Friday, January 30

The Friday Random Ten+5 embarks on its latest futile enterprise: trying to make sense of the Catholic church.

This may not be of interest to anyone but us Catholics, and even then it may not be interesting to Catholics in the United States, but last week Pope Benedict XVI rescinded the excommunication of four ultraconservative bishops. And at least one of them, Richard Williamson, is a bit of a head-scratcher. He's vehemently anti-woman and anti-gay, which sadly are not the least bit rare in the modern church hierarchy, but he's so anti-female he doesn't even think women should wear pants, he's a 9/11 Truther, and -- the piece de resistance -- he's a Holocaust denier. Yahtzee!

Now why, pray tell, would the Pope go out of his way to bring a douche like that back into the church? The NYT article says it was to "[reach] out to the far-right" of the church, but there have to be less embarrassing ways of doing that. No, there's got to be some deeper (or perhaps not-all-that-deep-at-all) motive here, and I'm gonna find out what it is. Thus this week's +5 is Five Reasons Pope Benedict Might've Lifted Richard Williamson's Excommunication:

Williamson has a PlayStation 3 and Benedict wants to use it
The Vatican has a Wii, which is pretty awesome, but you can't play Guitar Hero or Guitar Hero II on it, and Benedict doesn't have the instrument attachments anyway. But Williamson has all that stuff, and as someone who's played Rock Band with all the peripherals, I can attest that it's pretty awesome. And I can see how it would be tempting, even to a spiritual leader who's supposed to be above all that stuff.

Williamson has a hot cousin
Again, I can see the temptation here, celibacy notwithstanding. This has been a staple of sitcom plots since the beginning of time, and it's not like anyone in North America cares what the Pope does in his private life to begin with, as long as he's not molesting kids. But she better be real hot to let a Holocaust denier back into the fold is all I'm saying.

Benedict likes Williamson's British accent
Say "I believe there were no gas chambers." Now say it in a British accent. Still sounds crazy and anti-Semitic, but now at least you sound like you were well-bred before you went off the deep end, doesn't it? Maybe that's what reeled Benedict in. If that's all he was after, though, I'd still rather he just start hanging out with Keira Knightley or Catherine Zeta-Jones or something.

Williamson works at a Starbucks so he has an employee discount and he promised Benedict free Starbucks
I dated a Starbucks barista for a (very brief) little while, and during that time I could walk into my local store and get a cafe mocha for fifty cents. A venti mocha, son. So again, I can see the temptation here. Supposedly you can't get a decent cup of coffee in the Vatican to save your life, and this is smack in the middle of espresso country, for crying out loud.

Williamson has pictures of Benedict doing something embarrassing
This is the obvious explanation, of course. But what would be embarrassing enough to warrant something like this? I mean, we already know Benedict was in a Nazi youth organization when he was a little kid and that he favors bright-red Gucci shoes. But what could it be? Certainly with all the controversy over pedophile priests in the last few years, if Benedict had been caught with a boy, we'd know about it. Maybe it was with a girl? Maybe . . . no.

Williamson caught Pope Benedict with Sarah Silverman. It all makes so much sense now.

As Denis Leary once said, "I'm goin' to hell for that bit. And you're allll comin' with me." On that note, the Ten:

1. Dr. Octagon, "Dr. Octagon"
2. Nancy Griffith, "Lookin' for the Time (Working Girl)"
3. OMD, "Electricity"
4. David Holmes, "My Mate Paul"
5. Sting, "All This Time"
6. Dead Milkmen, "Takin' Retards to the Zoo"
7. Pet Shop Boys, "West End Girls" (DJ Hell remix)
8. Richard Cheese, "Sunday Bloody Sunday"
9. OMD, "If You Leave"
10. Pet Shop Boys, "Psychological" (Ewan Pearson vocal remix)

I believe that's the first recorded instance in Internet history of a Friday Random Ten with two OMD songs in it -- mark it down in your diary, folks. But first, throw your own Random Tens (and Pope Benedict conspiracy theories, if you have any) in the comments.

Thursday, January 29

"Now you can answer the phone with confidence. Awesome!"

OK, this has seized the award for Best Snuggie Parody:

(Hat tip: Sully)

Profiles in courage.

After calling Georgia alumnus and U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) "petty and small" for his vote against congratulating the Florida Gators for their national championship, Dawgsports' T. Kyle King actually talks to the distinguished gentleman from Savannah . . . and comes around. My favorite segment from the interview:

Dawg Sports: I criticized your vote in each instance because I believe it made Georgia, which historically has boasted a more successful football program than Florida, appear envious of the Gators’ recent success. Is that a valid criticism? If not, why not? Are you concerned at all that your vote could be construed that way? Are you concerned about the possibility of a Gator backlash from the Florida delegation when it comes time for the House of Representatives to honor the Bulldogs after Mark Richt leads them to the national championship?

Congressman Kingston: When it comes to GA/FL, nothing counts but the present. Have you ever noticed that we only resurrect the "all-time" statistics when we lose the game? I might envy the NFL teams that pick up Knowshon and Stafford, but I'll never envy anyone who wears blue and orange to black tie events.

Next year, when the Bulldogs' national title resolution comes to the floor, I would be disappointed in the Florida delegation if they felt they needed to vote for it. But fortunately, we don't have to have their votes to pass it. Besides, they would probably bring in butterfly ballots, confuse everyone, then demand a recount.

Also liked his reference to "ACC weenies." Heh.

But let the record show that I recognized Rep. Kingston's awesomeness the first time he did this -- two full years ago. Hey Jenny Slater: ahead of the curve, and reaching across the aisle. That's bipartisanship we can believe in, my friends.

Monday, January 26

Monday night Bostonblogging.

Haven't done a lot of pandering to the dog lovers out there lately, so here are some pictures of Champ and Jenna going about their daily routine, which mainly involves sleeping on various surfaces.

Yes, I think I'm wearing the infamous red pants in the above picture, which may explain the slightly fearful look on Jenna's face.

Sunday, January 25

A memo from the desk of Arnold T. Pants, Esq.:
Would you buy a Snuggie, an Awethumb, or a wedding photo from this man?

