Jan 31, 2008

Who is Looking Out for the Stupid?

I often see ads for movies that there's no chance I'd go see, but rarely have I had as visceral reaction as I did when I saw the commercial for "Meet the Spartans." It looked like the most offensive, bottom-feeding dreck I'd ever seen. Making fun of gay spartans? Genius. Throwing a Britney Spears look-alike down a hole? Comedy gold!

Here's a commercial. Prepare yourself to be the opposite of entertained:

As it turns out, the movie is the epic piece of trash it appears.

But lo and behold, guess what the #1 movie of the weekend was? That's right - "Meet the Spartans" checked in at $18 million, slightly ahead of the similarly cerebral "Rambo." I think it's safe to say that if you had $8.00 and chose to spend it on "Meet the Spartans" over "Juno," "There Will Be Blood," or "No Country for Old Men," you should be eligible for a government-subsidized lobotomy.

So obviously, stupid people are drawn to this movie like moths to a flame. And the studio is more than willing to take their money. So my question is this: Who is looking out for the morons?

The nation's economy is about to go in the tank because of the housing crisis - mostly caused by people who were unaware of the terms of their mortgages. Apparently they were absent in math class the day math was taught. In any event, banks are being vilified for "preying" on these simpletons - for offering them the chance to own a home, which they couldn't do under the terms of a standard mortgage.

I see no difference between that situation and "Meet the Spartans." Hollywood throws out nauseating garbage like meat to the wolves and rips stupid people off. Americans (mostly young, I would hope) spent $18 million to see this trash, when they could have been saving up for college. Actually, scratch that - I can't say that with a straight face. The kids seeing this movie aren't setting foot near a college campus.

I just hope everyone has the same animus toward movie studios as they do mortgage bankers, for stealing money from these people. There are no good guys in this story.

This post also gives me the chance to display this, which is kind of funny:

Jan 30, 2008

Cutting Down Religion

It appears the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee is a little strapped for cash these days, so they have to cut $3 million from their budget.

I have to say, this is a little spiritually unsettling. You don’t normally think of religions as having to deal with the normal constraints of modern day life – after all, God created the world – you’d think the bank might cut him a little slack. (Or God could try the old "mail the phone bill to the gas company and vice versa" trick that worked so well in college.) So it's hard to think of something so sacred and powerful having to deal with real people problems. It's like recognizing that Natalie Portman occasionally has to poop. Anyway.

Seeing as how the Church is in charge of my post-life accommodations, I thought I'd pitch in and offer a few cost-saving techniques to help them out:

1. Eternal salvation now accompanied by $20 processing fee;

2. Number of times you’re allowed to take the Lord’s name in vain capped to rate of inflation;

3. Partial insertion no longer a mortal sin;

4. Confession now accompanied by two-drink minimum requirement;

5. Smaller rosaries, quicker penance;

6. Archbishop hat size reduced by 30%;

7. Fire in; brimstone out;

8. Guilt-free Thursdays;

9. Members of the same sex can marry, as long as they’re not gay;

10. Communion now features Thunderbird fortified wine;

11. Baptize three kids at once, get the fourth free;

12. God orders sub-prime mortgage loan on the Vatican forgiven;

13. 15% tax on bad comedian jokes about growing up in Catholic household;

14. Catholic schoolgirl uniform must be returned by strippers after third use;

15. Basilica renamed the "Hooters' Christ Hut;"

16. Details of Vatican scheme to control the world's money supply sold to the Weekly World News for $100;

17. Coveting neighbor's wife legal with the purchase of any two Pope Benedict pilates videos.

That's it. That's the list.

As a "thank you," the Church may now begin paying me my long-overdue Altar Boy pension. I spent years ringing those damn bells, it's payback time.

UPDATE: As it turns out, this post belongs in the "Bad Timing Hall of Fame," given today's revelations about past priest behavior in Milwaukee. Nothing funny about any of the documents released.

Jan 29, 2008

Adrien Brody is Causing the Recession

I know, I know - we're not in a recession yet. But I have pinpointed the reason why the economy might be slowing down. I lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of actor Adrien Brody.

You may have seen Brody in his various movies, including his Oscar winning role in "The Pianist." He can most recently be seen in the snoozefest "The Darjeeling Limited." (Random fact: Brody is 13 days older than I am.)

There's no easy way to put this, so I'll be direct. Adrien Brody doesn't have what you would consider "typical" leading man looks. In fact, it was a mistake casting him in "King Kong," since his nose made the monkey look small by comparison. He's gaunt and greasy, yet for some reason women find him alluring. (Apparently, he was #21 on VH1's "100 Hottest Hotties.")

For ugly white guys, Brody's presence in movies is a breakthrough. He's like the Jackie Robinson of the ugly. If they ever made a live action film about Heckyll and Jeckyll, he wouldn't need any makeup. But the guy triggers more ovulation cycles than Clomid.

But this has the chance to cause all kinds of problems with the economy. Suppose us ugly guys get all cocky about Brody's success. Suddenly, we all think we have movie star looks - fat guys, bald guys, short guys. All of a sudden we'll lose all motivation to do the things that we do to overcompensate for those shortcomings. We'll stop buying expensive cars to distract women from our baldness. We won't work as hard to accumulate wealth in order to coerce the ladies into thinking we're worthwhile. The price of beard hair coloring dye will reach $100 a barrel, causing a national crisis in ugliness. We won't start new businesses and hire more guys with excessive nose hair looking to make money. The ugly market will implode.

