Tuesday, January 31, 2006

2006 Oscar contest!

It's time for my third annual Academy Awards contest, and as always there's a prize for first and last place. Two years ago, Scott and Joe tied for first place with 16 correct picks. Last year, Scott's friend Jeremy took top honors with 13 correct.

This year looks to be as wide open as the last if I'm any gauge. I have seen exactly zero of the Best Picture nominees, mostly for my own reasons. Only one, Capote, isn't an effort by left-wing Hollywood to try and make a statement. (That I know of. Maybe it tries to go beyond it's calling as a serious bio-pic, too.)

You've got until March 5 at 8 p.m. EST to get me your picks somehow, some way, whether in the comments here, on your own blog, via email, telegraph or a bottle drifting in the Chattahoochee River.

Here's the list of the 78th annual Oscar nominations announced Tuesday by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:

1. Best Picture: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Crash, Good Night, and Good Luck, Munich.

2. Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote; Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow; Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain; Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line; David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck.

3. Actress: Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents; Felicity Huffman, Transamerica; Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice; Charlize Theron, North Country; Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line.

4. Supporting Actor: George Clooney, Syriana; Matt Dillon, Crash; Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man; Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain; William Hurt, A History of Violence.

5. Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Junebug; Catherine Keener, Capote; Frances McDormand, North Country; Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener; Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain.

6. Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain; Bennett Miller, Capote; Paul Haggis, Crash; George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck.; Steven Spielberg, Munich.

7. Foreign Film: Don't Tell, Italy; Joyeux Noel, France; Paradise Now, Palestine; Sophie Scholl - The Final Days, Germany; Tsotsi, South Africa.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain; Dan Futterman, Capote; Jeffrey Caine, The Constant Gardener; Josh Olson, A History of Violence; Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, Munich.

9. Original Screenplay: Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco, Crash; George Clooney & Grant Heslov, Good Night, and Good Luck.; Woody Allen, Match Point; Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale; Stephen Gaghan, Syriana.

10. Animated Feature Film: Howl's Moving Castle; Tim Burton's Corpse Bride; Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

11. Art Direction: Good Night, and Good Luck., Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, King Kong, Memoirs of a Geisha, Pride & Prejudice.

12. Cinematography: Batman Begins, Brokeback Mountain, Good Night, and Good Luck., Memoirs of a Geisha, The New World.

13. Sound Mixing: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, King Kong, Memoirs of a Geisha, Walk the Line, War of the Worlds.

14. Sound Editing: King Kong, Memoirs of a Geisha, War of the Worlds.

15. Original Score: Brokeback Mountain, Gustavo Santaolalla; The Constant Gardener, Alberto Iglesias; Memoirs of a Geisha, John Williams; Munich, John Williams; Pride & Prejudice, Dario Marianelli.

16. Original Song: “In the Deep” from Crash, Kathleen “Bird” York and Michael Becker; “It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from Hustle & Flow, Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard; “Travelin' Thru” from Transamerica, Dolly Parton.

17. Costume: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Memoirs of a Geisha, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Pride & Prejudice, Walk the Line.

18. Documentary Feature: Darwin's Nightmare, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, March of the Penguins, Murderball, Street Fight.

19. Documentary (short subject): The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club, God Sleeps in Rwanda, The Mushroom Club, A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin.

20. Film Editing: Cinderella Man, The Constant Gardener, Crash, Munich, Walk the Line.

21. Makeup: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Cinderella Man, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith.

22. Animated Short Film: Badgered, The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation, The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, 9, One Man Band.

23. Live Action Short Film: Ausreisser (The Runaway), Cashback, The Last Farm, Our Time Is Up, Six Shooter.

24. Visual Effects: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, King Kong, War of the Worlds.

Tuesday notes

From the Even God Can't Hit A One-Iron files: A starving Kenyan woman placed a powerful tribal curse on God, accusing him of sending famine, and died in her sleep.

Really, an ex-postal worker goes nuts, killing six people? It's just so, so, cliche, ya know?

On this day in 1949, the first daytime soap opera, "These Are My Children," debuts on NBC. On day two of the show, the first person to get amnesia, sleep with a neighbor and the first soap trial that still hasn't ended to this day.

For those who actually remember what sex is like and don't feel like cramming into a tiny Delta bathroom with five people outside the door, try your luck 5,280 feet in the air with more comfortable accommodations.

Researcher say sex calms nerves before public speaking. Now, instead of pretending the audience is naked, actively participate in making that happen!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Mondo Monday

Programming note: It’s been a while since I’ve written a Mind of a Single Man essay, and I have several topics to cover. I can, at least, tell you that in conjunction with the Winter Olympics (though not affiliated), I’ll be “covering” a daily event at my own Single Olympics.

All week in Indiana I kept thinking I had to work today 12-8. I got to work today, covered a co-worker for a show, trained on the new switcher, then checked the schedule and … I was supposed to be on-call today. Oh well. I needed to catch up after my mini-vacation, anyway, and work out at the gym.

After the mini-vacation I'm out of the mood of constantly playing the Chronicles of Narnia score. Let's see what’s been playing on Jeff’s iPod today …

“Extreme Ways” – Moby
“Pride (In the name of love)” – U2
“Friends in Low Places” – Garth Brooks
“Personal Jesus” – Depeche Mode
“Steam” – Peter Gabriel
“This Kiss” – Faith Hill
“West End Girls” – Pet Shop Boys
“Particle Man” – They Might Be Giants
“It’s a Sin” – Pet Shop Boys
“Bullet With Butterfly Wings” – Smashing Pumpkins
“Somebody Told Me” – The Killers
“Sweet Caroline” – Neil Diamond
“Can’t Get You Out of My Head” – Kylie Minogue
“I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow” - O Brother, Where Art Thou?
“Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash
“Suspicious Minds” – Elvis Presley
“Mary Jane’s Last Dance” – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

So happy together

Glory be, it is time for Girl Scout cookies! Thin Mint heaven, here I come.

The following is my exchange with co-worker Deb when she came around with the annual request form.

Me: “I’ll take three boxes of thin mints, Deb!”

Deb: “OK, that’s three …”

Me: “FOUR boxes of thin mints!”

Deb (Laughing): “Alright, four boxes.”

Me: “FIVE. FIVE boxes of thin mints!”

Deb: “Five? That’s all?”

Me: “Yep. Don’t want to get too fat. They are thin mints, after all.”

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Weekend getaway now gotaway

Back home in Atlanta after a fun-filled four days in southern Indiana. A warm four days, too, only the second time we’ve driven up for Gabriel’s birth and birthdays that it wasn’t snowing that week.

To catch up since my last post, Saturday afternoon was Gabriel’s birthday party. Actually, it was Gabriels’ birthday parties, since our Gabriel (aka “Gabriel 6”) and his friend Gabriel from down the street (“Gabriel 5”) were both born Jan. 28, and they went for a joint party that worked out splendidly.

The party was held at SIGS (Southern Indiana Gymnastics School), and provided what I’m sure was a nice change of pace mid-winter with an hour of swimming at the indoor pool, then the cake, ice cream and presents. Nothing much to report other than fun had by all, Gabriel 6 survived a near drowning when a kid jumped on him in the pool, the boys kept getting in and out to find new pool toys, and there were plenty of presents for each Gabriel to enjoy.

Afterwards the family headed to Stephanie and Bill’s house for dinner, to have the privilege of hanging out with Bill’s super cool grandmother, Skee, and to give our Gabriel more birthday gifts.

Today was a lazy day to get up whenever, eat sandwiches, chips and rotel dip, and watch Gabriel play a couple of his new Star Wars games. One is interactive, reacting to him swinging a lightsaber. Gabriel would make these sweeping gestures that the computer couldn’t recognize. Can’t blame him; he was just swinging the lightsaber like he would for real. In no time he’ll figure out the tricks, like me and my siblings did with the track & field pad for our Nintendo so many years ago. (If you ran on your heels you ran faster in the game than running on your feet normally.)

With the morning rain passed, at 2 I left, shortly before Mom and Aunt Lynn headed home as well. I got back a few minutes after 8, which is pretty darn good considering it sometimes takes seven hours to make the trip. It helps to drive at least ten mph over the speed limit at all times, stop once every couple of hours instead of once an hour, and there wasn’t any construction. Good times, and I listened to XM Radio’s comedy channel nearly the entire time. I swear there are like five topics – total – that every comic approaches from a different direction: dating/marriage, drugs, airplanes, family and ripping on the audience. That’s it, that’s the list. Still funny, at least.

When I was in town I did get an interesting bit of information. You might remember last year the weekend of Gabriel’s birthday my bro-in-law Joe and his aunt Terry were trying to set me up with a girl who works for them occasionally, named Leah. After Gabriel’s party we all went bowling, and even after Leah had seen me in person and knew how I acted in public, she still agreed to email back and forth. Only when I made a move, asking to take her out when I was coming back to Louisville in early June did she blow me off. It didn’t bother me, but this weekend I was told by bro-in-law Joe that she was intimidated by my writing. I guess I wrote so much in the emails that she felt she couldn’t keep up. Even if that’s a false excuse and in reality she was worried that I’d sell her to a Saudi sheik for a Big Papa pizza from Papa Johns, I’ll take it.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

More like the Neverending Waiting Room

It must be nice to be a fan of, say, the Royals. You can log on to the MLB.com site and get tickets whenever and wherever you want. As opposed to, say, the Red Sox, who are releasing the bulk of their single game tickets this morning at 10 EST.

