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My American ‘Idle’

4/29/08

It’s been four long weeks since I last vented about one of my favorite pastimes, and so there is much to discuss in the world that is American Idol.

In only the last few weeks, there have been a pair of surprising departures, Idol Gives Back and some interesting celebrity mentors.

Michael Johns and Carly Smithson.

So much potential, so much frustration.

At the very beginning of the final 24, these two were both favored by many to either win or be in it down the stretch.

However neither have reached the final 5, while some question marks remain.

I was an early fan of Jason Castro, but his whole deer in the headlights thing has gotten sour.

He probably should have been sent home when Michael was, although he has put together a handful of decent performances. (Over the Rainbow with the Banjo was great actually)

That being said, along with Kristy Lee Cook who finally bit the dust last week, Jason and Syesha may be overstaying their welcome.

Syesha has also been impressive, but as far as i’m concerned, the two of them were a clear class below Michael and Carly.

The problem is, and I’ve been saying it for years, the voting system on this show is flawed.

For 7 season, people call or text in their votes for the person they like most, and the bottom three are pointed out every week with one of them being sent home.

My suggestion for the last 3 years or so is to change it up completely, by having people vote for the person they feel deserves to go home.

Kind of Survivor-esque, minus the tiki torch. (Maybe Ryan can have the Microphone cut in the middle of their farewell song?)

By voting for the person you most want to see leave, I think it would cut down the diversity in the vote, meaning that you would have more votes for only a handful of people as opposed to lots of votes for everyone.

Another advantage would be that week-to-week, there would be more pressure on the singers, meaning that when Brooke had to restart her song for the second time this season, people could see that as a weakness of hers, and vote her to go home.

I’m not saying my idea isn’t flawed, because when it comes right down to it, this show is all about popularity, which is why if your name is David and you’re still in the competition, chances are you’ll be one of the final two standing.

Carly and Michael were both very talented artists-to-be (Paula always calls them artists despite the fact they don’t officially have record deals, even if some of them- ironically Carly and Michael- had previous ones), yet were never bad enough in my opinion to be sent home.

Michael was awesome with his Queen medley, while this past week Carly was terrific singing Jesus Christ Superstar.

Even Kristy wasn’t bad last week despite being in the bottom 3, yet again.

Jason, Syesha and Brooke should be the next three to go, in that order.

Idol Gives Back was also a few weeks ago, and maybe it was just me, but I was left unimpressed.

The worst had to have been when Teri Hatcher sang Before He Cheats.

I shut off the television after realizing it wasn’t a joke.

The video clips were all good but they feel sort of forced and staged, however the issues at hand can’t be understated, and the money raised is certainly a good thing.

All in all, I have been a little let down by this season, partially because it is so clear who the truly talented performers are, and also because the whole Idol thing, after 7 years, is starting to get a bit old.

Should the people who run the show take my advice and change the voting format, the show might be able to regain the obsessiveness I was devoting to it week after week, but this season is the first in a few where I haven’t rushed to my television, making sure not to miss a minute of the performances and results.

That being said, Idol continues to be the most watched show in the country, and will probably continue to be as long as Ryan, Randy, Paula and Simon are a part of it.

American Idol 8pm FOX

April 29, 2008 Posted by | American Idol | | Leave a comment

Humor Columnist Thankful for Space to try and Make People Laugh

4/24/08

by Scott Spinelli

Absolutely nothing can compare to these last two semesters. Under some crazy set of rules that govern the universe, I was allowed to fill the space this column provides.

Want to read a funny story? Though I don’t think anyone ever responds in the negative to a question like that.

“Ehh…funny would be OK, I guess. Do you have a mildly depressing story? I’m in the mood.”

On top of that, those stories aren’t usually very funny if they need to be prefaced like that. Instead, are you up for a mildly entertaining, more revealing
than really funny story?

This column wasn’t supposed to be given to me. In fact, a friend of mine had spoken to me about her desire to do the column. We spoke over the summer about it, and, like the snake I am, I inquired about it with the folks over at The Daily Orange. Long story short, I got the column, she didn’t. Surprisingly, she still speaks to me.

Writing this column every week has been nothing short of a true joy. Then again, that may be just a bit of an overstatement.

Was I annoyed when I’d read the paper and find jokes of mine taken out? Yes. How about when I’d read the paper and an old column was reprinted instead of a new one? Definitely. Or, what about when new jokes were added in? Three for three.

In all seriousness, I’ve had a great time writing this. The one thing it’s done for me is it gave me a taste of what it might feel like to be “cool.” I’d imagine it’s how fraternity guys feel every second of the day. As you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking, “Who does this kid think he is? What a loser.”

