Tuesday, February 28

G-Day Bloggerpalooza '06: The drinking begins at sunrise.

Ah, tailgating, how I've missed you.

Orson and Stranko from Every Day Should Be Saturday are so excited, they just can't hide it, they're about to lose control and I think they like it: Spring practice is about to start for college football teams around the country. The lonely silence in cities such as Athens, Gainesville, Ann Arbor, and Murfreesboro is about to be broken once again by the crack of the pads, and we'll once again treat ourselves to anxious talk of new-recruit sightings, position battles, and, of course, the ultimately meaningless exhibitions known as spring games.

To the non-football-initiated among you, this probably sounds like the college-football equivalent of desperately raiding the pantry and drinking all the vanilla extract just to get buzzed. Well, we never claimed it was otherwise. But it's funny you should mention drinking, because Orson came up with a wonderful idea: Blogger tailgate before the G-Day Game! G-Day, in case you were confused, is the Georgia Bulldogs' spring game, and since the Atlanta/Athens area seems to be home to an inordinate number of sports bloggers, a bunch of us decided a G-Day tailgate would be a great opportunity for area bloggers to get together, put faces with names ("Oh! So you're that asscrack who said [insert coach's name here] couldn't coach his way out of a wet paper bag!"), do some drinkin', and feed our football fix.

So if you're interested in attending, consider this post an open thread to weigh in on suggested locations, start times, food/booze selections, and whatever else. The current prevailing opinion seems to be the beautiful north campus quad, which means we'll have to get there early to snag a spot, but since kickoff's at noon we'd probably have to do that anyway. Also feel free to suggest postgame extracurriculars for those who might be interested. (You were thinking Topper's, perhaps? Way ahead of you, homes.)

While I'm thinking about it, this is as good a time as any to update my blogroll of fellow sports fanatics:

Orson and Stranko at EDSBS have officially moved up into the "Friends of Doug" category, because if a couple of Florida fans are willing to do a tailgate before the freaking Georgia spring game . . . well, those are some special people, and not in the short-bus way.

Paul Westerdawg, Mayor T. Kyle King, The Drizzle, and Gunslingers get the same treatment, as does Ian from Sexy Results, though I'm waiting for his dissertation on the societal significance of a song titled "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" being nominated for an Oscar.

Please welcome to the blogroll Michigan fans Brian from mgoblog and Yost at The M Zone. In the alternate universe where I attended Michigan instead of Georgia, I'm probably e-mailing these guys every five minutes for spiritual guidance in my attempt to reconcile Lloyd Carr's current mediocrity with the fact that he won me a national title my sophomore year.

And what the hell, Dan from What's the Good Word and Nathan from Golden Tornado. Christ, did I just blogroll a couple of Georgia Tech fans? I must be slippin' . . .

It's also time for a long-overdue link to Warren St. John, author of the book Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer and proprietor of blog of the same name. He's earned a spot in my personal Hall of Fame for being able to write the definitive SEC tailgating opus without reverting to the "Heh, get a load of these wack jobs" condescension I'd expect from a lot of the non-Southern journos out there.

Not sports-specific, but I likes 'em anyway: Fellow former Columbusite Tommy Perkins, and fellow journalist and Alabamian Newspaper Hack. Welcome! Free pigs in a blanket for everybody!

Stay classy, New Orleans.

Glad to see things have gotten back to normal in the Big Easy. (You follow that dream, buddy.)

On a related note, how'd I miss this?

Monday, February 27

Sucky things are fun.

Blogging would be nothing without obsessive listmaking, and as Orson at EDSBS has pointed out, "you inevitably dislike more than you like." Talking about stuff that sucks is quite often a lot more fun than praising stuff that's good, and LD at Gunslingers served up a doozy of an opportunity for doing just that -- a meme about the worst experiences you've had at the movies, a restaurant, a bunch of things. Yep, I do love a good chance to let the ol' bile duct rip . . . so away we go:

1. What is the worst DVD/video you own?

You know, I don't have anything on my shelf that I'm vomit-inducingly ashamed of, although it's never a fun moment when I bring a girl over, she's hunting around for a movie for us to watch, and she turns around holding my copy of "Bring It On" with a "Care to explain this?" look on her face. But the selection with the least cinematic merit is probably "I Know What You Did Last Summer," all the more embarrassing because I think I taped it off of University cable back during my Sarah Michelle Gellar phase in 1997 and still haven't gotten rid of it.

I wish I knew how to quit you.

2. What is the worst concert you've ever seen in person?

I've been to an embarrassingly low number of concerts in my life, partly because it's rare for me to go to a show unless I'm a huge fan of the band and at least 95-percent sure it's going to be an awesome show. Out of the very limited experience I have in this regard, probably the worst show I've seen was Luscious Jackson -- a band I actually like a lot -- opening for R.E.M. at the Omni in Atlanta in 1995. It wasn't that their music stunk, it was just that they didn't really seem to have it that night and there was practically zero emotion or energy coming off the stage. By the end of their set, the assembled R.E.M. fans -- a pretty passive, easygoing lot by most standards -- were grumbling about when they were gonna get off the stage already. This was before Luscious Jackson really got big on their own, though, so I'd imagine their live performances have improved dramatically since then.

3. What is the worst experience you've ever had at a restaurant?

This would probably have to be the very first place we ate at when I went to Europe with a group of kids from my high school the summer after my freshman year. We'd flown from Atlanta to London Gatwick, rode a bus to Heathrow, flew from Heathrow to CDG, and got into our hotel in Paris jet-lagged and feeling generally lousy. After a quick nap we went to this restaurant near the Champs-Elysees and sat there for a good hour and a half at least before getting so much as a basket of bread; by the time we actually got any food, it was after 10:00 p.m. And what we got were hockey-puck-consistency slabs of meat that had to have been sitting in the back of someone's freezer since the Louis Quatorze regime, along with curly fries that were almost exactly like what we got in my junior-high cafeteria. I've got nothing against curly fries, but this was our first night in Paris, for Christ's sake. And it was all served, of course, with every bit of the surliness and indifference you'd probably expect from a Parisian wait staff. I can only guess that our tour company called beforehand and told them that 20 American high-school students were on their way, and the restaurant decided they had nothing to lose by treating us to the worst experience possible. Thankfully, things only went up from there and the rest of the trip was great.

Pretty sure this guy was our waiter.

4. What is the worst movie you've ever seen in the theatre? Self-explanatory.

My first instinct is to say "The Stupids," which my friend Jon and I went to see years ago (and dragged at least two other people along to) solely because we'd heard Jenny McCarthy was in it. She was, for a total of about 120 seconds, not one of them spent naked. And even if she had been, I'm not sure it would've been enough to redeem the rest of the film, which was monumentally inane. However, that really may have been more of a kids' film, in which case I was probably just 10 or 12 years too old to appreciate it -- so the second-worst movie I've seen in a theatre is "Destiny Turns On the Radio." Johnny Destiny was played by Quentin Tarantino, who at that point was riding at probably the highest point of his post-"Pulp Fiction" adulation, so me and my slacker friends all thought it was going to be the shiznit. Unfortunately, it had a virtually nonexistent plot, impenetrable characters, and a script that was as bad as "Pulp Fiction" was good. To give you an idea of what we sat through, James Belushi's character had a habit of constantly holding his nuts throughout the film; no explanation was ever given for why he did this, yet it was probably the funniest thing about the movie.

5. What is the worst book you've actually finished? You can't say "I read a few pages and it sucked so bad I put it down . . . " You have to have finished the book.

I generally have a pretty keen sense of when a book's going to suck and know enough to get out early, but the problem with John Grisham's The Brethren was that it kept leading, leading, leading like something big was going to happen, and then it never did. The story just ends, the bad guys get away with it, not that there are really any good guys worth rooting for. A very close runner-up has to be Great Expectations -- this book was singlehandedly responsible for preventing me from getting all As the semester we read it in English class my freshman year of high school, and I still hold a little bit of a grudge against Dickens for that.