In order to stop this madness, Congress needs to take action immediately and sequester Adrien Brody. Stick him in the undisclosed bunker with Dick Cheney. Furthermore, we need to elect Mitt Romney president, in order to restore the proper level of handsomeness to the White House.

Wisconsin's Ready for Its Close-Up

Last weekend, I ventured out to see the outstanding "There Will Be Blood" at the local moving picture house. The movie depicts the travails of ruthless oil baron Daniel Plainview around the turn of the century. Interestingly, the theater broke out in guffaws when it was revealed that Plainview's character hailed from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. As everyone knows, Fondy has a strong reputation as a breeding ground for homicidal oil barons.

It was just a few weeks before, in the movie "Juno," that I heard a song by Kimya Dawson ("Tire Swing") that mentioned Madison. Again, muffled chuckles within the theater.

These two movies, of course, have both been nominated for Best Picture Oscars this year. And both, apparently, have some sort of spiritual connection to Wisconsin.

Of course, it could just entirely be coincidence. But it does seem that over the years, Wisconsin has gotten some pretty notable shout-outs in big movies. This includes the highest-grossing movie of all time, "Titanic," where Leo DiCaprio's character claims to hail from Chippewa Falls.

It's apparent that there's something about Wisconsin that appeals to screenwriters. It almost seems that Wisconsin represents "the place people are supposed to be from that represents their simple upbringing." Being from Wisconsin is supposed to tell us something about a character without the screenwriter having to go into detail about the person's past.

Okay, so I'll just go off the top of my head here - a character in the British movie "Love Actually" takes a random flight to Milwaukee to score chicks. In "Reservoir Dogs," one of the back stories involves a guy who's a big Milwaukee Brewers fan, so the characters deduce he's from Wisconsin. The movie "A Simple Plan" was filmed in Ashland, but I can't recall if the movie is actually set there.

Before I blow a brain vessel, it looks like OnMilwaukee.com noticed the same thing a couple years back. Here's a more complete list of Wisconsin on the silver screen.

Crazy Constituent A-Go-Go

Seeing as how this blog is now the repository (or suppository, depending on how you view it) of all the Legislature's crazy constituent letters, let's keep the mojo going. From January 23rd of this year:

Dear Wisconsin Legislators:

Wisconsin is the home of the greatest consumer fraud in the history of American marketing. The Wisconsin governors and legislators were partners in this horrible crime. Over a trillion dollars has been stolen from the American motoring public. False advertising and misrepresentation was the successful factor.

The chemical responsible, dicoco dimethyl ammonium chloride, was developed and manufactured in Janesville, Wisconsin. No chemical company was able to duplicate it. Our company worked with the chemists who invented it at Varney Chemical Company in the early 1960’s. Now owned by Degussa Chemical and very recently sold to Econik Company. Our company is very familiar with the history as we were directly involved.

The product is a drying agent that causes beading with kerosene. Butyl cellosolve, a deadly chemical is added for blending. One of many deadly chemicals sprayed on the public in car washes.

Our company refused to sell it as a wax although it became popular through a Wisconsin chemical company who called it spray wax. It sold for 50 cents and a wash sold for only 69 cents. It stormed the national industry without any warnings.

We entered the market with our Carnauba Wax called HOT WAX™. Shortly after we captured the market, Turtle Wax entered with a brush wax charging the public 4 times our product with their kerosene product. The brush failed to work so Turtle Wax continued its high price kerosene calling it polish wax.

The public bought it in large numbers through false advertising because of the Turtle Wax name. They dominated the paste wax market for many years. The key ingredient in the paste wax was Carnauba Wax.

Carnauba Wax is dielectric, which means it prevents rusting. Today Turtle Wax makes the most money selling kerosene. A judge ruled they must add, “does not contain Carnauba Wax” to their advertisings.

A federal judge, in our company’s case, against Turtle Wax embarrassed our company’s lawyers by screaming that they threw spaghetti on his wall. Because of this remark no lawyer would take any of our cases against car wash criminals. The judge put us out of business.

Criminals had no fear of cheating the public. They have gone wild stealing over a trillion dollars from the public in car washes. Many businesses are now using the car wash as promotion for a large number of consumer frauds. Huge companies and large marketers have entered the market.

If we had an honest government this would not have happened. Please challenge any of my statements. Wisconsin Administrators and Legislators owe the American people the trillions of dollars stolen from them because they supported and promoted this huge crime.

There are volumes of data available for your review to substantiate our statements
Crime always continues when governments profit. If you do not act now – this crime will never stop. You owe it to the children and families who are sprayed with these deadly chemicals.

As a citizen of Wisconsin we herby demand that you immediately act to protect the public and stop acting in favor of the criminals.

Truly yours,

Name Withheld

Jan 28, 2008

Boiled Frog and Taxes

Certainly, you have heard the parable about the boiled frog. The story alleges that a frog can be boiled alive if the water is heated slowly enough. It is said that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will never jump out.

I'm not sure if this is true, but then again I've never been able to test it. My second-grade teacher made it very clear to me that I shouldn't conduct any more animal experiments after I tested my ill-fated "Can the class hamster survive on a week-long diet of Skittles and Mr. Pibb?" hypothesis.

Anyway, the point of the boiling frog parable is that radical change scares people and doesn't work. Turn up the heat on them slowly and they'll never notice.

Government understands this. Income tax and Social Security taxes are withheld from your paycheck. You never even had your money in your hand so you never miss it.

And when the government wants to spend more of your money on something, it's always presented as, "for just nickels a day, we can have an awesome light rail system everyone will, like, totally use."