Me, Dad and millions of our best friends are currently jammed into the Red Sox Virtual Waiting Room, hoping that every 30 seconds will be the refresh that grants us sweet, sweet, golden tickets to visit John Henry Wonka's Baseball Factory.

I've got two windows open - one through America Online's browser and another through Mozilla Firefox - and no dice. I'm trying three numbers on the phone, too, to no success. Considering the messages telling me "all circuits are busy," I hope no one in Boston is having a medical emergency today.

I called Dad at 10:15 to see if he was also in a Waiting Room over on Stephanie and Bill's computer, and he was already ready to give up. The patience of a lion waiting to pounce on the African savanna, he doesn't have.

I have a feeling we're going to have to settle for going through eBay or a ticket broker for decent seats to the June 19-21 series against Washington, the weekend after we're in the area to see the U.S. Open golf tournament in a suburb of NYC.

Otherwise, I'm enjoying a more patient and satisfying weekend in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Gabriel's birthday party is at 4, so no one's in a hurry to take a shower and get ready, seeing as how it's Saturday and you can't make us boys clean up, so neener neener! (Stacy left an hour ago to run errands, I think.)

Last night we planned on going bowling, but that fell through. By the time everyone got home from work (except Stacy - she had to work until 11, poor thing), we didn't get a seat at Outback until almost 8. Then, after scarfing two blooming onions, three loaves of bread, half a cow, two chickens and created a new potato famine in Ireland, it was late and we were so stuffed that waddling down the bowling lane to release a heavy ball at selected targets didn't seem desirable anymore.

We didn't exactly set the world on fire before that, either, since Dad didn't get in until after 5 and everyone but Stacy and I was working. The highlight was at Meijer, when this nice grandpa got friendly with Gabriel and embarrassed our little lad to no end. The grandpa started off saying hi and asking "where's your wife?" That got Gabriel confused off the bat. Then the grandpa asked, referring to me and Stacy, "is this your big sister and brother?" Gabriel was gobsmacked by this point, literally, smacking his forehead in that way that says, "you're silly and not paying attention to my infallible logic!" Then the grandpa did some magic, showing Gabriel a regular dime, then revealing a supersized dime that probably isn't legal currency, even pulling out one of those colorful scarves out of his sleeve.

When Gabriel said his birthday is today, the grandpa tried to give Gabriel the dime, but Gabriel decided it must be of evil magic or something because he wouldn't go near it, so Stacy grabbed it for him. The stock boy behind us later said that the grandpa goes to his church and is always like this. The grandpa said he used to be a Ronald McDonald, so it all started to make sense. Sounds like a fun guy to be around. Still, Gabriel was trying to avoid him like Ted Kennedy at a CPR class. I began to understand how Dad must have felt when I was similarly shy around nice folks trying to entertain his adorable kids. And I do mean adorable.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Travel, Vents

No problems getting to my sisters' humble little suburb of Louisville (and no, I had nothing to do with any runaway barges on the Ohio River as I crossed into Indiana. In the story, a man named "Dykes" of the U.S. Coast Guard says "The situation is very fluid." Honest to God).

Wednesday I skeedaddled out of Atlanta in time to avoid rush hour and get to Chapel Hill by dinner time. Of course, ten minutes after I arrived there, Mom-Mom and Granddad headed out the door for church, so I had to wait another 50 minutes for Aunt Lynn and Mom to arrive. For dinner it was unanimous to dine out at the Mexican place (although the Sonic and Domino's Pizza have opened by the new Foodland. This is very exciting.)

Today I left before Noon to avoid Louisville's rush hour, which I did barely, getting to Stacy and Joe's before 5. I even had time to stop at Cracker Barrel for lunch, which is always good times getting my fried okra fix. Shouldn't the CB folks export the restaurant overseas? Can you imagine being in, say, East Asia for two weeks, homesick and tired of noodles and wondering whether the meat is cow or dog? Then you see the Cracker Barrel sign, waltz in and people are buying kitschy Coca-Cola merchandise and Asians are playing the big game of checkers on the quilt, at the table trying to figure out that peg game, and you sit down to a big helping of chicken fried chicken? Awesome.

Or not. Sounds like a winner to me.

Another winner? Relaxing at Stacy's with Gabriel and Nate bouncing around, and dinner at Stephanie's, watching last night's "American Idol." For some reason, Gabriel turned shy on us a little bit. He'll whisper things in your ear that aren't exactly secrets. For example, he pulled me aside at Steph's into a corner to ask quietly if I'd help him finish a level on the Star Wars Legos game, seeing that I've beaten the game. I was honored, actually. If the kid's going to look up to me at all, beating a video game is fine with me!

So that's tomorrow's challenge when he gets home from school. First, though, Stacy is taking cupcakes for a party at his school while I watch Nate in the morning. Dad should get in before dinner, and Joe mentioned bowling tomorrow night. Saturday is Gabriel's birthday party at the Y for swimming (indoors, of course) and the cake and presents. Mom and Aunt Lynn should get here by late morning, the final participants in our weekend o' partying. I'll have pictures when I can, but since I'm getting home late Sunday night and have to work Monday morning (oh the humanity!), it may take a couple of days.

Now, to get you through the weekend, the latest quotable Vents posted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (registration required - use this):

- If Catholics abandon their concept of Limbo, what are they going to do at parties?
- I got my gas bill and thought it was an offer for the house.
- If you leave the leaves in the gutters long enough they become planter boxes.
- My wife bought me an iPod for Christmas, and now every time I use it she calls me anti-social.
- Can’t we ban cellphone use in public restrooms? Having to listen to the guy in the next stall argue with his wife while you’re trying to read the sports page is ridiculous.
- The bad news is my boss told me I don’t accept criticism well. The good news is he is expected to fully recover in four to six weeks.
- How can I get on the “Leave no phone books at my house” list?
- I can’t recall who told me Brokeback Mountain is the fourth installment of Lord of the Rings, but I assure you, my weekend was ruined.
- Al Gore, nobody is tapping your phone because no one cares what you think.
- I think I’ve got the bird flu. I’ve been using fowl language.
- Can you imagine the uproar if Rudy Giuliani had said he envisioned a “vanilla New York City” after 9/11?
- I wish people would stop telling me how crazy I am and start doing something about all those flying monkeys.
- My wife got excited when I told her I had replaced our broken dryer with a solar-powered one. She got mad when she found out it was a clothesline.
- My wife filed for divorce on philosophical grounds. She wants to be married to someone deep. All I am is wide.
- I was late for work this morning because the idiot in front of me was driving the speed limit.
- Bin Laden offering a “truce”? Ha! Only Jimmy Carter would fall for that one.
- Atlanta is getting a little TOO diverse when the AJC starts telling us about restaurants where we can order guinea pig.
- Do news anchors get paid more if they keep mentioning each other’s names?
- Hey, Osama: Thanks for the message. Why no return address?

Vents I Sent:

- If “global warming” means it will always be 50 to 60 degrees in January, count me in and hand over the aerosol cans.
- U.N. to Iran: Stop making nukes or we’ll send you a strongly worded letter!
- I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die of natural causes. (Courtesy Grif.net)
- If you're being chased by a police dog, try not to go through a tunnel, then on to a little seesaw, then jump through a hoop of fire. They're trained for that. (Stolen from Milton Jones)
- Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak. (Courtesy Grif.net)
- The international language may be love, but how come there aren't any women who understand my dialect?
- My therapist says I have delusions of grandeur, so I told him his degrees were worthless next to my ginormous brain and left. (Inspired by comedian Tom Cutter.)
- The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong. (Courtesy Grif.net)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Jeff out!

I'll be heading out of Atlanta in a few hours, to Chapel Hill tonight, then to Louisville tomorrow afternoon for Gabriel's birthday party. Be back Sunday!

When Tigers go to pot

I know this might come as quite a shock, but a freshman recruited by John Calipari was busted for marijuana possession.

In Millington, no less. At 3 a.m. On a school night. I'm guessing he was taking an elective, Walking In A Straight Line 101.

Since center Kareem Cooper isn't a starter and Memphis has virtually no inside game, I think Calipari might actually punish the lad. You know, like one less bag of Fritos after practice. Coach Cal's a tough taskmaster, no doubt.

In other Tiger basketball news, U of M moved up to No. 3 in both major polls.

And yet, I can’t help but feel that Memphis is being disrespected. Every time I turn on a college basketball show or read columns, Memphis is never in their equations, whether it’s their top five or postseason aspirations. I know it’s because all the “experts” are in bed with the Big East and new hotness like the West Virginia Pittsnoggles, but the Tigers didn’t exactly play cupcakes in their non-conference schedule.

They might have noticed that Coach Cal’s pot-smokers beat Tennessee a few days before the Vols topped No. 2 Florida. Or that Memphis’ only losses were to No.2 Duke and No. 5 Texas. Or that Memphis beat No. 7 Gonzaga and No. 17 UCLA, as well as winning at Providence (of the “super tough” Big East), Cincinnati, Ole Miss and Alabama, and home against Purdue. The Tigers didn’t shy away from mid-majors, either, known for upsetting high-ranked teams (ask Wisconsin), besting Wisconsin-Milwaukee (currently 14-4) and Louisiana Tech (currently 12-7).

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m one of those whiners who cries “Disrespect!” at every perceived slight even though my team is ranked No. 3 in the nation and ESPN’s Bracketology has the Tigers forecasted as the 1 seed in the Atlanta region.

If they do come here, you bet I’ll be looking for tickets, and hopefully a couple of y’all at WMC will be making the trip.

