Sunday, April 30, 2006


Here's the important bit: I beat Koss. She, myself, the child bride and, apparently, the entire Upper Midwest ran in the pissing cold this morning to take part in the Get in Gear 10k race.

I finished the race with a time of 50:29, giving me a pace time of 8:08. The child bride finished with a time of 54:38, giving her a pace time of 8:48.

Koss, meanwhile, finished the race with a time of 52:26, giving her a pace time of 8:27.

By the way, my fellow wage slave, Maggie (aka Catfish, aka The Beast), ran in the 5k race. She finished with a time of 27:18, giving her a pace time of 8:48. This is bad news for Maggie, because it means that in a Beast vs. Child Bride Battle Royale, she would not be able to rely on her speed.

To echo Omega's jubilation from the other day: Yay me. I beat people younger than me (and one who's slightly older) -- that's what's important.

Having said that, I am forced to retract some of my glee and point out that this was the most piece of shit race I have ever run. Koss shouldn't feel bad about not making her goal time of under 50:00, because the race conditions made it nigh-impossible for a person to run to his or her potential.

I don't know if there were too many people or the streets were too narrow or what, but I spent at least the first three miles of the run constantly fighting for open space. Instead of locking in and just running, I was darting back and forth across the street and pushing through gaps.

This stop-start-sprint style hit me around mile 4. I developed a massive cramp in my left abdominal muscles that slowed me down and filled me with inexpressible anger as the open space I had been fighting for the entire race became simply open space for me to limp.

The cramp cleared up after a few minutes; at the mile 5 marker, I decided I was going to do what I could to salvage my race and started pushing. I drove hard across the Ford Parkway bridge and practically ran in traffic for the opportunity to run without anyone being in my way. We crossed over to the Minneapolis side and I was finally feeling that I was finally pushing myself on the slight hill where 46th Avenue runs down to Godfrey Parkway.

At this point, the stupid fucking idiots who had set up the race had the courses of the 10k and the 5k merge for about the last 200 yards. The timing of the races meant that I found myself merging with 5k racers who were coming in at more than 30 minutes.

So, let's put that all together:

Sudden male moment of competitiveness and whatever it is that makes scrumhalves scream "Come on, fellas! Let's get our shit together, goddamn it!" when the team is down by two tries + running full tilt after six miles + knowing I could have done so much better + two races converging onto tiny road + slower 5k runners = Chris Cope Rage Party.

Wait. If I had run my pace time from March of 7:35, I would still have come in No. 533 in this race. That's 532 people between me and the bloke who won. So what the hell was my problem? The prize for 533rd place is the same as the prize for 830th.

I managed to get most of my sulking out of the way by the time the child bride caught up with me. She was in a good mood because running in the rain makes her happy.

"I had a good time," she said.

"Good," I said. "I'm glad."

And somehow that made me feel better.

We turned the heat on full blast when we got to the truck. After hot showers, we went to an Australian-themed restaurant and I had an enormous mug of Foster's. So, it wasn't a total loss.

Friday, April 28, 2006

35 days

  • It's official; I announced to all the necessary powers that be within my benevolent employer that my final day will be 2 June. That's 35 days away. Holy shit, what the fuck am I doing? Suddenly this quit-my-job-and-move-to-another-country plan seems terrifying.

  • I need to find someone this stupid, so I can fund my education.

  • The child bride and I are getting closer to having a place to sleep once we get to the UK. After last week's hullabaloo, my friend Rhys agreed to look at the place in our stead. He reported back to me today that it looks OK to him, so I immediately called and had the letting agent e-mail me the application forms. This is how my wife and I will spend our Friday night -- filling out applications for a house.

  • The child bride and I will be running in a 10k race tomorrow. I don't particularly feel like running in miserable weather (it's expected to be raining and 53F/9C), but I will show up because Koss is running in the same race and I plan to beat her.

  • Who would win in a special one-hour episode: Walker Texas Ranger, or MacGyver, or the A-Team?

  • Why is it controversial to sing the U.S. national anthem in Spanish? I do not understand America. Is this real? How can someone actually have a problem with that? What is wrong with these people? You know, sometimes there is no discussion -- sometimes people are just wrong and they should be treated as such.
    "Hey, I think someone singing our drinking-song-turned-anthem in a different style or language is deeply offensive."
    No, no it is not. You are wrong and you are crazy. There is nothing to debate here -- you are wrong. Turn off your TV and go for a walk or something.
  • Discuss

    This may come off as a thinly veiled attempt to comments-whore, but I thought of this idea today: you blog for me. In the comments field, talk about whatever it is you feel like talking about today. Ready? Go.

    Thursday, April 27, 2006

    Correction: I will be watching the World Cup matches at The Local

    Kim has informed me that World Cup matches will be shown at The Local, which is where I preferred to go in the first place. I only picked Brits because there was nothing about World Cup on The Local's website. No, really. You would expect me to say that after being reprimanded by someone from The Local, but it really is a better pub. Its food is better, it sponsors the annual Irish Fair, and it doesn't think that Hoegaarden is an ale.

    Also, The Local is owned by the same people who run The Liffey in St. Paul, which is one of my favorite places on Earth (here's me enjoying their outdoor seating last summer). I even mentioned The Liffey in a column as one of the places in the U.S. where you can find Guinness that tastes the same as it does in Ireland.

    Even if none of the above were true, I would still be planning to watch the matches at The Local because Kim claims to read the blog, thus tapping into one of my longstanding dreams -- to have people know me at a pub. When the child bride and I lived in San Diego, a waitress at the Shakespeare got into the habit of calling me "Norm," thus ensuring that I would not go to any other pub (unless someone else was paying).

    So, The Local will be my spot for the World Cup matches. Adjust your planners accordingly.

