Thursday, July 31, 2008

A candidate you can trust

Manny Being Manny somewhere else

It's official. The Manny era in Boston is over.

Ramirez was traded to the Dodgers today, and GM Theo Epstein must have really wanted him gone because he also gave up reliever Craig Hansen and outfielder Brandon Moss to Pittsburgh as part of the deal, and all we got back was outfielder Jason Bay and no relievers. The Sox will also pay the remaining $7 million of Ramirez's 2008 salary.

For some info on Bay, according to the Extra Bases blog:
Bay is a two-time All-Star who owns a career .376 on-base percentage and a .282 lifetime batting average. He's hitting .282 with 22 homers and 64 RBIs this season. The British Columbia native and Gonzaga graduate was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2004, when he hit .282 with 26 homers and 82 RBIs. In 2005, he hit .306 with 32 homers, 101 RBIs and stole 21 bases. In 2006, he established career-highs in homers (35) and RBI (109). Last year, he again led the struggling Pirates in homers (21) and RBIs (84). Bay has one year left on a four-year, $18.25-million deal he signed in 2005. He is due $5.75 million this year and $7.5 million in 2009.
Wait, he's Canadian? What's that aboot, eh? And yeah, this year the numbers are comparable, but will any AL pitcher really be scared of Bay like they were Manny batting behind Big Papi?

Six! Six dancers! Ha! Ha! Ha!

What's up with the title to the post? I turned into the Count from Sesame Street last night watching "So You Think You Can Dance," so many DING!s did I rack up as the judges kissed the butts of the choreographers. We get it, the choreographers are great, it's never their fault and always the dancers' problem if the performance is lacking, blah blah blah.
Now, the top six, reduced to an hour for the first time, which confused the heck out of us. As we tuned in at 7, we thought, hmmm, they're doing a group dance? Why is Comfort on stage? This looks familiar! Oh, wait, this is a replay of Thursday's results show. Oops! So we turned to the Cardinals-Braves game instead, and took our now-nightly walk around the golf course and neighborhood. It's not a long walk, being that even though the sun's beyond the horizon it's still 95 degrees and humid this time of year.
MARK and COURTNEY - Very cute together. They started with an elegant waltz, and followed with a freaky-deaky jazz routine, which just looks contemporary to us. It was full of "Mark" moves, fully suited to his strange style. She's still cute and talented, but not as much as Katee and Chelsie.
KATEE and JOSHUA - Their Blue-Light special contemporary to Celine was nothing but her jumping and him catching her, albeit beautifully done. The paso doble was fine, but I wasn't feeling any strength and power from Joshua. They looked equal on stage, when he's supposed to be dominating and in total control. The judges, of course, love it and have decided that with Will gone they will now push for Joshua at every opportunity.
Can we stop doing solos from now on? Does anyone change their mind watching another 45 seconds of the same ol' same ol' that we've seen from these guys and gals for ten weeks? Oh look, the girls are doing that twirl/split thing, Twitch and Joshua are touching their shoulders again and I still don't know what it means, and wow, what a shock, Mark does that throw-your-arms-out-front-and-dance-backwards move.
TWITCH and CHELSIE - She rocked the mambo while he looked stiff, and then, oh so conveniently, he gets to do another hip-hop routine and gets to be the last of the night. It was creative and interesting to start, but wore down after a minute and Val and I were bored and started talking about how to fix chicken for supper tonight. (Crock Pot. So easy.)
Who's going home? I say Twitch and Courtney should, but I fear it will be Mark and Chelsie.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Backhanded enthusiasm

I think it says a lot about how the Red Sox have played since the All-Star break that I was pumping my fist with excitement last night watching the ninth inning, only because Dustin Pedroia hit a single to prevent Boston getting no-hit at home for the first time since 1958. Mind you, my guys still lost 6-2.
But at least the dang Yanks lost as well, am I right? (Yes, I know that Tampa is technically in first place, but I'm still not really believing that they'll last there by October, so I don't really pay attention to their scores.)

Jeff reviews a musical set in Greece based on the songs of a Swedish pop group

I'm a married man, with a lovely wife who enjoys watching and attending sporting events, so frankly I'm not worried about my Man Card right now. With that said, no, I have not seen "The Dark Knight" yet, but this past weekend I did see "Mamma Mia!" Let's just say that Val really needed to see a light, fun, entertaining movie, so when her parents called and invited us to join them for the musical based on the music of ABBA, well, who were we to turn down that offer? And truth be told, when the trailer first came out, I wasn't exactly averse to seeing it.

So no, I will not be ashamed to enjoy a movie that is nothing but fun and makes you jiggle in your seat and smile almost throughout (I could have done without the dramatic centerpieces that are supposed to create doubt of a happy ending, which we all know is going to happen, so why bother with any downers?). Back home I even bought the soundtrack, which is light and fluffy and catchy. I love the flourishes, the bells and whistles that make it so sing-a-longy. The setting is almost another character, in Greece, a beautiful location, sunny, luscious and head-to-toe in blue from the sky to the waters.

I could have lived in the 30s, 40s and 50s and gone to the movie houses for any number of musicals that featured the big musical numbers, such as "How Do I Know" in last year's "Enchanted" that made me warm and tingly. In "Mamma Mia!" when the women are dancing in the streets to "Dancing Queen," or as the guys are doing the penguin dance with flippers on their feet as they sing "Lay All Your Love On Me," it's impossible not to smile and bob along.

For a story, Meryl Streep was a slutty hippie in her youth, ended up pregnant with now-20-year-old Sophie (Amanda Seyfried, who looks 12), who has invited the three men who could be her father to her wedding. The men are Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard, all of whom apparently were quite smitten with Streep, who redefines the phrase "over the top" for her role.

Of all the leads, Pierce is most lacking in singing talent, but it doesn't really matter. Everyone's having such a good time it's hard not to join in. The music is good (so long as you like ABBA, and we do), the setting is idyllic, the cast is memorable and there's no shame in blaring the soundtrack while showering! (Yes, I have convinced myself of this.)


