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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Friends, Family Make Holiday Music Bearable

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, I present for your reading enjoyment: My latest column. Now with fewer carbs!
Please help me to achieve maddening fame and free train tickets by forwarding the column to friends, family and David Blunkett.

Happy St. Andrews Day

  • Single ladies, I hope you slept in the nude last night. Actually, you should do that every night -- eve of Scottish holiday or no.

  • Last night my wife finally let me go to Buffalo Wild Wings -- a pretty self-explanatory chain restaurant/bar in the shining inner ring suburb of Roseville (go Raiders!). I love me some Buffalo wings.
    Inside was your basic bar motif; the walls were lined with televisions. I was persuaded by the bartender to forgo a pint of Heineken in favor of a 23-ounce glass of Budweiser for $2.75 (£1.49, or €2.07*). When we sat down, I noted that Alan Jackson's "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)" was blaring out over the speakers. My wife put her head in her hands.
    "Hey, hey. Look," I said, pointing up to one of the televisions.
    They were airing Fox News.
    "This place sort of represents all that we aren't," my wife said.

  • Here's an understatement: His attorney says Lenhart used "very, very bad judgment."

  • Poetic justice is served in Milwaukee.

    *Thanks a lot Bush administration.
  • Monday, November 29, 2004

    Still waiting for the air-check

  • I forgot to mention this on Thursday, but this blog is now six months old. I started it so I would have something to direct listeners to when I was a guest on a radio show. I never actually got the opportunity to do that, though -- probably for the best.
    Side note: I never received the tape from that show, despite the fact that the show's producer twice contacted me to get my address.
    No matter. I quite enjoy blogging, it gives me the opportunity to develop acquaintances around the world. I fully expect to cash in on those acquaintances -- please have your guestrooms ready.

  • Hey, add a Bob Marley CD to this and you get free shipping. What a deal.

  • I think this is how the Civil War got started, isn't it?

  • Latest weapon of terror: coffee makers.

  • Keep in mind, however, that the danger still exists from cell phones.
    Apparently it's the battery that's causing the phones to explode, which raises concern for the batteries in other products.

  • Informing The Nation: Son Injured During Accidental Deer Hunting Accident
  • Saturday, November 27, 2004

    50,570 words and doped up on tryptophan

    This has been both a hectic and short week. On Wednesday night my wife and I drove over to the suburban wonderland that is Bloomington, Minn., to spend the night at my parents' house; Rachel had again been given the default job of waking up early in the morning to put the turkey in the oven.

    Before Rachel came along, my family was, well, pathetic when it came to Thanksgiving. I don't know really when or how the breakdown occurred, but somehow my family totally dropped the ball on Thanksgiving tradition. There was no turkey or stuffing or cranberry sauce or mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie. Usually we just ate out at Chili's. During my high school years, I took on the task of barbecuing beef ribs for Thanksgiving.

    When Rachel first heard of my family's Thanksgiving traditions, or lack thereof, she was appalled. We might as well have said that it was a Thanksgiving tradition to torture puppies. So, she took on the primary role of cooking the turkey and delegated the other jobs as best she could.

    Rachel's method of cooking the best turkey you've ever tasted is a 10-hour process. Just the thought of that level of work makes my family need to sit down.

    So, we stayed over on Wednesday night. I went with my dad to pick up a truckload of firewood (it's been a pretty warm autumn, so he had yet to buy any) and then Rachel and I dragged the guest-bedroom mattress in front of the fireplace and I had all kinds of good thoughts as I drifted off to sleep that night in the flickering orange light.

    On Thursday morning we got up, put in the turkey, went for a run and then made breakfast. I pulled out my parents' Christmas tree, set it up, put the lights on and put on all the decorations.

    My brother and his wife came over and Thanksgiving was perfect. We ate until we couldn't tolerate anymore food; then we had pie. Rachel and I spent the night at my parents' hose again on Thursday night because it almost felt like vacation, being away from home.

    So, the end result is that I really only had today to write. And much of my day was spent working on a project that you are more than welcome to help me with if you speak Welsh.

    It's just past midnight now and I have a blinding headache. Perhaps I'll blog a little more (and a little more clearly) tomorrow.

    Wednesday, November 24, 2004

    Ass-kicking Jewish girls

  • I had to make my way to the headquarters of my benevolent employer a little earlier than usual this morning. St. Paul, Minn., is quite possibly the most peaceful place in the world at 7:30 a.m. The sky was a cold blue-grey; bright yellow, blue, red and orange in the horizon seemed to make the ground feel warm, as if the earth were flat and the sun was coming out from underneath. I think St. Paul is one of the prettiest cities on the planet, but I tend not to say much about it because I don't want people coming and pricing me out of living here.
    The vast majority of Midwestern women are gorgeous, of course -- Jack Kerouac pointed that out years ago -- but they look thoroughly unamused in the early morn. Buying my morning muffins this morning, I found myself standing next to a pack of college girls. They were wearing "popular girl" clothing, and their butts were about as wide as my thigh, but with the morning hanging over them they had a certain hard-edged quality; as if they had been up all night drinking Jack Daniels. When one of them opened her wee pink vinyl girlie purse, I expected to see a pack of Marlboro Light 100s and a broken Rolling Rock bottle. She pulled out a red vinyl wallet, inside of which was an ID card for the St. Paul Jewish Community Center.

