Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


Name that band!

I just bought an album by this band. Name that band!
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I'll give you some hints. The man in the middle is a woman. The woman on the left is not Christine Baranski. The woman on the right is not Lara Flynn Boyle. Can you name that band?????


Tuesday's totally random history!

Let's head back to Merovingian times for today's installment of Totally Random History, shall we? Flipping open my copy of Late Merovingian France: History and Hagiography 640-720 by Paul Fouracre and Richard A. Gerberding,¹ we come upon the Acta Aunemundi - the Deeds of Aunemund. More context after the excerpt:


Then spoke the bishop, "I will come with you unafraid, just as you have said." With a smile on his face he was taken in hand by his enemies, and speaking bravely he demanded of their leaders that two priests and the same number of deacons and clergy should accompany him. On a different day, when they came to the town of Macon, the man of God wanted to visit and pray at the churches of the saints and to pay his due respects to Aganus, bishop of that town, but he was prevented by the commander and his associates. Moreover, when the commander saw that Abbot Waldebert, beloved of God, was constantly comforting him in Christ and carefully shielding him from the harm of his enemies, the dukes spoke to him in the following way, "If you wish to accompany the bishop, that will be difficult for us and hinder our journey, for we have been ordered that he be led in and delivered up having been deprived by our efforts of the comfort of priests and the conversation of friends." But he [Waldebert] replied, "My coming along does not hurt or hinder you at all. But I do see that chance to destroy him which you have made up your minds to seek." All of them together said to him, "This fate which you fear, let it befall us here or in the future if we fail to deliver him up into the presence of the king. So you leave today: at least let this be done - travel any other path along which you want to go."

"The bishop" referred to here is Aunemund, Bishop of Lyons, which was one of the most important positions in the Frankish Church in the mid-seventh century. His brother was the secular ruler of Lyons, and his family was very powerful, but that didn't help when his rivals at court killed both his brother and him. Aunemund was the godfather of King Chlothar III (r. 657-673), but his power made others jealous and he was charged with treason against the king.² The excerpt presented here details the army that was sent to fetch him to court to answer the charges. Not surprisingly, when Waldebert went away, he lost his protection and he was murdered in the night at Chalon-sur-Saône. Naturally, a cult developed around his tomb and he was acclaimed as a saint (back when communities could still make someone a saint on their own, without appealing to the Vatican).

There's an interesting account of Aunemund in the Life of Bishop Wilfrid of Ripon, by Eddius Stephanus. Wilfrid, as any good medievalist knows, was a ridiculously crucial figure in the history of the English Church. His defense of Roman Catholicism at the Synod of Whitby in 664 ensured that Celtic Christianity would go the way of the dodo. However, he spent some time in France, and his vita sheds some interesting light on Merovingian history. According to Stephanus, Queen Balthild ordered Aunemund's execution. Balthild is a fascinating figure in mid-seventh century France, and she was probably acting as regent for her son, Chlothar, who was only around 10 years old at the time. Merovingian queens in the seventh century enjoyed a great deal of power (the famous Brunhild is the epitome of this), and Balthild probably had a lot to do with Aunemund's death. His martyrdom shows that bishops in the seventh century were very involved in power politics and that there was a very strong "court-vs.-periphery" struggle going on in Merovingian France at the time. Aunemund is not the only example of this.

¹ It was published in 1996 by the Manchester University Press, but it's probably out of print. You can find it on Amazon for $150, which is a little steep. Or you can go here an access the documents yourself - although you do need to register.
² The same king whose godfather he was! Oh, it's like a soap opera! It's definitely Chlothar III, not only because the Acta tells us so, but because we have a charter that Aunemund signed that dates from 660.


What have we learned - Week 12

Michael Irvin was arrested on Friday. Good times. Maybe he should talk to his pastor about it. Or his, you know, lover. So sweet. Even if the drug paraphernalia wasn't his, what kind of moron keeps his friend's crap in his car? Moron.

Before I review this week's football games, The Ref is on AMC tonight. God, what a great movie it is. A classic. It should get more love from everyone. If you haven't seen it, go rent it now. Brilliant. It's one of those movies that get better each time you see it, kind of like Party Girl. Another classic. Movies are awesome.

All righty, due to some unforeseen circumstances, our day trip didn't go as planned, so I watched some games. Strange things afoot yesterday in the National ... Football ... League!

The Eagles survived one of the worst penalties I have ever seen. Brian Westbrook ran for over 100 yards, Mike McMahon didn't play poorly, and Nancy-Boy Favre did what he does - throw HORRIBLE passes that get intercepted. But with a little over a minute left, the Pack trailing by 5, he heaved a pass up that was, naturally, intercepted. League officials, upset that Favre was about to fall under .500 for the season, called the referees and told them to call a blatantly awful penalty. So they called roughing the passer. Favre was falling down, the pass was out less than a second, and the Eagle defender hit him on the chest with a forearm as they were both falling. Roughing the passer? Shit. Luckily enough Favre tossed a "real" interception a few plays later. I'm sorry, but that was possibly the worst call I've ever seen. Nice win for the Birds, anyway. It gives me a chance to link to this, which is a very funny rip on my favorite team.

The Cardinals game was blacked out here (I wonder if Arizona holds the record for most consecutive games blacked out?), but they couldn't even beat Jacksonville after breaking the leg of the Jaguars' starting quarterback. I'm not praising them for injuring Leftwich, but you can't let David Garrard beat you when you're playing at home. But that's why you're the Cardinals.

Speaking of back-up quarterbacks, do you want to know how bad the Texans are? St. Louis beat them with their third-string quarterback, the first Harvard QB ever to play in the NFL (he's also from a high school in Gilbert, AZ, right down the road from where we live). And the game was in Houston. It's been fun, David Carr - say hello to Matt Leinart.

Panthers-Bills has to be near the top of the list for most boring game of the year, doesn't it?

LaDanian Tomlinson is fantastic. I'm sorry to reference the Eagles, but all his other games make Philadelphia's effort against him (17 carries, 7 yards!) even more impressive. Washington is starting to suck. I like that.

Tennessee beat San Francisco. I know, I was surprised the NFL would allow them to play too, since they're both such insults to the game.

Can anyone beat the Bears? Can anyone stop the juggernaut in Chicago???? They can't win playoff games like this, can they?

The Bengals are going to make the playoffs, but you can't give up 29 points to the Ravens and expect to go far in the postseason. I know they eased up a bit, but you can't ease up that much. Still, any playoff berth in Cincinnati will make Marvin Lewis a hero.

Tom Brady threw four interceptions. I don't mean to be snotty, but you're not such a great QB when all your players are hurt and you have no running game, are you? They're still going to make the playoffs. Lousy AFC East.

Another game I completely skipped was the Cleveland-Minnesota game. Sorry, Chris. Watch out for the Vikings! That Brad Johnson - he's quite the leader. Maybe all teams should schedule wild sex parties on boats for next season ...

How in the name of all that is holy did the Dolphins score 33 points a week after the Browns shut them out? I love the NFL - it's completely inexplicable. Any game with a safety is a good one - I love safeties.

Seattle tried so hard to lose that game that I'm amazed they actually won. If they want to be the class of the NFC (and I think they are), they have to play better than that. A couple of things, though - the last touchdown the Giants scored should have been overturned, because Toomer clearly did not get both feet down in the end zone, and I'm so glad the Seahawks went for it on fourth down at the New York four-yard-line late in the game. I love when coaches have guts and trust their team. That's a reason why New York lost the game - they were playing for field goals late and in overtime, instead of trying to pick up more yardage. It cost them. And how sweet was it to see Jeremy Shockey doing his little dance when he thought the game was over and then have it all go to crap on him? I hate Shockey, so I thought it was excellent.

Speaking of New York kickers who can't get the job done, the Jets suck. So do the Saints, for that matter. Can't we shuffle things at the end of the year to make sure the prime-time games matter? Isn't that in the works for next season?

