Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Bag Of Flour

Jack Serpentine drove us home from The Oasis, the type of bar you'd expect to be the only thing open on Christmas night -- an ugly space with a tiled floor, a garage door substituted for part of its east wall.

We began to discuss Jack's high school classmate; Jack was vehemently opposed to intercourse with this woman, he began to list objects he'd rather have sex with. "A bag of flour," he began.

His idea snowballed until we were proposing sex with items blatantly less attractive than the woman herself. I tried to bring us back to reality.

"I think I would rather have sex with Woman X than with a bag of glass," I admitted.

"But what if her vagina was lined with razorblades?" Floyd asked.

"And cats' teeth?" Shawn chimed.

"And it spoke perfect Arabic?" Floyd added, before our laughter ended the discussion.

Jack pulled into the driveway and shut off his grandmother's Camry, and we retreated to our respective cars, another Christmas past, the reason for the season obvious.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

And Then There Were None

You'll note the right sidebar is now without any BFF.

With the death of Circle V, Tornado Slide is now the only active blog among my friends and less-than-casual acquaintances.

I'd like to say that I will compensate by increasing my output, but I'm not certain that promise would be kept.

But you know my heart will go on. Expect more of the same from me.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

2006 Recap - Printed Word

There isn't much to say about what I read in 2006. I could sum it up with one name: Scottie.

In '05, I borrow a co-worker's copy of Tender is the Night. I thought it was spectacular, and decided to explore more F. Scott Fitzgerald. I picked up some cheap copies of Diamond as Big as the Ritz & Other Stories and This Side of Paradise. When those were finished, I went back to the used bookstore and picked up a Scott/Zelda biography that I'd previously left on the shelf.

When I let Jeff know what I'd been reading, he unleashed one of my favorite sentences of 2006:
"That's officially a phase."
Interestingly, the newest issue of McSweeney's will feature short stories based upon story ideas found in FSF's Princeton-era notebooks. I would renew my subscription, but I'm fairly confident they'll revert back to their cute-but-ultimately-terrible ideas.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

2006 Recap - Motion Pictures

Movies I saw in the theater, in reverse order of awesomeness:

Underworld: Evolution
Clerks 2
A Prairie Home Companion
V for Vendetta
An Inconvenient Truth
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Stranger Than Fiction
Inside Man
Little Miss Sunshine
The Departed

I saw the trailer before Beerfest, and was bored to tears. The trailer went something like:

JACK NICHOLSON: (talking into phone) There's a rat.

MATT DAMON: (talking into phone) Let me get the rat. I can get the rat.

JACK NICHOLSON: (talking into phone) Well, you'd better get that rat, then.


MATT DAMON: (talking into phone) Trust me. I've got rats before. I will get this rat.

JACK NICHOLSON: (talking into phone) Good. Get the rat.

Boring, right? It was a poor indicator of the film's overall awesomeness.

And while some of these movies were stupid (Underworld) and disappointing, (Clerks II), I was pleased that none of them were "I wasted $8" terrible.

Movies I Netflixed, in reverse chronological order (*denotes Sunday Night Movie Night selection):

The Great New Wonderful
All the Real Girls
Flirting with Disaster
Hoop Dreams
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Blackboard Jungle*
Team America: World Police
Fever Pitch*
Monty Python's Life of Brian*
Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns
The Deer Hunter*

Again, I feel like none of these were a big waste of time. Brick and Junebug were the most surprisingly awesome.

Before I resubscribed with Netflix, I did rent some DVDs from Liberty Hall. I can't remember all of them, but the most memorable rental was Oldboy. Oldboy is a South Korean movie with subtitles, and it's, uh. It's really something. Just rent it. But not for a date night.

In conclusion, this is too many goddamn movies to watch in one year, especially considering I watched Wimbledon and Richie Rich on TBS this weekend. What the fuck am I doing with my life? I mean, I've heard of Unbearable Lightness, but this is fucking ridiculous. But whatever. Beats reading.

(Next up: my 2006 recap of books)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

2006 Recap - Music

2006 albums I purchased:

Calexico - Garden Ruin
The Cardigans - Super Extra Gravity
Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat
Mates of State - Bring it Back
Prototypes - s/t
Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon
Tilly and the Wall - Bottoms of Barrels
Yeah Yeah Yeah's - Show Your Bones

2006 albums I received copies of:

Flaming Lips - At War with the Mystics
Guster - Ganging Up on the Sun
Josh Rouse - Subitulo
Secret Machines - Ten Silver Drops

Favorite Album Released (and heard) in 2006:
Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins - "Rabbit Fur Coat"

Best Half-rhyming Couplet
Lily Allen - "Alfie"

I'm not sure what to think about non-rock British acts, and Lily Allen is no different. Silly songs like "Alfie" aren't my favorite, but it scores points with its bouncing rhythym and creative couplets:
Oh little brother please refrain from doing that
I'm trying to help you out so can you stop being a twat
Most Odd Lyrical Coincidence
Neko Case & Tilly and the Wall

In "The Freest Man", Tilly's Kianna Alarid sings, "...his voice and echoed chorus." Meanwhile, in "Hold On, Hold On", Neko Case states, "that echo chorus lied to me..."

Have you ever used the phrase "echo chorus"? Has anyone you've known ever said it? Me neither. It's strange, then, that two artists would sing the phrase within the same calendar year.

Best Insertion of Syllables
Yeah Yeah Yeah's - "Cheated Hearts"

Without Karen O's magic, the second section of "Cheated Hearts" would read:
Well, I'm taking off
And she's taking off
And he's taking off
And we're taking off
After intervention, much improved:
Well I'm take-a take-a take-a take-a takin' off
And she's take-a take-a take-a take-a takin' off
And he's take-a take-a take-a take-a takin' off
And we're take-a take-a take-a take-a takin' off
She'd win even without mentioning her use of "up a-ba-ba-bove" earlier in the same song.

Most Precise Adjective
Tilly and the Wall - "Coughing Colors"
And I know they are threatening
But at least we're not the ones carrying
Such heavy, heavy, heavy stoning stones
What kind of stones? Stoning stones. Stones with which to stone an individual. That kind of stone.

Sexiest Lyric
The Cardigans - "Holy Love"
You can really have anything you ask
And I'll be intimate with you
Granted, this award may go elsewhere if you do not interpret "intimate" literally, and if you fail to be influenced by Nina Persson's hotness. Not only is she visually stunning, but Nina's voice is rock's sexiest. Fiona Apple? All sultry, no sweet. Lisa Loeb? All sweet, no sultry. Nina's voice is the perfect marriage of sultry and sweet, PLUS there's a hint of her Swedish accent. What more could you want?

"Songs for Silverman" Memorial Award: Worst Album by a Previously Solid Artist

Guster - "Ganging Up on the Sun"

Guster decided to hang up its bongos and go traditional, and the move was for the worse. "Ganging Up on the Sun" is just plain boring.

I want to make it clear that my inclusion of "Satellite" (track 2 on this album) on my 2006 supplement should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement. Rather, it's a sample of the album's only redeeming quality.

Prettiest Lyrics
Regina Spektor - "On the Radio"

The second verse doesn't read as well as it sounds. She really sells it with her vocal:
this is how it works
you're young until you're not
you love until you don't
you try until you can't
you laugh until you cry
you cry until you laugh
and everyone must breathe
until their dying breath

this is how it works
you peer inside yourself
you take the things you like
and try to love the things you took
and then you take that love you made
and stick it into some--
someone else's heart
pumping someone else's blood

and walking arm in arm
you hope it don't get harmed
but even if it does
you'll just do it all again
on the radio
you hear november rain
that solo's awful long
but it's a nice refrain
Prettiest Song That's Actually About a Kid Dying in the Street
Neko Case - "Star Witness"

Most Overplayed
The Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Dani California"

I was sick of this song by the fourth time I'd heard it. My breaking point was on our annual Memorial Day canoe trip, where I heard it blasting from several campsites.

Rolling Stones Memorial Award: Just Die Already
The Red Hot Chili Peppers

You're from California. We get it. Now just die already.