  • I'm thinking of starting a blog called "Informing The Nation" that would serve as a sort of clearinghouse for all the boneheaded mistakes I see in news copy each day. Example: "The couple called the fire department from their apartment in the 1400 block of Bonair Road in Vista Wednesday morning at about 9:30 a.m. yesterday."

  • I'm not likely to do that anytime soon, though; I've got my blogging hands full. I've got the piece of crap you're reading now, this piece of crap you can't read, and this week I'm turning Cheeky Squirrel's blog into crap -- I am guest blogging while he's in Poland.

  • Harry's left Portsmouth. Heartbreaker.

  • Latest weapon of terror: cell phones.

  • And if the cell phones don't kill you, the shrimp will.

  • For the love of Pete, if you allow the Indians into Boston all hell will break loose.
  • The Welsh invented money laundering

  • Welsh-American A Llewellyn Morris Humphrey -- aka Murray The Hump -- died of a heart attack in Chicago on this day in 1965.
    A close associate of Al Capone, he was born in Chicago in 1899 of Welsh parentage.
    In the late 1920s he became Al Capone's agent in corrupting laundry money and trade unions - the terms 'money laundering' and 'being taken to the cleaners' are thought to originate from his work with Al Capone.
    While working for the mob he was given the nickname Murray The Hump.

  • "Changing Rooms" is no more. But I'm sure it will live on forever on BBC America. I am convinced that "BBC America" is a conjunction of the two things that BBC America's program director hates most in life. He or she seems hell-bent on presenting the least interesting elements of the BBC over and over and over again. "Changing Rooms" airs four times tonight on BBC America.
    They cancelled "Eastenders" but they show "Are You Being Served?" I hate you, BBC America.

  • Best e-card I've seen in a while.

  • Isn't this a Steve Martin routine?

  • On Martha Stewart's website she has a message to her fans that says:
    "Supporters have sent more than 15,000 emails. I have also received thousands of letters. I cherish them all. While I can’t answer each note personally, I want you to know that I am well."
    Eh? She's in prison. What the hell else does she have to do other than answer mail?

  • The WWE is hurting. Why? Two words: Spike Dudley.
    Any company that thinks Spike Dudley deserves the push he's getting is going to tank. I don't care what he did in ECW, he's not doing it now; never has done in WWE. He has no charisma, no microphone skills, no look, and no real ring skills to speak of.
  • Monday, November 22, 2004

    Ha, ha. Joke's on you, Rachel

  • "Whoa, I'm an ugly dude."
    Ever have one of those days? When you just happen to glance in the mirror and think: What the hell happened there? I am one aesthetically unpleasant mutha.
    Last night, my wife asked if I thought she would still be attractive when she's 40. She doesn't drink or smoke, as a master's degree in healthy eating, and works out no less than four times a week. I'm guessing she'll look just fine. Me, on the other hand... What in the world was my wife thinking in marrying me? What a horrible investment I've turned out to be.

  • Yeesh. Don't these people have Christmas shopping to do? That's what we do after elections -- begrudgingly accept the result and hotfoot it to IKEA.

  • Beard Lube?!!

  • I'll bet it was "fun." Thanks for bringing pride to the family name, Nate.

  • Bono sings: "And there'll be no cheese in Vermont this Christmas."

  • A bazooka? Do people just have those lying around?

  • Consuming the same product over and over again seems to be pretty popular these days. I would like to point out that I did it first. But with Guinness.
  • Friday, November 19, 2004

    49,272 words and X. Sven Wasserman III

  • BOOK UPDATE: I got quite a lot of work done last weekend and then again on Wednesday. As I'm writing this last part, I'm trying to tie things up. Occasionally I will have to back up and delete huge sections because they are heavy-handed, as if I'm sitting there saying to the reader: "Eh? See what I did there? Pretty witty, huh?"
    Uhm, no.
    Guaranteed, if I try to be smart it will turn out to be a painful experience. Remember the rich girl at church/school whose parents appeared blind to her total lack of talent? Remember how much it hurt when she would get up and belt out a tune? That's what it's like when I try to be smart. People sit there and cringe and think to themselves: "Oh, man. Does he just not know how stupid he is? I feel shame for him."
    I am usually pretty hard on myself, and hope that I am being self-critical enough to make this book good. Usually after writing something, I have to spend 45 minutes walking in circles on my creaking hardwood floors, worrying that no one will like it.

  • John Cleese has set up a website and expects you to pay $50 for it (you get a silly name for free though). It's an interesting idea, I suppose. I wonder how much people would pay to read my columns. Honestly, I'd be surprised if people would pay as much as $5 annually. I'd also be surprised if the people paying this fee were people other than my relatives.

