Monday, January 31, 2005

Esther and more linky blogetry

  • I'm feeling very linky today, I'll warn you.
    Esther has suggested to me that when I just link to things, it's blogging of the lowest grade. She would know, as I now have people e-mailing me via my benevolent employer, desperately hoping to learn Esther's true identity. Esther is fast becoming a blog celebrity.
    According to Technorati, Beth of MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy had theorized that Esther is my wife (I can't now find that post on her actual blog -- perhaps because I'm lazy and stupid, perhaps because it's been deleted. The former, most likely). Nope. Here is a picture of me and my wife in Wyoming. Esther is not pictured; she was busy getting sloshed at the game lodge. If you want to see a picture of Esther, your best bet may be to wait until 2006.
    How far is my head up my own ass with this line of discussion? Perhaps it's best if I just stick to linking things.

  • If you are the sort of person who can tolerate the above kind of pompous blogetry about blogging about blogging and you live in the area of St. Paul-Minneapolis (or you're up for a road trip) you can score some free pizza. This documentary is being screened at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 3 at the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus Theater.
    The press on the event suggests you would want to come to "take part in a discussion on the impact and import of this form of web publishing." I would only go for the free pizza.

  • I spent most of my day going through this site, run as an extension of the God-blessed U.S. military. Actually, if the military spent more of their $80 billion on amusing little projects like this, I'd be quite the hawk. I like this picture:

    But the picture that will give me the heebie-jeebies for the next week is this one.

  • One-third of American students will be welcoming our new overlords with open arms.

  • The people of Mink, La., are living the good life.

  • Packs of hair?

  • You know, I think that beer improves just about everything. But it's generally a bad idea to second-guess the cook -- regardless of what's being cooked.

  • I think we've all had a drunken episode that went a bit like this.

  • In a recent column I complained about the lack of media circus show trials and now the universe is set to come back swinging with the Michael Jackson farce. My favorite aspect of the upcoming trial is that "E! Entertainment Television plans to use actors to create daily re-enactments." Brilliant!
  • Sunday, January 30, 2005

    An open letter

    Dear My Body,

    I am very sorry for the way that I treat you. I know that I should not fill you with beer, Buffalo wings, beer, Applebee's Riblets and beer. It's just that those things are so tasty.

    I realize that you are very angry at me right now, and that's why it feels like someone has bashed me in the skull with one of those medieval-style maces. I suppose I deserve this.

    But the thing is, I only get two days off a week. These weekend days are very valuable to me. I was wondering if perhaps you could make the hurting stop, just this one time. I will take you running if you will let me, and then maybe we can do some other fun things together.

    Please stop hurting. Please.



    Friday, January 28, 2005

    Non-award-winning blogetry

  • What's the point of having blog awards if it's never publicized when we can nominate bloggers of note?
    S'dim ots i fi*, though, because I don't read any of the blogs nominated.

  • Is there something wrong with me that I think the Ramones are crap? All their songs sound exactly the same. How is that groundbreaking? What am I missing?

  • "Do you ever get paranoid about the futility of what we're doing?" I asked a co-worker today.
    "What do you mean?"
    "Everything we do exists on the Internet -- it is nothing but a conglomeration of electrical nothingness that does not exist outside of itself. A lamp exists regardless of whether it's plugged in, but the Internet does not exist independently of the servers that host it. Theoretically, it could silently slip into nothingness at any moment and we would have no proof that it ever really existed. In a very real sense, I have spent the past four years of my life working on absolutely nothing -- a dream.
    "No. I don't ever think about that."

  • Good names for a band: Coffee Cup And Underpants

    *"It doesn't matter to me"
  • Thursday, January 27, 2005

    Breasts, What a Passion

  • "My wife and I were very shocked but we watched it until the end because we couldn't believe what we were seeing." Indeed. Because you couldn't believe what you were seeing. And you didn't want to waste £2.99, anyway.

  • Because my user tracking is toast, I had no idea until today that noisy ghost is back with another blog. Noisy, you will note is an actual writer, having actually been published, as opposed to me -- a faux-writer. I am a writer only because I say I am and no one has yet come along to break my fingers to prevent me from blogging such outrageous lies. Actually, that wouldn't do any good. I type with one finger and could likely jerry-rig a pencil or something to the cast. Or I could probably figure out how to type with other body parts -- especially when thinking about Jennifer Jason Leigh in "Hudsucker Proxy."

  • I wish this sort of legislation could gain traction. Sadly, not that many people under the age of 21 (or even under the age of 51, for that matter) tend to vote, by which time the issue is wholly irrelevant. They simply look back and think: "Man, glad I'm not that age anymore."

  • I am also glad am not 9 or 10 years old, else I would be in prison.

  • The football coach for Orlando, Fla.'s Jones High School has his work cut out for him when the school's athletic director -- the man who hired him -- offers this as an endorsement: "I'm not going to hold it against Mike what his forefathers did to us 400 years ago."
    Lucky Mike.
  • Happy Australia Day

  • And happy belated Burns Night, as well. Did you do anything artsy-fartsy? I stayed up until 1 a.m. reading a Carl Hiaasen novel. Somehow I don't think this counts.

  • Anyone have a link to the Daily Show package that featured St. Paul and our freakish Peanuts statues?

  • Tuesday I linked to a story that pointed out that the last two Jews in Afghanistan never got along with each other. I think that should become the common metaphor for boneheaded disagreement like this one.

  • Good name for a band: Cranky-Poo.
  • Tuesday, January 25, 2005

    Worst Day Of Year Behind Us Now

    Here's my latest column.
    My favorite line: "If I lived each day as if it were my last, I would spend every day eating birthday cake and doing very naughty things with my wife."
    Please help me become famous enough to retreat to some hovel in southern Ireland by forwarding this week's column to all your friends, family and Ultimate Fighting combatants.