    It's like they're trying to make me hate football

    Self-important cocksucker Cris Collinsworth fills me with rage. Any game he calls is automatically ruined, as far as I am concerned. I wouldn't have thought a game involving his being in the booth could be any worse. I was wrong.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    Happy Chernobyl Day!

  • Today marks 20 years since the Chernobyl disaster. I was 10 years old when this happened. The only thing I remember about it is that I knew it was really far away from Texas. One thing that has always interested me is the fact that it seems to be a requirement that all pictures of Chernobyl must be really bleak and depressing. But there are trees in those pictures; surely the trees must bloom. Surely there must be nice days in Chernobyl -- as nice a day as can be had when everything is lethally radioactive.

  • Random statement from me: "Right now there is an invisible cement truck just above your head. I am keeping it suspended with my mind. If you keep talking to me, I will lose my concentration and you will be crushed to death."

  • This week is National Downshifting Week. To celebrate, I told my supervisor today that I plan to leave almost a month earlier than I had previously announced. The idea of leaving fills me with stupid glee -- I have worked for the benevolent employer for five and a half years. That's a long time to do something you don't really like.
    I asked a co-worker today whether he was interested in taking my job when I leave, but he expressed doubt about putting up with the monotony: "I might end up drinking too much beer, and writing posts about my mental and physical agony all the time..."
    Hopefully that will change in a few weeks. My head is now filled with happy visions of heading downtown and watching World Cup matches at Brit's. On a weekday! Wheee!

  • By the way, I know there are a handful of other folks beholden to the benevolent employer who read this blog. For future reference, when you leave the service of said employer, you will be paid for "up to 40 accrued and unused PTO hours," according to the internal powers that be. This fact answers the question of why I am not leaving sooner -- I need to work until the 9th to be able to burn up holiday pay that would otherwise be lost.

  • This is a picture I found on Flickr today. Its cuteness sort of makes you ill, doesn't it?

  • Add this to my list of exciting places to visit in Europe.

  • Maybe he was trying to kill a panther (step up literary types and show how smart you are by identifying that reference).
  • Tuesday, April 25, 2006

    The universe is me, age 3

  • Almost 10 years ago, when I flew to England for the first time in my life, I sat next to a very friendly Englishman who told me what he knew about Portsmouth and the surrounding area, and did his best to answer every inane question I had. At about 3 a.m., with me still asking questions about how I could avoid being attacked by the Irish, he turned to me and said: "I'm going to be quiet now."
    That's where I am at the moment. I want to turn to the universe and tell it to stop pestering me. Exciting things are ahead, but I am desperate for a nap. I want to sleep a full night without waking up in a panic about some other stupid thing. This is the longest burnout in all of burnoutdom.

  • To that end, I have all but firmly decided that I will leave the service of my benevolent employer on 9 June. This will ensure that I am not bogged down with such trivial matters as employment once the World Cup starts.

  • I went to the doctor Monday for an annual physical. It was an all-around disappointment.
    For one thing, I seem to have lost weight. The "I-really-should-enjoy-fighting" Texas mentality that I was instilled with as a boy and the fact that so many Minnesotans are of massive Swedish and Norwegian stock means that even though I'm 6-foot-1, I all too often feel like a tiny fella. What I want is to be one of those guys that everyone gives wide berth when he walks into the room. I want biker dudes to soil their leather chaps just at the sight of me. But I'm hardly going to pull that off when I struggle to maintain 12 stone.
    Also, the doctor didn't stick his finger in my ass. What the hell am I paying for?!
    I did, however, get a tetanus shot, which hurt but did not leave any sort of a mark. This makes it very difficult for me to piss and moan to get the child bride's sympathy. Going to the doctor sucks.

  • I'm really surprised that I don't see this lede more often:
    "TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Two NASCAR fans were electrocuted in a campground outside Talladega Superspeedway when a flagpole they were erecting touched power lines."

  • Unexplainable ska lyric I heard today: "I'm on a shrimp boat, AK-47."
  • Friday, April 21, 2006

    Pen blwydd hapus, Lizzy

  • Happy birthday to the Queen. One thing I've always admired about the queen is the fact that -- with the exception of this year -- she usually celebrates her birthday in June, which is far more agreeable, weather-wise, than April. If I am made King of Wales, the rule will be that we celebrate my birthday on the first really nice weekday in July.

  • In honor of the queen's birthday, my dad made scones for breakfast. There is no punchline to this, really, but it's still pretty amusing. My dad has visited the UK once in his life and most of his knowledge of the place comes from British detective novels and Monty Python. This does not prevent him, however, from frequently affecting a Britishy accent. The accent sounds a lot like an Australian attempting to imitate Winston Churchill without ever having heard what Churchill sounds like.
    I would make fun of my dad more were in not for the fact that I frequently catch myself doing something similar. This morning I was on the phone with an estate agent in Cardiff, because I kind of want to live here, and I caught myself ever so slightly lightening my speech.

