Friday, September 30, 2005

Only great minds

  • Some day, God will pay me back for past transgressions by giving me a son who thinks U2 are brilliant.
    "Sweet Jesus dancing the rumba, son, are you listening to the Zooropa album again?!"
    "Yeah, Dad. It's so great."
    "No. No, it is not. Not at all. You need to stop this."
    Actually, there are several things I wouldn't want my son to be. My wife -- who reads this blog but persistently refuses to comment -- says that if we ever have a son I will be unduly hard on him because I was a rather devious boy and because I have stupid set ideas of how a boy should be. This is true; I hate to admit it.
    A lot of parents to be will use that "as long as he or she is healthy I don't care what happens" line of thinking. Perhaps this mindset kicks in when parenthood is a reality, but right now I think that is rubbish. I mean, what the hell am I supposed to do if I end up with a son who is heavily into role-playing games? What if he laughs like a dork? What if he doesn't like to swim*? When I think about all the possibilities, I can really see the appeal of shipping my son off to some Scottish boys' school: "Here, Scotland -- fix my boy."
    A little girl, on the other hand, would have me wrapped around her finger before she could even speak. I coo at every little girl I see, pointing them out to my wife: "Look at her, honey. She's so cute! Let's steal her and raise her as our own." If I had a little girl, she need only be gorgeous and brilliant (surely not too much to ask?), and I would give her everything I could and kill everyone who made her sad.
    Yeah. That's part of why we don't have kids yet -- Daddy's still a little crazy.

  • Good name for a band: Deadly Donut

  • 150 million people? Blimey.

  • Actual quote from porn spam e-mail I received at work today: "Recent ineptitude for only great minds." -- Huh?

  • I was looking at my stats Thursday and apparently 5 percent of the people who visit this blog are doing so from Canada. Really? I can't remember ever hearing from one. Speak up you clandestine Canadians.

  • Another reason to like October: it's national cider month in the UK.

  • This story amuses me, but I'm afraid my writer's talisman** is failing me when it comes to being able to say anything about it.

    *When I think of all the fun places I would want to take my kid, a good 80 percent of those places involve playing in water.

    **Rachel insisted that I purchase a talisman for poets last week at the Renaissance Festival. It is a chunk of pewter with some crazy scribbling on it that is supposed to make me a better writer. I doubt that it really does this. If I were in fifth grade, I would use it to try to hypnotize Erin Cooney and get her to kiss me on the bus.
  • Thursday, September 29, 2005

    Pay attention to me

  • Today I was thinking about what Beth calls the "comment race" -- keeping tabs on how many comments one earns on their blog and whatever feelings of worth those comments may give the writer-type.
    When I was in elementary school, I felt that the number and quality of valentines placed in my little shoebox were earth-shatteringly important. All the kids made valentines mail boxes out of shoeboxes and we were supposed to place valentines in the boxes of each student ("I choo-choo-choose you"), but we children -- being nefarious and possessing souls of unbridled evil -- would conveniently forget to place valentines in the boxes of those we disliked. In fourth grade I neglected to give a card to a girl named Nikki and it resulted in my father driving me over to the girl's house to personally give her a bigger and better card, and apologize profusely.
    As I got older, I would count the number of Christmas cards received and the number of signatures in yearbooks and, more damagingly, the number of girls who thought I was cute as direct and tangible evidence of my worth as a human being.
    I like to tell myself that I am a better man now, but I wouldn't know, would I? It's incredibly difficult to make a fair assessment of oneself in the present. But I think that I can say that I don't feel that comments or lack thereof are necessarily indicative of a post's quality. I can at least say with confidence that I would blog with or without comments, because I have maintained my Welsh blog for almost a year. Comments there are very sparse indeed.
    Well, they used to be. These days, thanks to the fact that I have been on Welsh-language radio and mentioned in two Welsh-language magazines, my blog is a powerhouse in the Welsh blogging community*, sometimes earning as many as three comments on a post. I don't know how to put this, but I'm kind of a big deal.

  • I like this meme from Dave's blog. My 23rd post doesn't have a fifth sentence, so here's the fourth: "If you're interested, I documented the day I had it all sheared off."
    My linking to something well within the blog's archives might inspire you to look at a few other old entries; I would advise against it. I generally think of my first year of blogging as having been crap. Next year, I will generally think of my first two years of blogging as having been crap. And on and on. I usually feel that my best posts are the ones in which I don't write very much. Like that time I dressed up as a pirate -- that was OK.

  • Good name for a band: Poop Dogs --- I wonder if that story has any connection to this one (Huzzah. I have hit a new low -- laughing at the scatological plight of old people and animals).

  • The other day I was reading a story about the fact that a lot of the dangers of Australia are overstated. Then, today I read Afe's blog in which he mentioned his present problem with jumping six-inch spiders. Americans, of course, view Australia as a sort of sunny Ireland -- we feel a deep-rooted obligation to go there and are convinced that when we do visit it will be The Best Time Ever And Everyone Will Love Us. But this whole massive spider thing is seriously putting me off.

  • Of local interest: My best friend, Eric, is a waiter at a restaurant that has just opened up here in the Twin Cities. The restaurant is called Five and it was written up today in the Star Tribune.

    *Good name for a band: Internet-Famous In Wales
  • Wednesday, September 28, 2005

    I'm rich and popular and I owe it to the ukulele

  • You need to listen to Afe's ukulele song. I am convinced that it belongs in a movie soundtrack.