  • Ooh, "best-ever." Can't really argue with that, can you?

  • I would like to propose that from now on, instead of "secretary of state," refer to Condoleezza Rice as our "State Department diva."

  • You know, I'd like to kill something. But I really don't want to leave the house. Wait a second, this is just the sort of thing I'm looking for!
    (And of course it's based in Texas)
  • What is a short post?

  • One of my co-workers (Scott Wilson) will be missing work tomorrow because he has a shot at appearing on "Jeopardy!" I have already made him promise to buy me beer if he wins any money.

  • Uhm. That's all I've got. I've been really busy today. If you're looking for something to read, go over to Esther's blog. Her posts have been really good as of late.
  • Wednesday, November 17, 2004

    Absence of thought

  • Here's a random memory: When I was attending Moorhead State University (formerly known under the names Moorhead State Teacher's College and Moorhead State College, and presently known as Minnesota State University, Moorhead) I once spent all day and $25 playing the "Addams Family" pinball game in the student union. I played for so long that the muscles in my forearms hurt. I'm not sure what those muscles are called. If you turn your arm so that your palm is facing up, whatever muscle or muscles that run from the wrist to the crook of your arm -- those are the muscles I'm talking about (after extensive Googling I have determined that they are either extensors, flexors or rotators).
    A day or two later, during a phone call to my girlfriend at the time, I happened to mention my strange obsessive behavior. She yelled at me for no less than 30 minutes.
    "Chris, you just don't think," she said over and over again.
    Good times.

  • A few questions about this match: England, why are you so bad when you could be so good? Wayne Rooney, what the hell was your problem? Spanish supporters, what century are you living in?

  • Well, duh.

  • TiVo has given in to the dark side.

  • If superheroes were to relocate to Minneapolis-St. Paul, would it work out?

  • It seems you've got the makings of some sort of Disney buddy/road movie here.

  • You know, I think I would describe this relationship as a little more than just "up and down."

  • There are some Americans that have trouble grasping British humor. Perhaps this is because one of the pillars of British comedy involves having men dress up in women's clothing.
  • Successful Europeans

    I find it rather appropriate that on the day I release a column about my inability to be a proper grownup, I received an e-mail from my Belgian friend, Stéphanne.

    Stéphi has a PhD. She speaks at least six languages.

    Here is a picture of Stéphi with her son, Diego, and husband, Marco. Marco earned his PhD two weeks ago, the picture is from his ceremony.




    Marco... erm, excuse me, Dr. Marco is Italian and, at least, used to be crazy. He used to have really long, curly hair and sang the strangest version of Ray Charles' "Hit the Road" you've ever heard. I remember sitting and drinking with him and being amused that the whole of his English vocabulary appeared to be structured around the use of the words "fuck," and "shit."
    He's got a PhD now.

    The two of them lived in Burkina-Faso for a while as aid workers.

    I was writing Stéphi and telling her about my novel and then suddenly thought: "Man, what a pathetic accomplishment a novel is compared to all the things Stéphi and Marco have done."

    And let's not talk about Diego. He already knows more languages than I do.

    If anyone needs me, I’ll be at the bar.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2004

    Daydreaming About Being An Adult

    My latest column is out. Please forward it to all your friends, relatives and adult ADD sufferers. Extra points to you if you can tell me what gaming cheater code I'm referencing in the article.

    Hello to anyone who knows me

  • I was listening to Radio 1's Newsbeat on the potential smoking ban in England and they were using man on the street sound bites which included this utterly confusing exchange:
    "It worked in Ireland, though, didn't it?"
    "Yeah, but Ireland's not a country."
    Huh?

  • Yeah, that's sort of how I proposed to my wife.

  • Why is America great? Because we're putting televisions in our urinal cakes.

  • Honestly. Can someone please explain to me why Nirvana were supposed to be so great and groundbreaking? A box set of previously unreleased garbled nonsense from the band has been released and radio presenters are wetting themselves with glee. I don't get it. What am I missing that made Nirvana one of the greatest musical acts in history?
  • Dirt McGirt we hardly knew ye

  • Ol' Dirty Bastard died this weekend. How can you not love a guy with half a dozen aliases, including "Big Baby Jesus?"
    He once stormed the stage at an awards ceremony and complained that he had spent a lot of money buying clothes because he thought he was going to win an award. When he and the rest of Wu-Tang Clan were on the Tim Westwood show, ODB announced his hotel room number and invited all the women of Britain to come join him. I once saw an MTV special when he took a limo to pick up his welfare check. Brilliant.

  • Why are Daniel Beddingfield and Natasha Beddingfield not sitting next to each other?

  • The reason this guy will lose his case can be found in this sentence: "Cyl said he doesn't expect his wife to come back to the basement apartment at his mother's home."

  • Dear Minnesota Vikings: You hurt my heart. I do not understand how the absence of a single wide receiver results in your inability to win games. How does the absence of an offensive player translate into a defense that can't stop the same predictable play (U-71 I-formation) from being run again and again?