Well, doubters, I’ll say this: I’ve run into people all over the place who had a ton of (likely phony) good things to say about my column. However, for whatever reason, people felt like as long as they were talking to me about the column and had read just one, they had the greatest new and funny idea for my next one.

“You should write a column about the two blonde girls you met at Chuck’s!

“You know what would be a good column, this (insert exceedingly normal, everyday social situation here)! This would be a good column, am I right, or am I right?”

Maybe it’s what some folks like to call “beer courage.” Maybe this campus is just teeming with great sitcom writers. Who knows?

Let me also take this space to say that being recognized in public, ever, by anyone, is one of the most amazing things that’s ever happened to me. I’ve been at family gatherings where not everyone recognizes me. I don’t want to make it like I get showered with praise, girls throwing panties at me, when I head through the Quad. No, not that at all. First of all, the girls are throwing bras. Second of all, it’s usually at a bar, not in the middle of the Quad. That would just be ridiculous.

Easily the craziest part of any day this or last semester would be when friends of mine would tell me their own friends (whom I didn’t know) loved the column. I’m specifically thinking about a few ladies from the women’s lacrosse team. I wasn’t even sure the athletes at this school could read, so just knowing they understood the column, regardless of how they felt about it, made me feel good.

In writing this column, I’ve thought for a while about how I wanted to end it. I didn’t want to try for one of those Seinfeld-type endings that tries to incorporate some running theme, to be “the best ever” ending of all time. Those episodes always stink and disappoint.

Instead, I decided to just say thank you. Thank you to Erinn, Matt and Andy at The D.O. for listening to me rant, for not really giving me a hard time during the first few weeks. Thank you to the girl who verbally assaulted me at Chuck’s and now stares me down every time she sees me because of this column. Thank you to anyone who’s ever read it. Thank you to anyone who’s had the courage to tell me they liked it, and even more thanks to anyone who had the real sac to say they didn’t like it.

This column isn’t something I really deserved, but it’s something I’ve really enjoyed.

Scott Spinelli’s humor column no longer will appear on any day in The Daily Orange, as long as his replacement doesn’t stink too bad. He wants, one last time, to ask people to come to his charity comedy show this Saturday. Any questions, comments, e-mail him at saspinel@syr.edu. It’s been real.

April 24, 2008 Posted by | Spinelli | 1 Comment

OMFG! What Happened To Our Little Jenny?

4/21/08

If you happened to see the new advertising campaign out right now for the CW’s hit show Gossip Girl, you were probably asking yourself why on earth anybody would watch a show that used 7th grade text messaging lingo to promote itself.

Of course it you watch the show, which I clearly do (without shame), then like me, you were left waiting for that OMFG moment to hit, although it appears as though that may be coming next week with the arrival of the mysterious ‘G’.

That being said, after four months of being “Gossip-ly’ deprived (thats right, I not only watch the show but just a made up a word with it’s title), our favorite Upper East-sider’s were back, picking up where they left off back in December.

The crew is returning from spring break, and after being caught up on what went down prior to, we see that Jenny has uncomfortably claimed the thrown of the recently disgraced Blair, who was convinced by best friend Serena to not leave town and fight to get back her image, status and most importantly, power.

Manipulative Chuck, who is now the soon-to-be step brother of Serena courtesy of their parents engagement, has begun to take on an apprentice in the form of Serena’s younger brother Eric, much to displeasure of Serena.

Serena has issues of her own, as she recieves a number of indecent gifts she believes are from Chuck in an effort to damage her newly acquired good girl image.

The makeover was due in part to her romance with Dan, who we find still happily involved with Serena (although we didn’t see a whole lot of them)

Overall, I thought the episode was decent, hardly the seasons best but still packed with plenty of drama only Gossip Girl can produce.

What on earth happened to Jenny?

She went from being this sweet, soft spoken cute younger sister of Dan who has climbed the social ladder as Blair fell off it, hanging out with new friends, wearing new clothes and sporting a new attitude.

With her birthday coming up and wanting to impress her ‘friends’, she decided to steal a dress and exchange it for something more her taste, only to find out that the dress she exchanged fell a few thousand dollars short of the dress she was taking.

Complicating things was the fact that she stole the more expensive dress from one of the new snobs she was hanging out with, and upon learning it’s value, desperately seeked out Nate for some financial assistance.  Eight thousand dollars worth of assistance.

Blair, seeking revenge, brilliantly pulled the strings in setting up Jenny’s downfall, having her father surprise her at home with a party, only to have her new friends discover the stolen dress, embarassing Jenny in front of them, Blair, and her father.

