Friday, February 29

Checking out the passenger manifest on the Straight Talk Express.

Ladies and gentlemen, we're hanging a richard into Crazytown.

Barack Obama has never appeared publicly with Louis Farrakhan. He has never endorsed either Farrakhan or the Nation of Islam. As far as I know, he's never even met with Farrakhan one-on-one. Yet because the pastor at Obama's Chicago church has praised Farrakhan in the past, Obama has been called upon repeatedly to distance himself from Farrakhan. Which, in Tuesday night's Democratic debate, he did:

RUSSERT: . . . On Sunday, the headline in your hometown paper, Chicago Tribune: "Louis Farrakhan Backs Obama for President at Nation of Islam Convention in Chicago." Do you accept the support of Louis Farrakhan?

OBAMA: You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments. I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support. He expressed pride in an African-American who seems to be bringing the country together. I obviously can't censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we're not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally with Minister Farrakhan.

RUSSERT: Do you reject his support?

OBAMA: Well, Tim, you know, I can't say to somebody that he can't say that he thinks I'm a good guy. (Laughter.) You know, I -- you know, I -- I have been very clear in my denunciations of him and his past statements, and I think that indicates to the American people what my stance is on those comments. . . .

. . . I have to say I don't see a difference between denouncing and rejecting. There's no formal offer of help from Minister Farrakhan that would involve me rejecting it. But if the word "reject" Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word "denounce," then I'm happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce.

Whatever your opinion on Barack Obama is, you'd have to admit that's a pretty cut-and-dried statement.

So when are we going to get a similarly cut-and-dried statement from straight-talkin' maverick John McCain?

McCain -- as you probably haven't heard, since the media coverage has been negligible -- held a campaign event in San Antonio on Wednesday in which he appeared with John Hagee, founder and pastor of San Antonio's Cornerstone Church. McCain said he was "proud" and "very honored" to receive Hagee's endorsement.

Not familiar with Hagee? Well, here's your chance to familiarize yourself.

Yup, that was the Catholic church Hagee was talking about when he mentioned "the Great Whore of Revelation 17," the "Antichrist system," "the apostate church," a "false cult system" and "Baal worship." And John McCain is "proud" to be associated with this guy.

As a practicing Catholic, of course, I'm personally offended by Hagee's preaching, but my church is hardly the only group he's called out for hellfire and damnation. Two years ago, Hagee said Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment of New Orleans for being overly accepting of gays. In the same interview, he branded all Muslims as killers and said there was no point in negotiating with them. He's denounced the Harry Potter books as contemporary witchcraft. And as far as his feelings about Jewish people, Hagee sounds a lot like, well, Louis Farrakhan.

And this is the man whose endorsement John McCain is "very proud" to have.

The funny thing -- not the funny ha-ha thing, the funny boom-boom thing -- is that over the course of my regularly scheduled blog perusal, I read tons of comments from conservatives grousing about Obama's supposed connections to Farrakhan and saying, "If John McCain had any connections to a nut like this, the liberal media would hang him from a flagpole." Well, guess what, America, John McCain does have connections to a nut just like that -- and nary a peep from the media in 48-plus hours. The only people really bothering to get their respective dander up over this are liberal bloggers like myself and -- cringe -- the Catholic League.

See what you've done, John McCain? I voted for you in the Virginia primary in 2000, and this is how you thank me -- by forcing me to share a common cause with William Donohue. Nice job, assface.

But seriously, it's time for the Washington press corps to get over their love affair with the "maverick" John McCain, and it's time for Mr. Straight Talk to actually get held accountable for something. When talk-radio half-wit Bill Cunningham warmed up a McCain campaign crowd in Ohio earlier this week by shouting borderline slanders of Barack Obama, McCain barely waited for the banners to be taken down at the event before distancing himself from Cunningham. But it's been two days since his appearance with Hagee -- whose bigotry can be discovered in less than 30 seconds' worth of Googling -- and the news of Hagee's endorsement remains proudly displayed on McCain's Web site.

I'm not going to sit here and write McCain off as a bigot, but at best, he's someone who's willing to consort with bigots if he thinks it'll help get him elected. I used to have some respect for McCain and actually believe he was the "maverick" the press portrayed him as, but when I look at him today I see someone who's gotten so fat and happy off his own press clippings that he's decided he can sell his integrity down the river any way he wants and never be taken to task over it. That doesn't demonstrate a whole lot of respect for me or my religion, and it doesn't demonstrate a whole lot of respect for the voters of this country, either.

The Friday Random Ten+5 learns to appreciate the whole person.

It has recently been brought to my attention that I'm -- how do I put this delicately? -- kind of a shallow son of a bitch. I believe this was actually brought to my attention by my sister, pulling no punches, as usual. See, I've been kind of a late bloomer all my life, which is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but it does have its problems, one of which is that you both enter and leave the various stages of life later than everyone else. I, for instance, didn't really gin up the confidence to dive headfirst into the dating scene until I'd almost graduated from college -- and now, nearly a decade later, when most of the men in my peer group are settling down and even having kids, I'm still stuck in the shallow, superficial, chase-after-every-hot-piece-of-ass-you-can-find stage, as if I'm trying to somehow deny that I'm staring down the barrel of the big 3-0.

Well, that milestone arrives in June, so it's about f%$#in' time I started growing up or something. And part of that, as I've explained before, includes learning to appreciate women for their brains and not their boobs. (Well, not just their boobs. Come on, I gotta take it one step at a time here.) Now that I'm doing that and have re-evaluated my worldview a little, trading Maxim for Esquire and the Victoria's Secret catalogue for CNN (not that that means I want to see Wolf Blitzer in a thong, mind you), here's Five Women I Don't Have To Feel Guilty About Having A Crush On:

Cate Edwards
Graduated with honors from Princeton; currently in her second year at Harvard Law School. So progressive she supports gay marriage -- not that sissy "civil union" stuff, the real deal. Looked kind of like Jackie Onassis when she introduced her dad at the 2004 Democratic convention.

Tina Fey
Through her head-writer position at "Saturday Night Live" and her creation of "30 Rock," has established herself as the funniest woman on the planet (yes, even funnier than Peggy Noonan). Graduated with a theatre degree from the University of Virginia, which is, like, the closest thing to a public Ivy League school there is (gotta throw my dad a bone there). Has already earned Hey Jenny Slater's stamp of approval as one of the five hottest "taken" women out there.