  • Irony: The Nebraska coach calls Oklahomans "hillbillies."

  • Mental note: I have eight years*.

  • This week's bit of Harrison Beck genius: "I have never had a better time than when I run onto the field with my best buddies and strap it on and play some football."
    Strap it on? What kind of football are they playing in Florida?

  • Sweeps is still taking place, and local news stations all across America are still putting out top-quality journalism.

  • Of course, despite the quality journalism being offered, it's extremely important that news organizations keep in mind what's really important to Americans -- "CSI: New York."

  • People have often accused Tony Blair of wanting to be an American president. We are in the process of making that possible.

  • When I think of heavyweight celebrity endorsement, I think Rue McClanahan.

  • So, wait. What's the problem here?

  • One wonders about a pill that claims to do so much. I'm sure a few years down the road we'll learn that it also causes you to grow an extra set of genitals.

  • Well, there goes my brilliant idea to rebuild the U.S. economy with elaborate show trials.

    *I have promised myself that I will live in Britain before 2012.
  • Sunday, November 14, 2004

    I define myself through internet quizzes





    You Are a Life Blogger!



    Your blog is the story of your life - a living diary.
    If it happens, you blog it. And make it as entertaining as possible.


    Friday, November 12, 2004

    47,770 words and girly arms

  • BOOK UPDATE: Back in June, when I decided that I was really actually going to write a book (as opposed to the five or six years previous, when I would just say I was writing a book), I made the decision to quit rugby so as to have more time to focus on the book. Apart from the three days a week consumed by practices and games and post-practice/post-game drinking, rugby also meant seven days a week of pain and exhaustion. It created a mindset that wasn't particularly conducive to, well, doing anything other than sitting on the couch and trying not to breathe.
    My shin splints went away, I was able to sleep all the way through the night, and I no longer measured time in terms of the four hours one must wait before taking more ibuprofen. But the incentive to work out wasn't quite as immediate -- I needed to lift weights to stay healthy, rather than needing to lift weights so as to defend myself against a 300-pound lock.
    Fast-forward five months to last night, when -- prodded by multiple factors* -- I decided to go through my "usual" weight routine for the first time in about two months**. It made me weep. I can barely lift my arms today.
    What all of that has to do with the progress of my book, I don't know, but what else is there to say? I am slowly inching my way toward finishing this book and looking forward to December, when I'll be taking another full week to focus on it. I'm frustrated with how slow things are going right now, but I can't seem to carve out greater spaces of time. At about 11 p.m. every night, I suffer a minor anxiety attack over everything that I am not doing.

  • Remember this song?
    (Actually, some of you may not remember it -- more's the pity for you. It's from my all-time favorite show)

  • I spotted today that Radio Solent (the regional BBC station that covers the Portsmouth area) is available online now. It's even more delightfully cheesy than I remember. It makes me want to drink warm Heineken and read political theory books.
    Tonight's topic of discussion: People who don't own televisions. Actual listener comment: "I do an awful lot of knitting and I do love a crossword, Paul."

  • You know, when I die I want one of those cool martyr funerals -- replete with car bombs, assault weapons being fired into the sky, and all my friends and family jumping up and down chanting: "With our blood and our soul we will redeem you."

  • Noooo! Tragedy!

  • You have to give them points for style.

  • Devil-may-care California children are spitting in the face of personal safety for the sake of thrill-seeking.

  • Who wants to learn how to crazy-person dance?

  • I'll bet it was a challenge for police to make themselves stop this guy. It would have been cool to see him succeed.

    *Those factors, in no particular order, were: I have begun to sport a little belly; I've been suffering self-conscious fits as of late; I have a shirt that I really like that suddenly doesn't fit right; the guy who sits next to me at the headquarters of my benevolent employer is a healthy guy who plays soccer and looks at me funny when I eat pizza; if all goes well with my book, I'll have time again in March to play rugby -- I need to be ready.

    **Because I am so utterly self-conscious, I feel the need to point out that it has not been a full two months since I last lifted weights, but two months since I lifted them properly. I had fallen into a bad habit of speeding through a lighter routine.
  • Now with the great taste of ass

  • Here's a fascinating little fact that I stumbled upon today: If you are starving hungry and find yourself eating an individual box of Kellogg's Rice Krispies and wash it down with nothing but water, the taste in your mouth will be similar to that of having smoked a cigarette.

  • I'd say these are being issued just a bit late.

  • Col. Simon West: Champion.

  • Perhaps not as much of a champion as Clive Worth, of course.

  • All the cool kids go to Durex High School.

  • Hey; $10 baby. What a bargain.

  • "A down-home lynching?" "Put him over my leg and give him a good spanking?" -- Where is this guy from?

  • Hey, who loves disturbing weight-loss surgery photos? You know you do.

  • Nip and tuck, Clyde (huge points to you if you catch that reference).

  • Ooh. This is worrying.

  • You gotta love Harry Redknapp (watch the interview).

