Feb 28, 2008

My Condolences, My Card

From Overlawyered:

"The mother of a teen killed by a drunken driver was standing at his casket during his wake when lawyers Robert D'Amico and Jimmy Burchfield sidled up next to her and offered their services.

Kathleen Gemma filed a complaint with the Supreme Court's attorney disciplinary board, saying the two should have left her alone while she was saying her last goodbyes to her son Anthony Gemma. Gemma said one of the lawyers talked about his billboard."

Ironically, the website for their law firm contains this slogan:

We'll Take Care of You Like Family Would

(Providence WPRI, February 26)

Feb 27, 2008

Wisconsin Goes Hollywood

So it's official: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, and that Frenchie that won Best Actress will be coming to Wisconsin to film the movie "Public Enemies." This shouldn't be all that important, but it does seem pretty cool - especially since I have an inexplicable man-crush on Christian Bale.

Anyway, let's hope this is a sign of things to come for big-time movies in Wisconsin. In fact, this afternoon, there's another big Wisconsin project that has been announced:

Finding Nemo 2: Nemo Closes Wolski's

The Race to the Vice Presidency

As we get closer to the general election, a lot of names are being thrown around as John McCain's possible running mate. This includes Wisconsin's own dreamy Paul Ryan, who was named as a contender by columnist Bob Novak on "Meet the Press."

Conventional wisdom says that McCain has to pick someone strong on the economy, young, and from the Midwest - which is where he needs to shore up his support. This is why Ryan is such an attractive choice.

Another possibility is Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a young Republican in a blue state. But after seeing him on the Sunday morning shows last weekend, it occurred to me that I can't possibly support the candidacy of anyone with a mullet like this:

I mean, I realize it's Minnesota and all, but are we picking a Vice President of the United States or the Grand Marshall at the State Fair? It appears in this picture that Pawlenty is doing his famous "You might be a Vice Presidential candidate if..." comedy routine.

Another favorite seems to Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who endorsed McCain during the Florida campaign. I was reading up on Crist in the Almanac of American Politics, and came across this crazy passage, related to his initial run for governor in 2006:

Below the surface of the campaign, and perhaps driving its themes, were persistent rumors that Crist is gay. A bachelor, Crist was divorced in the early 1980s after a seven-month marriage. At several public events, Crist was asked if he was gay and denied it; the issue did not get much attention in the newspapers, despite determined public efforts by the Reform Party candidate. [...] The sleazy disclosures didn’t stop there. Shortly before the September primary, Crist had to confront an 18-year-old paternity claim after sealed records were anonymously faxed and emailed to various reporters; Crist had denied the claim at the time and had relinquished any parental rights to the child, who was put up for adoption. Thus the 2006 Republican primary election will go down in the annals of dirty politics: here a candidate was attacked both for being gay and for fathering a child out of wedlock.

Ah, yes... Florida. Where a candidate can be "attacked" for being gay. Perhaps they objected to his plans to raise revenue through a statewide Oscar pool.

Given that this presidential election is all about racial, gender, and ethnic classifications, McCain should take these factors into account when picking a VP - especially if he's looking to win Wisconsin. The message from this campaign is that people are much more likely to vote for a candidate with their own ethnic background. Fair enough.

The Almanac mentions that Wisconsin is of 29.9% German ancestry, with the next highest being Polish at 6.5%. As a result, I fully expect this ticket come November:

Feb 25, 2008

I'm Married to Lynndie England

This cold weather has been tough on all of us. But I just realized how hard the cold has been for those who don't have a voice. The ones who cry in silence. Namely, the plants in my house.

My wife was going around watering the plants on Saturday. They're all wilted and pathetic looking. I told her how cruel it was of her to just barely keep them alive throughout the winter. Basically, it's akin to waterboarding them. My house is now officially the Abu Ghraib of spider plants:

When You Say "Wisconsin," You Said "CHICKEN!"

Not surprising at all to see Barry Alvarez chicken out of a game with the all-powerful Virginia Tech Hokies. Too bad the Badgers aren't man enough to play a perennial top-10 team. That late season game against a Division II team will be a big draw in December. Sadly, I won't ever get my chance to wear my maroon and orange to Camp Randall.


Feb 23, 2008

The Next Bogeyman (or is it Boogeyman) Of The Left?

An evil corporate industry jacks its prices up - in some cases to four times their previous levels - to take advtange of a natural disaster/stretch of unforseen severe weather/attack on America and soak the people of Wisconsin.

Behold, the next enemy of the left...BIG SALT!!

Surely by Monday morning, Jim Doyle and Russ Decker will finally find something they can agree on and form a special committee to immediately investiagte price "gouging" by the evil purveyors of America's most popular food seasoning.

Or maybe, just maybe, they will take a deep breath and dispaly a rudimentary understanding of the basic laws of supply and demand that every kid is taught (or at least used to be taught) in their high school economics class.

What? Stop laughing! It could happen. Maybe when hell freezes over, which given the surrent state of weather in Madison could happen some time next week.

**UPDATE** The morphing of BIG SALT into liberal menace #1 continues. Today, they are ruining the environment. How long before they're blaming salt for so-called golobal warming?

