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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Blogging expert

  • Hey, man, I'm gonna be on the radio. I'm going to be interviewed by Welsh radio presenter Beti George on Monday. Assuming I don't choke -- gripped in fear of bungling my Welsh -- we'll be talking about the joy that is blogging.
    There is something funny and ironic in my being called upon as a sort of expert on blogging (I get a sense that Meaghan would be best equipped to comment on my ineptitude as a blogger*). But people who are well equipped to talk about blogging don't speak Welsh.
    So, ha. I am the blogging expert by default because I'm one of the few people blogging in Welsh.
    I lurched through a pre-interview this morning and it was very trippy. I don't get many opportunities to hold conversations with Welsh speakers -- this was only my second, as a matter of fact. I am used to either talking to myself or listening to the radio. The linguistic isolation that comes from living in the United States -- where everyone thinks it's funny to tell me I'm speaking Klingon (tell me again; it gets funnier after I've heard it the thousandth time) -- has caused me to internalize the language so much that it's a bit of a disconnect when I remember it's a living language that is 2,600 years old and not just some made-up thing that exists in my head. It was weird to be, you know, interacting with someone else on the phone.
    The program's researcher would ask me a question and there would be a pause while I realized, "Oh, hey. I should answer that question. We're having a conversation" ("O, hei. Fe ddylwn i ymateb y cwestiwn 'na. Cael sgwrs ydym ni.").
    Eventually things got a bit more fluid and I started to feel slightly more comfortable with speaking in Welsh, but I will nonetheless be spending the next several days being kept awake by visions of worst-case scenarios for Monday's interview ("What do you mean I agreed to purchase a 150-year-old island fortress?!").

  • In related news, I have my co-workers hooked an using Welsh profanity.

  • Everyone seems to love this blog.

  • I wish I could claim to have done something like this.

  • I've been reading a lot of rugby stories today in preparation for the second Lions test match against New Zealand. I was particularly struck by this quote in the Guardian: "In the week before the Test we thought the All Blacks had cracked our lineout code, so we changed a few things. In hindsight that was suicide."
    Oh, good grief. This is like changing all of a quarterback's play calls in the week before a game. That shit never works (see 2004-2005 Minnesota Vikings defense). Even if the other team does know the plays they aren't as well versed in them as your team should be, so your chances are better than if you just go out there and guess. What the hell is wrong with Sir Clive?

    *I suspect Esther would also be good at this and could point out all my flaws in a sharply honest and funny way. I am immensely jealous of her acute sense of observation and humor. You know all those things they say about the brilliance of Oscar Wilde? She makes him look like a hack. And she's prettier.
  • Wednesday, June 29, 2005

    Fish-eating drunks

  • A co-worker of mine (who lives in North Carolina) today mistakenly referred to Minnesotans as "cheese-eating drunks."
    "No, you're thinking of Wisconsin," I said. "We're fish-eating drunks."
    And then I started to envision a large map, with each state classified by what type of drunk they are:
    NORTH CAROLINA -- Pork-eating drunks
    TEXAS -- Barbecue-eating drunks
    MASSACHUSETTS -- Chowder-eating drunks
    UTAH -- There are no drunks

  • Counterculture is dead.

  • Paula Abdul tackles the important issues.

  • I am 351 months old (there's such a thing as a birth tree?).

  • Note to the makers of Swiss Miss pudding: I am a big fan of your product, but I find your packaging vexing. Every time I try to tear off the top part, it comes off in pieces. Then it gets all messy. Please fix your pudding lids so that they come off all in one piece. Thank you.

  • I found out Tuesday that my longtime friend Beth has a blog.
    I've known her for more than a decade, when the two of us were functionaries for a subsidiary of the evil empire. When I got bored in my role as the guy who hangs out in the freezer-cooler all day listening to ska music and doing his best to avoid talking to any customers, I would pick up a ham and go find Beth. She was usually doing some foolish thing like helping customers and making their day better. I would stand there patiently until the customer left, then I would extend the ham to her and sing "Hold My Ham," to the tune of the Hootie and the Blowfish hit "Hold My Hand." I would sing to her until she held my ham.
  • Tuesday, June 28, 2005

    100 Things: 6-10

    Here are items 1-5, if you're interested.

    6) When I was 11 years old, I served as a canoe chauffeur for the mayor of Houston. The Citizens' Environmental Coalition hosted a flotilla of canoes that traveled down a section of Buffalo Bayou, and Mayor Kathy Whitmire came along. A reporter and photographer for the Houston Chronicle also came along, so it was decided that it would be a good idea to put the mayor in a canoe with the only kid on hand -- me. I think perhaps some boneheaded handler told the mayor that she would look more leader-like if she was at the front of the boat (the bow, for you nautical buffs), and I was placed in the back (the stern). But if you know anything about canoeing, you know that the person who actually controls the boat always sits in the back.

    7) I enjoy putting things in alphabetical order.

    8) Hundreds of faiths claim that theirs is the One True Religion. I live in fear that one of them is right.

    9) Sometimes I find myself thinking about what it would be like to be a dad. I'm not sure if I do this because I really want kids or because I have some ridiculous and misplaced sense of duty to add more people to the Earth's population. At the same time, I secretly hope that I am sterile, which would then save me from having to decide whether I want kids.

    10) One of my great regrets in life is that I have yet to front a band. Preferably a blues band. Unfortunately, that would require some, you know, talent.

    Wait! I Can Explain

    Yes indeedy, my latest column is out, complete with a veiled apology to Talisyn Flagg. Feel free to forward it along to all your friends, family and jilted lovers.

    Rant

    Recent IM conversation:
    CO-WORKER: I still believe getting rid of Saddam was a good idea. But I think we should have just sent in a sniper and capped his ass.
    ME: Then it would have been state-sponsored assassination, which is a slippery slope. Somehow it's nobler to do it this way -- Saddam lives and 2,000 U.S. soldiers die.
    ME: That will be our new threat to all brutal dictators: "Surrender, or this 18-year-old Hispanic kid dies."