6. Who is the worst looking or least appealing celebrity you would have intimate relations with "just to tell the story"? Assume marital or other obligations did not exist. Assume no consequences arise therefrom. Here's where we find out just how disgusting my readers are. The person must be a celebrity though -- as in needs no introduction or explanation. The opposite gender is not required.

I was hoping I'd be able to come up with a more surprising choice than this, but y'all saw it coming before you were even done reading the question -- it'd have to be Ann Coulter. I really can't think of anyone more repellant than that, either politically or physically. And I really hope that one day we'd end up opposite each other on "Hardball" or something like that, just to see if it would be awkward enough to throw her off her game.

Now that the thought of bagging Ann Coulter has made me throw up in my mouth a little, it's time for some Melissa Theuriau to cleanse the palate.

Sunday, February 26

Republicans vs. Gay People Adoptionpalooza:
It's on, girlfriend!!!11!!1!1one

Just because I've been pretty heavily involved in politics over here in Alabama doesn't mean I never get surprised or discouraged by the stupidity, selfishness, and/or simple obtuseness exhibited in our country's political system these days. And yet, every time I think it's hopeless and there are no good men left in American politics with the balls to say the things that need to be said, I find a glimmer of hope in people like Ohio State Sen. Robert Hagan (link via Pandagon:)

AKRON, Ohio -- If an Ohio lawmaker's proposal becomes state law, Republicans would be barred from being adoptive parents.

State Sen. Robert Hagan sent out e-mails to fellow lawmakers late Wednesday night, stating that he intends to "introduce legislation in the near future that would ban households with one or more Republican voters from adopting children or acting as foster parents." The e-mail ended with a request for co-sponsorship.

On Thursday, the Youngstown Democrat said he had not yet found a co-sponsor.
Hagan said his "tongue was planted firmly in cheek" when he drafted the proposed legislation. However, Hagan said that the point he is trying to make is nonetheless very serious.

Hagan said his legislation was written in response to a bill introduced in the Ohio House this month by state Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, that is aimed at prohibiting gay adoption.

"We need to see what we are doing," said Hagan, who called Hood's proposed bill blatantly discriminatory and extremely divisive. Hagan called Hood and the eight other conservative House Republicans who backed the anti-gay adoption bill "homophobic."

I know the Republican readers of this site -- yes, you will be shocked to know there are some -- are probably rolling their eyes at this and will be quick to deride it as just a political stunt. And sure, that's exactly what it is, but Hagan doesn't seem to have any high-minded illusions about the stuntliness of his exercise. Basically this guy has taken President Jed Bartlet's famous "Dr. Laura rant" from "The West Wing" and turned it into real life, and as we all know, an actual American politician with Jed-Bartlet-style balls is something despondent libruls have been pining for ever since December 2000.

Bartlet '08: In your heart, you know he kicked ass in "The American President," too.

But because I've never been the kind of person to just let a joke go when there's an opportunity to beat it into a coma, I decided to do a point-by-point comparison of gays and Republicans to see which ones really make the fitter parents. The results may surprise you, or they may not:

Republicans: George W. Bush ("Heck of a job, Brownie"; "I know how hard it is to put food on your family"; "the British government has learned . . . ")
Gay people: Elton John ("Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"; "Bennie and the Jets"; "Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues")

Gay people: Generation after generation of American youth are fagged up until we become a country overrun with sodomites and degenerates, at which point the Antichrist returns
Republicans: Judicial seat after judicial seat is filled with right-wingers until we become a fascist theocracy run by Jerry Falwell and Halliburton, at which point we invade Iran

Republicans: Yes
Gay people: Best research points to no

Gay people: Yes, depending on your interpretation
Republicans: Indirectly

Republicans: Starting an unnecessary war under false pretenses, taking payoffs from Jack Abramoff, passing repeated tax cuts for the rich that future generations will have to pay for
Gay people: Buttfucking

Gay people: Growing
Republicans: Waning

Republicans: Strict adherence to Judeo-Christian morals, but often with willful ignorance of sinful acts (underage drinking, drug use, premarital sex) committed by children in secret
Gay people: Emphasis on pacifism, acceptance of people different from you, and proper moisturizing

Gay people:


Republicans: Commitment to personal accountability, self-reliance, and fiscal responsibility (well, once upon a time, anyway)
Gay people: Tolerance, terrific fashion sense, dancing ability

Gay people: Casual attitudes toward sex; the concept of thinness being a person's most important trait; contempt for football; unnerving affinity for show tunes
Republicans: Casual attitudes toward war and oil consumption; the concept of ignorance of global politics as a source of pride; contempt for the poor; unnerving affinity for talk radio


Gay people:

So as you can see, at the very least gay people are no less qualified than Republicans to raise kids. If the gay-adoption ban goes through in Ohio, then I expect the state's progressives to rise up in support of Sen. Hagan's "nuclear option" and save our children from the degeneracy of the GOP, Sean Hannity, and National Review. This is our future we're talking about!

Friday, February 24

Olympic rant #2: The terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creamy middles . . . the fairweather luge fans.

You call that a milestone? First man to streak a curling match! Take that, Shani Davis!

The Olympics may not be over yet, but the closing ceremonies are right around the corner and we've had time to rack up 23 medals, take in 98 curling matches, and fully appreciate the nuclear hotness of Tanith Belbin and Kiira Korpi (aren't you glad I have nothing better to do at 8 o'clock on a Thursday evening than watch fuckin' figure skating and can therefore keep you informed about stuff like this?), so I figured now was as good a time as any to let loose with a good rant.

Yesterday Jeff Schultz, shortly after what I can only guess was a hearty breakfast of freshly pissed-in Cheerios, penned this column about what he believes has been a generally disappointing performance by U.S. athletes in general at the winter games. Now, as sports columnists go, Jeff Schultz is a badass and I enjoy his stuff a lot, so I'm not trying to whale only on him here. He certainly isn't the only one who has bemoaned what is perceived as an overall lack of success from Team USA. But as of the time I was writing this, the U.S. had 23 total medals -- second out of all the countries participating, and just one behind the leader, Germany; they also had 8 gold medals, again in second place and just one behind Germany. Call me crazy, but that doesn't seem altogether humiliating. Why is there such a widespread perception that the Olympics were such a complete flop for the American team?

Probably because the three most-hyped competitors -- Bode Miller, Michelle Kwan, and the men's hockey team -- were the ones that flopped the biggest. And for the hype we can thank NBC and their corporate sponsors, who seemed to believe that those three were the only competitors the United States was bothering to field in the '06 games. I know I've ranted on this already, but when you hype the ever-living shit out of only three or four people -- to the exclusion of nearly all the other athletes -- you're putting your credibility on the line in a big way. NBC put their entire wad on 00, they lost, and now they're reduced to begging from the hotel staff just for enough cab fare to make it to the airport.

Think of it this way: Pre-Olympics, we were force-fed a steady diet of Bode Miller, Michelle Kwan, and Lindsey Jacobellis. Miller halfassed his way through the ski events and went home medal-less; Kwan strongarmed her way onto the team without even competing in nationals, then withdrew due to injury before she even got a chance to reset her watch to Torino time; Jacobellis blew a career-making gold medal with a showboat move (which, in her sort-of defense, was funnier than it was tragic). So of course it looks like the USA's Olympics were a bust. But what if, instead, NBC's hype machine had been giving us a subtle but steady morphine drip of all the athletes, including Shaun White, who annihilated the snowboard halfpipe; Shani Davis, who became the first black dude to ever win an individual medal in the Winter Olympics; Ted Ligety, who actually won a gold medal in skiing; and the Belbin-Agosto ice-dancing pair, who won America's first ice-dancing medal in 30 years? If we had known those people existed, and had been prepped to cheer for them rather than just for Miller and Kwan, maybe we'd be more appreciative of their efforts and wouldn't look upon this whole enterprise as such a bummer.

Yes, another flimsy excuse to put Tanith Belbin up here. It's my blog; sorry, that's just how I roll.

