Friday, November 30, 2007

Jeff's Top 5: Movies I'm Ashamed I Haven't Seen

1. "Lawrence of Arabia" - I'm a big fan of overblown epics, so what's the deal? I keep telling myself that I'm waiting to see it on the big screen, such as during The Orpheum's summer showcase of classic cinema, but will I make the trip? Doubtful. Will I go if "Ghostbusters 2" is showing? Absolutely.

2. "The Shining" - I'm not one for horror movies. Being scared isn't a rush for me, just unnecessary. But I do like thrillers so long as they're not too gory, and this classic is one that I recognize every parody, but that's all I know.

3. "Beauty and the Beast" - For several years I not only watched but bought all of the Disney movies that came out; they couldn't miss with the likes of "The Lion King" and "Aladdin," but "Beauty" seemed too chick-flicky for me. Singing tea cups? I'm sure I'll finally get over that with Val someday, or at least if we have a daughter. I mean, I bought the DVD for her for Christmas last year, and had to do it in a back alley by selling a kidney since it's in that Disney video black hole period where they won't sell their classics. What's up with that? Why not have "Bambi" available all the time?

4. "Man on Fire" - Not because I really want or absolutely feel the need to see it, but my standing in Dad's will may depend on the fact that he is a big fan of the movie and I refuse to set aside two lousy hours to watch it and thus confirm that I'm an adoring, worthy and obedient son. Forgive me, Father.

5. "Say Anything" - I grew up in the 80s watching all the Brat Pack flicks and loving cheesy movies such as "Mannequin," I can't think of a movie where I disliked John Cusak, and Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" is in the top ten songs played on my iPod, and yet I never got around to watching this movie.

Others: "Cool Hand Luke," "The Seven Samurai," "Annie Hall," "Spartacus," "Bottle Rocket," "This is Spinal Tap," "West Side Story," "Sunset Blvd.," "The Third Man," "Alien," "Double Indemnity," "Metropolis," "A Streetcar Named Desire," "The Sound of Music," "Glengarry Glen Ross."

Good Vent, Bad Vent

Picking and choosing some decent Vents from the Atlanta paper:

- My New Year's Resolution was to indulge in chocolate candy only at the movies. I'm seeing a lot more films this year.

- I can't wait until season five of the Weather Channel comes out on DVD.

- I probably would have more Vents published if you would edit out my ramblings and just get to the point of what I'm trying to say.

- I’m trying to convince my neighbor that she could save her garden by showering outside.

- I will be Christmas shopping with my three recently college-graduated children and they all have there own checkbooks. Life is good.

- I just found out there are two ways of starting a fairy tale. “Once upon a Time” and “If I am Elected”.

- Just for giggles, get up at 4:00 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving and hide your wife’s car keys.

- Message from your wife. I’m hiding your beer now and you will get it back when my keys show up.

- I couldn’t get into the genius club MENSA . But I did qualify for the other group: DENSA.

- Is “Gobble, Gobble, Gobble” a death wish or what?

- Your car may be Christian like that fish on the back, but you drive like a bat out of hell.

- Last night I dreamed that I was muffler. And I woke up exhausted!

- My financial adviser is starting to hang out at the local burger joint instead of his usual downtown steak house. Should I be worried?

- The drought is so bad that those of us who are “up the creek” will not need that paddle after all.

- Robin Hood must have been the first Democrat. He funded his favorite causes with other people’s money.

- A teacher may be whipped over a teddy bear. Religion of peace and tolerance indeed.


My Vents:

- Can we all be agreed that $49.95 is NOT "under $50?" Who falls for that nonsense?

- If cereal boxes get any thinner, my Fruit Loops will have to be lined up two-by-two.

- Liberals see themselves as brave and oppressed dissenters from U.S. national policy, but can't stand dissent in their own sandbox. (Courtesy former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton)

- Political correctness is not really about sensitivity and courtesy, which require mutual respect. Rather, political correctness entails intolerance for some prejudices but impunity for others. (Courtesy OpinionJournal.com)

- Does anyone on the planet drink Mello Yello?

- I'm still sometimes surprised at how supposedly tolerant liberals have no hesitation saying the most hateful things. (Courtesy Jay Nordlinger, in response to bumper sticker that said "So Many Right-Wing Christians, So Few Lions.")

- The NFL took games off of free TV, moved them to its own nascent network and then complained that fans are being denied these games by cable providers. Nice trick. (Courtesy Norm Chad)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This is reality television

Before we get to the updates, it was an interesting Tuesday for the Jeffmeister and what it might say about my manhood. In the morning I had my prostate poked and was given the diagnoses of prostatitis for the third time (twice in 2000). Lunchtime, was spent putting together a patron counter for Val's library, followed by putting up our Christmas tree, 2007 version. To top it off, we tossed the old toothpaste, Colgate Advanced, and introduced the new tube, Colgate Whitening. What a day.

You wanna know what reality is? Lessons are learned. Reality is carrying a chicken in a footrace, a race car driver dancing champion and a Sex and the City starlet selling cheap outfits. At least this week:
 
THE AMAZING RACE - Why did the racers have to carry a chicken the entire leg? Does anyone else feel that the show is way, way too patronizing and condescending to the Third World cultures it's using to teach the contestants a lesson in humility? Do all Africans carry chickens from point A to point B to appease their elders, even if it's just the movie theater? Cause that might get annoying with all the clucking over "Chicken Little," which is ironic.
 
Not sure what was up with T.K. and Rachel on the Detour. Instead of walking over to where the dancing is happening and choosing to "mine" for gold instead (really just digging through wet pots), it's quicker to do the dance badly, sit down and take the penalty. It took ten minutes just to walk back to the other Detour! 
 
Anyone else initially think that the Dancing With the African Stars judges were a teeny bit racist? I say that after Azaria and Hendekea were given the go-ahead for steps that had no rhythm or method whatsoever, as Jenn and what's-his-name were told to step aside, which just isn't fair because she was an L.A. Clippers dancer. If she could project her feelings, there would be a frowny smiley graphic on the screen.
 
Speaking of, what was up with that Jennifer chick almost demanding that Azaria and Hendekea step aside at the pit stop mat since the brother/sister have won two legs already? And yeah, she was dead serious.
 
Nic has a crush on Christina. The way he played with her hair during the Roadblock, the way he hugged her as their two teams tied at the end, he's totally hoping she'll carry his chicken, so to speak. (I have no idea what that means.)
 
This week's team filled with white guilt who can't-believe-people-in--poverty-are-happy is Kynt and Vyxsyn. I still kind of like them, though. They play well, don't fight, don't complain, and really, who else could get away with wearing mesh arm coverings in Burkina Faso?
 
The blondes will be looked down upon for U-Turning Jason and Lorena, whose inability to milk a camel led to their demise, but that's what you do when you're in the final three teams and you have a chance to knock another team out. Just make sure it's not a non-elimination leg. Awk. Ward.
 
DANCING WITH THE STARS - For finals week it was Helio & Julianne Or Bust for the Valfrey household. As you know by now, we're quite happy with the result. It's not that Mel was a witch or anything, and being partnered with arrogant jerk Maks isn't her fault. Mel was funny, likable and surprisingly pretty after being dubbed Scary Spice for a decade, but like Sabrina she was already a trained performer and had an edge on the others that didn't seem fair for this amateur competition. It would be like putting together a team of college basketball players for the Olympics, and then tossing in LeBron James since he's still college-aged, technically. Still, Mel's mambo Tuesday night was incredible.  
 