  • Not surprisingly, it looks as if securing a place to live is going to be a challenge. Of course it has to be a challenge. Getting accepted into Cardiff University was surprisingly straightforward and easy, so getting to Cardiff University must be an unending snafu.
    Today's dilemma: Chris lives 4,000 miles away.
    WOMAN ON PHONE AT ESTATE AGENT: "We can set up a showing with you on..."
    ME: "Right, that won't really work for me, because I'm in the United States at the moment."
    WOMAN: "OK, well when you arrive in Cardiff, just give us a call and..."
    ME: "No, see, I want to set up a place to live before I get there, so I'll have a place to sleep when I get there."
    WOMAN: "But, normally, we don't like to let a property without the tenant having a chance to see it. Are you sure you won't get a chance to visit Cardiff before..."
    Am I sure? 'Oh, hello, I forgot about this ticket for a transatlantic flight that was in my back pocket.'
    ME: "Yes. My wife and I won't arrive until July 11, on which date I would like to move into our new place."
    WOMAN: "But, normally, see, we don't like to let a property without..."
    ME: "Right. But I'm 4,000 miles away. I see this one property on your website, and I'm interested in it -- perhaps if you could just tell me more about it. I am calling you because you were recommended by a few people, so I'm willing to take a bit of a gamble on not actually seeing it before signing the lease."
    WOMAN: "Well, it's a big thing with us, we don't like to rent a property without the tenant having an opportunity to.."
    ME: "Is it a legal requirement? Are you legally required to physically show me the place?"
    WOMAN: "I don't know. I don't think so."
    ME: "Well, as I say, I'm willing to gamble that you are trustworthy..."
    WOMAN: "And you really can't get here before? Just to look at it?"
    ME: "No."
    WOMAN: "I'll have the letting agent call you."
    The letting agent never called. After thinking about it, I wonder if perhaps what is important to them is not that I see the place, but that they see me. When I call them back, perhaps I will start the conversation with: "Hi, my wife and I -- who are white -- were listening to our Norah Jones CDs and we saw this property on your website..."

  • Does anyone have any Sallie Mae student loan horror stories they want to share with me before I sign my life away to them?

  • My buddy Eric has been one of my best friends for almost 20 years. Mark today as the first time he has read my blog, even though I've told him about it millions of times:
    "Eric, I have this blog and..."
    "Blog. You're a loser."
    "No. Well, yes, but it's kind of fun and..."
    "Blog = loser. Stop talking."
    "Here, I'll forward you to a link to my blog and you can read it and..."
    "You know what a blogger does? He doesn't win. Someone who doesn't win is also called a loser."
  • Thursday, April 20, 2006

    I could not be more proud of my brother and his persistent lack of respect for authority

  • In the wee hours of the morning Thursday, a Nebraska State Patrol officer pulled over a car loaded with people that had been screaming along Interstate 80 with only its parking lights on.
    OFFICER: "What the hell is wrong with you? Why aren't your lights on?"
    DRIVER: "They are on."
    OFFICER: "Your parking lights are on. Your headlights aren't on."
    DRIVER: "Oh, yeah. Well, I don't know how to turn on the headlights."
    OFFICER: "What?"
    DRIVER: "It's not my car, so I'm not really familiar with it."
    OFFICER: "Whose car is it?"
    DRIVER: (Pointing at passenger) "His."
    OFFICER: "Why didn't you tell him how to turn on the headlights?"
    MY BROTHER: "I was asleep."
    OFFICER: (Shining light on car full of people) "Have you been drinking?"
    OFFICER: "Alright, I'm going to search your vehicle, OK?"
    MY BROTHER: "No. Not OK."
    OFFICER: "What?"
    MY BROTHER: "You can't search the car."
    OFFICER: "You are not allowing me to search your car?"
    MY BROTHER: "No."
    OFFICER: "Is that because you have something you don't want me to see?"
    MY BROTHER: "I don't have to answer that, but, we packed very carefully and I don't want you messing things up."
    OFFICER: "So you will not give me permission to search your car?"
    MY BROTHER: "No."
    OFFICER: "OK. Stay there."
    A few minutes later, five additional patrol cars arrived, one of them carrying a K-9 unit, who was brought over to sniff the car.
    OFFICER: "The dog is indicating. That gives us cause to search your car."
    MY BROTHER: "What? He's just barking at me."
    OFFICER: "That means he's indicating."
    MY BROTHER: "The dog was barking when you drove up. He doesn't smell anything."
    OFFICER: "He does. And we are going to search your car, sir. You can either stand over there, or we can put you in the back of the patrol car."
    For an hour and a half, the numerous state patrolmen unpacked the belongings of five people who had been enjoying a snowboarding trip in Colorado. Each belonging was laid out on the interstate as if it were some 3 a.m. roadside yard sale. The dog was allowed to trample over every belonging, taking in a snout-full of all that sweaty, unwashed snowboarding clothes can offer. Eventually, the original officer walked over to the group:
    OFFICER: "OK, you can go."
    MY BROTHER: "You're not going to put our stuff back together."
    OFFICER: "Nope. I thought you should do that; since you packed so carefully."

  • My life is boring. I mean really, really, really boring -- compared with some people, at least.

  • No. Just no.

  • "Hey, we realize it's a bit late, but, uhm, we're sorry. We don't know what got into us."
  • Wednesday, April 19, 2006

    Learning to cope with the fact that I missed my calling as a Highland warrior

    Evolutionarily speaking, I should probably be dead by now.

    One of the dilemmas of modern existence is the fact that often our bodies have not caught up to our modern uses for them. The dieting industry exists because of this fact. Our bodies happily turn just about everything into fat, preparing to sustain us during an unforeseen stretch in which there is no food.

    Keeping the weight off isn't all that much of a problem for me. Instead, I have been blessed with an explosive temper that it is almost entirely useless in the modern age.

    I once read that the general battle plan for Scottish Highland warriors went something like this:
    1) Get yourself really, really, really angry about something.
    2) Go charging full-speed at that something that you're angry about and attack it.
    3) Run away.

    Despite the fact that I share a surname with a bloke who was beaten by Bonnie Prince Charles, I think I am perfectly built to have led a Highland charge. My tall, thin frame would have given me the ability to sprint ahead of the rest of my fellow Highlanders, and my impractical sense of temper would have prevented me from reasoning out the possible negative outcomes of the me-versus-everyone-else equation. Since I am inherently clumsy, I am certain that in that other time, I would by now -- 30 years after my birth -- have been cut down by English cavalry. If I were lucky, they might have sung a song about me: "Wee Angry Chris."