  • If Minnesota Vikings fans did this the team would go bankrupt before the end of the season.
  • Thursday, November 11, 2004

    Jenny rocks

    Look what showed up in the mail today:



    But wait, it gets better. Enclosed in the box (a box of particularly high quality, I might add) was this rendering of what I may look like at my desk:



    You rock, Jenny! Thanks.

    Sweeps

  • November is a sweeps month. Advertising rates are set based on the number of viewers a program pulls in during sweeps, so it is usually during this time that producers go out of their way to draw in as many people as possible. It is during November that your favorite TV characters will usually be brought back from the dead.
    Television news is certainly no less desperate for your attention, and it is during this time that you will see usually see some really high-quality journalism.

  • In my professional capacity as a copy editor today I read about the deaths of 94 people, including a woman that was "butchered alive," a Marine who worked with developmentally disabled teens, and an 11-pound 4-year-old found in a picnic cooler. I'd say that number is about average for what I read each day. I need to find a more cheerful line of work.

  • Actually, it would appear he was teaching a teenager how not to rock climb.

  • Yet another reason I really, really hate cancer.

  • Last night I watched the Frontline program "The Persuaders" (which was fascinating, by the way) and found myself with mixed feelings about the fact that I don't fit into my demographic. I am a white a white male, aged 18-34 of Anglo-Saxon Protestant heritage who drives a pickup truck and likes watching rodeo. Based on this information, I should be buying certain products and upholding certain beliefs. But, for the most part, I don't really fit in that group.
    On one hand, I am proud to say that I am an individual who cannot be pigeonholed. On the other hand, I don't fit in, man.

  • "Dude. We need a tank."
    "A tank? When will we ever use that?"
    "Uhm. I don't know. But it would be so cool. I'm sure we'll find a reason."

  • About one out of every four licensed drivers in Texas owns a pickup truck; about the same as Minnesota. Strangely, Iowa has us beat.
    (More fun vehicle facts here)

  • I could not find any statistics on the number of people in Grantsburg, Wis., who own a banjo.

  • If you're going to be arrested, you might as well be arrested wearing a goofy T-shirt.

  • Wouldn't you like to have this guy as a neighbor?

  • Monkey + chain restaurant + power lines = Hilarious.

  • Great googly-moogly! Barry Manilow has 43 albums.

  • Finally! The film we've all been waiting for.

  • "I asked them if I could keep it, but they said 'no.'" -- What the heck is wrong with ESPN?
  • Wednesday, November 10, 2004

    In the beginning there was Tom Jones. And he was good

  • Yeesh. What's the point of even playing if you can't do this?

  • Not at all creepy. OK, maybe a little.

  • We all know that Bill Clinton is to blame for the degradation of marriage, but I am shocked to learn this holy union didn't last.

  • Obviously America needs to turn itself over to a higher power: Tom Jones.

  • I think I've mentioned that my co-workers and I take a strange delight in being forced to reading the "blog" from potential University of Nebraska football prodigy Harrison Beck. This week's choice Harrison quote: "It will be my glory filled moment in P.E. history."

  • Mmmm. Yummy.

  • Today seemed to be a great day for food on the highway: You've got a choice of lamb, chicken or beef. And a few thousand gallons of Jack Daniels to wash it down.

  • "One of the best pilots I've ever seen." Indeed.
  • Tuesday, November 9, 2004

    Yeah, I've got an uncle who lives in dollars

  • Why is it that British radio presenters tend to pronounce "texts" as "Texas?"

  • The day after the U.S. election, Canada's immigration website saw a record number of hits -- 64% of which came from the United States.

  • Perhaps they thought they were voting for a different Bush.

  • Look out. He's got a hedge trimmer and he's not afraid to use it.

  • If there's no Christmas this year, we'll know who to blame.

  • I think you might call these Cinderella boobies.

  • To Jim Belushi, Thanks for everything!

  • Michael Phelps appears to be handling fame well.

  • Caption this photo.
  • Saturday, November 6, 2004

    46,262 words and setting a man on fire

  • BOOK UPDATE: The particularly astute of you might have read about the presidential election we had this week. As a member of the Global Media Conspiracy, I had to work a 12-hour shift, which pretty much obliterated Tuesday and Wednesday for me. I cannot now remember what I did on Monday that I felt was more important than writing. The end result is that I have furthered my novel by just 400 words. Hemmingway could have done better on his worst alcohol binge.
    Actually, that's not a fair comparison -- regardless of how many words I can pump out, it's a good bet that Hemmingway could have done better, quality-wise. As could the guy who wrote the Clifford the Big Red Dog books.

