Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sox actually need to work for first

All season I've said that I wouldn't worry about the Red Sox-Rays battle for first in the AL East until September 1, figuring that by now Boston would be in the lead and the guys in the stadium that averages 15,000 a game would have fallen back.
Okay, August is now over, and we're in second place, 5 1/2 back of Tampa Bay. In fact, the Sox were 18-9 in August and still lost a couple of games. It's like "Revenge of the Nerds," only without the nudity and this time I'm pulling for what most consider the bad guys.
So yeah, I admit it, the Rays are for real. And no, it's not a consolation that the Sox are a few games up on Minnesota for the wild card lead, and seven up on the dang Yanks, who are quickly fading.

Jeff's gallbladder set to go bye-bye September 10

Hey folks,

Sorry I didn't mention this earlier, but after talking with the surgeon on Tuesday, and my supervisor the next day, it was set for my gallbladder removal on Wed., Sept. 10 about 1 p.m. The time could change if the hospital (Methodist Germantown) allows, since I won't be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the day before.

The surgeon wanted me to do it within two weeks based on the "sludge" filling the gallbladder currently, so much so that nothing goes in or out, and if I wait too long I could end up in the ER, which I'm told is bad. Plus, instead of being laid up for a week it would be several weeks.

I'm taking a little over a week off work to rest and recover, assuming he can do the easier surgery and not the more invasive one. In the meantime, I'm working to get the house in order so that I won't have an extensive "honey do" list when I'm all better!

I touched his garment and I was healed!

- The Dems put on a spectacle worthy of the Chinese this week, but I thought it was a little much when the Obamessiah was paraded into the stadium Thursday night on a donkey with his followers waving palm fronds at him.

- The Shire, a housing development in Oregon based on Hobbit homes in "Lord of the Rings," is going under. What do you expect when the average Hobbit is like three feet tall? Who wants to duck that much?!

- Who said this at the Democrat convention this week: "We are facing a planetary emergency which, if not solved, would exceed anything we’ve ever experienced in the history of humankind."

Now, who said this: "You understand that the politics of the past are exhausted, and you’re tired of appeals based on fear."

Trick question! Same guy, Algore, who I'm told used to be in politics.

- Headlines of the week:

"Black Eyed Pea Gets Political." Lima beans vow to stay neutral.

"Fla. Deputies Taser Plop-Plop the Unruly Emu." Sounds like a children's book gone horribly, horribly wrong.

- Arrogance, Elitist and Condescension Watch: Here's Obama spokesman Bill Burton on Sarah Palin as McCain's VP pick: "Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency."

- The Obamessiah speaks: "This is the moment … that the world is waiting for. I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."

- With friends like these ... Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley defends Obama's relationship with unrepentant domestic terrorist billy Ayers: "They're friends. So what?" Now, replace "Obama" with "McCain" and replace "Ayers" with, say, "Eric Robert Rudolph," and see if that gets any play from the media?

Friday, August 29, 2008

More about McCain's VP choice

I'm not excited by having McCain as my presidential candidate. But I am excited by having Sarah Palin as his running mate.

From the Associated Press:

"Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (PAY'-lihn) is a self-styled "hockey mom" -- but she's also known as a Republican iconoclast who's battled against the state GOP establishment.

It started in 2004, when Palin was chairwoman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Palin exposed Alaska Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich for ethical violations when he was a commissioner.

Then in 2005, Palin teamed up with Eric Croft, a Democratic legislator and gubernatorial candidate, to file an ethics complaint against Governor Frank Murkowski's longtime aide and then attorney general, Gregg Renkes, who ended up resigning.

During her gubernatorial campaign in 2006, Palin cast herself as a Republican maverick.

Palin was born in 1964. She graduated from the University of Idaho in 1987 with a degree in journalism. She's worked as a sports reporter for two Anchorage TV stations and has been a businesswoman.

Palin served as chairwoman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, two terms as mayor of Wasilla and two terms on the city council.

Palin is married, with four (This just in: the AP is stupid) children."

Who called it?!

That's right, I'm the guy who's been calling for McCain to pick Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his VP pick!
Think about it, she's young (44), attractive, female (duh), popular in her state (she defeated a former Alaska Republican governor in the primary and a former Democrat governor in the general election), and being from Alaska she has credibility on energy issues that deal with domestic drilling, plus environmental and conservation issues since the state has the biggest and most elegant national park lands.
I'm absolutely giddy!
(Get ready, Sarah, the media is coming after you, and they won't care that you're a woman, and in fact, they'll be even more vicious since you're a Republican woman.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sunny Days

We had special visitors at the station this morning:

Surprisingly, the one on the right did NOT like to be tickled.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Two for Two!

The Red Sox have already won the three-game series over the dang Yanks with what turned out to be a 11-3 laugher (though it was 2-2 at one point), courtesy of feisty little scrapper Dustin Pedroia, who hit his first career grand slam to highlight a seven-run outburst in the eighth.

The Sox have won two in a row at doomed Dang Yank Stadium even though the Evil Empire has thrown out both Tiger Woods and Jack Nicholson for good voodoo. No such luck for the Bad Guys.

For those keeping track, New York dropped seven games behind Boston, which leads the AL wild-card race by 2 1/2 games over Minnesota, and 3 1/2 games behind first-place Tampa Bay in the AL East.

We go for the sweep Thursday at Noon central time!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sox rock Evil Empire

Red Sox. Dang Yankees. Boston's last visit to Dang Yank Stadium.

Tim Wakefield comes off the DL just in time to earn the victory as the Good Guys win 7-3.

For entertainment value, A-Fraud hit into a double play with the bases loaded to end a 7th inning rally, and struck out to end the game with a runner on base.

Poked, prodded, hooked up

Last night was my night to pretend I was in "The Matrix," hooked up to a few dozen wires for an overnight sleep study. No word on if the center was using the energy I was producing through these wires to power up a coffee maker and keep all the overnight techs awake.
I got to the sleep center by 8:30, met by my technician Tiffany who would take care of me all night. She showed me my room, which was like a hotel room on a smaller scale, with a full-size bed, TV and private restroom. She had to hook up two other guys first, so I hung out watching the Monday Night Football preseason game, called Val and did a lot of reading as I waited. She finally came back about 10:15 and took me to a little room with a lot of wires on hooks and a barber's chair.
It took about 40 minutes for Tiffany to attach everything: Two nodes on each shin, two on either side of my torso, two belts around my torso attached to nodes, two on either side of my chin, one on my neck, two wires up my nose, one with a tube hanging into my mouth, a clip on one finger and at least a dozen glued to my head. All of these wires were hooked up to a central box, which, once we went back to my room, was plugged into a system on the wall behind me.
Over the intercom, Tiffany called out for me to move my eyes, toes, etc., to make sure everything was working, and then she said "good night" and that was that, time for bed.
This would have been a good night to sleep all the way through without having to go potty. No such luck. I woke up twice with the urge, at 12:15 and 3:15, calling out, "Tiffany, I hate to bother you, but I need to use the little boys' room." She would come within a minute, unplug me from the central nerve center and let me go on my own, though the first time I had to pee in a cup for a sample, which took a minute to figure out how to pull the wires out of the way at the same time.
The bed wasn't too uncomfortable, it was firm, I just wasn't used to it and couldn't sprawl out like at home. Being attached to all the wires I had to think about turning over, careful not to pull anything out. So I woke up a couple of times needing to readjust and with a dry mouth.
At 5:45 a.m. Tiffany woke me up over the intercom, and it took just 5 minutes for her to take everything off, and she advised it would take a few showers to get all the glue out of my hair. I was home by 6:30, and realized just how good it felt to sleep in my own bed.  
A few hours after going home, I was back out to the Baptist East medical district to consult with the surgeon who'll be removing my gallbladder. He urged me not to wait more than a week or two due to the excessive amount of "sludge" blocking the failing organ that could potentially lead to a trip to the ER and I would end up out of action even longer.
Once I've talked with my supervisor this afternoon and tomorrow morning I'll set a date for the surgery and we'll finally feast and toast to the finality of my gallbladder. (Using bland drinks and foods, of course.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Getting things in order

