Nov 28, 2007

The GOP YouTube Debate - Recap

Under normal circumstances, I’d rather staple my lips to a zamboni machine than watch another GOP debate.

However, I can't find my stapler (or my zamboni machine), so I decided to watch the YouTube debate between the Republican presidential contenders. Naturally, debate organizers think that there’s this untapped resource of deep, insightful questions amongst the American populous. In actuality, there are only three questions Americans regularly ask themselves:

1. Where are my shoes?
2. Why isn’t Natalie Portman answering my letters?
3. What was Wendy’s thinking with those commercials?

And that’s pretty much it.

So here are my observations of the debate. Some good, some... eh.

Charlie Crist of Florida is introduced as the “nation’s most popular governor.” In fact, in Florida, Crist only trails methamphetamine in popularity. His fake tan confuses Tom Tancredo, who immediately calls the INS to come pick him up.

CNN plays a montage of questions that won’t be asked, in an attempt to convey some sense of false dignity to the program. Basically, they are saying “because we’re not using a video of a guy in a bear suit playing the bongos, you should take these questions seriously.” I refuse this invitation.

Ah, Chuck Norris is at the debate. Or, should I say – the debate is at Chuck Norris?

We’re off to a rousing start, as the first video features some dope playing his guitar. Everyone on stage pretends to enjoy this nonsense, while all of America prays for the little red time bar to move faster. He takes a shot at Mitt Romney, who grits his teeth while simultaneously plotting the guy's death.

Giuliani gets the first question from a sweaty, meaty fellow from NYC who accused him of running a "sanctuary city." Giuliani and Romney trade accusations about who is more of an immigrant lover, and Romney takes a swing at Rudy when Giuliani accuses him of being a former member of Menudo. Rudy looks rattled, and Romney claims he has never even seen “The George Lopez Show.” Actually, Rudy accuses Romney of having illegal immigrants working in his mansion. No, really. That actually happened.

Another anti-illegal immigrant video from a member of Molly Hatchet. The question goes to Fred Thompson, who in high-definition looks 30% more like a living person. John McCain says he doesn’t support amnesty, but also claims that he knows a lot of people whose last names end in “z.”

Tancredo gets a shot at answering an immigration question – courting the crucial “guys who are afraid of their daughters dating a Mexican” vote. He criticizes both illegal and legal immigration. Says there aren’t any jobs Americans refuse to do. Except, apparently, be a campaign volunteer for Tom Tancredo.

Duncan Hunter brags that in California, he built a “double border” fence. This would be more impressive if there were alligators with lasers strapped to their heads in between the "double fence." He then makes the crucial mistake of messing with Texas, challenging them to build a “triple border fence.”

Huckabee is asked a question about why he supported a program to give scholarships to the children of illegal immigrants. He answers with an allegory about how he himself, as an illegal immigrant, worked his way through college.

To this point, the entire debate has been nothing but a test of who can be the toughest on immigration. We should just settle this once and for all, pull out the ruler and have a “manhood” measuring contest. I would actually give more credit to any candidate that could figure out a way to deport the Osmonds.

Ah, we finally get to hear from internet fundraising sensation Ron Paul. Actually, before the debate, it was reported that Paul’s prodigious fundraising totals were revoked as the result of a mixup with his solicitation e-mails. On the one hand, Paul now has no chance at winning the nomination. On the other hand, all of his supporters now have LaRGer peN!sEs.

Paul gets the chance to talk about one of his theories about the “tri-lateral commission,” in which the Death Star is conspiring with the International League of Justice to undermine America’s sovereignty (and make us watch the WNBA). This question moves quickly.

Someone asks a question about debt. McCain boasts that he will use a pen Ronald Reagan gave him to veto pork. Unfortunately, he carries his bragging too far, saying he would wear a jock strap given to him by Barry Goldwater while fighting excessive spending.

Next up, a question about federal spending from a hot chick on a webcam in Los Angeles. Confused, Fred Thompson pulls out his credit card.

In response to this question, the candidates take turns giving examples of programs they’d cut. Surprisingly, nobody takes a shot at FEMA, which seems like the most obvious piñata. (Wait - did I just say "pinata?" Hold on - I think the INS is at my door...)

John McCain goes after Ron Paul on the war, which causes all the commissioned Jedis in the audience to boo. It’s actually refreshing to see Paul contribute something to the race – as a punching bag for McCain. It’s safe to say that Ron Paul will not be heading up the Department of Crazy in the McCain administration.

Duncan Hunter said “Ronald Reagan.” Drink!

Romney answers a question about ethanol subsidies by saying he wants to avoid a food shortage. Since, of course, our children are suffering from just not having enough food to eat. This exposes Romney as a hypocrite, as he personally is causing a shortage in Just for Men hair coloring products.

Rudy Giuliani is asked about a scandal that has rocked his campaign – the fact that he held on to his horrifying combover until just last year.

We start with the candidate videos. Tom Tancredo inexplicably believes taking on Geraldo is like taking on Hillary Clinton. Aside from their thick, flowing mustaches, what’s the similarity between the two?

A question is asked about poisonous toys from China. Duncan Hunter says the Chinese can keep Audrey Raines in return for safe toys.

McCain’s video apparently was put together by a team of people who had to look at the instruction manual of their computers to figure out how to turn it on. Truly horrible.

The candidates are asked question about guns from a nut. Hey, another question about guns. How about that – another question on guns from a nut. Oh, by the way - has CNN told you that Republicans like to shoot guns? Well, they do!

The candidates then get a serious question about black on black crime from a father and son. Mitt Romney explains how he’s going to make sure that more families stay together. Of course, this hypothetical government program to keep families together is almost as horrifying as the problem it seeks to correct.

The crime question is a softball for Giuliani, who is itching to talk about his record as mayor. In fact, as mayor, he brags that reduced al-Qaeda related plane crashes into New York buildings by 100% in one year. Romney rebuts by saying he increased funding for DNA tests, yet my request to provide Jessica Alba with a DNA sample apparently has yet to be processed.

Ron Paul gets a question about abortion and talks about his career as an obstetrician. This means Ron Paul has seen more female genitalia than all of his supporters combined.

Giuliani strangely keeps calling Roe v. Wade “Roe Against Wade,” as if it were some sitcom debuting in CBS’ fall lineup.

A twitchy guy with a mini-beard asks the candidates if they believe the Bible literally. Giuliani says he doesn’t believe Jonah was in the belly of the whale. Ironically, the next video was from Jonah actually in the belly of the whale asking for help getting the hell out.

