Friday, March 31

Friday Random Ten: Redemption.

Let's hope there are no more embarrassments like last week. This means you, Starship. (By the way, did you know they reconstituted themselves as "Jefferson Starship: The Next Generation" in 1991 and were still putting out albums as recently as 1999? I submit this to you, dear reader, without comment.)


1. Morrissey, "I'm Not Sorry"
2. The Clash, "Career Opportunities"
3. The Rolling Stones, "You Can't Always Get What You Want"
4. Moby, "Inside"
5. Pet Shop Boys, "Do I Have To?"
6. 3rd Bass, "Oval Office"
7. Pet Shop Boys, "Before" (Danny Tenaglia underground mix)
8. Lou Reed, "Perfect Day"
9. St. Germain, "What You Think About . . ."
10. Radiohead, "No Surprises"

Off-topic, thanks to Jen for explaining the whole "pinche cabron" concept. Feel free to put your own Random Tens and/or your own favorite inappropriate ethnic insults in the comments below.

Wednesday, March 29

Feedin' my football fix.

The football season is over, my NCAA bracket was annihilated two weeks ago, opening day isn't until next week, Georgia's spring game isn't until a little after that. Basically, I'm in kind of a tough spot when it comes to anything blogworthy in my little sports universe, so when Joey from Schembechler Hall was kind enough to post a group of roundtable-y questions concerning the upcoming college football season (which, yes, is still 156 days away, not that I've been counting), I let loose with a Homer Simpson-esque "Woohoo" and got to it. (I may have also sung Homer's "Max Power" song a couple times, but that's neither here nor there.)

Anyway, here are the questions and answers:

1. It's early, but thus far, which offseason change or changes in college football are you most excited about?

Well, this sure won't come as a surprise to anybody, but firstly I'll be excited about not having to hear Southern California celebrated as the Greatest Team In The History Of Ever by ESPN for five more months. Nothing against the Trojans, you understand, but c'mon, people. That's the kind of nonstop fawning you rarely see outside of a Dick Cheney interview on Fox.

But secondly, I'll be excited to see how the races in recently shaken-up conferences like the ACC, the Big East, and Conference USA turn out. Last year was these conferences' first season of "full reconstitution," if you will, so while that made for some interesting games, it was still kind of hard to make any major judgments about where these new conferences were headed based on just one season of play. I think things will be a lot clearer in 2006, with certain questions coming a lot closer to being answered: Could the ACC's reformation have put the nail in the coffin of FSU's claim to be a national power? Is West Virginia really going to be the Big East's new long-term powerhouse, or is Louisville going to get up off their asses and claim that title like everyone thought they were going to do last year? And is anyone in C-USA going to step up to take a place alongside TCU, Boise State, etc. as a legitimate mid-major contender? (My preliminary answers: Still not quite yet, probably, and probably not, respectively, though there's still plenty of time for me to change my mind.)

As for individual teams not named Georgia, one of the biggest developments I'll be looking forward to is seeing whether Papa Weis can perform as excellently in his second year at Notre Dame as he did in his first. Yes, he won nine games in his first season, but Ty Willingham won ten, and . . . well, nobody in South Bend appears to be exactly weeping in their Communion wine that he's gone. But if Weis's record drops off as precipitously as Willingham's (total wins slashed in half from '02 to '03), there's going to be a nasty sense of deja vu to the proceedings. I don't think this is going to happen, nor do I hope that it does, but . . . well, we'll just have to see.

He'll still be sleeping on a pile of money with many beautiful ladies regardless, but will Papa Weis be staying home for New Year's?

2. With spring practice underway, what are the three concerns about your team that are causing you the most anxiety?

The quarterback situation is a concern, obviously, but not the biggest one -- David Greene was brand-new when he took his first snaps for the Dawgs in 2001, you'll recall, and he turned out all right. The QB race is convoluted, but there are enough guys in it I'm confident somebody will step up; I'd put that concern probably second to our run defense. In case you weren't watching, the middle of our defense, which had been so strong through the first half of the season, turned into a pumpkin round about the Vanderbilt game, and while it was mainly due to injuries at that point, things didn't improve a whole heck of a lot even once the injuries healed -- culminating in a truly jaw-droppingly awful performance against West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl. Everyone will come back healthy, I'm (tentatively) assuming, but depth is going to be a concern. Certainly no less so with Tennessee, Auburn, and Florida all poised to field strong running games in '06.

Number-three concern is simple leadership. This was a big issue going into '05, too, one that, in retrospect, probably needn't have been: Yes, Shockley was entering his first year as the anointed starter and everyone was wondering whether he could achieve the leadership bar set by David Greene, but Shockley was a senior who'd accrued considerable playing time for someone who'd never been the starter, and the rest of the team knew him well enough to like and respect him. None of the guys currently in the running for our QB position have all those luxuries. Tereshinski is a senior, but has nowhere near the playing time Shock had; Matt Stafford, while supposedly an incredible talent, has never taken a snap for the Dawgs.

Of course, there's nothing saying that the heart-and-soul-of-the-team responsibility necessarily has to fall to a QB at all. As someone who passed up what would've almost certainly been some very delicious NFL money to to come back and wear the red and black for one more year, Quentin Moses, certainly, seems up to the task. I'd also hope to see some big things from Kregg Lumpkin, who's kind of the "elder statesman" of a very stout RB corps that's going to include Thomas Brown, Danny Ware, and new recruit Knowshon Moreno. Because of the injury that took him out for all of 2004 and the subsequent rise of Brown and Ware, people forget just how highly Lumpkin was touted as a recruit in 2003; I wouldn't be surprised to see him make this his breakout, silence-the-doubters season in much the same way that Shockley did in 2006. It all depends on whether Richt and the coaching staff gives him that chance.

He's Lump, he's Lump, he's Lump . . . he's in your end zone.

3. Care to take a stab at a preseason top five?

Of course, because if there's anything this blog should have proven beyond a reasonable doubt, it's that I'm not afraid to say stuff that may make me look like a total ass later on.

1. LSU -- For a guy enduring his first year in the mosh pit full of serial killers that is the SEC, not to mention enduring the bizarre circumstances of Hurricane Katrina for the first couple months of the season, Les Miles acquitted himself pretty well in 2005 racking up 11 wins. Like many others, I'm still not convinced that he's the second coming of Knute Rockne, or even Nick Saban, but 2006 sets up as a great situation for him to prove us all wrong.

2. Ohio State -- In between blog posts, Cheatypants McSweatervest Tressel is going to have to fill some big holes on defense, but that's hardly been a problem for him before.

3. Texas -- I have a sneaking suspicion that Vince Young's departure is going to be a much bigger loss for the defending national champions than anyone has predicted so far, but then again, maybe beating Oklahoma and winning the national title has finally gotten the "can't win the big ones" monkey off Mack Brown's back for good. We'll see.

4. Oklahoma -- Haven't seen the Sooners on many other early top-fives, which I think is an oversight. Yeah, they stunk the first half of the season, but came on very strong in the second half, and Bob Stoops is a guy who's never going to be kept down for very long.

5. Florida -- Orson, Stranko, this leap of faith is all for you, guys. The Gator offense almost has to be better in '06 than it was in '05 -- it could hardly be any worse -- but Chris Leak still isn't the quarterback Urban Meyer would ideally like to run his system and the whole world pretty much knows it. Given Gators, will Meyer make Gator-ade (made that up myself just now! totally!), or will Leak once again be hung out as chum for opposing DEs?

Sorry, Orson, but the price you pay for making it into my top five is another Vietnam flashback of the Alabama game.

By the way, we haven't been talking much about it lately but the big G-Day tailgate bloggerpalooza is still on like Donkey Kong -- April 8, 9:00ish, somewhere on the north campus quad in idyllic Athens, Georgia. Stay posted to this site or for further updates over the next week or so.

But it is unusual getting knighted by anyone . . .

Tom Jones has been officially knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Awesome.

My only question is, why'd it take this long? Tom Jones has been a pimp for at least 40 years now. My mom recalls live performances in the '70s in which women would throw roses, hotel keys, even their panties up on stage for this cat. (She insists she did not participate in any of these shenanigans, and I choose to believe her.) All I'm saying is, at the very least he's a way bigger pimp than Bill Gates.

But anyway, congratulations to Tom. Man, if you thought it was easy for him to get chicks before . . .

A nice day to . . . STAAAART AGAAAAIIIIN!:
Wedding crashers, only without the "crashing" part.