In case you didn't hear, the show was LIIIIIIIVE, as Tom and Samantha's breasts constantly tell us. At least, I think that's the name of the woman attached to those things, if I could get past the annoying way she asks questions that invoke nothing but tired clich├ęs. The finale was two hours of fluffy filler, and I enjoyed almost every minute, no matter how my manhood is challenged.
 
Thankfully, Marie was booted first, a week too late and denying a spot in the final three to Jennie, or Cameron, or Sabrina, or Albert. Marie was fun, playful and entertaining, but by the final five it was clear she wasn't one of the best dancers for what is presumably, you know, a dancing competition. But she has a lot of famous siblings, have you heard?
 
Helio and Julianne deserved to win if only for their freestyle, which still maintained the idea of actually dancing, as opposed to Mel and Maks spending two minutes flipping and sitting in chairs, and Marie and Jonathan, who had some freaky-deaky doll thing that belonged in the abstract dances of "So You Think You Can Dance." Children everywhere will have nightmares about Marie dressed up and acting like a doll. If she'd spit up and mouthed "Mommy" when Jonathan touched her tummy, it would have been downright scary.
 
PROJECT RUNWAY - The lesson: When Sarah Jessica Parker asks you to design an outfit her clothing design, don't make something that looks like the model is carrying potatoes. As for the rest, it can be summed up in four words: "I don't get it." We certainly couldn't figure out who would buy these outfits, even if they are retailed for under $40.
 
The second lesson: If there's a competition where you create a design and have to choose a partner, you are better off not getting your design picked and being the sidekick if your goal is to stick around longer in the game. Those who have the pressure of actually going through with their design have a 99 percent better chance of being on the chopping block.  
 

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Not in the holiday spirit quite yet

It's cold. It's rainy. It's plain dreary here in Memphis.
 
Lazy Sunday morning in the Rushing/Howell household. I let Val sleep in since she wasn't feeling tip-top yesterday, and her parental units also stayed home from church with the sniffles. We made up for it by decorating my in-laws' Christmas tree. Well, they decorated it, I sat on the couch petting the dogs. You know, doing my part keeping Patches from running off with a 1982 mitten that nobody can remember who made.
 
I blame November. Once we returned from vacation and Daylight Saving Time started, we hit a giant apathetic lackadaisical wall. To counter the effects we're taking extra doses of Christmas music, but anytime it's around 6 p.m., dark and chilly, we just want to be home snuggling under heavy blankets, drinking hot cocoa and away from the barren world. 
 
We're thinking Friday night was the cause of our ills, going to the Millington-White Station quarterfinal football game in town. The game itself was awesome, with Val's alma mater breaking off several long touchdown runs to romp over the previously No. 1 Spartans. But it was COLD. Yes, even I was freezing. It was that cold. My sisters are looking down from southern Indiana and scoffing, "We had a wintry mix in August!"

I actually got up at 8:30 this morning anyway, playing on the blog, catching up on emails and downloading Christmas ringtones. Is the new blog look okay? I was tired of the old format limiting me to only 400 pixels of width when most of the time I'd like my pictures to be larger. Yes, that silly graphic below was the impetus for the change. Sue me.

Based on the emails I've received, I'd say that much of my family is already done shopping. We hate you. Valfrey has yet to begin. Monday looks to be the start of our shopping season, hoping that the mall will be a tad easier during the afternoon. Yes, we're deluding ourselves.
 
Yesterday we avoided The SuperCenter by going to Kroger, because if it's a debate between ease and price, I'll go with ease. In a way it backfired, because what kind of freaky Kroger manager doesn't have fat-free franks in stock? Are you kidding me? Aren't those a staple of diet food by now? You already charge twice what fattening foods cost for your low-fat foods, so why avoid the hot dogs?

My celebrity look-alikes

Sunday morning politics

  • Once in a while, a presidential candidate comes along who stops telling us what we want to hear and tells America to get our heads out of our collective booties. This year, that man is Rudy Giuliani:
    I get very, very frustrated when I . . . hear certain Americans talk about how difficult the problems we face are, how overwhelming they are, what a dangerous era we live in. I think we've lost perspective. We've always had difficult problems, we've always had great challenges, and we've always lived in danger.

    Do we think our parents and our grandparents and our great grandparents didn't live in danger and didn't have difficult problems? Do we think the Second World War was less difficult that our struggle with Islamic terrorism? Do we think that the Great Depression was a less difficult economic struggle for people to face than the struggles we're facing now? Have we entirely lost perspective of the great challenges America has faced in the past and has been able to overcome and overcome brilliantly? I think sometimes we have lost that perspective.

    Do you know what leadership is all about? Leadership is all about restoring that perspective that this country is truly an exceptional country that has great things that it is going to accomplish in the future that will be as great and maybe even greater than the ones we've accomplished in the past. If we can't do that, shame on us.
    If Rudy starts running ads about "morning in America" a la Reagan, I think we'll have our Republican nominee!

  • I wonder if the Commercial Appeal meant to make a funny when it placed these articles side by side in Wednesday's paper: "City Council OK's increase in MLGW Rates" and "Turn heat down, not off: MLGW cautions travelers to be ready for cool temperatures." Hmmm, wonder if MLGW has an agenda here?

  • From Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus column, a warning to self-absorbed do-gooder celebrities:
    [Via an emailer] At a U2 concert in Ireland, the lead singer Bono asks the audience for some quiet. Then he starts to slowly clap his hands. Holding the audience in total silence, he says into the microphone, “I want you to think about something. Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies.”

    A voice from the audience yells out, “Then stop clapping, you **h***!”
    It may not be true, but it's darn funny.

  • A political parable, edited for political purposes:
    A Republican comes in for a haircut, and when he goes to pay his bill the barber replies, "I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week." The Republican is very happy and leaves the shop.

    Next morning when the barber goes to open, there is a thank you card and a dozen different books, such as "How to Improve Your Business" and "Becoming More Successful."

    Then a Democrat comes in for a haircut, and when he goes to pay his bill the barber again replies, "I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week." The Democrat is very happy and leaves the shop.

    The next morning when the barber goes to open up, there are a dozen Democrats lined up waiting for a free haircut.
  • Friday, November 23, 2007

    Happy Doorbuster Friday

    I hope everyone had a hearty, family-oriented and well-fed Thanksgiving, and that y'all are ready for the biggest shopping day of the year. Scanning the ads yesterday, I came to realize that I've missed out on this experience if only because of one word: "Doorbuster." (Which is two words in some of the ads.)
     
    Almost every store used the term, which I've neither heard before nor recognize any sense of definition. Does it mean that the stores are encouraging you to bust down their doors at 5 a.m. to get the toy your kid doesn't need? I'm thinking that my Y chromosome keeps me from understanding why it's necessary to wait in line for Kohl's to open at 4 a.m. All I know is that starting today, I refuse to enter a Wal-Mart parking lot until January 3rd*.
     
    (* - Total lie, since somehow, someway I'll venture into Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. before work one day looking for a stocking stuff for my darling Valerie.)
     
    By the way, some of these stores might want to start waiting until a week later to release their ads, because I saw the same products at ten different stores with ten different prices. The store with the highest price has to be kicking themselves and firing their pricing manager, right? How bad does it make you look that you're fleecing customers while Target has the same product for half the price?
     