  • You may have noticed that I tend to hear lyrics quite a bit after a song is released. Often I won't actually listen to the words in a song for years. This is strange behavior, probably, for someone who claims to be a writer-type*. Anyhoo, today I happened to be listening to the lyrics of David Gray's "One I Love," which contains the line: "Runnin' through this life, darlin', like a field of snow."
    What does that mean? Does it mean that he started out life thinking it would be loads of fun, but almost instantly it became surprisingly exhausting and wet and painfully cold and all that he has managed to achieve is the spoiling of something that was pristine before he arrived?
    What a cheery fellow you are, David Gray.

  • I am starting to develop a cold. I apologize in advance to the people sitting on a London-bound flight exactly one week from now if I get them sick. I would suggest that those people bring air-filtering masks, because, quite frankly, there is no disease that would prevent me from getting on that flight.

  • My wife occasionally reads this blog but refuses to comment. Nonetheless, here's a story that I thought would interest her.

  • What's the dealio with NBC quietly putting out shows that don't suck? "Scrubs" has been around for a few years, of course, and the other two shows I like are similar in the sense that the humor is a bit more obscure (as obscure as humor aimed at a broad audience can be) and there is no laugh track.
    "The Office" had a handful of episodes last season that only a handful of people saw, but it has somehow survived into a second season -- I suspect based on the success of Steve Carell. The thing I like about "The Office" is that at the end of each episode I am agitated that the episode wasn't longer.
    Last night, by accident, I watched "My Name Is Earl," which was surprisingly good. It's a bit like "Scrubs" with more purpose. How can you not enjoy a show that involves a man secretively looking down his shirt at his Jesus tattoo and whispering, "What would You do?"
    My friend informed me that "My Name Is Earl" is on opposite "House," which to me is yet another reason to watch it -- because it means you're not watching "House."

  • William Shatner is the master of compliment: "She's a big stew bone in the bouillabaisse."

    *I don't know what I am. I am not happy with calling myself a writer because I think this sounds pompous. Anyone can call them self a writer and approximately 80 percent of the U.S. population does (Φ). Usually when someone tells me that they are a writer, my internal response is immediately cynical -- something along the lines of, "Really? Place your book in my hands."
    Because I cannot yet live up to my own standard I am uncomfortable calling myself a writer. I am a writer-type. But even that is probably a bit too braggadocio. Maybe I should describe myself as "person with elaborate imagination and no marketable skills."

    ΦI have gone back and forth on whether I should be using "do" or "does" in this case. My fellow proofreader was also unsure. Anyone want to weigh in on that one? Diego?
  • Tuesday, September 27, 2005

    They can't all be golden

  • For those of you who didn't catch the resemblance in my last post, Dr. Who was/is a British sci-fi program that used to air in the United States on PBS. It is perhaps best known for its ultra-low-quality special effects.

  • Thank you, European Court, for making the UK more like Alabama.

  • I love this picture.

  • One of my first responses to the societal train wreck that followed Hurricane Katrina was a sense of being frustrated and outraged and asking, "How in the hell could all this be true?!" Well, maybe some of it wasn't.

  • Are you so inept that you can't break your own car window?
  • Who?

    The other day Thomas brought up the subject of looking like C-list celebrities and I made the comment that I don't really look like anyone of note.

    Then, tonight, it hit me. I do look like somebody. I look very much like somebody. I look so much like him, I don't even have to tell you who.

    Oh man, this is woefully ungood.

    Monday, September 26, 2005

    Damn your oranges, Australia

  • Yesterday I happily bought a load of Australian oranges because I like oranges and I like Australians and even though I don't really like San Diego (the port through which the oranges are shipped) I like union, which is what San Diego dock workers are. But it turns out that these are death oranges, man. As I was peeling my orange at work today, it fired about 8 ounces of orange juice directly into my right eye.
    Because I am a man, I responded to this unprovoked orange attack with calm and reason. I jumped out of my chair and danced around in circles, waving my hands and shouting: "Goddamned Australian orange!"

  • So the vote as of this posting is:
    Bourbon - 4
    Sleeve - 1
    Beer - 7
    Good choice, peoples. I agree with Beth's analysis and I really like Geraint's suggestion of a pipe -- especially considering that I bought one of these on Saturday.
    Also, that post earned me some 15 comments, which I think is a record. I feel dizzy.

  • Like Sarah, my family survived Rita pretty much unscathed. Of course, they were all out of town before the actual storm hit. The most trouble they experienced was traffic.
    My uncle who lives in Houston (my mother's brother) had a 36-hour drive to Denton. That works out to be a little more than 7.5 mph -- I run that fast.
    My uncle who lives in Lake Jackson (my father's brother) shares my generally grumpy temperament and chose to drive around barricades and take back roads to get to Madisonville. He got there in about four hours. He returned to Lake Jackson almost immediately after the storm passed to find his home exactly as he had left it. The power hadn't even gone out.

  • Ever actually take the time to listen to the lyrics of a song that you've heard all your life? "You make the sunshine brighter than Doris Day." What the hell?

  • Someone call Samuel L. Jackson, The Rock and Keira Knightley -- I want to make a movie out of this: "Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.."
    (Found via Huw)
  • Sunday, September 25, 2005

    Make a decision for me

    I'm thinking of replacing my current profile picture with one taken last weekend when Rachel and I were in Kentucky. I've narrowed it down to the three below, which I have suddenly named Bourbon, Sleeve, and Beer. Which of these do you think I should use? Or should I just keep the current picture? Let me know what you think.


    Here I am attempting to enjoy one of Kentucky's fine bourbons. That's a lie. I grabbed Dan's drink because I didn't want to be pictured holding a can of light beer. There's a lot of falsity to this picture -- I also don't smoke.


    The immediate problem here is that someone else has gotten their sleeve into my picture. Secondly, I am pictured holding an American light beer (I can't now remember what it was) -- I am concerned that this light beer drinking sends the wrong message to today's impressionable youth.