College football is winding down, and Notre Dame will get an undeserved spot in a $14 million bowl game. I really hope Penn State plays them in the Fiesta Bowl, not only because I might be able to go to the game, but I really believe the Nittany Lions will smack the crap out of them. I just don't think Notre Dame is all that good. The thing that pisses me off about them is that analysts seem to think that a good Notre Dame team is good for college football. No, it's not. College football doesn't need Notre Dame, and I wish they would stop acting like they do. If I were the NCAA (and when I'm dictator, I might be) I would tell Notre Dame that if they want to go to a BCS bowl game, they should shut up and join a conference. It's all about money, and they already told the NCAA to go screw when they signed their television contract with NBC. As the NCAA, I would tell Notre Dame that if they want to go it alone in the television business, they can take a flying leap when it comes to bowl game. Fuck 'em.

(To be honest, I don't believe Penn State being good is good for college football, either. Or Nebraska. Or Alabama. Or any of the other "traditional" programs that have sucked for a few years. College football is college football - if teams fall, others will take their place.)

Finally, the Lions fired Steve Mariucci but kept Matt Millen. Yeah, that makes sense. They also fired the tight end coach, even though their tight end - Marcus Pollard, wondering why he left the Colts - leads them in catches. Logic has met its match in the world of professional sports!

Speaking of pictures ...

I just posted a bunch of 'em of the kids and such over at my other blog. Go check the cuties out!


Greg and Krys's Excellent Adventure - the picture edition!

In August 1993, I left Pennsylvania with my future wife to head west. Westward Ho! We had very little money and absolutely no prospects. Krys had a vague idea in mind to get a Master's Degree at Lewis and Clark College, but eventually decided against it. I had always wanted to live in Seattle. I don't know why. I had no reason to stay in Pennsylvania, so I went with Krys. One of the better decisions I made in my life, I would say. We decided to tour the country for a while to see if there was anyplace else we might like to live. We also hadn't seen much of the country, and there's a lot of it. And it's purty. So we drove. And drove. And drove. We drove through (deep breath) Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, a tiny bit of Montana, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, and Oregon. Our first stop: Leesburg, Virginia, where my sister Barbra (that's the way Streisand spells it, don't you know) and her husband Mark lived. We spent a nice few days there and visited Harpers Ferry, West Virginia! Give it up for Civil War tourist sites!

The first picture is a picturesque railroad tunnel. I just liked the whole setting.
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Next we have Krys and I on a bridge with the mighty Potomac behind us. Well, it might be the Potomac. It could be the Shenandoah. Anyway, look how 1993 we are!
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This is the town of Harpers Ferry from the church at the top of its hill.
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This is one of the many crime-infested alleys of Harpers Ferry. This is one of the reasons why I dig the East - it's older and therefore a little quirkier than the West. Not a lot of cool centuries-old alleys in Mesa.
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After we went to Harpers Ferry, we went to an amusement park. Can anyone name that park? This was the last time I went to an amusement park for a long time. Inexplicably, there are none in Oregon or Washington. Stupid rainy weather!
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Ah, the log flume. Male or female, white or black, Muslim or Christian, straight or gay, liberal or conservative - the log flume is the Great Social Equalizer! We're all the same when we come off of the log flume! Look to the log flume, dissenting factions of the world! The log flume will show you the way! (That's my sister and her husband, by the way.)
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After spending a few days there, we headed south. Into the South! Eeeeeekkkkk! Pictures of dueling banjoers and gap-toothed yokels will commence next week. How will two northern kids survive?????


Picking but probably not watching football games

Yes, I'm going to pick games this week, but I probably won't watch them. We're going on a day trip tomorrow into the wilds of Arizona, and I'll probably be gone all day. It's a nice time of year to be out and about in AZ, so I doubt if I will care that much. If Nancy-Boy Favre beats the Eagles and I watch it I'll probably eat my liver anyway.

Jacksonville (-3.5) 28, ARIZONA 23. I want to pick the Cardinals. They're at home, and they played well last week. But I just can't. I wouldn't be shocked if Arizona wins, but the Jaguars seem to be getting it together right now.
KANSAS CITY (-3) 27, New England 21. That's if the Chiefs don't turn the ball over. It's in Kansas City, and the Patriot defense is still not very good. Larry Johnson runs over them.
CINCINNATI (-9) 21, Baltimore 14. That's a HUGE spread. If I were betting, I'd take the Ravens to cover. The Bengals should win relatively easily, but it won't be a huge margin of victory.
BUFFALO (+4) 24, Carolina 17. Yes, the Panthers need this game desperately. Yes, the Bills stunk up the joint last week in San Diego. But it's in Buffalo, and I just think the Bills will show up to play. I'm sure by Sunday night I'll be shaking my head and saying "What the hell was I thinking?"
TAMPA (-3) 20, Chicago 7. The Bears have NO offense. I'm sorry, but they have NO OFFENSE. Yes, their defense is excellent, but at some point you have to score, right?
San Diego (-3) 24, WASHINGTON 10. The Chargers, just like the Raiders, go into Washington and smack the home team. Washington will finish behind the Eagles in the division this year.
MINNESOTA (-4.5) 21, Cleveland 13. The Browns aren't bad, but they're just not there yet. It's in Minnesota, so I have to go with the home team, who are still within striking distance of the division title. That's sad.
TENNESSEE (-7.5) 31, San Francisco 24. Will anyone outside the two metropolitan areas watch this clunker?
St. Louis (-4) 35, HOUSTON 20. Even with their second-string quarterback, the Rams will win. They're peeved about losing at home last week to Arizona.
OAKLAND (-7) 24, Miami 7. Miami scores on a interception return. Their offense certainly can't muster a touchdown.
SEATTLE (-4.5) 24, New York Giants 14. Still no love for the Seahawks among the nation's media. It's all Dallas and Tampa and Atlanta and New York. I think this will be a close game, but I'm hoping Seattle smacks the crap out of Eli and his boys.
PHILADELPHIA (-4.5) 17, Green Bay 14. Ugly game. UGLY! The Eagles have to win a game eventually, right?
NEW YORK JETS (+1) 14, New Orleans 13. Boy, ESPN got stuck with the worst game of the day on Sunday night. I'm sure we'll hear a lot about the resilience of the Saints, when in fact we should be hearing about lousy they are.
INDIANAPOLIS 28, Pittsburgh 17 (Monday night - no line). God, I hope the Steelers win. I don't think they're going to, though. Actually, what I really hope is that the Colts go 16-0 and then lose their first playoff game. Now that would be awesome.

I was 12-4 last week, which makes me 89-57 for the season. I'm mad because I would have picked both Atlanta and Denver on Thanksgiving, but couldn't be bothered to post picks. Oh well. Enjoy the games!


The dilemma of family

I can't be bothered to list the things I'm thankful for. You don't want to hear it, do you? I'm glad my daughter's alive. Lots of other stuff.

It's Krys's birthday! Whoo-hoo! I'm thankful that she puts up with me. Happy Birthday, Krys!

The holidays always make me think about family and why we're weird. I have no interest in spending the holidays with my family or Krys's family. I enjoy spending some time with our families, but I'm always conflicted during the holidays - on the one hand, it's nice to see them, but on the other hand, I LOVE living 2000 miles away from them. The pressure to see them all and have dinner with them and spend time with them is too great. Krys's family lives about 100 miles away from my parents, so that's a tough consideration, and my sister lives in northern Virginia, so it's close enough that she can whine if we don't come down to see her (and she's good at whining). It's not worth it.

Most people can't understand why I feel this way. "Don't you miss your family?" they ask. Well, not really. I love them, but I love Thanksgiving and Christmas with Krys and the kids. Right now, Krys's maternal grandmother is staying with us - she's sitting right behind me! It's very nice to see her, and I like that she gets out to see her great-grandchildren, but if we had to be near her all the time, someone would die. Possibly me from putting a knitting needle through my eye, but more likely her. She's 89 years old and she has lived her entire life in Schuylkill County, PA, which is not a very nice place to live. So her outlook on life is rather bleak - she always talks about people dying and the awful weather and houses that fall down. She also spent decades taking care of her husband, and now that he's dead, she still feels the need to meddle. So she's a meddler. We try to divert her, but it's hard.

