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Listen, I’m a peace loving man. I believe in live and let live and all that jazz. I believe we should pursue our dreams and do whatever it takes to make us happy—as long as we don’t kill or maim people in the process.

But after watching a good chunk (see: not much) of this dynamic 2012 Olympics in London, England, I believe it’s safe to say without much pushback (other than from those who participate in this event or their families) is that Synchronized Swimming is without-a-doubt the dumbest “sport” in the history of mankind—and easily the silliest activity, just edging out yodeling contests in terms of sheer absurdity.

And it’s not even close. There have been dumb things in the world like the Pet Rock and Kevin Federline’s career, but as a sport, activity or even as a recreation, Synchronized Swimming is truly absurd.

It’s vogue dancing in a pool. It’s arm-pointing while treading water. I don’t see the merit in the event at all. I see that it takes timing, skill and obvious athletic ability. I tread water in the deep-end of a pool for 5 minutes and I’m exhausted. But calling this an Olympics-worthy event is insulting.

For a century, the Olympic committee has been eliminating, revamping and adding events to meet the tastes and skill sets of the people and the times. Handball is a newer event that is really quite exciting and fun to watch. It’s beginning to take off as a spectator sport and is popular in northern Europe and in parts of Canada and the U.S.

Even the Winter Olympic event Curling seems more conducive to showing an actual skill. In a large portion of events in both the Winter and Summer games, the judging is based on multiple levels, many of which are artistic interpretation. figure-skating, diving, floor gymnastics—many of these have style points which can be viewed only with a keen pair of eyes and from trained professionals who see tiny infractions the rest of us don’t.

So if you’re like me and see a few women in a pool splashing around, noses plugged tightly and jutting their arms out like pro wrestlers after a tomahawk body-slam, then you’re not seeing what about eight trained professional judges see—miniscule  idiosyncrasies that can mean going home in tears, or standing on a box with a gold medal in your hand.

Events like this have some flaws in the judging system. Whoever jumps the longest in the long jump wins. The person with the fastest backstroke time wins. The results aren’t arguable by any stretch. Even with events like the floor routine in gymnastics, the common person can tell the difference between a great and an outstanding performance. But Synchronized Swimming? Only a handful of experts know for sure what the hell is going on.

The Synchronized Swimming event is an all women’s event. The only other event that is exclusive only to women is Rhythmic Dancing. But in most cases there’s a counterpart to Men’s and Women’s events. The Decathlon has the Heptathlon. Women now have a boxing event. Where is the counter to the Synchronized Swimming? Can’t the men have a cannonball contest? That’s pretty easy to judge. Biggest splash wins. Maybe they can have a girl in a bikini by the side of the pool and the cannonballer who gets the most water on her wins the event. She can hold a magazine and everything.

There are probably a few more Olympic events that could get the ax, but none of them have produced the forehead-slapping confusion I get watching Synchronized Swimming. I feel way too many events revolve around the pool anyway. I mean, how many medals do the give out for swimming? 5,000? I feel like there are medals given out for every meter they stretch the swimming distance. I’m surprised they don’t have a “who can dive the furthest” medal.

I believe it’s time to update some of the Olympic events. How about log tossing or Rock, Paper, Scissors? Even Chess would be more interesting. OK, maybe not more interesting, but certainly less goofy.


Anyway, we have four years to contemplate this before we go to Brazil. See you at the public pool!


 
 
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Because my brother had the church-bell-sized balls to put his esteemed blog and reputation on the line by calling out that bloated pig Jim Dolan in his blog—calling him the world’s biggest asshole and other foul and unreadable things, I guess it was only fair that I put my rep on the line and counter that blog by calling out the president, CEO and head honcho of MSG in my own blog.

Because of the recent departure of Jeremy Lin, a worldwide sensation not only in the basketball world, but in the corporate world of marketing and Meme generating cultural phenomena, I have no choice but to bare my anger as a life-long Knicks fan.

Unfortunately I don’t know a thing about this fucking dickhead, so I’m unable to give you cold-hard facts like my bro did about Jim Dolan—Things like drunken behavior, insensitive business relations and overall shitty attitude towards everyone he comes in contact with. I just simply have to go by what I see him do to my beloved team, which I’m desperately trying to enjoy but can’t seem to because of the endless blunders he makes that are fueled by his stupid egotistical bullshit.

Dolan has made one stupendously stupid decision after another and none have been remotely made to benefit his basketball team in any way, shape or form. These head-scratching and ridiculous decisions have been made for the sole purpose of maintaining his high level of power, which has spilled its toxic ideals and infected the water of everything remotely attached to the Knicks in every way possible.

Because Dolan is the leader of a douchey corporation that kept millions of people from watching the NY Knicks (something that they desperately wanted to do) because of money issues with Time Warner Cable, he robbed the people of a product that he’s supposed to be doing everything he can to promote in an effort to make profit and field a winning team.

But that whole fiasco was the fault of everyone involved and not just Dolan. In an attempt to make a point by deferring blame onto Dolan and making it seem like it’s all MSG and the Dolans’ fault for that cable contract quagmire, we can only assume that Glenn A. Britt, President and CEO of Time Warner Cable is just as big of a fucking asshole as Dolan is, and perhaps in a category all his own.

Whether or not that fucking prick is a caring and sentive boss, father, husband, and mentor to his friends and family is besides the point. He’s a giant, puss oozing dickhead and deserves as much scorn for the behavior of his company as much as that dripping, contagous coozbag Dolan is for his recent wave of bad behavior as head of MSG, the Knicks and New York Rangers.

Because Britt decided to pull the plug on the MSG network, yanking the rug out from millions and millions of hard working New Yorkers and said “FUCK YOU” to their needs and wants, we can only assume this fucking douchbag deserves a serious flogging. Without question he probably needs to have his balls stomped by a six-foot tall woman in five-inch heals, but there’s no saying what his reaction may be to that sort of treatment. Perhaps he may enjoy it, so we end-up losing double fold in the end. But I digress…

What’s seriously disappointing about the Lin situation is that he was a perfect fit for New York, a city desperate for an Asian star where there’s a HUGE Asian population across the five boroughs. And even more disappointing is that MSG is trying to spin it as a money issue, when that excuse is so transparent, Manhattan pigeons are flying into it at an alarmingly head-banging rate.