In other film news ... Have you seen the various ads for the new animated "Star Wars: The Clone Wars?" One of them focuses on a pre-teen Jedi girl with all the sassy one-liners you'd expect from "The Parent Trap." Just in case you Ewok haters thought George Lucas couldn't be any more ridiculous.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

So long July

Found two golf balls mowing the yard yesterday, but two goodies. One was a practice ball from the range (how'd that get by the 14th fairway?), and the other is a Nike ball stamped with the logo from the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

Team Valfrey is ready for July to end. The good times of a week of vacation at Chickasaw seems so far away now. August looks busy, but with something to look forward to. The first couple of weekends we'll be heading to Val's grandmother's to help with remodeling (apparently my experience with painting ceilings is now legendary), then helping Val's brother Ken move. The weekend of the 15th, though, is all about me and Val, a weekend in Hot Springs, trying to get as relaxed and carefree as possible.

I haven't read all the details of the mortgage bill Congress just passed and Bush is going to sign, but if this is true, I'll be ticked:

"The measure includes $15 billion in tax cuts, including a significant expansion of the low-income housing tax credit and a credit of up to $7,500 for first-time home buyers for houses purchased between April 9, 2008, and July 1, 2009."

April 9? Not, say, January 1 when, you know, Val and I could get some of that action? Who arbitrarily decided April 9? Why not just go back to the start of the year? Idiots.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Manny being ... hmmm, maybe this time it could work

Manny Ramirez appears to be pouting again. After being criticized for sitting out Friday's loss to the dang Yanks, he decided that the Red Sox would rather trade him and just get it over with already.

For those keeping score, this would be about the seventh trade deadline in a row where Manny has made stupid comments that do nothing but annoy the front office and surely make teammates shake their heads with disbelief at this kook. This amazingly talented and humorous kook, whom I have defended time and time again.

Still, this year the thought may hold merit. It's extremely doubtful that the Sox will pick up Manny's option at the end of the year, so why not deal him to a National League club looking for excitement at the plate (in case they're lacking a subpar outfielder who places calls during pitching changeovers in the outfield fence), and try to get a decent hitter and maybe even a relief pitcher in the deal? There are enough solid batters already in Boston to make it worthwhile even during a pennant race to defend the World Series title.

This is nuts

Okay, seriously, this is just gross. In the drive-through at Arby's the other night, this young guy in front of me in a big Bronco complete with the big tired and mud caked on the body that indicates someone with a rural bent, had what appeared to be testicles dangling from the hitch.

I even took a picture to show Val, so amused and disgusted I was. Have I been missing a trend? How long has this been going on? What idiot would think it's cool?

Sure enough, this is actually a big enough deal that a Virginia lawmaker is trying to ban them.

Memphis crime: The government is baffled, the rest of us aren't

The Atlantic has a detailed and very depressing feature on why crime in Memphis seems so unstoppable and how it seemed to explode across the city. Suffice to say, it was all about the government thinking that giving people an upgrade in housing would make them less likely to live a life of crime. Didn't work. All of the hot spots are where people moved from the torn-down housing projects into scattered neighborhoods:
If replacing housing projects with vouchers had achieved its main goal—infusing the poor with middle-class habits—then higher crime rates might be a price worth paying. But today, social scientists looking back on the whole grand experiment are apt to use words like baffling and disappointing. A large federal-government study conducted over the past decade—a follow-up to the highly positive, highly publicized Gautreaux study of 1991—produced results that were “puzzling,” said Susan Popkin of the Urban Institute. In this study, volunteers were also moved into low-poverty neighborhoods, although they didn’t move nearly as far as the Gautreaux families. Women reported lower levels of obesity and depression. But they were no more likely to find jobs. The schools were not much better, and children were no more likely to stay in them. Girls were less likely to engage in risky behaviors, and they reported feeling more secure in their new neighborhoods. But boys were as likely to do drugs and act out, and more likely to get arrested for property crimes. The best Popkin can say is: “It has not lived up to its promise. It has not lifted people out of poverty, it has not made them self-sufficient, and it has left a lot of people behind.”

In another makes-me-proud-to-be-a-Memphian headshaker, this guy graduated just a few years behind me at Raleigh-Egypt High School:
As reported by, former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, who was arrested Tuesday in Costa Mesa, Calif., after a series of collisions involving his pickup truck, posted his $25,000 overnight bail and has been released.

Jackson was booked into Orange County Jail for felony evading, hit-and-run and reckless driving, According to Lt. Paul Dondero.

Rampage, who relinquished his UFC belt on July 5 by unanimous decision to Forrest Griffin, plowed his 2008 Ford F-250, complete with his image emblazoned on rear driver- and passenger-side doors, into multiple cars along Highway 55.

A patrol officer attempted to pull Jackson over after he was seen weaving in and out of traffic with a flat front left tire, according to a release issued by the Costa Mesa Police Department. Jackson, 30, continued driving to avoid being stopped. Losing control of the truck, Jackson drove up onto a sidewalk. He continued on, colliding with a vehicle in an intersection and running several red lights.
Go Pharaohs!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Holy Guacamole!

Wow, I was expecting Comfort to get the boot, but Will, too?! Sweet sassy molassey!

Comfort had hit her peak a long time ago, but Will is an amazing talent, we just got tired of the judges annointing him the champion off the bat. So long as Mark is safe, I think we're good to go!

First, I want to congratulate the choreographers on another amazing performance ...