    Hitherto, I have not been involved in a single epic battle. I don't even own a broadsword. My body pays no mind to this fact, however, and continues produce the necessary chemicals to make me angry about everything. Much as other people's bodies convert Twinkies to cellulite, my body converts every negative emotion into rage:
  • "That guy just cut into my lane. FUCK FUCKING FUCKER!"
  • "I don't have enough money for an iPod. ASS SHITTY GODDAMN SHIT FUCK."

    What I am left with is a great deal of negative energy to chew on. With no cleansing bloodbaths taking place, that negative energy turns on its source. If I don't treat myself with kid gloves, I am incredibly adept at making myself sick amid stressful situations. If I am lucky, the negativity will attack my stomach, or give me headaches, or make my body ache as if I had been pushed down a flight of stairs. If I am unlucky, I will get fever blisters.*

    Finding the necessary $27,108 so you can attend university -- that's sort of stressful. As are living with one's parents, trying to find an apartment in another country without actually being in that country, trying to sort out and meet all the visa requirements for that country, trying to improve your ability to speak the language you will be studying in that country, working in a job you really don't like that was supposed to have been a temporary solution but somehow managed to last three and a half years, knowing you will soon leave that job and have no job, knowing you will be abandoning your career at age 30 for a "let's walk forward and pray the future is better" scenario, credit card debt, your wife's student debt, wishing to God that something you had written would make money, finding out you have cavities, and knowing that you've dreamed all these dreams before, man, and this is the biggest it's ever gotten and that means it has the potential to fall apart more tragically than ever before.

    Put all that in perspective, and it's still really not that bad. I am not suffering gangrene in some muddy Highland encampment. I am not performing patrols in Anbar province. I am not starving. I am not alone. But it seems to be enough stress, and now I find myself walking around with a real beauty fever blister just below my nose.

    So, not only do I feel horrible, which makes me angry, I am a hideous freak of nature, which makes me angrier. I am not really a hideous freak of nature, though, I just have a fever blister; so, I am acting like a teenage girl, which makes me angry. And regardless of whether I am any uglier than usual, the fever blister means that I can't kiss my wife for several weeks, until it is 100 percent gone, which makes me ljo67ewIJOhjgef[ij58u7@?.

    Bah. I'm so angry I can't see.

    *If you're one of those people who half paid attention in health classes, you know that herpes causes fever blisters. As much as I would like to tell you that I got the herp from a hooker in Guam, the fact is, you're thinking of the wrong thing. I have HSV 1, which is thoroughly unexciting, genetic, and mostly harmless except for the fact that having a fever blister affects one's self-esteem.
  • Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    The financial folly of Orson lyrics

    Bunny cake
    Originally uploaded by ChrisCope.
    My family is not really one that holds to traditions particularly well. We try, but they usually fall apart.
    Unless they involve sweets or presents. These traditions are rigorously upheld by my mother, who can be relied upon to make a bunny cake every year. Reportedly, the bunny cake is my idea. My grandmother says that I came up with it when I was very young and we have stuck with it ever since. Normally, the bunny cake is more cartoonish, and consists of a massive smiling bunny face, like this cake, but this year my mother opted for disturbing realism. She attempted to give it a fluffy bunny tail with icing, but that failed, and instead our bunny just had an enormous sugary ass.

  • I am terribly ashamed to admit this, but I sort of like that band Orson. With lyrics that address the dilemma of thinking of something to write in somebody's yearbook, and the joy of not having school, it is a guilty pleasure -- like when you're at the bar and you take a sip of your girlfriend's fruity drink while no one's looking.
    But something's been bugging me -- the song "No Tomorrow" has these lyrics:
    "Everybody here is staring
    At the outfit that you're wearing-
    (I) love it when they check you out.
    Cover's only twenty bucks,
    And even if the DJ sucks
    It's time to turn this mutha out.
    Wait. Whoa. Stop.
    Cover's only $20? Only $20?!
    Cripes, mama, $20 just to get into a place -- that's insane. And, according to the song, the club only has a DJ, not a proper band. Where are Orson's priorities? Don't these guys know the value of a dollar?
    This Friday at 7th Street Entry, you can see the Honeydogs, Michael Morris, and the Flavor Crystals for just $8 if you buy the ticket in advance. That's just $2.66 per band!
    OK, fair enough, I have no idea who Michael Morris or the Flavor Crystals are and the Honeydogs are sub par, but the song clearly states that Orson isn't bothered about quality; the lead singer simply wants to turn out a mutha. Based on the two people mentioned in the song, an evening of mutha out-turning with the Honeydogs, Michael Morris, and the Flavor Crystals would reap a savings of $24.

  • Bah, I can't seem to stay healthy for more than a week as of late. I feel like I'm 100 years old. Although, most likely if I really were 100 years old I would long for the days when I felt like this.

  • Interesting look at religious proliferation in the United States.

  • If you could bring someone back from the dead, who would it be?
  • Monkey Toes, Monkey Does

    My latest column is out. Please forward it to all your friends, relatives, and foot-fetish pals.

    Vlog failure (for real this time)

    OK. Mental note: don't post video before it's uploaded. But it just fits with the theme -- I attempted to do a video blog post about it but got sidetracked...