My parents and my sister are visiting for Christmas. That should be a fiasco waiting to happen. Luckily, they're not staying with us, because we don't have the room. However, they'll be here a lot. So it will be Mom and Dad, my sister and her husband, their four-year-old son, their one-year-old daughter, and us. Won't that be a hoot! I love my family, but they're a lot to handle as well. My sister, with whom I have a love/hate relationship (don't all siblings?), is a whiner. Seriously. She whines. A lot. She also has not seen Mia since her accident, and I don't think she really understands Mia's issues. We'll see how that goes.

So this is the first time in a while that we have family with us for both holidays. I've never really seen the importance of it, though. Families are overrated. They do provide a built-in support network, but it's true that you might not choose them as friends if you didn't have to see them. It just seems like everyone assumes that you should spend time with them, and if you don't want to, you're some kind of pariah. It's that pressure that I can do without.

I love the good things that family represents. I'm just glad that I'm in a position where if our families want to see us, they have to make an effort. Our sisters, for instance - Krys's is wrapped up in her own life and never calls, while mine NEVER e-mails me. Never. I send out e-mails to the people I know when I post pictures of the kids on my other blog, and she never e-mails back to say hello. That's her deal, though - she has her own life, and that's fine. If our families want to keep us in their lives, they have to step up. I'm perfectly happy hanging out with Krys, Mia, and Norah. That's all the family I really need. Does that make me un-American? Does that make me an awful person? Bring it on.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Remember: parades suck, and I'm sick of Detroit and Dallas getting the football games. Some traditions are meant to be torn down! Mr. Tagliabue, tear down this wall!


Power and its abuse

For some strange reason, last week I was thinking about the abuse of power. It was, perhaps surprisingly, not in the context of our current political situation, although that would apply. I was thinking on a smaller scale - teaching. I can't remember why I was thinking about it, but I was considering the power teachers have and how easily they can abuse it. As a man, of course, it's pretty obvious - sex. I taught a lot of impressionable young girls, and I really believe that if I had wanted to, I could have had sex with several of them. That may sound horrible, but rest assured - I didn't do it, nor did I sit around fantasizing about it. I was just thinking about the kind of people teenagers are, especially in today's society. I haven't ranted about society for a while, but today, it seems that kids are missing positive male role models more and more (they're missing female ones, too, but not to the degree). Whose fault this is doesn't matter, but so many kids today are living with stepfathers or with single women, and they don't have a lot of contact with positive male role models. This is a problem even in the schools - there simply aren't enough male teachers, which is a shame, because male teachers can be positive role models to kids. I certainly hope I have been, even to the ones who yelled at me or called me names or tried to get their parents to intervene with the administration because I failed them. Being a teacher is definitely not about the money (okay, in some places it is, but not where I've taught) and it's certainly not about the fame - the administration blames you when the parents get mad, and the parents blame you when their kids get mad - so it must be about something else. For me, it was always about trying to pass on specialized knowledge about subjects that I found fascinating and thought would help the kids be better in society. Idealistic and stupid, sure, but that's what teachers are.

But consider how easy it is to give in to the Dark Side. As a teacher, you have a tremendous amount of power over a vast number of very impressionable people. Sure, teenagers didn't allow Hitler to gain power, but they're still extremely suggestible. Female teachers have it, and we've certainly seen stories of women abusing their positions as teachers. Men, however, are in more danger of falling into the trap, for a few reasons:

1. Men are scum. Okay, it's a generalization and an easy excuse, but, sadly, a lot of men think with other body parts than their brains. Maybe women do this too, but I'm not a woman, so I can't speak for them.
2. Teenage girls today are a LOT more worldly than they used to be. Back in the day, I would argue, the abuse of the teacher-student relationship was largely one-sided on the teacher side. Today, it's much more of a two-way street. It still doesn't excuse it, but it's a certainly a factor.

As I said, I hope I have been a positive influence in my students' lives - both the boys and the girls. But let me give you a few examples, trying to be as vague as possible. I have talked to female students in my classroom when no one else is in there. The door and the windows were open, but I was still alone. Some of these girls are desperate for a father figure, because theirs is absent or lacking. How easy would it be for me to be that father figure, gain their trust, and then take advantage of it? Not the easiest thing in the world, probably, but certainly not impossible. I have had students who have actively flirted with me. Because I'm stupid, I often miss flirting until later when I actually sit down and think about it, but it still occurred. It's fascinating to know that a student is flirting with you, because you see things in a whole new light. It's also frightening, because you don't know what to say or do around the student. Luckily for me, this student wasn't in my classes all that much, so I could avoid her. As I have mentioned before, I have also had plenty of girls in class who were either pregnant or had kids. This, of course, means they are adverse to having sex, and for many of them (not all, but a lot) it means that they are raising the kids on their own. I'm not saying they would try to hook an older man to get a father for their kids, because I tend to think these kids aren't that conniving (they're conniving, sure, but not to that degree), but it goes back to the father figure idea - you could be their father figure and their baby's - all in one fell swoop.

It's also dangerous because of another aspect of the second reason I mentioned above. Some of the students I taught were older than normal high-schoolers - they were 18, 19, 20 - but all of them have grown up in a culture that values sex and flashiness a lot more than even the culture I grew up in, 20 years ago. I have seen 14-year-olds dressed like whores in my school. Even with the dress code, they were dressed like whores. And they know it. These girls are hitting sexual maturity younger and younger without the emotional maturity to handle it. It becomes a very dangerous situation for a male teacher to be in.

Now that I have you thinking I'm a pervert, let me go on. The point of this is that power is an aphrodisiac. I know it's a cliché, but that's why it's true (or is that the other way around?). I don't know how many of my readers have ever been in a position of power, but even the smallest amount is quite a heady brew. Even as a teacher, where you're buffeted by the administration on one side and evil kids/parents on the other, you still have power. I can't speak for all teachers, but the ones I have known LOVE it when they can fail a crappy student. I certainly love it. Now, that's not to say I want to fail them, or even that I cook the books in order to fail them. I've had to pass or give very good grades to any number of students whom I didn't like. I have integrity, after all. But when there's a student who always pisses you off and talks back and skips class yet still needs the class to graduate and you're the one who gets to fail him or her - that's good stuff. It's horribly petty, but the power to tell a kid that, because of his tardiness and absenteeism and lousy work and rejection of offers of help (a good teacher will always try to help even the most evil kids) and foul language, you're failing him and seeing the look on his face when he knows his grandmother is going to smack him with a broom handle for failing the class is priceless. Yes, I'm a horrible person. Deal with it, future subjects.

Why this matters is because of what's going on in the country and the world right now. Politics is all about gaining and holding power. If I felt the pull of sex from the miniscule amount of power I held, can you imagine what George Bush feels? I'm not saying that Bush trolls for skank in Arlington after Laura is asleep - sex takes many different forms, after all. I'm just saying that the lure of sex is in everything that has to do with power, and it manifests itself in many different ways. A monsignor in the Phoenix Diocese was just arrested on sexual assault charges against young boys. I don't know if he did it or not, but it wouldn't surprise me. The lure is very great to abuse your power - I'm not saying that as an excuse, just as I wouldn't use it if I had abused my power - I'm just saying it's axiomatic that when you have power, people treat you differently, and it's something you have to overcome. Look at Bush and his bunch in Washington after the last election. They had power, and they abused it. You can argue all you want about whether Bush is a good president or not or whether what he is trying to do is the right thing or not or whether the Democrats should just shut up and go along because they're traitors if they don't - none of that is important. My point is that even if you support Bush, you can't deny that he abused the power that was given to him. How? He tried to subvert the checks and balances system that the Founding Fathers set up to counter this very situation. If you agree with what Bush has done, you might call bullshit on me, but it's true. He abused his power because he believed he could get things done by fiat, and that's not the way we do things in the United States. Whether or not he's right, he went about achieving it in the wrong way, and now there's a backlash. The backlash, I don't think, is against Bush's policies per se, but against the ways he went about achieving them. Americans don't like despots, even if they agree with them. Especially when the despot think he has more power than he actually has. It's a double-edged sword, and we see the results now, as Bush and Cheney lash out against anyone who dares question their policies. They have lost power, and the sexual urge to get it back is causing them to say stupid things. How many of us have been dumped and done stupid things to get laid one more time? Come on, raise your hands.