· Actual conversation my dad and I had a couple days before Christmas, as a commercial for the "Snuggie" was coming on TV:

ME: Ah, yes, the "Snuggie" -- the blanket for the people who are incapable of operating blankets.

DAD: (sheepishly) I ordered one for your mom for Christmas.

ME: Oh. Well, uh, good for her, I guess.

With more than one person pointing out just how much the Snuggie looks like a robe that might be worn for druid rituals, it's probably only a matter of time before someone came up with this: the "Fuggly."

· The "Fuggly," at least is a fictional product. This, however, is completely real, and it's the gayest thing since sliced gay.

That still leaves the question, though:

· One place you won't be able to buy Awethumb -- or anything else, for that matter, before too long -- is Circuit City, which has filed for Chapter 11 after being crushed under the weight of the economic collapse. As bad as I feel for the thousands of employees who are about to lose their jobs, there's a part of me that's gleeful that Circuit Shitty is being wiped off the map, and here's why: About a decade ago, around the time I was graduating from college, my parents bought me a 27" TV/VCR combo from Circuit City so I'd have a decent TV when I headed off to Lynchburg for my first post-college job. For whatever reason, they went ahead and bought the super-heavy-duty warranty protection that would absolve us for the responsibility of paying for any kind of repairs for three years, no matter whose fault it was -- and I figured this would come in handy shortly after I moved to the L-Boogie, when my cat went tearing ass through the apartment and succeeded in yanking the cable-TV cable out of the back of the television, socket and all. But when we took the TV to Circuit City, their response was, "Oh, the damage was caused by an animal, this warranty doesn't cover that." So congratulations, Circuit City: You fucked with the bull, and you got the horns.

· If I lived in South Carolina, I might not even be able to utter that last sentence if this anti-profanity bill, proposed by State Sen. Robert Ford, were to be passed. To which I respond: Kiss my ass, fuckstick. (Hat tip: Spencer.)

· Let's hope nobody ever takes Sen. Ford on a visit to England, because the mere sight of places like "Butt Hole Road" or "Titty Ho" might be enough to give him an aneurysm. (Actually, that may be a reason to take him there, now that I think about it.) But I'm a little disappointed that the story restricted itself to the British Isles, thus depriving all of us of a little bit of history on places like Pussy, France, or Fucking, Austria. (One thing I think is hilarious in the latter's Wikipedia entry is the sentence "The village is . . . half an hour by car from the town of Petting, in Bavaria." Which means it only takes you 30 minutes to go from Petting to Fucking.)

· The 20 All-Time Greatest Photo Bombs. Scroll through the entire list and see if you're not giggling like a six-year-old halfway through. I'd love to know the story behind this one. Then again, maybe not.

Friday, January 23

The Friday Random Ten+5 helps Dubya ride off into the sunset.

As CBS showed Air Force One lifting off from Andrews Air Force Base on Tuesday, carrying George W. Bush for the last time, I realized something: I feel kind of sorry for the guy. Yeah, I know, I've lit into him as hard as I've ever lit into anybody in Washington, but as bad a job as Bush did running the country, I still can't bring myself to believe that he's a horrible human being. If anything, I see him as being a nice guy -- an upbeat, fun-loving, not-all-that-intellectually-deep but nevertheless basically good human being who got swept along by forces he wasn't perceptive or strong-willed enough to manage. He got picked to be the GOP presidential nominee in the first place because he was kind of a blank slate, he had his strings pulled for eight years, and now he's basically been chewed up and spit out by Washington. He was by turns arrogant and incurious, and he certainly never should've become president in the first place, but it still kind of hurts to see someone's reputation so completely reduced to rubble like that.

So is there any way for Bush to rehab his legacy, short of Iraq turning into West Palm Beach in the next five years? I'll admit, the chances are fairly slim, but it could happen. And I have no problem with giving Bush a chance to redeem his good name in the eyes of the American public. In fact, I've got a few suggestions, some of which have already been tried with no small measure of success by actors, musicians, even fellow politicians. This week's +5 is Five Ways George W. Bush Could Improve His Public Reputation And The Way He'll Be Remembered By History.

Make recurring guest appearances on "Saturday Night Live"
During the 1996 election season, Bob Dole came across as a cranky old curmudgeon, but a post-election appearance on "Saturday Night Live" showed the ol' guy could actually be kind of funny when he wasn't blaming Bill Clinton for everything from a nationwide loss of morals to the heartbreak of erectile dysfunction. Four years later, Al Gore went from board-stiff policy wonk to wry, self-deprecating ex-politician in the span of a few "SNL" appearances. So maybe the first step in rehabbing Bush's legacy is going on the show and making a few jokes at his own expense, perhaps appearing alongside Tina-Fey-as-Sarah-Palin or something like that. Or maybe have him appear in a "Celebrity Jeopardy" sketch as himself. The possibilities are endless!

Become Obama's designated ceremony attender
You know, as disinterested as Bush appeared at times in the actual business of policymaking and political horse-trading, he threw himself enthusiastically into the ceremonial photo-op bullshit, whether it was throwing out the first pitch at Nationals Park or getting down with a group of African tribal dancers. Obama's gonna have his hands full steering the economy out of a ditch and sorting out the situation in the Middle East, so he may not have time for that kind of thing, not that he's necessarily the kind of guy who'd be entirely comfortable to begin with -- let's hope he can throw out a first pitch better than he can bowl, at least -- so maybe he should pull Dubya back in and have him be the guy to ham it up at all the ceremonial, non-governing-related events. Maybe that's patronizing, but I think "lovable goofball" is still a better legacy than whatever he's got at the moment.

Tell everyone he relapsed into alcoholism for the entirety of his presidency and he's going into rehab
Publicly humiliated yourself? Done something that by all rights should reduce your public good name to mud? Tell everyone you did it 'cause you're a drunk and go into rehab -- it's worked (sort of, to varying degrees) for everyone from Mel Gibson to Lindsay Lohan. Dubya already has the heavy drinking in his past anyway, so he'd be a natural. And we could all feel sorry for him as a nation, then eventually rejoice in his triumphant victory over alcoholism, instead of looking back on him as the guy who started a bunch of wars and let everyone's 401(k)s evaporate.