When Pittsburgh fans attack

I’m still rooting for the Steelers in the Super Bowl, and I have a feeling if I dared change my mind I might meet an unfavorable end. Fans of the black and gold scare me, like these recent examples:

A 17-year-old high school student said he was humiliated when a teacher made him sit on the floor during a midterm exam in his ethnicity class — for wearing a Denver Broncos jersey. The teacher, John Kelly, forced Joshua Vannoy to sit on the floor and take the test Friday — two days before the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Broncos 34-17 in the AFC championship game. Kelly also made other students throw crumpled up paper at Vannoy, whom he called a “stinking Denver fan,” Vannoy told The Associated Press on Monday.

Second, don’t leave your cubicle unguarded when you’ve just insulted the Steelers. (Hat tip: Deadspin.)

I'm pretty sure that if I decided to root for Seattle instead, my three fiercely loyal Steeler fan co-workers would leave a life-size Ben Roethlisberger made out of tape in my car.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

La la, de da, la la, de da, la la la aaaaaahhhh

Happy birthday to Scottish poet Robert Burns, born Jan. 25, 1759. Burns is the author of the New Year's anthem, "For Auld Lang Syne."

Strange but true fact, Burns never actually wrote any lines after “Should auld acquaintance be forgot.” Burns just started mumbling drunkenly after that, and for 200 years it’s been tradition to do so on New Year’s Eve.

The Theo is back

And he ain't the janitor:
The Boston Red Sox today announced that Theo Epstein has returned to the club with the title and responsibilities of Executive Vice President/General Manager. President/CEO Larry Lucchino made the announcement. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington, who shared the role of General Manager during much of the time Epstein was away from the club, will stay on in key leadership positions within the Baseball Operations Department. Hoyer has been named Assistant General Manager, and Cherington has been named Vice President/Player Personnel.
Just like that, those of us populating Red Sox Nation are happy-go-lucky, right? Hello? No centerfielder, shortstop or leadoff hitter? But the Golden GM is back, and he'll fix it! Right?

I feel sorry for Jed and Ben, though. I'm guessing they knew Theo would be back as GM, and that they were filling in for the GM meetings in the meantime. If not, I would expect Theo to find his house egged, TP'd and forked.

Notes on a Tuesday

  • How come no one is commenting on Sean Astin joining the cast of “24” this season? This is a monumental addition, people, and I, for one, welcome our new CTU master! Mikey’s come a long way from finding One-Eyed Willie’s ship, eh? All the way to saving Middle-earth’s butts in Lord of the Rings (Frodo? Puh-leeze), and now the U.S. from nerve gas. Quite a career.

  • It’s not just for “Seinfeld” anymore. Get back at Democrats like Al Gore by hacking your shower to get all the water you deserve as a red-blooded American. It’s our Manifest Destiny! No more bad hair days! No more spending 30 minutes to get all the grime! Rise up, rise up and remove the offending device from the shower head! Heeyaaahhhh!!!!!

  • New robot technology is making it possible for them to express emotions. Son of a biscuit eater. Great, now even my fembots are going to get all touchy feely and demand satisfaction. What’s the point of having a submissive woman-like robot, anyway?

  • Anyone else notice that the official rain gauges in a city always say there’s been .10 inch of the wet stuff after a storm moves through, while you can’t help but question that when you see a pig on a chair and a bear stuck in a honey pot floating down your street?

  • Steven Spielberg called critics of Munich extremists. Help! Help! He’s crushing my dissent!

  • Some may question my taste in cars, but I think the new 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser is nifty. Make every interstate drive to work like an urban safari! Rifles optional, and I take no responsibility for arrests.

  • President Bush apparently delivered on his promise to raise military pay. I can hear the libs response now: "If he'd brought home those troops sooner they might have saved Ford."

  • I caved in to the commercial industrial complex that convinced me buying Axe body spray would work wonders on my love life. Not fending off the women yet, but maybe it takes time for the scent to soak in the skin. Considering the amount of sweat my body produces after the post-gym shower, extra protection can’t hurt, although I don't know if I can spray the top of my head.

  • A passenger on a commercial flight jumped out of the airplane as it prepared to take off Monday from Fort Lauderdale. Hey, you would have too upon learning that the in-flight movie was Son of the Mask.

  • The UPN and WB networks are combining to form one network. That way, it’s one-stop shopping for twice the level of suckitude.

  • Computer geeks (God bless 'em) are warning users about a rapidly-spreading worm called Nyxem that is programmed to erase files. The worm harvests e-mail addresses and then sends itself out again. The e-mail subject line may contain text that says "Miss Lebanon 2006" or "School girl fantasies gone bad." That's a relief. If the subject had said "School girl fantasies of Miss Lebanon gone bad," I totally would've opened it.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Foul air

Tuesday is an important day for me. It’s the day an advisory committee for the Food and Drug Administration will vote on whether asthmatics really need over-the-counter inhalers such as Primatine Mist.

Let’s talk about the worst argument ever for this discussion.
A negative vote from the committee could lead to an FDA ban on all OTC, epinephrine-based inhalers, which use chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, as a propellant. The use of CFCs, which have been blamed for eroding the ozone layer, has been sharply curtailed since the 1970s. (Italics added)
I sincerely doubt that a couple of puffs a day of an inhaler is bringing polar bears to their fluffy knees. Besides, all those CFCs? Are going directly into my lungs! What do they think, I walk around spraying OTC inhalers into the air for the heck of it?
But allergists say that epinephrine provides less of a benefit than generic albuterol, which is available as a prescription.

"Inhaled epinephrine does have some affect, but it is not anywhere near as effective as the [albuterol-based] prescription inhalers that provide the same kind of role," said Dr. Richard Ahrens, allergist, pediatric pulmonologist and professor at the University of Iowa.

In fact, Ahrens and other allergists are worried that over-the-counter availability of epinephrine might be keeping asthmatics from seeking professional help in treating their extreme reactions to allergies, and that a ban might prompt them to seek real help.
Thanks, Dad. Who are you to tell me how often I go to the doctor to get a checkup for a new prescription?

Let's see ... make an appointment with my HMO who knows when in the future, take a half-day to wait in the waiting room, sit in the too-white room that contains far too many wood sticks, pay $15 for a co-pay for the visit to have the doctor listen to my chest and back and come away with the same conclusions of every doctor since I was a baby, wait to fill prescription, fork over another $20 co-pay for one inhaler. Or ... drive to Walgreens. Walk in. Buy Primatene Mist for $12. Walk out. Drive home.

"[Epinephrine] may provide some benefit to patients, but when they start to have trouble, it really isn't effective and it may keep them from getting other care," said Ahrens, adding that epinephrine is a stimulant, resulting in rapid heart beat, sweating and "jitteriness."
Some people pay good money for that. I, however, would prefer to be a little jittery than in a small town that has run out of inhalers.
Dr. Jay Portnoy, Chief of Allergy at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., said that asthmatics would benefit by allowing albuterol-based inhalers to be sold OTC, with an education program urging them to seek professional help for their allergy reactions.
Thank you, Dr. Portnoy, for the first sensible argument in this article.

I know I wasn’t asked to speak before the committee, but let me say that if you ban OTC inhalers, I will run through a freshly mowed lawn, play with six cats, breathe deeply from a dirty ceiling fan and then come to your bedroom and wheeze all night while you (try to) sleep.

While I would agree that it’s best for me to get an albuterol inhaler, OTC inhalers work just fine for most every purpose of my asthma. When I had to go to the emergency room a few years ago for a food allergy, the EMT told me to use my inhaler for its epinephrine, so I keep the inhaler handy for that, too. I dare say that when I was a child and my asthma much worse, if I didn’t have an albuterol inhaler my parents would have been just fine giving me an OTC one to calm me down while I couldn’t breathe and freaked them the hell out. But hey, whatever FDA, you do what you feel is right.

UPDATE 3:41 - As Mark noted in the comments, the FDA voted to ban many over-the-counter inhalers on the very weak reasoning that inhalers with CFCs harm the ozone layer. Can we see this science? Isn't this like trying to ban cows since their farts are a major contributor to greenhouse gasses? I'm flabbergasted.

What we have here is a "sponge worthy" situation, a la Elaine on "Seinfeld" making a run on sponges before they left the market. I think the other OTC inhaler I frequently buy, Bronchaid, has the same "problem" with the FDA, so I'll be stocking up on several this week. Bastards.

Objects in mirror may be uglier than they appear

Apparently you can get to know yourself better through undressing.

I’m guessing I’m more like No. 1:

If you throw your clothes all over the place, you are a friendly, life-of-the-party type. You are free with your thoughts and opinions, not caring much about what others think of you. Your parents might think your room looks like a cyclone hit it but it actually represents your happy, individualistic nature!

Or, I’m lazy. Either way, I’m cool with it. The less talk about me taking off my clothes, the better everyone's indigestion.

Come on baby show me that you really love me so!

I can’t help but think that the world would run smoother if people settled dating and reproduction similarly:
SYDNEY, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Australian scientists are set to announce the discovery of a species of flatworm which is a member of group of predators known as oyster leeches.

Emma Johnston of the University of New South Wales said the creature -- named Imogine lateotentare -- is one of the simplest organisms known, but its behavior is quite complex, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Friday.

Johnston and colleagues Ka-Man Lee and Michel Beal have kept the organism -- found in Sydney's Botany Bay -- in captivity in the laboratory for up to a fortnight, watching as its attacked prey.

The creatures have both male and female parts and engaged in a sexual practice somewhat like penis fencing.

To reproduce they try to stab each other with their genitals and the first to penetrate inserts sperm and then goes on to spar with another flatworm. The "loser" lays and broods the eggs.
En garde! Ye shall taste the blade of my wee-wee!

