Cubs Sign Marlon Byrd

December 31, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Wolter

Woo. Hoo?
I don't really have much to say about this, other than: "It's come to this? This is the major signing we were waiting for?"

This offseason blows.


December 24, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

From Chaim Witz and the Saloon, to you and your family, specifically your wives and girlfriends, we wish you a very Merry Christmas (or other non-Christian sponsored holiday).

Pop Culture Gauntlet: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn vs. Boxer Briefs

December 21, 2009 | Comments (0) | by T.R.

Welcome to Pop Culture Gauntlet, where people, places, and things from various subjects face off in a virtual cage match. As part of an ongoing series we will bring you new battles each week between randomly selected items from the Thunder Matt's PCG database. We will provide you with a brief background of both competitors. After reading, you can then vote on your choice in the poll located in the right sidebar column. Monday battles will run until 12am Thursday. Thursday battles will run until 12am Monday. Also we welcome any arguments for either competitor in our comments section. May the best man, thing, or whatever win.

Today's match: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn vs. Boxer Briefs

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Solzhenitsyn, who passed away in August of 2008, was a Russian and Soviet historian, and Nobel laureate in Literature. His prominent works, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago, earned him both global critical acclaim and exile from his home country. Toward the end of WWII, while serving as a commander in the Red Army, he was tried and imprisoned for inflammatory writings questioning Joseph Stalin's conduct of the war. After serving his term in a labor camp, he was permitted back into Soviet society. At this time, he conducted much of his research and writings in secrecy due to the ever-watchful eye of the KGB. In 1962, Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party at the time, permitted the publishing of A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. This sudden rise to cultural prominence only intensified the scrutiny that Solzhenitsyn suffered at the hands of the KGB. In 1974, Solzhenitsyn was stripped of his Soviet citizenship and permanently exiled from the country. After floating around Western Europe, he ventured to the United States, settling in Vermont. Here he continued his writings against Communism, favoring a return to Russian imperialism and orthodoxy. It should also be noted that while Solzhenitsyn appreciated the political liberties which democracy allowed, he remained disconcerted by the evils of popular culture and the weakening of American strenght. In other words, Solzhenitsyn would not approve of the Saloon. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Solzhenitsyn returned to the motherland, where he preached moderate nationalism and the emboldening of Russia, and decried its turn toward materialism and the crumbling of its religious foundations.

Strengths: showed great intestinal fortitude by sticking it to the KGB; survived a near-fatal bout with cancer; exposed the Gulags and the faults of Communism

Weaknesses: willingly chose to live in Vermont of all places; once described the United States as a "province of Israel"; wanted the United States to prolong the war in Vietnam

Fun Fact: His son Ignat is an acclaimed concert pianist and conductor, working primarily with the Chamer Orchestra of Philadelphia.

*information largely cribbed from Wikipedia

Boxer Briefs
For centuries, cultured men were suffered the indignity of having only two alternatives to "going commando": boxers or briefs. When a young man first graduates from diapers, he is too young to yet understand the difference between the two, and is generally at the will of his mother regarding the undergarments he will use throughout his youth. In 98% of all cases, the mother will default to white briefs, or as we refer to them, "tighty whities". In the other 2% of cases, the mother is likely deceased or too hopped up on goofers to pay any mind to the child. It is usually not until high school when a young man realizes that he has the choice to transition to boxers. But lo and behold, the 1990's gave advent to a new choice in the male intimates section at your local Target: the boxer briefs. Melding the best of both worlds, the boxer brief has both the length of boxers (which are more comfortable and desirable when undressing in front of a female) and the compact feel of the "tighty whities" (which helps to absorb those last two drops of urine so that they do not run down the leg). They afford a more confident demeanor when standing semi-nude in front of a mirror and flexing. Boxer briefs scream "I am not convinced that the testicles need to be so aerated as to necessitate boxers, yet I also do not enjoy playing World of Warcraft!" The boxer brief is simultaneously a neutral Switzerland, and the dawn of the United States of America. There have been precious few articles of clothing in the history of man that have liberated so many.

Strengths: more appealing to the ladies; "last two drops" corollary; dark colors assist in hiding unmentionable stains

Weaknesses: often more expensive than standard boxers or briefs; slight risk of decreased sperm count

Fun Fact: They suppress boners slightly better than boxers, which always helps when you're riding the city bus.

Milton Bradley Watch

December 18, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Arcturus

Threat Level: Still an ambulating asshole, still on the Cu-wait, what? There are actually rumors of a Bradley trade going down? No fucking way!

Who'd we get? C'mon, big money, no Whamm
ies, no Whammies, no Whammies . . .

SHIT!!! Carlos Silva, seriously? I know Bradley is a cantering cocknugget, but come on! I'd rather keep Bradley and hope Lou can keep from killing him for a season just so Ryne Sandberg gets a chance to manage the selfish prick.

In case anybody cares, Silva pitched in all of 8 games last year, finishing 1 and 3 with an 8.60 ERA before mercifully injuring himself. 2008 wasn't any better as Silva pitched in 28 games, amassing a 4 and 15 record with an ERA of 6.46. He's also fucking big. And not the good kind of big, if you know what I mean. Let's put it this way: if Silva ever went to Japan, the fucking Sea Shepherd would be following him around for his own protection.


