Friday, February 27

The Friday Random Ten+5 gets wistful about ground beef.

So two days ago was Ash Wednesday, when dirty Papists like Yours Truly went to church to get a right good humbling (both from the priest who reminded us that we're all going to return to dust and the random pedestrians about town who were like, "Ew, what's that thing on your forehead?"), marking the start of Lent for another year. The list of stuff I'm giving up this year is pretty much the same as last year's, with one change -- I'm giving up red meat instead of heroin. (Oh, I gots to have my sweet, sweet heroin.)

That's actually not a huge sacrifice for me in the grand scheme of things, since I don't actually eat that much red meat unless I'm going out to a restaurant or something. On the other hand, I do have to walk by a Ruby Tuesday on my way home from work every day, and resisting the fragrant lure of Ruby Minis and onion straws wafting out of that place is gonna be a challenge. Just to torture myself, this week's +5 is the Five Best Burgers I've Ever Had In My Life.

Chez Fon Fon, Birmingham, Alabama
This is one of three restaurants in town run by world-renowned chef Frank Stitt, and it might sound like kind of a foofy place to get a burger, of all things, but I promise it's worth it. This is where I went Tuesday night to enjoy a last evening of gluttony and decadence before Lent started -- cheeseburger, French fries (which are also fantastic there), and a steady stream of vodka martinis. One of the best hangovers ever.

Brick Store Pub, Decatur, Georgia
Listed as one of Forbes magazine's "Best American Beer Bars," and not without reason: They have a list of high-alcohol-content Belgian beers that runs into the hundreds, along with a Scotch list that's nearly as long. But they also have a pretty good selection of pub food, including a juicy cheeseburger served on challah rolls handmade by angels.

The Burly Earl, Birmingham, Alabama
This place is right down 7th Avenue from my office, and sadly, it appears to have closed -- whether just temporarily or for good, I don't know, but either way it's kind of hard to figure since this place always seemed to be packed at lunchtime. Their very simple, no-nonsense bacon cheeseburger is/was an excellent hangover cure, and their steak fries aren't bad either.

Cavalier Store, Lynchburg, Virginia
The overwhelming majority of the reviews I saw of this place on the Web bemoan its stand-offish, sometimes surly service, which kind of made me laugh -- it can be kind of intimidating if you're wandering in there for the first time, but if you've lived in Lynchburg for a few months and have achieved the status of "regular," the staff is perfectly fine and will take care of you in a hurry. Fantastic burgers, steaming-hot potato wedges (which are great with ranch dressing), and they also had a few pool tables where I spent many, many hours in 1999 and 2000, guzzling cheap beer and trying to forget that I lived in Jerry Falwell's backyard.

Texas Inn, Lynchburg, Virginia
Right down Rivermont Avenue from the Cavalier, just on the edge of downtown Lynchburg, is a goofy-looking blue-roofed building called the Texas Inn, which is not a motel but rather a diner-style restaurant that serves up one of the greatest innovations in burger history: the Cheesy Western. The Cheesy Western is about the size of a regular hamburger from McDonald's, but it has a slice of cheese, a dollop of hot onion relish, and -- the crowning touch -- a fried egg on top. On fall weekends in the L-boogie when I had nothing to do but sit around and watch football, I'd head to the Texas Inn (or the T-Room, as the locals called it), pick up a couple Cheesy Westerns to go, grab a six-pack on the way home, and consume the whole lot of it in front of a steady stream of games on TV. I shudder to think of how many calories I consumed per sitting doing that, but that was back in the days when I was running four miles every morning and wasn't the lazy tub of goo I am now, so I don't feel too guilty about it.

And now the Ten:

1. Talking Heads, "Psycho Killer"
2. Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton, "Our Hell"
3. Bill Withers, "Ain't No Sunshine"
4. Fatboy Slim and Earth, Wind & Fire, "September/The Joker"
5. Pet Shop Boys, "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk" (live from the Aerial Theatre, Houston)
6. Pet Shop Boys, "London" (Thee Radikal Dub)
7. Chemical Brothers, "Marvo Ging"
8. Johnny Cash, "The Long Black Veil"
9. Pet Shop Boys, "Paninaro '95"
10. Dr. Octagon, "No Awareness"

Did I leave any vital burger joints off this list? Let me know if I did (and put your own Random Tens in the comments while you're at it).

Thursday, February 26

Switching gears: a serious question.

What's so great about owning a home?

I mean, "home ownership" is held up as this be-all, end-all goal of life in American society, but why? What's so great about "owning" a pile of bricks somewhere that you're probably never really going to "own" because it's gonna take you 15-30 years to pay it off and fewer and fewer people stay in one place for that long these days to begin with? Why do we use "home ownership" as an indicator of a strong economy, particularly when, as we've seen over the last few years, that statistic includes people who end up not being able to actually afford their homes at all and get foreclosed on and put the economy in worse shape down the road? And why in the world should someone like, say, a 30-year-old single male with a stable income have any interest whatsoever in dumping money into a house right now?

What's the difference between someone who takes out a mortgage on a $250,000 house that ends up getting foreclosed, and someone who puts a down payment on, say, a Bentley Continental Flying Spur that ends up getting repossessed because he can't make the payments? Somehow the latter individual would be ridiculed as a complete nutcase, but the former person is someone we're told we should feel sorry for because they were just trying to live the American dream. But aren't they both living wildly beyond their means? Why is one considered an extravagance and the other considered a necessity?

I know, I know, one's a ridiculous luxury car and the other's shelter, a basic human necessity, blah blah blah, but I've been paying rent on the same apartment for the last six and a half years and have done just fine in terms of maintaining a consistent roof over my head, thanks. And while I don't "own" any more of my little corner of heaven than I did when I plunked down my security deposit back in October 2002, nor have I had to watch a third (or more) of my "equity" (whatever the hell that is) disappear because real-estate prices went in the tank. I'm sure if I actually had bothered to buy a house in Birmingham back in 2002, rather than going straight to the apartment finder, I'd probably be opening a vein right now.

Yeah, one of these days I'll start a family and settle down in a place that I feel like staying in for a decade or two, and maybe then I'll look a little more deeply into this "home ownership" thing, but at the moment, my decision to remain feckless and untethered is looking smarter and smarter, even if it does mean wiping my ass with a rent check every month. Least I'm not getting my house taken back by a bank and having my possessions thrown out on the street. Seriously, though, what do y'all think? Am I completely missing something here?

Wednesday, February 25

The simple things.

If you've never met me in person before but are curious as to how well we'd get along if you did, the answer is it'd probably be in direct proportion to how awesome you find this.

BOOMBOX from Ely Kim on Vimeo.

A little more info here; towering home-run shot of a playlist here.