The decision to let Lin walk was purely ego based. Because Lin was (somehow) a threat to Dolan’s superior control, he once again made the wrong decision in an attempt to show that you don’t cross the boss. It’s the multi-million dollar equivalent of “Don’t tell me what to do! YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!!” Everything my brother wrote in his blog post about Dolan was completely correct, and in fact, may be too lenient.

Too lenient? Yes too lenient. The reason being is that with all the fucking mistakes that Dolan has made during his disastrous reign as head of MSG and the Knicks, he had one, ONE more chance to get it right and prove to everyone he could do something right—but completely fucked it up. He Charley Brown-ed it BIG TIME. So this is absolutely critical proof that Dolan is actually REGRESSING as a human being. Getting dumber. Getting more oblivious and acting like more of a child. So yes, too lenient.

This decision was not about money—it couldn’t be. Dolan had the golden marketing goose sitting there in his hand and he did something far worse than killing it. He GAVE it to a competitor. FOR NOTHING!!! Any money lost over this contract could have been recouped three-fold in merchandise and other revenue outside the hardwood. But Dolan whipped out his tiny cock and pissed on the whole thing.

Pretty fucking shocking if you ask me considering his family’s net worth is about $2.6 billion dollars. This porkchop has enough money to have me and my brother eliminated off the planet in the blink of the eye, but more importantly, he has enough money to not give two shits about you, me or any another hard-working chump here in this great city of ours.

And that’s the biggest rub. New York is the BEST FUCKING CITY in the USA, and thus the world, and this itchy prick has basically told us to go fuck ourselves. Jim Dolan is not our friend—by any stretch of the imagination. If he wasn’t holed up in his compound surrounded by 25 armed guards, I’d say that we should go to his house and talk to him about this situation. In all probability, we’d be shot and killed within 100 meters of the place, and even more realistically, poisoned before we left our houses. But that’s what $2.6 billion dollars gets you these days.

So here we are with this team. Yes it’s pretty good, but not great. Tyson Chandler was the smartest pick-up the team has made in a decade. I wanted him here 7 years ago, but for some reason Dolan decided to pull the trigger on Eddy Curry, the fattest representation of sloth since they cut that 1,200-pound man out of his house and lifted him out of bed with a crane.

So if you’re so inclined to jump on the Brooklyn Nets bandwagon, this might be the best time. As long as Jim Dolan owns the New York Knicks, they will never be a championship team. NEVER! Because Jim Dolan doesn’t care about constructing a winning basketball team—all he cares about is making sure that everything is done HIS way, and he doesn’t care if the entire place burns to the ground in the process. In fact, one day the place WILL crumble to the ground and I’m sure Jimmy has the Frank Sinatra classic ‘My Way’ ready to go on the stereo in case it does. He’ll blare it out loud as the kingdom comes down. And when all is said and done, no one will have many nice things to say about him other than he did it “his way.” Which he’s proven over and over and over again, is the wrong way.


 
 
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Hey sports lovers out there! Has your bracket already been busted? Mine has! I’m not sure where it all went wrong as I filled out my NCAA Men’s Basketball bracket in a drunken fit of rage and figured that at least two or three upsets would occur. When that didn’t happen, I essentially threw money right down the toilet like I do every year.

Not only that, the team that was favored to win it all, Syracuse got the ‘ole loopty-loop and had their star center yanked for some kind of bullshit reason. Probably academic, or something ridiculous. I realize an education is important, but holding a 7 foot basketball player out of a huge national basketball tournament because he didn’t make the grades is like telling a biology genius he can’t go to the Siemens Math, Science and Technology competitions because he failed gym. It’s fucking absurd!

I’m sure Melo, the Syracuse center, can get by in this cruel world on street smarts alone, but is there any doubt this dude is going to play in the NBA someday? I mean, C’MON!!! He’s 7 feet tall!!! He’s not splitting atoms here. He’s putting a ball in a hoop and it’s hard to find good athletic 7 footers in the world. Having an academic probation on college athletes is just stupid.

Anyway, after I submitted my bracket to (insert large national sports website here), I realized I forgot to print it out, so I have no way of knowing if it’s really busted or not. My guess, from past experiences, is that it resembles something like a test I took in high school that would have gotten me into any one of these colleges on academic merits. That said, I come from the school of hard knocks.

Much discussion has been made on whether to pay student athletes or not. People seem to think it’s immoral to pay them, yet they have no problem shilling regular students hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans to get an education and putting them in financial debt for a large chunk of their adult lives. So hey, let’s make sure our priorities are completely fucked up while we cast judgments.

Really, what these schools should do is take the guys who are more likely to make a living playing professional ball either here in the USA or overseas and teach them basic economics. Like how to save money, break away from shifty friends who want hand-outs and hiring a financial advisor that will prevent them from going broke by the age of 33. That’s a class they should and probably will pass.

So what is the point of this blog entry? I’m really not sure. I think I’m just bummed that I’m completely incapable of filling out a NCAA bracket, but that has more to do with my gambling habits and less to do with my research into who these teams are. Some of these schools I’ve never heard of and don’t know where they are on a US map. Unless the school, has the name of the city or state on the jersey, I’m at a loss.

So with that said, I hope your bracket is alive and well! If you’ve managed to predict the underdogs and upsets, you basically guessed your way through the tourney and got lucky. And don’t tell me different. Even the nerds on ESPN and SI.com are wrong all the time. Nobody can predict the future. It’s a guess wrapped inside some half-assed knowledge. You can’t predict heart, determination, and the lucky bounces of a few balls.

You can though, save your money and keep in your pocket and spend it on a nice dinner and not throw it into some bullshit prediction in which about 5,962 variables have to come together in perfect harmony for it to succeed. Now instead of having a steak tonight, I’m having Steak-Ums... One Steak-Um. Not even Steak-Um”s”. Just one Steak-Um… that I borrowed from my neighbor. So it’s not even my Steak-Um. It’s a borrowed Steak-Um that I have to return someday.