    Bar-B-Q, BBC and a Jew

  • Today I was thinking quite a bit about Big Jim's Old South Bar-B-Q, in Encinitas, Calif.
    My wife and I first went there on my Birthday in 2001. We had decided we were going to "drive up the coast," but had only made it to Encinitas by lunchtime. The furthest north we made it on that trip was to San Luis Obispo. I am such an extraordinary waster of time that if no destination is given, the destination achieved will be well short of what anyone else might accomplish. We had set out from San Diego at 9 a.m. and pulled into San Luis Obispo (324 miles away) at about 10 p.m. But I wasn't thinking about the SLO Brewpub today, I was thinking about Big Jim's.
    It was cold and raining that day and Rachel and I were the only ones in the restaurant. The owner, "Big Jim" Wade, came over and thanked us for coming in on such a miserable day and apologized for the fact that his liquor license had not yet been approved. I don't have any specific thoughts about Big Jim's, I was just thinking about it. Good food. Eat there if you ever get the chance.
    That has to be the most pointless story I've ever told on this blog. I think my recent lack of blogging enthusiasm is beginning to show.

  • Ooooh! All-new BBC Radio Player. I told you it would be good -- you can now listen to just about every radio program the BBC offers. They were already doing that, but now there's even more, and you can flip through what's available without having to stop what you are currently listening to. What this all boils down to is that I can finally listen to a Welsh-language radio soap opera. Thank you, Britons, for paying your license fees so I can keep tabs on Rhydeglwys.
    And, unlike the damn 89.3 stream, the BBC doesn't tank.

  • You get the sense that Python Pete is soon to become python lunch?

  • If I were a late-night television writer, I would be all over this story.

  • Meet Afghanistan's only Jew. And what does it say about human nature that until recently he was in a constant feud with Afghanistan's only other Jew?
  • Monday, January 24, 2005

    You can drink tap water and breathe the air

  • It's alive!!! Minnesota's One And Only Hope For Good Radio is on the air and online finally.
    Getting my clunky benevolent-employer-issued computer (allegedly they will be replacing my circa 2000 machine at some point in the near future, but there appears to be no evidence to support this claim) to play the aacPlus stream was a pain in the caboose, but I finally got things up and running and am still making a judgment as to how much I like the station. I mean, you can't not like a station that follows Low with Patsy Cline, Ani DiFranco* with Memphis Minnie, Hem with Frank Sinatra (followed by Cake's "Frank Sinatra" -- cheeky), but is it enough to draw me away from my beloved BBC radio? Especially with the BBC re-tooling its on-demand player -- who knows how good that will be.
    But for today, the general assessment of The Current is this: good station; dumb-ass name. I didn't hear it, but apparently the first song was "Shhh" by Atmosphere -- a song about how great Minnesota is. Indeed.
    And how delightful was it to hear the old voices of Rev 105 prancing about in my skull again? It's as if I have somehow gotten that evil-stupid wish of mine that I could go back to being 18 years old. I wonder if Sara Handy wants to make out?

  • One thing I learned from listening to 89.3 (I can't seem to force myself to write "The Current" over and over again) is that there is a band out there with a great name.

    *Ani DiFranco?! Even our progressive radio can't let go of the early 90s.
  • Saturday, January 22, 2005

    Snow emergency

    The other day I started complaining that my blog doesn't have enough pictures. Whilst Googling for images of professional wrestlers always delivers, I decided to take a few pictures of my own. So, it's field-trip time blogateers. I hope you have your permission slip, and be sure to keep track of your buddy -- today we're Waking Up Early On A Saturday To Move The Car.

    We finally got a reasonable amount of snow in the Twin Cities Friday, which meant that a snow emergency was declared. The rules of a snow emergency vary by municipality, the only consistent elements being that the rules are confusing and that they require you to crawl out of bed and move your car by 8 a.m. My alarm was set for 7:50. I rolled out of bed, threw on some warm clothes, and stepped outside to the first proper winter day we've had this season.

    To other people, especially those who aren't from here, we've had plenty of proper winter days, extending all the way back to November. Last week temperatures struggled to get above 0 Fahrenheit. But it just doesn't feel like winter without a load of snow on the ground. As you can see from the picture below -- looking east from the steps of my apartment building -- it finally feels like winter.

    Still facing east in the picture below, I am now standing in the middle of Grand Avenue. In a perfect world, there would be trolley tracks right where I'm standing. Grand Avenue was home to the first electric trolley line in the Twin Cities. But, as Esther alluded to the other day, evil infiltrated our fair metro area in the 1950s and the rail cars were burned (the man receiving the check, Fred Albin Ossanna, was convicted of fraud on Aug. 6, 1960, in connection with his dismantling of the rail lines. I hope he and James Towley [the man presenting the check] are presently burning in hell).
    These days one can only stand in the middle of the road, their toes freezing at 8 a.m. on a Saturday, and think: "Wow. This waking up and trudging through snow to move my car is so much better than an adequate public transportation system. Fuck you very much James Towley, Fred Ossanna, Charles Green (began dismantling rail lines until it was discovered he had connections to organized crime), General Motors (pushed for dismantling so as to be able to sell buses), and everyone else who set the Twin Cities back by a good century. Fuck you very, very much."

    All bitterness aside, there are still several advantages to living in St. Paul. For one thing, they tend not to tow your car during snow emergencies. According to the city's website "It will cost you $128.40 to get your vehicle out of the impound lot if you pick it up before midnight the day it is towed. A $15 storage fee is added to that amount for each additional day the vehicle is left there." That's in addition to a $43 ticket.
    But, unlike the money-grubbing bastards in Minneapolis, St. Paul will more often than not let the car owner off with just the cost of the ticket and the frustration of having to dig themselves out of the 3-foot wall of ice and snow that the plows have pushed against their car.
    Sure, by failing to tow, the city of St. Paul loses a bit of money, but it wins the hearts and minds of its citizens, who then find themselves willing to overlook municipal failures like the inadequate public transportation system; or the Ford Parkway Bridge, upon which construction was completed in the spring but for which pedestrian railing on the southern side still does not exist; or the potholed roads in my neighborhood that make every day feel like a Hummer commercial. The owner of the car below doesn't care about any of that. He's just saved $130.

    This is my corner liquor store, Thomas Liquors. If I were a wine snob, I would probably be even more ruthlessly dedicated to this store. That said, I feel guilty when I find myself buying beer from any other place.

    Across the street from Thomas Liquors is Grand Performance, a bike shop that I have never been in -- primarily because I do not own a bicycle. If it had been a spring/summer/fall day, the shop would be swarming with hard-core cyclists in all their fancy skin-tight gear. Whole platoons of cyclists will use the shop as a starting-/ending-/mid-point.