Yep, I actually got invited to this one. Well, I didn't, but my best friend Arlana did, and she brought me along. I know a lot of guys hate getting dragged to weddings, but I actually kind of enjoy them -- everyone's in a good mood, there's free food, (usually) an open bar, and the ever-present possibility of nailing a bridesmaid in the broom closet. (I already know what you're going to ask, and yes, my mom reads this sometimes. No, I assure you, she couldn't care less. She's come to expect it by now.)

Anyway, this wedding was for one of Arlana's sorority sisters from Auburn. Did you know that Auburn people, for all their claims of Southern pride and whatnot, profane the legendary song "Sweet Home Alabama" by yelling "War damn Eagle" after every mention of "Alabama" in the song's chorus? I must confess I was new to this "tradition." And yes, my children, if you're getting married in the state of Alabama, there's a good chance that "Sweet Home Alabama" is getting played at the reception. Don't protest, just go with it. (I don't have a problem with it except that this wedding had a DJ as opposed to a band, which deprived me of the chance to in some way re-enact the "Total Eclipse of the Heart" scene from "Old School." Other than that it was fine.)

This picture? Almost one of the best pictures ever taken of me. My parents would've been begging me to use that as my profile photo in the upper-left-hand corner of this page -- they hate the photo that's up there now for some reason -- and I would've happily complied. But then Jesus had to go and return to earth at The Summit that same afternoon, and he shot a bolt of holy righteous sunlight right through me face. Thanks, Jesus.

Me! Holding a baby! At the reception! This baby is, I believe, the son of the bride's brother- and sister-in-law. By the end of the night I think he had been held by all 10 people at our table.

Now we go straight from baby-holding to rampant alcohol abuse, though I should probably point out two things -- 1) we held the baby before we got ripping drunk and thus endangered it in no way, shape, or form, and 2) it was an open bar, so, like, what did you expect? Still, even I'm a little shocked at the amount of glassware that ended up on our table.

The result of all this shenanigans. Table 5 was, without a doubt, the party table.

Oh, yeah, and there was a wedding, too. This is Arlana with the bride, Amanda.

So anyway, I've got at least two more weddings in the next three months, so that's two more chances to sing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" at a reception. One way or another, it's going to happen.


Since I took last week's Colin-Cowherd-boosting-material-from-a-blogger dustup as an opportunity to rip into Cowherd and ESPN, it's only fair that I should give ESPN due credit for owning up to their mistake and resolving the controversy, which they did Monday when Cowherd credited The M Zone for their fake Wonderlic test on his show. (As you can see, this story first aired on Hey Jenny Slater's sister network, LCI, in France.) See, that wasn't so hard, was it, guys?

Now if I could just convince people that Scott Rudin Productions and Paramount Pictures stole their idea for a movie about a guy who lives at home with his parents while happily mooching off of them and bedding a succession of hot chicks from my memoirs. Just so y'all know, I would never have consented to Sarah Jessica Parker being cast as the female lead had I been involved from the beginning.

Friday, March 24

Friday Random Ten, and the How-Confident-Are-You-In-Your-Coolness? Embarrassing Music Meme Challenge.

You probably won't hear much from me until Monday -- got a New Yorker coming for a weekend visit and it's probably going to take every ounce of energy I've got over the next few days to defend Birmingham from rampant accusations of uncoolness.

But anyway, here's the Ten:

1. Squirrel Nut Zippers, "Plenty More"
2. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina"
3. Pet Shop Boys, "Go West" (Kevin Saunderson tribe mix)
4. Miles Davis, "So What"
5. The Police, "King of Pain"
6. Pet Shop Boys, "To the Battleship"
7. U2, "Red Hill Mining Town"
8. A Tribe Called Quest, "Skypager"
9. Starship, "Sara"
10. Public Enemy, "Reggie Jax"

Boy, talk about uncoolness. OK, I know I probably owe an explanation for #9 on the list, which may be an even more embarrassing track than "We Built This City" (which I also have, shamefully). All I can say is it's another symptom of my '80s nostalgia obsession. No, I'm not currently seeking counseling. Maybe I should.

But this gives me an idea for a meme: I know I'm not alone in having some dirty secrets on my iPod that don't always see the light of day in a Random Ten, so here's your chance to get everything off your chest in an amnesty-like environment. The meme: What are the ten most embarrassing musicians/groups/acts you have in your music collection, and how many songs by each one do you have? I figure this would be better than "ten most embarrassing songs," since a lot of you would probably just put the entire track listing for, say, Milli Vanilli's Girl, You Know It's True up there. (Don't lie. Yes, you would.) To get started, here's mine, starting with the most embarrassing:

1. Lou Bega (1)

OK, after my family went on a month-long trip to Europe the summer after I graduated from college, I made a CD of all the music that had been popular in Europe while we were over there. I still have it. It still brings back fond memories. Sue me.

2. Chris de Burgh (1)

"The Lady in Red." No, no, don't worry, I'll show myself out.

3. Nu Shooz (1)
4. Starship (2)
5. Rick Astley (2)

Let me just say this: You'd be surprised just how fun it is to walk into a hole-in-the-wall bar in Soho and find out that it's '80s night and "Together Forever" is blasting from the speakers. I'm not saying it's right, just that it's . . . not wrong, necessarily.

6. Wham! (1)
7. Swing Out Sister (1)
8. Toto (1)
9. Barry Manilow (1)

Yes, "Copacabana," remixed. It's another college nostalgia thing.

10. Wang Chung (2)

Now that I've laid this out for all the world to see, I expect at least a couple of you to do the same. I know I'm not any bigger a monster than anyone else. Well, than most people. Some people. At least one of you. Maybe.

Thursday, March 23

Reopening the memory hole.

I don't want to dwell on this too much, but Josh Marshall wrote something at Talking Points Memo the other day that both reminded me of something important about the run-up to the Iraq war back in 2003 and tied in with what I'd written a few days ago on the third anniversary of the start of the invasion.

Here's a segment Marshall quotes from Bush's recent press conference, though it's a "point" Bush has attempted to make repeatedly over the last three years (you can read the full conference transcript here):

also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council; that's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences . . . and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.

The part that I put in bold is a straight-up, bald-faced lie. Whatever else bad you could say about Hussein (and there's plenty), you can't say he "chose to deny inspectors." The entire world knows there were weapons inspectors in Iraq in the days and weeks leading up to the war. And on Monday, March 17, 2003, two days before the invasion began, the U.S. government told the UN inspectors to leave Iraq because they were about to start bombing.

Think about that. On the one hand, Bush, Cheney, and all the others talk until they're blue in the face about how they didn't really want war, how they did everything in their power to avoid it, this was all Saddam's fault -- yet their trigger fingers were so itchy they couldn't even wait for the weapons inspectors to finish doing their jobs before they started blowing things up.

Bush has said many times that he didn't want to go to war. I'm sorry if this makes me look like another crazy Bush-hatin' liberal, but I don't believe that for a second. I think that the Bush administration made up their minds early on that they wanted to go to war, and nothing ever stood a serious chance of dissuading them. The question that I still can't quite wrap my head around is why. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, Bush hadn't even given the weapons inspectors long enough to determine whether it was actually worth being worried of Iraq's alleged WMDs, it wasn't like Iraq was going to invade the U.S. or anything -- why Iraq? Why then?

Neither Bush nor his supporters have come anywhere close to offering a satisfactory answer to this. If any of them can, they're certainly invited to do so here, but until then, I'm going to remain very worried that the only reason Iraq got invaded was because we just needed to hit somebody. The war in Afghanistan was losing its luster, we'd pretty clearly lost the scent with respect to bin Laden, and we just needed to make a show of force wherever and however we could, just so that nobody in the Muslim world would get any wise ideas. It gives me no pleasure to imagine that our country could start a full-scale war because of something so stupid, but quite frankly, given the five-year record this administration has in terms of logic, diplomacy, and just plain reality, that's getting easier and easier to believe.

ADDED: More revelations concerning the Bush administration's desperation in trying to figure out how to get a war started here.

The weekend in pictures, part III: bathroom fixtures.

OK, this may seem completely stupid to 99 percent of you, but I had to prove to the world that I'm somewhat, you know, handy. Not to mention concerned with personal hygiene. The reason I actually went down to Columbus in the first place last weekend was that I'd done some heavy-duty painting in my bathroom and the paint needed a few days to dry, and rather than go three or four days straight without bathing -- I don't care how many people in continental Europe do it, it's dirty and wrong -- I figured I'd go partake of the shower facilities at the folks', and get a visit in besides.