Monday, February 23

Olive Garden Confidential: The Lost Episodes X.

Hate the "Olive Garden Confidential" series with every fiber of your being? If so, then you're in luck -- this is the last installment, at least until someone throws me some embeddable video I haven't used yet. I'm particularly interested in the ad where the dad takes the daughter and all her college roommates to Olive Garden. Oh, there's gonna be a great one for that. Until that glorious day, though, here's the 10th and (for right now) final installment in the series, "Maturity."

(As always, watch the original here first.)

SCOTT: Little brother: first bowl -- always alfredo.

KEVIN: Meat sauce.

SCOTT: Alfredo!

LITTLE BROTHER: Yeah, yeah. When are you gonna teach me how to get a girl to show me her boobs?

SCOTT: What???

LITTLE BROTHER: I want to know how to score chicks, 'cause I want to see their boobs. (awkward pause) You told me you were bringing me here to give me some brotherly advice -- you didn't mean you were going to advise me on choosing pasta dishes, did you?

SCOTT: Uh, yeah . . . that's all we were going to do.

LITTLE BROTHER: Great. I'll be a virgin until I'm 35, but at least I'll know what sauce to order until then. Thanks for nothing, you Kirk-Cameron-looking motherfucker.

ANNOUNCER: Olive Garden's Never-Ending Pasta Bowl, with new five-cheese marinara! Pick any sauce and pasta combination, then another, just $7.95. Have all you want.

LITTLE BROTHER: All right, fine, I'll try the five-cheese marinara.

SCOTT and KEVIN: (in high-pitched unison) Where did you see that?!?

LITTLE BROTHER: (shaking head sadly) What a couple of queers.

ANNOUNCER: At Olive Garden, when you're here, you're family!

. . . Readers?

Instead of deferring to my grandmother on this one, I'm putting the question to you, Bulldog Nation:

So should I try and add him? Personally, I think Kiffin would be thrilled to finally sign someone from Alabama.

Thursday, February 19

Uga VII, Hugo 8.

Started as a riff on this and predictably spiraled out of control. So blame Blutarsky.

VERNE LUNDQUIST: We're back with the start of the fourth quarter here in Maturín, Venezuela, where the Venezuelan government has graciously invited the Georgia Bulldogs to play their entire home schedule in 2009 -- and the Dawgs have, uh, risen to the occasion, leading the Gamecocks of South Carolina sixty-three to nothing, though I think most of the people on either side here at Estadio Monumental de Maturín would have to agree that the Dawgs have built that lead through some . . . pretty creative application of the rules, wouldn't you agree, partner?

GARY DANIELSON: Yeah, president Hugo Chavez has been a pretty constant presence on the Georgia sideline the entire game -- you can see him there conferring with Mark Richt -- and he's also been shadowing the referees pretty closely. I can't think of a single call when he hasn't been standing right by the referees, and even conferencing with them in a lot of cases -- and you know Steve Spurrier is just livid about that, but honestly it just doesn't look like there's a lot he can do.

LUNDQUIST: At the start of the fourth, Dawgs have the ball at the Carolina 17 after a long punt return by Prince Miller -- refs originally put the Dawgs back deep in their own territory after a block-in-the-back penalty, but that penalty was overturned after another one of those "conferences" with Chavez. First-and-10 now, Dawgs in the I, A.J. Green split wide at the bottom of your screen. Logan Gray takes the snap from under center, he's looking, nobody open, cuts back to his left, one man nearly gets a hand on him, but Gray is scrambling -- looks right, ball is in the air -- CAUGHT by Green in the end zone! Touchdown, Georgia, if it stands -- ohhh, but there's a flag.

DANIELSON: Yeah, number 96, Clifton Geathers, was pretty obviously held by Cordy Glenn on that play, Glenn had both hands on the back of Geathers' jersey.

LUNDQUIST: Let's go down to Penn Wagers and see what the call is.

PENN WAGERS: Holding, number 71 on the offense, that's 10 yards from the spot of the foul, repeat -- uh, excuse me, sir, sir --

LUNDQUIST: Oh, my, President Chavez is out on the field, and he does not look happy. Very forceful, uh, "conference" there with Wagers, and now it looks like two bodyguards -- well, we don't know that they're bodyguards, but they're armed -- are coming to back Chavez up. Wagers is waving his arms, uh, all right, here's the call.

WAGERS: Uh, upon further review, we have a, uh, the quarterback was outside the tackle box and the offensive lineman in question released the jersey with his, uh --

HUGO CHAVEZ (muffled): ¡Mano derecha!

WAGERS: -- uh, right hand, therefore there is no flag, the touchdown is good.

LUNDQUIST: Wow. Wah-how! Quarterback was outside the tackle box, offensive lineman had both hands on the defender's jersey but released with his right hand, therefore there's no holding penalty -- Gary, are you familiar with this?

DANIELSON: No I am not, Verne, and it looks like this is another one of those "artful" interpretations of the rules that you were referring to. We've seen a lot of those from Chavez today.

LUNDQUIST: Well, whatever his reasoning was, the touchdown will stand, and the Dawgs are on now for the extra point. Walsh's kick is up, and it is good -- with fourteen-fifty left in the fourth quarter, Georgia now leads 70 to nothing, and with that kick by Walsh, the Dawgs have scored their highest point total since beating Northeast Louisiana 70 to 6 on September 17, 1994.

DANIELSON: And that's with nearly a full quarter left to go!

LUNDQUIST: That's right.

DANIELSON: And the thing is, Georgia's offense hasn't looked bad out there today -- Joe Cox had a good day, Caleb King has had a pretty good day, but the one really imposing his will out there on the field is Chavez. I mean, he's been like a 12th man out there for Georgia nearly the entire game, and South Carolina just hasn't had an answer for him.

LUNDQUIST: And you can see the frustration in the face of Steve Spurrier -- he didn't want to come down here to play this game, lobbied against it, but came anyway under threat of forfeit, and now it looks like his Gamecocks are going to go home smarting from their worst defeat in quite some time. Not how the Ol' Ballcoach wanted to kick off a make-or-break SEC season with this young team of his. All right, Georgia set to kick off once again, and -- they're at midfield again, I'm assuming this is a result of President Chavez's new rule that teams who score touchdowns get to kick off from the 50. Walsh boots a line drive, and not surprisingly, it's out of the end zone, so a touchback for the Gamecocks, they'll start at the -- well, their own 20. Interesting, Chavez made them start from the 5 the last time that happened. An unusual bit of charity there from El Presidente.

DANIELSON: Yeah, and you're kind of seeing the unpredictability that Chavez brings to this game -- South Carolina just never seems to know what he's going to do next, and that's really hurt them out there today.