    Am I the only one who completely ignores rebates? There's no way you ever get repaid, is there? If a product say it's $50 after rebate, I'm looking at the tab nearby that says "$100 before mail-in rebate" and thinking, "That will cost $100 out of my pocket." I will not be your fool, Best Buy!
     
    Anyway ... Val and I had a most pleasant Thanksgiving holiday. She's enjoying four days off, while I'm working all four of those days. TV news must go on, I suppose. Unless there's football. Because of the Green Bay-Detroit game we didn't have our 11 a.m. Midday show, so we were able to go home at 9, and working a five-hour day didn't matter since we were paid double-overtime, same for today, so good times.
     
    After a brief nap we met the Howells at her grandmother's abode for good eatin', congratulating her cousin Will and especially his wife Sara for their just-announced pregnancy, and watching the Cowboys obliterate the Jets. Today we'll be putting up the family tree and planning on going to the Millington-White Station state quarterfinal game in town. (They've been ranked 1-2 in the city most of the season and both in the top three of the state as well, so it should be a doorbuster of a game.)
     
    Enjoy your long weekend, take it easy on the leftovers and be careful shopping, it's dangerous out there!

    Thursday, November 22, 2007

    What I'm Thankful For, 2007 Edition

    - My wonderful wife, understanding of my goofiness.

    - My wife's sharp fingernails, good for scratching my back.

    - A God who forgives me for what I blog. (Hopefully!)

    - Turkey and dressing at Old Timer's after church on Sundays.

    - Cute babies who try to eat their whole hand.

    - My in-law's dogs, Sam and Patches, sitting at my feet wagging their tail while I eat, anticipating any scraps. 

    - The sound of Mom's voice when she calls me "Jeffrey" when I call.

    - Amen Corner at Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters.

    - Big families of in-laws that provide no shortage of conversation.

    - Reality television, making me feel better about myself by making fun of others seven days a week.

    - Size 14 shoes.

    - Jacuzzi suites.

    - Sugar-free bubble gum.

    - Sweet, sweet drugs that take the pain away, lower my blood pressure and make my tummy stop rumbling.

    - The U.S. military.

    - Grandparents, whom I've learned to treasure even more dearly after the passing of my Mom-Mom and Val's grandfather this summer.

    - Podcasts, keeping me interested during my 40-minute commute.

    - Talking with Dad about the 2007 World Series Champion Red Sox.

    - MLB's Extra Innings package, for which I'm able to watch the Red Sox all summer long.

    - TV news, providing an entertaining job that is far too fun and easy for my salary. (Shhh, don't tell my bosses!)

    DWTS Semifinals

    Y'all, I'm officially over the Osmonds. Fun, cute family, but they're all over the place and now that Marie made the Dancing With The Stars finals over Jennie, I'm ready to see them go. If more of this is what we'll see with a Mitt Romney presidency, please join me in supporting Fred Thompson.
     
    I'm not sure why I was such a big fan of Jennie, since I didn't like her on "90210," but I was t-i-c-k-e-d when she was eliminated this week.
     
    Although, I wouldn't have hoped for Mel to get the boot this week, not after she pulled off that amazing bit where she did the splits, eases up and into another split, very gracefully and athletically, in her first dance. Most impressive.
     
    Is anyone not rooting for Helio to win the whole shebang? Join me in the Helio Revolution! Viva Helio!

    Monday, November 19, 2007

    Amazing Race Update: Got Milk?

    In this week's Amazing Race:

    The teams traveled from Amsterdam to Burkino Faso, where camels speak French and they really don't want you touching their nipples.

    The Blonds became this year's team to wonder in amazement that there is poverty and flies in Africa. They will also be shocked next week when the people in Asia have "slanty eyes."

    The New Orleans brother/sister became this year's team to express solidarity with "their people" of Africa and the trash piled along the tracks, even though if they had to do without toilets for more than three days they'd be back on a plane faster than you can say "Ouagadougou."

    The first 15 minutes of flight-jostling meant absolutely nothing, since if Nate & Bitchy Jen had managed to get to Burkino Faso a day earlier, they still would have had to wait for the train that everyone ended up taking to Bingo. (The next stop after Parcheesi.)

    Karma kicked Ron straight into a hernia after last week's haranguing of daughter Christina. This week he was in too much pain to cause her psyche irreparable harm.

    Granddad Donald is either a cute grandfather or a pervert. Does he have an adorable crush on Marianna and Julia or was he picturing them naked while they were dancing at the train station. Ewww?

    I guess we know now that Vyxsyn wears the (dark, leathery) pants in that Goth coupling.

    I don't know how easy or difficult it was to teach one kid ten English words, but it can't have been easier than learning five words in their language apiece.

    Azaria & Hendekea win, and pull out the paranoia schtick: “It feels good, but now I think we both feel like the target that was on our back is even bigger now.” Target? On their backs? When? How? By whom?

    How stupid were the sisters for tipping Lorena on how to milk the camels? Your second-to-last, don't give the last-place team any help, no matter how awful and shrill Lorena's whining was!

    And thus, the sexy sisters go bye-bye and Donald's fantasies have to wait. Next week, The Blonds are actually competing in a competition! Will the other happy-go-lucky "we're all in this together" teams join in their Reindeer Games?

    Everyone's looking for their own sense of justice

    The California NAACP would like to see a man punished. A man who fired on three men who broke into his house, killing two. Rev. Amos Brown, head of the San Fran chapter said the legal system is racist because the third thug was charged with murder for provocating the break-in and subsequent backfiring that resulted in his own homeys dying. And besides, the Brown thinks the homeowner should be in jail because he had marijuana and prescription medication in his system the night he killed the guys breaking into his house. Of course, he had a prescription for all of it, even the pot, but that's not the point. Thursday, a judge granted the defense a change of venue because the thug might not get a fair trial since he broke into a house and hot his home boys killed in a county that is 91 percent white, 2 percent black.

    All this at the same time that civil rights leaders in New York are freaking out that cops shot a man who was telling them he had a gun, acting nuts, approaching them menacingly and pulled out a hairbrush as if it were a gun before being fired upon and killed. Naturally, Al Sharpton's getting involved.

    Remember when civil rights leaders advocated for innocent black Americans who actually deserve sympathy and a helping hand? There are a lot of those still in America, so why are we getting these cases in the national spotlight?

    Apparently the San Fran NAACP and the judge are from the Saudi Arabia school of justice:
    A Saudi court sentenced a woman who had been gang raped to six months in jail and 200 lashes -- more than doubling her initial penalty for being in the car of a man who was not a relative.
    Speaking of a city that could use a little more firing back at thugs breaking in and tough justice for those who perpetrate crimes against citizens, Memphis has to be good at something, and unfortunately it's not for what we'd prefer to talk about:
    In another blow to the Motor City's tarnished image, Detroit pushed past St. Louis to become the nation's most dangerous city, according to a private research group's controversial analysis, released Sunday, of annual FBI crime statistics. ...

    Last year's crime leader, St. Louis, fell to No. 2. Another Michigan city, Flint, ranked third, followed by Oakland Calif.; Camden, N.J.; Birmingham, Ala.; North Charleston, S.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; Richmond, Calif.; and Cleveland. The study ranked Mission Viejo, Calif., as the safest U.S. city, followed by Clarkstown, N.Y.; Brick Township, N.J.; Amherst, N.Y.; and Sugarland, Texas.
    Maybe now Tupelo will back off and stop teasing us. We'll cut you, man, we're dangerous!

