Wednesday, April 30

Radio Free T-Town.

[Bumper: Bush's "Machinehead," fade out]

PAUL FINEBAUM: Back with hour two of the show here this afternoon, where we've been talking about what I think, by any definition, has been a banner month for Nick Saban's Alabama football program. First we had another epic turnout at the A-Day Game, followed last week by Saban singlehandedly revolutionizing college recruiting with his -- did you even know you could talk to someone over the Internet? [pause] No, I know e-mail and instant-message and all that stuff, but did you know you could talk to someone and see their face live on camera, and they could talk to you and see yours? How'd he figure out how to do that? [pause] It's called 'videoconferencing'? Has anybody ever done this before? [pause] No? Well, so not only did Nick Saban invent a way to talk to someone live over the Internet, so far there's been no conclusive evidence that he didn't invent the Internet to begin with. I mean, all due respect to our former vice-president Al Gore, but let's give credit where credit is due.

All right. But now we're gonna get into this press conference he had today, just the usual briefing, you know, spring practice and all that, and maybe some of you have heard this clip already, but I'm gonna go ahead and play it again -- Kerry, run the clip from Saban's press conference.

NICK SABAN: . . . starting to come together OK -- you know, we're looking for playmakers on the offensive line, first of all, and Marlon Davis had a good day, Andre had a good day, but nobody's at a point now where they can just rest on their laurels and assume they're gonna start. A'ight? This is a long process, and I've told them that, and --

[audible passing of gas]

SABAN: -- we didn't do well enough on these fundamentals last year that just anybody's gonna get a pass. We've got a quarterback to protect and some running backs that we can't just leave out there to dry . . .

FINEBAUM: Everybody hear that? Nick Saban cut one in a press conference and just kept right on going. Like it -- like it didn't even happen! Can you imagine this going on at any other school? I mean, can you picture any other coach in the nation, standing up there, on the firing line, all these reporters pointing their microphones and their recorders at you, and you fart and don't miss a single beat? Up until now we'd just been conditioned to expect that if a coach had to let one loose up there, he'd be a gentleman about it, hold it in until the end of the conference, or maybe do that thing where you kind of clench your butt so that you only let a little bit out at a time, not enough to make an audible sound -- Nick Saban doesn't care about that. I mean, this is a no-nonsense guy: He's gonna give you what he's gonna give you, and if that's a fart in a press conference, then there you go. And some people are gonna complain about this, but what they don't get is that Nick Saban is just not going to be kept inside their box. He's not going to be bound by that. And that's why this team has such a bright future ahead of it.

Danny from Oak Grove, you're on with the Paul Finebaum Radio Network. How are you today, sir?

DANNY: I'm great, Paul, how are you?

FINEBAUM: I'm excellent, Danny, thank you.

DANNY: Well, Paul, I just want to say I agree with everything you said. For him to cut one like that and not get flustered, or even pause in what he was sayin' -- that's what we need in a coach, Paul. That's the kind of courage, or composure, or whatever you wanna call it that's gonna win us some games.

FINEBAUM: You're exactly right, Danny --

DANNY: Has anyone ever done somethin' like that before?

FINEBAUM: I'm sorry? You mean fart in a press conference?

DANNY: Yeah.

FINEBAUM: That's a good question, Danny, that's an excellent question, and I don't know the answer to that. We'll get our staff folks working on some tapes, and listeners, if you have any knowledge of that or if you can answer Danny's question, by all means, call in.

DANNY: Thanks, Paul.

FINEBAUM: Thank you, Danny. Robert in McCalla, how are you today, sir?

ROBERT: Wonderful, Paul, I gotta ask you, were you at that press conference?

FINEBAUM: Was I physically there? No sir, I didn't make it to that one.

ROBERT: Well, I was there, just kind of got to listen in for a while, and I got to smell the fart that Coach Saban cut . . .

FINEBAUM: No kiddin'. How was it?

ROBERT: Paul, I can honestly say I have never smelled a fart quite like it. It was kind of like fresh-baked bread --


ROBERT: Yeah -- like garlic bread, I guess I should say, it was a fart and all, but still, as farts go, it was pretty impressive.

FINEBAUM: And what's interesting is that they say people like the smell of their own farts but hate other people's -- but you're saying this one was nice? How'd the rest of the room react to it?

ROBERT: Well, they all looked like they liked it all right -- I saw a few people sniffin' the air, like they knew somethin' was different, and none of them looked disgusted or anything like that, so . . .

FINEBAUM: You know, I'd be interested in finding out what you've got to put in your diet to make your farts smell like fresh-baked bread. I'm assuming Nick Saban isn't on some macrobiotic diet or having organic food flown in from California or something like that, so whatever he eats is something any of the rest of us can get at the Publix anytime we want, but how does he do it? How has he been able to figure out something that no coach -- to the best of our knowledge -- has been able to do? And again, you're seeing this investment from Mal Moore pay off in ways nobody could've foreseen back in 2007. When you're willing to make a brave move, and you're willing to shell out some money for a top-flight coach, you get farts that smell like fresh bread.

ROBERT: Absolutely, Paul, couldn't have said it better. Love your show.