Furthermore, we get all giggly when government sends us our refund checks in spring, even though that is just the government equivalent of getting your change back from the clerk after buying a stick of beef jerky with a five dollar bill.

So why are our pots starting to bubble? It's because a whole heckuva lot of people out there think the government should be doing everything for everyone.

Here's an example: school breakfasts. 50 years ago, it would have been unthinkable that the school would be feeding kids their morning meal. Today, we're crowing because we just handed out 4 million more free school breakfasts this year than we did last year. Since it's the school's responsibility to make sure some kids eat breakfast and lunch, can dinner be far behind? The logical extension of this nanny-statism ends with the lunchlady knocking at my grandkid's door with a pudding cup for his midnight snack. Yeah, yeah, nobody wants kids to go hungry, but is it really so outrageous to suggest that parents be responsibly for feeding their own kids?

So we have a situation where government is doing for people what people should be doing for themselves and the taxpayers footing the bill are barely noticing. We're inching toward full-fledged socialism without even realizing it.

There is only one solution to reverse the trend - we need to change the law to make it so we have to pay all of our taxes at once. And when I say "all taxes" I mean all taxes. Federal. State. Local. Income. Sales. Property. Alcohol. Smokes. No withholding. All at once.

You made $40,000 this year? You owe $15,000 in one shot. Pay up. Your family income is $100,000? Your check for $38,000 is due right now. You're a pack-a-day smoker too? Better tack on another $650.

Your giant tax bill is due one week before the general election.

Imagine if that is how we did it. Heads would explode. The beauty of having to pay taxes this way is that it would sure get the conversation started about how much is enough when it comes to government spending.

Maybe it IS worth millions each year for state government to consistently overpay for a ton of land to keep it out of the hands of private owners. Maybe it IS worth county government to have union employees who primarily cut grass to be on the payroll in February. Maybe the $16 billion we pay NASA to keep an eye Uranus for us is worth it. But maybe it ain't. I'm even willing to have the debate on stuff I think we should spend a ton of money on, like national defense.

If this pay-it-all-at-once plan doesn't get us to jump out of pots, nothing will.

Deep thoughts on taxes on the way...

Todd: "Daddy, what do taxes pay for?"
Ned: "Oh, why, everything! Policemen, trees, sunshine! And let's not forget the folks who just don't feel like working, God bless 'em!"

The Simpsons, "The Trouble With Trillions"

The Real Obama Girl

My wife has devised a scheme to get me to watch the kids more often - apparently, the more she watches them, the more likely this is to happen:

That's right - after his big win in South Carolina this weekend, it appears that my children are swept up in Obama Mania. Probably not the "youth vote" that he's counting on. But this tactic just might be enough for me to offer to watch them more often - to set them straight.

On the other hand, if Obama can get them to eat their macaroni and cheese, he might just get my vote.

Jan 23, 2008

A Healthy Dose of Spite

It appears that the decision of Christopher Hitchens (my favorite contrarian) to quit smoking originated here in Madison, Wisconsin:

In an interview with the Financial Times published last week, Hitchens casually announced he'd quit smoking: "I got up yesterday morning in Madison, Wisconsin, and I just threw my pack away," he said. New leaf for the new year? Turns out the interview took place last fall; he actually kicked the habit in October and has been smoke-free for three months.

How? "Fear," he told us. "I had smoked enough in my life."

Actually, we find out from his wife what his real reason was:

Why? "He wants to live," said his wife, Carol Blue. "Live to see his political enemies defeated."

THAT I can appreciate.

Chris Rock on the 2008 Elections

I remember this being on about a year ago - but it certainly is prescient. I was reminded of it by my mom, of all people:

Jan 21, 2008

Remembering 1/20/08

Boy, that one hurt - and not a little bit.

After the Packers lost to the Giants last night, I jumped in the car and just drove around the beltline here in Madison, with no particular destination. I just couldn't stay in the same place where I had witnessed the Packers disembowel themselves. I dropped my friend Brad's house unannounced (much to the horror of his wife), just because I needed someone to talk to - almost as if I had lost a family member. (Come to think of it, there may be a few extended family members I would gladly trade for a Packer Super Bowl appearance.)

It's gotten to the point where I can't even enjoy Packer games anymore. There wasn't a second of the game last night that my guts weren't twisted into a knot. When there's a bad call (Nick Collins' roughing the passer) or bad play (take your pick), it feels like being punched in the stomach. And when there's a good play, such as Donald Lee's touchdown catch, I don't get excited at all. Because that's what he's supposed to do. Basically, the bad plays are ten times as painful as the good plays are satisfying. So I end up yelling at the TV pretty much the whole game (by the time the Giants won, I had thoroughly described every aspect of the procreative process.)

Special recognition goes to Al Harris, whose clownish goading of Plaxico Burress provoked Burress to have a career game. Well done, Al. You are now a worldwide embarrassment.

When I returned home from my drive (I had considered hitting a bar, but "Le Tigre" was closed), I settled in and turned on the TV, determined not to watch any sports. Fortunately for me, "Bret Michaels' Rock of Love 2" was waiting for me on the TiVo. May God bless Bret and his band of horse-faced strippers for providing me with a much-needed respite from reality for an hour. It served as a reminder that no matter how bad things get, there are always herpes infested skanks willing to cheer me up. Thanks, whores!

Jan 20, 2008

I Would Think This Is Obvious To Anyone, Even Head Coaches [Updated]

When one receiver on the opposing team has 83.5% of that team's receiving yards through two and a half quarters, while at the same time being covered that entire time by the same member of the Packers secondary, maybe it's time to change the way you're covering that player.