Fill in for Regis Philbin
I don't know what it is, but everyone seems to love that show. And somehow I think he'd be able to build a wonderful rapport with Kelly Ripa. Just planting seeds here.

Beat Dick Cheney to death with a shovel
I don't believe that Bush is a bad guy, but Dick Cheney -- now there's a truly loathsome, selfish, unredeemably power-hungry motherfucker. Just a worthless, evil bastard, one who did more damage to the Constitution and the underpinnings of our American democracy than Bush ever could've on his own. Cheney is the guy I think was pulling Bush's strings all along, from the very moment he nominated himself as Bush's VP, and there are few more emphatic steps Bush could take to recognize the causes of his administration's failings and redeem himself in the eyes of American society than to take an active role in ridding us of Darth Cheney once and for all. (By the way, it doesn't have to be with a shovel; dropping him into a vat of hungry sharks, for example, would be a suitably Bond-villainesque ending. I'm willing to hear other ideas here.)

So long, Dubya. It was . . . interesting. And now the Ten:

1. Pet Shop Boys, "One More Chance" (7" mix)
2. The Roots, "BOOM!"
3. Groove Armada, "If Everybody Looked the Same"
4. Morrissey, "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful"
5. The Clash, "Red Angel Dragnet"
6. Shirley Bassey, "Diamonds Are Forever"
7. Pet Shop Boys, "So Hard"
8. Ice Cube, "Check Yo Self"
9. St. Germain, "What You Think About . . . "
10. Badly Drawn Boy, "The Shining"

Your turn, nerds. Lay down your own Random Tens and/or suggestions for Bush's post-presidency activities in the comments.

Monday, January 19

"Please take care opening the overhead compartments, as contents may have shifted during flight."

I was wondering whether anyone would ever come up with any video of the actual landing of US Airways flight 1549, and somebody did.

Obviously I don't have experience landing airplanes on water, or anything else for that matter, but I was still amazed at how easy the pilot made it look (from a grainy distance, at least). There's a common perception that water is a much nicer, softer surface to have to put a crippled plane down on than, you know, land, and under certain circumstances I'm sure that's true -- but the faster you're going, the harder your impact is even when you're hitting water, as anyone who's belly-flopped off a high dive will attest. Bullets fired at certain angles, for example, have been known to deflect off of water, and while the US Airways plane wasn't going nearly as fast as a bullet -- "only" around 125 miles per hour, according to this article -- go get in your car, get up to 125, and hydroplane the thing if you think anything's easy to control at that speed. Not only that, but anyone trying to land a plane on water has to bring it in almost completely flat and level, because if you don't, you run the risk of dipping a wingtip into the drink and ending up with something more along the lines of this. For that plane to be floating more or less placidly in the Hudson River with 150-something people standing on the wings, waiting patiently to be rescued, I don't know if it qualifies as an actual miracle, but it'll do until a real one comes along.

Somebody buy Chesley Sullenberger a drink, and in the meantime, if anyone's been looking for a cheap Airbus A320 they could take on as a "fixer-upper," I might have a few leads.

Friday, January 16

The Friday Random Ten cheers for the cheerers.

Before this slightly belated Random Ten+5 gets underway, a bit of business. In spite of the fact that I made it very clear I expected Christmas presents from all of you, only a few of you came through, one of whom was longtime commenter and official Friend of HJS Zen Bubba: ZB not only hooked Yours Truly up with a copy of the Tennessee Titans cheerleaders' 2008-09 calendar, he got it signed by the talented, winsome, and now doctorate-equipped Jocey, with whom he attends graduated from law school. So now it's time to send a little love back the other way: All of you are ordered to head over to and vote for Jocey in their Hottest NFL Cheerleaders bracket. If you don't, I'll take it as a personal insult. And you know what happens to people who personally insult me. (That's right: I yell "YEEAHHH!" while bigger, stronger friends of mine beat them into a pulp.)

OK, so anyhoo, on the subject of cheerleaders: With the Falcons, Colts, and Titans out of the playoffs and the Redskins never even in 'em, cheerleaders have basically become my last tenuous link to a rapidly concluding football season I feel less and less connection with by the day. (And the Steelers don't even have a cheerleading squad, for some ridiculous reason, so that's fully one half of this weekend's conference-championship games that won't have any ridiculously hot girls dancing on the sideline.) So it's time to give them an official salute and make them the subject of this week's +5, which is the Five Best Cheerleading Uniforms in Football. Enjoy:

San Diego Chargers
If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then there's not much I can say about the Charger Girls that hasn't already been said here, but I feel an additional round of applause is due to whichever Caltech engineering team designed their unis. Scoff if you want, but when the United States is finally crisscrossed by a network of efficient, smooth-riding maglev trains, we will all owe a debt of gratitude to the pioneers who first harnessed that technology for the Charger Girls' gravity-defying bra tops.

USC Trojans
Awesome in pictures, even better in person. Love the Trojans' football team or hate them, you have to respect the cheerleading squad for holding fast to a grand tradition (by which I obviously mean "tight sweaters and shorter-than-average skirts") the way they have.

Jacksonville Jaguars
This is the sleeper squad that, for the most part, has gone under-seen and under-appreciated recently, probably due more to the fact that the Jags went a miserable 5-11 this season than anything else. But there's a sort of appealing, no-nonsense simplicity to the idea of a midriff football jersey and ridiculously short shorts as a uniform, as if they're saying, "Yes, I have an ass you could bounce an Eisenhower silver dollar off of, but I know how to knock some heads on the field, too." At the very least, I hope they're able to knock more heads than the Jags' pass defense did this season.

Texas Longhorns (pom squad)
Hot pants and chaps: A more perfectly geography-appropriate cheerleading uni you will not find anywhere in Division I. And yet Fox cut to them maybe all of one time during the Texas-Ohio State Fiesta Bowl last week. This is the empire that revolutionized lowest-common-denominator network programming and brought you the Night of a Thousand Band Shots during 2007's BCS games, but they can't be bothered to show the Texas pommers more than once? That's like Journey coming on stage to do a reunion gig at the Hollywood Bowl but telling everyone they just don't feel like playing "Don't Stop Believin'."