    Saturday, November 17, 2007

    Jeff's Top 5 Battle Scenes

    Borrowing a topic from Filmspotting, these are my favorite five battle scenes in cinema, a collection that will not involve movies that are studied in film schools, if my taste in movies is as unoriginal and full of blockbuster pop culture as I suspect.

    1. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Not as overblown as Return of the King and Pelennor Fields. The battle at Helm's Deep is gritty, down in the ditches and dirty. Plus, Legolas does that thing where he slides down the stairs on the shield to off some bad ugly dudes.

    2. Saving Private Ryan - The first twenty minutes is as harrowing a movie scene ever was or could be. I was literally on the edge of my seat, my chin propped on the back of the chair in front of me, stupefied by what was happening.

    3. Black Hawk Down - There's something reassuring about watching the helicopters strafe the top of the building at night when our troops are trapped underneath and getting shot at by the countless thugs surrounding them. It's a feeling of raw revenge. "Get them! Kill them all!"

    4. Braveheart - You know the scene, with the kilts and the mooning.

    5. Anchorman - When the San Diego anchor teams rumble, that's as good time as I've ever had watching people kill each other, stab with a trident, run on fire or drag behind horses.

    Praise Allah, Tigers Win!

    Don't blame me, this one was sent from one of my wife's uncles:
    Tigers win the NCAA National Championship for the first time ever....

    Coach Tommy West had put together the perfect football team for the University of Memphis Tigers. The only thing that was missing was a good quarterback. He had scouted the entire nation, but he couldn't find a ringer who could ensure a top NCAA finish.

    Then one night while watching CNN he saw a war-zone scene in Afghanistan. In one corner of the background, he spotted a young Afghan Muslim soldier with a truly incredible arm. He threw a hand-grenade straight into a 15th story window 100 yards away. KABOOM! He threw another hand-grenade 75 yards away, right into a chimney. KA-BLOOEY! Then he threw another at a passing car going 90 mph - BULLS-EYE!

    "I've got to get this guy!" Coach West said to himself. "He has the perfect arm!" So, he brings him to the States and teaches him the great game of football, and the Tigers go on to win the NCAA National Championship for the first time in their history. The young Afghan is hailed as the great hero of football, and when the coach asks him what he wants, all the young man wants is to call his mother.

    "Mom," he says into the phone, "I just won the NCAA National Championship!"

    "I don't want to talk to you," the old Muslim woman says. "You deserted us. You are not my son!"

    "I don't think you understand, Mother," the young man pleads. "I've won the greatest sporting event in the college world, I'm here among thousands of my adoring fans."

    "No! Let me tell you!" his mother shouts. "At this very moment, there are gun shots all around us. The neighborhood is a pile of rubble. Your two brothers were beaten within an inch of their lives last week, and I have to keep your sister in the house so she doesn't get raped!" The old lady pauses, and then tearfully adds, "I will never forgive you for making us move to Memphis!"

    Friday, November 16, 2007

    Frosty Friday

    It's official, November 16 at 3:15 a.m. I had to scrape my windshield of frost for the first time since last winter. Okay, so I didn't feel like searching for the scraper in the back of my car and used an old podcast CD instead, but it counts. Being impatient, I left before the windshield, rear window or side windows were defrosted, thinking "What's the big deal, I'm in a rural area in the middle of the night, I can see just fine by leaning over into the passenger seat and looking through the melted bottom part." And then I passed two cars on our street, something on the highway that involved three cop cars, a fire truck and ambulance and what looked like a family of deer on the side of the road. Maybe I should wait an extra five minutes next time for the window to defrost.
     
    A weekend worth looking forward to starts at Noon today, since I'm off via a trade on Saturday to attend the Burk Thanksgiving Spectacular. How will I do on the diet faced with my first giant helping of dressing and pumpkin pie? Not well, I'm anticipating. But I'm sure I'll justify it splendidly. I think it's my fear that if I lose weight, I'll also lose my Chris Farley impersonation.
     
    Two sports topics I never want to hear about ever again: Barry Bonds and A-Rod. Add a third: O.J. Simpson.
     
    I understand that Manager of the Year always goes to the manager whose team came out of nowhere to win their divsion, but Terry Francona finished fourth and didn't even get a first place vote? Why would Joe Torre be third? For managing a team of underachieving overpaid superstars to the Wild Card? And then Mike Scioscia was second for taking a team that was already a solid playoff contender and finished with the third best record in the league? And no, this has no bearing on whether I have yelled at Tito all season long for being an awful bench coach in game situations.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    What's he got that I don't?

    Matt Damon has been named the "sexiest man alive" by People magazine, as featured on the cover of People's annual issue, on newsstands Friday.

    Once again, I finished thisclose to the honor.

    I'm not sure what more I have to do ....

    Amazing, Dancing updates

    Anyone can look good or bad in the debut episode of "The Amazing Race," so week two is when we start to see positive and negative traits play out.
     
    Case in point: Last week, I would have told you that the Asian dad and his daughter were lovable and worth rooting for. After this week, I wanted to throw him off a bridge in The Netherlands and invite his daughter to celebrate over hot cocoa. What an unsupportive, pestering, annoying man. He just wouldn't shut up, and everything out of his mouth was directed at his daughter, whom he even called a "disappointment." I want her to do well, but with another partner. Maybe they'll give her another shot in an all-star edition later.
     
    Also in my bulls-eye: Nathan and Jennifer. They bicker constantly and bitterly, and she's an awful person. Out of nowhere she calls one of The Blondes a "frickin' b*tch," even as we didn't see anything to suggest animosity between the teams at the Roadblock.
     
    Ousted: The lesbian "ministers." I'm not sad to see them go, but I would have preferred to see one of the annoying teams go.
     
    Surprising: The Goth team may be posers (seriously, do Goths really use the phrase "Oh my Goth," and how forced was it when Vyxsyn is all, "As Goths, we prefer it creepy and dark?" Please. But they're good players and they get along and they don't talk bad about other teams, so they're on my good list.
     
    What was up with the two boy-girl couples who took a half-hour to figure out that instead of yelling down four stories, it was better if the women simply went down to the bottom and tied the knots themselves? Yes, we get it, the menfolk are wusses for not knowing how to tie knots (I wouldn't have, either), but instead of questioning their masculinity, just get the task finished!
     
    And now it's time to send half the readers packing with "Dancing With the Stars!" I'll be brief, I promise.
     
    Better Cameron went than Jennie, though the fact that Marie remains is embarrassing. I just wish the judges and the guests would stop trying to make it sound like if the stars performed their best that they'd be safe, when the entire show is a popularity contest. You can dance better than everyone else, but if you don't woo the audience holding the phone, you're out.
     
    The two best moments from Monday came from Tom (what, you expected Samantha to come up with something funny?): When Jennie danced in a green ensemble and he said she reminded him to buy frozen vegetables a la the Jolly Green Giant, and when Cameron danced to the Harry Potter movie theme and Tom called the judges the Dursleys.
     

    No. 2, but No. 1 in the end

    Forget individual awards. Josh Beckett may have finished second in AL Cy Young voting yesterday to C.C. Sabathia, but when it counted, Beckett trounced Sabathia two times in the AL championship series and went 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA in four postseason starts, striking out 35 and walking two. Sabathia was 1-2 with an 8.80 ERA and 13 walks in three playoff outings.
     
