Friday, June 30

Friday Not-So-Random Ten: Dumptastic Edition, plus some bonus YouTubeage.

Well, I guess I was gonna have to get around to mentioning this sooner or later, but I've added a new marker to my now-world-famous Platial map of places I've been dumped and/or rejected. Yup, I got the heave-ho on Monday, and on a voice-mail, no less. We were at the dog park, I asked her if she wanted to do something later on that week, she told me quite brusquely that she was going to be really busy the rest of the week, I went home and found that my cell phone had run out of power; when I plugged it in, I found that I had two voice-mails, one of which was her informing me that she just didn't have time for a relationship these days but that we could still be friends, and her friend Elisha Cuthbert thought I was cute and wanted to take me for a ride on her unicorn. (OK, I made up that last part, but it's no more ridiculous than the "we can still be friends" part.)

Anyhoo, instead of spending a lot of time pondering how many retarded kids' wheelchairs I must have knocked over in a former life to have earned this kind of luck with women, I bring you this Friday Not-So-Random Ten, which, coincidentally, is going to be the tracklisting of my forthcoming compilation CD of love songs. "Tender Love Songs," 10 of the least romantic songs ever recorded, soon to be available on TV and wherever CDs are sold!

Like this, but with lots more cursing.

Here's the list:

1. Dr. Dre, "Deeez Nuuuts"
2. David Allan Coe, "I'd Like to Fuck the Shit Out of You"
3. Dead Milkmen, "If You Love Someone Set Them on Fire"
4. Sloppy Seconds, "Just Because You're a Girl"
5. Dead Kennedys, "Too Drunk to Fuck"
6. Kaiser Chiefs, "Everyday I Love You Less and Less"
7. N.W.A., "I Ain't tha 1"
8. Johnny Cash, "Flushed from the Bathroom of Your Heart"
9. The Smiths, "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now"
10. DeeJay Punk-Roc, "The World is My Ashtray"

And a bonus track:

11. Billy Idol, "Dancing With Myself"

Before you spend a whole lot of time wondering if that last one really means what you think it does (answer: probably yes), I bring you further celebration of my recent dumpage, courtesy of YouTube: a delightful short film called "Home Base." The video isn't NSFW, but, uh, I'd probably watch it with headphones on if I were you.

Bon appetit! Oh, and feel free to leave your favorite non-romantic, blatantly disgusting, and/or otherwise inappropriate songs in the comments.

Thursday, June 29

Two shout-outs for C-town.

Most of the time, when my hometown of Columbus, Georgia, gets any attention, it seems like it's for stuff like, oh, unscrupulous mental-health facilities farming its patients out to work security at football games or something embarrassing like that. So when I get an opportunity to mention my hometown in something other than a "No, seriously, I haven't lived there in nearly four years" context, well, I'm gonna milk that sucker.

So I'm adding to the blogroll two fellow ex-Columbusites who are not only fellow C-towners but also fellow Hardaway High School graduates. The first is the adorable Erica, whose equally adorable family can be viewed at Ruthy Girls; the second, even though he hasn't updated in a while, is John Pezold at The Pezold Homestead, who gets a long-overdue link for linking to the Simpsons thing from a while back.

See, C-town isn't all that bad. We're not all crazy. Not completely.

Wednesday, June 28

Blogger roundtable: Enough about you, let's talk about me.

It's Every Day Should Be Saturday's turn at the wheel of the semi-regular blogger roundtable, and their questions offer a perfect opportunity for the kind of self-indulgence that every blogger secretly craves. Giddyup:

1. Education. List the region of the country you were born in, what universities you attended and at least one other you would have attended if your alma mater didn't exist.

I was born in the Southeast -- specifically, Roanoke, Virginia -- and have lived in that region all my life. As probably the whole world now knows, I went to the University of Georgia; which school I would've gone to had UGA not existed kinda depends. At the time, it probably would've been the University of Missouri, but I was also looking at the University of Texas -- and given that I now have a much greater appreciation for the quality of the female population of Austin, and that I could now be rubbing "National Champs, bitch!" in the faces of everyone I know, if I'm being granted the benefit of hindsight here, I probably woulda gone to UT.

And so would you.

2. Sports Affiliations. List your top 10 favorite teams in all of sports in descending order. For instance, your alma mater's football team may be number 1, but perhaps there is a professional team that squeezes in before you get to your alma mater's lacrosse team.

1. Georgia football, naturally.
2. The Washington Redskins.
3. Virginia football.
4. UAB football.
5. The Atlanta Braves.
6. UAB basketball.
7. Atlanta Falcons.
8. Georgia gymnastics.
9. Georgia baseball.
10. Georgia basketball.

Just missed the top 10: Alabama football, the Washington Nationals, the Slovak national hockey team, the Atlanta Thrashers, and, of course, Duke lacrosse.

(And not that anyone asked, but the 10 teams I loathe the most, in ascending order of hatred: North Carolina basketball, Texas A&M football, Georgia Tech basketball, the Lakers, the Mets, Ohio State football, Florida football, the Dallas Cowboys, Tennessee football, and Georgia Tech football. Congrats, Techies!)

Reggie Ball, finally first at something besides incompletions. Bless his heart.

3. Movies. List the movie you've watched the most, your favorite sports related movie, the movie you secretly love but don't like to admit it (possibly a chick flick or B-film), and the movie you were (or still are) most looking forward to from this summer's season.

Movie I've watched the most: "Airplane!," no question.

My favorite sports-related movie: You know, it's been my experience that even the best-acted, engrossing, most lavishly produced sports movie still pales in comparison to the drama of an actual sporting event, and maybe for that reason, my favorite "sports movies" are generally those in which the sports part is secondary. My favorite, then, is probably "Jerry Maguire." Go ahead, make your jokes, but Sports Illustrated put it on their list of the "50 Greatest Sports Movies of All Time," so go take it up with them, awwright?

A wistful reminder of a more innocent time, before Tom Cruise went certifiably bat-shit insane.