This question, of course, is ridiculously easy for Mike Huckabee, who’s a Baptist minister. It would be like asking Mitt Romney about hair care products. Speaking of Romney, his video is up next – and it appears that his greatest qualification for being President is that he’s exceptionally adept at rolling up his shirt sleeves.

The candidates are asked what they are going to do to better the image of America in the world. My suggestion: America should start wearing better-fitting clothes that draw the eye away from its trouble areas. And maybe wear nicer shoes.

The candidates are asked to weigh in on torture. While some of them seem sincere, none of them are willing to outlaw torture as a tool – which means terrorists will continue to be forced to watch more Republican candidate debates.

McCain answers a question about how much authority he would give his Vice President by saying he wants his VP to have expertise in a number of areas – telecommunications, gardening, operating a HAM radio, rollerblading, quilting, pilates, the periodic table, knifeplay, Excel, archery, fire safety…

There’s a question about gays in the military. Mitt Romney is challenged on a quote he gave in 1994 where he expressed hope that at some point in time gays could serve in the military, but almost falls off the stage backtracking – saying “now’s not the time.” Somewhere in America, the gay guy that was planning on voting for Romney just turned off his television in disgust.

CNN then allows the questioner to lecture the candidates for two minutes about how wrong they are, which leads to an uncomfortable scene where audience members catcall him, forcing him to stop talking and sit down. I anxiously await the next Democratic debate, when CNN allows an audience member to harangue the candidates for two minutes on abortion.

Romney said “Reagan.” Drink!

Huckabee says he’d be open to expanding the space program. This is good news, as we may finally be able to re-connect Dennis Kucinich with his family.

Rudy Giuliani lists kicking hundreds of thousands of African-Americans off welfare as a reason more blacks should vote for him. While there’s no doubt that welfare reform is a positive development, the following sequence of words have never been uttered: "You mean I now have to work for all these benefits? How do I vote for you again?"

Ron Paul doesn't know if he's going to run as an independent, but he says he went to a party once where there were a lot of "blacks" and "hispanics." Honestly, Ron Paul is more likely to pour jello down his pants than make a relevant point in one of these debates.

Obviously, there was more covered than just what's in this seat-of-the-pants post. For a full listing of questions and answers, go here.

In summary, I don't think anyone distinguished themselves. My mind's still not made up on which candidate I'm going to support. I just hope Ron Paul can set me up with some HoRNy HouSEWiveZZZ.

Nov 27, 2007

More Constituent Tomfoolery

Yesterday, I wrote a post about some of the crazy constituent letters we used to get when I worked in the legislature. Here's another one worth reading - and remember, every time you pay your taxes, some of it goes to try to help families like this:

Page One
Page Two

(Again, click the magnifying glass on the top right of the image to read it more easily.)

And despite the entertainment value, it gets a lot scarier when you realize we got letters like this all the time.

Nov 26, 2007

Rulez of the Road

Hello Everyone,

I know it's been awhile since I last rapped at ya, but it's been terribly busy lately at the Shuffhausen Clinic in Vienna. Between work and Thanksgiving travel, I’ve had plenty of time recently to ruminate about things other motorists do that make me wish I had a hood-mounted cannon on the ol’ Shuffhausenmobile. In the interest of beating the Top Ten motif to death, here is my list of the ten most obnoxious people you see on the road and how they should be punished. As a handy reference, you may wish to just paste a copy of following post on your dashboard.

The Offender: The “Thank You” Wave Forgetter
Setting the Scene: You are leaving a packed parking lot after a sporting event and cars are funneling down into the one main lane out. Being the polite person that you are, you allow someone to jump in line in front of you. The problem is he doesn’t acknowledge your good deed with a wave, smile or even a head nod. This is incredibly poor form.
Appropriate Punishment: Since the ingrate is now right in front of you, turn your brights on and keep them on until you are out of the parking lot.

The Offender: The “Lane Closed Ahead” Sign Ignorer
Setting the Scene: Since his time is much more important than everyone else’s, this guy thinks it's OK for him to skip ahead of 40 other cars who actually obeyed the sign and moved over. Sadly, someone ALWAYS lets this boor in.
Appropriate Punishment: Under no circumstances should this motorist be allowed to cut in. You must ram this offender into the rail when he tries making his move into the line. If I ran the world, the cost to repair any damage your car incurred while nudging Lane-Closed-Ahead-Sign-Ignorers off the road would be paid out of their insurance. Plus you would be given a $500 reward for your service to humanity.

The Offender: The Intersection Blocker
Setting the Scene: It’s bumper to bumper traffic with cars just creeping through green lights. Instead of waiting to make sure he can get all the way through, this guy gets stuck in the middle of the intersection after the light turns red and now he’s blocking traffic in the other direction.
Appropriate Punishment: Since everyone in their cars is stuck, pedestrians need to pick up the slack here and give the Intersection Blocker a pressed ham until he can get his car out of the intersection.

The Offender: The Ambulance Pull-Over Place-Hopper
Setting the Scene: The rule is as such: after everyone pulls over for a passing ambulance, everyone resumes his place in traffic. The Place-Hopper uses this opportunity to dangerously try jumping ahead a few spots.
Appropriate Punishment: Since his NASCAR-style moves will have gained him two whole car lengths by the time you hit the next traffic light, you’ll see him again. Hop out of your car at the light and give him the ol’ banana in the tailpipe bit Axel Foley-style.

The Offender: The Too-Late Left Turn Signaler.
Setting the Scene: Bear with me on this one. You are on a busy four-lane (two in each direction) city street. Up ahead are stop lights. At the intersection, cars in the left lane may turn left or keep going straight and cars in the right lane may turn right or keep straight. There are ten cars in the right lane and only one car in the left lane. You want to go straight. The car in the left lane does not have on his blinker so he must be going straight too, right? You choose the left lane. The light turns green and NOW he decides to put the turn signal on. Meanwhile, you are watching the ten cars on your right whiz past and you don’t even get through the intersection.
Appropriate Punishment: When you are in this situation, grab whatever is available and expendable (spare change, empty beer can) and throw it hard at this guy’s rear window.

The Offender: The Two-Parking Space Taker-Upper
Appropriate Punishment: Dig your keys into the hood of his car and carve the lyrics of your favorite Michael Bolton song.

