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!


What I've been reading

Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage by Noah Andre Trudeau. 694 pages, 2002, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

I'm not a huge Civil War guy like my father and my brother-in-law are, but I'm also not adverse to it either. I especially like the Battle of Gettysburg because it's the only Civil War battlefield I've visited, so I can actually visualize the place, even though it's been twenty years since I've been there. I also find the battle interesting because of the horrible inevitability of the South's defeat, which before this battle wasn't etched in stone but afterward was assured. I've never read an account of the battle itself, however, so I was looking forward to this book. And Trudeau doesn't disappoint.

It's an exhaustive book, as Trudeau begins in May 1863, with the Union and Confederate armies watching each other across the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg. Trudeau uses a huge list of sources, from diaries and letters of the soldiers to dispatches by the generals, and it adds a wonderful sense of the reality on the ground during the campaign. Lee comes up with the idea of invading Pennsylvania, and Trudeau tracks his movements north, including the rather foolish diversion taken by J. E. B. Stuart well out of his way, which took him out of action for the first day of the battle. He also does a nice job going over Joe Hooker's removal as commander of the Army of the Potomac and the installation of George Meade, an action that angered many of Hooker's subordinates and caused Meade no small amount of trouble, not only during the battle, but for months afterward when he tried to explain why he did what he did. Politics was a huge part of the war, and although Trudeau doesn't go into that as much, it's still sprinkled throughout the book, especially when he writes about Abner Doubleday, who was removed from command by Meade, and Daniel Sickles, who disobeyed orders on 2 July and got lucky and who for years afterward claimed he won the battle by himself.

His account of the battle itself is done very well, as he manages to shift easily from front to front without overwhelming the reader. That's no small task, as the scope of the battle was so huge, but Trudeau manages it. He writes in short sections that focus on one small part of the action, then shifts to a different part. It's occasionally difficult to keep track of every person in the book, but it's a minor thing (and probably my problem more than anything) and Trudeau does a good job reminding us every once in a while who everyone is. He also brings in the civilians in the town, which does a good job of reminding us that this battle was fought in a settled area, not a wilderness, and affected a great many people. Only one civilian was killed in the fighting, which is somewhat surprising. Trudeau breaks the battle down by day and then by discrete sections of time during each day. He uses a copious amount of maps to depict the action, which helps a great deal. He moves easily from the North side to the South, from the individual regiments to the headquarters of Lee and Meade. It's a fast read, too, despite its length.

A few things come through that, although Trudeau largely avoids sweeping statements about the participants (he makes minor points about the ineptitude of one general or the bravery of another, but not generally about the larger figures in the battle). Lee, who is usually regarded as one of the greatest generals in history, doesn't come off particularly well. It's not that he's portrayed as a buffoon, but we see how the things that made him successful also helped hasten his downfall in this battle particularly. Many historians have made a great deal of the death of "Stonewall" Jackson earlier in the year 1863, because in him Lee lost a confidant who usually knew what his boss wanted without being ordered to do so. The men who replaced Jackson weren't as close to Lee, and Lee, we see throughout this book, didn't adjust to a more forceful rule of the Army of Northern Virginia, leaving actions up to subordinates who were far lesser leaders than Jackson had been. That seems to be a fault of Lee's, even though Trudeau never explicitly says so. The battle itself was a failure of Lee's subordinates to take his "suggestions" as direct orders. Henry Heth, whose soldiers began the action west of town, was not supposed to engage the enemy to the extent that he did because Lee didn't want an apocalyptic battle unless it was on his terms. By the time the rest of the Army moved in, Lee decided to commit to battle, another decision he could have reversed. And "Pickett's Charge," as it's known, was a disaster not because Lee planned it poorly, but because he seemed to lack the determination to force his subordinates to coordinate their movements well enough. Lee's reputation isn't exactly tarnished by the book, but it's certainly not enhanced. James Longstreet, who commanded the First Army Corps for Lee, comes across as an indecisive general but a much more reflective man than most, as he understood quickly the bad decisions his subordinates made on 2 July, when the Confederates had chances to sweep the Federals from the field, and the slaughter that was imminent once Pickett's Charge went off. Longstreet might not have been the best general in the Rebel army, but he does seem to be more thoughtful than even Lee.

George Meade is somewhat of an enigma throughout, as Trudeau spends even less time with him than he does with Lee. This is a story of the people who fought in the battle, after all, so the commanders are not as important once their plans are put into action. Meade was the first general to really check Lee, but Trudeau gives him no credit (which I guess is because he doesn't really deserve much). Meade certainly doesn't come across as a military genius (nor should he), but it seems to me that he should get some kudos for what he accomplished at Gettysburg. If nothing else, his officers actually staked out the high ground south of the town and held throughout the devastating attacks of 2 July, and although Meade might not get credit for fighting what is essentially a defensive battle, perhaps he should. Joe Hooker, the man he replaced, had a reputation for pugnacity, and perhaps he would have been drawn out from the hills and gotten his army slaughtered. Trudeau never really gets into whether Meade understood that fighting a defensive war against Lee was perhaps the smartest way to go.