Tomorrow I'll consult with the surgeon who's going to gut me gently remove my gallbladder. Tonight, though, I'll start taking care of another matter: Giving my wife a good night's sleep.

I'm going in for an overnight sleep study so the doc can tell me what we all know, that I snore badly and need to be fitted for a device to keep me sleeping and Val from permanently attaching the pillow to her ears as a sound buffer.

On the "That's right, I am a man!" front, I fixed my mower, Cuttio Del Toro, and didn't have to resort to a sledgehammer. I replaced the spark plug and air filter, prayed the fuel line wasn't contaminated, and TA DA! Crud, that meant I had to mow the entire lawn, so I did that, no golf balls found this time despite the Valfrey Jungle that was the corner of the yard that wasn't cut last week. And perfect timing, just as I was emptying the bag, heavy rain from bands that used to be Tropical Storm Fay hit the city.

Have to wait for Vancouver in 2010

Alas, the 2008 Olympics are over, and we must await another meeting of the world's best athletes and most dramatic reporters. As usual, the Games produced some interesting results, some of the 36 noted by

- The overall medal count was won by the United States for the fourth consecutive Olympics. The U.S. earned 110 medals, compared to China's 100.

- Per capita, China won one gold medal for every 25 million people in the country. The United States' per capita rate was one gold for every 8.5 million. The tiny island nation of Jamaica, which won a staggering six golds in Beijing, had a per capita rate of one gold for every 450,000 residents. Had China won at that rate, the country would have earned 2,889 golds.

- Six countries won their first ever Olympic medals: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Mauritius, Sudan, Tajikistan and Togo.

- India has 17% of the world's population. They won 0.31% of Olympic medals.
China: 19.8% of population, 10.4% of medals.
United States: 4.6% of population, 11.5% medals.
Jamaica: 0.041% of population, 1.15% medals.

- Michael Phelps would have finished tied for 9th in the gold medal count, ahead of countries including France, Netherlands, Spain, Canada, Argentina, Switzerland, Brazil and Mexico.

- In all, 958 medals were handed out to athletes from 87 countries, the most medals and medal receipients in Olympic history.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bloward for Hope and Change!

So the post-racial candidate of hope and change picked a 65-year-old white guy for VP who's spent 30 years in the Senate and got in trouble earlier this year for calling the Obamessiah "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," and that "you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent."

Me thinks this choice won't exactly spur the Democrat base.

Clarence Thomas in his autobiography says all I need to know about Biden during Thomas' Supreme Court hearings in '91:
Throughout my life I’ve often found truth embedded in the lyrics of my favorite records. At Yale, for example, I’d listened often to “Smiling Faces Sometimes,” a song by the Undisputed Truth that warns of the dangers of trusting the hypocrites who “pretend to be your friend” while secretly planning to do you wrong. Now I knew I’d met one of them: Senator Biden’s smooth, insincere promises that he would treat me fairly were nothing but talk. Instead of relaxing, I’d have to keep my guard up.


The senator said that he was torn over his decision and had actually brought two statements with him to the committee meeting that day, one for me and the other against. He had decided to oppose me. He’d voted to confirm Justice Scalia, he explained, and now regretted it; he thought it was possible that I might turn out like Justice Scalia, so he couldn’t vote for me.

“That’s fine,” I said. “It doesn’t matter to me whether I’m confirmed or not. But I entered this process with a good name, and I want to have it at the end.”

“Judge, I know you don’t believe me,” he replied, “but if any of these last two matters come up, I will be your biggest defender.” (The other matter to which he was referring was the leak of my draft opinion.)

He was right about one thing: I didn’t believe him.
And check this out, in a blog on that's supposed to be favorable to Biden as a VP pick: “Biden may be a ridiculous, overbearing blowhard, and he’ll doubtless make foolish blunders and imprudent comments if he’s on the ticket ..."

So no women were available, huh?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jeff's life experiences: Bathed by another guy. Check.

Relaxation. Just the two of us. Pampered. Stuffed. Snoozing. Lack of strenuous activity. Skydiving. All hallmarks of an ideal Valfrey getaway (except for one of those).

Last weekend Val and I made our way out of Memphis to Hot Springs to hide out from the world. Why there? Because we didn't want a big city (Nashville, St. Louis), we've done Tunica plenty, and we sought somewhere quiet with a bed & breakfast and a spa.

We stayed two nights at the Williams House Bed and Breakfast Inn, a few blocks from downtown. Built in 1890, it's on the national register of historic homes, and rightly so. The place is immaculately designed and decorated, very traditional of what you think of a Victorian home based on what I've seen on HGTV. I mean, if I knew anything about architecture. At least it seems nice and old.

We had the Parlor Suite, with two rooms, a bedroom with a Jacuzzi tub, and a parlor with a couch, chairs and breakfast nook surrounded by big windows all 20-feet high. We didn't use this second room except for breakfast and signing peace treaties, but it was nice to walk through on the way to the bedroom for naps.

There are seven rooms in the B&B, but only two of us had breakfast delivered to our rooms, which was so nice, eating alone in our jammies.

We rarely saw or heard any of the other travelers, which, selfishly, is the way we prefer it on trips like this. Or didn't you get the part about liking to be pampered? When we die together at the age of 124 in New Zealand after a tragic spelunking accident, our tombstones will read, "They liked to snuggle, and get massages, and frankly if you could leave them alone they'd appreciate it."

At night we avoided any public activity and stayed in the suite, snacked like crazy, watched the Olympics and Michael Phelps, and vegetated in the Jacuzzi tub for approximately fifteen hours. Can you blame us? Look at this place!

The only negative of the Inn, aside from hearing people walking around upstairs all the time, was the old-timey Harry Potter-type key (from the first movie) that was difficult to lock the door. "Old style charm" my butt. Crapping in an outhouse is "old-style" too, and yet all these old places have toilets in them now.

Besides the B&B, the highlight was Saturday morning at the Buckstaff Bath House, one of two remaining working Bath Houses on historic Bath House row at the foot of the mountains where the springs emanate from the ground. Something about the water in the rocks and heating them up explains the 140-degree natural temperature of the waters. I'm not sure if there are magical healing powers like Cocoon, but I'm willing to try it.