Natalie Portman
Was a straight-A student in grade school and reportedly even skipped the premiere of "Star Wars: Episode I" so that she could study for her high-school finals (though it should be said she wasn't missing anything). Graduated from Harvard with a degree in psychology and got several research papers published in scholarly journals. Not only has she put in brilliant performances as everything from a reluctant revolutionary (in "V for Vendetta") to a stripper ("Closer"), but she's actually a pretty awesome gangsta rapper.

Melissa Theuriau
Got an undergraduate degree in communications and then got a master's degree in broadcast journalism. Had a chance to be the anchorwoman of the evening news broadcast on the TF1 network, but passed that up so that she could be the head writer and anchor on "Zone Interdite," an investigative "60 Minutes"-type show on another network, which is actually pretty ballsy when you think about it. Helped launch an international organization that works with UNICEF to educate young girls. And is, of course, the most beautiful woman on the planet.

Yulia Tymoshenko
Successful businesswoman; has a Ph.D. in economics; helped lead the "Orange Revolution" in the Ukraine that overturned a fraudulent runoff election for president in 2004 and continues to be an outspoken voice against the authoritarianism of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Plus she spent several weeks in Kiev's Lukyanivska Prison on trumped-up charges made by her political opponents, so you know she's a badass, people. Was re-elected just a couple months ago to a second term as Ukraine's prime minister.

Of course, looking at these five women and everything they've learned and achieved, it makes me feel completely and totally inadequate . . . but hey, that's just another part of growing up these days.

And now the Ten:

1. Massive Attack, "Be Thankful For What You Got"
2. Beck, "Today Has Been a Fucked Up Day"
3. U2, "Babyface"
4. Nirvana, "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
5. U2, "So Cruel"
6. Miles Davis, "Deception"
7. Ray Charles, "Georgia On My Mind"
8. Sheena E, "The Glamorous Life"
9. The Chemical Brothers, "Setting Sun"
10. Stevie Wonder, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours"

Happy Friday, everyone. Let me hear your own Random Tens (and/or biggest nerd-crushes) in the comments.

Wednesday, February 27

A memo from the desk of Arnold T. Pants, Esq.:
Burning sensations, hot Brits, and an internship even Monica wouldn't take.

Yeah, schmucks, I'm back. Had to go in for a little minor surgery Monday morning -- doctors at UAB Hospital had to remove a cyst from my back that turned out to be a twin I'd partially absorbed in the womb. Apparently the resection process was a little more difficult than it should have been, since the half-developed twin really put up a fight and was clinging onto my spinal cord with its little flipper arms and the docs didn't want to put my central nervous system in danger. But the finally pried the little sucker loose, and we gave my twin, whom I've christened "Danny," a proper burial in the backyard.

It was kinda like this, except dorsal. Kuato-riffic!

OK, everything except the surgery part was a lie. It was just a cyst, nothing special, although they did have to dig pretty deep in there to get it all out, and after a day or two of recuperation, I'm back up to speed, more or less. My back's a little sore, but the worst part of the surgery actually had nothing to do with the incision or the muscles they had to cut into. Kids, do y'all know what a Foley catheter is? Well, it's a latex tube they stick up your johnson before surgery so that you can evacuate your bladder while under general anesthesia without making a big mess. They put it in after you're put to sleep, and they take it out before you wake up, so you're blessedly unaware of all this going on -- but good God almighty, for pretty much the first 72 hours after they yank that thing out, anytime you have to go to the bathroom it feels like you're pissin' razor blades. I'm not trying to gross you out here, I'm just trying to make a blatant, graphic ploy for your sympathy. Hope it worked.

But anyway, everything's just fine other than the fact that my back is really sore and it burns when I pee, which is the aftermath of an average Saturday night for me. So I'll be fine.

This is what it means to be cared for: Your mom comes up the night before your surgery to drive you to the hospital and make sure your dogs don't tear your apartment to bits; she brings you home for the hospital and immediately heads out to pick you up Frappuccinos and Percocet as you fall onto your bed in an anesthesia-induced haze; and when you wake up three hours later, she's scrubbing your kitchen down to the floorboards. The next evening, as you're lying on your couch watching "Bullitt" on DVD and convalescing, there's a knock at your door and it's one of your best friends from work, bringing a pizza and cake that the folks at your office bought for you. If this "karma" thing is real, I owe the rest of the world a pretty long list of good deeds. (Thanks, guys.)

On the subject of "Bullitt," I'd like to give circa-1968 Jacqueline Bissett props for being one of the hottest women ever to grace the silver screen, or any other color of screen, in any era; that, combined with Steve McQueen's monolithic bad-assedness, means that not owning "Bullitt" in some format makes you less of a man.

In my compromised physical state, I had nothing to do Tuesday evening but lie around on the couch and watch MSNBC's coverage of the 3,576th Democratic candidates' debate, and I couldn't help but notice that MSNBC bills itself as "The Place for Politics." However, CNN, throughout its coverage of the 2008 primaries, has made the ballsy declaration that "CNN = Politics." So if both of those are true, does that not mean, then, that MSNBC is the place for CNN?

Music alert: U2 says their 12th studio album will be released this fall; the Pet Shop Boys say they'll put out a new album in early 2009.

Last but not least, those of you looking for summer job opportunities need look no further. You need only answer one question: How wide is your stance?

Sunday, February 24

There will be milkshakes.

For the first time in, well, maybe ever, I have seen all five of a given year's Academy Award nominees for Best Picture before the awards are given out. I completed the -- what? quintifecta? -- Thursday night when I saw "There Will Be Blood" with my friend Michelle.

How do I put this? I would say I didn't get it, but that would be an understatement; "I didn't get it" doesn't accurately portray the plane of not-getting-it I achieved. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say I don't get why so many people are calling it the best movie of the year. I mean, the cinematography was outstanding, and there was some interesting Biblical imagery that definitely merits further discussion, but none of it seemed to add up to much; the pacing was leaden, the character development was negligible, and despite the fact that Daniel Day-Lewis is being talked up as a shoo-in for the Best Actor award, I didn't think his performance was anything special (honestly, the one I was most impressed with were 13-year-old Dillon Freasier, who played Day-Lewis's adopted son).

Of course, this is all just an excuse to post last night's "Saturday Night Live" send-up of several of this year's Best Picture nominees, "There Will Be Blood" featuring most prominently among them.