    Monday, June 27, 2005

    Bleh

  • If your best friend comes in from out of town, you should:
    A) Be an adult and retire early in the evening because you have to get up at 7 a.m. the next morning and bike to work.
    B) Hang out with him and a few other friends until 2 a.m. and drink a case of Warsteiner.
    Of course the answer is B.
    I am in dire need of a nap. Exhaustion is tugging at me like Lilliputian guy wires secured to my legs and lower back and shoulders. Taking a deep breath requires effort.
    Oh, and it was pissing down rain as I biked in this morning.

  • My wife tells me that our friend, Rachel Kossover, claims to read this blog on a regular basis. So, hello to you, Koss. I always find it somewhat odd to learn that someone I know is reading this thing. When someone tells me that they read my blog there is a part of me that wants to ask: "Why would you do that?"

  • Well, it's a good thing Sir Clive bumped Gavin Henson to give playing time to Jonny Wilkinson against New Zealand. Good if you're a New Zealand supporter.

  • Arse.

  • I have decided that I am no longer a fan of the Beastie Boys. Will Smith, on the other hand, continues to be a musical genius.
  • Friday, June 24, 2005

    Employment history

  • Some random event got me thinking today about my glory days working as a jack of all trades at a TV station in Reno. I was eventually fired from that station. What I find odd -- now, so many years later -- is that I was able to stay on as long as I did. I worked there for a year and a half and in that time, I was guilty of (among other things) the following:
    -- Referred to the sales staff as "weasels."
    -- Called all reporters "monkey."
    -- Crashed a news jeep.
    -- Kicked a hole in the wall.
    -- Told an assignment editor that I could do a better job while drunk and masturbating.
    -- Threatened to beat up the general manager.
    I was fired after said general manager claimed I had threatened to kill the entire sales staff. He based this on an e-mail I sent to a friend, with the subject: "SALES MUST DIE" (yes, I made the classic mistake of using work e-mail for personal use and my employer was reading my e-mail -- I'm a dope). It didn't actually say anything about anybody dying in the content of the e-mail, but did manage to use variations of the word "fuck" 27 times. When I was rejected for unemployment (because I was fired) I made the lady who was rejecting me read that e-mail out to me, just because I knew she was in an office and it made her uncomfortable.
    Good times.

  • "(A) key member of al-Qaida in Iraq... was charging just $17 per bomb." -- Wow. At prices that low, I can't afford not to become an insurgent!

  • Take note, fellas: younger women are nothing trouble.

  • You win this round Germany. But don't let it go to your head. We were clearly outmanned in this fight.
    (Am I being too obscure here?)

  • Real life becomes a cartoon: "Equusearch has also asked about a dozen professional athletes to join in the search."
    The hell? Professional athletes?
    "Have you found anything, Randy Moss?"
    "No, man. How about you, Derek Jeter?"
    "No. I feel really bad about that. How'd your search of the island's brothels go, Allen Iverson?"
    "Well, I found somethin'. But it sure wasn't an 18-year-old girl from Alabama. I may go back there to check again, though."
  • Thursday, June 23, 2005

    I'm famous, bitches.

  • I found out today that my Welsh-language blog was mentioned in the most recent issue of the Welsh-language magazine Golwg.

  • I really dislike the term "free money." It strikes me as a stupid thing to say. Almost all money is "free" in the sense that you don't have to pay for it. If you pay for money, that's called "currency exchange."

  • I'm ashamed to admit this, but I don't understand the British university grading system. I'm assuming a 2:1 is good?

  • The woeful tale of the Tories' Top Cat.

  • Bwhahaha. I'm telling you -- the EU is doomed. When the EU eventually packs it in for good, I suspect I will be a raving lunatic about it. I will probably purchase a bullhorn and run through the streets: "You see? I was right! I predicted this years ago -- before the euro was even released! You should have listened to me, world. I am a genius!"
  • Commute

    For no particularly good reason I decided today to take a camera with me so I could blog my daily commute home from work. If you want to know what my commute to work is like, just read the blog post in reverse.

    Below are the shining suburban headquarters of my benevolent employer. It is after 5 p.m. on a nice day, so just about everyone has gone home. On Fridays it looks like this by 2 p.m.



    This is Mendota Heights Road.



    The above is a comfy downhill slope (or drudging uphill climb, depending on which direction I am going) that runs about a mile to this stunning view of... the airport. That tiny dot in the sky (on the right) is an airplane. In modern-day America it is probably illegal for me to take pictures of airports or airplanes. Hello Guantanamo!



    Below is a section of the Big Rivers Trail, which was just behind me as I was taking the picture of the airport. Here's a God's-Eye view of where I am standing.



    I follow the trail for about two miles until I get to the Mendota Heights Bridge, which is pictured below. You may be able to see a few skyscrapers off in the distance -- that is downtown Minneapolis. Recently, my benevolent employer issued a request that we tell people that our headquarters is located in Minneapolis. Not only is this clearly inaccurate, but I take particular offense to it because I live in St. Paul.



    Here I am on the Mendota Bridge. The bridge is just shy of a mile long and crosses the Minnesota River, which, I can tell you from personal experience, is not the greatest of rivers to swim in.



    The picture below was taken about one-third of the way across the Mendota Bridge. Just around the corner, the Minnesota River ceases to be and joins up with the Mississippi River. That river then winds its way along to those skyscrapers you see in the distance -- downtown St. Paul. This view is one of my favorite parts of the trip.



    Once I get across the bridge, I pass by Historic Fort Snelling, which is pictured below.
    It's pretty unimpressive as far as forts go, but Minnesota is not the sort of place in which you need to go around building forts, anyway. One of the safest places to be during a war, I suspect, is right here in Minnesota. We are far from invasion and possess no strategic military targets (except, of course, for a handful of fur trading posts turned novelty forts).
    Apparently they offer tours of this fort on weekends and such, and I have on occasion seen guys in pioneer-era military garb marching around outside its walls, but I can't say it's ever really interested me. It doesn't really interest anybody else, either. Behind me in this picture are acres and acres of abandoned military barracks, preserved primarily due to their extreme proximity to the airport. You can't build anything on this land, so what was here before the airport came is seemingly all that will ever be here. I like that fact quite a bit.
    I imagine that the people who lived at this fort centuries ago were miserable in the summer. As I say, the Minnesota River meets the Mississippi River nearby, so the fort sits above some rather marshy area -- mosquito heaven.



