Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wake, Noone! Awake! You are too nerdy to join with Tamburlaine!

Last night I had a dream I was in the Christopher Marlowe play Tamburlaine The Great. And I'm afraid that makes me a nerd.

Yaaarrrghh! Shiver me timbers! I be Tamburlaine, me matey!

For non-nerds, Tamburlaine was this play written in the late
1500s about this power-hungry guy who goes on a rampage, conquering town after town and king after king (even making dethroned rulers wear saddles and pull his chariot - the very notion!). He eventually takes over half of Asia on little more than moxie, and eventually dies either due to his excesses or because a God kills him or something. By the way, I have a theory that Scarface is based on Tamburlaine. It's a very similar story.

Take a Tamburlaine. Err, at The Bad Guy.

Anyway, in the dream I was one of the subjects in a village Tamburlaine conquered, and everyone was yelling at me that I must join his army or die.

"You must join with Tamburlaine!" said the nerdy villager in my nerdy dream. But I was frozen - frozen with indecision. And then - the lights went dim. I then started dreaming about
playing for the Lakers, or Maria Menounos, or something much less nerdy. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I'm glad Christopher Marlowe got overshadowed in the history books by his contemporary William Shakespeare, by the way. It sounds like he was a prick. He died young in a drunken brawl, when some guy stabbed him in the eye!

This is Marlowe. Doesn't he look like the kind of guy you'd want to stab, after he flirts with your girlfriend right in front of you at a party, like you weren't even there, then asks you for a cigarette, and you say "but it's my last one," and he shrugs his shoulders and takes it anyway? And he gets really drunk and breaks the toilet somehow, but doesn't say sorry?

And since it was the 1500s, I bet the knife that killed him totally wasn't sanitary. But even now, Marlowe haunts me in my slumbers, as his creation Tamburlaine wreaks havoc on all! Why did I post this blog again?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The science behind eating contests. Is this discussion really necessary?

An article in today's Post highlights "competitive eating." And it's a good article. Some people may recoil, but I say, if driving cars is a sport, why not eating? It takes more physical effort, I believe. And what's more American than making a contest (or a job) out of eating like a pig?

This article is funny, though, because it interviews doctors and experts and so forth to try and uncover the "science" that breeds success in competitive eating. It's interesting, but do we really want to go down this road? Is it necessary? Isn't it just a bunch of crazy people with big appetites? The article might inadvertently (or maybe advertently) prove this point. Because despite all the ruminations on stomach capacities and espogeal contractions and the satiety signal premise, what's the story's lead interview and most prominent photo? A 22-year-old Ashton Kutcher lookalike and fledgling competitive eater housing Papa John's pizzas and proclaiming "I just want to eat food, impress my friends, and win money." Duuuuuuuuude. Other not-too-brilliant highlights from the article include the chairman of the
Association of Independent Competitive Eaters offering his sage advice to all would-be combatants: vomiting is a good thing, and, uhhh, don't do this in a bar.

Our bodies are scientifically tuned machines, dude.

(On a side note, D.C. might be a burgeoning hotbed for this. Check out Alexandria's own
Sonya Thomas! She is apparently America's top competitive eater, and she weighs 105 pounds! And she's cute! Her nickname is The Black Widow! And she once ate 35 Johnsonville brats in 10 minutes! I'm getting sick just thinking about that! Ending sentences with exclamation points!)

They start 'em young sometimes. Don't you hate those overbearing eating contest moms?

By the way, AICE (or "The Ace," as I like to call it) is one of two eating contest organizing bodies (the other one seems to be the
International Federation Of Competitive Eating). What is this, boxing? And check out the guy currently on the IFOCE home page - the guy holding the turkey carcass. If that is not an athlete, then I don't know what is. You can have your cross-training and your Winsor pilates and your Gatorade Science Center. I'll take the guy holding the turkey carcass.

But I'm off the point now. The point is, why get too caught up in the medical reasoning or training methods here? It's just people with huge appetites who are willing to be gross for a living. No one ever stopped to analyze the science of why the kid who ate paste in third grade ate the paste. Aren't some stones better left unturned?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have ten minutes to eat four pounds of cow brains. Go!

Monday, November 28, 2005

My fantasy football team and my reality football team are eerily similar

My fantasy football team, known far and wide as Scorched Earth, is out of the playoff running. And so is my reality team, the Washington Redskins. But not only are both of my teams losers, they both lose in more or less the same exact way. Year in. Year out.

Both teams look good on paper at the beginning. There is talk that This Is The Year. This Will Not Be Like Other Years. If you follow the NFL, you will surely appreciate the potential talent Scorched Earth left the room with on draft day - Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Delhomme at QB; Randy Moss (who would have guessed he'd be averaging under 60 receiving yards a game??), Lee Evans, Justin McCareins, Tyrone Calico at WR; Willis McGahee, Tatum Bell, Mike Anderson, Duce Staley, T.J. Duckett at RB; Tony Gonzalez at TE; kicker David Akers; and the Defensive unit of the Chicago Bears. In late August, that feels like a winner, right? But it was not to be. We had ticky-tack injuries and mistakes, new game plans, and so forth - basically, it just didn't pan out. In other words, Scorched Earth is just good enough to get your hopes up, but not good enough to make a serious playoff run.