Lesson here? Keep your money and buy your own Steak-Ums because Steak is expensive and borrowing things from your neighbor is stupid because he lives right next door and knows when I come and go and I can’t escape him. Did I mention I owe him money too?


 
 
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I recently moved into a new apartment and it was more stressful than… nothing, really. Moving is one of the most stressful things we can do as a society. Putting your valuable stuff into the hands of men who may or may not be a few brain cells short of being institutionalized is jarring enough. But jamming your entire life into boxes and uprooting everything you know and going someplace new is wildly nerve-wracking.

Everything about the process is rattling—changing your address, notifying the post office and contacting every organization that sends you mail. Rerouting your utilities and cable service. Packing, unpacking, cleaning and organizing all while trying to live a normal life is nothing short of maddening. Moving can take a week or two to complete and each day seems more clustered than the next. And I didn’t even mention the whole process of FINDING a new apartment. That took like a month of dealing with near maniacs on the phone. Once you get the word out you’re moving, it’s like blood in the water—real estate brokers start swarming like sharks. I got a call from a broker in Colorado about an apartment in NYC. Colorado… Jeez.

Including a rapid slam-bang routine on a crisp Autumn morning almost 15 years ago to my first apartment on East 13th Street in Manhattan, I’ve moved a whopping five times. Each time it’s been more stressful because as I’ve gotten older, I’ve accumulated more stuff and now I have a family. When I did it in 1997, I had a futon and a toothbrush. Now I have computers, multiple furniture sets, endless boxes of stuff and of course, a wife and kid and all their stuff.

Each time I’ve moved it’s been a learning experience for me. I realize I should have done something different, or remembered a tip that really made things easier. I once cut out an article in a magazine on tricks to moving and had it for five years. I threw it out about a month before I realized I had to move. Now I’m passing what I’ve learned on to you in case you find yourself having to bail out of your place because your neighbors headboard bangs against the wall when they have sex, or the people upstairs are addicted to tap dancing, or you simply need more space.


Some of these tips will be much more relevant to city dwellers, but they’re universal in many ways as well…


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Check out the new place a few times
Hang out in the place you plan to move into a few times and at different times of day for noise and other random problems. You can’t sleep there to see if a bus drives by every 25 minutes on the graveyard shift, or if the McDonalds delivery guy parks under your window at 2AM and smokes a half pack of cigarettes, but you can get the gist of the place by going there a few times. Also talk to the neighbors. Is there something
                                   unusual about the place you didn’t notice? Does a train whistle go off at 5:45 every morning? Is the 
                                   neighbor your asking all these random questions to seem like a complete and total lunatic?

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Pantomime the place out
Literally go in and pretend to do stuff in your place. Make sure you can brush your teeth properly without banging your elbow against the wall and see if you can open the stove without hitting the fridge. A lot of people will say, “I can’t look in the mirror unless I turn at a 90º angle, but that’s OK.” If you can’t brush your teeth properly the first time, how do you think you’ll feel after your 437th attempt to squeeze your body into
                                   the narrow alcove the deranged designer created to polish your pearly whites?

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Make sure all water is running properly
Try out ALL the faucets for pressure and hot water. Taking a bath in brown water because the building you're thinking of moving into was built when George Washington was a Private in the Army, ain’t going to cut it. While you’re at it, open the windows and the fridge, test the gas stove and anything else. The shower has to be great. Try it all out!

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Scan the place for minor defects
Make sure stuff isn’t broken in the place you’re moving into. Once you sign papers, the landlord basically tells you to F-off. If you didn’t notice that half the windows were broken when you moved in, it’s coming out of your security deposit when you move out, and sometimes they can bang you pretty hard.

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Negotiate a price drop
Ask for cheaper rent. What are they going to do? Send you to Afghanistan? The worse they can do is say is no and sometimes it actually works.


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Change your address immediately
Once you have a new place, change the address immediately at the post office and other places that are crucial to your life. The Post Office can take anywhere from 7-10 days to process your move and some businesses take a certain amount of business days as well. You could miss some valuable mail—like that letter from the lottery that you’ve won or a bounced check notice on your new apartment from the bank.

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Get boxes from liquor store
In Manhattan where I live, there’s a liquor store every ten feet, so it’s a pretty easy to bop in and get boxes. Some people spend hundreds of dollars on boxes and that’s nuts! Go to the liquor store at THE END of the day (5-6PM) and ask for boxes. They’re usually done unpacking any shipments and have lots of cardboard laying around. They’re more than happy to get rid of them because they’re tripping over them and they take
                                   up valuable store space.

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Pack light and heavy together
Want ALL your crap broken into pieces by angry movers at the end of the day? Pack tons of boxes full of books. Make them about 100 pounds each and see what happens. This is a HUGE no-no. I have tons of heavy art books and other pretentious coffee table books, so I’m an expert at this. Pack books with light stuff like sponges, dish towels and things like shoes. They fill up the space and balance out the weight.

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Garbage bags are your friend
Get a few boxes of heavy duty garbage bags. When you move, you’ll throw out a TON of worthless junk you didn’t even know you had. You can also use the bags to move your clothes. Toss in jackets, underwear and stuff you don’t mind getting a bit wrinkled or can easily iron out later. It saves time and money and the movers like them because they’re easy to haul.

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Get quality movers
The difference between movers who charge $100-300 (shit) $400+ (good) is enormous. Hire legitimate licensed movers who won’t break or steal your stuff. Even if you hire a bunch of dudes in a big van, keep them legit by watching them tight and reassuring them you’ll tip well. It makes a difference knowing they’ll be rewarded for humping lots of heavy junk.

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Have the movers come in the morning
Never hire movers to come from Noon on. Most guys try and squeeze three jobs in per day and they ALWAYS run late because they usually get some crazy lady who insists on having them rearranged her bedroom set 15 times before they can leave. By the time they’re onto you in the evening, they’re hours late and exhausted. That means they’ll be careless and break your stuff and generally toss it around like it’s on
                                   fire.

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Have the movers move everything!
Don’t think you’ll do one or two things yourself. “I’ll move the TV, my computer and a few boxes myself because they’re valuable.” Those things are crazy heavy and you may find yourself doing a mini move on your own and it’s a pain in the ass. I know movers can seem shady, but have them move your 98” HD TV and the computer. Your back will thank you later and so will your buddy with the Honda Accord you made
                                   miss an entire Sunday of football to move your stupid crap.