At any rate, I don't know why so many Americans seem to feel like they have the right to take Winter-Olympics superiority for granted. I don't know if y'all noticed, but this really isn't a winter-sports country we're living in -- I mean, they cancelled the entire hockey season a couple years ago and in Alabama, at least, that probably got less attention than the Crimson Tide's Music City Bowl bid. And the people here start bum-rushing the grocery stores and driving like 'tards if there's so much as a ten-percent chance of snow for any given night, so I'm not surprised that they're not flooding Craigslist looking for luge instructors. Really, it's not hard to see why Americans can't quite get into winter sports the same way they do summer; if you want to take up running then you just go run someplace, and if you want to take up swimming you just find yourself a pool and jump in it. But if I wanted to take up skiing, I'd have to spend shit-tons of money on all the equipment, then go move at least to North Carolina to find someplace where I could practice my sport with any regularity. To look at it another way, you could probably have the Summer Olympics in just about any part of the country, but there are only a very few places you could pull it off for winter. We've had it in Salt Lake, Squaw Valley, and Lake Placid twice; basically we've got Tahoe and Sun Valley left, and that's probably it.

So I don't blame the United States for not being a gold-medal-hoarding winter-sports juggernaut. And I think it's kind of funny how a lot of people in this country don't even know what a luge is but still feel they have the right to get pissed every four years that Team USA didn't win any medals in it; these people kind of remind me of some of those UGA sorority girls whose football knowledge could probably be packed into a thimble, yet have no qualms about throwing spritzer-fueled tantrums at Sanford Stadium because Mark Richt committed the unpardonable sin of not going for it on 4th-and-10 from his own 25. When you get right down to it, there are probably only two sports in which the U.S. has any right to take superiority as a given -- snowboarding, 'cause we invented that shit, and figure skating, just 'cause, well, we always seem to be good at it for whatever reason. And I might even narrow that down to women's figure skating, because I couldn't tell you the last time an American man won a medal in that, not that I've been paying a lot of attention.

My point is that we should be happy to win medals in those and probably look upon everything beyond that as gravy, because this isn't Norway or Austria where you can walk right out your front door and find a mountain worth skiing down. Yeah, I know, in Bush's America we're all supposed to believe that America is the best at everything mankind has ever done or attempted to do, but if you're so chafed at the United States having surrendered its God-given Alpine-skiing superiority, why don't you go strap on some skis, tiger.

So I'm proud of Team USA and its medal haul this year, and I don't think we have anything to be all disappointed about. Well, OK, there's one other sport I think we should be pwning, and as a result I guess I'm a little disappointed we didn't do better in it this year: skeleton. Don't even try and tell me that wasn't invented by some drunk rednecks who happened to live in one of the cold-weather parts of the United States. One of the guys goes downhill on a sled; the next guy, with an entire twelver of Natty Light in his system, utters the traditional last words of the redneck -- "Naw, y'all, watch this" -- and proceeds to go down the hill head-first. Sure, he breaks his neck and ends up filing the most ill-conceived worker's comp claim in history . . . but a new sport is born. Seriously, how could they have come up with it any other way? And if a sport involves that much drunkenness and/or stupidity, shouldn't we, as Americans, be worldwide ass-kickers at it?

Olympic sport or drunken UGA fraternity hazing stunt? The mind boggles.

Friday Random Ten.

Y'all amuse yourselves with this Ten and put your own in the comments while I go try and perfect my technique at Virtual Curling. (Link via Brian at MGoBlog, who, if not quite going to hell, has at least earned himself a few more years in purgatory by coming up with yet another way for me to shirk my work responsibilities.)

Anyway . . .

1. Billy Joel, "Allentown"
2. Richard Cheese, "Only Happy When It Rains"
3. Pet Shop Boys, "I Get Along"
4. Outkast, "The Way You Move"
5. Groove Armada, "Pre 63"
6. Orbital, "Way Out"
7. Underworld, "Shout Twice"
8. 3rd Bass, "Stymie's Theme"
9. DJ Shadow, "Six Days"
10. KRS-One, "A Friend"

And as long as I'm name-checking sports bloggers who have substantially reduced my work productivity -- this cat's "Weekly Weblogger Challenge" is diabolical, yo -- I should point out that fellow Georgia alum T. Kyle King, formerly of Kyle on Football, has moved on up to a deee-luxe apartment in the sky otherwise known as DawgSports.com. All the Bulldog-loving, Auburn-hating, statistically stuffed-to-exploding goodness you've come to know and love, in a slicker, more readable package.

By the way, thanks to everyone who sent get-well wishes re: my granddad. He's doing fine as far as I know.

Thursday, February 23

All right, Pang -- I'm throwin' down the gauntlet.

I was treated to two pieces of bad news this morning, the first being that my homeboys from Slovakia had gotten whacked by the Czech Republic in ice hockey yesterday, thus ending their surprise run for the gold medal; the second was that my granddad, 91 years old but still able to throw hay bales off the backs of trucks on his farm in Virginia, had had what may have been a mini-stroke and was in the hospital.

So anyway, I was in desperate need of some good news, and I got some, or at least a Velveeta good-news-like substance, when I was informed that this site is now the #9 result for "Monica Pang" on Google. Monica Pang being the UGA alumna and Miss Georgia who should've been Miss America this year. Now, if you click on that 9th-ranked return, you get this post, which tells the maybe somewhat mildly entertaining story of how Monica Pang actually left a comment on an earlier post I'd done about going to the Miss Georgia throwdown with a college friend of mine. Well, in a curious case of history repeating itself, Monica left a comment at the more recent post, too -- one in which she claims to be down for a Hey Jenny Slater interview. (For the time being I'm going to make an ass out of u and me and assume this was actually her and not Josh or my sister trying to have one over on me.) You will recall, or maybe you won't, that I had made a Hail Mary attempt to swing one of these with her shortly before the Miss America pageant.

So anyway, Pang, here's the question -- how 'bout it? If you think you can stand being peppered with questions about vitally important matters such as Georgia football, downtown Athens' best drinking spots, what sorts of horrible things you did in Vegas, and how you found your way here in the first place -- I still think it was by way of a little auto-Googling to see if any of the other Miss Georgia contestants were taking shots at you online, but you're welcome to refute that if you like -- e-mail this address and we'll get the ball rolling. I promise to keep the profanity to a bare minimum, as long as you do the same. Oh, and I also want to know if there's any truth to the rumor that you're planning on parlaying your pageant success into cutting a hard-core gangsta rap album later on this year. 'Cause I think that's a really awesome, genre-bending idea -- just don't start any beefs with 50 Cent. That dude has been shot, like, nine times.

If you can stomach the thought of doing it face-to-face, I'll even let you pick the venue -- over donuts at Krispy Kreme? Beers at any of Athens' fine drinking establishments? Either way is fine. (What am I saying -- both ways are fine. I've been known to sit in front of ESPN on an autumn Saturday with a donut in one hand and a Miller High Life in the other, so clearly, I'm down for whatever.)

Ball's in your court . . . but just so you know, I ran into Miss Oklahoma the other day and she said you totally wouldn't have the balls to do this. Oh, snap. You gonna take that from her?

Wednesday, February 22

Just when I thought the Bush administration had run out of ways to be completely obtuse . . .

Here's the thing: I pretty much agree with Kevin Drum's take on the whole port-sale-to-the-UAE deal. I think that, on the face of things, turning over port management to this UAE company does not automatically mean we will be overrun with Arab terrorists sneaking backpack nukes onto our shores. And I agree completely with Drum that too many Democrats have been far too eager to throw their lot in with a right-wing outcry whose knee-jerk anti-Arab jingoism they have previously, and correctly, objected to -- just to have another issue they can nail Bush on. (Though for these same wingnuts, particularly racist ass cancer Rush Limbaugh, to dare turn around and try to paint Democrats as the racists is just so laughable I won't even expend the energy it would take to give it the teardown it deserves.)

But here's the thing: While I don't think this deal is an automatic disaster, there are clearly some security issues that need to be addressed. You've got people all over the country decrying this deal as a security risk; if the deal is really such a fantastic idea, why not do an investigation, make sure everything checks out, put their fears to rest? Why not indeed: A 1993 law mandates a 45-day investigation in cases like the one we're talking about -- and not only has this investigation not occurred, nobody in the Bush administration even knows why it didn't occur.