The reason I did the painting was because my bathtub looked, well, horrific. Not because of anything I did, mind you -- it was like this when I got the place, as the management takes, shall we say, a casual attitude toward upkeep for the most part. Behold, the "before" picture of my bathtub:

Pretty freaking disgusting, no? (And no, I don't mean my feet, picklewipe.) See, the thing is, when this picture was taken I had just gotten done scrubbing the hell out of this thing. I can only guess that the last time this place was renovated or redone -- sometime during the Eisenhower administration, I'm guessing -- they left a bunch of putty and solvents and what have you in the tub and didn't bother to clean it up. I tried everything short of napalm to scour that crud out of there, but it didn't work; basically, the tub you see there is technically clean, it just looks like an abattoir. So last week I just said hell with it and painted over it using some nice, professional, buzz-inducing epoxy paint.

Here's the new-and-improved version:

Nice, huh? Of course, the sparkling Crest whiteness of the tub now makes it all the more clear how much work needs to be done on the grouting, but still. We've moved up in ambience from "abattoir" to "cheap motel room," and that's what matters.

As for this post, I suppose the case could be made that it was literally as boring as watching paint dry. For that, my apologies.

(By the way, as someone who has come out strongly against plagiarism lately, I want to make very clear that the "picklewipe" epithet is not something I came up with on my own. Full credit must go to Tressel's World, the most bizarre blog ever written from the point of view of Ohio State's football coach. So, kudos, Jim.)

Introducing the Sarcastic Hand Clap Award.

As (I certainly hope) you've figured out by now, I don't take this blogging thing all that seriously. You're never going to see my name on the cover of a book about how blogging is revolutionizing society's relationship with the media, nor will you ever read an indignant post on this site about how Big Corporate Media is cruelly attempting to silence the brave voice of the independent blogger.

But maybe I've been too quick to discount the idea that some in the major media really don't have a lot of respect for what bloggers do, because a blog I happen to enjoy quite a lot, The M Zone, got royally screwed (twice) by ESPN today. Our story actually begins a few weeks ago, when Yost from The M Zone responded to the Vince-Young-bombed-the-Wonderlic rumor-story by posting his "M Zone Collegiate Wonderlic Test." Like most of the stuff they put up on there, it was funny stuff. So funny, apparently, that ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd felt substantial portions of it were worth pinching verbatim for his March 22 program -- without giving Yost or The M Zone a bit of credit.

Yost, understandably, was ticked at this, so he sent Cowherd an e-mail and encouraged The M Zone's readers to do the same. Today he got a response from Cowherd, which went as follows:

Subject: RE: From the M Zone
Date: 3/23/2006 7:35:54 A.M. Pacific Standard Time
Reply To:
To: michiganzone(at)adelphia dot net


Now, I don't know Colin Cowherd well enough to be able to call him a dick, but this was most assuredly a colossal dick move on his part. First of all, he apparently sends his e-mails in all caps with ellipsis instead of actual sentence breaks, which drives me batshit. But the larger issue here is that he basically plagiarized from somebody, never so much as mentioned where he got it from (allowing people to assume that someone at ESPN Radio had come up with it on their own), and then, when the original author dared to take offense at that, basically told the guy to piss off (and explicitly informed said author he planned to perpetuate the dick move by continuing not to give him any credit).

Now, The M Zone has already done his richly-deserved venting over the witheringly unethical (and probably illegal) nature of what Cowherd did, so I won't go into that. Instead, at the risk of making too much of this, I'll simply pose this rhetorical question -- Who the fuck does ESPN think they are? It's no secret that an increasing number of fans are beginning to take issue with the way the once-infallible Worldwide Leader in Sports goes about its business, and that they perceive a growing level of arrogance on the part of the network; you've got the premature anointing of Southern California as OMG Greatest College Team Ever this past football season, the never-ending stream of obtuse sports-talk shows built around singularly unlikeable personalities, the overall sense that ESPN has become less concerned with the actual sporting events than with what their own pundits think about them. In short, they appear to have been working nice and hard to give the impression that they really don't care about the average sports fan all that much anymore -- and Colin Cowherd's callous treatment of one such fan (a fan who made him look like a comic genius, by the way) sadly fits right into that pattern. If this is all the respect ESPN can muster for its listeners/viewers, then perhaps they need to get out of sports broadcasting entirely and get into something else . . . like political punditry, perhaps.

Anyway. Since e-mailing Cowherd himself appears to be so much brick-wall-shouting, help Yost and the M Zone crew out by following this link and e-mailing ESPN's ombudsman, George Solomon, about your displeasure. (I'll be posting my own e-mail up here later on in the day.) Cowherd's shameless pilfering is something for which I can recall people specifically getting fired when I worked at The Red & Black in college, so I'm curious to hear why ESPN thinks their ethical standards don't need to be any higher than those of a student newspaper. I'm also curious to see why their journalistic standards should be lower, now that I think about it, since Cowherd claims to have just been "sent" the item by some random person yet apparently was too lazy to do the 30 seconds' worth of Googling it would've taken to find out where it actually came from.

So anyway, Cowherd wins Hey Jenny Slater's inaugural Sarcastic Hand Clap Award for his douchebaggery, along with an eyeroll and a "Smooth move, Ex-Lax" muttered under my breath. Again, since this kind of static would be a firing offense at pretty much any media outlet I've ever worked at, I'm pretty interested to see what, if anything, happens with all this. Yost, I stand with you, homes. Attica! Attica! Viva la Revolución! or something like that.

ADDED: Here's the e-mail I submitted to George Solomon via the ESPN Web site.

You've no doubt been e-mailed numerous times today concerning Colin Cowherd, the material he appropriated from the blog The M Zone (, and the thoroughly arrogant, unprofessional way in which he chose to respond when this was brought to his attention.

I know this incident is hardly the end of the world for either side, but Cowherd's carelessness and unprofessionalism is still something that could harm the reputation of your network, and it's something that needs to be dealt with.

If all Cowherd did was read something on the air without being aware of its source, then at the very least he is guilty of careless "vetting" in not bothering to find out where it had come from, not to mention an extremely specious breach of journalistic ethics by permitting listeners to believe he'd come up with it on his own.

But if, in fact, he knew where the material had come from and deliberately chose not to give credit to the original author, then what he did is straight-up plagiarism, and as a journalist myself, I can tell you that there is not a single place I have ever worked where this would not have been a firing offense. Furthermore, the incredibly snide attitude he took toward the M Zone blogger who e-mailed him today would seem to indicate that he neither knows nor cares about such ethical issues, and that shouldn't be tolerated at your network or at anyone else's.

It's not my place to demand specific actions to be taken by you or anyone else at ESPN, but an on-the-air acknowledgment, by Cowherd, of where the material came from hardly seems too much to ask. What you do beyond that is up to you. To take no action at all, though, would speak to an incredible level of arrogance on ESPN's part, and would be enough to cause me to stop watching/listening entirely.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Wednesday, March 22

The weekend in pictures, part II: dogs.

More momentous than even the air show was the fact that my folks brought to an end two years of canine-less living by going out and getting a dog from the Humane Society.

This is that dog, a two-year-old springer spaniel who now goes by Jake. It was sort of difficult getting him to hold still at first . . .

OK, this is a little better, I guess -- here's Jake with my mom. I think what sealed the deal was the striking resemblance Jake bears to the two Brittanys they used to have, not to mention the very similar personality.

Jake takes a brief opportunity to explore the house before . . .

. . . we inevitably get to the part where Jenna decides to annoy the crap out of him. Here it looks like she's going after one of his ears, which was pretty much her M.O. for the weekend; even as we were throwing tennis balls in the backyard for Jake to go catch, Jenna would be running right alongside him, trying to clamp her jaws around one of his ears as it flapped joyously in the breeze.

Jake and Jenna in a rare calm moment of not being total spazzes. I have it on good authority that the following Monday, when Jenna and I were back in Birmingham, both dogs were moping around all depressed with nobody to play with. Awwww!

OK, that's enough before I go into diabetic shock from all the sugar. Tomorrow: the exciting world of home improvement.

Tuesday, March 21

The weekend in pictures, part I: airplanes.

My apologies if I sort of bummed everybody out with the last post. It wasn't my intention to do so -- well, no, it kind of was. But I thought I might post something a little less dispiriting by throwing up some pictures I took over the weekend while I was in Columbus. I now have a 128-meg memory card for my little digital camera, so I decided it was time to let that sucker rip.