Movie I secretly love but don't want to admit it: "Bring It On." And I don't want any commenters coming on here saying that they didn't actually like that movie; I will not have you making my blog a house of lies.

Most anticipated movie this summer: To the surprise of exactly no one, "Cars." Most anticipated movie yet to be released: Probably "Beerfest," just barely ahead of "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" and, of course, "Snakes on a Plane."

4. Music. List your favorite band from middle school, high school, college and today. Also, as with the movies, include the song you secretly love but don't like to admit. If Nickelback is involved in any of these responses, please give a detailed explanation as to why, god, why.

Again, to the surprise of precisely nobody, my favorite band from all of those time periods has remained the same -- it's the Pet Shop Boys, dammit, and I refused to be ashamed of this, as either a music fan or a straight man. The song I secretly love but don't like to admit: Phil Collins' "Sussudio," bitches. (Interestingly enough, Wikipedia says that song was bumped from the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1985 by the runner-up answer for this question, Duran Duran's "A View to a Kill.")

5. Books. Favorite book you've finished, worst book you've finished and the book you really should read but haven't gotten around to it.

In order: The Secret History, by Donna Tartt; A Man in Full, by Tom Wolfe; and the Bible.

6. Travel. Favorite city you've ever been to and the one place you still must visit before you shuffle off this mortal coil.

Favorite city I've ever been to: Probably London, though some of the best memories I have are from Heidelberg, Germany. (Home of one of the best Irish pubs I've ever been to. Yes, Irish pub. In Germany.) Place I have to visit before I die: Moscow.

Maria Sharapova welcomes you.

7. What do you love most about college football in 20 words or less?

It drives college-educated professionals and Ivy Leaguers just as crazy as rednecks and frat boys. It is the great equalizer.

Monday, June 26

The official Hey Jenny Slater endorsement: Sports on Univision.

Fernando Fiore (center): With Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott, another proud keeper of the mustache flame.

I said it once before but it bears repeating: Kanu is right, and soccer on Univision is the only way to watch the World Cup. In fact, if Univision were to pull the shocker of the century and make an end run around ESPN to snag exclusive broadcast rights to college football, I'm not convinced that we'd be worse off for it. Here's why:

· Try and think back to the best touchdown call you've ever heard. A simple "Touchdown"? Chris Berman's once-grand, now-slowly-growing-ever-more-tiresome "He! Could! Go! All! The! Way!"? I guarantee you, everything you've ever heard pales in comparison to Univision's Pablo "GOOOOLLLL!" Ramirez. Imagine watching a football game and being treated to, at every TD -- regardless of which team scores it -- a possibly overcaffeinated Hispanic guy bellowing, "TOUCHDOOOOOOWNNNNN!" Or perhaps "MOMENTO DEL ATERRIZAAAAAAJEEEEE!" Brent Musberger doesn't have a single downhome metaphor in his entire arsenal capable of competing with that.

· In terms of second bananas, you've got Jesús "Si, Si" Bracamontes versus, oh, say, Bob Davie. Now, if you don't speak Spanish -- and Lord knows I don't -- you can't understand a word Bracamontes says other than "Si-si," so basically all you know is that he's agreeing with Ramirez, whom you couldn't understand in the first place (unless he was yelling "GOOOOLLLL!"). But tell me, is that really all that big a step down from Davie using the modifier "football" (I'm sorry, "footbaw") every five seconds? Here's what soccer on Univision would sound like if you threw Davie into the announcing mix:

Pablo Ramirez: Falsificaciones de los Vittek a la izquierda . . . él pasa el cufre, y él tira . . . GOOOOLLLLL!!!! Él no habría podido jugar que más perfectamente! GOOOOLLLLLL!!!!

Bob Davie: Si-si, Pablo, pienso que estamos viendo una estrella nueva del FÚTBOL en la fabricación! He visto muchos de juegos del FÚTBOL en esta Copa Mundial, pero no he visto ninguna movimientos del FÚTBOL como aquél! Él sabe exactamente qué hacer con un FÚTBOL! Ése es un heck de un jugador del FÚTBOL, y esta escuadrilla eslovaca es un heck de un equipo del FÚTBOL!

Pablo Ramirez: ¿No significo insultar, Roberto, pero es usted se retardó funcionalmente?

· Instead of Rece Davis trying to referee between Lou Holtz's unregulated senility on one side and Mark May's 180-proof crankiness (and mangina) on the other, you'd simply have Fernando Fiore (pictured above) actually knowing what he's talking about as he gets down with his mustachioed self.

It took me exactly 37 minutes to realize there were two dudes in this picture.

· You'd still have "College Gameday," only it would be called "Republica Deportiva," and it would go like this: The aforementioned Fernando Fiore would talk football for a while, occasionally throwing it over to Rosana Franco for some fan-on-the-street opinion, and giving the viewers some things to watch out for during that day's college football action. Then, when it came time to make the "official" predictions, instead of Lee Corso jinxing a team by donning that team's mascot head to the cheers and/or lusty boos from the live crowd, you'd have the legendary Senadoras trot out wearing the uniforms of the predicted winning teams. Only they'd be slightly, er, modified, as per below:

Yup, when I talk about uniform modifications, I'm not talking about Laura Quinn's silly-ass Notre Dame/Ohio State hybrid jersey, I'm talking about belly shirts, hot pants and knee-high boots, and two scorchingly hot Latinas whose job description involves nothing other than standing around wearing them and making the occasional sports-related comment I can't understand anyway. After a few minutes of this, you wouldn't be missing mascot heads or "Not so fast, my friend."

So I hope all this helps you to understand why I was able to spend nearly the entire weekend sitting around watching a sport that, as I've previously explained, I really only care about once every four years: impassioned announcers, international brotherhood, and a show that basically amounts to "College Gameday" with strippers.

What's not to like?

I, for one, will be sorry to see el Copa Mundial go.