Once checked in, Val heads to the women's locker room, I head to the men's, where the attendant points you to a personal locker, you disrobe, wrap up in linen a sheet, and head to the baths.

I spent 30 minutes in the whirlpool, which is a claw foot tub that is both high and long so that even I fit, although there was what appeared to be a speedboat motor on the other end by my feet which made the experience like sitting in a bidet.

The moment I had been curious about, the "gay panic" never happened. I always thought the attendant gave you a long sponge bath and you had to worry about getting "too comfortable," if you know what I mean, and I don't mean gassy, but in reality he takes a loofah and scrubs you all over furiously. It takes a minute, tops, and unless you like it rough, no worries.

Out of the bath, the attendant pointed me to the sitz bath that was like sitting in a sink on the ground that scalds your booty for ten minutes.

Then he led me to the Steam Cabinet Of Torture, which I'm pretty sure is against Geneva Convention regulations. That was a long ten minutes of feeling suffocated. What I was hoping for was the kind Val got over in the women's baths, the old-timey steam cabinet where your head pokes out like the kind you see in old cartoons. You know, where Bluto is chasing Popeye, gets caught in the cabinet and ends up 200 pounds thinner instantly?

After the cabinet, I laid on a padded table where the attendant put hot towels under my back and neck, and then wrapped me in linen like a naked burrito. After several calming minutes, I took a 360-degree shower that was awesome, with sprays pointed everywhere and felt so clean.

Finally, a 20-minute full body massage by a guy named Ross from Clarksdale, Miss. Amid the small talk as this guy rubbed my nekkid body (covered in a towel for the important parts), I learned he lived in Memphis for a long time, so at least there was something to talk about.

All in all, a pleasant hour-and-a-half. No homophobic moments, since it felt like a gym locker room. I don't know what this says about stereotypes or reality, but even though men always joke of not wanting to be around other naked guys, men are more likely to do so as we did in the bath house, while women are supposedly far less reserved about being naked in front of one another, yet demurely they refrain from doing so. (Though not in the fantasies in my mind.) At least that's what I gathered from Val's experience, where she was even covered by a towel in the whirlpool.

Val says she enjoyed her time as well, though it felt more like an assembly line operation than what I described. The attendants weren't as attentive and she never even got their names (whereas mine reminded me every two minutes), so giving tips afterwards in the lobby was a game of Memory, assisted by the clerks. I'd say either she's relaxed, or they put some weird stuff in those springs:

Food wise, the weekend was hit and miss. Friday night we wanted some Hibachi, and found Fuji Japanese Steakhouse where we had a chef and table to ourselves. I especially like doing this with Val, since she doesn't like the veggies much, so I end up with half her meal on top of mine.

Being alone at the grill, though, you feel extra pressure to make the chef feel like he's funny and doing the a great job with the same tricks you've seen at every Japanese place. Oh, look, balancing an egg on the spatula, how novel! What a fun onion volcano! Ooooh, fire hot and shiny!!!

Saturday night we felt like Italian, and walked into a place downtown called Pastoria (I think) sitting by the window watching other tourists stroll past.

The calamari wasn't very good (it was barely fried and not crunchy at all), but my lasagna and Val's ravioli was good. The cheesecake and tiramisu for dessert was even better.

Lunch Saturday, however, was just terrible. We ate at this place called the Exchange Street Cafe, which is upstairs in the back of one of the downtown shops. The staff was both inattentive and inept. There are only nine booths, and only four of those were in use when we got there, yet it took ten minutes to get our drinks, and only then after obviously staring back at the counter as if waiting for something. Here I am trying to eat my fingers for sustenance:

Then, we both ordered burgers, yet when they came it was all wrong. Val's was supposed to come with onion rings, yet they brought fries. I asked for a swiss mushroom burger, and then given the same one as Val. There are only like ten things on the whole menu, all burgers and hot dogs!

Saturday afternoon we took a Duck Tour, using the same World War II boats as in Boston back in 2001 that operate on land and water, only without getting shot at by Axis powers (you pay extra for that). Captain Stacy (a guy) drove us from downtown to the big lake that is a tourist haven, and back again.

There's really not much to see in Hot Springs outside of downtown, so it didn't take long. Still, we learned a bit of Hot Springs history and Captain Stacy was funny. There's a lot of quacking. Literally.

Afterwards we stopped for ice cream and walked along the Promenade overlooking Bath House row trying to avoid all the smokers who were trying to ruin our fresh air vacation.

It was a little hot by then, but nice. In fact, the weather was almost perfect for the trip. Sure, rain almost ran us off the road on the way down Friday afternoon (the kind where you drive 20 mph on the interstate), but the storms also left highs in the mid-80s and breezy. A gorgeous weekend in Hot Springs, and exactly what we needed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Red Sox fandom shouldn't be an exclusive gang

Second to the team's performance, much of the talk in Red Sox Nation blogs and podcasts is about "real fans" and bandwagoners piling on after the 2004 and 2007 Series wins. Hey, I know all too well, and Dad certainly knows more, what it was like in the lean years before the titles, but I'm not going to bemoan a full Fenway Park every night and seeing people wearing Boston caps just because it's cool. If we go awhile without another one they'll fall off, and don't worry, us "real fans" will be worried and antsy and negative all over again, so let's enjoy this while we can!

A lot of the condescension focuses on women wearing pink hats, which is the most ridiculous of them all. Y'all are upset that women are following the Sox now? Where's the chivalry? Embrace the ladies! Love the females! Pretty girls supporting your team is never a bad thing!

When Val and I were seriously dating, I bought a Cardinals t-shirt to support her team, and got her a pink Red Sox t-shirt that she likes to wear while rooting for my team, and she looks incredibly adorable in it, and that's all that matters to me, so there.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Not so fast

Okay, so apparently I'm a moron. Next Tuesday is just the consultation with the surgeon, not the actual surgery. So the gallbladder gets another few days to hang out with his working friends, while it just lies on the couch and drinks and watches TV, the lazy non-working bastard.

And now, I find out that the gallbladder has been exerting influence on the rest of Thanks For Noticing Me, because the lawn mower decided to stop working today, too. A few weeks ago I noticed a weird sputter, but being a guy who has no clue how this stuff works, ignored it. Today my Toro sputtered, smoked, then died with one-fourth of the backyard left to go and none of the front mowed. Oh dear. Maybe I'll try kicking it tomorrow, see if that helps. (And yes, there is gas and there is plenty of oil, Mr. Smarty Pants.)

In other news, our world has revolved mostly around following the Olympics. Much of the conversation has been about how the Chinese seem to be getting all the breaks, and now someone else noticed, too. Taking out all events that involve the human element and counting only medals that are determined by competitors rather than judges, the U.S. is kicking even more tail:

China: 22 gold; 11 silver; 11 bronze
United States: 21 gold; 19 silver; 21 bronze

Finally, thank goodness, what we've all been waiting for and knew was true while in the church basement playing in the game room with the youth group, flaunting the sexiness that is ping-pong:
Table tennis is desperate to attract more viewers and some in the sport believe a simple enough solution exists: get the women to wear skirts and shirts with “curves”.
Next up, let's get those skimpy clothes on fencing women!