Personally, I think Day-Lewis's Best Actor candidacy has a lot of holes blown in it by the fact that Bill Hader was able to do such a spot-on impression of him (and with only a week's worth of rehearsal to boot). But your mileage may vary.

Anyway, my vote for Best Picture is still split between "No Country for Old Men" and "Michael Clayton"; it'll be interesting to see which one takes home the statue (or if neither of them do). Anybody got any favorites for the Oscars tonight? Or can anybody explain "There Will Be Blood" to me? The balcony is open . . .

MINOR UPDATE: YouTube totally stole NBC's boyfriend so now NBC won't let YouTube display clips of "SNL" episodes, which means I'm now using NBC's embed-able viewer instead. Whatever.

Friday, February 22

The Friday Random Ten+5 emphasizes the "random."

I'll be honest, the well is pretty dry for the +5 this week (as it's been with pretty much everything else, which you've no doubt noticed), so I'm just throwing some stuff out there. First five things that popped into my head:

Mr. Yuk

Kristen Bell

The Jaguar S-Type

The Boeing 747


I would add something like, "Now find the common thread running through all of these five things," but that'd be cruel. Here's the equally random Ten:

1. Joe Tex, "I Gotcha"
2. R.E.M., "I Wanted to Be Wrong"
3. The Beach Boys, "God Only Knows"
4. Pet Shop Boys, "My Head Is Spinning"
5. Lyrics Born, "I Changed My Mind"
6. The Jazz Jury, "Wake Up"
7. The Beastie Boys, "POW"
8. Pet Shop Boys, "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)"
9. U.N.K.L.E., "Celestial Annihilation"
10. Radiohead, "A Punch Up at a Wedding (No No No No No No No No)"

Put your own Random Tens and/or random free-association streams of consciousness in the comments.

Thursday, February 21

A memo from the desk of Arnold T. Pants, Esq.:
Sincere apologies, dunks gone wrong, and License-Plate Shenanigans, Chapter II.

First of all, my apologies for not having been a more conscientious blogger this week -- I blame a lingering cold-like condition combined with the stresses of breaking in a new puppy whose pissing/pooping schedules don't quite jibe with the previous status quo. Seriously, I've wiped up so much Number One and Number Two off my kitchen floor this past week that I'm up to about Number Seventeen at this point. (Thank God for hardwood, at least.) But don't think for one second that I regret the decision to bring another creature into my home. How can you be mad at faces like these?

Well, there are still ways, actually. But I'm still not giving him back.

One of my favorite links this past week was on205th's compilation of the 22 Worst Dunks Ever. Maybe it's just 'cause I'm not an NBA fan, but I found the amateur home-video f%$#ups to be way funnier than the pros blowing their showboating opportunities in front of thousands of people. In the end, I found the simplicity of #3 to be the most appealing, though I did factor in some extra points for including multiple replays of both the slo-mo and fast-mo varieties:

It's at times like this that I actually breathe a little sigh of relief that I was a completely uncoordinated, unathletic child, because I was aware enough of my own complete ineptitude that I never would've even attempted something like that, much less filmed it. Score one for the dorks.

Then again, there's also the dark side of dorkitude, as exemplified by the shrieky pre-teen MySpace obsessive in this video. I'm not embedding it because I haven't yet decided whether I think it's hilarious or gratuitously cruel, but I would like y'all to offer your opinion on it. Are the older siblings in this video being beyond-the-pale bullies, or is this no worse than the usual intra-family teasing, which makes the little brother an unhinged, whiny little bitch? I lean toward the latter, but again, I'd be interested in hearing your opinion.

Per Senator Blutarsky, we finally have a resolution to the Georgia car-tag brouhaha I rolled my metaphorical eyes at last week: The Georgia state legislature has voted to cease production of special alumni license plates for out-of-state universities. On the one hand, I'd be pulling my hair out as a Georgia constituent over the fact that my state legislature apparently doesn't think it has anything better to do, but on the other hand, at least this is a resolution, and is therefore preferable to the previous situation -- i.e. the state government allowing alumni of other schools to get special tags and then whining like little bitches when people actually take advantage of it. So the law was passed, the highways and byways of Georgia were spared the scourge of special Gator license plates, and nothing bad ever happened again. The End.

Barack Obama: leader, presidential frontrunner . . . Heisman Trophy winner?

OK, not really, but he did visit the UT football team whilst prepping for tonight's debate in Austin, Texas. Kind of a ballsy move, considering that this means he's writing off the Aggie vote just weeks before the all-important Texas primary, but whatever. (Hat tip: EDSBS.)

Sunday, February 17

Weekend Bostonblogging: Two dog night.

Went down to Altadena Valley Animal Hospital with Jenna yesterday . . . and, as threatened, came home with a second Boston terrier.

The new guy's name is Champ.

More pictures to follow eventually.

Friday, February 15

The Friday Random Ten+5 is finna get paid, son.

Six and a half years ago, the Bush administration sent everyone a check for $300 to try and inject some juice into a flagging economy. I thought that was a dumb idea at the time, and in fact I mailed my check back to then-Senator Zell Miller, asking him to forward it along to whatever government agency is in charge of paying down the national debt. In what I now realize I should've recognized as a sign that Zell was heading down the path to incoherent-old-bastardhood, he ignored by instructions and sent the check right back to me, saying it wasn't his money and therefore couldn't do anything with it. (In the end, all three hundred dollars ended up in the hands of the American Red Cross when 9/11 happened just a few days later.)

Now the government has decided to throw another "economic stimulus" our way, only I stand to get $600 this time -- and while there's a part of me that thinks that only makes it twice as stupid an idea as the first one, there's another part of me that's apparently grown rather cynical and mercenary since the fall of '01, because I've been coming up with all kinds of ways of blowing this money that I didn't think of the first time around. Between this and the rather sizable refund I got on my taxes -- yes, I've already filed my 1040 and received my refund, merci beaucoup, TurboTax! -- your homeboy is gonna be makin' it rain out there at the club for the next few months. And by "making it rain" I mean investing wisely in our nation's economy, of course. Here are Five Things I'm Planning On Blowing My Government Stash On In 2008:

Car stereo ($120)
Last month I related to you the strange tale of the cold-induced disintegration of my factory car stereo; well, the ugly, gaping hole in my dashboard has been filled with a Pioneer DEH-3900MP head unit that I found on clearance at Best Buy last weekend. Got the stereo and all the wiring harnesses for only a hundred and twenty bucks, and even got some bonding time with Pops as we soldered wires together and crammed the thing into my dashboard ourselves. Now if I could just fill this ugly, gaping hole in my soul! Oh well.