First set is from the air show I went to with my dad. "Thunder in the Valley" has actually gotten to be a pretty big deal around these parts -- it isn't Paris or Farnborough, needless to say, but it does draw a pretty big crowd each year, and they manage to take advantage of their proximity to Fort Benning to bring in some pretty neat military aircraft, among other things. I know I've ragged on Columbus at numerous points in the past, but I really do think that if they expanded and publicized this air show thing a little more, they could turn it into a nationwide deal. My sister and I have talked at length about how Columbus really needs something that Atlanta doesn't have to sort of distinguish itself and move itself out of Atlanta's shadow -- well, I think the air show could be the ticket, if they did it right.

The undisputed star of the show, and a new addition this year, was the C-17 Globemaster III, the newest heavy-lift cargo plane in the Air Force fleet. I think the guy told us that, fully loaded, it weighs something like 580,000 pounds, yet it can take off in only 1,300 feet -- less than 1/5th the length of the Columbus airport's main runway. Which ain't all that long, considering that we only get ASA commuter flights in there anymore these days.

A bunch of folks strolling up into the cargo hold of the C-17, which is big enough to hold a CH-47 Chinook helicopter or an M1A1 Abrams battle tank, among other things.

Pops behind the wheel of the C-17, about 20 feet off the ground. Dad is a funny guy: When I first asked him if he wanted to go to the air show, he was like, "Ahhhh, I don't know, it's usually kind of the same every year" -- but once we got up in the C-17, he was as excited as a kid, and actually elbowed three or four little kids out of the way so that he could sit in the pilot's seat. (Of course I'm only kidding here. It was only one kid, and he shouldn't have been looking at Dad like that.)

Here's an A-10 Thunderbolt II coming around to do another demonstration of a tank-killing strafing run. The A-10 is basically an airplane built around a cannon, one that fires Coke-bottle-sized bullets that aren't so much "armor-piercing" as "armor-liquefying." I think if I'd followed through on my childhood dream of becoming a pilot in the military, I'd want to fly one of these -- slow, butt-ugly, and downright terrifying. Kind of like me, except for that last part.

An Aero L-39 jet trainer, here in Red Air Force markings even though it was built by my countrymen in (w00t) Czechoslovakia. (You can purchase a flight in one of these if you're so inclined -- or if, like GM chairman Robert Lutz, you have an extra $200,000 lying around, you can buy the plane itself.)

Detail of the nose art on a B-25 Mitchell from WWII.

Business end of a FedEx Boeing 727.

Two airmen watching the show from the roof of the C-17, one of the better seats in the house.

Tomorrow: Dogs!

Monday, March 20

A pesky little thing called war.

Over the last few days it's been very popular in the blogosphere to dig up statements made by supporters of the war back in 2003 and rip them a new one for their arrogance, irresponsibility, what have you. I'm not gonna do that. Instead, at the risk of being shamelessly self-promotional, I bring you what I wrote the day after the war started back in 2003.

Not that this will surprise you, but I stand by everything I said. I know I should feel incredibly fortunate to live in a country that can start a full-scale war and still look and feel so completely unaffected by it at home -- and I guess part of me, selfishly, does -- but at the same time I feel really guilty, maybe even ashamed, as an American that we apparently approach war with such a casual attitude. We've been at war for three years now, more than 2,300 American soldiers have died along with countless innocent Iraqi civilians, and yet we still find the time and energy to devote to runaway brides, Britney Spears, and a whole host of other things.

I realize that I'm no less guilty of this than most people are. And I also realize that if people really did believe in a quick-and-easy, wrap-'em-up war back in the spring of 2003, it wasn't like they were just blindly hoping for it -- after taxing Saddam's ass and routing him out of Kuwait in '91, after liberating Kosovo in less than three months without losing a single American soldier, there was certainly precedent for a swift, successful, and relatively low-impact conflict. But if the last three years have taught me anything, it's that a country's people often take their cues from their government, and whatever overly casual attitude the American people had as the Iraq war got started were absolutely mirrored, if not amplified, by the casual attitude taken by our government.

Donald Rumsfeld thought we could half-ass the invasion, occupation, and reconstruction of Iraq with fewer than 150,000 troops, going so far as to fire the Army's top general for daring to suggest it would take more. Cheney, Wolfowitz, and others at the Pentagon told us we would be welcomed as liberators in Iraq, with rose petals thrown at our feet by the joyous Iraqi people. George W. Bush was so eager to declare victory that he couldn't wait more than 41 days before strutting across the deck of an aircraft carrier with a "Mission Accomplished" banner behind him. Yes, I know, the conservatives and/or Bush fans who read this are going to whip out any number of quotes in which Rumsfeld or Cheney said this or that would be a difficult struggle, but every cautionary quote was followed by a wink -- one minute Bush is telling us what a long hard slog this is going to be, the next he's telling us to support the economy by going out and buying a ton of stuff and acting like everything's normal. They wanted us to believe this would be an easy, low-risk proposition, one that would require a minimum of disruption or sacrifice back here at home, and we eagerly jumped on board.

You're all welcome to have very long and involved debates over the legality of Bush's wiretapping program, Tom DeLay's campaign contributions, the torture that has gone on at Guantanamo Bay, but as serious as all those allegations are, they all pale in comparison to what I believe is the greatest crime the Bush administration committed: They didn't take war seriously. My attitude toward war centers on two points -- that it should be avoided by any reasonable diplomatic means (which the Bush administration did not do) and, barring that, it should be planned and waged with a thorough understanding of all the circumstances and risks involved (which they also did not do). So I'm not going to make any sweeping judgments about the rightness or wrongness of a war, not even this one, but the fact remains, when war is waged -- even if it is the most noble, well-planned, necessary war imaginable -- lives are changed. Soldiers come home missing limbs or in body bags. Families are torn apart. Entire nations incur economic consequences that are felt for months, if not years.

That is the inescapable fact of war, the truism that anyone who has ever actually fought in one will impart to you first and foremost: As Sadly, No! said, "War never doesn't hurt." But this administration, to their resounding shame, tried to deny this fact. They tried to do the invasion as cheaply as possible and demanded absolutely nothing from the folks back home -- no gas rationing, nobody even had to give up the massive tax cuts Bush had been feeding them for the past two years. Whether by accident or with malice aforethought, they didn't take this war seriously enough, and the example they set is the reason people were sitting outside talking, laughing, and drinking beers in Birmingham on March 19, 2003, as bombs rained down and innocent people died half a world away.

Unfortunately, I see no evidence that any of our leaders are taking it any more seriously now, three years and 2,317 dead American soldiers later. None of the people who fed us the greatest falsehoods about what this war would mean have been held in any way accountable for their carelessness -- if anything, they're doing better than they were before: Paul Wolfowitz is now the head of the World Bank. Eric Shinseki is out of a job, but the man who fired him, Donald Rumsfeld, still has his. Ahmed Chalabi, who has assembled a record of dishonesty and malfeasance that surely ranks him as one of the greatest charlatans ever to be associated with this country, whom the U.S. government should have placed in a prison cell, was instead placed in the office of the Iraqi Oil Minister. For their lazy and negligent attitude toward the very concept of war, they have been rewarded. And I don't want to be a citizen of a country where war is looked upon as casual. I don't want to live under a government that tries to tell me that even though we've gone to war, nothing's really all that different.

Obviously I've given countless reasons over the past five years why I oppose Bush and his policies, but this, to me, is the most shameful aspect of his administration's legacy: Barely 25 years after the blood and disgrace of Vietnam, they've already gotten back to thinking war isn't that big a deal. And it's rubbed off on the rest of us.

This may sound like a lot of finger-pointing and self-righteous Monday-morning quarterbacking, and I'm sorry if that's the case, but I do believe that all of this has relevance to the current situation in Iraq and how we move forward to ensure this operation's success. Whether or not Iraq is actually in a state of civil war, whether things are getting better or getting worse, we can't have even a remote sense of confidence in our chances for victory until our government sits down and has a reckoning with the American people: This is the seriousness of the situation we're in. This is where we're at, both the good and the bad. This is what we're going to need to make this thing work. And these are the sacrifices you will have to make to provide it.

The thing is, for all their swagger and machismo toward other countries, I think this government is too afraid of its own people to be able to say that. Which means nothing's going to change, either over in Iraq or here at home. And if this administration has succeeded fully in turning this into a country where war isn't seen as being that big a deal, it will have awful consequences that last long after the last American soldier flies home from Baghdad -- if, in fact, that ever happens.