    The picture below is of the Mississippi River. It's not a very good picture because it was taken staring directly into the sun. I took the picture while standing on a bridge that is either (depending on how long you have lived in the area) the 7th Street Bridge, the Highway 5 Bridge, or the Fort Road Bridge. Unlike the Minnesota, I think the Mississippi is an OK river to swim in. At this point at least. We are the first major metro area to have the opportunity to dump shit into it at this point, so it is still relatively tolerable. Heaven help anyone who even gets near this river as it runs through Louisiana.



    The picture below was taken at Cleveland Avenue and Mississippi River Boulevard in St. Paul. I follow this road for several miles, doing my best to avoid being hit by the occasional idiot SUV driver. Look how wide this road is, for the love of Pete! You could turn an ox cart around in it. Yet drivers of SUVs are always uncomfortably close when they pass.



    Here's a baseball game that I passed on my way home. On the other field there were some really cute kids playing baseball, but in modern America it is not OK for some random bloke to ride up on a bike and start snapping pictures of kids.



    From just beyond the baseball field up to the College of St. Catherine, Cleveland Avenue gets a little busy. I have to pedal pretty hard and there aren't any good places to stop and take pictures. So the picture below was taken once I had made it to Prior and Randolph.
    Directly behind me is the College of St. Catherine, a Catholic college. I am just over one mile from home at this point, and in that mile I will pass four churches. Minnesotans love God.



    The picture below may look a little familiar. I took a picture of the same building back in January. It looks a little different now.


    And with that, I have returned home. My legs are usually shaking at this point and I have a tremendous urge to drink beer. Just looking at these pictures makes me want a beer.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    At least he gets to shag Charlotte Church

  • Clive Woodward is an idiot. In defending putting Wilkinson at inside center he said he doesn't think "there is a lot of difference between 10 and 12." What?! What sport does he think he's managing? If you don't understand rugby, it's a bit like having a coach say there's not much difference between quarterback and receiver.
    I am a huge fan of Wilkinson -- considerably more so than anyone else I know -- but pulling Henson just to get Wilkinson some field time is bullshit. Anything less than two tries from Wilkinson should be considered a failure.

  • No Miss America pageant? What kind of evil is this? The terrorists have won.

  • Every once in a while I will find myself actually listening to the lyrics of some nauseating song that I hear every day and thinking: "Hey, that lyric is pretty good."
    That happened today when listening to that The Game/50 Cent song that contains the line: "No schoolbooks; they used that wood to build coffins."
    Although, it doesn't really change my opinion about the song. I find it hard to respect a rapper who uses the same pseudonym as a professional wrestler.

  • I love marketing stunts that go awry.
  • Tuesday, June 21, 2005

    God also hates donuts with peanuts on them

  • This is probably the most kick-ass story I've seen in a while. My mother-in-law is hardcore Mormon and I can guarantee you she has an idea of how an 11-year-old boy could survive for almost five days on his own in the wilderness.
    I liked this element: "(A)fter getting some food and water, and asking for his parents, the next thing (Brennan) wanted to do was play video games on a rescuer's cell phone."

  • This site would be funny if they weren't serious. Maybe God is British, and when he said he hates fags he was actually talking about something else. What do you suppose are some other things God hates?

  • Like everyone and their uncle, I have decided to do one of those 100 Things lists. In an effort to keep myself from slipping into a self-involved coma, I am only doing five at a time.

  • Someone put one of these fliers up in one of the men's room stalls at the headquarters of my benevolent employer. It gives me the heebie-jeebies, but I don't want to be the uncool guy to tear it down.

  • Michael Jackson toast.

  • Here are some interesting facts about David Wilkins, the new U.S. ambassador to Canada: "His first and only trip (to Canada) was in the 1970s when he was in the army Reserve. Wilkins also doesn't speak French, although he did take three years of the language in college."
    Apparently we care a lot about Canada. And apparently I am qualified to be U.S. ambassador to Spain.

  • Congratulations, London -- you're No. 3!

  • Yeah, privatization has turned out really well, hasn't it? Train companies are seeing the number of customers increase, so instead of expanding and/or improving service they want to punish those customers. Huh?

  • No relation.

  • Oh, man. Isn't this is how the first World War got started?
  • 100 Things: 1-5

    1) I type with three fingers. My right index finger is used to type every letter except for "A," "S", "W" and the Shift key -- those latter four tasks are relegated to my left index finger. I use my right thumb to hit the space bar.
    Regardless of my convoluted typing style, I can type with a good deal of speed. The end result is that watching me type is like some sort of office party trick. The television station I worked at in San Diego offered regular tours through the building and I was one of the stops on the tour. No, really. The woman who led the tours always stopped to draw attention to my typing.
    I was most popular with soccer mom types. My theory is that I made them feel better about their children: "If this idiot who can't type can find secure employment in a TV Station, surely my ADHD child will grow up alright."

    2) Singing "Land of Hope and Glory" gets me teary-eyed.

    3) For reasons that are still unknown to me, when I was in high school I was terrified of admitting the necessity of a bodily function when on a date. Belching, farting, urinating, pooping -- I refused to admit that any of that happened to me.
    To get around this, I made sure that the doorframe of whichever car I was driving was dirty. I would run my hand along said doorframe as I was getting out of the car and then say, "Oh, man. I got grease on my hands. I'm gonna run to the restroom to wash them."
    I would hold my hands up as I said this, as if to say: "See? My hands are dirty. I'm not trying to cover up how badly I have to pee. I'm just going to wash my hands, and that's it. Nothing else. Because I never pee or poop."
    The residual effect of this behavior is that I am still acutely aware of how long certain activities take.