We need those 3 Congressmen who voted for J.D. Hayworth's proposal to withdraw immediately from Iraq, despite the criticism of those who did. Not because they're heroes for standing up to Bush - again, this isn't about whose side you're on. We need them because people like that constantly prick the delicate balloon of power that politicians and others crave. We need attacks on sacred cows. It reminds us that power is ephemeral and that's good. It also reminds those in power that no matter how much power they have, they can't abuse it indiscriminately, for sex or for anything else. There are checks against teachers abusing their power, there are checks against priests abusing their power (although the Catholic Church does its best to shield them), and there are checks against the government. Those who whine about people who take shots at the government might question why those in power get so bent out of shape about it. Those who support the war in Iraq always say that if these killjoys had been around in the 1940s we would have lost to Hitler. Well, I don't know about that, but don't they think that if Bush had prosecuted this war (the one that Kerry and others voted for) a little better, there wouldn't be so much dissent? Abuse of power needs to be pointed out no matter where it occurs.

Power is a tricky thing. The temptation to abuse it is great, and I doubt if anyone doesn't feel it. When (or if, I suppose, even though I'm still planning on it) I run for office, there will be great temptation, I'm sure. The point is to resist it. Policing ourselves is part of what makes us human, and unfortunately, people give in too often. I'm certainly not saying I'm perfect, which is why we need the checks and balances of the system. We may not like these people who are constantly pointing out that the emperor has no clothes, but they are essential to our society functioning as it should. It's far too easy to gain power and abuse it, so it should be easy to take that power away. We would all do well to remember that.


What have we learned - Week 11

The first we learned is that Michael Irvin might, just might, be Terrell Owens' lover. Let's examine the evidence: Terrell Owens basically says his quarterback, who has been to 5 Pro Bowls and took his team to four straight NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl, sucks, and Irvin says it's okay because Owens spoke to his pastor. Last week Randy Moss DIDN'T say anything about his head coach, although he implied that Norv Turner is not getting him the ball enough. Mind you, he didn't say anything. I haven't heard Irvin's exact words, but apparently he took issue with that. God, Irvin is an idiot. So: what's up with Irvin and Owens? Are they going to see "Showboat" and picking out slip covers together????

The Eagles had a decent chance to win, but shockingly, their defense let them down. Did they do it because the defense wants Owens back and they're showing their displeasure? I doubt it, but still. I'm still not all that impressed with the Giants - if Philly is a complete team, New York loses. McNabb is apparently shut down for the season, which is a good thing. Now they can move on and worry about next year.

Arizona won on the road. Is it the Apocalypse? Is it the Apocalypse????? The Cardinals have talent, but their offensive line has sucked for most of the year, and Kurt Warner - not a mobile guy. Give him some time, and he can throw well. St. Louis - good God, get a line that can protect Marc Bulger! He's one of the top ten quarterbacks in the league, but he keeps getting injured. Sorry, St. Louis - wait until next year.

I watched none of the Lions-Cowboys game. It would have been like getting a root canal. And I've had a root canal. Dallas is probably going to win the NFC East. Now that's like getting a root canal! I hate the Cowboys.

I was pretty surprised by the Bears winning. They still need something ... what is it ... it will come to me ... oh, that's right - an offense. I watched very little of the game, but what I saw of it was like watching Norah try to roll over - it goes very slowly, it doesn't always work, and there is a lot of whining.

How on earth did Oakland beat Washington? Again, I skipped a lot of this game (I was watching the Eagles and switching on the Cardinals game a lot), but this is one of those games that if Washington can't win, they don't deserve to make the playoffs. Don't worry, Washington, you won't make it.

Michael Vick played pretty well, but Atlanta's defense suddenly can't stop anyone. Although Vick played okay, he had an awful fumble at the end of the game that won the game for Tampa. You can't turn the ball over there. Inexcusable. Are the Falcons tumbling? Will they even make the playoffs? Oh, the tangled skein of the NFC playoffs!

Reuben Droughns, of Oregon Duck fame, scored on the first play from scrimmage for Cleveland. Who knew the teams could have gone home after that? As bad as the Eagles are, they're not the Dolphins. For crying out loud, the Dolphins shouldn't get paid this week. Wouldn't that be cool if teams did that for crappy efforts? Of course, because the Browns aren't very good either, Trent Dilfer is peeved that he was replaced for a few series in the middle of the game. A good win marred by squabbling. That's the definition of a cruddy team.

The offensive juggernaut that is Jacksonville went four years without scoring 30 points, and has now done it two weeks in a row. Go, Jaguars! Will they be the ones to end Indianapolis's unbeaten run????

If two awful offensive teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore are playing and they're tied at the end of regulation, they just shouldn't let them play anymore. Think of the fans, NFL! Jamal Lewis - what the hell happened to him? And why wasn't Antwaan Randle El playing quarterback for the Steelers? Why????

New England will get into the playoffs because they're in a horrible division. I actually want them to get into the playoffs, because then Tom Brady's perfect playoff record will end. Yes, I'm petty. Deal with it. Apparently, the NFL is thinking about giving the Saints some competitive advantages because of the hurricane. That sucks. They're 2-8. Without Hurricane Wilma, they MAY have won one more game. They're not doing poorly because of the hurricane, they're doing poorly because they suck and Aaron Brooks is a bad quarterback.

I know San Diego was playing at home against a mediocre Buffalo team, but they looked good. I know I said I wasn't completely sold on them, but for one week, at least, they looked good. Why won't they bring back the powder blue uniforms full time? They retired Lance Alworth's number. I wasn't around to watch him play, but he's one of those guys who doesn't get enough credit. Damn he was a good receiver.

If the Dolphins gave up, so did the Jets. Man, they suck. Denver is looking better and better. Go, Broncos! I have to root for any team that has a chance at beating the Colts, because I don't like them.

No love for the Seahawks from the national media, except for Jaworski. Everyone is still all "Falcons this" and "Panthers that" and "Cowboys yee-hah!" Seattle will get home field advantage and probably go to the Super Bowl. You heard it here first! Of course, if Shaun Alexander gets hurt, they're screwed, but for now, they're the best team in the conference. Alexander is awesome. He's a free agent - go get him, Philadelphia!

The game of the day was Indy-Cincy. Fun, old-school AFL-type stuff. People think Indianapolis is going undefeated? Really? With that defense? I know it was supposed to be better, but remember - earlier in the year they were playing really bad offenses. Cincinnati went up and down the field on them. The Bengals actually did a decent job against Manning - he had good numbers, but Indy won the game because the Bengals couldn't stop Edgerrin James. And I love the concept of blitzing on third-and-long. It's so easy to get a big play against the blitz, especially with a QB who gets rid of the ball quickly, like Manning does. In the second quarter, it was 3rd-and-11, and the Bengals blitzed. Big play to somebody - first down. Three plays later, it was 3rd-and-13. What should the Bengals do? BLITZ! Manning hits Dallas Clark for a touchdown. Good job, Cincinnati.

I didn't watch the Sunday night game, because, well, it was Houston. Kansas City played well, and Penn Stater Larry Johnson set a Chiefs rushing record. Go, Larry!

Ah, college football. I like USC, but I wanted them to lose so Penn State could play for the National Championship. It was a pretty good weekend - the Nittany Lions won and won the Big Ten (I refuse to say that Ohio State is the co-champ, since they have a overall record and lost to Penn State), Oregon won, Miami lost (yee-hah!), and Delaware Valley won! Yippee! Del Val is in Doylestown, PA, near where my parents live these days. Some of Signs was filmed there. Go, Del Val!

Picture Day: a day late, but still picturesque!

Bad day yesterday, and boy was I tired. So I didn't get a chance to post any pictures - I know you're all very depressed. This morning, however, I have time and no children, so let's check out the photographs!