The Offender: The F.I.B.
Setting the Scene: The next time you see some maniac tail-gaiting, swerving in and out of lanes and going 90 on the Interstate, look at the plates. I guarantee you the guy is from Illinois.
Appropriate Punishment: The Preemptive Middle Finger. Just flip off all Illinois drivers the minute you see them. They are about to do something rude or dangerous any minute anyway. Giving them the bird now just saves time.

The Offender: The Bicyclist
Setting the Scene: A member of the spandex mafia is doing 15 mph in a 25 zone in the middle of the lane right in front of you. He demands equal respect and lane space yet he feels quite comfortable creeping at a snail’s pace and ignoring red lights.
Appropriate Punishment: Being a dumb outfit-wearing, self-righteous bicyclist is its own punishment. Either he is a radical environmentalist who is “thinking globally and acting locally” or an insufferable health nut. Just know that your sheer presence in an automobile galls him either way. Plus he stinks like sweat all day.

The Offender: The Well-Meaning Crosswalk Recognizer
Setting the Scene: You are standing at the crosswalk waiting for a chance to dart across a busy three-lane, one-way street. One motorist slams on his brakes and motions for you to cross. Meanwhile, every other car is zooming by. The Well-Meaning Crosswalk Recognizer gives you a puzzled look and is clearly wondering why you aren’t crossing when he is trying to let you.
Appropriate Punishment: This person wins points for trying to be nice and technically even obeying the letter of the law, but he loses points for his lack of awareness. He’s about to get rear-ended any second by the car behind him and that will be punishment enough.

Savvy Trousers readers (and first graders) will notice now that my list is finished yet I only delivered nine out of my promised ten. That is where you come in, dear reader. Submit your favorite driver pet peeve in the comments section. I’ll choose my favorite and it shall round out the top ten.

Your Friends and Neighbors

One of the true joys of working in a state legislative office is reading some of the mail constituents send in to try to get their family members out of jail. No matter what their relative did, it can't be bad enough to justify going to prison. Plus, the judge is obviously biased. And likely is a cross-dresser. And on and on it goes.

I remember getting a letter from a guy sitting in prison who had been sentenced for having sex with a nine-year old girl. In the letter, he tried to convice us that sexual assault of a minor shouldn't be a felony, because it was consensual. He said that with television and the internet these days, nine year old girls are more mature - that nine today is like eighteen a few years ago. I dropped the letter out of my hands and onto the floor, it was so repulsive. Of course, it immediately went into the office "creepy constituent hall of fame." (When I find my scanned copy, I'll post it.)

Another office passed this gem on to me, in which a girl demands her brother be taken off the sex offender list immediately:

Well truth be told, I don't care WHAT these people think about how intelligent I am, I have something I need to say on behalf of myself, my mother, my family, my brother and all those men out there labeled Sex Offendrs that have lost their lives because when they were in high school motivated by sexual tension, peer pressure, emotional highs and the need to be accepted, they experimented with SEX... or rather, they experimented with Rape...

I am not blind to the fact that there are men out there doomed by their sickness to find children to prey on, but my brother is not one of them. My brother, has been in jail since he was 17 years old because his raging teenage hormones got the best of him and so did the state. He's being punished for being a teenager.

Got that? "Experimenting with rape" is just a part of "being a teenager." Much in the way Osama bin Laden "experimented with Jihad" in high school. (I'd love to see his high school yearbook, where his classmates picked him "most likely to start a holy war.")

Of course, it's natural to want to try to help either yourself or family members. But that doesn't mean it's not repulsive for the rest of us who managed to avoid experimenting with rape in high school.

At some point, a reporter should start randomly calling offices to collect some of their favorite constituent letters. It would amaze the public to know the types of things people write to their legislators (teachers mentioning the legislator's school-aged children by name, for example) and the types of things they expect their elected officials to fix for them. (I remember one Assembly office being contacted by a woman who said she had termites in her home. When asked why she didn't call an exterminator, the woman said "my termite problem is way too serious for an exterminator.")

These are the people that live among us. And their stories are all sitting there, in legislative office constituent files.

(Incidentally, if any staffers want to send me some of their best letters, I'll be happy to post them.)

UPDATE: The crazy constituent letters are rolling in. Click on the magnifying glass if they're hard to read. Here are two from a constituent named "Vern:"

Letter One
Letter Two

And here's one from "Ed" (the highlight of which is his CC: list)

Page One
Page Two

For another gem, see this post above.

Nov 25, 2007

Me and WisconsinEye Are Going to Fight

So last week I wrote my little post about going to the David Maraniss book signing. When I was there, I noticed that there was a WisconsinEye camera there (WisconsinEye is like the state C-Span, and apparently they cover author speeches and such).

Near the end of the Maraniss speech, I asked a question that I thought was pretty good. It even elicited a "great question" from him. I was excited to watch the video, to see if my question was a good one, or if I sound like a total dope.

I've been checking it almost hourly for a week (which has probably doubled the traffic to their website), and noticed that they finally archived it. But here's the hitch...

The video plays clearly for nearly an hour. Then finally at the 59:20 mark, you can see Maraniss turn to me to recognize my question. THEN THE FREAKING SCREEN GOES BLACK. When it comes back on, you can see him answering my question! Those sons of bitches cut me out! I am the only edit made in the whole damn thing!

My one chance to be immortalized forever, lost on the editing floor. You can watch the video here, and be sure to fast forward to the part where WisconsinEye stabbed me in the heart. It's probably more entertaining than hearing my actual question.

I hereby challenge WisconsinEye to a fistfight.

Nov 21, 2007

Friends, Booze, a TV and the Green Bay Packers

As Atomic Trousers readers know, Christian has recently asked some of his more creative friends to help him stuff his blog full of their wit and wisdom. A while back, he personally asked me if I would be interested, and I thought I would be on a consistent basis. Dedicated readers might remember I tossed out details on a springtime experience I endured while eating a burrito. Since he's now asked again, I figure I can find the time to share some memories, as they surround my anticipation for the Nov 29th Green Bay vs. Dallas game.

Anyone who considers themselves a football fan, college or pro, must have at least a few forever-memories watching their favorite team play. I've had several, and I thought I would share my top five (non-Lambeau Field) game watching experiences. I fully expect to have next Thursday's game make the top ten, especially if I can get some of the boys out of their man caves to join me at a local sports bar. Not including games I've been at physically, or the Denver Super Bowl loss, which has forever been erased from my mind, here are my top five memorable Packer games of all time:

#5 GB at San Fran in the '95 season playoffs 1-6-96

DETAILS: Watched the game with three buddies in my college apartment. The game was played in San Fran so it was a late start in Wisconsin. We got blitzed on Old Milwaukee ($14 for a case of bottles back then), and then watched the G win a big road game on their way to the Super Bowl. It was the first time in my life as a Packer fan where I had arrived.