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Have the takeout menus ready
Plan before and have a delivery place in mind to have food delivered to your new apartment. Chinese is a no-brainer because you can eat out of the containers and re-introduce yourself to using chop sticks again…

And there you have it. A blueprint for moving! I’m sure I forgot about 87 different things that could help make your move more smooth, but I did my best on this one. If you can think of a helpful hint, please feel free to add a comment.

 
 
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My brother Norman and I decided to go back through the year and choose some of our favorite blog postings and highlight them here for easy clicking—some Choice Cuts, if you will.

We placed a variety of blog posting that both Norman and I liked, and followed that with some fan favorites based on comments, Twitter responses, re-postings and overall enthusiasm for the posting. So please enjoy!


Steve's Favorites:

Complicated Coffee Orders:
http://www.really-funny-emails.com/3/post/2011/05/would-you-like-coffee-with-that.html

Discovering a New Condiment:
http://www.really-funny-emails.com/3/post/2011/04/wheres-the-new-condiment.html

Sports and Competition:
http://www.really-funny-emails.com/3/post/2011/10/the-sport-of-competition.html

Fan Favorites:
    
NFL Fan Demands:
http://www.really-funny-emails.com/3/post/2011/07/nfl-fanbase-collective-watching-agreement.html

Re-gifting Christmas Gifts:
http://www.really-funny-emails.com/3/post/2011/12/regift-of-the-magi.html

Norman's Favorites

 
 
NBA On Fire
This is NOT a promotion for the Miami Heat
The NBA is back, folks! If you’re not a sports fan, it's probable you had no idea there was a labor dispute between the NBA owners and the NBA players. And if you’re really out of the loop, the NBA is short for the National Basketball Association. And if you don’t know what basketball is, then screw you, you’re simply not paying attention.

Anyway, The dispute went on for many months and was about… what else? Money. The players wanted more and the owners wanted to keep more of it. But what it really came down to was this… The Association simply had to restructure their model so that the owners would stop doing stupid things like giving middle-of-the-road players, super-duper star money. That’s it!

One of the glaring problems in the NBA for many years has been the propensity of players to completely dog it after nailing down a lucrative, big dollar deal. Owners were locking these guys into big contracts that lasted, for what seemed like decades, and basically killed the team from making trades, getting other players or locking up their current free agents because one or two guys had the organization hand-cuffed with their guaranteed deals.

When the owners said they needed to change this, the players went ape-shit because they wanted to milk the money-losing system for everything it was worth. Guys who were making $100,000,000 were in grave danger of only pulling in $85,000,000; guys who made $45,000,000 were in danger of making $30,000,000; and guys who made $1,250,000 were in danger of making $1,100,000.

Everyone was quick to blame the players. “These millionaire basketball players are crying about money.” And that’s true. Most of these knuckleheads lose most of it because they have no sense of how to manage it. They figure they need to make as much as possible because they’ll blow most of it on stupid shit like building a 15 million dollar mansion in the middle of a decaying ghetto or giving it to their clingy childhood friends… all 278 of them.

But the real problem in this whole quagmire was the owners. These guys are crying poor when most of them are rich playboys who own a team strictly for fun and to stroke their own egos. NOBODY owns an NBA team for profit. Nobody. No one. Nada. Zilch. Nunca. Not ONE! Professional sports ownership is not a lucrative business and everyone who buys a team knows it. It’s a plaything as much as a sports car or a dumb model who can squeeze into a spandex dress the size of a beer cozy.

The owners were so busy out-dueling each other—trying to land guys worth a few million bucks for 15 or 20 million dollars, not so much to get them, but to not let other teams get them—that they didn’t stop to realize that they shouldn’t.

Suddenly you had albatross contracts of guys worth nothing, who got fat and lazy and bogged down organizations for almost a decade. It was horrible. The system was broken, so it needed to get fixed so the owners could stop shooting themselves in the foot. The players got mad because the cash register was being shut and they went bonkers; claiming everything from unfairness to boldfaced references to slavery. And the players had a point to some degree. Treating people as property, even multi-million dollar people, is dangerous territory to tread, and the owners stomped on and around it pretty good.

But the players never checked themselves and the good times have come to an end… to some degree. Lazy players who played for contracts, got them and then dogged it for the rest of their career, should have been ostracized by their fellow “work mates.” That kind of behavior is straight-up bullshit, and if it happened in your office, you’d be calling for the head of a fellow employee who rode the coattails of your hard work and dedication.

This has now left us with a truncated season that was sped-up through training camp, pre-season and launched in a frenzy this past Christmas day. The details of the new agreement are still a little foggy. I’m sure there’s a billion word PDF document you can download somewhere that gives you the brutal details of what it all means.

In the end, the owners won. And you know what? That’s a good thing for us basketball viewers. Shorter contracts and hard cap spending limits means that owners will be unable to lock-up players (both good and bad) for long periods. That means guys who dog it will play themselves out of the league in a few years and fresh faces and dedicated players will flourish. Turnaround could be frequent—new faces in new places all the time—but ultimately it means a better product on the floor.

But all that crap is behind us now. The season has started and my Knicks have a solid team once again. In fact, it may be one of the most talented teams they’ve put on the hard wood since the brutish Ewing-led 1993-94 team that went to the finals in ’94. Fast paced and high scoring, this Knick team will be dynamic and fun to watch.

And since I INCREDIBLY predicted last season that a Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks Finals rematch would take place, with the Mavericks winning it all, I figured I’d take a stab at another bold prediction right here in this blog post… I’m going ALL IN on the Oklahoma City Thunder to take the Western Conference and the New York Knicks to take the Eastern Conference, with the Thunder winning it all in 7 games.

See what I did there? I made my Knicks lose to make me seem more legit. But I actually believe it. This is the year that Kevin Durant takes the league by the throat and shows he’s the best player in the NBA by leaps and bounds. The Thunder have the talent, the size and the right balance of youth and experience.