And now we have Bush promising to veto any bill that would block the Dubai Ports World deal. Make no mistake about what a monumental deal this is, people -- Bush has not vetoed a single bill in five-plus years in office. Didn't veto the bill creating the Department of Homeland Security, even though he initially opposed the idea; didn't veto any of those massive debt-inflating budgets that have been passed under his presidency; didn't veto any spending measures for Iraq. But this he's willing to go to the mat for. He'll look the other way while the national debt jumps past $7 trillion, but this deal, boy, this is gonna go through, and he's gonna fight you over it if he has to.

Just what in the hell is going on here? Why is Bush willing to ignore a federal law, piss off his own party, and put his "strong on security" reputation (well-deserved or not) at risk over this? It's come out that a couple guys in the administration have ties to the Dubai company, but that alone doesn't seem like enough. There's something even deeper going on here, and somebody needs to find out what it is.

If it turns out that this deal has some kind of tie back into Halliburton or KBR or some other company that Bush and/or Cheney has family ties to -- and at this point, I would not be at all averse to laying some money that it does -- then I don't see how anyone can say this isn't some impeachment-worthy shit. The thing is, I really hope Democrats and lefty bloggers can figure out a way to make this case without jumping on the Republicans' OMG they're Arabs so it must be bad!!11!!1! bandwagon. Let the Repubs and wingnuts tear themselves to pieces over the fact that they're Arabs; the real issue here, the one that the Democrats need to take the lead on, is that Bush seems to be in a real hurry to get this thing passed without the necessary investigations and seems prepared to use what, for him, has been a nuclear option if anyone stands in his way.

I don't want to oppose this just because the buyers in question are Arabs, but I do want to get to the bottom of what's going on here. Usually the mainstream media is too cowed by the liberal-media whiners on the right to get out of bed for stuff like this, but with even people on the right taking Bush to task for his actions, the press will feel secure in getting up off their asses and looking into it. (Sad that this is what we've come to with the American press, but you take what you can get, I suppose.) We'll just have to see.

UPDATE: This new bit of information (link via Atrios sheds some new light on the situation, and yet muddies the waters at the same time. Basically it looks like the Bush administration cut a secret deal with Dubai that would require them to cooperate with any future investigations yet that would not require the company to do any of those things that would expedite those investigations. So in the end, I'm still really at a loss to figure out why Bush is bending over backwards to hook up the UAE here.

Bush has been pointing out that our relations with the United Arab Emirates are good, and that's true, but when he says that the UAE is "one of our strongest Arab allies" in the war on terror, what he really means is "one of the few remaining Arab countries that doesn't completely hate our guts." I don't know what kind of cooperation the UAE is giving us in the War on Terra, but I can't really think of a whole lot of things that would be worth either the political hit Bush is taking at home or the bizarre lengths he's willing to go to in order to see this deal through. Excepting, of course, if the UAE had Osama bin Laden in a cell somewhere and were offering to trade him for passage of the ports deal -- and quite frankly that still seems way more implausible than Halliburton or some other Bush/Cheney buddy having a hidden stake in this deal.

In my midnight confessions, when I tell all the world that I love figure skating, Legos, and the Cadillac Escalade.

Well, since I've come out as someone who actually watches figure skating/ice dancing in the Olympics -- even if it's mainly for the eye candy -- I figured now is as good a time as any to bust out with another installment of everyone's favorite, most embarrassing game, Is It Bad That . . . ? The last one came off pretty well in terms of me not being completely cast out of society, so I'm optimistic about the second round. Here we go:

Sasha Cohen vs. Shaq Diesel: Sasha can't dunk, but still, whose mug would you rather look at?

Is it bad that . . . as a sports fan, I probably care more about, say, tomorrow night's figure-skating competition than the NBA? It's not that I hate basketball -- I don't follow it nearly as closely as football, obviously, but I can appreciate a good college game. But there is absolutely nothing about professional hoops that appeals to me. Don't like the players, not crazy about most of the coaches either. I'd probably pay more attention if they got rid of the actual games and just had slam-dunk contests all season long.

Is it bad that . . . I like the Cadillac Escalade? And unlike the Nissan Armada I referred to in the earlier confessional, I would actually drive one. Especially the EXT version. I know the idea of a Cadillac pickup truck probably sounds retarded to some of you, but at least this vehicle is somewhat functional, which is more than you can say for the Hummer H2, which as far as I'm concerned should come standard with an "Ask Me How Tiny My Dick Is" bumper sticker.

Is it bad that . . . I bought this a few days ago? I stand firm in my conviction that every adult should have one toy they carry over from childhood, just to keep from taking themselves too seriously; mine happens to be Legos. Sue me.

When I was five years old, I vowed that I would one day have the discretionary income to buy crap like this all the time. Today, I live the dream.

Is it bad that . . . I don't hate the New York Yankees? I mean, I certainly don't root for them that often, if for no other reason than because I'm not a pull-for-the-overdog kind of guy, but I don't hate them. Honestly, if you want to get real about it, I hate the Mets more. Yeah, Yankees fans can be arrogant sons of bitches, but at least their franchise has achieved something in the past, oh, 10 years; Mets fans are surly without having anything to show for it.

Is it bad that . . . I was really hoping last night that Shani Davis would slug Chad Hedrick after their speedskating race, then stand over him and say, "Fuck yo' bronze medal, white devil"?

Is it bad that . . . I think Arianna Huffington is a stone-cold fox, particularly for 55?

Is it bad that . . . despite my half-hearted attempts to advise and console, there's a part of me deep down that's gloating a little over the fact that Josh is turning 30 today, while I still have more than two and a half years to go?

Me (at left, bevisored) and Josh in those more innocent days before his life came to an end. Oh, come on, I'm just kidding . . . happy birthday, douchebag!

By the way, ladies, yes, we're both single.

Sunday, February 19

The thrill of victory, the agony of NBC's Olympics coverage.

I went nearly the entire first week of the winter Olympics watching a grand total of maybe 30 minutes of actual events, but I watched a ton of it while hanging out in the C-boogie this past weekend with the folks, and a few things have struck me:

· I know that this is America and we're supposed to be rooting for the American athletes, but NBC (and any future network that wins broadcast rights to this stuff) really needs to rethink their strategy of pre-selecting a specific group of a half-dozen or so athletes to hype the hell out of for weeks before the games even begin. Because then you're sort of banking almost all your credibility on a few guys who could very well embarrass you by tanking in any or all of their events . . . step forward, Bode Miller! Yeah, he's blown it all right, but the thing is, I was sick of hearing about him even before the Olympics began. And I think that was mainly because that before-the-fact hype centered primarily around not his athletic ability but the fact that he liked to get blitzed before taking to the slopes. I'm sorry, but if you're an athlete whose biggest draw is unapologetic engagement in some sort of chemical pursuit, guess what? People are probably only watching you to see when you're going to have your Ricky Williams beard-growing, Western-civilization-eschewing freakout. Of course, because he's a drunk, Bode's will probably involve a lot more vomiting.

Soon to get a new roommate in rehab . . . just clear out some room for his skis.

Anyway. My point is, NBC, quit picking out one particular group of Kool Kids to hype because a) it annoys the hell out of us, and b) they're only gonna burn you. Remember Dan and Dave? Reebok does, but the same probably can't be said for anyone else.

· Maybe it's because of NBC's joyous shoving of only the most overrated American athletes down our throats, maybe it's because opening the doors to NHL superstars has rendered Olympic hockey pretty much irrelevant anyway, but you know what? When the USA faced off against Slovakia in hockey on Saturday, I was rooting for the motherland, and you know I'm talkin' 'bout the guys with a whole bunch of consonants in their names. The motherland pulled through, by the way. I now have an early birthday-present request: a Team Slovakia hockey sweater. Get on that!

Four more wins and we're busting out the Borovicka, which is Slovak for "stuff you can drink instead of hairspray when all the other liquor is gone."