Heaven knows I don't like to brag, but not only is my taste in music impeccable, I am also extremely secure in my sexuality!

I really prefer the kinds of concerts where you yell out a request and the singer has to ask "Which remix."

First of all, before I begin with what I was originally going to write about, allow me to willingly add some fuel to the oft-discussed possibility that I'm gay by saying:


Sorry to get so worked up about this, but live Pet Shop Boys performances in the U.S. only happen about once every five years or so, so this is kind of a big deal. Plus it's not like I'm getting all worked up about the forthcoming album releases by Paris Hilton or Britney Spears or something. Now that would be Teh Ghey.

Amazon tells me that the special double-CD edition of their new CD, Fundamental, that I ordered isn't going to get here until July 10. I ordered the import version of all this stuff, and the CD (and its first two singles) have been out in Europe since like the end of May, so . . . I don't know what the holdup is, but when I get it, rest assured you'll find out about it here.

By the way, Kanu is right: Soccer clubs really do use "Go West" as the tune for their victory chants. My first confirmed sighting (listening?) was directly after the England-Ecuador match on Sunday, and while the acoustics in Stuttgart's Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion were not such that I could make out any of the words, it was still nice to hear the song.

Since I don't know what the words to the English national team's chant is, I'll simply have to shout . . . One-NIIIILLLL! To the Ar-se-nal! . . .

Friday, June 23

Friday Random Ten, and other random things.

Oh, and remember that stuff I said about being interested in the World Cup? Consider that close to retracted, too -- the U.S., as you may have heard, is out, and all but one of the Eastern European countries will be staying home for the playoffs, too. Guess it's all on you, Ukraine. Make me proud! 'Cause if y'all get beat by Tunisia and go home, I will be officially out of teams to root for.

On the other hand, Brazil will still be very much in it . . . all right, World Cup, you got me for a few more days. I'm mad at you, but I can't stay mad at you.

· At least the World Cup will give me something of a sporting nature to watch between now and football season, because after last night -- hell, make that the last month -- I'm certainly having trouble looking at the Braves.

· Not only did baby sis's blog turn 2 on Wednesday, there's a chance she may be moving up here to the B-hizzy before long. You didn't hear it from me! Well, since I've published that on a public Web site for all the world to see, I guess it's quite obvious that you did hear it from me. But anyway, go over there and wish her congratulations, and take in some writing that's way better than this shitty blog while you're at it.

Finally, a role for Owen Wilson that doesn't have people asking, "What's up with his nose?"

· And before you ask, yes, I was one of the several million people who helped keep "Cars" on top of the box-office list for a second straight week last week, and yes, it was awesome for realz. I mean, it features the voices of (among others) Richard Petty, as a veteran race car called simply "The King"; F1 driver Michael Schumacher, as (what else) a Ferrari; Tom and Ray Magliozzi (from NPR's "Car Talk") as a couple of rusty beaters; and my personal favorite, George Carlin as a stoner VW Microbus. (Given the name of this blog, I would be remiss not to point out that Jeremy Piven also contributes some voice talent as the main character's agent, possibly a shout-out to his character on "Entourage"). Anyway, kickass flick.

· I took a lot of heat for making a major reach and taking Ben Roethlisberger in the third round of our fantasy football draft last year -- most of it from a guy who took Donovan McNabb in the first round, so I'll leave it to y'all to determine which one of us was the sucker born that particular minute -- but suffice to say I won't be making that mistake again. Not because Ruthless isn't an awesome player, because he certainly is, but . . . jeez Louise, what a dumbass. For those of y'all who think wearing a helmet makes you look like a dork, I'd like to know what you think "multiple facial fractures . . . a 9-inch laceration to the back of [the] head, and a number of [lost or chipped] teeth" would make you look like. Over at Georgia Sports Blog, Dawgnoxious offers the sad story of a former Bulldog whose career came to an untimely end a few years ago after a motorcycle accident, though said player did recover from near-fatal injuries to return to school earning his degree.

· And of course I have to remind everyone that the Pet Shop Boys' new album, "Fundamental," is out Tuesday; their newly made-over Web site (above) was up Monday. Yes, my special-edition copy of the album has already been ordered. (In fact, it was ordered several weeks ago.) Kanu clued me in on an interesting fact, that the Pets' remake of "Go West" is currently used as the tune for soccer chants the world over; I'll be listening out for it as the World Cup heads toward the finals.

· And finally, the Ten:

1. Talking Heads, "Wild Wild Life"
2. Joy Division, "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
3. Billy Idol, "Eyes Without a Face"
4. Fatboy Slim, "Love Life"
5. Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose, "Too Late to Turn Back Now"
6. Prodigy, "Charly"
7. Albion, "Air"
8. Patton Oswalt, "My Christmas Memory"
9. Dead Kennedys, "Nazi Punks Fuck Off"
10. The Chemical Brothers, "One Too Many Mornings"

Your Ten, and your remaining World Cup rooting interests if you have any (as well as any spottings of "Go West" in the stands), in the comments below.

Thursday, June 22

Skanks a heap.

Remember a while back when I said I'd fuck Paris Hilton? You may consider that statement officially retracted. She's officially sunk below even Britney Spears on my Doable Celebrity Skank list -- yup, that's right, she doesn't even get Fuck Her For The Story status anymore. Here's why (link via The Superficial):

Paris Hilton reportedly ordered her helicopter pilot to make an emergency landing on a German farm -- so she could use the toilet.

The "Pledge This" actress was said to be touring the European country when she made the surprise request.

Paris even got her security to stop the family from entering their own bathroom so she could relieve herself in peace.

A source told Britain's More magazine: "She gave the farmer a bit of a shock. Her bouncers even blocked the farm door so the family couldn't go inside their own house while she was using the loo."

The star then allegedly spent another ten minutes on the startled farmer's porch, so she could smoke a cigarette.

The unnamed farmer said: "She was cold as a fish, and cursed about the weather."

What can we extrapolate from this? Well . . .