Last night on "So You Think You Can Dance," a lot of good numbers, but one thing remains, so long as Comfort is in the competition Val and I will not be happy. What did make us happy? Toni "Mickey" Basil as a guest judge! Every time she was on, by five seconds into her critique we'd yell "Shut up" and "We don't care what you think" and it was glorious. Ah, 1982. Good times.
MARK and COMFORT - Wow, what a shock, Comfort gets to do hip-hop for the third time this season. But she has to do it first, and then get reamed the second time around by the judges for their fox trot. Unfortunately, she's also bringing Mark down by association and the judges already were ready to kick him off.
This just in, Nigel just kissed another choreographer's booty! DING! Does every review have to start out with a judge telling the choreographer - especially Mia Michaels - how sweet their poop smells? It certainly don't stink, and we at home better understand that the dancers are always to blame and not the people who actually put the entire performance together.
WILL and COURTNEY - Their samba made me want to groove, but their hip-hop wasn't anything I cared for, even though I do appreciate that the honky choreographers are turning away from the hard-hitting angry hip-hop and towards more passionate contemporary styles, which must really tick off the BET crowd.
It's not that I don't like Will, I just have an aversion to him winning because I feel that the judges have decided since week one and tried to encourage the results to make him the winner. Will already has a tremendous advantage as a Debbie Allen disciple, and really, do we know that she isn't still tutoring him off camera? Did she tell him to do the James Brown solo last night? We don't know, so I'd rather someone else like Mark win and get a chance they might not have had previously. Will will be just fine.
TWITCH and KATEE - Katee has certainly emerged as the best technical dancer of the women, and amazingly made Twitch into a background dancer both times. She was out in front and in charge, and he merely reacting to her dancing. Val did agree with Toni that Katee needed more VA VA VA VOOM in the second performance, less sweetness and smiling.
CHELSIE and JOSHUA - It's interesting that when Chelsie was paired with Mark, she was in the background and Val and I would watch Mark the entire time. Now that she's been paired with the other guys, she shines. Those legs just whip around and her blond hair spins and the guys become decorations.
Going home tonight? Unfortunately, probably Mark on the guys' side, and I'm still hopeful Comfort goes as well.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Even Derek Lowe looked calmer down by five runs in the first

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this Red Sox prospect isn't going to make it at Fenway.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

So You Think You Can Vomit

Ye gads, how frustrating was it to see Comfort brought back for this week's "So You Think You Can Dance," and then not she, but Kherington, gets the boot? Val and I wonder if it's a conspiracy that Comfort and Twitch were paired up, and "just happened" to get a hip-hop number for their second dance. No, that's not suspicious at all.
How come every time I park at Sonic with three empty stalls on either side of me, the loudest truck in Shelby County pulls up next to me just as I'm trying to order an extra-long cheese coney and hot fudge cake sundae?
I love "The Soup," but Barbara Walters and Larry King need to get married so we can get all the old jokes out of the way at one time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

J.D.'s The Man

He already justified his $70 million contract with his play in September and October of last year's World Series-winning squad, but Red Sox OF J.D. Drew keeps piling on the good times, winning the All-Star MVP honors last night for his game-tying homer in the seventh, his first at-bat as an All-Star.

Even more delicious, Drew won the award at dang Yankee Stadium while being booed the entire night, and he helped the AL win the game in the 15th inning, meaning that if the Sox are back in the Series this year we get home-field advantage again.  

It was a week the Sox dominated the New York scene, with seven players selected for the Midsummer Classic, which was supposed to be all about the final year of Dang Yankee Stadium. Even in the Futures Game on Sunday, 19-year-old Boston minor leaguer Che-Hsuan Lin hit a two-run homer for the World team to win the MVP.

Drew became the fourth Red Sox player to win an All-Star MVP, joining Pedro Martinez (1999 at Fenway Park), steroid bum Roger Clemens (1986) and Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski (1970).

Because he's not rich and pampered enough, Drew was presented with a big SUV for winning the MVP award, which, by the way, is named after Ted Williams.

Stay classy, dang Yankee fans

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jason Varitek has heard it all before and was prepared for anything -- even some choice words during a parade. The Red Sox captain and the rest of Boston's contingent at the All-Star game were showered with boos Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, treated to vitriol usually reserved for an important AL East game in September.

But Varitek said the heckling actually began hours before the game, during the All-Star parade in Manhattan.

"I had my kids with me, so there was probably a few choice words that we wouldn't like a 6- and an 8-year-old to hear for an hour," the catcher said. "But it's part of what goes on in the rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


- Oh. No. Val just called with a Code 1 emergency. Jessica hurt herself getting ready for this week's "So You Think You Can Dance," and because the show hates me, they brought Comfort back. Hopefully she's just filling a spot until Thursday when the judges can kick her out again. I have a feeling, though, that since spoilers indicate she and Twitch are doing a hip-hop routine, she's going to stick around at least one more week so the show can justify their decision. Gross.

- Found only one golf ball mowing the yard yesterday, against the neighbor's fence. The yard wasn't as high as I thought it might be after vacationing, but then again with this heat it's all going to die soon anyway. Who knew you'd have to water the lawn during 90+ degree heat for five straight months?

- I would be really excited about The Dark Knight in theaters Friday, but even better is that this week is The Open Championship, my second-favorite major to The Masters. This is really just a cheap way to insert a link reminder of my 2000 trip to England and The Open at St. Andrews with Dad:

- From the tolerant, open-minded liberal left, sentiments about the deaths of former Sen. Jesse Helms and former Fox News host and White House spokesman Tony Snow. Let's just say that there are no Tim Russert-style lovey-dovey remembrances.

- UPDATE 6:03 p.m. - A few minutes ago, I'm digging in the garden in the front yard. I hear a THUNK and a PING seemingly inches from me, think, "Is something falling from the tree?" I hear another PING behind me, turn around and see a golf ball 30 feet in the air after bouncing in the street, landing across the street two houses down. So that ball was duck hooked 250 yards from the tee box, hit the roof over my garage, my driveway, avoided the trees in my front yard, and ended up another 150 yards from me. I'm not sure if I'm impressed by such an awful shot or scared if that guy ends up breaking a window some day!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Black Holes of Racial Demagoguery

From the You Can't Make This Stuff Up Department, the term "black hole" is now racist:
A (Dallas County, Texas) county commissioners' meeting this week over traffic tickets turned into a tense discussion over race when one commissioner said the county's collections office was like a certain astronomical phenomenon.