FINEBAUM: Thanks, Robert. Jerry from Pelham is next. What's going on, Jerry.

JERRY: Hi, Paul, good to be on your show -- been listening for a long time and this is the first time I've called in, so I'm excited to be on today.

FINEBAUM: Glad to have you. What's on your mind?

JERRY: Well, I was thinkin' about how this sets us up for --

FINEBAUM: You're talking about Coach Saban's passing gas, now.

JERRY: -- yessir, I was thinkin' about how that might set us up for a big season but then also a big recruiting year in oh-nine, because even though this has happened pretty early in that recruiting process, I gotta think that there are kids all over the Southeast or even the country who are gonna see that clip or hear that gas and think, 'That's a guy who doesn't care about puttin' on appearances or tellin' the press or anybody what they want to hear, that's a guy who just cares about winnin'.' But I was wonderin' whether you thought that might come into play, so I'll hang up and listen.

FINEBAUM: Yes, Jerry, and I think that's an excellent point, because the personality of a coach has so much to do with the decision that a kid makes when he's coming out of high school. And I would bet there are more than a few kids who are gonna see this tape and be impressed with the fact that his mind was more on the team and how they were doing than on trying to hold in his gas and come off as pretty for the TV cameras. I mean, you can look at it this way -- a kid's got the choice between Nick Saban, national-title winner, coached at the NFL level, not afraid to cut one at a press conference, or Joe Schmoe, no NFL experience, standing up there grimacing and clenching his teeth so that he won't let out any flatulence, just so that everyone will think he's all nice and proper and no one's gonna go, 'Oh, so-and-so farted in a press conference' in their newspaper article. Who do you think that kid's gonna pick? [pause] I mean, I know who I'd pick, I can't speak for anyone else, but yeah, I think that is gonna make a difference, and that's an excellent point to make. Glad you brought that up, Jerry. George in Birmingham, you're up next on the Paul Finebaum Radio Network.

GEORGE: Yeah, Paul, you asked whether anyone had done anything like this before, and you and all the Bama fans are acting like this is the first time it's happened, but heck, Tommy Tuberville burped in a press conference right before the Auburn-Ole Miss game two years ago! --

FINEBAUM: I'm sorry, George, he burped?

GEORGE: Yeah, I remember it clearly, he was doing his Friday press conference and it was right after lunch, I guess, and he burped. Maybe tried to hold it in a little, but he --

FINEBAUM: Now, I don't doubt your story, George, I'm sure that happened, but do you really think that that's on a par with Saban farting in front of a room full of reporters and TV cameras?

GEORGE: It's gas, isn't it, Paul?

FINEBAUM: Sure, it's gas, but do you really honestly believe that a belch is comparable with a -- with flatulence?

GEORGE: One comes out the mouth, Paul, one comes out the other end, it's the same --

FINEBAUM: See, right there, you've proven my point. Go back to that rhyme everyone learned in elementary school: 'Pardon me for burping, it wasn't very smart, but if it'd come out the other end, it would've been a fart.' Even as kids we know that a fart and a belch are on two different levels.

GEORGE: Paul, you're giving Saban all this credit for something that happened during spring practice! Tuberville burped during the season, the Friday before a game, and you're just acting like it's no big deal! You think Tuberville wasn't standing before a whole bunch more cameras and news reporters than --

FINEBAUM: Lemme ask you this, George, how'd Auburn do in that game?

GEORGE: In the Ole Miss game?

FINEBAUM: Yeah. You remember what the score was?

GEORGE: [pause] I know Auburn won.

FINEBAUM: Uh-huh. But you remember by how much? [pause] We're looking it up right now, and I believe -- yeah, they're telling me 23-17 was the final score in that one. A top-ten Auburn team, playing a godawful Ed Orgeron Ole Miss team, and they won by six points. That's what that burp got you, George. You may think it's comparable to Saban farting on stage, but that's all that got you, was a six-point win over maybe the worst team in the SEC.

GEORGE: And what's that fart gonna get Alabama, another loss to Monroe? Another trip to Shreveport for a bowl game?

FINEBAUM: George, did you listen to the clip? I mean, I'm wondering if we even heard the same fart. You're apparently an Auburn fan, and that's fine, but I don't see how anybody could hear or smell that fart and not be impressed by it. And I'll tell you something, George, any coach in the SEC, whether it's Tuberville or Les Miles or Richt or anyone else, they just dismiss this fart as no big deal and it's gonna come back to haunt them. I mean, it may be too early to say just yet, but that little bit of gas that he passed may have upset the balance of power in the Southeastern Conference.

GEORGE: [audible sigh] Well, Paul, I enjoy listenin' to your show, even when it's about Bama, but I think we're gonna just have to agree to disagree on this one.

FINEBAUM: Well, that's fine, and I do appreciate the call, but I'm stickin' to my guns here, that fart could make a lot of people look real stupid by the time the 2008 season is over. And Nick Saban ain't gonna be one of them.