1. Paris Hilton is apparently capable of whining enough to get a pilot to land a helicopter just so that she can use the loo, which she should've done before they frickin' left.

2. After imposing upon this stunned farmer, she won't even let the family go inside their own house while she goes.

2a. Which leads me to suspect she was taking a really hellacious number two in there, which goes against pretty much everything Paris Hilton wants you to think about her, and in a most humorous way. Remember this the next time Paris cops one of those "my shit doesn't stink" attitudes in public.

3. After taking this apparently hurricane-force dump that forced an entire family out of the house, Paris didn't even exercise enough shame to get the hell out of there ASAP, but instead imposed upon these poor people for another ten minutes so that she could smoke.

The verdict? Dipshit. (Congratulations, Republican Party, this is the kind of person for whom you're trying to repeal the estate tax.)

You know, my grandfather has a cattle farm right across Route 2 from Fort A.P. Hill, and he's got Blackhawks and CH-53s landing in his fields all the time. Detko will turn 92 years old this fall and still gets up at 5 in the morning to feed the cows, and I really wonder what would've happened had Paris Hilton landed her chopper in his alfalfa field, marched up to his front door, and ordered him out of his own house while she dropped anchor.

I don't know what he would've done exactly, but I do know he's got two shotguns, and I know where he keeps 'em. I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, June 21

5,700,000,000 people, while perhaps somewhat less right than the other 300 million, can't be wrong per se.

Dumbass, you wouldn't have to do that if you'd just use your hands!

Kanu and the Gunslingers love it more than life itself. Stranko Montana likes it OK, but mainly for the chicks. The M Zone, evidently, hates it hard, while Kyle King is content to remain merrily apathetic.

I have to confess that -- in spite of the fact that it was one of the few competitive sports my lazy, un-athletic ass could be bothered to participate in as a child -- I've never been much of a soccer fan. (The other two sports, in case you were curious, were swimming, which I was good at, and teeball, at which I sucked. Yes, the ball was stationary right in front of me and I still wasn't any good. Go on; make your jokes.) As a spectator sport, I think soccer is mostly about as exciting as watching paint dry. Check that: It's about as exciting as listening to Bill Frist describing paint drying. And yet, while I'm still never going to be as excited about it as these crazy wooden-shoe-wearin' fuckers, I have to admit that I've actually kind of gotten into the World Cup.

Now, that's not to say I've gotten into soccer as a sport. I may be just a dumb uncultured American like everyone else, but I firmly believe that if a given sport's average game has a significant chance of ending in a 0-0 tie, there's probably something wrong with it. Yet as one writer explained, that may be precisely what the rest of the world likes about it. Here's a bit from a column forwarded to me by my friend Kristen whom I stayed with in Maryland last week -- do read the whole thing, because it's excellent:

Recently, New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik contrasted American sports -- which have lots of scoring and action -- with the low-scoring, defense-heavy game that dominates the world's sports scene.

"The World Cup is a festival of fate -- man accepting his hard circumstances, the near-certainty of his failure. There is, after all, something familiar about a contest in which nobody wins and nobody pots a goal," he wrote. "Nil-nil is the score of life. This may be where the difficulty lies for Americans, who still look for Eden out there on the ballfield."

He may have a point there. Not only does every sport with any degree of popularity in America have far more scoring than soccer -- even hockey, I'd be willing to bet -- every major sporting league in the country from the NFL on down has enacted some kind of rule change in the last decade or so to make things easier for the offense. Of course, if his point were universally true, basketball (particularly the higher-scoring NBA variety) would be far and away the most popular sport in the country, and I've already gone on record as caring about the NBA substantially less than even Olympic figure skating. Again, figure skating has Tanith Belbin, the NBA has . . . what, who am I supposed to be looking at? Kobe? Shaq? Um, yeah. Thank you but no.

Oh yeah, back with the gratuitous Tanith Belbin pictures . . . feels like it's late February all over again! Wake up the echoes!

What was I saying? Oh yes: Soccer, kinda boring. I mean, if the thing goes 90 minutes and there are even five goals scored -- a pretty high-scoring game by modern standards, if what I've been seeing over the last couple weeks is any indication -- that's still a lot of time being spent running around and kicking the ball back and forth without making any progress on the scoreboard. And yes, I know I'm the same guy who waxed rhapsodic about the brain-pummeling intensity of last year's Tennessee-Alabama game, in which Alabama beat the Vols 6-3 and in which the scoring amounted to a total of three field goals, but . . . well, look, if Bama busts off a 9-yard end-around, then I know they've made some progress, OK? Or if they're looking at third and 2 from the Tennessee 21, then I know how far they have to go and where they need to be. There are no such clear metrics when you're watching 22 guys running around a huge, mostly unmarked field that is in fact substantially bigger than a gridiron. That guy kicked it to that other guy . . . who kicked it to the guy with the weird-ass mullet . . . weird-ass mullet guy gets the ball knocked away by the guy from the other team . . . but now the first guy gets it back . . . and maybe some progress was made there toward somebody scoring, but I have no way of knowing, and all I really want to do by this point is drink a beer and watch some moldy-ass Orange Bowl on ESPN Classic, m'kay?

And there you have it -- I've just gotten done delving into all the reasons why I think soccer sucks, so no, I don't consider myself a fan. And yet, while I don't like soccer as a game, I think I really do like the World Cup. Let me explain.

Other than the Super Bowl, there is no sporting event (or series of same) that captures the world's imagination anywhere close to the way the World Cup does. Now, I'm not going to be one of those effete snobs who thinks everything foreign must be grand and everything American must be jejune and tacky, but be honest: If there's something that's bringing together millions of people from that many different countries, isn't that at least a little bit cool? And while millions of Americans might read the words "Ecuador v. Poland" in the paper and snicker at the obscurity of it all, isn't it kind of cool that all these Ecuadorians are going to be meeting all these Poles for maybe the first and only time in their lives? And doing so in Germany, yet another country they may never have been to?