REASONS WHY IT'S A TOP FIVE GAME: Shortly after the gun, we all got cuffed and stuffed and ticketed for a noise violation and disorderly conduct. I'm the idiot who opened the doors when the cop knocked. We had been blaring Megadeth and probably Helmet from our first-class stereo system during commmercials, which probably ticked off the neighbor ladies down the hall.

ENDURING MEMORY: Remember that Jack Palance commercial where he says, "Confidence is very sexy, don't you think?" it played every commerical break, and all of us were talking in our best Jack Palance voices the ENTIRE game. High comedy.

#4 GB at Tampa Bay at the end of the '95 season / 12-10-95

DETAILS: I was huge into gambling on football back then, even though I didn't have $100 in the bank, or a job, or a car etc. The game was late in the season, and the Bucs were junk that year. The game was a Sunday nighter (one of the first ones if I remember right) and I had the G at +4 at the tail end of a winning FOUR TEAM PARLAY. I was expecting to make close to a grand if they won and covered, but they lost by a field goal and my goose was forever cooked with my bookie buddy.

REASONS WHY ITS A TOP FIVE GAME: A few of my degenerate gambling buddies and I watched the game in a quiet off-campus bar. I had a final the following day, and hadn't opened up my books all weekend, so I had the additional stress of knowing I was primed to blow a test and lose my ass in the same week. Also, up until that point, I hadn't really developed an intense hatred of any individual Packer opponents (other than all Bear players in general), but Tampa's kicker was Michael Husted, and he was money, so after that game, I remember hating that SOB for life. A few years later Martin Gramatica took my hatred of all kickers to a new level. When he blew out his knee celebrating a kick, I think I gave extra at church that week.

ENDURING MEMORY: I remember walking up to my bookie's house the next day to pay off my incurred $700 debt in crisp hundreds, which was withdrawn directly from my student loan for the upcoming second semester.

#3 GB at St. Louis in the '01 season playoffs / 1-22-02

DETAILS: My girlfriend and I met up with two other couples to watch the game at Babe's Bar and Grill in Madison (the old location at the train tracks on W. Washington). The Pack was the second game of the day, so the booze flowed for several hours prior to kick-off. We huddled around a bar table, as the place was packed, and proceeded to order two or three massive plates of nachos during the course of the day.

REASONS WHY IT'S A TOP FIVE GAME: Simply put, it's the most plowed I've ever been in public, watching a Packer game. Not the most plowed ever, just the worst I've been in front of a crowd of strangers. I only vaguely remember the second half, though I do remember cursing Bill Schroeder numerous times, especially because he was wearing ice fishing gloves inside a dome. I also remember lecturing my friends saying "Favre's done, he's got nothing left."

ENDURING MEMORY: I still don't know how I got home, how I got cuts (lacerations really) to my face and lower back, but forever appreciating the post-playoff loss healing benefits of a stacked plate of nachos.

#2 GB vs New England in SBXXXI / 1-27-96

DETAILS: What can I say, it very well could be the highlight of my entire life as a sports fan goes. Looking back, I can't say the setting (my apartment), the company (a former girlfiend, a buddy and a couple of random people I haven't talked to since) or the circumstances surrounding my watching of the game (on a small tv, in a small living room packed with casual football fans) were all that memorable, but the day surely was.

REASON WHY IT'S A TOP FIVE GAME: Favre, Reggie, Free, Rison, Desmond, Dorsey, etc. A few months ago, me and a friend spent about a half hour talking about that game and I could vividly recall the players, the announcers, the plays, the pre-game show, and best of all, the realization when I hit the pillow that night MY TEAM WON!!!

ENDURING MEMORY: Doing my best to release all my pent up nervous energy during the game, including: vacuuming my bedroom during commercials, meticulously peeling every last morsel of paper off of each bottle of beer I drank, taking off, and putting back on, my favorite sweatshirt about 100 times, scrubbing spilled margarita stains off the couch during half-time... You get the picture. Also: enduring memory #2 is that I came really close to getting fired the next morning for coming into work hung-over and next to useless.

#1 GB at Dallas in the '93, '94, '95 playoffs

DETAILS: My lifelong, inbred hatred of all things Chicago and Minnesota sometimes leaves little room in my soul for out-and-out hatred of another team. However, back in the 90's, when the G was poised to make it to the top of the NFC, the three Dallas losses, the Thanksgiving Day loss (Jason Garrett) and the gut-wrenching Monday Night Football loss in '96 (Chris Boniol) proved just how much a football game can cause me depression and despair.

REASON WHY IT'S A TOP FIVE GAME: They are all tied for #1 because of the time, energy and emotion I put into rooting for the G and against Dallas back then. Unprecedented hatred, I suspect, that allowed me to make every game an event, every loss a heartbreak, and every coaching decision, a debate. To this day, I regret that those pansies lost to Carolina in the '96 playoffs and didn't get to come to Lambeau and have their crowns ripped off their heads. BASTARDS!

ENDURING MEMORY: That feeling that only hard-core sports fans can get of absolutely HATING another franchise, its best players, coaches, owners etc. The amount of venom and spite I had for the Cowboys in that 5-7 year span will never be approached again. I once picked a fight with a girl because she had a Dallas hat on. I once defiled somebody's car because they had a Dallas bumper sticker on. I once spent two days in Dallas on a business trip and oddly felt like I was being watched (no lie).

There you have it. As you can see, my all-time favorite Packer, non-Lambeau Field, moments involve Brett Favre (meaning I was at least 21), an assortment of friends (but no family) and loads of booze (but no drugs). Here's hoping that Thursday night's game in Dallas gets us to 11-1, at least cracks the top ten and leads to something special down the road...


Nov 20, 2007

Catching Stem Cell Fever

Huge news in the area of science today, where UW-Madison and Japanese researchers appear to have reprogrammed skin cells to act like stem cells. (Unfortunately, Reggie White was unavailable for comment.) Certainly, this is great news - and deserves the public's support.

Most interesting about the issue is Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle's reaction to the news. From today's Wispolitics PM update:

"Doyle said he is in favor of 'going wherever the science leads us' and doesn't think politicians should be making decisions on where it leads."

As a friend of mine pointed out to me today, there is no end to the horrors implicit in that quote. We should go wherever science leads us? Really?

