Monday, December 26, 2005

A Football Rant in Two Parts - Part Two

Professional football is one of my true loves in this world. Next to Scientology and the music of John Tesh, it goes right up on the mantle as one of the genuine joys of my life. I have two personal "holidays" per year: The NFL Draft (my Thanksgiving) and the first Sunday of the NFL season (Christmas). And I have been using that term long before a certain Mister Chris Berman, thank you very much. (Note: personal holidays are separate from personal post uber-weekend "de-railment days," but I don't have to work on those either.)

But in the last three or four seasons, my enjoyment of this most splendid of games, run by the most savvy of sports minds, has been diminished. (And no, smart-guy, it's not just because the Bills suck, though that doesn't help.)

I used to be able to watch any game at any time with a zeal usually reserved for birthdays. I would live for Saturday NFL games in December, since it was like getting 2 games for free. Now? I find myself being mildly interested. The 1999 season may go down as the greatest overall football season I've ever witnessed. And in 2000 there was a string of so many unforgettable Monday Night Football games (the famous Dolphins-Jets "comeback game" being the crown-jewel that season). So why in a scant five seasons do I find myself becoming more and more indifferent to the glut of games being shown at least two nights a week?

For the longest time, I tried to put my finger on it. What is wrong? Why doesn't anything feel right anymore? I racked my brain about this for a while trying to figure it out.

Is it the league? I don't think so. The league itself does a good job of marketing itself and bettering its product every year with rule changes and technological advancements.

Is it the quality of play? Not that I can see. There have been some very exciting teams since 2000 (the 2001 Rams, 2003 Chiefs, 2004 Colts) that I would put up against the most exciting of the 1980s.

And finally it hit me: it's not the leagues or the teams; it's the networks. Simply put, television networks have no clue what the f**k they're doing.

There are many reasons that network broadcasting and coverage of NFL Football runs the gamut from piss-poor to godawful, and as is my custom, I will outline them in my patented, easy-to-read numerically ordered outlining system.

  1. Bad Football: Okay, so I lied, this actually is one of the problems with the league, but not for the reason you might think. It's not that there are less good teams than at any other time. Though we may not be in the "parity-league" days of the late 1990s, there are still some solid football teams. The problem is that many of the teams, though successful, play a dull -- nay, nearly unwatchable -- brand of football. Whether it's the dink-n-dunk (my favorite), or the 2 runs up the middle / 6-yard pass / punt gameplan, offensive football has been quite atrocious. For every Manning-to-Harrison combination, there are ten Charlie Batch-to-Peerless Prices (or somesuch equivalent). Offensive football has been on a downswing since Mike Martz stupidly gave the 2000 Rams the bye week off. (I know that's a pretty obscure reference right there, but that's how much I used to follow all this stuff.)

  2. Poor Scheduling: This is not the league's fault, as you might think. The league's scheduling is pre-determined and decided completely autonomously, based on all the teams' records from the previous year. What I'm referring to is the way that the prime time games are chosen. Networks are woefully short-sighted in this regard. People wonder why the matchups are so bad on Monday Night Football, and they usually blame it on bad luck. But it's not bad luck, it's picking games without thinking about it. Somewhere, some TV exec says, "Say, this game has Michael Vick playing against Ray Lewis. What a great game! Put it on the board!" Or "Giants? Eagles? What a great matchup!" No, these are not great ideas. They lack any sort of insight into what would make a good matchup. For example, for 2005, instead of taking the up and coming teams of last year (Bengals, Vikings, Panthers), they chose the same lame-o teams they assume will be good (Eagles, Falcons, Packers) who end up putting on boring displays of football. These make for crap games, but if someone at one of the networks would really look at the matchups, the time of year, or anything that is actually related to football (rather than related to what players sell the most jerseys), they might stumble upon a game.

    Does anybody remember how many memorable Monday Night Football games there used to be? There were at least five really good games every season. Now, other than the Bucs-Colts 2003 game where Indy scored 28 points in the fourth quarter, I can't even thing of a good game, let alone a memorable one.

  3. Too Many Damn Commercials: Football has always had commercials, and I'm thinking that they probably don't have any more than usual, but here is the difference now: flow. I remember the days when the broadcast would start off with the kickoff, then a couple possessions by each team (at least one each) before going to commercial. Now, there is the pregame, then a shot of the stadium with someone saying, "We'll be right back to FedEx Field after this," then eight minutes of commercials, then the kickoff, a punt, and a commercial.

    Not only do they try to sandwich as many breaks as they can -- such as before and after an after-touchdown kickoff, which is reprehensible -- but during every free second, they show graphics on the screen exhorting the new episode of C.S.I. or Prison Break or Lost. Know what TV executives? I know your shitty show is gonna be on TV! I get it! You can pretty much tell me once and if I'm interested I'll set the old DVR for it. I am offended not only by the number of interruptions, but because they don't even have the decency to show me different commercials. So I have to sit through the same shitty Coors Light "AND TWINS!" commercials, and then even more shitty "World Series of Poker" or "Walker, Texas Ranger" promos over and over again. You only have to tell me once, bitch!

    And not only do you show so many commercials for your own crappy shows during the commercials (over and over again no less) but now you're throwing it in the middle of the game too??? During, for example, a penalty or stoppage in play? If the appeal of sports is the drama, then why are you interrupting this supposed drama by throwing a bunch of commercials in the middle? Imagine you are watching the big ending scene at the end of, say "The 40 Year Old Virgin" (or literally any movie or TV show for that matter), and during the climax, when you are caught up in the drama of the moment, and someone pops up on screen in the bottom corner and says "Don't forget that the new Harry Potter movie is coming out next April!" and then goes right back into the scene. This is the equivalent of shattering the intensity of the game.

    These interruptions have always occurred, but it used to be only once per half or so. Now it seems that the game has become secondary to making sure we get as much advertising thrown in our collective face as possible. But what the network execs don't get is that they are making the product less palatable to people like me, and therefore making us less apt to watch, and generate their precious ratings-revenue.

  4. Bad Pregame Coverage: ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown used to be THE best pregame show in the business. They had a combination of a then-not-annoying, pre-caricature Chris Berman (who some may remember used to have quite a quick wit) and football men like Pete Axthelm, Tom Jackson and Chris Mortensen (who are still there, thank God because they are the only watchable thing on it right now). Now, they have "names," like Steve Young, Michael Irvin, Mike Ditka, etc., who offer little-to-nothing in the way of actual insight and are just there to blow hot air. I remember a time that you could get an explanation or examination of football that was neither a Ron Jaworski-like dissection of game film or a noise-heavy harangue by Michael Irvin. It was something in the middle; it was intelligent discussion of football, high on facts and insight, low on bombast.

    Likewise, the NFL Today on CBS (with Brent Musberger and Irv Cross) and the NFL on NBC (with Bob Costas, Will McDonough and Frank Deford) were equally excellent. Today it's, Who's More Outrageous?! Who's More Opinionated?? Who can speak the loudest???

    There have been a few strides made toward improving pre-game shows, such as ESPN replacing Sterling Sharpe, CBS moving their pre-game show indoors (for the love of God), and Fox actually showing information about the AFC once in a while. But for each of these, we still get Stuart Scott using urban slang of the late 1980s (Note to Stu: no one says "phat" anymore) and Terry Bradshaw asking Jake Plummer if he says "couch" or "sofa." So much utter crap.

    For some reason, many pre-game shows thing that we as football fans give a shit about some players' actual life. They will ask Carson Palmer if he thinks the iPod or TiVo is a more important invention. Or follow Torry Holt on a day shopping and playing video games. I personally only care about these people in a football context. I have a life of my own (well, technically anyway), and I don't need to follow some millionaire around to a quasi-hip hop soundtrack, unless he's doing something truly interesting. Keep it on the field, people!+

  5. Horrible Announcers: I am one of the six people in America who actually liked the move of putting Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football. I'm not saying it worked out that well, but I liked the move. At least it seemed to be an attempt to try something that actually resembles an entertaining broadcast. There are probably a half-dozen decent --DECENT -- football announcers in the country: Marv Albert, Jim Nantz, Al Michaels (sorry, Jav, I know you disagree), Mike Tirico, Dick Enberg. I am seriously struggling to think of more. But there are almost no good color commentators.

    John Madden is, I'm sorry kids, a terrible terrible color man. He hasn't been good since 1987. He coasted on his telestrator and his "boom" shtick briefly, but now he doesn't even have that. Now all I has is his name slapped on the cover of a popular video game. I have not heard him make one insightful comment since he started broadcasting Monday Night Football. Not a single one. He actually said this: ready? "The ball is slippery because it's wet, and it's wet because it's raining." I have pets that have made keener observations.

    And don't get me started on that heaping steaming pile of obsequious excrement known as ESPN Sunday Night Football. I used to like Mike Patrick, honestly. He always took the bluster out of Joe Theismann's pomposity, but when you add the waste of valuable blood platelets known as Paul Maguire to the mix, you have a recipe for knob-washery that would make Ed McMahon vomit. According to this crew, there is not a single normal or good player in the league. Instead, every player is magnificent, gifted beyond all possible comprehension. A player doesn't make a nice play, he makes a sensational play!

It's painful for me to say this about football. For years and years I have maintained football's superiority over all other sports, not only in gameplay, but in watchability. But lately, coverage of playoff baseball has actually been more compelling than regular season football (for the first time in my life).

Maybe it's the fact that I feel I could run a network better than almost anyone doing it now. (For example, I had been saying that NBC should drop The Apprentice go back to a 2-hour comedy block on Thursday nights for over a year now. And what did they just announce? I should get a bonus from NBC for this.) But it shouldn't take a frustrated would-be network exec to fix the problems. Let's stop trying to marry sports and entertainment. Because good sports should be all the entertainment one would need.

Friday, December 23, 2005


Ok there is a lot of debate right now about the whole Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays phenomenon. And I think it's starting to get a little ridiculous. If you see me, say "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah" (spelling optional) or "Enjoy your day off" or whatever the hell you want to say. I am not going to get offended.