Not to be outdone, Jenny calls Nate, telling him she doesn’t want to be alone for her birthday.

Ok, so she thinks that if nothing else, maybe she can get some love from Nate, or at the very least some ice cream that her father denied her.

Not the new Jenny.

In a true Blair Waldorf move, despite having 8000 reasons not to, she uses Nate to get back at Blair, who towards the end seemed to be returning to the ‘Queen B’ we all knew and loved.  Well, the one we all knew anyway.

Blair leaves the table at some high end restaurant, only to return finding Nate sitting next to one of Jenny’s posse, whom we had learned earlier had a long standing crush on young Nathanial.

Jenny had the last laugh, as she was re-invited to enter the circle of friends she was so desperate to be a part of, while Blair was once again on the outside looking in.

The other major development was with Serena and Chuck, as we were led to believe Chuck had been sending Serena these packages, one of which was filled wit porn and handcuffs (why don’t people send me packages like that?) another in the form of crates of Champagne, and another a small bag of happy powder.

After getting Chuck thrown out of the van der Woodsen/Bass home, Serena receives a final letter, which we learn to come from a girl from her past, who we will be meeting next week.

The episode ends with Serena showing up at Chuck’s suite (and we were worried he wouldn’t land on his feet), being invited in for a drink.

With 4 episodes left in it’s freshman season, Gossip Girl has certainly done it’s best to shake things up and keep things unpredictable, and hopefully they finish as strong as they have started.

If you saw the scenes from next week or have read the now confirmed rumors, ‘G’ is Georgina, played by Harriet the Spy herself, Michelle Trachtenberg.

By the way, tonight’s episode was titled “The Blair Bitch Project”, which I couldn’t help but laugh at.

It’s good to have my favorite group of privileged elite teenagers back.

April 22, 2008 Posted by | Television | | 1 Comment

NBA PLAYOFF PICKS (FIRST ROUND)

4/19/08

The NBA playoffs are here, and with the Final Four over and done with, the real basketball madness begins.

The great Laker-Celtic rivalry of the 1980’s has a chance to resurface should both 1 seeds take care of business, and with Kobe and KG leading the way, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if thats the match up we see come June.

The Western Conference playoffs offer 4 compelling first round match-ups, while that ‘other’ conference should end up remaining irrelevant until the Boston-Detroit conference finals match up everyone anticpates.

Lets break down those match-ups and pick some winners

What I like to refer to as the NBA’s minor leagues (a lower class of basketball than the NBDL), the Eastern Conference lacks depth and features only two real threats to whoever survives the Western Conference gauntlet. Boston and Detroit are the class of the conference, whlie Lebron lurks at the 4th spot, looking for a return to the Finals after last season’s disappointing sweep at the hands of the Spurs. There are some nice stories with Atlanta and Philly making surprising post season appearences, but expect to see an 80’s flashback with the Celtics and Piston’s making all the noise.
Eastern Conference

1 Boston Celtics vs. 8 Atlanta Hawks

The big three shouldn’t have much trouble with the young, up and coming Hawks who held off the Pacers and clinched their first playoff birth since 1999. Josh Smith and Joe Johnson are nice pieces and both have off the chart talent, but the lack of experience combined with the determination of the C’s will cause Atlanta’s run to end early.

Celtics in 4

2 Detoirt Pistons vs. 7 Philadelphia 76’ers

After embarassing themselves against Lebron in the conference finals last year, Detroit this season had stretches where they looked absolutely unbeatable. Their fab four remains as good as any, and this is another case where experience and talent just completely overmatches a young Sixer’s squad, led by Maurice Cheeks who deserves consideration for coach of the year. Andre Iguadala took a big step forward this past year, but needs more help before he’ll see the second round.

Pistons in 4

3 Orlando Magic vs. 6 Toronto Raptors

The Magic look to build off of their brief taste of playoff basketball from last season, and with Stan Van Gundy running the show and Rashard Lewis giving Dwight Howard some outside help, Orlando shouldn’t have too much trouble with a Raptors teams that outside of Chris Bosh, lacks a real offensive threat. This series will probably get back to Orlando, but won’t last much beyond that.

Magic in 5

4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 5 Washington Wizards

The most compelling (probably the only compelling) first round match up in the East, Lebron James and the new look Cavs take on the Washington Wizards in what is turning into a war of words, at least from the boys from D.C. Washington’s big three of Arenas, Butler and Jamison can hold their own, but the health of the first two remain a big question mark. The Cav’s looked about as mediocre after the trade as they did before it, but as has been the case since he was drafted, as King James goes, so go the Cav’s. This series can easily go 6 or 7, as both teams are pretty evenly matched.