"It sounds like Central Collections has become a black hole," Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield, who is white, said during the Monday meeting.

One black official demanded an apology, and Commissioner John Wiley Price, who also is black, said that type of language is unacceptable.

At the meeting, Mayfield said he intended his comments to be taken in the context of the scientific meaning, and became upset that he was being misunderstood.

In astronomy, the term black hole refers to a star that has collapsed upon itself, creating something so dense and small that it does not have any physical properties besides a gravitational force so great that even light cannot escape its pull.

Later, Price told that he believed it and other terms were racist.

"So if it's 'angel food cake,' it's white. If it's 'devil's food cake,' it's black. If you're the 'black sheep of the family,' then you gotta be bad, you know. 'White sheep,' you're okay. You know?" Price said.

Price said people should watch their words when it comes to stereotypes.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Back home

Howdy folks! Team Valfrey and Val's entire clan is back home from our annual vacation to Chickasaw State Park over near Henderson, Tenn. It was a week of fun, food and sleep, all sorely needed!

Now, I'm back at work, looking forward to my normal weekend days off Monday and Tuesday to catch up on sleep, yard work and laundry.

I'm currently in that La De Da phase, where nothing can bother me. That should last until, oh, about 5:05, right after the 5p show has begun. But for now, it's glorious!

Hopefully Val is napping soundly back home in a bed that we normally blame for back pain, but felt oh so good when we got home this morning and slipped under the covers!

I'll have pictures and updates soon enough, hopefully not next July.

p.s. In case you were wondering why I didn't post an excitable freaking-out blog about the Red Sox getting swept by the Rays last weekend, it's because I wasn't that worried. As I shouldn't have been. With a win this afternoon they're back in first place in the AL East, and all is well with the world as we enter the All-Star break. Good times.

UPDATE 12:06 a.m. - I love baseball and the stats we get. With their loss Sunday, according to the AP, "
Baltimore dropped its 14th straight Sunday game. The major league record for consecutive losses on a specific day is 21 — the 1939 St. Louis Browns and 1890 Pittsburgh Innocents both did it on Tuesdays."

I know Boston has seven All-Stars in the game, but no room for Dice-K? Even with a 10-1 record and 2.65 ERA? Okay, so he would walk three batters, strike out the next three and take an hour to get out of the inning, but still, numbers don't lie. Opponents are 0-for-11 this season with the bases loaded against Dice-K.

The Red Sox are back in first place at the break, even with our most feared slugger, Big Papi, out the past 39 games with an injured wrist. He's scheduled back for the July 25 series against the dang Yanks, but we can't be sure.

UPDATE 12:30 a.m. - Oh yeah, we managed to see a snowy Fox feed, enough to be thrilled that Comfort and Thayne were kicked off "So You Think You Can Dance," since we were sure that Jessica was a goner. Sweet!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

100 Things About Me, 151-160 (To Grandma's House We Go)

1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-80 | 81-90 | 91-100 | 101-110 | 111-120 | 121-130
| 131-140 | 141-150 | | 131-140 | 161-170

151. Weeklong trips to visit Mom-Mom and Granddad were treats growing up during the summers and Christmas. Granddad was a superintendent of a construction company and every couple of years he'd be sent somewhere else around the country to oversee a project, usually building hospitals but also shopping centers and parking garages..

152. When they lived in a condo in Boca Raton, Florida, they lived on a golf course, Sandalfoot. I would go out and practice on the hole off the backyard, and got in trouble one day when I was caught by one of the officials.

153. On that same trip, for some reason it took Mom-Mom a half-hour to inquire as to why my cousin Amy and I were watching Eddie Murphy's Raw, what with all the vulgarity, and yet she still let us watch it.

154. We flew into El Paso on Christmas night during what we were told was the city's worst snowstorm ever.

155. Scott and I were outside one day when a threesome of locals started heckling at us from a distance for some reason, calling Scott "four eyes" and me "fatso." Now, it's true Scott did wear glasses and I had started putting on a few pounds, but it seemed like an insult. So for once we had the gumption to start walking in their direction and they skeedaddled, never to be seen again during the trip.

156. Even back in those days I was a night owl. Most nights I would be going to bed after 4 a.m., usually because Granddad was waking up for the day. That's a good sign you've been up too long.

157. In Tulsa, Granddad took me and Amy to a par three course that was lighted for night play. There was such a long wait on every hole that after a few hours we left after playing only 12 holes or so because it was so late.

158. On the first hole, with a good five or six groups behind us, I tried to be a big show off and ended up hitting a wormburner well short of the green. Next, Amy pulled out a wood and popped that ball straight up and down onto the green, about five feet from the cup. She got an ovation from the gallery.

159. In Atlanta, we'd go see the Braves play. This was the 80s during the fun, happy-go-lucky days when the team stunk but were entertaining nonetheless, with Dale Murphy and Bob Horner on the field.

160. In McKinney, Texas, just north of Dallas, the summer of '84 there was a definite need for swimming in the community pool. Dang it gets hot there. I remember watching Saturday Night Live one night during a parody of compilation albums about the military, for some reason I recall getting a kick out of a song sung called "Guerillas Just Want to Have Guns," a play on Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hussein who?

More proof the next four months will be strange. This is the first election where mentioning a candidate's middle name is a smear:
Aides to both senators say hard feelings between the two camps are dissipating by the week--many people from both sides, in fact, were friends before and remain close--but some habits remain. In the primary, aides to Mrs. Clinton referred to their rival as B.H.O.--initials of Barack Hussein Obama, including his middle name, which has been a politically sensitive issue--while Mr. Obama's team simply referred to him as B.O. The B.H.O. shorthand is frowned upon inside Mr. Obama's campaign headquarters, a warning for any Clinton staff members coming aboard.
Analysts say there hasn't been this much of a kerfuffle about a candidate's name since Asswipe Johnson ran on the SNL ticket in '92.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Jeff's Top 5: Meteorologists

You know the ones you trust, because when all heck breaks loose they're the first ones you stop at while flipping through the dial. They could tell you it was raining when it was sunny, and you'd think, "Hmm, I guess it's possible. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt."