    Yes, this is my way of sticking out my tongue to voters - who cast ballots after the regular season, admittedly - and saying, "Nah! Nah! Take that!"
     
    How wide open was voting? Consider the numbers, and you try to figure it out: Sabathia went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA and 209 strikeouts, pitching a major league-high 241 innings. Beckett (20-7) became the only big leaguer to win 20 games since 2005, compiling a 3.27 ERA in 200 2-3 innings. The Angels John Lackey led the AL in ERA at 3.01, going 19-9 and tossing 224 innings. Cleveland's Fausto Carmona was 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA.
     
    Normally the winner would be on the team with the best record, but the Red Sox and Indians were equal this year, so I can't fault the decision process, since next year voters will take into account this fall's postseason numbers into consideration, and vote accordingly. So long as the Sox are No. 1, and the dang Yanks aren't in the picture at all, life is good!
     

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Symbolism for thee

    If I watched any of NBC's environmental stunt week, do I get enough carbon credits to offset having an SUV? Because if so, they should extend it to a month and I'll take a private flight to the Caribbean!

    Left-wing Hollywood actors (but I repeat myself) have been flocking to Venezuela to get chummy with dictator-in-training Hugo Chavez, who considers Fidel Castro a mentor. They also feel that President Bush and his administration are thugs trying to end democracy and take over the world. But I'm sure they just feel it's a misunderstanding when anti-Chavez protesters (protesting Chavez making sweeping reforms in the constitution to protect his power) are shot at.

    Some would call this "silencing of dissent." But I'm a right-wing fascist so I what do I know?

    Dustin in the wind

    The spoiled get, er, spoilered!?

    Congrats to Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year.

    Fellow rookies Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima finished in the top six, and next season look to another trifecta with Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester being eligible. Go Sox!

    Somebody please beat these guys

    The Sports Guy is increasingly a whiny Patriots brat. In his column last Friday he spent the entire time complaining that the NFL is out to get his cheatin' hearts and sent the refs to sic 'em in their win over the Colts.

    "Waaah, everyone hates us! Then I'll show them, I'll give 'em wedgies every time I see them! Waaa, but then they go call the principal! Wusses!"

    In his Victory metaphor, I don't think he even realizes that the Patriots are the Nazis and the rest of the league are the allies.

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    Good Monday morning, my readers

    Y'all, I am so sorry that I haven't been up to date with my emails and comments here. My work schedule has been such that any minute I'm on the computer at home I'm trying to upload pictures from the cruise and write the travelogue, since of course I don't have Internet access at work.

    Here's the excuse: last Wednesday and Thursday I ended up working the evening shift, then going home for five hours of sleep before working Friday morning, then normal Saturday and Sunday evening shift, and back at work this morning at 4 a.m. for a trade in order to be off this Saturday to attend my mom-in-law's Burk Family Thanksgiving Spectacular. (No word on what float we're supposed to bring.)

    Elsewhere, randomly ... Yesterday in line at the gas station near work (the one where I was hit up for money at 3 a.m., though this was 4 p.m.), a woman comes up to me and asks if I can get her from there to Highway 78 so she can go home to Atlanta. I'd say she found the right person for that job, eh?

    By the way, for those of you who were aghast that I dared go to a gas station at 3 a.m. and allow myself to be accosted, last week I was pumping gas at another gas station near the station, across from the U. of Memphis, and hit up for money "for gas." Why, golly, he'd even just drive his vehicle behind mine and allow me to use my credit card to fill his tank. How nice. This was at 7 p.m., so it apparently doesn't matter where or when you're pumping gas 'round here.

    I love my wife's enthusiasm and passion for anything and everything. She could flip by a random college football game pitting Wofford against Coastal Carolina, immediately decide Wofford should win, and get upset an hour later when Coastal Carolina almost comes back to win.

    We're kind of rooting for a writer's strike to extend into the spring now. We have a lot of movies to catch up on.

    Saw a story on the AP wire that Wes Bentley, who played the creepy neighbor in "American Beauty," says his grandparents are evangelists and his parents are preachers, so he doesn't tell them about his job. Do you think he tells them he works at Subway and just has to do a lot of overtime?

    I really have no clue what to think of this upcoming "Star Trek" movie prequel, especially looking at the cast. Winona Ryder signed up to play Spock's Earth mother. That's fine, I guess, but Karl Urban, whom I think is awesome, will play Dr. Leonard McCoy, and that's just weird. Dr. McCoy wasn't exactly known for being able to chop aliens in two. The rest of the cast I've never heard of, but you might have, so here's a list: Chris Pine ("Smokin' Aces") is the young Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho as Sulu, Zoe Saldana as communications officer Uhura and Anton Yelchin as navigator Chekov. Leonard Nimoy will appear as an older version of Spock, which is strange since the story takes place when the original crew is in Starfleet. "Hulk" Eric Bana will be a villain for the movie, expected in theaters next December.

    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    Still breathing baseball

    Thanks For Noticing Me is nothing if not accountable for its actions (at least until I whine, moan and take my ball home).

    Now that we're in the Hot Stove League of offseason baseball, it's time to review my predictions for the 2007 season:

    AL EAST - Boston (correct, but I'm a homer so this will always be my pick)
    AL CENTRAL - Detroit (wrong, Cleveland bounced back from a horrible 2006)
    AL WEST - Anaheim (Check!)
    AL WILD CARD - Dang Yankees (unfortunately correct)

    NL EAST - NY Mets (wrong *choke*)
    NL CENTRAL - St. Louis (wrong, geez what a disaster)
    NL WEST - Los Angeles (wrong, Arizona, who knew?)
    NL WILD CARD - San Diego (wrong, last-inning collapse to the Rockies)

    AL PLAYOFFS - Boston over Detroit, Anaheim over the Dang Yanks; Boston over Anaheim (Sort of correct. Boston over Anaheim, Cleveland over the dang Yanks)

    NL PLAYOFFS - Mets over San Diego, L.A. over St. Louis; Mets over L.A. (Colorado over Philly, the Cubs lose as usual to Arizona)

    WORLD SERIES - Boston over Mets, Buckner gets the winning game ball (Red Sox over Rockies. Go Sox!)

    Predictably, as an AL guy I was right most of the time there, but in the NL I was 0-for-everything. There's always next year.

    Saturday, November 10, 2007

    Sweeps Saturday

    I'm enjoying my first sweeps back in local TV news, but not nearly as much as my friends over at WMC Channel 5 are thus far. Just this week, they had a package about strippers doing the nasty on stage, complete with grainy sometimes-blurred video, and then yesterday they render us speechless with a piece on Furries, people with a fetish for dressing as animals. And the Furry convention happened BACK DURING LABOR DAY, meaning that the station held the story for two months to get a sweeps jump out of it. Well played, channel 5.
     
    Last night, Val and I drove up to Jackson to meet up with The Gang, having dinner at Longhorn as a belated birthday for frequent TFNM commenter Heather, and dessert at Maggie Moos. Yes, we're on a diet, but doggone it if we didn't enjoy a Better Batter Cake Carnival! At least Val and I shared a "regular" sized cup, so that's something, right?
     
