Wednesday, August 31

If this isn't awesome, then howsabout you tell me what's awesome, smart guy.

OK, so maybe I'm out there all by myself on the whole Wendy's "ranch tooth" commercial thing, but come on, this is hilarious. Posted by Picasa


I was reading Atrios top-to-bottom this morning -- in reverse chronological order, in other words, since the newest posts are at the top -- so when I read this post quoting from Pandagon

Taken altogether, this is what I fear will happen: The victims of the flood will be portrayed via racist stereotypes as criminals and idiots. This will predispose the audience to disliking them. Then, after everything settles down, a few right wingers will start implying that the dead brought their own fate on themselves by being too stupid and/or criminal to evacuate. This focus will distract the pundits from discussing the real issue at hand, which is why the fuck we didn't have the resources on hand to evacuate a city that has Hurricane Target written all over it. Before you know it, it'll be a wingnut bonaza of people both gleefully indulging in the most racist tendencies while simultaneously claiming that the only reason one might end up dead in a hurricane is because one doesn't have "personal responsibility".

. . . I have to admit my first thought was, "Hey, whoa, let's not go off half-cocked here." But then I scrolled down a little further to Atrios's interesting juxtaposition of two photo captions from the hurricane aftermath. Notice how the African-American guy is a "looter," while the two white folks were merely "finding" bread and soda to feed their families. Fascinating stuff, that. And not in a good way.

On the one hand, taking stuff that isn't yours is wrong. And when they showed tape just now on Headline News of a bunch of African-American folks rushing into an abandoned grocery store in N.O. and coming out with arms full of food, there was a little part of my brain shouting, "Hey, you can't do that!" But I think there's a difference between the looters in the Rodney King riots boosting TVs and CD players and the people in New Orleans who have no electricity or running water and who ar just trying to feed a family of four or five who's huddled in a soaked, smashed-up house waiting for FEMA to show up. You take advantage of a disaster like this to improve your home theatre system, you're an asshole -- but you go into an empty grocery store that nobody's looking after and come out with some bread and bottled water or whatever so that your family doesn't starve, well, maybe that's more properly defined as survival, and I'm not going to spend any energy wagging my finger and tut-tutting these desperate people when there are so many more important things to worry about right now.

And I hope nobody else does, either.

Tuesday, August 30

Damn, how'd I miss this?

Barely two days after my 10th high-school reunion, Pandagon's Amanda Marcotte (who graduated from high school the same year as me -- you learn something new every day), brought up this interesting little exercise from A Small Victory:

. . . go to Music Outfitters, type the year of your high school graduation into the search function, select the top 100 most popular songs, cut and paste it onto your blog and then bold the ones you like, strike out the ones you hate, and leave alone the ones you don't care about or don't know.

I was gonna totally do this, but then I found out Amanda was also a fellow 1995 graduate, and it was almost kind of eerie how much her list resembled mine (or what mine would've been), with some notable exceptions:

· I didn't hate "Gangsta's Paradise." I pretty much only tolerated it, but I didn't hate it.
· I actually kind of liked "This is How We Do It," but possibly only because I remember that song having been played at my senior prom, and that prom is one of the few positive memories I have of the girl I was going out with at the time, so . . . you take what you can get, I suppose.
· I also remember liking that "You Gotta Be" song by Des'Ree, though it got old quick.
· I liked the Annie Lennox song and was OK with the U2 song from "Batman Whatevers" -- which cannot be said for pretty much anything else associated with that movie.
· And the Pretenders song at #95, while certainly not among their best, is still pretty decent. Chrissie Hynde farting into a microphone would've probably been better than 90 percent of what passed for pop music that year.

Which brings me, I guess, to the same conclusion Amanda had: Pop music sucked in 1995. I guess it's not much of a coincidence that that's about the same point at which I stopped listening to the radio almost entirely, other than NPR and sports talk. Oh, and the '80s station that popped up in Atlanta a few years ago.

But the other conclusion is -- the previous conclusion notwithstanding -- that I'm apparently still somewhat more lenient toward shitty music than Amanda is. Though anyone who's endured my Friday Random Tens over the past few months probably knew that.

OK, so I'm unoriginal, but at least I'm unoriginal in an original way.

After reading this bit of hilarity from TBOGG, I couldn't help but be reminded of another scene from "Life of Brian," particularly in light of some recent accusations that Democrats have never accomplished anything of substance. See if this scene sounds familiar:

RUSH LIMBAUGH: We're gettin' in through the underground heating system here, up through into the main audience chamber here, and John Kerry's wife's bedroom is here. Having grabbed his wife, we inform Kerry that she is in our custody and forthwith issue our demands. Any questions?

KEYBOARD KOMMANDO HINDERAKER: What exactly are the demands?

KARL ROVE: We're giving Kerry two days to dismantle the entire apparatus of the Democratic Party, and if he doesn't agree immediately, we execute her.

SEAN HANNITY: Cut her head off?

RUSH: Cut all her bits off. Send 'em back on the hour every hour. Show them we're not to be trifled with.

KARL: And of course, we point out that they bear full responsibility when we chop her up, and that we shall not submit to blackmail!


KARL: They've bled us white, the bastards. They've taken everything we had, and not just from us, from our fathers, and from our fathers' fathers.

KEN MEHLMAN: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers.

KARL: Yeah.

KEN: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers' fathers!

KARL: Yeah. All right, Ken. Don't labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?!

HANNITY: Social Security?

KARL: What?

HANNITY: Social Security.

KARL: Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah.

KOMMANDO GOLDBERG: And the balanced budget.

KEN: Oh, yeah, the balanced budget, Karl. Remember what the budget used to be like?

KARL: Yeah. All right. I'll grant you Social Security and the balanced budget are two things that the Democrats have done.

RUSH: And the national parks.

KARL: Well, yeah. Obviously the national parks. I mean, the national parks go without saying, don't they? But apart from Social Security, the balanced budget, and the national parks --



KOMMANDOS: Huh? Heh? Huh . . .


KOMMANDOS: Ohh . . .

KARL: Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.


KOMMANDOS: Oh, yes. Yeah . . .

HINDERAKER: Yeah. Yeah, that's something we'd really miss, Karl, if the Democrats left. Huh.


KEN: And they won two world wars, Karl.

HINDERAKER: Yeah, they certainly know how to win wars. Let's face it. They're the only ones who could in a place like this.

KOMMANDOS: Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.

KARL: All right, but apart from Social Security, the balanced budget, national parks, civil rights, the TVA, public education, the FDIC, the Air Force, and winning two world wars, what have the Democrats ever done for us?

HANNITY: Brought prosperity.