Wizards in 7

The Western conference playoffs actually started 2 weeks ago, with the 7th and 8th spots coming down to 3 potential 50 win teams. The Maverick’s and Nuggets got the job done, with the Warriors ending up on the outside looking in, despite a record of 48-34. The Lakers seemed primed for a return to glory for the first time since Shaq was around, but all 8 teams are very good and, anything can happen in a 7 game series, as Golden State showed us last year against Dallas.

1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. 8 Denver Nuggets

Those MVP chants are well deserved, and while Kobe Bryant should be hoisting his first ever Most Valuable Player award, his he has bigger plans with a new frontcourt and a deeper bench. The Lakers are back, and along with the best player on the planet, Pau Gasol and (if healthy) Andrew Bynum present matchup problems for a Denver team that couldn’t defend a JV high school team. Carmelo Anthony and his legal issues aisde will put up his points, along with AI, but this series, while intriguing on paper, won’t translate on the hardwood.

Lakers in 5

2 New Orleans Hornets vs 7 Dallas Mavericks

Was there a better story this season than the rise of Chris Paul and the Hornets? Byron Scott, who is no stranger to the post season with his short lived success in New Jersey a few years ago, has led a renaissance in New Orleans, led by do-it-all Paul who gave Kobe all he could can handle in the run for MVP. The Mavericks were flirting with one-upping the disppointment from their first round upset last season by nearly missing the playoffs, but a healthy Dirk Nowitzki can lead Dallas into a tough 6 or 7 game series against the trendy Hornets.

Mavericks in 7

3 San Antonio Spurs vs. 6 Pheonix Suns

Talk about storylines. The defending champs, who have never repeated as champs, will have a tall challenge ahead of them, as they get a rematch with the team they won a controversial conference finals from last year. By tall challenge, I am of course referring to the new man in the middle for the Suns, Shaquille O’neal, who returns to the western conference for the first time since breaking up his marriage with Kobe and winning a championship in Miami. The big fundamental, Tim Duncan, faces his former nemasis as the Big Aristotle looks to validate Suns GM Steve Kerr for acquiring him. This series will be fun to watch, and won’t be decided in less than 6 games.

Spurs in 7

4 Utah Jazz vs. 5 Houston Rockets

No Yao? No problem. The Rockets, who never seem to have both Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming playing well, and healthy, at the same time, will face a dangerous Jazz team that struggled away from home but with floor general Deron Williams leading the way, Utah can definitely handle a Yao-less Rockets team that went on to win 22 straight games, while entering the playoffs with homecourt advantage in the first round despite their lower seeding. McGrady continues his quest to reach the second round of the playoffs, but it will be difficult against a Jazz team that has become another trendy pick to make some noise late into the postseason.

Jazz in 6

To recap…

Celtics, Pistons, Magic and Wizards in the east

Lakers, Mavericks, Spurs and Jazz in the west

April 19, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sarah Marshall: You Won’t Be Forgotten

4/18/08

I saw the preview for this movie a few months ago, and upon seeing that the cast and crew was a lot of the guys who gave us 40 Year Old Virgin, Superbad and Knocked Up, I knew that I would make sure I had a seat when Forgetting Sarah Marshall hit theaters.

This afternoon, on a beautiful 75 degree afternoon when I easily could have been outside enjoying the warm weather (I actually was outside for 2 hours before seeing the movie), I was inside a nice air conditioned theater.

Judd Apatow, who gave us the aforementioned films, this time delivers Jason Segel (who also wrote the script) as Peter Bretter, an easy going song writer who is dating TV star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell).

Before the film is 10 minutes old, we learn two things:

1) Peter is being dumped by Sarah after 5+ years.

2) Jasen Segel isn’t shy about showing us his penis.

Yes, full frontal male nudity comes at you (wow…no pun intended) early several times throughout the film, so be warned if you’re thinking about seeing it.

Upon being dumped, and also finding out the Sarah is now dating flavor of the week British musician Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), Peter begins his period of mourning by taking the one-stand route, which he finds doesn’t help him with moving on.

He decided a trip to Hawaii would serve him some good, however his vacation hits an early bump in the road when his ex flame and new love are vacationing in the same hotel.

Peter meets a friendly receptionist (Mila Kunis, That 70’s Show, Family Guy), along with some of your favorite faces from past Apatow films, Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill, who play a surf instructor and hotel waiter, respectively.

Peter begins trying to get over Sarah while simultaneously dealing with having her around, constantly flaunting her newfound happiness while Peter seeks his own.