For crying out loud, coach, either give Charles Woodson a chance to cover Burress or slide a safety over to give Al Harris some help, because he's clearly not up to doing the job solo today.

Let's just say that my level of optimism for a positive result (6:32 left in the 3rd quarter, Giants leading 13-10) is not high at this moment.

I hope to heck I'm wrong.

[UPDATE: The power of negative thinking cannot be denied. TD Donald Lee, 17-13 Green Bay!]

Jan 18, 2008

"Here and Now" - the Turtleneck Edition

On tonight's Carl Sagan tribute, I discuss this week's attack on the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program:

Actually, the outfit is an homage to the movie "Anchorman," when all the rival news gangs fight and the Public Television crew all show up in turtlenecks. Hence the battle cry of Wisconsin Public Television:


The 2007 Cowboys Season in 8 Seconds

Don't Call it a Comeback

This week, I'm taking a break from my regular appearances on "The Biggest Loser" to resume my commentaries on "Here and Now." I'll be mumbling something about the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.

Also, my "Here and Now" producer, Andy Moore, has started a new show called the "30 Minute Music Hour," which will air on Saturday nights as the lead-in to Austin City Limits. One of the first episodes features a live studio performance by one of my favorites, Robbie Fulks. You can watch it here - and be sure to catch his ode to Libertarianism, called "I Like Being Left Alone" (about 8:30 in.)

Wisconsin Public Television - "You're Already Paying For It, You Might As Well Enjoy It!"

All the Disease, None of the Fun

Worst selling booster club t-shirt:

Madison Memorial Wrestling

Jan 16, 2008

The Problem Here is... What?

Here's the story that has all my friends abuzz today:

Pardeeville man cited for forcing son to wear Packers jersey

Portage - A 36-year-old man tied up his young son with tape for an hour after the boy refused to wear a Green Bay Packers jersey during the team's game on Saturday, local authorities said.Mathew Kowald, 36, was cited for disorderly conduct in connection with the incident with his 7-year-old son at their home in Pardeeville, Lt. Wayne Smith of the Columbia County Sheriff's Department said. Pardeeville is about 30 miles north of Madison.

Kowald was arrested on Monday after the boy's mother, Kowald's wife, told authorities about the incident. Kowald was taken to the county jail and held until Wednesday, when he pleaded no contest, paid a fine of $186 and was released. Kowald's wife filed a restraining order on Wednesday, so Kowald will not be able to have contact with his family, Smith said. Smith said other domestic issues have surfaced, though he wouldn't elaborate.

The boy refused to wear the jersey on Saturday, when the Packers beat the Seattle Seahawks in a playoff game, Smith said. The father was accused of restraining the boy for an hour with tape and also taped a jersey onto him during that time.

As one of my Viking fans friends put it, "the difference between 'Packer Nation' and 'al-Qaeda' appears minimal."

Does the blame lie with the father? Of course it does - if he had raised this child correctly, there wouldn't have been any need to force the kid to wear the jersey. He would have worn it willingly. But bad parenting probably led this kid to be a Viking fan, as is usually the case.

But now he's doing the kid a favor - the dad is offering up a little abuse now, to spare the kid from the lifetime of disappointment and depression he will likely suffer as a Viking fan. That's just good parenting.

Kidding aside, you know it's Wisconsin when the Sheriff's spokesman goes out of his way to point out that there's still a chance the kid may have been a Packer fan:

The boy's refusal to wear the jersey may have just been rebellion, he said. "We've been unable to uncover any evidence to suggest that this boy was not a Packers fan," Smith said.

Because you KNOW that 95% of Packer fans' first reaction to reading the story was to shrug and say "well, I'm not condoning taping him up, but... he really should be rooting for the Pack."

The Life and Times of Rick Majerus

This week's Sports Illustrated features a lengthy article about my former boss, Rick Majerus. An interesting read from beginning to end. I also think it gives an accurate picture of what working for him is like - it can be brutal when you're actually there, but he breaks his back to help you when you're gone.

And the "six inch" story is absolutely true.

"Can We Just Start Over?"

Of course, everyone remembers the "Boom Goes the Dynamite" guy and his train wreck of a sports broadcast. Now comes this guy:

I actually have a lot more sympathy for these guys, seeing that these are both better than my typical TV appearances. Unfortunately, I don't have a full staff cheering me on like this guy does. And his chiding Lauren for "going down" - just a little creepy.

Jan 15, 2008

New Adventures in Republicanism?

The list of liberal popular entertainers is never-ending. However, music lovers will recognize that R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe deserves a place near the top of the staunchest liberal activists. (Who can forget his "White House Stop AIDS" t-shirt at the 1991 MTV video awards? Okay, just me? Am I dating myself?)

Anyway, it appears Stipe inexplicably has a thing for Mike Huckabee. According to Politico.com's "Shenanigans" blog from last week:

REM frontman and rabid liberal Michael Stipe likes Mike Huckabee? Kinda. While speaking on Sirius radio over the weekend, Stipe told host Jane Pratt: “I’ve never seen the guy [Mike Huckabee] talk, not even online. I have never seen him talk for 30 seconds, ... [and] he’s really charming. I instantly wanted to call [Generation X author] Doug Coupland and say, ‘OK, project one year into the future for me: What the hell does this mean?’ Because he’s a creationist; he’s a Baptist minister. I can’t think of probably a single issue in which I am even remotely in the same universe as that guy … and yet, he was kind of charming and … self-deprecating. He was actually kind of a good sport, and funny, and I don’t know what that means. Maybe it’s a good thing that’s he’s being lauded right now by the right. He’s an evangelical. May God bless all living creatures, but my god … how weird."