KARL: Oh, prosperity? Shut up!

Now for the debate: Which is funnier, "Life of Brian" or "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"? My vote's for "Brian," but I'm interested to hear what everyone else says . . .

Monday, August 29

I haven't even started writing this post yet and I can already hear the crickets chirping, but . . .

. . . I've got to ask it anyway: Am I the only one who thinks those Wendy's ads for the ranch chicken sandwiches, the ones about the guy who has a "ranch tooth," are frickin' hilarious?

Hello? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

. . .

No, don't worry, I'll show myself out.

Sunday, August 28

"Some people say forgive and forget. Nah, I don't know. I say forget about forgiving and just accept . . . and get the hell out of town."

It's still weird enough as it is when someone I work with comes up to me at the office and says, "Hey, I read blah blah blah on your blog the other day." But it's super-weird -- not bad, you know, just weird -- when someone who was one of your best friends in high school but whom you probably haven't seen in at least eight years sees you at your 10-year reunion and asks, "So, Doug, how do you feel?"

I don't know. I guess it just shows to go you, whether by choice or just circumstance, nobody's ever quite as remote or hidden or far-off as they think they are these days. I guess I had an itch to get the hell away from Columbus after I graduated from college, but after a year in a city where I was kind of bored most of the time and just didn't feel like I was at home, I realized that going far away just for the sake of going far away isn't always the best strategy. Since then I've found sort of a happy medium -- living close enough to C-town that I can visit when I like, but maintaining a respectful distance otherwise.

Enough of a distance -- I thought -- to reinvent myself unnoticed, as all good late bloomers secretly pine to do. I wasn't a dork in high school -- certainly not as much as I was in junior high, and don't even get me started on that -- but I wasn't necessarily ultra-popular either. Even though our high school was pretty cliquish, I don't think that I actively didn't get along with any one particular group, but there were certain people I guess I felt more comfortable with others. And when I stuck my neck out by being in a play or running for some student-government position or something like that, it was usually because someone had asked me to, not because I had the inclination all on my own. I still think I play a better sidekick than leading man in a lot of ways.

It wasn't really until I went to college that I started doing more stuff and taking more chances -- bidding (successfully) to become the editor-in-chief of the student paper at college, moving away from home to try and get a weekly magazine off the ground in a small town, attempting to join the Peace Corps, getting involved in politics in Alabama and assuming what quickly became a pretty public role (at least locally) with the Kerry campaign last year. I didn't write a bestseller, didn't get elected to any kind of public office, didn't win a Super Bowl ring or bang Paris Hilton, but all things considered I figured I'd amassed a pretty decent list of accomplishments and experiences to sock away and bring with me to the reunion this weekend. A lot of people dread their 10-years, but I was looking forward to mine -- not because I was eagerly anticipating the chance to hold a lot of stuff over anyone's head, but because I'd changed a lot and, as self-centered as this sounds, was sort of looking forward to see what people would think about it.

The cliche about high-school reunions is that people dread them because of the way they've changed in 10 years -- maybe they were attractive and got fat; maybe they had it all together but became alcoholics; maybe they were the ultra-popular life of the party but ended up with a shitty job and a cookie-cutter house in the 'burbs. After this weekend, though, I don't think people dread reunions because they're scared of what people will think about how they've changed. I think the real deep-down dread comes from knowing just how much we've stayed the same.

The first "official" event of our reunion weekend was Friday night, when a bunch of people were getting together for cocktails at a bar downtown. I saw a few people there -- though not a huge number, since the "main event" wasn't until Saturday night -- and got a lot of compliments, even a few approvingly wide-eyed looks, about how much different I looked from 10 years ago. (OK, see, this is why I hate writing in the first person about myself. I sound like such a tool. Just bear with me for the time being, because I'm never going to do this again.)

So anyway, at least among the group of people that I considered myself good friends with back in high school, I was feeling pretty happy and glad that people noticed the ways in which I was different from who I used to be. And then a funny thing happened: I was walking into the lobby of the hotel where the reunion dinner was held last night -- the big event that the most people showed up at -- and the first people I saw were some members of what had been the popular jock/cheerleader-type crowd 10 years ago. And pow! -- I was back in high school again, afraid to go up and talk to them, not at all sure if we'd have anything to say to each other.

Someone once said, and these may be the truest words ever spoken, that we always regret the things we didn't do more than the things we did. And I know I sure have a lot more of the former type of regrets than the latter. From high school I've carried with me a laundry list of things I didn't do (even though I wanted to), girls I didn't ask out (even though I wanted to), opportunities I didn't take (even though I wanted to) that I'd give anything to go back and re-do. And for late bloomers like me, it's always tempting to think we're going to march back into a situation like a reunion and right all those wrongs, fix the one or two or three sins of omission that have nagged at us over the last 10 or however many years. But we don't, because as much as we think we've changed, metamorphosized from fun but mostly unassuming sidekicks into superheroes capable of pretty much anything, we really haven't. Ten years is a long time, but not long enough to change us entirely.

But I realized something else -- as depressing as that probably sounded at first, that's OK. Those roads not taken in high school were not taken 10 to 14 years ago, and that's too long for them to make much of a difference now even if you could try and re-take them now. What I'm saying is that we're not meant to re-fight those battles -- you can spend all your time trying to fix the things you did wrong (or not at all) ten years ago, but your life in the present is still hurtling forward, and time spent trying to redo stuff from 1995 is only detracting from the things that need to be tended to in 2005. The best you can hope for -- and it's really not all that bad, because it matters -- is that you learn from those mistakes, those sins of omission that are still nagging at you 10 years out, and vow to be courageous enough to not make them the next time, whenever that is.


Anyway, the reunion was a blast. I did drink waaaayyyy too much Friday night and felt like ass all day Saturday, but I'm feeling a little better now, and the doctor says I'm on the list for a new liver, so that's cool. Some people had changed a lot, some people hasn't changed at all; some people looked better, some people looked worse, but the important thing is, everybody looked happy. All things considered, the Hardaway High School class of 1995 has done pretty well for itself.

The thing is, in spite of things regretted or opportunities not taken, I didn't feel too envious of any of my classmates, at least not the ones who had more money than me or were better-looking than me. I did feel a little jealous of the people who'd gotten married and had kids, because when you're paying rent on a shabby apartment in the bohemian tattoo-parlor-and-dive-bar district of Birmingham and still working on adding to your beer-bottle collection and you're talking to someone responsible enough to have found a spouse, be parenting two kids, and purchase an honest-to-god house, it's hard not to wonder if maybe there was some critical memo you didn't get somewhere along the line about "How To Be An Adult." But, uh, I'm working on it.