(Out of conflict of interest, I'll exclude my own weather team.)

1. Dave Brown, WMC Channel 5, Memphis - Yeah, I know, he's on the competing station, but as a lifelong Memphian I grewup trusting Dave, worked with him briefly during my stint at 5 in the summer of '97, and he's an uncle to our friends Brent and Wally. When severe weather hits, I see what he has to say. When there's any weather, actually, I watch what the other weather guys in Memphis have to say, then turn to Dave to make sure.

2. Jim Cantore, The Weather Channel - You know him because when there's a hurricane afoot, he's on the coast and he's the authoritative figure. A true alpha dog among meteorologists. If I had such things anymore I'd have a (weather)man crush on him.

3. Reynolds Wolf, CNN - Fun guy. I enjoyed talking to him before our weekend morning hits when I was at Headline News. He's a southern boy, went to Auburn, and talks like he knows what's going on, which is 3/4 of what makes a meteorologist successful.

4. Sharon Resultan, The Weather Channel - She's been at the Weather Channel for 15 years and seemingly pregnant 16 times. Also, watching her reminds me of Steve's wife Jenny, for some reason.

5. Kristina Abernathy, The Weather Channel - Just a bubbly cute personality. Plus, some of my co-workers at CNN once worked there and they tell me she stooped to marrying a production guy, so it appears she's not snooty about her popularity.

Honorable Mention:

Nicole Mitchell, The Weather Channel - She kicks butt. Seriously, she's a military pilot in the reserves on her off time.

Dave Schwartz, The Weather Channel - Always so casual, even during mistakes, but you feel he's thisclose to cursing out the other weather person and that's why you stay tuned in.

Bob Van Dillen, CNN Headline News - Not bad as the morning banter weather guy.

Jenny Harrison, CNN International - Something about that accent makes me trust that she knows better what's happening in Bangkok than others.

Steve Doocy, Fox News - He's sort of an anchor who does weather, or he is a weather guy who also anchors? Anyway, he's humorous.

Tim Simpson, WREG Ch. 3, Memphis - If not for Dave then Tim would probably own this city in terms of weather. Seems like a decent dude, has all the tools of a local meteorologist.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Eat them up, yum!

Classic 80s. I loved this as a kid. Wicked awesome and ridiculous. I used to walk around yelling, "Rolly polly fish heads are never seen drinking cappuccinos in Italian restaurants with Oriental women!"

(Scroll forward 2:15 in the video to get to actual singing that makes it all worthwhile.)

You're welcome.

Political yumminess

The latest from Fox News' Political Grapevine, as seen on Special Report With Brit Hume:

- Happy Fourth from the left-wing:

"Only in an America dumbed down by constant propaganda about our innate moral superiority will anyone any longer believe that we didn't invade Iraq for the oil." - Robert Scheer, The Nation

"Patriotism has done more to stack the corpses millions high in the last 300 years than any other factor." - Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive

"This year America doesn't deserve to celebrate its birthday. This Fourth of July should be a day of quiet and atonement. For we have sinned." - Chris Satullo the Philadelphia Inquirer

- The Olympics are next month, and Chinese officials are getting ready by debating whether to add seated toilets and helping restaurants by giving them translations of food that makes sense. For example, what the Chinese call "husband and wife's lung slice" will now be known as "beef and ox tripe in chili sauce." Another dish will be called "steamed pullet" instead of "chicken without sexual life." And, a dish called "bean curd made by a pock-marked woman" can now be ordered by asking for "mapo tofu." The best part? I didn't make any of that up.

- Just because the mainstream media didn't mention it, the Bush administration reported to Congress that Iraq has made satisfactory progress on 15 of 18 political benchmarks set by the U.S. If Iraq hadn't done as well, trust me, it would've been on CBSNBCABCCNN.

- Woopsy daisy, Obama caught in a fib in his first general election ad nationwide. About 46 seconds in the ad says he passed laws that "extended health care for wounded troops who'd been neglected." The problem is Senator Obama never voted for the legislation mentioned. Public Law 110 - 181 is part of the defense authorization bill which passed the Senate in January by a vote of 91 to three with six senators not voting. Barack Obama was among those six absent senators.

- The Washington State Democratic Party has apologized and removed a controversial Internet video attacking Republican Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, an Italian-American, in which the soundtrack was the theme song to "The Sopranos."

- Spain has caved into the primate lobby by approving resolutions designed to give rights to apes previously limited to humans. If passed, experimental testing on apes will be banned, as well as the use of apes in TV commercials and circuses. I guess there won't be any more Planet of the Apes remakes.

- San Francisco continues to prove that it can never go too far in insulting the military. The San Fran Board of Education has decided that schools can no longer award physical education credit to students enrolled in the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps. The meeting was described as "hastily scheduled," and two board members who opposed the change were not even in town to vote.

- I guess there's not a food shortage after all. The European Union has barred a British market vendor from selling a batch of kiwi fruits because they are one millimeter smaller than E.U. rules allow. Tim Down had to trash 5,000 of his kiwis, costing him about $2,000.

- From the religion of peace, a federal investigation says textbooks at a private Islamic school in Northern Virginia teach students that it is okay for Muslims to kill adulterers and converts from Islam.

- Is the bloom off the Obamamessiah rose? Apparently some of his disciples are peeved that Obama is starting to drift towards the middle by changing his stance on important issues to them, including the the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. So, I guess, Obama is now in cahoots with Bush and his cronies terrorizing Americans?

- It's okay to be green in California, but that also includes your lawn, hippies!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Summer flicks take two

The second half of summer movie season, post July 4th weekend, usually goes downhill quickly. This summer looks to be done by August.

July 11

- Hellboy II: The Golden Army - So this time our hero is fighting monsters from Pan's Labyrinth?