The gall of my body breaking

The good news Sunday was that I didn't have diabetes. The bad news on Monday is that I'll be losing an organ.

And I don't mean the kind of organ played Sunday mornings in church, or the kind played by a weirdo on a street corner with a monkey. I'm talking a real, bona fide organ in my body.

Y'all know about the abdominal pain and gastrointestinal issues I've been having since about April of 2007? It would appear the problem is traced back to my gallbladder. When I went for tests this morning, an ultrasound and something involving "nuclear medicine" showed the same thing.

During the second test the doc pumped me full of something that was supposed to register the liver, gallbladder and small intestines in x-ray type pictures. Except, the gallbladder never showed up after two hours, meaning that nothing was passing through it. The three docs all nodded sympathetically and professionally and agreed, "that's not cool."

The radiologist and then my gastro specialist then said that it's either full of gallstones or it's not working at all. And it is thus, the offending organ will be removed by force, scheduled for next Tuesday morning. I might be home that night, maybe another day, and recovery takes a week or two. I'll know more Tuesday when I call the surgeon's office for all the details.

Apparently it's not as rare as I thought. Since I found out that my body isn't the perfect medical specimen, I've heard from many others who are missing a gallbladder, none of whom are forced to eat rice cakes every meal. I will now join the club, and the only fee is a tiny organ.

No worries so far, unless you count the extra stomach forming from the "nuclear medicine" test. Ask me again, oh, next Tuesday morning!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

No problemo

The diabetes test came back negative, meaning, good negative, meaning, no diabetes for the Jeffmeister. Of course, the nurse made a point to say that I need to watch my diet and lose weight, so I still shouldn't have eaten that meatball sub for dinner!
In the meantime, Val and I are back from Hot Springs where we had a very relaxing three days, two nights, and I'll write more soon about the trip.

Happy Blog Anniversary to Me!

Four years ago today I officially started Thanks For Noticing Me on Blogger and stopped doing all of this manually on my own site, and I'd say everything's gone swimmingly, am I right?

After all, since I began, the Red Sox have won the World Series - TWICE - President Bush got re-elected over John "Looks French" Kerry, and oh yeah, I've gotten married and stopped all the sniveling self-deprecating posts about being single! Win-Win for everyone!

Friday, August 15, 2008

I need to eat more apples

Team Valfrey will be heading out of town this afternoon. Val and I are off to Hot Springs for three days, two nights of peace and quiet at a bed and breakfast in town, looking forward to getting pampered at one of the thermal spas, taking a cruise around the lake, and otherwise laid up in the king size bed or Jacuzzi tub with Bon Bons and chocolate cake watching the Olympics. There will be no late-night partying. There will be, however, ten-hour sleep-ins.
Now, stand by to whine and moan about yourself too much, and your name is Jeff ...
I am sick of going to the doctor all the time, even though a consortium of Thanks For Noticing Me shareholders have determined that it's all my fault.
Much to my chagrin (and I'm very protective of my chagrin), I spent both of my weekend days at the doctor’s office this week for issues involving my love of Swiss Cake Rolls, which should only encourage me to stop messing around and lose all these extra pounds already. Actually, "extra pounds" is being kind. More like "extra person." Basically I need to lose a Val.

Monday I was at my primary physician because I haven’t fulfilled one of my promises to Val before we married, to do something about my snoring. It’s not traditional, the “sawing logs” kind. Mine is a combo of my throat being clogged plus my asthma, so it sounds like I’m dying, and it’s loud, and as a result lately it’s been so bad that I’ve been relegated to the couch, watching South Korea and Slovakia square off in team handball.  

I also have to lose weight. Last week I was at the doctor for routine blood work to check cholesterol and update my blood pressure medicine. Then the doc said that my blood sugar was high, so I had to do another test Monday and if it's high again then I have to get tested for diabetes. This could be a shock (no pun intended) for someone who's always considered himself healthy and active for a big guy.

After growing up hyperactive and skinny, ever since I was a teen and started having to shop in the "husky" section of department stores, being well-nourished (a.k.a. "overweight") has bothered me and I've done little to nothing about it. Now almost 33 years old my body is starting to rebel like Paris Hilton at church.

I'm really just tired of being bruised from running into things because like a little dog I don't know my own size, and saying stupid things like "If women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy." Whatever dude, just stop eating buffalo wings and Krystals every other meal!

My whole persona has been the big jovial guy. Can I still be cuddly-uddliest teddy bear? Okay, that's a copout. You could fertilize the lawn with that one. My sense of humor won't fade like Samson's strength when that evil ho Delilah cut his beautiful locks. I'll gladly forsake the comedy styling of Chris Farley for the looks of Olympic champion Aaron Piersall. Of course, then I'd be arrogant and asking everyone to "Kneel before Zod." But for a few months no one would mind since they'd be happy for me, so that's cool.

Keep Jeff accountable
Starting weight (August 15, 2008) - 369
10% target - 329
Ultimate goal – 225

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Randomly thinking

I took the Activia challenge. And failed. I couldn't even manage two weeks of yogurt. And four days does not make one "regular."

Have you watched the Olympics? I mean, really watched all of the games at 3 a.m. on CNBC? Some of these so-called sports would be considered hokey at May Day games in elementary school. Handball is something you played with a tennis ball and a bunch of bored guys in P.E. class when you were done climbing a rope. Is "Smear the Queer" going to qualify for medals next?

Anyone who would go so far as to draw or, worse, etch naughty pictures on a bathroom stall is a classless individual.

My next genius invention, a water/tea pitcher for restaurants that won't spill half on the table for the three ounces added to your drink. There has to be some sort of push-button screen to keep ice from spilling out, and you can push the button to allow ice to flow. As usual, I'll work on it, then realize in a year someone invented it and is making millions.

For a work event my darling Valerie made cocktail weenie croissant wraps, and specially did a batch for me to take to work. After every one I'd think, "the next one can't be this awesome." Yes, it could. I almost cried when I ran out.

Anyone who would spend $50,000 on cloning their pet than $50 on a new one from the shelter is a moron. Unless they can download the old pet's memories into the new ones. That would be rad.

Recently I decided to unsubscribe to many of the non-Spam sites that regularly fill my inbox. It's disappointing and slightly infuriating that the only one who still keeps sending me stuff is the Republican National Committee.

Don't put mini bags of popcorn into the microwave, set it for the automatic "popcorn" setting and walk away. It will burn. I did so three times in a row while washing the dishes recently.

And yet I still got uppity and sarcastic later when Val poked a hole in a bag trying to even out the kernels before putting it in the microwave.

Big thanks to the TGI Friday's at Wolfchase for not only describing how to properly wash your hands in the bathroom, but including color photos as well.

The Minute Maid apple juice in the vending machine at work now costs $1.50. I didn't know apples were made of oil.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

King Willie above grammar requirements

This is from a letter to the editor in the Aug. 7 Commercial Appeal:
Not sayin' you're biased, just sayin'

I am disgusted with the way the mainstream Memphis media treat our great mayor. Mayor Willie Herenton's success has created a lot of jealousy.