I think the happiest-looking person I saw all weekend was my friend Angie, the one who asked me how did I feel at the barbecue Saturday afternoon. She was one of my best friends in high school, and if there was a "rebellious crowd," we were in it (though she probably to a greater extent than I), pissing off teachers and playing freaky music and shunning football games on Friday nights to go to Denny's and smoke cigarettes and do all the things our parents would never have approved of (at least mine wouldn't, in any case). She graduated from Georgia, lives in Winder (about halfway between Athens and Atlanta) with a husband and two kids and an SUV, and manages art and music programs for a small church in Gwinnett County. In other words, about 180 degrees from what I would've predicted if you'd asked me 10 years ago what everyone would be doing in 2005. But you know what? She looked fantastic, her family is beautiful, and it all reminded me that happiness is to be found where you want to find it, not where other people want to put it for you.

That said, when our 20-year comes up about this time in 2015, I'd really like to arrive at it in a Mercedes convertible with a Victoria's-Secret-catalogue-caliber blonde in the passenger's seat.

But even if that doesn't happen, I think I'll live.

Friday, August 26

Friday Random Ten, Class Reunion Edition.

I'm sitting here in Columbus at my folks' house, and as hard as it is to believe, my 10-year high-school reunion is this weekend. I'm actually kind of looking forward to it, because I haven't gotten fat (that much), haven't gotten addicted to anything (yet), haven't knocked anyone up (that I know of), and my job and/or outside political activities, while not especially earth-shattering or important, are just close enough to important that I can make them sound very important and exciting without having to tell any outright lies. Oh, I'll be stretching the truth thinner than Kirstie Alley's support hose, but lying, nah, I probably won't have to do that.

Saw my friend John last night at Art Attack downtown -- where the band Spy For Hire, which my friends Andy and Ryan play in, was performing, and I'm gonna plug them right here because if they don't get signed and at the very least become more famous than freaking Limp Bizkit, there's no justice in this world -- and anyway, he was advising me on reunion small-talk strategy. "Don't ask 'What are you doing these days,' because that's just typical small talk and nobody really cares what the answer is anyway," he said. "You gotta ask something different, something that'll get right to the heart of the human condition. You should walk up to people you haven't seen in ten years and be like, 'How do you feel?' "

Interesting. So, readers, whether you're 10 years out of high school or not, how do you feel?

While you're pondering that, here's this week's Top 10, selected (of course) from the subset of Stuff I Listened To In High School:

1. Pet Shop Boys, "Forever in Love"
2. Dead Milkmen, "Takin' Retards to the Zoo"
3. Pet Shop Boys, "Rent"
4. Depeche Mode, "Personal Jesus"
5. Tears for Fears, "Change"
6. The Revels, "Comanche"
7. Crowded House, "Locked Out"
8. R.E.M., "Find the River"
9. Pet Shop Boys, "I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too)"
10. Screeching Weasel, "I Wanna Be a Homosexual"

Yup, I was just as bizarre and insolent back then, too.

If anything interesting happens at the reunion, such as being assaulted by a paid assassin and having to dispatch him with my bare hands in the hallway, rest assured you'll read about it here. Even if nothing interesting happens, you may read about that, too.

Thursday, August 25

Just when I thought I'd made it through the entire week without wanting to swallow a bottle of pills . . .

. . . or hurl myself off a skyscraper, or run a garden hose from my tailpipe to the driver's-side window in a closed garage, we get this gem from the mainstream media (link via Atrios):

At the end of a long and mostly innocuous article in the New Yorker about the ups and downs of NBC's Today show, Ken Auletta relates a "late lunch" he had with Katie Couric. Couric was "worried" that hard news didn't appeal to viewers. During a brief chicken-and-egg discussion between Auletta and Couric ("are we giving people what they want?" "Or are people watching what we give them?"). Couric then forthrightly declared, "I always felt it was our responsibility as journalists to explore issues and talk about subjects and have serious stories that people need to know about to be informed citizens." Admirably put, I thought. Then Couric recounted a story of which she was especially "proud," a "terrific story" that was "honest and very well produced."

In this year of endless blood flowing in Iraq, of Rovegate, of the ongoing venality of an administration with almost no constraint on its dishonesty, what was the story in question? You guessed it -- Couric's exclusive interview with Jennifer Wilbanks, aka, the "runaway bride."

Meanwhile, last night while flipping through channels on TV, I noticed that CNN's Nancy Grace -- who's made a truly impressive late run to overtake Ann Coulter, Britney Spears, and Wilbanks herself for the honor of Most Annoying White Chick of 2005 -- was still flogging the Natalee Holloway disappearance non-story for all it's worth. As baby sis so artfully put it, "News is called news because it's new. 'We still haven't found her' is not new, therefore it is not news."

See, you conservatives think you've got a monopoly on total contempt for the mainstream media, but really, y'all don't know the half of it. Sure, the media's biased, but they're not biased in favor of Democrats or liberalism in general. They're biased toward being complete frickin' idiots, and that's probably even more dangerous. There's a war going on in Iraq, terrorist bombings going on in other places, a looming health-care crisis here at home, and oh yeah, that famine thing in Darfur or wherever? still going strong -- but the media would ignore it all if they could just find a hottie blond bride who's supposed to marry Brad Pitt but runs away to Aruba and then gets kidnapped, and if they could just find a way that steroid-abusing major-league baseball players were involved, boy, that'd be enough to trigger an instant it's-OK-it-happens-to-a-lot-of-guys-we-can-still-cuddle explosion in their shorts in response to their good fortune.

This is why I get all my news from NPR and "The Daily Show." At least they're funny. (Oh yeah, NPR included. Have you ever heard Susan Stanberg tell that "Aristocrats" joke? Rolling on the floor, I tell ya.)

Tuesday, August 23

All together now: Awwww!

Dennis Kucinich, the most elfin of the 2004 Democratic presidential hopefuls, done got himself hitched:

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich has married a British woman, shedding the bachelor status that made headlines during his long-shot presidential campaign in 2004.

Kucinich and Elizabeth Harper, who works for a monetary-policy think tank in Chicago, were married Sunday before some 250 guests outside City Hall, where he once served as mayor.

Guests included Shirley MacLaine and Sean Penn. MacLaine and Kucinich are longtime friends, and Penn endorsed the Democrat for president last year.

"It was a lovely ceremony, and the congressman really wanted to do this in the heart of Cleveland," said Kucinich's spokesman, Doug Gordon.