  • Today, of course, is Guy Fawkes Day, aka Bonfire Night, aka Get Drunk And Set Something On Fire Night. We seriously need to adopt this holiday in the United States (even though there's something of a conflict of interest, what with Bonfire Night celebrating the preservation of British authority and the U.S. having put a bunch of effort into breaking free of it some 170 years later).
    My first Bonfire Night was celebrated in Cosham, Portsmouth. They had a funfair, fireworks, and had set fire to a handful of massive oak trees. That last part is what hooked me. My family's from Texas, man; we pride ourselves on overdoing things to a grand scale. Effectively my response was this: "Ooh. Fire big. Many trees burn. Me impressed. Me love England."
    The other thing that amused me was the deadly way in which people were allowed on a number of the funfair rides. Let's say you wanted to ride one of those teacup-like rides:
    In the God Blessed United States, you would wait patiently in a roped switchback line until the heavily tattooed man from Kentucky stopped the ride and allowed all the teacuppers to exit the ride. Then you would go find your seat and wait until everyone is safely secured before the ride started up again.
    In Cosham, we waited in a meandering pseudo-queue until the heavily tattooed man from Southampton signaled us to walk onto the moving platform. He then physically stopped one of the cars from spinning, told its occupants to get out, collected our £1 coins, had us sit down, and gave the car a good spin as he walked off to help someone else.
    Scream if you wanna go faster.

  • Can someone explain to me why there are 11 teams in the Big Ten?

  • Good news for Americans who don't want to go to Europe: You can't afford to go there anyway.

  • I want a T-shirt that declares me as "senior executive of the subcommittee on protesting stuff."

  • America -- not at all run by goobers.

  • Did you vote for Bush? No chicken for you.

  • The most fun mayor in America.

  • Wow. That is a lot of cocaine.

  • Don't mess with Oklahoma.

  • Chocolate-coated highway. I know I'm thinking like a 14-year-old boy here, but that just doesn't sound right.

  • I am resisting the urge to make any sort of link between my comment above and this story.

  • When I think culturally sensitive, I think Wal-Mart.

  • The section on parallel parking in this guide must be particularly challenging.

  • Elton John -- genius? Definitely.
  • Friday, November 5, 2004

    No need to panic


    There is nothing to be worried about. Nothing at all. Now, if you'll excuse me, the girls and I must retreat to the bunker... er, basement.

    Thursday, November 4, 2004

    The true north strong and free

  • My father, a Kerry voter, was pondering Wednesday his options now that President Bush has been re-elected.
    "Perhaps I'll just remain in a state of denial for the next four years," he said.
    Another option that came to him stemmed from the fact that his grandfather had helped to build the Canadian railroad.
    "Pop* had to become a Canadian citizen to work on the railroad," he said. "As far as I know, he just went back to Texas but never switched his citizenship. Maybe I could be grandfathered in up there..."
    If that doesn't work, apparently it takes just five years to expatriate to Canada -- which is about as long as it will take to figure out the icing rule in hockey.

  • That all said, Canada has announced it will offer no special treatment.

  • Applying for British naturalization looks even more difficult (Question 10; Item 2) -- those bits about "must not be of unsound mind" and "must be of good character" may be a challenge for me.

  • Some people accuse us in the Global Media Conspiracy of harboring a certain bias. I say that's nonsense.

  • Perhaps this will be of note only to Esther and me, but: Noooooooooooooooooo.

  • Speaking of Esther, I have come to the painful realization that she doesn't want me commenting on her blog. A few days ago, I made a comment about her ghost dog and she removed the comments feature from her blog. She brought it back a day or two later, I left a comment, she removed the comments again.
    You cut me deep, man.

  • I wonder if I could bet on myself to get my book published?

  • Many years ago, I discovered that I could often get away with a free ride on regional French trains by pretending to be asleep. They wouldn't want to wake me to check my ticket. This trick never worked in Britain, though. You must always have a ticket on British trains.

  • On the plus side, he now has super-human strength.

  • Oh, Jake, say it ain't so.

  • Terror Reigns In Spotsylvania

  • It probably swam in the doe end -- see what I did there?

  • I am canceling vacation plans to Gauhati, India.

  • You know, one thing I'm thankful for is the fact that popular music has moved beyond the use of harmonica solos.

    *My dad calls his grandfather "Pop." I call my grandfather "Papa." My grandfather calls his notoriously cantankerous Orangeman grandfather "Pappy."
  • Wednesday, November 3, 2004

    Confound their politics

  • I am in a miserable state of delirious exhaustion today. Some people respond to lack of sleep a little better than others; I'm not one of those people. I finally got to bed around 2 a.m. and stumbled back to my feet at 7 a.m. to get ready for work. I am now suffering a cold and speaking as if I were drunk.

  • I happened upon this story today. I would personally like to apologize to Britain, on behalf of my fellow Americans, for the negative comments.
    I am very, very, very, very, very sorry that we called you tea-sipping yellow-toothed pansies. When we called you "meddling socialist pricks," we were probably drunk. When we called you "weenie-spined Limeys," well, obviously, that was uncalled for. And we realize that our bringing up both world wars every time you offer constructive criticism is a very tired and rhetorically weak tactic, but, well, we can't think of anything else to say.
    For what it's worth, Iknow we lost the War of 1812 -- to Canada. And I still love the castles!

  • Prime Minister Tony Blair's comic timing made the news today in the United States and I would like to point out to Jenny that Blair was wearing a poppy (hint, hint).

  • In yet another election disappointment, there will be no Sheriff Love Sponge.