Santa Claus vs. Satan

December 18, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Adam Blank

No, this isn't part of our ongoing Pop Culture Gauntlet series, but a review of one of the most bizarre Holiday films ever made.

Christmastime is full of movie traditions. With classics such as It's A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, and about a hundred other essential holiday movies, it seems absurd to recommend another addition to our vast cultural repository of essential holiday films. But I'd be doing a disservice to the world if I didn't try to make the case for the 1959 epic simply titled Santa Claus.

This Mexican film was made by famed South-of-the-border director Rene Cardona, who directed a shit-ton of movies, such as: Rock 'N Roll Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy, Santo vs. the Diabolical Brain, and the schlock classic Brainiac.

An American producer, K. Gordon Murray, bought the rights to Santa Claus and a few other foreign children's movies. He then dubbed them into English and released them in the U.S. and made a fortune off the burgeoning kiddie matinee circuit, which Murray helped create in the first place. Santa Claus played theatrically for decades. Unsuspecting children were dropped off at the theater to endure this spectacle while mommy finished up last minute shopping. And what, exactly, were these generations of children exposed to?

For starters, Santa Claus lives in a crystal palace in outer space that sort of resembles a mosque. Here he's collected a small army of children of different races & creeds ("Even Russia!" the narrator informs us) who work to assemble the toys for the Earth children. No elves for this Santa. It's at this point that we're introduced to the various groups of children, who dress in the "traditional" garb of their native lands while corresponding stereotypical music plays in the background.

This scene alone lasts a good 5 or 6 minutes, so I'll give you the highlights: The African children wear loincloths and have bones in their hair. They dance to a tribal drum. A nine year old Harem girl from "The Orient" dances seductively. The German children wear lederhosen, the American children sing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and the Mexican children play "La Cucaracha."

Meanwhile, in HELL, Lucifer sends his most flamboyant minion, Pitch, to earth in order to trick children into doing evil. If he fails, he'll be forced to eat ice cream.

That's right. Santa Claus must contend with the forces of evil from the bowels of Hell. In hindsight, battling the denizens of Hell makes a foggy Christmas Eve without Rudolph seem as troublesome as not having an umbrella in a vagina storm.

Even though there are millions of children on earth, only five are to be tempted to do evil by Lucifer's obviously homosexual assistant. The first to be tempted is "a good little boy whose daddy is quite rich." The second child is the ridiculously adorable Lupita, whose family is comically poor and all she wants is a fucking doll. Any doll. Finally, we're shown three boys who look like they crawled out of a Monogram poverty row picture from the 40's. We immediately know they're bad news because they wear leather jackets and scally caps. Tempted by the devil, they throw rocks through a store's display window.

In order to find out who's naughty and who's nice, Santa employs surveillance devices that make our drone aircraft look like a cup-and-ball. These tools of omnipotence look like they came out of a hybrid of "Pee Wee's Playhouse" and Un Chien Andalou. With these devices, not only can Santa see you "in a cave or behind a million mountains," but he can also see inside your dreams!

Santa spies on the rich boy, who dreams of unwrapping two giant boxes which contain his emotionally unavailable parents. All he wants for Christmas is love. This poor little rich boy already has everything he could ever want, except a face that doesn't look like it's been stricken with Down's Syndrome.

Lupita falls asleep in her parent's one room shack, and soon the devil is blowing in her ear(!), which causes her to have a scary dream where 10 terrifying mechanical dolls come out of giant wrapped boxes and perform a synchronized dance in a large room with a fog machine. After the dance, the dolls gang up on Lupita and try to convince her to steal her own Christmas gift. Lupita won't give in, and Santa is thrilled; nearly to the point of orgasm.

With Christmas fast approaching, Santa receives letters from children all over the world. One boy asks for a baby brother. Santa is happy to oblige and forwards the letter to the stork. Another boy asks for an "Atomic laboratory and a machine gun." Without checking twice, Santa puts the kid's request in the "Nice" pile. Kid's certainly made out like bandits during the Cold War.

Before Santa goes on his Christmas Eve run, he goes to see his buddy Merlin the Magician, who apparently lives in his magic palace. Merlin has all sorts of bizarre shit to help Santa break into homes unnoticed, like a magic flower that makes him disappear and sleeping powder which has Rohypnol-like effects on children. Where can I get some of that?

After getting all his magic shit in order, Santa is ready to go. He boards his sleigh, which isn't pulled by 8 live flying reindeer but rather four freaky wind-up mechanical reindeer. Seriously, these fucking things are the stuff of nightmares. We're told that if the reindeer are exposed to sunlight, they turn to dust! Jesus fucking Christ, Santa! What kind of shady occult organization are you running in your outer space mosque of child slavery?

On Earth, Santa must outwit the devil and make sure all the good children of earth receive their presents. Will he succeed, or will Satan triumph over the children of earth? I'm sure you can guess the answer to that. But the real question is: Why would anyone make a movie this fucked up? Well, apparently Santa Claus wasn't big in ol' Mexico. Being a religious people, Christmas focused on the birth of Christ. Thus, the giving of gifts was done to commemorate the gifts of the Magi (the wise men, not the O. Henry story). So this was sort of like a half-assed introduction to the Eurocentric version of Santa Claus we've taken for granted all our lives.