Awwww, congratulations, Mr. Scoops! It all sounds wonderful, except for having Sean Penn there. I can just picture this exchange at the rehearsal dinner:

WILLIE NELSON: I first met Dennis when we ran into each other at a PETA protest back during the campaign season. Someone told me, "Hey, Willie, there's a guy named Kucinich who's running for president and he really wants to meet you." And I thought, "Kucini-who? Is he that little guy that looks like the Keebler elf yelling about weapons of mass destruction?"


WILLIE NELSON: Sometimes I still don't understand what made that crazy bastard think he could run for president, but I have had a blast hanging out with him, and Elizabeth, you can rest assured that when he comes home after a long night of palling around with me and the boys, yes, he did inhale . . .


WILLIE NELSON: But seriously, folks, I'm real tickled that someone's finally gonna make an honest man out of him, and I know he and Elizabeth are going to have many, many happy years together. With more on that, here's someone who was a big supporter of ours during the campaign, Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn.

AUDIENCE: (applause)

ACADEMY AWARD-WINNING ACTOR SEAN PENN: Thank you. But first, uh, forgive my compromised sense of humour. I just want to answer our host's question about who Dennis Kucinich is -- he's one of our country's finest elected officials.

AUDIENCE: (awkward silence)

WILLIE NELSON: Uh . . . anybody wanna hear "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Republicans"?

But I do wish all the best to Rep. Kucinich and his new bride, who's actually kinda cute, if the pictures I've seen are accurate. If The Kooch can find happiness with a lovely young lady like that, then maybe there's hope for us all.

Of course, there are other ways to blog like a conservative . . .

. . . the easiest, of course, being to make a completely moronic, asinine excuse for a completely inexcusable bit of behavior on the part of a conservative. As usual, we've found our poster children in the asshats at Power Line:

The photo below depicts the crosses that have been in the news. Gene notes that news photos crop out the road -- some crosses and flags are within 12 inches of the road. The road is very narrow with no shoulders.

Yep, that's right. They're talking about the dipshit who hooked chains and pipes to the back of his pickup and dragged them through the rows of crosses near the spot where Cindy Sheehan's protest has been set up in Crawford, Texas. And apparently it's the protestors' fault, see, for cruelly impeding the path of his truck (and his chains, and pipes) with their crosses! How dare they respect our fallen soldiers while Larry Northern is trying to careen across the road!

Wow, I think I may have swallowed my Conservative Stupidity quota for the entire week in one go. Guess it's football, movies, and Angelina Jolie and/or Rachel McAdams from now until Friday or Saturday . . .

Better late than never, I guess.

Due to technical issues that pretty much put my computer on the DL for the entire weekend, I totally whiffed on my responsibilities as part of Pandagon's Blog Like a Conservative Day. So, uh, let me just say that the potent thought and iron-clad logic of liberal blogs like Steve Audio and Obsidian Wings are irrefutable proof of the superiority of the liberal blogosphere. Pandagon, naturally, has much more to say on this subject, and it goes without saying that they are 100-percent correct in absolutely every one of their points. The sheer brilliance of their positions is such that anyone who disagrees with them, even slightly, is clearly an America-hater, Islamofascist sympathizer, or worse.

Furthermore, liberal blogger Matt Lavine is proof not only of the superiority of liberals but also of Kenyon College, to every other institute of higher learning other than the University of Georgia, of course, and obviously not in football.

So there you have it. More posts as events warrant, or as George Soros and his coterie of Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy Overlords operating out of the secret underground headquarters permit me.

Friday, August 19

Then I entered in "Hummer H2" and "around the block," and I got the same answer.

This morning on Headline News they mentioned a Web site that's actually kind of worthwhile for people who want to do something other than buy useless junk or keep up with how fat and sloppy Britney Spears has gotten -- the AAA's fuel cost calculator asks you for the starting and destination points of your trip and the year and model of your car and then spits out a number indicating how much you can expect to pay for gas.

F'rinstance, when I drive from the B-hizzy to Atlanta this weekend in my 2000 Jetta, the calculator says I'll probably end up blowing $27.70 on gas. Incidentally, for $11.30 more, I could buy a one-way plane ticket on Southwest from here to New Orleans. Hmmmm . . . I'm starting to rethink my weekend plans.

Friday Random Ten, Football Is Coming Edition.

Just go the fantasy football league set up on AOL yesterday, which means the Big Ass Football League will be returning for a seventh straight season. The start of the NFL season is just 20 days away; the first college games kick off in thirteen. If all this isn't a cause to celebrate, I don't know what is.

1. Tears for Fears, "Mr. Pessimist"
2. Outkast, "Ms. Jackson"
3. Beck, "Hollywood Freaks"
4. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "Learning to Fly"
5. A Tribe Called Quest, "The Infamous Date Rape"
6. The Dust Brothers, "This Is Your Life"
7. Patton Oswalt, "'80s Metal"
8. Nanci Griffith, "Red Brick Floor"
9. The Dust Brothers, "Chemical Burn"
10. Pet Shop Boys, "Two Divided By Zero"

Your turn, commenters . . .

Thursday, August 18

Grease is the word.

I was kind of surprised when I read that Waffle House is turning 50 this year, because I would've figured it was a lot older than that. I mean, yeah, the '50s was kind of the decade in which the diner-style restaurant really took off, but doesn't it seem like Waffle House has been around forever? Can't you just picture 1920s flappers pulling up to Waffle Houses in their Model T Fords after a long night of partying at the speakeasy? OK, maybe it's just me.

So many fond memories of the Waffle House -- most of them having taken place a) no earlier than 2 a.m. and b) in a drunken stupor, but hey, quit judging me. I have the distinction of having met the hottest Waffle House waitress in history, which I know is like saying I met the world's fattest anorexic, but fo' really, she was a friend of mine from high school who went to Auburn and, for a time, worked her way through school at the Waffle House on College Avenue. I don't know quite why she did it -- I think more than anything she just wanted to have a story to tell -- but there you go.

Waffle Houses in college towns are the best just because of the sheer volume of drunk college kids swarming them after last call. The one at Five Points in Athens had to have a security guard monitoring it all through the night, the crowds got so big. In effect, he was a bouncer. A Waffle House with a bouncer. Who would've ever imagined? "OK, you, you, and you. Not you. You're not on the list. No hash browns for you, assface."

Feel free to share your favorite Waffle House memories in the comments thread. Extra points if you can name three or more of the Waffle House-centered jukebox songs right off the top of your head.

Friday, August 12

Friday Random Ten.

A post here, a post there, and then it's off to party in Atlanta, suckas.