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Those people on the East Coast in March of 1993 will remember the BIG BLIZZARD! It was Spring Break, of all things, and I was staying at my parents' new house - as in, they were moving in the week of Spring Break, and just got everything in before the blizzard hit. I was stuck in the house for two days with no cable television. Oh, the horror! I wouldn't have minded, but I had nothing to read either. I spent most of Saturday reading back issues out of my comic book boxes. I finally made it back to school on Tuesday (Penn State canceled classes on Monday and Tuesday). Our friend Chris Puccio was driving back from New York on I-80 and was denied access to Pennsylvania because of the weather. That's right - the state was closed. Damn you, Mother Nature!

Krys's roommate Jo made this in one of her art classes. I just dig it because it's a four-foot can opener made out of wood. That's what they're teaching us in college, people!
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Speaking of art, you know what a beer bottle balanced precariously on the back of a POS car is? ART, baby!
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Finally, it was time for graduation. Yes, four years of higher education to get, of all things, an English degree (with a History minor! - now that's attractive to employers!) was over. This is, interestingly enough, the FIRST picture I ever took of Krys, even though we had been dating for seven months at this time. Was I ashamed of her? Of course not. I just didn't take my camera many places during the school year - and of course, this was back in the hoary old days before camera phones. How did we ever live without them????
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I know, they're not terribly interesting this week. My beer bottle picture is still art, man! Next week Krys and I hit the road for our grand journey west. So the pictures will, I promise, get more interesting. Trust me!


Football picks for the week

Who to pick, who to pick? Oh, the questions!!!

I was 9-5 last week, mainly because the stupid Eagles ran the dumbest play in their history and blew it late. Stupid Eagles. This season I'm 77-53. Better winning percentage than the Eagles!

ST. LOUIS (-9) 35, Arizona 14. Hey, look! The Cardinals are on the road. Another loss!
Carolina (-3) 27, CHICAGO 13. I'm still not sold on the Bears. The Panthers look good.
Jacksonville (-4) 24, TENNESSEE 14. The Jaguars are getting better. The Titans are not.
Indianapolis (-5) 31, CINCINNATI 21. I want to pick the Bengals. I will be rooting for the Bengals. I still think the Colts aren't that great. I would not be stunned if the Bengals win. But still. Right now the Colts are marginally better, and the Bengals still have to beat an elite team. Go, Bengals!
NEW ENGLAND (-9.5) 30, New Orleans 10. The Patriots should win this with their second-string. They could start Doug Flutie and win this. The Saints are lousy.
Tampa (+6) 24, ATLANTA 20. It's in Atlanta and I doubt if the Falcons will lay an egg like they did last week, but the Buccaneers are on a bit of a roll after last week and they always play well against Vick.
WASHINGTON (-6) 27, Oakland 17. Washington played well enough to win last week, and they shouldn't have a letdown against the Raiders.
DALLAS (-8) 31, Detroit 14. Parcells won't let the Cowboys coast after that stupid gift win they had last week. The Lions are not good.
NEW YORK GIANTS (-7.5) 24, Philadelphia 10. How will the Eagles score? Unless they get a Vikings-like game from last week, they're not scoring much. I've said it before, but I think Philly missing the playoffs this year might be a good thing. They'll get some rest, get an easier schedule, allow McNabb to heal, and get Owens out of their system. They'll be back next year!
CLEVELAND (-2) 17, Miami 3. Sage Rosenfels starts for the Dolphins. 'Nuff said.
Seattle (-12.5) 35, SAN FRANCISCO 10. Shaun Alexander outscores the 49ers all by himself.
SAN DIEGO (-10.5) 28, Buffalo 14. Tomlinson might outscore the Bills all by himself. I still don't think the Chargers are this great 5-4 team, but they're better than Buffalo and they're playing at home. And they're wearing the powder blue uniforms! Go, old-school uniforms!
DENVER (-13) 24, New York Jets 13. Brooks Bollinger is not the answer for the Jets.
Pittsburgh (-3.5) 21, BALTIMORE 16. I wouldn't be surprised if the Ravens win this. They shouldn't, but the teams really don't like each other, and anything can happen in these nasty games. Plus, Maddox is playing quarterback for the Steelers.
Kansas City (-6.5) 24, HOUSTON 19. Another game that is a bit dicey for the favorite. The Chiefs should roll, but after last week's poor showing in Buffalo, and the fact that nobody expects the Texans to win, might play in Houston's favor. Watch out, Chiefs!
Minnesota (+4.5) 20, GREEN BAY 17 (Monday night). Yes, it's in Lambeau, and the Packers are riding high after last week's win, and the Vikings had no offense last week, but I still think they'll win. They're better than Green Bay, after all.

We'll see what happens. Have I guaranteed a Cincinnati win by picking against them? Will Mike McMahon lead the Eagles to glorious victory? Only Sunday will tell!


"It was twenty years ago today ..."

No, it's not a post about the Beatles. It's a post about an anniversary, a weird news story, and my novel. Yes, I'm still working on it.

Anyway, did you know that today is the 20th anniversary of the Lawrence Taylor leg-breaking hit on Joe Theismann? It ended Theismann's career and launched his epic broadcasting career.¹ Man, it was a nasty scene. I can barely think about it without getting the heebie-jeebies. Seeing it, on the rare times it's shown, is really stomach-turning. If you haven't seen it, count yourself lucky. Just nasty.

And then we have this story. Republican Senators are refusing to pass some idiotic resolution honoring Bruce Springsteen because he campaigned for Kerry last year. Apparently, the Senate does shit like this all the time - because they have nothing better to do, I guess - and it's pretty pro forma. Except this time. If I were a Senator, I would just say it's because Bruce sucks (he does) and he doesn't deserve this if, say, we're not honoring Styx. But that's just me. Remind me again why I'm not dictator yet?

Finally, I'm still trying to finish the novel. I should have a little more free time over Thanksgiving, so maybe I can catch up then. I'm at a little over 23,000 words, and for the latest chapter (here's the link to the whole thing, by the way, because I don't think I publicize it enough) I took Harvey's advice: when in doubt, add ninjas. With my own special twist, I hope. Anyway, it's a fun chapter, and I hope someone heads over there and reads it.

Football picks tomorrow! Will I curse Woody's team? (And after he gave me such nice publicity, too.) Or perhaps Disintegrating Clone's team? You'll just have to wait and see!

¹ If you can't note sarcasm in a blog post, this footnote is for you.

People writing unusual blogs

Elisha Cuthbert has a blog. It's not what you think. Without giving too much away, here's an excerpt:

I guarantee they're dragging their wives into this whole thing too. I'm going to ask them the next time I see them!!!

Look at me I'm slowly turning into a reporter! LOL

Yes, lots of exclamation points and LOLs. It's still not what you think. Check it out.¹

¹ Don't you admire my restraint in not posting a cheesecake picture of Miss Cuthbert? It's all about the information here, not the cheap exploitation!²
² Speaking of Elisha Cuthbert, I miss Kim on 24. Yes, her storylines were goofy, but they added a bit of levity to the proceedings. Bring back Kim Bauer! I guess after House of Wax was such a big hit, Elisha is too good for mere television.³
³ The news about the blog was in the sports section of the Arizona Republic, by the way. I don't have the time nor the inclination to Google "Elisha Cuthbert," so get your minds out of the gutter, you people!


Great songs, according to me (Part 14)

I know there's nothing better than discovering what songs your future dictator thinks are the bee's knees, so it's time for another installment of great songs, according to me! Peruse the previous posts: Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen. Now, it's on to the next ten songs!

131. Death And Dying (by Shelter on the album The Perfection Of Desire, 1990): Shelter is a hard core Hare Krishna band. Yes, that sounds ridiculous, but they were (are?) a decent enough group, with good chops and some interesting lyrics that, of course, you could never understand because they were screaming them and playing really fast. I have no idea where I heard of them (it may have been my friend John, whose picture I posted on Sunday, because he is big into hard core stuff), but this album is pretty good. This song rises above the rest because it slows things down just a bit (it's still metal, but not as fast) and you can actually understand the lyrics, which are about reincarnation and what it means to die. Interesting band. I miss my Shelter T-shirt. It was groovy.