    Monday we went for a checkup at the doctor (and I came away with a bag for a stool sample, but that's a totally different story - ick). My weight there was 377, so I have a place to start for the diet. I like to say that I've gained 15 pounds since I started my Weight Watchers in March 2006 at 362, instead of saying that I lost 45 pounds on WW before careening off it during our courtship and gaining 60 since!  We're not keeping points yet, though we need to start before I begin to get wooed by the idea of a Garibaldi's Pizza a block away from the station!
     
    The entire way to Jackson and back we listened to XM's Christmas station. Too soon? We don't think so. They turned over channel 103 to the holiday a week ago, and will turn a few more over on the 19th, so we're quite festive. Of course, so far we've only heard one Christmas song ("Winter Wonderland") repeated with different artists, and by Dec. 26 we'll have heard every carol 50 times by 25 different artists, and I'll be ready to ram my car into a Christmas Tree lot. But that's then.
     
    Speaking of being annoyed enough to cause damage, Val and I made a Wal-Mart trip this afternoon. Always guaranteed to wean you of a little more faith in your fellow men and women. We were second in line at the 20 Items Or More register, behind a lady who had about 30 items in her cart (unless she was counting all six packages of brats as one) and a turkey without a tag. The latter was our downfall. As every other line had five customers we never had a chance to scoot over, and our stuff was already on the counter, we waited ... and waited ... and waited for someone in the back to either get another turkey or weigh the one without the tag ... and waited ... five minutes later, I asked if she would pay for what she already had scanned and let us go and then pay for the turkey when the lady came back, but no answer ... and waited ... she keeps pointing out other registers saying we could move over, while Val tells me that if the lady wants us to do that, she can put our stuff back in our cart for us ... and finally we get out of there. It took us less time to eat lunch across the street, go to Walgreens and pick up our dry cleaning. Combined. A trip to Wal-Mart used to be fun, now it's a nightmare, every time.
     
    Everyone keeps telling me that the writer's strike will cripple network TV through next spring. Except for Heroes, which has already started and will have to finish prematurely, I can't really find myself caring. So "24" gets a season off. "Lost" takes a break. Big deal. We'll catch up later. There will be plenty of awful reality shows to keep us company in the meantime. Anyone care for "Deal Or No Deal" meets "Survivor" meets "The Bachelor?" The 26 models vie for the attention of Jeff Probst while competing in hand-to-hand duels in China!  

    Friday, November 09, 2007

    In The Shadow of the Moon

    There aren't enough hyperboles in my vocabulary to describe the feats of the Americans who pulled together the space program to put astronauts on the moon and return them safely. (That was, to me, the key phrase in President Kennedy's speech calling for such by the end of the 60s. Let's get the heroes home.)

    With "In the Shadow of the Moon," director David Sington and producer Ron Howard give us a documentary that is essentially a bunch of old men telling stories over pretty pictures, only they are the bravest Americans of their generation telling the most phenomenal stories ever told, and they happen to be true.

    (At the end they laugh off suggestions that it's all a big fake, pointing out that if there are two people with a secret then one will spill the beans, so how have thousands kept the biggest secret in humanity? Not that this will quiet the conspiracy theorist creepies who frequent whatever Art Bell's overnight radio show is called now and talk about how they can see - SEE! - reflections in helmets that prove ancient civilizations visited the moon first! Which is made of cheese!)

    Between Howard's film "Apollo 13," the series "From The Earth to the Moon" and Tom Wolfe's novel-turned-film "The Right Stuff," the U.S.'s part of the space race has been well documented. Here it's condensed to the simplicity audiences can digest, about 10 of the 24 men who traveled to the moon sharing their recollections about the NASA landings without any need for a narrator, there are no special effects needed with such cool actual footage, some of it you no doubt haven't seen before.

    The astronauts were cocky sonsabitches, and right on. That's what we need from space cowboys sitting on top of 50-ton firecrackers. But they were smart and quick on their feet, too. Now, in the close-ups of their wrinkled faces still filled with wide-eyed joy for their accomplishments, you marvel and respect men who risk their lives for adventure and science. Mike Collins, who orbited above as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin frolicked on another world, was the star. He's just so adorable and funny.

    I actually could have used a few more minutes about their activities on the moon. We take such a long time getting there that it seems as if the film wraps too quickly. What's it like to hit a golf ball on the moon? How far did it go?

    I do give credit to the filmmakers for not giving short shrift to the religious views of the astronauts, for whom the trip off the Earth enhanced their belief that only a loving God could create such a beautiful world that they looked back at from the Moon.

    "In The Shadow Of The Moon" makes you proud to be an American, even if - like me - you were born long after the Apollo missions were scrapped. The film is surely very nostalgic for those of you who watched it happen, daydreaming of a time when the U.S. was bold and everything seemed possible, even traveling to another world.

    My safety versus their racial politics

    You know, I see the value of political correctness as it originally began, to discourage stereotypes and to encourage a sense of community and prevent hurt feelings. But when it infringes on my potential safety as a citizen, I draw the line.
     
    Here's a release the Safe Streets Task Force put out in Memphis about a recent robbery on Summer at a Domino's Pizza:
     
    "He is described as male, 18 to 20, 5'7; 170 pounds Red hooded Jacket, Jeans, white tennis shoes armed with a handgun."
     
    Anyone find what's missing?
     

    Thursday, November 08, 2007

    The best reality show on television

    This season starts with a big warning: Don't mess with Karma, or Eeyore will knock off your tail! Or something like that.
     
    First impressions:
     
    Why start at the Playboy Mansion if there aren't any bunnies, Hef or the contestants aren't given boob jobs? What's the point?
     
    No married couples. Yes, I'm aware there's a lesbian "minister" couple. Like a said, there aren't any married couples on this year's show and if that makes me a big fat bigot so be it.
     
    For that matter and in the interest of ticking off open-minded people everywhere, why does it seem that every pairing has to be quirky? I understand that it makes if fun if the contestants have interesting hobbies, jobs or personalities, but it seems like there are few "normal" people this season, and no, I don't just mean Christian white married couples from Kansas City.
     
    Part of the reason of my dismay: Half the pairs are from California and thus big fakes. What's up with that? Where are the goofy country folks who at first seem like they're there to be made fun of, and end up the most likable people (which generally means they don't yell at each other constantly) on the show? It's almost like the show thought Chip and Kim were too boring to win, so they're forgoing anyone who doesn't get over emotional.
     
    Initially, we're pulling for the grandson/granddad team and the New Orleans brother/sister.
     
    As for the others:
     
    All the people who are "dating" are already doomed. One couple announced on national television that he was unfaithful, another admitted that he's a committment-phobe, another pair just started dating and will quickly realize if the other is "the one."
     
    Kynt and Vyxyn? What? Can they really be Goth if they're on a reality show? Especially if they use phrases like, "Oh my Goth?" Posers.
     
    I read somewhere that Ryan Seacrest's ex-girlfriend is one of the contestants. My first guess is that she's one of the blonde bimbos, who I always hate on this show.
     
    The couple I was going to call Will & Grace until they got the boot, Ari & Staella, began the show talking about how they believe in Karma, then proceeded to steal a taxi from another pair and then threatened to kill their donkey in Ireland. Eeyore did not take them Owl's house, as it were, and thankfully one of the unlikable teams is already gone! Good start!