  • Here's a story that underlines the importance of good translation; there's a difference between turning lions loose upon Christians and turning lions into Christians.

  • This woman is a criminal mastermind.

  • Things you might find in my pickup: a jug of antifreeze, bungee cords, a few oil rags, a blanket, a flashlight -- nothing particularly exotic.

  • Boy I sure love donuts. But I'm in my car. I've got to use one hand to drive and the other to hold my coffee -- where should I put my donut? Dang, seemed like a good idea at the time.
  • The Dan Rather fortune cookie

    According to my co-worker, who apparently sat around taking notes, here's a list of odd things CBS news anchor Dan Rather said during Election Night coverage:

    7:51 p.m. - "One's reminded of that old saying, 'Don't taunt the alligator until after you've crossed the creek.'"

    8:36 p.m. - "What Kerry needs is the equivalent of Tom Brady coming off the bench and bringing him from behind in the race."

    8:39 p.m. - "The presidential race (is) swinging like Count Basie."

    11:44 p.m. - "No question now that Kerry's rapidly reaching the point where he's got his back to the wall, his shirttail's on fire and the bill collector's at the door."

    11:52 p.m. - "John Kerry needs something on the order of a 55- or 60-yard field goal to win this."

    12:10 a.m. - "John Kerry's in the position of, if you want to use the metaphor, he's got to draw to an inside straight. But hey, sometimes you get the right card and you hit that straight."

    12:11 a.m. - "Vice President Dick Cheney would not have flown all the way out there (Hawaii) overnight and put that lei around his neck and sort of hula-danced, if you will, unless he thought there was a chance of carrying that out there."

    12:14 a.m. - (To Joe Lockhart) "I know that you'd rather walk through a furnace in a gasoline suit than consider the possibility that John Kerry would lose Ohio."

    12:15 a.m. - (Also to Joe Lockhart) "What about Michigan? It's been out there for a long time. Is that making your fingernails sweat?"

    12:37 a.m. - "This presidential race has been crackling like a hickory fire for at least the last hour and a half."

    12:37 a.m. - "No one is saying that George Bush is not going to win the election, and if you had to bet the double-wide, you'd have to bet that he'd win."

    12:37 a.m. - "We keep talking about Ohio if you've been tuning in and out or you put the baby to bed or you went to pop the cap on an adult, or otherwise, beverage..."

    12:42 a.m. - "John Kerry has a... his lead is as thin as turnip soup."

    12:45 a.m. - "If a frog had sidepockets, he'd carry a handgun."

    Pickups, The Key To Love

    My latest column is out. Please help to make me famous by forwarding it to all your friends, family and swing states.

    I am projecting some heavy beer drinking

  • Throughout the evening I've been hearing sound bites from people who are well into their 20s and 30s who voted for the first time today. What the hell is wrong with these people?

  • One of the random thoughts I've been having tonight has been about the number of things being decided today. It's not just the president, or even senators. There are also dozens of initiatives sprinkled across the country that will decide everything from gay marriage to sports stadiums. The people deciding these issues are not just me; they are the people who back up on the interstate when they miss an exit, they are the people who think "Survivor" is a good show, they are the same people who will look you in the eye and tell you its easier to open a bag of Cheetos than wash an apple.

  • And I'm giving away my political slant here, but, I'm miserable.

  • I have lost count of the number of times I have heard the phrase "It could be a long night."

  • There will be one last bit of blogging at 1 a.m. CST.
  • Dw i eisiau bod eich arlywydd

  • One wonders if Lincoln (who was himself of Welsh descent) ever choked through a few phrases of Cymraeg.

  • Here's a look at which media outlets are calling which states, and when.

  • My coworker and I were discussing the possibility that one really good way to screw things up today would be to combine the lines for voting with the lines for flu shots.

  • I find it strangely comforting that people not wearing "I Voted" stickers are being met with looks of scorn today.

  • It's a good bet that Rene Armando doesn't give a damn about today's election -- he's got other things on his mind.

  • Tragedy has struck in Rhode Island.

  • My highest score on this game has been a 6.

  • The babbling continues at 11 p.m. CST
  • Happy Birthday Rachel

  • Along with it being Election Day, today is also my wife's birthday. To celebrate, she will be attending classes until 9 p.m. then coming home to an empty apartment to eat leftovers and work on her master's project. What a lucky lady.
    Rachel is 28 years old today.

  • Election results are now trickling in, and we are staring at each other; wondering what to make of said results.

  • Come back again at 9 p.m. CST for more useless blogging.
  • Tuesday, November 2, 2004

    Has Walt Brown won yet?

  • In about an hour we'll start receiving election results from East Coast polling stations. It's all a formality, of course; Walt Brown has this one in the bag.

  • Meanwhile Blogger has set its phasers to maximum suck. It appears to be crapping out with the regularity of a grass-eating dog.

  • I hope that the five people involved got a chance to vote before this happened.

  • Number of election-related stories I've read in just the last hour: 20

  • Of course, none of this election stuff matters because we're all gonna die, anyway.