- Journey to the Center of the Earth - I've seen better dinosaurs, the railcar jump was done in Temple of Doom, and Brendan Fraser in an action movie without Rachel Weisz is plain wrong. It might be fun in the 3D version, but otherwise stay above ground.

- Meet Dave - Yeah, because Eddie Murphy's track record has been so good lately that you just have to see it, right? Not one second of this trailer is funny.

July 18

- The Dark Knight - My next Must See Event. There's no way this can miss. It will be critic-proof, and will own the rest of the summer. It's like the dark version of WALL-E making me warm and fuzzy. I loved Nicholson in Michael Keaton's Batman, but so long as Heath Ledger doesn't pull out a ten-foot pistol to shoot down the Batplane, his Joker will ultimately be more effective. And did I mention there's no Katie Holmes? Bonus!

- Mamma Mia - Huh. I never knew the story to the musical-turned-movie. My wife likes her some "Dancing Queen," and to be frank I'm not averse to ABBA, so yeah, we might give this a shot.

July 25

- The X-Files: I Want to Believe - Supposedly Chris Carter has made this one independent of the story at large, so will this be the good kind, or the bad kind (aka incest and disgusting monsters). The trailer looks like the spooky scary kind, so I'll pass. It's a long, long time since I enjoyed the TV show, and I'm not sure I care anymore.

- Step Brothers - Will Ferrell. John C. Reilly. Obviously this isn't going to be an Oscar Wilde adaptation. But this may be even dumber than we're used to. I'm going to have to see some reviews first.

Aug. 1

- The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - Fraser's back, so is the supporting cast, but no Rachel Weisz. And therein lies the biggest difference. Then again, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh show up, so the addition of some Crouching Tiger type action might make this seeable.

- Swing Vote - You're probably thinking, "Where has Costner been lately?" Not making sports movies, for one thing, his bread and butter. Instead he's making this, what looks more like Matthew McConaughey drek, where his miscast ballot will determine the entire presidential election. Will he vote for The Postman or Bull Durham? No one knows.

Aug. 8

- Pineapple Express - The 157th movie this year from the Judd Apatow collection. Don't be too shocked, but you won't believe that Seth Rogan plays a guy who likes to smoke pot. I know. Where'd that come from? The plot: Rogan witnesses a murder, and he and his dealer, James Franco, go on the run to save their lives and bring down the bad guys.

- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 - Do the pants keep traveling? Why are they traveling? Do they need sewing? We may never know.

Aug. 15

- Tropic Thunder - Not sure about the premise, but the trailer, especially starting out with Platoon-esque shots and Buffalo Springfield on the music track, that was good. This actually looks pretty funny, and Robert Downey Jr.'s resurgence will continue.

- Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Ain't no lie, in many ways I enjoyed "The Clone Wars" animated shorts that came on between Episodes 1, 2 and 3 more than the live-action movies Lucas ruined. Alas, this movie version looks to be computer-generated animation, and awkwardly done as well.

Aug. 22

- Death Race - What was this pitch? Mad Max meets Speed Racer meets Fast and Furious? Jason Statham and Joan Allen certainly look to be taking it seriously. Oh, it's a remake of a 1975 cult flick.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A year has gone by

Yikes, did I never post the pictures from last year's Chickasaw vacation? And now it's almost time for this year's trip!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

"Tightly wrapped"

- The Obamessiah is on what his campaign calls his "Enduring American Values Tour." You think that means that he and his followers rue that they have to endure American values, you know, having to kiss up to people clinging to religion and guns?

- Okay, this is just creepy. Obama volunteers are told to avoid talking issues, and instead to "testify" about how they "came to Obama."

- Michelle Obama would rather you weren't so selfish by wanting to, you know, have a successful career where you make *gag* money:
We [Barack and she] left corporate America, which is a lot of what we’re asking young people to do. Don’t go into corporate America. You know, become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse. Those are the careers that we need, and we’re encouraging our young people to do that. But if you make that choice, as we did, to move out of the money-making industry into the helping industry, then your salaries respond.

- I'm beginning to think that Obama is downright anti-Muslim:
As Senator Barack Obama courted voters in Iowa last December, Representative Keith Ellison, the country’s first Muslim congressman, stepped forward eagerly to help.

Mr. Ellison believed that Mr. Obama’s message of unity resonated deeply with American Muslims. He volunteered to speak on Mr. Obama’s behalf at a mosque in Cedar Rapids, one of the nation’s oldest Muslim enclaves. But before the rally could take place, aides to Mr. Obama asked Mr. Ellison to cancel the trip because it might stir controversy. Another aide appeared at Mr. Ellison’s Washington office to explain.

“I will never forget the quote,” Mr. Ellison said, leaning forward in his chair as he recalled the aide’s words. “He said, ‘We have a very tightly wrapped message.’ ” ...

While the senator has visited churches and synagogues, he has yet to appear at a single mosque. Muslim and Arab-American organizations have tried repeatedly to arrange meetings with Mr. Obama, but officials with those groups say their invitations — unlike those of their Jewish and Christian counterparts — have been ignored. Last week, two Muslim women wearing head scarves were barred by campaign volunteers from appearing behind Mr. Obama at a rally in Detroit.

- As reports, in June the New York Times had a story on the interrogation of terrorist detainee Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in which the Times defied a request from the CIA not to publish the interrogator's name. This would be the same paper that led the charge to prosecute Bush administration officials for "leaking" the identity of erstwhile CIA operative Valerie Plame.

- Have you noticed that you hear the phrase "global warming" less and "climate change" more and more? That's because the former is hokum and the latter could mean most anything, so it's a convenient way of the left-wing to empower themselves. Bret Stephens explains in the Wall Street Journal:
NASA now begrudgingly confirms that the hottest year on record in the continental 48 was not 1998, as previously believed, but 1934, and that six of the 10 hottest years since 1880 antedate 1954. Data from 3,000 scientific robots in the world's oceans show there has been slight cooling in the past five years, never mind that "80% to 90% of global warming involves heating up ocean waters," according to a report by NPR's Richard Harris. ...