He has been falsely accused of wrongdoing, lied about and maligned. Why were Wyeth Chandler and Dick Hackett never treated this way? I won't play the race card, but one could assume some things based on the history of the city.

No mayor before or after Herenton will bring this city forward the way he has. For the people in the suburbs who have said that our mayor has terrible grammar, I want you to know that he has three college degrees. He does not have to speak a certain way to impress you. Remember, the English language is not the natural language of black people. (Emphasis mine.)

I am proud of my mayor because he has been real with the people and has done a great job. I just hope he does not get a false indictment like the other black politicians have. I hope Mayor Herenton keeps up the good work in our city.

Yep. This is my hometown.

Sox kick field goal, win by two

While you were watching NBC and the U.S. women choke away the gymnastics gold medal at the Olympics (so were Val and I, since I don't have Extra Innings), the Red Sox battled to a 19-17 win at Fenway over Texas in an epic game that featured:
- The Red Sox scored 10 runs in the first inning.
- David Ortiz hit TWO three-run homers in the first inning.
- Texas took a 15-14 lead with eight runs in the fifth and five in the six.
- Rangers starter Scott Feldman became the first major league pitcher to allow 12 runs and not take the loss since Gene Packard of the St. Louis Cardinals got the win in a 16-12 victory over the Phillies on Aug. 3, 1918.
- The 19 runs were the most scored by Boston this season and ruined a Rangers comeback that matched the greatest ever against the Sox. The Sox also squandered a 10-run lead on June 4, 1989, against Toronto when they lost 13-11 in 12 innings after leading 10-0 through six.
- The combined 36 runs tied an AL record set on June 29, 1950, when the Sox beat the Philadelphia Athletics 22-14.
- The Sox spotted rookie Charlie Zink the ten runs in the first in his major league debut, but he ended up giving up eight runs on 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings. Zink is a knuckleballer, filling in for injured knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.
- Obviously, Zink was returned to Triple-A Pawtucket after the game.
- Thankfully the Sox did something about their pitching during the day Tuesday, acquiring RHP Paul Byrd from Cleveland, who may not be flashy but he doesn't give up eight runs in five innings, either.  

Monday, August 11, 2008

Circle of marriage

American Olympian Kerri Walsh lost her wedding ring during a match Sunday morning, and thankfully a volunteer found it at the end of the day with the help of a metal detector.

I'm not sure that excuse would fly. I can only imagine the conversation ...

"Seriously, Sweetheart, I was in the Olympics playing beach volleyball, and it just came off!"

"Yeah, whatever. If you don't want to be married at the Olympics, just say so."

"No, really, I was spiking the ball and it came off."

"Then you weren't squeezing hard enough. I bet that Japanese trollop was cute."

"At least we won, right?"


Not that my Darling Valerie would respond like that. I meant other, less accepting spouses, of course.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Red China Games

The Opening Ceremony was stunning, impressive and spectacular, but I was dismayed at how NBC tried to stay away from the idea that Communist China was using these Games as a propaganda tool on the level of 1936 in Berlin and 1980 in Moscow. I was especially uncomfortable that the Chinese military raised the Olympic banner. This would be the same military responsible for the worldwide outrage in the Tibet crackdown just a few months ago.

I'm still going to watch the Games obsessively, many hours a day, so I'm not willing to go so far as to boycott them. I just don't want the media to pretend that it's all happy-go-lucky in China.

National Review's Jay Nordlinger wrote a 5-part series on the Beijing games, pulling no punches in talking about how China has handled ownership of the Games, notably the human rights abuses that have increased, not decreased, as the world turns its eyes East:
In order to make way for improvements, and make the capital sightlier, the government has razed whole neighborhoods, once filled with traditional huts. There is not much thought to the people displaced. And Westerners marvel at what the Chinese authorities can accomplish, and the speed with which they can accomplish it. They are even envious. An American acting as senior adviser to the Beijing Olympic Committee said, “The ability to get things done here is really staggering. In Los Angeles, it would take endless discussions to build any structure. Here they decide to do it, and kaboom! It happens.”

Yes, dictatorships are known to be good at that sort of thing. In his 2007 book, The China Fantasy, James Mann quotes Thomas L. Friedman, the New York Times columnist who has won the Pulitzer Prize three times. In one of his columns, Friedman wrote,

"Shanghai’s deputy mayor told me that as his city became more polluted, the government simply moved thousands of small manufacturers out of Shanghai to clean up the air. . . . At this time, when democracies, like India and America, seem incapable of making hard decisions, I cannot help but feel a tinge of jealousy at China’s ability to be serious about its problems and actually do things that are tough and require taking things away from people."

In fact, taking things away from people has always been one of Communism’s specialties. ...

Another thing Beijing has done to prepare for the Olympic Games is give policemen a little instruction in English. The government has published a manual called Olympic Security English, for home study. The Christian Science Monitor obtained a copy. A practice dialogue headed “How to Stop Illegal News Coverage” goes like this:

P(oliceman): Excuse me, sir. Stop, please.

F(oreign journalist): Why?

P: Are you gathering news here?

F: Yes.

P: About what?

F: About Falun Gong.

P: Show me your press card and your reporter’s permit.

F: Here you are.

P: What news are you permitted to cover?

F: The Olympic Games.

P: Falun Gong has nothing to do with the Games. . . . You should only cover the Games.

F: But I’m interested in Falun Gong.

P: It’s beyond the limit of your coverage and illegal. As a foreign reporter in China you should obey China law and do nothing against your status.

F: Oh, I see. May I go now?

P: No. Come with us.

F: What for?

P: To clear up this matter.

“Come with us,” indeed.

When journalists began arriving en masse to cover the Games, they realized that Chinese officials were limiting the kinds of websites that could be visited, despite assurances beforehand that there would be no such limitations. Commercial Appeal sports columnist Geoff Calkins takes notice:
I type "Tank Man" in Google.

"Internet Explorer cannot display this Web page."

I try "Free Tibet."

"Internet Explorer cannot display this Web page."

How about "Darfur?"

"Internet Explorer cannot display this Web page."

Maybe it's the Internet connection at the media center. I try "Mao is great."

Suddenly, the connection is working. Gee, what are the odds?

It will take a greater mind than mine to figure out whether the Olympics should be held in a place like this. You know the arguments on either side. Holding the Olympics in China legitimizes the government. Or holding the Olympics in China will inevitably cause change.

People are realizing that China feels it can do what it wants, and offer no explanation, and like most authoritarian regimes, it happens when no one is looking. Even for seemingly insignificant things.

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Amanda Beard had to change plans for launching an anti-fur campaign poster for PETA at the Athletes' Village on Wednesday when Chinese authorities canceled the original unveiling, "citing safety concerns."
Jason Baker, an Asia-Pacific spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said the launch was "a bit more dramatic than we had planned" after Chinese security officials visited a hotel where an official news conference had been scheduled and shut down the event.

"From what I've been told from the hotel, the public security bureau showed up at midnight and told them our specific event had to be canceled for safety reasons, without going into any specifics," Baker said. "When I arrived at 8 a.m., there were public security officials in the press conference room we had booked.