So sit back and enjoy the ride. The season is going to go by like it’s on fire. The NBA has to squeeze eight months of basketball into a six-month period—If you don’t pay attention, your team could be in danger of missing the playoffs before you sit down with your light beer to watch a game. Plant yourself on the couch and watch some roundball—It’s a sprint to the finish.


 
 
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The December holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year. Good food, good friends and tons of powerful drinks with heavy creams and warm spiced wines. The holidays can also be a source of sadness for some, but there’s always a glimmer of hope for the unemployed, the sick and the downtrodden even at this time of year.

They say that it’s better to give than to receive, and that’s true. But our giving muscles should be working at full-strength during the whole year and not just in the middle chunk of December. Sliding a few bucks out of your wallet to help the less fortunate seems like a stunning act of kindness, but it’s more a selfish act to warm the cockles of your own heart rather than helping others. Try giving in May after you’ve gotten your tax return instead of getting that obnoxious 84” HD plasma television you’ve been eyeballing.

As a child, I was spoiled rotten by my grandparents and all my parents’ siblings at Christmas time. I received an absurd amount of gifts. You would of thought I’d grown up to be a spoiled adult who expected everything to be given to me, but now that I’m older I could care less about receiving holiday gifts. In fact I don’t want anything at all. There’s nothing that I want or really need and if I do need it, I can buy it on my own. I’ve actually become more of a minimalist and enjoy the freedom (both mentally and physically) of owning very little. I feel comforted to know that at any temperamental moment, I can throw it all by the wayside and go backpacking around the planet a few dozen times… if the desire should arise.

One of the great horrors of the holidays is receiving a gift that you don’t want or like. Not only do you have to strain your acting chops pretending to like it, you get depressed later on because you realize someone actually paid hard-earned money on something that you’ll toss in your closet and not see again until you do a Spring cleaning or move. I’m all in on the capitalist ideals of the USA, but wasting money on dopey items is heartbreaking no matter how you slice it.

I’m not talking about so-called “bad” gifts like socks or even sweaters with doe-eyed kittens on them. Those tend to be useful once you reach a certain age. I’m talking about mind-benders like grandfather clocks made of cheese or a 24-pound turquoise felt sun hat that Goldie Hawn sported in a magazine back in 1981. Even something as thoughtful as a man’s wallet can be wince-inducing if it’s red leather with giant white stitching.

This is probably why the gift certificate is so popular these days. People have started to realize that taste is a personal thing and pink jumpsuits should be left to certain sections of our population, and not staring up from the lap of your nephew on Christmas morning... Unless he asked for a pink jumpsuit, which is something else entirely.

The absolute worst gifts to receive are those that are regifted. The dreadful holiday regift is doubly horrifying because it’s blatantly obvious that the gift was simply shifted from one party to the next. It can be embarrassing to receive because you were either forgotten about in the first place or simply given something that no one wanted. It’s possible that the regift you receive has been regifted four or five time. If little Johnny is getting a box of chocolate covered prunes, you know something has gone terribly wrong down the chain. It sometimes gets to the point where people can’t remember what’s in the wrapping anymore and handing off a regift could be a game of Russian Roulette. “Oh look, you gave our six year-old a set of fireplace matches, something she’s always wanted.”

One year when I was about 18, one of my parents’ friends gifted me a box of pumpkin candy. I took it with a smile as I’m not one to turn down a free gift—I came to their house with nothing and left with something. But what was so ham-handed about this gift was that it was in Thanksgiving-like packaging. Not only was this gift regifted, it was regifted from a different holiday. Halloween candy would have been preferential to Thanksgiving pumpkin candy. I like pumpkin, but from October 1st through the end of November, everything that’s made into food is made with pumpkin and I feel candy is one thing that should be exempt.

To add insult to injury, the pumpkin candy box looked as though it’d been stomped by a pack of wild boars. The cellophane wrapping was tearing in multiple spots and each box corner was at certain levels of crushed. At that point the thing should have been tossed into the garbage. Basically I was the garbage man in this one-sided gift exchange. “We were going to toss this in the trash, but we gave it to you instead.” Hey, you know the saying… I was once disappointed that I had no hat, until I met a man with no head. Take what you get and make the best of it.

But sometimes no gift is just as good, and sometimes better, than a poorly decided regift. My friend Chris once got a wooden cane as a gift. He was a healthy and vigorous fifteen year-old, but his uncle thought a beat-up wooden cane would have been something he would appreciate. Two days later, Chris whittled the thing into a lethal weapon that was used to stab a punching bag till it bled sand, so perhaps his uncle was correct. But it’s best to err on the side of caution. When someone walks into your house, hand them a cookie or a stiff cocktail. They’ll forget about gift exchanging in no time.


 
 
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My brother posted some really boring blog post about Jazz albums, so I figured I’d counteract that snoozefest with something you people REALLY want. Something you can actually use in your daily lives. That’s right, a list of the most Underrated Snack Foods! Tell me that’s not better than a list of some old Jazz dudes who’ve been dead for like 100 years. Huh?

Anyway, to compile this list I had to do some serious snacking. Research is at the heart of this project and I made sure I got down to the nitty gritty. It took hours and hours of gorging, crunching and munching, but when all was said and done, I got the facts right. The results: The best underrated snack list your gastro-intestinal system could possibly ask for.

What makes this list so special is that it’s a list of snacks that aren’t always reached for when dashing through the aisles of your local grocery store. Some are hard to find and some require extra footwork to get them to your face. But the payoff is worth it. So the next time your craving a little nibbley-something before dinner, try one of these alternatives to the common snack.


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COMBOS
I haven’t seen a commercial for Combos in like 20 years or so. But when they were on TV, their tagline was “Combos really cheeses your hunger away.” See what they did there? Replaced chases with cheeses. Yea, I know—worst copywriter ever. But that’s not what has made Combos fly under the radar for so many years… Honestly, I don’t know why it flies under the radar. It’s a great snack! Real cheese stuffed inside a pretzel nugget. Perfect size and a really great taste. In a perfect world, the pizza Combos would be the number one snack food in America. Maybe it’s the pretzel thing, as not everyone likes pretzels. But Combos are a great snack and they really do cheese your hunger away. Hmm, maybe that’s actually a great tagline! Guy’s a freakin’ genius!