    With Grand Performance to my left, the picture below was taken facing south at the corner of Grand Avenue and Prior Avenue. Rachel and I had been celebrating my mother's birthday in the wilds of Bloomington, Minn., Friday night, so we got in rather late. As a result, I had to park my truck two blocks down.

    The picture below was taken at the intersection of Prior and Lincoln (still facing south) -- one more block to go. You'll notice that the plows have simply gone around the car on the left.
    Incidentally, this is the route I take when walking to the bar. Had it not been 8 a.m., I likely would have done that after moving my truck.

    The picture below is a wintry scene facing west at the intersection of Prior and Goodrich. One of the cheesily beautiful things about St. Paul is that it has the capacity to at times look like a Thomas Kinkade painting. I wonder if I could sell outrageously overpriced pictures of my neighborhood to ridiculously wealthy Southerners? Probably could, actually. But it would make my soul hurt.

    Turning around and facing east from the same intersection, you can see my truck there on the left. The guy on the right was stuck in and I had to help push his car out of a drift.

    And here's a close-up of my beloved always-causing-me-problems Ford Ranger, which was manufactured at the Ford plant just a mile or so down the road. In the summers, the guys who work overnights at the plant like to spend their mornings getting drunk and fishing the Mississippi River.
    Anyone who has ever been to St. Paul is probably at this point shocked that I walked about three blocks without passing a church. I assure you that there is an Episcopal church just one more block down.

    And here's goofy-looking ol' me, proudly holding my ice scraper like some sort of scepter. I am considering replacing the current "About Me" picture with this one. What do you think?
    After scraping all the ice off the truck, I then drove it up a whole entire block onto a street that had been plowed, trudged back to the apartment, and Rachel made me pancakes.

    The end.

    Friday, January 21, 2005

    Trevor Hoffman knows me

  • A few years ago, I was standing in the warmth of spring sunshine on the platform of the Mission San Diego Trolley stop, looking west toward the parking lot of Qualcomm Stadium. It was the season opener for the Padres, and even though the game wasn't for several more hours, the parking lot was already full of tailgaters.

    I really hated living in San Diego -- for all sorts of reasons -- but I thoroughly enjoyed riding the Trolley. My apartment was just up the hill (a painfully long hill when you've been drinking) from the Mission San Diego stop, Oggi's was at the Fenton Parkway stop, the Shakespeare was just a block or so from the Washington Street stop; the malls, Little Italy, and downtown were also Trolley accessible. The boneheads that designed the system didn't run the line to the zoo or the airport or any of the universities or the beach, but I still think it was one of the finer aspects of living in San Diego. That probably clues you in as to how little I enjoyed living there.

    Like all public transportation systems, the Trolley draws its fair share of colorful characters. But most Southern Californians are too self-absorbed/obsessed with social class to take public transportation, so the colorful characters are easier to identify because they didn't get as lost in the shuffle. Conversely, since I was one of the few normal people taking the Trolley, it wasn't hard for the crazies to zero in on me.

    And so it was that I found myself talking to a man who could very easily qualify as the San Diego Padres' biggest fan. For 27 years, regardless of whether the team was playing at home, rain or usually shine, he had stood outside the same gate of Qualcomm Stadium (formerly Jack Murphy Stadium, formerly San Diego Stadium) with a transistor radio and listened to the broadcast of every game. Every single game.

    "I'm their biggest fan," he told me with immense pride. "Trevor Hoffman knows me."

    That's the way he said it, too, "Trevor Hoffman knows me" -- correctly phrasing it in the context that his dedication to the team is greater than any one player. That's not to say that he wasn't wearing a No. 51 jersey.

    According to my new crazy friend, over the years his dedication had been recognized by various players who had heard about the crazy fan. He had received a few game balls, the jersey he was wearing and 2002 season tickets as a result of his dedication. He excitedly showed me his tickets -- nosebleed seats, but who can complain about free tickets to a ballgame? I would hope that there is a special place for him at Petco Park these days

    I have no idea why I told you that story, but I suppose the moral is that persistence pays off. Use that information as you will.

  • Yet another reason to avoid the Deep South: The sale of sex toys is illegal in Georgia.

  • "The man obviously needs some sort of counseling." Obviously.

  • This sounds like the kind of bar I wish I had the guts to drink at: "During the standoff, a man reportedly came outside and told police that some people were still in the bar, but they weren't hostages -- just passed out."

  • I am deeply jealous that people are trying to learn who Esther really is. I don't get that sort of attention. Therefore, I have decided to reveal her true identity.
  • Pundit-palooza!

  • Did you bother to watch the inaugural ceremonies today? As a member of the Global Media Conspiracy, I was all but required to do so. I spent most of the time running up to the actual inaugural ceremony watching coverage on CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, and ABC. I don't think there's a political pundit alive that didn't get a chance to be on television today. What a delightful moment today must have been for them -- suddenly all those tedious stories they tell at parties have relevance.
    Personally, I enjoyed the retard observations, like: "This is the first presidential inauguration since 9/11." Brilliant. I'd like to point out that is also the first presidential inauguration since Christmas.
    I'm sure Cadillac also appreciated the SEVEN minutes Wolf Blitzer spent talking about the amenities of the brand new presidential limo. His credibility plummeted into the negative when he said: "And now the president and members of Congress will enjoy a delicious meal."

  • Life amid the confines of my benevolent employer was particularly hectic today, hence decreased blogging.
  • Wednesday, January 19, 2005

    The greatest fucking country in the world

  • I have been asked to write a short article for this blog (NOTE: The site is in Welsh. No, it's not in Klingon. Yes, I've heard that line before). The article should be about something international with an American point of view, which creates something of a challenge for me because Americans tend not to think about international things. Especially when there's a new Jib-Jab cartoon. Those are hilarious.
    And we've got our own problems to deal with, like when that guy from that band you've never heard of says a naughty word.
    Anyhoo, if you've got any ideas on what I should write about, let me know.

  • Here's something to look forward to: Next Monday is expected to be the worst day of the year.

  • Yeesh. What's this woman complaining about? She gets a free medical tool.