Like Christmas itself, it's best to experience this movie with close friends & family. And whiskey... lots of fucking whiskey. Although it's sometimes dreamlike, sometimes absurd and always shitty, Santa Claus nevertheless looks and feels like Christmas. I've heard that a cheap DVD of this movie can be found at most Walgreens locations for a buck or two. Treat yourself to something nice this Christmas and get a copy, since you can't get this from Netflix.

Rating: 5 Creepy Mechanical Reindeer out of 5.

Pop Culture Gauntlet Results

December 17, 2009 | Comments (0) | by T.R.

In an effort to minimize the hassle involved with posting the Gauntlet results, we have decided to lump them together after every three or four contests. Without further ado:

Kanye West (5 votes) vs. The Enron Scandal (16 votes)
Vegas was stunned with these results. The prognosticators were calling for a beating at the hands of Mr. West. But NO! Mighty Enron turned the tables on Kanye by the widest margin to date. The flash in the pan hip-hopper assured himself of the last laugh though, when he stormed the stage and ...oh...nevermind. Kanye was no match for the staying power of corporate scandal.

HBO (9 votes) vs. Piet Mondrian (4 votes)
Well duh, of course HBO won. I mean, quality television, boobs, and swearing, versus a guy named Piet? Say my name is Brant, and I'm at a cocktail party. You ask me what I do for a living, and I tell you that I paint in straight lines and only use three colors. You would tell me "that's interesting" and look for someone more important to talk to. But if your name is Piet, then painting like a third grader not only gains you international notoriety, but you're able to perpetuate a freaking artistic movement. Whatever, Taxicab Confessions is way cooler than the cover of the last Silverchair album.

Dunkin' Donuts (8 votes) vs. The Assassination of Franz Ferdinand (11 votes)
Obviously the Saloon does not have a huge Boston following. Seriously though, the coffee is good, I'll give them that. But we're talking about The Great War! Conspiracy! Assassination! Sexual frivolity (unconfirmed)! Secret societies! Tuberculosis! It's the stuff of a Steven Soderbergh film! Except very, very real.

Remember people, keep voting!

Pop Culture Gauntlet: Boba Fett vs. Fried Chicken

December 17, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Wolter

Welcome to Pop Culture Gauntlet, where people, places, and things from various subjects face off in a virtual cage match. As part of an ongoing series we will bring you new battles each week between randomly selected items from the Thunder Matt's PCG database. We will provide you with a brief background of both competitors. After reading, you can then vote on your choice in the poll located in the right sidebar column. Monday battles will run until 12am Thursday. Thursday battles will run until 12am Monday. Also we welcome any arguments for either competitor in our comments section. May the best man, thing, or whatever win.

Today's match: Boba Fett vs. Fried Chicken

Boba Fett
The nerd's ultimate idea of cool, Boba Fett is the cleverest, slickest, most dangerous bounty hunter in the Star Wars series. Of course, he does this more or less by the time honored tradition of "not being as dumb as Greedo," an alien so dumb that even after Lucas felt bad enough to go back and spot him a free first shot, managed to miss from 2 feet away. Still, Boba Fett was the only person in the entire Galactic Empire not to notice the huge spaceship that disappeared from view might be floating amongst the ONLY cover within ten light years, so we can definitely give him that. Boba Fett also flew the legitimately badassed Slave-1. Sure it was a weird looking combination of spaceship and hair-dryer, but when you fly in something named Slave-1, no one fucks with you. Except maybe Harriet Tubman.

Like all things awesome about the original Star Wars series, Lucas managed to make Boba Fett lamer than Joe Theismann, circa 1986 during the "new trilogy." Apparently he's a clone of his own "father" Django Reinhardt, along with EVERY SINGLE STORMTROOPER...which means the entire Imperial Army is pretty much a bunch of renowned jazz guitarists. Or something like that, I stopped paying attention halfway through that crapfest.

Strengths: In The Empire Strikes Back, he is easily the most competent employee on the Imperial Payroll. He has a kickass jetpack, a grappling hook, and the stones to stand up to Darth Vader.

Weaknesses: Being accidentally hit on the back by a blind Han Solo will cause his kickass jetpack to malfunction and enable him to be digested over a thousand year period by the Saarlacc. Nice heel, Achilles. His death merited a slide whistle.

Fun Fact: Did you know, per Wikipedia, that the plural of "Saarlacc" is "Saarlacci?" And the plural of "nerd" is "more than one person who knows that."

Fried Chicken
Though one of our bartenders is secretly a vegetarian (guess which one!), the rest of us know that chickens are essentially Food Alive. And everyone knows the best way to serve any food is to bread it and deep fry it. Even things that are counterintuitive, like pickles, okra, or ice cream.

Invented by Jesus shortly after he turned water into beer, fried chicken lay dormant until rediscovered by the American South, especially poor African-Americans, as chickens were the only farm animal slaves were allowed to keep. This led to some rather disgusting racist connections with fried chicken, but let me assure you, as a caucasian southerner, I have eaten more than enough of the stuff to bely any aspersions of that nature.

Strengths: Aside from tasting like awesome lives in your mouth, fried chicken keeps for longer than most dishes, which is another reason it became popular in the pre-refrigeration south. It may well be the perfect picnic food, since you are required by law to eat it with your hands in most states.

Weaknesses: Other than the whole "racism" angle, it looks like fried chicken might not actually be healthy. More on this as it develops.