LUNDQUIST: Well, it looks like Stephen Garcia will be the quarterback for this series -- and the redshirt sophomore from Tampa has not had a good day: 2-of-39 for 15 yards and five interceptions, and get this, he's had seventeen completions negated by offensive pass-interference penalties. Now, that has to be some kind of record.

DANIELSON: Yeah, we knew South Carolina's receiving corps was gonna be a bit of a liability early in the season with Kenny McKinley and Jared Cook both gone, but the receivers just have not helped out their QB today. Now, a lot of that certainly has to do with Chavez's influence, but still, not a performance Steve Spurrier is going to be very happy about on the ride home.

LUNDQUIST: First and 10 now, Gamecocks at their own 20, Brian Maddox the lone setback, Garcia in the shotgun. Garcia takes it, drops back, launches it deep, and -- oh, wide open in the middle of the field is Jason Barnes, who slips one defender and makes it down to the Georgia 16 before being brought down by Bryan Evans. Sixty-four-yard pass play from Garcia and the Gamecocks are in business deep in Georgia territory.

DANIELSON: And you see here on the replay, it looks like there was some miscommunication between the Georgia defenders on that side of the field, because Quintin Banks, the safety, is covering Barnes right here but then he breaks off to cover number 83, I don't think he knew Brandon Boykin had number 83 in the flat. That leaves Barnes to just head straight up the middle of the field, and the pass from Garcia is right on the money. Well, you can say one thing for the Ol' Ballcoach, he's not giving up, in spite of all the obstacles, to be dialin' up a play like that --

LUNDQUIST: So it's first and 10, Gamecocks, at the Georgia 16, and the play clock's already down to -- oh, good gracious, they're gonna have to burn a time-out here --

DANIELSON: Where's the quarterback? There's only 10 South Carolina players on the field, and I don't even see Garcia on the field --

LUNDQUIST: Part of their problem, of course, is that the play clock has been cut down to 15 seconds for the visiting team, but still, no sign of Stephen Garcia anywhere, and now Spurrier is sending -- Aramis Hillary, the sophomore from North Augusta, out onto the field.

DANIELSON: Did Garcia get hurt or something on that play? It didn't look like anyone got a finger on him.

LUNDQUIST: Let's go down to Tracy Wolfson on the field, who can maybe shed some light on this for us. Tracy, what have you got for us?

TRACY WOLFSON: Guys, shortly after the last play was over, Garcia was running up the field for the next play but only made it to about the 40 before a couple of official-looking gentlemen came and escorted him off the field. I'm told that they were with the General Intelligence Office of Venezuela, and folks down here say they don't know where Garcia is being taken, but that he'll be fine, they probably just want to ask him a —

VENEZUELAN LAW-ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL: No pictures. No pictures. Everything is fine. You come stand over here, please.

WOLFSON: Uh — OK. OK. Anyway, uh, the point is I wouldn't expect to see Garcia back on the field today. Verne?

LUNDQUIST: Mmmm. Another tough break for South Carolina and the Ol' Ballcoach, who's taken a time out here to try and sort things out. Probably not a bad idea, and we'll take it with them, as the Georgia Bulldogs appear to have things well in hand, 70 to nothing over South Carolina. We'll be back to Maturín, Venezuela, after a word from our sponsors.

Hello, Amazon wish list.

Could it really be this easy? If so, I'm there.

(From Oddee, via Losers With Socks.)

Wednesday, February 18

Start snitchin'.

Fresh off four brilliant months of giving resolutely awful gambling advice over at Dr. Saturday's Yahoo/Rivals joint, I'm going to have a new focus in the off-season: Calling out the nation's sports columnists and pundits for being complete 'tards. Each week I'll be picking on a handful of CFB pundits for dumb predictions, facile analysis, and general rickety logic, and (hopefully) targeting one of them for "dunce of the week" honors.

Fish in a barrel, I know, and it's got to be easier than picking against the spread, but I'm still gonna need y'all's help. I mean, in theory, I could just shred a Matt Hayes column each week, but that wouldn't be fun for anyone, would it? I can maintain a pretty solid handle on the national columnists from the big networks and magazines, but it's harder to keep track of, say, all the local newspaper columnists out there (damn you, pesky day job), nor can I read nearly as many blogs as I'd like to on a daily basis. So consider the Hey Jenny Slater Dumb Punditry Tip Line open: If you read a bad idea, ridiculous prediction, or simple logic-free, ass-out-of-you-and-me-assumption from anyone on college football, whether it's a fill-in guy for the Chinstrap Valley Daily Tribune or a regular on, e-mail me about it, and if it's dumb enough it'll make the final cut.

No cash for tips, sadly -- your virtue will have to be its own reward -- but if you somehow manage to come up with, say, some pictures of Paul Finebaum in a dress, I might be able to pony up a couple bucks for that.

Olive Garden Confidential: The Lost Episodes IX.

One more in the never-ending series of glimpses inside the seedy underbelly of the supposedly friendly conversations that go on over stuffed shells and alfredo sauce at the O.G. Today's haunting installment: "Regression."

(First, as always, watch the original commercial here.)

WENDY: Mmmmm, this alfredo reminds me of Mom's secret recipe. Oh, which she told me, by the way.

BEN: Yep, she told me too.

ALAN: Me too.

LUKE: Me too.

WENDY: No way. She told me I was the only one who knew!

BEN: Yeah, she's been saying a lot of stuff like that lately.

WENDY: What do you mean?

BEN: Well, ever since her Alzheimer's really started taking a turn for the worse, she can barely remember what she had for breakfast, much less who she gave her "secret" alfredo recipe to.

WENDY: Wait. Mom has Alzheimer's?

BEN: Uh . . . yeah. She got the diagnosis, like, nine months ago?

WENDY: Oh my God, Ben! When were you going to tell me about this?

ALAN: We called you the day her test results came back, only you were in St. Bart's with your rich producer boyfriend and couldn't be reached.

LUKE: And we sent, like, a ton of e-mails.

WENDY: Oh, jeez, uh . . . well, I guess my, uh, spam filter at work must've caught them . . .

BEN: Uh-huh.

ANNOUNCER: It's Olive Garden's new Shrimp Scampi Alfredo, with herb-seasoned shrimp and our homemade alfredo sauce. Or, try our delicious Grilled Chicken Alfredo -- two great alfredos, both served with warm breadsticks and our endless salad.

WENDY: Well, she did tell me once I was her favorite child.

BEN: Me too.

ALAN: Me too.

LUKE: Heard her say it to one of the nurses at the hospital the other day.

BEN: She even said it to Oscar the last time I was home.

WENDY: Wait, the dog?

