Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Awl you're Spelling Bee acshun

Wherein I'm fascinated by the fact that people are fascinated by watching children spell

For all your Spelling Bee highlights and play-by-play, turn to the Throwing Things blog. Buncha word freaks over there and they also have Shonda Rhimes, the Grey's Anatomy creator, contributing commentary.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Vacation report #1

Wherein ewwwwwww

My report on the highway of death at Begging to Differ.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Of course I'm not the target audience

Wherein I'm betting the next one will be called "Fast and Furious: Greased Lightning at Rydell High"

So we're at the matinee for Stick It. One day this movie will be recognized as the flashpoint that corrected the corruption otherwise known as the sport of gymnastics. Actually, it's a fine, fun movie. Totally implausible but does offer some nice comments on judging inequity. Plus, Jeff Bridges makes a pretty good coach and Missy Peregrym wears a nice leotard. She's over eighteen, I can say that.

One of the previews offered up was The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. As I've avoided the previous two I'll also avoid this one. But the gist of the story seems to be that in Tokyo the hip thing to do with cars is to glide them through the curves. Kinda cool...but why does this sound familiar? Oh yeah, now I remember. Because I read about it in Wired magazine three freakin' years ago!

Check out Go, Skid Racer Go as Wired reports on the "out-of-control car culture of Japan's meanest streets is coming to America." That's in 2003. Meaning the Japanese probably stopped drifting in 1983.

Sinead O'Connor and Samuel L. Jackson as Principal Firebush

Wherein found at Something Old, Something New

Just in case you haven't seen it: 10 Things I Hate About Commandments

I've returned

Wherein what the hell happened here?

You think you know someone....Oh well, let that be a lesson--no more guest bloggers. Too much to clarify, so I'll just ignore most of what I just read. However, a couple points worth mentioning:

  1. Anyone who knows me knows I wouldn't go to a company picnic. Too many people and I'm paid to work with those people, I'm not paid to grace them with my presence.
  2. Styx is better than Bruuuuce Springsteen--I think we've proven that--Amy just picked the wrong song.
  3. What's up with the Spam hate? I've never understood that. It's "spiced ham" and mostly made from pork shoulder. Probably has more pork in it than a hot dog. When you get right down to it, Spam is basically a production version of Pate de Campagne, a country-style pate or terrine. Probably the simplest pate to make and liver is optional. If you come acros a deli selling a country pate, have a bite. You'll be surprised how much like Spam it tastes like. I almost claimed I've never cooked with Spam (other than pan-fried), but that would be wrong. I once made cranberry mincemeat pies with Spam and served them to some "friends" (ahem, Amy) who joked about my apple pie.
  4. You want a tater tot recipe? Here's my breakfast casserole: 1. Butter a pie pan 2. dump a single layer of tater tots into pan 3. Cover with cheese, meats, vegetable, whatever you like 4. Beat 6 or 7 or maybe 8 eggs, pour over everything else 5. (optional) Before beating the eggs, separate a couple white and beat separately until frothy, fold into beaten eggs 6. Bake until set, about 30-40 minutes, slice and eat.
  5. Reader_iam's husband's band. I won't give you their name, I'll just say they're a cover band for this band. If you hurry, you can catch them at St. Augustine tonight. I'm just glad we left early.
  6. And Artie was an ass, good riddance.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Ten things you probably didn't know about Bill

1. His MySpace account has a hot pink background and the song "Three Times a Lady" by the Commodores playing on it. His font of choice is Comic Sans.

2. He has never seen a single episode of Lost. He writes his reviews based off what he reads on the Television Without Pity forums.

3. He wanted to be just like Liberace when he grew up.

4. I am pretty sure he killed his pet cat and sold it to the Korean restaurant down the street. He then told his kid that Fluffy was participating in a foreign exchange program.

5. He only knows how to cook pasta using the Pasta Express.

6. He once beat up a mime because he wouldn't talk to him.

7. He used to broadcast pirate radio transmissions in French during our time in Guatemala.

8. At the corporate picnic last summer, he lip-synched "Mr. Roboto" by Styx.

9. He cried when Reuben beat out Clay Aiken on American Idol.

10. He suffers from triskaidekaphobia and paraskavedekatriaphobia.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bill and American Idol

So, tonight we learn the winner of this season's American Idol.

Bill has been pulling for Katharine McPhee. He constructed an AI shrine in his cube back in March and has been praying at it ever since. He has made a few voodoo sacrifices and keeps a some odd-smelling talismans on the altar at all times. I think he is freaking nuts, but I don't question these kind of things.

He really put a lot of effort into constructing the altar and shrine combo. He used up all the colored ink in the laser printer here at work printing out pictures of Katharine. He then decoupaged the sides of the shrine with pictures of her. He draped the small altar with flowing layers of chiffon, glitter and his Bedazzler. He has had Nag Champa incense and prayer candles burning since the top 10 competition began. He even got some small portable iPod speakers to play Katharine's songs over and over again. Everyday, he brings in fresh flowers to put on the altar of the shrine.

Initially, I thought this American Idol obsession was just a little strange, but nothing too serious. Around the office, we would just nod and smile when Bill started rehashing the previous night's episode. But soon, as with most things involving Bill, it rapidly spiraled out of control.

Last week, Bill was discussing AI with some folks in the break room at lunch time. Miranda from Marketing was telling Bill that she thought Katharine should have been kicked off instead of Chris Daughtry. Bill emitted a nervous laugh and said surely she must be mistaken. Miranda stood by her opinion and went own to say that Katharine was no different than Britney Spear or Christina Aguilera or Jessica Simpson.

That's when it got ugly.

Bill grabbed the nearest weapon: a spork. He then jammed it into Miranda's eye socket. Miranda fell to the floor screaming as the rest of us watched in horror as the ramifications of what happened hit us:

Bill sporked her in the eye!

Now you know the real reason I am guest blogging. Bill is in a twelve step program for his American Idol obsession. Please pray for Bill and his speedy recovery. We miss him terribly around the office. Well, except for Miranda, but even she isn't too angry because the eyepatch she is sporting is rather dashing.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bill can't cook

Bill is a great guy. He will give money to feed the abandoned orphans of Guatemala, but don't ever let him cook for your office potluck.

Around the holidays, the department has a holiday potluck lunch. We all bring in various side dishes and the management provides the protein. And let's face it: you can't have a potluck without casseroles. Green bean casserole, butternut squash casserole, sweet potato casserole... the possibilities are endless.

Last year, from the moment the email went out announcing the potluck dinner, Bill began bragging loudly to anyone who would listen that he would be bringing his special potato casserole. He told us how the recipe had been in his family since they came over from the Old Country back in the day and how his great Uncle Vern died in a duel to protect the family recipe. Bill told us since he liked us so much, he would prepare this dish for our potluck.

We listened to Bill rave on and on about the dish for the next two weeks. We started to be seduced by his descriptions of the dish. He told us how each bite would melt in our mouths and bring us back to a simpler, happier time. He told us that his special potato casserole would leave us pining for more. Frankly, those of us in the office were becoming excited about the upcoming potluck lunch. We were going to have the opportunity to try what seemed to be the best casserole that was known to man and we were excited about it.

The day of the potluck dawned clear and cold. The office was abuzz with discussion about what was going to be served at the potluck lunch. The usual interest in the dessert offerings was overshadowed by talk of the special potato casserole. Soon, an email was sent out to the department to announce that lunch was served.

People rushed down to the conference room and began fighting over who was next in line. Woe to the slackers at the end of the line: there might not be enough of Bill's famous casserole for everyone. The casserole presented as golden brown love in Pyrex. Bill even garnished the casserole with a festive sprig of parsley!

I managed to get a sampling of Bill's casserole. I quickly hurried to an empty seat, acknowledged my co-workers with a nod and dug into the casserole at the same time they did. We eagerly shoveled the casserole into our mouths.

Apparently, everyone else in the room had started eating the casserole at approximately the same time as the people at my table. A hush fell over the room. A few large, painful-sounding gulps were heard. Somebody gagged. One of the women ran from the room with her napkin clutched to her mouth. Someone nervously coughed. A few more people ran from the room, looking a bit green around the gills. I did my best to swallow what I just put in my mouth and then downed my drink in an effort to get rid of the burning, yet oddly metallic taste in my mouth. My eyes filled with tears and I turned to Bill.

He grinned at me. "What do you think?"

"Um, well... Honestly?" Bill nodded his head enthusiastically. "I am wondering what the heck I just put in my mouth and if I need to call Poison Control." Bill's face fell.

A few braves souls had managed to eat their entire servings. Poor Artie from Accounting ate two servings. Everyone who had eaten more than a bite ended up in the hospital. A few of them ended up having their stomachs pumped. Artie... he didn't make out too well. It was a shame about him, with it being so close to Christmas and all.