But there are two very distinct parts to this, one which I think is very serious, the other which I think is inane beyond belief. The difference is between 1) religious repression and 2) simple politeness.

Religious Repression

Now I was raised Roman Catholic. You may have heard of it. If you haven't you're probably going to hell. Just kidding, of course. But while I'm not technically "practicing" lately, I do tend to still gravitate toward a lot of the things I grew up on, what with Popes and Narthexes and Tabernacles and the Stations of the Cross and whatnot. I'm certainly not one of these asshole self-proclaimed "recovering Catholics" who couldn't take the fact that Church doesn't want you to bang every girl in your neighborhood and has at least some moral compass. (Well, that's the Church's official position anyway.)

Now, being that as it may, I may have a skewed perspective on this, but I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with religious symbolism and pride in one's religion. I have no less a problem with a manger scene in the mall than I do with a Star of David on Max Baer's boxing tights or the Star and Crescent on the Tunisian flag. I think the attempt to suppress things like this truly is a suppression of religious freedom. And while I know America does not (and should not) have an official religion, let's not forget that the reason those pilgrims hopped the Mayflower to come here was to get away from religious persecution, for any religious affiliation.

See, while I do absolutely believe in the separation of Church and State, because no state should ever tell someone what they should be believing in, I personally think that anyone that would take the "under God" part of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Supreme Court either has far far far too much time on his hands, or is so bitter against all things religious that he will nickel-and-dime anything he can to piss off those idiots who believe in this "God" character. If you don't want to say the "under God" part, don't say it. Some people want to say it, shouldn't they be able to if that's what they truly believe? I know that religious zealots are scary, but let's not be so anti-religion that we don't even want to hear the words.

I am somewhat more offended that we even have a Pledge of Allegiance in the first place. And why every morning? Isn't that very first time we pledge it enough? Does the Pledge hold up in a court of law? "Mr. John Walker Lindh, you defied the United States by joining the Taliban? And this was after you had repeatedly stated that you pledged allegiance??? Have you no morals, sir?" There are so many religious idiots out there that they are making people take the atheist idiots (and yes there are a lot of them too) seriously. Granted, there is no way on God's/Big Bang's green earth we should be teaching intelligent design in science classes, but people are so hellbent (rightfully) to keep it out of science classes that they don't see the very intriguing philosophical questions about it. Too bad the Intelligent Design Movement has hijacked it into a political issue. But I have already digressed waaayyyy too much to get into all that silly business.

But this all brings us to the second, idiotic part of this argument. That somehow, saying "happy holidays" is an actual affront to and attack on Christianity. Saying "happy holidays" is not saying, "I hate Christianity." It's saying: I have...

Simple Politeness

No less a great mind than Bill O'Reilly said just a few nights ago -- and I'm paraphrasing, obviously, since there are no quotation marks around what's coming up -- Christians are offended by the greeting "happy holidays." O'Reilly has said a lot of ludicrous shit. He said if the City of San Francisco gets attacked, that the U.S. Military should not defend it. He lied that he won two Peabody Awards. He said he wanted to cover a woman with falafel. But this is beneath even his feeble attempts to comprehend quasi-nuanced issues.

The man, after all, has the mind of a class bully-turned-debate team third-stringer. He tries to intimidate people, usually by yelling at them to SHUT UP, and then thinks he won the debate because he talked louder on his own TV show. He's the worst kind of Republican, but again, back to the topic.

I cannot think of one single Christian person who would get offended if you told them "happy holidays." Do you know why? Because when you wish them "happy holidays," you are including Christmas and New Year's! That's why it's happy holidays, not happy holiday! And that is a scientific fact!

If Yom Kippur fell on a Friday (can it? I'm not sure), and you said to a Jewish co-worker "Thank God It's Friday!", do you think he/she would get offended and say, "It's not Friday! It's Yom Kippur!" and then boycott you? This is the same argument. It's not Christmas to everyone, you know. To some people it's just another Sunday.

Would a Christian be happy about everyone going around saying "Happy Hannukah" to every single person, friend or stranger, around this time of year? (Most rational people of any religious denomination probably wouldn't care, but you get the point.) It's just as much a Jewish holiday as it is a Christian one. Why do Christians have the exclusive right to it? Just because it's a more significant holiday on the Christian calendar than it is the Jewish one?

It is simply common courtesy to say "happy holidays" if you don't know with 100% certainty that the person you are addressing celebrates Christmas. If you are talking to your best friend or a co-worker or nun or mom or someone that you know celebrates Christmas, go ahead and say "Merry Christmas." You'll feel good about it. But if you are holding the door open for someone at the mall, and you can't quite tell, don't you think it's just more polite to say "happy holidays"?

Anyway, to EVERYONE in the whole world, have a Merry Christmas!

Minor Housecleaning

No no no, you silly bastard, I'm not picking up after myself. Good stuff though.

No, but rather I am adding two new sites to my blogroll. Well, one new, one old returner.

The new one is by my good friend John "Jack" Johnson, who just started his "Cold-Draft" blog. I know it's early, but my boy is already thinking about the NFL draft. Yeah, I know, it's amazing. He's just starting it out, but come April, you better bring your bib... cuz it's gonna get messy! (Johnny is expecting his second child soon, so congrats to Johnny.)

Mike C.

The old one is from my former friend Mike "Don" Cialini. (His middle name is not really Don, it's Jerome.) Jerome, errrr, Mike was on my blogroll about a year ago, and then he went ahead and didn't touch a computer for 13 months, so I removed him posthaste. But the son of a bitch is back, cranking out 2 1/2 posts in the last 10 days. That warrants a probationary return to the blogroll.

He's changed the name from "I Plead the Fifth" to "Leave the Gun. Take the Cannoli," which is, of course, from Mike's favorite movie To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. If he doesn't keep it up, he's going back to the realm of the unknown. It's up to you, Michael. Mike just got hitched so I'll allow a little leeway on him too.

Other than their conservative points of view, there is little that relates these two gentlemen, but I figure it's only fair to give the tens of millions that peruse my little scribblin' pad fair notice. Enjoy kids!


After I finished this I nearly slapped my own forehead off with a mighty "schwack" having forgotten about my boy Electric City Paul, who's blog, Electric City Paul, is a whimsical mix of popular culture, baseball and Scott Stapp. I think you'll really enjoy it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


It was announced last week that the Fox television "network" was reducing the order on episodes of Arrested Development from 18 to only 13. It doesn't take a genius or television insider to see the writing on the wall here. The show is clearly going to be cancelled.

This is a ridiculous move on the part of Fox, who have only themselves to blame for a) failing to market the show adequately, b) continually moving its time slot, making it hard for people to follow it, c) going weeks on end without showing any episodes, thereby slowing down its momentum, and d) setting it up for failure by putting it up against ratings juggernauts (Desperate Housewives) or established shows with loyal followings (King of Queens).

Let me say this: I am not passionate about a lot of television shows (though I do think we are going through a tv-comedy renaissance of sorts, with excellent shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Daily Show, Scrubs, King of Queens, and recent shows with a lot of potential like My Name is Earl and The Office). But I am severely passionate about Arrested because it is one of the few truly intelligent shows on TV.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that it may be as brilliant as The Simpsons, and anyone who knows my affinity for that show knows that's a claim I wouldn't make lightly. The difference is that while The Simpsons makes brilliant use of satire of all of American culture, Arrested is equally satirical, but mostly contained within its own story lines. Both shows reward you for paying attention, but in my opinion, the payoff is better over the course of several episodes with Arrested. It's one of those shows of which you could easily watch 5 or 6 episodes in a row without wanting to watch something else.

Maybe the show doesn't get a lot of ratings, but it's not that far behind other shows overall. Besides, here is a brief list of shows that Fox will keep on the air, all of which I am willing to bet are inferior to Arrested:

  • That '70s Show
  • Stacked
  • Trading Spouses
  • Reunion
  • Cops (ok, well Cops actually is pretty awesome)
  • The War at Home
  • American Dad (I would actually put Family Guy on this list, though I know I'd get a beating for it, but yes, Family Guy is severely overrated, IMHO)

I'm sure there are others I'm not even thinking of. The best I can hope for is that Mitchell Hurwitz (Arrested's creator) shops it around to other networks that know how to market a daring comedy. (NBC perhaps? They've had luck in the past.)

If you've ever seen the show and love it, or even if you just find it midly amusing, click here to petition this travesty. Don't let Arrested become one of those "brilliant-but-cancelled" shows. American culture is very much a breeding ground for mediocrity when it comes to the arts. Look at the top movies and best-selling music in our country right now. We need to foster the few good, creative enterprises that actually mean something. I think a decade from now, people will rediscover the Arrested Development DVDs and will realize how ingenious it is. It's already a cult favorite, let's just hope it's not one of those cults where everybody has to die.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Pinko Commie Leftist

Your Political Profile

Overall: 20% Conservative, 80% Liberal

Social Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Monday, October 31, 2005

A Football Rant in Two Parts - Part One

I knew from the second I read it on ESPN's The Bottom Line Saturday night: Tedy Bruschi was going to play, and it was going to be the only thing I was going to hear about for the next 24 hours.

An American Hero

No matter what Bruschi did -- he could intercept a pass, he could make no tackles, he could make one tackle on a kickoff, he could rescuscitate a dying child on the sideline, he could murder a member of the clergy in cold blood at halftime -- one thing was for certain: Bruschi was going to be a hero.

A little background for those that don't know. Bruschi has been a linebacker for the Patriots for about 8 or 9 years. He has always rightfully been seen as a role player, not a superstar. But suddenly, due to the inordinate amount of Patriot hype, he was vaulted into superstar status after last season. There were people saying that he was a hall-of-famer, despite the fact that he had only made his first Pro Bowl last year.

Then, shortly after the Super Bowl, Bruschi had a stroke. I don't think he had a real stroke, like the kind that makes one side of your face droopy. He probably had heatstroke or something. But anyway, he was declared out for the season. But somehow, miraculously, heroically, he got the clearance, checking with no less than 20 doctors, to finally play! Of course, he had to pick the primetime Buffalo game to do this. No amount of maniuplation here.