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PORK RINDS
Bacon flavored snack crisps. Did you hear what I just said? A snack crisp that tastes like bacon. Hello? Nobel Prize anyone? Why isn’t everyone and their sister eating pork rinds? Why aren’t you eating them right now? Basically because their fried puffed pork skin. Ohhh. Uhhhh… OK, well, I realize that’s not super appealing and many won’t eat them for religious reasons, but shit, if they aren’t super bacony! Once in a while you should get your trailer trash on and snag a bag at the market. They go great with an afternoon bowling tournament and ice-cold beer or five. They’re also pretty popular in many countries like Brazil and Argentina, so if you eat them, you’ll be continental as well.

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ANDY CAPPS HOT FRIES (CHEDDAR TOO)
What other snack food is based on a comic strip about a British drunk who neglects his family in lieu of getting bombed at the local pub? None other than Andy Capp’s Hot Fries! They’ve cornered the market on British-louses themed snack foods. What’s great about Andy Capp’s Hot Fries, and the Cheddar Fries as well, is they’re actually a hearty snack food. I’m not going as far as to say they’re like real fries, but they’re not some chinsey air-puffed snack like so many other snacks can be. And even better is they’re baked, so they actually have a nice non-greasy taste. These suckers have been around since the 70s, yet not many folk even know they exist. Grab some of Andy Capp’s Hot and Cheddar fries! It’s better than drinking all night with your pub buddies… barely.

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BEEF JERKY
The old stand by. The staple of every cowboy in the land from Australia to Texas. But it’s not just for cowpokes! Beef jerky is a snack that everyone can enjoy. Except vegetarians. They apparently don’t like eating meat, which is equivalent to not liking the sun, or Christmas or something. But if you’re a carnivore like me, there’s nothing like some good old-fashioned beef jerky. After extensive research in this department, I’ve found a few brands that I really like… Mingua Brothers—a fine cut of jerky from Kentucky. Umpqua Native American Jerky—Hand trimmed jerky from the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians in Canyonville Oregon. Uncle Mike’s—A soft and super tasty jerky from Ohio. Vermont Beef Jerky—one of the best in the country from the fine people of Vermont. Use this information wisely my snack loving friends. Beef Jerky can be seriously addictive and make you a connoisseur of these meaty treats.

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FUNYANS
There are imposters out there! Don’t be fooled by snack foods calling themselves Onion Flavored Rings. No, that just simply won’t do. Stick to the one and only Funyuns. These guys give you a serious blast of tangy onion taste in a solid ring of crunchy joy. They’re totally awesome! But much like its unrelated partner in the cereal universe, too many at once can tear up the roof of your mouth like Cap’n Crunch. If you’re not careful, it can feel like a bunch of New Zealanders had a championship rugby match on your palate. Still, this is no reason to pass them over. They’re just about as reliable of a snack as the sun rising in the East.

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PRETZ
Speaking of the East, it’s the perfect time to talk about Pretz! These skinny little pretzel treats from the fine people of Japan are as compact, efficient and as tasty as the wonderful folks who make them. How these haven’t caught on more in the USA is a mystery to me. They’re the ultimate bag lunch treat! Each box comes with a bunch of shiny foil packs that are easy to toss in a lunch box. My personal favorite flavor is Pretz Salad, but they’re all super tasty and they come in an astonishing amount of flavors—something like 80 different varieties. Fun to eat and mondo delicious! Get to your nearest Asian market now and buy a few boxes! Also check out Pretz’s sister snack, Pocky—skinny cake sticks dipped in chocolate.

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SMOKED ALMONDS
I’m usually reluctant to toss a nut into the snack competition ring, but almonds stand out from their nutty brothers. Actually, I think almonds are seeds, but I’m not here to educate you on nuts, seeds, legumes, or any other kind of tree embryos. I’m educating you on stomach stuffers and almonds are a satisfying addition to the list. But you have to go with the smoked almonds. Popping plain raw almonds is kind of like eating tree bark—after about three, you’re chugging water and reaching for the Funyuns. But smoked almonds, with a nice coating of savory, smoky salt is just what the taste buds need. Also almonds are filling and good for you—so they say. I’m not freakin’ Doctor Oz here, so eat what ever the heck you want.

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JAX CHEESE CURLS
If you ever go to a big supermarket, there’s about 47 different kinds of cheese puffs on the shelf. It’s impossible to differentiate which ones are better than the others because they all have that neon orangey glow. You either like the puffy ones or the crunchy ones; then you look in the little bag window to see which ones seem to be the most appealing and toss them in your cart. But there’s most definitely a difference. Jax Cheese Curls are the best, most flavorful cheese puffs by a long shot. They have a nice soft crunch and a fantastic real cheese taste. In reality, if you took a bag of any cheese puff on the market and crushed them into dust, it’d probably take up about one square inch of space. Jax Curls might take up about two square inches of space, which in the world of cheese puff real estate is the equivalent of owning a mansion in Manhattan. 

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QUAKER CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHIP 
GRANOLA BARS
Here’s a challenge for you. Eat one of these bad boys and try not to think about eating the entire box in one shot. I guarantee you’ll consider tearing through it like a California wildfire—they’re that good. Chewy granola bars are pretty dang tasty on their own, but they snuck chocolate chips into these suckers and kicked-up the appealing ratio a notch or two. It totally satisfies a chocolate craving AND it puts your health monitor at ease because it’s granola. I realize that these are not the healthiest granola bars on the planet, but hey… It’s better than eating pork rinds, right? Most people will be shocked that this is the only chocolate offering on the snack menu here—but I reserve chocolate as more of a sweet treat, then a stomach filling snack.