I’ll stop with the summary there, as I don’t want to spoil anything, although if you’ve seen any of Apatow’s other films, you can pretty much figure out how this one ends.

The movie wasn’t quite up to par with the other three films I mentioned, but still serves its purpose of entertaining.

Segel, who might be most recognizable as Marshal (coincidence) from the CBS show How I Met Your Mother, puts in a very worthy effort, both acting and writing.

Bell (Veronica Mars, and also serves as the narrator on Gossip Girl, my not-so-guilty pleasure), is absolutely gorgeous and dead sexy as Sarah, and does a nice job playing the ex-girlfriend with no heart, yet also captures being vulnerable at various points during the movie.

The scene stealer is Brand, a British actor I had honestly never heard of before seeing this movie. He sounds a lot like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Carribean, and had me laughing non-stop with his combination of being a sexually charged, sober free spirit.

The movie is as charming as it’s main character, but lacks the ‘umph’ (for lack of a better term) that Apatow’s other films were able to capture.

Mila Kunis, who is also far prettier than I remembered her being on That 70’s Show, wasn’t perfectly cast for the role of Rachel, but is sweet enough to pull it off.

This isn’t a movie I would suggest taking your parents too, as there is more sex and more male nudity than I could keep track of, but you kind of just go with the flow and laugh it off, as it only helps to hold onto the immature innocence Apatow has put into all of his films.

If you’re going to get your Jonah Hill fix, you might be disappointed, as his role, along with Rudd’s, is minor, but never the less funny. Also in the film is Bill Hader, who plays Peter’s brother in law, although his character in the movie falls way short of Officer Slater, his character from Superbad.

This movie is worthy of a 2 and half stars, and a respectable B-.

If you’re looking for some good laughs, a simple plot and some raw penis, go check out Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

And after seeing it, you’ll probably have a tough time doing so.

April 19, 2008 Posted by | Movies | , , | Leave a comment

FINALLY! Isiah Thomas Fired; Reassigned (but why?)

4/18/08

photo courtesy of The Daily News

Remember the day my fellow Knicks fans: April 18th, 2008, the day the Isiah Thomas era came to an end.

Or did it?

I can’t help but feel like i’m in a horror movie, right at the end where you think the bad guy is dead, but with one last gasp he gets up and tries one more time to kill you.

Isiah has done his best Scream impression in trying to take out the entire Knicks franchise, everything from its payroll to its employees (sorry Anucha) to respect.

He has slashed the hearts of fans by insulting it’s history, saying we haven’t had a team to be proud of since the last championship back in 1973.

And now, with Donnie Walsh having been brought in to clean up the mess Isiah leaves behind, we find out that Isiah himself will still be around in helping to clean it up.

Maybe it’s just me, but as a Knick fan, having Isiah still on the very payroll he has worked so hard to destroy doesn’t sit right.

He has been an inopperable tumor to this franchise, working with whatever the opposite of the midas touch would be, as everything he has touched has turned into absolute catastrophe.

You want to tell me that he drafted Nate Robinson and David Lee?

Well for every Nate Robinson you want to throw in, I’ll raise you a Jarred Jefferies AND a Jerome James.

Renaldo Balkman and Wilson Chanlder, both of whom have shown brief flashes of potential, got nothing on the trades for Steve Francis or Eddy Curry (and the unprotected draft picks we lost in the process).

I can’t think of much Isiah has done right since being named President of Basketball Operations back in 2003, and the last 4 years have been nothing more than a nightmare Knicks fans can finally wake up from.

So now what?

Walsh came out today and publicly announced the worst kept secret in sports, that Isiah’s days as coach are over.

What wasn’t as sure a thing was what would come of Thomas, and the 18 million he is still owed from this unbelievably undeserved extension he was given by owner James Dolan last year.

The word reassigned has never sounded so ugly, as Isiah was retained and will report directly to Walsh as what I would imagine would end up being an “advisor”.

Again, maybe its just me, but Michael Corleone didn’t make Fredo his new consigliere after finding out that he had betrayed the family.

He had him killed.

Now while ‘wacking’ Isiah would probably make a lot of Knicks fans happy, just having him part ways with the organization would suffice.

However that won’t be the case, not unless Isiah tells Dolan that he can keep his 18 million dollars.

Instead of being an advisor, Isiah should consult one, and find one who advised him to simply figure out a way to work out a sevrence package to bid the Big Apple the farewell it probably wishes he would have recieved.

With a new coach and GM on their way, Isiah needs to show himself the door, and make the first decision Knicks fans would apploud of his, by announcing he would be seeking other opportunities from anywhere that isn’t Madison Square Garden.