There's just something really appealing about the international-brotherhood aspect of the World Cup, even though the sport itself really doesn't appeal to me much at all. Basically it strikes me as kind of like a typical Georgia football Saturday, only lasting an entire month and bringing together people from literally all over the globe. And if this month-long tailgate also brings together fine young ladies such as . . .

Brazil, U.S., Switzerland, Croatia: Yahtzee.

. . . then who am I to say "that sucks"?

So yes, I watched from Bohemian Hall in Queens as the plucky Ivory Coasters played overdog Argentina to within an inch of their lives. I watched from Dulles Airport on Monday as my Slavic homeboyz from the Ukraine beat the ever-living crap out of those filthy-rich oil barons from Saudi Arabia. I watched during Father's Day brunch in Alexandria as my other Slavic homeboyz from Croatia battled to a scoreless tie with Japan -- which, OK, in all honesty was kind of a shitty match but at least had the redeeming factor of being broadcast on Univision, whose World Cup coverage isn't afraid to be almost maniacally energetic and is also liberally dosed with the kind of Latina chicks hot enough to make you want to throw rocks at the girls in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue . . . well, here, I'll let Kanu tell it. (Correction, that was a guest post from Orson Swindle. Kanu's own equally edifying words can be found hyah.)

Anyway. Football -- American football -- will always be king with me, and I'm certainly not about to start loving fútbol just because a few billion other people do. But even if you don't love soccer, I hope you find something to love about the World Cup, because it involves a bunch of people from radically disparate countries coming together to compete with one another without killing each other, and these days, that's a blessed relief indeed.

And just like that, thousands of conservatives suddenly soften their stance on immigration.

Oh, and the girls. Did I mention them? You can at least get excited about that, can't you?

Friday, June 16

A brief respite from crappy vacation photos.

Just because I'm up here in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic/whatever (actually sitting at a Starbucks at the corner of King Street and St. Asaph Street in Alexandria, Virginia, taking advantage of that city's downtown-wide wireless internet) doesn't mean I'm not obsessed with college football, and thanks to Blogpoll member Bruce Ciskie, we have a whole new raft of roundtable questions to dig into. Here goes:

1. Which preseason college football magazine is your favorite?

Finally seeing the preseason football mags hit the racks gives me such a rush of euphoria that picking one is kind of like trying to pick my favorite child, but I think I share Orson Swindle's fanatical enthusiasm for Phil Steele's annual treasure trove of information. The every-year knock on Steele is that he can't really write worth a damn and just yacks out a massive compendium of arcane statistics and abbreviations every year, but not being able to write at least means that Steele a) does not overtly betray any serious biases, if in fact he has any, and b) doesn't fall into the kind of every-word-that-comes-off-of-my-pen-is-pure-gold self-indulgence that nearly every sportswriter displays at some point in their careers. (Over at The Sporting News, whose publication I mostly love, Matt Hayes and Tom Dienhart are examples of this.) Sure, some of Steele's statistics flirt with uselessness at times, but maybe I want to know Georgia's record against the spread over the last five years on artificial turf against conference opponents coming off a straight-up loss, so STFU, all right? I'm heading down the street in just a second to see if the Barnes & Noble or whatever down here has it -- the one at Tyson's Corner didn't -- and if they don't, I'm raising some serious hell.

But if I could digress from football for a moment, I did find something at Tyson's Corner that was awesome, and it was at the Lego Store, where -- in addition to the usual assortment of kits and accessories and whatnot -- they had a whole wall of separate bins, each full of a different kind of Lego piece, and for $12.95 (or $6.95 for a small cup) you could grab a plastic cup and fill it up with as many Lego blocks as you could cram in there. Seriously, just stick your hand into the various bins, grab yourself a handful of pieces, and put 'em in the cup. The people who work at the store are encouraged to mess around with bricks and build shit during the slow hours, which means that they might possibly have the best job in the world.

Ahem. But anyway. On to the next question.

2. What team is being supremely overrated in the preseason rankings?

I gotta confess that I just don't get all the preseason hype around Florida State. Sure, they're probably gonna win the ACC for a second straight year, and hooray for them, but the ACC as a whole is turning out to be not nearly the powerhouse they thought they were gonna be when they bogarted the three best teams from the Big East. FSU may have won three out of the last four ACC titles, but that still hasn't kept them from basically getting knocked out of the national-title picture by November each year (at Miami, Clemson, and at N.C. State all look to me like potential first-half-of-season landmines); the Seminoles have lost a ton of talent on defense, and while they almost have to be better on the offensive line this year, they'll still be hamstrung by the playcalling of Jeff Bowden, who is to offense what Toonces the Driving Cat is to cars. Both Sporting News and the aforementioned Phil Steele has the 'Noles at #10, which seems high to me; Athlon has them at #17, which seems a little more realistic.

Jeff Bowden takes the wheel of the FSU offense for yet another exciting year.

Also probably overrated: Florida (#5 Athlon, #8 Sporting News, #20 Steele), which most people are assuming will have figured out Urban Meyer's diabolical spread option this year after a rocky 2005. I don't doubt that Chris Leak will be more comfortable with the system this year than last, but that isn't going to matter if the offensive line -- less experienced than last year's -- keeps offering him up as a ritualistic human sacrifice to opposing linebackers.

3. Turn the tables. Who is underrated?

Iowa is an obvious choice -- you could pretty much pencil them in as "most underrated team" every single season and get no argument from me -- but another one that isn't getting much attention these days is Louisville. This is probably because everyone's still gasping about West Virginia's OMG kickass season in 2005, and they were indeed terrific, but Louisville is going to field a ton of talent as well, only they won't have sky-high national expectations weighing down on them. And when Louisville faces WVU on November 2, they'll be getting the Mountaineers at home, with revenge on their minds from last year's controversial triple-OT upset. I don't think the Cardinals will have a perfect season, but they could certainly ruin WVU's, and that might be enough to snag Louisville the Big East championship.