Granted, Huckabee isn't a "conservative" in the strict sense (and that's being kind.) But this has me completely confused. I guess, in one sense, it's kind of cool that Stipe has opened his mind to the possibility that an evangelical minister might not be that bad of a guy. But on the other hand, it kind of throws my universe out of whack. I've been a Stipe devotee for two decades, and have come to expect a certain brand of liberalism from him. Now, I think it's entirely possible that on my way home from work, dogs will start talking to me. Nothing makes any sense anymore.

Dorkfest '90

While most high school juniors are getting jobs and talking to "girls," my friends and I used to stage slam dunk contests at my friend Dennis' house. We'd film them, then go in his house and watch them in slow motion to see how much "air" we were getting. This is what dorks did before the internet was invented: (all of the dunks are me, incidentally.)

Amazing that no girl ever dated me, huh? And for the record, I just stole a minute of your life.

Passing Observation

The National Indian Gaming Association really, really needs a better acronym.

Jan 14, 2008

I Needed Chelsea

Big news from the Clinton campaign:

Chelsea campaigns at Farm
Q&A targets college female demographic

The former first daughter’s address followed a smaller round table discussion at Old Union. Campaign organizers reached out to sororities in an effort to target women, one of Hillary Clinton’s “core demographics,” according to Carolyn Forstein ‘10, an associate with the Clinton campaign in San Francisco and a member of Stanford Students for Hillary.

In my college days, I was woefully unsuccessful at targeting the college female demographic. And my efforts in reaching out to sororities was even worse. I should have had Chelsea with me to figure it all out.

Fortunately, I get four or five e-mails a day offering me a chance to speak with live college girls. Maybe that's my path to the Presidency.

An Unfortunate Choice of Words

In an effort to not be so fat, I have been using a one week free pass to the Princeton health club here in Madison. I showed up today at lunch to work out, but realized I had lost my pass.

I told the girl behind the counter that she could probably look me up in the computer. She searched for me, but couldn't find my name. At that point, I saw the employee that I met with to get the pass, and blurted out this unfortunate phrase:

"There he is - that's the guy that entered me!"

At which point his eyes got big and he scowled at me. I then realized what I had said. I think it's possible that the dozens of health club patrons milling about didn't hear it, but not likely.

In other news, the Princeton Club has failed miserably in its attempt to make me skinnier after three visits. I also determined running on a treadmill is a lot harder when people are watching you. Especially since you can't eat a ham sandwich on their treadmills.

More Packer Odds n' Ends

My quest to find tickets to the game Sunday led me to this Craigslist entry:

Mallards tickets for Packer Tickets - $1

Reply to: sale-538606796@craigslist.org
Date: 2008-01-14, 9:10AM CST

I will trade two Mallards tickets for Pack/Giants tickets this Sunday. I am a huge packer fan so please make me happy.

He then finished the ad off with this touch of irony:

"Only serious inquiries please."

And they say there's no drug problem in Madison.

I'm not sure how I missed this story about Greg Jennings' relationship with Brett Favre, but it's an outstanding read.

If you're looking for a read that is somewhat less outstanding, feel free to peruse Peter King's appalling, bloated "Monday Morning Quarterback" feature at Sports Illustrated. If you enjoy hearing this "insider" make the most obvious statements imaginable, feel free to peruse insight like this:

"Atari Bigby. Great name. Played a great game for the Packers."

"The Patriots' Josh McDaniels calls a good game." (Really? Was it the 17-0 record that led you to go out on a limb like that?)

"I don't know how many more injuries the Giants secondary can take, but that is a physical and confident unit, whoever plays."

"Eli Manning has played three straight games without making a game-killing mistake." (Is that why they're in the NFC Championship?)

"Bob Sanders is a great player, and my choice for defensive player of the year, but that was a bush league thing he did after Nate Kaeding missed a second-quarter field goal try, putting his arm around Kaeding and tapping him on the helmet." (Incidentally, Sanders and Kaeding both went to Iowa at the same time, so they could be friends. It is entirely possible Sanders was encouraging him. Somehow I know this, but not the "insider.")

"Patrick Crayton, you've got to be kidding me. That third-quarter drop just might have been the biggest play of the game."

Okay, that's enough. I can't take any more.

I have to admit that I think this week is the Packers' Super Bowl. The Patriots are unbeatable. They're just an absolute machine. So fans should live in the moment, enjoy winning the NFC, and bask in the Favre mediagasm the two subsequent weeks. Because the Super Bowl isn't going to be pretty.

Jan 13, 2008

Now Accepting Tickets

I am a simple man with few needs. Unfortunately, one of those needs happens to be a ticket to the NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

(Warning: If you are allergic to groveling, this post is not the place for you.)

Throughout the years, I have given blog readers at least three dollars worth of entertainment value. At this point, I would like to cash in that goodwill, in the event that one of the eight people reading this blog actually have a ticket to sell me. Honestly, I feel that there's a wall between you and me. And I see no better way of making the whole blogging experience more personal than you offering me a ticket. We would totally be best buds.