I will give full disclosure about this subject: I hate Tedy Bruschi. Yes, I am a Buffalo Bills diehard, which doesn't help, because the Patriots, for which Bruschi plays are one of our rivals. But even if he played with the Arizona Cardinals or the Kansas City Chiefs, I would detest this self-aggrandizing, fake-smiling, faux-inspiring, overrated, grandstanding asshole. Every time I see him, he's got that fake "look at me and what a great guy I am" look on his face. He's always carrying his kids around, which says, "hey, aren't I a great dad?" And don't think this is some sort of revisionist anti-Boston bias; I have always always hated this prick, nearly going back to his days at Arizona.

This is a byproduct of the Patriots being the most overhyped sports entity since the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s. Since he is a Patriot, he must be classy. Classy like the Patriots waving Terrible Towels at Pittsburgh fans in the AFC Championship game last year. Or classy like Bill Belichick letting Gillette Stadium's field go to shit so the Colts wouldn't be able to run as fast. Or classy like Belichick saying after the Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl that (the admittedly subpar) Freddie Mitchell was "terrible" and "we were glad when he was out there."

Yes, all class. And Bruschi is one of the classiest. The Patriots are treated with a sort of reverence usually reserved for great Americans like Tom Cruise and Martha Stewart. So it's clear that every accolade he gets is fully deserved.

But -- seriously now -- I could not believe the amount of knob-slobbing ESPN and the national sports media gave Bruschi for his comeback.

Here's what the boxscore says:

"Bruschi made two tackles and assisted on five."(London Fletcher usually has this many in one quarter, but never mind that.)

"Bruschi was involved in a tackle on Buffalo's second play from scrimmage and then slowed down Roscoe Parrish on a reverse that resulted in a 6-yard loss. After that, he made few noteworthy plays."

Some comments made about him after this truly truly unbelievable performance:

"...Tedy Bruschi has to be a shoo-in for Comeback Player of the Year, right?"
"Unbelievable. You're just not supposed to be able to do that.
Right? Wrong.
Bruschi believed the unbelievable"
(Says Michael Smith)

"Just getting back on the field again was enough for New England inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi to win a game ball."
"Bruschi had seven tackles while participating in 64 defensive snaps." (Note: when is the last time someone noted how many defensive snaps any player participated in?)
"It's hard to recall even one spectacular, game-alterting play that Bruschi authored..."
(Says the usually excellent Len Pasquarelli.)

"Instead of immediately showing a replay of Tedy Bruschi's first play back ... and, remarkably, a play on which Bruschi made a tackle -- we saw the graphic of the Bills' starting defense. Pfffft. There goes the moment." (Quoth the getting ever-worse Peter King)

But this praise and universal applause was nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to the vomit-inducing coverage ESPN gave him. Honesly, Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire should be ashamed of themselves for the fawning, hyperbolic coverage they gave Bruschi. A few of my favorite moments:

  • Theismann saying, (paraphrasing) "How can you not root for Tedy Bruschi? The Buffalo Bills are rooting for Tedy Bruschi."
  • Showing a montage of Bruschi throwing his hands in the air (after not making a play) to the tune of that "Hero" song from the first Spider-Man movie.
  • Cutting to Bruschi's wife no less than a dozen times for no reason whatsoever. She wasn't crying or worried, just laughing it up in the stands.
  • The constant camerawork showing Bruschi after every Patriots' defensive play, even ones where he had absolutely no bearing on the outcome.
  • Failing to call Bruschi out on getting caught on blown coverage on a key Bills touchdown.

It was, in a word, sickening. Sports journalism -- and ESPN in particular -- are at their nadir. Something needs to happen sports fans. Rise up and revolt...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Kay Bailey's Short-Term Memory

I know I'm not even close to the first person to bring this up, but...

Kay Bailey Hutchinson on her vote to remove then-president Bill Clinton from office for perjury, February 12, 1999:

"The reason that I voted to remove him from office is because I think the overridding issue here is that truth will remain the standard for perjury and obstruction of justice in our criminal justice system and it must not be gray. It must not be muddy."

Bill Clinton was a Democrat.

Kay Bailey Hutchinson on the Valerie Plame case, which may bring indictments for Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby for perjury, October 23, 2005:

"[I hope] that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars."

Karl Rove is a Republican. "Scooter" Libby is a Republican.

Kay Bailey Hutchinson is a Republican. Has she gone through a fundamental change in her interpretation of the law? Why was the "technicality" argument okay in 1999, but not now? Has she experienced some sort of post-Millennial epiphany about the nature of United States law? Knowing what she knows now, would she change her vote from the Clinton hearings? Call her up at 202-224-5922 and ask her. Or contact one of her many offices.

Have all of you who voted for Bush a year ago gotten what you wanted? Knowing what you know now, would you change your vote? Did you really think things were gonna get better with this think-tank running the show?

Go Fitz go!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Sabre-rrific! (So Far Anyway)

Okay, I know it's early, but my Buffalo Sabres are 2-0 and looking very good after two games. It's taking the sting away from three straight Bills losses.

Rory Fitzpatrick - Defenseman (Rochester's own)

Ryan Miller - Goalie

Chris Drury - Center

Maxim Afinogenov - Right Wing

Daniel Briere - Center

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Stupid Things I've Done - Steffie

This one goes out to my boy Slim Colt, a true gentleman, and the only person I've ever seen wear 4 sports jerseys at one time. He was in town the other night and we recounted this story for the 900th time. It's a short one, but a good one.

When I think back on college, the images that usually come into my head are the nights in the dorm and in the bars. Other than the occasional dormitory party, I always think of the weeknights, where we'd just be in a lounge watching TV or doing homework or playing Tecmo Super Bowl and those kinds of things. And Thursday nights at the Shire, especially my senior year, were also especially memorable, though I have forgotten the details of nearly every single Thursday night I spent there. When I think of college, these are the things I think of and the things I miss the most.

But some events came out of the mundane events of a regular sober night, sometimes even occuring in the midst of studying.

One such evening, my buddy Mike "Slim Colt" Short and I were in the academic buildings, probably using a computer lab. Well, he was probably using the computer lab, I was probably searching for pictures of nude women or something. But that was way back then when such things interested me and the details are hazy at best.

So Mike and I, burly men that we were, got a bit of a hankerin' for some grub. So we headed down to the Dolphin Den, a small cafe-type area in the basement of Grewen Hall. (Note: Some of you may remember the Dolphin Den as the site of another stupid-ass thing I did with mayonnaise.) Then was usually empty or close to it on most weeknights, because classes were out and no one was in the building except for schoolnerds.

Wednesdays, however, were an exception. For you see, every Wednesday night, the college held classes for people with "special needs." (Don't worry, this is not going to turn into me making fun of people with special needs.) So around the same time every week, these groups of differently-abled teenagers and people in their early twenties would converge upon the Den to get food, or perhaps even a lovely beverage.

This particular day, Mike and I were waiting for some curly fries or some such item, and they were taking a bit longer than normal. As we waited, I made eye contact with one of the special needs girls. I waited a moment longer, and before I knew it, she had sidled up to me. She began to make a bit of small talk: "Those fries look good. Do you usually get them? Is this your first time here?" etc. She was very affable.

Suddenly, the conversation -- clearly going somewhere in this young lady's mind -- took an unexpected turn...

She said the following:

"So I have a question to ask you. (quietly, to herself) I can't believe I'm doing this... (normal volume again) Okay, so my friend Steffie has had a really bad week. So I was wondering, do you wanna go out with her?"

My brain began working overtime. I had no idea how to respond to this most unanticipated query. I had a couple options. I could have taken the easy, rude way out and simply said, "No." But my mama raised me better than that. I didn't want it to look like I was being insensitive to the girl just because she was in a special class.

I briefly (like, nanosecond briefly) bandied about the idea of humoring her, and saying, "Sure I will!" This would have allowed the young lady to save face. But this would have been disatrous. Though I was single at the time, I had my doubts that -- sight unseen -- Steffie would have been a viable counterpart for me, romantically. Okay sure, in theory, maybe Steffie was this young lady's hot nymphomaniac sister. Maybe this was some sort of unlikely oddball romantic comedy in the making. But the odds were against it. And assuming that Steffie was not compatible with my particular situation, all this would have done was get poor Steffie's hopes up.

What if I had been the "funny guy," and played along. It would only have been for Slim's benefit if that was the case. I could have said, struggling to contain my laughter, "Oh yeah, you tell Steffie to be here one week from tonight and I'll take her out for a steak dinner." I had a feeling this girl did not have a nose for my sarcasm and would not have detected the intended irony. Yeah, I'm a real cut up and next thing I know, I come to the Den in a few Wednesdays and have an armada of pissed off special needs folks ready to beat the shit out of me for jilting poor Steffie. I've had dreams about that kind of thing, so thank you, no. (Clearly, she would have been similarly disappointed had I actually shown up anyway, so either way this was a wash.)

There was only one way to solve this very delicate conundrum, and luckily, my subconscious was thinking faster than my conscious. The words came flowing out of me, completely independent of my actual working brain. The perfect two-word phrase escaped my lips so fast and involuntarily, that I was actually surprised after they had been uttered:

"I'm gay."

Steffie's friend suddenly broke eye-contact, nodded her head sympathetically, and wordlessly backed away, terminating any further conversation with me. I looked back at Slim and he was silently laughing. I wasn't sure if he was laughing at me because he found it funny, or if he found me pathetic. But I did know one thing...

Steffie's friend is a goddamn homophobe.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Billy Backs Down

Little Billy O'Reilly folds like a cheap suit in the presence of a talk-show heavyweight.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Pride is Back!

J.P. throwing his first TD pass.

Willis feeling the love

Fletcher with a fumble recovery

Willis high-stepping over an overmatched Texan defense

That ain't no bitch-ass Doug Flutie, baby!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

How Do You Spell "Rip-Off"?

***Find the spelling error in this post and win a free coffee***

A lot of people dislike me because I am one of those people. You know, the kind that constantly corrects people on their grammar and spelling. Many people think that this is a result of arrogance or an attempt to prove some sort of intellectual superiority. But it's not. It's the result of a bitter episode in my young life.