Regardless of the fact that he has had all his power taken away from him, just having him still call the Garden home in any capacity will prevent this organization from getting the fresh start it desperately needs.

Until that happens- if it happens at all- Knicks fans can embrace the fact that the Isiah Thomas ‘error’ (as the local media has been fittingly referring to it as) has ended, for all intents and purposes.

Now the search begins for the next coach, and the names I’ve heard most are Mark Jackson, Scott Skiles, Rick Carlisle and my dream choice, the return of Jeff Van Gundy.

Whoever it is, Knicks fans like myself can be rest assured that it won’t be Isiah Thomas, and that disingenuous smile he always had.

For the first time in 4 years, Knicks fans can smile now.

April 19, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hey Adam: Where You Been?

4/18/08

Friends, it’s been too long.

Hard to believe I haven’t posted anything other than Scott’s articles for two weeks now, but ‘fier’ not (im sorry but that wont get old), I’m back with plenty to talk about.

When last we spoke, the weather outside was finally starting to get better, while I was preparing for my final week of student teaching, while also getting excited about the final home opener in the history of Shea Stadium.

Student teaching did come to an end last Friday, and never would I have thought at the beginning that I would have grown so attached to the kids I was with every day.

I keep telling people that student teaching was a lot like camp in a classroom, as I probably had far more fun than I was supposed to.

The good news is that along the way I managed to teach them a thing or two about history (a comment my professor took literally and criticized me for…”you probably want to teach your students more than a thing or two next semester” (she really said that on an evaluation of mine…I wish I was kidding).

More importantly, the following were comments made my host teacher, who was beyond incredible during the 6 and half weeks I was in his classroom…

“Adam-

I am really glad that you enjoyed the experience. That is my ultimate goal…I don’t think anybody learns from an unpleasant student teaching placement…

….It was a real pleasure working with you and I hope that if you need anything in the future, you will give me a call. Lastly, the biggest compliment I can think to give you is that the kids universally thought you did a great job AND knew what you were doing…”

I can’t begin to describe how good it feels to know that I did a good enough job that my kids not only thought I did well but repeatedly asked me to come back and visit, and one girl even told me to make sure I change absolutely nothing about the way I taught if I wanted to make sure I ended up being a great teacher.

I had a pretty good idea going into my placement that teaching was what I wanted to do, but it wasn’t going to be until after I actually did it that those thoughts could be confirmed. And after almost 7 weeks of doing it, I have no doubts that teaching is exactly what I want to do, and part of me is anxious to get back in front of a classroom as soon as possible.

Last week, I missed a day of student teaching due to obligations I had back home.

Since 2000, I have been at Shea Stadium for Opening Day (or the Mets home opener) for 6 of the last 8 years.

This being the final season the Mets will ever play at Shea Stadium with Citi Field opening up next season, I knew that nothing was going to stand in the way of me being there this year.

I flew home Monday night, and Tuesday morning, a beautiful April day, I woke up feeling like a little kid.

I was beyond excited, knowing that for the 7th time in 9 years, the Mets were going to play their home opener with me there, which is probably a lot more important to me than it should be.

Unfortunately, after walking out the door, nothing seemed to go right.

Getting to Shea from my apartment usually takes between 10 and 15 minutes by car, however on this day, thanks to traffic and lack of parking as a result of all the construction for the new park, I got into the car at 10 minutes after 11, and wasn’t sitting in my seat at Shea until 1:20.

I missed the pre-game ceremonies, the player introductions and the first pitch.

But ok, I was there, the weather was great and the Mets took an early lead after Carlos Delgado hit a home run.

But my seats were underneath an overhang, and there was this massive wind tunnel that seemed to situate itself in my part of the stadium, so 55 degrees felt more like 25 degrees. I spent the entire game shivering.

The icing on the cake of course was the fact that the Mets lost, something they had never done before in all my years going to Shea for opening day.

2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007, they found ways to win.

But not this year.

I wish I could say I had a good time but I would have been lying if I said so.

Hopefully the other 20 or 30 some-odd games I get out to this year turn out better than the first one did.

Ok, so I had student teaching and my last ever trip to Shea for an Opening day, but what else have I been doing thats kept me away from my readers?

Two words:

Unit Plan.

The class that goes along with my placement has been without a doubt one of the worst I’ve taken at this University, and the big project we were assigned was a unit plan.

My unit was World War Two, and I needed to create 5 lessons for 80 minute periods that would cover everything from Pearl Harbor to the Atomic Bomb.