Same goes for the Redskins. I like Dan Daly's column in The Washington Times about this. Wilbon's Post column touches on it, too. It's like the Skins are in football purgatory, starting back in the 1997 playoffs when Dan Turk made the bad snap on that field goal against Tampa Bay. You know - about the time Daniel Snyder took over the team? Surely it is purely coincidental - Mr. Snyder, please do not vaporize me.

This past Sunday, I wish I could have put money on something like "The Washington Redskins will find a way to blow this 42-yard potentially game-winning field goal." And not just with something as mundane as the kicker missing it. Oh no, not the Redskins. All they had to do to set up the 42-yarder was stay where they were. Just don't go backward. Do whatever you had to do to accomplish that. Three meaningless runs, or a scramble to position the ball on the preferred hash mark. Throw out of bounds three times. Hey, just spike or kneel on the football if that's what it takes to get you to the field goal down. But they couldn't do it. They commit a holding penalty (a blatant holding penalty), and now it's a 52-yard try that place kicker John Hall promptly leaves short. Ballgame.

And after the game, the coaches and players make the same old maddening, milquetoast comments - we don't know what went wrong, I still really love this group of guys, we fought our hearts out, we're just a play or two away, we're staying positive, we're all "professionals" here. Well...that all sounds like loser talk to me. Where's the fire? When will the team decide as a group they've had enough of this perennial underacheiving? According to them, they've been a play or two away for eight seasons now. When's the ship coming, guys?

So that's the Skins and Scorched Earth both - snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Hey, I know that with the fantasy team, I've got no one to blame but myself. But I feel like I'd almost rather have my teams out-and-out suck than beat themselves week in and week out. In the end, the Skins and their fantasy alter ego of Scorched Earth are tough to love. So why do I continue punishing myself this way? Your guess is as good as mine.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ah, Thanksgiving - 'Tis a time for token pardonings!

Ah, yes. As Thanksgiving Day approaches, the president has rekindled the tradition once again of pardoning one turkey (check out the woman on the left in the photo - is that Harriet Miers???) from the slaughter. This hefty specimen, named Marshmallow, enjoys corn, gobbling, waddling, and pecking people. Let's give it up for Marshmallow!

Since Marshmallow is one of two turkeys pardoned (there was an alternate, named Yam), and there are an estimated 45 million turkeys eaten each Thanksgiving, that's a fairly token pardoning. But that got us here at No One Appreciates Me thinking. And we figured we might take a moment to remember other token pardonings taking place around the world this holiday season.

1) Ted Kennedy pardoning a scotch and soda.

2) GM pardoning an employee.

3) Paula Deen pardoning a stick of butter.

4) President Bush pardoning a country.

5) Kobe Bryant pardoning a hotel worker.

6) Joan Rivers pardoning plastic surgery.

7) Katie Couric pardoning a staffer who forgot the extra latte foam.

6) A hurricane pardoning America.

7) The Pope pardoning a homosexual.

8) ABC pardoning a bad television show.

9) Paris Hilton pardoning a penis.

10) An oil company pardoning a driver.

11) Creationists pardoning a fact.

12) Kate Moss pardoning some cocaine.

13) Tom Cruise pardoning some crack.

And on and on the list goes. Find your own token pardonings - there are a million of them out there. Take care, and have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

(photo credit: Photo DC)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Let's break down "The Chronicles of Narnia"

I have recently begun reading all seven books in "The Chronicles of Narnia." As you know, the upcoming movie The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is based on the first and most famous book in this series. I read the series once as a kid (and have re-read a couple of the individual books several times) and remember them as these huge tomes that were thousands of pages long. But each book is only like 100 pages! Isn't that weird? With time doing its inexorable march on my brain and so on? I would agree with what "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" Director Andrew Adamson said about it in
this interview: that "the books are kind of like the house that you grew up in, much smaller than you remembered."

Fair enough. But what's the deal now? Do they hold up for adults? Could they carry a movie that everyone can enjoy? And what's the deal with the Christian symbolism? Let's break it all down, all analytical style.

While the books are shorter than I remember, that's not to say they're not enjoyable to adults. I think one of the reasons I liked the books so much as a kid was that Lewis wasn't talking down to me. And for me, the books still hold up for that same reason - too much pandering to the kid audience would have drastically reduced their adult appeal. I must admit, though, that the quality of the writing isn't as great as I remember. Lewis isn't the most adroit person with the language (his writing is more "tell" than "show"). The good news is that his imagination and story-telling skills are strong enough to carry the books. So while they aren't as florid as other fantasy books, they're still charming and engrossing. And by the way, no way is Harry Potter ever coming into existence without "The Chronicles of Narnia." That etymology (children from "real world" entering alternate world through a magical door in an everyday place, etc.) is absolutely and strikingly direct.