[Bumper: Bush's "Machinehead," fade in]

FINEBAUM: Coming up after the break, we'll take some more of your calls and let you weigh in on Nick Saban's effluviation, plus in the next half-hour we'll have Kevin Scarbinsky from the Birmingham News on to talk about it and -- you know what, Kerry, what that guy said about the fresh-baked bread thing, I wonder if that means Coach Saban's feces might actually not stink. We'll ask Kevin Scarbinsky about it, take your calls, and a whole lot more, after this.

[Bumper: Bush's "Machinehead," fade out]


(Thanks to Stanley for helping to provide the inspiration for this crap.)

Tuesday, April 29

A memo from the desk of Arnold T. Pants, Esq.:
The first rule of Pants Club is you don't talk about Pants Club.

Before this increasingly pants-centric blog digs into the heart of today's memo, first things first: Congratulations, Georgia Gym Dogs, on your fourth consecutive national gymnastics title. And what the hey, good luck on making it one for the thumb next year. If that happens, then an entire senior class will have graduated from UGA never knowing what it's like to not be defending national champs. How many other people in any sport can say that?

I have a regular female reader who, as a Florida alumna, claims to find my awesome red pants reprehensible, yet I think deep down she really finds them sexier than Richie Sexson listening to Prince's Lovesexy while driving an Acura NSX through Middlesex, because the other day she e-mailed me a link to this clothing store, which offers these pants for sale:

Now, how is that not enabling me like a motherfucker? My only dilemma now is deciding whether to buy these pants now or hold out for a pair that have little Ugas patterned all over them, which these folks hint they might be offering next year. I mean, the Super-G pattern is certainly a quantum leap, but pants with little Ugas . . . I don't need to tell you that those pants would be my Everest. I'll be sure to keep you posted on how this drama plays out.

As a side note, said female reader is soon to make the very tricky one-SEC-school-to-another grad-school jump -- she's headed up to the University of Alabama to start law school this fall. Congratulations, and I wish you the best of luck on both your law studies and your newfound (and inescapable) association with stuff like this. (H/T: EDSBS.)

If being a Bulldog is a kind of religion, then this is apparently our Holy Communion.

To the surprise of absolutely no one -- but to the obvious delight of Your Humble Blogger -- red pants got a mention in Every Day Should Be Saturday's epic "Stuff Red and Black People Like" last week, a compendium that is snarky, insulting, suffused with a strain of contempt thick enough to cut with a chainsaw -- and all too horribly true, even for this rabid Dawg fan. If you're one of the six remaining Web surfers who haven't checked it out yet, go now.

As someone who both wastes an inordinate amount of time each year (including this one) watching the NFL Draft and loves a good Internet quiz, I thought I'd point y'all toward this one, which gives you a quote and asks you whether it came from NFL draft coverage, a "Dancing with the Stars" judge, or an escort-service ad. I was a not-too-shabby 12-of-15 overall, but it was hard. At least as hard as the SATs.

The actual draft, incidentally, was kind of a drag this year; a lot of trades spiced things up, but there seemed to be a real dearth of superstars, not just the Georgia hopefuls but pretty much everybody. I mean, when the #1 overall pick is an offensive lineman and the marquee QB taken at number three is someone that even his newly adopted hometown "fans" can't trouble themselves to get excited about, you know it's kind of a down year.

Devin Thomas, disproving Big Daddy Kane's theory of pimping not being easy.

As for my own team, you know I've been bitching for what seems like eons about the Redskins' longstanding habit of trading away mid-round picks in exchange for free agents who have maybe one or two good seasons left in them before they start hobbling around on walkers. Well, Draft Day '08 was kind of a "be careful what you wish for" moment, because while my guys ended up with an embarrassment of riches in terms of draft picks -- five in rounds 2-4 alone, which is five more than they had last year -- they somehow didn't feel it was necessary to use those picks to address serious weaknesses on the D-line, not to mention filling the gaping Sean-Taylor-shaped hole in their secondary. Yet somehow Colt Brennan was worth taking at #186. Okey-dokey, guys. I'm sure the kid's raring to go, but I hope we haven't forgotten just how badly he needs a decent offensive line in front of him.

No real point to this item, I just wanted to share with y'all one more time how excited I am to be heading to the Georgia-Arizona State game this September.

Since I've just been back to Athens to relive my college days and shared with you some of the details of my dialing back my maturity level a decade's worth or so, I might as well go all-out and share the following video with you. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you "Everything Poops," not to be confused with Taro Gomi's children's classic Everyone Poops. There's no point in me trying to deny that this clip made me laugh until tears were literally streaming down my face; just watch it (while exercising caution if you're in a work environment, or if you have a full bladder, for that matter).

See more funny videos at CollegeHumor

Monday, April 28

Goodbye, Memory Lane; hello, Nostalgia Superhighway.