Teaching these lessons wasn’t the problem, as I was able to use a lot of my host teachers notes and resources (which made my life easy) but I had to write up these long and very detailed lesson plans to go along with them.

Long story short, two days ago I finally turned in this massive unit plan which was more than 60 pages of lesson plans, materials, procedures and lord knows what else.

But thats finally done with, and as a result the biggest assignment I had all semester is history (no pun intended) leaving me with plenty of time to enjoy the gorgeous weather that has FINALLY arrived here in Syracuse, and of course, blog away.

I know I have two weeks of American Idol to catch up on (still can’t believe one of my final four was sent home last week), along with some election discussion and the start of the NBA and NHL playoffs.

I’ve also been working on some fun stuff like a list of 20 things you probably didn’t know about me, some movie reviews, an article I read about the 20 worst fast food items you could eat, two top ten lists (memories at Shea Stadium and Disney Movies…yes…Disney movies) and plenty more.

It’s good to be back, and I hope everyone is out enjoying the beautiful weather.

…just don’t forget to check back every once in a while!!

April 18, 2008 Posted by | Thoughts | Leave a comment

Spare a Buck: If you Don’t Give to Another Charity, Give to Mine

4/17/08

by Scott Spinelli

Guilt is a part of my life. There’s really no way around it.

Italian guilt, from my dad’s side, tends to be angrier. Jewish guilt, from my mom’s side, tends to be more subtle, with the intent of solely making you feel bad about yourself.

“Listen, if you don’t want to call your aunt for her birthday, I guess it’s not really a huge deal, but it’s ultimately up to you.”

One of the worst forms of guilt comes from when people ask you for donations. I could be a billionaire, it still wouldn’t matter, I feel like I’m always inventing excuses to not give to these people.

Is that horrible? Does that make me a terrible person? Likely, but, in fairness, if you’re reading this and you’re human, there’s a more than strong chance you’ve been in the situation I’m describing.

“Sir, excuse me, sir, could you spare a dollar for Ronald McDonald House?”

I even could have just come from the strip club, pockets filled with singles.

“Mmmmm…wow…You really did catch me at a bad time, I’m sorry.”

How about the people who ask for change – the “do you have any spare change?” people. First of all, let’s give them credit. They’re not stupid, they know that every single person they’re asking has some form of change because they just came from some place where change is given.

So when you say: “I’m sorry man, I don’t have any change.” Is this person to actually believe I just bought something with exact change? My grocery bill, for the first time ever in the history of groceries or money came out to a whole number. Sorry, too bad.

The awful part about this is the people asking for the money and spare change generally do need it, and the people being asked for it generally do have it. Meeting the two in the middle – not so easy.

The worst kind of person is the person openly trying to fool you. The kind of person who asks for money outside of Chuck’s and is way too upfront about why they need the money.

“Can you spare a few bucks…Just whatever you could…I could use it…I have three kids on the way, two hospital bills to pay, two car payments…”

Something about that last one usually tips me off, and the old brain buzzer goes off.

This all being said, I’m about to pull the move I’ve been railing against the last 400-plus words.

“Excuse me, public of Syracuse, could you spare three dollars?”

Not bad, huh? My pitch is pretty similar to those other guys, but the difference is I’m offering something tangible in return for your money. Normally, all you get for your change donation is a good feeling that fades as soon as you remember you haven’t called your mom in a week.

Here’s what I’m offering in exchange for three dollar bills: A comedy show, with me, Alex Adelson, and Max Meisel. Yes, that Max Meisel.

The tickets are available at the Schine Box Office. You can also show up and any donations taken at the door (tickets aren’t mandatory), and all proceeds will go to Cystic Fibrosis, a condition that’s affected a cousin of mine.

Actually, correction, the donations will go to fighting Cystic Fibrosis, not just to Cystic Fibrosis.

Not to make a sob story of it – she’s doing all right, we’ve talked about putting her face all over the campus on fliers. Surprisingly she didn’t go for it.

Honestly, we didn’t talk about that, but I’ve had reservations about letting people know why I’m doing the show, as I’ve feared that it might make it seem like a charity case.

All of this said, I’d be lying if I said arrogance had nothing to do with it. I’m puffing my ego to an absolutely unmanageable size. Truth be told, I’m having trouble sleeping at night, my bed won’t support the new weight.

There are fliers all over campus with my ugly mug on it. In Schine, I actually convinced people to not only photograph me, but also to print out a larger-than-life poster with me on it. You want to talk about a freak out moment, I had one when I went to pick it up.

“Uhhh, I’m here to pick up the poster with…my own giant face on it.”