Most Horrible Song
My Chemical Romance - "Welcome to the Black Parade"

I heard "Welcome to the Black Parade" and I thought, "I guess they decided they were going to write an anthem, and they thought layering a bunch of noise would do the trick." Wikipedia notes:
The song consists of 167 separate tracks mixed together, including marching band drums, multiple snares and a horn section.
Now, you might think, "Of course the song sounds like shit. What do you expect when you throw that much noise together?" Well, George Martin took a dude counting to 24 and merged it with an improvising, 41-member orchestra USING FOUR TRACK RECORDING EQUIPMENT. The result? "A Day in the Life", one of the most highly regarded singles of all-time. Is it fair to compare MCR to The Beatles? It is not. But goddamn do I hate that fucking song.

Catchiest Song
The Raconteurs - "Steady As She Goes"

"Catchiest", as in, "This song has been in my head all goddamned day and, while the song is pleasant, hearing my brain repeat chorus over and over again is killing my will to live." I haven't avoided listening to a song this much since 1999, when I made it all year without hearing Prince's "1999".

True story, folks: I wrote the majority of this yesterday, and the last bit I wrote was about "Steady As She Goes". I woke up at 5 a.m. this morning, and Jack White was still singing the chorus.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Seasonal Songs

Little known fact: nothing fills you with holiday cheer like a seasonal song from the great Willie Nelson. It's a little family secret I learned from the Serpentines.

In addition to the Red-Headed Stranger, I'm enjoying Christmas classics from Elvis, Aimee Mann, and (oddly) Sufjan Stevens, whom I hate during the secular months.

Bummer alert: you can't get the second-greatest Xmas song of all time, John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" on iTunes.

But you can get the greatest Christmas song, "Christmas Time is Here", as heard in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Also: Santa Claus Lane? Right down Santa Claus Lane, huh?

And: "Jingle Bell Rock" doesn't rock. Far from it.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Litter Of The Runt

One of my coworkers bought some Runts candy, so I ate a handful.

Banana Runts: still the shittiest Runt.

Wonka company: stop making banana. It's shitty.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

2006 Soundtrack

I’ve always enjoyed creating mix CDs; however, my production has dropped off in recent years. There are two main reasons for this. First, the distance between my audience and myself has increased. As easy as it’s become to burn tracks to disc, it’s comparatively difficult to make it to the post office to weigh the mail the package. (And seriously – can’t something be done about the hours kept by the US Post Office? How is a working stiff supposed to make it there between 8 and 5? Wouldn’t it make more sense to operate such customer-oriented government agencies – I’m looking at you, Driver’s License Office – when most people are not at work? Say, open from 6 to 10 a.m., then closed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and then open again from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.? It’s still an 8-hour workday, Uncle Sam. Let’s make this happen.)

Second, compiling mix CDs is less urgent these days. With the proliferation of flash memory and digital audio players, plenty of music can be heard sans disc. Still, you can’t share a playlist, and for the time being, that means the mix CD is still relevant.

In 2004, sparked by my hatred of Christmas cards and my love of mix CDs, I began to send one end-of-the-year compilation to friends. Previously, I had no set rules for the mix – I focused on including songs that my friends probably hadn’t heard. Now, the laws have changed. 2006 features two CDs: one traditional, stereo-ready audio disc, and one data disc filled with mp3s.

The audio disc is my 2006 soundtrack. Songs included on the disc meet relatively strict criteria. In order of importance, those criteria are:

1. Each song must evoke a snapshot of my year. For example, if I were compiling the soundtrack of my 1998, I would include the Paul McCartney song, “Souvenir”, which was playing in my Accord’s cassette player as I drove from Topeka to Manhattan, after viewing that movie with Paul Rudd (gay) and Jennifer Aniston (not gay), but before my girlfriend broke up with me. If I were compiling the soundtrack from my 1992 (?), I would include Tesla’s “What You Give”. I didn’t buy their “Psychotic Supper” album, but I did get the cassette single, and I really loved it. I seem to recall wanting to use it to inspire my kid-pitch baseball teammates. “It’s not what you got, it’s what you give!”

2. I must enjoy each song. (This year’s disqualifications include: The Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Dani California”; Fergie, “London Bridge”; My Chemical Romance, “Welcome to the Black Parade”; all the goddamned Maroon 5 I had to listen to when I was carpooling with Melissa.)

3. Songs shall not be placed in chronological order or in order of importance. They should simply fit together well – one song should merge into the next in a way that is pleasing, if not smooth. Audio files should be manipulated with Audacity software to this end.

4. Songs that hold no greater significance than “I performed that at a karaoke bar this year!” shall not be included. (This year’s disqualifications include: Tears for Fears, “Head Over Heels”; Chicago, “Saturday in the Park”; The Police, “King of Pain”; Soft Cell, “Tainted Love”; Modest Mouse, “Float On”; Fleetwood Mac, “Go Your Own Way”; The Cardigans, “Lovefool”; The Beatles, “Help!”, Coldplay, “Clocks”; Doobie Brothers, “China Grove”.)

5. Including songs I became familiar with through a friend’s mix CD is strongly discouraged, so as not to present him or her with a CD full of songs they already own. (This year’s disqualifications include: Damien Rice, “Volcano”; Nickel Creek, “Jealous of the Moon”)

6. Including two songs by the same artist is discouraged.

7. Significant songs with poor audio quality (such as live recordings or terrible bitrates) shall be pushed toward the end of the disc, if not excluded altogether. (This year’s disqualification: a live recording of a yet-to-be-released Shins’ song, “Circus Walk”)

The mp3 disc was designed to catch the tracks that failed to meet the soundtrack’s strict inclusion policy. It includes songs or albums that I discovered in 2006 and enjoy, but are less representative of my year. Dumping all of the "other" songs on the data disc also helps my psychologically -- I don't have to agonize over the exclusion of an awesome song, just because it wasn't on the radio when I learned I got a chick pregnant (for example).

SO. Without further ado, this year's tracklisting and liner notes:

1. Mates of State - Nature and the Wreck

I had to be in Hays on Sunday night, so I stopped in Manhattan on Saturday, March 25, to visit Shawn. We watched a lot of Arrested Development on DVD, but also found time to walk around campus and Aggieville. I bought the new Mates of State CD as a treat for my remaining drive.

So, it was Sunday evening before I heard the CD, and things were going okay, and then track seven played. "Nature and the Wreck" is a short song, piano and vocal. One of its vague lines begins, "Since the wreck..."

I slowly convinced myself that I was going to get in a wreck on my way to Hays, and that wreck would be fatal. I made it to about to Russell and ran into a storm, and the wind blew no fewer than six tumbleweeds directly into my path, and they crunched underneath my rented Stratus.

When I returned home, I began to write about the experience, intending to include it in an apology to the ex-girlfriend. The writing went less than smoothly, and I aborted the idea. In the end, I decided that I was entitled to be a dick sometimes, particularly when involved in situations with a girl who broke up with you.

You could consider "Nature and the Wreck" as the turning point in my post-breakup funk.

2. Mates of State - Fraud in the '80s

I rode back from downtown with Allison, Lindsey, and Kim -- my car was parked at Lindsey's house. Kim needed a ride home, and had to wake up early for a walk-a-thon or some such bullshit. Who would drive Kim home? Me? "I'm going to go inside and sober up," I said, and the rest joined me. A sober Allison took a sobering Kim home. Lindsey went to sleep. I went to my car, and this song was at high volume as I drove home, because it sounded FUCKING AWESOME in that moment.

This is probably the song I listened to more than any other in 2006.

3. The Flaming Lips - The Spiderbite Song

Shawn and I drank bourbon at Auntie Mae's the Saturday of my Manhattan visit. As we talked about our 10-year high school reunion, "Race for the Prize" played on the jukebox. "Other than 'Waitin' for a Superman', what is your favorite song on 'The Soft Bulletin'?" I couldn't decide at that moment, as the bourbon and the hot waitress with the vintage Clash t-shirt were fogging my capacities. When I returned home, I put the album in my car, and knew my second favorite was "The Spiderbite Song".

The album was still in my car as I drove to the Olathe airport to board a small jet to Garden City. I was still afraid of dying at that time, and I was pretty certain that our plane would go down. There was a priest on board - he's half-doctor, half-priest, and gave a powerpoint presentation like the rest of us passengers - and I called dibs on last rites. He thought I was kidding, but I wasn't.

I met Raegan on that flight - she sat kitty-corner from me on the jet, and she held my undivided attention until I finally noticed her wedding ring. Weeks later, on the night The Flaming Lips were set to play at the Wakarusa festival in Lawrence, I went to Raegan's house in Kansas City for a barbeque. I was thankful to get out of my hippie-infiltrated city -- I would have loved to see the Lips live, but I refused to associate with the mass of unwashed humanity that would also be attending.

