Thursday, September 30, 2004

Elephant riders to the northwest bring news from father

  • I have a lot of relatively obscure CDs leftover from my days as music director for a completely worthless college radio station. Things appear to have improved dramatically since my departure -- at the time, there was talk of shutting the station down. I was one of only a few presenters at the station, and when I left, I took several dozen CDs with me.
    To that end, I have a number of really good CDs by artists that you have likely never heard of, and more's the pity for that.
    Actually, you may have heard of Clutch; Twin Cities radio is abysmal. If you haven't heard of them, you should purchase their Elephant Riders CD. Made before U.S. mandatory Metallica laws were watered down, it rocks.

  • This is why I will be severely hungover on Friday.

  • Here's a random true story that I remembered today:
    When I was living and working in the Biggest Little City in the World -- Reno, Nev. -- there was once a mayoral candidate for the neighboring city of Sparks, Nev., who claimed that he had once been targeted by a Mormon hit-squad for speaking out against the church.
    Sadly he was not elected. I have no idea what happened to him. Perhaps the Mormons got him in the end.

  • Adding injury to insult: "Denney was shot in the calf and apparently the go-go boots he was wearing helped him escape serious injury."

  • Chris Cope's handy safety tip of the day: If you get in a fight with a guy, don't get on a boat with him. If you do get on a boat with that guy, make sure he doesn't have a chainsaw.

  • Well, she definitely can't go get the lemonade if you do that.

  • Officials in Grand Rapids, Mich., are killjoys.

  • Note to would-be robbers: You should write out your robbery note before you get to the bank (it also wouldn't hurt to spend a little more time putting together your disguise).

  • A movie-going python remains on the loose, but, thankfully, Swimmy the Pike is accounted for.

  • Cup holders I understand. What I don't get are those things that appear to be stirrups.
  • Wednesday, September 29, 2004

    PBR me ASAP

  • My quadriceps and hamstring muscles have hurt like the dickens today. My only guess is that bull riding is to blame. The only problem with this theory is that I don't remember doing any bull riding recently. Or, ever, for that matter.
    So, I must have been doing it in my sleep.

  • I found this article amusing. My (yet to be finished or published) novel is about a guy who falls in love with another of Britain's most crap towns -- Portsmouth.

  • Apparently Mt. St. Helen's is close to blowing up again, but who cares about that when the nation is facing a much greater crisis.

  • That Mt. St. Helen's thing, by the way -- Bill Clinton is to blame.

  • U.S. forces are paving the way for the 101st Disney Infantry. Send in Princess Jasmine Company!

  • Yipes: "According to the World Health Organization, about 45,000 people are murdered each year in Brazil."

  • That's nothing, however, compared to the 80,000 deer that are hit each year by Michigan drivers.

  • Grill! Broast! Grill! Broast! Grill! Blam.

  • Mmmm. Almost a week's worth of calories in one sandwich.

  • Here's what I was thinking about today: "Cop Rock." I don't know why I was thinking about it, but I was. Now you will be thinking of it, too.

  • Crazy peoples gots to stick together.

  • Strange but true fact: You cannot name your child Superman in Sweden.

  • Caffeine withdrawal is now a mental disorder.
  • Discourse on cheeseheads

  • I went to high school with the guy quoted in the second paragraph of this story. Add this to the fact that I once dated Miss Wisconsin, and I'm only a few degrees of separation from having my finger on the pulse of the Dairy State. Why this would be a good thing, I cannot say.

  • My co-workers and I spent about an hour Tuesday making fun of this guy. Most asinine quote: "I go to Cracker Barrel once a week and play checkers with Kassy. We play the meanest game of checkers you have ever seen. She beats me every time and I get mad. I always get the pot roast and big batch of macaroni and cheese."

  • I'm not sure about this, but I would doubt that one of the best ways to get people to stop calling you a nutcase is to take out a full-page ad in a newspaper, complete with 2,000 word essay and suspicious use of the word "ye."

  • Sometimes a news story raises more questions than it answers: "One of the occupants told emergency officials that his toilet had exploded and was on fire."

  • Imagine walking by a police car when, all of a sudden, it starts honking and going nuts, and a hot, angry German Sheppard jumps out the back

  • And the Lord said, "I shall return to you in fiberglass form."

  • And the Lord did also say, "Stick and move."

  • I'm thinking of going back to university.

  • A vodka primer. Sadly, Minnesota-brewed vodka, Shakers, gets no mention.

  • In a story on Radio 1's news Tuesday about Wayne Rooney, a Manchester United supporter described Rooney as "our secret weapon."
    If every Man U-related story I see or hear is about Wayne Rooney, he's hardly secret, is he?
  • Monday, September 27, 2004

    My desk is the one with the Welsh flag

  • My benevolent employer has moved my desk without my asking. I am now facing a window. Previously I was stationed in what could best be described as "a closet in the basement." After 10 years in the journalism profession, I can finally see what's happening outside.
    One of the things that happen quite frequently outside my window is that a plane flies past. This happens once a minute. The internet plantation for which I work is beneath the flight path of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
    If you ever fly into our fair metro area, be sure to look over to your left and wave to me.