Another thing I wanted to examine more closely upon my "adult" reading of The Chronicles was all this Christian symbolism I kept hearing about. I am no Biblical scholar, but upon further review it seems like the obvious ones - that Aslan the lion is God and/or Jesus and Jadis (aka the White Witch) is Satan - are more or less the only ones. I was looking for a little more allegory (there is some - a heaven, a creation parable, an Armageddon in the appropriately titled "The Last Battle," a withered city called Charn that could be Babylon or Sodom in "The Magician's Nephew," and a few others) but there really doesn't seem to be much else. The Christian stuff that is there, however, can be heavy-handed (SPOILER ALERT -- Aslan dying on a stone table and then coming back to life to save everyone? No between-the-lines on that one. -- END SPOILER). So maybe, from a Christian standpoint, what the books lack in symbolic richness they make up for by strongly emphasizing the ties that are there.

Hmmm...I don't see any parallels. Do you?

And Aslan, of course, is that main tie. A scholar wrote an interesting essay about this which is published
here. Basically, Lewis wanted readers to love Aslan, a "lovely and terrible" lion who always helps the good guys, vanquishes the bad guys, wins entire battles by himself and essentially (directly or indirectly) controls all the action. When Aslan sends the human characters back to their home, he says something to the effect of "find me in your world as well, where I am known by a different name." This other name, given the stories' small but strong Christian parallels, would of course be God or Jesus, thus (if successful) translating the reader's affection for Aslan into a kind of Christian love. I'm not saying any of this is good or bad, by the way. Just making some observations.

Judging by the interview with the movie director above, it seems as if they're going to stay true to the book, including these Christian elements. And I hope they do. If Hollywood altered these aspects to secularize the film and make it more massively appealing (which just would NOT be the Hollywood I know), it would alter the author's vision for, and thus the fabric of, the story, not to mention the story itself. And yes, I think the story is strong enough so that everyone regardless of religious predisposition can enjoy the movie and books on their own narrative merits.

In any case, I recommend people read or re-read the book before seeing the movie. It's a fun and quick read, and remains engaging after all these years. Just don't expect "literature." I don't see a ton of Christian symbolism that I hadn't already picked up, but it's still interesting to go back and read the books more closely for that stuff.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Great minds...

One brief Redskins note...following their pitiful (and classically Redskins) defeat at home to Norv "Willie Loman" Turner and the Oakland Raiders yesterday, Michael Wilbon had this to say in his Monday column:

"And since the season is now 10 games old, there's only one thing to conclude at this point: The Redskins aren't very good."

Now, if you will indulge me, please refer to the headline of
my Oct. 31 blog post.

Great minds think alike, do they not? Or, in this case, they think verbatim. Michael, might I congratulate you on your astute observation? We are the opinion-makers -- colleagues, if I may be so bold. Hah, just kidding. But either way, everyone who said I was being overly pessimistic for calling the Skins what they are (and have been for the last 10+ years), you've now got Michael "Mr. PTI, Best Columnist In the Country" Wilbon to deal with. Sorry if the truth hurts. But it looks like it's official - The Redskins Aren't Very Good! Were that it were not so. But it's so. So very so.

That is all.

"Earth to America:" Celebrities stumping for a social cause? Now I've seen everything!

So last night, TBS aired Earth to America, an all-star comedy showcase designed to generate awareness for and action on behalf of global warming.

It should have been titled "Global Warming - it's not just for tree-huggers anymore!" That was pretty much the message - that it's a serious issue affecting the health and future of the planet and everything on it. Their stance was that it's not just about saving whale migration paths or whatever - it's about heading off a planetary catastrophe. Seriously, folks. And you know what? They actually expressed that message pretty convincingly. For celebrities, anyway.

As for the show itself, it was a bit of a mixed bag.

Will Ferrell, doing a spoof of President Bush taping a "Global Warmin' Talk," was hilarious. As he always is. He's got to be the most consistently funny American comic right now, bar none. I was actually surprised that he took a stand and lent himself to an issue like this. I wouldn't have figured him for that type.

I admit I didn't watch the entire thing (Sunday Night Football was on, too, after all - what's a dude to do?), but some of the funnier spots I saw were Rob Corddy (from "The Daily Show," driving around town in a stretch Hummer), Jack Black, Larry David, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. How is it that the Seinfeld cast is STILL the funniest group on television even though they stopped doing the show like 20 years ago? (Funniest cast except, of course, for "According to Jim." But that goes without saying.)

There were some duds, too. Bill Maher was okay but actually got booed a little by the audience because he is just that outspoken. He's preaching to his own choir, and he still stirs up dissension! I don't know if that's a gift or a curse for him. Also, Cedric "The Entertainer" sucked. He came out and did his usual "I'll never understand you white people" routine. "Global warming? That sounds like some stuff for white people," he riffed unpredictably, before shocking the audience by proclaiming that black people were cooler than white people, or something like that. Country singer Faith Hill, performing Christmas songs with a global warming twist ("Deck the Halls with Hexaflourides"),was just painful.