1. Texas, "Saint"
2. Big Country, "In a Big Country"
3. New Order, "Temptation"
4. Avenue Q cast, "The Internet is for Porn" (lyrics here)
5. DJ Shadow, "Organ Donor"
6. Snoop Doggy Dogg, "Serial Killa"
7. The Clash, "Ghetto Defendant"
8. Radiohead, "Paranoid Android"
9. Love Jones, "Paid for Loving"
10. Steppenwolf, "Magic Carpet Ride"

Now it's audience participation time, so take it away, commenters . . .

No stories about making out during "Schindler's List," please.

My good friend Benjie posted an interesting question on his blog yesterday that I now pose to y'all:

Where do you like to go to the movies when you like to go to the movies? What's been your best experience at a cinema? What's your favorite movie house, and why do you love it?

Well, my first response to "favorite movie house" was going to be the theatre at the Tate Student Center at UGA, but probably every Georgia grad says that. So my answer 1(a) has to be the Carmike 7 on Sidney Simons Boulevard in Columbus, Georgia. It was never especially scenic, and it's not even open anymore -- just sitting there empty and decrepit until some kindly soul decides to buy it and turn it into an art cinema, and I'll be honest, we don't really dig on artsy-fartsy movies down there in C-Town -- but I do have some great memories of going to see movies with friends there during high schoo. The best of those, of course, was the time my best friend Matt and I went to see "Pulp Fiction" right when it first came out, before the entire world had come to know how kick-ass it was. We went to school the next day telling everyone what an awesome movie we'd just seen, and over the next few weeks we ended up becoming singlehandedly responsible for getting half of Columbus to see it. I probably went back five or six times myself, just taking various friends so that they could see it too. One of them was this girl I was "just friends" with even though I had a massive crush on her -- she was a cheerleader, SGA treasurer, hugely popular, you know, all that stuff -- and I remember thinking wow, here I was taking her to see this great, edgy, still-not-yet-widely-known thing and maybe, just maybe, that would make her think I was cool. Ahh, high school.

Runner-up is the $1.50 theatre in Lynchburg, Virginia. If I remember correctly, the movies were knocked down to a dollar on Tuesdays and the matinees were half-price, so my co-worker Megan and I would try and finish the final proof of each week's magazine and race it off to the printer before 4:00 p.m. on Tuesdays so that we could get to the cheap theatre before 5:00 and see a movie for fifty cents. Our regular excursions to the cheap theatre ended up being called Shitty Movie Tuesdays because boy, did we see some godawful movies there. I'm talking about stuff like "The Skulls" and "Eye of the Beholder" (anybody remember that one? Ewan McGregor, Ashley Judd running around in all different kinds of wigs, didn't make a lick of sense?), and then of course "Body Shots," which not only won the SMT Lifetime Achievement Award but also apparently inspired Tara Reid to actually become the character of skanky Sara Olswang in real life.

Good times.

But anyway, let me hear about your favorite movie houses in the comments thread. (And if you want to say the Tate Center theatre, go ahead. There's no better place to see "The Exorcist" at midnight on a Saturday, and if you've never seen the UGA Student Union logo that looks like the MGM logo only with a bulldog instead of a lion, and the bulldog starts barking and the entire theatre barks along with him . . . that's a little piece of your life that's just going to stay unfulfilled until you do.)

Thursday, August 11

The grinches who stole opening day.

I don't know whether this story is a better testament to the heart and overall awesomeness of Bulldog Nation or the overall stick-up-their-assedness of the NCAA, but I'm trying to be positive, so I'll say it's the first one:

ATHENS -- A group of Georgia football fans took up a collection to pay for a Boise State player's father to fly from Baghdad to see his son play against the Bulldogs in Athens.

But the NCAA rule book got in the way.

Dan Miller, father of Broncos sophomore guard Tad Miller, is a retired police lieutenant who is training Iraqi police officers.

When Sam Hendrix of Signal Mountain, Tenn. -- "suthndawg" to his fellow Georgia fans on the Dawgvent, an Internet message board -- read a story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the Millers, he started an online movement to raise the $2,700 it will cost Dad to make it to Sanford Stadium to see his son play in the home opener Sept. 3.

"Within moments of suthndawg's post, there were 25 to 50 people who offered to pledge money," said Ryan Crowe, a 25-year-old legal assistant from Atlanta who offered to collect and distribute the funds. "It just took off from there."

But when Crowe checked with the two schools, he was told the UGA fans' generosity would be a violation of NCAA bylaws regarding extra benefits and expenses for student athletes and their families.

"Ironically, by providing this money, these [Georgia] fans would in effect become Boise State boosters," said Amy Chisholm, UGA's assistant athletics director for compliance. The NCAA defines a booster as "a representative of an institution's athletics interests."

Wait, so Tennessee's Tee Martin can accept $4,500 for "car repairs" from Dianne Sanford because she "wasn't considered a booster," but a bunch of big-hearted Georgia fans can't pay for a player's dad to come home from Iraq and watch his son play for the opposing team?!? Funny how when Tee Martin came into all that cash, the definition of booster was "someone who has supported the school in the past," but when some Dawg fans want to pay Dan Miller's way home from Baghdad, all of a sudden now the definition is "anyone who gives any money to anybody."

OK, I'm getting ranty and negative here, and I promised myself I wouldn't do that. The point is, Georgia fans are awesome. (Oh, and Tennessee sucks, but that's secondary.) Any questions?

Wednesday, August 10

Oh, sure, but when Paris Hilton looks at them, she's a skank.

By now the entire world should have a pretty good idea that Focus on the Family grand inquisitor leader James Dobson is a major-league wack job, but boy, when someone rails against SpongeBob Squarepants' efforts to indoctrinate our children into homosexuality and then manages to come up with something even nuttier than that, well, "major-league wack job" just doesn't seem to cut it anymore.

Dobson recently issued seven signs that your child is becoming a homosexual. Now, if the "signs" in question were stuff like "got caught making out with other boys at school" or "asks for the Streisand box set for Christmas," OK, I could see how that might help tip you off that your child is getting all gayed up. But FoF, in their infinite wisdom concerning all things sexual, have managed to select seven signs that pretty much ensure every young boy between the ages of 5 and 11 are in danger of becoming gay. "A strong feeling that they are "different" from other boys"? What, like no straight kid has ever thought they were different from everyone else? "A strong preference to spend time in the company of girls"? Hey, if your son prefers hanging out with girls, couldn't that just mean he's a major-league pimp (or whatever the elementary-school equivalent is)?

My favorite "sign" is number five, "A susceptibility to be bullied by other boys, who may tease them unmercifully and call them 'queer,' 'fag,' or 'gay.' " Hey, that's great. I'm sure our nation's children feel so much better knowing that their sexuality is in the hands of total asshole brats over whom they have no control. I think Sadly, No!'s response sums it up pretty well: "In other words, a susceptibility to be bullied by boys who were raised by people like James Dobson."

But all this business about telltale signs of gayness is just the setup to the punchline, the "money shot," if you will, which Bradford Plumer graciously passes along for your education. Here's how Dobson suggests you wash that gay right outta your kid's hair:

[T]he boy's father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son's maleness. He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son, in ways that are decidedly different from the games he would play with a little girl. He can help his son learn to throw and catch a ball. He can teach him to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard. He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.

Hey, yeah, that's a great idea! Make sure your son sees some dick! Only make sure it's a big dick, because if there's one thing gay guys hate, it's huge penises!

If you have any idea what word or phrase accurately describes Dobson's true staggering level of utter bat-poop craziness, give a brother a hand and put it in the comments thread. But if you can't come up with anything, that's OK, I understand.

Schadenfreude, part 2.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that this is probably the closest Jennifer Wilbanks has ever gotten to a lawnmower in her entire life. Posted by Picasa

Since that poor schlub she ran out on still wants to marry her, though, I think the Gwinnett County authorities should really put the screws to her and make her get married in this getup. No cathedral-length Vera Wang gown for you, girlie, it's a prison vest and jeans! Hope your bridesmaids' dresses go with orange!

Then she has to clean up the church fellowship hall all by herself.

Schadenfreude: It's what's for dinner.

Far be it from me to take pleasure in the misfortune of others . . . well, no, wait, that's pretty much what I do all the time.

Anyway, I may be coming to this particular party pretty late, but TBOGG called attention today to a hilarious story (passed along to him through some other folks) about what happens when you're the lead singer of a formerly popular arena-rock band that rhymes with "Greed" and the clock has just ticked over to 15:00, and the horny groupies just aren't lining up outside your trailer like they used to, and you're forced to slink up to a Denny's in Gainesville, Florida, to meet up with a girl who might let you get some tail. Aparently, it goes a lot like this.

Now, I've never been one to give the University of Florida props for much of anything, but if they have students smart enough to pull off a prank this hilarious, then they can't be all bad.

Tuesday, August 9

See the D-P-R-K! . . . In your Chev-ro-let!

A couple years ago, somebody passed along to me a link to the official Web site of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea -- that'd be the more Northern of the two Koreas, the socialist one ruled by the guy who thinks he's god and stuff. In the blog I was contributing to at the time, I described it as what you might see on "The Simpsons" if Homer decided the family was going on vacation to North Korea and wanted to learn more about it on the Web; it was one of those fascinating little moments of complete sincerity coupled with complete bat-poop-craziness.

Apparently someone in Kim Jong Il's administration thought it was a little dated-looking, however. Courtesy a (really hilarious) post by Matt Lavine last week, I found that the DPRK has really sexed up its Web site in an apparent effort to convince outside visitors that the country is not, in fact, mired in deplorable oppression and unrelenting poverty. Naw, it's actually great over there!

In the Korean News section, you can read this press release in which North Koreans are said to be ecstatically thankful to the late Kim Il Sung for giving "rebirth to the people who had been subjected to the mediaeval tyranny, backbreaking labor and maltreatment, deprived of their country by the Japanese imperialists." Yeah, why outsource your mediaeval tyranny and backbreaking labor and maltreatment when your own people can do it cheaper? Here you can read the biography of Kim Jong Il -- completely factual and unbiased, no doubt -- and at the bottom of the main page you can read a folk tale about "Hwang the Stubborn from Pyongyang."

The thing is, the site is actually fairly clean and well designed, and the Webmasters have done a surprisingly good job of making the DPRK look like it's all sunshine and puppy dogs over there. But then you get to the section of Kim Jong Il's "anecdotes" and you can read thrilling stories about how Kim personally made the sun come out in Russia one time and how he has the "extraordinary insight" to know the proper temperature for sterilizing vegetables. It's kind of like chatting up a girl at a bar who looks reasonably cute and fun, and only after you've been talking for 30 or 45 minutes does she mention that she worships a deity who returns to Earth every 20 years in the form of an albino cockroach.

Anyway, if you want to put North Korea on your list of travel destinations, you can peep the airline timetable here. You go first.

Sunday, August 7

What the Clintons have been up to lately.

You might think that Bill and Hillary Clinton have been much too busy assembling the Clintonian People's Revolutionary Army that will soon mount a bloody coup d'etat to overturn our nation's very system of democracy and install Madame Hitlery in the White House where she and her left-wing commie pinko regime can rule the nation with a ruthless iron Feminazi fist . . . but it turns out they've found time to ruin the country in other ways.

So sayeth the indefatigable steel-trap-like minds of the right wing, who have, as usual, been keeping tabs on the Clintons and reporting tirelessly on their nefarious schemes. Bill, it turns out, has been busy convincing Rafael Palmeiro to take steroids -- I'll just bet it was horndog Bill who told Raffy to do those Viagra commercials, the knave -- while Hillary was the one who leaked Valerie Plame's name to the media. Karl Rove didn't do it, see, it was Hillary, who framed poor Unka Karl! Diabolical!

Still no word yet on how Bill and Hillary are actually responsible for the roadside bombing that killed 14 U.S. soldiers in Iraq last week, the Air France plane crash in Toronto, or the fact that the Nationals are 6-16 since the All-Star break, but rest assured that as soon as they figure out how to make these connections, we'll bring the news to you.

All this is just more reason why I just laugh when I read nonsense like this (don't even ask me what Google search led me to this particular circle of conservative hell):

Last week I mentioned how (in general) liberals hate George W. Bush although conservatives never hated Bill Clinton, according to what both sides admit about themselves.

Right. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get on my unicorn and ride off in search of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, which I will then use to purchase the Brooklyn Bridge. Updates as events warrant.

Saturday, August 6

In response to Hank Williams Jr.'s question: Yes.

OK, so it didn't mean anything either in the grand scheme of things or the NFL standings, but the Atlanta Falcons beat the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL's first pre-season game behind two touchdown passes from my Wahoo homey Matt Schaub, so that's something good. My Blazer homey Roddy White caught one pass for, uh . . . -1 yards, but hey, he's a rookie. He'll get there.

Meanwhile, in the world of college football, USA Today announced the results of their preseason coaches' poll on Friday, and it goes a little something like this:

1. Southern California (60 first-place votes)
2. Texas (2)
3. Tennessee
4. Michigan
5. Oklahoma
6. LSU
7. Virginia Tech
8. Miami (Fla.)
9. Ohio State
10. Iowa
11. Florida
12. Florida State
13. Georgia
14. Louisville
15. Auburn
16. Purdue
17. Texas A&M
18. Arizona State
19. Boise State
20. California
21. Texas Tech
22. Boston College
23. Virginia
24. Alabama
25. Pittsburgh

Lucky number 13 sounds about right for the Dawgs. I might've dropped them a slot to 14 -- I think should be ranked above FSU at this point, at least until the Seminoles can straighten out their QB situation, but below Louisville and Purdue -- but I'll take them where they are. My guess is they'll probably lose at least one game they should've won, upset at least one team they should've lost to, and come out of the regular season with 8 or 9 wins and a third-place finish in the Eastern Division, along with an invitation to play Iowa or Michigan in the Outback Bowl.

As far as the national-title game goes, I'm guessing Southern Cal vs. Ohio State, but I'm not putting any money on it just yet.

Anyway, we've talked politics enough on this frickin' blog, so it's time to talk about something important for once -- consider this an open thread to discuss everything football. Where your college team will end up, who you like in the NFL, which teams are underrated/overrated, that sort of thing.

Oh, also if you want to help me pick out a name for my fantasy team, go ahead and make some suggestions. I'm thinking about going back to The Sloppy Seconds, which buoyed me to double-digit wins and playoff appearances in '01 and '02, but I'm not averse to something topical, like the Last Throes or the Fightin' Scientologists. Any name will be considered as long as it looks good on a league-championship trophy I can lord over these two bastards.

Off you go!

Just in case anyone was curious . . .

. . . Frappuccinos are still delicious, Georgia Tech still sucks, and George W. Bush is still floundering.

First off, his overall approval rating is now down to 42 percent. For anything other than a batting average, forty-two percent ain't gonna get you real far in life, kids. His approval rating specifically regarding his handling of the Iraq war -- oops, my bad, the struggle against ideological extremists who do not believe in free societies who happen to use terror as a weapon to try to shake the conscience of the free world -- is at 38 percent, even worse.

But go back to that first linked article and you find that for the first time, a majority of people don't think that Bush is honest -- fully half the people polled don't think he's honest, while only 48 percent do. (OK, sure, the numbers are close, but going by the standards Republicans used to crow about the 2004 election results, we anti-Bushies now have a mandate to call Bush a liar.)

Anyway, I now officially reserve the right to roll my eyes and make the jerk-off hand gesture anytime someone refers to Dubya as "popular," "honest," or "strong on terror."

But faced with this sort of mounting criticism and the deadliest roadside bomb attack since the start of the Iraq war, Bush did what any serious War President would do: He went on a month-long vacation.

Glad he's enjoying himself.

Friday, August 5

Friday Random Ten.

My apartment has air-conditioning again and the weekend has begun.

1. Blondie, "Rapture"
2. U2, "Until the End of the World"
3. A Tribe Called Quest, "Rhythm (Devoted to the Art of Moving Butts)"
4. Pet Shop Boys, "Domino Dancing"
5. Pet Shop Boys, "Somebody Else's Business"
6. Nanci Griffith, "Leaving the Harbor"
7. Oasis, "Champagne Supernova"
8. My Bloody Valentine, "Soon"
9. Clinic, "Harmony"
10. The Stone Roses, "Fool's Gold"

Friday Bostonblogging.

Got some pictures of Jenna kickin' it at my parents' house in Columbus last weekend. Regrettably, I can't post video on here or you'd get to see Jenna rolling around in the monkey grass and rocketing back and forth across the back yard at top speed.

Here's Jenna chilling with moms on Friday night. Posted by Picasa

The next morning, Jenna meets Carrie the cat on the back patio, and the standoff begins. Posted by Picasa

First Jenna does, uh, what dogs typically do. (I guess this is the equivalent of sumo wrestlers bowing to each other before a match.) Posted by Picasa

More sniffing, and Carrie's like, "Man, what the f$#!." Posted by Picasa

Jenna assumes the Crouching Tiger position and prepares to pounce . . . Posted by Picasa

But finally Carrie's like "Whatever, dude," and retreats beneath the patio furniture. Posted by Picasa

Eventually Jenna decides that annoying the crap out of cats is hard work, and crashes out on the couch. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 4

There's just no pleasing some people.

By now I'm sure everyone's heard about the crash of the Air France jetliner in Toronto in which the plane went skidding off the runway and down into a ravine and burst into flames. Somehow all 309 people on board managed to get the hell out of the plane with their lives, which, if not a miracle, still qualifies as a pretty momentous achievement.

So I couldn't help but single out this quote from one of the passengers . . .

"It happened so quickly; it was a little bit like being in a movie," said Gwen Dunlop of Toronto, who was returning from a vacation in France.

. . .

"One of the hostesses said, `You can calm down, it's OK,' and yet the plane was on fire and smoke was pouring in," Dunlop told The AP. "I don't like to criticize, but the staff did not seem helpful or prepared."

Lady, I don't like to criticize either -- well, no, clearly I love to do that -- but if all 309 people managed to make it out of the burning hulk of an Airbus A340 alive, then I'd say yeah, the staff were apparently both helpful and prepared. And though it may have seemed incongruous for the flight attendant to say "You can calm down, it's OK," that was probably much more appropriate and helpful in the long run than saying "Everybody panic, we're all gonna diiiiie!!!!"

Somehow I can just picture this woman being miffed because one of the flight attendants wouldn't help her yank her overstuffed Prada bag out of the overhead compartment before they led her to the emergency exit. And then, of course, the inflatable emergency ramp was uncomfortable and scratchy and gave her a run in her stocking, and then when she went back for her shoes they were covered with that flame-retardant foam the fire crew was using so of course they were ruined . . .

OK, sorry, I'm really done now.

Wednesday, August 3

What happens when conservatives have nothing better to do.

Courtesy of a comments thread at Sadly, No!, we bring you the next big thing in conservative thought. It's controversial! It's hard-hitting! It's . . . a comic book!

Behold . . . "Liberality For All."

It is 2021, tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of 9/11 It is up to an underground group of bio-mechanically enhanced conservatives led by Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North to thwart Ambassador Usama Bin Laden's plans to nuke New York City ...And wake the world from an Orwellian nightmare of United Nations- dominated ultra-liberalism.

But wait, I thought conservatives were against this whole idea of bioengineering and messing with the gift of life God has given us. So couldn't one make the case that the "bio-mechanically enhanced" Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North are guilty of crimes against nature?

Well, that's a debate for another day. Really, you have to read the "plot synopsis" of "Liberality for All." It makes Ann Coulter sound positively sane.

America?s future has become an Orwellian nightmare of ultra-liberalism. Beginning with the Gore Presidency, the government has become increasingly dominated by liberal extremists.

In 2004, Muslim terrorists stopped viewing the weakened American government as a threat; instead they set their sites on their true enemies, vocal American conservatives. On one dark day, in 2006, many conservative voices went forever silent at the hands of terrorist assassins. Those which survived joined forces and formed a powerful covert conservative organization called "The Freedom of Information League", aka F.O.I.L.

. . .

Two decades of negotiation with the U.N., and America?s administration of 2021 (President Chelsea Clinton and Vice President Michael Moore), has culminated in a truce with fundamentalist Islamic terrorists, or so America is told. The honorable ambassador from Afghanistan has come to NYC to address the U.N., his name is Usama Bin Laden. Ambassador Bin Laden has announced that he plans a public apology for the "misunderstanding" of the events of 9/11. This apology will occur exactly 20 years to the minute the first plane hit the WTC; this will be on the observation deck at the newly renamed "Unity Tower" built on the hollowed grounds where the WTC once stood.

I don't know what's funnier -- the fact that someone apparently thinks "liberality" is an actual word; the fact that conservatives still have such a major-league persecution complex despite controlling the White House, both houses of Congress, and the Supreme Court; or this panel from the comic book, which depicts the heroic (and biomechanically enhanced) Sean Hannity broadcasting from what appears to be a HDTV-equipped Port-O-Let. He's been driven underground, see, but he's still not going to end his quest for the truth!

Christ. If a half-wit like Sean Hannity is our last hope for humanity, wouldn't that be a pretty clear indication that it's time to just kill yourself?

Perhaps I shouldn't make fun. The creators of "Liberality for All" appear to have some superpowers of their own, not the least of which is the ability to see into the future:

LIBERALITY FOR ALL #1 is getting major publicity in the talk-radio world, with much more to come. To our knowledge, no book in over 10 years will be made known to so many people, outside the comic community.

Wow. Do you think if I e-mailed these guys, they could tell me what I'll be doing over the next 10 years?

WARNING: Expect this to sell out very fast.

Noted. Readers, rush out and get "Liberality for All" before it's too late.

Tuesday, August 2

I would've called it As I Lay Lying, but that's just me . . .

Courtesy TBOGG, we have what I would call the Funniest Literary Parody of the Year if it weren't in fact the Funniest Thing Period of the Year.

Herewith, the 2005 winner of the "Faux Faulkner" competition, "The Administration and the Fury":

Down the hall, under the chandelier, I could see them talking. They were walking toward me and Dick s face was white, and he stopped and gave a piece of paper to Rummy, and Rummy looked at the piece of paper and shook his head. He gave the paper back to Dick and Dick shook his head. They disappeared and then they were standing right next to me.

"Georgie s going to walk down to the Oval Office with me," Dick said.

"I just hope you got him all good and ready this time," Rummy said.

"Hush now," Dick said. "This aint no laughing matter. He know lot more than folks think." Dick patted me on the back good and hard. "Come on now, Georgie," Dick said. "Never mind you, Rummy."

We walked down steps to the office. There were paintings of old people on the walls and the room was round like a circle and Condi was sitting on my desk. Her legs were crossed.

"Did you get him ready for the press conference?" Dick said.

"Dont you worry about him. He ll be ready," Condi said. Condi stood up from the desk. Her legs were long and she smelled like the Xeroxed copies of the information packets they give me each day.

I don't know. Maybe it's only funny if you at least minored in English. But still, effin' brilliant.

Monday, August 1

The unbearable hotness of being.

Let me explain what it's like to lose your air conditioning in Alabama in July.

If you're lucky -- sorry, let me put some air quotes around that -- if you're "lucky," it goes out while you're there in the apartment, so you hear the thing grind to a halt and make the call to the maintenance people right away. Or you don't notice it right away, and the situation only makes itself apparent to you when you realize a couple hours later that the place has gotten uncomfortably stuffy. Kind of like the frog in the pot of water on the stove: You're hot, but at least you don't know that you're hot.

If you're somewhat less lucky, it conks out while you're asleep and you wake up the next morning with your sheets drenched in sweat, and there's this split-second of abject terror as you make the transition from dreamland to consciousness because you think someone's trying to smother you with a pillow, only it's actually just the air around you which is at 150-percent humidity and superheated to 100-plus degrees.

And if you're really unlucky, you come home semi-drunk and exhausted from a party one night and all you want to do is drink a tall cold glass of water to stave off the hangover and go to sleep, and when you walk in the door it's like someone throwing a bucket of warm bathwater in your face, and so much for fighting the hangover because it's going. To be. A long night.

You know how it feels when you walk into a bathroom where someone's just taken a hot shower? Well, imagine your whole house being like that. And the air isn't moving at all. The air inside your living space is like the standing water you find in old truck tires that have collected weeks worth of rainwater and become laden with mosquito eggs, only in gas form. You open some windows to try to get some air flowing through your house, but all that does is let some 95-degree air in to swirl the 105-degree air around. It's like your friend saying "Hey, let's do some tequila shots!" and then giving you a shot of warm Bacardi as the chaser.

Instead of going back into the depths of your bedroom to go to sleep, you crash on the couch in the room where there seems to be the greatest breeze flowing through, but within minutes your coach feels like a charcoal briquet. You can't flip any of the cushions or pillows over looking for the cool spot because there is no cool spot. And every time you shift or roll over you're reminded of how sweaty you are, almost as if you've been hosed down. You make a mental note to burn the couch before you leave the next morning.

When you do wake up, the place has cooled down maybe four or five degrees during the night but you can feel it starting back up again. Everything that used to feel cold feels hot. You turn on the cold water full blast for your shower but it doesn't feel as cold as you were expecting. After a minute or two, the milk in your cereal tastes like somebody heated it up for a baby's bottle or something. You don't bother to put your bagel in the toaster because you know all you have to do is leave it out on the counter for 15 minutes or so and it'll be ready to go.

You call the apartment company's maintenance people and leave a message with them before you go to work, trying to sound as pitiful as possible. Maybe you make up a non-existent kid or two and mention that this morning they started hallucinating that the sun on the Raisin Bran box was talking to them. You leave for work, sweat already running down your body and it's only 8 a.m., praying that the maintenance folks will have heard your cry in the wilderness.

You come home on your lunch break and see the air-conditioning unit in pieces all over the floor. Somebody's been here. Progress is being made. For the first time, there is hope.

You come home again at the end of the day, needing a machete to hack through air as thick as warm Jell-O that punches you in the face the minute you walk through the door, and make your way to the reassembled A/C unit. You flip the switch. Nothing happens. Between the stagnant air and the silence from the A/C unit, it's as quiet as deep space. And you know that, just as if you were in deep space, nobody will hear you scream.

You start calling hotels.