    4) I do not remember the name of the first girl I kissed. I get around this by telling myself that I was not, in fact, kissing her -- I was swapping gum for a very long time.

    5) When I was a boy, for about a month, I played with Barbie dolls solely because it annoyed the hell out my dad. My mother encouraged this behavior because she thought it would instill a greater respect toward females. If anything, Barbie instilled an unrealistic expectation of what a woman should be and encouraged me to think of women as playthings.

    Monday, June 20, 2005

    Why is there air?

  • I got my first moving violation citation in eight years Saturday. I turned right on a red light, despite "at least four" signs telling me not to. I was going to argue with the officer on this point when I looked in the rearview mirror and saw two of said signs. That's $115 for not paying attention to the road because I was too busy insulting my wife for not liking Bill Cosby.
    Honestly, though, how can you not like Bill Cosby?
    I can understand not ranking him in your top 20 favorite comics, and I can understand not enjoying other people's interpretations of him (I want to punch every person who attempts to regurgitate the "Dad is great; he gives us chocolate cake" routine) but to not like him at all? It's the Cos for the love of Pete! There's clearly something wrong with my wife. It's some sort of horrible psychological disorder that I fear will manifest itself in an attack that comes in my sleep.

  • "One half of the couple was asked to lie down, with their head inside a scanner, while their partner stimulated them manually to achieve orgasm."
    Ooh. Kinky.

  • "I think there's a very good chance I wouldn't have survived 15 hours without it," Hannon said.
    I like the optimism there. He doesn't rule out the possibility of coming through it all just fine without a life preserver, like that episode of "Magnum P.I." when Magnum has to tread water for 24 hours and suffers visions of his father.
    (Come on, who's seen this episode?)
  • Saturday, June 18, 2005

    Ringworm

    Yes, that really is Van Morrison.

    (I will be deleting this post in a few days. I just felt like making use of the $49 a year I have to pay to do audio posts on my Welsh blog)

    Friday, June 17, 2005

    Support our troops

  • Random IM conversation:
    ME: I'd like to see John Travolta take (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes) on a plane ride and have them get confused for terrorists and be shot down.
    ME: I'd sure as hell get one of those "Support Our Troops" stickers then.
    CO-WORKER: Send them on a USO tour to Tikrit.
    CW: Throw their bound bodies out of a Humvee.
    ME: I like sending them on a USO tour.
    ME: When Tom Cruise gets shot up, they can read back his theories on modern medicine to him.
    CW: "We'd love to give you some Demerol, Tom, but we don't want to dope you up and turn you into a zombie like Brooke Shields."

  • If the KKK had interns: "No dummy, peanut butter doesn't burn! Stop putting it on the crosses!"
    Actually, they probably have that problem, anyway, with long-standing members.

  • Sometimes I want to tell people that my name is Abakash Dinistr. When they look at me funny, I will shout: "Do you have a problem with my name?! How dare you besmirch the Dinistr family name!"
    No, I'm lying. I've never wanted to do that.

  • This post was worthless.
  • America needs you, Gary Condit

    Remember the phrase "Sept. 10?" As in, "Caring about Britney Spears' boob job was so Sept. 10." It was used in reference to some trivial bit of information that seemed important before 9-11. Do you remember this? I do.

    I remember, also, that all of us -- the Global Media Conspiracy and the collective buyers of the conspiracy -- promised one another that we would stop paying so much attention to stupid, inconsequential non-news items.

    "From now on," we said, raising our chin for dramatic effect, "we will only pay attention to that which really matters."

    Even as The Rock was raising his fist in solidarity with all that is American and pro-wrestling good, and as Toby Keith was writing songs that should be ironic but aren't, we were making a solemn vow to finally live up to our potential as journalists and citizens.

    Now, finally we would get it right.

    Yeah, well, we've gotten
    that
    out
    of
    our
    system.

    Thursday, June 16, 2005

    He sounds Scottish

  • There are some really great crap TV programs on the air this summer. In addition to "Hit Me Baby One More Time"* there is also "Dancing with the Stars."
    Have you seen this show?
    Watching Evander Holyfield attempt to dance the jive was comedy gold. I am convinced that the entire program was conceived with the purpose of making John O'Hurley appear to be the most talented man in America.

  • Salty pooter?

  • Man, those Chinese are crazy/ignorant. I sure am glad I live in the United States, where we never come up with stupid ideas in response to social problems.

  • "She said she spends most of the day in bed and takes quite a bit of medicine." -- Sounds like a good weekend to me.

  • Quote of the week: "Oh, I put something on him, baby."

  • Crazy dancing bear gif.

    *My wife was convinced that Vernon Kay is Scottish. When I pointed out that he is, in fact, from Bolton, she asked: "Is that close to Scotland?"
    ME: "Well. In relative terms, yes. Bolton is closer to Scotland than, say, Madrid."
    HER: "OK. Because he sounds Scottish."
  • What more do you want?

    There is an old story about a pastor whose house is slowly being consumed by floodwaters. As he's sitting there on the porch, his ankles getting wet, a group of guys come by in a boat.

    "Reverend, you better hop in this boat," one of the men shouts. "We gotta get you out of here."

    "No, that's alright, son. I have faith in the protection of the Lord. He will watch out for me," says the pastor.

    And on and on and on this story goes, with the pastor moving to higher and higher ground until he is perched precariously on his chimney and there is a helicopter overhead.

    "Reverend, you better climb on up this ladder," a man shouts over the loudspeaker. "We gotta get you out of here."

    "No, that's alright, son. I have faith in the protection of the Lord. He will watch out for me," says the pastor.

    The pastor drowns, of course.

    When he gets his chance to talk to God, the first thing he asks about is his demise.

    "I always kept the faith. I followed and taught with such dedication. Why didn't You save me?" he asks.

    "I sent three boats and a helicopter. What more do you want?" asks God.