4. Which conference will be the best in 2006?

Well, the SEC, of course. But I honestly don't think any other conference has as many legitimate national-title contenders as the SEC does (LSU, Auburn, and Florida if the Gators can get their act together), and directly below that you've got a tier of dark horses (Georgia, Tennessee if they can get their act together, Alabama) who would be potential title contenders in maybe every other conference. Then below that you've got teams like Arkansas and Ole Miss who, yeah, kind of stunk last year but should be greatly improved this season. I just don't think any other conference has the combination of strength at the top and depth almost all the way down that the SEC will field this year.

5. Which "non-BCS" conference will be the best in 2006?

The Mountain West, easy -- Texas Christian and Utah, both look like potential BCS party crashers, BYU looks like it's on the way back, and Colorado State and New mexico are perennially solid. I don't think anyone in Conference USA looks ready to knock on the BCS's door, and while the WAC's Boise State and Fresno State have as much promise as always, the rest of the conference is pretty much a wasteland.

6. Which non-BCS conference team will have the best season?

Utah strikes me as the obvious choice if they can beat TCU on only five days' rest on October 5. But UTEP also looks like they could have a pretty special season if they can get better on defense.

7. Let's get your first read on this one . . . who will win the Heisman? Oh, by the way, players whose last names begin with the letter "Q" are ineligible.

Ergh, the one thing about college football I don't give a rat's ass about. Let's just say Adrian Peterson and leave it at that, lest I come across as one of those knobs who actually follows the Heisman race. Of course, if Danny Ware, Kregg Lumpkin, or Thomas Brown somehow find their way onto the Heisman shortlist at any point, forget everything I just said.

If Lumpkin's on the list, I'm listening; otherwise the Heisman occupies a level somewhere just below World Cup soccer and just above NASCAR in terms of my interest.

Thursday, June 15

Stuck inside of blah blah part II, Stuck Inside of Westchester County edition.

It has come to my attention that some of y'all may have decided that I'm a dumbass because I quite possibly sat and watched while my flight left without me a few days ago. Now, let the record show I've never denied being a dumbass, but I don't think I'm a dumbass for that reason, or at the very least AirTran is equally culpable in my dumbassery. I mean, yes, ask anyone who knows me, I have an attention-deficit problem and I've been known to flake out mentally on more than one occasion, but really, what are the odds that I zoned out at the exact moment when AirTran was either paging me or announcing last call for the 12:09 to White Plains? I think the chances of those two things coinciding precisely is very slim, so I'm not taking full responsibility for that one. At any rate, AirTran graciously offered to put me on the next flight to White Plains, I graciously accepted, and that was that.

Except the next flight to White Plains didn't leave until 5:25 p.m., which left me another four hours to dick around the airport. And I couldn't even get an adult beverage in my own concourse because all the bars and/or grills were packed to overflowing with people watching the opening World Cup match, so I had to go all the way to Concourse A, though the bartender at the Chili's there was very nice. (I think the only thing less statistically probable than me zoning out at the exact moment my flight was called would have to be getting a "no" answer to the question "Would you like me to make that a double for only two dollars more?") When I got back to the gate, they announced that because of bad weather in New York, departure time was being delayed two hours. We actually ended up leaving 30 minutes earlier than that estimated time of departure, but that ended up meaning little, for reasons I will explain.

Yes, there were some tense moments. Over White Plains? No, I don't think I'll ever get over White Plains . . .

There was a godawful thunderstorm over New York on Friday night, and we ended up having to circle the airport about three times before we could finally land. (At one point we had just about committed to landing before the pilot pulled up and got the hell out of there as fast as he could -- apparently there were wind shear reports in the area -- and when you consider just how many extremely high-profile crashes have occurred under such conditions, I'm kind of glad he did.) But anyway, this is the kicker: We land in a driving rain at about 10 o'clock, the whole cabin applauds, we pull off the runway, and then the captain's like, "Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to welcome you to White Plains, New York; we're going to hold here on the taxiway for just a moment, because the ground crews were sent inside for their own safety after there were some lightning strikes reported in the area, so they're going to wait until the storm clears before they bring them out again."

This is apparently how things work at Westchester County Airport: It's perfectly fine and dandy to land a Boeing 717 aircraft carrying 100-something passengers in the middle of a driving frigging thunderstorm, but bring the ground crew out? Heavens no, somebody might get hurt! So we sit there with our thumbs up our asses for about 30 more minutes, and nobody can even get up to use the toilet because we all have to stay seated and keep our seatbelts fastened in case they give us the OK to start moving. We finally pull into the gate about 10:30, and it's another 45 minutes before those delicate ground-crew members who are apparently made of sugar start sending our luggage our way. I take a $22 car ride to the Metro-North train station, wait another 30 minutes for a train, ride it into Grand Central, lug my 5,000 pounds of luggage onto the N train, ride the subway to Astoria, and lug my bags seven blocks to my friend Arlana's house, whose doorstep I all but collapse upon at precisely 1:38 a.m.

So anyway. The lesson here is to beware the siren song of the $70 plane ticket to White Plains. Oh, sure, it seems like a great idea when you're buying it, but one missed flight, one weather delay, one inexplicable taxiway hold and one back-breaking trip into the city later, you suddenly realize that from the time you left for the airport (7:05 a.m.) to the time you show up at your destination (1:38 a.m.), you could've ridden the damn Greyhound to New York and done the whole thing quite possibly cheaper.

But the rest of the trip so far has been uniformly fantastic. We celebrated Arlana's birthday at the Beer Garden at Bohemian Hall, and then went to see the musical Avenue Q on Sunday. If you're going up to New York anytime soon, do whatever you have to do to get tickets; this is the musical whose main characters are puppets and which won three Tony Awards (including Best Musical) two years ago on the strength of songs such as "It Sucks to Be Me," "The Internet is for Porn," and "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love)." The whole experience is kind of like "Sesame Street" with the F-word (and some very explicit puppet sex), and it's one of the most fun ways you can possibly spend two and a half hours in all of New York City, a place not lacking for fun stuff to do.