On Friday I looked forward to this past weekend's informal Red & Black reunion in Athens by recounting my five most treasured memories from college, but what I failed to consider at the time was just how little of the surface of my college years I was actually scratching. That didn't really dawn on me until we met up at the new R&B headquarters on Baxter Street, which make our old shop at 123 North Jackson look like a Cabrini-Green meth lab by comparison. Not only is the building itself a palace, but the kids who get to work there now are using computers every bit as fancy as the hardware I've got at my current job. I would go off on a crotchety rant about life not being fair and kids these days not knowing how good they have it and blah blah blah, but I can't because I've been distracted by a fascinating feature that longtime publisher Harry Montevideo was kind enough to show us on Saturday: The entire back catalog of the R&B, every last issue, has been digitized by the UGA library and put online. You can browse through them here (though you may have to download a plug-in to get started).

I won't bore you -- and oh, lordy, would I bore you -- by repeating all my Greatest Hits from the opinions page; anything you can conjure up in your head about my circa-1998 feelings on SUVs, the Republican Party, or "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is probably far superior to what I actually wrote. What I will do is give you a little nostalgia tour of the mugshots that went with those columns. I think this historical rundown -- an "Evolution of the Feces," if you will, and I do -- is going to be instructive in terms of demonstrating why my success with women, even in a target-rich environment such as the University of Georgia, has been so meager over the years.

Herewith, my first-ever R&B mugshot. Keep in mind this is how thousands of readers were first introduced to me back in mid-1997.

Now, I distinctly remember being laid low with a raging head cold at the time that photo was taken, so it's not like I was putting my best foot (or face) forward by any means, but still, gahh. My goatee looks like it was maintained with a Black & Decker hedge trimmer, and needless to say, I wasn't smiling (in fact, I only actually learned how to smile for photos sometime in the last six months or so).

Thankfully, version 2.0, which mercifully replaced Boo Radley up there in time to make regular appearances on the editorial page during the summer I served as opinions editor, was a little better . . .

The good news is, the goatee was a little better-trimmed by that point; the bad news is, it still existed at all, and my sartorial choices weren't much better (that said, you can have my Gap anorak when you pry it out of my cold, dead hands). When I was appointed Variety editor for the regular daily fall paper later that year, we took another one . . .

. . . in which I actually bothered to look presentable (I think I had a job interview or a meeting or something like that the morning that photo was taken, hence the reason they were able to catch me on the one day out of the year I was wearing a tie). The goatee's still there, but oddly enough, I finally ditched it within two weeks of this shot; surely, then, the final version of this mug, the one that was front and center during my last semester, the one during which I actually got to occupy the editor-in-chief's chair, we'd finally get right . . .

Ohhhh. No dice. So sad. The goatee's gone, but so's the coat and tie, and my hairstyle has regressed back to something closer to what I was rocking in sixth grade than anything that would be considered remotely stylish, even in 1999.

Based on this series, then, I can only estimate that at no time in my college career, even on my best days, did I ever rise higher than, say, 40th percentile out of the whole student body in terms of physical attractiveness. It's tough having a Costco economy-sized drum of FAIL staring you in the face like that, but fortunately, I've risen above it.

The top photo is me (far right) with four of my best friends from the R&B; the bottom photo is me and my friend Jennifer getting wicked pissed at The Globe on Friday night. And I have finally become, as you can see, one sexy bitch. I've long since aged to the point where I'm too old to be considered desirable by college chicks, but it still happened. I count this as a moral victory.


Me and my favorite journalism professor, Conrad Fink, in the R&B newsroom. Fink was the AP's Asia bureau chief during much of Vietnam, and thus spent a not-inconsiderable amount of time lying on his stomach in rice paddies with bullets whizzing over his head; I'm sure he could not be prouder that I'm now basically living off a state government's dime, for all intents and purposes doing PR for a university.

The girls and the guys at the Twilight Criterium bike race in downtown Athens. Goddamn, those are some sexy individuals up there. And the girls aren't bad either.

Last but not least, our whole group in the lobby of the R&B building.

Obviously, after a weekend of uproarious-laughter-filled reminiscing and All-Pro alcohol consumption, the question was frequently asked -- not least by Your Humble Blogger -- Why in the world did we ever graduate from here? For many of us, this often graduated into, Hell, I'm comin' back! It really is sad how much better-equipped I am right now to have a non-stop kickass four years of college than I was back then; my alcohol tolerance has increased dramatically (I was effectively on a solid IV drip from 5 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m., and still woke up bright 'n' early Sunday morning ready to run a 5K if I had to); I'm a better writer now, too; and I'm exponentially more attractive than I was ay any point between September 1995 and May 1999 (though certain caveats apply to that statement, of course).

And yet, even if I could be magically offered four more undergrad years at UGA with which to inflict my older, wiser, sexier self on the world, it probably wouldn't be as good, because my fondness for the place has so much to do with the people who were enjoying it along with me -- the folks I got to hang out with this past weekend. If I could gather 10 or 12 of us up in an MTV "Real World" house on Milledge Avenue and relive the good ol' days that way, I'd do it in a heartbeat, but since that's not feasible -- even if it is a pretty intriguing reality-show premise, now that I think about it -- those days are probably best left as-is in our collective memory banks, unsullied by any craven mid- or one-third-life attempts at going back and re-enacting them. Not that it would necessarily be as soul-obliterating as this, but it wouldn't have been nearly as fun as what I remember. Memory Lane may have been widened and expanded out into a roaring twelve-lane superhighway, but that doesn't mean you're still not screwed if you get on the wrong side and barrel headlong into oncoming traffic.