There was a boom box outside Raegan's house during the party. It played their new album, "At War with the Mystics", which Shawn had copied for me a few weeks prior. I disliked most all of it, save for the opening track. It was on repeat, though at low volume, for the entire evening. We played badminton. It hailed. No damage.

4. Neko Case - Star Witness

I wanted to hear this song BADLY when I woke up to leave for D.C. I got on the turnpike, headed east toward the airport, and slid the CD into my car's player. Error. I tried again. Error. I was pissed.

This is my favorite song that was released in 2006.

5. Spoon - They Never Got You

I saw Spoon perform this at Day on the Hill, but before that, it played during a marathon poker game among Chris, Gavin, Bobby, and myself. When the CD changer was cashed, we watched the Synchronicity DVD, and still had time to view the Rattle and Hum DVD.

6. Franz Ferdinand - Eleanor Put Your Boots On

This CD was one of those stolen from my car early in 2006, and this song was the one I missed hearing the most. It played in my head for the majority of my Chicago trip, because Kim wore boots. And because we all shared a room, I witnessed Kim put her boots on.

7. Tapes 'n Tapes - Insistor

Long story short, my ex-girlfriend's friend was their bassist. Then I listened to their album, and I liked it, and I was excited that I knew somebody in an up-and-coming band. Then they got a new bassist. Oh well.

8. Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins - Rise Up With Fists!

This album made me deliriously happy in 2006.

9. Yeah Yeah Yeah's - Gold Lion

"Gold Lion" was among the few likeable songs I heard on the radio this year, and I finally bought the Yeah Yeah Yeah's album after I heard the second single, "Cheated Hearts", on the radio. Other solid radio songs in '06: the Pearl Jam single, the Raconteur's "Steady as She Goes", and MAYBE one Angels and Airwaves song. Maybe. I am willing to admit that this is a function of KC-area terrestrial radio, rather than radio at large.

If you don't like this song, you're not listening to it loud enough. Turn that shit up!

10. Modest Mouse - Perfect Disguise

A little too much free wine in the hotel lobby. More wine during dinner at the restaurant. Looking out the cab window, watching the lights of Atlanta pass by.

11. Middle Distance Runner - Naturally

Serpentine and V took me to see Middle Distance Runner on my first night in DC -- not because the band was spectacular, but because the opening band invited V via MySpace. OMG! ROTFLMAO!!

I befriended a woman at the bar who claimed she didn't want to drink, but then ordered a chardonnay AND a club soda, mixed them together, and tossed it back. Turns out she was the wife of one of the band members, and she invited me to stop by the merchandise table. When I went, she wasn't there, but I picked up a demo CD. To my surprise, I liked it far better than their live show, which earned only a shrug from Serpentine and I.

12. Prototypes - Danse sur la Merde

I Google-translated the title one day at work, and tried to hide my browser the second "Dance on the shit" appeared. If I knew what this song was about, would I like it more, or less?

"Danse" was featured on my OKC Wedding Road Trip CD, and Matt took to it immediately, cranking the volume in the Corolla. Many times over.

13. Sleater-Kinney - Modern Girl

I bought this album used. Jeff had put a track on his '05 mix, and I was confident it would deliver the goods. This CD rocked my shit -- it's now my preferred "I'm driving and I'd rather not fall asleep" album. It also happened to be my, "Let's drive to SAS training in Overland Park 3 days in a row" album.

Anyway, I woke up one day and this song was in my head.

14. Fleetwood Mac - I Don't Want to Know

Chuck Klosterman discussed this song in "Killing Yourself to Live", which Corinne gave me for my birthday. He talks about the opening chords, and how you can hear a guitar string being scraped as fingers move down the guitar. I read this and forgot it until one fateful day, when the song began as I drove from the lab to the office.

15. Rilo Kiley - Ripchord

This would have been the song in my head as I drowned at sea, were it not for Nathan's rescue. I'm sure it popped in because "ripcord" is similar to "riptide", which is what carried me away from the shore. (And how awesome would it be to die with the lyric "and you're sleeping again alone, 'cuz nobody loves you" in your head? Good times.)

16. Tilly and the Wall - The Freest Man

This song was played during the air conditioning-less set at The Bottleneck. I said this vocalist looked like Becky Conner from television's "Roseanne", but everyone else disagreed.

17. Fiery Furnaces - Benton Harbor Blues (bonus track version)

I was all set not to buy the new Fiery Furnaces album, but after I downloaded this song I couldn't stay away. Fun fact: it's assumed that "Eleanor Put Your Boots On" was written about the Fiery Furnaces' female vocalist, Eleanor Friedberger.

18. Gary Jules - Mad World

19. Tears for Fears - Mad World

I was aware of the cover version back in '05, when I watched "Donnie Darko" for the first time at Shawn's place. (I was less than impressed with the film, by the by. As Jack Serpentine would say, "I can't believe the indie community lied to me.") These mp3s were up for grabs in '06, and hence put into heavy rotation. I kept looking for the Tears for Fears version at karaoke bars, but no dice. The Gary Jules version is now being used in a commercial for a video game.

20. Of Montreal - Wraith Pinned to the Mist (and other games)

Adrienne made a CD for the road trip to Minneapolis/IKEA that Corinne and I took in January. That's where Corinne found this song -- she had to play it at least 10 times. Jesus. But then again, it was a good change of pace from the 5 disc audiobook we listened to: Sarah Vowell's "Assassination Vacation". Of Montreal sold this song to Outback Steakhouse, and the music is now used in their commercials.

21. Dave "Diamond" Damm - Cherry Cherry

I went to several good concerts this year, but I was most excited to see my friend Dave play the hits of Neil Diamond in May '06. I walked around the house shouting "CHERRY CHERRY!" all day. We ate cheesesteaks in the evening, and arrived at the Jazzhaus before the band began to set up. I got kind of drunk. I danced like a moron. It was a good night. I hope to do it all again this Saturday night.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Winter Warning Redux

Floyd and I went to Henry's Upstairs last night (and hit on undergrads -- we've still got it! ...kind of). It was the first time we've attended since the cold snap; as a result it was our first look at this winter's fashions: scarves, scarves, and more scarves. Man or woman, grad or undergrad -- if it had a neck, it wore a scarf.

It's important for two reasons. One, I was looking to purchase a scarf this winter, a move which may now be interpreted as bandwagoning.

Two, scarves are deceiving. As I wrote last December:
I saw a woman from a distance today and thought, "Oh, she's pretty cute." Then I realized that she was almost entirely hidden beneath winter clothes. Heads up out there, people - winter fogs the senses. Something as simple as a scarf can make a girl 15% more attractive. Add a cap with a fluffy ball on top, add 5%. Adjust accordingly.
Kim chimed in with a cautionary tale for the ladies:
i could not agree more ... i recently saw a man with a ski cap on in a bar and thought, similarly, "oh, he's cute" ... (yes it's weird and yes normally i would have wondered why his head was so cold inside a warm bar, but i'd had a few ... and so my judgement was off 5% to start with)... anyway a few minutes later i found myself chatting with said gentleman, and soon i found myself harassing him about why he needed a hat in a warm bar and encouraged said gentleman to remove the cap. then suddenly "oh, he's not cute at all". fuzzy ball or no, some guys can get the same 5% from a ski cap ... thank goodness he wasn't wearing a scarf or i could have been in a lot of trouble :)
You've been warned.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Time Of Your Life (Good Riddance, Kids!)

I hate to interrupt our racism reminiscing, but this just couldn't wait.

Gilmore Girls is terrible these days, so I flipped around during the last hour. I checked out a few minutes of the Maryland / Illinois game on ESPN; Brent Musburger was talking about the community service efforts of Illinois' Orange Krush organization:
"They've got a couple of terminally ill children here tonight, and they are having the time of their lives!"


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Race For The Most Racist

I'm back from an uneventful Thanksgiving weekend in Wichita.

Please post your relatives' borderline-to-blatantly racist Thanksgiving moments below.

I'll start:

(relative sees a lowered truck a few parking stalls down)

"I guess I should park up here a bit, away from those Mexicans."

UPDATE: This topic is being tag-teamed, courtesy of Circle V. See her site for more racist fun!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Text Follies

A semi-regular feature on this site - text messages that made me chuckle these past Red-Dawn tinged months...