Saturday, March 18

The forecast calls for PAIN whoopsy.

Dans des nouvelles sportives, Kentucky ont imposé des impôts à cet âne la nuit passée . . .

Well, that's what I get for pooh-poohing the power of Ashley Judd. UAB fought valiantly against Kentucky for the entire game, and even led for the majority of the first half, but were undone by the usual mediocre free-throw shooting and what seemed like a never-ending stream of spectacularly ill-advised three-point shots down the stretch to lose to Kentucky, 69-64.

Worse, my bracket -- which had looked so squeaky-clean after Thursday's games -- took a major hit as Kansas took their opportunity to politely bow out so that a plucky but unheralded underdog could have a shot at the big one. Which was real generous of them, except I had y'all in my Final fricking Four, dumbasses. It's almost like y'all don't want me to win the $75 or something! ('Cause it really is all about me this time of year, OK?)

What's the matter with Kansas? Their shots from the arc were almost as bad as UAB's, for starters.

Nevertheless, there is still hope . . . but all of it hinges on Boston College and Illinois. (Note to self: Your obsession with #4 seeds is like Jessica Simpson -- cute, but stupid.)

Even if this all comes crashing down around me, though, I still won't feel as stupid as the Dallas Cowboys. Signing Terrell Owens? On purpose? That doesn't even get credit for hubris -- that's something straight out of the old SNL "Bad Idea Jeans" sketch. Of course, for those in Big D who were really gonna miss Me-Shawn, it'll be like he never left.

Well, he's an ex free-base addict, and he's trying to turn around, and he needs a place to stay for a couple of months.

Friday, March 17

Friday Random Ten, March Madness Edition.

The Official Hey Jenny Slater Big Ass Bracket competition is underway, and Yours Truly is rocking the hizzy, currently in a five-way logjam at second place. I hit the first six games that were played to kick off the tourney yesterday afternoon, not losing one until Alabama found a way to pull it out against Marquette.

As for the office pool that I'm running -- no wait, I'm sorry, the office dicussion that I'm moderating (five-dollar admission to join the discussion) -- y'all might as well have just written personal checks made out to me. For realz. Final Four: Duke, Kansas, BC, and the 2006 champion . . . Illinois. I'm crazy? Oh, we'll see. We'll just see.

Blah blah, anyway, the Ten:

1. Bell Biv Devoe, "Word to the Mutha"
2. Public Enemy, "War at 33 1/3"
3. Miles Davis, "Moon Dreams"
4. Love Jones, "Paid for Loving"
5. Roxy Music, "More Than This"
6. Röyksopp, "A Higher Place"
7. Public Enemy, "Revolutionary Generation"
8. Janet Jackson, "Come Back to Me"
9. Pet Shop Boys, "West End Girls" (Sasha remix)
10. Morrissey, "I Have Forgiven Jesus"

The fact that after 15 years, I still have BBD and Janet Jackson in my music collection (and on my iPod) is either cute and quirky, or it's even more embarrassing than the fact that I picked Illinois to win the tournament (and I don't think I want to know which). Instead of hashing that out, why don't you put your own Ten (and your picks for tournament sleepers, bombs, etc.) in the comments below . . .

Thursday, March 16

I'll never listen to "I Believe I Can Fly" the same way again. (Assuming I listen to it again period.)

Found something that might be even funnier than the "The Shining"-as-heartwarming-family-flick trailer from last year -- this reimagines "Jaws" as a heartwarming romantic comedy.

Ladies and gentlemen, behold: "Must Love Jaws."

Tuesday, March 14

I can't tell you how happy I am for you.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. And then sometimes bad things happen to people who are neither necessarily good nor bad, but then something good happens to make the bad somewhat less bad in retrospect. That appears to be the case with former Carolina Panthers cheerleader Renee Thomas, who avoided jail time by pleading no contest to assault charges stemming from a November incident in which she and a fellow cheerleader were supposedly having sex in a nightclub bathroom.

This isn't going to be good news for everyone, of course, as instead of a months-long opportunity for some hot women's-prison action, Thomas will merely undergo anger-management therapy, pay $400 to the woman she punched, and perform 50 hours of community service -- and according to Deadspin, both she and the other cheerleader agreed not to accept "any monetary gain from this case." Meaning, among other things, you can forget about seeing her in Playboy or Maxim or The Economist or any of those other smut mags.

Still, I'm glad she stayed out of the slammer, because the day two cheerleaders getting their freak on in a bathroom stall becomes a jailable offense in this country is the day I pack up, move to Montreal and become a Canadian citizen. Oh, sure, go ahead and cirumvent FISA and listen in on my phone calls without getting a warrant, but you 1984-loving fascists will never criminalize hot girl-on-girl action, you hear me? Never!

Loaded questions of the day.

The impromptu "Whom would you betray for a shot at Ashley Judd?" debate that popped up as a result of the previous post has been interesting, but I'd like to pose a few perhaps more serious questions to liberal and conservative readers alike:

1. As Kevin Drum asks, what is the Republican national-security strategy these days? Drum correctly points out that while Republicans have spent the last four and a half years assailing the Democrats -- successfully -- for a supposed lack of coherence on the foreign-policy issue, the Republicans don't seem to have much on their side either, unless "Don't pull out of Iraq and don't do anything different while we're there, and talk tough enough to make Iran think they're next, even though there's no way in hell we could back it up with all those troops still trying to secure Baghdad" satisfies you.

2. On a related note, how does President Bush's speech from the other night "show ideology ceding to reality" (as Andrew Sullivan optimistically puts it here)? I'm glad that Bush is paying enough attention to the situation over there in Iraq to be able to quote statistics, I guess, but am I really supposed to give Bush brownie points for having waited nearly three years to figure out that everything isn't hunky-dory (if in fact he's figured that out at all, and I certainly don't share Sullivan's faith that it has)? More to the point, after three years of obduracy with respect to nearly every facet of foreign policy, why should I believe that this revelation of Bush's, if in fact it did happen, will bring about any substantive change in policy? (On a related note, here's another question: When I read a sentence like "Criticizing him is fine; but rooting for him to fail isn't," am I right to recognize a great deal of irony in this, given that Sullivan and his fellow conservatives have been the ones least able -- or willing -- to tell the difference?)

3. If it's wrong for me to oppose something Bush does just because he's doing it, why is it still OK for conservatives to oppose my point of view just because I'm the one who holds it? Time and time again I hear conservatives pooh-poohing liberal criticisms of Bush by saying, "The only reason you don't like X/Y/Z is because Bush is for it, you're a knee-jerk Bush hater." And yes, I do believe it is wrong for a liberal or progresive to issue an automatic condemnation of something Bush does or says just because it's Bush. So why is it apparently still OK for conservatives to automatically dismiss a liberal's argument because they're a "liberal" or "moonbat"?

4. Why do people (on both the liberal and conservative wings) continue to refer to "Brokeback Mountain" as a political movie? What's the political issue there?

5. Why do people keep referring to Bush as a popular president?

Monday, March 13

The forecast calls for . . . PAIN!

We've done it once . . . we can do it again.

By the way, if you want to join my Yahoo! tournament pick-'em group, Big Ass Bracket, consider yourself officially invited. Go here and enter group number 65224; the password is "squeaky."

Your picks are your business, but be advised that if you pick Kentucky over UAB in the first round, you will be publicly humiliated on this site when the Wildcats lose. Even if you're Ashley Judd. I'm not kidding around here, people.

Good day.

Sorry, lady -- you're cute, but not enough to earn a full-blown betrayal.

Friday, March 10

Friday Not-So-Random Ten + the return of Mystery Meat.

All right, gentlemen, let's cut the crap -- which one of you is the trouble starter, which one of you is the punkin' instigator, and which is the self-inflicted mind detonator?

Over the course of my life, I have claimed no fewer than eight different cities as my official residence at one time or another. In the past month, half of those have been revealed to be home to some kind of depravity, malfeasance, or miscellaneous weirdness:

· Columbus, Georgia, February 28: A mental-health facility is revealed to have farmed patients out to work security at football games.

· DeKalb County (Atlanta), Georgia, March 7: A woman commits suicide during afternoon rush hour by leaping off the I-285 overpass down to I-85 below.

· Athens, Georgia, March 8: A 48-year-old man and a 68-year-old UGA booster get into a fistfight in the middle of a street over one man's dog barking at another man's dog. The 68-year-old proceeds to whup the 48-year-old's ass.