The Hazmat team that came in to handle the situation ended up taking samples to have it tested. Since Bill pleaded the Fifth Amendment and refused to reveal the ingredients since it was a secret family recipe, we can only go by the laboratory analysis that the Hazmat team came up with for the recipe:

Bill's Potato Casserole

2 pounds tater tots
1 (12 oz.) can of Spam
1 box of Stouffer's instant stuffing, prepared
1 (14.5 oz.) can of Cream of Mushroom Soup (condensed)
1 pound Velveeta cheese, melted
1 (8 oz.) jar of pickled okra
1/2 cup of Tabasco sauce

8 oz. Pork Rinds, crushed
12 oz. Lays Sour Cream and Onion potato chips, crushed
1/2 cup of margarine
1 package of Peeps leftover from Easter, diced (1 cup Fluff could be used in a pinch)
1 can Cheese Whiz
Parsley for garnish

Also found in the casserole were traces of Goldschlager, Potted Meat Food Product, and Fennel.

The Hazmat teams guessed that he layered the tater tots at the bottom and then sprinkled them with the diced Spam. They suspect he then topped that with a mixture of the stuffing, cream of mushroom soup, Velveeta, pickled okra and Tabasco. They hypothesize he cooked it for 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. For the topping, they think he combined the pork rinds, sour cream and onion chips, margarine, peeps and cheese whiz in a small bowl. He then sprinkled the topping over the casserole and cooked it another 10 minutes until golden brown. The final step was garnishing the casserole with parsley.

Eventually, the charges against Bill were dropped due to some technical issue involving a clerical error and mishandling of evidence. We all forgave Bill a few weeks after the memorial service for Artie.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Getting to know Bill

I thought I would take this opportunity as guest blogger to help you learn more about the man who calls himself "Bill".

Bill is an all-around stand up guy, if you like dealing with people who talk nonstop about shows like Family Guy and American Dad. He had me cornered on Friday telling me about how the season finale for Family Guy was this weekend and what he thought would happen. I tried every excuse in the book to get him to stop. I even faked fainting to get him to stop, but he just keep talking, oblivious to the fact I was on the floor, faking unconsciousness. Honestly, I wouldn't mind the Family Guy infatuation so much if he wouldn't do his impression of Peter all the time. And he really needs to get rid of the talking Stewie bobblehead doll.

What else can I say about Bill? He is really good with kids: I have never seen anybody steal candy from a kid as quickly or efficiently as Bill can. He also can make a small child cry with just one frigid look.

I look forward to sharing more Bill stories with you this week.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Guest blogger

Wherein I hope this works

While I'm away for the next week I thought I'd try a guest blogger. Wouldn't want to lose my tens of readers. Let me introduce Amy. I don't think that's her real name, but that's the closest pronunciation I've ever come up with. Like this girl I knew in college from Ethiopia; no one could say her name so we called her "Freddie."

I've known "Amy" for close to twenty years. Met her in Guatamala where she was running a missionary for orphans. I was in the country on a fishing tour. Donated a ten-spot to buy a little extra gruel for the rugrats and we've been friends ever since.

Helped her out a few years later when she moved to Houston to open a soup kitchen. Lost track of her and then two years ago got a call from somewhere in New Mexico. I'll skip the details other than to say I think she was justified in her actions.

Anyway, great person--in fact, nicest person I know. Help her out and I'll be back in a week.

Friday, May 19, 2006

little willies

Wherein it isn't that horrible song from the 70s - little willie wiilie won't go home try telling everybody but willie won't go...and if that song is now lodged in your head that means it's finally out of mine.

Meant to write up a big review of the band Little Willies, but I'm out of time. So, in short, it's damn good and you should go buy it. The only name I recognize is Norah Jones and she and the rest run through some amazing western swing. The other guy singing reminds me of Lyle Lovett; so if you like Lyle Lovett music you'll love this.

Most of the songs are covers--excellent ones from Kris Kristopherson and Willie Nelson. Also not to be missed is the original "Lou Reed."

Lou Reed
We were drivin through West Texas
The land of beef and pork
Where they tend the hides of leather
We wear back in New York
In a pasture, along a roadside
Behind a brokedown shack
On the dusky side of evening
We saw a figure dressed in black

And we don't mean to sound like we're trippin'
But we swear to God
We saw Lou Reed cow tippin'
Cow tippin'

Hey Lou, "Is that you?"
She said as we pulled to the shoulder
He just said, "Go screw."
And then he turned and tipped one over
Under a spit shine Western sky
The color of blue varnish
Hey man it's like Fellini
Actually I'm thinkin more like Jim Jarmusch

And we can't say how much we've been sippin'
But we swear to God
We saw Lou Reed cow tippin'
Cow tippin'

I got cops on the cell
I said I got a little story to tell
Lou Reed is in the cow pen
They said, "Oh no! Not again!"

And we hope our perception isn't slippin'
But we swear to God
We saw Lou Reed cow tippin'
Cow tippin'

Cow tippin'
Cow tippin'
Cow tippin'
Cow tippin'
You really think that was Lou Reed?
Cow tippin'
I'm sure it was, he was wearing black Levis
Cow tippin'
I thought he was a vegetarian
Cow tippin'
He's just tippin them over, he wasn't eating them
Cow tippin'
Cow tippin'

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lost: "I'll take failure to communicate for $1000, Alex"

Wherein the season finale will be watched from a beach house with a giant pitcher of Sangria

What to say about Lost? First, I'll start with the list of characters I want to see have a big death scene:
  • Jack. An impulsive, overly emotional jerk. Impulsive, yet indecisive. Seems to change his mind based on whatever the last person to talk to him said. Rarely listens to more qualified people--like Sayid.
  • Michael. Wasted character, he's never done much but be angry. Most of his dialog consists of either "He's my son" or shouting "WALT". He killed Libby and Ana Lucia and doesn't seem that remorseful. He's willing to get all the Losties killed to get Walt back. What, exactly, he thinks he'd do next is anyone's guess.
  • Henry Gale. A hardened, coal black rock of pure evil.
  • Ms. Clue (or Ms. Klugh). Depending on your mood and connection to the material, that's either the best or worst character name since Hiro Protagonist. She obviously has no problems torturing children.

Probably the most annoying aspect of the show is the inability and refusal of the characters to talk to each other. Obviously this is supposed to ramp up the dramatic tension, but after a point it really eats into the suspension of disbelief. There's this group of Others you're having issues with, two more people are dead, another hatch was found, and everyone is content to have a picnic on the beach. Come on guys, tighten up the narrative a bit. Would've been nice to have had a background plot of the red shirts building fortifications. Especially since it looks like the show completely dropped Sayid trying to tunnel around the concrete wall; despite throwing it in our faces in the second episode this season.

As much as I'm hooked on this show, it can be incredibly annoying. Latest examples:
  • Charlie - show the freaky hatch medicine to the doctor. He's an insufferable, impulsive jerk, BUT he's still a doctor.
  • Locke and Eko - new hatch, with cameras. Nah, you're right, no one would be interested in this. Those printouts? Nice of Eko to bring them back, but there's probably no point in looking through them. Mentioned by the producers on the podcast was that there was a lit cigarette in the Hatch last week. I didn't see it and I guess Locke and Eko didn't see it, as they didn't mention it. Kinda strange. I don't have it on tape so I can't go back and check. But if true, someone was in the Hatch. And went out the front door? Which Locke and Eko didn't bother to look for? Jayzuz Keeriste...kill them too.

Sawyer is a great character. In last season's "Confidence Man" we learned that a conman was responsible for the death's of his parents. Sawyer has taken his name and become a conman to track him down. While playing a conman has taken over his life, underneath that, what really keeps him going, is revenge. Given a chance, or pushed far enough, he'll be extremely loyal. For all the crap he's pulled on the other Losties, for all his scams, they are his family. He's ready for war.

We got to see the Others "camp." It's pretty much the way Michael described it. coughPotemkin villagecough. What was that? Did I say something? If you're not familiar with that phrase, then look here and here.

What's the point, though? What are they hiding? Who are they hiding it from? They've been testing Walt for something and it seems they suspect him of having, for lack of a better term, supernatural "powers." I had said that Henry Gale had purposely infiltrated the Losties camp--and implicating Rousseau as an Other. If Ms. Clue is to be believed, this is false and he was captured. And what about her demand that Michael only bring back James Ford, Jack, Kate, and Hugo. Interesting that they know Sawyer's name. But then there's the camera in the Hatch. Earlier in the season I speculated that the Others could be monitoring the Losties, but that was one of many wild ass guesses, and the fact that I finally got one right isn't worth linking to.