132. Deathly (by Aimee Mann on the album Bachelor No. 2 Or, The Last Remains Of The Dodo, 1999): P.T. Anderson said he used the first lines of this song: "Now that I've met you, would you object to never seeing each other again?" as the basis for Magnolia, and why not - it's a great way to begin a song. This is a great song about a guy who's no good but irresistible - kind of like me! It keeps building and building until we get to the killer guitar solo at the end that just about breaks your heart. It's also on the Magnolia soundtrack, which isn't a bad thing to own.

133. Debra (by Beck on the album Midnite Vultures, 1999): This album was when I really fell in love with Beck. Yes, I own Odelay, and it's good, but this one blew me away, with its funked up tunes and its wacky lyrics. This song caps the album, and it's brilliant. It's a slow love jam, but with a magnificent Beck twist. He starts singing in falsetto, and from the first lyrics we know we're in for a treat: "I met you at JC Penney ..." Later, he tries to score with the girl by telling her to step into his Hyundai. Truly excellent. Skewers all the romantic ballads of the 1970s by being funnier and better than most of them.

134. Deconstruction (by the Indigo Girls on the album Become You, 2002): Another strong Indigo Girls entry on the list (sorry, I really like them), this one deals with (shocking) the dissolution of a relationship. As usual, Emily's lyrics pull through song up to greatness, although the music remains strong. It's remarkable how she is able to distill all the smallness and meanness of a love affair and still make it sound transcendent. That's why I love them, I guess.

135. Deep Shag (by Luscious Jackson on the album Natural Ingredients, 1994): Whatever happened to Luscious Jackson? For a few years, they were dynamite - putting out some really funky albums with a nice sting in them, but then they just vanished? Did the Beastie Boys get tired of them? This is from their first album, and nice collection of tunes, and it's another look at a woman stuck in a relationship that's no good for her. Come on, ladies - break free! It has a lazy, loopy groove to it, which pulls you along and makes you bop your head. Go ahead and listen to it and try not to bop! I dare you! Just a nice song.

136. Demagogue (by Urban Dance Squad on the album Persona Non Grata, 1994): This is a powerful song by UDS, one that really grabs you and pounds you into submission. The music drives the song along, because the lyrics are largely incomprehensible - but that's fine, because UDS has never been about lyrics all that much - they want to get you jumping and banging your head, and this works perfectly well. It's better than most of their songs because the beat is so infectious and hard. Fine stuff from a largely forgotten band.

137. Desire (by En Vogue on the album Funky Divas, 1992): I bought this album because Spin magazine told me to. Yes, I admit it. Actually, I was thinking about buying it because of the songs I had heard on the radio, but when Spin said it was good, I figured it must be, because Spin was (and is) so holier-than-thou about so-called "popular" music that if they liked this, it must be good. And it is. It's an excellent album, and this song is one of the highlights. A perfect blending of the girls' voices, with desire dripping from every syllable (it's a song, after all, about desire), and a groovy saxophone solo. Simply divine.

138. The Desperate Kingdom Of Love (by PJ Harvey on the album Uh Huh Her, 2004): I love Ms. Polly Jean, even though my lovely wife thinks she's yucky. Let's all pity Krys because she can't see the genius of PJ! This is a quiet song from her latest album, and it just draws you in slowly, and it gets under your skin. Harvey is excellent at making us feel all her emotions, and she does so here. A beautiful, haunting song.

139. Desperate People (by Living Colour on the album Vivid, 1988): Back in the day, Corey Glover and Vernon Reid wrote song really nice songs that had some really nasty social commentary in them. This is one such song, decrying those people who waste their lives worrying about what other people think of them. Live for yourself, surround yourself with real friends who will help you when the chips are down, and you will no longer be desperate. Sounds easy, don't it? And it has an awesome guitar groove, too.

140. Devils Haircut (by Beck on the album Odelay, 1996): The grind that opens Odelay and this song puts you in a mood to listen to some funky wackiness. Many people cite this as Beck's masterpiece, and although I disagree, this is a fun song and one that typifies Beck's mid-1990s sound. I have no idea what he's talking about in this song, but that's okay - all he needs is two turntables and a microphone, and we'll listen, because it's a fun ride. A devil's haircut on my mind, indeed.

What do everyone think? Don't be shy to attack!


Why you don't want to live in India

I'm sorry, I'm sure it's a beautiful country, but eeeewwwwwww!


What have we learned - Week 10

Bleh. Not a lot to say today, because I'm watching football and the Eagles aren't getting killed yet, and I watched only a little of the games. So I learned some things, but not as much as I sometimes do.

One thing that I didn't have to learn, because everyone knows it: the Cardinals suck on the road. Jesus. They scored a rushing touchdown, though, so that's something.

The Colts are an unimpressive 9-0. I'm sorry, but they are. They could seriously lose 5 of the last 7 games. I wouldn't be surprised.

What a cool play by Nathan Vasher on the missed field goal. The Bears are playing like they did in 2001, when they went 13-3 with a lot of smoke and mirrors. They're 6-3 but not all that good.

Even when the Patriots are down, they're still damned lucky. Miami up 7-0, Chris Chambers (I think) catches a deep pass, falls down, and just as he gets up to run for more yardage, some Patriot knocks the ball out. Instead of possibly going up 14-0, New England goes down and kicks a field goal. Stupid Patriots.

Hey, aren't you Eli Manning, who was supposed to be the quarterback in the Super Bowl this year?

Stupid Chiefs. Turnovers will kill you. Just ask Eli Manning. Without those three interceptions, the Chiefs win.

I LOVE that the Ravens suck. Suck suck suck. Screw you, Brian Billick. I love when chickens come home to roost. Unless it's the Eagles. Doesn't everyone love the Eagles?

What the hell happened to Jake Plummer? Seriously. Someone stole his brain and replaced it someone smart.

Boy, the Panthers look good. Yes, the Jets played well, but Carolina just kept hammering and hammering them. It's hard to keep going with that kind of pounding.

Why no love for the Seahawks? Everyone says Indy is so great, but they get to play the Texans and the Titans twice. The Seahawks figured out that they should probably pound teams with Shaun Alexander. What a freakin' concept.

The stunner of the week had to be Green Bay beating Atlanta. Minnesota got lucky, but the Packers just pounded the Falcons. I hate rooting for Nancy-Boy Favre, but I wanted the Packers to win that game. I held back criticizing Vick last week because he played well, but this week he came back to earth. He looked okay in the early going, but for the rest of the game he looked awful. Sorry, Michael, but you're going to have to do better than a nice game against the Dolphins.

What a great call by Jon Gruden. Just like last week's Kansas City game. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you can't pick up 1 yard in this league, you don't deserve to win.

Boy, the Browns looked good on the opening drive. I guess it's true: don't poke the bear! The Browns poked the bear, and the Steelers roared and beat the snot out of them.

I always have a little extra reason for wanting the Eagles to win. Tonight it's so Michael Irvin shuts the fuck up. Shut the fuck up, Michael Irvin. Terrell Owens is an asshole, and so are you. He thinks the Eagles are going to curl up and die now that dickhead receiver isn't playing for them. What a fucking tool.

I don't have much to say about college football this week, except that I loathe Notre Dame and hope they lose to Stanford, and even though I don't really like Texas that much, I was ambivalent about them winning the National Championship. After Saturday's game, I hope they either lose the Big Twelve Championship Game or get beaten by USC worse than Oklahoma last year. Why? They led 49-0 and kicked a field goal at the end of the half. Classy, Mack Brown. What a douchebag.

E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles!

[Update: Goddamn. The Eagles, essentially, made one mistake in the game, and they lose. Fuck. Why throw on second and seven when you're trying to run out the clock and you have been running the ball so well? Why? Goddamn. They may have lost McNabb, too, which might not be a bad thing, seeing how this season is basically over. Shut him down, get him ready for next year. Tonight they proved they could run the ball. Why the fuck doesn't Andy Reid do it more often?]


The pictures reveal the most shocking truth!

All right, so maybe that's hyperbole. But they reveal some truth - it might not be shocking, but the camera never lies!!!!