New pair of shoes ($85)
A few weeks ago I wore my standard semi-dressy brown shoes to work and walked home in a mild rainstorm; I felt my right foot getting soggy as I chugged up the hill on 20th Street, and when I got home, sure enough, there was a nice split in the sole (above) that had been letting my shoe fill up with water. Not being a fan of soaking-wet socks, I think it's time to invest in some new shoes. Though I'll have to bring either a straight woman or a gay man with me when I do, because that's not the kind of style decision I trust myself to make on my own.

Plane ticket to Phoenix ($385)
Since I won't be going to the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer -- ahh, Denver, the Sunshine State -- I can instead sink that cash into a trip to a different destination out West: Tempe, Arizona, where the Bulldogs will be playing Arizona State on September 20. And where they'll hopefully be kicking Rudy Carpenter's bitch ass all over the field. Just because Rudy seems to be auditioning for the role of the White Reggie Ball, though, doesn't mean I don't have all kinds of love for ASU and its fine student body, one of which is pictured above.

"Michael Clayton" DVD ($20)
Left this off my Five Favorite Movies of 2007 list last month because I hadn't seen it yet, but if I had to rewrite that list I'd probably put it in there at #3. Everything Josh said about the movie last fall is true -- George Clooney is incredible in this movie, and the final sequence is mind-blowingly good. Comes out on DVD this coming Tuesday.

And finally . . .

Another Boston terrier ($250)
Yup, Jenna will soon be joined by a little brother. I don't know exactly who it will be yet, but we're going to the Altadena Valley Animal Hospital tomorrow morning to meet some of the dogs that Birmingham Boston Terrier Rescue has available for adoption (a group that includes Pup-Pup, pictured above). Rest assured that the minute we come home with one, the photos will be posted here.

. . . And I'll still have some extra to put toward my goal of having a 42" plasma-screen in my living room by the time football season kicks off. What's that? Rent? Bills? Quit harshing my buzz, picklewipe.

Anyway, the Ten:

1. Bruce Springsteen, "Born in the U.S.A."
2. Pet Shop Boys, "Violence" (Haçienda version)
3. Fatboy Slim, "Star 69"
4. New Order, "1963"
5. Paul Oakenfold, "Mortal"
6. Pet Shop Boys, "Silver Age"
7. R.E.M., "Pop Song 89"
8. The Association, "Never My Love"
9. Madonna, "Material Girl"
10. Pet Shop Boys, "Before" (Danny Tenaglia Twilo dub)

Now it's time for your own Tens -- and your plans for using your gubmint check, if you're getting one, to prop up our sputtering economy -- in the comments.

Thursday, February 14

This Very Special Friday Random Ten is neither special, nor random, nor Friday. Discuss.

Well, it's Valentine's Day again, or as I like to call it, Still Not Getting Laid Day (also known as "Thursday," as well as "Monday," "Friday," "Saturday," "Tuesday," "Sunday" and, well, "Wednesday"). And that means it's time for another one of my Annual Relationship Failure Updates (previous updates hyah and hyah.)

Last spring, I asked out this really cute blond girl who waitressed during Sunday brunch at Cosmo's in my neighborhood. She looked really familiar, and it turned out the place I knew her from was a party I'd gone to the previous Christmas; she was actually the date of one of the guys throwing the party. Now, this guy's a friend of mine, he's a decent guy, but he's even more clueless around women than I am, so I figured maybe I might look like a step up after that. And for a while, it appeared that was the case: We hit it off pretty well on our first date, when we met up for drinks one Saturday night after she got off work, and it turned out her day job was also at UAB, so we had plenty of UAB-related stuff to talk about.

A couple weeks later, we went to see "Ocean's Thirteen," and I asked her what she was doing the following week, and she said she was going to be out of town for a work-related conference all week but we could do something when she got back. I called her when she'd gotten back into town, left a message on her voice-mail, and never heard from her again.

There was this really cute barista at the Starbucks right around the corner from my apartment, and one day I'm working on this big project for the nursing school here, and who shows up but the barista -- she's a nursing student and she's one of the students who's having her picture taken for this project. We chat for a while, I see her a few weekends in a row while I'm getting my Sunday-morning mocha, and one of those weekends I pull the trigger and ask her for her phone number.

Now, figuring out first-date activities has always been a challenge for me, but this time I think I've got a good one: There's a screening of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" at WorkPlay that week, and she says this is one of her favorite movies. So I ask her if she wants to meet me and some friends of mine there for the movie, and she says sure. I figure this is a perfect setup -- interesting activity, it's a group of people as opposed to just her and me, so no pressure -- and everything seems like it's going pretty well. As we're leaving, I tell her that I'm headed to Athens that weekend for the Auburn game, but would like to do something with her when I get back, and she seems receptive to this.

I go to the game, Georgia kicks ass, I come back, I call her, I leave a message on her voice-mail, and never hear from her again.

In between these two, right around the end of spring, I reconnected with a girl I'd actually gone out with a couple years before -- she was a medical student I met through one of the friends I’d made with the Clark campaign back in '04. Anyway, this girl and I really connected on a level deeper than "Heh, she's hot" -- which, and I'll be completely honest here, I have a habit of not setting my sights any higher than that -- and she even defied the odds by going out with me more than once. Many times more than once, in fact! But it was all destined to be cut short, because after a couple months she left to spend a year in Zambia, working with a UAB outreach project in women's and maternal/child health.

It took us a while to hook back up after she returned to the U.S. because she was busy trying to graduate from med school -- which I hear isn't the easiest thing in the world to do -- but we started seeing each other again, hit it off just like we did the first time, and for once I'm dating someone whom I feel completely comfortable with and whom I'm attracted to on far more than just a superficial physical level. Almost like I'm, you know, finally maturing and stuff. So what happens? She graduates from medical school and starts her residency . . . which is at a hospital in Boston. The one in Massachusetts.

So thanks to me being in the right place at the wrong time -- two separate wrong times, if you think about it -- even when something goes right, it doesn't go right. And that has been the Relationship Failure Update for 2008.