    Not missing Sabrina, loving Heroes

    It's official: "Dancing With the Stars" is bad luck. Jane and Marie both lost parents. Marie passed out, Jane had to leave with food poisoning. Cameron has to harp on and on about his schedule because he's the only one apparently with a career. Jennie has to look terrible with all that makeup in HDTV.

    Tuesday, Jane went home. Pure class and elegance, but by now clearly not the best dancer.

    How'd everyone do on Monday?

    I'm pretty sure that Jane was wearing toilet paper for a dress just in case her food poisoning returned and she had to run to the powder room. For her second dance BREAKING NEWS FROM EYEWITNESS NEWS 24! WE'RE BREAKING INTO JANE'S DANCE BECAUSE OF A STORY THAT NO ONE CARES ABOUT. SERIOUSLY, A SHOOTING IN MEMPHIS? BIG FREAKIN' DEAL. THERE HAVE BEEN 140 MURDERS IN MEMPHIS THIS YEAR, WHY BREAK INTO oh good, Jane's back ... aaaand, she's done. Great.

    Helio and Julianne are still adorable, but this week was just kind of blah. He really doesn't have much hip action, being accustomed to sitting still in a race car for hours at a time. Still rooting for them, though.

    Marie's first dance was darn good. She really does move well. The second dance was full of cha, but not so much cha-cha.

    Mel and Maks ... whatever. I don't think it's Scary Spice, but Maks gets on my nerves. I couldn't even tell that the second dance was a Paso doble, without any of the dragging or bull-matador acting.

    Cameron has gone from dancing to flailing. There's a difference. Edyta looks like she'd more comfortable if there was a pole in the middle of the dance floor.

    I'm not sure what all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the Cheetah Girl was all about. Get over it! It's a competition! Someone has to go! If not her, then you!

    Len throws in some political humor, all "Just because you come from Brazil doesn't mean you're going to be good at the samba, just like because you come from Texas doesn't mean you're going to be a good president." Wow, taking hits at Lyndon Johnson, just a month after Lady Bird passed. How rude.

    Jennie was better than the judges' scores, though she needs to get past the fact that Derek has cooties. Seriously, is she 14? Just push your pelvis up against the kid and act!

    Samantha blah blah blah. Even she admits that no one listens to her. Tom should break in the middle of her sentence and say, "Why do I need a co-host? I'm Tom effing Bergeron!"

    The results show was worth it if only for the return of Kenny Mayne and DanceCenter. Funniest bit of reality TV this season. Love the bios and the notes. "Jennie was the hot chick on 90210," for example.

    Elsewhere, "Heroes" is definitely back. After a few slow episodes to start the season, and without the Mexican Death Chick, this show rocked. I'd already read the speculation that Kensei was Adam Monroe, but it didn't make it any less satisfying when he showed up with Peter at the end. What's up with Mohinder? What a wuss. He knows The Company is evil, yet he's willing to give them the girl and go after Bennett? I hope the virus ends up being called Suresh's Disease, like how in "The Stand" it's Captain Tripp's Disease after the guy who allowed it to spread and wipe out 90 percent of the planet.

    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Randomly

  • Director M. Night Shyamalan won a ruling allowing him to keep an 8-foot tall deer fence around his estate. The twist? The deer are actually inside the fence, and are alien robots from the future!

    Hey, it’s still a better premise than Lady in the Water.

  • The Dang Patriots have absolutely no shame. Those cheating, no class big fat liars had the gall to accuse the Colts of piping in crowd noise during the game Sunday afternoon. A game in which they won.

    Hey kettle, you’re black!

  • By the way, in case you haven’t forgotten (and how could you?), the RED SOX WON THE WORLD SERIES.

    And the hits keep on coming! The Hot Stove League is steamin', as Boston’s management coddled hero Curt Schilling enough to sign him for a one year deal worth $8 million plus incentives. Schilling, who turns 41 on Nov. 14, went 9-8 with a 3.87 ERA in the regular season. More importantly, in the postseason, the veteran righty went 3-0 in four starts, with a 3.00 ERA, improving his career postseason won-loss mark to 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA.

    Smart move by Theo and his boys. Schilling is a bona fide Red Sox Nation hero. He could drive a bus through a parade of nuns and we’d give him the benefit of the doubt. I don’t know if that says something about sports and hero worship, but I’m okay with that. We have won two World Series in three years, after all!

    Elsewhere, Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis yesterday earned his first Gold Glove after avoiding an error all season. That’s 1,080 total chances and 990 putouts for the Sox.

    Youkilis joins former Sox 1B George "Boomer" Scott, a three-time Gold Glove winner [1967, 1968, and 1971], as only the second Red Sox 1B to win the defensive award, and he’s just the second Red Sox player to earn a Gold Glove in the last 16 seasons. Sox captain and catcher Jason Varitek won the award in 2005.

    (Okay, so we’re better hitters than fielders. I’m okay with that. We have won two World Series in three years, after all.)

    Heck, I’m even enthused by the resigning of veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and *gasp* even Julian Tavarez! Sure, he can be a head case, but he also eats up innings when the fifth starter is feeling woozy, and hey, would you rather have Eric Gagne? I didn’t think so.

    (Yeah, yeah, I know, apples and oranges. But I wanted one more shot at the Gagger. Whom Dad correctly predicted would be a disaster in a Boston uniform. And yet we still won our second World Series in three years!)

  • I missed this during the playoffs, but thanks to my big bro for the link to The Onion:
    The Boston Red Sox, who have failed to win a single World Series since the departure of relief pitcher Curtis Leskanic in 2004, are attempting to defy the odds and do the impossible: Reverse the curse of the journeyman reliever whose ghost has haunted this team since the mid-2000s.

    Pitted against the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 Fall Classic, the team that for two long years seemed like it might be destined to lose forever has a chance to finally put an end to its 36-month-long World Series drought. However, the Red Sox must first overcome the famed Curse of Curtis Leskanic, which caused medium-to-long-suffering fans much anguish and heartache during the period between 2005 and 2006.
    Click on the link for the rest!

  • For fun on my birthday last month, Val bought me those headphones advertised on late-night TV that supposedly give you super hearing. Alas, as expected, they don't seem to do so. I won't be listening to buff babes fawn over me in the gym, or hear the quarterback giving plays in the huddle over 55,000 screaming fans in the stadium. I'm shocked, SHOCKED!
  • But she supports the troops, I'm sure

    Courtesy OpinionJournal.com, a scary look into the mind of the anti-war, anti-military, anti-American left, as written by journalist Rochelle Reed, an editor at the Tribune of San Luis Obispo, Calif., about her son's decision to join the Army:
    Never in a million years did I imagine my son would join the Army. Nor did Evan. In high school, he'd hang up on recruiters who called the house. He'd blurt, "Get away from me!" to the ones who trawled the local hangouts. Our home was liberal Democrat and anti-war and now, at 21, he was a Michael Moore fan. The night before he left, he spent his time reading "Stupid White Men." . . .

    When I tell people that Evan has joined the Army, their reactions are almost always the same: their faces freeze, they pause way too long, and then they say, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry for you." I hang my head and look mournful, accepting their sympathy for the worry that lives in me. But as it dawns on them that Evan wasn't drafted, as Vietnam still clings to my generation, their expressions become quizzical, then disbelieving. I know what they're thinking: Why in the world would any kid in his right mind choose to enlist when we're in the middle of a war? I begin telling them the story, desperate to assure them it wasn't arrogant patriotism or murderous blood lust that convinced him to join. What finally hooked him was a recruiter's comment that if he thought the country's role in Iraq was so screwed up, he should try to fix it.
    And yet, in her eyes and those of her left-wing cohorts, I'm the fascist for questioning her patriotism.