One of the biggest Star Power Moments of the evening was a sing-along by Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, and Monty Python's Eric Idle, but it was more confusing than anything else. Those guys are so famous that they can peel a sack of potatoes onstage and people will cheer. Unfortunately for this segment, however, I get the impression that they are well aware of that.

The show was created by Larry David's wife, Laurie, an environmental activist, which is the only reason I would guess that Larry got involved (his major environmental concern? Mercury in the tuna! "What am I supposed to have for lunch?" he laments. "I can't always have peanut butter!"). But it was cool to see him in a more "stand-up" capacity. Speaking of connected, I noticed Ron De Moraes directed the special. I wonder if he's related in any way to Washington Post TV critic Lisa De Moraes. Interesting.

Anyway, I'm curious as to what the ratings will be, and how many people will sign up to "join the virtual march on Washington" at Overall, I thought the show was funny, with just the right balance of levity and "soap-box" content, even if it was unfunny in spots and was unabashedly political (but when did that become such a taboo? When Democrats started doing it?). I give the show a B.

Have a great Monday!

Friday, November 18, 2005

On Bullets and Turtles: I live for this, baby!

For me, this is the best time on the sports calendar. NFL going strong, NBA in full swing, and most importantly, college hoops kicking off in earnest this weekend! Woo-Hoo! Let's get it on!

First, the pros. Well, it was a tough loss for the Washington Wizards last night, falling to Kevin Garnett and the Minnestoa Timberwolves 109-98 in Minneapolis. I still think the Bullets, er, Wizards (typing that makes me gag) are a good team, but the T-Wolves exposed their weaknesses. Namely, no bangers in the lane (if you don't count Michael Ruffin, who I love but would classify as more of a hustle guy than a banger just because he's simply not tall enough to hang with guys like KG) and no really good on-the-ball defenders. That Richie Frahm(??) guy was draining wide open shots, and his only purpose in the league is clearly to make wide open shots. I had never even heard of him before last night, and that was obvious the second he stepped on the floor. Hey Wizards? Maybe you want to guard the guy that just camps out behind the three-point line! I love Gilbert Arenas and think he's now an All-Star lock until further notice (if fans vote the right way, of which there is obviously no guarantee), but he doesn't give his all on defense. They've got guys who can steal one every now and then, and block a shot coming over from the weak side. But they don't have anyone who just knuckles down and wills the other guy - big or small - into bad shots or a bad game.

You know who the Wizards could use, to grab rebounds and intimidate and be a really great stopper? Ben Wallace, the two-time NBA defensive player of the year and member of the 2003-2004 NBA champion Detroit Pistons. Oh, wait! The Wizards DID have him! Get this: they traded him to Orlando in 1999 along with Terry Davis, Jeff McInnis, and ESPN analyst extraordinaire Tim Legler for Ike Austin. Really? IKE FREAKING AUSTIN!?!?!?!?? I know it's easy to criticize in hindsight, and the Wizards had a totally different general manager when they made that trade, and I am now reasonably confident that the Wizards are in good hands front office-wise, but come on. Ike Austin? I remember sitting around with my pals in 1996-97, watching a raw but clearly gifted Ben Wallace and saying "we have to hold on to that guy." And we were a bunch of drunken college kids! But hey, no worries. At least Ike Austin played one season for the Wizards, averaging 6.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 19.9 minutes per game before we traded him to Vancouver for Dennis Scott, Cherokee Parks, Obinna Ekezie and Felipe Lopez. Remember those guys in Wizards uniforms? They really formed the nucleus of a lot of those memorable Wizards teams of the early 00s. You member? They won like 30 games a season? That was a good run. I'll never forget those guys.

But anyway, I'm done ripping. Hey, lesson learned, right? And last night, the Wizards simply ran into a buzzsaw in Kevin Garnett, who finished one assist short of a triple-double. I think KG must be discussed along with Wade, LeBron, Kobe, Duncan, McGrady and whoever else you want to throw in there as the NBA's best player. He won that game by himself last night - talk about putting a team on your back. I shudder to think what the T-Wolves would be without KG. But anyway, the Wizards will have more chances, and I still think and hope they're on the ups. Let's hope they right the ship against the hur-ting Nets Saturday night.

Now, on to the college game, and my tied-for-favorite sports team, the mighty Terrapins of the University of Maryland. Their first game is tonight! Can you feel it? Fear the turtle, baby! Duuh-da-da-da-da-dah-HEEEEY-YOU SUCK!

Here's the Terps'
Official Media Guide for perusal and consideration. They had a down year last year, missing the tournament for the first time in as long as I can remember. But now, they've got some seniors who are hungry for redemption, with a chip on their shoulder and a "we're-not-goin-out-like-that" attitude. Plus, key hustle guy D.J. "Dad, quit calling me for bail money" Strawberry is back and fully recovered from injury. Basically, they seem ready.