(Ten points to whomever recognizes the title of this post.)

Not exactly Edgar al-Poe

An audiotape purportedly from al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, was posted Friday on an Islamic website in which he read poetry praising holy war.

I, for one, did the research, and here’s the poem he cited:

How Do I Jihad, Let Me Count The Ways

I got the Jihad blues
Didn’t get to kill any Jews
Praise Allah, I be hatin’
Death to America, the Great Satan

Dirka, dirka,
Keep your wives in a burqa,
Here’s to Osama,
And his boyfriend the llama.

I should warn the Ayatollah,
Issue another fatwa,
The bombs are gonna get ya.

Be a martyr, kill a Jew,
If we must convince you,
Earn 72 virgins in heaven,
Like Paris Hilton.


(Poets in caves appear to be a little behind the news.)

When Mondays hate you back

Today is the worst day of the year, according to psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall of Cardiff University.
Taking into account factors such as foul weather, Christmas debts, the lingering effects of seasonal overindulgence, failed New Year's resolutions and generally reduced motivation, Arnall's worst day "formula" is ([W + (D-d)] x TQ) ÷ (M x NA). (W: weather, D: debt, d: money due in January pay, T: time elapsed since Christmas, Q: time since failed New Year's resolutions to quit smoking, drinking etc, M: general motivational levels, NA: the need to take action.)
How do you calculate “need to take action?” I have no clue. My action is to call “Dr. Arnall” a moron and move on with my joyous day.

Besides, I think we all know that the worst days of the year are the days before and after the Major League All-Star game, because they're the only days of the year that no professional sports teams are in action. Unless you're a Pirates fan. Then every summer day is the worst.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Breakfast of champions

Coincidence, Theo is back and the Red Sox are close to a deal to bring in the delightfully named Coco Crisp in a trade with Cleveland?

In exchange, the Red Sox would give up reliever Guillermo Mota and third-base prospect Andy Marte, both of whom were acquired in the offseason and never played in Boston, so it’s not like we’d miss them. So when Mota wins the Cy Young and Marte the MVP in two years, that's the reasoning I'm going with.

FOOTBALL!

Good thing I had that salad last night. Here's today's menu for the NFC and AFC conference championship games (not all at once): Two Red Baron personal supreme pizzas, spicy wings from Publix, chili with oyster crackers, Tostitos with white cheese dip, corn dogs and chicken & cheese taquitos. Good times.

UPDATE 3:43 - Oh my. Oh yes. Whomever made those wings deserves a raise. Spicy enough for a kick but not so much that I can't enjoy them, and so tender my teeth would barely touch the meat as it fell off the bone, so no gnawing like a dog. Perfect.

Before the game, I picked Pittsburgh and Seattle to make the Super Bowl. So far the Steelers are looking good and I'm feeling good about my choice.

Off topic, but not really ... Remember those Burger King ads where the king was in bed with the guy? Creepy. But these new ones with the king digitally inserted into classic football plays is actually kind of neat. Good use of the NFL Films music, too, which is one of my favorite parts of the Madden game on XBOX.

Speaking of, this morning I avenged my only loss of the regular season, beating Philadelphia, to advance to the Super Bowl in my first season. I'll take on Cincinnati, who beat New England in the AFC title game. Feeling good about my chances. And yes, I know it's not real.

UPDATE 3:59 - I’m coming down in favor of Jenna Elfman back on TV in a new sitcom, “Courting Alex.” Such a lovely, friendly sprite, and quite the tall blonde drink of water. Dabney Coleman plays her father, so that can’t be a bad thing, either.

And no, I don’t care that Jenna is a flippin’ Scientology nutjob who thinks it is her “duty to clear the planet” of aliens. Gives her, um, character. Yeah, that's it.

UPDATE 4:40 - Notice the silence by the CBS crew when Denver punter/kickoff specialist Todd Sauerbrun kicks the ball 100 yards through the air. The rest of us start to wonder if he’s still on steroids. Maybe they’ll say something when Todd hits Steelers coach Bill Cowher over the head with a chair.

UPDATE 5:15 – Broncos finally find the end zone, but still down 24-10 late in the third quarter. Fat lady sipping hot tea in preparation for performance.

Because Tom Jones is singing in this Diet Dr Pepper commercial, can I just say that I’m flabbergasted after reading in Parade magazine thirty minutes ago on the john that the "What's New Pussycat?" singer is worth $500 million?

UPDATE 6:05 – Pittsburgh up 34-17. Stick a fork in Denver, they’re done. The Broncos made an effort in the second half, but Jake Plummer reverted to “Screw with Jeff’s fantasy team” status again and personally destroyed the Broncos’ efforts to get back to the Super Bowl. (Two interceptions, two lost fumbles.) Good. I still hate them for beating the Falcons in the ’99 championship.

In other news, what the heck is up with Maria Sharapova’s getup at the Aussie Open this week? She looks either pregnant, or she’s got a date with Mr. Darcy.

UPDATE 6:40 - Wow, Carrie Underwood can sing. Which is probably why she won "American Idol." Go figure. That, and being a total babe. I'd say Fox wins this battle, since CBS had some Kenny G wannabe perform the national anthem.

UPDATE 7:39 – Wishing I was a gambling man again. After easily picking the Steelers win, Seattle is destroying Carolina, 17-0, early in the second quarter. Panthers QB Jake Delhomme looks like he’s actively looking for Seahawks defenders, the way those interceptions looked. It’s like wrestling where the good guy turns bad, and the crowd’s all stunned and the announcers are going crazy like this development is out of the blue.

Between quarters the suspense was gone, so I even flipped over to the Aussie Open on ESPN2 for a second. I tell you what, once Maria Sharapova is too old to be a tennis babe anymore. Like, when she’s 20, this 16-year-old, Nicole Vaidisova, should make grown men feel awkward in a couple of years about watching women’s tennis when their girlfriends walk through the room.

FOOD UPDATE 8:45 – Even though it’s not 1/10th the quality of Mom’s chili, Chunky Roadhouse Chili isn’t too bad. Could use some more spiciness, though.

Oh, and Seattle leads 27-7. Obviously, the food is better than the game thus far.

UPDATE 9:40 – Yawn. Seattle up 34-7. Oh look, The Magnificent Seven is on one of my PBS stations. Right now I’d match up Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Horst Buchholz, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter and James Coburn against the Carolina defense right now.

Speaking of, there’s a new two-disc special edition out, rendering my old one-disc version moot. This is one of those movies where double-dipping doesn’t seem so bad.

UPDATE 10:03 - Seattle wins, 34-14. Super Bowl XL in two weeks, Pittsburgh vs. Seattle, just like everyone predicted in August. (/sarcasm)

Next Sunday ... good luck. I'll be in Louisville with the fam, so at least I'll be distracted by the fact that there's no football on TV.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Later I'll have my own swimsuit competition

As promised, I worked until Noon, went to the gym, came home and napped, and now I’m back on an evening schedule. And yes, it’s Saturday night, and I’m watching the Miss America pageant. Sue me. I also had a big salad for dinner, and I’m looking forward to reading in a long hot bubble bath later.

OK, everything but the last part.

I’m sure I noticed this before, but doesn’t every single contestant look like a fembot? And not in a good way. Too much makeup, too much hairspray, too much smiling. It’s creepy, like a Stepford Wives flash mob.

I’ll wait for the behind-the-scenes footage that usually comes in the first hour. I need to see these women au natural to know whether they’re actually attractive. ‘Cause they’re all lined up to go out with me, of course. Duh.

UPDATE 8:35 - I smell a rat. A good-smelling rat, but a rat nonetheless. Almost the entire top ten is made up of Southern girls, coincidentally the first time the pageant is held on country music station CMT. The only non-Southern ones? Pennsylvania and D.C., which of course aren't far from the CMT demographic, either.

Miss Arkansas represents the only African-American in the top ten, although Miss Georgia has some minority rep, too, as an unBEElievably hot Asian-American. The host, James Denton of "Desperate Housewives," represents the dorky, awkward, uncomfortable male demographic. Seriously, he's awful.

I'm not saying the voting is rigged. I'm just ... pointing out the pattern. Or, as we've known all along below the Mason-Dixon line, Southern girls rock this country!

UPDATE 8:45 - Sheesh, look at how the organizers are making all 52 women parade around in their swimsuits. It's degrading, I tell ya. Women aren't just pieces of ... oops, sorry, gotta wipe the drool off the keyboard. Then again, some of the contestants look a little too fit, you know? This isn't Miss Fitness USA. I'm not really excited by sculpted abs on women. Too skinny.

UPDATE 9:05 - So they're judged in swimwear and evening gowns. Where's the competition where they walk out in a T-shirt, jeans, and a cap with a ponytail sticking out the back? Rowr. That's when we know they're truly worthy to represent America.

UPDATE 9:15 - The top five: Virginia, Oklahoma, D.C., Georgia, and Alabama. Go Georgia! (Although my front-runner is Alabama.)

UPDATE 9:23 – Totally off the point, but I would just like to say THANK YOU to the makers of “Battlestar Galactica” for not killing off President Roslin. I (heart) Mary McDonnell!

UPDATE 9:25 – Talent competition, my least favorite part. Maybe because it has nothing to do with parading in skimpy clothing. Go figure. Wonder if they’ll all sing. Miss Virginia is doing so to start, and is shaky at best.

UPDATE 9:32 - Miss Oklahoma went for ballet. I don’t know if she’s any good. Like I know ballet. She didn’t fall into the pit and stood on her tippy-toes a lot, so that’s a start.