Therefore, I am willing to do anything for a ticket. I will say nice things about you on this blog. I will say mean things about someone you hate. I will give you free advertising. I will let you see a picture of my butt. I will rake the snow off your roof. I will give you my secret list of the best public bathrooms in South Central Wisconsin. I will grow a thick, flowing ironic mustache. I will call your wife every time you need to tell her you won't be home on time. I will make you a Boba Fett costume. I will call Al Sharpton and apologize on your behalf. I will discreetly let your co-worker know that he needs to shower more often. I will stand next to you in public to make you appear thinner. I will drive to Illinois to buy you cheaper smokes. I will do a research paper for you trying to explain the appeal of Julia Roberts. I will vote for you in the NBA all-star balloting. I will let you borrow my kids for a week to convince your girlfriend once and for all that she never wants to have children. I'll take the rap for you. I'll go to the drugstore and pick up the prescription-ordered extra small condoms you need. I'll learn to play the violin, then follow you around and provide accompaniment to the more emotional events in your life. I will punch people that snicker about your combover behind your back. I will follow you around and take detailed notes of the things you say when you are drunk, then apologize to everyone you spoke to. I'll let you beat the crap out of me in front of a table of hot girls at Chili's. I'll send big bouquets of flowers to your work and make sure all the other women see them. I'll break into your house after your death and steal all your porn so people don't know what a dirtbag you were. You can have your steroids sent to my house.

So I will be sitting at my computer here, waiting for your e-mail. I promise not to stop staring at my screen until your offer pops up. I imagine it'll be any minute. Any minute. Just sitting here waiting. Just sitting here. Any minute. Take your time. I'm sure you probably just ran out to the grocery store. That's fine, whenever. Just sitting here. No hurry.

Jan 10, 2008

Fox News Debate, January 10th

I'll be quick with my GOP debate observations, since my son's double ear infection has left me dizzyingly devoid of sleep. (On the bright side, it's a lot better than if he had a triple ear infection.)

1. I thought Romney cleaned up. Pitch perfect throughout.

2. Nice to see Fred Thompson go on offense - but he seemed to be straining a little too hard to come up with quick one-liners. It's obvious he thinks South Carolina is his last stand.

3. McCain began the debate babbling completely incoherently. I thought he righted the ship about halfway through - thanks in large part to Ron Paul, who McCain was able to use as a target to discuss his strong foreign policy positions.

4. Huckabee also scored some points by taking Paul on with regard to Israel. Seriously, they should want Ron Paul in these debates - he makes them all seem a little more level headed. I also thought Huckabee gave a fantastic answer with regard to his evangelical beliefs. (Then again, asking Huckabee about religion is like asking me about Twinkies.) However, I thought he gave a really poor answer when asked about his support of past tax increases. He was insufficiently apologetic, and mentioned at the end that all that new spending made highways more accessible to children. Then again, if the minimum driving age in Arkansas was 8, would it surprise anyone?

5. Rudy was really solid, if not spectacular. I think it's telling that nobody's going after him - clearly, the other candidates' internal polls either show him far behind or sinking.

Need sleep. Sadly, my keyboard isn't drool-proof.

Smokin' Obama

ESPN's Bill Simmons opines on the Democratic candidates for president:

Still reeling from Hillary's comeback in New Hampshire as a huge underdog Tuesday night. Amazing. I'm leaning toward voting for the Clintons (and really, they're a package deal) for three reasons:

1. They've been in the office before and made all their mistakes the first time around. Shades of Belichick learning from his Cleveland days. This time around, at least we know they'll take over the office with a game plan instead of limping through that first "What the hell am I doing?" year that seems to happen to every new president.

2. I miss Bill Clinton and want him back in my life on a regular basis for comedy and entertainment purposes. The thought of him closing down some hotel bar at 2 in the morning by telling two floozies, "How'd you ladies like to come back to the First Man's suite for a nightcap?" is just too good to pass up.

3. Obama smokes cigarettes. I can't get past this. Should the president be one of those guys who tells his staff, "Hold on, before we discuss this terrorist attack, lemme sneak outside for a butt"? Also, smokers are predisposed to telling white lies because everyone's always trying to get them to quit, so they're always saying stuff like, "Come on, I only have one or two a day," when they're really sneaking off behind garages and getting up at 2 a.m. pretending to get a glass of water and then plowing through a butt in 30 seconds. That makes me nervous. I don't want my president to have a life built around white lies. Unless he's totally open about the smoking ... then it's OK.

Does this mean Obama won't be campaigning as much in Wisconsin? Doesn't he have to pay a lot more for his smokes with the new tax increase that just went into effect? Looks like Governor Doyle ended up penalizing the candidate he endorsed.

Jan 8, 2008

Partying Like it's 2000

During the presidential campaign of 2000, a clandestine group of Wisconsin Capitol staffers used to meet occasionally to plan the state strategy for the John McCain campaign. These were not the quintessential insiders - one limped a lot and one had a lisp. They met in poorly lit rooms, spoke in hushed tones, and discussed how McCain could possibly upset the Bush campaign machine. They were wrong, and not by a little bit.

I was one of those handful. In their 20s, some people experiment with drugs, some with heavy drinking. I experimented with McCain. And heavy drinking. I admired his heroism and independence, and I didn't really appreciate the fact that party leaders had essentially chosen George W. Bush for me as my candidate. (When the Wisconsin primary rolled around, I voted for Alan Keyes - this has allowed me to tell my lefty pals for eight years that I voted against Bush.)

Since 2000, I've become old, crotchety and cynical. I had pretty much dismissed McCain as a legitimate presidential candidate. (He still may not be legitimate - New Hampshire seems to vote for him reflexively at this point.) He angered me with his ridiculous support of campaign finance reform. The party's base has chafed at his moderate immigration plan (although it doesn't bother me all that much). He gives crazy-eyed speeches about following Osama bin Laden to the gates of Hell. His bragging about working in a bipartisan fashion goes over like fingernails on a chalkboard in a Republican primary. At 71 years old, he looks old and brittle. My grandmother is 74, and we don't let her go too near the toaster, much less the Oval Office.