But perhaps most importantly, the Terrapins have committed a little addition by subtraction, with the welcome departure of their somewhat talented but big-headedly delusional and troublesome point guard John Gilchrist. Gilchrist and his posse seemed to think the college game was a waste of his time, that head coach Gary Williams wasn't maximizing his skills (yeah, I've heard that about Williams and not getting the most out of his players' talent - just ask Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter, Steve Blake, Walt Williams, Keith Booth...), and that he was a lock for an NBA Lottery pick. So he mailed in most of the season. When he wasn't mailing it in, he could usually be found throwing a temper tantrum. After the season, Gilchrist left college and declared for the draft. The Terps told him not to let the door hit him in the ass on the way out. Gilchrist went undrafted and now
plays in Israel, for the mediocre Maccabi Rishon LetZion. Have fun, John. Hope the pros are everything you ever dreamed they would be. And I hope you're fitting in real well in Israel. Mazel Tov!

Anyway, good luck to the Terps in their first game tonight against Farleigh Dickinson. Have a great season, fellas. GO TERPS!

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Grant Halverson)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

"Arrested Development" wasn't that funny, there I said it

I admit that I only watched the show a couple of times. But "Arrested Development," which is now getting cancelled after two and a half seasons, wasn't all that. The Emperor Wears No Clothes, I say! Although I don't really watch any TV "shows," preferring instead to keep it on ESPN, the Food Network, Jeopardy!, and my taped Bob Ross episodes, the fact that I watched the show like three times and can't remember any of the character names has to indicate something. Namely, that it was unfunny and uninteresting.

Watching "Arrested Development" reminded me a lot of watching "M.A.S.H." Big reputation, widely acclaimed, and just not even remotely humorous. With "M.A.S.H.," I couldn't even correctly guess what was and wasn't supposed to be a joke. It was like a game. I would say to myself, "okay, THAT was the joke, here comes the laugh track," and nothing. Twenty seconds later, that old guy would come in and say "what's the good word?" and Alan Alda would say "Lunch. Because I feel hungry," and the audience would break up. The stuff just wasn't funny, and same goes for "Arrested Development." The only good thing about that show was
Portia De Rossi. Now there is a truly underrated talent.

And as for the fans of the show, I got love for you. One man's trash, and so on. Just don't tell me I "didn't get it." Because, what was there to get? A rich dysfunctional family tries to deal when the patriarch goes to jail. Tantalizing. Didn't another character also get sentenced to be someone's butler? I love it when you disagree with someone on their humor, and they say "you just don't get it." Yeah, that's right. Monty Python people do this all the time. Like when The Knights Who Say "Ni!" come on the screen, that just boggles me. It works on so many levels. Or their song "Sit on My Face and Tell Me That You Love Me." I really appreciate that song's comedic layering. I actually just shot Yoo-Hoo out of my nose. But back to "Arrested Development." Yes, when Jeffrey Tambor finds God in prison and gets all new-agey, yeah - what a deep joke! I'm just guessing here - but did he flirt with homosexuality as well? Sparkling!

Now that I think about it, I guess it was the "Arrested Development" fans that I disliked more than the show. Sure wish I was an "Arrested Development" fan. I'd be a much more sophisticated party guest then. But it's a moot point now. Good-bye, "Arrested Development," appearing on the whatever channel it was you appeared on. May your memory serve as a beacon to pseudo-intellectuals everywhere. As we say in France talk, "arrivederci."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Politicians find polls unimportant - and I'm Santa Claus! I'm also to blame for Maureen Dowd's singlehood.

So this is a couple days old, but nevertheless, I thought it was big - President Bush's poll ratings are at an all-time low. It seems as if everyone is turning against him - including his own political party, which is particularly telling given the value Republicans put on being a united front and backing the president and saying things like "if you're not with us, you're with the terrorists," and so forth. It seems as if the war and its support is an issue (among others) that has reached a bit of a critical mass. I mean, when John Warner, the staunchly troops-supporting Virginia Republican, is acknowledging unease with war, you've got a major opinion shift on your hands. People are jumping off the Bush bandwagon like it's on fire.

But the reason I bring this up is to make an observation. I love it when politicians and their staffers say they don't pay any attention to polls. That's right, they don't - and the world is completely flat! We actually live on this massive saltine! Mountains are salt crystals, and those "little" holes are all the lakes and oceans! White House Spokesman Scott McClellan said, while poo-pooing polls, that they were merely "snapshots in time." Well, if the latest polls are any illustration, everyone in your snapshots has red-eye, big Scotty. Someone's taking blurry pictures of their feet. Or maybe you've just got your lens cap on.

In any case, I just thought that was funny. Yes - politicians pay no attention to polls, athletes pay no attention to individual statistics, it's not about the money, and I am, in fact, the tooth fairy. So there you go.