ANNOUNCER: Olive Garden. When you're here, you're family!

Monday, February 16

In which this blog gets used for something worthwhile for once.

If you've been reading this blog for any significant length of time, your impression of me (assuming you do impressions) is probably that of a cranky, profane, self-absorbed douchebag who spends all his time bitching about Georgia football or popping off at the Republican party. And don't get me wrong, you've pretty much pegged me, but it might surprise you to know that in my non-blogging time I actually do some respectable things. For about a year now, for instance, I've been the chair of the junior board of Magic Moments, a non-profit, non-partisan charity that grants "wishes" for kids here in Alabama with fatal or life-altering illnesses. (First person who says living in Alabama is its own life-altering illness gets a computer virus sent to them.) Each year we meet with as many as 200 kids and send them to Disneyworld, take them on shopping sprees, take them to meet their favorite star athletes (like we did with Matthew, shown above meeting Peyton Manning), or grant any number of other wishes that give them some nice memories at difficult times in their lives.

This year we're making a concerted effort to expand our grass-roots support through an online fund-raising campaign. The campaign is called the "Magic Mile," and each one of us on the junior and senior boards have set up our own personal fund-raising pages to which we've been directing friends, relatives, and co-workers via e-mail. My personal page is here, and guess what: You can donate there, too.

All you have to do is make a secure online donation with your credit or debit card, and it doesn't have to be a lot -- since this is the first time we're trying a campaign like this, we're starting small, and with each of us aiming for an individual goal of $500, even small donations of five or ten bucks will help. And they'll take us a little bit further toward being able to provide another Disneyworld trip, pro-athlete encounter, or other wish for a sick kid.

So go here and throw in whatever amount of money you can spare. And don't worry, this site will return to your regularly scheduled bitching and complaining before you know it.

Sunday, February 15

A memo from the desk of Arnold T. Pants, Esq.:
Bad ideas in every bite.

· Are you following Hey Jenny Slater on Twitter yet? You should be, because then you can learn about stuff like this, which I spotted on Valley Avenue ion Saturday while making a run to Costco.

Open question to any and all of my readers in the Birmingham area: Did any of y'all actually avail yourselves of this service? If so, how'd that work out for you? I'm honestly curious.

· As public declarations go, though, I think a message from a grown man in a diaper might still be preferable to this.

Someone's idea of a joke, you say? Oh noooo. Check out this essay -- in which the statement "masturbation is sex" is made without even a smidge of irony -- and this MySpace blog post, in which the author "fearlessly testifies to her struggle and victory over masturbation!"

Maybe I'm being overly flip here, but doesn't this all seem a little . . . melodramatic, somehow? Here's a tip, guys: If you're "struggling" that much with masturbation, you're probably doing it wrong. All that said, though, I'll give fifty dollars to the first Hey Jenny Slater reader who purchases one of the "Ex-Masturbator" shirts and provides photographic proof of having worn it for the entirety of a Christian church service.

· If you're really "struggling" with masturbation, though, the GOP has a solution. Turns out they have a solution for everything. (Thanks to Mac G for the link.)

· Here's an honest question: Why does ESPN Classic only show old football games during football season? Why not show old football games now, when football junkies like me are that much more desperate for a fix? I rarely watch old games on Classic because there are usually new games to worry about, but if they showed them between February and July (and showed, say, basketball from August to November and baseball from December to February), I'd watch the hell out of that. Just a thought, ESPN! A brilliant idea, free of charge. You can thank me later.

· God, I hope Lane Kiffin never gets fired. Ever.

· Finally, a good idea: Southwest Airlines has added to their already extensive list of specially painted airplanes by putting Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model Bar Refaeli on the side of a Boeing 737.

We better make sure the ex-masturbators don't find out about this.

Friday, February 13

The Friday Random Ten+5 asks not for whom the EPIC ROMANTIC FAIL tolls, because it tolls for, well, me.

So Valentine's Day is tomorrow, and ordinarily this would be the time when I recap a robust list of dating/romantic failures from the previous year. (Last year's installment, for example, is here; year before that, here; etc.) Most of these stories have involved me being shot down or mistreated in some embarrassing way. However, I'm fully cognizant of the fact that I've sometimes been a major contributor to my own misery or disappointment, either through douchiness, neglect, or (most likely) sheer towering stupidity. So instead of using this space to whine about how waaah waaah nobody likes me, I'm putting my own head on the chopping block and regaling y'all with Five Stories About How I Messed Up Relationships, Or Made Sure There Wasn't Even A Relationship To Begin With, By Being A Complete Idiot. This will provide a more vital key to the workings (and, obviously, failings) of my personality and psyche than any other single post on this blog, so, like, prepare yourself.

Flowers from Algernon (sometime around the beginning of 1993)
The first time I ever told a girl I liked her was in seventh grade, and I didn't actually tell her myself; I got her best friend to tell her, and the response I got back was the girl in question wrinkling up her nose in disgust. So obviously I was a little cagey about ever putting myself out there like that again, and it took three years for me to gin up the stones to tell another girl I liked her. Only once again, I didn't actually tell her -- I sent flowers to her house on her birthday and let her sit and wonder who they were from for a couple weeks before finally passing her a note in class one day and telling her they were from me. So here I was, a sophomore in high school and still using what was basically the "Do you like me, check one box, yes/no/maybe" method of displaying affection, only with more elaborate props. She gave me a note back saying thank you for the flowers and she just wanted to be friends, which actually was a much better reaction than I could've gotten, now that I think about it.

Every time I think I'm out, I pull myself back in (spring 1995)
I didn't start going out with my first honest-to-God girlfriend until around Christmas '94, and she dumped me a couple months later, so once I got over the misery of that rejection I dusted myself off and started casting about for someone else I could take to senior prom. I had my eye on one of the hottest girls in my graduating class: She was head of the cheerleading squad and senior class treasurer or something like that, and we'd worked on some school projects together in the past, so not only was she not completely repulsed by me, we were actually pretty friendly. And with her having just gotten dumped herself by her boyfriend, I figured I had a perfect opportunity. I made the mistake of mentioning this to my ex, though, and she got all upset-looking and told me she was still hoping I'd take her to prom -- yes, even though she'd just unloaded me a few weeks before. Instead of recognizing this completely bizarre situation for what it was, I caved and told her I'd take her. We got back together just in time to go to prom, but broke up a second time later on that summer, once I realized what a mistake I'd made. The cheerleader I'd been thinking of asking, by the way, didn't end up going to prom, or at least I didn't see her there. Seriously, if I show up at the pearly gates and St. Peter offers me one thing in my life to do over, I'm picking this.