But tonight's speech after his victory in New Hampshire seemed to rekindle some of that old feeling I once had for Senator McCain. It was like seeing an old girlfriend after having split for years - you may have moved on with your life, but you know there had to be something there that attracted you two in the first place. And while I've thinking about dating Giuliani or Romney, it appears that McCain is still single - and he wants me back. (Of course, the bastard never let me come over to pick up the t-shirts I left at his house after the split.)

Naturally, this may all just be crazy talk. McCain could get hammered in Michigan and South Carolina and be relegated forever to the scrap heap of "close but no cigar" presidential candidates. (As opposed to Bill Clinton, who was the "come close, I have a cigar" president.) But for one night in January, the 71-year old candidate who has spent a lifetime in the U.S. Senate looks like the candidate of change. Without question, he's the candidate who is most right on the issue that matters the most - the War on Terror.

So while I consistently deride voters who pick a candidate based on their electoral "bounce," it seems I may have become one of those voters. At the very least, the New Hampshire primary gave me the chance to see McCain in a different light. Who knows if I end up supporting him - but now he's on the map.

Let's just hope he accepts the mix tape I've been making him.


How perfect was it that John Edwards' entrance music was the "This is Our Country" song by John Mellencamp? The song that makes me want to throw my television out the window utilized by the candidate that I would crawl over broken glass to vote against. It's like electoral Feng Shui. The universe is in harmony.


The most undercovered local angle to the presidential race? The fact that Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and Mike Huckabee roomed together on a 10-day trip to Iraq. This deserves front-page treatment - can you imagine this Odd Couple pairing?

DOYLE: "Jesus, Mike - can you open a window? Your socks reek."

HUCKABEE: "Well which one are you talking to - Jesus or me? He's right here next to me."

JESUS: "Sorry, dude."

Jan 7, 2008

The Woman Who Changed the World

(Cross-posted from the WPRI blog)

With Barack Obama’s meteoric rise topping the news these days, many people have forgotten the bizarre series of events that paved the way to his stunning ascendance. It’s especially interesting given that some personal and minor details, thought at the time to be insignificant, could now eventually shape the world we live in - given that Obama has a realistic chance to win the presidency. In retrospect, Obama’s presidential run was the candidacy that almost never happened.

Back in 2004, Barack Obama was an Illinois state senator with some modest accomplishments on his resume. He spearheaded welfare reform in the Illinois statehouse, and took the lead in passing a law that required interrogations in murder cases to be videotaped.

After unsuccessfully challenging strong Democratic incumbent Bobby Rush in a Congressional primary in 2000, Obama returned in 2004 to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald. Obama emerged from a crowded Democratic primary that included multi-millionaire Blair Hull, who spent $29 million of his own money in the primary alone (including paying homeowners $75 a day to keep his signs in their yards). In an 8-candidate race, Obama garnered 53% of the vote, routing his opponents.

Yet despite running away with the primary, Obama still had a formidable challenge in Republican Jack Ryan. Ryan was an impressive candidate - attractive and wealthy, with law and business degrees from Harvard. After making a fortune at Goldman Sachs, Ryan left to teach in an inner city school.

Yet Ryan had a problem - during the campaign, he was going through a messy divorce from actress Jeri Ryan, of “Star Trek: Voyager” fame. Details of Jeri Ryan’s testimony contained lurid details about Ryan forcing his wife to go to sex clubs in Paris. These details were toxic to Jack Ryan’s campaign, and he saw his poll numbers plummet - eventually, Republican leaders pressed Ryan to quit the race, fearing he was toxic to the statewide ticket.

Eventually, Ryan bowed out, leaving the Illinois Republican Party to find a candidate to run against Obama. This led to the national embarrassment of Alan Keyes moving to Illinois to run. Naturally, Obama won 70%-27%, buoyed by his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention.

The rest is history. Certainly, Obama deserves all the credit for the way he has excited Democratic crowds around the country - leading to his rout of Hillary Clinton in Iowa. And he may have beaten Jack Ryan on his own. But it’s fascinating to think that the salacious testimony of a woman scorned could one day fundamentally alter the path of the world in which we live. Without it, Barack Obama could still be sitting in the Illinois statehouse, planning his next political move.

UPDATE: Charlie Sykes discussed this post on the air today. Listen to it here.

Jan 6, 2008

The Blink of a Lie

Okay, so I admit that I didn't watch the entire Democratic and Republican debates on Saturday night, although I did catch little bits. Thus, I have nothing really to say about any of the actual content discussed.

But I do have to mention one of my pet peeves about the whole process. Some people are bothered about how Iowa and New Hampshire have so much influence in picking our new President. Others complain about the length and banality of the whole charade.

I, on the other hand, have found something else that is ruining the whole political theater for me. Specifically, I can't stand how much John Edwards blinks. You'll thank me for pointing this out. Watch this video from a previous debate:

Honest to God - it looks like his head is trying to fly off the rest of his body with the way those lids are flapping. And once you notice it, you can't notice anything else - what he's saying becomes completely irrelevant. (Okay, slightly less irrelevant than it already is.)

Nobody on the GOP side is quite that bad, although I noticed Mike Huckabee is quite the blinker. Fred Thompson doesn't really have to worry, since his eyelids are closed during most of the debates.