And in the interest of being fair and balanced, I also wanted to mention New York Times Columnist
Maureen Dowd and the preposterous premise of her new book, titled "Are Men Necessary: When Sexes Collide." In this book, she argues that men aren't attracted to women in power, and they prefer "the women who serve them." Oh - is that why you're not married, Maureen? Way to turn your personal issues into a call for a new feminist crusade. Wish I had that kind of bully pulpit. In my new book, "Is Tipping Necessary: When Empty Wallets Strike," I argue that, because I sat home and ate bread and mustard for dinner last night rather than eating out because I blew all my money over the weekend at bars and clubs, we should all band together to end the unnecessary and evil occupation of bartending. See how that works? With no personal agenda at all? Outstanding.

I'm also a little fed up with this male-bashing. I think men and women are and should be thought of as equal - so it's irritating that over the last few years, this "yes, dear" mentality has afflicted many men, with the male gender basically being perceived as either stupid, oafish, wimpy (because when we're alpha males, women want sensitive guys, and when we're sensitive, what happened to our testicles?), or just basically inferior. And Maureen Dowd capitalizes on this climate to justify her own spinsterhood. Thanks, Maureen. But no thanks. I think I'll wait for the paperback. Actually...I'm not gonna buy this at all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Autumn is a time for ponderings...and marshmallows

As the harvest is reapt and the light begins to die in the West, its golden beams as final fingers reaching to fare well the earth, I like to go camping. It's a fun time. Here are some delightful photographs of said camping weekend, out along the Potomac River in the fair Virginia countryside. be the westernmost bank of the mighty Potomac. Truly a formidable and welcome sight for many a sea-farin' bilge munky!

The time was ripe for a little "leaf peeping," as going out to look at autumn foliage is apparently known. Although, to me that name sounds vaguely pornographic. I could imagine a lot of "leaf peeping" taking place at one of those decadent CEO yacht parties they have off the coast of Greece.

Dennis Kozlowski: Interested in a little leaf-peeping?

Young Greek waiter: But of course, sir. Meet me in fifteen minutes beneath the ice statue that pees vodka.

A delightful nature walk! I really do so enjoy nature walks.

And now, we relax by the ragin' campfire, to tell stories of our ancestors and reflect back upon the dying year. And eat marshmallows. And drink beer. And wine.

It was extremely fun...just thought I would share. Thanks to Scott for the photos!

Good day to you.

Monday, November 14, 2005

A very special guest blog featuring Bill Walton

Throw it DOWN, big man! Throw it DOWN! I'd like to welcome all of you to my lovely home, as I hold court here on matters of the court. The basketball court. That's right my friends - we're talking hoops! And first and foremost, I believe I would like to express my feeling that the Washington Wizards are not only the best team in the NBA, they are the best team that has ever played basketball on this planet, as evidenced by Saturday's 110-95 win against the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.

The Bullets - or, excuse me, the WIZARDS. What a HORRRRRRIBLE moniker - have a real star now in Gilbert Arenas, who put up 43 on the league's best defense. He was GOLDEN that night, my friends. He can step out and pop the long-range jump shot. He's not afraid to draw contact in the lane, up inside among the sprawling Redwoods! And he can elevate, my friends, and THROW IT DOWN on the bigger man, proving once and for all, that HE is the biggest man, the biggest star, in the National Basketball Association.

And what is so spectacular, so very special about Gilbert Arenas and his band of merry men, is that they are learning how to play together, how to win big games. They got a taste of the ambrosia that is the playoffs last season, and they will be darned if they don't make it back again, and meet with even more success than in the previous campaign. In fact, I predict a clean sweep, my friends. You heard it here first -- the Washington Wizards are not going to lose another game this year. With Arenas and the gladiator Antawn Jamison, and the battle-tested veterans of Chucky Atkins and Antonio Daniels, and the valued role players such as Michael Ruffin, Jared Jeffries and Jarvis Hayes, this basketball team is poised to go undefeated the rest of the way as they bulldoze their way to a title. The glory, the prestige, and the athletic immortality of the Pantheon of Champions awaits them. They will take the mantle from the Spurs, who after this loss have proved themselves to be a HOORRRRRRIBLE basketball team! Just a putrid display of terribility!

But as for this Washington Wizards franchise, they are like a Jerry Garcia Band concert in 1973, for which one cannot help but get the feeling that this is a special thing to witness. One that the league, the nation, and perhaps the entire galaxy has been waiting eons to behold, my friends! So until next time, this is Bill Walton saying throw it DOWN, big fella! Throw it DOWWWN!

(celebrity voice impersonated)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Here I Come, The Chronicles of Narnia

In anticipation of the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe coming out in theaters later this year, I am gearing up to read the entire The Chronicles of Narnia series. I have not read them all since middle school. I remember The Silver Chair being my favorite, but I could be wrong. The only one I remember well (other than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. We'll see. I'm looking forward to it. It's just a lot of books. I could see myself reading these one last time, and then never reading them again.