7:53 am
I think its funny when a guys first name is oral.

8:45 pm
Me: im going to a movie
grandma: watch out for mexicans!

8:48 pm
My mom: no, seriously, watch out for mexicans

7/1 (the day England lost its World Cup match)
11:50 am

7:54 pm
im watching a man feed pigeons with his mouth

1:39 am
sorry bout that
--dude who dialed the wrong number, waking me up, then decided to apologize via a text message, which again woke me up

7:56 pm
What the fuck is nougat made of? Dont misunderstand. I love it. I just don't know what it is.

12:50 pm
Ive had it with these muthafuckin snakes on this muthafuckin plane!

9:59 am
I miss Pluto

9/4 (date of the Minnesota state fair)
7:40 pm
My sisters friends husband opened 4 brooks & dunn. I think brooks is on the cowbell but it could be dunn

7:33 am
I dont want to live in a country where you cant slaughter a horse for profit.

10:31 pm
we are going to joes crab shack three times when we go to ok city. Wolverines.

11:02 pm
i am going to fuck you on a pile of crab legs

11:03 pm
Wolverines u fucking dicks

10:13 am
Double. One bed will get all wet and we will want to sleep in a dry bed.
--Matt, responding to my query about how many beds to reserve in our hotel room

10:16 am
I have fucking muscovites all around me. Should i ask them if they have ever seen Red Dawn?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Karen, Oh!

Before The Office airs tonight, I wanted to go on the record. I'm on Team Karen.

I haven't looked at all of the comments regarding the Pam vs. Karen debate yet, so I can add my opinion here, without influence:

I'm a Pam fan. Like Jim, I'm certainly attracted to Pam, and I share the desire to coax that adorable Pam out of her shell.

Still, I can't help but think that Jim and I are attracted to the idea of Pam, rather than Pam herself. What would a relationship with Pam be like? Wouldn't she be needy? Wouldn't you have to constantly reassure her? Wouldn't that get old?

I say it would get old. And, while it would be perfectly nice for last season's Jim, this season's Jim has a winning alternative. Karen is on par physically. Karen seems funny. Karen is self-assured. She may lack Pam's abundance of warmth, but she's no cold fish.

Plus, I'm certain Karen would go downtown - Pam, not so much.

Am I right? Am I right, folks?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Scrambled Eggs*

Fresh off designing the Toaster of the Future, my mind produced another nugget. Half awake, very early Friday morning, the phrase "Don't blame the sun for what your shadow is doing" streamed through my half consciousness.

"I should write that down before I forget it, using the pad and paper I placed on my end table for this specific reason," I thought.

"I am still very tired and don't want to move," I responded, sure that the brain that manufactured the phrase would store it as well.

But does the phrase belong to me, or have I lifted it from somewhere? The closest thing to a match I could Google was "you blame the sun as the cause of the shadows on the wall", a Yo La Tengo lyric from a song I've never heard. Before I start pasting my phrase on inspirational posters, or inserting it into a soaring chorus, I feel the need to confirm its copyright.

*Fun fact: Paul McCartney had a similar problem with the melody of "Yesterday". He woke up with the song in his head, convinced it was already recorded, and was eventually convinced that it was his own. In its draft form, "Yesterday" was "Scrambled Eggs". Same number of syllables, see? Do you see?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Road Trip

I had to give a presentation in Garden City Wednesday; I took my camera along to amuse myself during the 5+ hour drive. Every now and then, I'd roll down the window, stick the camera out, and snap a photo of the Kansas landscape. It's actually a pretty neat drive, but seeing as how it's November, there isn't much color to convince anyone how nice the Smoky Hills are.

On the return trip, I decided to detour through Mushroom Rock State Park. I'd heard of it, but I'd never been. It's a very small patch of mutant geology.

The weird thing about it is how normal the surrounding area is.

Also, I finally checked out this statue atop a hill at a rest stop east of Manhattan. I got there at sunset, which was nice.

Other assorted photos are at my Flickr account.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Dream Toaster

Lots and lots of wild dreams lately -- women with shaved heads, women who take a job as a reporter for a local Fox affiliate and therefore haven't called me in a while -- but the filet of my subconscious appeared last weekend, as I slept in the Hampton Inn off Garth Brooks Boulevard.

The dream showed me a new (although I haven't researched the topic, I assume this is a new idea) type of toaster, wherein there is no lever or dial to set the degree of toastedness. Instead, the light-to-dark ratio is determined by the main lever -- the one that drops the bread into the machine. Machine? Simple machine. Appliance. The one that drops the bread into the appliance. For dark toast, push the lever all the way to the bottom. For lighter toast, don't push the lever so far down.

NB: I had not eaten toast for a number of days prior to the dream, and had no recent conversations about toast. I do think about toaster more than the average person -- maybe 70% greater than average. This is because I've owned the same toaster since 1997, and I hate it, but I don't see a good reason to replace it, as it still operates satisfactorily, and a new toaster, while nice, would be a bit excessive.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Business Tycoons? I Like The Sound Of That!

I must admit, Halloween was disappointing in Lawrence. I guess that's what happens when the 31st falls on a Tuesday night. Do you know how poor it was on Mass Street last night? It was so poor that I didn't take a single picture of any stranger's costume. Brutal. I did take pictures of our hastily assembled outfits, however.

Blogger is misbehaving at the moment, so you'll have to click through to my Flickr account to see the photos.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Wedding Party

There are a few things you should probably know before looking at the bachelor party / wedding photos.

First, many of the photos were snapped when either myself or a companion was under the influence of demon liquor.

Second, many of the subjects in said photos were also under the influence of demon liquor.

Third, you may see that many of us were wearing the same shirt during the bachelor party; Shawn designed them.

Fourth, the wedding was held in a Christian church that also housed a school. The groom and his pals were sequestered in the preschool classroom until the ceremony began.

I guess that's enough to prepare you for all of the photos. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Damn You, Paparrazo!

Photographers are following me. Again.

I was going to circle myself, but I think it might be more "fun" for you to spot me, a la "Where's Waldo?". Hint: I'm wearing the McSweeney's T-shirt that I bought when I visited S.F. with Nathan and Julie.

I like to think I'm the focus of the photo, and therefore the focus of the story, and therefore the focus of the city.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hearty Har Hars

Last night I was pleased to spend an evening with Michaels Ian Black and Showalter. Mikey Sho opened the night with a tale of gambling, some reclassified iTunes ("I file my Sheryl Crow songs under Cat Power."), and a few slides. Want to see a blurry picture? Okay!

Michael Ian Black took the stage donning a hunter's hoodie, which was later removed. ("Now you're going to see that I dressed like Kurt Cobain circa 1993 today.") Want to see a blurry picture? Okay!

Toward the final third of his set, it was revealed that an eight year old child, Rocky, had been brought to the show. Black was flustered, as he had just run through some graphic material. In fact, he had just finished explaining how he was going to turn a young man's asshole into hamburger via fucking. Want to see a really blurry picture of Michael with the young man? Okay!

The two giants briefly stood alongside each other, mocking each other's jokes, before Mr. Black closed the show alone.

Many, many laughs. It met all of my expectations. Very good times.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

That Lasagna Betrayed Me

(Interior - Paisano's Italian Restaurant. FOUR DOZEN YOUNG WORKERS, all dressed cleanly, stand behind a podium near the front entrance.)

FOUR DOZEN YOUNG WORKERS: (look at each other, murmur for ten seconds)



DAN: Two.

(ONE YOUNG WORKER escorts DAN and JESSICA to a booth. The booth is located at a supernatural position that both attracts the most foot traffic from staff and noise from patrons. JESSICA sits on the north side, while DAN sits on the south side. BIG AWKWARD WAITER WITH BIG LIPS stands just to the east.)

BIG AWKWARD WAITER WITH BIG LIPS: What can I get you to drink?


BIG AWKWARD WAITER WITH BIG LIPS: Would you like a lemon with that?






DAN: Water, without a lemon.


DAN: No lemon for me.



DAN (tosses menu down to the table): I don't even know why I'm looking at this.

JESSICA: (makes a face)

(BIG AWKWARD WAITER WITH BIG LIPS returns with the drinks)

BIG AWKWARD WAITER WITH BIG LIPS: I'll go get you some salad and breadsticks. Do you want another minute to look at the menu?

JESSICA: We're ready.


JESSICA (assumes): I'll have the lasagna.