· Birmingham, Alabama, March 9: The culprits in a string of church arsons around central Alabama are revealed to be three college students who called the burnings "a joke."

Yup, funny stuff, guys. I guess we can now expect an apology from all the Christian Coalition folks here in Alabama who were just certain that the fires had to have been started by a bunch of god-hating liberals . . . well, I'll let someone else hold their breath for that. In the meantime, I'll just roll my eyes and make the jerk-off gesture over stuff like this (courtesy of the New York Times):

In the area on Mr. Moseley's page where visitors can post messages, alongside more than 12 expressing shock at the arrests and promising to pray for the accused, was one that Mr. Cloyd posted on Jan. 9. It read:

"To my dearest friend Moseley:

"The nights have grown long and the interstates of Alabama drunk driverless, the state troopers bored, the county sheriffs less weary, and the deer of Bibb County fearless. 2006 is here, it is time to reconvene the season of evil! Only one problem stands in our way. I got a new cellphone for Christmas and I no longer have your number, so send it to me and evil shall once again come to pass!

"May our girlfriends be concerned about our safety, may our parents be clueless, may our beers be frosty, may our love lives be fruitful, may our weed be green as the freshly mowed grass!"

So from this we can deduce that what we have here is not a bunch of God-hating leftists, not a couple disgruntled employees, not even a bunch of Satan worshippers, but . . . three dorks. Three whitebread, suburban dorks.

Well. I'm going to steal a page from my sister's book and replace the usual Friday Random Ten with an extra-special custom-made Friday Not-So-Random Ten . . . Benjamin Moseley, Russell DeBusk and Matthew Lee Cloyd, this is your life:

1. The Streets, "Geezers Need Excitement"
2. Chemical Brothers, "Under the Influence"
3. Fatboy Slim, "Because We Can"
4. Talking Heads, "Burning Down the House"
5. A Flock of Seagulls, "I Ran (So Far Away)"
6. Electronic, "Getting Away With It"
7. Iggy and the Stooges, "Search and Destroy"
8. The Smiths, "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore"
9. Johnny Cash, "Busted"
10. The Clash, "Straight to Hell"

Other crap in the news:

· Jessica Simpson will soon be testifying before Congress on behalf of a charity called Operation Smile. Well, that's only fair, right? The Supreme Court got to gawk at Anna Nicole Smith for a few days, so Congress gets Jessica Simpson? Here's the quote I thought was funny: "A source claims, 'She's in the phase of her life now where she wants to use her celebrity for good.' " That's swell. I was getting tired of the phase where she was using her celebrity for evil.

· Dear Jewish people: Just in case any of you were thinking you could make it into heaven without accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, Jerry Falwell would like to remind you this is categorically not the case. This means YOU, Ian!

· Speaking of bad-ass Jewish people, I was totally going to throw the Natalie Portman gangsta-rap video from last week's "Saturday Night Live" up on here, but if what Matt Lavine tells us is any indication, that's a good way to get in trouble with NBC's lawyers -- so instead I bring you the following, also found at YouTube. Don't know where the hell it came from, but I found it delightfully appealing to both my inner child and my inner dirty old man. How NSFW it is depends on what your W is -- if you work at a sports-radio station, it's probably fine; if you're reading this at the Bob Jones University computer lab, not so much. (What am I talking about? There's no way you're reading this at BJU -- their NetNanny software probably pre-emptively electrocutes you if you even think about coming to this site.)

· By the way, congrats to Paul for half a million hits -- I'm not wearing a cap right now but if I were I would doff it to you, sir.

Monday, March 6

A year older and clearly not even the tiniest bit wiser.

Yup, it's been a whole year since I started this thing from the smoldering ashes of previous blogs, and though we've shared some laughs and f-bombs over the previous 365 days, I didn't want to mark this occasion by tooting my own horn -- I figured, why not print the well wishes of those who marked it for me? 'Cause Lord knows I've never done that before. Let's see who's first . . .

From: [practically_harmless[at]]
Sent: Monday, March 6, 2006 10:12 PM
To: Doug Gillett [dougisthesoulmachine[at]]
Subject: Stream of consciousness

Hey big bro,

I realized the other day your blog was about to turn one year old and just wanted to wish you Happy Blog Birthday, or whatever... even though you didn't do that for me when my blog turned a year old, but that's cool, I know you have a lot of stuff on your plate. But anyway, I hate to bring up uncomfortable subjects, but I'm flat broke and reduced to eating not ramen noodles but the crumbs from old ramen noodle packages I've opened that I swept up off the floor, and since you still haven't completely paid me for the computer of mine you were using, could you send me a check sometime soon? Like, before I turn 30?

Awwww, thanks, baby sis! What a sweetie!

From: Jon Stewart []
Sent: Tuesday, March 7, 2006 12:01 AM
To: Doug Gillett [dougisthesoulmachine[at]]
Subject: Happy blogday, or birthday, or something.......

Hey! Wow! Am I the first to wish you a Happy Blog Birthday? God, I hope so! As I was leaving the Shrine Auditorium last night, I was thinking to myself, "Boy, this leading-the-celebration-for-a-bunch-of-knee-jerk-liberals thing is such a lucrative gig, I should try it every day!" Of course, if I'm not the first, then this probably comes off as horribly insulting. I'm sorry. They kept me out late last night and I'm just so very, very tired.

So for real, congratulations on one year of the blogging. On this blog. Which is separate from the others, which you've... in the past have been... f$#! it, don't print this, I'll try again in the morning.

But before I forget, please tell your sister to stop e-mailing me. I'm a married man, for God's sake.


P.S. Colbert says you can bite him. I don't know if the dude's being sincere or not.

I love that guy! Next is a very special one . . .

From: "Theuriau, Melissa" []
Sent: Tuesday, March 7, 2006 2:14 AM
To: Doug Gillett [dougisthesoulmachine[at]]
Subject: bonjour, et joyeux anniversaire!


félicitations sur maintenir votre blog pendant une année entière! je sais que j'e-ne vous ai avant jamais expédié, mais un ami m'a dit que vous m'aviez mentionné, et je juste ai dû vous envoyer un message. je meurs d'envie de savoir si vous êtes ceci drôle dans la vraie vie! volonté vous m'envoyez encore plus de plaisanteries au sujet des nonnes ivres and la tendance des passionés du football Tennessee au copulate avec des moutons?

oh, et j'ai également voulu savoir si vous alliez venir en France n'importe quand bientôt -- il y a beaucoup que je peux vous montrer ici. mais seulement si vous apportez votre petit chien avec vous! (les gens vous demandent-ils cela beaucoup?) joyeux anniversaire encore, et écrivez svp en arrière bientôt . . .

<3 Melissa <3

Wow, I'll be honest, I don't know what the shit that means -- I'll let my sister translate it (she owes me one!) and get back to you later. In the meantime . . .

From: "Pimp Daddy Bill" []
Sent: Tuesday, March 7, 2006 6:14 AM
To: Doug Gillett [dougisthesoulmachine[at]]
Subject: DUDE!!!!!!

happy birthday to the blog, man! and thanks! ever since you started that thing all I have to do is tell girls, "yeah, that guy who runs hey jenny slater, I know him" and BAM! knee-deep in hot and cold running poontang before I can even turn around! I bow down to you!!!!

that reminds me, when are you going to come up to new york again, man?? hillary will be busy with re-election stuff soon, and when the cat's away THE MICE WILL PLAY!!!! I gotta introduce you to this chick I met at scores -- unbelievable! make the call, dude --

B "42"

What did I tell you? That guy is awesome.

From: "Federline, K" []
Sent: Tuesday, March 7, 2006 6:18 AM
To: Doug Gillett [dougisthesoulmachine[at]]

dude i know you think your funny making fun of me, but PoPoZao is TEH ROXXORZ and your just jelous you havent cut a hard core hiphop single yet, oh and by the way YES I AM the true father of Brittney's and my's son, i have the busted condom to prove it, SO THERE if you want me you now where to find me, so just bring that booty on the dance floor oh thats right YOU WONT, cause your just a stupid little bloggy man and YOUR BLOG SUX SO FUC U

OK, so that one wasn't very nice, but this next one's better:

From: Mark Richt []
Sent: Tuesday, March 7, 2006 7:39 AM
To: Doug Gillett [dougisthesoulmachine[at]]
Subject: Happy blog birthday! Go Dawgs!