Washington Redskins
OK, obviously I'm biased, but the Redskins cheerleaders match the gravity-humbling magic of the Charger Girl's tops (above, left) while simultaneously matching, if not exceeding, the under-butt quotient (above, right) delivered by the Jaguar cheerleaders' hot pants. The result is probably the best combination since somebody thought to put Oreo cookies in ice cream, and I'm intensely proud of the Redskins for having come up with it. (Honorable mention to the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders, too, for rolling with this concept.) It beats most of what they've accomplished on the actual field of play in the last six or seven years, that's for sure.

And now the Ten:

1. Gorillaz, "Re-Hash"
2. 3rd Bass, "French Toast"
3. Q-Tip, "Things U Do"
4. Underworld, "Ballet Lane"
5. Pet Shop Boys, "Opportunities (let's make lots of money)" (original 7" version)
6. Blondie, "Heart of Glass"
7. Monty Python, "Spam"
8. Soul II Soul, "Back to Life"
9. Crowded House, "In My Command"
10. Nanci Griffith, "Lookin' for the Time (Working Girl)"

Apologies again for the lateness, kids, but you still have a whole weekend to put your Random Tens and favorite cheerleading squads/unis in the comments. Meanwhile, I'll be kicking it here in frigid Birmingham (ambient temperature 28, wind chill 19) and staying warm the only way I know how: numbing myself to the cold by drinking heavily. It's the healthy thing to do!

Well, this should be fun.

Enjoy. I did:

Thursday, January 15

"At long last, sir, have you no shame? Have you no
-- OK, stupid question, never mind."

U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

The State of the Domestic Pornography Industry
DATE: 1/29/09
TIME: 10:00 A.M.
PLACE: 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D-CT), CHAIRMAN: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate you all being here today for what I can only describe as one of the more unusual, and dare I say frivolous, hearings in the history of this legislative body. Today we will be hearing from two leaders of the, er, adult-entertainment industry, who insist that a five-billion-dollar bailout, similar in scope and purpose to what has been requested by the Big Three American auto manufacturers, is necessary to keep their industry afloat through these difficult economic times.

Before we begin with today's testimony, I would like to make perfectly clear that the official position of this committee is that any American has the right to petition, and be heard by, this nation's government when facing difficult challenges or attempting to bring light to a grave injustice. However, as this situation seems to fit neither of these descriptions, it is my personal opinion that both Mr. Francis and Mr. Flynt should be ashamed of themselves for wasting the government's time like this. Yours is a seedy and disgusting business, one that cheapens the important work of this committee by our mere association with it. Do you have anything to say for yourself, Mr. Francis?

JOE FRANCIS, FOUNDER, “GIRLS GONE WILD”: Compliment received on this end, brah.

SEN. DODD: (sighs audibly) The committee would ask that Mr. Francis, and indeed all of today's witnesses, refrain from making finger-guns toward the panel. All right, Mr. Francis, you may proceed with your opening statement.

MR. FRANCIS: Right on, man, right on. OK, check this out: Times are tough all over, brah. People got less money, and that means they're spending it on fewer things, right? And one of those, sadly, is porn. It's not that they don't want it, 'cause what red-blooded American male is ever gonna get tired of a nice pair of titties or a big juicy —

SEN. DODD: Mr. Francis, Mr. Francis, excuse me, I hate to interrupt your opening statement, but for the sake of dignity, would it put you out tremendously to use the proper, accepted medical terminology for these — for the duration of this hearing?

MR. FRANCIS: Whoa. Heh-heh, tough crowd. Whatever, bro-ham, you got it.

SEN. DODD: (sighs audibly again) Proceed.

MR. FRANCIS: Right on, right on. Anyway, it's doubly messed up, 'cause when people aren't getting their regular dose of ti — uh, I mean, breasts and asses and whatnot, so they're less turned on, and there's less [REDACTED] goin' on, you know what I'm sayin'? I mean, that's bad for the country, brah, if we're not even creating future generations of little dudes and little chicks to become, you know, like, American!

(3-minute pause)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D-NY): Seriously? Seriously? I had to cancel a long weekend in the Caymans for this.

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL), RANKING MEMBER: Mr. Francis, if I may interject here, are you implying that the difficulties of the adult-entertainment industry will have a direct effect on the continued survival of our American society?

MR. FRANCIS: Dude! Thank you! Yes! That's exactly what I'm saying! Aw, it's so great to hear someone gets —

SEN. SHELBY: That may be the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life, sir.

MR. FRANCIS: Oh. (pause) Well, don't just take it from me, bro-cephus, I got witnesses. Bunches of 'em!

SEN. DODD: That's right, they said something about witnesses. All right, Mr. Francis, might as well keep this dog-and-pony show rolling.

MR. FRANCIS: OK, dude, cool. All right, like, here are my first two witnesses: Jamie and Tiffani!


SEN. DODD: All right, this chamber will come to order this instant. Young ladies, sit down, we're going to take this one at a time. Uhh — you, the blonde in the tank top, let's get to you first: Please state your name for the record.

MS. J. DOE: My name's Jamie, I'm an A-O-Pi at the University of Florida, GO GATORS!!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!! FLORIDA NUMBER ONE!

SEN. SCHUMER: Look at that, Mel, a constituent of yours. How proud you must be.

SEN. MEL MARTINEZ (R-FL): Go to hell, Schumer.

SEN. DODD: Order, order — ma'am, please sit down, yes, thanks, would you mind giving us a brief description of your — uh, your line of work, or your role in the adult-entertainment industry?


SEN. DODD: Let the record show that the witness has just pulled up her shirt and exposed her — OK, that's just inappropriate.

SEN. EVAN BAYH (D-IN): Well, I don't know about you guys, but I just went from six to midnight.


SEN. DODD: Ms. Doe, would you please — somebody restrain her! Not you, Senator —

SEN. JACK REED (D-RI): Come on, that was the only fun I was gonna have all —

SEN.DODD: Senator Reed, Ms. Doe, both of you, take your seats —

SEN. REED: Didn't even want to be on this stupid committee anyway. I wanted to be on Intelligence.