Former Olympic speedskater had his visa revoked by Chinese authorities just hours before he was leaving for Beijing to promote his effort urging China to help make peace in the war-torn Darfur section of Sudan. The 2006 American gold medalist said they told him they were denying him entrance into the country and were "not required to give a reason."

Nor would anyone ask, because they knew China feels it doesn't have to apologize or explain anything it does.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Memphis in the news, for better and worse

- What I've been saying all along, the Memphis Zoo is the best, and now TripAdvisor, "the world’s largest travel community," named Memphis No. 1 in their list of Top 10 U.S. Aquariums and Zoos. And I've been to the famous San Diego Zoo and still prefer Memphis.

- Reason No. 2,340 to love Memphis politics, our leaders never learn. That could only explain why councilwoman Janis Fullilove, who had her license revoked after a suspected DUI in Mississipp after a night in Tunica, and got in an accident where many suspect she was drunk leaving Tunica, was seen this week slumped over passed out in her car in Tunica.

- U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of the 9th congressional district, the only white man representing a majority black district, won the Democrat primary on Thursday against a black woman, Nikki Tinker, 79-19 percent, after a campaign in which Tinker accused Cohen of:

1. Being a racist
2. Being anti-Christian (Cohen is Jewish)
3. Pandering to blacks with a resolution apologizing for slavery

Tinker's ads were so egregious that even MSNBC host Keith Olbermann took time out from conservative-bashing to name her as his nightly "Worst Person in the World."

She also couldn't get any votes, apparently, when the day before the election, Cohen personally and literally pushed a filmmaker out of his home during a press conference, claiming that the filmmaker is an Armenian-American "harassing" the congressman for voting against a resolution to condemn Turkey for committing a genocide in the early 1900's.

Afterwards, addressing the other reporters, Cohen slandered all Armenians:
There have been Armenians who have assassinated and killed many people, including people in this country, in Los Angeles, in the 70s and 80s. And so I don't rest very comfortable with one of these fellows coming into my home."
The reaction? Nothing. Imagine changing that around, insert Muslims or Puerto Ricans for Armenians, see if there isn't a reaction to such a blanket offensive statement.

Jeff's Top 5 - Summer Olympic Events to Watch

1. Opening Ceremony - Is this a cheat since it's not a sporting event? It's still the most watchable part of the entire two weeks, a spectacle for a world that is watching. NBC breaks out its file footage of the best-looking scenery from the host nation, and the entry of the athletes is just as exciting for the lone representative from Gilligan's Island than the hundreds waving USA flags.
2.  Diving - Not only is it athletic with all the flipping and spinning, but there's also a chance for disaster with bellyflops and big splashes.
3. Gymnastics - Women, not men. Then men are supposed to be good, although with the pommel horse at least there's a chance for crotch humor on par with half of "America's Funniest Videos." Those little growth-stunted girls do tricks that I wouldn't attempt on a trampoline covered by Nerf.
4. Swimming - The water just looks so darn refreshing. Are Olympic athletes the only ones who can swim the Butterfly stroke? Have you ever tried it? If you're going to make me swim like a dolphin, at least toss some tuna in front of me for inspiration.
5. Track and Field - Yeah, they're probably more doped up than the Olsen twins in Amsterdam, but there's a fine mixture of people jumping high and far, the fastest runners in the world sprinting 100 meters quicker than I scratch my butt sitting on the couch, and there's always a chance a bystander will get speared with a javelin. (Do you get the sense that I watch this like I do NASCAR, with the hopes of disaster around the corner?)
Honorable mention: Cycling - The racing on that little track is frustrating, because they lollygag around the track for ten minutes, then sprint the last two laps. The entire time I'm thinking, "Go! Speed off! Surprise him!"
Boxing - I don't watch it professionally, but on this level it's easier to track because it's only a few rounds and they count hits, so you can follow who's winning or losing.
Beach Volleyball - Just because. *Whistling* Not linking to picture of celebration from 2004 games (check the archives).

Judges get what the judges wanted

The Hot Tamale Train is in the station for another nine months, and a new dance champion is crowned. The judges' successfully manipulated it so that an "untrained" dancer would win, even though Joshua won and even he admitted to having had dance lessons growing up and being a dancer in shows. But other than that, yeah, "untrained" "hip-hop" dancer. At least this means an end for now to them giving that stupid "4 real" sign on their shoulders.
No real surprise that Twitch was the runner-up, since the judges clearly didn't care to have a contemporary-dancing woman on top, so Courtney and Katee were given the boot by the end of the first hour.
Not that I mind Joshua winning. He has been a delight all season, we just don't like the judges trying to manipulate voting, which is why it was fun to see Will get offed soon after fans actually got a chance to vote. It was also nice to see Mark in two of the "best of" performances, proving that if given a decent partner during the top ten (like Katee, or Chelsie), he might have been in the final four instead of Twitch.
We did learn, though, that it's better to DVR the results show, since we were able to watch it all in under an hour while fast-forwarding through all the commercials and crap like the Jonas Brothers, who are like the Hanson Brothers with even less talent. Ye gads, based on all the girls screaming in the audience, if Miley Cyrus had shown up at the same time, the planet might have imploded.
Meanwhile, on Project Runway, Blayne somehow survives despite not being able to tan, Olympic star and Dancing with the Stars winner Apolo Ohno is the guest judge for a challenge to create a design for the Summer Olympics opening ceremony (for women), and despite Daniel's purple cocktail dress, Jennifer gets the boot. They spent half the show letting Joe talk about his "skort" idea, even though in the end it looked like a Saturn rocket with the "USA" down the side.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

SYTYCD final four perform

On the season finale of "So You Think You Can Dance," your Final 4 perform solo and with each other, and I say "your" because I was rooting for Jessica, Chelsie, Mark and Joshua. I was one-for-four, with only Joshua advancing as far. Not that I don't like Katee, Courtney or Twitch. They're all fabulous dancers and fun people, just not the ones I fell in like with as the top 20 started.
COURTNEY AND TWITCH - Wow, what a shock, Twitch gets a hip-hop routine for what, the tenth time this season? I'm sure it was "hitting" and "hard," but not our thing.
7:25 - One duo, one solo. This doesn't need to be two hours.
KATEE AND JOSHUA - A contemporary dance that didn't inspire. Looked like a lot of flailing to me.
COURTNEY AND KATEE - Cute, adorable, colorful, but pretty bland for a Broadway number.
TWITCH AND JOSHUA - Absolutely the best of the night, and maybe the season. They did a Russian dance that was set up like a one-upmanship competition. All kinds of jumps and leaps and floor work. They were powerful, acrobatic, and even looked good in the big poofy pants.
TWITCH AND KATEE - Their foxtrot was all about the lift, pretty, elegant, strong.
JOSHUA AND COURTNEY - A forgetful jive, fast but not good teamwork.
They saved a Mia Michaels routine for the end, with all four on stage performing something like a Scottish Chicken Dance. (Why are the guys always topless this season, but the girls never are?)
The number didn't impress me, but of course the judges made it the only three-dinger of the night: "First I want to say how great the choreography is ..." DING! "That routine was just wonderful ... " DING! "Wow, what an interesting number ..." DING!
Oh yeah, and something about the dancers, too, such as Mary taking this opportunity - the final bit of the night - to say that Courtney didn't look good out there, and all of the judges decided to use this time to manipulate it so that Twitch or Joshua is sure to win. I'm not saying this competition is rigged, I'm just saying that the show is playing favorites.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Jeff reviews The Dark Knight