DAN: I will also have the lasagna.

(BIG AWKWARD WAITER WITH BIG LIPS stumbles away. JESSICA and DAN sip their drinks.)

DAN: Good thing you got that lemon, or we'd be having exactly the same thing.

JESSICA: (makes a face)

(DAN and JESSICA observe ONE GIANT TABLE FULL OF KIDS AND ADULTS make a bunch of noise. TWO OLD PENSIONERS also are close by, ordering dessert. JESSICA stares at another table.)

JESSICA: I can hear everything that woman says. I wonder if she can hear everything that I say.

BIG AWKWARD WAITER WITH BIG LIPS: Do you want fresh asiago cheese on your salad?


BIG AWKWARD WAITER WITH BIG LIPS: (makes a face like, "This decision has stunned me.")

DAN: (makes a face like, "Yeah, you heard the lady - no cheese.")

(BIG AWKWARD WAITER WITH BIG LIPS leaves. DAN tries to explain why he doesn't like olives, as he uses his left hand

(note: DAN is right-handed)

to pile a few of the salad's black olives on JESSICA's plate, and the remainder at one point in the east portion of the salad bowl. Some eating occurs.)

JESSICA: (can only hear the loud woman to the southeast)

(BIG AWKWARD WAITER WITH BIG LIPS brings the lasagna to the table. Baked in its own special dish, the browned cheese over the layers of cheese and noodles and cheese and sausage bubbles. A band of hillbillies is seated directly to the south of DAN and JESSICA.)

BIG AWKWARD WAITER WITH BIG LIPS: Would you like some fresh asiago cheese grated on to your lasagna?


BIG AWKWARD WAITER WITH BIG LIPS: (makes a face that says, "My faith in God has been shaken once more.")

DAN: I feel silly eating with this three-pronged fork.

JESSICA: You should be using the four-pronged fork.

DAN: I received two three-pronged forks.

JESSICA: Do you want to use my four-pronged fork?

DAN: Then you would have to use my three-pronged fork.

LOUD WOMAN: (says something stupid, loudly)

HILLBILLY LEADER: That's the thing about Mount Rushmore! Mount Rushmore Rushmore Mount Rushmore!

DAN: It is good, but there is too much sausage.

JESSICA: There is so much cheese.

HILLBILLY LEADER: And the man repelled down Thomas Jefferson's nose!


BIG AWKWARD WAITER WITH BIG LIPS: (sits down in middle of floor, hits own head with a shoe)

(DAN and JESSICA cannot stomach any more lasagna, which is good, but very cheesy, and very filling.)

JESSICA: (makes a face)

DAN: Do you want to split a breadstick? (tears breadstick)

DAN: Do you want the crispy part or the other part?

JESSICA: I don't care.

(DAN hands JESSICA one half of one breadstick.)

JESSICA: What part did I get?

DAN: The fluffy part.




DAN: I never want to be reminded of this lasagna. Ever.


(Exterior - parking lot.)

DAN: You're still against me opening your door, right?

JESSICA: It is not necessary.

48 Hours Left

Micheal Ian Black:
Jim picked me up at Grand Central Station for the drive to B’More. He was two hours late. On the train ride into the city I watched “The Forty Year Old Virgin” starring Steve Carrell. That dude is SUCH A LOSER!!! Imagine being forty and never dipping your candle. I would be like, “MY NADS ARE GONNA EXPLODE!!!” Needless to say, I thought the movie had a lot of genuine warmth and heart.

Monday, October 09, 2006


I like it when I find scratches on my body that I didn't notice at the time of injury.

It makes me feel indestructible.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Must See TV

It's Thursday night. I love Thursday night, because my reason for living, The Office, is on at 7:30.

Afterward, I get to play a fun game, "Let's see how long I can stand to watch Grey's Anatomy". Tonight, I lasted eight minutes.

Asterisk: five of those minutes were viewed without sound.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Mostly Sunny

I planted wheat this weekend. On Saturday, the sun went behind the clouds once. On Sunday, the sun went behind the clouds three times. The total length of time during which my part of the earth was shaded was approximately three minutes.

Nathan has postulated that my time farming contributed to my knowledge of music, and he's probably right. Even when there is no radio involved, a lot of songs come into and out of one's head while you slowly drive around a field in circles. The most annoying song in my head this weekend came Sunday, in the form of "Kickstart My Heart". The first time Vince Neil goes through his "I'd say we've kicked some ass," rant, it's funny, and maybe even a little charming. But a dozen cycles later, "And to think we did all of this to ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOCCCCCCKKKK!" just sounds pathetic.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Word With Chester

Last night, it finally happened. Chester Reboulet, the legendary EA Sports College Football 2006 coach, lost a game.

It was the first loss in over 60 consecutive games for Coach, and it came only after winning titles with Duke, Mississippi State, and Pearl Harbor University. It came only after increasing the CPU's ability to do nearly everything; it seems I finally found a level of competition where the cover three won't successfully defend a great running team.

And "great" is just the word to describe #14 Colorado's rushing attack. Led by a young (he's actually very young - not even born yet, because the Playstation is currently simulating a season circa 2020) man named Porter, CU punished the PHU defense for over 200 yards on the ground. Combined with unfortunate decisions from the PHU quarterback, and a devastating injury to PHU's #1 receiver, CU's home crowd and game plan proved too powerful.

Coach Reboulet will struggle on - he's been down this road before, winning 52 consecutive games before losing a heartbreaker, only to regroup and string together the latest record streak.

The coach is a winner.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

DC Photos

We were hiking toward Arlington National Cemetery when the black helicopters flew by. "Some people say we live in a police state," Jack Serpentine said. "But I don't see it."

All of my camera work can be seen at my Flickr account.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

DC: Casual Friday

The day before I left for vacation, sitting through a long meeting, my mind wandered toward Monet. I knew I would see the artist's work when I visited the National Gallery of Art, but I couldn't be less excited. It's not that I don't care for the French Impressionists -- I don't care about them. It's for girls. The meeting did not require any of my input, so I started a list of things that all women love, and I found only two absolutes. Waterlillies led off, followed by turkey sandwiches.

I woke Friday at prepared for the day at my leisure, showering, checking the forecast, and thumbing through V's DC guidebook while my body interpreted the previous night's surprise gift of bourbon. I felt guilty for my relaxed schedule, finally pushing myself out the door around 10 a.m.

Post-scone-purchase, I made my way to the National Gallery. Museums always throw me for a loop -- what the hell am I supposed to do in here? I waltz around the exhibits twice as fast as the other tourists, who study each piece, each caption, and snap photos with their digital cameras. (What were tourists like in the days of film? Can they be stopped? What do you do with a picture of a painting? Do you blow it up and frame it? Do they realize you can just buy a print, or download the image from the internet?) I am a good student for the first hour, but then begin to struggle. How much do these security guards get paid? If you had to guard this room, and you were a dude, would you start to fetishize the naked, lumpy, Renaissance woman? Do you have to start by guarding the ugly paintings, then work your way up to the Da Vinci? This dragon is a third of the size of St. George's horse, so what's the big deal? Why did they call it a lion's "den" -- isn't it more of a pit? How many Raphael Madonna-and-Childs did the Church really need to commission?

* * *

"Sorry I missed your call. I was in the National Archives."

Sitting on a mall bench, I told Shawn all about the day thus far, and about the local wildlife.

"That's weird. This bird has a band around its leg. And it's not an interesting species or even a pigeon. It's just one of those brown, shitty birds."

We spoke briefly about our old principal's suicide, and about my lunch options. I decided on the quickest option, the refreshment stand twenty yards away.

I took my all-American hot dog and anti-American fries to the last remaining table, and sat among the foreigners and old Jewish women and families. A mother was showing a handful of kids the joys of feeding brown, shitty birds.

"Look at this!" she said, pinching a nacho cheesier Dorito tidbit, holding her hand three feet above Federal ground. In moments, a bird took the short flight to the prize, snatching it midair before returning to earth to enjoy the unnatural meal. I watched, horrified, protecting my fries as best I could from the growing flock of lazy, hungry, winged beasts. I rushed through the hot dog preparation (ketchup, mustard, relish) and raised the frankfurter aloft. Suddenly, a bird swooped in, attempting to pluck the dog out of my hand. It failed, managing only to brush against the end opposite my mouth, and it came to rest just to the right of my table. I half-heartedly kicked the brown, shitty bird back a few feet. I looked around for the family responsible for the flock's blood lust; sadly, they had already wandered away, and were safely outside of my kicking range.