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WALKERS CRISPS
Walkers is basically the UK Lays potato chip. Personally I think Lays are horribly boring, but what sets Walkers apart from Lays is their bold practice of trying unusual and tantalizing flavor combinations. That’s right, I said tantalizing! Over the years Walkers has released tons of crazy crisp flavors like Baked Bean, Roast Turkey with Paxo Sage & Onion Stuffing, Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Lamb & Mint Sauce! Sometimes they even release special flavors for a short period or for special events. During the 2010 World Cup, Walkers briefly introduced the flavors American Cheeseburger, English Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding, Italian Spaghetti Bolognese and even Scottish Haggis! This is progressive snacking right here folks! They’re not thinking outside the box, they’re thinking outside the kitchen! And we benefit from these expeditions in flavor. Walkers everyday flavors that you find on the shelf are more adventurous than anything we have here in the United States. Steak & Onion, Smoky Bacon, Roast Chicken, Prawn Cocktail and Pickled Onion are staples of crisp-chomping fun. You can find them here if you search around and you can usually find them in an Irish pub if you ask. Take a Walk-er on the wild side and chomp on these tasty crisps. OK, that was a pretty corny pun. Just eat them!

SPECIAL MENTIONS:

Wasabee Peas – In a size to satisfaction ratio, these may be number one. The only reason these don’t make the big list is because they’re not filling enough. They’re more like appetizers for snacks than actual snacks. Otherwise, a homerun every time!
Girl Scout Cookies/Samoas – Most people can hammer down a sleeve of Thin Mints without thinking twice, but I believe mint should be reserved for mouthwash and not snacks. I love the coconut chocolate caramel combo of these.
Chex MixThe only reason these didn’t make it to the main list is they put too many of those dry unsalted pretzel rings in the bag.
Tato SkinsThese little suckers are supposed to be like the potato skins you get in a pub. Tasty, although they can be a little salty.
Monster Munch – Another great UK snack treat with flavors like Roast Beef.
Bugles – These cones are seriously addictive. Bit too salty though.
BBQ Fritos – These deliver an incredibly hearty BBQ flavor that goes great with corn chips, but too many can make you ill.
Veggie Bootie – These vegetarian and gluten friendly snacks can be as addictive as normal cheese puff snacks.

Overrated snacks:
Lays Potato Chips – As stated before… Booooooorrriiing!
Cheese & Peanut Butter Crackers
– Stale cheese crackers with dry peanut butter sandwiched between them? No thanks.
Pretzel Crisps – The best part of the pretzel is the salty outside, yet these totally suck for some reason.
Pop Corn – Let’s not kid ourselves, the star of this snack is gobs of butter and salt.
Oreos – Flavor wise, it’s hard to even tell the difference between the black and white part, they’re so sweet and sugary.
Cracker Jacks – It’s popcorn. ‘Nuff said.
Twinkies – These always seem like an awesome idea until you eat one.
Snickers – Any candy bar that touts peanuts as the main ingredient gets a thumbs down in my world.
Cool Ranch Doritos – When I asked a buddy of mine if the original nacho cheese Doritos were his favorite flavor, he said “is there any other kind?” Touché amigo.

Let me know what you think I should add to the list and what should be removed or moved. I'm open to your snacking suggestions!

 
 
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I recently found myself riveted to a competition event on television that blinded me to everything to was happening around me. My girlfriend screamed at me, the steak I was microwaving burst into flames and the beer I was icing up in the freezer, froze hard as a rock because I could not tear myself away from this event.

What was this event that happened in early October that had me glued to the tube, you ask? Was it the World Series, or was it a vicious battle between The New York Jets and The New England Patriots or something? The answer is no to both those questions. It was a moustache and beard growing competition.

Now, before you jump all over me, hear me out for a bit. We live in a world where competition is the daily norm for just about everything—which supermarket line is moving faster? Which workmate is stealing my ideas? And can I run across the street before the red hand/walking symbol on the cross walk sign stops blinking?

We live our lives in constant competition and we don’t even know it. We watch sports like football and basketball because it’s our inherent nature to make war, and sports quenches those desires by satiating our bloodlust vicariously. Sports prevent us from killing each other when someone else cuts in front of us in line at the supermarket. We get out that every day rage by watching other men knock the living shit out of one another on the football field; or watching women swim, jump and pole vault to levels we can only dream about. It’s how we get out our frustrations with life.

So what does this have to do with a beard and moustache growing competition? Because as competitive humans, we enjoy competition on many different levels. Some involve more of our time and effort to follow and some involve little involvement, if any, at all. If you’ve ever played the board game trivial pursuit, they have a category called Sports & Leisure. Sports being football, baseball and hockey, and Leisure being pool, darts and cards—among many others. There’s the big time sports and the smaller competitive sports that many of us relate to because we actually play them.

Many of these so called, “Leisure Sports” don’t always translate to television viewing. Watching billiards, bowling, poker and for many, golf, is akin to watching paint dry. They can be painfully boring. Why they’re televised at all is a mystery to many, but with 24 hours in a day and 1,954 channels to choose from, it doesn’t seem so difficult to understand why everything under the sun is on the TV. Anything and everything that can be made into a competition, is made into a competition.

I guess what it all boils down to is, what the word “Sport” actually means. Competition can be made from just about anything. As a kid, did you ever play a game where you tried to knock something back and forth to your friend without it hitting the ground? How many times have you been to a birthday party, where someone inevitably starts tapping a balloon back and forth to you? Eventually someone says, “don’t let it hit the floor” and viola! You suddenly have a sport happening; with rules and group involvement and a certain amount of whimsical joy in the proceedings.

One thing that makes sports so enjoyable to many, if they be leisure or hardcore sports, is our ability to know that there will be a champion in the end—a final level that will culminate in a trophy, with celebrating and confetti. If you flip on ESPN 2 and see a bunch of guys playing cards, you have no emotional investment in who wins or loses. But if you watch American Idol from day one until the final day, the payoff can be an incredibly emotional payoff to see who takes the trophy in the end. If you watch the last five minutes of a movie, you know how it ends, but you probably won’t like it. But you watch it develop from the first frame, you could be cheering from your seat when the credits roll.

So when we get emotionally involved in what the competition is, it can be incredibly rewarding. American Idol can be considered a sport just as much as anything else. It’s a battle of voices instead of a battle with a ball. But a lot of things don’t always translate to TV or to following in the first place. I don’t think anyone would want to watch the National Checkers Championship League, or who the United Dominoes Competition Finalists are. These activities just don’t capture the attention of the common people. Football does. It’s fast, hard hitting and has excitement. Chess, not so much.