Gotham's in trouble again, and it's up to a superhero with cool weapons, an awesome motorcycle and an overdeveloped sense of justice.
Like you, I've seen months and months of previews and reviews, heard all the buzz, but I knew absolutely nothing of the story to "The Dark Knight." In fact, I'm not sure Christian Bale was in more than 10 seconds of any trailer or teaser to the film. Everything was focused on Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker.
So I'll start there. The late Ledger lives up to the hype as an evil, evil, Joker. There's not one giggle worthy of Jack Nicholson. He's an agent of chaos, a freak, a scary, scary freak who can twist any situation into his favor with no fear and a flair for showmanship.
The plot turns out to be kind of irrelevant. It's whatever the Joker deems it to be, so there is no plot, so to speak. The mob is weakened by Batman, then the Joker takes over and makes them even more irrelevant. There's something about a Hong Kong guy, which is just an excuse for Wayne to go there and get him in an impressive action piece.
New District Attorney Harvey Dent, played by Aaron Eckhart ("Thank You For Smoking") is the White Knight, his mission to clean up the city of crime and corruption. He's also in love with Bruce Wayne's old squeeze, Rachel, now played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is a little better than Katie Holmes. At least her face seems to move occasionally into some sort of expression. While Dent and Rachel are all smoochy-smoochy, Bruce Wayne pretends to be even more of a playboy showboater billionaire, which looks like a good bit of fun, actually.
All that money for toys certainly helps, and Morgan Freeman returns as Lucius Fox, now running Wayne Enterprises on the side while creating all of Bruce's weapons. Michael Caine is also still Alfred the butler, full of wisdom and running the penthouse apartment while Wayne Manor is rebuilt after the fire in "Batman Begins." Without these two veterans providing warmth and acting gravitas, this new series wouldn't be nearly as good as it is.
The action scenes are better all around than "Batman Begins," intense and full of innovative "holy cow" stunts and sequences, like a semi flipping over cab first, or when Batman has to immobilize SWAT members to save hostages.
The music adds to the effect of intensity, especially when the Joker is involved. There is this single piercing note that plays for several seconds to build suspense as you wonder what he's going to do next, and it makes you cringe and at one point I even closed my eyes because I didn't want to see what would happen. Then, director Christopher Nolen largely doesn't show what happens, hiding much of the blood and what would be gore in the hands of someone else from "300" or "Reservoir Dogs," and the film doesn't suffer for it.  
"The Dark Knight" is just that, dark, dire, when you leave the theater you feel like you've been punched in the gut, or at least ate some bad sour candies. It's brutal, almost sadistic. And also exquisitely made. Not only should Ledger get a nomination for Best Supporting Actor, I'd wager that "The Dark Knight" should be nominated for "Best Picture." It's that good.
"Eagle Eye" - Didn't we see "Enemy of the State" already?
"Bolt" - Disney animated flick for Thanksgiving (why put this in front of "The Dark Knight"?).  
"Watchmen" - Next March's superhero hype, directed by same guy who did "300," and it looks just as freaky.
"Body of Lies" - Russell Crowe, Leo DiCaprio, director Ridley Scott. Some crappy plot about how Crowe is pulling the strings of Leo in secret government operations that are probably illegal and blah blah it's all Bush's fault I'm sure.
"Terminator Salvation" - A.k.a. "T4." Christian Bale is John Connor in the future, and I'm totally there. I was the only one who liked "T3," so why won't this rock?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Welcome August

If it's 100 degrees with a heat index of 110 of more in Memphis, it must be August. And no, it's not a dry heat.

And yet, Val and I are just glad that July is over, and in celebration, we had a date night of sorts, or at least what constitutes a pleasant night: Outback for dinner (Blooming Onion, share a big steak, lots of croutons), shopping at Kirkland's ($25 gift card from Christmas!) and back home for cookies and watching The Quiet Man (a John Wayne classic that Val hadn't seen).

Saturday was a little busier, going to her Mammaw's for some work on the Howell family homestead, painting the living room ceiling, removing wallpaper and repainting a bathroom, and a few odd jobs. As usual, my skills of being tall and able to carry heavy things served me well. Thankfully we stayed inside and closer to the tuna and pimento sandwiches and giant glasses of tea.

Dad let Val and I know that when we visit for our anniversary in October and go to Key West, it's the weekend of Fantasy Fest, which is, ahem, an "alternative" celebration of sorts. We're still going, because I owe it to you, my readers, to provide valuable insight and pictures into this event. Should be entertaining, to say the least. (Note to self: Get tickets to the leather fetish party early!)

Rest in peace, Skip

Sad news for baseball fans, especially anyone who enjoyed watching Braves games on TBS over the years. Announcer Skip Caray has died. He was 68.

Growing up, Braves games on TBS were the only games on, and they were bad. Thankfully Caray wouldn't gloss over the fact, and made even blowouts entertaining. When I lived in Atlanta for nine years, I would attend ten to twenty games a year by myself and would take along a radio to listen to Carey and partners like Pete Van Wieren call games.

I didn't have the Extra Innings package most seasons I didn't see many Red Sox games, so the Braves were it for baseball coverage. If the Braves were on ESPN or Fox Sports instead of TBS or Turner South, I would turn off the volume and listen to the radio instead. That's the greatest compliment I can give an announcer, that their work was worth searching out, and Caray was my favorite.

Every time Atlanta wins, I still try to imitate him saying "Braves win," which probably sounds more like Pee Wee Herman, but Skip's voice was so distinctive that it's difficult not to at least try.

Already in the Braves Hall of Fame for his 33 years of service to the team, I know the team will celebrate his life and what he meant to the team, and rightly so. It stinks for his son Chip, who has now seen his father and grandfather, Harry, pass, two announcing legends and tough acts to follow.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Boston doing fine by the Bay, L.A. enjoying Mannyland

Thursday's deadline trade seems to be going well for both Boston and L.A. The Red Sox swept the A's this weekend, and newby Jason Bay continued his strong start Sunday with the men from Fenway, going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and two runs scored. He also threw out a runner trying to stretch a single
Hopefully the good times will continue, since the Red Sox, just 24-32 away from home, play their next seven games on the road, beginning Monday night in Kansas City.
(If you ever get to see the full report from the AP, the notes section at the end always provides valuable insight, such as this from today's game: "Thunder rumbled around Fenway in the sixth, drawing 'oohs' from the crowd before play was halted by rain for 37 minutes.")
Meanwhile, over in LaLa Land, Manny Ramirez continued to swing a hot bat in his first series with the Dodgers, going 4-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs in a 9-3 victory over the Diamondbacks on Sunday, a day after hitting a two-run shot in a 4-2 L.A. triumph.
I hope everything works out for him, and I look forward to following his exploits from a distance. Without Manny, the Sox don't win two World Series this decade. In 30 years, I'll be telling my eight kids about how I got to watch Hall of Famer Ramirez in a Red Sox uniform for 7 1/2 years, and giggle at his antics in the field and the dugout. I'm still kinda glad that he's out of Boston now, because it felt like he was quitting on the team like he did in 2006, and that is apparent now that GM Theo Epstein said that other players wanted the goofy hitting genius traded.
Also, more than Roger Clemens ever did when he left the Sox for Toronto, Manny thanked those who cheered his every nutty move. "From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank the fans of Boston," he said. "I love you guys. You've been with me through ups and downs."
We love you too, you big galoot. Just don't beat us in October!