We've been told a couple times that the Others have been capturing the "Good" people. Henry Gale told Locke he was coming to get him. But Henry lies, and since Locke wasn't on Ms. Clue's list that was probably just another attempt at manipulation; or Locke has lost that creamy godness feeling. Eko, however, was one of the first Tailies the Others tried to take. Eko is, apparently, no longer one of the good ones.

And Alex. Is she genuine in her concern or is she playing the "good cop?"

Then the boat at the end. Could this be Desmond's boat? Kinda small for an around the world race. But as I think he's the head guy in the Other's camp, nothing he's said has to be true. Question is, is the boat another taunt from the Others or a Deus ex machina?

Based on last night's events I am uncomitted on whether the Losties are there on purpose or accidently. I could argue either way, but I won't. I'm willing to accept either answer. I think the boat will give Sayid the chance to form a two-pronged attack on the Other's camp. Michael, and his gang of stooges, will tromp of through the woods, while Sayid takes the boat, and a few others, and sails around the island.

And Locke, was he walking back towards the hatch or going for a hike? I couldn't tell, but thought down the beach, towards Rousseau.

I'm still holding out for Desmond to be in charge. I'm less certain of my "they'll be rescued by a Hanso ship" speculation.

I'll be away next week, so no more Lost talk for a couple weeks. I'll wrap up the season when I get back. As always, I'll direct you to two other sites that have intelligent Lost conversation without being too obsessive about it. Except that Greg admits to buying the Bad Twin.
Go see:

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I call this one a lack of perspective

Wherein I'm just an overprivileged white dude...or am I?

On my way home, I drive past the Sandy Springs City Hall. Yesterday, there were sign-wielding protestors and the one I could read said "Sandy Springs the most racist city in America." Oh my, this is bad. I wonder what happened.

Luckily I found a news story:
“They don’t want us out here -- that’s the message that we’re getting,” said protest organizer Donald Fields.

The protestors who converged on Sandy Springs City Hall on Tuesday night did not mince words.

“Racism has taken a foothold in Sandy Springs. There are African Americans that have lived here most of their lives and they don't deserve to be treated like this," Fields said.

This must be bad. Oh, wait...nevermind:
The demonstrators, who lined the sidewalk and packed the city council meeting, are opposed to a proposal that would stop the sale of alcohol at 2 a.m. instead of 4 a.m.

That's it? That's all you got? You have got to be kidding. I think there's a legitimate economic argument to made about keeping the bars open until 4am. Personally, I see no reason why a bar shouldn't be open 24 hours if it wanted to. And I think it's a stupid law that keeps liquor stores closed on Sundays. But...but...but to complain that closing the bars 2 hours earlier is racist is just insane. If this is what we're now defining as racism I can only conclude that the United States of America is a Xanadu of racial harmony.

Maybe I should start protesting in front of grocery stores because Neopolitan ice cream promotes segregation.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A list

Wherein I'm trying to clean out the files before vacation

At Begging to Differ I've posted sort of an autobiographical list: Stuff I Almost Know, People I've Almost Met.

It's an OK list, though frankly I think my favorite part is the headline. Headlines are true poetry compared to the articles. Usually more limiting than Haikus they become koans of succinctness. This one isn't poetry, but it felt good; like hitting a ball perfectly on the sweet spot.

What did we do for Mother's Day?

Wherein not much and it was good

Just a relaxing day at the house, invited the mothers over and cooked a pleasant dinner. Wife vetoed plans for extensive cooking--"Everyone knows you can cook, no need to spend all day in the kitchen." Yeah, but spending all day in the kitchen keeps me out of the conversation. Well, maybe for Father's day.

Picked up a couple side items, rolls, and a cake at the fancy-schmancy grocery store. Got some thick-cut pork chops that I marinated for a few hours (.5C soy sauce, .5C bourbon, .5C honey) and grilled. I poured off the marinade into a pan, brought to a boil, and reduced by about half and stirred in some cream for a rich gravy. I also coated the pork chops with a roasted garlic onion jam we'd also bought, so there wasn't much call for the gravy. Good meal. Good times.

Plenty of leftovers for last night's dinner. Threw some onions and carrots in a pot with some bacon grease. Diced up the remaining pork chops and added them. Mixed in the gravy marinade. Added some leftover green beans. Heated through and served over rice. Pineapple chunks would have been perfect.

I'll take the United States and the Czech Republic to advance; not necessarily in that order

Wherein let's see if there's anything to this wisdom of the crowds

The Washington Post Soccer Blog is taking predictions on Group E.

I took all responses through May 16, 2006 02:19 PM and tallied if people thought the U.S. team would advance. I only counted clear choices and did not count wishy-washy answers that refused to answer the question (if this and this and this happens, they could win).

Will Advance: 17
Won't Advance: 11

A clear majority is picking Team America to advance! And while I didn't count the Czech responses, it seemed that Czechs were slightly favored over the Italians to also advance. Maybe the Italian scandal will keep them distracted. The big problem is that whoever finishes second in Group E is almost guaranteed to play Brazil.

There were a few responses that are my greatest fear: this is the best U.S. team ever, but the group is too tough and they won't advance.

And my favorite reason for why the U.S. will win is that even our art students kick Eurotrash ass:
I was studying in Florence during WC 2002 (which was great cause all our classes were canceled to watch soccer, take that art appretiation!) and the day Italy lost to South Korea was the blackest day I've even seen. No joke, after the game you could hear the city getting quieter. People were crying in the streets. Bars were packed but no one was talking. Complete stunned silence for the entire day. It was eerie.

To be honest I got pretty frusterated with the Italian coverage of the WC. They were unbearably whiney. Everything was a conspiracy against them. Grown men acting like the biggest broken down drama queens. I would very much like the US to be the cause of their grief this time around.

... oh, and after we lost to Germany I was accosted by some drunk German students outside a bar. I shoved one into a smart car and its window broke so they ran off.

Posted by: willmmmm | May 12, 2006 04:39 PM

It's like making sausage, but with more pig intestines

Wherein I don't know what that means either but I typed myself into a corner and just blurted

Sometimes I wonder why politicians don't just skip all the false pageantry and release a booklet with the speech, the opposition response, and a counter-response. Publish on the web and quit mucking up our TV shows. Reader_iam writes about the preactionary punditry and Callimachus reports on how prepackaged the news can be:
I'm sitting here at the newsdesk at 10 minutes before 8 tonight, and reading plenty of "analysis" and "reaction" stories to Bush's speech, written in the past tense, full of quotes. The speech hasn't been delivered yet.

...a Hearst Newspapers "Immigration Analysis" piece by Jennifer A. Dlouhy (is that a typo?) that moved across the transom at 18:02 today -- a little under two hours before the speech...

AP's first story about the speech, in past tense and with quotes and reactions, moved shortly after 5:30 p.m. Eastern.

Molly Ivins column in reaction to the speech already is on the wire, though embargoed.

I wonder if the speech was available for the general public. What's the point of giving the actual speech if everyone has already read it and responded to it? What I think would be fun would be if a politician prereleased a speech, then gave a completely different speech. Sure would catch a few people off-guard.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Do you hate your parents?

Wherein mostly I just hate crowds but does anyone really enjoy this

If you take them out on Mother's Day or Father's Day, you just might. Read The grinch who stole Mother's Day:
"We had two hundred people call for Mother's Day reservations," Rick groans.
Us too.
"You booked up?"
A week ago.
"People are crazy," Rick says, "Do they honestly think they'll get a reservation now?"
It was tough saying no to all those people, I say, I had one woman start crying.
"Some of them got desperate," Rick admits.
After saying no a hundred times I felt like the Grinch Who Stole Mother's Day."
"If they loved their mother they'd've made reservations months ago," Rick says.
You're right, I sigh, taking my first sip of scotch.

I cannot think of a worse time to go to a restaurant than one of these fake holidays like Mother's Day, Father's Day, or Valentine's Day. Too many cranky customers, over-worked staff, and a mentality to just crank food out as fast as possible. You also get the multi-generational parties trying to seat 10-15 people; which is a pain during a normal restaurant rush, much less during the holiday horde. Frankly, if you are not going to some place that takes reservations, just stay home and do something quiet. Or, and we did this last year for our parents, go out for a nice dinner the night before. That leaves your Mother or Father a nice quiet day all to themselves. Or you can do something else that doesn't require standing in a restaurant lobby for an hour.

That's an hour if you're lucky. We hit the grocery for a couple items yesterday morning and there's a breakfast restaurant next door (J. Christophers, if you're in Atlanta). Nothing fancy--just eggs and pancakes--still, there had to be fifty people standing on the sidewalk. I guess the idea is to give the mom a break from cooking, but how queuing up like it's Russia during a potato shortage is any kind of a treat is beyond me.