  • Next useless update at 7 p.m. CST
  • Who knew it was that easy?

  • Like most Internet behemoths, my benevolent employer lives and dies by its sweatpants-wearing technical geniuses. To make us feel like we actually have some sort of relevance, the über minds downstairs will CC us on e-mails to let us know the status of certain projects. Something tells me, however, that they don't take us very seriously. Here's an actual solution to a technical glitch we were experiencing:
    "The coldfusion array needed some lovin'."

  • I am suffering withdrawal symptoms as a result of Esther's decision to eliminate comments option from her blog.

  • Next utterly worthless blog update at 5 p.m. CST
  • Special Election Day Blogtacular

    Because I'm stuck at the headquarters of my benevolent employer for the next 12 hours, I will be blogging at least once every two hours today. Maybe; until I run out of things to say.

    I voted at 9 a.m. this morning. There was about a 30-minute wait to get into the polling area. To the best of my knowledge, my vote was accepted and I will go yet another election sans disenfranchisement.

    One sort of cool aspect about my polling place was that they had a Kids Voting area where children could take part. It, too, had a line. It, too, had bossy poll volunteers. Occasionally the curly-haired little girl manning the door of the Kids Voting area would turn to assure those of us waiting in the grown-up line that the kids' vote doesn't count. I can't say it would have really bothered me -- considering some of the people whose votes do count.

    In the great state of Minnesota, our ballots are fill-in-the-blank. It's like taking an SAT test. I suspect this level of eye-hand coordination would cause cerebral hemorrhaging in most Florida voters.

    After filling in all the necessary blanks, we then fed our ballots into a large machine that I referred to as the dalek. It would do a quick read of the ballot to make sure you hadn't double voted or improperly filled in the blanks then we walked over to a smiling old lady who slapped "I Voted" stickers on us and sent us on our way.

    The machine was a bit confusing and to add to the oddity of it the poll volunteers had set out a line of tape about 10 feet away from the dalek and would not allow themselves to cross into the space -- only voters were allowed near the dalek.

    At one point, as I was waiting in line to feed my ballot to the dalek, it spit out a woman's ballot, indicating that there was some sort of error that would have prevented her vote from being counted. The woman handed her no-good ballot to a poll worker who clamped it in a metal folder and held it at arm's length, as if it was radioactive, then walked her back to the ballot table so she could try again.

    The whole thing made me feel very confident that whatever the result tonight in Minnesota, it will be valid.

    Monday, November 1, 2004

    Go Walt Brown Go!

  • Walt Brown; he's our man. If he can't do it... Bush or Kerry probably will.
    As part of the Global Media Conspiracy loyalty-hazing ritual, I will be spending 12 full hours at the pleasure of my benevolent employer on Election Day. Twelve hours of reading dozens of variations of the same Bush-Kerry story, countless stories on local races, and occasional psychopathic biased e-mails from readers*. What could possibly be more fun?!
    A colonoscopy, perhaps. Eating a pound of hair.
    They tell me I'll get free pizza out of the deal, though.
    Of course, if football results and world opinion are anything to go by, this election is already done.

  • How was your Halloween? My wife and I were pretty sure no trick-or-treaters would be able to infiltrate the Delta Force-quality security of our apartment building, so we ventured to the sprawling Twin Cities suburb of Bloomington, Minn., in hopes of being able to dispense candy to America's future obesity sufferers.
    We bought a bag of Crunch bars, a bag of Butterfingers, a bag of Kit-Kats, a bag of Starburst, and a bag of Hershey's Kisses. My mother already had two bags of what I would describe as "old-lady candy" (we just left those in the cupboard). I was so excited to hand out candy that I even got all dressed up in my kilt.
    We got four trick-or-treaters.
    Four!!
    There was a ninja and his mummy sister, Dorothy (of "Wizard of Oz" fame -- how outdated is that costume? Her parents clearly weren't trying) and a butterfly. I missed the butterfly because I was down in the basement fixing my mother's dryer.
    "That's probably for the best," my brother said. "Those kids don't know what a kilt is. To them, you're just an ugly man in a dress."

  • On the subject of kilts, I learned this joke from a Vulcan on Saturday:
    What does a Scotsman wear underneath his kilt?
    Lipstick, if he's lucky.

  • Last week I linked to the story about the woman who dug up and kept her boyfriend's ashes for more than a decade, but it gets worse: She also drank his beer.

  • More than 30,000 Americans are killed each year by firearms, but it's the BB guns we're really worried about. That and West Nile virus.

  • Alice? Who the...?
    I guess I'm not up to date on my British monarchy.

  • I knew a lot of guys in university who could compete in this championship. Oh, wait. Tobacco. Yeah, they could probably do that, too.

  • Here's a sign that you've taken your love of a sports personality too far: "I am looking at him in person for the first time and he really does look like Jesus."

  • Wall-to-wall crapeting (yes, I spelled that right).

    *We had one e-mail today calling for the deaths of Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Helen Thomas -- none of which are under the employ of my benevolent employer.
  •