

While I'm discussing food I should mention that a few rows in front of us someone was eating french fries and topped them with so much ketchup we felt we had to take a picture.

have some fries with your ketchup

I also had the boneless buffalo bites from Nathan's which were good, but a little dry. Mrs. Poop enjoyed the sausage, the stands for which are located everywhere, but also said it was good, but not great.

When it came time to sit in our seats and watch the game, the one flaw of CitiField was revealed. In an effort to bring the fans closer to the game, there are some awful sight lines. Because the stands are so close, the farther back you go in each the more of the field you cannot see. From our seats halfway up the upper level, any deep fly ball to left field completely left our line of sight. I can see why people have been complaining about this, but there really is no way to fix it. It will likely just drive up demand and cost for lower, closer seats.

The view from our seats

Despite that flaw, I am in love with CitiField and can't wait to go back and explore the other areas I missed (the old apple) and taste the foods I didn't try (Mama's though I don't like their exotic sandwiches). I can't wait to take Chase to his first game there, and to spend the next 30 - 40 years at least attending games there.

But right now I sort of feel like a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, beautiful stadium, horrible team.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Exit Are You Drinking?

A New Jersey brewery is using the state's congested and often-derided turnpike to promote its beer.

Cherry Hill-based Flying Fish Brewing Co. (motto: "Proudly Brewed in New Jersey: You Got a Problem with That?") has undertaken an ambitious project of releasing a special beer in honor of turnpike exits, one at a time.

The beers are being made in limited runs and sold in 750 milliliter wine-size bottles.

The first, a Belgian-style ale, came out earlier this year in honor of Exit 4, the exit nearest the suburban Philadelphia industrial park that Flying Fish calls home.

The next beer, Exit 11 Hoppy American Wheat Ale (an intersection of styles) is a tribute to Woodbridge's exit, where the Turnpike meets the Garden State Parkway.

Joe Orlando, a spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, said it's a bad idea to associate a highway with alcohol. Flying Fish has answered the authority's concerns with disclaimers that the beer isn't endorsed by the authority.

"There's been a brokered peace here," Orlando said. "But don't expect to see it in any of our rest areas."

Initially, that didn't satisfy Mindy Lazar, executive director of New Jersey's chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "The combination of a roadway and advertising for any kind of a beer doesn't make any kind of sense," she said.

The company plans to introduce more exit beers every few months.

Muller said he's not sure if all 29 exits will get their own beers.

Muller said he hopes its fans will help come up with future beer concepts linked to the exits, which are near malls, the Meadowlands sports complex and peach orchards, not to mention right under the approach of planes landing at Newark Liberty International Airport.

That's a change from the original idea. Muller said initially he wanted to have each beer's alcohol content match the exit number -- Exit 6 beer, for instance, would have 6 percent alcohol. Most beers have about 5 percent alcohol.

"But then we thought pretty quickly that Exits 1, 2 and 3 were going to be pretty boring for brewing, and then Exits 16, 17 and 18 were going to be really dangerous."

Song of the Week - Ton edition

I'm doing things a bit differently this time around. The Song of the Week is "I've got a Feeling" by Black Eyed Peas. Instead of showing their actual video, here's a video review on the song/video, called "Black Eyed Peas Have Officially Written The Worst Song Ever". Poop Heads may be interested, as this song makes several Jewish references, and this guy Gladstone doesn't appreciate it too much.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Way Life Should Be

We're headed to Maine for our annual lobster-eating, beach-reading vacation.

As always, in my absence, TON is in charge.

I may have limited internet access to post some things, and I wrote up a few posts I've been working on and get them ready to auto-publish in my absence.

I also posted a bunch of pictures on Chase's blog which will post every other day during the week.

I am also prepared to make a major Poop announcement when I get back.

What Really Happened

Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, ESPN's Outside the Lines and the tireless efforts of SCZA we are finally understanding what happened that night in the Minxx strip club in Las Vegas the night Pacman Jones made it rain and eventually got charged in the shooting incident that would get him suspended from the NFL for an entire season.

Amazingly someone in the strip club had a handheld video camera, so we get high quality images (not grainy surveillance footage) of what went on -- at least until the alleged incident began.

In this NSFW video posted on the Review Journal's website we see Pacman with a Louis Vuitton backpack which had $100,000 in singles in it. You have to watch the video, it really is amazing to see. Nelly was there, and so was Jermaine Dupri (more on him later) and they were throwing around so much money that the girls were using champagne buckets to scoop it up. This is a once in a lifetime haul for a stripper, so there were no girls in the back, no girls in the VIP, no girls paying attention to any other customers (at least it seemed that way) they were all on the main stage trying to get a few of the dollars being showered down by Pacman.

But that's when the trouble started. Jermaine Dupri took the microphone and told the strippers not to pick up the money. He paid to see them dance, not to see them bend over and pick up money. He implored the women not to pick up the money until they were told.

When one girl disobyed Pacman grabbed her by her hair and punched her in the face. That's the story according to the club staff, who eventually threw Pacman out. They also say Pacman threatened to kill them as he and his entourage were being ejected from the club. That's when someone, believed to be an associate of Pacman's shot three club employees, leaving one of them paralyzed for life.