It's been said in numerous forums, by people with much more knowledge about the restaurant industry than me, that the worst time to visit a restaurant is during brunch. Especially if the restaurant doesn't normally do brunch and is opening for a one-off event (like Mother's Day). Bourdain covers brunch in Kitchen Confidential; how it's the dregs of the staff and overpriced food. Or, even more succinctly, is this classic riff from Angry Chef:
I sometimes wonder if if I could accept this horror if it were just called lunch. Noooo it's brunch. As if a euphemistic name will change how much it is despised. Waiters hate it.Chef's hate it. Less care goes into the food and service than any other shift. Put your worst crew on it and hope they show up because BRUNCH will make employees quit. I guarantee there is more absenteeism on Sunday morning, than all other shifts combined. And with good reason. It sucks. And the sheep that flock to brunch out of tradition, decked out in their silly hats and Sunday finery are enough to make one sick on their own. Cute little old ladies wanting their poached eggs. Closeted, picket fenced husbands in their after church get-ups wanting an egg white omelet and a brandy milk punch. A fucking egg white omelet? What the fuck is that? I wish I could develop a whiteless egg just for brunch. A brandy milk punch? What kind of nancing alcoholic silliness is that? A mimosa. a MIMOSA?....what are we on the goddamned Orient Express? I feel so sophisticated when I drink those!

Seriously, stay home. If you insist on going out only go to brunch when that's what the restaurant specializes in, or take your parents out when the restaurant is at its best: Friday or Saturday night, and make reservations.

Take the spam quiz

Wherein I missed six of twenty-five

Is it an alt-rock lyric or is it spam email? Very tricky quiz. Here's one: stuffed sailor up with eyeball sun and if by castle ship should stray it has like you no chosen fate for it’s tongue-tied caboose

Go take the quiz

update: earlier link did not work because I forgot to paste a URL in the href tag. Should be working now.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Rabbit invasion

Wherein this could get very interesting and bloody if the hawks at the end of the street catch on

We have at least four rabbits around our yard and the neighbors. We're in a cul-de-sac with large wooded yards, so there's plenty of space for them. Haven't located their dens. Though I think one couple might be under the big azalea outside the kitchen window.

Sounds like we're right in the middle of the prime breeding period, making it likely we'll see more. No one has gardens to worry about, so when do we know we have too many rabbits?
Eastern Cottontail
The eastern cottontail is the most common rabbit in Georgia occurring throughout the entire state. It has dense brown to gray fur on its back with a white underside and white or cotton tail. There is usually a white spot on its forehead, the nape of the neck is rusty in color, and the feet are whitish. From head to tail adults measure 14-17 inches and weigh 2-4 pounds.
Cottontails breed from February to September, with 80% of the young born from April to July. Males are polygamous (i.e., have more than one mate at a time). Cottontails are very productive having 3-7 litters per year that range from 4-7 young per litter. Their gestation period is 25-30 days. Young can start eating vegetation after 8 days and are weaned from their mother after 14 days.

Guess I should take some pictures.

musical question

Wherein I heard this song about liking monsters

Kimya Dawson. Anyone know (of) her? Sounded intriguing.

Books for the beach

Wherein t-7 days

Ignoring the large stack of unread books I already have, I'm taking recommendations for books for the beach. This is not restricted to the normal pulpy beach books. Serious, funny; fiction, nonfiction; it's all good. Only requirement being you enjoyed reading it and are happy to recommend it.

For last year's trip, I read:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The parent of the female persuasion

Wherein oh crap it's mother's day this weekend

At Done With Mirrors, reader_iam sparks a discussion of mothers in song. Go read, fun stuff.

Searching through iTunes I found the following songs with mom, mommy, or mother in the titles.

UPDATE: XWL also has a mother post. Turns out I forgot to search for "mama." I've added another eleven songs towards the bottom.

I Love My Mom, Roches
mommy why
are you really angry
i don t know
what is the matter with me
you make me cry
and i need your love
and i love my mom

Kyle's Mom's a Bitch, South Park
Well, Kyle's Mom's a bitch, she's a big fat bitch,
she's the biggest bitch in the whole wide world,
she's a stupid bitch if there ever was a bitch,
she's a bitch to all the boys and girls.

So Long Mom (A Song For World War III), Tom Lehrer
So long, Mom,
I'm off to drop the bomb,
So don't wait up for me.
But while you swelter
Down there in your shelter,
You can see me
On your TV

Mother Nature's Son, Beatles
Born a poor young country boy--Mother Nature's son
All day long I'm sitting singing songs for everyone.
Sit beside a mountain stream--see her waters rise
Listen to the pretty sound of music as she flies.

Mother Popcorn, James Brown
Some like 'em short
Some like 'em tall
Some like 'em thin
Skinny legs and all
I like 'em buttered
I like 'em proud
Now when they walk
They know they draw a crowd
See, well you gotta have a mother for me
Watcha say, whatcha say...
See, well you gotta have a mother for me
One more, gimme, gimme
See, well you gotta have a mother for me

Fairy Godmother Song, Jennifer Saunders
Your fallen tears have called to me, so here comes my sweet remedy.
I know what every princess needs for her to live life happily.
With.. just a wave of my magic wand your troubles will soon be gone.
With a flick of the wrist in just a flash, you land a prince with a ton of cash,
A high priced dress made by mice no less!
Some crystal glass pumps and almost dressed!
Worries will vanish your soul will cleanse
Confide in your very own furniture friends
We'll help you set a new fashion trend!

Mother, John Lennon
Mother, you had me, but I never had you
I wanted you, you didn't want me
So I, I just got to tell you
Goodbye, goodbye

Mothers Ruin, Kirsty MacColl
Mothers ruin
Their own little girls
Keep them dreaming
There's more to this world
But turn her the other way
And every day's Father's day
He stays until there's nothing left to say

bloody mother fucking asshole, Martha Wainwright
Poetry is no place for a heart that's a whore
And I'm young & I'm strong
But I feel old & tired
And I've been poked & stoked
It's all smoke, there's no more fire
Only desire
For you, whoever you are
For you, whoever you are

That was Your Mother, Paul Simon
Well, that was your mother
And that was your father
Before you was born dude
When life was great
You are the burden of my generation
I sure do love you
But let's get that straight

Mother and Child Reunion, Paul Simon
bonus snopes link
No I would not give you false hope
On this strange and mournful day
But the mother and child reunion
Is only a motion away, oh, little darling of mine

I Think I'm a Mother, PJ Harvey
You think you'll come over
I'll give you my number
You lover supporter
Then give me your mother
You come take me home and
Take me to your doctor
You think you'll come over?

Mother, Tori Amos
Mother the car is here
Somebody leave the light on
Green limosine for the redhead DANCING dancing girl
And when I dance for him
Somebody leave the light on
Just in just in case I like the dancing I can remember where I come from

Mother Mother, Tracy Bonham
Mother mother how's the family?
I'm just calling to say hello.
How's the weather? how's my father?
Am I lonely? heavens no.
Mother mother are ya listening? just a phone call to ease your mind.
Life is perfect, never better, distance making the heart grow fond.

Mothers of the Disappeared, U2
Midnight, our sons and daughters
Were cut down and taken from us.
Hear their heartbeat
We hear their heartbeat.

Answer to Mother Popcorn (I Got a Mother For You), Vicki Anderson
I'm not fat and I'm tall
I'm not a girl with skinny legs at all

Old Mother Reagan, Violent Femmes
Old mother reagan
And her crew
Took away
From me and you
I hope she goes far away
She better go far away
Y’know it ain’t right
When it’s all wrong
This is the old mother reagan
Protest song
Old mother reagan
She’s so dumb
She’s so dangerous
How come...
Old mother reagan went to heaven
But at the pearly gates
She was stopped!

Dance, Motherfucker, Dance!, Violent Femmes
When I say dance, you best dance motherfucker

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Jackson 5 (+ 2 others)
I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night.
She didn't see me creep
Down the stairs to have a peep;
She thought that I was tucked up in my bedroom fast asleep

Ya Mama, Fatboy Slim
repeat a bajillion times until you want to gouge your eyes out:
push the tempo

The Mamas of the Mamas (Les Mamas Des Mamas), Zap Mama
No lyrics, so I offer this description of the album: "As in the first, Zap Mama uses African rhythms, yodels and chants, always accompanied by an interplay of vocal percussive elements which become so complex that they demand total attention to begin to appreciate. Using vocal techniques never before heard as they are an original synthesis we are transported not only to Africa and Europe, but these five women take us on to India and Australia in a continuing fabulous world tour."