And here's the Valentine's Day Not-So-Special, Not-So-Random Ten, my own personal collection of slow jams designed to get you in the mood that I'm usually in when this particular day rolls around on the calendar.

1. DeeJay Punk-Roc, “The World is My Ashtray”
2. Joy Division, “Atrocity Exhibition”
3. Dr. Dre, “Deeez Nuuuts”
4. Dead Milkmen, “If You Love Someone Set Them on Fire”
5. Kaiser Chiefs, “Everyday I Love You Less and Less”
6. The Bloodhound Gang, “You’re Pretty When I’m Drunk”
7. Avenue Q cast, “The Internet Is for Porn”
8. Ween, “Piss Up a Rope”
9. Dead Kennedys, “Forward to Death”
10. Johnny Cash, “Flushed from the Bathroom of Your Heart”

Feel free to commiserate in the comments thread with your own stories of EPIC FAIL in the romance department.

ADDED: Practically Harmless has some other suggestions for how to be civilly disobedient today. Well, maybe scratch the "civilly" part, but whatever.

Wednesday, February 13

Thanks for choosing life! . . . now piss off.

Burleson, Texas, is a Fort Worth suburb located in Johnson and Tarrant counties. These two counties went for Bush by margins of 68%-30% and 61%-37%, respectively, in 2000 and margins of 73%-26% and 62%-37% four years later. Burleson was where the "See You at the Pole" Christian prayer events started in 1990. Alcohol sales were not legalized in Burleson until November 2006. So I think it's safe to say we're talking about a pretty conservative community here.

The kind of community that you'd think would embrace a teenager who went through a situation like this:

Brittani Shipman, a self-proclaimed "wild child," has turned her life around since the birth of her child and is making better grades. The yearbook staff took notice and included her in a yearbook story about two student parents.

. . .

Ms. Shipman said that she originally planned to place her child up for adoption. Once her daughter was born, however, those plans changed and she worked to turn her life around.

"Allow my story to be told; and allow others to benefit from my experiences and what I've accomplished," said Ms. Shipman, who has a 1-year-old daughter.

One would think that in a conservative community like this one, her decision to carry the child to term rather than have an abortion would be applauded. But the principal, Paul Cash, spiked a yearbook article about Miss Shipman and the struggles she was having to overcome in raising a daughter.

Her classmates decided to write about Shipman's story of choices and challenges in the yearbook.

But school administrators said the article would glamorize pre-marital sex and send the wrong message.

When I look at a story like this one, I see a) a tailor-made opportunity for pro-lifers to laud a young girl who chose to keep her baby and b) a cautionary tale for other teenagers who may not really understand how incredibly difficult it is to raise a child. But apparently the school administrators didn't see either of those things.

Superintendent Mark Jackson said the district teaches an abstinence-based curriculum, and that if the yearbook wants to write a story about overcoming obstacles, they may need to find another example.

Ahh, now we see what this is really about: that "abstinence-based curriculum" failed dramatically in at least one instance, and now they want to make sure that instance is kept under wraps.

The Shipman case is a microcosm of everything that is head-slappingly screwed-up about the right wing's attitudes toward sex and pregnancy. Basically, the way they think things should work is this: If you're in high-school, you should only be exposed to an inaccuracy-laden form of sex education that is no more likely to keep you from having sex than other forms of sex ed. When you do go ahead and have sex anyway, chances are you get pregnant, because you never got any accurate information about birth control or contraceptives. Once you get pregnant, you have to carry the child to term, because abortion is wrong -- but even if you do keep the baby, we're still going to shun you and treat you as a leper because you never should've had sex in the first place. And God forbid you work hard, finish your schooling and make something of yourself, because then you're "glamorizing" teen pregnancy and demonstrating to your peers that God doesn't automatically make pregnant teens spontaneously combust in a fireball of shame. Here's a question: How many pregnant teenage girls will see a story like this -- in which another girl did everything she was "supposed" to do in handling her pregnancy, yet still got treated as damaged goods by the Powers That Be -- and figure that, if that's as good as things get when you actually "choose life," they might as well get an abortion?

Of course, working to create circumstances that will actually increase the demand for abortion is nothing new to the right wing. But not only are they working against reducing abortions, they're working against teenagers -- particularly girls -- at every single step of the process. And we wonder why our kids are so messed up? The most galling part of this is that if Brittani Shipman had entered into a shotgun wedding with the father of her child, dropped out of school, moved into a trailer and stayed at home while her husband supported the both of them, the school district would be happier because this problem would've simply swept itself under the rug and they would never have had to muck with it.

I'm not sitting here saying Brittani Shipman's experience is representative of that of all pregnant teens, but it's real life, and maybe there's something in her experience that will switch on a light bulb over the head of some other teenage girl who's heading down her same path. You can either give teenagers the information they need to keep from getting pregnant, or you can go ahead and let them get pregnant but then give them the information and role models they need to keep their lives from going completely down the toilet as a result. Instead, the school administrators in Burleson are sticking their heads in the sand twice: First they ignore that teenagers are having sex whether they like it or not, then they ignore that teens are actually getting pregnant because of it.

And now they're effectively trying to punish Brittani Shipman for succeeding despite not having followed their completely unrealistic, head-in-the-sand plan for how teen sexuality should work. She may have made a mistake, and I think she as much as admits that, but she's breaking with the right-wing storyline that she should be forced to carry that shame around with her forever, no matter what.

One of these days we're going to wise up and put a higher priority on intelligence and actual success than slapping scarlet letters on people. Maybe even in Burleson, Texas. I just hope I'm still around when it happens.

Monday, February 11

With friends like these . . .

First it was Sonny Perdue whining about a headline the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran in the wake of Georgia's bizarre loss to Tennessee in 2006.

A year later, Georgia's Republican-controlled state legislature decided it was going to stick its nose into the world of college football by passing a resolution calling for a college football playoff, not coincidentally a couple months after the 10-2 Georgia Bulldogs were denied a berth in the BCS national title game.

Now, mere days after the expatriate University of Florida alumni community in Georgia followed all the proper legal channels and got UF vanity plates approved by the state Department of Revenue, Georgia's Republican legislators are threatening to yank the tags if Florida's state lege doesn't reciprocate with a Georgia alumni tag.