How wrong was I? Only one-in-three singing thus far. Miss D.C. is a tap-dancer! She should have recruited Gregory Hines to help out. I can’t figure out tap-dance as a performance art. It’s like interpretive dance. Am I supposed to be impressed? Congratulations, you can move your feet quickly? So could I playing Nintendo’s old track & field game, but that doesn’t make me qualified to compete for a national scholarship to represent the country.

(Wow, did I turn ugly and bitter there? Sorry, Miss D.C. You’re very talented.)

UPDATE 9:34 - (Wait, not done. I know Delaware is a small state and there aren’t any choices, but did their Miss Delaware have to be Mike Myers’ Jewish grandmother character from “Saturday Night Live?”)

UPDATE 9:40 – Miss Georgia (you go, girl!) is tickling the ivories for her talent. Now we’re talking. And if I may say so, she’s giving Chopin a run for his money, the no-talent hack.

Actually, if one of the contestants had played the violin, I would have proposed marriage on the spot. My favorite instrument. Have you ever seen The Red Violin? Magical. Awe-inspiring. Gave me a new appreciation of the instrument. The score is one of my favorites. At least Miss California is a fiddler. Close enough.

Miss Alabama’s talent is also ballet. So that makes two ballet, one singer, one pianist and a tap dancer. Since this is the only talent with two, obviously the comparison is, “is she better than Miss Oklahoma?” I have no idea. It’s a more energetic performance, but not exactly the Nutcracker Suite.

UPDATE 9:43 – Miss North Carolina’s platform issue is brain tumor awareness. I don’t want to state the obvious, but I’m sure we’d all love to be aware that we have a brain tumor, no? Is there a sect of people refusing to acknowledge this medical malady? Do they think it’s voodoo science?

UPDATE 9:45 – Shout out to my fellow Tennesseans, represented by a Vandy student.

UPDATE 9:47 – Ooh, surprise! Instead of learning the winner right off, the top three will advance, eliminating the fourth runner-up or whatever they’re called. The top three: Alabama, Oklahoma (guess they couldn’t figure out which ballet was best) and … Georgia! Holla!

UPDATE 9:50 – Question time! Miss Alabama says dancing changed her life and shaped who she is as a person. Whatever. Obviously we’re not digging deep here. Miss Oklahoma also has to describe an experience from her childhood. She talks about being the ugly duckling and accepting herself, which gets easier when you grow up to be a fracking pageant queen, no doubt. Miss Georgia talks about her Chinese-American father and blonde-hair-blue-eyed mother and being Asian-American, which has absolutely nothing to do with the question about a childhood experience.

They sound like politicians. Come on, tell us about getting your period the first time, or beating up the dorky neighbor boy to whom you ended up losing your virginity ten years later in an awkward moment in the guest room upstairs while the dogs watched. Now that would be interesting.

UPDATE 9:57 – Why does the U.S. Virgin Islands gets a contestant but not Puerto Rico?

UPDATE 10:03 – Third place is Miss Alabama. I’m happy to be wrong. Miss Georgia lives!

And here we go … there she is, Miss America, Miss Oklahoma. Miss Georgia got screwed! Conspiracy! I call foul!

I kid, of course. Tears, weeping, singing, walking, the runway is hers. CMT, though, missed out on a chance to have Toby Keith come out and do a patriotic rendition of “There She Is, Miss America,” with his guitar designed like the U.S. flag, carrying a big poster of Osama and Saddam having intimate relations. Bummer.

And I just spent my Saturday night blogging the Miss America pageant. I don’t care. It was fun.

Google search for "liberal+America+supporter": Not found

Online search giant Google has been getting all uppity to the U.S. government’s request to provide search data to use in child pornography cases, claiming that the fascist administration of Chimpy McHitlerburton is overstepping its bounds again.

Google, however, raised its hand to block results for websites at the behest of the Chinese government. A government, need I remind you, that is an actual communist totalitarian abyss of which American liberals merely wishes the Bush administration was one-tenth as authoritarian.

Code Blue for Code Pink

Radical feminist group Code Pink not only photoshopped a an image to make it look like a pro-democracy Iranian babe was protesting the Iraq war, they made up for it by replacing that image with another obviously faked image. Is it getting so difficult that Code Pink is having trouble rounding up photos of ugly women man-haters who aren’t lily white?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bedtime for this Bozo

Spent most of my weekend getting ready for the next one, and trying to manipulate my sleep schedule for tomorrow’s 4a-Noon shift. The schedule includes a nap about, oh, 2:30, after a visit to the gym and enough time to drive home, collapse on the futon and make sure the DVR recorded “Battlestar Galactica.” The show itself can wait until I wake up, which is no hurry. After all, I took a vacation day Sunday to watch the conference championship games (my picks: Pitt and Seattle), and I’m working Monday and Tuesday 5p-2a., on-call/training Wednesday then away to Louisville via Chapel Hill that night.

As for next weekend’s trip, I went to Target and picked up my usual pallet of Aquafina, the ambrosia of bottled water. Sure, I could buy one or two per convenience store, but what if I run out? It’s my duty as a male to have a cooler full of liquid refreshment. Then I drink two an hour, and wonder why I have to keep stopping to use the restroom. It’s a cycle of bladderly disarray.

Also took my gas guzzler to get an oil change even though it’s only been two months since the last one (but that one was free, see?), and I got my tires rotated. Does that even work? I hope so, because my tires have seemed lethargic lately, but they aren’t flat yet. I was hoping they just needed a different view. After all, unless you’re the lead dog, the scenery never changes, right? Maybe the back left tire was tired of always running over those two unavoidable holes down the street, and the back right one was tired of taking the brunt of the speedbump by my complex’s mailboxes.

Anyway, despite my alarm clock going off at 6 this morning, I slept in until 9, and it felt so gooooood, like a youthful bath in Cocoon, without all the light-beings. This afternoon I freed my golf clubs from their normal winter corner. The weather’s been 60 degrees and sunny more often than naught this winter, so I went to the par three course nearby and tinkered for a round. If this is global warming, may I request some more? Mandatory SUVs for everyone, and eliminate pollution restrictions on industry!

Maybe not. No use enjoying 60 degrees in January if you can’t breathe.

I also went to Toys ‘R Us to find a bag big enough for Gabriel’s gift. I can’ t believe I found a big just tall enough and just wide enough to fit a sleeping bag. Which are apparently now more often called slumber bags. Did we need that change? Was there a meeting?

Speaking of slumber, it's nearly 7 p.m. and I have to wake up in eight hours. That should give me time to take a shower, avoid late-night party animals at Krystal for a breakfast of corn pups and chicken bites, and still get to CNN with time to spare. Yes, Jeff, this is your life!

Welcome back

After hearing that he was sticking around Fenway offices since his “resignation,” Theo Epstein is officially back with the Red Sox in some capacity.

Which means we have a former GM, two co-GMs, and a big zero when it comes to a viable Major League shortstop and centerfielder.

I hope Theo has good range.

UPDATE: Leave it to Dan "I Miss the Curse" Shaughnessy to leave a flaming bag of poo on Red Sox Nation's doorstep. Don't listen to Dan, Theo, we still adore you and have awkward man crushes.

Cuckoo Clooney

Super Egoman, George Clooney is blaming himself for John Kerry’s defeat in November:
"Kerry asked me to ride on his train - he had a train going cross-country after he was nominated and some actors went on board.

"I called him and explained that I couldn't do it.

"I'd hurt him. I'd actually caused him harm at the polls."
Do you think Clooney is stabbing himself in the throat with a fork upon hearing that late-night comic Conan O'Brien is actually getting credit for influencing Finland’s presidential election?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

No plans yet on probing Goofy

NASA is still trying to launch the probe to Pluto, which hopefully will avoid the crap around Uranus. (Sorry, can’t help a good planet joke that also involves probes and butts.)

Apparently if they don’t get the probe launched by the end of this month, it will add years to the journey.

In that case, I’d pull a reverse Space Camp and keep that sucker on the ground as long as possible, ensuring many more years of employment! (And millions more Uranus jokes. They never get old.)

Stings the nostrils

Went to the sports bar last night to watch the Memphis-Tennessee college b-ball tilt, and ended up with the most disinterested waitress ever to put on the little pouch that carries pens and pads. Which she didn’t use, but that’s not the point.

I know I’m a party of one and I don’t drink, so she’s not exactly expecting a big tab from me even after two hours of service. Still, there were three servers in the area so she it’s not like she was overrun like the reporter fight in Anchorman. There was no excuse for her to take five minutes just to say hi and ask for my drink order. Even then she asked if I needed a menu. Um, yeah, that’s kind of the point of being there at 7 o’clock in the evening.

It took another fifteen minutes to place my order and get the Memphis game switched on my personal TV. I missed the first two minutes of the game. Eight points were scored, and I was oblivious to how it happened. Witch.

This is a new server, not one I recognized from my frequent visits during baseball season. The other two servers I knew, so that made me sadder to see them hard at work and always within an arm’s reach, while I tried not to look pouty holding my menu for fourteen minutes longer than I needed to order.

Even worse, one of the other waitresses brought out my food, and my server didn’t stop by until long after my glass was empty and I had to practically stand on my chair and place an albatross around my neck to catch her eye. I think y’all know, a thirsty Jeff without a drink refilled is a Jeff you don’t want to be around. Kara, back me up here, we’re talking major no-nos, am I right?

Still, in the end, eating fish and tots with the Tigers game on, it was pronounced well and good. Memphis won, putting the Vols and their obnoxious orange uniforms in their place.