Sugar Mama, Bonnie Raitt
Ain't gonna be no sugar mama no more
You can't have love when your keepin' score
All you pretty boys used to catch my eye
I just want a man I can satisfy
Ain't gonna be no sugar mama no more

My Mama Told Me, Tom Tom Club
My mamma told me love is true
Only if it returns to you
My mamma told me love is true
Only if it returns to you
So if you’re in trouble by rumors
Well I can tell you I’m angry at lies
I hear it - and it feels like murder
But I’ll never get it right if I don’t try

Mtaka Mama, Mahlathini
It's the King of the Groaners and the Mahotella Queens. South African Township Jive from the mid 60s. Actually saw them in 1998 at First Avenue. Wonderful sound, love the guitar work, don't understand a damn thing. Sometimes it's better than way.

Mama, Take Another Stand, Ken Layne and the Corvids
??? Sounds great, just can't understand enough of the lyrics to bother transcribing. Maybe I'll try later. Matt Welch announced a couple weeks ago that a second CD is imminent.

(Mama, Mama) Wish Me Good Luck, Carla Thomas

Mama I'm a Big Girl Now, Hairspray cast

Ma, you always taught me
What was right from wrong
And now i iust wanna give it a try
Mama, i've been in the nest for far too long
So please give a push and mama watch me fly

Mama Feelgood, Lyn Collins and the J.B.'s

Mama Didn't Lie, Jan Bradley
Mama didn't lie, she didn't lie.
Mama didn't lie, she didn't lie.
Here comes that boy and his friends,
Making eyes at me again.
Do they all think that I'm a toy,
To be played with by every boy?
Well, they're wrong to think I
Will be caught by the wink of an eye.
My mama didn't lie. (Mama didn't lie.) She didn't lie.

Hard Lovin' Mama, Katie Webster
'Cause I'm a hard lovin' mama
Healthy, firm, and fine
And if you fool around with me
I know I can make you mine
All the time

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Foie Gras milkshake

Wherein I gotta get me some more

First off, I did not take any pictures. Second, I'll come back later for a recap of the full meal at One Midtown Kitchen (wonderful!), but for now let me describe the foie gras milkshake.

This menu item gained notoriety at Richard Blaise's first restaurant, the eponymous Blais. Much like Thomas Keller's French Kitchen--where Blais spent some time--Blais offered 20-30 course meals of amusing and appetizing plates. The one item that every review mentioned was the deconstruction of a Kystal hamburger and milkshake...heavy on the foie gras.

In a review of One Midtown Kitchen it was mentioned that the milkshake could be available off menu. So I asked. The server said she'd check, but it would depend on if any foie gras was in the pantry for another menu item. It was. The shake was brought out in a simple glass with a straw stuck in it. Maybe two inches tall and thick; too thick to suck through a straw. Smelled wonderful, a bit like coffee and maybe amaretto. I scooped up a large bite.

Before I continue, here's where I admit I've never had foie gras. The only liver I've had is the basic fried beef liver and onions and it's one of the most disgusting things I've ever tried to eat. Then as I'm raising the bite to my mouth, "Irish Coffee" flashes across my brain. Many years ago, in the middle of a typically cold Minnesota winter, I'm sitting in a bar with friends having a couple drinks. I decided something warm would be nice and thought I'd try an Irish Coffee. Despite the fact I like neither coffee nor whiskey. For this, I blame Disney. Specifically, Herbie, the Love Bug. Apparently the scene when Buddy Hackett gets sloshed on Irish coffee, while the bad guy dumps the rest into Herbie's gas tank, had been festering in my head for almost two decades causing me to order something there was no reason for me to like. And I didn't. It was awful.

And that's what I'm thinking as this fancified and fluffed, but still liver, enters my mouth. Boom. Not quite an explosion, but I think every taste bud freaked out in joy. Completely smooth texture, cool (not cold), each bite literally melted in my mouth. Tasting faintly of amaretto, vanilla, chocolate, and lord knows what else, it was easily the richest, most decadent thing I've ever eaten. Forcing the others to try, and they looked like they'd rather eat their own children first, joyous cries of "Oh my god" circled the table.

I could eat this until it killed me and as rich as it is that wouldn't take long. But I'd die with a happy smile on my face.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Owe my soul to the Company store

wherein I know people who know people apparently

A few days back I had a quote from The Cobweb by Neal Stephenson and J. Frederick George. Fascinating story that takes place during the run up to Gulf war 1. The plot revolves around the possibility that Saddam Hussein has secretly placed Iraqi scientists (under fake student visas) in many of the midwest agricultural colleges to develop biological weapons facilities. Very believable. Unfortunately, the only ones who seem to know what's going on are an Iowan deputy sheriff and a Washington CIA analyst who is in hot water for exceeding her assigned task.

Looking for the linked quote I came across another quote I'd forgotten about and it reminded me of a small, but odd fact. We have known two people who each had a parent employed by the CIA. One was mostly an overt, probably bureaucratic position; the other was most likely highly covert. Our friend didn't know too much--her parent had served before being married and never talked about it too much--just some interesting souvenirs from far off lands and a few stories with a lot of the details missing. Such as the complete refusal to ever travel anywhere near the old Soviet Union or the Eastern Bloc countries. At the time this was brought up in conversation the parent had been dead for a few years. Still, two CIA parents. Just remembered, if we're stretching we could name a third CIA person as we know someone who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. That's kinda cool, too. Lots of sharp knives and heavy pans...they too could kill someone.

Anyway, back to the other CIA and another quote from The Cobweb about information gathering:
"I appreciate your saying that," Betsy said. "But I know that I'll never forgive you."

Hennessey sipped his coffee and thought about that one for a while, tilting his head back and forth as he worked through some kind of internal debate. "No," he finally said, gently and almost reluctantly. "No. That's unacceptable."

"What do you mean, it's not acceptable? What you did sucks and I'll never forgive you. Accept that!"

Hennessey held up one hand. "Oh, by all means. I'll stipulate from the very beginning that I suck. A lot of my associates suck, too--or else I wouldn't bother to hire them. We all suck for a living. But what's not acceptable is for you to be high-handed and condemnatory."

Hennessey sat up straight and became coolly angry. "What the fuck do you think you've been doing the last five years, sitting at that workstation? You type in requests for information, and the information appears as if by magic. Where the fuck do you think that information comes from? You think it's all from the Encyclopedia Britannica?"

Of course not!"

"Of course not. It comes from the world, Betsy. It comes from sources who are really out there embroiled in the fly-blown streets of shitty Third World cities all over the globe. And I'm not talking about noble James Bond types, either. I'm not romanticizing this. That information is gathered in any way possible. Any way. Up to and including killing people, or sending them to their deaths. Blackmailing them. Threatening them. Buying them off. Stealing from them. Defrauding them. Preying on their weaknesses for cute boys or cute girls. You ever seen war, Betsy? I have, and I can tell you it is like a fucking universe of total moral degradation. That's the kind of environment that the information comes out of. And you sit there at the castling Building and pull it up on your screen like some kind of a fucking librarian and have no concept of how it got to be there. So don;t get high-handed and condemnatory with me. You wanted to work with the CIA. You got what you wanted. And whatever naughty things I've done to you don't even register on my moral Richter scale."

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Maggie's farm is a rough place

wherein this makes about as much sense as trying to explain the offside rule

How did Wayne Rooney break his foot, causing the entire island of Britain to develop a suicidal funk? Marina Hyde floats the idea that it was Margaret Thatcher's fault:
Instantly supplanting the War of Jenkins' Ear as history's most depressing conflict about a body part is the War of Rooney's Foot, currently being waged between Sir Alex Ferguson and Sven-Goran Eriksson. Yet as they fiddle, the rest of us get on with the real business: whom to burn for The End of the Dream(TM). Happily my eye is drawn to a letter to which suggests that stopping free school milk caused brittle bones in all subsequent generations of children, and therefore the blame for Rooney's injury must be laid at the door of Margaret Thatcher.

Other nominees includes:
  • The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
  • Tsar Nicholas II and the Bloody Sunday Massacre of 1905
  • Germany invading Poland

Anatomy of a high school soccer game

Wherein this is a test

Went to a another girls high school soccer game this week. We're in the state tournament and the top two ranked teams met up. Unfortunately #2 ( the away team) prevailed. I'll come back later and add a little more detail and explain how a good team with a game plan can defeat a better team without a game plan.

I also used the time to try out my shot sketch idea (the legend). How's this work? The lines indicate where the assist came from.