  • Richard Branson is getting into space tourism.

  • Occasionally I'll read a story about U.S. military action in Iraq, and the question will be posed: What are we fighting for?
    The answer: Porn and beheading videos.

  • Sometimes I'll think to myself: "I wonder what's happening in Stevanage, England?"
    Now I no longer have to wonder -- the BBC is slowly putting all of its English local radio online. Sadly, Radio Solent is not yet available.

  • "For five hours, eight of us had to play without a break because all the subs were injured and sleeping."

  • I'm sure Cheeky Squirrel will be upset to learn that there are no links to him from this site.
  • You cut me deep, man

    Someone found this blog searching the for:
    "chris cope" boring uninteresting crap

    Ouch.

    Saturday, September 25, 2004

    49:45

    My wife and I ran another 10K race this morning. Man, I am just a picture of health. Bernarr McFadden has nothing on me.

    I finished the race with a time of 49:45. According to my incredibly unreliable math skills, that means I ran the race at a pace of about 8:02 a mile. While that sort of time would certainly put me in behind speedy Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj, I certainly improved my time over previous races. In June I had a pace time of 8:22; in August I had a pace time of 8:34.

    I wasn't paying attention to Rachel's time, but it, too, was faster than in August's 10K. And she ran on a really bad knee.

    I have no idea why I'm blogging all of this. I can't imagine there would be anyone on this planet who is sitting there thinking: "I wonder how fast Chris and his wife can run?" Well, perhaps people who want to chase me and steal my shoes are thinking that.

    Or, maybe you live 6.2 miles away from me and wonder at what time I'll have to leave my apartment if I'm coming over to watch football. I can be over in less than 50 minutes, but I'll be rather sweaty.

    35,417 words

  • BOOK UPDATE: I should just stop saying that I've overcome my writer's block/apathy/what-you-call-it. The fact that I managed to write only about 600 words in a week is a clear sign that I haven't gotten whatever this is out of my system. Most of those 600 words were written this morning.

  • I'm sure John Kerry appreciates this endorsement.

  • New international weapon of terror: eggs.

  • British women aged 18 to 24 drink an average of 203 litres of alcohol a year. Way to go, ladies!

  • Of course, if there's a story about an 8-foot snake getting entwined in somebody's car, I'm going to link to it. If this blog had a mission statement, I'm sure that would be a part of it. There would also be something about bathtub cheese.
  • Thursday, September 23, 2004

    On biscuits, cookies and other baked goods

  • This morning for breakfast I enjoyed a tin of Pillsbury Golden Homestyle Butter Tastin' Biscuits.
    "Butter tastin'" -- it just has that great sense of an Americana foodstuff, doesn't it? It's not real butter, it's just butter tastin'. No actual butter was harmed in the making of my biscuits.
    When I say biscuits, I realize that those of you not living in the God-Blessed United States of America (we have to write it that way now -- it's a new Homeland Security rule) may be thinking of one of these -- a cookie. What confuses me is that in the UK, a cookie is called a biscuit, but a biscuit is not called a cookie. It's been a while since I lived there, and I have a notoriously crap memory, but I think a biscuit is called a muffin. But if that's the case, what do you call a muffin? A cupcake? It seems to me that we are stuck on an endless cycle of renaming baked goods until eventually one of us holds something aloft and says, "What's this?" and the other is forced to just stare blankly and make something up, like "foolabaloo."
    Bill Clinton is to blame for this. And Noah Webster. Darn him all to heck. I don't want to eat any foolabaloos.

  • Anybody watch The Bachelor last night? Just me? It's crap television at its best.
    The bachelor, Byron, is a pro bass fisherman. How great is that?

  • If you ride a horse in Pennsylvania, it's OK to bring booze.

  • This is one of the best headlines I've seen in a while.

  • You know what they say... Well, this guy does.
  • Just to clarify


    Just in case you weren't tipped off by the numerous armed guards, the bright yellow jump-suit, and the chains, the good people of Salt Lake City's court have gone to the trouble to label Mark Hacking as a "prisoner."

    Better than you redux

  • I cycled to work again today and I may continue with this wild healthiness tomorrow. You're welcome Planet Earth. To add to my greatness, today I deposited my beer bottles in the recycling bin.

  • Yaaaaarrrrggghhh

  • Can we just stop it with the talk of flying cars? Considering the quality of people's driving on land, I have become convinced that flying cars are a really, really bad idea.

  • I don't know what's more shocking about this story: the fact that the maker of Twinkies is bankrupt; or the fact that there are some 33,000 people who make a Twinkie-related living.

  • I generally try to avoid talk political on my blog because, well, you can find that on approximately 8.2 billion other blogs, and I don't have anything particularly intelligent to say. But I thought this exchange between John Stewart and Bill O'Reilly was pretty funny.

  • Last night I was thinking about a radio station in San Diego that had a feature called "Mandatory Metallica" and it dawned on me: The problem with America today is that our mandatory Metallica laws have been watered down by the Nellie McKay crowd. I mean, you've got activist judges allowing Norah Jones and her ilk to recruit in our schools, and what's being done about it? Nothing.
    Like any good American, I am usually lock step with the policies of the Socialist Party USA, but there is nothing in their manifesto that discusses the importance of strengthening our mandatory Metallica laws. Am I the only one who cares about the children?!
    You realize who's to blame for this, don't you?
    Bill Clinton.