Fun Fact: Colonel Sanders was named a Kentucky Colonel in 1935, nearly 20 years before KFC was franchised.

Thunder Matt Snubbed By ESPN Chicago: This Aggression Will Not Stand, Man

December 16, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Ginger Russ

In case you missed it, ESPN Chicago put out its list of the 10 greatest Cubs of the past decade. While the list is highly debatable (Theriot at #8? Dempster ahead of Sosa?), one name was surprisingly absent from the list. Yep, it looks like the ginger prejudice is still alive and well in 'Merika (Dempster doesn't count, he's Canadian), as TMS's own namesake, Matt Murton failed to make the list.

While you can look at stats all you want, some things are intangible. Murton brought sex appeal, an underdog attitude, and of course a lovability to the Cubs that is rarely seen. Would Murton piss on his hands and then shake yours? I think not. Would Matt cork his bat just because he was having a slump? Hardly. Did the Redheaded Wonder ever lead the league in "simulated games"? Never. Can he grow a beard faster than it takes Daft's mom to take her clothes off in exchange for a 40 of Old E? You betcha. What's that, these things don't make a player "the greatest of the decade"? Well, GFY then. Fine, let's look at the stats. A lifetime .299 hitter for the Cubs doesn't mean anything I guess.

Sure, since leaving the Cubs, Murton's luck has changed and is now off in Japan. But don't forget the great times he had here in Chicago. One needs to only look as far as the 28 plaques in the Thunder Matt Trophy Room to be reminded of that. Just as the Ted Lilly Fan Club is miffed about the absence of TRL to ESPN Chicago's list, we implore you Cubs fans - email, text, call, fax, send a letter, anything to get to those bastards and demand that Matt Murton be added to the list. Do it for Ginger Awareness not only in Chicago, but everywhere.

Chaiming In: Holiday Edition

December 16, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

My God, I leave this place for a few months and it all goes to pot. Is this thing on? Does this website work? Are we on the Internet? Is this live? Does my mother still check this site? What about Daft's Mom? (I'm pulling out (of) all of the oldies but goodies!). Let's get down to the bullet points for the last man standing, ergo, reading.
  • I'm being told in my earpiece that there is going to be some new site launching in a few months that is kind of like that cartoon Voltron, whatever that means. Did I let the cat out of the bag? I don't know. But if you were burned when you invested in shares of Pomp Culture, you might want to sit this one out. The details are sketchy, but I can only imagine it involves pornography, t-shirts with wolves, Twittering, the sale of banned prescription drugs, and in some form or another, The Cubs. From all indications, it will involve several new writers and some old ones. The Hundley has been asked to return. Jordi Scrubbings has not.
  • Avatar, for the most part, lives up to the $300 million dollar hype. See it in 3D though, for the love of the Blue Man Group. The visuals are amazing and the last 45 minutes are really unlike anything you've ever witnessed. It's far from the perfect movie: the story is rife with cliches, Sam Worthington's acting is as stiff as Tommy Buzanis on a Cialis bender and things begin to drag about 90 minutes in before picking up again. That said, the action scenes and visuals (the previews don't do them justice) more than compensate for the films flaws, none of which prove fatal. The line, 'you need to see this on the big screen' is probably overused in this day and age of HDTVs and surround sound, but make no doubt about it: you need to see this on the big screen...and in 3D if at all possible. I had a myriad of doubts going in, but walked out of the film a believer. A very solid B+.
  • On the other end of the spectrum is Up in the Air, starring the dashing and well-spoken George Clooney. I don't really feel like giving a detailed review (I'm not your goddamn father), only to say that it is very good, even if it is the antithesis of Avatar. I'm not sure we should crown it Best Picture already like some circles already have, but I can't imagine anyone leaving this one disappointed. Solid entertainment the discerning adult and contemporary male. Let's give this one a B+ as well.
  • "New Fang" by Them Crooked Vultures could very well be the Single of the Year (right up there with Pearl Jam's "The End"). The rest of the album? The jury is still out, but my dick is still in my pants.
  • A War Hero on cheese and crackers is forthcoming. Don't agree with me on that one? Then, by all means, log off the Internet and log onto me murdering you while you sleep.
  • It took me a while to warm up to it, but that show Modern Family on ABC is really good. A poor man's Arrested Development, it's finally given me something to watch on day other than Thursday. For the sake of continuity, lets give that one a B+ as well.
  • Lots of noise being made about Milton Bradley. I'm trying to keep a safe distance away from the hoopla because A) I need a mental break from the Cubs after last season and B) I don't like Milton Bradley and would just prefer that I wake up on April 1st to find him not in the lineup, upon which I will just logically assume that the Cubs managed to trade him for a warm body whose testicles have dropped and has an inclination to hustle and smile (preferably at the same time).
  • Raves: the song 'Relator' (shockingly enough, sung by Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson), Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuits, NFL playoff races, mole sauce, Amazon Prime, Flip Video Ultra HD, HP Pavilion dv6T laptop, Sabra hummus, Simply Limeade, cars with butt warmers.
  • Rants: Semi-trucks, freezing temperatures, grinches, impatient drivers, getting sweets as a Christmas present, genocide.

Cubs Express Interest in Signing Roberto Clemente

December 15, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

In a disappointing offseason of unsubstantiated or unfulfilled rumors, new reports are coming out about the latest player the Cubs are supposedly eyeing.  Hall of famer Roberto Clemente.