This is a very interesting book, because it puts us right in the middle of the most important battle of the most important war in American history. Trudeau writes with the confidence of someone who has researched this topic to death, and it comes across on the pages. If you're at all interested in the Civil War of even American history, this is a great book to read. Trust me!

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The Women of Jerry, Part 10

Let's finish our tour through Jerry Seinfeld's girlfriends with the final season, No. 9, which was probably the worst (Season One might qualify too). But that doesn't mean there weren't girlfriends to consider!

Episode One (157), "The Butter Shave" (aired 25 September 1997). Kramer shaves with butter. Oh dear. What an unfunny episode, from Newman turning into a cannibal to Elaine fighting with Puddy. Bania following Jerry to success is mildly funny, but it doesn't save things. Jerry has no girlfriend, although Kristin Davis does show up, as Bania's girlfriend. And seeing Gordon Jump in these episodes is always a treat.

Episode Two (158), "The Voice" (aired 2 October 1997). Another somewhat poor episode, with Jerry actually choosing his funny voice over his girlfriend, who gets angry when he explains the voice is what they believe her belly button sounds like. Kramer gets an intern, which ought to be more clever (it's mildly amusing), and Gordon Jump tries to get George to quit because he lied about being handicapped, but George hangs on. Jerry's girlfriend is played by Sara Rose Peterson, who gets a Fame Rating of 2 out of 10. She showed up on Friends a few years after this, but has never done anything of note. I have no idea how old she is, but I would guess at least 15 years younger than Jerry, who was 43 when this episode aired.

Episode Three (159), "The Serenity Now" (aired 9 October 1997). This is actually a pretty funny episode, with Frank Costanza's cry of "Serenity Now!" ringing throughout it. Jerry's girlfriend teaches him to express his emotions, which leads to him being rude to her and eventually proposing to Elaine. George opens up to Jerry about his deepest emotions, which scares Jerry straight. It's not bad at all. Lori Loughlin is Jerry's girlfriend, and she gets a Fame Rating of 7 out of 10. Loughlin is a strange actress, because I know she's famous, but I've rarely seen her in things. She shows up in stuff I simply don't watch, like Full House, which made her famous. She's not a bad match for Jerry, actually - she was 33 when the episode aired, so she was 10 years younger than her co-star, but they fit better than some of his even younger girlfriends. She's also one of those women who appeared on Seinfeld well after they became famous.

Episode Four (160), "The Blood" (aired 16 October 1997). Jerry has no girlfriend, and that's probably for the best, because that means we can just move on. This episode features Jerry getting a transfusion of Kramer's blood, plus the return of Lloyd Bridges as Izzy Mandelbaum. Blech. George's transformation into, as Jerry calls him, "Caligula," is mildly amusing, though.

Episode Five (161), "The Junk Mail" (aired 30 October 1997). Another mediocre episode, as Jerry gets a van from "the summer George," his old camp friend. Wilford Brimley's appearance as the Postmaster General is okay, but another than that, not much is good here. Jerry has no girlfriend.

Episode Six (162), "The Merv Griffin Show" (aired 6 November 1997). Kramer finds the set of the show in a dumpster and turns his apartment into The Merv Griffin Show. George's subplot with the wounded squirrel is too stupid to mention, but Jerry's weird relationship with his girlfriend, who owns all the old toys, is somewhat funny. The less said about Elaine's subplot at Peterman the better. Jerry's girlfriend is played by Julia Pennington, whose appearance here was her first. She gets a Fame Rating of 3 out of 10, because she did some work after this, but still nothing really remarkable. I can't find any pictures or biographical information about her, but I can't believe she was older than 30 when this episode aired.

Episode Seven (163), "The Slicer" (aired 13 November 1997). Marcia Cross shows up as Jerry's dermatologist girlfriend in another one of these latter-day Seinfeld episodes where the stupidity just spirals out of control. Oh well. Cross gets a Fame Rating of 9 out of 10, because she's been in two seminal soap operas, Melrose Place and Desperate Housewives, on which she's the best of the four (even though I haven't seen it in a while - when I watched it, she was the best). She was also Kirstie Alley's sister on an episode of Cheers back in the day! Cross was 35 when the episode aired, and like Lori Loughlin, she actually looks like a good match for Jerry, who was still 43.

Episode Eight (164), "The Betrayal" (aired 20 November 1997). This is the backwards episode, which is somewhat amusing to watch, but it's not that much better than the rest of the episodes in this season. Jerry's girlfriend, Nina, is played by Justine Miceli. I guess she's not really his girlfriend, but they do have sex, and that's good enough for me! Miceli gets a Fame Rating of 5 out of 10, because she was in NYPD Blue for a while, and she's worked pretty steadily for 15 years. Shockingly enough, she was actually born in the same decade as Jerry was! She's almost exactly five years younger than he is, so she was 38 when the episode aired. Stunning. There are some funny things in this episode, like Jerry marveling about e-mail and Kramer being unwilling to take Jerry's food when Jerry first moved in. Of course, that contradicts the old Mad About You episode where we learn that Paul was living there when Jerry did, but oh well.