  • If the mandatory Metallica laws had not been watered down, Cat Stevens would have been deported long ago. John Tesh and Yanni would have been sent with him.

  • Obviously, we want to keep these guys, though.

  • For the love of Pete, can someone please explain to me the obsession of the hip-hop/R&B/soul world to take the chorus of another song, speed up the track, and make that part of the musical bed? Stop it with your chipmunky sound. It's become as cliché as the tri-tom drums used in every Genesis track from the late 80s.
    Seriously. Stop it.

  • And you thought you had a really bad day.

  • So, does this mean I have to pay full price for a new stomach?
  • Wednesday, September 22, 2004

    A paragon of healthy living

  • I pedalled my bike to the headquarters of my benevolent employer today. Now I feel like one of those people you always read about in Sierra Club magazines -- the guys that encourage you to ride your bike to work because it's good for the environment and makes you feel good about yourself.
    Usually when I read those articles I think: "You are an idiot, article-writer-type person. You live in San Francisco, writing earth-friendly tips that are completely inapplicable to everyone else in the world."
    In places that are not San Francisco, riding a bike to work is a great way to get killed by someone who is late to work. In places that are not San Francisco, it snows. In places that are not San Francisco, the distance between home and work is often vast. In places that are not San Francisco, biking to work leaves you sweaty and covered in dirt from the road (actually, I would have thought this happens in San Francisco, too).
    But I recently discovered that there is a way to bike from my apartment using bike paths almost exclusively, it was not snowing today, I live just nine miles from my benevolent employer, AND the building has showers.
    Rock on! I'm one of those guys. This means that I am better than you. I am doing my part. I care about Mother Earth, and you don't. Soon I will be using one of those rocks as deodorant and eating nothing but pita bread.
    My cycling to work had nothing to do with the fact that my wife and I share a vehicle and she needed it today to drive to the suburbs -- where public transportation is a threat used to get kids to eat their vegetables. Really. OK, maybe a bit.

  • Another benefit to biking to work is the fact that you get to avoid nasty traffic pile-ups.

  • Note to law enforcement officials: Keep sharp objects away from this guy.

  • Look out below.

  • If you want milk in Massachusetts, you will have to pay for it.
  • Tuesday, September 21, 2004

    The Death Of Hanging Out

    My latest column is out. Please forward it to all your friends, enemies, loved ones, elected representatives and fantasy football picks.

    I said don't humiliate me

    Stupid fools.

    My friend, Esther, did a bang-up job of blogging the game, by the way.

    Please don't humiliate me

  • I feel sick to my stomach. As I post this, the Minnesota Vikings are set to take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Monday Night Football. Those of you who don't follow (American) football may not understand why every Viking fan has been on edge today. After all, this is only the second game of the season.
    Hitherto, us Viking fans have noticed that networks always send their B-team announcers to deliver commentary on our games. We've noticed, also, that they never have anything good to say about any of the Vikings players except Randy Moss.
    Monday Night Football -- MNF, as it is known -- is a team's chance to earn some national credibility. It is the only game on; everyone in the country (that cares about [American] football) is watching. The Vikings' last foray into the MNF arena saw us limping away from a humiliating loss to Baltimore.
    We're a little nervous.
    This time around, we're a better team. We have one of the best quarterbacks in the league (who I feel is underrated even by Viking fans), more receivers than just Randy Moss, and a defense that's eager to prove itself after a weak start. But Philadelphia is a notoriously difficult place to play. The fans are famously abusive toward opposing players. And never mind that the actual team is good.
    Most of the pundits are inching Philadelphia into the win column, but there are a lot of variables. Vikings fans know we could actually win this one, and it would be an especially sweet victory after the complete breakdown of our most bitter rivals Sunday.
    But we also know that the Vikings could completely fall apart because of the pressure. They've done it before. So all I ask is that the Vikings not make fools of themselves and their fans. I'm OK with a loss, I really am. Just, for the love of God, man, please don't embarrass me out there.

  • That reminds me of a totally pointless story.
    Several years ago, my friend, Heidi, and I were travelling cross-country and stopped at a Perkins restaurant in Indiana. I was acting stupid, as usual, and Heidi pointed to a table of people wearing Navy uniforms (in Indiana? Yeah, we never figured that out).
    "You're embarrassing me in front of the United States Navy," she said.

  • Google wants me as its pimp. I successfully pawned off two Gmail invites this past week, so Google has given me two more. I still have six invites to dispatch. Let me know if you are interested.

  • Will the owner of a Cold War-era nuclear weapon please come to lost and found?

  • What's a holiday without an emergency airlift?

  • Ladies, if a guy shows up at your door carrying this book you may want to be wary of his intentions.

  • If you are a broadband Internet user, you know more useless crap than your dial-up pals. Congratulations.