When I was in 8th grade, I was a very very good speller. Not quite as good as Rebecca Sealfont or one of the other wunderkinder that you see at the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee on ESPN8, The Ocho. Not quite, but I was very good for my age group. And I was clearly - CLEARLY - the best speller in my 8th grade class.

There was only one person who was even close. He name was Mike Albany (not his real name but, hint-hint, you could probably figure his real last name out with only 49 more guesses). Mike was a real prick, even back in 8th grade. He was an arrogant kid who considered himself intellectually superior to all others. He was especially unkind to me, constantly mocking me for one reason or another. I was his own personal whipping boy. It's as if I were Daniel-San and he was Johnny, if that draws the parallel (except without all of that karate).

But boy was he smart. He was definitely the smartest kid in the class. And he knew it. I am certainly no genius today, but I think I was borderline mentally incompetent in 8th grade. Common sense was completely out of my realm, and while my grades weren't bad, they sure weren't good. So the fact that I was even dumber back then than I am now compounded my problem.

I played soccer, and was not very good at that either. Mike Albany played hockey and was generally regarded as an outstanding player, at least by the other guys in my class who were in the know. This didn't help. But overall, Mike was a very sorry, very unhappy person. I think that his father probably pushed him pretty hard (dad always seemed like a prick too), and this made him ultra-competitive. And maybe insecure?

When it came to spelling, though, he and I were neck-and-neck. He could claim no superiority over me in this particular arena. We took the weekly spelling tests, and each week I either bested him or tied him. In fact, in 8th grade I got 100% on every single spelling test, never missing one word. I know for a fact that he did not accomplish this same feat, seeing several 90s, and even a couple 80s on his tests.

I never gloated this fact, of course, because it's spelling for chrissakes, not something important like health class or something. It's not like I was gonna say, "Hey Mike, how'd ya do on that spelling test? Oh, 90, huh? Hmmm... not bad, but it's not 100, is it? IS IT?! BOO-YAA!" I would have been an even bigger dick than him if I tried pulling that move.

My spelling acumen was further illuminated by my performance in the 7th and 8th combined grade spelling bee, open to all 7th and 8th graders in my school. Both grades got up on stage and spelled and spelled and spelled, with the incorrect spellers taking an early seat. I did very well in this spelling bee. In fact, I was one of the last three standing, and the only one left from my 8th grade class. (Two 7th grade girls had inexplicably gotten past my entire class.) Mike Albany had long since been eliminated several rounds prior.

The winner of this spelling bee would go on to represent the school in the district spelling bee or some such thing. And the person who finished second would be the backup, in case the winner could not make it. Truthfully, I did not want to win my school's spelling bee for this reason. And I'm not trying to be David Brent here; I really didn't want to win. It was fun, somewhat thrilling, to breeze through the spelling bee for my school alone, but I would have been terrified trying to compete on a larger stage with competition from other, larger schools. So at this point, I had felt that I made a nice showing, beating everyone in my 8th grade class, and if I lost, so be it. I never would have "thrown" the bee, of course, or taken a dive. Never. But if I lost fair and square, I wouldn't have been heartbroken.

Here's where it got interesting. (It's about time, eh?)

Near the end of the bee, I went up to the podium for what turned out to be my final at-bat. The word they gave me was "opindent."


I have never before, nor since, heard or read this word. My teacher announced it, and I went completely blank. I asked for a definition, and I don't even remember it. I had absolutely no clue what this word was.

Was this a conspiracy? I'm not sure. I attempted spelling the word, and failed. I think I spelled it with an "A" or something. (To this day, these events are a complete haze.) But that was that. I walked off the stage, into the provincial crowd of fellow also-rans, and my disappointment and bewilderment were tempered by a small pang of relief for being spared another couple weeks of nervousness, which I already had in abundance in that awkward era of my life.

The months go on, and I forgot about it. My mind wandered to other things, like girls I would never date and preparing to go to a high school I would surely hate. The whole spelling thing never really entered my mind again. Not until graduation night.

My 8th Grade graduation ends up being a happy/sad event as all graduations are. There is a mass at our church, then a banquet afterward to which all the families are invited. All the kids are dressed up in suits and dresses, and we all look unusually grown up. The night goes fine, even though my family of 6 is seated further back than anyone, and sort of separated from the rest of my class's families. (This separation complex has been an ongoing theme in my life, but that's another topic entirely.)

So okay, toward the end of the evening, it's time for the 8th grade superlatives. The teachers had gotten together and decided which students excelled the best at each subject, called each student to the podium, and gave each one a plaque. They go through all the subjects, like Social Studies, Math, Science, etc., all of which I was terrible at, so I just sat there with no pressure, like Vin Diesel at the Oscars. But English was coming up.

I knew I wasn't the best English student, but I thought that maybe, deep down, I had a chance to win this award. I had been given high praise for my writing in that class, even having some of my papers read aloud, and I thought maybe this would propel me to an unlikely upset in this category. I felt my temperature rise ever so slightly.

My teacher says, "For excellence in English, we give the award to Mike Albany." Aw shucks. No big surprise, I guess. Mike goes up to accept his plaque to polite applause. But once he is at the podium, something happens that I likely remember for the rest of my life.

My teacher, forever tainted after this moment in my mind, keeps Mike Albany at the podium and makes the following pronouncement:

"As long as he's up here, I think it's obvious that Mike was also our best student in the subject of spelling."

I quite literally felt as if I had been punched in the stomach. I could not breathe. Even today, thinking about it, I have a small twinge of anger and hurt over it, as pathetic as that sounds. I hadn't known that they would give out a separate award for spelling, but if I had, I would have assumed that the award should have gone to me. Look at the results? Who had the best overall spelling score in the class? Who finished above everyone else in the 8th grade in the bee? Whose spelling skills in papers were so hallowed that they were often cited for excellence in writing?

I don't think it's an overstatement to say that this event tarnished the entire night beyond repair, and even much of the year itself. I felt a profound sense of injustice. You know when you go to a bar -- the bar you always go to -- and you're waiting for five minutes to get a drink? But you can't catch the bartender's eye? And then someone else strolls into the bar and gets served immediately? Imagine that feeling times a thousand, compounded with the person who just walked in being your most hated rival. Oh, and he took the last beer in the place, the one you wanted.

It wasn't just that he got the award, because he was close to me (not better than, but close to). But to say it was "obvious" that he was the superior speller? That was the thing that sent me over the edge. There was nothing "obvious" about this. If anything, this was an upset. This was Art Carney defeating Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Albert Finney and Jack Nicholson at the 1974 Oscars. Never had there been a more dominant, more legendary performance of spelling in the history of St John of Rochester Parochial School. Not only should I have been given a plaque, but a plaque bearing my name should have been put in the trophy case heralding my achievement. Surely this would not only have inspired the new students coming in to aspire to a higher level of excellence, but it would have put the school on the map! (It's no coincidence that the school closed it's 7th and 8th grades only two years later. Karma is a lass with a sense of humor.)

Yet somewhere that son of a bitch Mike Albany has my plaque.

So next time you talk to me and I correct your grammar, or tell you that it should be "whom" instead of "who," please know that it's not to try to make myself feel superior, and not to make you feel stupid. It's because, just in case my 8th grade English teacher should happen to be walking by, she will know what a collossal mistake she made. And she will weep for her short-sightedness.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

You're Welcome for Ruining the Internet

Today is my Blogoversary. Hurray for me! What a long, strange trip it's been, huh? HUH? All ya'll haters doubted me. You said, "Herbalicious, you ain't BAD..." to which I replied, "Oh yeah? Well you ain't nothin'! YOU AIN'T NOTHIN!" But here I am, a full 365 days later, still going stronger than ever. I'm goin' up, up, up, and soon all ya'll player haters are gonna be shinin' my shoes. So go home and get your #&$!%* shinebox! People said, "Herbalicious, you can't find one single interesting thing to write about, let alone a full year's worth!" Well, yeah, you were right about that one, but so what? Shut up!!! I'll find something blog-worthy eventually, and when I do, you'll all be sorry. You'll say, "Wow, the H-Dawg really found something interesting and insightful to write about. Too bad he's dead now." Then ya'll'll be a sorry bunch!

I'll give you a quick preview of Year Two. Here are some things you can look forward to reading about in the upcoming year.

  • Football
  • Stupid shit that I did
  • Pictures of my newborn toddlers
  • Bad things that happened to me
  • Embarrassing things that happened to me
  • Celebrities I hate
  • How much weight I've gained
  • My iPod
  • Ju-jitsu (and other forms of self-defense)
  • Celebrities I think are hot (are your ears ringing, Jude Law?!)
  • The boys my twin teenage daughters are dating
  • How to get one side of the Rubik's Cube
  • Sneaking food into a movie theater
  • Which baseball cards will appreciate in value over the next five years
  • Movie quotes
  • An "irreverent" look at religion
  • Nutritious dishes you can make in under 40 minutes
  • A tribute to Lance Bass
  • Cats (The animal, not the musical, silly!)
  • My soon-to-be annual pledge drive
  • World leaders Pat Robertson wants to assassinate now
  • Rants against the evils of corporate America and the way that big business runs our country
  • Crossword puzzles I've actually finished
  • Rappers to which I give mad respect

My very first full year of blogging! Good lord, I hope I don't screw it up!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Spammers are D0uch3b4gs

Sometimes I get bored and click on the "Next Blog" button at the top right-hand corner of this page, which whisks me away to some other random blog by some other random blogger. I find it interesting to look at snippets of other people's lives, even if I don't know who they are.

Most of the other blogs are not that interesting. (Of course, I'm sure most of them would say the same thing about mine.) Many are "Here are 43 pictures of our new baby! All pretty much identical!" Some are political, usually leftist, but sometimes very conservative. Some are just random pictures of oddities or funny images (these are usually my favorites). Some consist of "Well today Tyler had a tummy-ache and my husband got home from work late and ..." No matter the content of these blogs, at least they're real.