"That bird just tried to eat that guy's hot dog," some dumb fucking asshole behind me chuckled.

Monday, September 18, 2006

How 'Bout Them Cowboys?

I fell into bed at 2 a.m. CDT this morning, thanks to a three-hour delay on my return flight. Stories about waiting around in airports and on airplanes aren't terribly exciting, and you will not be subjected to them. You will, however, be barraged with other tales from my vacation, and I'll put up some pictures. For tonight, though, I'm going to catch up on some sleep.

I'll leave you with one note from Paul, and one brief bit from my time at Reagan:
hey dan,

i thought that i spotted lou reed at target in columbus yesterday, but it turned out not to be him when i got closer to the guy. i know, i was shocked too that it wasn't him. after all, don't all rock icons hang out at target stores in the midwest?

anyways, it got me wondering what i would have said if it had been lou reed. here are some openers that i came up with:

1)who would have guessed you'd still be alive today?
2)shopping at target on a wednesday? now, that's a real walk on the wildside.
3)really, how weird was andy warhol?
4)you here for the new justin timberlake cd, too?
5)seriously, whose done more drugs, you or keith richards?

lets just say that i feel prepared for the next time i cross paths with lou.


* * *


You could have also said, "I loved your awesome work as a presenter for the 06 VMAs. It was very rock 'n roll."

I had a similar experience yesterday at the airport in DC. I saw a large black male wearing a garish yellow suit, a fancy watch, and diamond earrings. "That guy looks a lot like Michael Irvin," I thought, but then assumed it couldn't be, because he would fly in his own jet. I'm now certain it was, though. He watched the KC/ Denver game for a while with us riff-raff, then left, then came back and sat down directly next to the hottest young woman at the gate. The seat was barely open - he had to
excuse himself to squeeze in next to her. What followed was an extremely awkward pickup attempt, especially given a man of Irvin's accomplishments. He shook her hand, said a few sentences, and then got up and walked away. She gave the "What the hell was that?" look to the others at the gate, and that was the last I saw of the former Cowboy great.

Actually, I'm still not 100% positive it was Michael Irvin. REAL TIME UPDATE: I just looked up from my laptop to see Mr. Irvin shouting nonsense during the Toyota Halftime Show on ESPN's Monday Night Football. That was totally him last evening. Oh, man. That's good stuff. But what was he doing in business class? And why did he have such an awkward time with that chick? Is he too used to paying chicks for sex to work his game properly? Was it the cocaine talking?

Regardless, it was easily the height of my night, followed closely by the $4.50 Toblerone bar.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Live From Our Nation's Capitol

Oh, God. Here I am in Dupont Circle, typing out a blog. God!! Should I talk about the Metro?? Or maybe about those douchebags up in Georgetown??

My flight was long; I couldn't find a way to distract myself that didn't hurt my eyes. My eyes want to unfocus, and they don't get their wish during my waking hours. I believe this means I need eyeglasses. It's bad news.

As you may recall, I look ridiculous when I wear glasses. This is partially due my nose, with is not located in the center of my face. That's great if you want to be Picasso's sitting model (a refined joke! I do belong here after all!), but not so great if you want to balance a pair of specs on the ol' girl.

V's apartment is fun. I just watched "Kicking and Screaming" (the Noah Baumbach film, not the Will Ferrell vehicle) on her HD LCD TV. The verdict: don't bother. As a big Wes Anderson guy, and as someone who really enjoyed "The Squid and the Whale", I thought I would be all over it, but it turns out it's just garbage.

What else? I drank some of her water... and it came out of a chilled, filtered pitcher! Now THIS is living! How can I go back to Kansas and drink that creek runoff now? It'll be like drinking from a toilet! (Bathroom humor? Oh, no! I've regressed to my backwoods slang!)

Happy hour tomorrow, along with museums and such. Laters.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Going For The Gold

Chuck Klosterman wrote this on ESPN recently. I think it's solid. Since the link might expire before you get a chance to read it, I've pasted it below...

A New Game Plan for Team USA
By Chuck Klosterman

I have a plan that will save USA Basketball.

This plan won't guarantee that we will win gold in men's basketball at the 2008 Olympics, nor does it mean that the team created by this plan would be more talented than the squad that just ended up with the bronze at the World Championship in Saitama, Japan. But it would nonetheless save USA Basketball, and it would improve society as a whole (not by much, but certainly more than the premise of sending 12 millionaires across the globe to play in a tournament in which any loss is viewed as a complete failure).

My plan is founded on a collection of five truths. These five (seemingly unconnected) truths are as follows:

(1) America has the best basketball players in the world.

(2) America has the best basketball players in the world, and that absolutely does not matter in the context of this argument. To win an international basketball tournament, you need a cohesive, harmonic team.

(3) It is virtually impossible to craft a cohesive, harmonic team by arbitrarily borrowing the best players in the world.

(4) High school graduates are no longer allowed to enter the NBA until they turn 20. If a high school player aspires to play in the NBA, he must attend college.

(5) There are many, many high school basketball players who have the potential to play professional basketball but really have no business attending college.

Here, in short, is the crux of our current predicament: We might not be able to win the Olympic gold medal no matter who we send to Beijing. On the surface, it seems obvious that any U.S. team would be better if it added Kobe and Shaq and KG and Duncan. But there's an ever-growing body of evidence that suggests individual talent plays an inexplicably minor role in this brand of basketball. The U.S. club was beaten by Greece, a team that does not have one NBA player. Greece was then defeated by Spain, a team whose lone NBA star (Pau Gasol) did not play in the gold-medal game. For some interesting, counterintuitive reason, it seems like star power is a disadvantage in this specific idiom.

Moreover, it is becoming more and more difficult to understand why NBA players would aspire to represent America in these no-win scenarios. I suspect Dwyane Wade has a pretty awesome life in Miami -- why would he want to spend three months in Asia, busting his arse in an unwatched tournament where anything less than perfection will be universally viewed as a failure?

When Greece beat the U.S. in the semifinals, it was the greatest day in the history of Greek basketball; in fact, I assume it was the greatest day every member of that Greek squad will ever experience. When Mihalis Kakiouzis is lying on his Athenian deathbed five decades from this summer, he will still be thinking of the day he beat LeBron James in 2006. Who can compete with that kind of emotive intensity? How do you defeat an enemy who's playing for his self-identity? These are the same reasons America won the Revolutionary War but lost in Vietnam -- motivation matters. And it's unreasonable to expect guys like Dwyane and LeBron to care about beating Argentina more than they care about beating each other.

Which brings us to my plan. Right now, there are dozens (maybe hundreds) of wonderful 18- and 19-year-old D-I and juco basketball players who probably should not be in college. They have no interest in academics; they are attending school only because it's the best potential avenue for playing basketball professionally. This is bad for the integrity of the university system (obviously), and it's often bad for the individuals themselves (this desperate dream sets them up for disappointment without preparing them for life). But these are the very kids who could save American basketball. Why don't we select 15 of these non-scholar-athletes and turn them into the U.S. national team? It would seem to solve a lot of problems at once.

The obvious advantage to this system would be structural cohesion: Not only would the entire roster play together for two or three years, but they also wouldn't be playing with anyone else. The problems I noticed with our World Championship squad had little to do with selfishness; the problems seemed more rooted in confusion (it's hard for someone like Chris Bosh or Carmelo Anthony to suddenly "become" a role player for three months, even if they believe it's best for the overall team). The second benefit would be ideological; the creation of this kind of staunchly unprofessional team would lower international expectations. As things stand now, the only feeling that would be generated by a gold medal in basketball would be relief. Winning is so expected that it's becoming virtually meaningless. Why not consciously place ourselves in the role of underdog? There is still enough available talent to beat everyone else on the planet.

Moreover, this program would be great for the (otherwise at-risk) kids who make the roster. Here, in five steps, is how this system could be built:

(1) Find an available coach who adores discipline and fundamentals (my suggestion is John Chaney). Leading this team would become his singular, full-time job.

(2) Conduct an open tryout for anyone under the age of 20 who is either (a) deemed academically ineligible by the NCAA or (b) honest enough to admit they're not interested in faking their way through Organic Chemistry 201.