  • You know, I'm not at all surprised that Macaulay Culkin was arrested. My question is this: What the hell was he doing in Oklahoma?
  • Saturday, September 18, 2004

    34,800 words and Totoro

  • BOOK UPDATE: Last week's writer's block held on into this week, but I had a sudden burst of energy last night. For reasons that are beyond my understanding, I decided to make a passing reference to the North American Soccer League of the 1960s and 70s, which required copious research (typing "NASL" into a Google search). But I am having fun with it again and perhaps this wave of writer's block will have passed.

  • I really don't know what's happening here.

  • A hurricane, of course, affects everybody it hits. Such is the nature of God's wrath, I suppose. But I am always amused at how the news machine twists itself in knots trying to find as much hardship as it can. For example, have you thought about how hurricanes affect the fern industry? Of course you haven't. Thankfully, the Global Media Conspiracy has.

  • God, they say, works in mysterious ways. By extension, one can assume that His Son works in equally mysterious ways. Indeed, some ways in which He works are a little more mysterious than others -- like when He asks you to rip up phone books.

  • Greatest quote I've read all week: "The best days are when I can have bowel movement."
    "Yeah, those are pretty good days," said my co-worker, Tom. "Imagine if that's what you had to look forward to: 'Ooh. Maybe it will happen today...'"

  • There's a lesson about life somewhere in this story.

  • I am seriously considering going here this weekend.
  • Thursday, September 16, 2004

    And Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii...

  • Did you watch the World Music Awards last night? I personally have no idea what they are about -- who decides them, or why they are called the World Music Awards when it consisted solely of American artists. Well, it had Celine Dion, so I guess that's where the international flavor comes from.
    My wife and I will watch just about any awards show, especially when it features dregs of humanity like Anna-Nicole Smith, Courtney Love, and Whitney Houston. The highlight of the music-industry-self-love fest was a tottering performance by Houston. Her eyes were twitching just a little too much and I said to my wife: "Some day, when they film the story of Whitney's life, they will come back to this performance and we will learn of the great orchestration that was required behind the scenes to prop her up for this performance."

  • Disney characters are running amok. I think we all realize that Bill Clinton is to blame.

  • Officials were at first thinking of giving away hookahs.

  • My state has rollergirls. Take that, North Dakota!

  • Some people say politics is boring. Those people are just aren't voting for the right candidate.
  • The most important meal of the day


    This is what I had for lunch today. I am a paragon of healthy living.

    Huzzah!

    As mentioned numerous times this week, I went to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival on Saturday. I brought the camera along with me but then failed to take a sufficient number of pictures. Here are the few that I took:


    Some people in this picture are dancing. Some people in this picture are watching dancing. Some people in this picture are really enjoying wearing their fancy new hat.
    With my wife's latest desire to have us start Scottish country dancing, I fear I'll be in the center of all this next year.


    Here's a couple of fellows on horses.


    After a whle, the fellows on horses took a serious dislike to each other and started beating one another with swords. They did this with a sort of zeal that was somewhat disturbing yet tremendously crowd-pleasing.


    The fight eventually spilled off the horses. In this picture, one knight is threatening, in true comedy style, to drive his foot into the crotch of the other knight.
    But the tremendously wrestling-savvy Minnesota crowd recognized it as the set-up for the sharpshooter, the finishing move originated by Bret "The Hitman" Hart and used by both The Rock and Chris Benoit. Several men in the crowd, myself included, were shouting "Sharpshooter! Put him in the sharpshooter!" when this picture was taken.


    The felows on horses also did a bit of jousting, which looked astonishingly painful. I don't have any good pictures of the actual collisions because after the first one I realized that I was missing all the action by attempting to take a picture of it. But suffice to say that the jousting in itself was worth the price of admission.

    Taking geekiness to dangerous extremes

  • I'm a goober. I'll admit it. I'm not ashamed. I like the Minnesota State Fair, I like the Renaissance Festival, I like speaking Welsh, I'm looking forward to cooler weather so I can go apple-picking, I'm not above being stirred by the marches of John Phillip Sousa.
    But this latest foray into the dark soul of geekiness may be too much: Scottish country dancing.
    This is my wife's idea. My ideas for what to do with our free time are rarely accepted. Of course, my ideas usually consist of little more than going to a bar.

  • I suppose things could be worse.

  • And in related geek news, I think the most surprising aspect of this story is the fact that there is such a thing as a Klingon ambassador.

  • Since I have family in the American South, this story doesn't really surprise me. What surprises me is that the girl pictured is 17 years old. I would have guessed her to be about 32.

  • I still have this to give away, as well as six Gmail invites. Drop me a line if you are interested. Also, I am still in need of a poppy.
  • Wednesday, September 15, 2004

    Chris and kilts

    This post started out as an answer to a question from Jenny in the comments field of a post from Monday, but got a bit long. So...

    Kilts are cool. That's probably the best answer as to why I have two of them.

    Allegedly my family is from Scotland, but the only Cope in Scotland I have ever heard of was the British general named Cope who was overrun by Bonnie Prince Charlie's men 259 years ago next week. I have no idea if (or how) I am related to him. I am pretty sure he did not wear a kilt.