Damon Evans passed along to me some info about the great work you're doing on your blog, and some of your compliments on what we're doing here in Athens. I'm thrilled that you've mentioned us and proud to be able to count you as a fan, though sometimes Kathryn and I wonder why you have to drop the F-bomb so much. Oh, well.

Anyway, congratulations on a year of blogging, and I hope you'll follow our success just as closely in '06 as you did in '05!

(By the way, I hope this isn't a touchy subject, but could you ask your sister to please stop e-mailing me all the time? I'm a married man, for God's sake.)

Go Dawgs!,

No problem, Mark! Thanks!

From: "Robert Mkembwe" []
Sent: Tuesday, March 7, 2006 8:05 AM
To: Doug Gillett [dougisthesoulmachine[at]]




And anyway, it goes on for quite a bit and there's a bunch of stuff about my bank account routing number and credit cards and blah blah blah, but the point is, I'm gonna be rich, y'all! And all because of this blog turning one year old at just the right time! Lucky, right?

Here's another:

From: "Cuthbert, Elisha" []
Sent: Tuesday, March 7, 2006 9:02 AM
To: Doug Gillett [dougisthesoulmachine[at]]
Subject: Hey

hadn't heard from you in a while and just wanted to see how you were doing..... i know we hadn't talked in a while but i knew the one-year anniversary of your blog was coming up and i wanted to say congratulations. i was talking to benjie the other day and asking him why you hadn't called in so long..... shoot me an e-mail next time you get the chance..... you don't really think that french newscaster chick is hotter than me, do you -- no, never mind, none of my business. forget i asked.


One more:

To: Doug Gillett [dougisthesoulmachine[at]]
Subject: Your blog sucks

Mr. Gillett, I know you think you're funny making fun of me, but this administration will not be deterred by your naysaying and your stubborn insistence on relying on "facts" and "the real world" -- clearly, your blusterings are the product of a confused young man jealous of the power the Republicans wield in Washington. By the way, YES, WE DID find evidence of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities in Iraq, and I have the intelligence reports to prove it -- I just can't show them to you right now because you don't have security clearance. So there. If you want to continue your so-called discussion, you know where to find me. Just keep in mind that I've still got a shotgun shell left over from that hunting trip I took with Whittington, and I've been anxious to use it, so just step on up whenever the mood strikes you -- oh, that's right, YOU WON'T, because you're just a stupid democrat and your party's weak on national security and YOUR BLOG SUX SO FUC U

You guys! Thanks! Here's to another year of good times!

Jenna the Wonder Terrier: "If a blog isn't something I can eat, I officially don't care."

If you think it's hard out there for a pimp, try being a conservative trying to act like he doesn't care about Hollywood.

Of course, if I'm going to criticize the Oscars for a Stupid Liberal Trick, it's only fair that I should set aside some abuse for the conservatives who, around this time every year, launch into their boilerplate diatribes about how Hollywood is a joke and the Oscars are meaningless and why would anyone pay any attention to them because they're, like, stupid. Oh, and they hate mainstream America. (I mean, I'm just doing this to be fair and balanced. You guys don't want me to be unfair or unbalanced, do you?)

Those of you who read this blog for the sports stuff may recall the Q&A exchange I did back before the Georgia-Georgia Tech game with Nathan, a GT blogger. Among other things, Nathan asked me what bugged Georgia fans about Techies, and I used that as an opportunity to discuss at length the inferiority complex Techies have with respect to UGA -- and how their repeated denials of same only cement that fact. I illustrated this with a reference to Tech "columnist" Dr. Football, who uses one-third to one-half of his column each week to whine about how Tech doesn't get nearly as much coverage in the Atlanta sports media as UGA does. He bitches about how Georgia gets too much attention, then proceeds to devote hundreds and hundreds of words to Georgia -- Mark Richt isn't that good a coach, Mark Bradley is a UGA homer, on and on and on. The more time and energy people like Dr. Football spend whining about how everyone thinks Georgia is the premier football program in the state, the more he reinforces that perception. The more they complain aloud about how much attention Georgia gets . . . the more attention Georgia gets.

What the tits does all this have to do with the Oscars, you ask? Because Hollywood is Georgia and its right-wing critics are Georgia Tech. Those right-wingers I mentioned earlier, despite claiming to believe that Hollywood is irrelevant and therefore the Oscars are a joke, flocked to the Academy Awards like moths to a flame. Captain's Quarters live-blogged the ceremony, as did Ann Althouse; National Review Online did a roundtable on the Oscars, attempting to be as condescending as possible; even Pajamas Media live-blogged the thing.

Right-wing Hollywoodphobes spend all this time and effort grouching about how Hollywood is out of touch and nobody should pay attention to them anymore . . . and in the process they just end up giving them more attention. At least Pajamas Media, in their liveblogging intro, had the self-awareness to fess up to the fact that, yeah, we do care about all this Oscar crap even if we say we don't, but all the other rightie bloggers apparently completely missed the irony inherent in the idea that if you're willing to pay all this attention and devote all these words to the Academy Awards, then they must not be as irrelevant as the right wing claims they are.

It's especially funny to hear them rail against George Clooney for his "proud to be out of touch" remark. Jeez, are y'all really too dumb to realize he knew exactly how much he'd be pissing you off when he said that? But hey, good job feeding his ego -- I'm sure that right before he falls asleep at night, on his big pile of money with many beautiful ladies, he has a chuckle at all the breath you guys have wasted talking about how unimportant he is. Clooney's kind of becoming the left's version of Ann Coulter in that regard, if you think about it, but we've clearly got the better-looking, wittier, and more talented side of that coin.

Hard out there for a pimp? Oh, I beg to differ, sir.

I realize I may be put on straight-guy probation for this, but I agree with Benjie on this one, despite his opposite sexual orientation -- I'd fuck George Clooney before I allowed my dick within 10 miles of Ann Coulter, and it ain't even close.

Anyway, what I'm saying, conservatives, is don't be Georgia Tech. You can either think that the Oscars are just an irrelevant wankfest, or you can spend 1,000+ words criticizing them, but if you try to do both all you do is sound as dumb as Steve Buscemi's character from the (Academy-Award-winning) movie "Fargo": "Oh, fuck it, I don't have to talk either, man! See how you like it. . . . Just total fuckin' silence. . . . Two can play at that game, smart guy. . . . We'll just see how you like it. . . . Total silence." And we all know what happened at the end of that movie: The other guy in the car ended up feeding Buscemi into a wood chipper. I'm not saying. I'm just saying.

Or, as I told Keira Knightley the other night, "Baby, the more you talk about how you're over me, the more I know it ain't true."

Don't let the smile fool you, kids, she still wants me.

Anyway, that's about all I've got on the Oscars, except to say that while I appreciate the Academy for being groundbreaking and untraditional, I just don't see what the big deal is about that "Hard Out There for a Pimp" song. I mean, Ice-T already told us pimpin' wasn't easy, nearly 20 years ago -- this is news?

Level of difficulty: 4.0, apparently.

Sunday, March 5

And the Oscar for most stupefyingly, cringingly, godawfully "No they did not" Academy Awards moment goes to . . .

. . . the point at which I was forced to retract every impassioned defense I'd ever made of Hollywood as not being a bunch of elitist, out-of-touch, dumbass liberals, when the Academy implied that "The Day After Tomorrow" belonged up there with "Network," "Hotel Rwanda," "To Kill a Mockingbird," et al. in the montage of Political Movies That Have Changed Our Times.

Jesus Christ. Calling "The Day After Tomorrow" a serious movie about global warming is like calling "2 Fast 2 Furious" a serious statement about highway safety. Way to fucking go, guys.

Well, at least Jon Stewart skewered the whole thing appropriately. I'm going to bed.

Friday, March 3

We goin' to Sizzler!

UAB Blazes To Upset Of No. 3 Memphis, 80-74

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- The points just stopped coming for No. 3 Memphis -- and so did the wins.

Marvett McDonald had 17 points and UAB held the Tigers scoreless for more than eight minutes down the stretch in an 80-74 upset on Thursday night, sending another top-five team tumbling.

McDonald's jumper gave the Blazers (21-5, 12-2 Conference USA) a five-point lead with 2:47 to go, and UAB made six consecutive free throws in the final 33 seconds to snap the Tigers' 15-game winning streak.