Apparently, one of the signs that someone is lying is that they blink more. I'm not saying Edwards necessarily lies any more than any of the other candidates. In fact, maybe he's just trying to generate a breeze to keep himself cool on stage. But any time he wants to come over and play poker with his trial lawyer pals, he's more than welcome.

Jan 3, 2008

Historical Society? More Like "Hysterical Society." Am I Right People?

Even though most of my historical knowledge comes from multiple viewings of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, I appreciate the fact that Wisconsin has a state agency dedicated to writing down the important stuff. That state agency, of course, is the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Every year around this time, the Society puts out its top ten list of the biggest stories of the year. Check out their list for 2007. It's a good list of events you'll actually remember a long time from now: Wisconsinites in Iraq, stem cell breakthrough, Favre records, floods, etc. The list, as the Society's director says, is "largely built upon what stands out in people's minds."

Interested in a stroll down memory lane, I sought out the Society's top ten lists from years past.

Before I go any further, I want to make clear that I understand the purpose of making top ten lists. They are totally subjective and they are meant to spark debate. However, the onus is on the list-writer to start said debate with defensible rankings.

With that in mind, I share with you the Wisconsin Historical Society's entry for the MOST MEMORABLE THING THAT HAPPENED IN WISCONSIN IN 2003.

You read that right. Like all Wisconsinites, I certainly remember where I was when I learned the Wisconsin Historical Society was nicked with the budget razor. (And "nicked" is a pretty fair verb here. The Society says it cut $1.5 million for a two-year period. The Society's total budget for that two-year period: $36 million.)

Judging by the quality of this list, I'm guessing "writing down important things that happened this year" was a casualty of the Society's budget cut in 2003.

Jan 2, 2008

2008 Inaugural Crazy Person Hall of Fame Inductee

Last month, I posted a few crackpot letters received by Wisconsin state legislative offices. People seemed to enjoy seeing the type of thing their legislators are asked to respond to, so I thought I'd kick off this year with a classic e-mail from November 14th of 2005:

Dear Senator:

I am a deaf person who was ferociously molested on the job and off by a network controlled by Oliver Stone who printed my name in Cineaste Film Quarterly. They tortured me and they brutally raped my retarded deaf girlfriend after letters in evidence of John Lennon's murder were found to have been planted on my house by a 12 year old Jewish girl who wrote to me when I was tortured as a child. Stone and his network have made me into a human sacrifice and treated me for years with the utmost hatred and with acts of beastiality, morally depradating and criminally disturbed in nature.

In 1982, I wrote a letter to Leslie Katz which was used to justify torturing me and to rape my deaf girlfriend. The persons responsible are Reagan, Clinton and Peter Gabriel. They were practicing sorcery of a sort to mollify Yoko Ono who maliciously blames me for the death of John Lennon.

They had an agent placed named Evangelia Karmas, from Hidden Pun Studios which gives you a clear indication of how their minds operate. Neither me, nor deaf Jeannie, had any role at all in Lennon's murder. They are just molesting me to cover their own atrocity after working with Lennon's killers in framing me as an offender to make a grab on the storyline. I was a part time, deaf library clerk who they attacked on the job, after I reported being tortured as a child.

Please help us. Jeannie was raped and I have been tortured by these murderers. They clearly believe that their celebrity is made for impunity and override of fair play.

Come to think of it, that actually makes perfect sense when compared to some of the posts on the Democratic Underground. In fact, I think this letter is the inspiration for about 67% of Dennis Kucinich's presidential platform.

I love the members of the triumvirate - Reagan, Clinton (Chelsea?) and Peter Gabriel. Like Reagan and Clinton are sitting around thinking of who could be the third person to fill out the Axis of Evil, and Reagan turns to Clinton and says "Hey, Peter Gabriel's not in Genesis anymore, right? He probably has some free time." Those must have been the days that Reagan and Clinton smoked a lot of pot together.

In fact, I'm pretty sure this was one of Clinton's first executive initiatives. After his election, he probably gathered his cabinet together and said "Okay, we're going to get to universal health care and welfare reform and all that stuff - but first, find this guy and frame him for the death of John Lennon that happened 12 years ago. Then molest him."

I would bet Hillary's not getting this dude's vote.

Finally, I love the fact that he blames the planting of evidence on a 12 year-old Jewish girl. He had to work that in. This illustrates one of my theories: That while not all people that hate Jews are necessarily "crazy" (just bigoted), all people who are crazy hate Jews. You never hear a legitimate crazy person sing the praises of Judaism - they're all invested in some crazy Zionist plot against them. (See: Barrett, Kevin.)

And Now, For This Convincing Anti-War Message

Certainly, reasonable cases can be made both for and against the War in Iraq. But chances are, you haven't heard the anti-war case made as convincingly as Kids Incorporated did in their cover of Culture Club's "The War Song:"

By the time you watch that, I will have deliberately sprayed oven cleaner directly into my eyes to avoid having to see it again.

Incidentally, taking a position of equal depth and contemplation might just be enough to get you the Democratic presidential nomination.

Jan 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Special thanks to my friend Brian, who held a fantastic (and ear-splitting) New Year's party. I got to catch up with a lot of friends, although there are certain people who, for whatever reason, I couldn't talk to as much as I wanted.

The funniest part of parties now is the people that come up to me and beg me not to blog about something drunken they are likely to do. I probably had five people ask me not to write about them. So rest assured, people - you're probably safe. Probably.

Also, Guitar Hero III made an appearance at the party, and seemed pretty popular. I played a couple songs, but then quickly realized that being proficient in a video game with a toy guitar is A) actually embarrassing, and B) means you're sober. So I quit.

And, as always, the meatballs were great.