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    David Fong's is my new local

  • We have been experiencing a stretch of summer-like days here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, which puts a serious strain on one's creative capacity. I don't want to be inside, mama.
    Last night the child bride insisted we get out of the house, and this somehow resulted in my eating at David Fong's for the first time in my life.
    David Fong's is possibly the oldest Chinese restaurant in the Twin Cities and it is almost certainly the oldest surviving business in Bloomington Rock City -- it has been around since 1958. The restaurant is an institution in Bloomington because for many, many years it was the only place in town with a full bar, which means that it was the only place in at least an 8-mile radius with a full bar. For decades, if you wanted to drink anything other than 3.2 beer* in Bloomington, you went to David Fong's. With the exception of the bars at the Mall of America, it is still one of only a handful of full bars in Bloomington, the others being** Bennigan's, Applebees, and Major's. Keep in mind, kids, that upward of 87,000 people live in Bloomington.
    Despite its legendary status and the fact that my family has lived in the city for almost 20 years, I had never before been to David Fong's. It was what I had expected, but in that way that makes me want to go there all the time.
    It has the interior you would expect of a Chinese restaurant in a Midwestern suburb, with red vinyl chairs, red and gold things on the walls, and aquariums with koi all within a windowless utilitarian building. In the lounge, a group of people with haircuts that were popular when I was in high school sang karaoke. It was East Bloomington in all its glory (ask Tuckmac, he lives over there). But it was strangely appealing. The restaurant was clean, the food was good, and even the karaoke was enjoyable -- especially one woman's oddly appealing use of country twang in "Because the Night."

  • Much to my surprise, David Fong's is about the best Chinese food I've had in the Twin Cities. Admittedly, I don't like Chinese food all that much, but score another point for Bloomington Rock City, which also has the best Indian food I've found in the region, and some of the best Mexican food. It even has a decent Vietnamese restaurant. Who knew?!

  • Come on Ireland, you can do better.

  • In one of those ridiculously poorly-thought-out setups that so strangely seem to be the norm of corporate culture, the copy editing group at the headquarters of my benevolent employer is located right next to the television production area. So, a group of people who need quiet and calm to concentrate on words sit right next to a group of people who need to watch commercials over and over and over again.
    Today, the production team spent TWO FUCKING HOURS going through tapes from voiceover artists. That's TWO FUCKING HOURS of hearing clips of radio ads; TWO FUCKING HOURS of hearing lame ass comedy accents (most popular is the Mike Myers-style Scottish accent); TWO FUCKING HOURS of hearing affected sympathy on shit scripts ("Millions of lives are touched by breast cancer each year...") -- all while I was trying to concentrate on news copy that I really did not care about.
    At one point, I got up, walked across the building and shouted, "I can hear that from over here," but, appropriately, they did not hear me.
    Clearly, what they should have done was call Dave and offer him whatever he wanted. This would have saved everyone a lot of time and frustration.

  • Go team! Who are they competing against?

  • Today's post, by the way, is No. 801 for this blog.

    *An explanation of 3.2 beer from Wikipedia: "in some jurisdictions (Minnesota and Utah for example), beer sold in some establishments must be less than 3.2% ABW (4% ABV). This style of reduced alcohol beer is also referred to as '3.2 beer' (Minnesota has a full-service alcohol license, permitting sales of beers up to the normal alcohol level, but 3.2 licenses are easier to obtain)."

    **I think that the VFW, the American Legion, and the Knights of Columbus all have full bars as well, but even though they are open to the public, I think a lot of people tend to think of them as private clubs.
  • Yippy dogs

  • This morning I found myself watching a man walking two miniscule white dogs. The dogs were that yippy kind that seem to benefit indirectly from the social contract. In a world of less civility, I would boot those things across the street when they come scampering at me. I can't imagine they would survive in the wild -- they would become popcorn for even midlevel predators. I'll bet a badger would eat one of those dogs.
    I watched the man bend over to pick up their little yippy dog poop with a baggie and I thought: "What an emasculating experience. Thank you, God, that I married a woman who hates those kind of dogs."

  • Google finally offers a personal calendar. I have been waiting for this for a while. I'm not sure why, though -- I don't really use a calendar. My wife tells me what to do.

  • I am fighting a sick, sick desire to start liking baseball again.

  • In exactly 90 days, the child bride and I will be moving to Cardiff. My immediate reaction to that is this: "Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit."
    There are still a lot of things that need to be done before we leave. Finding a place to live is presently at the top of my list. After six months of knowing this is going to happen, and almost two years of wanting it to happen, I suddenly feel woefully underprepared.
  • Thursday, April 13, 2006

    Packers To Favre: 'Take Your Time, Asshole'

    ASHWAUBENON, Wis. -Green Bay Packers front-office officials have informed three-time MVP Brett Favre they can wait for his decision on whether or not he's planning to retire for "as long as it fucking takes."

    "This is a big decision for Brett Favre, and we can't deny that he's the heart and soul of our team, the most important Packer, the most important person in all of America, and the center of the whole entire universe," Packer general manager Ted Thompson said Tuesday.

    "It's not like we have to make any major decisions that all hinge on whether or not he's returning, after all. We'll just ride around on our lawn tractors on our farm in Mississippi while we wait for him to make up his goddamn mind."

    Favre would not say when he might announce his decision, admitting that he was "too much in awe of what Mr. Brilliant Genius Thompson did with the 4-12 Packers last year" to commit one way or the other.

    From The Onion

    Of course

    You Belong in Dublin

    Friendly and down to earth, you want to enjoy Europe without snobbery or pretensions.
    You're the perfect person to go wild on a pub crawl... or enjoy a quiet bike ride through the old part of town.

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    It lights up!

  • How is this not tacky?