Let's face it, blogging is really a very masturbatory exercise. It's more or less a web page about yourself, no matter how self-deprecating it may be. [Cough, cough] But that's okay. Blogs are the new chat rooms. They allow us to connect to our friends and other people all over the world and see through the small windows they open up to us. They are good for sharing opinions, getting things off one's chest, and especially for posterity.

But of course, a bunch of assholes decided they would take advantage of the democracy that is the internet and fuck it up for everyone.

Whenever a new technology comes about, you can count on two things: the porn industry will be the first to exploit it, and some dickhead "entrepreneurs" will try to overload people with advertisements.

This spam stuff is so much worse than the commercials you see on TV or even at the theaters before the movie starts, because they pretend not to be ads. At least when you're at home watching "Joe Millionaire" or some such thing, when they go to commercial you know it's a commercial. You know they're trying to sell you something, and since you have this understanding with the advertiser, you are open-minded to their product. We all know the rules of engagement here.

But spammers and e-tailers have no such candor, no such desire to alert you of their desire to sell to you. How many emails do you get every day for anything from C14L1S to a mortgage? I get maybe 10 emails a week from actual people I know, and the rest (closer to 20 a day) are from companies desperately trying to get my credit card number or some other information from me. And they're almost never selling actual products, most are just trying to get information so they can steal your money and run off with it. Many are overseas, mostly in third world countries, so it's hard for the government to track it or stop it. Still, it's amazing how rampant this criminal activity is.

It's bad enough that half the random blogs I visit are in different languages, but a good 25% of them are ads for something. Ads for real estate, or to buy books or t-shirts or prescription drugs or a new cell phone or your "free" credit report (which was also a goddamn scam). But they are just a bunch of nonsense. They offer no content, no insight, nothing interesting to read. Just a bunch of cheap bastards who decided they didn't even want to spend the advertising money to put an ad in the paper and instead decided to set up a free blog. But when you're hitting the "Next Blog" button, this is equivalent to commercial breaks, but much more dishonest.

I'm glad the internet is free, but isn't this just taking advantage of a good thing. These assholes always have to ruin it for everyone.

What's even worse than having the blogs set up, though, is the new trend of getting comments on blogs from these ads. And it's not just "Drink Coke" or "Check out my website." Instead, it's something like this:

I really liked your blog. I have bookmarked it. You made some really good observations. I read a lot of blogs and yours is one of the best!

If you are interested in finding out more about the Timber Industry, click this link!

The fact that these people are trying to put forth the impression that they are just "someone who was passing by" when they it's really just some dickweed who loaded some kind of program to scan through blogs and leave these comments. The disembodiment of the source of the ad is Grapes of Wrath-esque.

[Amusing aside: Clicking on the "Next Blog" button led me to a site where it was some woman telling very graphic sexual stories. Honestly, I ended up there unintentionally. Seriously. Anyway, it was very very graphic with a lot of salty language. So, there was a comment on one of the stories that said something to the effect of: "This is a great blog. I am going to bookmark it for sure! If you want to learn more about the holy word of God and his son Jesus, click this link!" So classic.]

The worst part isn't so much the dishonesty, but that it's clogging up the internet with useless bullshit, as usual. Instead of getting real folks' real blogs (regardless of quality), we get a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, interrupting the natural flow of the internet.

Since the government can do little-to-nothing about all this, what's the solution? Old-school, Wild West justice.

I propose this solution: if you find a blog site like this, go to the "Comments" section, and leave one of the following comments...

  • "This site stole all my credit card information and used to to buy drugs."
  • "This site supports terrorism and I have proof."
  • "This site gave over $100,000 to the Ku Klux Klan in 2003"
  • [Create your own slur here.]

Better yet, if you see a link like that on your or another person's blog, follow the link and see if you can leave that comment on their site.

Why? Because, as Dave Chapelle once said, Fuck 'em, that's why.

Most of these people don't bother checking their blogs anyway, so it's not like it will come back to bite you. Plus, what these people are doing is the very essence of dishonesty, so what moral high ground do they have?

Wouldn't it be magnificent if the entire blogging world could unite to outspam the spammers? To fill up the mailboxes of these wretched people who fill up ours? To punish those who punish us with their attempts to further blur the line between truth and advertising? If every blogger did this only five times, we could make the snake eat its own tail. At least I think so.

I am hooked up with "SpamPoison" which uses computers to try and overload the robots with phony email addresses. You can get hooked up with it by clicking here .

Also, if you ever happen to meet a spammer, beat the living shit out of him.

South Park Me

The sad part is that it's so much handsomer... Posted by Picasa

Go to THIS SITE and create your own. It's all in Danish or Dutch or some such crazy language, so you have to look for "Exklusiv" then "SP-Studio" then "South Park Studio" and then "English." The rest is pretty delf-explanatory.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

In Defence of Rap

If you are anything like most caucasian people in the United States of America, you probably hate rap music. You are not wrong, you have probably just been misled. When you think of rap (or "hip-hop," as the term was coined by Natalie Merchant many years ago, though I will be calling it "rap" here because there is less typing that way), you probably have the following images:

  • Large-breasted, large-bottomed women dancing shaking their large breasts and bottoms.
  • Lots of gold teeth.
  • Large cars.
  • Matching white suits.
  • Guns.
  • Fish-eye lenses and weird camera angles.
  • Gobs of jewelry.
  • Fancy people drinking champagne.
  • Slow motion.
  • Lyrics about big breasts, cars, guns, money, big bottoms and drinking champagne (or "Cris").
  • Lyrics that don't make any sense or are untelligible.

But you're wrong!

You, Cletus and Clementine Q. American, have been sold a fraud. Yes, most rap sucks, of course. But most of any musical genre sucks too. We only get what they give us. It's nearly impossible to find good music in the current musical climate, for a couple of reasons:

  1. MTV and radio are garbage and will only play the same crap over and over instead of rotating different artists and/or songs.
  2. The record industry punishes oddball and niche artists by trying to get them to become more mainstream (it's happened to every major musical artist since the dawn of time, look it up).
  3. Music media latches onto certain artists and promotes them. (I like Spin magazine, but how many times can they mention Dashboard Confessional, Interpol, the Killers, the Libertines, Death Cab for Cutie, etc., etc., etc before I'm starting to wonder if this is new-Millennial payola.)

So rap, when you look at it in the grand scheme of things, is hardly in a different category. I think it gets a bad ... uh... reputation because it separates itself from other musical genres more easily than many rock acts. For example, few would say that someone like Iggy Pop is typical of rock music, because he is but one facet of the large, diverse rock pantheon. But even a learned music listener may discern that Li'l John is typical of the average rap act, which is just not true.

I'm not saying that you should like rap music. In fact, one of my great maddening pet peeves of music criticism is the way that mainstream (usually white) music journalists give rap -- even obviously shitty rap -- a free pass. Maybe it's a desire to seem more "credible," or just more open-minded to the rap-listening contingent (or maybe it's just a ploy so as not to get shot by Fiddy Cent), but it's sickening that no rap album gets less than a "B-" or a "6/10" in any mainstream music magazine. Are you seriously telling me that some Ying-Yang Twins album is a "B+"? I'll slap you in the mouth!

If you want to hate rap, please feel free. But know what you're hating. Just as one would scoff at putting, say, Nickelback in the same realm as, say, U2, don't put Eminem in the same category as Aesop Rock. (And if you even have any clue who Aesop Rock is, I'm already seriously impressed.) All rap is not the same.

Let's debunk four main myths about rap music together, shall we?


This contention has always amused me. People who say this have clearly not heard any rap since 1986. Gone, dear friends, are the days of one hollow drumbeat and a simplistic rhyme scheme. Condolences. Nearly every modern hip hop song uses some kind of musical accompaniment, be it a sample of another song or some godawful synth. Again, feel free to hate it, just know what you're hating.

Is it not music because there is no singing? Look at any kind of instrumental music, like jazz or techno. There is often no singing there, and hardly anyone could categorize it as non-musical.

Is it because there is sometimes no melody? Listen to the song "Shotgun" from Jr. Walker & the All-Stars sometime. Find the melody for me. What you are hearing (and what is so great about the song) is the groove, with a jazzy saxophone riff. Music is not always about melody, sometimes it's about a pulse. (Please note that I have no knowledge of musical terminology or nomenclature, so you will often find me not quite able to say what I'm saying.)

Find me one song in rap music that is not "musical" in one way or another. You can't do it.


You are probably thinking of a lesser rap artist such as Sean "Puffy" Combs (I'll just stick with his first name from a decade ago rather than play along with his pathetic ever-changing persona) or another such artist who would simply take a small snippet of a popular and obvious song (usually from the disco-era, but not always) and loop the instrumental over and over so the song essentially became a remake, not a rap song.

Look no further than "Puffy" himself, and his versions of "Every Breath You Take", "Kashmir", "I'm Comin' Out", "Been Around the World", etc, all in his off-key sing-song style. You can hate this if you want. I hate this. This is stealing.

But most rap music does not perpetuate "Puffy"'s propensity toward plagiarism. Most rap music does sample, yes, but with a few key differences. Firstly, "good" rap (for lack of a better term) uses obscure songs, ones that you won't hear on some K-Tel retrospective. Most great rap songs use samples from jazz or soul, mostly before 1975. And often, the samples are no more than 3-5 second, non-chorus parts of a song that are repeated. (These are called "break-beats," but I won't get into it here.)

The best artists not only find the most obscure musical samples (a good crate-digger won't even have to cite the source of the clip), but often fashion the sound in a way by which even someone who has heard the song will not recognize where it came from. It is the manipulation of one or several sounds to create a brand new composition, usually having no sonic similarity to the original.

This is a far cry from the wholesale hijacking of pop music that "Puffy" and the like have been trafficking in since the mid-'90s. Hate "Puffy" if you like, don't hate sampling.


This myth comes from the fact that the popular rap music right now is the "club" rap music, like Nelly, 50 Cent, Li'l John and all that other Crunk shit. When young people are in a club, they tend to have sex on their minds, and therefore they listen to the music that makes them feel sexier. What better way to make people feel sexy than to constantly talk about sex? This is why "Hot in Herre" was such a hit: it threw out all subtext and actually had the lyric, "It's getting hot in here / so take off all your clothes." And who says romance is dead?