Episode Nine (165), "The Apology" (aired 11 December 1997). James Spader shows up and fails to apologize to George for making fun of his big head (he's in AA and needs to make amends to people). Jerry, meanwhile, dates a woman who's always naked (how does she go out?). Foolishly, he ruins it. Stupid Jerry! The girlfriend is played by Kathleen McClellan. She has never done much, although she's worked steadily, so I'm giving her a Fame Rating of 4 out of 10, and that's only because she appeared in both Stuff Magazine and Maxim. Now that's impressive! McClellan was Miss Photogenic at the Miss Teen USA pageant in 1988, so let's say she was 18 then. That would make her 27 or so when she appeared on Seinfeld. We're back to a big age gap.

Episode Ten (166), "The Strike" (aired 18 December 1997). Ah, Festivus! What would we do without you? This is pretty much the highlight of the final season, as it's goofy but not beyond the realm of possibility. Kramer's subplot, with the resolution of the bagel strike, is okay, but nothing great. Meanwhile, Jerry meeting a woman who looks different in different light is odd but isn't as stupid as some subplots. The girlfriend is played by Karen Fineman, whose Fame Rating is only 2 out of 10, because she hasn't done anything beyond guest starring in various episodes. I can't find any biographical information for her, or even a photograph!

Episode Eleven (167), "The Dealership" (aired 8 January 1998). This isn't a terrible episode, but it's not the greatest. Jerry has no girlfriend, so there's nothing else to say, except to ask why George didn't just take a short walk to a convenience store to get a Twix bar?

Episode Twelve (168), "The Reverse Peephole" (aired 15 January 1998). This is a pretty funny episode because of Puddy's strange fur coat and the gradual transformation of Jerry carrying a purse and wearing a fur coat because he's a "fancy boy." Jerry's girlfriend is played by Jennette Robbins, who doesn't make much of an impression, unfortunately. She gets a Fame Rating of 1 out of 10, because she was in this episode and in Friends once, and that's it. Sheesh. As you might expect, I can't find out much about Ms. Robbins. She's an enigma!

Episode Thirteen (169), "The Cartoon" (aired 29 January 1998). There's no girlfriend, but Kathy Griffin's increasingly bizarre taunting of Jerry is compelling, somehow. Nothing much else to say!

Episode Fourteen (170), "The Strongbox" (aired 5 February 1998). Jerry has no girlfriend, but George dates Illeana Douglas, one of the two girls who refuse to break up with him. I just thought I'd point it out because Illeana Douglas sadly doesn't get enough work.

Episode Fifteen (171), "The Wizard" (aired 26 February 1998). Jerry visits his parents, which is never good. He gives his dad a Wizard organizer, and Morty thinks it's a tip calculator. Meanwhile, Elaine and her boyfriend aren't sure which race the other is. It's not a bad episode, especially when Kramer moves to Florida, but it's not a great one, either. No girlfriend for Jerry!

Episode Sixteen (172), "The Burning" (aired 19 March 1998). Jerry's girlfriend has a "secret tractor story" that she hasn't told him, and he tries to figure it out. This is actually a pretty funny episode, with Jerry's girlfriend giving him the "It's me" on the phone, George always leaving on a high note in his conversations, and Elaine changing the religious pre-set stations on Puddy's radio (great Puddy line: "You stole my Jesus fish!"). This episode also features Daniel Dae Kim of Lost, who strangely speaks perfect English. The girlfriend is played by Cindy Ambuehl, whom I'll give a Fame Rating of 5 out of 10, just because she's been in a ton of stuff without ever becoming a star. But she was in Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead! I wonder if that's on DVD? Ms. Ambuehl was 33 when the episode aired, while Jerry was still 43, so the age gap is back to a decent interval. She doesn't match up as well with Jerry as Loughlin or Cross did, though, probably because she's meant to be, well, a bit dim. She does have a web site, though! I guess she's designing clothes these days. Good for her!

Episode Seventeen (173), "The Bookstore" (aired 9 April 1998). The whole subplot with George taking the book into the bathroom in the bookstore and then failing to get rid of it is amusing, and J. Peterman's speech about his culpability in getting Elaine's make-out partner into heroin is humorous. There's no girlfriend, however, so let's move on.

Episode Eighteen (174), "The Frogger" (aired 23 April 1998). George buys a Frogger machine on which he still has the high score, even years later. If he's willing to spend money on the Frogger machine, why wouldn't he spend money on a decent crew to move it, even if he's notoriously cheap? I mean, he already bought the machine! Anyway, Jerry tries to break up with his girlfriend but can't. She lives in a section of town that has been terrorized by a serial killer, "The Lopper," so he doesn't want to leave her apartment after breaking up with her. The scenes where they're breaking up are pretty funny. The girl is Julia Campbell, who I remember from Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion. Yes, I've seen it! I'm going to give Campbell a Fame Rating of 5 out of 10, even with that classic film on her résumé. She was 35 when the episode aired, and Jerry was just shy of his 44th birthday. Not a bad age gap.