  • "It is what it is, dog."

  • This blog still needs pictures. Here's one:

  • Tuesday, January 18, 2005

    The one in which Chris lies on the ice and uses every profanity he knows

  • Last night I was telling my wife about the chocolate overkill that is Chantico drinking chocolate. I told her my theory that it would be much better mixed with Jameson and she said: "Or you could mix it with milk."
    "Why would I do that?" I asked.

  • Also yesterday, I had the pleasure of changing a flat tire (the British spell it "tyre;" the Welsh spell it "teiar") in the piss cold and dark without the proper tools.
    My wife and I are a one-car family because we care about the environment and we are doing our part to keep Mother Earth clean. It has nothing to do with our being poor and my proclivity to spend all available cash on booze. Really.
    Anyhoo, about five minutes before my wife was set to marshal me from the headquarters of my benevolent employer, she called to inform me that she was sitting quietly in an elementary school parking lot with a fully deflated right front tire/tyre/teiar. My dad, eager to make up for the years he spent neglecting me whilst traveling the rodeo circuit (good luck to noisy ghost in his quest, by the way), drove me out to the site of my attenuated pickup and then sat in the warmth of his minivan whilst I spent about 30 minutes changing the tire/tyre/teiar. Occasionally, my father or my wife would poke their head from the warmth of the minivan and shout into the minus-2 Fahrenheit air: "Need anything?"
    "No. Fine," I would grunt.
    The whole thing should have taken only about five minutes but for the fact that a key part of the whole jack system was lost. The jack system consists of a jack, five foot-long bars, and an L-shaped lug wrench. To get at the spare, you must winch it down from beneath the truck bed. You do this by snapping together the five rods and wrench to create a large crank, which you then insert in a small hole in the rear of the bed. It all looks pretty nifty when it works properly. Of course, as is the case with most nifty things, it is destined to fail because the person who designed it was more concerned with its niftiness than its real-world application. Military folk suffer this sort of design failure in their equipment all the time.
    The end result is that once I had lowered the tire/tyre/teiar, and pulled the crank free of its slot, only four of the one-foot bars came loose. The fifth remained lodged in the rectum of my truck bed.
    Now, guess which of those five bars was the most important. The bar trapped in the arse of my truck had a tapered end that fit into a slot on the jack, which would have allowed me to niftily raise the truck in same crank-stylee as I had lowered the spare. Instead, I had to improvise, using the tapered end of the lug wrench to slowly -- verrrrrry slllllooooowly -- raise the truck. While this worked, there were all sorts of problems with it.
    1) Due to a certain lack of leverage, I really had to strain to turn the dial on the jack and get the car to raise.
    2) In order to get at the jack, I actually had to lie on my belly and slip beneath the front end of the truck as I raised it. Had the jack (placed on ice) slipped, I likely would have gotten a few cracked ribs out of the deal (there was room under there, but not much).
    3) I was lying on my belly -- on the ice and oil and salt and whatever else collects in an elementary school parking lot. As the minutes wore on, the ice melted a bit beneath the warmth of my prostrate body and wetness seeped into my crotch.
    I used a lot of profanity during this time. I think it may count as one of only a handful of times I have used profanity around my dad.
    I took it into a shop this morning and paid $15 for a new valve stem.

  • All day I've been delighting myself with this list of Welsh inventors. Some of my favorites are Harry Grindell-Matthews, Frank Hope-Jones, and Robert Recorde.
    The Welsh are, sadly, not particularly famous for anything as far as Americans are concerned. As such, it's very difficult for Americans to romanticize their view of the Welsh; the end result being that they are quite easily forgotten. I think it also hurts that the Welsh accent is difficult to imitate.
    I run into blank stares on an almost daily basis when it comes to my love of all things Welsh. I can only get people to light up when I tell them that it is the root language of Irish. Then they tell me about how part of their family is Irish (of course they are -- we all are. There are only 5 million Irish, but somehow all 300 million Americans have Irish heritage. Linus isn't going snowboarding, he's going on a breeding excursion) and do a weak Irish impersonation that revolves around the use of "Jay-zus." Perhaps I'm just bitter because my great-great -grandfather was an Orangeman, so I can't brag in American Irish pubs.
    I can rattle off all sort of information about famous Welshmen (Tom Jones, Dylan Thomas, one third of the signers of the U.S. Constitution, et al) and Welsh accomplishments (gave the world both Jack Daniels and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, as well as indirectly saving Scotland from Edward's full wrath). But I think I sort of like the quietly unappreciated nature of the Welsh. There's something delightful about being known, if at all, as the people who brought you the spare tire and the needles used to inflate sports balls.

  • Have you heard this? It's from these guys and fills me with joy.

  • My beloved city of St. Paul has a very serious problem when Fidel Castro is beating us to the punch in enacting important legislation.
    That's right, Randy Kelly; Castro would make a better mayor than you.

  • This blog needs more pictures. Less talk, more rock, and all that.
  • Monday, January 17, 2005

    Corpus Christi is nice this time of year

  • Rob Blair, kiss your career goodbye. Of course, if he were 20 years old and had been born into a life of extreme privilege, people might try to explain it away as a boyish mistake.
    Several years ago, an erstwhile coworker of mine was found to be responsible for a CG* that labeled President George W. Bush as "Motherfucking Cocksucker." In his defense, he did not mean to call GW a motherfucking cocksucker, it was effectively a technical mistake brought on by exhaustion and frustration and exasperation and all the other emotions that make television news such a crap business. It was compounded by the fact that he was going through a very messy break-up. He was on-air talent and after his segment went into commercial, the main anchor turned to him and shook his hand: "It was a pleasure working with you."
    His phone was ringing when he got back to his office and he was unemployed before the newscast went off the air. After a good year of searching he was finally able to start rebuilding his career in the small-market news backwater that is Corpus Christi, Texas.
    I would suspect, however, that Rob Blair faces a much more uphill climb. He may want to consider the merits of a career in washing machine sales.

  • I picked up a ninth rejection to my book Saturday and I've decided I will no longer keep tabs via my blog. It's depressing. Feel free to help me in writing a blurb for the "About Me" section on the right.

  • When I think of culinary brilliance, the first two things that come to mind are ground beef and cinnamon rolls from a can.