When asked about the validity of this, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said, "Absolutely.  Clemente would fill our hole in center field.  He's an amazing hitter, an outstanding fielder, and is a role model to every Hispanic player we have.  The impact he'd have on our team would be tremendous!"

Hendry was then asked if he realized Clemente has been deceased for nearly 37 years.  "Huh?  Of course I know he's dead.  Did you honestly think I thought we could sign him for 2010?  I was just saying that it'd be nice to have him as our center fielder, just like it'd be nice to have Mike Cameron, or J.J. Putz, or Matt Capps, or Jason Bay, or Chone Figgins, or Curtis Granderson, or John Lackey, but that's not happening either!"

Milton Bradley Watch

December 15, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Arcturus

Threat Level: STILL a fucking Cub. Still a perambulating prick.

The past few days have seen a flurry of moves, all made by other teams. The Blue Jays, Phillies, and Mariners may complete a blockbuster deal that would send ace Roy Halladay to Philadelphia and Cliff Lee to the Mariners. The Mariners suddenly look like contenders and remain in the mix for Jason Bay. The Red Sox meanwhile have signed Cub target Mike Cameron for 2 years and seem on the verge of acquiring John Lackey. Speculation is that Lackey's presence will allow them to deal Clay Bucholz and Jacoby Ellsbury for Adrian Gonzalez. Like the Red Sox really need to get any better. And the Cardinals have supposedly offered Matt Holiday 16M per over 8 years.

What have the Cubs done this year? Purged the team of every player signed last offseason, save the brooding Bradley. Resigned John Grabow, whose arm will probably now fall off. And they've expressed interest in signing Pirates closer Matt Capps, who was non-tendered by the Bucs. I fully expect Hendry to overpay to secure three years of Capps and call the offseason a success. I know there's a lot of post-season left, but so far it's had a very 2004 feel to it. Remember Freddie Bynum? Yeah, me neither.

It's looking more and more like Bradley will still be our problem come next season. Can Jim and Lou put the pieces back together and get the sulky Milton to play up to his potential? Can the rest of the team live with a guy who has no interest in being a team player and still compete? Will Lou snap and beat Milton to death with a baseball bat? Would any of the Cubs stop him if he did? And if he did, are the Cubs still on the hook for Milton's salary? All questions worth pondering as we death march to Opening Day 2010.

My Case for Signing Matt Capps

December 14, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Graph courtesy of FanGraphs

Granted Capps had a down year last season, but assuming he can regain pre-2009 form, it'd be nice to have a reliever that can strike guys out much more often than walking them.

Pop Culture Gauntlet: Dunkin' Donuts vs. The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

December 14, 2009 | Comments (0) | by T.R.

Welcome to Pop Culture Gauntlet, where people, places, and things from various subjects face off in a virtual cage match. As part of an ongoing series we will bring you new battles each week between randomly selected items from the Thunder Matt's PCG database. We will provide you with a brief background of both competitors. After reading, you can then vote on your choice in the poll located in the right sidebar column. Monday battles will run until 12am Thursday. Thursday battles will run until 12am Monday. Also we welcome any arguments for either competitor in our comments section. May the best man, thing, or whatever win.

Today's match: Dunkin' Donuts vs. The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

Dunkin' Donuts
Dunkin' Donuts is one of the largest coffee chains in North America. Founded in 1950, and based in Canton, Massachusetts, the company has expanded it's presence to over 30 countries. Originally serving coffee and simple pastries, Dunkin' Donuts has diversified it's product base to include specialty coffees and breakfast sandwiches. This evolution was prompted by competition from Starbucks and McDonald's, amongst others, in the burgeoning "morning fix" market. Their national operations are largely based East of the Mississippi River. There are currently no Dunkin' Donuts stores in the state of California, and oddly enough, plans to expand to the latte-slurping West Coast do not appear imminent. This may be in deference to the strong foothold Starbucks holds on that region, though the Dunkin' Donuts marketing team has never shied away from their prime challenger. In a series of ad campaigns over the last several years, Dunkin' Donuts has been known to poke Starbucks in the eye, often slighting the pretentious Italian terms that the Seattle-based company insists on populating their menu with. Most of you will also remember the Fred the Baker commercial campaign in the 1980's and '90's. His catchphrase "Time to make the donuts" made him a pop culture landmark. Sadly, the actor that played Fred passed away four years ago due to complications from diabetes (or Sugar AIDS as it's known in the Chip Wesley home).

Strengths: John Goodman provides the voiceover in their ad campaigns; heavy concentration of stores in Chicago which aid in ThunderFist hangovers; coffee actually tastes good

Weaknesses: Strong affiliation with Patriots and Red Sox; queer logo; need to move out West

Fun Fact: On one television spot, Rachel Ray promoted Dunkin' Donuts while wearing a peculiar scarf. Conservative pundits called for the company to pull the ad, claiming the scarf was similar to that worn by Yasser Arafat, and was thus supportive of terrorism.