Episode Nineteen (175), "The Maid" (aired 30 April 1998). Jerry gets a maid. And then sleeps with her. The whole thing with her being a maid or a prostitute is okay, and when Kramer has a "long-distance" relationship (his girlfriend moves downtown) and he gets stranded there (at the "nexus of the universe," First and First), that's pretty funny too. Jerry's maid/girlfriend is played by Angela Featherstone, who ought to be on The Wiggles, shouldn't she? Featherstone is another one of those actresses who's been in a bunch of stuff without achieving stardom, but she was the girl Ross cheated with on Friends, plus she was in Con Air and Zero Effect, plus she cursed Van Halen in The Wedding Singer, so I'll give her a Fame Rating of 6 out of 10. Featherstone was 33 when the episode aired, and this aired the day after Jerry turned 44. That means she was 32 when Ross slept with her and working in a copy shop. He should have known she was trouble!

Episode Twenty (176), "The Puerto Rican Day" (aired 7 May 1998). This is the one that never gets replayed because of the burning Puerto Rican flag. It's too bad, because it's not bad. No girlfriend for Jerry, however.

Episode Twenty-One through Twenty-Four. These are clip shows and the finale, which is awful. Plus, Jerry has no girlfriend in it, so it doesn't matter.

Let's check out the totals! Jerry has 11 girlfriends, with only Lori Loughlin and Marcia Cross achieving any real measure of Fame. Featherstone is the closest to them, but there's a big drop between those two and her. The women are generally a bit older, however, which is nice to see. It's typical of the final season in general that the girlfriends are pretty weak.

So that's it for our tour through the Women of Jerry. However, I'll be back with a summary of all the girlfriends! It's the least I can do! Look for it soon!

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My bold prediction

Michael Vick will not spend a day in federal prison. In fact, I think he'll probably be back on the football field next season, in 2008.

Why do I predict this? Vick pleaded guilty today, and the government is going to recommend the low end of the sentencing guidelines, 12-18 months. They want Vick to inform on other dogfighting operations, and Vick will roll over quicker than I do when my wife kicks me because I'm snoring. So that reduces his sentence even more. Eventually, because he's rich and famous, he'll get the sentence down to time in a halfway house with community service, probably for six months, which will happen early next year. By next summer he'll have "paid his debt to society." Then the pressure will begin on the commissioner to end his indefinite suspension, because "everyone deserves a second chance." I mean, he can't go get, you know, a real job, can he? He's a football player, man! Working at a place that his level of education could give him - say, an Arby's - would be unfair to poor Michael Vick! People will pressure the commissioner because Vick is being punished because of his race and because of the craziness of PETA. Leonard Little, an offensive lineman, killed a person while driving drunk and didn't miss any playing time, so why should Vick? So by September 2008, Vick will be free to sign with any team, and at least five teams will sign him.

Vick disgusts me. He fucking found Jesus now? Nice. Fuck you, Michael Vick. And the people who support him disgust me, too. Fuck you, people. I think he should be banned for life from the NFL. Pete Rose bet on baseball and he's banned for life. Michael Vick tortured other living creatures and he'll be back very soon. I feel sick that he'll probably be back next September, but I have a very sickening feeling that he will be.

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My weird wife

A few nights ago I woke up in the early morning hours. I'm not sure why I did, but occasionally I do. Krys was snoring beside me, as she is wont to do. I tossed and turned for a minute or two, trying to get comfortable so I could go back to sleep. Suddenly Krys pushed herself up and reached over to the noise machine we have in our room. She turned the volume up very loud and then settled back in. I asked her, in a whisper, why she turned the volume up. She muttered something about wanting it loud, and then rolled over. I stood up, walked around the bed, and turned the machine back down. Then I went back to sleep.

I asked her in the morning why she had turned the noise machine up so loud. She looked at me quizzically and said she didn't remember doing so. She got up in the middle of the night, turned the volume knob on a machine (which is kind of small), and said something to me, all while still asleep. She said she used to do stuff like that a long time ago, but hasn't recently. I'll have to keep my eye on her - who knows what she'll do while she's sleeping!

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What I've been reading

My computer is back, sort of (I didn't get it fixed, just took it to the shop for a diagnostic check, and when I got it back, it worked fine - so we'll see how long it lasts), so I figured I'd finish this post. Yes, it's about a book I read. I hope you didn't expect big fanfare for my return, now that I've lost the little readership I used to have!

Crusader Nation: The United States in Peace and the Great War, 1898-1920 by David Traxel. 413 pages, 2006, Alfred A. Knopf Books.