    There was a guy named Sir William Cope about 500 years ago. He was from Grimsby, which is sort of close to Scotland. But I doubt he wore a kilt. I don't know if I'm related to him either.

    The most successful Cope I've ever met was Dr. Stephen Cope, who is a lecturer at University of Portsmouth. He's written a shed load of smart-person-type books. To the best of my knowledge, we are not related. And he's not Scottish. And he doesn't wear a kilt.

    So, I suppose I just wear kilts because I want to. They're comfy. I think they look cool. And my wife says I look good in them -- that helps.

    One of the kilts is a Utilikilt. I wrote a short article about it a week or so after my wife bought it for me. Primarily I use it for hiking.

    The other kilt, purchased this past weekend, is more traditional. I hesitate to say that it is traditional because, for one thing, it makes use of Velcro. In England, if you order a cheeseburger, they will give you something that looks like a cheeseburger, but is definitely not a cheeseburger. My traditional kilt sure looks like a traditional kilt to me, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that I am totally wrong.

    As far as the tartan of the kilt is concerned -- I have no idea. I spent a great deal of time searching this site but only got halfway through the letter "C" before I gave up.

    This is what it looks like:

    Blame Clinton

  • My mother-in-law doesn't like Democrats very much. She takes her dislike of Democrats and, by extension, liberals, to an art form. Her all-time least-favorite liberal/Democrat/evil-doer is Bill Clinton -- she likes to blame Clinton for just about everything.
    The 41st president is to blame for: America's poorly structured and insufficient health care system; the current weak economy; security lapses that missed warning signs for 9-11; and probably -- I haven't talked to her in a while -- this.
    Personally, I would like to see Clinton embrace the role of national scapegoat. I mean, wouldn't it be great to have someone to blame for all the things that are wrong in your life? And every week or so, Clinton would come on national television and sincerely apologize for what he's done. He would bite his lip and say something like: "I'm truly sorry that the Dallas Cowboys' offense is so weak. I'm also really sorry that China is so big. And I ask your forgiveness over my being responsible for Toby Keith's career."
    And then MSNBC and Fox could fill hours and hours with special reports: "Bill Clinton: Can He Be Stopped?"

  • Oh, say it ain't so, Tracey.

  • Note to criminals: When stealing a car it is important that you first know how to drive a car.

  • How unsurprising is it that this guy got arrested for marijuana possession.

  • I am wetting my pants in anticipation.

  • You know, one of the signs of steroid abuse is uncontrollable anger.

  • Lately I've been feeling that I need a new "About Me" paragraph. But, due to the transgressions of the Clinton administration, I can't think of anything good. Any suggestions?
  • Tuesday, September 14, 2004

    The Scottish: funny people, sexy dressers

  • I had a semi-epiphanous moment this weekend: In the United States of America, a Scottish accent automatically makes whatever you say funny. For example: Mrs. Doubtfire, Shrek, Groundskeeper Willie, and that bad-acid-trip-induced freakish stick of gum in the Extra ads.
    As I say, this was only a partial epiphany. I guess I've always known it, because I've always fallen back on a Glasgow accent to make something funnier. But the point was driven home when I came home from the Renaissance Festival dressed in a kilt.
    There is a group of people in my apartment building who do little more than sit on the front steps and drink and smoke. They are a very friendly group and they were delighted in my showing up wearing a kilt. My wife told them that I had been playing with the waitress at a restaurant earlier in the evening, ordering in a Scottish accent, and the stoop gang was heartily delighted by my retelling of the tale. Then I said a few more things in a Scottish accent and it was as if I were Billy Connolly in his prime, they were laughing so hard.
    If you are a fledgling Scottish comic, unable to earn your keep at home, you should move to the United States -- they will give you money for talking.
    I should note at this point, for the sake of legitimate Scots, like Jenny, that my Scottish accent is really quite bad. It's just good enough to amuse Americans who don't know any better. I would certainly never endeavour to perform my Scottish accent for a Scot. Unless I was eager for a good throttling.
    I used to know a guy who was convinced he could do a spot-on impersonation of an American (he was not an American, obviously. Although, that would make for a much funnier story -- an American walking around proudly demonstrating his ability to sound American), and he would insist upon performing it for me at any given opportunity. I had to sit on my hands to keep from punching him.
    For one thing, it was an awful impersonation. He sounded like a guy from Norwich (which he was) doing an impersonation of a drunken John Wayne.
    "Ha, ha! That's exactly how Chris sounds, isn't it?" he would say to other people in the group.
    They would just avert their eyes. I do not sound like that -- not even when I've been drinking; not even when I'm trying to impersonate John Wayne.
    Secondly, who would find it amusing to sit and listen to someone caricature his or her accent?
    So, the moral of this rambling story is this: Scottish accents are funny, unless you're Scottish.

  • Yes, I went to the Renaissance Festival this weekend -- also known as Ye Olde Geek Fest. But I had fun nonetheless. How can you not enjoy roast turkey legs, beer, and loads of women dressed in those cleavage-enhancing dresses? Cleavage makes everything better.
    My wife insisted upon buying me a kilt. She says I look sexy in a kilt -- how can I resist kilt-wearing in the face of that? I now own two kilts. My Scottish heritage is suspect at best, but I own multiple kiltage.
    I took a handful of pictures while I was at the festival -- I'll post them when I can be bothered.