    Monday, November 05, 2007

    Having our cake and eating it, too

    Since Team Valfrey was out of the country for our first anniversary, we celebrated the ritual of eating the top layer of our cake upon our arrival.

    Admittedly, we weren't sure how it would taste, since it's red velvet, which I don't think I've ever actually eaten before (I had the white portion of our cake last year), and after a few power outages throughout the year we weren't sure how frozen/unfrozen it's been.

    No worries! It was yumalicious! Although, having started our diet we took just a few bites, so there's plenty left in the fridge if you stop by! Or we could freeze it again, and take a few bites every year for the next fifty years.






    By the way, I never got around to writing thank you cards before our trip, so I want to express deep thanks to everyone who sent a card and/or gift for my birthday last month and for our first anniversary. We appreciate all the thoughts our family and friends, and we love you all! Group hug!

    Grande Venti

    The most recent good Vents from the Atlanta paper:

    - I’ve got a great idea. The best way to find bin Laden is to put all of the Just for Men retailers in the tribal area of Pakistan under surveillance. When he comes in for his next purchase, we nab him. Can’t miss.

    - My husband did something at the doctor’s office that no woman has ever done. He weighed with his shoes, coat and hat on, and a book in his hand.

    - Do evil chickens lay deviled eggs?

    - In a few years, will we get to vote on a new postage stamp featuring the young, skinny Britney or the old, fat Britney like we did for Elvis?

    - Here in the South we don’t mow. You either “cut the grass” or “bush-hog” the pasture.

    - I love being married. It is so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.

    - Junk is something you’ve kept for years and then throw it away one week before you need it.

    - If Dan Rather’s ethics matched his ego, he would still be broadcasting.

    - I see that new housing starts are at their lowest level in 12 years. Yes, Hillary, last time things were this bad, YOU were living in the White House.

    - Before everybody gets too excited about government-sponsored health care, remember, once the lawyers figure out there will be nobody to sue, they’ll oppose it.

    - The Democrats want a pullout of U.S. troops in Iraq. Isn’t that the same goal of al-Qaida and bin Laden?

    - I give 100 percent to my job every week: 15 percent on Monday, 25 percent on Tuesday, 35 percent on Wednesday, 20 percent on Thursday, and 5 percent on Friday!

    - If Hillary is elected, do we get all the things back she and Bill took when they left last time?

    - Someday they’ll open a fancy restaurant on the moon. The food will be great, but there will be no atmosphere.

    - After much scientific study, I have concluded that for every 5 degrees colder it gets outside, my toilet seat gets 10 degrees colder.

    - As I told my wife, I don’t get lost. I just like to investigate alternative destinations.

    - How did they describe “counter-clockwise” before clocks were invented?

    - Liberal utopia: one-third of the people on welfare, one-third of the people working for the government and one-third of the people paying all the bills.

    - If the U.S. adopts Hillary’s health care plan just like Canada, where will the Canadians go when they need good health care?

    - Law of Probability No. 1: The probability of being watched when you do something stupid is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.

    - It is said that if all the cars in the world were lined up end to end, some idiot would try and pass them.

    - Cogito ergo spud: I think, therefore I yam.

    - There are two types of people — those that experience deja vu, and those that experience deja vu.

    - For some people, it could be that their sole purpose in life is to be a warning to others.

    - I’m so old that all my friends in heaven don’t think I made it.

    - I’ll never have a college building with my name on it, but I have a lot of classroom desks that do.

    - Some women have a “can do” list for their husband. I’m so bad around the house that my wife has a “don’t do” list.

    - Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.

    - Why do batteries in smoke alarms only die at 3 in the morning?

    Friday, November 02, 2007

    This one almost made everyone faint

    We're finally catching up with our DDR after the vacation, and considering the option of watching "Dancing with the Stars" at Dad's was off the table under threat of being out of his will, Val and I waited until Wednesday and Thursday nights to see what we missed. Not only did we miss the live episodes, we missed the biggest shocker in show history, with Cheetah Girl and betting favorite Sabrina Bryan voted off. Even the laid back, happy-go-lucky host, Tom Bergeron, seemed ready to wag his finger at America and yell, "SHAME!"

    We weren't the biggest fans of Sabrina - Helio & Julianne still make us smile - but clearly she was the best dancer on the show and we'd rather see her than Scary Space make it further. Either way, it's time for Marie and Jane to go. They're fun, they're cute, but they aren't better than half the dancers who have been voted off, and worse than every dance team left.

    My final three: Helio, Jennie and Cameron.

    Jennie needs to do something about the makeup they're using on her, though. Very harsh in that lighting. And yes, I'm straight, and married.

     

    In other reality television news, set your timers for the new "Amazing Race" season premiering this Sunday! Will a likable team ever win again? Will the teams ever not be surprised at the poverty they come across in developing nations? How quickly can I fast-forward past the disgusting food challenges? Find out on the best reality show ever created!

    Thursday, November 01, 2007

    New month, new forecast

    Hey folks! It's Three Things Thursday!

    First off, Val and I landed back home in Memphis at 5:30 last night, and ten hours later I'm back at work. Thankfully, the vacation was restful enough that I'm in that mode where you are still feeling blissful and don't give a flip what happens wrong at work. Let everyone else get stressed. I'm just fine. Hopefully in the next week I'll have a travelogue and photo album posted of the trip.

    Second, October has turned to November. Hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween, carefree of vampires and werewolves. The high is supposed to be in the low 60s today, so finally Fall has arrived! November also means sweeps here, so I look forward to panicking the entire city about their impending doom, while teasing them about it for a week beforehand. Will opening a bag of Lay's with your teeth give you rabies? Find out next Wednesday in a special report! (Not to mention that the sweeps packages are usually several minutes long, which gives us a nice refresher during the show. (Do the crossword, run to Lenny's for a sandwich, that sort of thing.)

    Lastly, and most importantly, November 1st ushers in a new lifestyle for team Valfrey. We're no longer newlyweds, now into our second year as husband-and-wife, and it's time to start eating right, lose a few pounds (or in my case, several, several dozen pounds) and get into shape.

    My sisters, mother, father, brother and sister-in-law, aunt, now even buddy/pal/amigo Steve, all have started or are currently on successful missions to shed pounds. It's my turn to try again.

    My blood pressure is high and back hurts so much that I can't even bend over to put on socks, I leave my shoes tied because it's too difficult to do so daily, and even putting on my Superman underoos is difficult, which kills the illusion.

    I get hot and sweaty all the time, usually if it's ever over 70 degrees. I never figured out the definition of irony, but I will say that I love chilly temps, yet maintain this insulation that makes me hot when others, namely my wife, require blankets and sweaters. And have you noticed that when people are sweaty they're stinky, too?

    At many restaurants if I sit in a booth my belly presses up against the table and I end up dribbling my fattening meal all over my shirt. It's pathetic.

    Can I flip the switch in my brain to start a new, dare I say the four-letter word, "diet?" We'll see. It's time to pull out the Weight Watchers books, start adding up points again and ordering a lot - a LOT - of chicken. Good luck to us all!

    (And when's Thanksgiving?)