The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand is widely held as the precipitating factor that spurned the beginning of World War I (or The Great War as grandpa called it). Younger generations, however, know him only as "the guy that that shitty Scottish band named themselves after." The groups and actors which played a part in the archduke's assassination are shrouded in the the same lore one might expect from a Dan Brown novel. In fact, the events of that day were a comedy of errors, befitting of an Ocean's 14 screenplay. In a nutshell: Franz Ferdinand was an archduke of the Austria-Hungary. Basically, Serbs were trying to get the southern Slavic provinces to to break away from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in order to re-form Serbia or Yugoslavia. A secret society known as Black Hand had decided that a logical course of action would be to kill a high ranking member of the Empire and escalate tensions. Six young men were recruited to take out Ferdinand. As the archduke passed through Sarajevo in a motorcade, the six men were stationed along the route. Most had a grenade and/or pistol. As the motorcade passed, the first two assassins failed to act. The third threw a grenade, which blew one car but did not kill anyone. Following instructions, the assassin swallowed a cyanide pill and jumped into the Miljacka River. Unfortunately for him, the cyanide pill only induced vomiting, and the river was only four inches deep. Talk about an epic FAIL. The remaining assassins walked away in the ensuing hoopla. Shortly afterward, the motorcade continued on. One of the assassins, Gavrilo Princip, was eating a sandwich at a deli when the cars rolled by. As anyone involved in a secret society knows, you keep going until the job is done. Princip seized the new opportunity, and shot the archduke in the neck. The rest, as they say, is history.

Strengths: indirectly led to the creation of the armored vehicle industry; subsequent research into more effective cyanide pills, which Hitler would eventually take; finally got rid of that insipid Austria-Hungary

Weaknesses: gave Serbs a bad name; inadvertently led to thousands of high school students having to read All Quiet on the Western Front; um, started World War I

Fun Fact: Princip died of tuberculosis in prison before he could serve his full sentence, which was only 20 years anyway.

Milton Bradley Watch

December 10, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Arcturus

Threat Level: Still on the Cubs. Still a giant walking cock. Looking more untradeable than ever.

Well, the "mystery team" rumor turned out to be a complete load of shit. Big surprise there. According to Carrie Muskat, the Cubs are now "scrambling" to deal Bradley. Fantastic. When I think of the word "scrambling" a little movie of the Keystone Kops appears in my head, coupled with the music from Bennie Hill, two things I don't want associated with my major league baseball team.

The way things are looking right now, unloading Aarons Miles and Heilman might be the highlight of the offseason. If that ends up being the case, I'll . . .I'll . . . fuck. We all know that I'm not going to stop watching this team. And neither are any of you, since you bothered to come here.

Pop Culture Gauntlet: HBO vs Piet Mondrian

December 10, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Ginger Russ

Welcome to Pop Culture Gauntlet, where people, places, and things from various subjects face off in a virtual cage match. As part of an ongoing series we will bring you new battles each week between randomly selected items from the Thunder Matt's PCG database. We will provide you with a brief background of both competitors. After reading, you can then vote on your choice in the poll located in the right sidebar column. Monday battles will run until 12am Thursday. Thursday battles will run until 12am Monday. Also we welcome any arguments for either competitor in our comments section. May the best man, thing, or whatever win.

Today's match: HBO vs. Piet Mondrian

Also known as the "Hebrew Box Office", HBO was the first premium channel to hit the new-fangled experiment called "cable" back in 1965 in Manhattan, NY, USA. The project was bought out by Time Life in 1973, and was soon into full swing of distributing it's Jew-run media all over the country. By 1989, Time had merged with Warner Communications, becoming Time Warner which is now HBO's parent company and largest distributor of lies and misinformation to the masses. Although it's beginnings were optimistic, people soon got tired of watching the same reruns of movies. But what HBO did have was strong sports programming. It became the first TV network to deliver it's signal via satellite when it broadcast the "Thrilla in Manila" in 1975. HBO has also featured coverage of Wimbledon, WWF, NHL, NBA, ABA, PBA, LOL, GFY, and the channel's longest running program, Inside the NFL ran from 1977 to 2008 before it was picked up by Showtime. Trying to compete with the major 3 networks may seen like a daunting task for a subscription-based channel, but HBO has done a decent job, putting out a variety of original programs, which we all love because they often feature suggestive themes and high amounts of swearing, violence and nudity which make them unsuitable for regular cable (although we all know Skinemax late night is still far superior in the 10 - 19 year old male market). Some of it's original shows which have gone on to experience a great amount of success include The Sopranos, Deadwood, Sex and the City, and Six Feet Under as well as Ginger favorites such as Flight of the Conchords, Eastbound & Down, Cathouse: The Series, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Mr Show, and of course Fraggle Rock. Today HBO consists of seven multiplex channels including HBO 2, Comedy, Family, Latino, Signature, and Zone as well as an On Demand service.

Strengths: Swearing, violence and nudity for starters. Original programming and the ability to watch free movies (as free as paying for a premium cable channel gets). No commercials.

Weaknesses: It's not really "More Than You Imagined™", it's the same 'ole HBO. Movies and programming gets repetitive.

Fun Fact: The first program and film broadcast on HBO, Sometimes a Great Notion, starred Paul Newman and Henry Fonda.