· Did Bob Costas really just interview Jerome Bettis during the Olympic prime-time broadcast? Jerome Bettis? C'mon, Bob, you're a smart guy -- I was counting on you to look a lot more embarassed during that bit than you actually did. If this is how NBC's gonna play it, I can't wait to see their exclusive interview with Phil Mickelson during the NBA finals.

· I'm certainly not trying to say that we've achieved everything we need to achieve in terms of race relations in this country, but I think it says a lot about how far we've come that all we have left in terms of milestones is stuff like "first black guy to win a gold medal in speed skating."

· By now you may be thinking, "You seem way too into the Winter Olympics there, chief -- what's next, you're gonna tell us you actually watched ice dancing?" To which I reply: Yes, I watched some fucking ice dancing; what of it?

If Tanith Belbin is involved, the sport could be endurance snow-shoveling and I'd still tune in.

· And finally, as far as Lindsey Jacobellis's snowboard fuckup goes, yeah, it was stupid, but in all honesty I probably would've done the same thing. At least she still managed to pull a silver medal out of it; my most recent attempts at a "backside grab" haven't even been that successful, if you get my drift.

Friday, February 17

Taking a look inside the toolbox.

Normally this spot would be occupied by a Friday Random Ten, but Ann had such a good one this morning that there's really nothing I can do to even hope of topping it, so instead I'll just solicit y'all's opinions on who the biggest tool of the week was. Besides Dick Cheney, who, let's be honest, is in the running for a lifetime achievement award.

Was it . . .

· Maryland Comptroller Donald Schaefer, who ogled a 24-year-old gubernatorial aide in front of a roomful of people, then said she "ought to be damn happy that I observed her going out the door," adding that "The one who's offended is me"?

· Former Creed frontdouche Scott Stapp, who, just days after being removed from his honeymoon flight due to public intoxication, has been revealed as the subject of a sex tape filmed on a tour bus with Kid Rock?

· American figure skater Johnny Weir, who blamed his fifth-place showing at the Olympics on a bus that arrived late to the skating rink, saying, "I was late getting here and never caught up. I never felt comfortable in this building. I didn?t feel my inner peace. I didn't feel my aura. Inside I was black"? (You didn't "feel your aura"? Dude, seriously, you don't have to say stuff like that. You're a male figure skater; we all know you're gay.)

Your votes and your suggestions are welcome . . .

Tuesday, February 14

"If you really wanted to screw me up, you should've gotten to me earlier."

Yeah, whatever.

Just in case anyone was curious, my dog has already received a Valentine's Day present; I haven't received any. I hope that gives you an idea of what you're dealing with here.

Readers of this blog who know me personally are probably waiting for me to throw up the inevitable fuck-Valentine's-Day-sideways post on here, given that my dislike of Valentine's Day has been intense and long-standing. To be honest, I wasn't sure whether I really wanted to do that, or whether I even wanted to acknowledge VD at all; after all, does the world really need another pissed-off single ranting about how dating is a pain in the ass and Valentine's Day sucks . . . especially since I've already written one?

A few things you should know about that column: First of all, some things were apparently lost in the translation from newspaper page to Web page, specifically important things like paragraph breaks, proper typefaces, correct punctuation, that kind of thing. For any number of reasons, my memories of my senior year are hazy, but I'm pretty sure that column was a lot funnier when it was first published. Second of all, as hotheaded and asinine as the column is, it is directly responsible for what is still the only date I've ever had for Valentine's Day or a Valentine's-Day-related function. A girl from one of my journalism classes whom I'd always thought was hot (she was a dead ringer for "Scream"/"Wedding Singer"-era Drew Barrymore) e-mailed me the very same day the column was published and said she thought it was funny, she thought Valentine's Day was stupid too, did I want to go out sometime. So we went out for a while, and I won't go into all the gory details of how I managed to screw that relationship up, but the point is, if going off on a half-cocked rant about Valentine's Day swung me a date once, it can't be all that bad an idea, can it?

Still, I don't want to a) just drag out old material or b) come off as some misanthropic, grouchy asshat. Let me rephrase that: I don't want to perpetuate my existing image as some misanthropic, grouchy asshat. There are ways for a single person to enjoy Valentine's Day -- the candy, the realization that you're saving a lot of money by not having to buy your significant other a gift or drag her to a fancy restaurant or something, the knowledge that you can go off, get a hooker, and roll in at 6 the next morning without someone waiting at home wondering where the hell you were when you were supposed to be taking her out for Valentine's Day . . . what? Why are you looking at me like that?

Nevertheless, it seems clear to me that this is a holiday that, while not impossible to enjoy without a significant other, is a lot easier to enjoy if you have one. Because without one, you're much more likely to be reminded of all the failed relationships you've had in the past (or lack of relationships period), and what you've done to put yourself in that situation. For some reason this holiday always makes me think of the movie "High Fidelity," and I always see myself as being a lot like John Cusack's character in that movie: kind of a schlub, kind of neurotic, can make a kickass mix tape but, other than that, in the rare instances he does succeed with women he pretty much does so in spite of himself. Oh, and also a one-step-short-of-OCD listmaker. In fact, back when I was working in Atlanta -- I think this may have even been in the days and weeks leading up to Valentine's Day one year, though I may be remembering that wrong -- a co-worker and I were debating over whose relationship history was more pathetic, so we decided to make a list of every relationship, bad date, infatuation, etc. we'd had, compare lists, and determine a winner. When the deadline came, I handed her mine, she took one look at it and said, "Wow. I can't compete with this."

Your first girlfriend in high school dumped you for a guy who was in the marching band? Wow, dude. Just . . . wow.

In the spirit of that project and the five-worst-breakups structure of "High Fidelity," I thought I'd use this opportunity to pick out the stories from my dating record (or lack of same) that are most representative of my history with women as a whole. Everything in "High Fidelity" was done in fives, but I won't bore you with five stories; I think three should suffice.

What better way to start this off than on Valentine's Day '02. I was actually semi-seeing someone long-distance at the time, this friend of my sister's then-fiancee, but what started as a perfectly innocuous Happy-Valentine's-Day phone call quickly turned into her yelling at me for something I'd done or hadn't done, so when Josh and DAve called to ask if I wanted to go up to Druid Hills and drink some beers and shoot some pool, I was more than ready. As I was flying up I-85 to meet them, the girl called again to yell at me some more, and I did two things I'd never done before: 1) hung up on someone and 2) threw the phone into the back seat. It was all very theatrical, not to mention cathartic.

Anyway, I get to the bar expecting for it to just be a night out with the boys, but it turns out there's a ton of girls there. Including a redhead named Megan who's apparently single, good at pool, and incredibly cute. There are some situations where "cute" is not only a more accurate description than "hot," it's actually a more desirable attribute, and this was one of those times. Basically, she was the kind of girl about whom I'd usually just sit there at the bar thinking, "Wow, she's cute, if I didn't have such a low opinion of myself I'd probably go talk to her," but this time -- whether it was liquid courage or the urging of DAve and Josh, I don't remember -- I actually cranked up the balls to go talk to her. We had a good conversation, she was friendly, I finally got to whip out my "I've applied to join the Peace Corps" line (which, at the time, was actually true) and she was suitably impressed. And I actually ended up getting her number. You could probably count on the fingers of one hand the phone numbers I'd gotten from girls at bars over the entire course of my life up to that point.

Anyway, fast-forward to the following week, I've waited the Vince-Vaughn-approved six days so I decide to give Megan a call. We talk for a while, I get around to asking her if she wants to go out and get a drink sometime, we're talking about when to do that when she gets a call on the other line from her mom and says she'll call me back in a few minutes. (For the sake of my own self-worth I'm going to assume it was really her mom and not "Would I like to discuss AT&T's new long-distance plan? God, yes, anything to get this jackhole off the line.") I'm just sitting there, having a beer, watching the Winter Olympics -- I'll just bet it was figure-skating, too, which would match right up with the general lameness of the rest of this story -- and I fall asleep. I wake up about midnight, shake the cobwebs out, and find a missed call on my cell phone from guess who. It's too late to call her back, so I wait until the next day, get her voice-mail, leave a message.