  • Comic Ralphie May has a bit in which he claims that homosexuals have made it impossible for a person to use a rainbow without it being some sort of political-social-sexual commentary: "They done took the rainbow. I want the rainbow back. You can't have the rainbow, damn it. We didn't vote on this; I didn't get an e-mail... I'm taking the rainbow back"
    Similarly, in addition to ushering in the resurgence of the word, "mama," I want to take back the word "conservative." I was thinking this morning about the fact that I would describe myself as a socialist conservative (or conservative socialist? I'm not sure) and how both those words are value-weighted and don't necessarily reflect what I'm trying to say. By value-weighted, I mean that people attach an emotional value to the word and decide that something is inherently good or bad based on the use of the word.
    "Democracy" is one of those words. If something is a democracy, or democratic, we the wondrous peoples of (partially) democratic societies, assume that thing is inherently good. Interestingly, if the democratic process awards power to a bunch of nutjobs, we assume the process was corrupted and that "democracy" is still absent.
    For some people, "conservative" = bad. And the word has inherited all sorts of inferred meanings that cannot be found in the dictionary definition on the word: "marked by moderation or caution."
    By describing myself as conservative, I mean that I believe that it is right and good to conserve resources and energy, to conserve financially, and, in some cases, to conserve one's behavior for the good of society.
    I'm taking "conservative" back, mama. I can't figure out how to describe myself otherwise.

  • Related to the above: a good way to soften charges of child abandonment would be to describe it as "promoting infant freedom." I should write that down for when I become a father and leave my kids in the car at a bar parking lot while "daddy has a drinky."

  • Lame typo that makes copy editors giggle: "Greer has been charged with wonton endangerment."

  • Here's a quote from me about a particularly stupid person: "That man is a living example of the philosophical flaw in the American dream: If a man really tries, he can be whatever he wants to be, but sometimes a person just shouldn't be what they are."

  • In that song "Stupid Girl," by Pink, I keep hearing the lyric: "Check out my corned beef hat."

  • I'm thinking of making "I like ice cream" a sort of catchphrase interjection for all situations.
    Sometimes I will be part of a group and I want to add to the conversation, but I can't think of anything to say. If I were to use, "I like ice cream," in those cases, it would become a sort of funny thing for me to say. People would laugh and think I was being witty by using my catchphrase, when, in fact, I am just an idiot who doesn't want to be left out of things.

  • Is it just me, or does the Owain Glyndwr in this video look too much like Will Farrell?
  • Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Heavy metal Buddha

  • Good name for a band: The Electric Belly

  • I have been stretching my limited mental capacity over the last few days in an effort to speed-complete a short story that has an off chance of getting into a men's magazine. I'll let you know how it goes. If they do buy my story, expect me to big up the magazine as the greatest periodical in the history of man.

  • If I were talking about the greatest blog in the history of man, though, I would be talking about this one.
    (UPDATE: I think this makes more sense if you read my comments on Donal's blog.)

  • "Will the new female move in with George? Will he fly off with her and abandon the nest? Or will George raise the young on his own?" --- It sounds like the tease for a soap opera, but it is, in fact, a story about birds.

  • "One expert says sometimes big balls of ice just fall from the sky without any explanation." --- That is not at all comforting to me. That expert needs to just keep his expert knowledge to his damn self.

  • So, raise your hand if you, like Curly, have been feeling blog burnout as of late. I'm feeling it. I think it may be something about the return of good weather that causes people to no longer want to be introspective. Fuck all this navel gazing, mama*, I just want a Blizzard at Dairy Queen.

  • Somewhat related, I have come to the painful conclusion as of late that I am too boring.

  • There's a new restaurant opening in Bloomington Rock City called Atlantic Buffet, that, according to the sign out front, will offer Chinese food, sushi and Mongolian barbecue. Can someone explain to me why it is called Atlantic Buffet?

    *The word "mama" is colloquially underused in modern times, I think. It's time to bring back "mama!"
  • 100 Things: 31-35

    1-5 ~ 6-10 ~ 11-15 ~ 16-20 ~ 21-25 ~ 26-30

    31) I was born in Austin, Texas.

    32) I have also lived in: Irving, Texas; Houston, Texas; Bloomington, Minn.; Moorhead, Minn.; Portsmouth, England; Fargo, N.D.; Incline Village, Nev.; Reno, Nev.; San Diego, Calif.; and St. Paul, Minn.

    33) I wish I could play blues on the harmonica.

    34) AirHeads used to be my favorite candy until my friend Corbett and I, in seventh grade, ate several dozen of them and almost threw up. Now, just thinking about the candy makes me feel queasy.

    35) I usually come back to this seemingly endless 100 Things list when I am swamped with work.

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    The Lady, or the Tiger?

    The child bride is funny about pictures. When I take a picture of her, she will almost always look at it and say, "Delete that one."

    But then, out of the blue, she will complain that I never put pictures of her on the blog.

    "How can I put pictures of you on the blog when you refuse to let me take pictures?" I will think, but not say.

    I know not to say this because I have been married for almost seven years; experience tells me that regardless of the physical impossibility or duplicity of my wife's complaint, I am the one at fault.

    So, I'll put up one of the few pictures of Rachel that I do have. That, of course, is wrong, too. "Why did you have to use that picture?" she will ask.

    This picture, however, is Child Bride Approved. I took several pictures of her cooking the other day and she actually said that this one was "OK." The child bride is humble, so "OK" is the most she will say about anything, except for sex with me, which, of course, is fantastic.

    On Sunday she said: "I thought you were going to put that picture of me on your blog."

    So, I've got approval on the picture, and approval to put it on my blog. It would seem that, finally, I have gotten it right. Experience tells me, though, that I've gotten it wrong again. I'll find out how later tonight.

    Friday, April 7, 2006

    Will write, strip for money

  • Hey, wow. Judas wasn't a Judas. I wonder how this will affect my Shawn Michaels storyline.
    My favorite part of this story is this passage: "(Gnostic Christians) had difficulty winning converts and eventually died out, although there are modern Gnostic churches in California."
    Of course they're in California.