This last item is, of course, a forecast, not an empirical observation. But it raises a useful question: If even slight global cooling remains evidence of global warming, what isn't evidence of global warming? What we have here is a nonfalsifiable hypothesis, logically indistinguishable from claims for the existence of God. This doesn't mean God doesn't exist, or that global warming isn't happening. It does mean it isn't science.

- When asked to sing the Star-Spangled Banner to a packed audience in Denver before the annual State of the City address, some singer named Rene Marie instead sang some nonsense dubbed the "black national anthem." She fortunate the audience had more decorum than she did, and they didn't get up en masse and walk out or boo and sit down.

- Today's headline: "French Man With Two Asses Surprises Swedish Officials." Heck, it ain't just Swedes. I'm pretty surprised, too!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Random Thursday night thoughts

I stayed up a little late last night, but you'll forgive me since I was on the computer and watching "Road House" on AMC. How can you turn away from Swayze and the Double Deuce?

I didn't find any golf balls mowing the yard today, which isn't s surprise since the grass hasn't grown much due to the lack of rain and the heat. However, I always figured you only had to worry about leaves in the Fall, since that's when they all fall off, right? Wrong. The nine trees in our front and back yards shed leaves like Rosie O'Donnell discards McDonald's cheeseburger wrappers. It was helpful, at least, while mowing, because I could tell what hadn't been mowed based on the line of leaves in the path.

Not so sure how the neighbors feel about us right now, though. I dug up two of the bushes in front of the house. The azalea bush didn't put up too much of a fight as I was able to use the shovel and dig out the roots. The other bush, however, is kicking my butt. So I have a bush cut down to the stump sitting by the driveway mocking me, and it's too hot to spend three hours attacking it. I would tie a chain around it, but I'm afraid it would rip the bottom of my car off.

Today I further fulfilled homeowner status by putting up an American flag now flying proudly from our porch. Then I realized that one of our neighbors and a guy at the end of the cove have bigger flags. Now there's this urge, that I HAVE to have a bigger flag.

I finally caught up with the DVR and "Nashville Star" from Monday night. Wow. The Stinkatude level of that show never gets better, does it? Why does the show let the bottom two voter-getters sing, and even assign a phone number, before eliminating one of them? Just let one go already!

Glad to see our favorites stick around So You Think You Can Dance after tonight's results show. I'm wondering if the judges are keeping Comfort around because they're afraid to kick her off, so they'll wait until the obvious when voters get to make the ultimate decision and she's a goner.

I finally realized that Mark and Chelsie remind me of an 80s teen romantic comedy where after a series of misunderstandings the kid from the wrong side of the tracks ends up with the head-over-heels popular cheerleader chick.

Have a happy Fourth, and I hope everyone is off work and able to enjoy a free Friday. I worked evenings all week, and have the day off for a reunion in Bartlett for Val's Mom's side of the family. Should be busy, and I'll know approximately 20 of the 200 attendees. I'm not even going to bother asking who's who, because chances are it's a branch I've never heard of, so I'll smile a lot and stay near the food table.


As a youth who was very involved in church and was affected by this trilogy, I had to post this from LarkNews, a Christian satire site:
The angels are familiar, and the demons with the yellow sulfury smoke rising from their nostrils — but the plot, well, not so much.

The stage version of This Present Darkness, this summer’s Broadway sensation, is raking in profits but has rankled the author and many Christians expecting a faithful re-telling of the book.

"It’s a pale, watered down representation of my novel," says author Frank Peretti who sold the rights to two longtime producers but is now urging Christians to boycott the show.

Renamed ‘Dark,’ the musical depicts demons in Cats-style costumes and 12-foot angels in billowing costumes swinging from cables. The show, aimed squarely at Lion King and Wicked audiences, boasts dazzling choreography and a pop song libretto and score with songs by Michael W. Smith and Faith Hill. "It’s spiritual warfare meets West Side Story!" advertises one brochure.
Read the whole thing.

You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life

While ignoring that the Red Sox wasted a trip to Tampa ...

It's July! Thank goodness! That means we're finally to the month when Val and I take the annual vacation to Chickasaw State Park with her family for a week of fun in the water, naps when we want, and lots of food that'll clog our arteries. Good times.

Wednesday night's "So You Think You Can Dance" had the top seven couples dancing twice, which 1) Shortened the increasingly meaningless rehearsal videos, and 2) Gave us a second chance to figure out which pairs are good, and which need a bigger clothing budget.

Cat, meanwhile, is distracting us from her normally hideous wardrobe by changing her hair. I like it.

WILL & JESSICA - Nigel and Mary are actively campaigning to remove Jessica as soon as possible, and it's got me peeved. She is certainly proving to be there more than, say, Comfort or Kortni. I like her as much as any, second only to Courtney. Their second dance was very good. At least, I felt the passion.

COMFORT & THAYNE - A new duo, they proved that it's possible to bring Boring back to dance. Not one memorable thing in either routine. The judges refuse to let Comfort go, so they heap praise on them.

MATT & KOURTNI - I'm not feeling it. They either need new partners or they need to stick to being individuals. Their mambo was a mess.

MARK & CHELSIE - Wait, that first dance was supposed to be a jazz routine? Does "jazz" French for "kitchen sink?" Because it seems like they threw in elements of every style, including the lawnmower and sprinkler. I hope they don't end up in the bottom three, because I was disappointed by both their performances.

TWITCHINGTON - Their Paso doble confused me with the use of two matadors. The second dance I kept thinking that they needed a Select Comfort mattress, because they couldn't manage to stay on that one.

KATEE & JOSHUA - The first dance was a Mia Michaels contemporary routine, which means the judges are required by law to love it, and I won't know if it was any good until the judges talk about it. There was a neat move in there where Joshua ran behind holding Katee as she took long steps that looked effortless, almost floating.