That quote led to the following exchange, which is likely only amusing to me and my buddy.

Me: So we should go wherever the science takes us? What if we found out that eating live elderly people cured Alzheimer's? Think the politicians should make a decision about that?

Him: Alzheimer's is bad.

Me: It took you until now to figure that out, genius?

Him: No, but my grandma had it, and it was bad.

Me: So here's the question - would you eat a live elderly person if it guaranteed you'd never get Alzheimer's?

Him: I just didn't want you to understate it. Actually eating people might not be a bad tradeoff.

Me: It would be kind of hard, since they'd be yelling so much. They'd be all like "don't eat me, I'm on a fixed income."

Him: I'm sure if science can cure Alzheimer's, they can figure a way to get them to pipe down a little while you're eating them.

Me: Just make sure the politicians don't get involved.

Him: Do I have to eat the bones, too? Kind of hard to eat bones.

Me: Let's just say for the sake of argument that the bones don't have the anti-Alzheimer's agent. But in order to save your life, you better lick those bones clean.

And on it went, figuring out the logistics of how exactly that would work. Gross? Yes. Tasteless? Perhaps. But it shows the absurdity of just blindly following "wherever science leads us." Personally, I'm holding out hope that the new stem cells help me lose weight. Then science might lead me to Culver's a little more often.

Frankly, Doyle has to secretly be a little disappointed at this news. Now, in the next election, he won't be able to accuse his opponent of wanting children to die of diabetes.

Long Live the Chopstick

Both regular readers of this blog can probably remember when I went ballistic about the Bucks drafting Yi Jianlian. (For the purposes of this blog, he will heretofore be known as "The Chopstick," since I'm already tired of pronouncing his last name. This is no less shameful than Jim Paschke pushing "The Cowboy" as Desmond Mason's nickname on us for a decade.) I accused Larry Harris of trying to order Chinese food and accidentally drafting Yi. I said we should send him back to China in exchange for Audrey Raines.

I am here to announce that I was wrong. The Chopstick can play. He can shoot, he's shown good defensive skill, and he's willing to mix it up around the basket. I am man enough to admit that I overreacted.

That being said, there were some reasons for my skepticism. They were, in no particular order:

  • The only footage of Yi consistently shown during the draft was a video of him working out against a chair (prompting Bill Simmons to nickname him "Chairman Yi"). This didn't exactly inspire confidence, as he was unwilling to work out against objects that you don't sit on. I would have felt better if they at least put him up against a washing machine.
  • I understimated the extent to which the Bucks think Charlie Villanueva is total garbage. In looking at the Bucks roster, it looked like the last thing they needed was another pillow-soft forward that refuses to enter the three point line. As it turns out, they had no confidence in the one they already have.
  • My love affair with Corey Brewer got the best of me. He seemed like exactly what the Bucks needed - a mean-spirited, tough defending three man who could shoot and knows how to win. At draft time, they had not yet signed The Cowboy (ugh! I mean, Desmond Mason), which helped them in that department.
  • Yi refused to work out for the Bucks and said he'd never play in Milwaukee. I was skeptical that Larry Harris could intimidate the same country that invented fireworks, but they finally acceded. Maybe the Bucks just brought too intimidating of a chair to the Chopstick's workout, and he decided to lock them out.

  • It seemed like drafting Yi was a marketing ploy, rather than a basketball decision. Sure, Herb Kohl wanted a piece of that China pie. Who wouldn't? But if you're looking to foster better relations with China, tell them to stop poisoning our children and leave my favorite NBA team alone.

At the time, these were all valid reasons. But they all indicate what a dope I am. So I apologize to the Bucks, to Senator Kohl, and to Bango and his family.

That being said, it appears that the Bucks still won't be very good. And let's not start pleasuring each other just yet - Yi has years to go until he reaches his potential. They won't be as bad as last year, when they obviously tanked the last 20 games of the year. But Andrew Bogut needs to just go Bill Laimbeer-style and start pounding people. Give the team some interior toughness that other teams fear. Start some '80s era-style fistfights. If anyone talks to him, tell him that's my tip.

Ribbed, For His Pleasure

Recently, a controversy has broken out in California over whether inmates should be provided free condoms, to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Supporters of the program argue that prisons are becoming breeding grounds for disease, while opponents say that sex in prison shouldn't be encouraged. Only one state, Vermont, and five cities regularly hand out condoms to inmates.

This may surprise some people, but I'm actually closer to siding with the pro-condom people than I am the program's opponents. One of my main objections to "free condom" programs in schools is that people who accept the freebies could just as easily have gone into a store and bought them. They have that option. (In college, you could go down to the clinic and get a pack of 50 free condoms - and they were industrial strength, about a half inch thick. You might as well be wearing a space suit. Mostly, we used the clinic for large amounts of free Robitussin, but that's another story.)

Yet in prison, I'm not so sure that's the case. They can't just run down to Walgreens and pick up a box of rubbers. Maybe some prisoners can have a family member bake some condoms into a cake or something. Even if they were made available for sale within a prison, who is going to use what little money they have to buy them? You think a prisoner in for life is going to forego buying a pack of smokes for some condoms? We're not exactly talking about long-term thinkers here. While one inmate may not be getting out for the rest of his life, an inmate to which he gains entrance may be back out on the street in a year.

However, according to the AP story:

Prison officials contend that condoms can be used to conceal drugs, and law-and-order politicians scoff at what they depict as a step that would encourage both consensual and coercive sex.

"Coercive sex." Is that what it's called? I can say with almost 100% certainty that without "coercive sex," I wouldn't have two kids. Maybe it's more like "nagging" or "begging" sex.

Furthermore, whether or not the state "encourages" sex among inmates, it is happening. (I know this from the time I spent three years in the joint for plagiarizing passages of Judy Blume's "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret" in my Master's Thesis.) And it's not the state handing out condoms that is forcing these guys into having sex - it is more likely the thought that they will never see another live female birth canal.

I'm not saying that I'm 100% on board with this plan - naturally, I'd normally be on the side of the anti-condom people. Certainly, there are questions as to whether a man who is willing to rape another man in prison is going to be responsible enough to use a condom. I just think there are some extenuating circumstances here that could be addressed. Even if a few more inmates are protected, we're all better off. Either taxpayers can pay for a box of condoms now, or treating an AIDS patient in prison later.

Nov 19, 2007

A Special Thanks... parents who send their kids to day care while they're sick. Due to your thoughtfulness, my son was throwing up on Friday, my daughter was throwing up on Saturday, and I was made to hug the toilet on Sunday and Monday.