    It's got the usual elements -- me and beer. It's also got that "It's 5:01 p.m. and I just got off work" look, giving the false impression that I wear a tie to work.

    Dancin' Rachel

    Here's the child bride, dancing up a storm at the reception for Maggie and Anthony's wedding


    Why I need a mustache.

    Friday, September 23, 2005

    The beautiful people

  • Yesterday's headline may not have made sense if you missed Cody's comment from Tuesday. She said that she reads my blog "not because its terrably interesting but because I think your hansome."
    I genuinely appreciate that comment and Cody's bad eyesight. I have always wanted to be one of those beautiful people to whom good things happen simply because they are so darn easy on the eyes. I am now waiting for the good things to start happening.
    I am so enamored with the comment that I considered changing the title of my blog to "Not Terribly Interesting, But Handsome," but Cody also likes my current title and I'm sort of attached to it. Perhaps I will change the name of my Welsh-language blog to "Dim Eithaf Diddorol, Ond Golygus."

  • The Free State Project kind of scares me. If you're not familiar with this, it is a group of people hell bent on performing a libertarian government experiment in the state of New Hampshire. The movement is gaining a pretty strong foothold in the various governmental tiers of the Granite State. In fairness, at least they are all moving to just one state and it is nonviolent.
    The Granite State is well known for the erstwhile Old Man of the Mountain, a rock formation that looked a bit like a fella's face. The whole thing collapsed two years ago. So, with the Old Man out of the way, and the libertarians gaining ground, I think New Hampshire could officially change its nickname to "the Angry White Man State."

  • This is what fifth-graders do in Minnesota. And people wonder why I love this place so much.

  • Did a dog ever run loose in your school? This seemed to happen once at every school I went to (well, up until college; although a dog did run loose at Moorhead, and a guy in one of my English classes once brought in a squirrel that had befriended him earlier in the day). It was always the greatest day ever. I suddenly remembered that today -- that ridiculous overwhelming glee that comes from having a dog run around in your school.
    It's a dog and it's in the school! Yay! Teachers are chasing it and kids are squealing with delight and the dog is half confused but loving all the attention. It's like Christmas and Easter and my birthday and a swimming pool filled with cupcake icing all condensed into a single life event!
    At present, I can think of no greater euphoria than that which comes from having a dog loose in school. This marks me out as a very, very simple person I suspect.
  • Mikey the academic otter

  • Every time I see a story about housing prices my immediate response is to get very angry and wonder who the hell has all this money to pay for such expensive homes. Everywhere around the country, homes seem to cost more than I can afford -- am I really so woefully underpaid?

  • Both Dave and Gene got on my case earlier this week in response to the sappy nature of my latest column. I'm sure, then, that they will be able to relate to this.

  • Myron and I share a last name and an ambition to one day be on a beer can.

  • "She likes the school and wants to stay, but doesn't think she can succeed without her ferret." --- You know, for quite some time I've been talking about going back to university, but I have never considered what would happen if I couldn't bring Mikey the river otter along to lectures. How the hell am I supposed to manage without my river otter?
    "Uhm, Mr. Cope, your otter is eating my briefcase."
    "I know, but look, he's got it on his belly -- how cute! He makes me so happy. I would never be able to endure the rigors of academia without you, Mikey!"

  • "I think people will want to come here." Indeed. --- The jokes just write themselves with this story.
  • Thursday, September 22, 2005

    Not terribly interesting, but handsome

  • Well, what do I know? My entire family has boarded up their homes and fled Brazoria County. Even my uncle in Houston has left, which makes me think that perhaps my family is using this as an opportunity to take an unscheduled vacation: "Hmm. Stay here and be steaming hot when the power goes out, or go up to Denton and drink with friends? Hmm, what to do..."
    The only person sticking around is my grandfather, who was hospitalized last week. He was moved Wednesday from a hospital in Brazoria County to one in downtown Houston. This is actually the best of all possible outcomes for Papa, whom I am sure would have refused to leave his home for the hurricane. He is a hardcore hermit -- leaving home bedevils him.
    Need an example? He hasn't been to the weddings of any of his grandchildren. That makes sense for me, because my wedding was held in the middle of Big Fucking Empty*, two hours from the nearest airport. But he also skipped my cousin's wedding when it was held just across the river from his house -- the wedding was held in the same tiny Texas town in which he lives and he didn't go. You gotta love Papa.
    Here's another example: it took him 30 years to return a dish that was left at his house when my parents were married. Remember that all of my family -- both sides of the family -- live in the same county.
    So, Papa's getting sick was probably a stroke of luck. It meant he had no say in his being taken out of harm's way.
    Now the only concern is over property. Everything is properly insured and such is a time to be thankful that I come from a family that puts very little stock in mementos. If there is any need for me to do so, I may head down there next week to help clean up. I'm not sure, though, that my benevolent employer would be particularly pleased with this idea, considering that I was in Kentucky last week and will be in Britain in two weeks.

  • I anticipate that the response to Rita will be overwhelmingly better than it was for Katrina. I think a lot of Bush haters will assume that this is because Texas is Bush's home state and it has a larger electorate and is home to Big Oil, etc. I don't think this is true. I think the response will be better for two reasons:
    1) Rita follows Katrina. There is a natural desire to respond in the extreme when you have been made a fool. This happens everywhere -- take a look at the rhetoric coming from the Minnesota Vikings in response to their ass-kicking from Cincinnati. Similarly, various government organizations are eager to prove that they are not run by drunken monkeys, and will likely respond to Rita in abundance. Expect to see every Texas resident, even those in Amarillo, walk away with some sort of hurricane-related door prize.
    2) It's Texas, y'all. Texans think of their state as a separate country. And as far as Texans are concerned, their country is the greatest and most important one in the world -- any and all resources should be diverted to the preservation and restoration of Texas.