But that just makes those friends, and the fact that they've seen fit to stay so close to me (and each other) over the years, mean that much more. Y'all know who you are, both those of you who were at the "reunion" and those who couldn't make it, and this is as good a time as any to say: Thank you. Thank you for letting me join in your reindeer games; thank you for cheering me when I was up and giving me a hand when I was down; thank you for making me pee my pants with laughter on an hourly, if not minutely, basis; and thank you for, by your mere presence, making me a happier, cooler, and better person.

And I'm not kidding about the "Real World" thing. Tell me now if you want on that list, 'cause when my Mega Millions numbers finally hit, we're totally doing that.

Friday, April 25

The Friday (Semi-)Random Ten+5 relives the good times.

For the third time in four weeks, I'm heading out for the weekend -- this time it's back to Athens for an unofficial reunion of folks who worked at our student newspaper, The Red & Black, while I was at UGA. I'm pumped as hell about this, but at the same time kind of apprehensive, because I know that 48 hours of laughing and boozing it up with my best friends from school are only going to lead to the inevitable come-down in which I ask myself why, oh why did I ever graduate from college in the first place.

Nah, fuck that. College was a straight-up blast and I'm not gonna let any of the depressing stuff about real life intrude for the next few days, particularly since numerous people have told me my current, supposedly "real-world" lifestyle is barely distinguishable from that of an unreconstructed frat boy as it is. This is a weekend for throwing the usual cares about "the real world" and "my job" and "obeying the law" straight out the window and just enjoying the good times, both past and present. But since y'all can't come with me to Athens this weekend -- or at least you better not, 'cause seriously, that's on some stalker shit, seek help -- you're gonna have to content yourself with the past. My past, that is. Not that you give a crap, but this week's +5 is My Five Favorite Memories From College, At Least The Ones I Was Sober Enough To Recount.

April 1, 1999: The Jim Harrick double-switcheroo
During my last semester at Georgia, I was the editor-in-chief of The Red & Black -- don't get excited, I was the only one who applied for the job that semester -- so every other night, alternating with the managing editor, I would have to read every last word on every single page to check for errors and then stay at the newspaper office until the whole thing had been sent out the door to the printer. On the morning of April 1 -- yup, that's the actual date all this stuff went down -- we got the official word that Jim Harrick was leaving the University of Rhode Island to become the head basketball coach at UGA, and immediately began assembling the splashiest front page possible to announce the news. Later in the afternoon, we got the unfortunate news that Harrick had changed his mind, he didn't want to leave URI after all, he wasn't coming. So we tossed the first front page and started laying out the "Not coming after all" spread. And then around 7 in the evening, if memory serves, we got yet another surprise: He'd changed his mind a second time and was coming to Georgia. So we flushed yet another front-page layout and started all over again, and still managed to get the thing out just a few minutes after the midnight deadline. It was a wild afternoon, to be sure, but it made for a great story afterward, and it was really great to see everyone in the newsroom pull together to roll with the considerable number of punches we all experienced while Harrick dicked around up in Providence. This would be just the first on a lengthy list of instances in which the Harricks screwed Bulldog Nation and left us a dazed, whimpering mess, but this one, at least, we could laugh about later.

Summer 1998-Spring 1999: Going to "church"
Part of what made the Day Of Many Harrick Shenanigans so much more tolerable than it otherwise would've been was the fact that we could all get together and laugh about it (by which I mean "get drunk about it") afterward at Boneshakers. Georgia grads of a certain vintage will remember Boneshakers as Athens's most popular gay bar, which it was, but the '80s Nights they did every Wednesday were popular enough amongst the straight crowd to bring the sexual-orientation mix to about 50-50, and the R&B crew's attendance on Wednesdays became so regular that my dear friend Alice Coggin started referring to it as "church." During the summer of '98, when I failed to lock up an actual internship and instead spent my time doing the opinions page of the R&B's weekly summer edition and working graveyard hours at DialAmerica, we'd send the paper out the door on Wednesday evening and immediately head over to my friend Chandler's apartment to prime ourselves with liberal amounts of grape Kool-Aid spiked with Golden Grain before making our weekly church trip. (This soon came to be called "Golden Girls Kool-Aid" since reruns of that show always seemed to be on when we were over there) I'm sure that my regularity as a Boneshakers patron ratchets up my quotient of Teh Ghey even more than it already was, but who cares, it was a blast. And I'm not convinced we're all not going to get plastered on Saturday night and dance around in the middle of Hancock Street to Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" just to try and recreate the good ol' days.

November 1, 1997: "We Believed"
More commonly known as the day we beat Spurrier's Gators for the first time in eight tries; this one's pretty self-explanatory. I watched the game over at my friend Meredith's house and I distinctly remember all of us going out later that night and strutting around like we ourselves had picked Florida off four times; in true Jim Donnan fashion, the Dawgs went right out the very next game and laid an ostrich egg against a lesser-ranked Auburn team that had just gotten shut out at home by Mississippi State, but neverthless, neither that glorious night nor the 100-point "WE BELIEVED" headline on the front of the following Monday's R&B are things that anyone can ever take away from me.