The Tigers were lucky to win. Coach Calipari’s guys couldn’t box out little Vern Troyer or dribble past Sarah Jessica Parker without losing the ball. Every play looked like the NBA, with guys roaming willy nilly and whomever had the ball was one-on-one with the defense. And yet Memphis is ranked No. 4 in the country. Go figure. The lesson, as always, I don’t know what I’m talking about.

That No. 23 on their team is a punk. Sure, if you’re a UT fan you probably love to see this white guy and his fluffy hair flop all over the court, but he annoyed me to no end. No. 23 is the dude all up in your team’s face, trying to get them to throw elbows and stopping barely short of pulling their pants down to their ankles. I should point out that the kid, Something Bradshaw, is also a fellow native Memphian. Go figure.

When I left, I remembered why I stopped going to that bar. I miss playing trivia, but the smoke was thick enough that every intake of breath was tainted, and when I got home I immediately stripped nekkid (sorry for that mental picture) and stuffed my smelly clothes in the washing machine. Even my undershirt was more pungent than a chimneysweeper in a landfill. Do smokers realize this? Or do they walk away from me and think, “Wow, that guy smells like cheeseburgers and yesterday’s sweat socks. Take a shower.”

Unfortunately, while I was at the bar, my DVR was NOT recording the new episode of “Lost.” Somehow between recording last week’s show to freeze-frame that black cloud and see what Mr. Eko saw, and recording “American Idol,” the new “Lost” episode was blown off by the bloody technology, and I’m aware that it’s my fault for not double-checking the record schedule. Damn. Just … damn. Off to Television Without Pity (link to the right) for the recap.

Instead this morning I’m watching “Love Monkey,” the new single-in-Gotham dramedy on CBS. Not bad so far. I like the lead actor, the one from “Ed.” I don’t really get into music like this show seems to demand, but I like the quirks and compare his single life with my own. Then I weep. And play more Texas Hold’em on my Blackberry.

Even then I’m afraid to go “all in.” There’s a metaphor in there somewhere. A lame one, but a metaphor (or simile?) nonetheless.


UPDATE Jan. 20 9:10 a.m.: OK, I don't think it was me. My DVR also didn't record Conan O'Brien Wednesday night, and Thursday afternoon didn't record the back-to-back episodes of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," both of which are series recordings to record every day. Something was up with Comcast or my DVR, and that ticks me off.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Idols and Judas

Tim may like the early episodes of “American Idol,” but they’re my least favorite part of the phenomenon. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all a big fake, like Hillary Duff’s career or Bill Clinton’s presidency.

As blogger SarahK noted in her tryout for last season, the potential Idols go through a screening process before getting to audition in front of Randy, Simon and Paula, meaning that the producers already know who sucks and let’s them through for entertainment value. Meaning all of Randy, Simon and Paula’s pain is a big fat lie because if they only wanted to see the real talent, they’d tell the producers to weed out the jokesters off the bat.

See? Big fakers. I’m all for TV being an entertainment medium first, serious newsgatherer second, but don’t pretend that you’re shocked so many awful singers are “getting through.” So let me know when the competition is to the next round when we can start finding people to root for, before our hearts are ripped from our chests and shown to us.

Beware whiplash, we’re going waaaay off topic in three seconds …

two …

one …

Speaking of judging, regarding another topic on Tim’s blog, apparently I’m in the minority when it comes to judging Judas, Jesus betrayer. As you can see in my comments, I’ve always wondered if he should really be considered to be pure evil. Judas was supposedly predetermined to betray Jesus, so wasn’t he just playing a part in the bigger scheme of things? What if he asked for forgiveness before hanging himself? He’d be in heaven, right?

When comics come to life

Go ahead, admit it, y'all are lying to me, too.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

TV, how she soothes me

Jan 17, 1949 - This day in history, the first TV sitcom debuts .

Jan. 18, 1949 – Audiences complain of same tired plots on TV.

Jan. 19, 1949 – Reproduction cut in half. Researchers decide this isn’t a bad thing.

Cool Text

Using the nifty service called Cool Text I created a bunch of new banners to rotate on the main page. Look for them randomly!

An example:

News from the world of dating

No, not news about me. We all know that women have conspired against me, what with their “restraining orders” and all.


  • I’m all shook up. There are apparently more anti-Elvis broads with suspicious minds out there than I realized:
    PERTH, Australia -- A woman stabbed her boyfriend with a pair of scissors because he repeatedly played the Elvis Presley hit "Burning Love" on the King's birthday, police said Tuesday.

    The 35-year-old man was treated for six stab wounds to his head, back and legs at the hospital in the farming town of Northam in Western Australia state late Monday night but was allowed to go home, state police spokeswoman Ros Weatherall said.
    Whoa, babe, don’t be cruel. What are you, the devil in disguise? Just let me be your teddy bear and I’ll be a big hung o’ love.

  • Maria Dahvana Headley is releasing a memoir about a year in which she never said no to a request for a date, no matter who, what, when or where. The ensuing 150 dates included a homeless man, several non-English speakers, 10 taxi drivers, two lesbians and a mime. I have nothing witty to add. I’m just astonished, and angry that other women don’t follow her lead. Can we tell Oprah to make this book her next club choice? Please? I’m begging here.

  • Lost in Translation booty babe Scarlett Johansson says she doesn’t believe in monogamy — that people weren’t meant to be with just one person. Oh please, oh please, just tell me where I am on the list, then? I mean, did you see her dress at the Golden Globes?

    Here's my ad, Scarlett: SWM; 30; Atlanta; likes movies but not pretentious ones like Match Point ... er, Stealth; would kill in the name of the Red Sox; main philosophy is "What Would Dr. Phil Do?"; sentimental schmuck who laughs at funerals.

    Think it over? Smooches!

  • Cutie-patootie musician Lisa Loeb and her hip 60s-style cat glasses is getting her own show called #1 Single about her life solo in the big city. You know, like my life, without the success, nice restaurants, famous friends (not counting Steve, of course) and general social life. But has she won the Super Bowl on Madden ’06? I don’t think so. So neener neener.

  • Caffeine may put females in the mood for sex, a new study shows. What doesn’t? Men with a burger in one hand and a large milkshake in the other.

  • Screw that. High five everyone, and pass the nachos!
    Americans Find Being Fat Not Unattractive

    Thin is still in, but apparently fat is nowhere near as out as it used to be.

    A survey finds America's attitudes toward overweight people are shifting from rejection toward acceptance. Over a 20-year period, the percentage of Americans who said they find overweight people less attractive steadily dropped from 55 percent to 24 percent, the market research firm NPD Group found.

    With about two-thirds of U.S. adults overweight, Americans seem more accepting of heavier body types, researchers say. The NPD survey of 1,900 people representative of the U.S. population also found other more relaxed attitudes about weight and diet.
    I would do a cartwheel, but seriously, who am I kidding?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Narnia news

Thanks to Tim for the update that it looks like "Prince Caspian" will be the next film based on C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia."

Obviously Disney didn't know that The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe would be a worldwide smash, but I would have thought they could have had some sort of pre-planning already in the works this year to get the second movie in theaters sooner.

In other Narnia news, the DVD will be released April 4. Obviously I'll be purchasing the collector's edition. Hopefully Disney won't drop the ball on that one, but right now it seems two discs isn't nearly enough to fit in the amount of documentaries and extras that could be included. Oh, Peter Jackson, how you've spoiled us fangeeks.

I'm not saying ...

I’m not saying I’d be upset if my local Fox affiliate turned “24” into ”23:50”, but let’s just say that I know where to acquire large quantities of gasoline and know how to use Google Maps.

I’m not saying that N’awlins mayor Ray Nagin is playing the race card by calling for New Orleans to be rebuilt as a ”chocolate” city, but I'm a cookies 'n cream man myself.

UPDATE: It gets worse. Nagin in his own words:
"God is mad at America," Nagin said Monday, largely because He doesn’t want us “being in Iraq under false pretenses."

"He is sending hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it is destroying and putting stress on this country," the mayor continued.

...

As if that weren’t enough to keep his critics carping, Nagin found himself scrambling to explain his promise that New Orleans would be rebuilt as a majority Black city because “it’s the way God wants it to be. ..You can't have New Orleans no other way."



UPDATE: I'm not saying that Hillary Clinton was pandering to the all-black church where she was speaking, but saying that the White House is run like a "plantation" while supposedly celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., doesn't make her Harriet Tubman.

A dream, within a dream

The last two nights I’ve come down with Slow-Ass Clock Syndrome. That’s when you nearly bolt upright from a particularly vivid and/or strange dream, look at the clock with the expectations that it’s one minute until your alarm is set to go off, and then see you’ve actually got six hours left.

This is what happens when I have to wake up early, which with my new floating schedule is all the fracking time. My body is rejecting my brain telling it to go to bed before midnight, something it didn’t have to do for nearly a full decade, and let’s be frank, rarely in college, either, when I figured out my freshman year that any class scheduled before 11 was not going to be an easy A.

The dreams have been wacky, too. Yes, I’m going to run through the details, so feel free to skip to the next post.

In last night’s venture into my apparently clear yet violent subconscious, I was in college, though not at Union. I think it was U. of Memphis. A teacher was giving a pop quiz on Hollywood stars, and I couldn’t figure out why the heck I needed to know random facts about Maria Bello. Co-worker Kevin comes to my rescue with a cheat sheet, but even in my dreams my conscience gets the better of me and I turn in my sure-to-fail quiz.