  • So the British singles chart this week was topped by Elvis, who also came in at No. 10. And Iron Maiden came in at No. 8?! At this point, don't you think it would be a good idea to abandon the British singles chart? Clearly it's no longer relevant.

  • As you know, those of us taking part in the Global Media Conspiracy (a Zionist Domination Scheme® subsidiary) not only hate America, but all things right and good. As such, we wager on death. Actually, we're so evil, we don't wager. We just keep tabs on who's best at predicting celebrity deaths for the upcoming year and take simple pleasure in their departing this mortal coil. I performed horribly for 2004. Hopefully, this year, the sweet release of death will touch more of my picks. Here's my list:
    1) Pope John Paul II --- 05/18/1920
    2) Gordon B. Hinckley --- 06/23/1910
    3) Rev. Billy Graham --- 11/07/1918
    4) Fidel Castro --- 08/13/1926
    5) Queen Elizabeth II --- 04/21/1926
    6) Gerald Ford --- 07/13/1913
    7) Boris Yeltsin --- 02/01/1931
    8) George H. W. Bush (the elder) --- 06/12/1924
    9) Jimmy Carter --- 10/01/1924
    10) Bob Dole --- 07/22/1923
    11) Terry Bolea (Hulk Hogan) --- 08/11/1953
    12) Dustin Runnels (Goldust) --- 04/11/1966
    13) Richard Morgan Fliehr (Ric Flair) -- 02/25/1949
    14) Eldridge Wayne Coleman ("Superstar Billy Graham) --- 09/10/1943
    15) Brett "The Hitman" Hart --- 07/02/1957
    16) Barret Robbins --- 08/26/1973
    17) Jerry Lewis --- 03/16/1926
    18) Mike Wallace --- 05/09/1918
    19) Hunter S. Thompson --- 07/18/1939
    20) Kurt Vonnegut --- 11/11/1922

    *A CG is that little graphic that pops up under a person in a news story and tells you their name or where that person is, etc. CG is short for "Chyron graphic," the system they used to use to put graphics on the screen. I don't think there are a lot of TV stations around anymore that use Chyron, but the name has stuck.
  • Friday, January 14, 2005

    She's blue snack, but the Olympia Snowe is worth it

  • BOOK UPDATE: I am somewhat reconsidering the wisdom of keeping tabs on my book's progress via my blog. On Thursday I got an e-mail from an agent that said: "So you've been rejected five times and have a narrator that compels readers to stop reading… I’ll bite." He asked to see a synopsis and the first three chapters.
    So things appear to be going alright at the moment, but I worry that perhaps I should be more, you know, professional. I don't want to hurt my chances of having someone being interested in my novel by pointing out that other people were not. But I am crap at being professional. It's like a tall red-headed white guy with a thick Vietnamese accent -- it's a disconnect.

  • I decided today that I wanted to give some of my hard-earned money to a faceless evil corporation, so I dropped into a Starbucks. I had the comic-haughtily named Chantico drinking chocolate. Good Lord Almighty Jesus On Water Skis, that drink was a little much. It was like drinking cake batter.
    If you plan on trying it, I would suggest thinning it out with something... like Jameson. Of course, that seems to be my solution to just about everything.

  • My wife is still out in St. George, living la vida mojada. I've had a few people ask if she and her family are OK. Of course, they are -- they're Mormons. Brigham Young established the center of town well away from the river and my wife's family, who are descended from Brigham's body guards, wisely chose to build their sturdy colonial-style home only a few blocks from the temple. The homes nearest the river are relatively new, which means that their occupants are likely just people from elsewhere who moved to St. George for its usually warm weather. "People from elsewhere" means non-Mormons, which means they had it coming.
    Side note: There are no bars is Washington County, where St. George is located -- trust me, I've looked -- but Park City has the most lax liquor laws in the state.

  • My co-workers and I have been developing a new slang as of late. It started when I got them in the habit of using a U.S. senator's name in place of a rude body part, as in: "If he doesn't want to follow those instructions, he can just kiss my Saxy Chambliss."
    (Play the game yourself. Here's a list of U.S. senators)
    Thursday, after reading that some snack vendors are developing a color-coded system to determine the healthfulness of their snacks, we realized that this system would likely be adopted into the slang lexicon.
    "That guy is so red snack," a girl might say, meaning that the boy is appealing but not good for her.
    Not having bothered to actually look at the color-coding system, we developed the phrase "blue snack." This is someone who is good for you but may not be that interesting -- the archetypal good Christian girl, as it were. Although, having married a good Mormon girl, I can assure you that they shag like red snacks.

  • Peanuts, by the way, are really good for you.

  • I wish St. Paul's mayor was this cool.
  • Thursday, January 13, 2005

    Hey there, little sexy pig

  • I found this little article whilst wandering through the depths of the BBC's pages. It includes a few links to music you may not have heard and that I find myself liking. How can you not appreciate music that includes lyrics like: "And hey there little sexy pig, you made it with a man. And now you've got a little kid with hooves instead of hands."

  • Of local interest: An old interview with the Menard's guy.

  • I think it's a pretty well-established fact that I am an extreme Britophile (have I ever shown you the picture of me and Rachel with Sarah Ferguson?), but, man, what an incredibly stupid move it was for Harry to wear a Nazi uniform. Honestly, what the hell is wrong with the thinking process there? It just makes absolutely no sense to me. Not only has he managed to insult millions of Jews and right-thinking peoples around the world, he's offended the millions of war dead who swore allegiance to his grandfather and died fighting the ideals represented by that uniform. And by wearing a desert uniform, he successfully also insults north Africa and, by extension, Muslims. There are only a handful of people left for him to insult.
    I can understand making really bad decisions. Once, when I was a teenager, I thought it would be a good idea to drive my bike off the roof of a building, attempting to land on a massive pile of dirt. I realized this was a bad idea almost as soon as it got under way. So it is perhaps possible that Harry would throw on Ye Olde Nazi Uniforme without thinking, but wouldn't he instantly think, "Oh, I say, what a terrible costuming choice this is," as soon as he looked in the mirror? Or while he was in the car on the way to the party? Or when the first person looked at him funny? Or at any other point in the evening? What an extreme bonehead.