One would think, with my fondness for American History, 1865-1939, that this book would be right up my alley. And I did enjoy this book, but not as much as I thought I would. It's a strange book. It claims to go over the history of the United States from the Spanish-American War to the end of Wilson's presidency, but Traxel focuses so much on the First World War that the before and after gets a bit lost. By the end of the second chapter, Woodrow Wilson has been elected president, and we're only on page 38. What happened to Roosevelt's presidency? Similarly, the years 1919-1920 are handled in the epilogue. It's very weird.

In between, Traxel does a good job. He focuses on Wilson's presidency, obviously, and the idea that Americans in the early twentieth century became more and more interested in progressivism and social justice. Traxel subtly makes the case that the country has never been more liberal under Roosevelt (who was, after all, a Republican) and Wilson. Roosevelt believed in cleaning house, both in New York City and as president. Politics in the latter half of the eighteenth century were horribly corrupt, and Roosevelt wanted to change that. Wilson, interestingly enough, co-opted a lot of what Roosevelt wanted to do and took over the "progressive" movement from Roosevelt and his Progressive Party in 1912. It's amazing to realize how well Eugene Debs, the Socialist candidate for president, did in the early years of the century. Today a Socialist can barely get on the ballot.

Traxel also does a nice job with socialism and progressivism on the ground, through the character of John Reed, the famous writer of Ten Days that Shook the World. Traxel follows Reed from his early assignment in Mexico, his dispatches from which made him a celebrity, to New York, to Provincetown, to Europe, back to New York, and finally to Russia. Reed stands in for all the socialists who wanted a revolution in the United States during the early years of the century. Reed is an interesting fellow (I own a copy of his masterpiece, but haven't read it yet), and Traxel gives us some nice insight into both his character and how the leftist celebrities of the early twentieth century lived - it turns out, not too differently from the leftist celebrities of the early twenty-first century, if the photograph of Louise Bryant naked on the beach in Provincetown is any indication! However, it's interesting to note how many of these writers and artist were fully prepared to go to jail for their beliefs, and how the government was very willing to accommodate them. Traxel, whether he wanted to or not (I suspect he did), does a good job showing how, despite the staggering ineptitude of the Bush Administration, it isn't as oppressive as some of the governments in the past, including Wilson supposedly "progressive" reign. Wilson was progressive enough, but some of those socialists didn't believe in God! The nerve!

The First World War and America's involvement in it form the major portion of the book. It's fascinating to read the agonizing the government went through before deciding to join the Allied cause, even though Germany had done several things to provoke us. Early on, Wilson wasn't even sure he would back the Allies, as there was a strong pro-German contingent in this country. Again, in marked contrast to our time, the preparations and debating over the war, plus the appeals to everyone to make sacrifices for the soldiers, are impressive and handled well. Of course, we also get the dark side of war - rampant patriotism (more jingoism than anything) that led to German-Americans losing businesses and being jailed simply for who they were. And, of course, the anti-war crowd, led by those damned socialists, could expect imprisonment too if they got too uppity. That's what makes these times so curiously like yet unlike our own - Bush couldn't do half the things Wilson did without a revolt, yet even with a great deal of criticism from even the mainstream press, Wilson was able to push through several unconstitutional laws. It's difficult reconciling the progressive policies of Wilson with those, until you realize that Wilson, like Roosevelt (even though TR would have denied this), believed in the power of the federal government to make things right. So on the one hand, Wilson was an advocate of women's suffrage and Prohibition, in the belief that women could think for themselves and alcohol was bad. On the other hand, he also believed the government knew what was best, so people criticizing the government were naturally wrong.

There's a lot to learn about our own time when reading a book like this. From the end of the Civil War to the present, many themes that we're still wrestling with are highlighted, and it's always interesting to see how previous generations dealt with it. Roosevelt and Wilson would be shocked by the power of corporations these days, as they actively worked to stop that, but they probably wouldn't be surprised that it had happened, because people today are far more wary about the government than they were 100 years ago. This era is a time when people believed the government could make things better. It's somewhat sad that we no longer believe that and that the government makes it so easy to believe it.

If you're still visiting the blog, thanks for bearing with me. I'll try to post regularly, but it's up to the PC until my new one arrives. For now, however, I'm back!

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Pissed off

Computer sucks. Gets overheated too easily. Looking for new PC. Can only keep it on for short times, cuts into time to post. Will post sometimes. So angry can't even use subjects in declarations!!!!!!



The Women of Jerry, Part 9

We've reached Season Eight, which is where the show took a distinct downturn. There were still some excellent episodes, but it got more and more goofy and less "real," and the laughs were fewer. But Jerry kept dating!

Episode One (135), "The Foundation" (aired 19 September 1996). Jerry doesn't have a girlfriend in this episode, because he broke up with Janeane Garofalo in a flashback. But she does show up, as does Susan Walters, whose character's name (Dolores) isn't as famous as the name Jerry and George think is her name (Mulva). She doesn't date Jerry in this episode either.