    Anyway, I got to thinking about this story because the chain on my bike broke last night. Add this to the fact that my wife and I were reduced to a one-car family last year, and that my benevolent employer isn't keen on offering enough recompense that I could buy a new car, and that I also suffered this week a broken bike seat and fearful weather, and I am being led to believe that the Creator of the Universe doesn't really want me to go to work.

    Where's the Republican legislation for that, eh? Who cares about gay marriages when I'm the one defying God's Will each day simply by showing up for work!!! This is how plagues get started, people! Clearly, there is a need to funnel money into my bank account. This is an issue of national security!
    At the very least, I would like Congress to cover the cost of a new chain for my bike.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2005

    OK. That needs to stop

  • Every time an ad for Batman Begins comes on television my wife makes sex-tiger growling noises when she sees Christian Bale.
    Dude. I'm sitting right there!
    The fact that Bale is Welsh does not make it OK. That needs to stop. I don't do that sort of thing.
    Yes, I do want to do naughty, naughty things with Amy Hockert. Yes, I do want to spank Jessica Simpson for being so untalented. Yes, I do want to lie on a bed consisting of Catherine Zeta Jones, Kate Winslet, Tonantzin Carmelo, Rachel Ray, and that girl who works at the Starbucks on Cleveland and Ford. But do I vocalize these things when my wife is sitting right there? No. No, I do not. And woe to me if I did.

  • "You cannot have such fun with Luxembourg."

  • This story makes me proud to live in the Twin Cities.

  • Hey, Denis Oswald. Kiss my ass.

  • This link is a bit out of date, but it's the first time I had actually found the thing online. It's that video of troops in the Royal Dragoon Guards singing: "Is This The Way To Amarillo."
    The thing that really struck me about the video is that it's such innocent good fun. That sort of thing would probably get everyone disciplined if it were U.S. troops.
    (Link found via Laura)

  • I have decided that there should be some sort of touring show for crazy media-circus parents. There would be Ron Goldman, Terri Schiavo's mom, the mother of that girl lost in Aruba, Laci Peterson's mom, JonBenet Ramsey's parents -- a host of people who have suffered tragic-comic public breakdowns. People for whom we have lost all sympathy or respect as a result of their behavior before the glaring light of media frenzy.
    In the show, they would each stand up and attempt to wow us with bitter-crazy pathos. And we would throw things at them. It would be the cruelest thing in the world, their reliving sanity-breaking trauma amidst our jeers, and every show would be a sell-out. The tour would be organized by Joe Jackson.

  • One of the many silly things I do while reading news stories is keep track of high BAC levels in stories about drunken drivers. This guy has reached an all-time high of 0.43. Way to go!

  • Woo, I'm glad we got this sorted out. It is indeed legal to offer free cheese in the state of Pennsylvania.

  • Meanwhile, offers of chicken for sex will most likely be rejected in the state of New Hampshire.
  • Tuesday, June 14, 2005

    Within a mile of home

    I've started biking to work again this week. Sometimes when I'm biking, I develop a stupid environmentally pious attitude in which I wonder: "Why don't more people do this? Why am I only one of about four people biking to work? Why am I the only person who cares about our blessed Earth?"

    This question was answered Monday when I found myself caught in a storm. My ride started out alright, with the usual amazing view of both Minneapolis and St. Paul as I rode across the Mendota Bridge. Off to my left (west) I saw a few heavy clouds dumping rain on Richfield and pushing my way, but I figured I could beat the rain.

    Somehow though, there was a massive heavy cloud resting directly overhead as soon as I set foot in St. Paul. The light rumbling of thunder also echoed from directly overhead. I was still about 5 miles from home.

    I started thinking about lightning and pedaling with a certain sense of panic. In the annals of my family history is the story of one particular bloke who fought in and managed to live through the whole of the Civil War without injury. Then, on the way home, he was hit and killed by lightning.

    "That sort of cruel irony runs in my family," I was thinking as I heard more rumbling overhead.

    "God. If You could please not strike me down, I would be very thankful," I found myself muttering amid heavy breath. "Or, if You must hit me with lightning, please don't hit me in the head. Give me a fighting chance here, Lord. Take out one of these trees or lampposts and I can get hit with the residual charge. That would knock me off my bike and I would definitely break a bone or two. That's fair, isn't it, Lord? I don't get killed but still Your point will have been proven -- whatever that point is. I'm not sure I see much point in zapping someone with lightning, but You work in mysterious ways. So, do what You must, I suppose, but if there's any give in Your plan, I would prefer that You just knock me off my bike."

    At the same time, I was in my mind running through that lightning awareness section of the fire training that was required of Nevada journalists. If I felt my hair stand on end, I knew that I would need to jump off the bike and crouch in that strange taking-a-poop squat that they taught us. But I was on a bike, pedaling as hard as I could. How the hell was I supposed to feel my hair standing on end with all this wind blowing through it? And what does it feel like -- my hair standing on end? Is that a sensation that I would immediately be able to identify? Or would it be like that time I was in the apartment in San Diego and an earthquake hit and I was thinking that someone was pounding on the walls and I was just getting up to go yell at them when it stopped and I realized what had happened? Would I be riding along, wondering, "why does my neck feel funny?" and then, right as it dawned on me, POW!!! Finger of The Lord God Almighty right to the skull.

    "Wait. Shit. I'm going about 15 mph at the moment -- maybe faster. If I get knocked off the bike at this speed, there's a good chance I'll get pretty fucked up," I started muttering again. "Especially considering that I don't have a helmet. And with these trees and lampposts on all sides it seems rather probable that I would crack into something if I got hit by lightning. And the bike path is a little off the road, so no one would discover me for a while. I might survive the crash and then die waiting for help to arrive. Or, if I did live, there would be months of physical therapy and I'd have to join one of those support groups for lightning strike victims. Oh, God. Please don't hit me at all. To be perfectly honest with You, I'd really appreciate it if you would stop scaring the piss out of me with all this rumbling of thunder."

    RUMBLE

    "Fine. Have it Your way. Just please don't kill me. Please."