Look, I've known for a long time that the Georgia state legislature is loaded with complete retards. I was but an apple-cheeked boy of 15 when my AP U.S. history class took a field trip up to Atlanta to watch the state House in session, and when we got back, I wrote, and the rest of the class signed, a lengthy editorial for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer detailing just what a petty, vindictive, ineffectual monkey cage we had sitting underneath the Golden Dome. And it didn't take long to figure out that Sonny Perdue was no prize, either -- yeah, he may have been a walk-on at UGA, but he apparently doesn't even think Georgians can be trusted with the choice of whether to buy alcohol on Sundays or not.

But this latest wave of douchebaggery, as in-character as it may be, is on another plane of embarrassing, because now they're dragging Bulldog Nation into it. Just for the record, hardly any of us Bulldog fans cared what headline the AJC used after that Tennessee loss. We were miffed that Georgia got passed over for a national-title shot, but not enough to want politicians to start regulating college football. And we certainly couldn't give a rat's ass what kind of license plates people put on their cars, particularly since we have the simple rejoinder "42-30" to any UF grad who starts bragging about his Gator tag. But every time Georgia's legions of ass-witted politicians picks some dumb new way to trumpet their love for the Dawgs, it gets headlines all over the place and people all over the country shake their heads at what thin-skinned little bitches we must be.

The Georgia state government has turned into the overbearing parent who storms into the principal's office demanding to know why their kid got a B instead of an A on his term paper, who picks a fight with the coach of the Little League team because his little angel isn't in the starting lineup; meanwhile, the kid is just sitting there looking for a hole he can crawl into, wishing that Mom and Dad would just shut the f%$# up and stop embarrassing him in front of his friends.

Obviously, as someone who doesn't live in Georgia anymore, I don't have as close a connection to the state government as I might, so I don't know why they've spent the last 17 months on this Defend-the-Bulldogs kick. I'm sure a lot of them went to UGA, so maybe they feel like this is their way of sticking up for their alma mater. But to me, it just looks like a lot of dumbass, not-particularly-clever pandering. You think it's any coincidence Sonny threw his hissy fit over the AJC headline just a few weeks before he was up for re-election?

Again, I don't live in Georgia, so I can't speak on behalf of Georgians. But I can speak on behalf of Georgia fans. So Georgia state legislature, I'd like to respectfully ask that you cut this shit out. You're not scoring points with Bulldog Nation; you're just making us look like pussies. And considering that you've already got a drought and a state full of failing schools to deal with, perhaps you should deal with that before indulging your petty get-backs.

Mark Richt and the Dawgs were doing just fine before you started shitting unsolicited bricks on their behalf. They'll do just fine afterward. Holster your legislative guns and quit meddling in their business, or we're going to start seeking out cars with "state legislator" license plates in Athens on game day and keying them to within an inch of their lives.

(A belated hat tip to Senator Blutarsky.)

No, you can't.

The presumptive Republican nominee responds to Will.I.Am.

My concession.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends, distinguished colleagues, homeless people who just kind of wandered up here wondering what was going on: Well, we took the long way home, but we finally got here. (Applause.)

First of all I want to thank each of you for your support in my quest to become an Obama delegate from Alabama's sixth Congressional district, the Fightin' Sixth, and represent our great state at the Democratic National Convention. (Applause, barking-dog noises.) Now, I come here today with a humble heart, because as many of you may have already heard, I was not elected as a delegate from the sixth district. (Booing.) Nor was I chosen as an at-large delegate. (Loud booing.) In fact, of all the men running to be an Obama delegate in my district, I garnered the fewest number of votes. (Lusty booing, a few F-bombs.)

Most people would consider that a complete failure, but I don't, for two reasons. One, if you take that away from me, I don't have much left. And two, however many votes I got or didn't get, this campaign still gave me the opportunity to travel all across the Fightin' Sixth -- mainly the parts within a one-mile radius of my apartment -- and talk to you, the voters, face-to-face. (Applause.) I met rich people and blue-collar workers. I met families, single fathers, single mothers, working mothers, and MILFs. I met Alabama fans (applause, shouts of "Roll Tide") and Auburn fans (applause, shouts of "War Eagle"). OK, seriously, y'all, shut up. I met black people, white people, white guys who like black chicks, and people who are whatever combination of races Tiger Woods is. And I listened to every one of you -- OK, some more than others, but I listened. (Applause, one unidentified girl yells out "I love you.")

I listened to the fellow I met in Five Points the other day who had just come from the VA hospital and told me that he'd spent so much money on his prescriptions that he couldn't even afford a bus ticket home. And that told me, folks, we've got to do a better job of helping the uninsured in this country find better health care. (Applause.) Then he asked me for some money to buy a bus ticket, and I said I didn't have any. And then he was like, "But I just saw you come from that ATM over there," and I was like, "Dude, I got twenty bucks out of it, and I'm not giving you a twenty." (Applause, somewhat softer and less intense than the first applause.)

I listened to a single mom in Homewood who was working two jobs just to get by. In addition to paying for school and health care for a young daughter without the help of decent employment benefits, she was also trying to pay off student loans and deal with three-dollar-a-gallon-gas. And as I slipped a couple singles into her G-string, I thought about how much we need to both continue reducing the tax burden on the middle class and reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil. (Applause, hotel keys thrown up on stage.)

See, there's a lot of fear out there. A lot of unsureness about the future. And of all the places I went and all the people I talked to about my candidacy, one question more than any other was on people's minds: "What exactly are you running for, again?" And when I told them I was running to be an Obama delegate, they had another question: "So is that like someone who casts a vote in the Electoral College?" And I told them, no, that's an elector, a delegate simply casts a vote for a candidate at a party's nominating convention. And some people were confused by that, and that's even before we get into stuff like proportional representation and superdelegates and crap like that. So there's a lot of confusion out there, too, and I stand before you today, folks, to tell you that I'm not done fighting. I'm not done trying to figure all this stuff out. (Applause.) The Fightin' Sixth hasn't heard the last of Doug Gillett. I fully intend to run for delegate at some point in the indeterminate future, and when I do, I promise you here today that I'll be able to do a better job of explaining exactly what the hell it is I'm running for. (Applause, a pair of panties thrown up on the podium.) I'm going to do research, and I'm going to figure out what I would actually be doing if I were to be sent to the Democratic Convention. (Applause, guns fired in the air.)