First, we have my friend John. John recently got married - congratulations, John! I'm rather stunned by the news. John is ... well, weird. I will spare you the weird things he used to do, because they are just so weird. Really weird. You think I'm weird - I'm like a Lutheran minister compared to John! Despite that, he's a cool guy. He introduced me to such bands as Mucky Pup, Gorilla Biscuits, and Ice-T. Thanks to him, I know that T breaks ill in extra large portions! He's a bird watcher. Seriously. He goes around the country watching birds. He might be doing other stuff now, but he's still a bird watcher. He's in San Diego now, and I hope he's enjoying his life with his new wife.
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This is where I lived at Penn State - Hamilton Hall. What a cool place. I lived there all four years. Off-campus living? Not for me!
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I miss Pennsylvania. Such a nice state, with such nice natural beauty.
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This is my friend Dave. We all saw Dave last week, and here he is again. You must bow down before the HAIR! THE HAIR!!!!
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Finally, we have the gang. Sorry it's such a lousy picture. That's Dave in the back, his engineer friend Chris Puccio (where have you gone, Puccio?) with the baseball cap on, John in front looking pensive, and Jim without the shirt on. You'll notice the PSU on his chest (it was a football game day). It's not painted on. It's his chest hair. He shaved all his chest hair except for the letters. That's dedication, baby!
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I know, they're not as exotic as Australia, but you have to admit - they're pretty disturbing!


I'm not sure I'm going to make it

I'd like to say I'm going to write 50,000 words in a month. I'd like to say that The Adventures of Isosceles Shaw will be complete at the end of November. But I'm not so sure.

I have written 17,411 words in 12 days. That's an average of 1451 words per day. That brings me to 43,527 words by the end of November. Not good enough.

Now, I'm not giving up, you understand. I'll keep plugging away. The problem is not that I'm not writing - I took Tuesday off, but other than that, I've written every day - but that it's difficult to get 1600 words each day. Yes, it's a lame excuse, but I find it very hard to sit down for a good two hours each day to write, which is all I really need to reach the limit. The kids take up that much of my time.

You may point out that I'm still posting here and at Comics Should Be Good. Well, yes. But these posts take me about ten minutes - sure, it's time that could be spent writing the novel, but ten minutes isn't really going to help me. When I write, it's helpful to have a big chunk of time - it's just the way I write. So finding that time is difficult. Even though I'm writing every day, some days I can only get, say 500 words out because of various distractions. Today I finished Chapter 8, which is 2000 words long, but I started it yesterday. Sigh.

I hope people are reading the novel. It's going pretty well, and it's unlike most of what I usually write. I hope people are liking it, as well. I hope I can make it to 50,000 words. We'll see.

Yes, I'm whining. I can do it occasionally here. It's my blog, after all. Saturday night - time to do some more writing!


Trying to regain my momentum with the football picks!

I had a lot on my mind today, but I was working on The Adventures of Isosceles Shaw and taking over DC Comics, plus the kids were being, well, kids, so I didn't get a chance to write about Armistice Day. I know, you're sad. It's late now and I don't want to think, so I'm picking football games. Last week I went a pathetic 8-6, making me 68-48 for the season. So this week I'm wimping out and picking one (1) underdog. Most of the games are pretty shitty anyway. Let's check it out!

DETROIT (-4) 23, Arizona 17. The Cardinals don't win on the road. Two years ago they thought they could beat the Lions on the road, and they didn't. Why should they now? Yes, the Lions are a mess, but not as bad as the Cardinals.
Kansas City (+2.5) 27, BUFFALO 17. Why are the Chiefs an underdog? Because they're on the road? The Bills don't have a quarterback or much of a running game. How exactly are they going to score enough to win?
Washington (-1) 20, TAMPA 14. This is a tough game to call, but Tampa seems to be falling apart, and I didn't see any reason last week against the Eagles to make me think Washington isn't a decent team. They're not great, but they're good enough to win this one.
New England (-3) 24, MIAMI 20. Another tough game, but I think the Patriots get it together enough to win. Close, though.
CHICAGO (-13) 27, San Francisco 10. Boy, if the Bears lose this game, they should be disqualified from winning the division.
NEW YORK GIANTS (-9.5) 30, Minnesota 17. The Giants should win this relatively easily. The Vikings continue to circle the drain. I still think Eli will screw up down the road, because he's still so young, but not this week.
JACKSONVILLE (-6.5) 20, Baltimore 14. Teams that play Baltimore play down to their level, it seems. That mysterious mojo keeps this close, plus the fact that the Jaguars aren't all that explosive on offense, but Jacksonville still wins.
INDIANAPOLIS (-17.5) 35, Houston 21. Houston covers, but only because the Colts ease up a little in the fourth quarter. Next week the Colts lose!
CAROLINA (-9) 24, New York Jets 20. Close for the soon-to-be-Hall-of-Famer Brooks Bollinger, but the Panthers continue to show why they are near the top of the NFC!
Denver (-3) 31, OAKLAND 27. Denver runs too well. They keep pounding and the Raiders give up on Lamont Jordan to throw like crazy. That plays right into the Broncos' hands!
SEATTLE (-7) 31, St. Louis 21. Seattle doesn't have a meltdown like last year, when they blew a fourth-quarter 17-point lead. Bruce and Holt return for the Rams, but who's going to get them the ball? Their defense still stinks, and Shaun Alexander will pound them silly.
ATLANTA (-9) 38, Green Bay 24. It's in Atlanta, so the Packers really have only a tiny chance to win. It will be interesting for two reasons: can Vick have another good game passing, and will Favre throw five or more interceptions?
PITTSBURGH (-8) 26, Cleveland 14. The Steelers beat the Browns up. Dilfer gets smacked around. So sad.
PHILADELPHIA (-3) 17, Dallas 13 (Monday night). This is another tough one. Yes, the Cowboys beat the Eagles up a few weeks ago. Yes, Philly does not have Owens. Yes, Dallas is clearly the better team right now. But it's in Philadelphia, and the Eagles played relatively okay last week, and they have another week without Owens under their belts, and they have to win a game eventually, right? Right? Hello?

We'll see. I might actually skip a lot of viewing this week. We're getting family pictures taken on Sunday morning and, as I mentioned, these games don't look particularly intriguing, nor are the Eagles playing until Monday. Not a bad week to skip.


Pat Robertson does it again

Holy, indeed, shit. Kill me now. Just kill me. I don't want to live anymore.

Asian (and non-Asian) bra-related news

Now THAT'S a post title!

For some reason, two bra-related stories out of Asia crawled across the top of my screen this morning. What are the odds?

The Japanese are bringing out a "warm" bra for winter. Those crafty Japanese!

Did all those Japanese bra designers go to Hong Kong Polytechnic Institute, where you can now get a degree in bra studies? It's quite possible!

And, just to show Americans aren't falling behind in the brassiere news, a woman was arrested for stuffing a bird in her bra! While the Japanese and Chinese take bra technology into the future, women here are still trying to make their chests look bigger lo-tech style!

Of course, if all this bra talk has got you thinking "I should buy a bra for myself or for my significant other,"¹ you can always drop $12.5 million on this bra. Yes, that's 1,250,000,000 pennies. I found that behind my stereo the other day!

¹ Whether you're male or female or whether your significant other is male or female is, of course, none of my business. You don't want to know what I wear when I think no one is looking!


... But wait, there's more!

As my faithful readers (I think I may have 10 by now!) know, I am a stay-at-home dad. This means I, well, stay at home. Now, you might think that with two small children, I might not have time to waste. You might think that, but you would be wrong. It's all about neglecting the children here at Casa de Burgas in Mesa! Actually, while Mia is at school, I have some free time, and because our television is in the same room where Norah hangs out (fancy that!), I watch more daytime TV than is probably healthy. That's not to say I watch soap operas - usually ESPN is on, often as background noise, and of course, if I can watch, Magnum, P.I. is on at 10 a.m.!

I have been noticing the commercials, though. Here are some fine products and services that get advertised in the morning.

The Cyclone Rake. You know this is awesome. You know you want it!

After you finish in the yard, you'll probably want to trim that unsightly haircut. But who has time to go to the salon? Just pick up Just a Trim and you can clear away those in-between-haircuts hair that sprouts at such inopportune times!

Relacore - the amazing weight loss pill!

Leptopril - in case the Relacore doesn't work, it's another weight loss pill! Or hey - take them both at the same time!