  • It looks as if Sarah will be staying in Houston, so you may be able to keep tabs on what's happening there as the storm hits. I think she should marathon blog as the storm makes landfall.

  • Did you see that dramatic plane landing Wednesday night? My wife still possesses a beautiful sense of innocence when it comes to world events, so watching the landing with her was quite exciting (innocence is different than naivety, remember). Having been raised by a TV journalist and having worked for many years as a TV journalist, I have a deep-rooted sense of evil and cynicism. But Rachel approaches the world with a bit more faith and hope. So, as the plane landed she was really pulling for the pilot and crew and passengers, really hoping for the best possible outcome, as opposed to my sense of watching it as a thing and thinking that the cameraman needed to pull out his shot a bit and hoping that the feed didn't cut out at a crucial moment.

    *Well, less so now. St. George's population is growing at an alarming rate.
  • The comedic stylings of Löwenbräu

    If Blogger's new search engine didn't suck so much ass*, I would direct you to previous links that reference Löwenbräu, the annoying fella who hovers near my quality American-made desk at the palatial headquarters of my benevolent employer. He gets his name from the fact that a group of people were once planning a get-together and he effectively invited himself along, announcing: "I'll bring the Löwenbräu!"

    I and some of my colleagues who sit within audible range of Löwenbräu (about 12 miles -- he's a loud fella) like to exchange IMs in which we ruthlessly make fun of Löwenbräu. We do this because we are 14-year-old girls.

    Today Löwenbräu was entertaining the masses with his abysmal impersonation of Bill Cosby. There were no words to this impression, just a mosquito-like buzzing noise. I would never have identified it as a Cosby impression but for the fact that he explained the impression three times: "The Cos. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Huh? The Cos! Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz. It's the Cos."

    Nothing tops Kenan Thompson's impersonation.

    *Thanks for "fixing" it, you dopes -- it is now impossible to search just my blog. Why don't you do something that's actually useful and make Welsh one of the language options?

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    Hey you guys

    I have to admit that I am not particularly concerned about Hurricane Rita, despite the fact that pretty much the whole of my extended family lies in its path.

    With the exception of an uncle and two great aunts, all my family -- on both my mother's and father's side -- live in Brazoria County, Texas. The uncle lives in Houston (the great aunts live in Alabama and San Angelo, Texas).

    I have heard from none of them -- I would be surprised if I did. In the more than 150 years that my family has lived in the region, hurricanes have rarely been more than an inconvenience or a reason to get drunk ("No work tomorrow? Oh, hell yeah!").

    Meanwhile, my sister-in-law, Tami, of Internet bodice fame, lives in Katy, Texas, a suburb of Houston. This morning, my wife's mother called and gave me a very stoic update on Tami's family's plans. Her matter-of-fact delivery made it sound as if Tami and her family were trying to escape some war-torn African country before the rebels arrived. I realize that sort of behavior is to be expected from a mother -- it's that mama bear instinct -- but it seems silly to me. If I lived in Houston, I would probably follow Rea's lead and throw a hurricane party. We would, of course, serve hurricanes and margaRitas. Every guest would have to dress as a hurricane survivor (gym shorts, T-shirt, tennis shoes) and bring along some sort of hurricane survival-related item that we could use at the party.

    But maybe (and quite probably) I don't know anything. Stubborn thinking like mine is most likely what led to the train wreck in New Orleans -- like those boneheads who just sit there and say, "Well, the only thing we can do is put it in God's hands." No, you dope, you can also buy some bottled water and some pancake mix and the like.

    Remember when Chris Farley dressed as El Nino? The cable networks need to do something similar in their coverage of Rita.

  • Good name for a band: Death Biro.

  • Poor Allison is too smart for Kentucky.
  • The King Ralph contingency plan

  • A co-worker today was asking me when I will be back from the UK, so he could schedule some vacation days.
    "Well, if I come back, my first day would be Oct. 17," I said.
    "If you come back?"
    "Yeah. I think it's important that I always be prepared for the possibility that they will make me king."

  • More proof that Wayne Rooney is a punk.

  • I learned from experience Monday that if a mouse darts out from beneath the stove and runs over my foot, I will shout very loudly: "Dadgumit!!!"*
    I find it amusing that with all the profanity I use on a daily basis, it does not come naturally. Anyway, several traps have been set out. I hate meeses to pieces.

  • Macalester College, which is just down the street from my apartment, is home to the second-worst football team of all time. This should surprise no one. The only surprise is that Macalester even has a football team. It would appear that the Scots are continuing the tradition -- they have lost their first three games this season.

    *Apparently I am Yosemite Sam.
  • Tuesday, September 20, 2005

    Love Is Infinite, Tiny

    Alert your government representative, my latest column is out.

    Here's a random sentence: "There are probably billions of world citizens who would have trouble even pronouncing the phrase 'Maggie and Anthony.'"

    Monday, September 19, 2005

    Crap service resumes

    I'm back y'all. I've gone through and added headlines to all of the audio posts. I probably won't get around to writing a proper post, though, until tomorrow. I'm sure you'll carry on.

    Just for Huw

    A special audio post for Huw.

    MP3 File

    Audio: Home at last

    Oooh, multi-media blogging (don't worry, it scares me, too).

    Just press the play button below.

    MP3 File

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    Audio: Cincinnati to Illinois

    Oooh, multi-media blogging (don't worry, it scares me, too).

    Just press the play button below.

    MP3 File

    Audio: All danced out

    Oooh, multi-media blogging (don't worry, it scares me, too).

    Just press the play button below.

    MP3 File

    Saturday, September 17, 2005

    Audio: At the reception

    Oooh, multi-media blogging (don't worry, it scares me, too).