Episode Two (136), "The Soul Mate" (aired 26 September 1996). Jerry dates a woman for whom Kramer falls, hard. So Newman helps him woo her away. This is the episode in which everyone involved ends up wanting a vasectomy - Elaine's new boyfriend, Jerry and Kramer (for Pam's benefit), and Newman (for Elaine's). The girlfriend, Pam (Kramer even loves her name!), is played by Kim Myers. Despite a very impressive résumé (her first role was in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2!), Myers only gets a Fame Rating of 2 out of 10. She hasn't really done a lot, although I must have seen her in the episode of The Closer in which she appeared and didn't recognize her. Kim Myers was 30 when the episode aired. Jerry was 42.

Episode Three (137), "The Bizarro Jerry" (aired 3 October 1996). See, now this is a brilliant episode, as Elaine continues to date Kevin, who turns out to be the Bizarro Jerry, complete with a generous "George" (named Gene) and a considerate "Kramer" with great, practical ideas (named Feldman). It's a very funny episode. Less funny, but still not bad, is Jerry's story with his girlfriend, "Man Hands." Their story is good, but George using her picture to get inside "The Forbidden City" where all the attractive women are is good too. "Man Hands" (her name in the episode is Gillian) is played by Kristin Bauer, who has had a steady if unspectacular career and therefore gets a Fame Rating of 4 out of 10, although she did show up in Maxim magazine (which is where I found the picture), so that's something. Bauer was only 22 when the episode aired, therefore making her 20 years younger than Jerry and the one with the biggest age gap so far.

Episode Four (138), "The Little Kicks" (aired 10 October 1996). Jerry has no girlfriend. This is an example of the way the show went in the last few years. Elaine's dancing is very funny, but Jerry's plot with Kramer and his bootlegging friends, while amusing, is so bizarre it doesn't feel right. A typical latter-day Seinfeld episode.

Episode Five (139), "The Package" (aired 17 October 1996). Here's another one. Jerry's insurance fraud thing is kind of tedious, and although George's dilemma with the photo store clerk is amusing, it's also kind of forced. There are some very funny moments, such as Newman grilling Jerry about mail fraud, but overall, it's not that good. Jerry has no girlfriend, although the photo shop clerk that George is sweet on is pretty cute.

Episode Six (140), "The Fatigues" (aired 31 October 1996). And another one. Elaine's deranged employee is just not funny, although Frank Costanza's experiences in Korea are. Jerry and George get mixed up in the whole mentor-protégé, and it's pretty humorous. Jerry is dating Abby, played by A. J. Langer of My So-Called Life and It's Like, You Know fame. That's right, she's actually somewhat famous! Langer has been working steadily for years, and as well as starring in the two excellent shows I've already cited, she was in Escape from L. A. as well! Therefore, she gets a Fame Rating of 7 out of 10. Langer was also 22 when the episode aired, but she's younger even than Kristin Bauer, meaning the age gap has a new champion!

Episode Seven (141), "The Checks" (aired 7 November 1996). And yet another one. Jerry has no girlfriend, so I'm not going to get into this too much, but Brett's zoning out when "Desperado" comes on the radio is silly, as is Jerry's signing of all the royalty checks. Even in the dark days of 1996 you could buy rubber stamps to endorse checks!

Episode Eight (142), "The Chicken Roaster" (aired 14 November 1996). And still another one, even though this episode, where Jerry switches apartments with Kramer so that Kramer doesn't put Kenny Rogers Roasters, where Jerry's friend works, out of business, is pretty funny. Watching Jerry turn into Kramer and vice versa is quite funny. Elaine charging a ton to the Peterman expense account is stupid, however, even though it does get us to Burma and funny Apocalypse Now riff. Jerry has no girlfriend through it all.

Episode Nine (143), "The Abstinence" (aired 21 November 1996). In keeping with the spirit of these later episodes, this features some ridiculous things, but George's forced abstinence from sex (his girlfriend thinks she has mono) is funny. Elaine becoming dumber through lack of sex, however, is not. Jerry has no girlfriend. He's too busy trying to get over the embarrassment of getting bumped at his junior high school.

Episode Ten (144), "The Andrea Doria" (aired 19 December 1996). Jerry has no girlfriend, and the subplot of Kramer turning into a dog because he's taking "dog medicine" is pretty dumb, but Elaine getting freaked out by her "big head" is humorous, as is George using his lifetime of misery to get an apartment over a survivor of the Andrea Doria sinking. Why shouldn't George take advantage of his situation? He's had a much worse life than that old dude!

Episode Eleven (145), "The Little Jerry" (aired 9 January 1997). Another subpar episode, another girlfriend-less Jerry. First, the idea of him bouncing a check, when we are often reminded about how rich he is, is ridiculous. Then, the cockfighting thing is stupid. George's relationship with the convict is funny, but it's not enough to really make the episode.

Episode Twelve (146), "The Money" (aired 16 January 1997). Everyone obsesses about money. Jerry has no girlfriend, so the less said about this dull episode the better.