But it's not just sex. Indeed, violence and materialism also run rampant. Much talk of guns, jewels, cars, money, sex, etc. But you know what? You will probably find that in any Motley Crue video too.

When people satirize rap, or try to illustrate the stereotypes associated with it, they still say things like "bust a cap in your ass" or some such thing. Again, hate to tell you, but the phrase "bust a cap" probably hasn't been used in a legit rap song in 10 years. And no one calls each other "G" either.

The truth is, there is much rap music out there that does not fall into the traps of negativity. Now most rap is not kittens and clowns, but there is much of the genre that does not fall into hedonism. There is, believe it or not, creativity to much of it. And there is a breadth of subject matter the further you go underground.


This is the most insane argument of all.

I want you go to and write a rap song. Make it three verses, and make it good. It's much much harder than you think. It takes talent.

Is it because they don't sing? How is being able to sing a talent, really? Isn't it more than a gift. Some people are not born with a good singing voice, but it doesn't mean they shouldn't try to make good music. Some good singers have bad voices, but still make great songs.

Is it because they don't play instruments? Mariah, Whitney, Celine and all the rest don't play instruments to my knowledge, and most don't even write their own songs. But they are never called "untalented."

There are many rap artists out there who have made it without talent, but there are musicians in every genre who have done the same. Don't hate the game, hate the players.

I'm not trying to get you to like rap, in fact I hate most of it myself. I know it would be a futile attempt anyway. I know, for example, that no amount of persuasion could make me like country music, a genre that I detest almost as much as I detest Oprah. But I know that there is some good country (or country-ish) music out there that I actually like, like Johnny Cash and, well, some others I can't think of right now. But I know what I hate, which is pretty much any country music made in the last 20 years.

And knowing is half the battle...

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Am I Cultured Enough For You? (or "Can You FEEL Me?!")

In 2002, Rolling Stone Magazine came out with a list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. I wanted to see how my collection stacked up with the supposed pantheon of 20th Century music. Turns out I have exactly 99 of them in my possession, that's nearly 20%. Not too shabby. The number of these I have actually purchased with my own money is a mystery that continues to baffle authorities.

1) Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles)
3) Revolver (The Beatles)
5) Rubber Soul (The Beatles)
6) What's Going On (Marvin Gaye) +
10) The White Album (The Beatles)
12) Kind of Blue (Miles Davis)
13) Velvet Underground and Nico (The Velvet Underground) %
14) Abbey Road (The Beatles)
15) Are You Experienced? (The Jimi Hendrix Experience) #%
19) Astral Weeks (Van Morrison) #
23) Innervisions (Stevie Wonder)
25) Rumours (Fleetwood Mac) %
29) Led Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin)
34) Music From Big Pink (The Band) #
36) Tapestry (Carole King)
41) Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (Sex Pistols)
43) The Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd)
45) The Band (The Band) #
47) A Love Supreme (John Coltrane) %
48) It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (Public Enemy)
58) Trout Mask Replica (Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band)
63) Sticky Fingers (The Rolling Stones)
65) Moondance (Van Morrison) #
66) Led Zeppelin IV (Led Zeppelin)
69) Superfly (Curtis Mayfield) %
70) Physical Graffiti (Led Zeppelin)
75) Led Zeppelin II (Led Zeppelin)
86) Let It Be (The Beatles)
91) Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)
94) Bitches Brew (Miles Davis) %
96) Tommy (The Who) %
102) Giant Steps (John Coltrane)
110) The Bends (Radiohead)
118) Stand! (Sly and the Family Stone) #%
128) Marquee Moon (Television)
133) Ready to Die (The Notorious B.I.G.) %
134) Slanted and Enchanted (Pavement)
135) Greatest Hits (Elton John)
137) The Chronic (Dr. Dre)
144) Straight Outta Compton (N.W.A)
145) Aja (Steely Dan)
148) Deja Vu (Crosby Stills Nash and Young)
149) Houses of the Holy (Led Zeppelin)
154) The Low End Theory (A Tribe Called Quest)
162) OK Computer (Radiohead)
173) Something/Anything? (Todd Rundgren)
176) Rocks (Aerosmith) %
177) One Nation Under a Groove (Parliament/Funkadelic)
187) So (Peter Gabriel) +
193) Dookie (Green Day) +
206) Tea for the Tillerman (Cat Stevens)
207) Ten (Pearl Jam) +
210) Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (Pavement)
217) Licensed to Ill (Beastie Boys) %
219) Loveless (My Bloody Valentine)
227) Paid in Full (Eric B. and Rakim) %
228) Toys in the Attic (Aerosmith) %
238) Can't Buy a Thrill (Steely Dan)
239) Let It Be (The Replacements)
246) The Shape of Jazz to Come (Ornette Coleman)
248) Reasonable Doubt (Jay-Z) %
253) Trans-Europe Express (Kraftwerk) #
259) Crosby Stills and Nash (Crosby Stills and Nash)
260) Buena Vista Social Club (Buena Vista Social Club) %
266) Quadrophenia (The Who) #%
274) Mothership Connection (Parliament) %
292) White Light / White Heat (The Velvet Underground) %
293) Greatest Hits (Simon and Garfunkel)
297) Weezer (Blue Album) (Weezer)
300) Fear of a Black Planet (Public Enemy)
305) Odelay (Beck)
309) Nothing's Shocking (Jane's Addiction) +
314) The Velvet Underground (The Velvet Underground) %
320) Pink Moon (Nick Drake)
326) Disintegration (The Cure) #
328) Exile in Guyville (Liz Phair)
336) Superunknown (Soundgarden) +
341) Play (Moby)
346) 3 Feet High and Rising (De La Soul) %
364) American Recordings (Johnny Cash) #
367) Is This It (The Strokes)
385) Pretzel Logic (Steely Dan)
386) Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers (Wu-Tang Clan)
390) Elephant (The White Stripes)
397) Rain Dogs (Tom Waits)
400) Illmatic (Nas)
403) Radio City (Big Star)
419) Dummy (Portishead) %
435) To Bring You My Love (PJ Harvey) #
438) Number 1 Record (Big Star)
440) Sea Change (Beck)
442) Boys Don't Cry (The Cure)
444) Criminal Minded (Boogie Down Productions) %
455) Synchronicity (The Police) %
459) Strictly Business (EPMD) %
468) Elton John (Elton John)
477) The Score (Fugees) %
478) Radio (LL Cool J) %
497) Yo! Bum Rush the Show (Public Enemy)


#: Listened to less than 5 times
%: On Cassette
+: Rage's, not mine

Interesting* trends:

  • 5 Jazz albums
  • 6 Beatles albums
  • 17 Rap albums
  • 16 '90s Pop/Rock albums
  • 3 albums from the 2000s
  • Most recent album: #390 (2003)
  • Highest rated Rap Album (entire list): #48
*Not actually interesting

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Best Show on TV

Your ass better start watchin' it this season. Do yourself a favor and rent the Season One DVD. You will likely buy it when you are done. If Home Improvement could last like 7 seasons, surely you all can help Arrested Development out.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Medical studies have shown that a person can have a stroke from constant fake-smiling in a disingenuous manner.

All that charisma wasted...looks like the Pats are going to have to find a new heart and soul of their defense.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Fare Thee Well...

I always liked Travis Henry. One of the unheralded running backs coming out of the 2001 draft with the likes of Deuce McAllister, Michael Bennett and LaDanian Tomlinson, Travis had a workman-like quality that I thought was admirable.

Now one of the most overused cliches in all of sports is that Buffalo fans are "blue-collar." This is a pretty condescending phrase, I think. I know people mean it like, "These people are real," but what it really means to me is, "These people are not really bright, so they have to work blue-collar jobs." You never hear anyone say something like, "Los Angeles Lakers fans are white-collar." It's stupid.

But maybe blue-collar is the best way to describe Travis. He's a good runner inside, legs always churning, never giving up. He gets yards where there aren't any. He doesn't have blazing speed, but he's a good cutback runner, and a decent receiver out of the backfield.

Travis Henry

He was the Bills' MVP in 2003 (as voted by his teammates), and it was well-deserved considering he played with broken ribs and a couple games on a bum leg. Fumbles a little too much, but an excellent player.

But I have to say, I always thought his attitude toward Willis McGahee (the Bills' new running back, and a potential superstar) was pretty poor. From day one, when Willis as drafted (some said too early at the time), Travis never was quite able to get over it. His first words on draft day were that it was a "slap in the face." It showed a lack of killer instinct. If someone is out there trying to take my job, I am gonna fight for it. It always seemed like Travis couldn't quite do it; he took a fatalistic attitude toward Willis.

Willis McGahee

In 2004, when the Bills were 0-4, and Travis got hurt, they finally put McGahee in. He had a huge game against Miami. Travis had been pretty ineffectual anyway early on, but McGahee sparked the offense. The team went on a 9-3 run to end the season. Willis is clearly the future of the team.

I liked Travis, and would have loved to see him have a better attitude. Because if he did, this could have been a pretty incredible backfield. But if you have to pick one, all you had to do was watch the Bills last year. They were a different team with McGahee in there. Not a slight against Travis, just a fact.

Travis had four solid years with the Bills, and I truly wish him all the best with the Tennesee Titans, but he's gonna have to learn to welcome competition instead of succumb to it.

Monday, July 18, 2005

A Shining Example of Inpenetrable Moral Superiority

Ken Mehlman, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, said that the "angry left" -- including (repeatedly) John Kerry, Hilary Rodham Clinton and Howard Dean -- is launching a smear campaign against Karl Rove and they owe him an apology. (Mehlman has become good at the idea of apologies, admitting that his party -- the party of Abe Lincoln -- played racial politics in 1968 to use it as a wedge issue with Southern voters.)

Claiming someone is launching a smear campaign against Karl Rove is like accusing someone of saying something inappropriate about Eminem.

It's not like Rove has done anything to earn a reputation for being unethical, is there? Oh wait theres...