Then Monday I basically just wandered around town all day, and here are a few of the pictures I took while walking through Central Park:

Temple Emanu-El, across the street from the park at the corner of 5th Avenue and 65th Street.

Kids playing on the "Alice in Wonderland" statue.

The Conservatory, with the skyline of Fifth Avenue in the background.

Bethesda Terrace, which is one of the places I specifically remembered from when I first came here with my dad in 1994. (Our purpose for coming up that time was because I was looking at colleges and we wanted to tour Columbia University. Chuckle if you want; I just did.)

Looking from the Ramble across the lake to the apartment buildings on Central Park West, each of which I'm sure costs more to rent for one month than my life is currently worth.

I also went and saw "An Inconvenient Truth" (which currently isn't playing anywhere near Birmingham, surprise surprise) and went into Chinatown and bought a Prada bag for a friend of mine that at first I thought was fake but I now suspect might be hot (and not the Paris Hilton kind of hot). It's a long story, and I don't want to incriminate myself to any cops who might be reading.

But anyway, I'm now in Annapolis, Maryland, and I'll be here in the D.C. area for the rest of the week. More pictures will be up soon.

Friday, June 9

Friday Random Ten: Stuck inside of Hartsfield with the Memphis blues again edition.

You may or may not be hearing from me that much over the next week or so, because I'm going to be in New York for the next few days and Washington, D.C., after that. But I did have to relate this bit of weirdness from earlier this afternoon, just to see if anything like this has happened to anyone else and to make sure I'm not losing my mind. (And yes, it's weirder than the "Chandler incident" from Wednesday.)

I leave Birmingham at a few minutes after seven this morning, get to Atlanta about a quarter after 10, park my car at the College Park MARTA station and ride one stop down to the airport. (I have to do cheap shit like this because I can't afford to pay $80 to park my car for a week. No, I'm not worried that my car's going to end up stolen -- I doubt any car thief would even be able to back my car out of a parking space the size of the one I parked in.) I wait in line at the check-in counter -- I won't diss the airline directly by calling it out by name, but it rhymes with "ScareTran" -- check my two suitcases, do the whole take-your-laptop-out-of-the-bag-and-put-it-in-a-separate-bin, now-take-your-shoes-off nonsense at the security checkpoint, hurry to the gate. I'm pushing it closer than I usually try to do, but I've still got plenty of time.

I get to gate C3 about quarter to noon, 25 minutes or so before the plane is scheduled to leave. I sit there and wait. It's noon, then 10 after, then 20 after. Nothing happens. I call my friend in New York to let her know my flight's going to be late, and when I look up, the "Flight 349 / White Plains / 12:09 p.m." sign at the gate has been replaced by "Myrtle Beach / 2:00 p.m."

Starting to worry that something very bad has just happened, I run down to the information counter and ask what happened to flight 349 to White Plains. The guy tells me it left at 12:09 p.m., as scheduled. Now, I sat there from 11:45 to 12:09 and never heard a "last call," never heard my name paged for one of those "Hey, douchebag, your plane's about to leave" announcements, never heard squat from the gate attendant at any point ever. Apparently the plane just left without me, in spite of the fact that I was sitting there the whole time.

Anyway, the guy I talked to was nice and put me on the 5:25 to HPN, so now I'm sitting at a different gate with nothing better to do than watch the planes go by and blog about all this crap. And I had to go all the way back to Terminal A to get an adult beverage, because all the bars in Terminal C were overflowing with people watching the flippin' World Cup.

But anyway. If you're reading this and it's before 5:25 Eastern (4:25 Central), say a little prayer that I actually get on this one -- otherwise I may be walking to Westchester County. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

But here's what I've been listening to while I sit and wait and watch airplanes:

1. Bobby Darin, "More"
2. The Beatles, "Revolution"
3. Moby, "Inside"
4. Gorillaz, "19-2000"
5. Röyksopp, "Someone Like Me"
6. KRS-One, "Real Hip-Hop -- Part II"
7. DJ Shadow, "Ape Shall Never Kill Ape"
8. Steven Wright, "Super Sounds"
9. Dead Kennedys, "Kill the Poor"
10. 3rd Bass, "Episode #3"

So how are you doing? Music selections, weird stories, and/or off-color jokes go in the comments . . .

Wednesday, June 7

Behold the sweater vest! Feel its power!

For reasons that should be apparent, I don't post all that many pictures of myself on my blog, but I'm putting up this one because it's germane to something that happened to me around 2 in the afternoon today. This is what I was wearing at the time.

Anyway, I was walking from my apartment back to my office, and I'm stopped by the fountain at Five Points South, waiting for the light to change so I can cross Magnolia Avenue. I'm standing there as cars go by, and this silver XTerra comes up with its windows down. And as it goes by, the driver, a guy I've never met before in my life, leans out the window and says, "Could you look any more like Chandler?"

A lot of people might've been embarrassed or taken offense at that. Me, I laughed all the way back to the office. Actually, I'm laughing now just thinking about it.

Primary colors.

Alabama loves Lucy.

Alabama's 2006 primary was yesterday, and both Democrats and Republicans should be pretty happy with how things went. For the gubernatorial nomination, Lucy Baxley beat former Gov. Don Siegelman with nearly 60% of the vote, meaning that the Dems will be able to avoid the expense and annoyance of a runoff later this summer; I've met Don and like him a lot, and think he did a lot of good for this state when he was governor from 1998 to 2002, but there's still just too much heat on him over his ongoing trial for racketeering and bribery. Based on what I know about this case, I'm pretty confident that he'll be found innocent of the charges and the trial will be exposed for the politically motivated farce that it is, but now just isn't the right time for him to be running again. I do hope he comes back in 2010, though.