  • Meanwhile, we don't care too much about Harry in the United States, because people are too angry at Randy Moss. I like Mark Cuban's take on the whole debacle.
  • The dumbest man in Britain

    His name is Harry.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2005

    The peanut

    Imagine if a peanut had a personality -- thoughts and feelings, etc. Now in this world where peanuts think and feel, let's put a few people who are honest.

    "I love you, man!" one person might say to Peanut, "Really. I cannot get enough of you. Every situation is made better when you're around. I think you are just so great!"

    Peanut, of course, would be humbled and very grateful, and would be sure to add this person to his Christmas card list.

    "I don't really think that much about peanuts," another person might say. "Sometimes you are there and sometimes you are not and sometimes that's good and sometimes that's not as good as it could be. On the whole, though, I suppose you're OK."

    And Peanut would think this to be a reasonable stance and would probably add this person to his Christmas card list, as well.

    "I hate you," another person might say. "I don't like your taste, I don't like your texture, I don't like your look. If there's something in which you are involved I want no part of it, because I just don't like you at all."

    Peanut, though hurt, would understand this viewpoint as well. He might wonder if perhaps this person might have the wrong impression of him -- perhaps this person has only seen peanuts when they are associating with drunks in the cheap seats at baseball games. But Peanut would just accept that people have varying tastes and wouldn't spend too much time thinking about it.

    But the people that Peanut would find himself worrying about would be those who have an allergic or illogical reaction to him. He would have no idea what he was doing to cause such a violent negative reaction in these people and it would hurt his self-image to think that at any moment he could, without warning, draw such a terrible response.

    And one day, one of his peanut superiors would pull him into their office and say: "A person has suffered anaphylactic shock because of you, Peanut. This sort of behavior must have repercussions. As such, you will not be given a pay raise this year."

    Peanut would ask what exactly he had done wrong, but no answer would be given and he would be sent out of the office.

    "I don't understand what I've done wrong," Peanut would say to himself. "I don't understand how I can do such bad things and have no idea that I'm doing them. I still don't understand what I've done wrong. I'm just a peanut. I wonder whether I have any role at all in the culinary world. But what else can I be? I've never been anything else but a peanut -- I don't know how to be anything else."

    Tuesday, January 11, 2005

    Wasting My Time

    Here it is: My latest column is out.

    As you'll see, all this philosophy business was just for a passing reference. I don't know why I didn't just think to consult Shawn. Who else would be better prepared to answer a "question of evil" query than a soon-to-be pastor? He suggested Martin Buber.

    Monday, January 10, 2005

    I heart Randy Moss

    Thanks to the Vikings' shock win Sunday, I was too busy celebrating to sit down and actually write the column I have coming out tomorrow. So, I had to write it today. Which means that I don't have much else to blog about.

    In connection with my column, I sent an IM to Meaghan to ask her a philosophy question (who better to ask than a philosophy major?). I was going to ask her this question:

    "Can you think of a philosopher who dealt with the problem of evil by suggesting it was necessary for the purpose of helping to identify good?"

    But she never answered the IM. Probably because she thinks I am an ooky old stalker. Which, of course, I am.

    Saturday, January 8, 2005

    Why I watch BBC London

    On an average day, my blog pulls in about five times fewer readers than Esther's. Last night we were talking a bit about blogs and she suggested that one of the reasons for this is my habit of simply linking to things. It's not very interesting is it? No one's going to add me to their blog roll at that rate -- at least, not until I become one of those people that everyone links to not because I am good but because everyone else links to me.

    Esther suggested that I tell more stories. So, here's one about a girl named Asha. Like most of my stories, this one starts with the phrase: "When I was living in Portsmouth..."

    When I was living in Portsmouth I had the biggest crush on a girl named Asha. I followed her around like a puppy dog. I would have thrown myself in front of a train to win her affection. If I were to characterize her in a film, I would show her walking confidently and stylishly down the street whilst every man spun on their heels upon seeing her, clutched their chest and fell to the ground in the crushing heartache of unrequited fancy. She was beautiful, intelligent, funny, worldly and cool in all situations.

    She was also blissfully kind to me in rejecting my overt advances. Seriously, I was pathetic in how obviously and aggressively I pursued this woman. A woman likes a bit of mystery and challenge, not: "DEAR GOD! YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL; I WILL CUT OFF MY ARM IF YOU WILL GIVE ME A KISS."

    Eventually I moved back to the God-Blessed United States of America and contact with Asha ebbed away (much to her relief, I'm sure). Last I had heard from her, she was in Leeds.

    Then, Friday, as I am wont to do, I Google-searched her name and found that she is now a reporter for BBC London. How cool is that? I know a BBC reporter! Here's a story she did in March 2004. Click on the video in the upper right corner; she's on camera for just a moment about 36 seconds into the piece.

    OK. That wasn't really much of a story. Perhaps there's good reason in my book being rejected.

    How to create a debauched narrator

    After a great evening out with Esther, I got home to a quiet and empty apartment and found a package leaning against my door. The package had my handwriting on it -- it was the SASE I sent along with my manuscript. The manuscript had been rejected.

    "I've read the first 50 pages of your novel and couldn't care enough about your narrator to want to read further," the agent wrote.

    She suggested two books for ideas on "how to create a debauched narrator." And I'm left to wonder if my narrator is really all that debauched. That's not what I was shooting for.

    At least she read through those first 50 pages and offered valid criticism -- something more than "not right for us."

    If anyone needs me, I'll be in my bed weeping off the effects of another rejection.

    Friday, January 7, 2005

    Media hack for sale

  • BOOK UPDATE: Nothing new to report, I'm afraid. I don't expect to hear back from the agent who asked to read my manuscript for at least another week. I sent out a few more query letters on Tuesday, so they likely won't even be received by agents until today at the earliest.
    While it's obviously true that, as my friend Paul says, "it only takes one" agent for the book to succeed, I would like a few more agents to express interest just for the sake of my all-too-fragile ego.

  • Note to Evil Powers That Be: I can be easily bought. I promise to promote your boneheaded political schemes for half what you gave this guy. If it will help the cause, I will also have sex with the Bush twins for free.