  • The reason I asked this question is that I am planning on writing a short story that has an off chance of actually earning money. I may end up using a story that's been sitting on my computer for a while, but it strikes me that you -- as someone who reads all this nonsense -- would be better suited than me to determine which of my stories are best.

  • One of the big concerns over this whole moving-to-Wales thing is money. I wake up in fits wondering how the hell I'm going to finance this scheme. But, now, my worries are over. I think I've found the perfect job .
  • Necessito ajuda

    I could use your help; it could earn me a little money. As far back as your memory stretches, what's your favorite story that I've told?

    Thursday, April 6, 2006

    I hope my grandmother doesn't read this post

  • Up near Hoss territory, in Portland, Ore., there's a big hullabaloo over sexually explicit e-mails the city's police chief allegedly sent to one of his desk clerks. Normally this sort of thing would be of nominal local interest, but I predict it will move to a national stage now that the media has gotten its hands on legal documents that contain excerpts from the e-mails. With the e-mails containing such charming imagery as, "I want to slide my thick chocolate cock into that moist, tight pussy of yours,"* how can Derrick Foxworth not become a media darling?
    My question, though, is this: how the hell did he get his hands on the letters I've been sending to Keira Knightley?
    "I don't have the ego to write these kind of memos," one of my coworkers said. "The best I could do would be: 'Oh baby, I'll give you a time that is modestly entertaining,' or ' I'm going to keep you up until at least 10:15 p.m.'"

  • Normally I watch only a handful of wrestling pay-per-view events a year, but I'm thinking of pressing Dan (point!) to get a group together solely for this match, which I think should be titled: "The Last Temptation of Shawn Michaels." It's Vinny and Shane O'Mac against the Showstopper and The Lord Our God. How can you not want to see a match in which God is a participant?
    This sets up an opportunity for God to make the biggest heel turn ever, but it strikes me as unlikely.
    What I wonder is how the match will draw heat when it seems a given that Michaels would win. My only guess is that they will follow a familiar storyline that began before Wrestlemania when Vince appeared to Michaels as the devil, trying to tempt him to return to his old ways. I'm guessing Michaels will lose terribly at the Backlash pay-per-view.
    WWE has no problem with being heavy-handed, so expect Michaels to be attacked by McMahon goons as he makes his way to the ring (this after Marty Jannetty denies knowing who he is). Michaels gets thrown around for an excruciatingly long time and eventually gets put through a table (perhaps a table he brought to the ring) as part of the obligatory huge Shane O'Mac bump. As Michaels lays in a bloody heap, the pay-per-view event ends with the lights flashing and the Titantron mysteriously splitting in half.
    Then, Michaels disappears.
    Over the next month, Vinny Mac gleefully shows clips of Michaels' mother and wife at ringside in tears during the Backlash event. He also sets up some sort of "Michaels is dead" event for the May pay-per-view event, which is appropriately named... Judgment Day.
    At Judgment Day, Michaels suddenly appears backstage. Triple H can't believe Michaels is there and feels compelled to actually feel the stitches on some key injury Michaels sustained at Backlash. Michaels comes out with a huge, huge open to rain on the McMahons' parade and defeats all comers soundly.
    Actually, probably none of this will happen. But it proves what I've always said: I should write for the WWE**. I am a genius.

  • England's national football (soccer) team always has an anthem when it heads off to major events like World Cup or European Championship that I guess is supposed to give fans something inoffensive to sing as their team loses again in yet another disappointing display of high-quality talent not really trying very hard. This year's anthem will be sung by the band Embrace. Yeah, I can't name one of their songs off the top of my head, either. And that's not really the point.
    What I find interesting is that it fits into this beautiful oddities thing that I've talked about before. Once again, I will be moving to the UK amid an anthem year. When I moved to Portsmouth, the song was "Three Lions," which I think could be easily rehashed; just change "30 years of hurt" to "40 years of hurt."
    Also in 1996, government officials were worrying over a disease that affected livestock. Then it was mad cow, now it's bird flu.
    Surely I'm looking for these coincidences, but at times I feel propelled toward this, which remains terrifying. I only hope that my return to the UK does not signal the resurgence of the Spice Girls.

  • Why do neither the Bloods nor the Crips have an official website? Those dudes need to get with the times.

  • This is random, but when I die, I want whoever's in charge of my funeral to hire a chubby bloke to sing "Danny Boy" and I want a group of fat Irishmen to break into tears as he's singing. I would also appreciate a stereotypical Scotsman, shouting: "Ach, wee Christian! Ye wer te yoong te die! Nooooo!"

    *And suddenly my page views from Google searches skyrocket.

    **Every other person seems to think they could write for The Onion, or "Daily Show;" what does it say about me that I want to write for professional wrestling?
  • Wednesday, April 5, 2006

    Waiting for Cronkot

    My dad seems to think that Katie Couric's leaving NBC is big news.

    "She's going to be taking that seat that was occupied by Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather," my dad said. "That's big."

    "I don't think it is, Dad," I said. "The history of the CBS anchor seat is interesting but it has no greater effect. It is no more interesting than the history of the World Heavyweight Championship belt."

    "It's bigger than that, I think," he said. "People care about that sort of thing, just as they care about who's the editor of the New York Times."

    But I don't think they do care -- at least not people of my generation or younger. For the most part, I feel that the news business has managed to alienate most people younger than my father's generation, class and race. Of those of us who do pay attention, we tend to make the editorial decisions on our own, collecting news from various sources.

    Critics of the Internet utopian vision often reference this fact as a sign that the news world is going to hell in a hand basket. Fair enough that having each person serve as his own filter for the world runs the risk of creating people who do little more than reinforce their own views, but I doubt Katie Couric is the wise sage who can guide me through this world. I doubt anyone at CBS thinks she is, either.