    Just press the play button below.

    MP3 File

    Audio: Lexington, Ky.

    Oooh, multi-media blogging (don't worry, it scares me, too).

    Just press the play button below.

    MP3 File

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    Audio: Kentucky Horse Park

    Oooh, multi-media blogging (don't worry, it scares me, too).

    Just press the play button below.

    MP3 File

    Audio: Baseball organ

    My phone is crap at picking up ambient noise. What you should be hearing here is a version of an 80s pop classic performed on one of those organs used at baseball games.

    Just press the play button below.

    MP3 File

    Audio: Louisville, Ky.

    Oooh, multi-media blogging (don't worry, it scares me, too).

    Just press the play button below.

    MP3 File

    Thursday, September 15, 2005

    Audio: 106 Miles to Chicago

    Oooh, multi-media blogging (don't worry, it scares me, too).

    Just press the play button below.

    MP3 File

    Audio: Testing

    Oooh, multi-media blogging (don't worry, it scares me, too).

    Just press the play button below.

    MP3 File

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    You talk funny

  • Thursday, the child bride Rachel and I will be driving to the great state of Kentucky to attend a wedding. I am going to attempt to blog via audio posts but there's a high probability of failure when I try new things, so this blog may remain stale until Tuesday.
    If the audio posts do work, I apologize in advance if you are disappointed by my voice. Recently Thomas rocked the blog world when he revealed that he had sheared away his curly hair -- the fact that he had had curly hair was a surprise to some of his readers who hadn't pictured him that way. Similarly, you may have a set idea of my voice or accent that will be shattered by the audio post. If your world is fragile, I suggest that you not listen to the blog posts.

  • In doing a quick search for some information on Lexington -- where the wedding will be held -- I came across this rather odd tourist suggestion: "Mount your own Civil War campaign."

  • My wife is now officially a registered dietitian -- she passed her certification test with flying colors Tuesday. Actually, that's a lie; there were no flying colors involved. If she had showed up with a load of self-promoting banners she likely would have been kicked out of the testing center.
    Nonetheless, she did really well and is now officially qualified to tell you how to eat. I am going to live to be 300 years old thanks to my wife.

  • Here's a random conversation between me and a co-worker today:
    ME: "Yeesh, 'folks' is a stupid word to use in hard news."
    CW: "Folks?"
    "Yeah, in place of 'people' -- 'the folks effected by hurricane Katrina.'"
    "Oh, it's like they're spinning a yarn."
    "Uncle Remus News: "Well, now. Ol' Brer Bear done lost his house to dat mean ol' Hurrikin Katrina.'"
    "But the tar baby didn't mind, cuz he was made of tar."

  • Fuck. I am scheduled to fly Northwest to the UK in three weeks.
  • Communing the spirit of movie guy

    Hey, baby. I'm probably related to this guy -- we're both sterling. Because you're not hip like me and don't create new meanings for words, I probably need to tell you that "sterling" means we're better than you.

    I earned a film degree at a random Midwestern state university. Film, cat. I ran up thousands of dollars in student debt watching Hitchcock movies and arguing with my friends about which Tarantino film is best.

    I refer to directors only by their last names. I refer to actors by their first names or nicknames that I have made up for them -- I call Leonardo DiCaprio "Leo;" I call Robert De Nero "Bobby D."

    I can say things like, "Angela Landsbury is one of the most under-appreciated artists of all time," with a straight face. I really do wear black turtlenecks and I apparently don't see the irony. It's ethereal.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    Alan U R such a lier + a freek

  • See if you can spot my favorite picture in this post (from a Welsh-language blog).

  • Is it against the law to have one's mobile phone sound like a phone? Damnation be upon all of you with your cute ring tones.
    On a related note, any radio station using the phrase "Rocktober" should be razed.

  • Remember this guy? I was looking at that clip again today and thinking: "Man, I need a web camera." I would do stuff like that all the time. I have no shame.
    Somebody buy me a camera for Christmas (thinks: must update Amazon wish list at some point).

  • I have no idea when this came out, but it looks kind of cool. If I had friends, I could talk to them for free.

  • Uhm, congratulations? I do not understand cricket at all.

  • I am somewhat disappointed that "Ron Mexico" wasn't mentioned once in Monday night's Atlanta-Philadelphia game. Speaking of which, you can call me Jorge Switzerland.

  • I was going to make fun of Ohio with this link, but then I was reminded that there are dumb people everywhere. I hate people.

  • Iron Maiden has a song about the Crimean War on their new CD. Tell me that's not absurd. Now I want someone to write a song about the 1896 Britain-Zanzibar War.
  • Note from a man who has never listened to the radio

    You know what I think would be a good topic for a song? Marijuana.

    No one seems to want to address this topic. I would think that the subject matter would provide limitless opportunity for artistic exploration. You could probably put together an entire album of marijuana-related songs.

    Yet, strangely, no one seems to be addressing this topic. Is it too risqué? Has no one else noticed all its qualities?

    Monday, September 12, 2005

    God bless this overpass

  • Sunday as I was driving home from my parents' palatial suburban estate, I spotted a guy on a pedestrian freeway overpass wearing what appeared to be a Boy Scout uniform. He had hung U.S. flags all along the fencing, and, as I passed below at 65 mph, he clicked his heels together and stood in salute to all the fine SUVs, tractor-trailers and economy cars before him. Nothing stirs the heart more than the sight of suburban freeway traffic, I suppose.