    I wondered whether I was more or less likely to be hit by lightning while moving, or whether it made any difference. As I got near the Ford plant, heavy sporadic raindrops started to fall from the sky. With the sun still shining from a corner to the west, the raindrops looked like flashes of light -- like the strange, stylized rain that falls in hip hop music videos -- and they were sporadic enough that they didn't seem to be hitting me. I could see them hitting the ground all around me, but couldn't feel them. It was like those war films in which the hero is able to run unscathed through withering enemy fire.

    The rain became unavoidable pretty quickly. As I passed beneath the Ford Parkway bridge, I wondered whether I should hang out there and wait for things to clear up. I pressed on and started to feel a little more relaxed.

    Then my seat broke. With two miles to go, the bolt that keeps the seat in place spontaneously loosened. I stopped to look at it and wondered whether I could just tighten it with the Leatherman that was buried somewhere in my backpack, but then I heard my own voice screaming inside my skull: "DON'T STOP, YOU FOOL! God will strike you down if you stop!"

    So I resigned to carry on by pedaling standing up, like when I was a boy and had only one speed (as fast as possible) when riding my bike through Bloomington's streets. But the thing is, it hurts like hell to pedal constantly while standing up. Go on, go outside and pedal your bike standing up without stopping the pedaling rotation. You will notice very quickly that your quads are on fire. I would try to rest my legs by coasting, but as soon as I did this, I would hear another rumble of thunder.

    I was weeping in pain as I crawled up the hill at Summit Avenue. Fortunately, no one could tell I was crying like a girl because it was pissing down rain at this point. If I had been thrown into the river I could not have been more wet.

    Then the hail started. With just three blocks to go, I found myself being torn apart by a barrage of penny-sized ice bullets. The hail was falling with a sense of fury -- 1,000 snare drummers banging on everything in sight. I hope you are laughing at this image of me -- an almost-drowned rat gasping for air whilst being attacked by marbles from that Hungry Hungry Hippo game. I didn't think it was funny at the time. It hurt like hell. Sitting here at my keyboard now, I can count about 10 welts on my arms.

    I pedaled as hard as I could up the rest of the way, growling in pain. When I got to my apartment complex, I saw that my wife was standing at the top of the stoop.

    "I was worried about you," she said. "Get inside!"

    When you think about it, that was a pretty silly thing to say ("No, honey. God is kicking my ass and I think I'll just stay out here and take it"), but the instructions were followed without question.

    I got inside and showered and got into dry clothes, and as Rachel and I sat down to eat dinner the tornado alarms started going off.

    For Our Anniversary -- Weapons Material

    Ahhh, isn't it sweet? My latest column is out. Please send it to all your friends, co-workers, and celebrators of six-year anniversaries.

    Monday, June 13, 2005

    Get a job!

  • Last night I was walking along the street at about 10 o'clock and a car full of high school- or college-aged dudes drove buy. One of them leaned out the passenger window and screamed: "Get a job!"
    This is what it's like in Minnesota in the summer. When the weather is warm, we all want to lean out our car windows and shout things. But winters are so long here, our upbringings rooted so deeply in stoic religions, our heritage so very very very white, that we are crap at shouting things from passing cars. Our excitement exceeds our ability and experience. We roll down the window, fill our lungs with air and... we lock up.
    What should we shout? Oh, crap, what should we shout? The car is moving by so quick and we can't think of a damn thing to say. We look like fools, hanging out the window of a 93 Ford Explorer that our friend's mom bought him for graduation, not saying anything, just staring. We've got to shout something! Anything!
    "Get a job!"
    Then we fall back inside the car and laugh because, thank God, absurdist humor works up here.

  • Celebrity sighting: I found myself sitting right next to Pam Borton Saturday at Solera (our shoulders were touching), but I can offer no salacious details. My wife and I were busy making fun of the skinny girls that kept walking past a pack of guys, solely to get attention.

  • Sunday was my six-year anniversary. I don't have any real commentary on that fact, I just thought I'd point it out. I've been having sex with the same woman for six years. Nonstop.

  • This is kind of cool: Products of all sort made out of burned carpet.

  • Uhm, no.

  • "Still, if anyone can handle Mags, it's Luke -- he's a better man than I. Well, that's not true, but he's a pretty good guy."
  • Sunday, June 12, 2005

    book



    This is a page from my book. An actual page from the actual book that I have so far spent more than an actual year working on.

    It is a visible step in this journey from a story that I tell at the bar to lovingly crafted novel that you will (I hope) give me money for. It is tangible proof of this thing I have been telling people about for so long; telling people for even longer that I would do it.

    It's pretty much all I think about (pretty much -- I am male, after all).

    Friday, June 10, 2005

    Dr. Phil: great American

  • Here's a list of greatest Americans as compiled by the Discovery Channel program of the same name. The nominees for the list of 100 were submitted by the viewing public. As such the list contains George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Barbara Bush and Laura Bush. Indeed, a whopping 43 of those listed are still alive and considerably more were alive in the past half century. Some 230 years of history and the majority of our greatest Americans were alive in the last 50 years? The viewing public is so dumb.
    Oh, and Pat Tilman? Pat Tilman?

  • The number of jokes that come from this headline are so numerous that I couldn't settle on one. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments field.

  • Not an Onion headline, but probably should be: "Salt Industry Says Americans Need More Salt In Diets"

  • "I said, 'Ya'll digging right by some cable lines; ya'll gonna cut the cable, phone line and everything else,'" Gene Garrick said. "They didn't say anything, kept digging, then sure enough they cut our telephone off. I come back and I said, 'Yeah, now you're probably gonna cut the water off,' and he said, 'Yeah, probably will.'"

  • I have a friend named Arlene. Every time I've read her name today, I've been reminded that I need to call her. I have not seen her in a month of Sundays because I am a shite friend.
    More tropical storms/hurricanes should be named after my friends.

  • Actual pimp name: "Allmighty Supreme Mayo"
  • Llyfr

    This is a book I'm reading at the moment.