First Half

Second Half

Friday, May 05, 2006

Food Glorious Food

Wherein a pointless post even more so than usual because that is why the internet exists dammit this wherein is also an example of how all future whereins will eschew all punctuation as already practiced whereins having any relationship to the actual post is purely accidental or intentional

Here's a couple items that wound up on our dinner plates this week:
  • Sauteed Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Apples and Sage Cream Pan Sauce with baked sweet potatoes and a confetti spinach salad with tomatoes and mandarin oranges. Almost forgot the Chilled Strawberry Soup. The pork medallion recipe was from the September 1997 issue of Cook's Illustrated (If you subscribe to their website, here's the link. Realized this would work well as a cook-ahead and freeze meal. Just freeze before adding the cream, then toss in the cream when you thaw and reheat. Easy.
  • Took the leftover sauteed pork medallions and cream sauce and served over rice for a second meal.
  • Roast Pumpkin and Couscous Salad (recipe is below). From the Donna Hay cookbook The New Cook. Not the correct season for pumpkin so I substituted a butternut squash. Wonderful, and worked well as a meal on its own. Lot's of soft textures and I thought it could use something a little crunchy. Maybe some toasted pine nuts or slightly roasted vidalia onions. Pumpkin seeds would be perfect, but I know I have pine nuts in the pantry.
  • Leftover "pumpkin" salad for tonight. I think I'll try it with the pine nuts. Since there isn't enough for a full meal, I'll probably toss a couple steaks on the grill. Nothing fancy, no marinades, just a little salt and pepper.

Then for Saturday, we're finally going to One.Midtown Kitchen for the Richard Blais experience. I've heard that he will still make the foie gras milkshake, even though it isn't on the menu. If so, I will be ordering it. It's been such a hassle aligning schedules that this is the third restaurant Blais has been at since I first heard of him. Really looking forward to this. Here's a review (with photos) from an earlier restaurant of his.

Roast Pumpkin and Couscous Salad
1 lb pumpkin, sliced
olive oil
sea salt
1 cup couscous
1.25 cups (10 fl oz) boiling water or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons butter
4 oz green beans, trimmed
1/3 cut mint leaves
1/2 cup (4 oz) yogurt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 400F. Place pumpkin in baking dish and toss with a little oil and salt. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and soft. Set aside. Place couscous in a bowl and pour over boiling water or stock. Add the butter and allow to stand for 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Blanch the beans. Drain and cool. Place the couscous, squash, beans, and mint in a bowl and toss to combine.

To make the dressing, combine the yogurt, cumin, chopped mint, and honey. To serve, place the salad on plates and pour over the dressing.


Wherein redirection to another section is requested

At Begging To Differ I've posted a small article on Why the U.S. Won't Win the World Cup.

My Lost update is attached to the bottom of this post.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A rock star for people who don't like music

Wherein I'll calm down by listening to The Muffs

Matt Welch quotes Tony Pierce reviewing the new Bruce Springsteen album. In Matt's comment section are two comments I want to print out, frame, and hang on my wall so ANYONE who walks into my home must read them:
Springsteen has ALWAYS SUCKED.

Repeat after me, ALWAYS SUCKED.

The critics have always drooled on his tiny wiener because they see "Duh Boss" as an idealized, romanticized, rock star version of themselves. The sad truth is that he is exactly that. (Did I mention I hate rock crits, too?)

Posted by COOP at April 30, 2006 11:03 AM

What Coop said! What Coop said! Springsteen is a rock star for people who don't like music. And he's been crazyshit famous for twenty years... He's old and happy and sleeps on 400-thread counts with duvets and vacations in exotic lands and all the rest. Is anyone expecting interesting music for teenagers? People said "Nebraska" was going to be the apex of his midnight authenticity, but even his fans hated that one.

Posted by Crid at May 1, 2006 08:38 PM

What IS this guy's heritage? Is he an Okie, a Jersey punk or (this week) a cajun? People are always so precious about Springsteen and his authenticity, and how his personal perceptions of things are so important, but he never seemed that concerned with MY feelings about things like melody or harmony or musicianship (though the relentless humor of Pink Cadillac excused a multitude of sins).

Posted by Crid at May 3, 2006 12:09 AM


I don't hate Bruuce, I've just never found him to be that interesting. Then there's a large portion of the male population around my age who think cool is listening to either Bruuuce or Sinatra while smoking cigars. These are the same people who insulted swing and jump blues (this country's greatest musical achievement) with the creation of a martini-swilling, Squirrel Nut Zipper-listening kindergarten version of a martini culture.

Indisbutable, inarguable, facts:
  • Young Sinatra is better than old Sinatra, but he was a better actor than singer.
  • Dean Martin kicks Sinatra's ass and if you think Dean Martin is just a guy holding a drink, you're a punk.
  • Mixing alcohol with other alcohol, or God forbid, with something nonalcoholic should only be done on the beach and must include a tiny umbrella as a sign you are drinking satirically (or if making a fashion statement--sartorially).
  • Otherwise, it just looks like you don't like the taste of alcohol and are trying to fit in to be cool.
  • There is nothing wrong with not liking alcohol. Unapologetically drinking cranberry juice out of a sippy cup is more cool than putting juice in vodka.
  • Putting olive or onions in a drink? This isn't a salad bar.
  • Nothing more uncool than trying to fit in. Relax and just be.
  • I'm sure someone somewhere has written a scholarly paper on the phallic and racially oppressive nature of cigar smoking.
  • Nothing Bruuuuce wrote is anymore meaningful or heartfelt than anything Styx wrote. Except for Mr. Roboto; I don't think even Bruuuuuce has done anything as horrible as that. But I'll stack Pieces of Eight up against any Bruuuuuuce album. Just look at Blue Collar Man:
    Give me a job, give me security
    Give me a chance to survive
    I'm just a poor soul in the unemployment line
    My God, I'm hardly alive
    My mother and father, my wife and my friends
    I see them laugh in my face
    But I've got the power, and I've got the will
    I'm not a charity case

    Get Courtney Cox dancing on stage and that shit is the national anthem. And it gets bonus points for not having Bruuuuuuuce's signature "i really need to add more roughage to my diet" grunting.

And besides, Bruuuuuuuuce never did anything as meaningful and artistic as Little Steven's Sun City. Without the backing of the E Street Band, Bruuuuuuuuuce would've been just another struggling Dylan-wannabe troubedour lost in the archives of some local Jersey label that went bankrupt in 1977.


No Lost updates today

Wherein otherwise occupied last night and it's on tape. Might not get to it until this weekend

So just piss off.

Of course, I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Update: Fascinating, I'm getting slammed with Geronimo Jackson queries again. First thought was that episode was just broadcast in England or somewhere, but most are coming from U.S. servers. Something interesting must of happened last night.

May 5: Lost update is here

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

And if we glow in the dark we'll need fewer light bulbs

Wherein I propose the worst metaphor of the day: "drilling like a dentist at a hooker convention"

First, the updated paperbook version of The Fair Tax Book: Saying Goodbye to the Income Tax and the IRS comes out tomorrow. I'm ordering about a dozen to hand out and I suggest you do the same.

Neal Boortz wonder why anyone voted Republican:
The Washington Times is reporting this morning that Republicans on Capitol Hill are strongly divided about what to do about rising gas prices. The reason they're worried about this is because politicians have spent generations convincing the American sheeple that the government is always there to smooth every bump in the road and straighten every tight curve. These "freedom loving" Americans look to the government every time they get a runny nose. The American sense of self-reliance is on the way out, and the politicians know it. That's why they're so concerned about gas prices.

There are some Republicans who are considering raising taxes on the oil companies. Yup .. you got it. Raising taxes. The government already takes five times as much out of the proceeds of the sale of a gallon of gas as do the gas stations that sell the stuff. Five times! Now they're talking about taking even more! Every penny that these oil companies pay in taxes ends up reflected in the cost at the pump .. so these pandering Republicans come up with the brilliant idea of forcing gas prices even higher as a response to concern over high gas prices? What kind of representation is that?

Here's a rough draft of a proposal. Insteading of raising taxes, the government should keep the gas and oil taxes as is and just redirect them. Let's use that money for two purposes:
  1. Build nuclear power plants on every other corner.
  2. Fund a Mercury or Apollo style program into alternative fuel sources

Additionally, we start drilling everywhere. Historically, our gas prices aren't the highest they've ever been (adjusted), but if we can pay less for fuel, why not? But that's not the main reason I want us to drill. Increasing our own fuel production should create pressures on the middle eastern producers. The goal, however, is not to force OPEC to lower prices, the goal is to buy less OPEC oil. Bankrupt them, force them to create their own technologies and markets. We should stop funding countries and organizations that just want to use our largesse and resources to attack us.