  • Speaking of my extreme geekiness -- I finally started reading this today. It makes my head hurt.

  • Mmmm. Who's hungry?

  • You know, perhaps it's just me, but if you are the sort to throw things at the prime minister or scale Buckingham Palace dressed as Batman, there's probably a reason the government won't let you see your kids.

  • The United States has a cricket team?!

  • Remember that episode of "The Simpsons" when Springfield got a monorail? Life imitates art.

  • According to this story, "power windows can generate 60 to 80 pounds-per-square-inch of pressure, enough to chop vegetables."
    Perhaps they should use that fact as a selling point: The new Ford Focus slices, dices, juliennes and gets 42 miles to the gallon!

  • Today, I challenged an editor to sneak the phrase "ball-licker" into a useable news headline. He came up with: "Food Aplenty At AA Ball; Liquor Missing" -- that's a thing of beauty.
  • Monday, September 13, 2004

    Spotlight on urination

    The power went out today at the headquarters of my benevolent employer, but my bladder refused to conform to the inconvenience and I found myself stumbling into a pitch-black men's room.

    I have pretty good aim, and urinals are rather large, so I wasn't particularly bothered.

    As I was standing there, the door opened behind me.

    "It's completely dark in here," I said.

    I said this not because I thought the person entering the men's room would have trouble grasping the obvious, but because I wanted to alert him to my presence. That way we could avoid any embarrassing fumbling-in-the-dark rencontre.

    "Not anymore," said the entrant cheerily.

    He had with him a flashlight and was clearly quite pleased with himself. Obviously, he was one of our tech guys. Tech guys have loads of tools they do not need, and live for moments such as this.

    So, there I found myself, in a darkened men's room, standing at the urinal, with a tech guy standing behind me -- helpfully pointing a flashlight at me. I appreciate the assistance, but having someone spotlight me while I relieved myself was, well, unnerving.

    Thankfully, I do not suffer from performance anxiety.

    Saturday, September 11, 2004

    32,901 words and encroaching age

  • BOOK UPDATE: I hit a bit of writer's block earlier in the week, but things have improved in the latter part of the week. Of course, in writing this book I am constantly amusing myself. This week I was particularly self-pleased with this line:
    "We were a little louder, a little drunker, a little more debauched. And we sang all the time. We were the Portsmouth Scumbags Canoe Club."
    I would hope they'd put that on a T-shirt.

  • Number of beers consumed last night: 5
    Level of hangover: 3.5
    How is that fair? A measly 80 ounces of beer and I'm done in. And, as seems to always be the way these days, I felt fine when I left the bar. I'm getting old.

  • "custom solution packaging products" -- What does that even mean?! It's just four words randomly pulled from the dictionary. This is why I make a horrible capitalist -- I'm not any good at speaking in nonsense terms.
    I just pulled my own four words from my handy New Expanded Webster's Dictionary. From now on, I am a specialist in "elfish isobar panorama recoil."

  • The headline makes me want to go to San Jose State. The story isn't nearly as exciting.

  • Using a dinner fork and a battery?

  • Best name I've seen in a while: Fitsum Gebreegziabher -- from this less-than-cheery story.

  • To quote the sage wisdom of Blue Oyster Cult: "History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of men."

  • One suspects this study was funded by the Las Vegas tourism board.
  • Friday, September 10, 2004

    Fashion victim

  • Today I am wearing a pair of jeans that are, well, uncomfortably tight in the crotch. The jeans are French.
    I'm not trying to imply anything, just stating fact.

  • You know, if some people would answer their phone, they might not have to resort to painting cyanide-laced portraits of Dorian Grey.

  • Poetic justice.

  • I've forgotten to bring my tea mug to work. Once I forgot to put my wedding ring back on after a shower. But I can't imagine forgetting about landing gear.
  • Thursday, September 9, 2004

    Wales look a shambles

  • Today's Wales-Northern Ireland World Cup qualifying match was crazy from the start -- booing of the (British) national anthem, a fight, and two men sent off all in the first 11 minutes.
    Northern Ireland scored first, then again, bringing the score to 0-2 in favor of a team that had been predicted to crash and burn. Immediately after the goal, a Northern Ireland player was ejected for taunting the Welsh fans!
    Then Robert Earnshaw was sent in, in response to the chants of fans. It was insane.
    One of the things I thoroughly enjoyed was the fact that I could listen to Welsh coverage on Radio Wales, and Northern Irish coverage on Radio Ulster. It's always fun to hear the different spin.
    I think I enjoyed the coverage from Radio Ulster more. Their announcers had arrived with the general impression that Northern Ireland simply didn't have a chance. They sounded mystified at Wales' failure to commit a slaughter.
    "Wales looks a shambles," one announcer said. "What are they doing? Do they not see they're playing 10 on nine?"
    In the end, thanks to John Hartson and Earnshaw, Wales was able drag the match to a tie.