Piet Mondrian
Mondrian (as he was known by everyone except his mother, who affectionately called him "Little Peter") was a Dutch painter born on March 7, 1872 and was the most famous painter of the De Stijl art movement, which of course was named after an early White Stripes album. His paintings consisted of a white background, onto which black horizontal and verticals lines were painted and then filled with the three primary colors. At a time when art was going through major changes, Mondrian's Neo-Plasticism laughed in the face of critics and the general public as well, being one of the first artists to evoke the "If I can paint it, it's not art" attitude of ignorant "critics" around the world. Mondrian's art introduction came at a very early age as his father was a qualified drawing teacher. He would go onto to become a teacher at the Academy for Fine Art in Amsterdam, where he primarily worked in the Dutch Impressionist Manner of the Hague School. In 1912, Mondrian moved to Paris, where he was highly influenced by the Cubist movement and artists such as Picasso and Braque. In 1914 he returned to the Netherlands where along with artists Van der Leck and Van Doesburg he founded the De Stijl, in which the artist's theories signaled a complete break from representational painting.

From 1919 to 1938 Mondrian worked in Paris and then from 1938-1944 he moved between London and New York, continuing his style of thick black lines on a white background with boxes of the primary colors scattered throughout. His most famous painting, Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow (above), perfectly exhibits the principals of Neo-Plasticism which Mondrian strove for throughout his entire career. In 1944, Mondrian died of pneumonia in New York. Mondrian's influence on the world can still be seen today, traditionally in the furniture and architecture of the world's greatest designer: Ikea.

Strengths: Unlike other Minimalists like Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, Mondrian was not bat-shit crazy.

Weaknesses: His artwork is most recognizable by non-cultured people as the early reason why Modern art is such a disaster.

Fun Fact: In May, 2008 Nike released the SB Dunk, styled after the work of Piet Mondrian.

TMS Music: A John Waters Christmas

December 09, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Adam Blank

I love Christmas. I love Christmas music. And I'm one of the biggest John Waters fans around*. So a Christmas compilation handpicked by the Pope of Trash should be essential holiday listening for me, right? Fuck yeah it is.

Because A John Waters Christmas is one of those rare Christmas CDs with a parental advisory sticker on it, you might assume that it's just another entry in the overpopulated subgenre of anti-Christmas novelty songs. That's not the case. A John Waters Christmas serves as a musical orphanage for Christmas songs that the 20th century didn't want to own up to. It's a tender and earnest attempt to put listeners in the holiday spirit; sort of like a choir of mentally challenged children slogging their way through "Silent Night."

The album is book-ended with songs about black Santa Clauses. Setting the tone for the entire compilation, the opening track, "Fat Daddy," is a lighthearted R&B ditty sung by Fat Daddy, the Baltimore DJ who was Waters' inspiration for the Motor Mouth Maybelle character in Hairspray. Fat Daddy proclaims himself "Santa Claus with soul," and who are we to argue?

The much more surreal "Santa Claus Is A Black Man" closes this collection. Sung by an African American child with a lisp, the boy discovers the truth about Santa. This may be the only Christmas song to mention somebody having an afro. The chorus is sure to be stuck in your head well into the New Year, unless The Man has anything to say about it.

No whacky Christmas compilation would be complete without efforts from Tiny Tim & The Chipmunks. Tiny Tim's rendition of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is so syrupy that you'll need to keep a dose of insulin on standby. The Chipmunk's interpretation of "Sleigh Ride" is, surprisingly, one of the best versions of the song I've ever heard. The aggressive nature of the sped-up vocals captures the true essence of the song.

"Happy Birthday Jesus" is a poem recited against a backdrop of "Silent Night." Little Cindy, the young girl who reads the poem, has a southern drawl and a voice so high that it makes Tiny Tim look like a baritone. This song was obviously recorded in one take, as Cindy flubs her lines but continues on, probably with an angry adult glowering at her in the recording studio. Fortunately, the other kid-sung track, "Sleigh Bells, Reindeer and Snow" is a decent country tune that accurately captures the magic of Christmas Eve in the minds of children.

"Here Comes Fatty Claus" is the track that warrants the parental advisory sticker. A redneck posse, upset that they go into debt every Christmas, sings their rallying cry to trashy white people everywhere, culminating in a chorus of "Here comes Fatty with his sack of shit, and all them stinkin' reindeer." You can't make this stuff up.

"Little Mary Christmas" is a story set to music abut a poor girl whose parents died when she was a baby. She happens to be named Mary Christmas, and is rotting in an orphanage, just waiting to be adopted. Even though she hobbles around on crutches, she holds out hope that someone will give her a new home. This song exploits everything we're taught to feel about the holidays. It doesn't tug at the heartstrings but instead tries to yank them out at the root.

"I Wish You A Merry Christmas" is a legitimate R&B track sang by Little Eva of "The Loco-Motion" fame. It's a wonderfully upbeat holiday song that seems like it fell of Phil Spector's Christmas album and somehow landed here.

We get some old school country in "Santa Don't Pass Me By," about a broken-hearted man trying to get home for Christmas by hitching a ride with Santa.
Fun Fact: the singer, Jimmy Donley, committed suicide!

"Christmas Time is Coming" is a classy a cappella song that lacks the trashy pop aesthetics of the other tracks, making it seem woefully out of place on this album. The group, Stormy Weather, hails from Hammond, Indiana; the same town that A Christmas Story sprang from.

Without a doubt, the true gem on this album is "First Snowfall," an instrumental track featuring, of all things, a Theremin. Without words, sleigh bells, church bells, or any other typical holiday motif, it manages to capture the dream-like wonder of the holidays. Performed by the Chicago-based "garage jazz" band, The Coctails, this song would enlarge the Grinch's heart and make Scrooge understand the true meaning of Christmas; all without uttering a fucking word.