Flash to the dorms, where I have so much space in my own that I decided to use half of a room next door without asking. The neighbors show up, two hot blondes and a very tall black dude. The blondes don't seem to care, but the guy is pissed. He throws a pitcher of tea at me. I slap his glass out of his hands. He punches me, and thankfully you can't feel pain in dreams 'cause that must have hurt. But it didn't since it's my dream, and in a couple of moves I've got the dude dangled by the feet, kicking him in the stomach until he's lost the will to fight. (It's my dream, daggumit!)

I pull him up on the bed next to me, apologize, and within a minute we do the man hug ... and that's when I woke up, said "what the heck?" and noticed I had only been asleep for two hours.

Rewind to Saturday night. This dream had me back in Memphis, too. (Seriously, it seems all of my memorable dreams lately involve me back on my old stomping grounds. Weird.) I was at a soccer field for a game with all of my old classic league mates, except I was old enough to drive. I was early, like always in real life, and realized I forgot my tall socks to fit over the shin guards. For some reason I decided I had time to go home and retrieve them.

So I drive back to the old house on Ancroft where I grew up. For some reason even though I'm home, I have to use the bathroom badly but go in the sliver of yard on the left side of the house next to the old guy who used to hate it that our sports balls always ended up in his yard.

On the way back to the game, I drive (in the old Chevy Nova) past the church where I spent many my high school days and nights, Merton Avenue Baptist. Except another church group had bought the church and turned it into one of those we're-a-church-but-not-really megachurches that goes with the "do whatever, but be a good person" doctrine. I struggle to avoid running over the members who are mingling in the street, then realize I'm a half-hour late for the game. ... Then I wake up, at 4 a.m., several hours before I planned.

And that's my subconscious lately. I have no idea what it means, but I had a dream, and now it's out there.

Always bet on the house to win

And this is why I don't gamble. Last week the world was my bitch oyster as I correctly picked all four NFL playoff games.

For yesterday's games I played it safe, going with the numbers that say three out of four times the home team wins. Unfortunately, the only home team I picked to lose was Denver, which beat New England, so I ended up one-for-four with Seattle my only correct choice.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Inquire within to install superhero extras

Have you ever been talking on your cellphone, like at a restaurant or on a street corner, and thought, “Man, I wish I could have some privacy so these strangers wouldn’t listen to my conversation.”

Now you can get that privacy by stepping into a, um, whatchamacalit. Oh yeah, it’s called a ”telephone booth”.

Weird, huh? Where do people come up with these inventions?

Get Psyched 2006

Fellow fans of “How I Met Your Mother,” remember the New Year’s episode and Barney’s party mix? We only ever got to hear the first song, Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.” Wonder what else was on the CD? Wonder no more.

From Barney’s blog on CBS.com:

1) YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME - Jonathan B. Jovi
2) THE HUMPTY DANCE - Digital Underground
3) COME SAIL AWAY - Stix [sic]
4) DON'T STOP BELIEVIN' - Journey
5) THE TRANSFORMERS THEME SONG - O. Prime
6) YOU'RE THE BEST AROUND - Joe Esposito
7) HIGH ENOUGH - Damn Yankees
8) JESSIE'S GIRL - Rick Springfield
9) ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANE - The Scorpions
10) HIP HOP HOORAY - Naughty by Nature
11) CHANGE OF HEART - Tom Petty
12) RUN AWAY - Slade [actually it's "Run, Runaway."]

Ford: Where Cheating is Job One

In Tennessee news: Wow, a Ford family member accused of fraud. Really? I’m shocked, shocked and appalled. Never saw it coming. (/sarcasm)

It's an arrested development

The Fox network is my enemy. For years they’ve enticed me with shows like “Firefly” only to yank it out after less than a season. “Family Guy,” “Futurama,” all cut down before their time, only to live on in repeats and DVD sales.

Their new offense? Airing the final two-hour episode of “Arrested Development” opposite the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics.

Is this a giant “frack you” by the network officials to the loyal viewers trying to move the show elsewhere? Did Jason Bateman pee in their gold-dusted corn flakes?

And yet, still no social life

When I checked next Sunday’s work schedule I saw that I was working 11a-7p. It didn’t take long for me to put in for a vacation day. Why? Because next Sunday afternoon between 1 and 7 is when the NFL holds the conference title games to decide who plays in the Super Bowl. It’s only one of the best Sundays of the entire year.

You can’t judge me! Y’all have taken frivolous days off, too, whether it’s post-Thanksgiving shopping or something little like “having a baby.”

I’m rather looking forward to a day off with food that’s bad for me, a bottle of Pepcid and a day of football, with some X Box Madden ’06 between games and during halftime.

22 percent use the bathroom on the ninth floor

Just over 7 percent of American workers drink during the workday — mostly at lunch — and even more, 9 per cent, have nursed a hangover in the workplace, according to a study.

In my personal (i.e. made up) survey, fifty-five percent avoid the white donuts in the morning to avoid the powder looking like dandruff on their shirt all day, because that stuff is super sticky and near impossible to get out of clothes.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

What an eccentric performance

You’d think British scientists would know better than to create a human-rabbit hybrid.

“Follow only if ye be men of valour, for the entrance to this cave is guarded by a creature so foul, so cruel that no man yet has fought with it and lived. Bones of full fifty men lie strewn about its lair. So, brave knights, if you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth.”

Bligh got served!

Perhaps the Bligh family of seafaring fame - er, infamy - should become landlubbers:
THERE has been a mutiny. Captain Bligh has been forced to relinquish his command, abandon ship and row the stormy seas of the job market in the equivalent of an open boat.

This is Captain Stephen Bligh, who enjoys the bounty of a £130,000 annual salary as head of the Government’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Yesterday the Department for Transport confirmed that he would leave his post at the end of the month after a vote of no confidence by his crew of 1,100 coastguards and marine safety inspectors.

Trouble has been brewing on the agency’s quarter-deck for two years, ever since the latter-day Captain Bligh — who claims descent from his 18th-century namesake whose crew mutinied on HMS Bounty — announced plans to streamline the service by closing some coastguard stations and merging others.
Bligh trivia: He really, really, rubbed people the wrong way. Sixteen years later he had to face a riot after attempting to end the use of rum as currency. The British soldiers successfully mutinied again and Bligh was forcibly deposed and imprisoned for two years.

Ya think he ever lay on a hammock, wondering “why do they hate me?” And then he fed puppies to his children for breakfast.

Requiem for a facial

This is the groovy basketball mix video using the Requiem for a Dream score that I mentioned discovering in the comments a few posts ago.

Short and pithy

The latest quotable Vents posted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (registration required - use this):

- When I’m ready to check out at the grocery store, I always look for the cutest cashier. Not because I want to flirt, it’s just that they are sure to have someone bagging their groceries for them.
- With the success of the gay cowboy movie, how long until the gay cop, construction worker, biker, Indian and gay soldier movies come out?
- And I thought Coke Zero was an encouraging drug test result.
- Pat Robertson called to tell me I never get any vents published because God found out about my Playboy subscription.
- I, for one, am a pseudo-vegetarian. I only eat animals that only eat vegetables.
- The liberals must have missed Hillary Clinton dumping her money donated by Abramoff. Selective memory must be a gift.
- The only time Pat Robertson opens his mouth is to change feet.
- I am so broke my only assets are my frequent-flyer points and rollover minutes.
- Ain’t nobody leaving this planet alive.
- You know your job is boring if you have already read every page of your 2006 one-a-day calendar.
- I won’t say my wife is a bad cook, but she does use the smoke alarm for a timer.

Vents I Sent:

- I saw three anti-war bumper stickers today and two “W” stickers, so I guess that means today I am against the Iraq war.
- No one is as whiny and arrogant as an art elitist who thinks government funding is a Constitutional right.
- If you don’t want to cry when you chop onions, you shouldn’t form an emotional bond. (Stolen from Brit comic Jimmy Carr.)
- I keep getting emails about “enlargements,” which is fine except half are coming from my girlfriend. (Stolen from Brit comic Jimmy Carr.)
- How can Democrats let Alito be confirmed if he’s as racist, sexist, elitist and pees in the poor’s generic corn flakes like they alleged for weeks?
- Distracting fat people is a piece of cake. (Stolen from Chris Addison)
- Washington Democrats are the worst backseat drivers ever. They keep hitting brakes as if they’re in a Student Driver car but thankfully they’re not at the wheel.

Friday, January 13, 2006

News Roundup

Why didn't anyone tell me it's Friday the 13th?!?!?! (Are three exclamations and question marks enough? More exclamations? !!!! Better.)

  • From the “you can’t make this stuff up” department: Gynecologist Dr. Bone is getting a hoo-ha in a sex change operation. (Hat tip: Right-Thinking)

  • When it comes to liberal causes, numbers are entirely up for grabs for the good of their beliefs. Why, even sometimes the homeless aren’t homeless.

  • A California man auctioned off his Elvis Presley collection when his girlfriend gave him the ultimatum, "Elvis or me." He did, however, save the whip that she has used to make him a p***y.

  • A panel of linguists has decided the word that best reflects 2005 is "truthiness," defined as the quality of stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts. Already I’m seeing that the Phrase of 2006 is “lame brained linguists.”

  • New source of global warming gas found: plants. I blame Bush. Or is it just “bush?”

  • A girl in Turkey got the bird flu after kissing her chickens. See, this is why we need warnings on irons like “don’t iron shirt while wearing said shirt.” And no, “kissing her chickens” is not a euphemism, though it would be an excellent rock band name.

  • An excellent example to avoid excessive alcohol drinking; makes you look like your mother.