  • Congratulations to England, who were able to win a crucial match against Poland.

  • Bad luck Scots, who need a new coach.

  • Andromeda Strain, anyone?
    "Man, I'd LOVE to be the guy who approaches that crashed capsule first," my co-worker, Scott, said today. "I'd touch it, then reel away clutching at my head screaming 'I CAN HEAR THEM!'"

  • Note to supermarket chain Somerfield: This is no way to earn customers.

  • Note to drivers at the intersection of Highway 55 and Highway 62: Learn the definition of yield.

  • Note to Scott Mills. Stop with the always talking. I suspect there is 20 percent more talking than music during his show.

  • Note to self: Evil is unstoppable. Corporations can now parse blogs to determine what's being said about any given topic in the blog world.

  • Speaking of evil genius.

  • Great name for a band: Smoking bitch monkey.
  • Wednesday, September 8, 2004

    Mighty warriors with metal on their side

  • I am inclined to believe that my grandfather remembers every (American) football play he ran from 1942 to 1949. And I'm pretty sure he explained all of them to me at some point over the Labor Day weekend. He and my grandmother came up to visit for the holiday weekend, and for some reason he really likes to talk to me.
    Here are some other things I learned from listening to my grandfather talk:
    - At Ryan's, a restaurant in Lake Jackson, Texas, you can get a porterhouse steak for $8.16.
    - At Windswept, a restaurant in Freeport, Texas, you can have all-you-can-eat fried shrimp for $10 -- assuming you arrive before 4 p.m. After 4, it will cost you $14.79.
    - At The Dairy Bar, a restaurant in Lake Jackson, Texas, they expect you to pay 15 cents for a glass of water.
    - Tiger Woods can drive a ball 174 yards using a pitching wedge.
    - Oregon State coach Mike Riley is "a cotton-picking fool."

  • One word: classy.

  • Some people would say that American culture leaves much to be desired. To those people I say: you have no idea.

  • "Florida has a $2 million contingency fund to help repair the state's tourism image."
    Thank God for that.
    I envision a crack public relations team -- the tourism equivalent of the Navy SEALs -- being released to counteract the perception that Florida is a swampy train-wreck of a state that's packed to the hilt with loonies. Oh, wait. They probably should have released that team a long time ago.

  • I have a theory that the Jackson family (Michael, Janet, Tito, et al) like to sit around and think up ways to be even more strange. I would not be at all surprised to see them competing in this tournament.

  • Zach Braff, the guy from "Scrubs" and "Garden State" has a blog.

  • Of the 12 albums nominated for the Mercury Prize, there are nine that I really want. I only have one of them (in bold):
    Amy Winehouse - Frank
    Basement Jaxx - Kish Kash
    Belle & Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress
    Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
    Joss Stone - The Soul Sessions
    Keane - Hopes and Fears
    Snow Patrol - Final Straw
    The Streets - A Grand Don't Come for Free
    Ty - Upwards
    The Zutons - Who Killed The Zutons

    My wife insists that I will like any music that comes from Britain, but this is just good music. And there are several other artists who were left off the Mercury list that I think should be there. If you are exceedingly wealthy, please buy me CDs.

  • But great music doesn't just come from Britain. It also comes from Canada. Case in point: 3 Inches of Blood. With a name like that, they've got to be good.
    Their mp3 takes a while to download, but it's like a heavy metal bowl of ice cream. Ice cream garnished with Cheez Whiz. Sample lyric: "Enemies of metal, your death is our reward."
  • Tuesday, September 7, 2004

    Students Should Make Selves Useful

    My latest column is out. Please forward it to all your friends, family and elected representatives.

    There's something interesting to note about this week's column. In this column I write:

    "Journalists are utterly worthless. You'll get no homemade wine or soggy baskets from us. If you've somehow forgotten where you've put all your liquor, we may be able to help there, but beyond that we have no useful skills."

    Compare this with a joke from Dave Barry's Sunday column:

    "Like, if you had a toilet leak, and you called a columnist, instead of fixing the leak, he'd give you his strongly worded opinion, based on information hastily obtained from Google, about whether the leak was a good thing or a bad thing. At least 70 percent of the time he would be wrong."

    The casual observer might accuse me of stealing Dave Barry's theme. But they'd be wrong. You, dear reader, know that I came up with it first -- more than a week ago. Stop stealing my ideas, Dave!

    (Because, you know, I'm sure he reads my blog every day. And I've never stolen any of Dave's ideas. OK, maybe once or twice I've done that, but definitely not 174 times.)

    Sunday, September 5, 2004

    Retail therapy

    Yesterday, my wife bought a fancy new laptop. I have always wanted a laptop, but considering how little I ever go anywhere, let alone places where I would want a laptop, I need one about as much as an Abrams tank (something else I've always wanted).

    Recognizing my envy, my wife let me buy two CDs today. I bought this and this, both of which I highly recommend.

    My Amazon wish list has been adjusted to account for these purchases.

    The magic of No. 16

    Rhys Lloyd -- he's my hero. And not just because he has a Welsh name.