And even the Republicans proved they could do something right by re-nominating Gov. Bob Riley overwhelmingly over world-class embarrassment Roy Moore (Riley won by nearly a 2-1 margin), and Moore's loyal lackey Tom Parker got whipped almost as bad by Drayton Nabers in the primary for Supreme Court chief justice. That had to have been one of the most bizarre races I've ever seen, with two right-wingers battling tooth and nail to see who could shout "liberal tool of the trial lawyers" the loudest, but Nabers did stick his neck out to support 2003's ultimately unsuccessful tax-system overhaul, so at least he's got some integrity.

The only real sour note -- other than my good friend Dale Jones falling short of a nomination for District Court Judge -- was in the Democratic primary for attorney general, where racist Holocaust denier Larry Darby somehow managed to garner 43.5 percent of the vote. I can't for the life of me figure out what made this sicko run for the Democratic nomination as opposed to going with the backing of a party more in line with his views -- say, National Vanguard, a monthly meeting of which he attended in New Jersey earlier this year -- but I guess I should just be glad he lost and will hopefully never be heard from again. (Although he was responsible for some highly entertaining infighting among the inbreds of the radical racist right wing.)

Be that as it may, though, it's still embarrassing that someone like Darby could get 43.5% of the vote in any party's primary in this state. I have a good friend, a true-believer progressive whose opinion I respect above maybe anyone else's outside of my own immediate family, who is very nearly prepared to sever ties with the Democratic Party over this development; given how hard the state party worked to distance itself from Darby (though unfortunately they couldn't just summarily boot him off the ballot), I don't think the problem here is so much with the state Democratic Party as it is with the state itself . . . but that isn't exactly much of a consolation, nor is it meant as one.

Lucy Baxley, however, kicks ass and is a candidate I have no qualms whatsoever about supporting. And I think her chances are better than a lot of people realize. Just to give you an example of why I think this is the case, for a long time there was a billboard-sized sign on I-65 about 15 minutes north of Montgomery that had long been one of the state's most famous roadside landmarks: It read "GO TO CHURCH OR THE DEVIL WILL GET YOU!", and even had a little red devil on it for a long time. Obviously, one's first impression of the person who put up this sign would probably be that he's a conservative Christian who would no sooner vote for a Democrat than he would host a pagan ritual on his property. But a few months ago, the "GO TO CHURCH" sign was replaced by a new one:

NPR did a whole piece on the sign change that you can listen to here. Go, Lucy, go.

Sunday, June 4

This day in history!

Once upon a time I wouldn't have made a big deal about my birthday due to self-esteem issues and the like, but since I've been in therapy I've been learning to build my self-esteem and appreciate myself more, and since I've come to the conclusion that I'm actually freaking awesome, you're gonna hear about my birthday. Here's a partial list of people who also had the great fortune to be born on June 4:

Greek philosopher Socrates, not to be confused with the four-time Calypso King of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Actress, new mom, and All-World vinyl-bustier-wearer Angelina Jolie (who turns 31 today).

Noah Wyle, also known as Dr. John Carter, last member of the original 1994 cast of "ER" (35).

Bond girl Izabella Scorupco, better known as Natalya Fyodorovna Semyonova from the film "GoldenEye" (36).

Stacy Arthur, Playboy's Miss January 1991 (38) . . .

. . . and Tanya Beyer, Miss February 1992 (35).

Keith David, all-around-badass character actor from such films as "Crash," "Barbershop," and "There's Something About Mary."

Douchebag monarch King George III, whose most lasting contribution to history would be getting his ass handed to him by a bunch of ragtag American colonists (would be 268 today).

Hottie Australian country singer Kasey Chambers (30).

Actress Jenaveve Jolie, star of almost 100 films including "18 and Full of Sin," "Three's Cumpany," "Mr. Pete is Unleashed 4," and "Meet the Fuckers" (22).

"Saturday Night Live" regular and Saddam Hussein impersonator Horatio Sanz (37).

"Big Love" star Bruce Dern (70), and finally . . .

Hottie sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer (78).

Other important stuff that happened today:

In 1787, the Montgolfier brothers make the first public demonstration of their hot-air balloon in Annonay, France; it flies two kilometers and becomes the first aircraft to ever carry human beings into the sky. It also probably becomes the inspiration for countless Fabergé eggs.

In 1919, the U.S. Congress approves the 19th Amendment, granting chicks women the right to vote, and sends the amendment to the states for ratification.

In 1942, Japanese Admiral Chuichi Nagumo orders a strike on American forces in the Pacific Ocean, which turns out to be a mistake something akin to telling Mike Tyson that his face tattoo makes him look gay. The attack kicks off the Battle of Midway, four full days of the U.S. Navy kicking some imperial Japanese ass; Japan loses four aircraft carriers, one cruiser, and more than 3,000 soldiers, and the battle marks a major turning point in the war in the Pacific.

In 1970, Tonga gains its independence from the United Kingdom. This frees them up to join the "Coalition of the Willing" 33 years later and send 40 troops to join the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

In 1974, the Cleveland Indians' "Ten Cent Beer Night" results in rampant fan misbehavior for nine full innings until Texas Rangers outfielder Jeff Burroughs starts whaling on a fan who stole his cap and glove. Fans begin pouring onto the field in a full-scale riot, and the Indians are forced to forfeit.

In 1984, Bruce Springsteen releases his seventh studio album, "Born in the U.S.A.," whose title track will be misused at countless July 4th events and Republican Party rallies over the next eight years.

In 1989, the Chinese government sent in the military to put down a two-month-long protest by student dissidents in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

In 1992, the U.S. Postal Service announces the results of its nationwide vote to choose an Elvis Presley commemmorative stamp: Voters overwhelmingly preferred the "young Elvis" from the late 1950s.

So as you can see, June 4 has been a critical date at nearly every stage of world history. I propose we make it a national holiday, one which will be "observed" on whichever Monday falls closest to the 4th so we can all get off work. What do you think, sirs?