Once your kids get sick, it's almost like a zombie movie - you know you've been bitten by a zombie, so you just have to sit back and wait to turn into one. By Saturday night, I was resigned to my fate. And sure enough, I haven't been able to eat anything but a banana for three days. Fortunately, I was able to work my way through the entire first season of "Friday Night Lights," which is a spectacular show.


UPDATE: Today is my wife's turn to be sick. The germ is now an outstanding 4-for-4 in our family, making it the Ryan Braun of viruses.

Nov 16, 2007

The Doctor is Dead to Me

Those of you who follow this blog pretty regularly know that I've been at this blogging thing for a while now. For three years, I've stayed up late, slaving away on hundreds of posts. Some of them I happened to think were pretty good. Some of them got some local recognition (of which I am always appreciative).

With a couple of big work projects coming up, I decided to pass posting duties off to a couple friends who I knew had some good ideas. Naturally, the first post by Dr. Emil Shuffhausen immediately hit the national blogs, courtesy of Tom McMahon. As of Friday afternoon, the post had been featured on The Conservative Grapevine and The Corner at National Review.

So, in about 3 hours, Dr. Shuffhausen got about the same number of readers that I get in three months. The total is at 6,000 hits and counting. Therefore, I now officially hate him and and I hate his ass face.

Morrissey has a song called "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful." I may spend the rest of the day listening to it, assuming I can hear it with my head in the oven. I'll keep telling myself not to be bitter - all the way until my car is underwater in Lake Mendota.

Estrogen Level Raised to Red

Anyone with a Y chromosome would be well advised to steer clear of the Alliant Energy Center in Madison this weekend, as the Madison Women's Expo rolls into town.

One of the featured speakers at the event is Jenny McCarthy, who most people know rose to celebrity as a Playboy playmate. Nothing says "woman power" more than showing off your great wax job to teenage boys. Furthermore, there are these nuggets on her resume:

  • A sketch on her MTV show centered on her character, a well-coifed business woman, answering the question of "What did you have for lunch?" by forcing herself to vomit all over a table (which she then ate on-screen). The direct contrast of McCarthy's reputation as a sex symbol and this often grotesque humor is closely associated with her image. This image was taken to a new extreme in her film Dirty Love, which featured McCarthy's character sitting in a massive pool of her own menstrual blood.[10]

  • In a February 2006 interview with Howard Stern, adult actress Jenna Jameson said she had two sexual encounters with McCarthy.[11] When McCarthy visited Stern's show in April 2006, she denied having sex with Jameson, but said she "made out" with her during the two encounters.

Funny - her official Expo bio doesn't mention any of this.

Apparently, McCarthy will be talking about her new book about having a child with autism. Let's hope her book does some good for kids - although it probably has a lot to do with getting her reputation back.

Nov 15, 2007

David Maraniss at Sequoya Library

I went to see Pulitzer-prize winning author David Maraniss at the Sequoya public library tonight. Even got a couple books signed. Naturally, I was the youngest person there by 30 years.

Above is a picture of me telling him about how I bought my Dad his "When Pride Still Mattered" book about Vince Lombardi for Christmas - then received the very same book back from my Dad the next Christmas. He had actually forgotten I gave it to him in the first place. It's one thing to "re-gift." It's entirely another to give the gift back to the same person that gave it to you. Anyway.

Madison is infinitely lucky to have ties with such a talented writer. I've read several of his books, and he is widely considered to be in the upper echelon of American non-fiction authors. The detail he provides in his books is a wonder to behold - the only way he can rationalize such thorough research is that he's completely crazy. But we are all richer as a result.

During his presentation, he answered a good audience question with an interesting point that I hadn't really considered. He mentioned how difficult it will be to do research in the future, given the lack of a paper trail left by electronic communications. He mentioned looking at over 40 letters written by Bill Clinton to his grandmother during his college years, and how invaluable they were to his understanding of Clinton during those years. Today, that communication would most likely be done via e-mail, and not readily accessible.

On the one hand, that may be true - but there are plenty of benefits to the internet age, as well. Documents often can be found with the click of a button - and nothing ever goes away completely. In fact, I'll be saddled with the crap I've written for the entirety of my adult life. That and my unibrow.

I actually asked a question during the Q&A period. It was about how much detail he uses when he describes a certain battle in "They Marched Into Sunlight," a book about the competing interests in the Vietnam War - part of which is set in Madison. I couldn't believe that many of the soldiers there recalled the battle in such vivid detail, and wanted to know how he got them not only to remember, but talk about it to him. He said he relied on documents created right after the battle and on interviews. Honestly, I don't remember much because I was nervous and my hands were sweating a lot.

The whole event was a fundraiser for the new Sequoya library, being built at the corner of Midvale and Tokay on the near west side. So give them money and stuff - asking them to raise private money is a good thing for taxpayers, but it means individuals have to step up and give.

A WisconsinEye camera was there, so I'll post a link to the video when they make it available. Then you can hear my dopey question.

Nov 14, 2007

Bask in Bumper Sticker Wisdom

I regularly have occasion to drive on Madison’s isthmus, which is home to the worst liberal bumper stickers on the planet. Below, I have listed the top ten most egregious. I originally planned on ranking them from least to most obnoxious, but that was simply too difficult. Therefore, we have a ten-way tie for the title of Most Obnoxious Bumper Stickers I Have Seen In Madison.

“COEXIST” (spelled out with various religious symbols) - If some of the followers of the religion represented by the crescent moon “c” on your cute little bumper sticker would stop hijacking planes and blowing up buildings, coexisting would be a little easier.

“A PBS Mind In a FOX News World” - This particular bumper sticker is positively oozing with smugness. “God, I can't stand being surrounded by these Wal-Mart-shopping, NASCAR-watching, deer-hunting troglodytes. How can these country-fried rubes allow themselves to be spoon-fed White House talking points from Bill O’Reilly? They must not be smart enough to enjoy watching some dusty old Brits mumble through a clunky drama on PBS like I am.”

“Live Simply So That Others May Simply Live” - The airheads with this little chestnut on their bumpers are confusing simple wordplay with incredible profundity. This bumper sticker sounds really deep until you realize that a.) it doesn't mean a damn thing and b.) the dork in your office who asks if you’re workin' hard or hardly workin' is making an equally clever play on words.