  • ...the time he broke into the office of Illinois State Treasurer hopeful Alan Dixon in 1970, stole campaign stationery, and created fraudulent invitations promising "free beer, free food, girls, and a good time." Oh, but that was just a prank.(Read)

  • ...the time during the 1986 Texas governor's race when he claimed (with no proof) that his office had been bugged. No proof was ever discovered.

  • ...the time around the 2000 Republican primaries where he accused John McCain of having a black child out of wedlock (Read here, here or here, or even here) (it was actually his adopted daughter from Bangladesh, and of course the Bush camp denies it).

  • ...the time he accused McCain's wife Cindy of being a drug addict (Read)

  • ...when he publicly questioned McCain's "war hero" status (Read) (and remember, these are fellow Republicans!)

  • ...that time he was actually fired by the campaign of Dubya's daddy, George H.W. Bush, in 1992 for leaking key information to (guess who) Robert Novak about some Texas Republicans. Read here and here)

  • ...that time in March of 2001 where he, while a member of the Bush White House, successfully facilitated a merger between Intel and a Dutch company. Coincidentally, he had $100,000 in Intel stock at the time. (Read here or here.)

  • ...way back when Enron was still a working company, and Rove (holding between $100,000 and $250,000 in Enron stock), was helping the Bush White House create energy policy. (Read here here or Congressional Records, here.) Probably no conflict of interest there...

  • ...when he said that "Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," (Read) even though the entire U.S. Senate unanimously (Note: that includes Democrats too) agreed to using force (Read).

Luckily, Bush has changed his mind about whoever could have leaked the information. Instead of firing anyone who leaked any information, now he will wait to see if anyone broke the law by leaking information. Whew, wouldn't want to make a decision without having all the facts or thinking it through, woulda ya, W?

With a record of integrity and honesty that spartan, how could anyone question this man's words at face value? Anyone who would question this public servant's commitment to the truth is a traitor and should be sent back to whatever country they came from. Mr. Rove, I salute you! You make me proud to be an American!

Ken "Talking Points" Mehlman

Do not speak to this man face to face, or you may be sprayed with the constant bullshit spewing from his mouth.
 Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 16, 2005

So bad for you... Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


You will find few more fervent defenders of religious freedom than myself. I think "Under God" should be in the pledge of allegiance, I think "In God We Trust" should be on our money. I think you should be able to have a cross or Star of David or whatever you want on your own property. While I don't think that government should push religion, I think it should respect it. I think a lot of religion gets a bad rap in this country.

I think aetheists who dedicate their lives to the separation of church and state are rather sad. But...

I don't understand why when it comes to Islam -- even radical Islam -- suddenly every government official and media type wants to become the face of understanding and tolerance. When there is a terrorist attack, which are, let's face it, done by Islamic extremists lately, one of the first things government officials say is "We know that most Muslims are peace-loving people and this religion does not represent the majority of them." (Great article by Mark Steyn of the London Daily Telegraph on this.) I am certainly not trashing the religion of Islam, but I am perplexed as to why Islam gets a free pass when it comes to hate crimes.

If a radical Christian idiot bombs an abortion clinic, Christianity as a whole takes a hit. Much of the media (left and right) will attribute the act as some kind of byproduct of religion, as opposed to a bastardization of it or an anomaly. (Note: I think the Christian Right is as crazy and facist as anyone, so please don't think I'm justifying their sometimes abhorrent actions.) We never hear anyone say "the Irish Republican Army has hijacked Christianity, we realize that most Irish Catholics do not support this and are a peaceful people."

Yet, when something as horrific as the 7/7 London Bombings happens, we are so quick to defend Islam and the hate that some branches of it can sometimes produce. I am not saying that Islam is a religion of hate, but I don't see anything in the Five Pillars that mentions loving one's neighbor. Where the Ten Commandments has a bunch of "Thou Shalt Nots" (yes, some do find this off-putting), the Five Pillars are mostly about duty. Fine. But why are people so quick to defend Islam, when they would never be so quick to defend an atrocity that was borne of a different religious denomination?

If you have the Ten Commandments (including "Thou Shalt Not Kill") in front of your courthouse, you had better be prepared to take it down. But if someone from the local Mosque firebombs a subway or kidnaps a truck driver, the first thing anyone standing behind a podium will say is how peace-loving most Muslims are. I'm sure that 90% of Muslims love peace and are fine people. I don't actually know any Muslims, period, but I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt. But if we can attack the entire Catholic way of life, and (often justifiably) criticize its culture over a bunch of priestly-perverts, why can't we even call into question Islam (or at least the modern interpretations of it by fallible men) and hold Muslims and their culture to the same standard?

Around the time the latest Iraq war started, there was a massive protest in Washington, D.C. that I caught on C-SPAN. They had several people come out to criticize the war and voice their disgust. I had no problem with this. What I did have a problem with, was a certain Muslim speaker of indeterminate Arab descent, who was carrying on like a madman, screaming and yelling, thumping his fist and carrying on. His tie was flapping in the wake of his spastic movements, his unkempt hair was flying all over the place. One of the themes he kept repeating was, "Peace be unto you." I think this is a great message. I think we should all strive for peace and encourage dialogue and understanding in all aspects of life, leaving violence and confrontation as a last resort. But this man said (and I'm paraphrasing) "Peace be unto you! Islam, which came thousands of years before George Bush, was the first to say 'Peace be unto YOU!!!!'"

Anybody who knows me knows I didn't vote for Bush either time, so this is not a defense of him. But for this gentleman to suddenly come out on the side of peace in the name of Islam is like a Red Sox fan say he's always LOVED Derek Jeter because he was just traded to Boston. (Don't have a heart attack Will or Javen, this didn't really happen.) Where was this guy on 9/11, denouncing violence and spouting all the tenets of peace? Why wasn't he decrying those who committed cowardly acts of murder in the name of Allah, whom he loves so much? Maybe he was busy that day.

I really have no problem with any religious person who is sincere in their belief, thoughtful, open-minded, and pious. But what's good for the goose is good for the gander. But let's stop hiding behind faux religious appreciation. Government leaders are using this disingenuous call-to-tolerance so as not to come off as racist; it's not a religious issue, it's a racial one. Of course, maybe if any of our government leaders gave a damn about people of color (and yes, that does include you, Bill Clinton), we might have tried to stop all that, y'know, ethnic cleansing that went down in Rwanda in 1994.

There are encouraging signs that the Muslim/Arab world is starting to tire of the constant violence and terror, but signs of some leaders still justifying the attacks remain, saying that somehow we as citizens reap what our (sometimes corrupt, historically imperialist) governments sow, as if it's the West's fault. And maybe it is, but if terrorists think that the U.S. or Great Britain is suddenly going to capitulate to terrorism (as, sadly, Madrid did in 2004), then they don't understand how it works. There is no way that any government worth a damn is going to operate on a quid-pro-quo basis, terrorism in exchange for a hands-off approach.

It can't be done that way, and it should never be done that way.

You can't react in a way that rewards terrorism. The only -- ONLY -- reaction can be to squash the bee that stung ya, then go after the rest of the goddamn hive.

If Islamic extremists can say, "The U.S. is creating more terrorists by their occupations in the middle east" then why can't we say, "Terrorism is going to result in violence against Muslims and more oppression in the Middle East"? We can't say that because it's stupid, and it doesn't justify anything other than the two-wrongs-making-a-right theory. So why do we pay this kind of simple-minded terrorism-justification logic any credence?

I'm speaking in generalizations to prove a point. I'm disgusted by people who try to justify cowardly, dastardly bombings and terror attacks. I would hate to see innocent Muslims hurt in retaliation of 7/7 or 9/11, but we have the right to place blame. We have the right to be angry. And in times like this, we shouldn't feel the need to temper our anger with, "Okay, we know this isn't everybody, but...." If one fourth grader is chewing gum, the whole class puts their heads down on their desks.

We DO NOT have to accept this or apologize for being attacked. We DO NOT have to accept terror as a form of political discourse. We DO NOT have to understand terrorists or find out WHY they resort to terror. We in the West are right to criticize them, since so many in the Islamic world (even if they agree that terrorism is a horrible act) are so reluctant to do it. If we try to explain terrorism, or see it as "their only option" then we are accepting it by our rationalization. The only way that terrorists will stop resorting to violence is not by our understanding, but by our (and more importantly, other Muslims') contempt. A martyr is not a martyr if no one "celebrates" his death.

"London Can Take It". But they don't have to take it alone.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Me, Danny and Javen

Nobody Cares What I've Been Drinking while Bojanglin'

Click here for more pics.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

All Aboard the Pain Train

Okay, so here was my weekend...

(For the first leg, from Toastie's, Danny's and Jitter's early start, click here.)

Friday, June 1: Syracuse to Philadelphia

+ Willie and I leave about 10:45 for Philly. Driving is very smooth, little incident into the city itself.

+ Willie and I get lost about .5 miles away from our hotel (which would be the first of several times on this trip). We go into the airport and then end up driving around the ghettos of S.Philly for about an hour. We eat pizza off the hood of my car.

+ Willie Moe and I look for something to do, so we go to the McDade Mall in Suburban Philly. To call it a mall might be stretching it, but we use the restroom and plot our next move. While in the KMart at the mall, we find out that Sandra Day O'Connor had just resigned, and outside, within the last 5 minutes, a torrential downpour had erupted. We look out the window, and sure enough, it's cats n dogs.

+ We are soaked as we go to a McDonalds to ask to look at a phone book to call the hotel. The lady behind the counter says they don't have one. Willie calls information, where we get the address, 1600 Bertram. Turns out there are two Bertram Roads in that very section of Philly. We spend an hour driving up and down the wrong one. We cross railroad tracks while the lights are flashing and the safety arms are down: it is exhilarating!

+ We get to the hotel, open up the rooms and each take a dump. Shortly thereafter, Jitter, Danny, Jeff and Toastie show up, and boy can they make an entrance! They bring beer so we get the party started (even though I did sign that "No Parties" waiver at the front desk). Phelpsy soon shows up, then Javen (who suddenly has the new nickname G-Baby), Tucker and Dunford after that. Just the ten of us.