For the short term (10-15 years?), we should be paying much more for fuel and the OPEC countries should be imploding from corruption, fundamentalism, and lack of innovation. You want to put a big plug in the terrorist organizations? Stop giving money to the countries that fund them. It's likely that Russia and China will try to prop up the OPEC countries, but those suckups are already positioning to take our place. Let them. Let them deal with the mess, because we all know how well Russia and China respect Muslim fundamentalists. Not that we should entirely bug out. We should fully support any country making legitimate efforts towards democracy. Otherwise, we should be opening the taps off our shores and in Alaska.

More oil rigs and refineries. And nuclear power, lots of it. And SUVs that get 50mpg.

/End rough draft.

Update: Through Instapundit is a link to Max Boot in the LA Times:
If oil were a commodity like any other, the free-marketers would be right. But it's not. Most oil reserves are controlled by governments, many of which conspire through the OPEC cartel to manipulate the market. These governments aren't the kind that any sane person would want to see in control of such a vital asset. Their power can only be countered by action from our own government.

Of the top 14 oil exporters, only one is a well-established liberal democracy — Norway. Two others have recently made a transition to democracy — Mexico and Nigeria. Iraq is trying to follow in their footsteps. That's it. Every other major oil exporter is a dictatorship — and the run-up in oil prices has been a tremendous boon to them.

...In the meantime, there are some unilateral steps we can take: Drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Ease restrictions on building new refineries and pipelines. Eliminate the 57-cent-a-gallon tariff on ethanol imports made from Brazilian sugar cane. Increase federal funding for research and rollout of fossil-fuel substitutes such as hydrogen, cellulosic ethanol (produced from grasses and agricultural waste) and plug-in electric engines.

Lost (May 3): Two For the Road

Wherein what's going on is probably nothing like what's written below

We're down to the last four episodes and five hours (two-hour finale). Let's take a quick survey of where we're at and where we might be going. I'll do this in two parts, the first being where my thoughts are before the episode--getting them down for the record, and then reflections and tweaking after viewing Two For the Road, an Ana Lucia flashback.

First, if you're interested in spoilers, TV Tattle links to this story about ABC revealing the finales for Lost and Alias. Read if you wish, but do not mention or discuss here. At So Quoted, Lost discussions only involve what we know from what has been aired. No insider knowledge is allowed.

Podcast: Little, if any, useful information given out. As usual. Producers lay to rest the rumor that the loony bin maintenance man in Hurley's season 1 flashback was Henry Gale. It is not. We'll find out why Ana Lucia went to Australia. Rousseau may not be all she seems; we won't see her the rest of this season, but we will learn more of her story. Who impregnated Sun will be dealt with in Season 3.

Sayid: Back in the first or second episode Sayid was messing around the concrete wall and trying to figure out a way around it. This has never been mentioned again. I'm hoping this hasn't been forgotten and we'll find out that he's slowly been chipping away. My theory is that this is one of the corridors leading from the Swan Station to the unknown Question Mark (see Hatch maps).

Spies: I've previously said that "Rose is evil." I don't really believe this, though it would be fun. I do think it's a very likely possibility there is still a DHARMA spy in the group. At this point, the best bet is for an, as yet unseen, unknown red shirt. I'd also considered Libby, but she seems tied to Hurley in some other way. There is more to her story and she could still be a spy, I just think we'll find something else about her.

Mr. Eko: It has been confirmed that he is building a church. Why? Who knows. I've read a few guesses that the concept of sanctuary may come into play. Why is the drug plane with his brother on the island? This makes no sense.

Sawyer: Sawyer has the guns. Sawyer also convinced Charlie to attack Sun. Before the end of the season, Sawyer will throw Charlie under the bus and turn over the guns. Expect him to do something slightly heroic and redeeming.

Locke: Right now, Locke is the most confused. He know longer knows what to believe in or who to trust. He's almost convinced that nothing will happen if they stop entering the numbers.

Michael: He's back...whoot. Guess it's too much to hope that if the writers can't give him better lines than shouting "Walt!" or "He's my son!" they just kill him off. Wasted character.

Walt: In Lost time they've been on the island about 70 days. In the real world, it's been a year since we've seen Walt. He's probably grown a foot, has a beard, and speaks with a deep baritone. Explain that one with magical magnetic rocks.

Rousseau: I'm not convinced of her story. She's been marooned for 16 years and has never come across a hatch or met the others and hasn't run out of ammunition. Questions: where's her ship and what's up with that wire running from the beach toward her shelter. I think she's a plant from the Others (DHARMA). She gave the first explanation of the The Others, introduced Henry Gale into the group, and helped them find the medical Hatch when Claire didn't remember fast enough.

Henry Gale: Evil. His job is to screw with anyone he comes into contact with and sow mistrust. Don't think he reckoned on being tortured.

Desmond: He's the guy in charge. Let's forget that it's a complete coincidence that Locke even found the hatch; and then didn't even do a decent survey to see if there was a back entrance. Desmond was there to introduce the Losties when they broke in, explain the B.F. Skinner operation, then haul ass, leaving the Losties to figure it out for themselves. When Desmond left Locke could not track him because Desmond left no tracks (like The Others). No way only one person could be in charge of the numbers for a long period of time. You can't sleep more than 1.5 hours
at a time, so eventually you'd get so tired you'd sleep through the alarm. Desmond is the guy and we (the viewers) will find that out, though I'm not convinced that the Losties will know.

The smoke monster: No clue. Seems to leave you alone if you show no fear and have faith(?). How it works or why, I don't know. I'm guessing it's an out of control experiment.

The Others: At the start of season two I was convinced two groups of Others existed: one good, one bad. And the Losties would need to join forces with one to defeat the other. I've pretty much discounted this theory. Most likely just one group of DHARMA scientists. Some are violent, some are not. As a whole, they do not seem concerned that the Losties have killed a number of Others. As soon as the Losties plane crashed on the beach, The Others were there impersonating passengers.

What does it all mean?
Let's consider a few options:
  • The plane crashed on purpose
  • The plane crashed accidentally
  • The plane didn't crash, the Losties have just been made to believe
    it has
  • The Others are other strandees
  • The Others are there on purpose as DHARMA scientists
  • The DHARMA project went awry and they are stranded
  • The DHARMA project did not go awry

I think The Others are DHARMA scientists and Desmond is in charge. Let's start there. This is a long-term project that predates his involvement, he's just the latest manager. But something still could have gone wrong with the project since he got there.

If the plane crashed, it must have been accidental. If on purpose, there are too many variables for what could have happened. I've mentioned this a few times, but I am becoming more and more attached to the idea that no plane crash occurred. We see it from the Losties perspective and they think they've crashed. The purpose is to study just a few of the passengers. Their circumstances were worked to get them on the plane; other passengers are coincidences.

Regardless of how they got there, I think they were put there purposely. And if so, then The Others are not stranded, and everything we've seen has been manufactured to cause certain reactions in the Losties. I think the map on the blast door is another red herring--not for us, though it works that way--but for the Losties. Everything they've found have been clues in a maze. The Losties were supposed to find the medical hatch and the costume makeup. It's to what end I can't figure out. None of this seems to square much with the DHARMA projects. Unless certain Losties were chosen for special characteristics it was felt the island would enhance.

If Desmond is the main guy, that makes Jack the clue to the whole thing. When Desmond met Jack in the stadium, he knew Jack was going to cure his future wife. Question is does Jack have some special ability the DHARMA people detected or did DHARMA intervene. We have not yet seen what caused Jack and his wife to split and I'm thinking whatever happened is related to DHARMA's interest in Jack.

By the end of the season we will have found the remaining six hatches and know much more about DHARMA. I'd like to see the Losties rescued in the season finale, but it turns out to be a DHARMA ship and they're still captives.

I think it's clear I have no idea what Lost is doing or where it's going. I blame Bush, but Kerry would have been worse.

Now let's watch "Two For the Road" and see what this adds and subtracts from it all

updated May 5, contains spoilers
The main lesson from this episode is that unprotected sex will kill you. Much like the slasher movies of the 1980s, rampant immorality will be punished.

So who is dead? (Note: I purposely did not watch the previews for next week, so any information given I do not have nor want.) Most likely Ana Lucia and Libby, and maybe Michael. I thought Michael shot himself in the chest but THE Wife is sure he shot himself in the shoulder. Either way, Michael has in some way been turned by The Others. I wasn't buying his "I saw one on the beach and followed him back to camp" speech any way. It just screamed 'trap'. Question is (assuming Michael is alive), did he willingly join The Others or has he been brainwashed/hypnotized/threatened. He did seem unnerved by shooting Libby. Was this because he was surprised, she was a good one to be saved, or she is one of The Others?

Hurley is going to freak and we'll probably get a tear-jerker of a dramatic scene from Jorge Garcia. On a lighter note, the thumbs up from Jin was hysterical.