I know there are times when y'all probably expect this to be an all-UGA-all-the-time blog, but I have to give props to the hometown team, and UAB definitely deserved the props last night. It wasn't quite the "Rumble in the Jungle," or even the climactic game at the end of "Hoosiers," but it was a big deal, all right -- I got to watch UAB whack the third-ranked team in the nation and turn what was a likely NCAA tournament bid into pretty much a dead-solid lock. ESPN's "Bracketology," for some reason, had the then-20-5 Blazers listed as one of the "last four out" before this game; I'd expect, at the very least, to see them slotted in as an 11th or 10th seed now, barring a complete bedshitting in the Conference USA tournament.

I hope that the pundits and tournament selectors take notice not just of the fact that UAB won but of the way they won -- rather than the Dean Acheson-like strategy of containment that so many teams (including UAB) have tried, and failed, to employ against Memphis earlier in the season, the Blazers became full-on MacArthurs against UM, particularly in the second half -- blocking shots, going toe-to-toe with the Tigers and forcing ugly turnovers, and basically doing everything they could to get into Memphis's head. In particular, Wen Mukubu, both on offense and defense, was the Anthony Hopkins to Memphis's Jodie Foster, schooling them in the art of true sickness while scaring the crap out of them at the same time.

Don't stand too close to the glass, Rodney Carney.

But props are also due to Marvett McDonald, who pulled down 17 points and, in the critical last couple minutes of the game, was 4-for-4 at the FT line (on what was not a particularly good free-throwing night for the team overall) to put the game away. McDonald, despite being the team's leading scorer, catches what occasionally might be more than his share of shit around these parts for being a very streaky shooter. He's kind of like the Ben Affleck of the team, a talented, likable guy who nevertheless can drive you crazy sometimes with his choices -- one minute he's on a tear, charming audiences as Holden McNeil or the charmingly rough-around-the-edges Chucky Sullivan (which I guess would make Squeaky Johnson his brilliant but haunted pal Will Hunting -- sorry, have I taken this too far already?), the next he's turning out a string of duds like "Pearl Harbor" and "Gigli" that makes you wonder if it will ever end. Be that as it may, though, he was on last night. We've got one more regular-season game to go, a home matchup with Marshall that could be described as "highly winnable," and if we take that then we should have a nice big head of steam heading into the conference tournament and, I would think, the NCAAs.

Anyway, it's nice to be able to enjoy this kind of excitement in basketball, because football certainly isn't giving me anything to be happy about. There isn't much going on at all in college (not until Bloggerpalooza '06 blows up the spot in about a month's time), while in the NFL, there's a labor dispute whose most likely result is the screwing-over-with-extreme-prejudice of a bunch of teams currently in salary-cap trouble, which of course includes the Redskins. I'm anxiously steeling myself for the Washington Post story in a few weeks' time about how the 'Skins have cut Lavar Arrington, dumped Patrick Ramsey's body in a shallow grave just outside Rockville, and enticed Elvis Grbac out of retirement just so they can sign him as the new backup QB. At minimum wage.

Even with that hanging over my head, though, I can't help but laugh about this. I'm quite confident there are thousands, if not millions, of "bobblehead" jokes to be made here -- I'm just going to leave it to y'all to make them.

Wednesday, March 1

Oh, well, we'll always have the Miss Georgia Pageant.

Got this off of CNN; I'm assuming they were trying to give people the location of a hazmat-train derailment or the latest Gulf War vet to kill his wife.

This shouldn't necessarily mean anything to someone who grew up in, say, Compton or Bed-Stuy, but it's not an easy thing to be from Columbus, Georgia. First of all, as with so many other mid-sized cities in the area, we're kind of living in Atlanta's shadow; almost all of the airlines, for instance, pulled out of Columbus airport once they realized people were perfectly willing to drive an hour and a half to get a cheaper flight out of Hartsfield-Jackson. Oh, and the secret formula for Coca-Cola was actually invented in C-Town by one John Pemberton, whose house you can tour in the historic district -- yet in the entire "World of Coca-Cola" museum in downtown Atlanta, they don't mention Columbus one fucking time. So basically, as far as the rest of the Coke-consuming world is concerned, Coke is, was, and always shall be an Atlanta product, while Columbus is only a place where you might stop for five minutes to purchase said luscious nectar on your way down to, like, Panama City or something. I can't tell you how many girls in college, upon hearing I was from Columbus, perked up and said "Oh! I stopped there for gas on my way to the beach last month!" -- and then, when I asked if they'd ever been there for any other reason, responded with a charmingly quizzical "Noooo . . . "

Columbus is actually the second-largest city in Georgia after Atlanta, though you wouldn't have known it for the longest time. It's always been a pretty good place to be married and in your thirties and raising a kid, just not a terrific place to be a kid -- while I was living there during my high-school years we pretty much didn't have anyplace to spend our Friday/Saturday nights other than the Denny's on Macon Road, since everyplace else was either 18/21+, closed by 10 p.m., or a public area we'd previously been kicked out of by the local gendarmes. And I know that probably sounds ridiculous to some of y'all, but you really have to understand the iconic status you can apply to a place when you don't have anywhere else to go. (Kinda the same deal as with Israel, right? I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm sure people have any number of reasons for living there, but it ain't the peaceful streets or the lush vegetation.) Even today, I'll hear somebody mention, out of the blue, the time they did at the Macon Road Denny's, and something just clicks, and it's one of those moments like, "You were in the shit?" "Yeah. I was in the shit." (My best friend from high school once set a record -- knowing full well that it would never be officially recognized by the people at Guinness -- by spending 24 hours straight there, just to see if he could do it. And, with the help of waitresses who were on a first-name basis with each of us by then, he did, by God.)

Now, Columbus has changed a lot since then, mostly for the better. We got a Starbucks a few years ago -- becoming only the 35,428,739th city in the world to do so -- as well as a performing arts complex that's become the envy of a lot of cities in the Southeast. And because of that arts center and the gradual expansion of Columbus State University's fine-arts programs into the downtown area, downtown Columbus has gone from nothing but a bunch of boarded-up storefronts and wig shops to a bar/restaurant scene that's actually gotten pretty active. At the moment, it's probably a lot more impressive if you like booty music or live bands that apparently think there should be a state law requiring at least one playing of "Sweet Home Alabama" per set, but still, strides are being made, and the greater Chattahoochee River Valley area is the better for it.

Welcome to Columbus's famous Uptown Tap. Chances of running into someone Doug vaguely remembers having gone to high school with: close to 100 percent. Chances of running into these girls: substantially lower.

Nevertheless, Columbus is still seen as kind of being Atlanta's mildly retarded pothead little brother in a lot of ways. We've got a lot to live down -- Fort Benning's controversial School of the Americas and the seedy-strip-club-and-lingerie-modeling-joint-saturated Victory Drive, for example -- and even when we luck into somebody or something we think is going to be our ticket to stardom, it rarely turns out quite the way we'd planned. (To illustrate this point, let the record show that we've given the world Jasper Sanks, Newt Gingrich, and Justin Guarini. No, no -- you're welcome.) To that rap sheet of civic shame you may now add this, brought to my cringing attention by both Paul Westerdawg and EDSBS earlier today:

When fans submitted to security checks during the last two years at home football games of the Atlanta Falcons, Auburn University and the University of Georgia, among those carrying out those checks were residents of an unlicensed Columbus mental health center.

The use of Greater Grace Community Center residents in security details at major professional and college sporting events, confirmed by a number of the residents, was not disclosed to the universities or the arena operators.

They were part of a Contemporary Services Corp. security crew whose services ranged from bag checks to on-field security. The California-based company provides security support services at major sporting arenas throughout the country.

The residents were working the games for Greater Grace Baptist Church and pastor Robert Upshaw, two of the former residents said. The church and the center are affiliated.

Yes, you read that right: Residents of a mental-health facility were working security at Georgia, Auburn, and Atlanta Falcons games. Check that: Not just a mental-health facility but an unlicensed mental-health facility. So you don't even get to rationalize to yourself that they were at least getting some kind of officially sanctioned treatment. I don't know much about the facility in question, but if what Dan says in the EDSBS comments thread is true, they've got no business coming anywhere near the word "security," much less staffing it at major sporting events.

I use this story to illustrate the strange situation Columbus constantly finds itself in. Despite all the recent efforts made to embiggen the cromulence of our fair city, we just can't seem to work our way into headlines like, oh, "Columbus researchers perfect cancer vaccine" or "Jolie looking forward to raising children in Columbus"; we get "Columbus booby hatch farms out patients as security guards." Such is life in the Fountain City. Well, let's just hope any publicity is good publicity, right?

Yesterday, when I was mad . . . they made me search handbags at the Georgia-Auburn game.