Punting from the 1 yard line (fall 1999)
A few years before anyone knew or cared who Angelina Jolie was, her doppelgänger was roaming the halls of my high school. This girl was so hot her footprints left little scorch marks on the floor, and as a still-wallflowery sophomore, I was content merely to be able to share the same drama class with her; I knew I didn't stand a chance of every actually being able to date a girl like that. Fast-forward like seven years later, I'm working up in Lynchburg, Virginia, I've just put out the first issue of this alternative weekly I'd helped start up, and . . . I get a call from the Angelina lookalike. Her parents were living up in Lynchburg, she saw my name in the masthead of this magazine, would I like to go out and get a drink or something? Fuck yes, in fact, so we got together on a Friday night and went barhopping (this being Lynchburg, it didn't take all that long); after a couple hours at Trotter's, she suggests grabbing a six-pack or something and heading back to my place to watch a movie. Being completely naive and still in the same awkward-teenager mindset I'd been in the last time we were in close proximity to one another, I didn't stop to ponder any kind of subtext in "going back to my place," nor did I even think about making any kind of move when she took her shirt off once we were home watching "Fargo." Now, don't get too excited, it wasn't like she was topless -- she had on this sort of camisole/tank-top thing on underneath (closest approximation I can come up with is this), but still. And at some point, she got tired of sitting on the floor (I'd only been living there a couple months and didn't have much furniture yet) and climbed up into the big overstuffed easy chair I was sitting in. Did I do anything then? Nope -- I just sat there frozen until she'd fallen asleep, then realized what an uncomfortable position I was sitting in, and got up and went to bed. Alone.

The next morning, I took her back to her house, and said it was fun and we should do it again sometime. A week or so later, she actually called me up and asked if I wanted to go to a party with her that weekend, but I was going to the LSU game down in Athens and couldn't make it, so I gave her my regrets and told her I'd call her when I got back into town. The game sucked, I called her as soon as I got back to Lynchburg . . . and never heard back from her.

OK, maybe that would be my do-over.

Never mind the bollocks, here's my parents (November 2004)
I know I've related this one on the blog before, but it's just so blatantly, head-slappingly dumb that I can't help but tell it repeatedly just for laughs. At a Halloween party a few years back, I met this girl who'd just moved down from New York to start at Southern Progress, where a bunch of my friends worked at the time. She was both ridiculously cute and unattached, and when I asked her out it went well enough that I was treated to the rare but highly sought-after first-date kiss at the end of it. Not long after that, I was mentioning to her that I was headed down to Auburn for the Georgia-Auburn game that weekend, and she seemed intrigued, so I took a chance and asked her if she'd like to come with me and get her very first taste of the SEC football experience. To my surprise, she said yes, so I snagged a second ticket from my Auburn hookup and called her back a few days later. We planned out what we were going to be doing that weekend, and that was when I uttered the fateful words: "Oh, and I told my parents a few weeks ago that I'd stop by and see them in Columbus at some point, so maybe we'll go have lunch with them or something on Sunday . . . "

It was like those times when you see the car keys sitting in the ignition even as you're slamming your locked door shut: Even as the last of the words was trickling out of my mouth, my brain was screaming NO NO NO YOU JUST TOLD THIS GIRL YOU WERE TAKING HER TO MEET YOUR PARENTS ABORT ABORT ABORT. But it was too late. There was an awkward silence, after which she politely expressed a little nervousness at meeting my family for the first time; I told her it was no big deal, I could just cancel with my parents if she really felt uncomfortable about it, but she said no, it was OK, she'd go. So we went to the game (which, again, sucked, though we had a great time in Auburn otherwise), we headed to Columbus the next day, we had lunch with my parents and she soldiered through it like a champ . . . and a few days later, I got an e-mail from her saying she liked me a lot but just wanted to be friends. Well, of course she did. Haven't heard from her since, which I'm sure you all find shocking.

Don't call me Shirley, or at all (summer 2005)
Nothing fancy about this one: Dated a Hooter's waitress off and on for an extended period of time, but the turning point came when we went back to my apartment after having dinner one night and were looking for a DVD to watch. I came upon "Airplane!" and asked if she'd ever seen it, and she said no, so we watched it. She didn't laugh once during the movie, and then at the end, when I asked her if that wasn't the funniest movie she'd ever seen in her life, she said, "No, not really." At that point I realized it probably just wasn't going to work out, and we kind of stopped going out after that. Since then she's won a number of Hawaiian Tropic contests and done some modeling work with various photographers in the area, and I have it on good authority that she may be appearing in Playboy before too long. Good for her.

I hope that, if nothing else, all this will make you feel a little bit better about yourself by comparison. No, no, don't thank me, I do it for the kids.

And now the Ten:

1. Dick Dale & the Del-Tones, "Misirlou"
2. Gorillaz, "White Light"
3. Pet Shop Boys, "God Willing" (rough mix)
4. Steve Miller Band, "Abracadabra"
5. Underworld, "Air Towel"
6. Pet Shop Boys, "The Boy Who Couldn't Keep His Clothes On" (Banji girlfriend beats)
7. David Holmes, "Let's Get Killed"
8. Beck, "Steal My Body Home"
9. Röyksopp, "So Easy"
10. Radio 4, "Our Town"

Throw your own Random Tens and tales of epic romantic fail -- whether it was your fault, someone else's fault, or hell, even if it's just an unhinged screed about how much Valentine's Day sucks -- in the comments.

Thursday, February 12

Olive Garden Confidential: The Lost Episodes VIII.

It ain't over. It's never over. Today's installment: "Temptation."

First, watch the original ad here.

DAVE: Are you as hungry as I am?

CINDY: Yeah.

DAVE: So what are we in the mood for?

CARL: I'll know it when I see it.

DAVE: OK, well --

A waitress walks by with a piping-hot plate of food.

DAVE: I think I just did!


DAVE: I mean, did you see the rack on that chick? She's gotta be a stripper -- you don't waste a body like that slinging alfredo at Olive Garden. Holy Moses.

(laughter turns a little awkward)

DAVE: And that ass -- God, I just want to take a bite out of it, like an apple . . .

CINDY: (laughter turns nervous) Wow, Dave, I bet, uh, Marcy wouldn't be too happy to hear you say that.

DAVE: What, just because I got a wife and kids at home I can't show my appreciation when a work of pure sculpture walks by? Jeez, pull the stick out of your ass, Cindy.

ANNOUNCER: Discover Olive Garden's two new tortellonis! Tortelloni with Shrimp in our creamy herb sauce, stuffed with our blend of four Italian cheeses and roasted garlic. Or, try Tortelloni with grilled sausage in a homemade basil marinara! Starting at $9.95. Plus endless breadsticks and salad.

CARL: You just have to know where to look, right, bro-ham?