*I accosted John Waters at the Biograph Theater in 2002!

Milton Bradley Watch

December 08, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Arcturus

Threat Level: Still a Cub. Still a colossal dick.

Rumors are that two to three other teams beside the Rays are interested in Bradley, meaning there's two to four GMs in baseball possibly dumber than Jim Hendry.

The Bradley for Burrell rumors continue to percolate and Royals' GM Dayton Moore shot down a rumor that the Royals and Cubs were discussing a Bradley for Gil Meche deal.

Pop Culture Gauntlet: Kanye West vs. The Enron Scandal

December 07, 2009 | Comments (0) | by T.R.

Welcome to Pop Culture Gauntlet, where people, places, and things from various subjects face off in a virtual cage match. As part of an ongoing series we will bring you new battles each week between randomly selected items from the Thunder Matt's PCG database. We will provide you with a brief background of both competitors. After reading, you can then vote on your choice in the poll located in the right sidebar column. Monday battles will run until 12am Thursday. Thursday battles will run until 12am Monday. Also we welcome any arguments for either competitor in our comments section. May the best man, thing, or whatever win.

Today's match: Kanye West vs. The Enron Scandal

Kanye West, as all of you know, is a prominent rapper, producer, musician, fashionista, and all-around insufferable douche. West rose to prominence as producer for Roc-A-Fella Records. He achieved notoriety for his work on Jay-Z's album The Blueprint, which was released moments after the Twin Towers were hit by the Iraqis on September 11, 2001. He has since released four solo albums of his own: The College Dropout (2004), Late Registration (2005), Graduation (2007), and 808s & Heartbreak (2008). His album Graduation was originally set to be released on September 18, 2007. However, (supposedly) noting the impending anniversary of our nation's darkest day, West had the release date moved to September 11. He would once again upstage the anniversary of our country's greatest domestic tragedy by being arrested on September 11, 2008 at Los Angeles International Airport following an altercation with a photographer. Though a genuine philanthropist at heart, West has gained most of his media attention due to his uproarious public meltdowns. From the infamous declaration at A Concert for Hurricane Relief that "George Bush doesn't care about black people", to his numerous award show acceptance speech interruptions, Kanye West is the entertainment industry's poster child of a "negative attention-getter".

Strengths: understands how to make himself the center of attention; musically inclined; charity work

Weaknesses: acts like a petulant child in public; believes he is God's gift; tendency to speak without thinking first

Fun Fact: Kanye's mother, Donda West, died in 2007 from complications following plastic surgery.

Enron was a Houston-based energy company founded by Kenneth Lay in 1985. The rise and fall of Enron is perhaps the most notable example of free market FAIL in U.S. history. Chief executives of Enron (including former CFO Andrew Fastow, former President, CEO and COO Jeffrey Skilling, and former Chairman and CEO Lay) used creative accounting practices to hide billions of dollars in debt, effectively pulling the proverbial wool over the eyes of Wall Street throughout the 1990s. Their particular brand of corporate malfeasance allowed Enron to portray itself as a genuine American success story, with a diversified portfolio that pushed it's stock price to $90 per share in mid-2000. Unfortunately for their employees and shareholders, the wheels jumped off the track in August of 2001. Skilling stepped down as CEO (after selling off 450,000 shares for a $33 million profit) as pressure mounted for Enron to open it's books. When the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked on September 11, 2001, Enron executives pointed and said "look over there!" as they grabbed their briefcases and ran in the opposite direction to the tune of "Yakety Sax". Ultimately, shareholders lost $74 billion leading up to Enron's collapse. Over 20,000 former employees, some of which lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in shares, won a paltry $3,100 for their troubles in a subsequent lawsuit.

Strengths: ability to work the system; generous executive compensation; woke America up to corporate greed

Weaknesses: chief executives are all currently in jail or dead; families destroyed; lost naming rights to the Astros ballpark

Fun Fact: Enron's original name was Enteron, which roughly translated to "intestines" in Greek. The name was thus changed.

Turning Japanese

December 07, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Arcturus

In case you missed it (like we did), America's favorite ginger outfielder is picking up his toys and going to . . . Japan. The Rockies gave Murton his release so he could attempt to jumpstart his career in the Nippon Leagues. Look, I know we bartenders here at the Saloon are biased toward the red-headed wonder, but Jesus Christ, isn't there any team in the majors that could give this guy a chance to play everyday? I'm looking at you Kansas City. Or what about you, Atlanta? Murton only hit .324/.389/.499 for the year in Triple A Colorado Springs. Sure, his defense is spotty, but if that kept you out of a major league lineup, there'd be a lotta guys out of work. (Cough-Soriano-cough).

Here at the Saloon we wish Thunder the best of luck in the Far East. Watch out for the blowfish, buddy.

Addition by Subtraction

December 03, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Wolter

I usually hate that term. But I just had to pop in to say good riddance. According to ESPN Chicago, the Cubs have traded Aaron Miles and Jake Fox for some prospects. It's a Holiday Miracle!

I mean, don't get me wrong, Jake Fox has a decent bat, but he was a worse fielder than this site's namesake.

And more importantly, with this move the 2010 Cubs will be AARON FREE!