February 13, 1999: Being a journalist finally pays off
The one and only time in my life I've had a date in the remote vicinity of Valentine's Day came, ironically enough, after a column I wrote for the R&B about how much Valentine's Day sucked. This girl in one of my journalism classes whom I'd always thought was cute e-mailed me saying she liked my column and did I want to go out sometime, and we ended up going to dinner and then a party at my friend Kristen's house on the 13th. I can honestly say it's one of the few times in my life when being a writer or journalist ever resulted in something tangibly positive; not only was she smart and fun, she was the spitting image of Drew Barrymore. (And I'm not just making that up out of thin air -- nearly everyone at the party told me "She looks like Drew fucking Barrymore!", usually followed, of course, by "What the hell is she doing here with you? Did you drug her or something?") Sadly, as a later-than-late bloomer who'd only had two, maybe three girlfriends my entire life up to that point and thus didn't know a good thing when it dropped right into his fucking lap, I managed to screw this relationship up royally after only a couple months, but still, it was nice while it lasted.

Sometime during 1996: Preaching the Seuss Gospel at the Tate Center
Being both a major college campus and and a festering den of the worst kinds of iniquity, UGA got plenty of visits throughout the 1990s from "confrontational evangelist" Jed Smock, otherwise known as "Brother Jed," and his toady "Brother Ken." Bros. Jed and Ken would get up on the free-speech platform at the Tate Center plaza and basically rail away for hours on end about what whores and drunkards and masturbators all of us students were; this didn't convert a single person that I'm aware of, but it did give us some rollicking good entertainment between classes. One afternoon, as Jed took the stage -- and I don't know what got into me that day -- I went to the Tate Center bookstore and bought a copy of Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham; I then jumped up on the platform and started "preaching the Gospel of Dr. Seuss," mainly just to see if I could yell louder than Brother Jed. I don't think I even made it through the whole book before Jed and his entourage left in righteous disgust. But I didn't know what an impression this sermon had made until years later, when my parents happened upon another Brother Jed appearance while doing a campus tour with my sister. While they were standing there marveling at Jed's holy fury, some kid next to them said "You should've been here a few years ago when some guy got up there and started preaching Green Eggs and Ham to the crowd," and my parents were like, "Oh my God! That was our son!" and soon everybody wanted to meet the parents of Green Eggs and Ham Guy. I won't say that's the proudest my parents have ever been of me, but I'll bet it's in their top five.

Ah, good times, good times. My blood-alcohol level has jumped a couple points just thinking about it. Anyway, this week's Ten is composed of stuff that I was listening to back in college, not that that's all that different from what I'm listening to now:

1. N.W.A., "Gangsta Gangsta"
2. The Chemical Brothers, "Playground for a Wedgeless Firm"
3. Underworld, "Rez"
4. De La Soul, "Tread Water"
5. Pet Shop Boys, "West End Girls" (Acid House mix)
6. R.E.M., "Walk Unafraid"
7. Beck, "Today Has Been a Fucked Up Day"
8. The Farm, "Golden Vision"
9. Beck, "Ramshackle"
10. Underworld, "Confusion the Waitress"

Oh, and what the hell, here's the obvious 11th --

11. Avenue Q cast, "I Wish I Could Go Back to College"

Got any college stories of your own? Can you even remember any, you sad old farts? If so, put 'em (along with your own Random Tens) in the comments thread.

Wednesday, April 23

The news has been spread, and so I left.

Well, we're back from the big New York trip -- actually, we arrived at the Atlanta airport on Monday, but our arrival back in Birmingham was delayed somewhat by my car's serpentine belt getting converted into Nabisco shredded wheat somewhere between Atlanta and the Georgia-Alabama line. Think about that -- we go three whole days in New York without so much as a paper cut, but the closest we come to a near-death experience the entire weekend occurs in Douglasville, Georgia. Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes, no? Anyway, a couple days late and a few hundred bucks less encumbered, my car finally made it home earlier today. Huzzah!

But the actual trip was great, thanks mainly to my parents, who went all-out and booked us a couple rooms at this place:

To say that this was the nicest hotel room I've ever stayed in would be an understatement; it might've been the nicest room room I've ever stayed in (not that the competition for that is especially fierce, me being just a simple Alabama hick and all). It was a veritable oasis after a long, sweaty drive in from LaGuardia on Friday afternoon, which included a 30-minute stop-'n'-wait on the Queensboro Bridge while Pope Benedict's motorcade left the United Nations. We could clearly see the UN from our spot on the bridge and actually saw the motorcade head off down FDR Drive. I took a picture of it with my cell phone, but you really can't see any of it, so instead here's what we ran across just a few blocks later -- the Naked Cowboy playing guitar in an intersection.

Actually, you can't really see him all that well either. Trust me, he's there in the middle.