Have you been injured in an accident? Of course you have! Why else would you be sitting on your ass in the middle of the day watching Magnum, P.I.? So call the lawyers at the Injury Helpline!

If you're sitting on your ass in the middle of the day watching Magnum, P.I. (or, even worse, what comes on before it ... Matlock!), not only are you probably injured, but your credit probably sucks! Go to Care One Credit and get your life back together!

Exactly what kind of people do they think are at home in the middle of the day? You be the judge!


What can you say?

Good job, Kansas.


What have we learned - Week 9

Sigh. We'll get to it. Stupid picks. I only went 8-5, with the game tonight the difference between a mediocre weekend and a pretty decent one. Stupid Johnny Bacardi picked every game correctly. How does he do it???? Confound you, sir!

Arizona really stinks. I mean, you can pick on Philly all you want (and they deserve it), but Matt Leinart must be thinking, "Why the hell did I stay in school? They're going to pick me, aren't they? Shit." Shaun Alexander: 88 yards on the first play on the second half. And he outran the entire team. He's big but not terribly fast and he outran the whole team. The Cardinals suck.

Michael Vick got all snotty with reporters after his decent game passing, telling them to shut up about his abilities. That's fine, Michael, and yes, we're all very impressed that you win games, which you do. Let's see you be consistently good and against teams that aren't, you know, the Dolphins. I like Vick, but I'm still not sure he can win the big one. That's okay, Michael - I'm still not sure that Donovan McNabb can. I'm not sure about a lot of quarterbacks.

How do the Chargers get 4 touchdowns from LaDanian Tomlinson against the Jets and almost lose? Everyone keeps talking about how good they are, even though they're 5-4. I don't think so. Brooks freakin' Bollinger almost beat them.

Notice that if the NFL didn't have the stupid rule that you have to kick an extra point even if there's no time on the clock that I would have gotten the final score of the Oakland-Kansas City game correct? Oh well. Great call by Vermeil on the final play. I always say that if you can't get a yard in the NFL, you don't deserve to win. The Chiefs can get a yard. When Johnson got down to the one-yard line, I said to the television, "Go for it, Vermeil!" He heard me. Isn't that sweet?

The Texans-Jaguars game was deadly dull. I skipped most of it. I learned nothing from it, except that Jacksonville can beat a crappy team. Good job, Jaguars!

Baltimore sure can whine to the officials, can't they? I mean, they got hosed on a couple of calls, but their offense is pretty much non-existent. Good teams overcome crappy calls by officials. Crappy teams moan about them. Cincinnati continues to get breaks by playing really bad teams. We'll see how they fare against somebody like the Colts. That should be a damned good ballgame.

Joey Harrington, done as Lions quarterback. Nice college career, really bad pro career so far. That's what happens when a grown man calls himself "Joey." The Vikings found a running game! How nice for them.

See? I jumped off the Cleveland bandwagon and they won. Stupid Browns. I watched very little of this game, because it, too, was dull. Sorry.

Did anyone see the scaredy-cats on the Tampa offensive line? On one series, Julius Peppers made the guy who had to block him jump offsides three times in, I think, four plays. Funny stuff. The Buccaneers just might be ready to take a tumble, while it looks like Carolina and Atlanta will fight it out for the NFC Championship.

The Bears only beat the Saints by three points, but they looked a LOT better than New Orleans. The Saints did have a nice 95-yard drive, but other than that, Aaron Brooks continued to prove why he shouldn't have a job. The Bears beat them up physically, using (shocking!) a pounding running game. Chicago isn't a great team, but they're probably going to win that division.

San Francisco hung around for a while, but they're just not as talented as the Giants. You know you're a bad team when Brandon Lloyd makes a brilliant catch at the two-yard line and it gets wiped out by a holding call. And hey! Eli Manning won a game on the road. Good for him.

You know why Green Bay almost won that game against the Steelers? Because they ran the ball a lot and Nancy-Boy Favre didn't try anything idiotic. He threw short passes and moved the chains. Still, he screwed up, fumbled the ball, and Pittsburgh returned it for a touchdown. Unfortunately, the Packers have two choices: bail on the next two seasons, because this one is over and next year they'll be breaking in a new quarterback, unless Favre doesn't retire, in which case the season will be lost anyway; or bench Favre and see if Aaron Rodgers can play, but there's no way in hell they bench Favre. They are going to suck for a few years, I think.

And finally, we have the Eagles. They have bigger problems than Terrell Owens, to be sure. Their defense played crappy last night. Brunell completed 21 passes, 14 of them to either Cooley or Moss, yet those two were inexplicably open all night. The offense - well, that will work out. Brian Westbrook only gained 24 yards, but he got 17 carries, which is more important than yards anyway. They will be better without Owens, even if it's not this year. This year it might be better for them not to make the playoffs, because then they might get refocused and also it might help them rest - they have played a lot of games the past few years. Terrell Owens is a complete asshole, but you know who else is a complete asshole: Michael Irvin. Owens doesn't need any help being an asshole, but Irvin really stirred the pot last week, didn't he? Today he was defending Owens on ESPN, and he said that over the weekend Owens talked to his pastor about apologizing to the team. Both of them are assholes. I love how assholes who piss everyone off because they're always selfish end up talking to their pastors. Assholes. I used to be angry at Eagles fans because they cheered when Irvin went down on the Veterans Stadium turf and his career ended. Well, I still think it was classless, but I can see why they did it. Asshole.

Sorry for all the anger. I love my team, and I think they'll be fine, but I really wish they had won the Super Bowl last year, not for just the reasons that fans want their teams to win, but because then they could have gotten rid of Owens right after the game. Oh well.

Penn State rules. That is all. They have a slight chance to play in the Fiesta Bowl here in Tempe, which would be awesome, because we might have a good chance to see it (my parents are season ticket holders). We'll see.

Advertising is a bitch, but I've got to pimp the product!

Five chapters (would I lie to you?). 11,902 words. Beggars in Uruguay. The missing link. Punk rock classics. Cruising for rough trade. What more could you want out of your reading material?

Sorry, but if I don't pimp it, no one will. Well, that's not true. Gordon and Layne have both said nice things about it, but you get my meaning.


Stupid photos of America!

Yes, today we have pictures of the United States. I'm very sorry, but I can't traipse around the globe all the time! I had to get back to my home country and continue my studies, after all. In August 1992 I went back to Penn State for my senior year, and early in September I went with two of my friends to Pittsburgh to visit another friend of mine, who was attending the University of Pittsburgh (boo!) at the time. I hadn't been to Pittsburgh since 1984 when, to tell the truth, it was a hole. When I went back in 1992 they had done some serious urban renewal, and I really enjoyed my weekend there. I don't know if it's still that way, but 13 years ago, I was impressed by what a nice town it had become. So let's go to the pix!

This is the Cathedral of Learning on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Lots o' classes in there. It's pretty cool being up in it and looking down on the city. I wouldn't mind having classes there.
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Why would I take a picture of this building? Any movie buffs recognize it? It's the building that was in The Silence of the Lambs, in which Hannibal Lector is caged before he breaks out and kills all those people. I doubt if the interior is where they filmed it, but the exterior is. It's a nice-looking building.
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I took a picture of this building because it's weird. I like the medieval-looking tower surrounded by the modern mirror windows. Cool. Can anyone identify it for me?
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This is a shot of downtown. We were on the south side of the river, right at the base of Mt. Washington.
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This is my friend Dave hanging out with a bunch of musicians at a mall. Check out the hair on that guy! This is, in case you're wondering (and I know you are), the same Dave whose wedding I was invited to yet missed because I'm so stupid. His hair is much shorter these days.
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This is my friend Chris Mooney, whom we were visiting. This is the morning after a strange night we spent full of 40s of Colt .45 and Percodan. That's a fun combination, I can tell you that much. I love this picture - "What exactly did we do last night?"
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That's all for this time. Remember, I'm still blogging my novel - 9708 words done! Almost 20 percent there! If you like quality fiction ... well, you might want to search elsewhere. But if you like poisonings, strange, possibly evil books, mad monks, guys with stumps for hands, insidious government agencies, and polygamists - well, you can't go wrong!