Episode Thirteen (147), "The Comeback" (aired 30 January 1997). This is not a bad episode simply because we've all been where George has been - unable to think of a good comeback to a barb until it's far too late, and George's dedication both to his lame comeback ("It's jerk store! Jerk store!") and the lengths he'll go to deliver it are humorous. Meanwhile, Jerry's girlfriend doesn't really count, but I'll mention her anyway. This is the episode in which the man from whom Jerry buys a tennis racket tries to pimp his wife out to Jerry, so even though nothing happens, I'll count her. She's played by Ivana Milicevic, who gets a Fame Rating of 6 out of 10, because she's been in a lot of stuff that you've probably seen, even though she's never been the star of much. I mean, who could forget her as the lingerie saleswoman in Enemy of the State? See what I mean? She's probably more famous than she deserves to be because she's attractive. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Milicevic was 22 when this episode aired. She's month older than A. J. Langer, so she's still the youngest girlfriend. Jerry was still 42 when the episode aired.

Episode Fourteen (148), "The Van Buren Boys" (aired 6 February 1997). A street gang who worships Martin van Buren? Really? Sigh. Jerry does have a girlfriend, Ellen, who seems perfect to him but whom everyone else has a problem with. Why? WHY????? Nobody knows. Ellen is played by Christine Taylor, otherwise known as Mrs. Ben Stiller. I have to give Taylor a Fame Rating of 8 out of 10, even though she's pretty famous. I just don't think she's on Teri Hatcher's level, although I like her a lot more as an actress. She's been in a ton of stuff - she was Jason Lee's girlfriend on an episode of My Name is Earl, Jason Bateman's girlfriend on a few episodes of Arrested Development, the bisexual bank employee in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, a reporter in Zoolander, a brief love interest of Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer, and Marcia Brady in two Brady Bunch movies. Plus, for some reason Ross chose Rachel over her in Friends just because she shaved her head, even though she wasn't crazy (like Rachel) and liked having wild sex. Ross, hair grows back, you idiot! Taylor was 25 when the episode aired, and Jerry was still 42. A slight narrowing of the age gap, but not much. Taylor was born in Allentown, near where I grew up (and the subject of a Billy Joel song) about two months after I was. I find trivia like that interesting.

Episode Fifteen (149), "The Susie" (aired 13 February 1997). Another mediocre episode, because Elaine's subplot with "Susie" is so prominent, and pretty dumb. Jerry at the "funeral" is funny, though, and Allison breaking up with George by using Kramer as her proxy is not bad. Jerry has no girlfriend, though, so let's move on.

Episode Sixteen (150), "The Pothole" (aired 20 February 1997). Man, when you look at them all at once, these mediocre episodes just keep coming, don't they? Elaine's Chinese food subplot, which gets her mistaken as a janitor, is just dumb. Poor Julia Louis-Dreyfus - they were sticking her with some clunkers during this season. Jerry's weirdness over dirt starts to go a little nuts in these latter seasons, and this episode is an example, as he drops his girlfriend's toothbrush in the toilet and then can't kiss her. Kristin Davis plays the girlfriend, and I'm going to give her a Fame Rating of 7 out of 10. Yes, she was on Sex and the City, which you think would make her more famous than A. J. Langer, but I'm still going with 7, because I don't think Sex and the City was as culturally relevant as many people would think. Davis was also on Melrose Place. She also showed up in a later episode of Seinfeld, as Bania's girlfriend. Davis was born on 23 February 1965, which means she was 31 when the episode aired, but just about to turn 32. Jerry was still 42, so we're back to a decent age gap.
[Edit: After much soul-searching thanks to the overwhelming response (well, two people) about my ranking, I'm going to change Kristin Davis to 8 out of 10. I guess she's more famous than I thought!]

Episode Seventeen (151), "The English Patient" (aired 13 March 1997). Ugh. The Izzy Mandelbaum episode. As much as I love Lloyd Bridges, this is not a good episode. Elaine's hatred of The English Patient is quite funny (especially because she wants to see Sack Lunch), as is George's stupidity in trying to track down Neil instead of realizing that he's replaced Neil. Jerry has no girlfriend, though.

Episode Eighteen (152), "The Nap" (aired 10 April 1997). Lots of silly stuff, but no girlfriend. Too silly to get into, really. This is the episode in which Jerry's contractor can never make a decision and Kramer starts swimming in the East River and Elaine dates the mattress guy.

Episode Nineteen (153), "The Yada Yada" (aired 24 April 1997). "Yada yada" was a hip thing in pop culture for a while thanks to this episode, but isn't saying "yada yada yada" a lot older than this? People seemed to think the writers made it up. Anyway, I guess Debra Messing counts as Jerry's girlfriend in this, because he finally gets to date her (after waiting out her marriage to Cary Elwes). She turns out to be a horrible racist, though, so that was that. This is a pretty funny episode, actually, with Tim Whatley converting to Judaism for the jokes and Kramer and Mickey having trouble deciding which of the two girls they asked out they're going to date.