Arrogance mixed with a bit of desire to do something good for someone else. Now that’s not the worst combination in the world.

Scott Spinelli’s humor column appears every Thursday in the Daily Orange. He’s only got one more left, and he used his second to last one as a part promo. What an arrogant schmuck. He can be reached at saspinel@syr.edu.

April 17, 2008 Posted by | Spinelli | Leave a comment

Back Next Week

4/12/08

Just wanted to apologize for the lack of posts lately.  Its been a combination of laziness and being busy, and I have some big time school work due this Monday and Wednesday, but as soon as thats done with, I’ll be back with plenty to make up for missed time.

Talk to you all soon.

AF

April 12, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Just That Easy: 3 a.m. Infomercials a Trap

4/10/08

by Scott Spinelli

This just in: I am a sucker.

Late at night, I can be convinced to buy almost anything. Knives that cut through cement. Cement that cuts through knives. Whatever.

To date, I haven’t actually purchased anything. But I have come alarmingly close. In fact, I’d be less concerned if I had bought these items. The idea that I’ve convinced myself these are useful contraptions is what worries me most.

The crème-de-la-crème of infomercials has to be that Ron Popeil fella, commonly known as the “Set It and Forget It!” guy with the rotisserie grill. Though, even if you haven’t heard of Ronco, all of these late night pirates employ the same tactics.

Each one starts off with the biggest loser of all, the helper, Mr. or Mrs. “Please, Tell Me More.” It’s always some “random” guy, almost as if they found someone who happened to know about rotisseries and asked if he wouldn’t mind shooting a commercial.

Once Ron has gone through each and every example of what this grill can do, he finally gets to the price. But, at this point, it really doesn’t matter what the price is, does it?

He looks you right in the eye, as if you’re going to purchase his soul, and then astronomically high numbers start appearing in the upper right hand corner.

“You won’t pay one million dollars. You won’t pay 500 thousand dollars. You won’t even pay 100 thousand dollars…Not even…”

After this seemingly endless charade, the final price still isn’t on the screen.

“What you will pay (you’re thinking, ‘YES I WILL PAY THIS’) is four, eaaasy payments of just $39.95.”

The simple inclusion of that one descriptor does it for me. If this guy is saying it’s easy, how hard could it be? He could say four easy payments of $399.95, and I’d still find a way to make it seem easy.

“You know, if I just stop eating for a few months, I could probably squeeze this rotisserie grill into my budget…”

Once you’ve basically agreed to sign over the deed to your house, give away your first born and give a blood sample just to have a chance to buy the product, they always keep roping you in. Then comes the “free” stuff, the stuff that they’re just going to throw in, as if you’re the only one getting that deal.

“If you call right now, this exact millisecond…”

The best throw-in, in the history of all throw-ins, is the flavor injector – basically a flu shot for a rhinoceros. That demonstration Ron always does with it never makes any sense. Also, I’ve never thought of using some of the combinations he uses, but somehow they always come out good.

“First, you take the lamb shank. Then, you load up your flavor injector. Buckle up, folks, next stop, Flavorville, USA! All right, let’s try using…orange peels, rosemary, dog crap and some thyme.”

I’m sitting in my room, lights dimmed, wearing nothing but my boxers, potato chips all over my stomach, thinking, “Wait just a gosh darned second! Rosemary and orange peels?!”

Somehow, it seems more often than not, people are trying to sell knives really late at night, which doesn’t seem wise. People half conscious at 3 a.m. shouldn’t be purchasing 20 different ways to cut steak.

Could you imagine if someone went a little out of the box?

“For just six easy payments of $99.95, this entire cocaine cartel can be yours. But wait! Call now, and we’ll throw in two free flavor injectors, a set of steak knives and a brand new T-shirt folder!”

I can’t talk about infomercials without bringing up my old pal, Chef Tony. He’s that clown who dresses up in a ridiculous chef’s outfit, as if anyone thinks that A) he’s a real chef and B) his pencil-stache makes him more Italian.

Truth is, it could be the Ronco grill, the George Foreman grill, the Magic Bullet or something Chef Tony has whipped up, one thing that remains constant is these jokers are damn good. You’ve got to hand it to them. They’ve mastered the art of convincing people they need things they clearly don’t. If you’ve ever been a single guy down at the bar, you know for certain that’s a lot easier said than done.

Scott Spinelli is the humor columnist for The Daily Orange where his columns appear every Thursday. He knows you haven’t bought tickets to his charity comedy show. You know, that one on April 26. Don’t act like you didn’t know. He can be reached at saspinel@syr.edu.

April 10, 2008 Posted by | Spinelli | Leave a comment