“Bush/Cheney 1984” - Because the Bush Administration has turned America into an Orwellian dystopia where a totalitarian government throws thought-criminals into gulags. Earth to the under-30 crowd that has this sticker on your bumpers: the Patriot Act is for keeping tabs on terrorists. The feds don’t give a damn about eavesdropping on your phone conversations about ultimate Frisbee.

“Pro-Child, Pro-Choice” - I’m for the kids, but I’m also for aborting them willy-nilly too. This bumper sticker has the intellectual consistency of “Pro-Ants, Pro-Raid."

  • A close runner-up in the worst abortion-related bumper sticker goes to “Against Abortion? Don’t Have One.” (Against Robbery? Don’t Rob People!)

  • Dishonorable mentions: “Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries” and “Keep Your Laws Off My Body.” Ugh.

“Health Care Is A Right” - Says who? This one perfectly captures the entitlement mentality of liberals. I am owed whatever I want and someone else is going to pay for it.

“Defend America, Defeat Bush” - On the list of Threats to America, I would rank “Terrorists” in first place and “President Bush” in 436,957,647th place just below “Crabgrass.”

  • Runner-Up in the worst I Hate President Bush Category: “Bush Knew.” That one is so positively unfair I don’t even know where to start.

“Defy Corporate Domination” - I spotted this gem on the rusty bumper of a Honda Civic on November 8th. Chances are you have never heard of Honda, but its a small automobile-making co-op based out of Mazomanie.

“Remember Katrina. Fight Global Warming” - Fight it with what? Nunchucks? Me attacking global warming like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, you driving a Prius or the U.S. signing the Kyoto Protocol all have the same effect on changing the earth’s temperature: zippo. I started mocking all the angles on this bumper sticker and it started getting too long. Look for a thorough dismantling of the fraud that is human-caused global warming in a future post.

“Peace Through Music.” - Trouble in the Sudan, you say? Send in State Street’s bongo-playing hippies. They’ll calm things down. Al-Qaeda insurgents wreaking havoc in Iraq? I’m sure Mr. Johnson’s fourth-hour band class can get in there and straighten things out.

There you have it. The ten worst bumper stickers I've seen in Madison. Got an entry of your own? Post it and your pithy retort in the comments section.

Picking Up the Trash

I had some friends in town this past weekend, and we decided to relive the old days and hit the bars. We were at the Come Back Inn pretty late - and about bar time, an extremely drunk young woman came over and sat next to me. What follows is our entire conversation:

Drunk Girl: "Are you married?"

Me: "Yes."

DG: (Pointing to a girl standing near us ) "Is that your wife?"

Me: "No."

DG: "Is your wife here?"

Me: "No."

(Long pause)

DG: "Wanna make out?"

Me: "No."

She gets up and leaves.

I mention this only because it's such an anomaly. Seriously, it could have been anyone in my chair and the conversation would have been identical.

As a word to the wise, if something like this happens, you may think it is funny, but your wife will most certainly not. Even if the point of the story is that you are responsible. It's almost like car accident laws - you're partially to blame just for being on the road. Just by being at a bar late, you might as well be wearing a sign that says "now accepting applications for drunk girl tongue-action."

Nov 12, 2007

In the haus

Doing his part to address the scandalous shortage of anonymous loudmouths spouting off online, the Artist Formerly Known As Dennis York has invited a handful of guest bloggers into his Trousers. I would like to thank both of Christian’s readers for letting me in on the fun.

The Magic of YouTube

Yesterday, I posted the YouTube clip of my TV appearance from last week. As avid YouTubers know, when you finish watching a video, it provides some links to "related videos."

Here is one of the videos that is somehow "related" to mine. Please enjoy "Sexy Cats" by "Cutewithchris."

Nov 11, 2007

Here and Now: Protecting Our Workplaces

Here's my Here and Now commentary for this week. It discusses the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act, which prevents employers from considering arrest or conviction record when making hiring or firing decisions. I could go on for hours on this topic, but I only get 90 seconds.

As a side note, I have to give a lot of credit to the folks at Wisconsin Public Television - they have never prevented me from saying anything I wanted on the air. Every now and then, they'll make a suggestion with regard to clarity, but they've never edited content - even when it's clear that they think they're putting a lunatic on the air.

I know public broadcasting takes a beating from conservatives, but I can say that in my experience, the people at WPT have been a joy to work with. And the fact that they give me the occasional outlet to speak my mind shows that at least on the state level, they are looking for some kind of ideological balance.

Nov 10, 2007

Even Better Than The Real Thing

The folks at College Humor have created the "unaired" 1994 pilot for 24.

It's meant to be a parody, I'm sure, but it's actually better than any 3 minute segment in the last two seasons of 24. Enjoy.

Nov 9, 2007

Quiet! Genius At Work In Minnesota

There’s stupid.

There’s Love Boat stupid.

And then there’s this.

It’s not like the Minnesota Vikings organization doesn’t have enough strikes against it already – terrible weather, an awful stadium, a clueless head coach. But now they’re the team that fines you for going to your grandmother’s funeral.

I’m sure that will be a big part of their sales pitch to free agents in the offseason:

"It's 45 below here, we play on concrete floors under a huge trash bag ceiling, our coach has more mustache than brain and we've shut down our employee sex boat daytrip program. Oh, and if someone in your family dies don't even think about paying your respects or it will cost you a game check. So would you like to sign with us for five years or six?"

Karmic justice demands the Packers win on Sunday by at least 3 touchdowns.

SATURDAY UPDATE: The awesome power of Atomic Trousers strikes again. The Vikings are giving Troy Williamson back his game check.

Nov 8, 2007

Al Bundy Retires To Miami

One of the most annoying annual traditions in the National Football League generally takes place in South Florida some time in October or November and involves a bunch of old men and several bottles of champagne.

No, it’s not an AARP special at the Doll House in Ft. Lauderdale, it’s the fawning media coverage given to members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins when the last undefeated team in the NFL loses its first game of the year.

The 1972 Dolphins are the only undefeated championship team in the modern era of the NFL, capping off a 17-0 season with a win in Super Bowl VII. Each year when the last undefeated team in the NFL falls, members of that team celebrate and get their 15 annual minutes of fame when TV crews cover the “story” of a bunch of old guys drinking champagne. Hooray.

Many think the 9-0 New England Patriots represent the best chance since 1972 for a perfect season. They won their first eight games in decisive fashion, scoring more than 34 points in each contest and outscoring their opponents by an average of more than 26 points a game. They won their ninth game last Sunday with a fourth-quarter comeback on the road against the undefeated defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts.