And with that knowledge and your support behind me, I'm going to hit the campaign trail again. And I'm not just going to bars within walking distance of my house. I'm going to go to Rojo, and Cafe Italia, and Fox & Hound, and the Hooters on 280, and Innisfree, and the hotel bar at the Wynfrey, all the way to Montgomery! YEEEAARRRGGGHHHHHH!

(Stunned, almost robotic applause; candidate stumbles awkwardly off stage.)

Thursday, February 7

The Friday Random Ten+5 extends a helping hand to the GOP.

So the Mittster has dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, the race has all but been dropped into John McCain's lap, and some hard-core right-wingers are a little upset about this. Many of them, I'm sure, will hold their noses and vote for McCain in November anyway, if only to forestall the possibility of a Hillary Clinton presidency, but others are still prepare to fight tooth and nail to get a "true conservative" (whatever the hell that means these days) into the White House.

And whereas I would've just sat back and laughed at these folks before, I'm taking my man Barack Obama's message of bipartisan cooperation to heart and giving them some assistance. It's not too late to throw one last challenge at McCain in the GOP race, guys. This week's +5 is Five People The Right Wing Could Nominate Instead Of John McCain:

Jack Donaghy
He's confident, he's ruthless, he singlehandedly turned around GE's microwave-oven division; who's to say he can't turn around a country? And after his brief fling with Democratic Congresswoman Celeste Cunningham, he's even made just enough inroads on the Left to push some legislation through in a hurry and get things done. He's bow-hunted polar bears, he once drove a rental car into the Hudson to practice escaping, he's showered with Greta Van Susteren . . . he can handle running the most powerful country in the world.

Chuck Norris
His qualifications for the job, of course, have already been laid out in painstaking detail. And his close association with Mike Huckabee -- did Huck make a single campaign appearance in either Iowa or New Hampshire without Chuck Norris standing right behind him? -- means he's already made some major inroads into the halls of GOP power. Be honest, Huckabee supporters, the only reason you voted for Huckabee to begin with was because you thought he was going to name Chuck his VP.

Jim Tressel
Hails from a state that's gone red in the last two elections; perennially strong on defense; reliably conservative on offense. A proven winner, he owns the Midwest and Upper Great Lakes regions. His only weakness is that he's certain to get annihilated by any opponent who hails from south of the Mason-Dixon Line, but since the two remaining Democrats are from Illinois and New York, even that won't be a problem.

Ronald Reagan's reanimated corpse
The current crop of candidates mentions his name every other goddamn sentence in their stump speeches, you figure somebody's probably come up with this idea already. Ironically, though, the Repubs will almost certainly have to overcome their obsession with stem cells to make this one a reality. And finally . . .

Hillary Clinton
Demonize her all you want, Republicans, but in your heart of hearts, y'all know that your best days were when she and Bill were in the White House. It was when they left and y'all were running things for yourselves that you started f%$#ing things up like it was your job. If nothing else, this move would bring new hope and a sense of purpose to the lifeblood of your party, right-wing talk radio; nobody wants to hear Rush Limbaugh whine about how John McCain isn't conservative enough for the next four years, but man, if y'all nominated Hillary and made it a Clinton-Obama general election, your talk-radio nut jobs could spend the rest of the year bashing two Democrats and not have to come up with any new ideas on their own, which, be honest, they probably didn't have anyway. And then whichever one gets elected, you can rail against them 24/7 on the radio and it'll be just like the salad days of the mid-'90s again.

And now the Ten:

1. Thievery Corporation, "Encounter in Bahia"
2. Zero 7, "Destiny"
3. Dead Kennedys, "Kill the Poor"
4. Deep Forest and Peter Gabriel, "While the Earth Sleeps" (long version)
5. Beck, "Hell Yes"
6. Orbital, "Chime" (7" version)
7. A Tribe Called Quest, "What Really Goes On"
8. Depeche Mode, "I Feel You"
9. Talisman & Hudson, "Leave Planet Earth"
10. The Clash, "Career Opportunities"

Leave your own Tens, and your suggestions for the Repubs if you have 'em, in the comments.

Exit Mittens, stage right.

See ya, wouldn't want to be ya.

Some of my fellow libs said that Mitt Romney was the most palatable of the Republican candidates for president this year; I can't say I shared that opinion. I certainly think he would've been the easiest to run against in November, but as far as actually being an acceptable candidate, whatever moderate tendencies Romney had policy-wise -- and upon closer inspection, there were never anywhere near as many as people would have you believe -- were negated by a slick unctuousness that just made my skin crawl every time I looked at him. He was malleable and overly accommodating in a way that always signaled there'd be something unpleasant around the corner: I'm pro-gay rights . . . oh, you say you're anti-gay rights? Then I'm anti-gay rights too! By the way, we're invading Iran in 15 minutes. Some compared him to a used-car salesman, and they weren't wrong; I'd go further and compare him to the creepy second husband that the protagonist should never have gotten together with in all those Lifetime movies. He's nice, he's got a steady job, he's great with your kids and even knows how to speak their language with the hip-hop and the bling-bling and whatever -- maybe his only problem is that he tries a little too hard to be cool. In fact, he's trying so hard to be cool that he's taking your teenage daughter's side against you in arguments, and he seems to be way too eager to drive the girls home from cheerleading practice. And then one day you come home early from work and he's bending your daughter's best friend over the kitchen island.

So anyway, that's my long, rambling way of saying that I'm not exactly weeping over Mittens's departure from the presidential race today:

I disagree with Senator McCain on a number of issues, as you know. But I agree with him on doing whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq, on finding and executing Osama bin Laden, and on eliminating Al Qaeda and terror. If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.

Yup, that's pretty much the tenor of the whole speech. He hits every last flashing red "fear" button: terrorist appeasers, welfare queens, pornographers, homos, they're all coming to take our country away, ho ho, hee hee, oh noes!!!11! He even stoops to some throwaway France-bashing, which is so 2003, even if it elicited the desired Pavlovian response in the two or three remaining Americans who still give a shit about Freedom Fries. (Diss France all you want, Mittens, but if the Citroën DS and the world's hottest newsanchor don't earn a country permanent "superpower" status, then howsabout you tell me what does.)

In spite of the fact that Romney's speech marked an end to a campaign as opposed to a beginning, it was in many ways every bit as hateful and demagogic as Pat Buchanan's infamous keynote address at the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston. Looking back, most now agree that that petty, vitriolic tirade signaled the beginning of the end of the Republicans' 12-year stint in the White House -- and with any luck, Romney's concession speech will signal the beginning of the end of their current eight-year reign.