So watching the beard and moustache competition seems like it’d be boring, but it was really quite interesting. Mostly because it wasn’t so much a straight up battle, as much as it was a documentary style breakdown of how each person grew their facial hair, where they were from and other personally relevant information. It got me emotionally involved. And that’s how it is with all sports. I get emotionally involved with my teams and the players. Who got arrested, or married, or hurt, or wrote a book or who was on TV the other day and said something nasty about another team. This shit is like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but with a ball, pads and helmets.

Maybe checkers would be fascinating if we got involved in the competition from day one. I don’t know. If you ever saw the documentary The King Of Kong, about playing The video game Donkey Kong competitively, you’d see that getting involved emotionally can really draw you into something that would otherwise seem incredibly dull. I thought the documentary was great, but I know others who thought it was tedious and corny.

Some of the finest athletes in the world compete in the Olympics, yet a lot of sports fans don’t like watching the Olympics because they’re boring. And these are people who watch all kinds of sports—football, soccer and baseball. The people who watch the Olympics are people who normally don’t watch sports at all. They’re the folks who watch reality shows or sitcoms. They love the spirit of worldly competition and the excitement of who will be triumphant in the end.

So the word “sports” may not only have multiple levels of competition, like Hardcore or Leisure, but multiple levels of meaning. Maybe watching the Green Bay Packers battle it out with the Chicago Bears is just as exhilarating and brutal as watching two women on the Food Network bake a dessert for a $10,000 prize. The sport of football and cooking have many similarities. A lot of blood, sweat and tears are left on the floor, emotions run high and everyone is exhausted. But most importantly, there’s a winner and loser, and that’s just how we like it.


 
 
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I know many of you have asked yourselves this very same question at some point in your life. Some of you probably three or four times a day. Will there ever be another Ron Jeremy? It’s a head-scratcher. A question scientists, stock market trend watchers and world leaders have been trying to answer for decades now.

Ok, maybe not. But some of us in the popular culture universe are interested in knowing the answer. Ok, maybe a few people are interested in the answer. Ok, maybe a handful of people are curious. Two or three are slightly intrigued. Ok, fine! I’m the only one! Sue me.

Some of you are probably wondering who the hell Ron Jeremy is. Ron Jeremy, AKA ‘The Hedgehog’ is one of the most recognizable and revered porn stars in the world. His career has spanned nearly four decades and is easily the ugliest and least sexy sex symbol, not only in porn, but probably in the world. He looks like the love child of Saddam Hussein and Chef Boyardee. See the picture to the right here —>

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, not a lot of people got into the porn business. It was one of the most frowned upon professions in the world; where your audience had to sneak into dirty, cum-stained theaters to watch the product. The movies were shot on cheap film and the actors hadn’t discovered things like razors, gyms or tanning booths.

When the industry shifted to the home video and cable TV market, porn started to become more acceptable and was even became recognized as something of an actual legitimate industry where awards were given and fan clubs were created.

Back in the day, a lot of attention and fame leaned in favor of the men. John Holmes and Ron Jeremy emerged from the pack and gained unprecedented notoriety and fame. Both men donned horrible, unkempt, gaucho-like moustaches and had bodies that made your grandfather more sexually appealing. Yet both came equipped with penises that seemed to grow longer with each push into their pasty young vixen cast mates.

John Holmes life became a horror show when he was embroiled in a drugs-fueled murder case and eventually died of AIDS. Yet Ron Jeremy persevered through the muck and became a star. Not only because of his particularly protracted package, but because of his strange humor, goofy looks and charm.

Give Ron the Hedgehog a Google and you’ll see a man quite unlike the men of porn today. Ron is a short, fat Jew with dark tan skin, a rotund belly and hair like a poodle. Yet for all his shortcomings in the looks department, his image seems more endurable than the chiseled, gym-honed models of today’s porn universe.

There’s no doubt that people like to watch porn. We all do. And don’t pretend you don’t you f-ing liar! We all do, even if it’s just once in a while. Sometimes we sneak a look on-line to quench our curiosities. And when we do have a look, we like to watch good-looking, well-tanned people with tight bodies who we’d like to fuck ourselves—not short, chubby guys with hairy bitch tits who resemble that substitute teachers you had in 7th grade that seemed perpetually on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

So how did we get here? How did Ron Jeremy come to be? Well, in reality, Ron was a pioneer. He was really the first person to successfully transition porn into a business model of self promotion. Tracy Lords and other starlets had done so on the tails of bad press, but Ron managed to have a legitimate career, where he stayed put and made a living working in and around the porn industry. Jenna Jameson did it super successfully for a while, but burned out her star power when she basically went cuckoo cuckoo—getting bad plastic surgery and tattooing herself up and down. The Hedgehog has persevered through the ups and downs and remains triumphant.

Unfortunately, porn is not a world where longevity is met with praise. It’s an industry where they chew you up and spit you out. There’s always someone younger and hotter waiting in the wings to take your place and they’re usually able to take more things into more orifices than you. One year in porn is like five in the real world and if you’re pushing 40, you might as well be pushing 100.

Yet Ron has preserved. Probably because he’s a man and men tend to have more longevity in the biz than women—especially in front of the camera. But Ron also had something that a lot of young men in porn probably don’t realize they needed until they’re in front of the camera. The ability to always be ready. Old dependable. A man who’s never shy, always ready to go and does the job right. Can’t say that about a lot of people no matter what industry you’re in.

Ron has endured behind the camera as well. He’s become a pop culture icon. He’s popped up in movies, TV shows, music videos and has consulted on multiple film projects over the years. He does promotions and MCs events all over the world. He’s even had a full-length documentary made about him. He funded the whole thing, but still. How many people have documentaries about them? Not many. He’s known and beloved in the industry and is considered a legend. And if you’re a legend, even in the world of porn, you’re still a legend. There aren’t many legends walking around these days.

So, will we ever have another Ron Jeremy? The short answer is no. The world is not built for this type of person anymore. In a land where we get our pop stars through television competitions, and reality TV is more popular than scripted entertainment, we’ll never have another Ron Jeremy. Ron is one of a kind. They broke the mold when they made The Hedgehog. But they didn’t break the mold when they made a mold of his penis. You can buy a replica Ron Jeremy rubber penis at a sex store near you.