I think these will make cool movies, but at the same time it's a little sad that Hollywood is having to strip-mine the world's great literature for blockbuster movie ideas. It's only a matter of time before we see Joshua "Hetero Keanu" Hartnett starring as Gulliver, or Ashlee Simpson in The Awakening, or some similar nonsense. I'll just turn up my nose at the very notion of this and hold out for "The Dukes of Hazzard II: The Cory and Vance Years," thank you very much.

Also, how in the hell was
Cate Blanchett not cast as the White Witch? I mean, Tilda Swinton also has that English frozenness about her, but come on - Blanchett was a slam dunk, right? Who is colder-looking than Cate Blanchett? I wonder if this will have the same effect on Blanchett that not getting Catwoman had on Sean Young. I wonder if she'll just go off the deep end and start flying around and screaming like a banshee and shooting ice beams out of her eyes and so forth. Maybe her and Swinton could have some kind of staring contest, with the winner being declared after the loser goes perfectly mad. Many interesting possibilities here.

In any case, I very much look forward to reading The Chronicles of Narnia. Third best fantasy series I've ever read (The Lord of the Rings and the highly underrated The Dark is Rising sequence getting the gold and the silver). Thank you very much, and have a delightful weekend

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Of Terrell Owens and Tim Kaine

Lots of interesting stuff going down this morning. I'll mimic the nightly news and start with the important items. Namely, Democrats Tim Kaine and Jon Corzine won the gubernatorial elections in Virginia (always a tough state to predict electorally) and New Jersey (usually staunchly Democrat), respectively. There's no question that these are big victories for the Democratic party. However, I'm not sure if I'm one of those people who sees this as a sign that the Republicans are ripe for the plucking, or whatever you want to say about it. I do think it is (or should be) a bit of a wake-up call for the White House, though. By all accounts, President Bush is in a "bunker mentality," and is essentially blaming all his problems on the media, staffers, Democrats, Patrick Fitzgerald, and basically everyone else but himself and his buddies. Hey George? Maybe it's time you took a look in the mirror and changed course a little bit instead of being so defiant and self-righteous all the time. Since it was the American people who elected you, shouldn't you be doing what they want you to do, rather than what you want them to want you to do? Doesn't it make perfect, unassailable sense, no matter what party you are in, that the President of the United States should stop taking five-week vacations in Texas and leaving ALL of the actual work to other people? How has Bush followed through on ANY of the initiatives he has personally created? Forget for a minute whether you think they are right or wrong. Look at the Iraq war, the Afghanistan conflict, the war on terror, relations with Europe, the Department of Homeland Security, Social Security reform, the Supreme Court nominations, the hurricanes, and the list goes on. Hasn't he basically fumbled every ball he's personally had to carry? Where you at, George? Be a president. Anyway, I think Tim Kaine will be a good governor for my home state of old Virginia. Even if he looks like Ray Liotta in "Goodfellas" during a bout of cocaine-fueled paranoia. He looks solid as rock. And by "solid as a rock," I mean "like he's sweating amphetamines."

Also, I would like to congratulate FORMER Philadelphia Eagles Wide Receiver Terrell Owens on his chickens coming home to roost. Lotta chickens there, T.O. He apologized, finally, to his coach and teammates yesterday (including a personal apology to Quarterback Donovan McNabb). Funny how he only felt compelled to do it when he saw his money flying out the door. Personally, I'm not afraid to say that I think Terrell Owens is an ass and is getting what he deserves. I'm sick of these fans and sportswriters who walk around all jaded, treating everyone else like they're naive, acting like no one else could last a minute "where they're from," and saying things like "look, okay? You have to understand that you have to judge T.O. by what he does on the field, not off the field." Well.....................why? Why, exactly, do I have to do that?

You never heard anyone say "Well, that Hitler, he sure was evil, but we have to judge him by all those impressive victories on the battlefield, not what he did off the battlefield." Obviously, clearly, Hitler is a million times worse than piddling Terrell Owens no matter how you slice it. But I think the point is clear. In the business world, you can be a great businessman, but nine times out of 10, if you're an ass, that's going to catch up with you. It's karma. Your chickens will come home to roost. You will reap what you sow. You will lie in the bed that you've made. There's a reason so many phrases exist for this phenomenon. And sorry, jaded sportswriter who spends more time practicing his on-camera smirk than formulating intelligent opinions, I'm judging people by their entire personality, not just by some narrow criteria you prescribe. It's my prerogative. Now go get your fu*kin shinebox.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Kevin Federline...I just don't know what to say

Federline, who is married to Britney Spears, commenting to the media on his forthcoming rap album:

"My prediction is that y'all gonna hate on the style we create, straight 2008."

Just read that over and over again...I've got nothing further.

Guy Smiley is the best Muppet, and this is NOT up for discussion!