Plenty of people, at other Web sites and in the comments threads right here on this one, have tried to poke holes in Barack Obama's bipartisan "hope" rhetoric, alternately for being too flowery or just too unlikely. But let me promise you this: If America's choice in 2008 comes down to picking between Obama's rhetoric and the hate and fear Romney tried to sow at CPAC today, Obama's going to win and it won't even be close. The bipartisanship Obama has espoused, I think, has been misunderstood by a lot of people: He's not trying to bring an end to disagreement, he's simply trying to bring an end to the spiteful, demonizing way those disagreements have been expressed over the last decade-plus. Mitt Romney, evidently, doesn't want to do that. But the thing about that kind of ad hominem, fearmongering strategy is that people really get fatigued by it after a while, and in 2006 that fatigue was strong enough for the American public to turn the Republican practitioners of that strategy out of Congress en masse. Is that the kind of strategy that Mitt really wants to stick with? I guarantee you, fellas, if America faces a choice between "let's dial the hate back and see if we can't come together a little" and "no, let's get our hate on for another four years," they're going with the former.

I realize that the very event this speech was meant to announce renders the relevance of these criticisms somewhat marginal, seeing as how Mittens isn't even in the race anymore. But it's up to presumptive Republican nominee John McCain to decide whether he wants Mittens's tone to be the tone of his own campaign. He would do well to note that while that kind of brimstone played real well with the far right wing and the Rush Limbaughs of the world -- those who have, not coincidentally, laid into McCain for being "too liberal" -- it obviously didn't play too well with the actual average Joes and Josephines of the Republican Party, or else Mittens wouldn't be backing out of the race right now.

So America's choice is your choice too, Sen. McCain -- get your hate on and throw some read meat to a right-wing base that apparently isn't nearly as powerful as it thinks it is, or turn the page and do your part to bring a little unity to this country for the first time in a long while. But if I may offer a little rule of thumb here, following Mitt Romney's lead doesn't exactly seem to be the path to success in this election, does it?

I'll take "anal bum cover" for $200, Alex.

Before anyone asks -- and I know your heart is going pitter-pat waiting for the answer -- I don't know yet whether I'm going to be a delegate to the DNC. Hey, we're not an organized political party, we're Democrats! (Thank you, I'll be here all week.) Rest assured I'll post something up here as soon as I know something one way or the other, but in the meantime, you're welcome to obsessively check the Alabama Democratic Party Web site every 15 minutes for updates (not that I've been doing that for the last two days).

You're also welcome to take a look at some of the album covers that people put together in response to this post (which is basically just continuing the idea originally posted here). First, a few more of mine:

And now . . . Camel:

Whirl, who has a hell of a band name:

A couple good ones from DAve:




Interestingly, I can picture myself thumbing through any of these while killing time at Wuxtry Records on Clayton Street in Athens circa 1996. More linked in the comments thread here.

Keep sending me links to whatever you've created; this is lots of fun when you're bored -- which, now that the Alabama primary campaign is over, I'm sure I will frequently be over the next few weeks.

Monday, February 4

Don't forget:
Vote for Barack! (And Yours Truly.)

Obama/Gillett: Your winning team in '08. Seriously, we could be twins.

This is just a reminder for everyone out there in SuperTuesdayLand to get out there tomorrow and vote, preferably for Barack Obama -- and if you're one of the lucky so-and-sos who happen to live in Alabama's 6th congressional district (which includes suburban Birmingham and Shelby, Chilton, Bibb, and northern Tuscaloosa counties; check your local listings), you can vote for me as an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

If you vote for me, I promise not to embarrass myself or my state at the DNC. I know that sounds like an impossible dream, but hey, this campaign's all about hope, right?

For reals, no matter which party or candidate you're behind, go vote. This might just be the most important election of my lifetime, and it's too important for you not to have a say in it.

A memo from the desk of Arnold T. Pants, Esq.

(This is the new name of the occasional Mystery Meat feature, by the way. First commenter who can tell me who Arnold T. Pants is gets a prize, which is . . . the joy of a greater mastery of obscure trivia than other people's, I guess.)

Photo boosted from Busted Coverage.

· Eli Manning, I owe you an apology, and I take back every bad thing I ever said about you. That scramble-to-evade-a-sack-and-then-throw-a-45-yard-pass play was the kind of thing that gives birth to legends, but even if there hadn't been any eye-popping plays like that, I can promise you, Eli, the rest of the country would still be willing to confer legend status upon you simply because you've saved us from having to watch the Patriots get fellated for the next 12 months. Seriously, Boston sports fans, it took you 85 years to gain our sympathy but only four years to become unbelievably annoying. As for me, I've foregone my usual morning coffee today for a nice tall glass of Bill Simmons's tears.

· If y'all live in one of the Super Tuesday states, you may have noticed that Barack Obama aired a campaign ad during the second quarter of the Super Bowl. Maybe one of my readers with a greater knowledge of media history than I have can answer this for me -- has a presidential campaign ad ever aired during the Super Bowl before? This one seemed like a first, probably because the Super Bowl was held later in the year than ever before while the primary season has kicked into gear earlier than ever, but maybe one of y'all can tell me about another one.

· As for the rest of the Super Bowl ads, they were better than last year, but still mostly sucked; I did, however, like the ones for Bridgestone tires and the "carrier pigeon" FedEx spot, which bucked the long-established trend that any Super Bowl ads featuring animals given humanoid characteristics are 78% more likely to suck than a comparable non-critter ad. And, of course, I enjoyed the Victoria's Secret ads. Sometimes simplicity is better; you don't need a clever joke or a lot of CGI, you just need a supermodel in her undies.

· On that note, she didn't appear in the Super Bowl spots, but the Victoria's Secret newbie pictured above, Candice Swanepoel, was brought to my attention over the weekend; apparently she hails from South Africa or something. Here's another challenge for you readers: correctly pronouncing her last name. (Just for the record, I don't know how to do it. Your guess is as good as mine.)

Separated at birth?

· Now that Britney Spears is in the hospital once again and her pal Sam Lutfi has been handed yet another restraining order, I think it's time to address Mr. Lutfi directly: John Travolta from "Swordfish" called, and he wants his chin-gina back.

· One last thing: Go vote tomorrow, schmucks.