+ We eat some cheesteaks, change and cab it to Chickie's & Pete's where we have more beers and the most delicious cheese sauce I've ever had. We are all drunk and began singing TV theme songs (as is our specialty) outside the restaurant. We were all completely stumped on the first line of "Parents Just Don't Understand" and kept confusing it with the first lines to the opening song on "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." I was afraid we would have our Philly passes revoked. Our cabs showed up very late, and we all got back to the hotel and crashed.

Saturday, June 2: Philadelphia to Baltimore

+ We wake up, slightly worse for wear, and without food. We all drive to the park and do some tailgating with the frisbee and a few beverages. Phelpsy, while usually correct, did miscalculate the traffic, as we were to the park in 15 mins flat without any rush. He had figured that Live 8 would have brought traffic to a standstill, but it was in a different part of town. Still, better to err on the side of caution I guess.

+ The ten of us go to the Phillies-Braves game. Beautiful day. Beautiful stadium, Citizens Bank Park. Willie and Phelps get "Build-a-Phanatics." Great cheesesteak (with provolone, though Phelps prefers the Whiz) and very good beer. They had Red Hook, Anchor Steam and (oh my!) Victory Hop Devil! Where were we? A baseball game or a brew-fest?

+ Phillies win. We leave the stadium. Some weird knock-kneed guy cuts off half a dozen people on the way to the restroom, including yours truly. We get pictures at the stadium and in the parking lot, then head back to pick up cars at the hotel, then we bid a fond adieu to Phelps, and the City of Brotherly Love.

+ Straight shot to Baltimore, under 2 hours. Nice drive. We get to the hotel, where we put all our stuff and plan. We think of going to a place to eat, but the local joint is packed. A limousine nearly takes the front end off a minivan in the parking lot. We buy beer and head back to the crib.

+ We are all hungry, so we go to Ruby Tuesday's, home of the Buy-One-Get-One-For-A-Penny special/scam. We rack up huge amounts of beers, and are seated in a very reasonable amount of time.

+ The poor waitress ("...that POOOOR WOMAN...") gets the punishment of serving the 9 of us, and on her 3rd night working there no less. We are relatively well-behaved, though we do get strange looks from a group of old people. ("This man is an attorney, so you better be careful" said one in a half-joking way.) We all eat nice meats, except for Toastie and Dunford, who load up on salad. Toastie becomes jealous when he sees all the meats that he turned down.

+ Dan starts feeling badly, then stands up to go to the restroom, but hits his head very hard on the lamp hovering over his head. "Are you okay?" asks the waitress. Danny replies, "Yes, I just don't care to hit my head when I stand up." He says it out of frustration, not to be mean. However that doesn't stop the entire table from doing an impression of Dan screaming at the waitress and recreating the moment. We finally leave (probably followed by a sarcastic standing ovation from the Ruby Tuesday's staff).

+ Not everyone is feeling well, so we head back to the hotel. I am in the mood to go out, but no one else is. I get pouty and bitchy about this when it becomes clear that no one wants go to out. But I have my own reversal of fortunes when I discover the game of Dang-It! (later renamed "Frisbeer"). The object of the game is to knock other people's beer cans down with the frisbee. This would result in a "Dang-It!" where the person whose beer you just toppled would have to finish it. This led to a great evening of clean fun, though we were ordered off the front lawn of the Red Roof Inn by an angry staff member there, who threatened to call the cops. Since we're not allowed back in the state of Indiana anymore, we decided this was not a good idea.

+ We went inside, and partially, I assume to spite the man who kicked us out, got even more rowdy, downing more and more beers, and getting more and more rambunctious. We created the Uber-bed, which was the act of pushing the two queen beds together to create one giant collosal bed. Lots of homoerotic subtext going on, but nothing happened. Seriously.

+ Toastie took his shirt off and began the most hilarious pantomime in the history of the world from the outside of the hotel. (At one point, we open the door only enough to hear him say, "What do you want soundbites?" only to slam the door on him.) He did the classic "falling down the stairs" routine. Epic. This is all a little hazy but there is video available.

Sunday, June 3: Baltimore

+ We wake up for another game of Frisbeer, this time with perhaps a hint of regret. We don't all remember what happened last night, but we know it was probably less than pure. We lifted Toastie's ban on the Bob Evans chain of restaurants and chowed down.

+ We saddle up for the Orioles-Indians game. We get to the ticket machine for the train into Baltimore, but for some reason the machine won't take Dunford's coins. Thank God we got there when we did, because the line queued up pretty fast once we got there.

+ We get on the train, which takes us right to Camden Yards. It's a beautiful stadium with a lot of old-style charm. We walk the interminable ramp to get to our seats, but decide to join Danny and Jeff down in left field. We make some friends, including a guy in a yellow Len Bias jersey and a guy who shouts "Go home, Indian!" to Jitter, who is wearing his hometown Cleveland cap. Tribe beats the Birds.

+ After the game we go to Fuddrucker's for some huge hamburgers and all conversation stops. Plenty of ballgame left, gotta pace ourselves. Jeff leads us into what we think may be the belly of Baltimore's Little Italy, but we end up in a well-lit bar district.

+ We start at a sports-bar type place, which really isn't our style, but we get a table and everyone sits down. I go to the bar to try and order a pitcher or two, but the bartender never even looks at me. I stand at the bar for literally 10 minutes and not a sniff. The place isn't busy. We say F this and leave. A waitress asks, "Leaving already?" to which Danny yells, "Well it would be nice if someone would take our $^%&@!% order!" A bit harsh? Perhaps, but we all felt his frustration.

+ After window shopping a couple of pubs, including one with a 25 cent ladies night (Bouncer: "It's 25 cents for ladies only. You guys got boobies?" Javen: "In a way.") We end up at a place called Reefers (I think?), which had a sea theme. We start off drinking $2 plastic cups, but realize this might not be the way to go. The $7 pitchers were much more economical. The place suits us perfectly. We have one entire side of the bar to ourselves, there is music playing loudly, but not so loud that we have to scream to one another. Suddenly ...

+ The music comes on, and then the words: Just two good ol' boys, never meanin' no harm... Reverse dang-it. We erupt into a 9-man chorus of the Waylon Jennings classic. We then get a string of very sing-a-longable songs, which is all we need. Amazing how something like that can suddenly light a spark. We have re-railed...

+ We start racking up pitchers. One after another after another. The barkeep says he is impressed by our binging on a Sunday night. He says the record for pitchers is 25, and if we get to 25, he'll buy us a round of shots. Upon reflection, I question the authenticity of this so-called record, as the only evidence of its existence was a hand-written sign that said 25. But the gauntlet had been thrown down.

+ While it may be true we spilled a pitcher's worth of beer on the floor at this place, we racked up 30 pitchers. Thirty pitchers for 9 guys is more than three pitchers a piece. And that isn't even counting the one we ourselves vetoed because Dunford gave some to some girls at the bar. Talk about integrity! We told everybody that Toastie was getting married the next day.

+ The rest of the night is a haze. I thought I lost my cell phone, then proceeded to send Willie a text message, even though he was standing right next to me. I think I ate a slice of pizza, but cannot be sure. I think we took a cab ride home, but am not positive, though I think we did because I kept telling Toastie in the cab ride that he better treat that girl right. And Danny said to the cabbie, "I don't care how you get home, just keep it under $25." Thank God he was there. Danny also pretended to break up a faux fight between Toastie and I. Good stuff. As Will said later, "That's what you call committing to the material."

+ On a personal note, I was so bombed that I couldn't fall asleep, so I got my iPod and sat outside the hotel room in the fresh air. I was either in my underwear or pajama shorts, but I don't remember which and I didn't care. I kept playing the theme song for "G.I. Joe" on my iPod, and I don't know why. There was something soothing about it, and it made me less apt to vomiting. It worked because I didn't puke. Go Joe!

Monday, July 4: Baltimore to D.C. and back to Syracuse

+ The next day was especially painful. We split up for our last journey to the same destination. This time it's RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. My head is spinning and even a Big Mac and fries is not helping. I get disoriented and have to call Javen to ask him how to get out of our hotel complex.

+ The drive is only about 45 minutes from the BWI area to the stadium, but one thing I never even thought of was the need for cash to pay for parking. It was $10 and Willie and I were flat broke. We had credit cards and post-dated out-of-state checks, but no cash. So instead of being able to park, we had to search for an ATM. I went to a gas station, but the man behind the bullet-proof glass said they didn't have ATMs. I went to a shopping district down the street, but the man in the National Liquidators said their ATM was out of money. These places are all in a relatively not-good section of town. Finally there was a Safeway with a working ATM. When the money finally came out I felt like a slot winner at a casino.

+ We finally make it into the stadium and to our seats. RFK is one of the old multi-purpose "cookie-cutter" stadiums that were all the rage in the 1970s, but are now being replaced with baseball- or football-only stadiums (see Veterans Stadium in Philly, Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, etc). It doesn't have a tenth of the charm of the other two ballparks we saw, which is a good reason that D.C. should build a new stadium. Outstanding attendance, though.

+ There were about four Mets fans sitting a few rows ahead of us, and they were being really loud and obnoxious. They are yelling at girls and making fun of the beer vendors. Toastie started to get annoyed with them and started yelling, "Oooo, I'm so tough. I got my shirt off." Toastie and Jitter began countering every one of their cheers. So you would hear: (THEM) Let's go, Car-los! (US) Strike out, Car-los! They were pretty built dudes, but there were still 9 of us, so I wasn't too worried. Danny said to Toastie, "Dude, THEY are US when we're not hungover." While this is true, I realized that the difference is we are not mean-spirited guys, and we primarily act this way to entertain ourselves, not draw attention to ourselves. If attention comes our way, so be it, but it's a byproduct, not our goal. Mets end up winning.

+ Toastie and Will are clearly ready to head back to Syracuse. So we leave immediately after the 7th inning stretch. It's a 6 hour drive, but we find a way to make it in 8 hours, due to some clever wrong turns and bad decisions on our part. Still, the drive through Pennsylvania was much nicer than usual due to the backroads and scenery we were able to see, forgoing the usually nightmarish 4 hour death march up through Route 81. We got home about midnight. And then I started typing this.