  • Note to my fellow bloggers: If you have music automatically playing on your site I despise you. Seriously, yo -- stop that.

  • Actual IM conversation with co-worker (screen names changed to avoid having you pester me while I am trying to misinform the world):
    ME: Why does it fill us all with so much joy when Bill Gates' computer freezes during a presentation?
    ME: I'm not being sarcastic -- it fills me with good feeling.
    HIM: It actually made me whimper with happiness.
    ME: Like sunshine and chocolate and sex and fuzzy blankets
    HIM: Yes.

  • Congratulations Houston on being so damn big.

  • I hate this kid.

  • I suspect that every blog in the United States will eventually link to this item.
  • Thursday, January 6, 2005

    The soft mechanical whir of sleep

  • I like to have a fan running when I sleep. I started doing this when my family moved to Minnesota and I was given an unnervingly quiet room in the basement. Via the creaking floorboards, I was able to track the movements of everyone in the house. I found that the soft white noise of an oscillating fan helped block out quite a bit and happily reminded me of staying at my grandmother's house in Lake Jackson. In the summers I would spend most of my time there -- swimming at the beach or at the community pool. In the humid late of the day, my grandmother would pull aloe plants from her garden to help with my sunburn and would put teabags on my eyes to ease the sting of chlorine. She would point an oscillating fan at me and I would sit there in the happy pain and exhaustion of childhood summer, listening to the whir of the fan.
    Last night, our white Honeywell fan cut out at 12:48 a.m. I got up and stared at the outlet in the slow-thinking gape that comes when you first fall out of bed. I tested the outlet with a small lamp, and thus accidentally woke my wife from her grumpy bear-style slumber.
    "The fan probably shorted out," she growled. "Go get the other one."
    I slipped on my shoes and stumbled downstairs to pull our black Honeywell fan from storage, and few minutes later I was back in my bed, happily listening to the soft whirring of the fan and feeling consciousness ebb away. My wife will no doubt complain to me later today that she is tired because I woke her up in the middle of the night.

    In the year 2005 I resolve to:

    Getting deported.

    Get your resolution here

  • Here's an actual press release sent to the offices of my benevolent employer today:
    POMPANO BEACH, Fla. - Teen pop sensation Aaron Carter is lucky to be alive following a near fatal car crash that left his car burnt beyond recognition.
    At around 12:30 am, Aaron was driving on the Florida Turnpike near Sample Road when a mattress flew off of a truck in front of him. Unable to avoid the object, Aaron drove his Cadillac Escalade over the mattress, which caused the underneath of his car to ignite. With flames quickly engulfing his car, Aaron was able to pull the car over and exit shortly before the car exploded. Carter was trying to extinguish the flames with water bottles when the entire car blew up from the bottom, blowing out all of the windows.
    Emergency Medical Services responded quickly to tend to Aaron, who escaped with only minor bumps and bruises. He is currently recuperating at a friend's house and is still determined to make it to his photo shoot in Orlando, which is where he was headed when the terrible incident occurred.
    "I am so lucky to be alive right now," says Aaron. "I can't believe I survived another near death experience- I feel like I am a cat and I only have 5 lives left! I am still in shock over everything that just happened, but I really want to thank all the policemen and emergency workers who rushed to help me. Also, the support of my father, lawyer and friends are really helping me to stay positive."
    Carter's father and manager Robert, as well as his lawyer Scott Salomon, were the first two people Carter reached out to immediately after the accident. His estranged mother, Jane Carter, moved 500 miles away from Aaron he sees no reason to seek her out at this time.
    "I know that Robert shares my astonishment and gratitude that Aaron was able to survive this scary ordeal," says Salomon, who handles all of Carter's legal matters. " We are here to offer him support in every area of his life, and we know that this will just add to Aaron's already invincible strength of character."

  • Dear Aaron, you are a moron. Bottles of water?!
    Oh, and screw you for driving a car that costs more than what I make in a year.
  • Wednesday, January 5, 2005

    Brutal memory

  • Last night my brother and I went to Groveland Tap and he was telling me a story about some guy whose name was so unfamiliar that I can't now remember it. But apparently I had once beaten the hell out of the guy.
    I'm not much of a fighter. Last year, a combination of beer and rugby-induced testosterone drove me to punch a guy outside a bar, but for the most part if I'm in a fight it's because I was goaded into it.
    My brother is a big, muscular guy. He enjoys a good fight every now and then. If you were to get into a fight with him, he would beat you in a chivalrous manner -- by driving his big meat fist into your skull and knocking you out in a classical display of strength.
    Me, on the other hand; if I'm fighting, I'm fighting to win. That's a nice way of saying that I am a dirty fighter. I'm not proud of that; I wish I were the sort who stood in traditional pugilistic stance, exchanging blows like a gentleman, but I'm not. I'm dirty. Dirty, dirty, dirty.
    So, a few months ago, a guy walks up to my brother and says angrily: "Are you Jon Cope?"
    "I fucking hate your brother. You can tell him that he's an asshole. I fucking hate him," the guy said and then stormed away.
    Upon further investigation, Jon learned that this guy (Ryan?) had once been thumped in a fight with me.
    "You just really kicked his ass," Jon told me.
    "I don't remember that. That doesn't even sound like me -- I hardly ever get into fights," I said.
    "Yeah, that's what I thought. But then I was talking to this other guy who saw it. He says it was awful -- one of the worst things he's ever seen. You were just killing this guy and someone had to pull you off. It's nasty, man," Jon said, shaking his head. "To do that to someone. You scarred that guy for life."
    If I've ever beat you up, I am really, really sorry. You probably deserved it, though.

  • The Groveland Tap, by the way, has gone smoke-free. It was really nice coming home and not smelling like ass. I will now make Groveland Tap my No. 1 bar. If you're looking for a fight, look for me there.

  • And boy howdy am I in fighting shape. Going backward, here's what I've eaten since Monday: a Clementine; spicy chicken sandwich at Wendy's; apple fritter; piece of cake; onion rings; Buffalo wings; brownie; dinner roll; chicken and wild rice soup; piece of cake; beer cheese soup; an orange; popcorn; piece of lemon loaf cake; two pieces of toast with lemon curd.
    Coincidentally, all of that is what this guy has for breakfast.
    My wife -- who is studying to be a dietitian -- is going to visit her family on Friday, leaving me on my own and free of her nutritional guidance for a full week. Odds are, I will consume little more than macaroni and cheese, and beer. Good times.