    How can you not admire a 220-pound kicker? A 220-pound kicker who twice ran for a first down rather than convert the ball.

    Oh sure, there was some pretty good running and surprising passing. But that 63-21 win? It's all Rhys.

    Make that six


    Six! Six lovely Gmail accounts to give away.

    I had failed to give away any of the five Gmail invites I had been previously given, so the Oracle of Gmail gave me another one.

    E-mail me if you would like a Gmail invite.

    (Oh, and this is still available)

    Saturday, September 4, 2004

    30,326 words and five Gmail invites

  • BOOK UPDATE: I've started in on the heartbreaking third part of the novel. Remember that for when you eventually read the book. The end of the third part will make you sad. That is assuming I write it well.
    If it's written poorly, my attempt at pathos will be embarrassingly hilarious.

  • Man, no one can ever accuse Bill Clinton of not being a Democratic Party faithful. He went and almost got himself killed in order to kill Bush's post-convention bump.

  • The description of this bank robber made me laugh. He was wearing "unknown pants."

  • Great cop quote of the day: "You are a death waiting to happen. Please put your name and address on a 3 by 5 card so we know to call your family, because you're not going to make it"

  • Every year, I find myself in November thinking: "I want a poppy." Then I make a promise to myself that I will be sure to have one the next year. I have finally remembered on time this year, but short of flying to Britain and buying one, I can't think of how to get one in the United States. Any ideas?

  • Perhaps I could arrange a trade for a Gmail invite. I found out today that I have five of them to give away. Are they still the thing to have, or is that soooo three months ago? Regardless of whether you can provide me with a poppy, let me know if you are interested in receiving an invite.
  • Friday, September 3, 2004

    Оплакивать

    I smashed a plate

    One of the best ways to burn $60 in six hours in the great state of Minnesota is to go to the Minnesota State Fair.

    It's a documented fact that I love the fair. Recently my wife and I took a trip to the "Great Minnesota Get Together" and I thought I'd share the experience for those of you not fortunate enough to live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

    Here's the entrance:



    This is the sky ride. There are actually two different types of aerial tramway -- one open, one enclosed -- to transport people across large sections of the fairgrounds.



    There are a number of rides at the fair, of course -- very few of which I feel inclined to pay hard-earned money for. One of the staples, however, is the Ye Olde Mill. Operating continuously since 1913, it is little more than a dark tunnel and an opportunity to make out. My wife was with me, so it was $4 well spent.



    Along with the rides, one of the key attractions to the fair is the food. Here's what I ate:

    A Pronto Pup (commonly known as a corn dog).



    Roast corn.



    Cheese curds.



    Cheese curds, by the way, look like this. They are large bits of deep-fried cheese.



    And I finished it all off with a ridiculously huge helping of Sweet Martha's chocolate chip cookies.



    There were plenty of other things for which I simply did not have room in my stomach. For example:

    Deep-fried candy bars.



    Deep-fried Twinkies.



    Cheese on a stick.



    And various types of sausage. That's my friend Anne's hand in the way.



    This is Anne. At the carnival area, she and I forked out a combined $16 to attempt to smash plates by throwing balls at them. I succeeded in smashing one plate but got nothing for it but the satisfaction of shattering dinner ware.



    And this is my very good friend, Heidi, whom I realized today I have known for a whopping 10 years. Despite our knowing each other for a decade, Heidi is a veritable fountain of youth. She is definitely not 31 years old, despite what any bastard age-guessing carnies might say.



    But it's not all just rides and food and smashed plates and the juxtaposition of Heidi in front of the Republican Party booth. The fair has plenty of other attractions. For example:

    Sheep.



    Horses.



    And senior citizens exercising.



    After all this excitement, I was exhausted. I looked and felt like poop.



    Thank goodness the Minnesota State Fair only takes place once a year. I will spend the next several months resting up and do it all again a year from now.

    Thursday, September 2, 2004

    Something immensely boring, probably

  • You know how American English is a jumbled mess that would get you flunked out of an English primary school? I learned today that Noah Webster is to blame for that.
    In a fit of patriotism, he felt that the newly formed United States of America needed a language all its own. But, obviously, Americans can't be bothered to go learning new languages. So, Webster just screwed up the one they were already using.

  • It appears the wheels are in motion for Sir Clive to save English soccer (I suspect that I am the only person interested in that link).

  • Yet another sport the International Olympic Committee has failed to recognize.

  • Which is funnier here: the story or the headline?
    It reminds me of a rude song we used to sing in Portsmouth.

  • New weapon of terror: pigs.
  • Wednesday, September 1, 2004

    One-hit wonder lost to wonder

    I had a rather vivid dream that I had written a song, and, if I do say so myself, it was quite good. It was a song about growing up.

    It had a catchy, walking piano part, a bit like in a Randy Newman song but slightly more complicated. The song's bridge was very sweet and melancholy-funny, and you couldn't help but sing along.

    But as soon as I opened my eyes, it slipped from my memory like smoke into wind (nice crap simile there, Chris). All I was able to hold onto was this lyric:

    "When I was a young boy
    I had a young boy smile.
    "

    I am very upset that I have forgotten the rest.