That day I would have the pleasure of a) trying haggis for the first time at a Scottish pub near the theatre district and b) seeing "Curtains," the Broadway comedy/musical/murder mystery starring David Hyde Pierce. I liked "Curtains" quite a bit better. Haggis actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it wasn't anything I'm going to be climbing over people to try again; if that's what's considered a delicacy in Scotland, Ewan MacGregor's "It's shite being Scottish" rant from "Trainspotting" makes a lot more sense.

The next day we went down to Chinatown and loaded up on fake designer handbags (well, the rest of my family loaded up on fake designer handbags; I've got a Donna Karan clutch purse at home I'm quite happy with, thanks). And we saw our second show, "November," a political comedy written by David Mamet that I had high hopes for but was ultimately pretty disappointed by (pops compared it to a so-so "Saturday Night Live" sketch drawn out over two and a half hours). The most interesting thing we did, though, was right after the show, when we went down the street to the 11:30 p.m. Mass at St. Malachy's Church, which has become known as the "Actor's Chapel" because it's supposedly where all the Broadway actors and stagehands go after their shows so that they don't have to go Sunday morning right before all the matinees.

Times Square at night, again taken with the cell phone.

Sunday I headed on down to the Village and talked football (and a bunch of other stuff) over lunch with a regular reader of the blog, an Ohio State grad who, ironically enough, first ventured over to Hey Jenny Slater from a link at MGoBlog. (I'm sure Brian will be shocked to discover that she neither yelled "Fuck Michigan" nor pooped in a styrofoam cooler at any point during the afternoon.) Then my sister and I made our pilgrimage to FAO Schwarz, where I took a picture of Lego Chewbacca.

I don't know who the kid is.

And then the next day we flew home and my car exploded, the end.

One of the fun things about the trip (besides being set up in a swank-ass hotel with plasma TVs in the rooms -- did I mention the TVs?) was the fact that now that I've been to New York a bunch of times and have knocked out all the touristy stuff like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty and whatnot, I can go up there and just hang out and barhop and people-watch for a few days. And you'll be happy to know that I more or less hit all five items on my shopping list of things to do in the Big Apple.

The only thing I guess I kind of missed out on was seeing Pope Benedict XVI in person. But I did get to buy a copy of the New York Post whose cover featured a photo of the Pope with his arms outstretched, juxtaposed with the headline "COME TO PAPA."

Stay classy, New York.

Friday, April 18

The Friday Random Ten+5 wants to be a part of it.

By the time you read this, I'll more than likely be on a plane to New York for the weekend with my family. My mom's and dad's birthdays are a couple weeks apart in March and April, and usually around this time of year they take a trip up to New York for a long weekend as sort of a join birthday celebration to go see some shows and whatnot, and this year I guess they just got a wild hair and decided that they'd like to bring my sister and me along. Here's pretty much how the conversation went down:

DAD: So your mom and I are planning another trip up to New York in a few weeks, and we were thinking we might bring you kids along this year, if you'd like to go.

ME: Really?

DAD: Yup.

ME: Are you paying for it?

DAD: Sure.

ME: Then hells yes.

Now, this isn't my first time up in New York, of course -- I wouldn't call myself an expert on the city by any stretch, but I've been there enough times to not be one of those people wearing brightly colored clothes and a fanny pack through Times Square and stopping dead in the middle of the sidewalk to look up and go "Gol-dang!" at all the skyscrapers. In fact, I've kind of developed a routine for when I go up there, and while it's not like I follow this to the letter to the exclusion of any other activities, I do have a few specific things on my list that I like to try and check off if I have the time. So this week's +5 is the Five Things I Plan On Doing In New York This Weekend.

Shopping for counterfeit designer goods
Maybe I'm sheltered, but there's nothing like jetting on down to Chinatown and coming back with a fake Prada bag and a Breitling chronograph you paid a total of forty bucks for. It just feels naughty. Plus, it's not like anybody down here in Birmingham can tell the difference.

Waiting outside Rockefeller Center to see if Tina Fey comes out
Yes, I know Liz Lemon is not a real person and there is thus little chance I'm going to catch her strolling out after a taping of "TGS with Tracy Jordan." But dammit, nobody ever said celebrity stalking was easy, or productive, or grounded in reality. And as New Yorkers go, it's way better than stalking Donald Trump.

Going to ethnic neighborhoods and gorging myself
The last time I went to New York I was walking through Times Square with a friend of mine and I saw there was a goddamn T.G.I. Friday's there now. No offense to T.G.I. Friday's -- if you're waiting for me to say a single bad thing about their menu, particularly their fried green beans, you can just keep waiting -- but for shit's sake, who goes up to New York City so that they can eat at T.G.I. Friday's? No, what you do is find the most hard-core ethnic neighborhood you can, Little Italy or the Greek part of Astoria being just a couple examples that spring immediately to mind, and stuff your fat face with delicious food cooked by the people who invented it. And no, in spite of what Steve Carell's character once said on "The Office," Sbarro doesn't count.

Watching street drummers in the subway
When you go to New York, you do so with the knowledge that you're going to be hit up for money at numerous points during the course of your trip. The thing is, I don't have a problem giving someone a few bucks if they actually have some kind of talent. And while some of y'all might think this is stupid, I really enjoy listening to the kids who hammer out rhythms on plastic buckets and garbage-can lids in the subway stations. I realize it's not for everybody, but in a world where Heidi fricking Montag has a recording contract, you've got to spare some props for the little guy who's actually doing something original.