    This blog needs more pictures. I can't come up with my own ideas, so I copied Esther. It was this, or post pictures of my butt -- none of us want that. Esther's picture is far superior. This may have something to do with the fact that my camera was purchased at Costco and I have drunkenly dropped it several times. It may not have anything to do with that.

    Thursday, June 9, 2005

    Open-air boondoggle

  • About the blog title: Just for today, I promise.

  • I didn't get to watch this game last night because stupid crappy ESPN2 was showing baseball.
    Yes, I realize that baseball is bigger than soccer.
    Yes, I realize that the soccer result was pretty much predicted.
    Yes, I realize that the baseball game had a fight.
    But I still would have liked to have seen the soccer match. They could have put it on ESPN Classic or some such thing.

  • Hooray! Our local boondoggle will not have a roof.

  • How can you not love George Best? Thank you, Georgie, for self-destructing for all our amusement.

  • "The FBI... missed several opportunities to intercept two of the 9/11 hijackers who lived (in San Diego) because agents were focused on drug trafficking instead of terrorism."
    That's just great. The story then goes on to point out that the FBI failed to detect Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid al-Midhar even though they "lived with an FBI informant."
    If anyone needs me, I will be slamming a door against my head.

  • This woman's family is ridiculously unlucky (see second to last paragraph).

  • I love this site -- cartoons inspired by subject lines of spam e-mails. This is my favorite so far.
    (Site found via Heather)

  • Good name for a band (as provided by my co-worker, Adam): Exploding Vaginas.

  • Another good name for a band: Crack Snob.
  • Wednesday, June 8, 2005

    The sweet science of jazz

  • This fight would be more interesting if Tyson were going up against country music singer Martina McBride. Or pro bull rider Justin McBride. Or erstwhile "Tonight Show" bassist Christian McBride ("Ooh, McBride releases a devastating and complicated series of jazz stanza! And now Tyson retaliates by... eating McBride's foot. It's hardly innovative, but definitely effective. The pain has got to be distracting as McBride struggles with complicated time signatures.").

  • Who's in your top 5?

  • I think it would be funny to change the name of my blog to: "I Love Bunnies!!!"

  • Conversation that didn't actually occur as written, but should have:
    "Name a fairly well-known English mistake."
    "Andrew Lloyd Webber."

  • I'm not a Democrat, so perhaps that's the reason I am not tired of Howard Dean. He makes me smile. Of course, I always like the crazy people (and that's what he is, right? Crazy? There's no truth to what he's saying, is there?). I like Jesse Ventura. I want Kinky Friedman to become governor in Texas. I have always been a fan of Andrew Jackson*. Some day The Rock will run for president and I will vote for him.

  • I like two things about this story: 1) The headline conveys a sense of weariness and disinterest on the writer's part; 2) This quote: "Right now I'm really disappointed, so I'm gonna go cry."

  • Groovy. Cold War relics.

  • Hey, spot the dummy: "Tony Rabadi is one of thousands of people who've been injured by a pressure washer. After cleaning the patio last year, he forgot for a moment that he wasn't using a regular hose and went to rinse his feet."
    Guess what happened to him.

  • I wish I had thought of this.

    *Jackson was the target of an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Jan. 30, 1835, when Richard Lawrence fired a pistol at point-blank range. The pistol misfired and Lawrence tried again with another pistol. It too misfired. Weary of this nonsense, Jackson proceeded to beat the man with his cane.
  • Tuesday, June 7, 2005

    The indefatigable circus monkey of the universe

  • Of possible interest to Meaghan -- Radio 4 is asking its listeners to vote on the greatest philosopher of all time. Those having made the shortlist are:
    -- St. Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle, Rene Descartes, Epicurus, Martin Heidegger (more info here)
    -- Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Marx (more info here)
    -- John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, Plato, Karl Popper, Bertrand Russell (more info here)
    -- Jean-Paul Sartre, Arthur Schopenhauer, Socrates, Baruch Spinoza, Ludwig Wittgenstein (more info here)

  • On that end: What philosophical/religious concept did I find myself describing this morning as, "the indefatigable circus monkey of the universe?"

  • Man, I wish I were Mennonite or Amish. Not because I have old-world hard-line beliefs, but because those guys are so fashionable. Hey, this is the website for me!!
    (Actually, I may buy one of the long overcoats)

  • In case you were wondering, yes, the Chinese are crazy.

  • Millions of people in five different countries are gathering in the hope of ridding the world of poverty, but clearly the whole thing needs to be scrapped because it conflicts with somebody's wedding.

  • How to spot a dumb abductor: "Jackson unsuccessfully tried to use Pine Sol to knock her out."

  • Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that MSNBC screws something up every day? I'm not the only person to have noticed this fact.

  • I love it when I find cool stuff like this on other people's blogs (unfortunately, I have since forgotten where I found it).
  • Monday, June 6, 2005

    Anthem-booing surrender monkeys

  • Is my toaster hot or not? (Thanks for the link, Astrid)

  • My wife and I got a chance to watch the U.S.-Costa Rica soccer match Saturday. We still have a bad habit of getting smoked by stylish South American breakaways, but obviously we held up alright. I have no doubt that part of that came from the fact that the United States was actually playing before a friendly side for once -- go Utah crowd. Chalk another one up for America's theocracy.

  • That winning spirit sure as hell didn't carry over to the U.S. rugby team's match against Wales on the same day. "Slaughter" is probably the best way to describe what happened on that pitch. This picture pretty much tells the story.

  • Continuing the sport theme, I still find myself stupidly hopeful that the Olympics will be held in London in 2012. As mentioned several times before, I have tied my personal ambition somewhat to this bid -- I want to be living in Britain by that time.
    Several news reports I heard Monday stated that the International Olympics Committee found no negatives to Paris' bid. But what about the fact that Paris has all those French people?

  • True fact: The last time the Olympics were held in Paris, the U.S. National Anthem was booed by a crowd of as many as 40,000 after the U.S. rugby team won the gold medal. The U.S. had beaten the French 17-3 in a 90-minute* match and knocked unconscious France's top winger.