COURTNEY & GEV - Blech. First they start off with hip-hop, that typical rap video crap. But their second dance was worth voting for, a Broadway number with bright colors and smiles.

Bottom three? Kourtni/Matt, Comfort/Thayne, Courtney/Gev.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

This is my hometown

Memphis is certainly a diverse city. By that, I mean we have the best and the worst to offer America. Just checking where my hometown rates according to various sites and publications …

We’re the No. 1 walking city in Tennessee, which is actually just necessity, since we’re one of the worst bicycle cities in the country.

Not that we do walk, I mean. At least, according to Men’s Fitness, which rated us Couch Potato Central for being the city where residents are most likely to have the TV switched on.

Forbes agrees. They think Memphis is "America's Fattest City." But not for all negative reasons like poverty. They also cite “a culture of Southern hospitality and food that values certain types of dishes--many of them fried--over healthier choices.” In other words, we likes our barbecue, and we likes it with heapings of slaw and beans!

So it’s probably no surprise as well that we’re in the top five of Junk Food-Obsessed Cities.

Then again, being outside to exercise is not exactly good for us anyway, since we’re in the top ten of the nation’s worst cities for asthma sufferers.

Another problem, venturing outside is pretty dangerous for your wallet. The good news, though, we fell two whole places on the list of America's most dangerous cities. Memphis ranked eighth on the list this year, down from its sixth place finish last year in the 14th edition of "City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America."

Maybe we’d be less dangerous if we weren’t one of American’s worst savers. Come on, Bluff City, put some money away for a rainy day!

Why the danger? Because according to Forbes we’re one of the most jealous cities. And being jealous makes us angry, so we’re No. 8 in that category according to Men’s Health magazine. Being angry doesn’t lead to humor, so BizJournal ranks us as America's "Least Funnest" City.

All that anger and crime and humorlessness leads itself to being one of the top ten stressful places.

There are some goods, though, so rejoice!

Memphis is No. 23 in the best cities for singles. After hitting the dance club or church singles class happy from meeting other unattached Memphians, feel free to open your own business because we’re No. 7 when it comes to the best U.S. cities for entrepreneurs. says to come on over to Memphis, because we’re No. 7 for the best cities in the U.S. for business expansions and relocations.

There’s certainly plenty of room to move your stuff. Memphis International Airport, largely thanks to FedEx, is still the world’s busiest cargo airport for the 16th consecutive year.

Or try to get your 15 minutes of fame, since we’re in the top 10 movie cities in’s annual countdown of the best places to live, work and make movies.

Sure, if you’re Irish you might consider us an "ugly little city", but at least there’s plenty to see. Memphis ranks 6th in the nation in the number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places and has more historic listings per capita than any city in America.

Forget the Irish. According to the newly released "Dream Destinations: 100 of the World's Best Vacations" by LIFE books, Memphis is in the top 100 as home of the blues and the birthplace of rock and roll, the city is also a place where "you can relax on a riverboat and channel Mark Twain."

And we’ll also accept criticism if you disagree. Memphis is in the top 10 of the most mannerly cities according to the etiquette book, "Common Sense Etiquette."

Well, we’ll still gossip about you behind your back, but to your face, it’s all smiles and sweet talking. Just remember, “Bless your heart” means “You’re an idiot.”

When you’re not enjoying the beer at the Flying Saucer, feel free to drink from the tap. Water, I mean. Memphis is consistently rated highly for some of the world's best artesian well water.

So there you go. But don't all cities have some good, some bad? Your car may need new windows and a new CD player after a visit, but you'll feel rewarded with history, soul and stuffed with good eats! Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

What is this, Omega Man?

Sometimes I have to wonder about the mindset of Memphians. Check out this letter to the Commercial Appeal from June 17:
Open blinds are invitation to thieves

Violent crime in Memphis is second only to Detroit (June 10 article, "Number 2 with a bullet"). A question that may sound politically incorrect and, to some, racist is one that many nonwhites ask: Why do our fellow white residents feel compelled to open every drapery, blind or shade and light up the house for passersby to see inside? If I were a criminal, I could make a quick "shopping list" of what I was going to steal the next day from the home because it has been put on display.

Come on, Memphis residents. Let's not help crime. I know this may draw some ire, but the question is not meant in any other way than to call attention for our fellow Memphians to be a bit smarter. And if by chance you are anyone of color, this is to you, too.

Oh, and by the way, I, an African-American, along with family and friends, live in some of the more exclusive neighborhoods and some of the lesser so. You'll know us. We're some of your neighbors. We're proud of our nice things, too, but our drapes are closed.
Taking the appropriate "Are you kidding me" route, a response from June 22:
Open blinds no invitation to steal

I would like to remind the writer of your June 17 letter "Open blinds are invitation to thieves" that citizens -- regardless of race -- have rights.

For example, homeowners have the right to open blinds and drapes. Most do so to let sunlight into the home. Since there are laws against stealing, most people know stealing is wrong. If a homeowner hung the house key on the mailbox, that would not make stealing justifiable.

Unfortunately, the mentality of the letter writer and many other Memphians is "this entitles me to do wrong" or "this justifies my breaking the laws," or worst of all, "the rules/laws don't apply to me."

Not for thee

While Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has vowed to make pay equity for women a top priority if elected president, an analysis of his Senate staff shows that women are outnumbered and out-paid by men.

That is in contrast to Republican presidential candidate John McCain's Senate office, where women, for the most part, out-rank and are paid more than men. ...

On average, women working in Obama's Senate office were paid at least $6,000 below the average man working for the Illinois senator. That's according to data calculated from the Report of the Secretary of the Senate, which covered the six-month period ending Sept. 30, 2007. Of the five people in Obama's Senate office who were paid $100,000 or more on an annual basis, only one -- Obama's administrative manager -- was a woman.

Here's a suggestion for Obama's camp: Attacking McCain's military hero status is not a winning strategy.

I'm already resigned to the fact of a President Obama next January, so don't give me hope that the GOP can turn this inevitability around!