DAVE: (bumps fists with CARL) You said it. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go find out what Miss Olive Garden is doing after work.

TASHA: (sotto, to CINDY) Aren't Dave and Marcy, you know, still in counseling?

DAVE: And hey, while I'm getting her digits, maybe you can give Grace Ventura, Marriage Detective over here a refresher course in men having needs.

ANNOUNCER: Olive Garden -- when you're here, you're family!

Separated at Birth, The Long Cold Football-Less Winter of the Spirit edition.

Victorious Super Bowl coach Mike Tomlin and T.C. from "Magnum, P.I."?

Victorious BCS National Championship Game coach Urban Meyer and Papa John's founder John Schnatter?

Or victorious BCS National Championship Game coach Urban Meyer and the Cyberdyne Systems/Skynet T-1000? (Actually, that's a bit of a copout, since the T-1000 can make itself look like whomever it wants.)

Vanquished BCS National Championship Game coach Bob Stoops and Michael J. Fox?

Tennessee Volunteers head coach Lane Kiffin and Seth Rogen's character in the forthcoming film "Observe and Report" (which looks f'ing hilarious, by the way)?

Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen and Rob Riggle of "The Daily Show"?

Tennessee Titans quarterback Kerry Collins and TV's House?

Wednesday, February 11

Olive Garden Confidential: The Lost Episodes VII.

Like a never-ending pasta bowl of angst, shame and recrimination, the Olive Garden Confidential series rolls out with another lost tape, this one called "Control."

Original video viewable here.

TONY: Soooo I could sit here and try all 42 pasta and sauce combinations.

WAITER: Eh, you could.

ANGELA: You better not.

(laughter, except for TONY)

TONY: Jeez, I wasn't actually gonna sit here and eat forty-two bowls of pasta. (to PETER) She's been like this ever since D.J.'s bachelor party — can't even get a single sentence out without her jumping down my throat.

ANGELA: Mmmm, listen to him. You'd think I was the one who came home with a stripper's phone number in my jacket pocket.

TONY: I didn't even know she put it in there! There were a half-dozen girls running around, we were all drunk —

PETER: (sotto) Dude, seriously, when you've hit bottom, stop digging.

PAULA: You told me there was only one stripper!

PETER: Nice, dude. Real nice.

ANNOUNCER: Olive Garden's never-ending pasta bowl. With new mushroom alfredo! Pick any sauce and pasta combination, then another! Just $7.95. Have all you want.

TONY: (to WAITER) Well, if I can't have another bowl of pasta, I'm at least gonna have another drink.

ANGELA: Uh-uh. I'll have another glass of Pinot, but you're driving.

WAITER: Uh, so . . . one Pinot. Coming right up.

TONY: Woman, you are sucking the will to live right out of me.

ANNOUNCER: At Olive Garden. When you're here, you're family!

Tuesday, February 10


Olive Garden Confidential: The Lost Episodes.
(Which makes this, what, like sixth in a series now?)

The YouTube well of Olive Garden TV commercials had run dry, and I'd even thrown a Pizza Hut commercial into the mix for good measure, but it looks like the Olive Garden Confidential series, rewriting Olive Garden ads as they would actually happen in real life, has just gotten a shot in the arm. I found a veritable treasure trove of old OG spots on the Intertubes today, most of them a few years old but still ripe enough to merit a good skewering. Unfortunately, none of the videos are embeddable, so you'll just have to follow the links to The Commercial Archive to watch them, but go ahead and drink in the rich, creamy dorkiness of the ads over there and then come back here to cleanse your palate with some satire.

The first of the Lost Episodes can be viewed here; and now, "Reckoning."

DAD: So, uh, where you gonna go from here?

SON: Probably the penne with meat sauce.

DAD responds with only a patronizing smirk.

SON: (nervous now) Fettucine with alfredo?

DAD: (condescending chuckle) I meant with your life.

SON: Yup, I knew this was coming. Kind of thought we'd have it in a nicer place than an Olive Garden, though.

DAD: What's that supposed to mean?

SON: I don't know, for a heavy conversation like this, I figured we'd go to the bar at the Plaza, or at least Chez François. But if you want to lay into me for my lack of ambition surrounded by a bunch of secretaries and dental hygienists on their lunch break, guess I can't stop you.

DAD: Tell you what, Rockefeller, you move out of the basement, then I'll consider taking you to someplace fancy.

ANNOUNCER: It's Olive Garden's Never-Ending Pasta Bowl. With great new sauces like mushroom alfredo and creamy five-cheese marinara! Pick one combination of sauce and pasta, then another. Have all you want, just $7.95. Plus -- of course -- salad and breadsticks.

SON: I'm in a really good place right now, Dad.

DAD: 'S that right? Enjoy it, 'cause you're not leaving here without a job application.

SON: God, Dad, can't I enjoy my fricking meal?

DAD: That I'm paying for? If you can clean a plate, you can bus a table, kid.

ANNOUNCER: At Olive Garden, when you're here, you're family!

(As always, if anyone has some embeddable video they can throw me for any of these, be my guest.)

Sunday, February 8

Oooh, oooh, now say "Is Barack Obama gonna have to choke a bitch"!

Move over, sliced bread, there's a new standard by which all future things will be measured.

When they come out with the pull-string Talking Barack Obama Doll -- and you know they're going to -- these better be on them. That's profanity we can believe in, my friends.

Friday, February 6

Dawg stuff to take you through the lean times.

Meaningful football is on hiatus for nearly seven more months, but that doesn't mean you're completely bereft of ways to fill the void. You could, for instance, keep up with Jeff Owens's blog -- yes, that Jeff Owens, the Georgia defensive tackle. This is the only active blog by a current Georgia player I'm aware of, so you should check it out, or #95 will do to you what he can be seen here doing to poor Tashard Choice.

Jeff's post "What does it mean to wear the G" is a pretty inspiring read. Also great: sportswriter Joe Posnanski's reminiscences of Herschel Walker. If those two things don't make you proud to be a Georgia Bulldog, then your offseason malaise may be terminal.

Or maybe all you need is some cake.

This is the extremely huge confection that served as the groom's cake for HJS reader Clay, and honestly I didn't think it could be done, but that even beats the Krispy Kreme cake I put forth the other day. Well played, sir -- I'm assuming you married a Georgia fan, but if you managed to slip that by a Gator or Vol, then congratulations, you've officially achieved demigod status.

Every day I love you less and less.

The economy is in the tank, unemployment's up over seven percent, the federal government is currently debating an economic stimulus package worth literally hundreds of billions of dollars, we're still involved in two major military operations overseas . . . and what's former White House chief of staff Andrew Card worried about?