SEN. DODD: Let me be clear, Ms. Doe, one more outburst like that and I will — oh, Lord, what's she doing now?

MS. J. DOE: This is what I think of your stupid committee. SENATE COMMITTEE SUCKS, GATORS NUMBER ONE!! WOOOOOO!!!!

SEN. DODD: Let the record show the witness has turned around, pulled her shorts down, and exposed her rear end in the direction of — you know what? Get her out of here. Ms. Doe, uh, other Ms. Doe, Mr. Francis, you're all excused. The business of this committee will resume after a short break. Thank you. Thank you.

(witnesses are removed from the courtroom)

SEN. SCHUMER: Nice one, dickweed. Just when I was starting to enjoy the view . . .

SEN. DODD: Look, I was enjoying it just as much as you were, but we're on live TV here —

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): Have you ever seen an ass like that before? I mean, really seen one, right there in front of you? Looked like two loaves of freshly baked bread —

SEN. JIM BUNNING (R-KY): My dear mother used to make freshly baked bread when I was a young'un.

SEN. MICHAEL ENZI (R-WY): For fuck's sake, Jim.

SEN. BAYH: I honestly don't know how much more of this I can take, guys. I'm pitching a tent down here so big you could hold a wedding under it.

SEN. SCHUMER: Been a long time since you got any, huh, Bayh?

SEN. BAYH: Little while, yeah — why do you ask?

SEN. DODD: Jesus Christ, gentlemen, let's see if we can't pull it together for 15 more minutes, all right? We'll bring Flynt in, we'll speed him through this as quickly as possible, we all get out of here in time for lunch, and nobody makes fools of themselves. Got that?

SEN. SHELBY: Yes. Thank you, chairman.

SEN. BROWN: God, to be that age again. The age where tits like those just stare gravity in the eye and don't even blink

SEN. DODD: Sherrod? Do I need to dismiss you too? Ted Kennedy was prepared to shed his own blood to get in on this hearing. Do I need to give him a call?


SEN. DODD: Great. All right, the committee chamber will come to order — I apologize on behalf of this entire committee for the disturbance just a minute ago, and I trust our next witness, Mr. Flynt, will not be the source of any such disruption. Am I correct in that assumption, Mr. Flynt?


SEN. DODD: Outstanding. Please state your name and occupation for the record.

MR. FLYNT: Name's Larry Claxton Flynt, I own Larry Flynt Publications and I'm the founder and publisher of Hustler magazine.

SEN. DODD: Mr. Flynt, go ahead and make your opening statement.

MR. FLYNT.: Senators, I want you to try and imagine a world. A world where the American porn industry has ceased to exist, and the responsibility for entertaining and titillating the adults of this country has been left to other countries. No more Hustler, no more Black Tail, no more Vivid Video, none of the busty, [REDACTED]-craving porn starlets you've come to know and love.

SEN. DODD: Mr. Flynt, was that last bit quite necessary?

MR. FLYNT: Quiet, Dodd, I'm painting a picture here. Instead of the glossy, sharp-focus vixens of magazines like Hustler and Penthouse, you've got to settle for grainy black-and-white photos that look like they came off a mimeograph machine in Guadalajara. Instead of Tera Patrick and her glorious 36-double-Ds, the likes of which even Michelangelo couldn't sculpt, you're stuck with pale, bruised, possibly underage Romanian girls with boobs the size of mosquito bites. Never again will you get to see Jenna Jameson's tantalizing [REDACTED]-mitten get a righteous --

SEN. BAYH: Did he just call a woman's [REDACTED] a [REDACTED]-mitten?

SEN. DODD: Mr. Flynt, I'm warning you --

MR. FLYNT: If you let our nation's proud porn tradition die out, it's not going to stop there. Advancements in plastic surgery will stagnate. Convenience stores and airport newsstands will lose a huge chunk of their business. Hotel chains will go under because they can no longer charge you twenty bucks for a pay-per-view showing of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Nuttin'." And all because you allowed our adult-entertainment legacy to be handed over to the Eastern Europeans and the Japanese. Your sons and grandsons will no longer be able to hold out hope that a simple pizza delivery can lead to a wild orgy, nor will they ever be able to feast their eyes on the kind of tanned, surgically enhanced, painstakingly waxed beauties that people like me have been cultivating in the San Fernando Valley for generations. No more Tera Patricks, Pamela Andersons, or Alektra Blues -- instead it'll be a bleak future of naked, emaciated Slavic street urchins and tentacle rape. And anime tentacle rape at that.

And when those wondrous images that Flynt Publications and the rest of the American porn industry provide become a distant memory, you're going to be lost, bereft of sexual inspiration. When you go home to your spouses and engage your monthly bout of just enough perfunctory, workmanlike sex to keep you and your wife from murdering each other, you won't be able to soldier through it by imagining that you're actually [REDACTED]ing Tera Patrick or Jamie Lynn. You're actually going to have to imagine you're doing it with . . . your wife.

That's my opening statement, gentlemen, I'll now take your questions.

(slow clapping heard from the gallery; clapping speeds up; more spectators join in; spectators begin standing up; cheering turns into a full-fledged standing ovation)

SEN. DODD: Mr. Flynt, whatever differences of opinion you and I may have had in the past, you have done your country a service by bringing our attention to a grave and looming crisis. All of us on this panel are better people, and indeed the United States is a better nation, for your having stood so bravely before us today in defense of a proud and important industry.

MR. FLYNT: Well, thank you, Senator Dodd, that's very kind.

SEN. DODD: If you'll just go right up Pennsylvania Avenue to the Treasury Department, go see Amanda on the second floor, she'll cut your check for you.

MR. FLYNT: Really? You don't even want me to bring out any of my witnesses?

SEN. DODD: Well . . .

SEN. SHELBY: Chairman, let the man be heard.

SEN. DODD: Really?

SEN. SHELBY: (whispering) Come on, Chris. I need this.

SEN. DODD: Well, it would be a shame for them to have come all this way . . .