Perhaps feeling his legacy and his record threatened, Don Shula – the coach of the 1972 Dolphins – made news this week by saying that if New England runs the table, history should mark their accomplishment (which, with a Super Bowl title would be a 19-0 season) with an asterisk because New England head coach Bill Belichick was busted earlier this season violating NFL rules prohibiting teams from videotaping opposing coaches giving signals.

I have but one thing to say to Mr. Shula: “Shut up and go away, Al Bundy.”

Shula and his fellow 1972 Dolphins are guilty of the oldest and saddest failing of former athletes – refusing to leave gracefully. (Note: this does not apply to former Dallas Cowboys, whose oldest and saddest failing is getting caught with 213 pounds of pot in their car).

Did New England’s coach cheat? Yes.

Did he get caught? Yes.

Did he get punished? Yes. (The NFL fined Belichick $500,000 and stripped the Patriots of their first-round pick in the 2008 draft).

Do Belichick’s actions have any impact whatsoever on what his players have been doing each week on the field? Hell no.

All Shula has done with his recent comments is reveal himself to be the saddest sort of sports legends – the kind who won’t let go. Like Al Bundy getting himself through the day by flashing back to his high school glory on the gridiron, Don Shula obviously lives for that day each fall when he gets to wax poetic about his 1972 title and bask in the glow of a few more minutes of sports relevance.

Needless to say, I am rooting for the Patriots to complete a perfect season, if for no other reason than to get Al Bundy and the rest of 1972 Dolphins off my TV for good.

But perhaps Shula’s desperation to stay in the spotlight is understandable. After all, it was the Belichick-led Patriots who broke the 1972-1973 Dolphins’ record of 18 consecutive wins when they won 21 straight games in 2003-2004 and the Dolphins organization Shula once led has become the laughingstock of the NFL.

Miami is currently winless at 0-8, starts some guy named Cleo at quarterback and many of the same experts who think New England has a chance to go undefeated this year believe Miami could make history of their own by losing their last eight games and finishing the year winless.

One of those last eight games will be a trip to Foxboro, Massachusetts to play the New England Patriots. Yes, the same Patriots their legendary former coach ticked off by suggesting the use of a typographical symbol to preserve his own personal place in history. As a result, what was likely going to be a run-of-the-mill 45-3 Patriots rout could well rival the historic 73-0 beating the Chicago Bears put on the Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL title game. Thanks, Coach!

In addition to a perfect season for New England, I’m also rooting for a perfect season for Miami – 0-16.

The last NFL team to go an entire season without a win was the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Ironically, for my purposes, the closest they came to a win that year was a 23-20 loss to the Don Shula-coached Dolphins). Maybe someone will send a TV crew to film members of that Tampa team popping open the bubbly in celebration if Miami succeeds in supplanting them as the worst team in NFL history. And maybe someone will ask Don Shula to comment – we know he loves seeing himself on TV.

A FINAL WORD ABOUT COACH SHULA: I do wonder how he balances his ownership of a chain of steakhouses (you can see his website here, including a welcome video of footage from a contest to see who could eat a three-pound steak fastest) with his role as a celebrity weight-loss pitchman for Nutrisystem. Even if New England knocks his perfect season out of the record book, he’ll still hold the title for undefeated celebrity dietary hypocrisy, no asterisk needed.

UPDATE - THURSDAY MORNING: Don Shula is evidently a reader of Atomic Trousers. Moments ago, he started the damage control/backtracking on ESPN Radio. Kneel before the power of this blog!

Nov 7, 2007

There Goes The Neighborhood

The regular host of Atomic Trousers contacted me to ask if I'd be willing to provide the occasional dollop of content to pick up the slack while he devotes his time to the jet-setting world of punditry and shopping for sweater vests.

I am more than happy to oblige and accepted his offer before he could sober up.

So thanks to his laziness and busy schedule, you'll now be stuck with me every now and again. Look for my first official offering to this interweb thingy tomorrow morning.


Brand Spankin' New Format

Due to my multiple time commitments (getting my back waxed every other day takes a long time), I have asked a few colleagues to start chipping in here at the blog. I've always wanted for this to be a more inclusive, collaborative-type thing, and hopefully the new posters will fill your insatiable craving for new content better than I can by myself.

Unfortunately for all of you, I will still be popping in occasionally to post. So keep reading. Should be fun.

Nov 6, 2007

Here and Now, November Edition

If you have nothing better to do on Friday night or Sunday morning, then I respectfully request your attendance in front of your television to watch "Here and Now" on Wisconsin Public Television. Please RSVP and bring a tuna casserole.

For the very few of you who aren't regular viewers, "Here and Now" features a rotating cast of commentators at the end of the show, of which I am one. Here is another:

Nov 5, 2007

Nick Drake: A Skin Too Few

One of my favorite hobbies is sitting around the house and bitching incessantly about what a cultural cesspool MTV is. Is there really no market for a music television station geared towards people who have actually read a book?

Thus, imagine my surprise yesterday when I flipped by "MHD" (the MTV/VH1 high-definition channel) to see they were playing a little-known documentary about one of my favorite musicians, Nick Drake. Very little is known about Drake, as he rarely played live and never gave interviews. No video of him in his adult years exists.

Drake began making albums in England in 1969 as a 21-year old. He recorded three outstanding albums that went virtually unheard during his life. In 1972, suffering from debilitating depression, he moved back home with his parents. In 1974, he overdosed on depression medication, killing himself.

It was only after he had been dead for a decade that his music was discovered and widely distributed. In the documentary, his sister points out that he often felt unappreciated because he was making these great albums that nobody was listening to - and that may have contributed to his withdrawal from the world. It's ironic that he finally began receiving the credit he deserved well after his death - a death brought on, in part, by the lack of appreciation he felt. Since his death, his albums routinely show up on "best all-time albums" lists, and he is frequently cited as one of the most influential musicians in modern music.

Aside from being such a sad story, it still amazes me how his music came to be known essentially as the result of a fluke. Here you have a musician who thought he was too talented for the world in which he lived - and it drove him to his own death. And yet many of the songs he recorded alone, on a tape recorder, nearly 40 years ago now resonate with listeners across the world. It's almost possible to see the hole in music created by his death, that will go unfilled.

Through the magic of YouTube, the documentary "A Skin Too Few" can be seen at the following links:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Just a warning: not exactly the most uplifting of films ever created.

Also, some fans have set up a MySpace page, where some of Drake's songs can be heard.