After a rough day at the office on Tuesday, 2/3, President Obama's fashion style is now coming under attack. Former George W. Bush Chief of Staff Andrew Card says the Obama dress code is way too laid back.

"There should be a dress code of respect," Card tells INSIDE EDITION. "I wish that he would wear a suit coat and tie."

Card is the first member of the Bush administration to bash Obama, and he's going after him for forgoing a coat and tie.

"The Oval Office symbolizes...the Constitution, the hopes and dreams, and I'm going to say democracy. And when you have a dress code in the Supreme Court and a dress code on the floor of the Senate, floor of the House, I think it's appropriate to have an expectation that there will be a dress code that respects the office of the President."

Compared to that, Dick Cheney's assertion that someone's going to set off a nuke in the middle of Times Square because Obama closed Guantanamo Bay seems almost intelligent and serious. Thank you, Mr. Card, for doing your part to ensure no sane people will ever be tempted to rethink or revise their impression of the Bush years as anything other than an unmitigated freakshow.

Down but not out, the Friday Random Ten+5 preps for the Pro Bowl.

Well, with the conclusion of the Super Bowl this past Sunday, the football season officially ended, and this weekend's Pro Bowl will be the last football of any kind we get to watch for the next six and a half months (save for the smattering of NCAA spring games that begins in a month or so). That kind of puts some pressure on the Pro Bowl to be a good game, and I think there are some ways it could be jazzed up a little. Not that the NFL necessarily needs to do what the morons in Major League Baseball did and allow an all-star game to have a direct impact on the league championship, but that still doesn't mean that a meaningless postseason exhibition can't have something riding on it. And that's why this week's +5 is Five Ways To Spice Up The Pro Bowl.

In-game, real-time player voting
Player selection for the Pro Bowl is, in part, determined by the fans, but why stop the voting once the rosters have been set? Have live online voting throughout the game to determine who stays on the field and who gets pulled. If Eli Manning's out on the field and throws a series of incomplete passes, and the online voting shifts in favor of Kurt Warner or Drew Brees, yank Manning out of there and put Brees in. I think the prospect of getting an early hook from the fans if they screw up would prompt the players to step up their game a little.

Have it as far north as possible
Honolulu is fun and everything, but the environment there doesn't actually present any kind of challenge, and aren't football games a little more fun when Mother Nature throws a spanner into the works? Which games are we more likely to remember as classics -- the warm, sunny early-September matchups or the late-season Ice Bowls, the blizzard games where the players celebrate scores by making snow angels in the end zone? Move the all-star game to someplace like Green Bay or Foxboro and then we'll see who the real tough guys (and tough fans) are.

Celebrity coaches
They don't have to coach the whole game, of course, but there are plenty of celebrities who are out there with publicly identified NFL affiliations -- maybe throw, say, Minnesota native and Vikings fan Al Franken in there to coach up a series for the NFC squad against Oakland Raiders fan Tom Hanks. Or let South Park creators and Denver Broncos diehards Trey Parker and Matt Stone go up against well-known Dallas Cowboys Yoko superfan Jessica Simpson. It'd certainly be a lot more exciting than the never-ending series of Hollywood awards shows we always have to sit through this time of year.

Cash bonuses for trick plays
The season's over; there's nothing whatsoever riding on this game. Why play conservatively? Why not call some wild-ass plays just to make things interesting for the fans? I say we offer each coach $10,000 for calling a trick play (to be distributed amongst his roster and coaching staff as he sees fit), which goes up to $25,000 if the play is executed successfully for a first down, $50,000 if it results in a score. And then we can sit back and watch the steady stream of flea-flickers, fumblerooskies, and quintuple-reverses that might just turn this into the most exciting game of the year.

Penalties are punishable by fines assessed on the spot
Of course, since nothing is riding on this game, that also means there's no point in committing penalties, certainly no serious personal fouls or anything like that. So if anyone besmirches the easygoing, fun-loving atmosphere of the game by committing a penalty on the field, I think they should have to pony up some cash. If a guy commits, say, a false start, he's got to pony up a hundred bucks, to be handed to the referee right then and there; for more serious stuff like unsportsmanlike conduct or chop-blocking, ratchet it up into the thousands. And if a player can't come up with the cash, he gets ejected. Maybe we could even do something along the lines of "The Amazing Race" where the offenders would get summarily turned out onto the street with no cash, lodging, plane tickets, or anything, and they'd have to make it home on their wits (and probably name recognition) alone. All proceeds from the fines would go to the United Way, of course.

Doesn't that sound great? While y'all ponder those tweaks for a little bit, here's the Ten:

1. The Dream Academy, "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want"
2. Hot Hot Heat, "Bandages"
3. Thom Yorke, "Harrowdown Hill"
4. Pet Shop Boys, "Always On My Mind/In My House"
5. Modest Mouse, "Dig Your Grave"
6. The Smiths, "Stretch Out and Wait"
7. Fatboy Slim, "First Down"
8. Gorillaz, "Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head"
9. David Holmes, "Zero Tolerance"
10. Roni Size, "Brown Paper Bag"

Your turn, nerds. Put your own Random Tens and/or rules changes for the Pro Bowl (or any of the other professional all-star games, for that matter) in the comments.

Tuesday, February 3

A memo from the desk of Arnold T. Pants, Esq.:
In which our signing class includes Marlon Brown, two scorching Poles, and the best cake ever.

· So, National Signing Day? Yeah, I got a nice little surge of giggety upon finding out that Memphis's Marlon Brown (above) said no thanks to Kiffykins and instead signed with the Dawgs, but otherwise, I'm still of the opinion that recruiting is to college football what carrot sticks are to after-school snacks: It's something, yeah, but it's not really what you want. Georgia landed another top-10 class? Fine, that's enough for now, wake me when the season starts and we can actually see whether any of these guys are any good on the field or not. (Actually, go ahead and wake me on Saturday, April 11, when the G-Day game rolls around. Yes, there's gonna be another G-Day tailgate -- stay tuned for details.)

· Here's what I do love following on signing day, though: wacky names. I've all but decided that if my kids are ever going to get noticed enough to get a chance to play at the D-IA level, I'm gonna have to give them some wild-ass names, so I've come up with a plan: I'm gonna write down different nationalities and ethnicities on little pieces of paper and put them in a hat, and each time I have a kid I'm gonna pull out two of those pieces of paper to come up with a name. Starting in 20 or 25 years, the Jamie Newbergs of the world will be writing about Fulgencio Soichiro Gillett, Jean-Claude Mohandas Gillett, Klaus ibn al-Kalb al-Thawr Gillett, Vladimir Dikembe Gillett, and Aristotle Running Deer Gillett, so be warned, football fans.