(3) Pick 15 players who would rather die in an Iraqi dungeon than lose to the likes of Puerto Rico. Hide them away in some place like Colorado Springs, Colo., and make them practice six hours a day. Provide meals and housing. Give them enough spending money to buy PlayStations and Blizzards, but not enough to buy handguns or Escalades. Put their faces on Wheaties boxes and sell them as patriotic heroes. They will love it. Being famous at the age of 18 is better than being a millionaire when you're 28.

(4) When they're not being schooled on how to run the weave like the 1989 Princeton Tigers, outside academic advisors would teach these kids practical life lessons they could actually use as adults (i.e., how to balance a checkbook, how to read a contract, why there is a fiduciary downside to getting multiple girls pregnant, et al).

(5) Have this national team play barnstorming games around the world. During NBA All-Star weekend, they could serve as the opponents for the Rookie Game; on Sunday night during the Final Four, they could play a nationally televised exhibition against whoever won the NIT championship. They could play random games in Europe and China. They could challenge the Globetrotters, for all I care. But here is the thing: THEY WOULD ALWAYS BE PLAYING TOGETHER. Always. And then -- after they unexpectedly win the gold (or after they valiantly lose) -- they could declare themselves eligible for the NBA (or the CBA) draft. And unlike most of their peers, they'd actually understand why basketball is a team game.

Now, am I 100 percent sure this is feasible (or even legal)?


But do you have a better idea? Because what we're doing now certainly isn't the answer.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Spidey Senseless

The first spider was unremarkable. It wasn't large, it wasn't small, it wasn't brown, and it certainly wasn't reclusive. It was Spider Edmund Hillary, the first to reach the second floor master bathroom ceiling. It clung there, and to the higher portions of the supporting walls. Showering did not disturb the spider, and neither did I. I respected its achievement, and left it alone. But my mind pestered him.

"Spider," my mind spoke, "I respect your achievement. You are the first. But surely you must see that this isn't the right niche for you. Do you see any food around? Any flies? Any sort of buzzing insect at all? Of course not. I keep a clean home, and you are only an exception. How are you going to sustain yourself?"

Days passed, and I grew more concerned. "Spider," I thought, "this is becoming absurd. Why don't you feel the need to sew a web? Even given the unlikely event of a fly intruder, you are unprepared. The fly would circle around your position on the wall, mocking you. Where are your instincts? Aren't you getting hungry?"

Seven days into the ordeal, a breakthrough -- the spider moved to a much lower position on the west wall, flanking the toilet. The bathroom was still devoid of any silky webs, but it was clear that the adventureous arachnid was planning something.

Another day went by.

And another.

And he died.

But not before giving birth to two more spiders.

One tiny spider took to the corner of Shower and West Wall, while its sibling stayed at Door Frame and North Wall -- a spot located just above his mother's dead body. Upon discovery, both had already built pathetically small, uncomplicated webs, and were perched among the invisible strands, hovering a few centimeters above the white linoleum.

Still, without so much as a single ant in the environment, the webs remained bare. The first spider disappeared after two days, dead -- or, in the spirit of his mother, exploring uncharted territory.

The second remains in place, without food for nearly a week now. Perhaps it is as optimistic as ever, sure that an insect will be trapped any moment now, anticipating the deadly dance that will ensue, and the succulent meal that will result. Still, it would be easy to forgive a gloomier mindset. The young spider lives in a strange world, dark for all but 30 minutes a day, the only other sentient occupant a six-foot-tall mammal, its deceased mother's shriveling corpse always within view, an ominous harbinger of a likely and terrible future.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Minus David, And Gary Meadows

2/3 of Stella coming to town 10/17/06...

Tickets on sale 9/9/06...

Dig it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Just A Little Bit Longer

Rumor has it a piece I authored has been accepted for publication at ...Circle V ...Thursday. I don't know how you should spend your Wednesday. Sorry.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Friday With Paul

dn wrote:
> I woke up this morning, stumbled around, and realized that I had "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" in my head. Despite this terrible omen (and against my better judgement), I did not call in sick. Will tragedy befall me today? Is there any worse sign that "Once Bitten, Twice Shy"?

paul wrote:
You may not want to leave the house this weekend with that looming over you. That's very dangerous ground ever since they had that fire at one of their concerts. On a related Great White note, we had a pool in college to see how much it would take for someone to get "Once Bitten" tattooed on arm and "Twice Shy" tattooed on the other arm. At its peak, the pot was up to $500, but there were no takers. How much would it take for you to get this done?

> I actually remember your pact about the tattoo(s). I always bring it up when I'm involved in a tattoo conversation - it always brings the house down. I think I'd sooner get a "Snakes on a Plane" tattoo, or maybe even a tat commemorating the Great White nightclub fire, than the OBTS combo. And I am saddened to report that OBTS has morphed into Damn Yankees' "Coming of Age", which is at least equally brutal. Kill me.

Please, please don't get me started on Damn Yankees. Every time I hear that name, I first shutter in horror, then I can't get the video for "High Enough" out of my head. The scene where Ted Nugent busts through a front door (while wearing huge Oakley-style sunglasses) and proceeds to rip through a solo while cops are shooting at him is almost unbearable. Amazingly, no bullets hit him. It's almost as if the director said "Ted, we're going to make it look like you're rocking so hard that it's changing the paths of bullets." If you've never seen this video, you have 2 options:

1) Be thankful and forget the whole thing.

2) Go to YouTube and prepare for a life-changing video.

By the way, I just realized that the observation and comment about Nugent in that video was made on VH1's "I Love the 90s". I can't remember who said it, but I'd hate to pass off a line that great as my own when it's really not. So, this is my citation.

> Your citation is honorable - I was thinking that Bill Simmons also brought up that video recently, but I might be wrong. I listened to an entire Mates of State album, went to make a cup of tea, sat back down at my desk and heard, "LITTLE SISTAHHHHHHH. HITS THE STAAAGE!" echoing in my brain. This could be in my head forever. And by "forever", I mean one week, after which time I would take my own life.

The government should play that song when trying to get information from suspected terrorists. Bin Laden would have been caught 2 years ago if this method was used. Nobody, and I mean nobody, could hold out more than 3 hours if that song was constantly played.

> I'm now listening to Yes' "I've Seen All Good People", and I can't wait to try it out at the next karaoke night. I think it would make a nice duet.

Speaking of karaoke, I'm bombed big time a few weeks back with Motley Crue's "Home Sweet Home". I guess I just don't have the Vince Neil "it" quality about me. I may have gotten into it a little too much, which may have turned off some people. But, live and learn. Let me know how the Yes tune goes over.

> To be fair, no one has the Vince Neil "it" quality. Not even Vince Neil. Not even Vince Neil before he weighed 250 pounds.

Do you think Vince ever looks in the mirror and says aloud: "What the hell happened to me?" To go from "Shout at the Devil" Vince to today's Vince is a decline that is rarely seen. I think if I was him, I wouldn't be able to pass a mirror without saying it. Okay, I'm done thinking about this. Have a good weekend.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Best. Spam Name. Ever.

A few weeks back, I got a spam message sent by

Electromagnet P. Faithlessly

Awesome. Kudos for Bags for making me take note of such names.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Golden Eagle Soars On Standardized Tests

Big news out of Wichita, reprinted here because the Wichita Stupid Eagle website will make everyone pay to access the article once it's archived.
Wichita teen scores perfect on ACT, SAT
The Wichita Eagle

Jakub Voboril can breathe a little easier when he fills out college applications this fall, after earning the highest possible score on not one but two major entrance exams.

"It wasn't so much a feeling of, 'Wow, I'm shocked,' because I went in thinking I could do this," said Jake, 17, a senior at Bishop Carroll High School.

"So it's just a good feeling. I'm really happy."

A letter last month from the American College Testing company told Jake he had scored a 36 on the ACT -- one of only two Kansas students to get a perfect score on the June test.

Shortly afterward, he learned he had scored a perfect 2400 on the SAT Reasoning Test, which he took the same week.

"Getting a perfect score is, in and of itself, very unusual," said Brian O'Reilly, a spokesman for the College Board, which administers the SAT. Last year, about 1.5 million students took the test, and fewer than 300 scored a 2400.

Neither the College Board nor the American College Testing company keeps statistics on how many students get a perfect score on both tests. "But suffice it to say, it's a very, very small number," O'Reilly said.

Jake's achievement is extraordinary, but not wholly unexpected. He has always done well in school, earning straight As in advanced-placement classes at Bishop Carroll, where he also participates in debate, Scholars Bowl and Science Olympiad.