Episode Twenty (154), "The Millennium" (aired 1 May 1997). I want to say Jerry has two girlfriends - Valerie and her mother. I don't think Valerie's mom counts, even though they do a "Mrs. Robinson" riff with her. Valerie is Lauren Graham, whose starring role in The Gilmore Girls pushes her up to a Fame Rating of 8 out of 10, I think. Plus, she was in Bad Santa - what a funny movie. Graham was 30 when the episode aired, while Jerry was 43. Not bad.

Episode Twenty-One (155), "The Muffin Tops" (aired 8 May 1997). Another rather dumb episode, as Elaine goes into business with her old boss, Mr. Lippman, selling the tops of muffins. This leads to the problem of disposing of the muffin stumps, which is an excruciatingly stupid part of the show. Jerry, meanwhile, accidentally shaves his chest, which means he has to keep doing it or his girlfriend will get suspicious. Wait, a girlfriend? Yes, Melinda Clarke plays Jerry's girlfriend Alex. I'll give Clarke a Fame Rating of 7 out of 10, because her role on The O. C. raised her profile. She was also in Spawn! Clarke was 28 when the episode aired, 15 years younger than Jerry. "I keep getting older, they stay the same age" comes to mind.

Episode Twenty-Two, "The Summer of George" (aired 15 May 1997). I just love the way George keeps proclaiming it "the Summer of George." That and the Dude in Jerry's girlfriend's apartment. The plot with Raquel Welch and Elaine's cat fight thing is kind of blah. Jerry's high-maintenance girlfriend is played by Amanda Peet, whose appeal escapes me, I'm sorry to say. I mean, she's attractive, but not scorching hot, which a lot of people seem to think. This was kind of early in Peet's career, but she's gone on to bigger and better things (I really liked her in Identity, which is a pretty darned good flick), but I think I'll still give her a Fame Rating of 7 out of 10 because she hasn't really gone stratospheric yet. We'll see if she has it in her. Peet was 25 when the episode aired. Poor Jerry, trying to keep up with these younger ladies!

That's it for Season Eight. For a mediocre season, Jerry had some good girlfriends. 8½ girlfriends (Milos' wife doesn't really count), and most were pretty famous. The age gap is getting bigger, obviously, but the nice thing about Seinfeld is the women always seem a bit older and Jerry doesn't age all that much, so it's not as creepy as you think. The only one I can remember thinking was too young for him was Langer - she really looks her age (or even younger), and whenever I see the episode, I think it's odd she's dating Jerry.

In case you've missed any of these posts, here are the links: the pilot, season one, season two, season three, season four, season five, season six, and season seven. Next time, it's on to the final season of Seinfeld! How will those girlfriends stack up????

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Worst tattoo ever?

This is Megan Fox. She's 21 years old and stars in Transformers. She also has, perhaps, the worst tattoo ever. Yes, that's Marilyn Monroe on her forearm. Why, Megan Fox, WHY??????

Is this the worst tattoo ever? You make the call! Find a worse one! You can't!

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Pictures of the parts of Arizona that aren't in Hell!

This past Saturday Krys and I went north for a bit to get away from the children and to celebrate our anniversary. My parents were nice enough to babysit. We didn't stay away too long - we left about 10 in the morning on Saturday and got back about 5 on Sunday - but it was still good to be without little ones for a time. We drove north on I-17 to Camp Verde, where we checked into our bed & breakfast, the Hacienda de la Mariposa. Then we drove to Sedona and hung out there for a while. We have been to Sedona more than once, so we didn't stay too long. Plus the weather was threatening rain all weekend, so we didn't want to wander around and get caught in a downpour. That night we ate at the Indian casino in Camp Verde, and on Sunday we drove up through Jerome, into Prescott, and home. The only place that was disappointing was Prescott, where it rained very hard the entire time we were there. Prescott is a neat town, but we didn't get to walk around at all. Oh well - it's not that far away. We'll go back.

Here are some pictures of our journey.

These are all pictures of the bed & breakfast. It was a nice, quiet place.

Here are some pictures of Sedona:

Here's my lovely wife looking for stones. She takes stones from every place we visit. Just before we left she found the stones she took from Karnak, which she thought she lost. So she was happy. What does she do with the stones? Only she knows for sure ...

This is, according to something I heard years ago, the only McDonald's in the world without yellow arches. It's in a shopping plaza in Sedona whose primary colors are turquoise and that deserty color, so that's why they're this color, but if that's true, I wonder why they were allowed to keep it?

This is Jerome, which is an old mining town that reinvented itself as an artists' colony in the 1960s. It's a very cool town. I'd love to live there, but I think it's probably expensive, and besides, what would we do professionally?

Finally, dramatic weather shots. Oh, the drama!

So that was our weekend. Not the most exciting time, but certainly relaxing. And no kids means Mommy and Daddy have less stress. Of course, we missed them the whole time we were gone, but that doesn't mean we didn't enjoy ourselves!

It's true, though - there are many parts of Arizona that don't look like shit. It's a Festivus miracle!

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