Consuming large quantities of alcohol
This is a no-brainer. I realize that in cold practical terms, there's really not a lot of difference between "I went to New York and got shit-faced" and "I stayed at home in Southside Birmingham and got shit-faced," but somehow the first one just sounds cooler. It's also a hell of a lot more expensive -- I'd be lying if I said I was thrilled about paying six-fifty for a Bud Light -- but sometimes you just have to be willing to spend a little.

Whee, exciting! And now the Ten:

1. The Beatles, "All You Need Is Love"
2. Underworld, "Peach Tree"
3. Passengers, "Miss Sarajevo"
4. Oasis, "Wonderwall"
5. Blondie, "Rapture"
6. 3rd Bass, "Herbals in Your Mouth"
7. The Smiths, "Is It Really So Strange?"
8. Radiohead, "Creep"
9. Nine Inch Nails, "Head Like a Hole"
10. Thievery Corporation, "Treasures"

Enjoy your weekends, suckers -- and feel free to regale us all with your Random Tens, and/or tales of what you'll be doing sitting at home on your asses, in the comments.

Thursday, April 17

Laugh about it, shout about it, when you've got to choose . . .

I didn't bother watching last night's Clinton-Obama debate on ABC, but pretty much every source I consider credible seems to think it was a nonstop disaster of triviality.

Did any of y'all watch it? What did you think? And did Gibson and Stephanopoulos really ask a question about fucking flag pins?

Wednesday, April 16

Remember the Hokies.

Not to be a major downer here, but if you get a chance today, take a moment or two to remember that today is the one-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting spree, and say a prayer for the families of the 32 people who died.

If you're interested in seeing what's going on in Blacksburg today, the Roanoke Times's blog of today's memorial events is here.

A memo from the desk of Arnold T. Pants, Esq.:
McLovin, Lincoln and Eazy-E.

OK, I know you enjoyed Hayden Panettiere's sexual-harassment spot from a few days ago, but this one might be even funnier.

Portrait of your modern-day Republican Party #4,472: At a Lincoln Day Dinner -- a Republican Party tradition named for the president who freed the slaves and ended the Civil War -- Rep. Geoff Davis refers to an African-American Senator, one of the leading candidates for president, as "boy." Honest Abe would be so proud!

"Sorry, I couldn't hear you, I was too busy SPINNING IN MY GRAVE."

As for the folks who let loose with that kind of stupidity on the World Wide Internets as opposed to Lincoln Day Dinners, Roy Edroso has a hilarious guide to right-wing bloggers and how they're likely to cover this year's presidential election. It may only be funny to political junkies like me who have spent way more time slogging through both the lefty and righty blogospheres than they ever intended, but you might as well internalize it now, because a few of these folks (Glenn Reynolds being only the most obvious) are no doubt going to start popping up on your TV screens in cable-news talkfests before too long.

As for me, I know my political blogging has been pretty sparse lately, which will come across as lazy to some of you while being a blessed relief to others. I don't know -- Tuesday morning at Starbucks, I ran into an acquaintance of mine with whom I'd worked fairly closely in 2004, and she asked me, "Staying active lately?" And I had to reply that I was active for a while, but at this point I was pretty much just sitting around waiting for the primary season to be over so that we can crown a f$#@ing nominee already. And I blame the mainstream media for my apathy; when you're parsing a candidate's beverage choices and going apeshit over "controversies" that nobody actually seems to care about, it's possible you may have run out of relevant comments to make. MSNBC, CNN, Fox, y'all just wake me when August rolls around.

The merger between Delta and Northwest Airlines has been set in motion, and while I think anything that makes Delta bigger and wider-reaching is probably a net positive for the South, I have to admit I'm going to be a little sorry to see this go:

Northwest is definitely the gangsterest airline of all time; you've got to be hard-core to paint a tribute to N.W.A. down the side of a fricking Airbus A330. Somewhere in the great beyond, Eazy-E is raising a forty of Old English to Northwest's memory.

Courtesy of's Campus Clicks, we have a list of the Top 10 Shirts to Get Arrested In. I liked the comment they gave for this one:

At any rate, smart-ass T-shirts are a subject near and dear to my heart; I have this one and this one in my dresser right now, to name just two. And in high school, I had a shirt that said "Thank You for not Projectile Vomiting" (somewhat obscured photo of the very same shirt here), and I wore it on the day of my driver's test, just to see what kind of reaction it'd get from the test-scoring guy or the state troopers down at the Department of Public Safety. For some reason, though, I didn't think that they would actually be taking my picture and popping out my license that day, so once I'd passed the on-the-road portion of the test, we went back to the DPS office and they stuck me in front of a camera. And for the next several years, the bottom of my driver's-license photo revealed a little stick-figure man spewing lime-green vomit inside the universal "no" symbol. My mom was absolutely mortified, and when I lost that card a few years later -- forcing me to go get a new one made -- I'm fairly certain she was responsible.