Needless to say, I never heard from her again. Which means I was probably only a single beer or ill-timed nap away from actually getting to go out with one of the cutest girls I've ever actually met in person. Good times.

Here's Reggie Brown shortly after getting a love tap from Junior Rosegreen in the '04 Georgia-Auburn game. Within a few days, I would know a similar feeling (though I at least retained full consciousness, which was nice).

This next story I've alluded to a couple times in my lengthy discussions of the Auburn-Georgia rivalry. Setup: At a Halloween party thrown by my friend Amanda a couple years ago, I met a girl who'd just moved down from New York to start a job at the place where Amanda worked. Blond, funny, another example of the cute-being-better-than-hot phenomenon, an incredibly stylish dresser -- sorry if noticing that makes me gay, Josh -- and made a pretty hot '60s housewife, which was her costume at the party. (In case you're curious, mine was Bill Lumbergh -- suspenders, colored shirt with a white collar, coffee mug. You know the drill.) Anyway, I got her number from Amanda, we went out a few times, it was great. Easily one of the most attractive, most fun, and least frightening girls I've ever gone out with.

Couple weeks later I'm telling her about my plans to head down to Auburn that weekend for the football game, and for someone who went to NYU and has about as much prior exposure to college football as Kevin Federline does to soap and water, she seems pretty interested. I go out on a limb and ask if she'd be interested in going, and she says yes, so I tell her I'll get in touch with my ticket hookup and see if he can find me another one.

Now, before this all went down -- probably before I'd even met this girl to begin with -- I'd been telling my parents that I'd try to pay them a visit when I went down to Auburn for the game, since they only live like 30 minutes away. My guy comes through with the tickets, so I call the girl back, tell her we're good to go, and we start laying out plans for the weekend: "Yeah, we'll drive down Friday night, stay at my friend's apartment, tailgate with her and some other folks on Saturday, go to the game, probably go have lunch with my folks on Sunday . . . "

If you've ever seen the movie "Glengarry Glen Ross," then you know all about the silence that ensued after that: It was just like after Jack Lemmon says "If you're gonna make something up . . . " and Kevin Spacey realizes he's the one who broke into the office the previous night. Here we are, I've been seeing this girl for not even a full month, and already I'm telling her -- without any ulterior motive or anything like that, but still -- that we're going to meet my fucking parents. Not surprisingly, she says she's kind of nervous about that, so I start backtracking like crazy, but she's like, "No, if you've already made plans, then it's fine." We go down to Auburn, we go to the game (which Georgia gets annihilated in -- surely a premonition), we go to Columbus the next day, she grits her teeth through lunch with my family, we go home . . . a week or so later I get the "I think we should just be friends" e-mail. And there you go.

Last year this girl April moved into one of the studio apartments in my building. She had a little dog, I had a little dog, so we'd see each other pretty frequently while standing out on the front steps waiting for our dogs to finish doing their business, and I started thinking I'd like to ask her out. In the meantime, it came out that her reason for coming and going at odd hours and being gone for long stretches of the week was that she was a dancer at one of the strip joints in Atlanta, and I almost didn't ask her out after that, not because I was somehow repulsed by her line of work but because I was worried she'd think I was only asking her out because that's what she did. But somehow I got over this hangup and asked her out, and she said yeah, so we did.

(Now, I know I just said I didn't ask her out because she was a stripper, but that fact did lead to one of the more entertaining conversations I've had with my parents. They asked me if I was dating anyone, I said yeah, they asked what she did, I said "She's a dancer in Atlanta," and then Mom went down the list: "Balllet?" "No." "Jazz?" "Uh, no." "Like, interpretive dance or something like that?" "Keep going." Cue big grin on Dad's face; end scene.)

Anyway. We went out a few times, during which time her apartment becomes the target of an insect infestation -- think "Arachnophobia" but with termites -- and she decides to move out. Over the course of a weekend I help her move all her stuff into a new apartment, and I'm thinking, Helped her move, that's got to be like +100 points or something. But her work isn't done, because she painted the inside of her old apartment while she lived there, and apparently one of the terms of her lease is that she's got to repaint it back the way it was or she doesn't get her security deposit back. So the following week, she repaints the apartment, and I'm unavailable to help because I'm working all day. Guess who is available to help? This guy Jeff who lives across the hall from me, an airline pilot who had either just recently broken up with his girlfriend or was right about to, I can't remember which. Just about every day that week, I come and go during my lunch hour and there they are, having a grand old time repainting her apartment. Being a complete idiot, I think nothing of this at the time.

A few days later, I call her to see if she wants to go out and get dinner or something like that, and she says, "Well, I'm kind of seeing Jeff now. But we can still be friends." Well, of course we can, because isn't that secretly what every guy wants? Fortunately, I still had her on the hook to pick up my mail while I was in Italy later that month, so at least I got something out of it . . . sort of. I guess. Still, this marked the point at which "Do not date girls who live in the building" went from an unspoken suggestion to an official policy.

Of course, this brief sampling barely even scratches the surface of the legion of girls I've gone out with once or twice and who mysteriously dropped off the face of the earth after that, adding to my reputation (as my friend Brian puts it) of "having more first dates than anyone I know . . . and fewer second dates than anyone I know." That list could probably fill a separate blog all by itself, the latest and greatest item being the World-War-III-incitingly hot Slavic chick who, completely unbidden, showed me her boob in a crowded bar, made out with me later on that evening, and only after that decided arbitrarily to stop returning my calls. (Was she embarrassed by her behavior? Or did she merely decide I'd gotten as much of a taste as she cared to dole out and would get no more? I leave this question to you, gentle reader, to decide.)

But still, these three incidents should probably give you a pretty good idea of how I can apparently screw up a good thing either by doing something or not doing anything at all. That's what you call being multitalented, folks, and don't you forget it.

I invite the rest of you unattached malcontents out there -- whether you're single, about to be single, or even if you're in a reasonably content relationship but still resent the yoke of obligation Valentine's Day hangs around your neck -- to throw your best, and by "best" I obviously mean "worst," date/relationship-fuckup story at me in the comments. Most embarrassing story wins a box of chocolates I'll purchase tomorrow when everything has been marked down 75 percent. Fo' really, people! I look forward to hearing from you.

On the political tip, again.

Last week I pointed out how my sister actually does this political-discourse bit a whole lot better than I ever have. Turns out she's just the tip of the iceberg (surprise, surprise). Here's a sampling of some of the best political stuff I've read in the blogosphere in the past week or so:

· Glenn Greenwald wrote a terrific essay about the political ideology of Bush supporters -- more specifically, whether they hew to any political ideology at all, in terms of the liberal-conservative spectrum at least, or simply view everything on a completely separate "pro-Bush/anti-Bush" spectrum. Not surprisingly, this kicked up a whole lot of righteously indignant dust on the part of pro-Bush bloggers . . . most of whom only ended up further proving Greenwald's point. You can read his follow-up post, a response to those critics, here.

I think this has relevance for not just the current political situation but the '06 and '08 elections, because I, for one, have been really curious to see how the GOP will fare in 2008 when they no longer have the supposedly mighty authority figure of W to rally voters around. Will they, as Atrios predicts, simply transfer their "authoritatian cult" onto whoever is the next GOP anointee? Or will the whole thing just fizzle out and give Democrats a much-needed boost? I'm interested to hear what everyone has to say about this, but particularly you Republicans out there.

· Paul Waldman wrote an interesting piece for Washington Monthly punching even more holes into the myth of the "liberal media," specifically as it pertains to the Sunday-morning political gab shows, who have shown a marked preference for conservative guests since long before Bush even got elected. I've long wondered how these programs can claim that an avowedly conservative commentator like Charles Krauthammer or Fred Barnes is somehow "balanced out" by an objective reporter (i.e. in non-columnist) from a news outlet such as the Washington Post or NPR. The standard conservative rejoinder to that, of course, is that "NPR isn't nothin' but a bunch of liberals anyway," but I have yet to hear anyone provide a speck of proof to that effect.