MR. FLYNT: Excellent. Renee, Bambi, you're up first.

SEN. DODD: Can someone see about getting those cameras switched off?


Wednesday, January 14

"I'm a Slave 4 U," we hardly knew ye.

Oh, Britney. Everything was going so well for you -- hair was all grown back, you were wearing a bra again, you'd lost some weight, you actually managed to go an entire holiday season without anyone making a tearful phone call to DFACS or getting put on an indefinite 5150 hold . . . and then you had to go and release this stupid thing:

. . . what will [radio stations] do with a new single from a major artist that doesn't actually contain a four-letter word, but rather spells it out in a not-so-subtle way? That dilemma is beginning to dawn on top-40 radio programmers across the country as the third single from Britney Spears' latest album, "If U Seek Amy" starts to make its way to the airwaves. . . .

Like several programmers we talked to, Patti Marshall, program director at Cincinnati's Q102, said she had not yet been told that "Amy" was the next single from Circus...Asked if she would play "Amy" if it came to her as a single, Marshall said likely wouldn't. She likened its chorus (which she has not heard) to "a little boy in sixth grade doing arm farts."

The first thing I thought of after reading this story was that old joke: What's the mating call of the sorority girl? "I am sooo drunk!" What's the mating call of the ugly sorority girl? "I said, I am sooooo drunk!" Just as there's a certain type of girl who feels the need to wear a Bedazzled "Hottie" T-shirt to the mall -- uggos -- there's a certain type of pop starlet who feels the need to release a song called "If U Seek Amy": a played-out has-been who ranks just below Lindsay Lohan and just above LaToya Jackson on the average 17-year-old's list of famous people he wants to do. I mean, I'm about the most tasteless person I know -- by way of example, I bristled at the above radio programmer's insinuation that arm farts weren't funny -- and even I don't think "If U Seek Amy" is clever. (Also, I've slept with Amy, and trust me, she's an absolute corpse in the sack.)

Time for Britney to hang up the mic, buy a matronly but tasteful pants suit, and get a syndicated daytime talk show before someone releases an "answer song" titled "Dee, I See Kay," as in "No, not even with Kevin Federline's."

Signs of life.

I'm only mentioning this because someone did ask, but no, I'm not going into hibernation just because football season is more or less over. I've just been lazy and/or working on other things.

While I work on the next magical post that will warm your heart and teach you life-affirming lessons about truth, beauty and other bullshit, why don't you read this and ponder what a bunch of rubes the people in my home state are. Jeez, I live in Alabama and I can go out and buy a twelver on Sunday if I want to. In Alabama.

Friday, January 9

The Friday Random Ten+5 has had quite enough, thanks.

There were many aspects of last night's national-title-game broadcast that made the game a chore to watch, but among the worst was the continuous oral pleasure that Thom Brennaman gave Tim Tebow for the entirety of the second half. And as I say this even as someone who was all but disowned by Bulldog Nation earlier in the season for sending Tebow a little effusive praise of my own, and I know that criticizing Thom Brennaman's commentary skills is basically coals to Newcastle at this point, but eeeggghh. "If you're fortunate enough to spend five minutes or 20 minutes around Tim Tebow, your life is better for it"? Really, Thom? Try telling Georgia's defense that. They spent the better part of three and a half hours around Tim Tebow and their lives pretty much sucked in the immediate aftermath.

But yes, even as an avowed Tebow, uh, respecter, I think this shit has gotten a little out of hand. But he's hardly the first. Which is why this week's +5 is Five Other Athletes I'm Sick Of Hearing About:

Brett Favre
I don't think I've ever seen an athlete that beloved completely destroy his good name that fast. A year ago, Favre was a heroic gunslinger who'd just taken the Packers on a valiant playoff run; today he's more likely to be described with two simple words (to wit, "selfish dicklick"), as he's apparently let all those fawning press clippings and Peter King tongue-baths go to his head to the point where he thinks the entire New York Jets organization exists to serve him. When even your own teammates are telling the world you're an asshole, it's time to hang it up, Brett. Go back to Kiln where you can bask in your legacy, be comfortable in Wrangler, and throw needless interceptions in peace.

Manny Ramirez
Manny is like the hot psycho girlfriend of Major League Baseball: rude, lazy, manipulative, and yet there are grown men lining up to be seen in public with him. Every few years teams fall all over themselves to bid for his services, and every few years the blogs and radio airwaves are filled with people asking the question "Is it worth this much money to acquire the services of a complete locker-room cancer?" Enough; I don't want to hear any more about someone whose most lasting contribution to MLB appears to be upping an already astronomical league-wide level of douche. And no, I don't care how talented he is. I don't remember seeing the Dodgers in the World Series last year.

Tony Romo
It used to be that I would get sick to my stomach hearing all the "Is Tony Romo the BEST QB EVER?!?" stories. Now that the Cowboys have been exposed and it's starting to become clear that the chances of Romo ever winning a playoff game are approximately equal to those of Osama bin Laden converting to Christianity and winning the Nextel Cup, though, we're getting inundated with "Is Tony Romo THE MOST OVERRATED QB EVER?!?" stories, and I'm even starting to get sick of those. Not that I don't love a good are-the-Cowboys-imploding column, but seriously, enough of Romo, good or bad. Let's face facts, his fame has less to do with any of his slim on-field accomplishments than it does with the fact that he gets to motorboat Jessica Simpson whenever he wants; he's not famous for being a great quarterback, he's famous for being famous. He's Paris Hilton with an arm.

Kobe Bryant
Call me when he wins another NBA championship. Actually, don't call me even then, because I don't give a flying fuck about the NBA.

Sean Avery
Another one of those famous-for-being famous guys: He's been in movies and TV shows, he spent a few months working for Vogue, he was named one of People magazine's sexiest/most beautiful people alive, he bitches out on practice, he seems interested in everything in the world except actually playing hockey. Not that I know anything about hockey, but I can't find any lasting contribution he's made to the sport other than "going out onto the ice and annoying people." Plus he had the privilege of dating Elisha Cuthbert and had the nerve to be an ingrate by dissing her later, which JUST ISN'T DONE, asshole.