    The news business feels like a waning religion, sometimes. Sure, there are still people out there spreading the gospel of journalism in new and exciting ways, but I am increasingly losing faith in the Church of News I was raised in.

    Let's all make fun of Chrissy

    Actual response to my column:

    Your an idiot. Plain and simple. There are more important things going on in the world than discovering something ridiculous as Guinness tasting the same! Honestly, go to college and get a degree in something productive. Stop wasting your time and ours by writing such garbage. It wasn't even entertaining!


    (Why, yes, using my blog to get back at a random critic is childish. I embrace my childish behavior. Join me, won't you?)

    Tuesday, April 4, 2006

    Think of me

  • Crikey, I still feel awful. If this keeps up, I'm going to run out of Steve Irwin-style exclamations to express how bad I feel. Danger, danger, danger.

  • In Nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch," he talks about the joy he receives from the fact that people associate him with Arsenal -- when they hear a story about the team, they think of him and will bring it up later.
    On a smaller scale, people will often send me links to stories they see about beer. And if a news story even contains the word "Wales" I'm likely to hear about it.
    I was thinking about these connections today because Monday was opening day*, which makes me think of erstwhile blogger Meaghan's enthusiasm for the Yankees. Usually when I ask direct questions they are ignored in the comments, but I'll ask anyway: What connections do people make to you?

  • Here's another question: what the hell am I doing in this photo?
    It appears that a picture of me dancing like a Cossack has been Photoshopped into this one, which was taken while celebrating Koss' birthday. Perhaps I am subconsciously making sure that I am clearly not touching Anthony's wife, because he is bigger than me (blog-mention point for Anthony).
    I want to tell you that I am also in this photo, or, rather, my hand is in the photo, but that's sadly not true. I can't tell you whose hand it really is because it would negate Anthony's point.

  • Some quotes are better out of context: "we're ready to take America’s marshmallow craze to the next level with more pump-action power."

  • That version of U2's "One" with Mary J. Blige makes my soul hurt.

  • Good name for a band: The Death Freezers
  • Deception By The Pint

    Continuing the beer theme, my latest column is out. Please send it to all your friends, relatives, and lovers of Irish stout.

    Extra brilliant

    Dan, Anthony and Franklin make the blog...

    If the embedded player isn't working for you, here's a link.

    Monday, April 3, 2006


  • Blimey, I feel awful. I have felt progressively worse as the day has worn on and I'm to the point now where everything I write is a thinly veiled projection of my physical state -- miserable. I tried to write a blog post, but everything came out more bitter or angry or cynical than I would like to keep for Internet posterity.
    So, I scrapped pretty much everything. I'll try again tomorrow.

  • I encourage you, instead, to read my interview with Goo.

  • If everything has gravity, does that mean there are some objects that would find it impossible to resist my pull? If so, I find that comforting. I'm not sure why.
  • Saturday, April 1, 2006

    She's a lady

  • Here's an insight into the genius of the child bride that I only just cottoned to last night:
    Seemingly at random, Rachel will posit the "When You're Famous" scenario, in which she makes me promise not to run off with one of the thousands of beautiful young women who will throw themselves at me when I finally stop failing in life. Most often this magical reversal in the way the universe works comes as a result of my finally selling a novel, but she'll work it to fit most situations -- the most obtuse being that women in Wales will fling themselves at me just because I'm, uhm, me.
    These theories are inherently flawed, of course.
    Ignoring the fact that I actually love my wife, and our (almost) seven years of marriage is due to slightly more than the luck of no one else taking an interest in me, it has to be pointed out that in (almost) seven years of marriage not one other woman has taken an interest in me. My aesthetic challenges, brash nature, and increasing age don't exactly set me out as Sexiest Man Alive. Add to this the fact that being married is a part of my persona; if my life were an episode of "Happy Days," the child bride would be the Fonz, and what the hell is "Happy Days" without the Fonz?
    Oh, and I have no money.
    It's possible fame could bring wealth -- which, they say, impresses some ladies -- but I doubt fame would overcome my other negative qualities, and the odds of fame that brings wealth touching me are absurdly low. If I achieve fame, it will be on the level of Crispus Attucks, who is essentially famous for getting shot: I'll find myself in a Welsh-language rally, somehow get cracked in the skull, and someone will mention me in a folk song. If Meinir Gwilym sings that song, it will be the closest I'll ever get to my wife's "When You're Famous" scenario.
    Regardless, she was at it again last night: "I want you to remember that we had this conversation... When they start twirling their hair at you and putting their hands all over you and giggling at all your little jokes, you remember that we had this conversation."
    It took me several hours to recover from such happy images, but when I woke up this morning, I was struck by the timing of Rachel's admonition. I have been in a pissy mood all week for a number of reasons, not least of which the dilemma of finding someone to own me so I can go to university; I have been making myself sick with it. How convenient that she would derail my misery by scolding me over some ridiculous impossibility. Instead of thinking about money, I was thinking: "Me! Like Tom Jones on the cover of his 'Live from Caesar's Palace' album! Hee-hee!"
    My wife is brilliant.

  • I was thinking this morning about the fact that every time a tragedy occurs, some religious extremist will claim that God is responsible and He is punishing us. Probably the most obtuse example of this thinking are those assclowns who think God kills U.S. military personnel because they fight for a country that tolerates homosexuality.
    It's amusing that people seem to think that the Creator of the Universe* would be such a horrible communicator, that His infraction-punishment relationship would be so disproportionate and difficult to understand: "I, the Lord Your God, am angered that Leah Grefty, of Hiteman, Iowa, drove home drunk last night, so I am going to sink a boat in Bahrain. That'll show her."

    *Slightly related: my favorite name for God is the Welsh use of "Bod Mawr," which literally translates to "Big Being," with "being" serving as a verb.