· At the blog Hullabaloo, Digby delivers a stirring response to the "Joementum Democrats" who seem to think that the best way for Democrats to regain power in Washington is to never criticize or dissent with the Bush administration, but rather to just paddle along in their wake and a-wish and a-hope that the American voting public appreciates their deference and obedience enough to vote for them. Right, because that worked great in 2002. Digby also pulls up a quote from Rush Limbaugh that sort of puts the Dick Cheney hunting-accident story in an interesting light, particularly considering the lengths some right-wingers have gone to to minimize the accident and/or act like anyone who even brings it up is a horrible, horrible person. If Rush Limbaugh can go around continuing to slander Hillary Clinton by claiming that she shot Vince Foster, then I'm not going to feel too much pity for Cheney for, you know, actually shooting someone.

· Just in case anyone was curious, George W. Bush, still not popular.

Monday, February 13

Separatin' the men from the boys.

College Football News has the list of 2006 SEC football schedules up along with brief analysis of how well each team can expect to do. All in all, their predictions of best-case, worst-case, and probable scenarios look pretty accurate, and their outlook for Georgia is promising; they have the Dawgs' "realistic record" for 2006 at 9-3, which is pretty much what I told Dan from What's the Good Word in our Q&A on recruiting and the outlook for 2006. CFN also says Georgia's "barring total disaster worst-case record" is 7-5, which, while certainly not up to the level of the last 4 seasons, is not wrist-slittingly bad for a team breaking in a brand-new QB and plenty of players in important spots on defense.

Given all the talk recently about "The Movement" (as started by T. Kyle King) to upgrade Georgia's out-of-conference schedule by booking a date with the Michigan Wolverines, I found it interesting, too, that as far as OOC schedules go, Georgia really has nothing to be ashamed of this year, at least in comparison to the rest of the SEC. Colorado and Georgia Tech, while not exactly national-title-contending powerhouses, are still competitive BCS squads who have a combined 9 bowl appearances in the last five years; and while I know I'm biased regarding anything UAB-related, the Blazers have a habit of almost always playing SEC teams tougher than they have any right to -- just ask Georgia's 2003 team, who barely squeaked by UAB on Homecoming Saturday. Better yet, ask LSU's 2000 team, who who got humiliated by UAB for their homecoming game. In Tiger Stadium. (I'm not wild about admitting it, but that's one more win in Baton Rouge than Georgia has the last 6 seasons.) Without the shoulders of man-beast QB Darrell Hackney to dump entire games on, UAB might actually be a better, more balanced squad than they were last year.

The only real eye-roller on Georgia's '06 schedule is the season-opening opponent, DI-AA Western Kentucky. I'll reiterate my call for Georgia to refrain from scheduling any more I-AA opponents outside of the every-five-years-or-so raging kegger with Georgia Southern.

This picture wasn't even taken at a football game; Pat Hill is actually screaming at a Red Lobster server who got his order wrong. Yes, he makes his players dress like that all the time.

However, the Pat Hill Trophy for OOC Ballsiness goes to Tennessee for putting Cal, Air Force, Marshall, and Memphis on the schedule. Now, it doesn't look all that imposing at first blush, and lord knows I'd rather pull my own toenails out with pliers than say anything complimentary about the Vols, but Cal is going to be very good next year, Air Force should be much improved (assuming Fisher DeBerry has been able to recruit some of those speedy black folk he was raving about last season), and I was surprised UT agreed to play Memphis ever again after getting punked by the Tigers back in 1996. I also have to give Tennessee some credit for not using a disastrous season as an excuse to bitch out of any of these challenging OOC commitments, like some other SEC schools I could name.

Runner-up for the Hill Award: Georgia, of course, though I would be remiss if I didn't point out that LSU scheduled Hill's own team, the Fresno State Bulldogs, for a home date on October 21.

Former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, deep in thought. When you're going up against the likes of Florida International, you know it's going to be a chess match.

Not surprisingly, though, the competition was far more heated for the Bill Snyder Commemorative Golden Skirt Award for Pansy OOC Scheduling, and in the end it came down to a neck-and-neck race between Alabama and South Carolina. But as with their regular-season matchup last year, the Crimson Tide has emerged the winner. Here's their non-SEC slate: September 2, at home against a Hawaii team that will have to travel 5,000 miles just to get to Tuscaloosa; two weeks later, at home against Louisiana-Monroe, 'nuff said; October 7, at home against Duke (though I wait with bated breath for the Tide fans to start trying to convince people this is a real test because Duke is, after all, a BCS-conference team); and October 28, at home against Florida International. For a total of eight home games, which has to be some kind of record. Along with the Golden Skirt trophy, each of Alabama's players will take home a prize package including a Hello Kitty purse, a charm bracelet, and a one-year subscription to Sassy.

Runner-up: South Carolina, who only missed top honors because of their traditional season-ending game against Clemson (a road game this year). The rest of their out-of-conference slate: Wofford, Florida Atlantic, and MTSU. Also, Auburn has officially forfeited any right to whine about a potential BCS snub after booking Washington State (yeah, they kick ass about twice every decade -- 2006 isn't going to be one of those times), Buffalo, Tulane, and Arkansas State. No prize packages for y'all, but . . . what the hell, subscriptions to Sassy all around.

Buffalo, Tulane, and ASU? I feel like I'm in a sassy sandwich!

Intersectional matchup not involving Georgia I'm most looking forward to: Probably Tennessee-Cal, but LSU-Fresno should be a pretty fun one, too. LSU's fans have a rep for being some of the most confrontational in the country, but Pat Hill will be having none of that. (If you need more explanation of what I'm talking about, I've never read a better analogy for Fresno's "fuck it" attitude than Ian's right here.) Plus the inter-conference Rivalry Week matchups like SC-Clemson and Florida-FSU are always good ones. Florida State, in particular, hasn't been able to live without rageahol since last year's rump-thrashing by the Gators. Whether that motivation will be enough to overcome the Sooper Genius playcalling of Jeff Bowden, however, remains to be seen.

Well played, Lavine . . . well played.

I was going to mention something about this weekend incident in which Dick Cheney accidentally capped some dude while hunting, and I was going to make the probably obvious joke about how Cheney must've really been on some kind of rampage if he was intending to shoot Quayle but got a different guy instead -- but first I thought, "You know, I better check to see if anyone else has made that joke already," and then I thought, "If anyone made it, it's Matt Lavine," so I went over to Basket Full of Puppies, and . . . sure enough, he already had. Bastard!

Still, I have to give Lavine props for wading into the FreeRepublic forums to gauge the nutcase right-winger reaction to the incident -- which is certainly more than I would've bothered to do -- which reveals that the Freepers managed to wait 65 entire posts before re-accusing Hillary Clinton of assassinating Vince Foster, 69 posts before fantasizing about George W. Bush shooting Cindy Sheehan . . . and 66 before the light bulb went on and someone made a Quayle joke. I'm telling you, six years of complete Republican control in Washington have made the Freepers complacent -- those guys are slipping.

Friday, February 10

The only time in my life I'll ever play Fashion Police.

Thanks to TBOGG I've been having fun the last couple days browsing through Go Fug Yourself's archives of rampant, unchecked celebrity bad taste; and I knew this was the kind of thing baby sis would be all over, given that it plugs right into both her day job (fashion journalism) and her after-hours hobby (merciless snarking).

Still, both GFY and baby sis approach this topic from the women-critiquing-women angle, and while they're certainly the ones most qualified to do so, that doesn't mean a man (like myself, for instance) can't get in on the belittlement, too. Because -- at the risk of sounding horribly sexist here -- when a woman gets all dressed up to go out, there's a good chance that at least part of her motivation for doing so is to grab the attention of whatever dudes happen to be out and about that evening. And though GFY and Practically Harmless certainly have enough expertise in the area of fashion to be able to offer reasonably informed opinions as to what guys like and what they don't, the only way you're going to get 100-percent airtight dope on what men think is to ask a man.