In previous ACT attempts, he scored 32 and 34.

"Part of me said, 'That's good enough, you can stop there,' " he said. "But I decided to take it one more time to see what happened."

What happened was perfection, despite not feeling his best. "I get really nervous before tests, so I didn't sleep very well that night," he said.

Jake said much of his motivation comes from his family -- particularly two older sisters, Millie and Katie, who were valedictorians at Bishop Carroll and at Benedictine College in Atchison. Jake's father, Bob, is superintendent of Catholic schools in Wichita; his mother, Pam, is a school nurse at Bishop Carroll.

Bob Voboril said he's proud of his son -- but not only because of his test scores.

"We don't ever say to them, 'We expect As,' " he said. "The most important thing is not the grades they get, it's the kind of people they are. We truly believe that if you shape your kids to be good human beings, then they will naturally become good students."

Ask Jake how he earned tip-top scores on two big tests, and he doesn't have a quick answer.

"It's weird, because before I took it, I checked out a couple books from the library. I expected there to be this big secret that all the smart people had that I just had to read.

"But I found out there's not a secret formula. Obviously, you have to pay attention in classes, take classes that are going to teach you what you need to know -- that sort of thing."

Jake does, however, have one study tip: Sign up for the "Official SAT Question of the Day" at the College Board's Web site.

"They send you one question every day, right to your inbox," he said. "So you get a feel for the types of questions, but you don't have to sit down for a couple hours and take a practice test."

Jake's not sure where he'll attend college, but is considering Notre Dame and Princeton. He hasn't decided what he'll study, either, but has considered math, philosophy and law.

"Pretty much, if they have a class in something, it interests me," he said.

And call it modesty or cautious optimism, but he's not even assuming he'll be accepted to his college of choice.

"I've always had the impression that high test scores will help you very much, but you have to have more than that," he said.

"Colleges want people who are going to be leaders and who are going to give back to their community. Fortunately, I've had plenty of opportunities to do things like that."
I bolded the above passage because I find it implausible. The ACT and SAT companies score every exam, but they can't figure out how many students received a perfect score on each? Really? You give me one day with those datasets and I will rock that shit. Then we'll see how smart Jakub really is.

Oh, and go to Princeton, man. Trust me. And in future photos, don't let the Virgin Mary upstage you like that.

Monday, August 14, 2006

500th Post

Really limped into #500.

A few things:

My right wrist/arm hurts, probably from typing, so I'm taking it very easy. Self-imposed restrictions on typing AND Playstation until it improves.

When it hurts to type, play video games, and write - and when it's really fucking hot outside - it's reading time. I'm at the point in Scott's life where he writes The Great Gatsby. He is 27. Jesus.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Mel Gibson's Blooper Reel

[I wrote/compiled this last week, during the lunch hour immediately following the breaking "news" about Mel. For various, uninteresting reasons, it was never posted. So now, without further ado, I give you outdated Mel Gibson jokes!]

Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

Max: Thunderdome. How do I get in there?
Aunty Entity: That's easy. Pick a fight!
Max: Okay. Tell me - is there a post-apocalyptic rabbi around?

Lethal Weapon (1987)

Roger Murtaugh: I'm too old for this shit!
Martin Riggs: Oh, c'mon, man - that's Jew talk.

Lethal Weapon II (1989)

[about to pull Murtaugh off the booby-trapped toilet]
Martin Riggs: On three, what do ya say?
Roger Murtaugh: Okay.
Martin Riggs: One... two...
Roger Murtaugh: Wait, wait, wait!
Martin Riggs: What?
Roger Murtaugh: Do we do it on three? Or one, two, three, then do it?
Martin Riggs: It's your ass, Cochise!
Roger Murtaugh: My ass, yeah. On three.
Martin Riggs: We go on three?
Roger Murtaugh: Yeah.
Martin Riggs: Okay. Hey, but first, let me take a look at how this bomb is put together. I've got some friends in Palestine that would be interested. Very interested.

Braveheart (1995)

William Wallace: ...The answer to your question is yes - if you fight for me, you get to kill the English.
Stephen: Excellent!
William Wallace: Although I don't know why we're all so worked up against the Brits, when it's clear that the Jews are responsible for all the wars in this world.

Ransom (1996)

Tom Mullen: The whole world now knows... my son, Sean Mullen, was kidnapped, for ransom, three days ago. This is a recent photograph of him. Sean, if you're watching, we love you. And this... well, this is what waits for the man that took him. This is your ransom. Two million dollars in unmarked bills, just like you wanted. But this is as close as you'll ever get to it. You'll never see one dollar of this money, because no ransom will ever be paid for my son. Not one dime, not one penny. Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Tom Mullen is cheap." Well, I'm not. Not like those Jews. I'm not afraid to open up the ol' wallet. Nope. Instead, I'm offering this money as a reward on your head. Dead or alive, it doesn't matter. So congratulations, you've just become a two million dollar lottery ticket... except the odds are much, much better. Do you know anyone that wouldn't turn you in for two million dollars? I don't think you do. I doubt it. Especially if you know any Jewish folk. I mean, it's all about money with those people - they worship the stuff. You've heard of a little guy named Judas Iscariot, right? So wherever you go and whatever you do, this money will be tracking you down for all time. And to ensure that it does, to keep interest alive, I'm running a full-page ad in every major newspaper every Sunday... for as long as it takes. But... and this is your last chance... you return my son, alive, uninjured, I'll withdraw the bounty. With any luck you can simply disappear. Understand... you will never see this money. Not one dollar. So you still have a chance to do the right thing. If you don't, well, then, God be with you, because nobody else on this Earth will be. Especially, as I have made clear, Jews.

Payback (1999)

Porter: [voiceover] Not many people know what their life's worth is. I do. Seventy grand. That's what they took from me. And that's what I was going to get back. I'm not going to overcharge them, like some damn Jew banker.

Signs (2002)

Graham Hess: Swing away, Merrill. Merrill... swing away...
[Merrill breaks glasses of water with his bat, killing the alien.]
Graham Hess: Oh... Nice... Good... But I meant "swing away" at that.
[Graham points to a synagogue window.]

The Passion of the Christ (2004)

Jesus: You are My friends. There is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for his friends. I cannot be with you much longer, My friends. You cannot go where I am going. My commandment to you after I am gone is this: Love one another. As I have loved you, so love one another. Except for the Jews.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


It sounded pretty much like it looked. More photos to come:


Pics added to my Flickr page.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

So You Think You Can Dance

Paul writes:
i watched parts of "footloose" last night, and i have a few questions for you:

1) when kevin bacon pulls up to school on his first day, he has quiet riot's "bang your head (metal health)" blaring from his car. this is possibly one of the most underrated comedy moments in 80s movies. anyways, shouldn't this be an acceptable approach for all first impressions? first day of work/school, first time meeting a significant other's family, etc. should all be started with kevin dubrow's screeching voice. i would really like to see practice implemented on a nation wide basis.

2) my last question involves the infamous scene where bacon works his frustration and anger out by dancing alone in a warehouse after drinking half a beer and throwing the bottle. i don't think any male would aruge with me that this is just an uneasy and weird scene to watch. my question is this: do you think when the movie first came out and was a hit, this scene was as uncomfortable for males to watch? Or has it just aged poorly?
Well, Paul, I have to confess that I'm not very knowledgeable in the realm of "Footloose". We didn't have cable when I was growing up. Still, it seemed that "Footloose" was on network television often, on weeknights, but I wasn't allowed to watch. There are a couple of possible reasons for this. Perhaps Ma and Pa didn't want me to be influenced by the movie, which contained dangerous ideas, such as the game of "chicken" between Kevin Bacon and some other dude. (Keep in mind, I had access to tractors, just like the kids in the film. It was a recipe for danger.) Perhaps I did watch much of the first part of the film, but was forbidden to see the end, due to a strict bedtime. Or, it's possible that my parents thought the movie was stupid (John Lithgow as a southern preacher?), and didn't want to be subjected to it.

In any case, I finally saw the whole movie a year or so back, and I was shocked. After a long buildup, the kids get to have a dance, and it was the lame. The end. But, as Paul points out, there are some high points along the way.

I find both of Paul's arguments compelling, and I tried to come up with the perfect response. In the end, I decided that words couldn't express my feelings on "Footloose". I hope this will serve as an acceptable substitute: