Saturday, December 31

The absolute rock bottom of 2005.

As promised, here's my personal list of the 10 Worst Things of 2005. You'll notice that there aren't any obvious items like Hurricane Katrina, the deaths of 800+ soldiers in Iraq, bird flu or that kind of thing; those are pretty much givens. I wanted to make a list of the political and/or pop-cultural aspects of American life in '05 whose detrimental effects might not have been quite so immediate or obvious. Basically, these are 10 things that won't make the history books but still made life shittier in the past year (and, in most cases, probably beyond). We begin:

10. The rapid decline of Tara Reid
Sure, Britney Spears's has been bigger and more publicized, but that's been happening for quite a while now. In fact, Reid's downfall might be even worse, because she had Britney's descent into white-trash whoredom as a cautionary tale and still went down the same dark path anyway -- if anything, she looks like she's been making every effort to emulate Britney's as closely as possible. In less than a year, Tara Reid managed to shed the chrysalis of the perky, fresh-faced blonde from the "American Pie" flicks and emerge as the kind of nasty, overly-made-up, perpetually drunk embarrassment who makes Paris Hilton look like Sandra Day O'Connor. (In the picture at right, you'll notice that even Paris is looking at Tara like, "Ugh, what was I thinking bringing her out in public? She's an even bigger gorgon than Nicole Richie.") Make that an embarrassment with one of the worst boob jobs in recorded history (absolutely NSFW, but then you knew that). Worst of all, she has been encouraged in this behavior in ways even Britney was not, as the E! network gave her her own show, "Taradise," that was basically a platform for her to continue her drunken-whoreness. Thanks to E! and Reid, skanky has become the new black, and while I hate to sound like one of those Focus on the Family dillbags, someday this attempted veneration of white trashiness is going to start having a very palpable detrimental effect on society. Not to mention boobs. Just you wait.

9. ESPN's constant fellation of USC
Look, we all know the Trojans of Southern California are a good football team. They've won 34 games straight, not to mention the last two national titles (OK, the last 1.5), and have scored an average of 50 points a game as they went wire-to-wire as #1 in both major polls this season. Yet ESPN apparently doesn't trust us football fans to take their excellence as a given, because every five minutes they have to come up with something new to drill the point into our skulls, to the exclusion of just about every other team out there -- including Texas, the fellow 12-0 team USC will be facing in the Rose Bowl. Texas has scored more points per game this season than USC, allowed seven points fewer per game than USC, and did not have to mount second-half comebacks against teams like Arizona State (6-5) or Fresno State (8-4). Yet it was Southern Cal, not Texas, that ESPN hypothetically pitted against great teams of the past to answer the question OMG is USC the best college football team ever??!!!1!!1! The always entertaining Jonathan Chait of Slate magazine ably dissects that particular stunt and the talking heads who abetted it here (hat tip to EDSBS for the link), so I'll simply break the sad news to ESPN that the greatest net result from all this shenanigans has been to convince millions of otherwise uncommitted football fans across America to root for Texas just to see Mark May, Lou Holtz, et al. look like total idiots (by which I of course mean bigger idiots than they already look like). Mark May, I should probably point out, I'm already biased against because of his well-documented inability to give Georgia any props whatsoever; if Georgia had run the table this year and gone on to destroy USC 49-7 in the Rose Bowl, after which D.J. Shockley raced across the field to administer life-saving CPR to a Trojan assistant coach suffering from a heart attack, May would spend 20 minutes of the post-game show explaining how Georgia's inability to break 50 on the Trojans means that USC's legacy as the greatest college-football dynasty of the modern era is still intact, and probably ended with a parting shot about how Shockley isn't a certified EMT. But perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself here.

8. Internet fads
None of us find unsolicited e-mail ads for cheap Viagra, Internet porn, or fly-by-night "university" degrees to be entertaining. So why aren't unsolicited e-mails containing links to the latest JibJab short or Webcam idiot also tagged as "spam"? We've gotten to the point where any overweight, talent-free wack job can film himself brandishing an aluminum pole like a light sabre and not only become famous (if only temporarily), but get an entire CNN segment devoted to his so-called "phenomenon." Again, this goes back to the whole Tara Reid Effect whereby being a complete tool is becoming a surefire exit ramp to fame and riches, and while it apparently worked for any number of people in the Bush administration, I don't think it's a trend we should be celebrating.

7. Terrell Owens
Quite possibly the whiniest, most selfish crybaby in the history of team cancers. It was everyone else's fault he wasn't happy in San Francisco; he didn't want to go to Baltimore because they weren't good enough for him; then he went to Philly and everything was peachy for precisely one season -- until he decided out of the blue that helping the Eagles get one full round further into the NFL postseason before succumbing to inevitable collapse merited him a new contract, only one year into his current one. And just like that, the wheels came off. The QB that Owens had been so delighted to play with just a year before suddenly became a loser who wasn't fit to toss a pigskin in T.O.'s direction, and as Owens's self-concocted controversy further engulfed the Eagles organization, the team backslid into mediocrity until Donovan McNabb's injury finally put the nail into the shark-jumped coffin of the Eagles' season. The worst part of this is that Owens, through either his charisma or Uri Geller-like hypnotism powers nobody knew about, was apparently able to convince at least a few people that it was not his fault but McNabb's that the Eagles went from NFC champions to fallen souffles in 2005 -- meaning that once the Eagles sever ties with McNabb for good, it's only a matter of time before some other team gets suckered in by T.O. And then we get to start this whole stupid process over again.

6. The "runaway bride"
I've already excoriated the perpetually coked-up-looking Jennifer Wilbanks at length on this blog, already made all the jokes I could make at the expense of both her and the numbnut who apparently still wants to walk down the aisle with her even after everything that happened. So I'll simply say that the next time something like this happens -- and you just know it will -- the bride in question had better be way hotter than Jennifer Wilbanks. Preferably with some topless photos somewhere in her past. I mean, at least make it somewhat worth my time.

5. Kevin Federline breeding
I've expounded on this one at length, too, though I want to make it very clear that I'm not calling out Kev and Britney's innocent child as one of the worst things of 2005. The child didn't have a choice in the matter. However, the mere fact that there is any woman in North America who would allow the Federpenis to come within 50 feet of her is indeed a black mark on our society. In an announcement on his Web site that he's self-distributing a new single (presumably because it got laughed out of every legitimate record company in the country), K-Fed says ominously, "I am coming." Yeah, Kev, we know. And that's the problem.

4. Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
The fact that Ohio's Jean Schmidt could get elected to anything inspires a level of "How the fuck did you get here?" incredulity equivalent to the revelation that somebody somewhere actually signed Ashlee Simpson to a record deal, but at the end of the day, Schmidt is neither smart nor influential enough to impact the country with anything more than a few monolithically stupid remarks made from the floor of Congress. Young, however, is the chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and thus was able to grab $231 million in taxpayer money for a bridge to an uninhabited Alaska island, a bridge whose sole purpose appears to be so that Young can name something else after himself. Young bragged that he stuffed the transportation bill that included the bridge "like a turkey," and yelled at anyone who dared suggest that perhaps the money would be better spent rebuilding interstate bridges on the Gulf Coast that people, you know, actually drive on sometimes. This guy represents a frozen wasteland whose population is lower than Birmingham's, yet he has somehow amassed enough influence to blow hundreds of millions of dollars on vanity projects. I've been vociferously opposed to oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but the mere existence of Don Young is enough to make me support a bill that would suck all the oil out of ANWR, then give the state back to Russia.

3. The Terri Schiavo controversy
Another issue on which my opinion is well documented. Apparently the religious right is convinced that the life of one brain-dead woman in Florida is more important than the lives of thousands of sentient people in New Orleans. (So apparently, being brain-dead is more socially acceptable than being low-income . . . like the world needed another reason why it sucks to be poor.) I've asked the question before and I'll ask it again: Between this and the Don Young stuff mentioned above, can we officially put an end to the myth that the Republicans are the party that wants to spend less of your money and get out of your private life? Pretty please?

2. "My Humps"
It was a tossup between this and "Hollaback Girl," but at least the "Hollaback" video redeeed itself somewhat by showing Gwen Stefani's ass early and showing it often. After seeing the picture at right, I'm not sure I want to even come near Fergie's ass, though even if we could prove conclusively that she hadn't actually peed her pants in that photo, she'd still look, in the words of the always-eloquent Ian, "like what would come out if you spliced Carmen Electra's DNA with that of a leather ottoman." And even if she was hot, there's the fact that she refers to her tits and/or ass as "lovely lady lumps." Guys, that's a turnoff equivalent to taking off a girl's pants and finding a baggy pair of granny panties underneath. Or to explain it a different way, any woman over the age of 18 who refers to her "lovely lady lumps" is occupying the same plane of maturity as guys who name their penises. This song, again, ties into my fear that gratuitous classlessness is somehow evolving into a vital key to success in modern American society, because you can't tell me that the Black Eyed Peas didn't know how stupid this shit was when they were writing it. Even with "Hollaback Girl," I can stretch and strain and come up with some larger point Gwen Stefani was trying to make, even if it was insipidly expressed; with "My Humps," though, it really looks as though the Peas went into the assignment with the explicit purpose of writing as horrible a song as possible, just to see if it'd hit. The frog-ringtone remix of "Axel F" from this past summer should've been a sign that people will listen to any old pointless piece of crap as long as somebody hypes it enough; "My Humps" is an even more ominous sign, a sign that we still haven't learned our lesson.

1. Michael Brown
OK, I know I said in the intro that I wasn't going to just slap stuff like Hurricane Katrina on here, but the mere existence of Michael "Heck of a Job" Brown holds a queasy significance that runs deep, deeper even than the scar Hurricane Katrina, by itself, left on our society. The question is not How could Michael Brown have sucked so bad at his job; the question is How could anyone have thought he wouldn't suck from the get-go. This guy got fired from a job running horse shows, for Christ's sake; you can't even find a diehard Republican who thinks he was qualified to head FEMA. But somehow those same folks can't seem to make the connection that Bush bears some of the blame for appointing his incompetent ass in the first place. To me, Brownie was more than just one ass-witted government bureaucrat who'd probably get a celebratory Gatorade bath simply for managing to put his shoes on the right feet; he was a sign of the Bush administration's contempt for the American people and for the day-to-day business of government in general. If you're looking for someone to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency, it stands to reason that you'd appoint someone with experience managing emergency response. This is, after all, the government agency tasked with coordinating post-disaster response and making sure that entire American cities don't devolve into Thunderdome simply for having ended up in the path of a hurricane. It's not the kind of deal like, say, Ambassador to Shlagoongistan, where you know nothing's ever going to happen; for FEMA, you have to actually look for someone who knows what he's doing, given that natural disasters do have an established record of happening even in utopias as wonderful as the United States. But for this rather important, responsibility-laden post, Bush decided that the need for a qualified manager was secondary in importance to his need to find an office he could drop a room-temperature-IQ political crony into. And that, kids, is unacceptable. We can agree to disagree on whether the war was the right thing to do, or whether tax cuts are a good long-term strategy for economic growth, or even on the Dick Cheney: strong, qualified second-in-command or just the Prince of Lies come to Earth in human form? issue. But we can't just agree to disagree on "Brownie," because that was George W. Bush not even pretending to give a shit about what was once a cabinet-level agency. And if that's all the interest you can muster, then I'm pretty sure I don't want you to be president.

This, of course, is by no means a comprehensive list. Feel free to add your own worsts in the comments -- we'll make it like a belated Airing of the Grievances kind of deal, if you're so inclined.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30

Final Friday Random Ten of 2005!

Right, like you care.

Sorry if I seem cranky this morning -- I was awakened at about 4:30 in the morning by Jenna pacing back and forth on my bed like a methhead. So I put her down on the floor, figuring she'd go into her crate and call it a night. But a few minutes later I heard her making some funny noises, and I got up to find that she had pissed, shat, and vomited on the floor. Yahtzee! Suffice to say that after hitting for the cycle in this fashion, she wasn't allowed back up into the bed.

Anyway. Enough with the bodily functions.

1. Joy Division, "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
2. 3rd Bass, "Brooklyn-Queens"
3. Scritti Politti, "A Better Way"
4. Cornershop, "Brimful of Asha"
5. David Bowie, "Hallo Spaceboy"
6. Beck, "Sexx Laws"
7. R.E.M., "Star Me Kitten" (demo version)
8. DJ Shadow, "Changeling"
9. DJ Shadow, "Six Days"
10. Beck, "Satan Gave Me a Taco"

As always, feel free to drop your own in the comments, with the full knowledge that anyone whose 10 contains either "My Humps" or "Hollaback Girl" will be mocked mercilessly well into 2006.

Tuesday, December 27

It's like Christmas in December!

You know those silly, mostly meaningless factoids you sometimes see in USA Today or wherever about how many marbles it would take to fill up the Astrodome and whatnot? Those little factoids aren't nearly as interesting as they first appear, because at some point you realize that you could've lived just as happy and enriching a life never having known that; you can't remember ever having asked the question how many marbles would it take to fill the Astrodome, or how many times would you go around the world if you parked all the Subarus in the world end-to-end, or whatever. But after this past weekend, which I spent in my hometown of Columbus, Georgia, I do have a question along those lines that I would like someone to answer: On average, if you took all the females in Columbus's Peachtree Mall on a given day of business, scraped all their makeup off, and rolled it into a ball, how much would that ball weigh? I'm dying to know this, because after having strolled through the mall on Friday afternoon, I've got to assume it would be incredibly fucking heavy.

That was my first major realization from this past weekend. The other one was, I'm a bad son. Well, maybe not a bad son exactly, but kind of a mercenary one. Every time my mom sent me one of her regular "Don't forget to send me your Christmas list, hint, hint!" e-mails over the past couple months, my response was always the same: Instead of buying me stuff, just follow this four-step process:

1. Write down a list of everything you think I might like that you were considering buying for me.
2. Write down the cash value of each item.
3. Add up the total value of all the items on the list.
4. Write me a check for that amount.

No, it's not exactly the kind of Christmas wish that schmaltzy Hallmark made-for-TV movies are made of, nor the kind of thing that inspires visions of sugarplums dancing in one's head. (If anything, it's the kind of thing that inspires visions of sugarplums dancing in your lap.) But rest assured I wasn't looking for a wad of cash just so I could blow it on strippers. No, I actually needed money -- after flirting with bankruptcy three separate times this month alone (trip to New York, buying Christmas presents for everyone else, throwing the massive Festivus party a couple weeks ago, all in the shadow of a mountain of credit-card debt), I decided that Method Man was right: Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M., get the money, dollar dollar bill y'all. And maybe I'll even be able to fix one of the 4,063 broken things on my car.

Hey, I'm all about releasing my delf, but it'll be a lot easier to do that when my car has air conditioning again, knamean?

But the family went above and beyond the call of duty, writing out checks AND throwing in some non-liquid gifts besides, including, but not exclusive to:

· The ESPN Encyclopedia of College Football, which offers all of ESPN's insight and knowledge into college football without all the constant Southern-Cal-fellating. There's a section on each Division I-A school (and the Ivies), with a brief rundown of each school's history and traditions and records from each season, and guess what? USC's is the same size as Louisiana-Monroe's. If this spirit of egalitarianism was carried over to the actual ESPN television network, you'd be seeing "College Gameday" background pieces on what ULM quarterback Steven Jyles eats for breakfast and long drawn-out discussions on where the '05 Indians squad ranks in comparison to past dynasties such as New Mexico State, who in '96 defeated Southern Utah and came within a 56-point eyelash of what would've been an astonishing upset of LSU. Which is my way of saying it'll never freaking happen.

· The DVD of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," and before anyone asks, no, I do plan on watching the scenes that don't involve Angelina Jolie wearing a vinyl bustier. (But as long as I'm on the subject, would it be horribly greedy of me to remind y'all that still nobody has gotten me the life-sized Angelina stand-up promotional item I asked someone to steal for me all the way back in March?)

· A digital camera, the giver of which apparently requested to remain anonymous, though I have some idea who he/she/they are; and

· The usual menagerie of Georgia stuff, including a shot glass commemorating the 2005 SEC title season. Consider this a newly minted tradition: Georgia wins the SEC, Doug gets an engraved shot glass. Mark Richt, I'm counting on you to ensure that I have a whole cabinet full of them by the time I die.

The least-expected Christmas gift, however, came from right-wing blogger and lifetime-achievement-award-winning GWB fanboy Hugh Hewitt -- or rather his blog, which linked to me the day after Christmas. When I saw in my referral log, I was quite frankly dumbstruck, because the only reason I could think of for them to possibly link to this blog was that somebody had stumbled upon one of my anti-Bush tirades and decided to link to it with a comment along the lines of "Just another sorry leftist who's too stupid to recognize Bush's greatness." Which would be dumb, because of all the lefty blogs they could bitch about, why would they waste time on this one?

As it turned out, I was dead wrong: The link from Hewitt had nothing to do with my political leanings and everything to do with -- wait for it -- the Simpsons post from right after Thanksgiving. Not only that, but it was specifically cited by blogger Mary Katherine Ham, who chose to give the Simpsons thing a shout-out because she, too, is a Georgia alum. I mean, talk about your conflicted feelings. On the one hand, there's a part of me that wants to be outraged that I would be associated with Hugh Hewitt in any way, shape, or form -- but the association is actually a favorable one, somehow, made by a fellow Bulldog. Who's actually kind of hot (though the "Stop Dating Liberals!" ad on her TownHall bio page means that's probably neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things, at least as far as I'm concerned).

So how should I react to all this? In the end my response is threefold: 1) Uh, thanks; 2) Go Dawgs; 3) Be careful whom you link to, Ms. Ham, lest you find yourself connected to a horrible, bleeding-heart, anti-war, baby-killing liberal like myself.

That's pretty much all the news from this weekend, except that my fantasy football team, which had the best regular-season record in the league at 12-3, lost in the semifinal playoff round by 0.57 points. I blame Kenoy Kennedy, whose lazy ass couldn't do any better than 1.5 tackles on Saturday. Though when you have anybody from the Detroit Lions on your fantasy team, you're dancing with the devil as it is. That'll learn me.

For all the good you did me, I might as well have started Method Man.

Tell me all about your own Christmas hauls in the comments thread, as well as any interesting stories from the holiday weekend. Particularly those involving sexy Santa costumes.

Saturday, December 24

And now, a salute to the naughty.

Because if we didn't have naughty, how would we recognize nice when we saw it? Naughty is the yang to nice's yin, the essential dark side, the counterpoint without which nice couldn't exist. As Eddie Murphy said in "Vampire in Brooklyn," "Without bad, there is no good. Without light, there is no dark, you need both these things. You hear what I'm saying? . . . Well, the bottom line, what I'm trying to tell you tonight, is that evil is necessary. Evil is necessary, thereby, if it's necessary, evil . . . must be good."

Anyway, this is just a long-winded way of introducing Hey Jenny Slater's annual salute to the sexy Santa outfit, one of the most underrated Christmas traditions and most underrated costumes, too, now that I think about it. It may play second fiddle to the naughty-schoolgirl outfit, yes, but the naughty schoolgirl has been losing a bit of its luster over the past few years -- partly because of its association with Britney Spears, whose descent into Anna Nicole-esque white-trashdom has been as swift as it has been awe-inspiring, and partly because of its ties to the Catholic Church. Obviously I'm not saying the Catholic church is a bad thing, but it's kind of depressing to consider the irony that the Church is responsible for the naughty-schoolgirl outfit and yet that still wasn't enough to keep its priests from going after little boys when it came time to stray from the fold and bring shame upon an entire religion. (Before anyone accuses me of saying "They should have been molesting teenage girls instead," no, I'm not saying that at all; I'm simply using this to illustrate what a crazy, dysfunctional bed of contradiction the Catholic Church has been ever since its inception, the 2,005th anniversary of which we'll be celebrating tomorrow. Peace be with you, G.)

Anyway, back to the sexy Santa outfit, pictured above on a gaggle of San Diego Chargers cheerleaders. Who are really the most underrated cheerleading squad in the NFL, too, now that I think about it. In fact, I feel a future SAT question coming on:

Sexy Santa outfit : naughty-schoolgirl outfit :: San Diego Chargers cheerleaders : ???

The answer is the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, who, like the naughty-schoolgirl outfit, have the advantage of being the original old-school real deal, yet have been tainted by association with some unsavory characters of late (Britney Spears, a team that hasn't done shit since Switzer left). I could probably take this a lot further, but then I'd be getting into something like the Simpsons/college football post from a few weeks back, and really, you don't want to witness the humiliating spectacle of me trying to cobble together 500 words on how the Washington Redskins are the Playboy bunny costume of NFL teams.

But just as the popularity of the naughty-schoolgirl outfit spiked with the "Baby One More Time" video, I think we may soon be seeing a Renaissance of sorts with the sexy-Santa costume thanks to the holiday-themed Victoria's Secret ads that have been blowing up the spot the last couple of months. I know opinions are mixed on these -- my mom, for one, hay-hay-hates them, but I think her judgment of "pornographic" is a little extreme. I think you'd kind of have to be Amish to really think they qualify as pornographic, in which case you wouldn't have a TV and thus wouldn't know they existed in the first place. But the one I'm thinking of in particular is the one where Brazilian supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio is sashaying around in a pink sexy-Santa-esque number (viewable here), and come on, that's good clean fun, right? Even if the name "Alessandra Ambrosio" does sound suspiciously porn-star-pseudonym-esque, but hey, she hails from a country where the thong is the standard bathing suit, so I guess that's just how they do things down there.

When me and Alessandra Ambrosio get married, we're probably going to have to name our kids Candi, Kitten, and Peaches.

Anyway. We at HJS salute you, sexy Santa costume, and continue to hope for the day when Budweiser releases a "Real Men of Genius" radio ad to pay tribute to your inventor. Merry Christmas to all, except Bill O'Reilly, who gets a "Happy Holidays!!!!!111!!" right up in his smug-prick face because he's a total douche. But for those of you who celebrate non-Christmas holidays this time of year, select one of the many holiday greetings from the Gunslingers, and to all a good night.

Thursday, December 22

The arms race continues.

I would be remiss if I didn't call your attention to the Michigan-affiliated MGoBlog and its proprietor Brian, who picks up what Ian started, Nathan continued, and Yours Truly perfected (well, OK, I can't back that up) by introducing his own take on the college-football-teams-as-pop-culture-analogues idea: college football teams as "South Park" characters.

I don't quite know what Brian was getting at by pairing Georgia with Mrs. Cartman, which seems to imply that UGA is a dirty, dirty whore. Though I guess that beats a talking turd, a woman with an undeveloped fetus attached to her head, or a five-assed monkey. Really, it's not the dirty-slut accusations I'm mainly pissed off about, it's the inference that we're responsible for the birth of Cartman/Steve Spurrier. Though if you think about it, Spurrier would never have been the man he is today had he not had 1) regular beatdowns from Georgia when he was a player, stoking a lifelong desire for revenge, and 2) weak Ray Goff/Jim Donnan teams to kick around and thus aid him in his ascent from up-and-coming coach to living legend. So in a way, Georgia really did give birth to Spurrier. Weak, dude. Screw you guys, I'm going home.

Georgia/Cartman's mom: A dirty slut, perhaps, but we still don't respect Florida's authoritahhhh.

Tuesday, December 20

Would you care for a glass of champagna? I knew you would. I knew you enjoy champagna. How do I know this? Because I love women.

What kind of host would I be if I did not attend to your beautiful coat, my little wildflower.

I was intrigued to learn (courtesy of Thighs Wide Shut) that Elisha Cuthbert and her fiancée are apparently on the outs. Not only that, but regular reader Bill from JC hipped me a few weeks ago to the fact that Elisha is presently a blogger -- a hockey blogger, no less. Which is perfect, because I have but three passions in life. One of which is fine champagna . . . which leaves two other passions. Single women, and sports.

What have we here? Bugles with cream cheese. We got . . . ants-on-a-log . . . hello! Combos . . . they cheese your hunger away! Enjoy while I freshen up.

So the fact that Elisha may be on the market again is obviously a good thing, though it also presents its share of problems -- you know, I'd kind of had this thing going on with Keira Knightley, though with her in England and me in the B-hizzy and all, it's been one of those long-distance-type things, so . . . I don't know. Then of course there are those persistent rumors that I'm in some way responsible for Jessica and Nick breaking up (I can assure you that whatever happened between me and Jessica was a long time ago). I guess we'll just have to see what happens.

Maybe I'll have Elisha over tonight -- we'll talk some hockey and drink some fine champagna, and then watch the season finale of "Nip/Tuck." The sun is set, the stars shine in the sky, the night air is tinged with anticipation . . .

Monday, December 19

The madness of King George.

I didn't even watch President Bush's press conference this morning because I already had a pretty good idea what he was going to say: 1) The fact that someone blew the whistle on his secret judiciary-circumventing surveillance program is worse than the fact that one existed in the first place, and 2) he can do pretty much whatever he wants, including violating the constitution, as long as he can hitch it somehow to the War on Terra.

Ready? Let's see how I did:

My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy.

You've got to understand -- and I hope the American people understand -- there is still an enemy that would like to strike the United States of America, and they're very dangerous.

Check, and check. Extra demerits for the fact that those statements comprised three of the first five sentences in the Q&A portion of the press conference -- a new personal best in the 100-meter freestyle rationalization! -- and the fact that he uttered that last sentence ("they're very dangerous") in that talking-down-to-a-little-kid-or-foreigner inflection I've already decried at length, the one that makes the laughable implication that Bush is smarter than anyone he might be talking to.

Baby sis has some pretty good questions about this whole business, including what happens if/when we arrest a suspected terrorist based on these below-board wiretaps and then can't use the tapped conversations as evidence -- though I've got a sinking feeling that such dilemmas can simply be designed out of whatever heads-I-win-tails-you-lose secret court/military tribunal the Bush administration sets up to prosecute these folks. But another good question has been posed by the spot-on TBOGG, as in Who Does This Remind You Of?:

· He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

· He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers

· He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

· For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

· For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

· For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

· He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

You'd think that such words would send chills down the spines of the Republican Party, but they've already made clear their disdain for old documents -- not that I think you could prove they had spines in the first place.

Just like old times.

I did it once earlier in the season when it happened the first time, so given the even greater magnitude of yesterday's Redskins ass-whupping, I think it's only fair to do it over again, only this time bigger and better:

Hail . . . to the Redskins

Hail . . . vic-to-ry

Braves . . . on the war-path

Fight! . . . for old D.C.

. . . oh, and f$#! the Cowboys.

Saturday, December 17

Double Haterade, on the rocks . . . and leave the bottle.

So I'm sitting here on my couch, Jenna curled up next to me (and if you're new to this site, her last name isn't Jameson, so no, that isn't nearly as cool as it sounds), I'm trying to think of things other to do than clean up my dump of an apartment for the Festivus party tonight, so I've got ESPN Classic's "Instant Classic Marathon" on 'cause there ain't shit else to watch until Tampa Bay at New England comes on at 12:30. It's apparently the Joe Paterno Gold block we're in right now, because they just showed the Ohio State-Penn State game from earlier this season and now they're showing Penn State-Northwestern.

And I'm having trouble figuring out why PSU-NU qualifies for "instant classic" status, because I'm not one of those people who thinks that a last-minute big-play ending automatically confers "classic"ness. Sometimes it's just a team somehow needing a last-second big play to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against a team they would've put away easily if they hadn't been half-assing it for 59 minutes, and I think that pretty much describes what we're looking at with the Penn State-Northwestern game. I mean, yeah, Northwestern's good and all, they're going to a bowl, but seriously, looking at how Penn State finished the season, did NW even have any business playing them close? And the TD pass that won it for Penn State -- which they just showed as one of the final four nominees for "Pontiac Game Changing Performance of the Year," and believe me, "game-changing performance" is one of those ad nauseam phrases which, along with "they've got to play their game" and "comin' to your ci-tayyyy," I would gladly pay ESPN to never have to hear again -- wasn't even so much an awesome play by the receiver as it was a godawful tackle by the NW cornerback, who almost looked as if he'd bet the farm on the receiver not actually catching the ball. This isn't meant as a knock on the Nittany Lions or anything, but I wonder just how excited they get as they watch this game being played over and over again, knowing that their Orange Bowl season basically hinged on a desperate pull-it-out-of-your-ass comeback against a team that wears purple uniforms.

Oh, shit . . . now I've pissed off Grampa Joe.

But anyway, my real reason for posting this was to link to Sexy Results' rundown of the year's worst albums -- I have to confess that I haven't heard any of them, so jaded am I with the state of popular music that I pretty much don't buy anything these days unless it's by the Pet Shop Boys or Underworld or somebody posthumously digs up some unreleased Johnny Cash demos nobody knew about, but Ian does his usual bang-up hillarity-ensues job of writing, and I have to give him props for being a Kool Keith fan, such as he is. Keith can be a little much to take sometimes, to be sure, but anyone who can write a song called "You Live At Home With Your Mom" can't be all bad. Not that you care, but "You ain't got enough to buy a small soda at Johnny Rocket's, B" is one of the subtlest, most underrated rap disses of the last decade.

I also have to bow down to Ian's dissection of the song "My Humps," one of those songs that has somehow become massively popular despite the fact that you're more likely to find a black lesbian at BYU than you are to find any man, woman, or child in North America who will admit to liking it. I remember when movies like "CB4" and "Fear of a Black Hat" (which is indescribably awesome, by the way) came out, everyone was laughing about how the rap groups in question wrote songs like "Sweat From My Balls" and "My Peanutts," because surely nobody could ever become a huge mainstream success writing songs like that. But now we have a song that's basically "My Tits & My Ass," and it's blowing up like the Godfather. Plus I'm old enough to remember a time when the Black-Eyed Peas actually weren't wack as fuck, which makes me wonder what on earth made the Peas decide to lower their sights from potential De La Soul heirs apparent to group most likely to release a song whose title is followed by "(feat. Kevin Federline)." If they do have a remotely lasting contribution to pop music, I doubt it'll be substantially felt until 2016, when the Opelika High School class of '06 gets back together for their ten-year and tries to remember what their underage, fake-ID-packing asses were grinding salaciously to at Auburn's notorious Blue Room on Friday nights.

In the immortal words of Kool Keith, party-figure perpetrator, undercover hater, smell your cheap cologne in the elevator.

Ian's right that "Hollaback Girl" -- which has been well and thoroughly dissected on this site -- belonged on Pitchfork Media's list of the 15 worst releases of 2005. It's audience participation time, so feel free to leave your own nominees for the worst songs/albums of the year in the comments. Or hell, worst anything -- movies, cars, marriages, fast-food items, whatever. I'll assemble a list of Worst Things of 2005 toward the end of the year, and we'll have ourselves a nice little Player Haters' Ball out of the whole thing. It'll be great.

Wow, this is gonna piss some people off.

Given that Bush's approval ratings have been at diarrhetic levels since even before Hurricane Katrina, it really doesn't come as much of a surprise to me that he was ranked as the least popular of the last 10 presidents in a recent survey (hat tip to Atrios). Even the fact that he's less well-liked than Nixon didn't shock me that much, because we always tend to want to look more kindly upon people after they're dead.

But what really surprised me about the survey was the fact that Bill Clinton came in second out of ten, only one percentage point out of first place. And you know who the most popular president was? It was JFK -- meaning that Bill Clinton, that horrible, dishonest, pot-smoking, intern-balling redneck, came out ahead of Ronald Reagan, whose face right-wingers were very recently trying to put on the U.S. dime in place of FDR's. Personally I'm of the opinion that the U.S. Mint should announce that it's creating a new three-dollar piece bearing Clinton's face, and just as the right wing is ginning up to start making "bogus as a three-dollar bill" jokes, the mint announces it's going to be a coin and not a dollar bill. But all of this is probably going to have to wait until Bill's dead anyway, so I guess this is going to have to go on the back burner for the time being.

Anyway, between this and the drag-ass approval ratings, I hope it finally puts out to pasture the myth that Bush is still a popular president who can get away with whatever he wants because he is who he is and the American public just luvs him. Secondarily (is that a word?), I hope it finally gets some people to admit, even if only grudgingly, that Bill Clinton -- in what he did as the chief executive of the country, if not necessarily as a human being -- was a pretty good president. Or, barring that, a total badass.

Bill Clinton: the man, the president, the straight-up pimp (and I mean that in a good way).

Friday, December 16

Well, there went your respectability.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports this morning that the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl is dropping the "Peach" name starting next year, meaning it will simply be called the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Meaning that a once-respectable, tradition-rich game has now leaped into the Meineke Car Care Bowl/Carquest Bowl/MPC Computers Bowl pantheon of stupidly named bowls that, at least outwardly, exist as nothing more than an excuse for more corporate whoring.

Reading the quotes from both the Chick-fil-A people and the bowl people as to why they're electing to wipe their asses with 38 years of tradition and flush it down the commode, I still don't get it:

"This is a great deal for us," said Steve Robinson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A. "Our goal when we came on board nine years ago was to build our brand both regionally and nationally and to help the bowl grow into one of the premier events in the country. We feel this deal is a big step in that direction."

How is it a "big step" in that direction, exactly? Was the word "Peach" hogging too much of the limelight? Were the Chick-fil-A people silently watching in despair as droves of football fans chose to eat nothing but peaches for lunch rather than Chick-fil-A's delicious chicken sandwiches? OK, so maybe the general public's insistence on calling it just the Peach Bowl, as opposed to Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, is a marketing roadblock for Chick-fil-A. But if people feel stupid using the full official name in casual conversation, shouldn't that tell Chick-fil-A something? In the end this name change is going to have only two outcomes -- most people will continue to refer to it as "the Peach Bowl," and those who do not will call it "the Chick-fil-A Bowl" but roll their eyes and make the jerk-off gesture with their hands as they do so.

"To get our bowl into this position has been our goal since we started these talks with Chick-fil-A," said Gary Stokan, the bowl's president. "Yes, we say goodbye to 38 years of tradition with the Peach Bowl. But we believe ? and our board of directors agreed ? that there are going to be opportunities out there for us in the future, and this puts us in good position to take advantage of those opportunities."

As far as I can ascertain, Stokan believes that having a stupid name will put the bowl in prime position to move up in the SEC pecking order. "Chick-fil-A Bowl" really isn't any more embarrassing than "Outback Bowl," I guess. But still. If I was NCAA President Myles Brand, I would pass a bylaw declaring that any Division I-A bowl game with a title sponsor would also have to have the name of some American staple product or cash crop in the name, if only to keep venerable institutions like the Orange Bowl from becoming the FedEx Bowl or something like that. In other words, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, yes; Chick-fil-A Bowl, no. Meineke Magnolia Bowl, yes; Meineke Car Care Bowl, no. I mean, someone's gotta put a finger in the dike and prevent college football from being completely swallowed up by mega-corporations, to the point where players' uniforms are covered up with corporate logos like frigging NASCAR cars and announcers holler things like, "Wow, that was an incredible Tide with Bleach quarterback sack by Quentin Moses, and big ups to Paul Oliver for his heads-up Budweiser Select fumble recovery!"

I mean, I have some great Peach Bowl memories from my time as a Georgia student -- beanie-baby cows raining from the Georgia Dome's third deck as the Dawgs came back from a 21-0 deficit against Virginia in '98, for starters -- and now that's all tainted. Why, Chick-fil-A? Is it not enough that you toy with us by refusing to open on Sundays? Why?

Friday Random Ten, I Got A Lot Of Problems With You People! Edition.

Tomorrow is my second annual Christmas/Festivus holiday celebration here in the B-hizzy, and before you ask, yes, we do have an aluminum pole (I find tinsel distracting), and yes there will be an Airing of the Grievances. I can't promise the Feats of Strength, but who knows, with enough liquor -- and there will be enough -- anything is possible.

Anyway, with holiday cheer in the air, here's the Ten:

1. Sting, "When the Angels Fall"
1. The Farm, "Groovy Train"
3. Eurythmics, "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"
4. The Dust Brothers, "Finding the Bomb"
5. The Stranglers, "Peaches"
6. Adam Sandler, "Tollbooth Willie"
7. R.E.M., "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"
8. Fatboy Slim, "Sho Nuff"
9. A-ha, "The Living Daylights"
10. Groove Armada, "If Everybody Looked the Same"

Feel free to put your own Ten -- and air your own grievances -- in the comments.

Thursday, December 15

Free rides, aerial assaults, and The Champ.

In the college-sports-blogging world there's this thing called the BlogPoll Roundtable, begun (I'm assuming) by the folks at MGoBlog who also started the weekly blogpoll, in which a different blog each week pose a number of questions and other blogs post their answers. I don't know if you have to be a blogpoll member to be "officially" invited to answer the questions, but shit, it's a free country, and the questions posed last week by Texas A&M & Baseball in No Particular Order seemed particularly interesting, so here goes nothing, or even less than that:

1. Why your school? Did you go to school there? Were you legacy, did you pick it for academics, for the football team, the party reputation?

Considering that I get geeked-up enough these days over Georgia football to sometimes induce mild dementia or bleeding ulcers, you might be surprised to know that I'm not one of those lifelong family-legacy Georgia fans who dreamt his whole life of going to UGA -- in fact, I never really followed college football that closely period before going there. All the schools I applied to -- Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia -- were big state schools with respectable party reputations and football teams (no offense to any teeny-liberal-arts-school-in-the-middle-of-nowhere alums, but that just wasn't an experience I was interested in), but my number-one choice was actually UNC, because it had both a journalism program and an English program that had really good reputations. But like just about every out-of-state kid who has ever applied to Chapel Hill, I got wait-listed, and that brought me to my second choice, Missouri, which has pretty much the top journalism program in the country. But I started wondering if I really wanted to go that far away from home, and when I asked the publisher of our local daily paper about it, he said the exact ranking of your school didn't matter nearly as much as what you did and what you got published while you were there. Not long afterward, my parents said that because I would get free tuition as a result of the HOPE Scholarship, they would take the money they'd saved up for college education and buy me a car if I decided to go to Georgia, so . . . Athens it was.

Of course, I'm demeaning UGA to say my only reason for going there was free wheels. The place got into my blood in a hurry, and I now loudly proclaim my Bulldog Nation allegiance to anyone who will listen, and quite a few who won't.

A Chrysler Neon Sport not unlike the one I got as a result of my decision to go to Georgia for free. Don't laugh -- with the metallic paint and the polished alloys, this was actually dope as hell in the Hardaway High School parking lot circa '95.

2. Name a player or two who had "THE GAME" against your school. I'm talking about a guy who simply dominated your team and all you could do was tip your cap and say, "Wow."

I don't know that this question is necessarily applicable in my case, since an opposing player posterizing the Bulldogs is almost always more likely to make me throw my cap to the ground and say, "Fuck." But like The Drizzle and I'm a Realist, I will forever be haunted by the stupefying memory of watching Ben Leard, a quarterback who will never be anything more than an easily ignored footnote in Auburn football history, annihilate the Bulldog secondary back in 1999 (the full horror recounted here). The dude simply could not throw an incomplete pass that night, and more often than not he'd lace one for 20 or 30 (or 70) yards right into the teeth of our inexplicably addled cornerbacks. Georgia Tech's Joe Hamilton had a pretty astounding game against us that season, too -- it wasn't a particularly good year for our defense back then -- and I'll never forget the numb feeling of riding the MARTA train back to my car as the gut-wrenching reality of Tech's 51-48 "overtime" "win" set in.

3. There are games that I have no interest in but I watch simply to see a certain guy play. What players from this season do you do the same for?

Not that this makes me superior or anything, but I never watch games for the sole purpose of seeing specific players, though I have tuned into games that I started out with little interest in and ended up keying in on one guy who was having a particularly impressive game. Football is a team sport in which everyone has to play their given roles to succeed, and there are few things I hate more than seeing one guy singled out and fawned over potentially at the expense of a lot of other talented, hungry guys. That's probably one of the reasons the Heisman Trophy race never fails to bore the living shit out of me -- I don't want to hear about the same five or six guys over and over and over again, especially if it detracts from coverage of my team, one that might have a legitimate chance at going to this bowl or that bowl. And maybe my opinion would do a complete 180 if a Georgia guy ended up on the Heisman shortlist, but I'm not sure it would -- sure I would've loved to have seen, say, D.J. Shockley win the Heisman this year, but watching this year's team of comparative no-names struggle and hustle and end up winning an SEC title has been an amazing thrill for me, and it's a hell of a lot better story than some puff piece on what kind of deodorant Shockley uses (which has pretty much been the journalistic caliber of what we've seen on Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart lately).

4. A few weeks ago we were asked who the best player to suit up for our school was. I'm curious who your favorite player to ever suit up for your school is? Certainly doesn't have to be a superstar, or even a starter.

Easy. Champ Bailey had the name, the number (my lucky number 4), the skills (on both offense and defense), and even the hot girlfriend (rumor had it he dated über-hottie gymnast Suzanne Sears while he was at Georgia) -- he basically lived the kind of life I and most self-respecting male football fans at UGA would've given money and various body parts to live. When I asked for a replica Georgia jersey for Christmas back in '98, I asked for a #4. When he got drafted by my beloved Washington Redskins the following year -- one of the best days ever, I might add -- I soon got a Redskins #24 to go along with it. Champ's playing for Denver now, but I'd probably still root for him even if he played for the Cowboys, and trust me, that ain't an easy thing for me to say. Hines Ward is another player who did pretty much everything at Georgia and did it with a smile on his face, and I'm really happy that he consistently gets major props in the NFL for being not only a talented player but also a team-oriented, stand-up guy.

Champ Bailey, in the one jersey of his that I don't own, in deep thought as he ponders which opposing receiver will be the next to be posterized.

Tuesday, December 13

All the news from the city so nice, they named it after the state in which it was located.

You know how some trips you go on, no matter how awesome or unforgettable they are, by the end of it you're tired and you're ready to go home and sleep in your own bed for once? Well, my trip to New York this past weekend wasn't like that -- I could've easily stayed for another week, or two weeks, or month and still had a freakin' blast. A lot of that has to do with the company I kept -- I stayed with my friend Arlana, one of my dearest friends of all time even if she did go to Auburn -- and I don't want to spend too much time going on and on about what an awesome time I had because Arlana already gave me a nonstop five-day hard sell trying to get me to move up there, but anyway, here's all the stuff I did. (By the way, if you find yourself wondering about the paucity of pictures in this post, it's because I don't actually own a camera of any sort. OK, yes, I've heard it, how about taking some of that energy you were going to spend belittling me and spend it buying me a fuckin' camera, k thx.)

Thursday: My ScareTran flight out of Atlanta landed at LaGuardia just about right on time, but we didn't actually get off the freakin' plane for another two hours. According to the captain this was because there wasn't an open gate for us to pull into -- so he literally just drove the plane around the taxiways for two hours musical-chairs style, like a guy looking for a parking space at the mall during Christmas shopping season ("Wait, is that guy pulling out? Is he -- damn!"). But this wasn't all bad, because I asked one of the flight attendants for a little airplane bottle of Dewar's to pass the time and got it comped. I highly recommend you try this if you are ever in a similar situation. Anyway, I took a car service to Arlana's place in Astoria, Queens, which is right next to the home of Frank and Estelle Costanza -- yes, the very house they always cut to on "Seinfeld" before a scene at Frank and Estelle's house. We had Thanksgiving leftovers and it was fricking awesome.

Friday: I woke up Friday morning to see . . . snow. Lots of it. I guess for someone who hadn't seen snow in literally three and a half years any amount would be a lot, but this was at least four or five inches' worth. Arlana and her roommate Olivia both had to go to work, so this was my day roaming around all by myself, and I got to do it out in the snow (and the rivers of dirty-ass slush running through the streets of Manhattan). In the morning I went to Grand Central Station and the United Nations, and in the afternoon I knocked out my Christmas shopping in Soho, along Madison Avenue and at Rockefeller Center. Oh, and also at Trump Tower -- yes, I got to walk through the very doors all those "Apprentice" jagoffs trudge through when they get fired!

Later that night we went to meet some of Arlana's friends at a bar called Naked Lunch in Soho, where it was apparently '80s night. Arlana crimped her hair before we left, in order to more completely embrace the '80s vibe, and spent the rest of the evening regretting it. I know I'm only going to embarrass myself by explaining exactly how happy I was to walk into a bar where Rick Astley was playing, so I won't; I'll only say that drinks in New York are second-mortgage expensive, so it helps to have a hot girl buying you drinks in an effort to get you hammered. You should definitely do that, should the opportunity present itself.

Saturday: Arlana and I got dressed up and went to see "The Nutcracker" at Lincoln Center. The production was beautiful; the audience slightly less so, since it was a Saturday matinee and that's apparently when all the kids with parents too negligent to properly discipline them go see the show, but we still had a great time. Later that night we gorged ourselves on thin-crust pizza and garlic rolls at Alba's Pizzeria in Astoria, and by the time I was done I was able to repel panhandlers with my breath alone.

Sunday: This was touristy-stuff day -- Arlana took me to Chinatown and Little Italy to buy T-shirts and whatnot (and a snowglobe, in keeping with a longstanding tradition at my office), and then to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. It was cold as hell but totally worth the effort, and here's a picture of me about 2/3 of the way across:

Twenty-three degrees and I'm still hot, yo.

As we were walking back across to Manhattan, I saw a group of four or five Vespa scooters idling on the on-ramp to the eastbound lanes of the bridge, and I was going to make a joke about it since one of the long-standing themes of our Italy trip had been my annoyance at the predominance of scooter owners in Italy and all the, uh, scooting they did in heavily traveled pedestrian areas. But then they started up and went past us, with all the riders (male and female) hooting and hollering, and we saw that with the exception of some hats and scarves, they were all butt-ass naked. Fucking awesome.

Anyway, next stop was Ground Zero. I won't bother going into a long maudlin spiel about the poignance of that moment, because I'm sure it's been done by plenty of people with much more of a personal connection to it than I have, but it was pretty awe-inspiring to stand there and think that a little more than eleven and a half years prior, I had been standing more than a thousand feet above that spot, on the top floor of the most ginormous office building in the world -- and now it simply wasn't there, as if it was a hotel on a Monopoly property that someone had simply taken off the board and sold to get some money for other things. Arlana told me the story of a man who had witnessed the attacks from the Brooklyn Bridge and got out of his car and ran as fast as he could to the World Trade Center, where he raced up the stairs and started carrying people down. He died when the towers collapsed, and now the city commemmorates his heroism by staging a footrace from the Brooklyn Bridge to Ground Zero, following the path he took on 9/11.

The New York Stock Exchange building, done up for Christmas patriotic-style.

As we were wandering around the financial district hunting for a subway station where we could pick up the N/W line, Arlana called a friend of hers who told us to meet him at a sports bar called Mr. Biggs on 42nd to watch some of the NFL games and drink a few beers. When we got there I saw a guy standing just outside the front door who looked awfully familiar -- he turned around to talk to someone just as we walked by, but I caught a glimpse of his face, and I said his name just to see if it was him. Sure enough, it was Ty, my roommate from my senior year of college; he'd moved up to New York right after we all graduated and I hadn't seen him since. But there he was, the one guy out of 8.5 million NYC residents who could've potentially been standing outside that sports bar in Hell's Kitchen as we walked in.

Me and Ty, reliving the Summit Chase glory days of '98-'99 . . . represent, sucka!

I can't adequately explain in words how freaking awesome that was. It was like hardly anything had changed, and I mean that in the best possible way. Ty joined in with Arlana's hard sell trying to get me to move up to New York, and I just smiled and drank my beer, trying to act like I wasn't seriously tempted.

We got back to Astoria and met up with Arlana's roommate for sushi at a place on Ditmars Boulevard, where we were served sushi by a drop-dead gorgeous Japanese girl I will henceforth refer to as the Beautiful Sushi Waitress, or BSW. The sushi was great and I think I caught the BSW checking me out as we left, which was a perfect end to a perfect trip.

Got home right on time Monday and my suitcase didn't even manage to disappear on the flight home, which was an improvement over the last plane trip I took. As we left LaGuardia and the plane hung a left to turn southward, I was sitting on the right side of the plane to see Manhattan stretched out before me, all the buildings and landmarks laid out where I could see them, Central Park still covered in a coat of white. If the preceding four days of sightseeing and Arlana's constant nagging hadn't been enough, that view alone made me start doing some serious fantasizing about applying for a job up in New York and moving on up there, furniture, Georgia shit, little dog and all.

Probably not going to happen. But we'll see, Arlana. We'll see.

"I thought my time had passed. I thought I'd never hear screams of pain or see the look of terror in a young man's eyes. Thank heaven for children."

I'm back from the Big Apple, and so of course the first thing I need to do is what's important: Update the Simpsons post from a couple weeks ago! Say word, son!

But I also need to give some props to my Georgia homeboy DAve, who used his vastly-superior-to-mine Photoshop skillz to come up with this tribute to my Penn State/Grampa Simpson comparison from the Simpsons post:

Joe Paterno will be deep in the cold, cold ground before he recognizes Missourah!

All the straight dope from NYC coming in just a sec.

Thursday, December 8

Postin' from the road . . .

. . . Or more accurately, the gate 4 departure lounge at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. This is the first time I've ever actually made use of my new laptop's wi-fi capability, and the fact that I can do all the Web-surfing I usually do at home, only in the middle of a public place with no wires attached, is pretty impressive. (Well, not all the surfing I usually do. There are kids around, for Christ's sake.) Anyway, the point is that I'm on the road, headed up to New York City for a long weekend to go visit an old friend of mine. If I can post on here over the next four days, I will, but there's always the chance I'll be laid up in bed with a broken bone (or perhaps many broken bones) after we go ice-skating at Rockefeller Center and won't really feel like it. I guess that's just a chance that I, and by extension you, will have to take.

But anyway, the major news from my neck of the woods (sort of) is that the Georgia Bulldogs welcomed Georgia Tech to Athens last night and taxed that ass to the tune of a 91-75 victory. Now, you may think that because I don't follow basketball nearly as closely as I follow football, that this wouldn't really be that huge a deal to me. You might also think that I got my fill of ragging, tweaking, and otherwise wholesale belittling Georgia Tech in the days leading up to and directly following the UGA-GT football game. My response is: Sorry, but I'm not that nice. If Georgia beats Georgia Tech at basketball, especially given how basketball is allegedly the solace of the hoops-crazy Tech fans when their football team gets nailed to the wall by the Bulldogs, it's a big deal. Hell, if we beat them at tiddlywinks, it's a big deal, because each victory is another brick in UGA's towering superiority over the Techies, and because I'm a cruel S.O.B. who likes to watch each and every one of their exquisite crystalline tears fall from their little Techie faces, tears I like to catch in a glass and mix with ten parts Stolichnaya and one part dry vermouth to create what I like to call the Martini of Pain. And it is, as Montgomery Burns is so fond of saying, eeeeeeexcellent.

And since I'm apparently on a roll when it comes to offending random sections of the college-athletics-consuming public, let me just ask those Ohio State fans who were so incensed at my characterization of them as "thugs": Just how in the hell do your football players afford all this sweet stuff, anyhow? I mean, three grand in cash? Two laptop computers worth $3,000? Was all this stuff supplied by the same folks who hooked Mo Clarett up with his various rides? And who the hell pays $250 apiece for XBox or PlayStation games? (There, that oughta bump the hate-mail numbers back up in my absence. I was really starting to miss it.)

I'll try and holler back at you slags sometime between now and Monday . . .

(I do have something planned for whenever I can make a full-fledged return to this blog, though. Equal to or maybe even better than the Simpsons thing. Two words: Cheer. Leaders.)

Sunday, December 4

"Look at the sugar falling from the sky! . . . "

Mmmm . . . SEC championship.

Oh, boy, that was some good stuff. Made all the sweeter by getting to watch it with a good friend who's a former UGA flagline member (hottest flagline in America, and don't you forget it) in a roomful of (mostly) UGA fans. Obviously the ideal situation would have been to be in the Georgia Dome, or barring that somewhere in the Atlanta metro area, but if neither of those is an option, there are worse places to watch UGA kick LSU's ass than Birmingham, Alabama -- they may not give a rat's ass about Georgia over here, but boy, do they hate LSU. All night long after the game, at my friend Kathleen's 30th birthday party, I was getting high-fives and stacks from Alabama and Auburn fans whose attitude could be summed up in two words -- "Thank you." The one sour note was sounded this morning by Birmingham News columnist Kevin Scarbinsky, who had to spread his big ol' smelly case of sour grapes all over the front page of the sports section by throwing around all this evidence supposedly making the case that Auburn is in fact the SEC's best team, and not-so-subtly pushing the attendant implication that Georgia is just a bunch of special-needs kids who dumb-lucked their way into having an SEC championship trophy lobbed into the open window of their short bus as it passed through Atlanta. To which Hey Jenny Slater officially responds: Whatever helps you sleep at night, Kev. (I had a much longer rebuttal written up in my head, but fuck that, I got Sugar Bowl tickets to start shopping for.)

Obviously I'm happy for the whole team, but there are two guys I'm happiest for. The first, obviously, is D.J. Shockley. As everybody and his brother has already pointed out by now, he was as loyal as they come, waited patiently for his turn under center, and when he finally took the stage in his senior season it was generally thought that with the Bulldogs having to do a fairly sizable rebuilding job, Shockley would have to be happy leading the Dawgs to third, maybe second, in the SEC East and going to Dallas or back to Tampa for New Year's. But later on, it became clear that both Shockley and Georgia were the real deal, and at that point people started wanting more (I know I did) for Shock. After a point, you kind of started thinking that Shockley shouldn't have had to wait as long as he did for anything other than an SEC title, and I'm hugely, massively, burstingly proud of him that he got it. For once, a nice guy finishes first. Congrats, Deej. Now go get drafted by either the Redskins or the Falcons so I don't have to pout quite so much about not getting to have you for three more years.

The other guy I want to put on my shoulders and carry for a victory lap around the Southeast, or at the very least around Five Points and buy him a steak at Highlands, is DeMario Minter. He went through some real rough patches in his early career at Georgia, getting beat on some coverages but more often just making some silly, unthinking rookie mistakes, and it absolutely hurt my soul to watch him get pelted with penalty flags in last year's UGA-GT game. But the kid has been on like Donkey Kong ever since kickoff against Boise State three months ago, making the interceptions nobody bothered to make last year, throwing down some truly lock-down interference-free coverage, and just basically becoming one of the best (maybe the best) cover corner in the conference this year. I wasn't sure if he could top his performance last week taking Calvin Johnson out of the game, but maybe he did against LSU last night. And it's been a truly gratifying sight watching him go from the little-brother type who screws up but you pull for him anyway to a truly talented, bad-ass player who's bringing his best stuff on every last snap.

There was tons of other stuff to love about this game, mainly the fact that all the stuff we usually do lousy we did great against the Tigers -- first and foremost being catching f#@!ing passes. And I need to single out Sean Bailey for some props here too, because those first two touchdown passes, those were the kind of passes that earlier in the season made your face fall even before they'd reached the top of their arcs because you were thinking, "Shit, I bet we drop this." But #4 redeemed himself and then some. We also tackled like the fricking Baltimore Ravens, bringing people down in situations where they used to break free, leveling fools behind the line in situations where we used to let them slip out for at least two or three yards. And whereas for most of the season we weren't even in the same time zone as bringing pressure on punts, we actually blocked one Saturday night -- I mean, seriously, can anyone remember a single punt we blocked since Boss Bailey was terrorizing people back in 2002? -- and made LSU pay.

I want to single out two specific plays purely for my own amusement, the first being the Dwayne Bowe fumble that didn't get called in (if memory serves) the second quarter. The refs called Bowe down before the ball came out, replay showed he clearly wasn't, but a whistle-happy ref blew the play dead for some reason before the play was over so it couldn't be overruled. Look at the picture below and you'll see (albeit not from the absolute best angle) precisely why Bowe wasn't down: No part of his body other than his feet were touching the turf when the ball popped out -- not even his ass, which was planted squarely on Tim Jennings's helmet at the time. I really, really wish that had been called a fumble so that I could give props for Jennings putting his head in, uh, just the right place at the right time; as it stands, though, I can still make "Down by contact, my ass!" jokes until the cows come home. (Yes, thank you, thank you. I'll be here all evening. Remember to tip your waitresses.)

Excuse me, sir, but I believe you're sitting on my head.

I can, however, give Jennings mad stupid props for his so-long-thanks-for-playing pick-six in the fourth quarter, and here's a story I promise is true: When LSU ended up deep inside their own territory on that drive, Mary Beth the Hot Former Flagline Member and I were talking about how similar Jennings's victory-sealing pick against Georgia Tech the previous week had been to Tim Wansley's Q4 interception against Tech in 2001 that went for a touchdown and basically iced the game for the Dawgs. "What I'd really like to see," I told her, "is for Jennings to do something like that here -- just jump right in front of a pass like he did against Tech, buh-pow!, and run it back for a TD." Two plays later, that is exactly, precisely what happened. Forgive me, but it was amazing. Matt Flynn may be a promising QB, not to mention the fastest white guy in the SEC, but he stared at his intended receiver so long he'd be in violation of anti-stalking statutes in several states, and you don't want to do that with Jennings lingering about, as Reggie Ball will be only too happy to tell you.

So. Was this win sweeter than the one in 2002 against Arkansas? Yes and no -- certainly there's nothing like breaking a 20-year title drought, and doing so with what was probably the most talented and most stand-up bunch we'd had since the Herschel days. But we were certainly fighting longer odds to get this one, which makes it kind of a big deal in its own right. And in spite of how many games Georgia has won since Richt took over, I think we still needed this one to silence some of the doubters who were itching for the opportunity to write Georgia off as a flash-in-the-pan or a not-quite-top-tier team. For my part, my biggest worry, beyond a single W or L or bowl berth, was the fact that if we didn't win this one, we'd be tiptoeing dangerously close to (forgive me) Braves territory, where we win one title and then spend every year after that winning a bunch of games and coming thisclose to another one but always managing to wilt before clinching the big time. I think this win pretty much takes care of that, at least for a while. Because if we can take home the hardware even after all the rebuilding we had to do coming into this season, I think it's safe to say Richt has the program in a position where anything is possible. We may not win the conference title every year, but we're never going to be in a position where we have to say "Yeah, it's just not going to happen" before the season even starts.

Hey, you held 'em under 80 . . . now turn that frown upside down!

In other news, Southern Cal and Texas apparently got tired of everyone what-iffing about losses by the nation's only undefeated teams, because both of them delivered performances Saturday that were basically the football version of "Uh, yeah, I don't fricking think so." Somewhere Katie Hnida, in particular, is still grinning from ear to ear about the anal violation Gary Barnett's team received at the hands of UT. I mean, I want to see Georgia get a shot at the national title just as much as the next Bulldog fan, but when all is said and done in 2005, I'm quite willing to sacrifice a UGA Rose Bowl berth if it means I won't have to watch the Dawgs get eviscerated on the field by either the Trojans or the 'Horns. I'm not being negative, I'm simply being realistic. There's USC and UT and then there's everybody else, and while that does have the unfortunate effect of allowing the BCS to skate for another year, I don't think anyone can make a plausible case that anyone other than those two deserves to even come within 100 miles of Pasadena this season.

On the subject of humiliations, Virginia Tech suffered a particularly stinging one in the first-ever ACC championship game, which I mention only because my sister was down there in Jacksonville watching the carnage with my VT-alum aunt and uncle. Rest assured I was text-messaging her with score updates throughout the Georgia game, one of which she responded to with the startling revelation that FSU has a male baton twirler in its marching band. The Georgia Tech Flag Boy can now rest his head peacefully at night, knowing he's no longer the gayest person in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Whoo, what a day, what a weekend. The Simpsons-vs.-college-football post is still blowing up the spot, so I'll probably throw a few more teams in there at some point, but no apologies to the Ohio State fans, whom I think were the maddest of any fan base at the "Simpsons" character I compared them to. Especially no apologies to the dude who assumed I was an Auburn fan -- dude, WTF? (I will extend a small olive branch to my cousin Mike, an OSU student -- sorry, all in good fun, didn't mean anything personal by it, now enjoy your Fiesta Bowl bid and bugger off! Kisses!) Keep your suggestions coming, of course, I've seen some great ones. And if you're a single female college-football fan who thought that post was just the funniest thing ever, come on, you can leave a picture and a phone number. It ain't gonna hurt nobody!

And I guess that's all I have for now, except to leave y'all with this . . .

Shockley sez: I got your "rebuilding season" right here.

Thursday, December 1

Letting no good idea go unstolen, it's the Simpsons Cavalcade of College Football.

UPDATED Friday night with a few changes and plenty of additions. Mad, stupid, crazy props to everyone who has linked this post in the last 24 hours: Ian at Sexy Results, I'm a Realist, Orson and Stranko at Every Day Should Be Saturday, Paul Westerdawg at Georgia Sports Blog, and -- holy s?#@! -- SI on Campus. Not to mention what is, quite frankly, a humbling and intimidating number of school-specific forums and message boards. (I couldn't read what they said about this on Tider Insider, but I'm fearing the worst.)

UPDATED 12/13, and again 2/5/6. And
again 5/10/6. Jeebus. OK, I'm going now.

Earlier this week Nathan at Golden Tornado took the unique initiative to run down the entire Atlantic Coast Conference by picking out which Smurf was most representative of each ACC team. And somehow today the long, convoluted Kevin Bacon chain of Web sites I surfed to led me to this epic, amazing, utterly impossible-to-recreate post from Ian at Sexy Results matching just about every DI-A football team with a rap act. And since Ian's most recent post includes pictures of a bunch of Simpsons characters each rocking their most appropriate ACC-team gear, well . . . I did what every good blogger would do and bogarted ideas from blogs that, when all is said and done, are probably a lot better than mine. Herewith, your field guide to the Southeastern Conference (and a bunch of other teams besides), as explained via the cosmology of "The Simpsons":

Georgia: Homer Simpson
Like Homer, the Dawgs are a good-hearted bunch who aren't always the most socially acceptable people in any given group, but they mean well. Ever since Vince Dooley surrendered the job of head coach, they've been hoping someone will call them "sir" without adding "you're making a scene," and though season after season seems to have been set up for breakthrough success in recent years, they still manage to trip over something along the way. Which usually has something to do with . . .

Florida: Bart Simpson
Flippant, cocky, some dare call them "assholes," but they're the kind of guys who, even when they're not completely on their game -- which pretty much describes Florida ever since Spurrier left -- are still good enough to be envied by 90% of everyone else. Despite whatever shortcomings they may have, they're still a constant thorn in pretty much everyone else's side. Both are also frequently seen in blue shorts of some kind. And both have consistently managed to get the better of . . .

Tennessee: Sideshow Bob
Both Sideshow Bob and Big Orange Nation are convinced of their own superiority, though there's not much backing either of them up these days. Sideshow Bob has been spending most of his time in jail, while the Vols have been sucking wind on a 5-6 season (and spending a lot of time in jail, now that I think about it). Two of the most easily dislikeable characters in their respective neighborhoods.

South Carolina: Edna Krabappel
Like Edna, the Gamecocks have gone a long time with very little to celebrate, and they've gotten used to crushing disappointment. Yet there's that kinda-sexy, kinda-trashy thing about both of them that tell you she could be really hot if only the right guy with the initials SS -- be it Seymour Skinner or Steve Spurrier -- came along.

Vanderbilt: Lisa Simpson
A lone voice of reason and intellect in a 'hood that is otherwise completely insane. She rarely garners much attention for her exploits, but yeah, she is gonna be your boss one day.

Kentucky: Ralphie Wiggum
Utterly, completely, laughably dysfunctional, and just as utterly, completely, laughably unaware of this situation (unless the UK administration honestly believes Rich Brooks is their ticket to the big-time). And now the 'Cats have to deal with NCAA sanctions on top of that. "You'll wear 'em until you learn, son."

LSU: Nelson Muntz
The schoolyard bully, LSU would just as soon kick your ass as look at you, and then laugh about it. Yet there's deep dysfunction lurking within that's always the chink in the armor. Residual anger over a deadbeat dad? Turnover issues? An inexplicable fourth-quarter collapse to Tennessee? An equally inexplicable crush on Lisa? Yeah, they're scary, but that doesn't make them invincible. Very complex characters both.

Alabama: Moe Szyslak
The crankiest, most dyspeptic fan base in all of college football, and the biggest complainers. Win or lose, there's something to fume about, usually a perceived lack of respect from everyone else. While Moe/Alabama is absolutely convinced that everyone else sucks, though, they also suffer from some deep-seated self-loathing. Yes, Alabama, you went 3-8 not that long ago. Yes, you got jilted by Dennis Franchione. But you're still better than dirt. Well, not that fancy store-bought dirt. That stuff's loaded with nutrients. You can't compete with that stuff.

Auburn: Marge Simpson
Just as Marge has a long history with Homer, so does Auburn have a long history with Georgia; the Tigers and Dawgs have been inexorably linked ever since they played the Southeast's first college football game in Piedmont Park more than a century ago. They spar on a regular basis, and while Marge/Auburn frequently gets the better of her counterpart, she still feels underappreciated for her exploits. Every once in a while, this simmering resentment comes boiling to the surface, but Marge usually just solves this with a weekend at Rancho Relaxo. Auburn, regrettably, lunges for the fire hose.

Ole Miss and Mississippi State: Lenny and Carl, respectively
Perpetual sidekicks, occasionally good for a laugh, but they're almost certain to never make their way into the limelight. However, the Rebels and Bulldogs have a grand total of one appearance in the SEC championship game. Even Lenny and Carl can count on at least a little screen time in each episode.

Arkansas: Groundskeeper Willie
A loner, an outsider, a funny-talkin' sort who comes off as just plain weird to most other people. Yet there's just something indescribably dangerous about them that can be counted on to rear its ugly head every once in a while.

And a quick look around the country:

Southern Cal: Fat Tony DeMico
He is the Godfather, the man with the plan, the man pulling the strings. And if you've turned on ESPN in the last five months, you know there's absolutely no escaping his clutches.

Notre Dame: Montgomery Burns
Been around since the beginning of time; the amount of money and power he controls is massive, absurd, and quite frankly, a little scary. The kind of guy everyone in town loves to hate -- but they'd switch places with him in half a second.

Boston College: Waylon Smithers
Loves Montgomery Burns. Wants soooo bad to be Montgomery Burns. Ain't gonna happen. (Note: This is in no way intended as a knock on Doug Flutie, one of the most awesome people who ever lived.)

Texas: Mayor Diamond Joe Quimby
Powerful, attention-getting, glamorous, yet always in danger of being brought low by its unshakeable vices -- e.g. money, poontang, losing to Oklahoma.

Miami: Snake
A straight-up thug and proud of it. If you don't fear him, you're a fool; if you don't dislike him, you're just a dick.

Florida State: Police Chief Clancy Wiggum
Oh, man, what a season. It's no cakewalk being an aging football coach, juggling a punchless offense and a growing nepotism controversy like so many juggling balls . . . two, I suppose. Still an authority figure, mainly because nobody else stepped up to take the job, but getting easier and easier to laugh at.

Virginia Tech: Krusty the Klown
Famous, powerful, living the kind of celebrity life anyone in his circle would gladly trade for. Yet each is haunted by his own demons of self-loathing -- Krusty is constantly worried he's going to be exposed as a no-talent fraud, while the Hokies are constantly worried they really are going to be pumping gas one day for the kids over in Charlottesville.

Ohio State: Drederick Tatum
Thugs. They may wear nice outfits, but they're still thugs.

Virginia: Apu Nahasapeemapetilon
Went through long, difficult, trying ordeals to get from where they started out (the slums of India, a 32-77-1 record in the 1970s) to where they are now . . . which still ain't that good, unless you like working in a convenience store or spending your postseason on blue Astroturf. Then there's the whole mustache thing.

Michigan: Kent Brockman
Huge television draws both, and because of that, you just can't quite get away from either the Wolverines or Brockman; they demand your attention. Yet neither is quite as relevant as they think. At least three losses in six straight seasons? Now, at the risk of being unpopular, this reporter places the blame for all of this squarely on YOU, the viewers.

Texas A&M: Disco Stu
Once upon a time, both Stu and TAMU were forces to be reckoned with. Now they are sad shells of their former selves, regarded mostly with head-shaking derision.

Army/Navy: Kang/Kodos
In both cases, both of these guys are really on different planets compared to the rest of us. Yet any recruit who'd pass up a shot at NFL dollars for the chance to serve his country is pretty far beyond the rest of us, too.

Georgia Tech: Comic Book Guy
This one I shouldn't really have to explain.

Oklahoma: Superintendent Chalmers
Powerful guys who've risen to the top, or very near, but where do they go from here? Just as Chalmers harbors ambitions of running for higher office, wouldn't the Sooners love to go to a national-title game and not get their asses handed to them this time?

Penn State: Abe Simpson
Old school. Older-than-old school. At times they almost make you worry they're losing it, but even then they demand your respect. After all, have you won 357 D-IA games or fought with the Flying Hellfish in WWII? No? Then STFU, whippersnapper! (Came up with this independent of commenters, but since corroborated by numerous people.)

Wisconsin: Barney Gumble
Stout, hard-drinking, the life of every party -- yet even when things are going well, they're never very far from total collapse. (Also one of those great-minds-think-alike situations.)

Michigan State: Gil the Salesman
All together now: "Damn, that felt like a Big 10 championship season!" It always begins the same with these guys, so hopeful, so full of promise, but they always manage to blow it sometime before the deal is closed. Since Gil is supposedly based on Jack Lemmon's sad-sack character from the film adaptation of "Glengarry Glen Ross," we have some advice for the Spartans: Coffee is for closers. (Thanks to ryno for the suggestion.)

Illinois: Milhouse Van Houten
Everything's coming up Illini! Yeah, sure it is. A sidekick, a second banana, a perennial also-ran. Even when good things happen for them, it ain't really that good, and thus they've become conditioned to accept mediocrity. Linked to Florida/Bart Simpson (q.v.).

BYU: Ned Flanders
Like Vanderbilt/Lisa Simpson, a lonely voice of reason and morality, only waaaay more in-your-face about it. And white -- so very, very white. So white they make George Will look like Young Jeezy. So white they can be seen from space. (Suggested by a number of folks.)

Utah: Maude Flanders
Basically Ned, but hotter.

UCLA: Troy McClure
"Hi, I'm Troy McClure. You may remember me from such recent embarrassing bowl losses as the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl or the 2003 Silicon Valley Classic." Straight-up Hollywood, still a headline-maker, but the celebrity sheen masks a distinct lack of substance -- McClure can't really act, while the Bruins can't really play any defense. In severe danger of being superseded by newer, hotter stars, such as . . .

Oregon: Rainer Wolfcastle
Suffers from some of the same shortcomings as its rival (acting/defense), yet their overall body of work has been more solid of late. And with Nike dumping all of that money into the Ducks' program, they can afford to sleep on top of a pile of money, with many beautiful ladies.

Washington and Washington State: Patty and Selma Bouvier
Washington chose celibacy by hiring Ty Willingham, Washington State had celibacy thrust upon it by being located out in the middle of f#@!ing nowhere. They may have been hot once, but while they may pop up and do something amazing every once in a while -- Wazzou by sneaking into a Rose Bowl, Selma by somehow marrying Krusty or Troy McClure -- life is pretty sad and barren for them at the moment.

Stanford: Martin Prince
Smart. Quite often annoyingly so. Those who feel inferior because of this can console themselves with the knowledge that both Martin and Stanford will be grease spots in short order, at the hands of either a school bully or a Pac-10 team with a remotely competent offense. (Suggested by a commenter.)

Fresno State, Texas Christian, and Southern Miss: Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney
Nothing-to-lose ass-kickers from the wrong side of the BCS tracks. They're stuck in a dead-end situation, to be sure, but that doesn't mean they won't whip your ass and then laugh about it afterward.

North Carolina: Maggie Simpson
Baby-blue-clad small-fries who spend most of their time sucking, but every once in a while will knock off a major player in a fashion absolutely no one saw coming. Also neither one has ever accepted me into college. (Suggested by ugalee.)

Clemson: Snowball I/II
Any team that can follow up a blowout loss to Wake Forest with an ass-pounding of FSU knows all about having nine lives, and Clemson has died and been resurrected at least as many times as the name of the Simpson family's perpetually walking-on-the-edge housecat. Just as likely to commit an awe-inspiring act of heroism as they are to cough up an embarrassing hairball. (Suggested by a few people.)

Kansas State: Dr. Nick Riviera
At first glance, they appear to have all the qualifications: a medical degree, a busy practice, a recent Big XII title, a devoted fan base. But a closer look reveals that it's all being done with smoke and mirrors. Neither a degree from Hollywood Upstairs Medical College nor a schedule containing Troy State, McNeese State and UMass (yes, K-State really did play that trifecta in 2003) can be considered anywhere close to the measure of a true contender.

Arizona State: Duffman
They always burst onto the scene with great fanfare, a lot of flash, and usually surrounded by a bevy of insanely hot women. Yet when all is said and done, they're usually exposed as just a bunch of drunks. (Suggested by Mike G.)

South Florida: Santa's Little Helper
Both spent their formative years in an environment typified by an endless parade of dog tracks and were later rescued from a life of misery (Conference USA/long nights at Springfield Downs). There are those who would say that their current situations (the Big East/a life of semi-negligent care from the Simpson family) isn't much better, but they seem content to sit there with goofy smiles on their faces, willing to take what life gives them.

Toledo and Bowling Green: Itchy and Scratchy
In the grand scheme of popular culture they barely merit a second thought, but you can't deny that on a boring-ass Tuesday night, when there's nothing else on, they're always good for some offensively oriented turn-your-brain-off entertainment.

Nebraska: Lionel Hutz
"This switch from an option attack to a West Coast offense might be just what I need to revive my flagging football program. Care to join me in a belt of scotch?"

Colorado: Seymour Skinner
They're both the big fish in their respective ponds, but look what those ponds are -- Springfield Elementary and the Big XII North. Um, yeah. So I should respect you because . . . ? Closely tied to . . .

Colorado State: Agnes Skinner
"I don't live with my mother -- she lives with me!"

New Mexico State: Wendell Borton
Best-case scenario at this point is probably just making it through one bus ride/one game without vomiting all over themselves. Probably still too much to hope for.

Duke: Baby Gerald
Crafty nemesis of Maggie (q.v.). Forces to be reckoned with in their own very specific milieus, but at the end of the day they're still just small fries.

Louisville: Luann Van Houten
Not really as hot as their reputations would imply, yet you can't deny that they're a lot more attractive now that they're not stuck alongside the likes of . . .

East Carolina: Kirk Van Houten
Yup, once upon a time you had a situation that was way better than it had any right to be. You may consider those days long gone.

UAB: Frank Grimes
Ain't a harder-working cat around, son. Fighting against all kinds of obstacles to get noticed for their exploits -- yet they seem destined to get passed over for people who can somehow half-ass it and still succeed.

West Virginia: Cletus
Their hillbilly steez leaves them vulnerable to a lot of redneck/inbreeding jokes, but they're crazy like a fox, so don't mess with them unless you're prepared to see some serious damage left in their wake -- just ask the Bulldogs. (Browbeaten into this by literally dozens of commenters.)

Northwestern: Professor Frink
Geek quotient and steady stream of hoyven glayven-worthy screwups in the lab and on the gridiron would seem to indicate that they don't need to be taken all that seriously, yet every once in a while, in the midst of their usual explosions and embarrassing misfires, they manage to come up with a weapon that qualifies as truly dangerous.

Purdue: Dr. Julius Hibbert
Jolly sorts who seem to be able to weather any kind of tragedy -- losing a patient, stumbling through a 5-6 season -- with an "Oh well, we'll get 'em next time" kind of attitude. While this outlook might be sunny and carefree, however, they're eventually going to have to get on the stick and start taking things seriously if they ever want to advance. (Of course, as Kansas State and Nick Riviera have demonstrated, things could certainly be a lot worse.)

California: Dr. Marvin Monroe
Touchy-feely approach seems to be just the ticket on paper, and has been hailed by countless trend-followers looking for the Next Big Thing -- yet nobody who's been through this program, be it one of the Simpsons or Kyle Boller, seems to have improved all that much.

Tulane: Bleeding Gums Murphy
Hard-luck cases you really want things to work out for, even if you have no personal attachment to them, yet paradoxically, their deep ties to the blues mean that any lasting success would kind of negate their underdog status and thus their ability to make people root for them.

Hawaii: Bee Guy
¡Que curiosidad! Out on the fringes, to be sure, but they've each managed to parlay their respective gimmicks into personae that are memorable, if not exactly multifaceted. Consequential or not, they seem like they'd be perfectly enjoyable to hang out with. (Yes, I know everyone was expecting Bee Guy to be Georgia Tech, but come on, Comic Book Guy was perfect.)

Texas Tech: Sideshow Mel
Also gimmick players, but gimmick players who have managed to take their various devices and turn them into a whole lot more media attention than they ever would've gotten otherwise. At times they actually look a good bit smarter than the headliners, but at the same time you can't really see them carrying a show all by themselves.

Idaho and Utah State: Rod and Todd Flanders
Small-time, easily dismissible tykes hailing from some of the Jesus-freakiest places on earth. Barren, ultraconservative existences make even the most minor victories worth cheering about. Main roles in life seem to be serving as easy marks for the LSUs/Ralph Muntzes of the world as they go in search of easy targets.

Kansas: Rev. Timothy Lovejoy
Non-flashy, ultraconservative, occasionally manage to do something that captures the attention of the general public, but this usually lasts only a few moments before everyone turns to hipper, more visible programs. They give it their all every weekend, yet you can't help but think they?d be a lot happier if they could just chuck the whole thing and concentrate on their true passions, be it basketball or model trains.

Marcus Vick: Helen Lovejoy
OK, I know this doesn?t really make much sense, I just had to make one "Won't somebody think of the children?" joke.

Missouri: Jessica Lovejoy
Wicked seductresses who'll only break your heart every single time. Seem to have everything a guy could want, but you're destined to come away feeling disappointed, empty, and used.

North Carolina State: Otto Mann
Two cast members for whom underachievement and relaxed standards have become a way of life. Constantly keep people guessing as to whether there's really any higher brain function going on up there or not.

UTEP and Tulsa: Sherri and Terri
Minor enough that you really don't want to have to pay attention to them, but they're quick-witted enough to be constant thorns in somebody's side. Very strange, even unsettling, coloration.

Southern Methodist: Jebediah Springfield
Each was once an O.G. in their respective universes, to the point where any historical account has to include them virtually by default -- but once their horrible secrets were laid bare to the public, they pretty much became a joke after that. Embiggened by a little face-saving cromulence of late, but they've still got a long way to go before they can hold their heads up high around anyone.

Boise State: Inanimate Carbon Rod
Showered with media coverage and ticker-tape parades, but how much of what they've done is actual accomplishment, and how much of it is simply managing to look good compared to the bumbling incompetents they're surrounded by? Have garnered a truly astounding amount of adulation from simply being in the right place at the right time (and being wielded by the right guy).

San Jose State: Hans Moleman
How is it that these guys aren't dead yet?

The Sun Belt Conference: Happy Little Elves
The Elves aren't real people, and I'm not convinced any of the SBC's members are real D-IA football teams. Crude in their methods, entertaining enough for those with relaxed standards, but most discerning fans grow out of them real quick.

By all means, if you have any additional nominations or changes you'd like to make, suggest 'em in the comments. The Simpsons universe is vast enough that we could probably find an analogue for all 119 D-IA teams (and maybe even a few D-IAAs) if we tried.