This week's Obama wrap

- From the You Can't Make This Stuff Up Department: CNN interrupts a discussion of whether the media are in the tank for Obama for a news bulletin that Obama's plane has landed safely.

- Playing the race card, from Rich Lowry: "In a statement Obama repeated three times, he said what George Bush and John McCain are 'going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he’s not patriotic enough. He’s got a funny name. You know, he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills.' ... When he won the North Carolina primary, he said McCain would 'play on our fears' and 'exploit our differences.' In June, he said Republicans were going to run against him saying: 'He’s young and inexperienced, and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?' ... Obama hopes to use the racism card to inhibit all criticism of him, with the presumed cooperation of the press."

After Obama says that the Republicans are racists just itching to tell the world about this uppity African-American trying to be president, Wolf Blitzer led his show Thursday night: "Happening now, John McCain's campaigns levels a very serious allegation against Barack Obama." Yep, it's all McCain's fault.

Wait, there's more! Earlier, Wolf had this to say: "Tonight, "Race and Politics." New shots in the war of words over who's really injecting race into the campaign. Is it Barack Obama for accusing John McCain of trying to scare voters or is it John McCain for taking offense at the accusation?" Wolf, that's not equivalent!!!! That's the old, "When did you stop beating your wife" assertion. Switch the roles, would Wolf try to draw a comparison? "Tonight, is Obama just touchy after McCain accused him of sleeping with Fidel Castro?"

- During the Obamessiah's premature victory lap around the Middle East and Europe last week, the Associated Press reports that Obama "scrapped plans to visit wounded members of the armed forces in Germany as part of his overseas trip, a decision his campaign said was made because the Democratic presidential candidate thought it would be inappropriate on a campaign-funded journey." Really? No time whatsoever to go say hey to soldiers who have fought and bled for your country? What's the matter Obama, no cameras allowed?

- You've heard Obamessiah's quote about how Americans need to make sure our kids can speak Spanish. But you haven't heard the rest:
“You should be thinking about, how can your child become bilingual? We should have every child speaking more than one language. You know, it’s embarrassing when Europeans come over here. They all speak English — they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe. And all we can say is, ‘Merci beaucoup.’”
National Review columnist Jay Nordlinger caught on to the old "embarrassed to be an American" type who throws a Canadian flag on his backpack in other countries to avoid stares or any possibility of others not liking him. Will Obama go to other countries as president and apologize for his country? Same as when Obama said unreformed middle America clings to guns and religion. It all amounts to: “The average American is a dope.”

- Of course you heard none of this when Obama made his weeklong tour to speak to his fellow "citizens of the world," but remember back to the beginning of July when the media scolded McCain for going to South America for a few days?
Good Morning America on Wednesday attempted to guilt trip John McCain for taking a foreign trip while "Americans wrestle with a tough economy." Five times over the course of two segments, various GMA hosts, reporters and analysts insinuated that McCain's trip to Colombia and Mexico might result in voters thinking he doesn't care about the economic situation of Americans.

Correspondent Bianna Golodryga pointedly wondered: "But at a time when polls show Obama ahead of McCain by 16 points on the economy, should McCain be staying closer to home?" GMA co-host Robin Roberts, in an interview with Senator McCain, questioned: "So, why is Senator McCain abroad when Americans are focused on the economy here at home and losing jobs, more and more jobs, as Bianna just reported?" The candidate replied by mentioning the fight against the Colombian drug trade as one reason for his South American trip. Undeterred, Roberts continued her theme. She repeated: "We've seen that over and over again, so many want to know, other than what you just said, why are you in Colombia this morning?" This prompted an irritated McCain to reply: "Well, I'd be glad to repeat myself."

- But I'm sure they're all super-duper objective: Donations from employees of big media companies are tilting 100-to-1 in favor of the Democrats so far this election cycle. Those working for NBC Universal are the most eager givers to the Democrats, racking up $104,184 in contributions this cycle, compared to just $3,150 to Republican candidates. Heck, even those at Fox broadcasting and the Fox News Channel combined to give $41,853 to the Democrats, with no listed donations going to the Republicans. (Only $1,280 was listed as coming from Fox News employees.)

So Far, So Good

In two games with the Red Sox, Jason "I'm not Manny" Bay scored both runs and hit a triple in a 2-1 win over Oakland on Friday, and belted a three-run first-inning dinger to give the Red Sox a 5-2 lead en route to a 12-2 win last night.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Wish I wasn't right

As expected, Mark and Chelsie got the boot on "So You Think You Can Dance" last night, leaving the finale next week up for grabs in terms of who Val and I want to win. Do we even care anymore? Feh. I guess I'll root for Katee or Joshua, since they've been the most entertaining.
Mary may think that Twitch is diverse in his styles, but being great at "hard-hitting hip-hop, smooth hip-hop and comedic hip-hop" does not make you an expert in all styles. Though the judges keep giving him credit for "being out of his element," even though by now there are no brownie points for trying real hard. Be good or go home! Courtney is lovable, but not inspiring.
Can Cat win? If only for how she does anything to keep the show fun, including putting on Twitch's glasses and fake gold grill Wednesday night. As much as Nigel and his oogling of the girl dancers and Mary and her screams define the broadcasts, Cat makes it all work.
Meanwhile, on "Project Runway," there aren't enough weeks to eliminate all the annoying contestants this season. Blayne, Stella, Suede, Jerrell, they all think they're the next Christian, and all will fail.
This week, Winona Ryder look-alike Emily is out because the judges don't like ruffles, whether they have ridges or not, and for some reason Sandra Bernhardt was dug out of her 1990 time capsule to guest-judge.
Leanne and Jennifer both remain, which is okay except that eventually one has to leave if only because I can't tell them apart. They both look like rejects from that polygamist compound in Texas.
I want to like Kenley, and adore her 1940s Betty Grable pinup look, but her voice bugs me. I think it's because I expect a cute little voice to go with her look, but instead she's deep and gruff. Yes, my expectations are more important than her reality. We really didn't want her to win this challenge, either, since her dress looked like how when you are in the pool with shorts on, they bubble up like you're wearing a parachute.
I have to wonder about what inspires the designers. The challenge this week was to make a dress inspired by New York at night. Instead of looking around at the really tall buildings that surround them, or the diverse people, they start taking pictures of the ground and the ugliest stuff they can find. To these guys and gals, New York at night is all about graffiti on newspaper boxes, wet planters, torn-up magazines, a map and a clock. Not exactly the kind of things that make New York pop out in your mind, eh?