· On the subject of families and genetics (yeah, this is a major stretch, stay with me): I'm a long-established fan of Polish supermodel Joanna Krupa, for obvious reasons, only now it turns out she has an equally ridiculous sister, Marta.

So my question is, how does one family end up with this kind of offspring? Were they grown in a lab? Or did their parents put each and every sperm cell through an intensive interviewing process before narrowing it down to a select group of potential haploids? I'm just asking.

· While I was talking on the phone with my mom the other evening, she mentioned that she'd recently seen the trailer for a movie about two guys who sign up for the high-school cheerleading squad so they can go to cheerleading camp and score with hot chicks. "I can't remember the name of it, but it's got hot girls running around in short shorts," she told me. "So I knew it'd be right up your alley." Boy, does she know me. I presume she was talking about this:

The thing is, I can't even promise that I won't end up going to see it, even if it is, in the words of one noted trashy-movie connoisseur, "that one moment in 'Bring It On' made into a movie." I think I'll be able to restrain myself from adding it to my DVD collection, though, as girls tend to get kind of a funny look on their faces when you bring them back to your place and they see stuff like that sitting on your shelf.

· Courtesy of said trashy-movie connoisseur, we have this feast of awesomeness, which is gonna be the groom's cake at my wedding if I have anything to say about it (and, of course, if I ever have a wedding):

· And finally, since I seem to be unable to go more than a few weeks without mentioning Legos on this blog, I thought this little photo essay was kinda cool.

I realize this is sort of inside-baseball New York stuff, but the thing is, I got it. Maybe I've been to New York enough times that I'm starting to get this kind of stuff? Or maybe it's just because I know Legos THAT WELL?

Olive Garden Confidential Productions presents Olive Garden Confidential V: Pizza Hut Confidential: Roman Holiday.

They still haven't put the two most recent Olive Garden ads up on YouTube, so in lieu of that, by popular demand ("popular" meaning "one person's"), you get the secret inside scoop on what actually happened when Pizza Hut sprung their Tuscani pasta dishes on some unsuspecting real Italians. Herewith, "Roman Holiday":

ANNOUNCER: Pizza Hut went all the way to Rome to surprise real Italians with our new Tuscani lasagna!

JARED-FROM-SUBWAY-LOOKING ITALIAN GUY: Mi ricorda del lasagna della mia madre. [It reminds me of my mom's.]

ITALIAN CHICK: Realmente buon! [Really good!]

BLOND ITALIAN CHICK: É vivacious. [It's vivacious.]

BLOND ITALIAN CHICK'S COMPANION: "Vivacious"? Seriamente? ["Vivacious"? Seriously?]

CHEF: Il lasagna che avete mangiato appena proveniva da Pizza Hut! [The lasagna you just ate was from Pizza Hut!] (bows)


BLOND ITALIAN CHICK: Che cosa la scopata? [What the fuck?]

DOUCHEY-LOOKING ITALIAN GUY: Prendo la mia amica al nuovo ristorante più d'avanguardia a Roma per proporre unione a lei, e concludiamo in su il cibo del Pizza Hut? [I bring my girlfriend to the trendiest new restaurant in Rome to propose to her, and we end up eating Pizza Hut?]

AMERICAN TOURIST: I can't believe we flew four thousand miles for this. If I'da wanted to gorge myself on Pizza Hut, I'da stayed in Scranton!

AMERICAN TOURIST'S DAD: Some things never change. Dirty wops are just as cheap as they were when I was here during the war.

JARED-FROM-SUBWAY-LOOKING ITALIAN GUY'S MOM: Così la mia cottura gli ricorda di immondizia Americana grassa? [So my cooking reminds you of greasy American garbage, does it?] (bursts into tears and begins wailing)

JARED-FROM-SUBWAY-LOOKING ITALIAN GUY'S DAD: Osservi che cosa avete fatto alla vostra madre canonizzata, voi ingrate ripugnante! [Look what you've done to your sainted mother, you filthy ingrate!] (takes off shoe and begins beating son with it)

ANNOUNCER: New Tuscani pasta from Pizza Hut! Over three pounds of pasta feeds four for just $14.99 with breadsticks.

OTHER AMERICAN TOURIST: Christ almighty, at the current exchange rate, we just paid a hundred and twenty-six dollars to eat fucking Pizza Hut.

GREASEBALL ITALIAN GUY: Avete insultato la famiglia di deCicero, e state andando pagare! So dove dormite! [You have insulted the deCicero family, and you're going to pay! I know where you sleep!]

GREASEBALL ITALIAN GUY'S WIFE: Dovreste sapere che qualcosa era di traverso quando abbiamo veduto il "P' Zone" sul menu, voi mongoloid grasso. [You should've known something was up when we saw the "P'Zone" on the menu, you greasy mongoloid.]

GREASEBALL ITALIAN GUY: Volete ritenere la mia rabbia anche, donna? [You want to feel my wrath too, woman?]

GREASEBALL ITALIAN GUY'S WIFE: Oh, per favore, neppure non siete stato "fatto" ancora. [Oh, please, you haven't even been "made" yet.]

OTHER AMERICAN TOURIST'S WIFE: Fuck this, let's go to Olive Garden. At least they give you unlimited salad and breadsticks.

ANNOUNCER: New Tuscani Pasta, delivered only by Pizza Hut! Now you're eating!

Monday, February 2

Somebody make sure Tina Fey's on retainer.

I, for one, think that the nation's Republican-identified voters have a magnificent plan:

Coming off a shellacking at the polls in November, the plurality of GOP voters (43%) say their party has been too moderate over the past eight years, and 55% think it should become more like Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in the future, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just 24% think failed presidential candidate John McCain is the best future model for the party, and 10% are undecided.

Uh-huh. See this chart of the 2008 presidential tracking polls?

See the part where John McCain peaks in early September and begins dropping back down into the low forties? The beginning of that slide occurs within a couple days of Sarah Palin's first unscripted TV interview, the "In what way, Charlie?" interview with ABC's Charles Gibson. The slide in Palin's personal favorability ratings is documented, among other places, here and here. There is no evidence whatsoever that Palin helped the GOP ticket among any group except the conservative evangelicals who weren't going to vote for a Democrat anyway, and while I guess the case can be made that Palin helped turn out ultra-conservative voters who were otherwise sketchy on the prospect of voting for McCain, that still left the Republicans nearly 10 million votes short of retaining the White House, didn't it?

But this is the person that Republicans say their party should be more like. Hey, good luck with that. I was figuring on working for Barack Obama's re-election campaign in 2012, but if the GOP is that determined to become more Palin-like, maybe I can just take a two-month-long vacation in September and October instead. (Season-long Georgia road trip? I think you hear me knockin', and I think I'm comin' in.)