  • If your name is Heidi and you would like to consume beer with me on Friday (perhaps at the newly smoke-free Groveland Tap?), please communicate to me through the ether.

  • Have you seen the video of Ashlee Simpson being booed at the Orange Bowl? In a perfect world, people wouldn't be booing her as much as they were the idea of manufactured artists.

  • Hey, lookie here. Got myself added to noisy ghost's blog list. Consider the favor returned.

  • Monday I was listening to a radio documentary that was hoping to spot some of the trends for the coming year. What's hot for Britain in 2005? Monogamy and going to the pub (it's mentioned toward the end of the piece). I've been doing that for years -- I'm a trendsetter.
  • Tuesday, January 4, 2005

    Whatever happened to Tami Hill?

  • The other day someone got to this blog searching "Chris Cope."
    I would like to think that somewhere out there women are pining for me -- wondering whatever happened to that roguish lovechild of Hugh Grant and Johnny Bravo who so captured their heart. Why, oh, why did they let him slip through their fingers? Perhaps they were not woman enough to tame his wild heart, but that doesn't mean that each night is not spent wondering and dreaming about what could have been.
    Probably, though, they were looking for this guy.
    I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about people I have known -- it seems to be one of my personality flaws that I am so quick to slough off acquaintances and then spend the rest of my days wondering what happened to them. Today I searched the married name of an old friend/girlfriend and turned up nothing but links to a porn star of the same name.

  • I smell like a Metropolis player*. Last night my wife convinced me to purchase a different brand of deodorant than the one I've been using since I was 14 years old and my new smell is playing with my head. What was wrong with my old smell?

  • My favorite quote of the day: "They farm-raised this big boy on Santeria and voodoo."

  • Although, this quote comes in as a close second: "You are going to die today -- happy birthday, you are the candle."

  • I am amused by one of the details in this murder story: "He then told some jokes and played the piano before returning to his house."
    I sort of envision him being exceedingly charming in a Noel Coward sort of way. He'll be a smash with the lads in prison.

  • Smart people live in Dayton, Ohio.

  • Sometimes you just really want fries.

  • Art teachers are nothing but trouble. I'm sure Jenny is regularly having run-ins with the law, as well.

    *The Metropolis are a local Division II rugby team. After matches, instead of showering or simply putting up with their post-game stench, they slather on deodorant and cologne in an attempt to hide their smell before heading to the bar.
  • Monday, January 3, 2005

    Story time

  • Last night I dreamt that -- through a series of accidents -- my evil soul-stealing bitch of an ex-girlfriend had hit rock bottom and for some very foolish reason my wife and I agreed to take her in. She stayed on our couch's pullout bed, regularly complaining that the living room (where the couch is) was too hot.
    "Perhaps. Much warmer than sleeping outside," I would respond, and then the two of us would start fighting.
    After several weeks of her sharing our one-bedroom apartment and my fighting with her on a daily basis and then having to turn around and appeal to the Good Christian Spirit of my wife to keep her from throwing out/killing the evil soul-stealing bitch of an ex-girlfriend, suddenly ESSBOAEG started lobbying to be allowed to sleep in our bedroom.
    "What? On the floor?" I asked.
    "No. It doesn't seem to bother you and Rachel how hot it is in the living room. I thought we could switch," she said. "Plus, the pullout bed is so uncomfortable."
    Then I woke up. My fists were clenched -- my palms were throbbing and my forearms hurt from squeezing so hard -- and I still have a headache from grinding my teeth.

  • My wife and I saw Ocean's 12 this weekend, which I recommend. I'm not much of a movie guy because I fear walking out of a theater thinking to myself: "My God, I just wasted two-plus hours of my life."
    A bad film is worse than simply staring at a wall for the same amount of time. I guarantee you that what I think and feel in any given space of time is far superior to Point Break. This feeling of frustrated animosity toward cinema started as Esther and I found ourselves walking out of a theater in Fargo, N.D., in a state of disillusionment some years ago -- having just finished watching Titanic. I remember sitting in Julie's car, waiting for it to warm up, and Esther said something like: "I thought that was supposed to be good. That wasn't good."
    She said it with the same tone you might use after mindlessly popping into your mouth a Mike & Ike candy you found on a gas station men's room floor.
    But that's not the case with Ocean's 12. I've seen better films, but I didn't leave wishing that I had instead spent the afternoon trying to teach myself how to juggle.

  • Here's a random story that I was sharing with a co-worker today:
    Years ago, I was in Barcelona and I bought a load of oranges in a market. I bought so many that they filled my army backpack. A few days later, I took the train up to St. Malo, France, where I was to catch a ferry back to Portsmouth. But upon reaching St. Malo, I discovered that I did not have enough money to buy a ferry ticket and there was no money in my checking account. So, I called my dad in the United States and asked him to put some money in my account. But it was a Saturday and my bank isn't open on weekends. And because of the time difference, that meant I wouldn't actually have any money until Tuesday morning. So I burned up my money that night and then spent the next several days sleeping in the ferry port, eating nothing but oranges.
    "I suspect that wasn't a lot of fun," my co-worker said.
    "No. No it wasn't. But my poop smelled great -- very citrusy."

  • This is only of interest to you if you live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Indianapolis, Olathe, Kan., Little Rock, Ark., Memphis or Nashville: The skank from the Watson's commercials.
    If you don't know who this woman is, I assure you she is universally despised. She is a flat-out whore who should be doing porn facials instead of ads for pools and spas*.
    My favorite part of her site is her scrapbook of photos with her clinging to low-grade celebrities.

  • I really like the idea behind this experiment -- it's one of the reasons I want to live there some day.

  • About 62 percent of Internet users don't know what a blog is. But that number is even higher according to the survey within the story. Sometimes I find it odd, yet comforting, that people don't understand basic Internet stuff. It's sort of a job protection.

  • Yet another reason why drunkenness and phones do not mix.

  • And you don't really need another reason to avoid Kansas, but here's one, anyway.

    *Whoa. That bit of vitriol came out of nowhere.