  • Speaking of over-the-top displays of patriotism, Sunday was Last Night of the Proms (it will be on the BBC's radio player* for the rest of the week; best part starts at 20:29:00). I have trouble explaining exactly why it's one of my favorite things on this earth, but it is.
    My love for Proms comes, I suspect, from the same part of me that enjoys dressing up in a kilt and walking around shouting "Huzzah!" at people. It's my growing philosophy that attempting to be cool isn't worth the investment. You can spend your whole life hanging out in coffee shops and keeping tabs of the newest and most obscure bands and wearing all the right clothes and possessing all the newest and most fancy things, and you will still die. So, why not take stupid joy in embarrassing and cheesy things? Conveniently, I develop this philosophy as I am getting too old and too poor to be cool, anyway.

  • I know it makes me sound like this guy to say this, but why is it so hard to find proper tea in the United States? Every once in a while, I foolishly attempt to buy a cup of tea at one of Minneapolis-St. Paul's 800 bajillion coffee shops and it always ends in tears. If you ask for tea, they always want to offer you some sort of bastard concoction with a strange name and more ingredients than you would normally consume in an entire day -- mango chai lemon honey orange ginger apple cinnamon peaceful morning tea.
    Tea, you bastards! I want tea! The stuff they mention no less than 20 times in every East Enders episode; the stuff we dumped into Boston Harbor; surely it cannot be that hard to produce an adequate cup of simple black tea.

  • A nation breathes a sigh of relief at the news that one man's groin is doing better.

  • Holy cow -- it's almost Talk Like a Pirate Day. I'll try to make a better attempt of it this year than last year.

  • Sunday my friend and I were joking that in accordance with America's lost sense of irony, we will henceforth refer to the New Orleans Saints as "America's Team." We thought we were being funny -- apparently we weren't.

  • My wife was criticizing me this weekend over the fact that I do not list any female authors among my favorites in my wee profile (which has not been updated in quite some time**). After thinking about it for a while, I was forced to admit to myself that I couldn't think of any female author that I like. I'm not sure I've even read that many books by female authors beyond "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" by Judy Blume. Admittedly, I'm not a particularly avid reader, but that's pretty sad, isn't it? Equally, you'll note that my favorite authors are all white Westerners. By my narrow reading standards, Jack Kerouac is the odd man out.

    *'Chwaraeydd radio' in Welsh

    **Which reminds me that I intend to find a new template or doctor the current one because I think this blog is looking pretty stale. I may or may not get around to doing this in October.
  • Caption this photo

    Found on Beth's blog.

    Saturday, September 10, 2005

    I will be nominated to replace Rehnquist

  • Yeesh. The half-assed way in which Michael Brown was dealt with Friday strikes me as indicative of the failures of this relief effort, and, by extension the government running it. He hasn't been fired; he's just no longer heading up the Katrina debacle.
    Just fire him, for the love of Pete. If he's so incompetent that you have to find someone else to do his job, why is he still receiving a paycheck? Is this really just an issue of the White House being unwilling to fire someone because it might be an admission of failure? Is the White House really this obsessed with making itself look like it is never wrong? I can't think of any other reason to keep Brown on.
    And what's the deal with the White House not taking the time to check references? Remember the debacle involving Bernard Kerik? I'm inclined to believe that I could score a pretty sweet job within the Bush administration with a bit of creative résumé writing.
    "It says here that you were once king of England?"
    "Yes. King James. Surely you've heard of me -- I wrote the Bible."
    "Fantastic. We're going to nominate you for chief justice of the Supreme Court."

  • I'm glad that the football season has started again. Although, I was really torn last night trying to decide which team I hated more -- I despise both the Patriots and the Raiders.

  • Empirical evidence often suggests otherwise, but apparently our brains are still evolving.
  • Communing the spirit of guys I sometimes meet

    Hey, have I told you how important I am? I'm pretty fucking great. I've been a lot of places. OK, you've actually been to the same places, but my going there was far more enriching.

    Like, one time I went to Ireland and they fucking loved me, man. Loved me. Nothing makes Irish people happier than to meet me. My one-week trip to Ireland in college has made me a fucking expert on all things Irish. This knowledge makes me semi-divine.

    You're pretty lucky to be talking to me right now. I can reference authors you haven't heard of. I refer to them by last name only, so you'll know that they're important. I have made it my responsibility to correct you on any minor and irrelevant factual errors that you might make in the process of making a point. For example, you just pronounced Sartre's name incorrectly.

    Your jokes aren't funny -- primarily because I didn't think of them.

    Thursday, September 8, 2005

    40 years of hurt

  • Not surprisingly, I suppose, the English tabloids are calling for the firing of England's Sven-Goran Eriksson. Somewhere in Southampton at this very moment, Clive Woodward is rubbing his hands together in glee.

  • All over Texas, paranoid survivalist right-wing nutjobs are shitting themselves.

  • Dumbest radio phrase I can think of at the moment: Mandatory Metallica.

  • Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is an idiot.
    "This is a group of people who are literally coming from flooded areas. They are wet, and they only have the clothes that they are wearing," Romney said Thursday about a group of Katrina evacuees being brought to the Bay State.
    Ignoring the cliché use of "literally" (are they metaphorically coming from flooded areas?), what kind of idiot is he to think, "they are wet?" Wet? Wet?! Romney, you stupid disconnected moron.

  • Nooooooooo! Groin injury? Apparently Charlotte is a little rough on him.
  • We're dorks

    This is a picture of me and my brother before we went to the Renaissance Festival on Monday.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2005

    33 years

  • Holy shit. Northern Ireland beat England Wednesday for the first time in 33 years. If you know anyone from Northern Ireland they are going to be in very rough shape for the next several days.
    Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney is a thug. I used to think he was funny, but more and more I've come to the conclusion that he's an ass. And it was somewhat sad to see England, ranked so high, fall apart.
    Listening to Northern Ireland's helped to take the sting out of Wales' dropping itself to the bottom of its World Cup table. Wales has not qualified for the World Cup since 1958.