  • “THE FORMER IRAQI REGIME OF Saddam Hussein trained thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq over the four years immediately preceding the U.S. invasion, according to documents and photographs recovered by the U.S. military in postwar Iraq.”

    Shh. Keep this on the down low. Remember, the official line of the media and liberals (but I repeat myself) is that Saddam had nothing to do with terrorism. Really, he flew kites and ate taffy all day, watching “Powerpuff Girls” with his grandchildren, and he signed “BFF” in Donald Rumsfeld’s yearbook.

  • A dead woman dressed sat in a chair in front of a television set for 2 1/2 years. Unfortunately, no matter how long she waited, “Becker” never got funny.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Top 5 Movie Foods, my weekend

Today’s been an inconsequential Saturday (Thursday to you). I could tell you what movie I saw for the fourth time, but by now you’re sick of hearing about it and think I need therapy.

Sorry, I still haven’t killed it. In fact, I just updated my Top 5 Movie Scores list to include Narnia. So neener neener.

What I can add about the experience is that unfortunately every time I’ve gone, the Lady in the Water trailer is still attached. And it’s gotten to where I physically hate that preview. It makes me wretch, roll my eyes and turn my nose up (or that could be the nachos going in my mouth, which requires a tilting of the head).

I spent all day yesterday in meetings and training. Used to be that during my normal workweek of the same old shows every day I’d kill for a day like that. Now as a floater I crave a regular workday as much as possible, switching any show I can, even giving co-workers breaks when I’m not scheduled to do so.

Of course, remind me of this Saturday morning when I’m at work at 7 a.m. At first I was deflated having to come in again so early on a weekend, but then I remembered that the NFL playoff games start at 4:30 that afternoon, and all was forgiven. I make no apology for the fact that much of my life revolves around seeing the next big sporting event, or every Red Sox game from March through October.

Speaking of meetings, I don’t think I get much out of them. I spend the entire time thinking of a good time to crack a joke, and the rest figuring out how to get my supervisor to stop making eye contact with me so I can doodle and make faces at my co-workers.

How about another entry into Jeff’s Top Fives while we’re here? And since Blogger is threatening to shut down for maintenance in an hour, there won’t be anything posted for a while.

Jeff’s Top 5 Movie Foods

Twizzlers – Makes mouths happy AND as always, a low-fat candy. At work people start whispering if I show up without a bag. It’s my thing.

Popcorn – The old standby. The classic. The entire popcorn industry depends on whether you and I watch movies. Think about it, how many times do you have popcorn other than at the theater or watching a film at home? For me, only when I’m at a ballgame eating Cracker Jacks, which are required by law. Or at least by the seventh-inning stretch song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Corn dogs – And my local theater doesn’t serve them. What the heck? C’mon, AMC, it makes going to the movies like attending the county fair! I tell ya, when I’m running things, I’ll have a Pronto Pup stand and a funnel cake stand in every theater.

Nachos – With good cheese, it’s a perfect companion to a loud, nonsensical action flick. But make sure it has good cheese. Many theaters don’t, and I hate it when the people behind the counter just pour it directly onto the plastic container so your nachos and cheese end up swimming in the same pool, which gets messy. (No, family, it does not have anything to do with my childhood fear of food touching. I promise.)

Goobers – A peanut + chocolate confection handed down by the gods. They’re like little tasty pills of Prozac without the side effects. Except of getting fat. That’s a bad side effect. And if you’re allergic to nuts like me, a potential hazardous reaction. I don’t care. Totally worth it. What gets my goat is that many theaters don't stock Goobers anymore and try to pass off generic chocolate peanuts instead, in smaller boxes, too. Up yours, theaters who do that! Hate!

Honorable mention – Pretzels; hot dogs; M&Ms; fancy theaters like Dad’s in Miami that has fries and chicken fingers and probably sushi though I haven’t checked. There's a theater here in Atlanta that serves actual meals, the Buckhead Backlot Cinema & Cafe, though when I went with Stacy and Joe to see 54 I didn't care for the popcorn shrimp.

But I'm just a commoner, what do I know?

Few in society are as whiny and arrogant as an art elitist who thinks government funding is a Constitutional right.

In Wednesday’s AJC, Charles Green, chairman of the Fulton County Arts Council, wrote an editorial that was full of sound and fury, but signified absolutely nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

What is Mr. Green’s chief argument? Apparently less government funding of the arts is now considered censorship.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

The Welch School of Art & Design at Georgia State University opened an important exhibition, performance and lecture series this week on a subject of national importance. Titled "Potentially Harmful, The Art of American Censorship," these events, scheduled through March 10, explore a topic that chills most art organizations.
I’m going to go ahead and let you know that Green’s rant against the supposed censorship of art did not provide one single example.
Censorship is usually introduced to high school students to describe totalitarian governments, such as Russia under Stalin, China under Mao, and North Korea under Kim.
Somehow I feel that artists under his examples of totalitarian governments in the Soviet Union, China and North Korea would be so upset if all they were denied was an extra $1,000 to fling some extra dung on a painting of the Virgin Mary.
America, by contrast, was always heralded as the world's best model of openness and free expression. We grew up believing we were safe from governmental control of expression, since our Constitution's First Amendment guaranteed these freedoms.
Which, apparently, does not include the freedom not to have my taxes paying for offensive art. How uncouth of me. Here, have another NEA grant of $36,500, same as The Dinner Party, a 140-foot triangle depicting the imagined genitalia of 39 historically important women, including Susan B. Anthony and Georgia O'Keeffe.
In naiveté, most of us did not challenge this notion even as we witnessed Joseph McCarthy's "Red Scare," which blacklisted thousands from the arts due to their alleged disloyalty to America, or the trial of Larry Flynt, a publisher who tested the limits of our freedom with lurid pornography that probably made Hugh Hefner blush.
The difference? In Salem there were no actual witches, but there were proven Communists trying to undermine America in the 50s. And 30s. And 40s. And 60s. And today. As for Larry Flynt, yeah, Mr. Green, that’s the all-American guy you want to hang your hat on. Preferably fully clothed, please.
The arts world is still haunted by the memories of former Sen. Jesse Helms, the Republican from North Carolina who was determined to quash the National Endowment for the Arts because he disliked the product of some artists, such as Robert Mapplethorpe. As a lawmaker, Helms was known mostly for his intolerance of any variance from his personal values, making him one of the most infamous censors of the 20th century through his effective bully pulpit.
Would that be the same Mapplethorpe who made a famous work of “art” out of a photo of himself with a bullwhip inserted in his anus?
Our society has debated the extent of our freedom of expression repeatedly. Consider that in the first-ever Sandy Springs City Council meeting, attention to many prominent issues was tabled so that council members could spend most of their meeting in a titillating deliberation of how to discourage nude dancing establishments along Roswell Road.
I know when I see a nudie bar, I think of Michaelangelo and Faulkner.
Needless to say, freedom of expression is interpreted differently by different folks. While I can appreciate most of Mapplethorpe's photography, I can also choose to ignore the homocentric images that led others to want him burned at the stake. The way I read our Constitution, such a choice is mine and mine alone. I reject the notion that any faith, city council or congressional committee can decide for me what is deemed to be art and what is not.
Columnist Jeff Jacoby: “In America, the state is expected to keep out of the marketplace of ideas. If it is wrong for government to censor a work of art, it is just as wrong for government to subsidize one. Jesse Helms has no business deciding what goes on a museum's walls. Ted Kennedy doesn't, either.”
Art is a personal commentary on the world by painters, illustrators, writers, musicians, sculptors, dancers and other performers as they see it. Censorship presents an unconscionable danger to our democracy that can only diminish its greatness.
So it’s McCarthyism if the government doesn’t rubber-stamp and pay for “Piss Christ”, if you evil middle-American straight arrows don’t see it, and any negative press is akin to the Inquisition.
Permitting any control on artistic expressions would distort the honesty of these works. Allowing government to have a hand in deciding what information is worthy of publication would ensure that truth would be lost, transparency and openness would disappear, and soon no one would trust their government.
While we toil away at our mundane, non-creative jobs, we owe these who brighten our worlds a proper living, eh? Isn’t this like giving the military $100 billion and not asking questions about where the money went when all the generals park at the Pentagon in Mercedes? Or giving me $100 and not asking about the four pizza boxes on my coffee table next to an unopened XBox game and two large bottles of Nyquil? And not the generic crap, either.
So why discuss censorship now? Because our current government has tried to ban the images of flag-draped caskets returning from Iraq; in 2004 many citizens were denied the right see their president unless they were approved by local Republican partisans; and in 2005, some citizens protesting in support of the environment and animal rights were placed under surveillance by the FBI.
Banning images of caskets of fallen soldiers is a policy that’s been in place since 1991. (Note to Green: That includes the eight years under Clinton, whom I’m sure was a godsend for the arts movement, no?)
These illegal suppressions of our right to a free exchange of information and thought expressions should be of grave concern to us all. I applaud Georgia State University for organizing such a bold event in such uncertain times. I consider participation an opportunity to bravely demonstrate my patriotism.
Ah, the Patriotism Card. Because it’s unpatriotic for me to disagree with him, but it’s pure patriotism that Green hopes more pictures of men with whips in their butts find their way to museums across this great nation. Maybe HIV-positive actor- playwright Ron Athey can take his production of “Four Scenes in a Harsh Life'' nationally. In his performance, Athey takes a scalpel and carves a pattern into another man's back. The blood from the wounds is then blotted with paper towels and dangled in the air over the heads of the audience.

Oh, wait, did I mention that Bush and his cronies in Congress increased funding for the NEA? Oppressor, indeed.