So I thought I'd give everyone out there some insight as to what guys don't want to see when they go out to bars, clubs, parties, orgies, whatever to meet women. Now, if you're a female and your purpose for getting dressed up on a Friday or Saturday night is not to pick up a guy -- you're in a stable relationship, you've decided you don't need a man to be happy, you're saving yourself for Jesus, whatever -- then feel free to take all this with a Costco economy-sized grain of salt. Otherwise, pay attention, because I'm trying to help you here, and evidently some of y'all need it. Now, I don't pretend to speak for every single straight man out there, but with most of this stuff I have a feeling I speak for a large majority of them. And I know there's a chance you may see something on this list and be like, "Hey! I wear that pretty regularly and I never have a problem getting guys!", and that may well be the case, but when a guy sizes you up at the bar on a Saturday night, the lack of the following fashion items on your person could mean the difference between "Wow, this looks like a girl I really want to get to know" and "She's hot, I guess -- I just hope I can hit it and sneak out the back door before she asks me my last name." Yes, it's horrible, but we men are just shallow enough that gaucho pants can potentially be the dealbreaker in terms of us ever calling you again.

OK, I've said too much. Let's begin.

1. Mukluks
Every year there's at least one female fashion trend that becomes outrageously popular despite flying in the face of logic, sense, good taste, cultural appropriateness, pretty much everything. This past year, evidently buoyed by the beief that Ugg boots just weren't stupid enough, we have mukluks. Because when you women aren't around, when we guys are sitting around drinking beers and halfheartedly watching an NFL game we're interested in only to see how well our fantasy players are doing, we have conversations just like this: "Man, you know who's hot? Eskimos. God, I would nail an Eskimo in a heartbeat. Those round faces, windburned cheeks, and especially the big bulky furry clothes . . . anytime a National Geographic comes in the mail and the cover story's about the Yukon Territory or Siberia, I practically have to hide it under my mattress."

I mean, I was a little frightened when the absurdly-pointy-toed-shoe trend really started blowing up, because for a while all I could think about was what would happen if I ever had to take a shot in the nuts from one of those. In retrospect, though, I didn't realize how good we had it -- they were a little scary, but after a while they got to looking sexy. Mukluks, it's safe to say, will never be sexy. Particularly in freaking Birmingham, where even in the dead of winter it's rare to see the temperature venture below 45. Rarer still to see enough snow on the ground that you could wear these and not look like you belonged in a padded cell. Ladies, unless your job is transferring you to Ketchikan or Yellowknife, you're better off burning these things for warmth than wearing them.

2. Gaucho pants
Another semiannual trend seems to be that somebody, somewhere, makes a concerted effort to fuck up pants. Pants! After socks, probably the simplest item of clothing ever invented! Simplest and most effective, yet the designers just can't leave well enough freaking alone. First they threw capris at us, cutting pants off just below the knees and thereby flaunting the calves in a way that would leave only 2 percent of the female population looking attractive. When that fizzled out, they made the cuffs so bizarrely wide that they hide a woman's entire foot and leave her looking like a slightly fancier version of the skateboarders I hung out with in the Denny's parking lot when I was in high school. But a few months ago somebody decided to combine the worst features of capri pants and the weird-ass wide-leg trousers and dredge up the gaucho. I'm sorry, but every time I see these, I think, "Damn, someone forgot to change out of their jammies before they left the house." Ladies, is your pop-culture memory that short? Don't you realize what gauchos are? They're a shorter version of Hammer pants. Nine times out of ten I guarantee you that's the first person a guy thinks of when he sees you wearing these. We can't touch this? Maybe not, but we don't want to, either.

3. Jeans tucked into boots
It was casual Friday today, and everyone in my office took advantage by rockin' the jeans. Notably, however, none of us tucked them into anything. I had Timberlands on today, and I didn't tuck my jeans into those; our editorial assistant Cindy had on New Balance running shoes, and they too went unsullied by the tucking of jeans. So why have women everywhere risen up and arbitrarily declared, "OK, but these kinds of shoes are OK to tuck jeans into"? Basically, there are only two kinds of people who should be tucking their pants into their footwear -- cowboys and fishermen. Anyone else just looks like they left New Orleans after the levees broke and they didn't want to get their brand-new Calvin Klein jeans wet. Either that, or they look like they're wearing knickers. And while I'm sure there are guys out there who've had a Great Expectations fetish ever since reading it in high school, that subset is probably not big enough for it to be truly worthwhile to go out in public with the faux-knicker look. You're probably better off just sticking to Internet chat rooms for that kind of thing.

4. Mom Jeans
I can't even begin to describe my utter stupefaction upon learning that high-waist "Mom Jeans" were making a comeback of sorts. I mean, sure, the backlash against low-rise jeans was destined to be dramatic, but dear God, did it have to come to this? As much joy as I derive from making fun of overweight girls muffin-topping around the mall in inappropriately low-rise jeans, I will give that up completely if it means I never have to see another pair of Mom Jeans ever again.

5. Hats of pretty much any kind
I know I'm taking a risk here by issuing such a blanket condemnation, but outside of inclement weather, a funeral, or hair that hasn't been washed in a week, there's really no reason for a woman in the 21st century to go out in public wearing a hat. I think it's because the choice of hats available to women these days just seem so . . . affected, like Madonna trying to pull off that fake-ass British accent. Just sitting there on top of your head, a hat is hard to ignore, and that's the whole point, but there comes a point where you need to start embracing subtlety. A hat is basically the stylistic equivalent of walking around a bar with a megaphone shouting, "Look at me, I'm spunky/British/bohemian/ rugged/blah blah whatever!" OK. WE GET IT. Yet you may be surprised to learn that what you think your hat says about you and what it actually says are rarely, if ever, the same thing:

(a) Cowboy hat
What you think it says: "I'm a wild Western girl who's free to do whatever she wants, and nobody but a rugged man of the open range is fit to take me home!"
What it really says: "I just won third place in a wet T-shirt contest in Panama City."

(b) Newsboy cap
What you think it says: "I'd rather be in the East Village and/or London. That's how you can tell I'm intellectual and stuff."
What it really says: "Hopefully this hides the fact that I haven't washed my hair since Monday."

(c) Bucket hat
What you think it says: "I'm whimsical, cute, and carefree!"
What it really says: "I'm wearing something whose name has the word 'bucket' in it -- you think I still give a shit? Check back with me in a month's time and there'll be 20 more pounds under this thing."

(d) Baseball cap
I have to clarify this one, because in the right environment (a sporting event, the beach) or with the right logo (Georgia, the University of Georgia, UGA, the Bulldogs), girls can actually use this to look cute and spunky while also showing that they can appreciate sports and be one of the guys. Outside of those circumstances, however, see (c).

6. Skirts worn over pants
The fact that I even need to mention how retarded this looks indicates how much we've lost our way as a society. How is it that suspenders and a belt is considered ridiculous, but wearing a skirt over pants is OK? I'm pretty sure that there are senior citizens with Alzheimer's rocking this same look somewhere -- they put on a pair of pants, and then five minutes later they forget they put the pants on, so they throw on a skirt just to be on the safe side. That's what you want to look like?

7. Any item of clothing bearing words like "sexy," "cutie," "hottie," etc.
Rule of thumb, ladies: If Tara Reid's doing it, it's probably a bad idea. Here's another: I don't know who first said it -- I originally heard it from rock critic David Fricke -- but one of my favorite quotes of all time is "Cool don't advertise." In other words, if you have to emblazon a word like "sexy" or "hottie" across your chest (or ass) to convince the world that's what you are, guess what? It's not working. And in the rare instance a guy actually is gazing approvingly at whatever word is written on your shirt, ladies, I guarantee you that whatever you think is printed there, the word he's actually seeing is "EASY."

Boy, I'm glad I got that off my chest, aren't you? Now, you may be sitting there wondering, "Well, that's all well and good, now we know what guys don't want women to wear, but what do they want them to wear?" Duh, a miniskirt, bustier, g-string, and knee-high boots. I mean, I thought that was pretty well established. Or if you want to simplify things, a Playboy Bunny costume will do the trick. Dude, it's not like you can't throw a skirt on over it!