  • I thought this was interesting -- the BBC has put together several pages detailing British immigration.
    More than 155,000 people born in the United States are currently living in the United Kingdom (actually, they were living there in 2001 -- I sense that number has probably jumped under the current president) -- most are in London. That puts us sixth highest in the number of immigrants to the UK, but we come in first on the list of high income earners.
  • Tuesday, September 6, 2005

    I'm gonna live forever

  • My meteoric rise to international fame took another step forward today. I am going to be published in MacUser magazine. OK, my words will exist only in the form of a screengrab example of an IM conversation, as used for some nefarious purpose by Jenny's boy, but it's a start. Today a screengrab in MacUser magazine, tomorrow the world! Bwhahaha!

  • Also, it looks as if I may get a chance to be on Welsh-language radio again. I love Radio Cymru. I get the sense that this makes me uncool in certain Welsh circles. But I'm sure it hurts me no more than my support for various ideas that are intolerable to your average Welsh nationalist -- a Great Britain football team, for example. I am learning to abandon my pursuit for coolness.

  • Kari thinks I'm a freak show (OK, not me specifically).

  • If I were two people, this would be me at age 17.

  • My apologies for the short post -- I'm not feeling very prolific today.
  • Nothing's As Important As You Think

    To mark my first day back on the job in more than a week, my latest column is out.

    Monday, September 5, 2005

    Happy Birthday Shawn Mickschl

    Continuing on my string of being a big fat loser, I missed Shawn's birthday party Saturday. I have no good excuse for this.

    Shawn plans to be a minister. Someday in the near future, it will be Associated Press style to refer to him as "the Rev. Shawn Mickschl." And I will be going to hell...

    Sunday, September 4, 2005

    I am probably also related to a mafia hitman who will soon see to it that I am 'dealt with'

    One of the interesting consequences of marrying a Mormon is the fact that I am related to pretty much everyone. Before saying the proverbial "I do" ("I will" at my ceremony), I was related to a handful of people who all lived in the same county and generally only spoke when they ran into one another at Wal-Mart.

    Mormon families are huge and they put a lot of effort into maintaining family ties. There were more than 150 people at my tiny backyard wedding six and a half years ago -- I knew 15 of them.

    I mention this by way of explanation for my not knowing that I am related to a member of FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue team. FEMA has been taking a lot of heat lately in connection to its and the U.S. government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

    David is the in-law's name. He didn't write me directly because he was busy Saturday saving the lives of an estimated 1,700 people. He is likely doing the same today. He has been on the job since Aug. 27 (two days before Katrina actually hit New Orleans).

    His wife, Kerry (my aunt-in-law -- I think that's right), took the time to drop me a line, however, to take issue with my contention that in America "We leave one another to die and rot in the street."

    The fact is, Kerry, points out, FEMA did act in a timely manner. She suggests that the sheer magnitude of the tragedy and inefficiency on the state and municipal levels are what contributed to the apparent train wreck we saw last week.

    So, I feel the need to clarify what I said on Friday. First off, as addressed in the subject head, I was feeling particularly bitter about what I was seeing and reading. To that end, however, if I was reading and seeing all this stuff there is no denying that some of it at least was occurring. There really was lawlessness. There really was a lack of order.

    I have no doubt that FEMA -- and, by extension, the USAR -- responded as quickly as possible. And I have no doubt that David and his team and teams like David's have been, are, and will continue to work their asses off to help the people of the region.

    What upsets me is that someone higher up (Michael Chertoff? Higher up than that?) didn't realize that no matter how hard David and his ilk worked, it wasn't going to be enough. In July I mentioned watching the documentary "The Main Stream." In that documentary, they spoke about the absolute woe that would befall New Orleans if a sizeable hurricane ever hit the area. That documentary was made in 2002. That New Orleans would be devastated has been a known fact for years. Ignoring all of the would-have, could-have, should-have discussion about the lack of preparation before the hurricane, my anger comes from the fact that the response to it was inadequate. That's not David's fault, it's not even FEMA's fault, but someone (or some people) somewhere should have been aware of how dramatic the immediate response needed to be.

    And the lack of adequate response, from Americans for Americans, is what raised my ire. It made me feel embarrassed and ashamed and I acted out as any person of my juvenile mindset would -- I insulted my country and my family on the Internet.

    People are working hard. They have been working hard. I still feel, though, that more could have and should have been done sooner.

    (Somewhat related: BBC story about frustration facing rescue workers.)

    Saturday, September 3, 2005

    I did not get eaten by a bear

    My pack only weighed about 40 pounds, to answer Hoss' question. My wife's pack weighed less. I can't say how much less because that would provide you with too much information when I say that both of us stuck to that old rule that your pack should weigh no more than 25 percent your body weight.

    Showing off my 40-pound pack and oh-so-stylish Utilikilt. Lake Superior is behind me.

    Actually, I don't know if that is a set-in-stone-type rule or a made-up-in-my-head-type rule. I'm sure we would have been happier carrying a little less weight, but neither of us is in any sort of extreme pain on the day after returning home, so I think we did alright.

    Rachel with her back to Lake Superior.

    Over a space of four days, we hiked about 32 miles -- from Gooseberry Falls State Park to Christmas Tree Ridge and back. These place names likely mean absolutely nothing to you. They certainly wouldn't mean anything to me if I weren't sitting here referencing my "Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail; 2004 Edition."

    A view of Lake Superior through the trees from Bread Loaf Overlook.

    Originally I thought we would go much further because I've done plenty of 12-mile day hikes without any problems, so I am still a bit embarrassed to admit that we only traveled 32 miles. I used to be able to get up and down Cuyamaca Peak (near San Diego) in just a few hours. Of course, I was forgetting about how much a pack slows you down.