I don't understand why Weblogs always have to talk about The Hard-Hitting Issues Of The Day, or The Latest Tomfoolery Out Of Washington, or This Is All The Crap That I Hate. But hey, I'm going to follow the trend. Because I'm a follower. And that's why I'm telling you - not suggesting, but out-and-out telling - that Guy Smiley is obviously the best Muppet of them all, and that's that. End of story.

Here's Guy when it's show time:

Pressing the flesh:


A true American hero:

Presidential material?:

An unfortunate mugshot:

How can you not get down with Guy Smiley? That is what I ask you. He is the best Muppet, and if you do not agree with me, you're a stupid moron who is just totally wrong, and who needs to shut their stupid mouth, stupid. I'm glad we're all in agreement. Jerk.

How can I be scared of something called "Google?" Let me count the ways...

Actually, I am here to defend Google today. Well, not so much to defend them as to engage their attackers. So, Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Dr. Eric Schmidt and all you suited cronies, you can rest easy! You can call off your attack vector modules and go back to your espresso and your game of ping-pong, or whatever it is you snazzy, jeans-wearing Internet neo-Tycoons do with yourselves when you're not pretending to be Just Folks. The staff here (and by "the staff," I mean "that one jerk") at No One Appreciates Me (and it's true...NO ONE appreciates me, AT ALL) is here to help.

Anyway, the latest firestorm for Google (not including literal firestorms, which may or may not secretly occur every day on the homes and families of their enemies) is
Google Print, which is a searchable database currently being built by Google which will apparently include more or less every single book ever printed on paper, scrolling, papyrus, obsidian, sandstone, cave wall or dung heap by the time it is complete. It is daunting in its scope, no question. Anyway, searchers will search for a book, and then a snippet of the text will come up, along with instructions on where the person can buy or find this book. Without going into too many details (click the link for more) writers are now upset and are suing Google to get it stopped.

As a writer, I think I can speak on this. Allow me to be patronizing for a moment, and tell you what it is we writers really think about. Just kidding - I hate it when people do that to me. Anyway, I think this is a good thing for writers. Who the hell goes to the library anymore? Why not put this stuff up for sale on the Internet? And they're only giving away a few's not like Napster where you could just download whole songs and albums wholesale. Maybe Google could work with the Authors Guild a little more, but I really don't see the big deal. Hell, maybe I'm wrong. Nah...I'm a writer! And as Albert Camus once said in a book you've never read, "writers are always right. Ya hurd? Now give me some candy."

P.S. It's really creepy when you use Google to get information about Google. All these Google pages pop up first, all eager to tell you all about the greatness of Google. It's like seeing outside the Matrix. I'm scared. I was going to post the Google banner as an image, but I thought maybe they would then erase me from existence, so that when you Googled me, it came back with "this guy is a jerk," and "silly peasant, this person never existed!" and "please stay where you are. That is us knocking on your door and we just want to ask you a few questions," and so forth. I'm not paranoid...this stuff really happens!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Wal-Mart paves the way to savings...with SOUUULLLLLLSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, a leak came yesterday. It seems that the lovable, easy-to-root-for, small and unobtrusive Wal-Mart store chain released its list of items slated for low, low pricing on Black Friday, or as normal people call it, the day after Thanksgiving. This is a way to boost holiday sales and, I would presume, help counter financial concerns in the wake of "bad press" (because, you know, their problems are the media's fault) and high gas prices, which they see as cutting into consumer trips.

Its funny that low prices are the move they are making. Heaven forbid they respond to consumer complaints! That would be unpatriotic, er, or something. To wit, in addition to cheap toys and computers, Wal-Mart plans to open 280 of its massive
supercenters, which have previously been criticized for creating suburban (and, increasingly, urban) sprawl, driving mom and pop stores out of business, busting up unions, and generally decaying the fabric of various communities and helping to make every, single town look exaaaactly the same.

Well, I'm on to you, Wal-Mart. Just for blogging this, Storm Troopers (featuring Rollback-priced rifles and Etonic tennis shoes) will now appear in my office and erase me from the grid of normal existence, relegating me to a lifetime of aimless wandering through a hellish Wal-Mart garden section, searching ironically for primroses they swear do not exist, but I could ask the manager if I want, only he's off today, but I could ask the assistant manager, but she on her break. But I do not care. Wal-Mart, we here at No One Appreciates Me cannot be silenced! Tremble in your boots, Waltons! I know all your little secrets. Including the one about how the Wal-Mart heiress
paid someone to do her homework! Do you see? Do you see the scope of my blog power? Repent, Wal-Mart! For No One Appreciates Me is on the case!

As an interesting aside, me and five other guys once spent a full eight-hour day unloading watermelons off a Mack truck at a Wal-Mart. We estimated afterward that there were 2,300 watermelons on the truck. That was a long day. But that's not why I'm mad. I just feel like Wal-Mart feels it can whitewash its transgressions with $4 coffee makers and $39 printers. And, yes, I am aware that they are probably correct in this feeling. Jerks.