Jack's dad is on a bender to meet his daughter? Did I hear that correctly? Who else thinks the woman he tried to see is Claire? He had a lot to say about fate; talking to Ana Lucia at the airport bar: "It's we can help each other now."

And finally Henry Gale admitted to being pure evil: You killed two of us. Good people who were leaving you alone. Other than stealing people in the middle of the night and Goodwin snapping that guy's neck and Charlie being strung up dead, yeah, I huess you were leaving them along. Asshole.

Henry was still trying to manipulate Locke, luckily Locke is tuned into it now. Henry professed to being afraid because "...the man in not a forgiving man" because Henry "failed my mission" which was "coming for you." Locke is intrigued, but closes the door. Not that it matters, I'll be very surprised if Henry is still there.

Where does this put the show with four hours left? It seems to me that The Others are trying to force the Losties to take aggressive and violent action. For what reason, I don't know.

That manuscript Sawyer was reading on the beach? You can buy the Bad Twin at Exclusive: Author Gary Troup delivered the manuscript for his hotly anticipated thriller, Bad Twin, just days before he boarded doomed Oceanic Flight 815. Watch the recently uncovered video clip of Gary Troup on Book Talk interviewed by Laird Granger talking about the controversy surrounding his mysteriously out-of-print first book, The Valenzetti Equation, and his new novel, Bad Twin.

Uh, no thank you.

Commenting on Throwing Things comments:
At Throwing Things they mention a Hanso phone number. We missed that. I guessing it's for the Lost game, which I've pretty much decided I won't be spending any time on. Oh, it was in a commerical. Also a vote for Claire being Jack's sister. Speculation that Jack's father was having an affair with Sarah, his daughter-in-law--sounds plausible.

Here's a good one pointing to Ana Lucia and Libby definately being dead:
I guess this explains what Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros were doing driving around Oahu drunk . . . not to mention why MR wanted to do five days in jail instead of committing to many many hours of community service in Hawaii.

Commenting on Begging to Differ comments:
Greg, at Begging to Differ, has more information on the "Lost Experience" interactive game. Also picks up on the 80s slasher film morality. Also has a rundown on the everyone's kill total. As I'm leaning towards Rousseau being one of The Others with the role of deceiving the Losties, I'm not believing anything she says about who she killed.

another comment
Here's one The Wife sent from a coworker. I'm not buying it and think it would be a stupid idea, BUT it is not completely out of bounds:
It also seems that Jack's dad is the common connection between alot of the survivors. This kind of goes along with my earlier theory that Jack's dad is in fact a part of the Dharma Initiative and he is the one running the show. We know he lost his medical license and was probably hurting for money. He could never work as a > "real" doctor again. I think he joined this Dharma experiment to do medical experimentation and that he faked his own death so his family would not know where he was. He went to this island where he is living and working with the Dharma group. I think he may even be "the one" and the man in charge that they talk about. We already know he is not a forgiving man. We have seen how he treated Jack his whole life, so that would be on par with the way Henry described the man in charge as not being a forgiving man. I think the fact that we have seen his connection with so many of the other survivors makes it seem even more likely that he is in fact on the island and and part of Dharma (like the writers are throwing in his connections to the other survivors to make it more of a surprise if indeed he is part of Dharma.) When Jack was hallucinating and thought he saw him, that could have actually been him, running into he forest. And it totally makes sense that with the way this show is written, the two "groups" on the island, one is led by Jack, and the other is led by his father.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

This is the postmodern era

Wherein the years have changed me, somehow

Hennessey laughed ruefully. "Your problem with this Iraq thing is that you've gotten tangled up, unwittingly, with people who long ago decided it wasn't sophisticated to be sincere, that sincerity was for fools, that sincere people were put on earth to be manipulated and exploited by people like them--for the greater good, of course. This is currently the most common character flaw in the Washington establishment--attempts to be Machiavellian by people who lack the talent, the panache, to pull it off. So here you are, good old Clyde Banks, desperately trying to deal with this very real problem here on the ground, and it's as if you're in a nightmare where these fucking bush-league Machiavellis listen to what you're saying but don't really understand.

"You and I know that something is going on and we would like to do something abut it. But between the two of us are about ten thousand of these people who are too busy looking down their noses at us to actually grasp the problem and take action. You must know that taking action is looked down upon, Clyde. This is the postmodern era. When events come to a cusp, we're supposed to screw our courage to the sticking place and launch a reanalysis of the eleventh draft of the working document. Actually going out and doing stuff in the physical world is simply beyond the comprehension of these people."

From The Cobweb, by Neal Stephenson and J. Frederick George

Thought I'd highlight some sincere writing that should be appreciated.

Icepick says:
Am I the only one who's tired of reading various blogs that think that removing Saddam was BAD but think that the largest moral imperative of the time is that we ought to go kill a bunch of Sudanese drug-addicts forthwith? Yes? I am? Well, never mind then....

Readeriam on Evicting Moral Courage:
Not long ago, I made the mistake of bringing up the concept of moral courage in a comments section elsewhere. Almost immediately, that idea was dismissed, even pooh-poohed, and I assume it was because the word “moral” is immediately associated with religion and petty "moralism." But moral courage isn’t about that (although, at its best, religion can, and I think should, promote it). Moral courage is an ethical construct, a way of approaching the world and our core responsibilities in it that transcend any particular religion or time or place. It defines us as thinking human beings who can face not just our physical fears (which are predicated on failure) but our ethical ones (which are predicated on success).

Callimachus has had so many quotable posts, it's difficult to pick one (so go read them all). This one especially, resonated with me--War or No War:
The main difference among Americans today is that some of us believe the United States is at war, a dangerous war against a desperate enemy. And other people don't believe that's true at all. To the non-believers, the people who are waging war look insanely violent, paranoid, and unstable, and to the people at war it takes great mental effort to look at those who don't believe it and not see appeasers and useful idiots, if not outright traitors.

Cathy Young on how we treat Holocaust and Gulag deniers:
There is, however, another issue here. Our insistence that the truth about the Holocaust be respected is admirable; not so the double standard that applies to the ideologically driven denial and minimization of other crimes against humanity -- such as Stalin's Gulag.

Tracking soccer shots

Wherein if I wasn't already scheduled for the beach, I'd head up to Nashville on May 23 for the World Cup tuneup against Morocco

Has anyone seen a decent form for tracking soccer shots? I'm sure something exists, I've just never seen anything. I'm thinking I want to track not just where shots are taken, but how it missed or was saved or scored.

Should headers be tracked differently?

Is it important to note where a pass or cross came from? Or that a shot came from a direct kick or corner?

Below is an example. Here's the legend:
  • Black circle: score
  • Circle with X: save
  • Circle R: shot missed right
  • Circle L: shot missed left
  • Circle H: shot missed high
  • Black Square: header score
  • Square with X: header save
  • Square R: header missed right
  • Square L: header missed left
  • Square H: header missed high

  • 1 shot scored
  • 1 header scored
  • 1 shot saved
  • 1 header saved
  • 2 shots missed left
  • 1 shot missed right
  • 1 shot missed high
  • 1 header missed left
  • 1 header missed right
  • 1 header missed high

Comments requested.

I'm an environmentalist!

Wherein I hope this balances off my brush-depleting bonfire, the weekend spent spraying gallons of weedkiller while screaming "F*CK NATURE!" and realizing a napalm aerial strike would cure most of my yard problems

It's in the New York Times, so it must be true.

Monday, May 01, 2006

World Cup Links

Wherein I ask "NBA who?"

Started collecting links for World Cup coverage. Looks like most weekday games will be noon and 3pm EST, so pub viewing may be difficult. Eight years ago, I finagled my schedule a few times to make the 3pm games by kickoff. This year, I have some extra vacation days and might have to burn a day or two for particularly important games. I'm beginning to think I preferred the situation four years ago when a number of the games aired live at 3am. A couple soccer friendly bars stayed open (not allowed to serve alcohol, but food was sold) and packed the place out. A batch of us watched a few games this way and still made it, blurry-eyed, to work on time.

I'll add a link to this on the side ------>.

US Soccer

News Sites

I haven't taken a close look at most of these and some might be set up as not much more than search word honeypots. If content looks lacking, I'll delete the link. Recommendations for other legitimate sites is appreciated.

I can't stop washing my hands

Wherein this little tidbit showed up in an email discussion list

Make of it what you will.

The honey and yogurt combination in the intestine does have a positive effect. Honey inhibites the growth of certain bacteria in yogurt. The only two bacteria it ENHANCES are the bifidobacteria, and the lactobacilli. In conclusion, the anti-bacterial properties in honey has a significant effect of the growth certain bacterias (lactobacilli & bifidobacteria). However, also inhibits the growth of all other live cultures.