    Every campsite along the Superior Hiking Trail provides quality toilet facilities.

    Our first night was spent at a campsite alongside the Split Rock River. Rachel was completely defeated by the time we got there because she had packed her bag poorly but refused to stop and repack everything on the trail. Instead she chose to be miserable. This is my least favorite thing about my wife -- occasionally she will go into this hardcore mode and refuse to do something any other way than the most difficult and bullheaded way imaginable. Of course, she is not one to suffer silently, so I was miserable, too. I had taken time off work for this trip, so in one way I was paying $123 on Monday to have my wife martyr her shoulder to the backpacking Allah.

    Setting up the tent at southwest Split Rock River campsite. For those of you wondering about my stylish headgear -- it is the sleeve of an Eddie Bauer T-shirt that someone gave me several years ago.

    Things improved once we got to our campsite and I rubbed my wife's shoulders. Despite my giving her a massage, my amorous advances were spurned on the grounds that Rachel would not be able to bathe for the next several days. Yeesh. What is the point of trekking nine miles into the wilderness if you don't get little nature lovin'?

    Waterfall on Split Rock River.

    When I was a boy, my family went camping quite a bit, but it was always that sort of camping that involves driving your car to a site and sometimes even sleeping in the car after your dad has managed to let a wasp into the tent. Usually these sort of camping trips meant steaks or hamburgers or hot dogs for dinner. Sadly, this was not the case on the Superior Hiking Trail. For dinner we each had a cup of rice flavored with chicken bouillon. For breakfast we ate oatmeal. Any hunger in between was satiated via homemade trail mix.

    Rachel with Lake Superior in the background

    I have to admit that I didn't sleep particularly wonderfully our first night. I am a city boy. The absence of city noise and the un-bear-proof quality of my tent made me a little uneasy. Actually, I think it was the latter that really bothered me. Plus, I worried that I hadn't properly put out the fire before going to bed and my night was filled with dreams of having to explain how I managed to burn down one of the natural treasures of my beloved Minnesota.

    Looking out toward Lake Superior

    The second day was better all-around. We hiked a shorter distance and were able to sit around the camp reading for a while before the sun went down. That night we walked out onto the open rock of Chapin's Ridge and looked up at a sky full of stars. I spotted three shooting stars and two satellites. Overnight, we heard a fawn's distress call, which was probably connected with the howl of a timber wolf I heard the next morning.

    Rachel strikes a stylish pose. No doubt the dudes who put out the REI catalog will be calling her soon.

    If we had been smart, we would have scheduled for a shuttle to pick us up, so we wouldn't have to backtrack. But planning is not a strength for either Rachel or me, so we headed back to our river campsite on the third day. When we got to the site, I decided to wash off some of the grime that had accumulated over the past few days and jump into the water. The water turned out to be a little cooler than I had expected, so I didn't get a chance to scrub off the dirt.

    Jumping into a section of the Split Rock River.

    Jumping out of a section of the Split Rock River. If you look closely at my face, you can see I'm saying: "Wooo!"

    It rained on us that night, forcing Rachel and me into the tent by 9 p.m. Almost immediately, the flashlight's batteries went out (and the spare batteries were in a bag that we had already wrapped in plastic and set outside the tent), so Rachel had me tell her a few random stories and she fell asleep almost immediately.
    Laying there, dirty, sick of eating nothing but rice and oatmeal, stuck in a pitch-black stuffy tent at 9 p.m., I thought of my job for the first time.
    "At least I'm not at work," I said aloud.

    Rachel naps by the fire at Chapin's Ridge Campsite

    I mentioned before that I missed blogging, but I'll be honest with you that the thing that was most on my mind as Rachel and I finished up our trip was something else: Beer. For nine miles, scrambling up and down hills and stumbling over tree stumps and feeling rising pain in my right knee, I thought about what kind of beer I was going to have when I returned to civilization.

    "You shall not pass!" -- At the Split Rock River crossing, attempting to impersonate Gandalf's stand against the Balrog. This picture might be funnier if you had just crossed this bridge, which bounces and shakes a hell of a lot more than it looks like it should.

    I had a Summit Extra Pale Ale. After showering at Gooseberry Falls State Park's more civilized drive-in campground (not on the trail), Rachel and I drove down to Duluth and ate at Grandma's. We are Twin Cities dorks. We eat at Grandma's every time we go to Duluth. For many of us who live in the Cities, there are two things to do in Duluth: Go to Grandma's, and view that one museum that has an exhibit that plays "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" over and over and over.

    Rachel leads the way.

    There is a road in this picture. Can you spot it? It was the only road I saw for four days.

    Offering my useless and bitter opinion on a place I visited for a week in 1998

    Here's what I've been thinking about New Orleans (and Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama): This is America.

    It is not some extension of America; not pseudo-America; not America the way Hong Kong was British, but actual Heartland, voted-for-Bush America.

    For all our ridiculous songs and poems and books and movies and news channels and radio talk shows and cutesy fucking chain e-mails and chest thumping about how great we are, all our rodeo clown patriotism, this, World, is how we treat our own. We ignore one another. We leave one another to die and rot in the street.

    Friday, September 2, 2005

    Deh. Deh-neh. Deh-neh-neh

    If my life were a TV show, I would come running onto screen as AC/DC's "Back in Black" blared, give a triumphant thumbs-up to confirm my return, and then crumple to the floor holding my knee in pain.

    I'm back.

    The picture below gives you an idea where I've been; it was taken alongside the Split Rock River, in Northern Minnesota. Keen observers will note that I am wearing my Utilikilt -- quite possibly the best bit of backpacking gear I own.

    I'll try to write more later, after I've slept in my own bed, but here's a random fact: I did not miss work, I did miss blogging.