  • Another true fact: Rugby was scrapped as an Olympic sport after 1924, thus allowing the United States to claim an 85-year reign (the U.S. won gold in 1920, also) as the Olympic champion. There is a great deal of talk about bringing rugby back to the Olympics in 2008 in the form of men's and women's rugby sevens. Sevens is a faster game than proper rugby union (which is the only way 15-man rugby should be played; fuck rugby league) and the U.S. men might even stand a chance in that style of play. The U.S. women's team, meanwhile, would likely dominate. As is the case with most Olympic team sports -- soccer (although that gap is now closing), softball/baseball, basketball -- our women are better than our men.

  • Quick: Someone help me come up with Cockney rhyming slang for "internet broadcasting."

  • I don't know why this makes me laugh.

    *At the time, the 80-minute game was not set in stone. The U.S. pushed for 45-minute halves because they were pretty sure they had superior stamina. The modern U.S. team still operates under the same theory, constantly kicking the ball away and assuming that eventually the other team will get tired. Unfortunately, this trick rarely works anymore -- as evidenced by Saturday's result against Wales.
  • Like a gazelle

    When I was in high school, our band director, Dr. Benson, used to sarcastically command us to "run like a gazelle" when we were getting on and off the field during marching band practice. He knew, of course, that upward of 250 asthma-prone band kids are anything but gazelle-like.

    According to Ilesha, who is now my go-to source for any and all information, a gazelle can run 43 mph. Ilesha fails to mention whether a gazelle can keep this up over 8 kilometers, nor whether it would be distracted by all the food vendors that were set up along the route, so it's impossible to make any sort of definitive statement on my gazelle-likeness in Sunday's Grand Old Day on the Go race. But I'm still pretty happy with how I ran.

    I finished the race with a time of 37:15. That's a pace time of 7:30 -- the best I have ever run. My pace Sunday was 17 seconds faster than in my last 8K, and a full 52 seconds faster than I ran in the same race last year.

    I came in 15th in my division, so there will be no awards to brag about, but as always, what really matters is that I outran my wife.

    Rachel finished the race with a time of 43:31. That's a pace of 8:46 -- 13 seconds faster than last year.

    Friday, June 3, 2005

    It's gettin' hot in here, so kick your husband

  • Hey, hey. I know a really lucky fella who will be putting in the window-unit air conditioner this weekend. Woo-hoo! Lucky me!
    To be honest with you, I am fine without air conditioning. The window unit is loud and runs up the electricity bill and means that I don't get to wake up to the sound of chirping birds. I kind of like just lying there without any sheets, feeling the warmth of summer evening envelope me, staying perfectly still -- doing my best to expend as little energy as possible; trying not to even think.
    The only poetry my wife sees in sleeping in a hot room, however, comes in haiku form:
    She's miserable.
    She hates being hot at night.
    She will kick my ass.

    When it is hot, she "sleeps" in fits of violence. She spins and lurches across the bed, driving her knee into the picture of spread-eagle serenity that is me. She slaps at my shoulders and sighs and growls. Occasionally, just in case I have missed the point, she will loudly announce: "Muh! It's hot!"
    "Yes, I know. Just relax. It's not that bad," I say.
    But she doesn't say anything back because she's, you know, "asleep." She's subconsciously spreading her misery far and wide. If I do not put in the window unit soon, she may sleepwalk next door and kick the neighbors in the throat.

  • One of the lines in Carrie Underwood's "Inside Your Heaven" is: "Every time I see you I'm alive."
    Well, yeah. What else would you be? The walking undead?

  • My eyes and my ears are bleeding.

  • Am I the only person who thinks Gordon Brown sounds more prime ministerial than Blair? Just go on and make the switch.

  • Hmm. Interesting. Actually, that would be a bad idea -- I have to run the next morning.

  • Toast art. I smell a niche market. Or maybe I just smell breakfast.

  • They say that one-third of all the Soul Coughing albums were bought by Minnesotans (I know I certainly have all the band's albums), so I feel almost required to link to the blog of Mike Doughty, who used to front the band. I am very slow on the take; he's been blogging since 2004.

  • I really like this picture.
  • Thursday, June 2, 2005

    Lazy arse

    Rather than write a proper blog post today, I will simply direct you to the comments I made on other blogs (N.B. -- If I didn't comment on your blog today it's only because I couldn't think of anything to say):

    Crystal

    Curly

    Dave

    Gene

    Greg B

    Kari

    Lindsay

    MNSpeak

    Omega

    Thomas

    All stressed out

    Wednesday, June 1, 2005

    I demand a state mime!

  • What, I ask you, is wrong with a state mime? His/her mime would be uniquely Minnesotan. Instead of being trapped in a glass box, he would be trapped in an ice fishing shelter. He could roam Summit, near the Governor's Mansion, personifying people's attitudes toward the weather -- shivering or smiling, depending on conditions. He could roam Taste of Minnesota and similar gatherings rubbing his tummy and trying to steal corn from children. Think of the possibilities!

  • I wonder how Astrid voted (I would have voted no).

  • "...there are many Americans closer to the social democratic European view than that of their own government. Similarly, some Europeans are admirers of the dynamic nature of Anglo-American capitalism."
    I propose a voluntary person-for-person exchange.

  • Oooh, fun. Putt-putt

  • I think just about all of us were already aware of this: Love is similar to mental illness.

  • Yesterday I was telling my wife about the whole Deep Throat saga (I am often heartened by her total lack of interest in such things) and her first question was: "So, what's the crazy conservative spin on this?"
    Apparently the spin is this: "Yeah, well, the press is still dumb."
    Arse.

  • Facts from a news story that sound like a storyboard explanation of a scene in The Simpsons: "Police said the rider lost control of the bike and crashed in a cornfield. They said the bike then caught on fire."

  • I'm a bad person that I take a certain joy in hearing about expensive Southern California homes being destroyed.

  • Here's something that annoys me about Linus -- he often writes things I wish I had written. I may have to kill him and take all his ideas. Specifically what I am referring to is No. 9 on this list.

  • I also wish I had thought of this.
  •