And now the Ten:

1. Bruce Springsteen, "Dancing in the Dark"
2. The English Beat, "Ranking Full Stop"
3. Passengers, "Bottoms"
4. Joey Altruda, "Mucci's Jag Mk.II"
5. Underworld, "Ring Road"
6. Underworld, "Cups"
7. The English Beat, "Tears of a Clown"
8. Deee-Lite, "Power of Love"
9. The White Stripes, "Fell in Love with a Girl"
10. Big Audio Dynamite II, "When the Time Comes"

Your turn -- your own most overexposed athletes and Random Tens, if you please, in the comments.

BlogPoll ballot final: What have we learned, class?

OK, I realize this might be kind of sacrilegious, but did anyone else think last night's BCS National Championship Game was kind of . . . er . . . boring? Keep in mind I say this as an SEC fan who's learned to appreciate the aesthetic value of a good old-fashioned defensive slugging match -- I'm the guy who found Auburn's 3-2 victory over Mississippi State in September one of the most entertaining games of the season, though I suppose more for the Benny Hill aspect of it than anything else -- but it seemed like the play-calling was incredibly conservative, and in the event that someone did call for a tricky play or a deep ball, it didn't work.

That said, the Gators are #1 (sigh), and I have no qualms about voting them as such. Not that you can't make a case for two or three other teams, but Florida's case is strongest: They hiccuped only once this season, a loss to Ole Miss that looks a whole lot more respectable after the last couple months, and blasted through every single one of their remaining opponents with the force of a Mossberg shotgun; they outlasted an undefeated Alabama team in the Georgia Dome; and they held the nation's highest-scoring offense 40 points under its per-game average. That last feat was about as shocking as anything else I've seen all year. (The only thing more shocking than that was seeing St. Timothy of Tebow get flagged for an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty in the waning moments of the game. TAUNTING MAKES THE BABY JESUS CRY, Tim.)

So let's do the rundown one more time . . .

Games watched: Most of Wake Forest-Navy, TCU-Boise State, most of West Virginia-North Carolina, Florida State-Wisconsin, California-Miami, Louisiana Tech-Northern Illinois, the end of Rutgers-N.C. State, Missouri-Northwestern, Vanderbilt-Boston College, LSU-Georgia Tech, first half of Iowa-South Carolina, Georgia-Michigan State, Southern Cal-Penn State, Virginia Tech-Cincinnati, the very beginning of Ole Miss-Texas Tech, the tail end of Kentucky-East Carolina, Utah-Alabama, first half of Connecticut-Buffalo, Texas-Ohio State, Tulsa-Ball State, Florida-Oklahoma. (No, I don't have much of a life.)

Waiting room: Michigan State, West Virginia, Northwestern, North Carolina, East Carolina.

Dropped out: Michigan State (19), Northwestern (20), Pittsburgh (21), Boston College (23).

All right, so what have we learned this season?

· That maybe all those high-flying Big 12 offenses weren't really that good -- maybe the defenses they went up against were just that bad.

· That maybe all those slow-ass Big 10 offenses weren't really that slow -- well, no, they totally were that slow.

· That Urban Meyer is the new Steve Spurrier, only with one more national title and without the charm.

· That switching to a spread offense is hard.

· That not tackling in midweek defensive drills is not a good way to stress the importance of proper tackling.

· That inexplicable early-season conference fuckups aside, Pete Carroll still owns the Pac-10 (and the Rose Bowl), and everyone else is just paying rent.

· That it might be time to kick the ACC or Big East out of the BCS and bring in the Mountain West.

· That you can lead a horse to the Sugar Bowl, but you can't make him give a shit.

· That Charlie Weis is just another football coach with a so-so offensive line and a frontbutt.

· That I am not good at picking against the spread.

· That for all its disappointments, frustrations, idiosyncrasies, and infuriations, this is still the greatest fuckin' sport in the world.

Well, it's been real. What else have we learned? Enlighten me in the comments, if you please.

Wednesday, January 7

Scene from an as-yet-unrealized future.

Setting: Five years from now, late fall turning into winter, a large spare room on the third floor of a house in Georgetown. Save for a hardwood walkway leading from the doorway to the opposite side of the room, the floor is covered entirely in green plastic panels with identical rows of little bumps, and the walls are covered with the same kind of panel in blue. Buildings and vehicles are scattered amidst thousands of Lego bricks of all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Two grown men are sprawled amidst this chaos of multicolored plastic: D, a doughy, bearded Caucasian in his mid-thirties, and K, an athletic African-American man in his mid-twenties. They both sift determinedly through the mounds of pieces, occasionally picking one out to snap onto their creations; D pauses from time to time to check on a baby napping in a bassinet in the corner.

K: You got any flat gray things over there?

D: Yeah, what size you need?

K: Four dots by . . . six dots. Two of 'em, if you got 'em.

D: Yeah, here you go.

K: Thanks.

D: What are you making, anyway?

K: Well, I already made the "Knight Rider" car, now I'm making the truck for it to drive up into.

D: Sweet.

They work in silence for a few minutes. D checks the bassinet again, where his infant son is still sound asleep.

D: That spin move you pulled on Umenyiora the other day was sick, by the way.

K: Thanks. You like the seats I got you?

D: Fifty yard line, fifteen rows up? Fuck yes I liked 'em. We saw everything.

K: I'da gotten you a skybox if you'da wanted one.

D: Aw, hell, if I wanted to watch it on TV and get waited on I'd just as soon watch it at home. Being in the stands is way better.

Another pause.

D: Fuck. Why can't I find any blue lights to match this red one?

K: Thought you said you had some.

D: Yeah, but they're all the wrong kind. These are all round ones with a bump on top. I just want a flat, square one. It has to match the one on the other wingtip.

K: Why not just use a round red one with a bump on the other side?

D: See? This is why you're my friend.

D snaps the red and blue lights into place and eyes his creation critically.

K: What's that, an Airbus A380?

D: Yeah, but I can't get the tail to look exactly right. The real one is longer and sweeps up a lot more gradually than this.

K: I think it looks fine.

D: That's nice of you to say. (pause) Hey, you want to stay for dinner tonight?

K: Uh, sure. Your wife ain't gonna mind, is she?

D: Pffft, no. Besides, I'm gonna be doing all the cooking anyway.

K: What you cookin'?

D: Macaroni and cheese.

K: With the crispy stuff on top?

D: Fuck yes, lawya.

K: Sweet.

D: Figured we'd eat some mac and cheese, whip out another one of the James Bond DVDs . . . you still haven't seen "You Only Live Twice," right?

K: No, that sounds cool. Can't stay out too late, though. Practice is early tomorrow morning. Big game at Dallas this week. Playoff implications.

D: Oh, you don't need to remind me. I'm all over that shit. Plus Clooney asked me to TiVo it for him.

K: You know George Clooney?

D: Yeah, I thought I told you. He's a cool guy and everything, but he's always bumming favors off of people -- "TiVo the Monday-night game for me," "Hey, write me a screenplay for this movie I want to do," blah blah blah. Funny motherfucker, though. He's gonna be swinging by here in a couple weeks, actually -- you should come by. We're gonna do Wii bowling. Clooney loves that shit.

K: Yeah, man. Long as we've clinched home-field by then. Zorn's been riding us pretty hard lately. Always starts gettin' tense this time of year.

D: No, I hear you.

K: Done!

K holds up his creation, a black semi truck with a huge gray trailer. He flips open the back door of the trailer and a black car pops out.

D: Baller. Did you even do the inside of the trailer, too?

K: Check it out.

D: Aw, it's got the little computers and everything. Lemme go get my camera, we'll take some pictures of it.

K: Thanks, man.

D produces a digital camera and takes several pictures of the truck and the black car.

D: Awesome. We'll put these up on the Web site tonight.

K: You know what, man? I love my teammates and everything, but I think you're my best friend here.

D: Aww, you're my best friend too, Knowshon.

D's wife, W, appears in the doorway, her arms loaded with shopping bags from a number of upscale stores.

W: Well, it looks like my boys have been busy today. What'cha been making?

D: Knowshon built the "Knight Rider" truck. Here, show her.

W: Wow, that's impressive. Y'all gonna be ready for some dinner in a little bit?

D: Yeah, I'm gonna make macaroni and cheese. Can we eat it while we watch one of the Bond DVDs in the family room?

W: Well, I suppose.

K: You're the best, Mrs. G.

W: But don't forget, first you have to write me up a draft of that proposal for the nursing school's multimedia series.

D: Uh . . . what?

The green-and-blue room and the brightly colored smattering of Lego bricks dissolve into a grim bluish-gray cubicle, where D is sitting in a desk chair, fitfully shaking himself out of what was probably an unplanned midday nap. His boss, B, stands over him quizzically.

B: Our proposal we're going to take with us to the nursing-school meeting on Thursday. You got my e-mail about that, right?

D: Oh, yeah . . . right. Yeah, the meeting.

B: You need to start responding to those e-mails. Sometimes I'm not sure whether you've gotten them or not.

D: Oh, yeah, I meant to. I've just . . . had a lot on my mind lately.

B heads back to her office. Once she's safely out of view, D moves his mouse to switch off his computer's screen saver. When his desktop reappears, his Web browser is displaying the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Web site, where a banner headline reads: UGA'S STAFFORD, MORENO DECLARE FOR NFL DRAFT.

D sighs audibly . . . wistfully.

D: Someday, Knowshon. Someday.

(Seriously, good luck, Knowshon. Wish you would've stayed a Dawg for one more year, but with that NFL paycheck, you're gonna be able to buy all the Legos you can handle. GATA.)

Sunday, January 4

A memo from the desk of Arnold T. Pants, Esq.:
Career ambitions and other things involving boobs.

· At this time of resolutions and new beginnings, vows are made and valiant goals are set, and glory be, it was the perfect time for me to seize upon a new life's ambition: becoming Rey Maualuga's wingman.

Homes just air-humped America's hottest sports reporter in front of a packed grandstand and at no point was she the wiser -- how fucking smoove is that? Big Daddy Kane would weep to know just how easy pimpin' is, in actual practice, for some people. Somehow I have a feeling that being part of ReyRey's entourage is a non-stop unmitigated blast, as what he throws back is probably Playboy-caliber. I've never been a fan of celebrity reality shows, but if somebody pitches "ReyRey After Dark" once Maualuga gets drafted, I'll buy a TiVo just so I can have every single second of every episode in my virtual possession.

· When I do become El Rey's right-hand man, we're rolling in this:

A monochrome black paint job that covers everything right down to the grille? An integrated Kenwood A/V system? I mean, all that's well and good, but when your ride is so comprehensively pimped out that even Krug champagne is pitching in, you might as well install an oversized rearview mirror to hold all the panties that are going to end up hung on it. No word on pricing yet, and obviously it won't be completely street-legal in the U.S. anyway (as Citroën hasn't maintained an official sales presence here since 1974), but I doubt that a minor technicality like that would stop ReyRey.

· With the Redskins having late-season-collapsed their way right out of a playoff berth and the Falcons and Colts both getting bounced in back-to-back games Saturday evening, my NFL playoff interest level has just about sunk all the way to its "I'll Watch Because I'm a Red-Blooded Heterosexual Male and It's Expected of Me, But Seriously, Fuck This Sport" baseline, but I will offer some grudging daps to one of my rooting interests' cruel vanquishers: San Diego may have finished 8-8 and their quarterback may be a Faulknerian idiot man-child, but they have the absolute best cheerleader unis in the business. Either that, or every female in San Diego County between the ages of 18 and 30 is a 36DD.

In which case, I'm moving.

· This is wrong, right? I mean, even as an established Lego over-enthusiast, it's kind of wrong. Yet paradoxically it's also kind of right at the same time. Let me hear y'all's opinion on this issue, seriously. It's conflicting. (Hat tip: Geekologie.)

Makes me feel kinda funny, like when we used to climb the rope in gym class.

· OK, that's more than enough filth, real or implied, for one blog post. I leave you today with this. Every joke meme has a certain shelf life, and some of them are longer than others, but this one's gonna be around for a while.