Feb 21, 2008

Potatoes O'Bama

Potatoes Au Gratin:

What's In It: Scalloped potatoes, cheese, cream and butter

Recommended By: Mayor Quimby ("Ah. Au gratin potatoes. That's a quality side.")

Potatoes O'Brien:

What's In It: Cubed potatoes, onions, peppers and spices

Recommended By: Oreida

Potatoes O'Bama:
What's In It: Uh...hope? Um...change? The chef promises us it'll be delicious and satisfy our appetites, but then again he's never really cooked anything before.

Timewaster of the Week

I implore you to immediately stop working (unless you happen to be performing head cancer surgery on someone) and check out "Stuff White People Like." It is absolutely hysterical.

It is kind of hard to navigate around, so I'll provide a handy list of links:

1-6 "Coffee," "Farmers' Markets"
7-16 "Having Black Friends," "Wes Anderson Movies," "Making you feel bad about not going outside," "Non-profit organizations"
17-26 "Awareness," "Microbreweries"
27-36 "Marathons," "Not Having a TV," "The Daily Show/Colbert Report"
37-46 "Netflix," "Public Radio," "The New York Times"
47-52 "Sarah Silverman," "Irony," "Living by water," "Whole Foods"
53-61 "Apologies," "Lawyers," "Juno," "Toyota Prius"
61-71 "Knowing what's best for poor people," "Expensive sandwiches," "Recycling," "Being the only white person around"

I almost coughed up a lung reading through that.

Feb 20, 2008

Inaugural Idol Rundown

I'm getting sick, so I'll just throw out a couple lazy and moderately considered thoughts about American Idol this year:

Most of the white girls are total junk. Especially that pasty Irish illegal immigrant. I might vote against John McCain if his plan gives her amnesty. And if the "Rock and Roll Nurse" were singing in my basement, I wouldn't get off the couch to go see her.

It is impossible to watch a 2-hour Idol without TiVo. Paula Abdul should go to prison for stealing time from millions of peoples' lives that they will never get back. In the time she wastes, the nation could be learning things like "how raising taxes on gas companies will make gas more expensive." For example.

The guys weren't much better, except for the dreadlocked Italian. The same week one Castro steps down, another steps up. He was pretty good.

Speaking of hair, this guy can dye it and style it any way he wants, but he can't hide the fact that it is fleeing his cranium. And I thought PBS had exclusive rights to Big Bird - how did Fox pull that off?

I really like Asia'h, but I'm getting a little tired of her whole "my dad died two days before my audition" schtick. Every time she mentions it, she justifies her going on to the audition by saying that he would have wanted her to keep singing. I'm not really comfortable with people channeling the wishes of dead people, so let me make this abundantly clear - in the event of my untimely death, I want everyone I know to stop whatever the hell it is they're doing for three straight days and mourn the hell out of my death. I don't want anyone to do a damn thing. Now that you've read this, you have legally entered a binding agreement. Sorry.

I have to admit, I am sooooo jealous of Danny Noriega. I bet he gets all the chicks.

By the way, what are the the chances American Idol would have two contestants named Castro and Noriega? Somewhere in America, there's some failed contestant named Pinochet who's pretty pissed right now. In order to restore the balance of the universe, perhaps we need to support a murderous South American dictator named Chikeze.

Early favorites: Hippy Brooke, Syesha, and this guy. That Australian man candy will be out in the third round - bet on it.

All Hail the Queen of Terrorism

While everyone still seems to be excited about a woman running for President of the US, an even more groundbreaking development has occurred in the world of Islamic terrorism - the terrorists have chosen Sharon Stone as their leader:

Extremist Islamic Terrorists Hail Their New Queen, Sharon Stone

After giving an anti-war interview to Middle Eastern newspaper Al Hayat, Sharon Stone is finally getting rave reviews. Sadly, they're not from the trades; they're from the terrorists. After visiting the region on a very Angelina Jolie-esque "fact-finding mission," Stone told the paper she feels "great pain" thinking about the war in Iraq, prompting extremist leaders like Muhammed Abel Al to get downright gushy with praise: "This lady is smelling and seeing the dangers for the future of America." It's not quite the same as getting a plucky pullquote from Jeffrey Lyons, but it'll do.


Feb 19, 2008

White Male Wins Big

Feb 18, 2008

Earth to Mister Awesome

This weekend, I watched the outstanding movie "The King of Kong." It's about two men who compete for the world high score in Donkey Kong. Plenty of drama and insight into the world of competitive video gaming, especially among guys in their 40s who have been up to it since their youth.

One small side story in the movie deals with a man named Roy Shildt who calls himself "Mister Awesome." This video, not included in the film, talks about the trials and tribulations of Mister Awesome. It is truly not to be missed. (And is mildly NSFW.)

(Thanks to Josh Modell at the Onion AV Club for digging this gem up.)

The Falling Bar of Fame

I went to see a talk by pop culture author Chuck Klosterman tonight at the UW Memorial Theater. I've read a couple of his books, and thought he was worth checking out.

He made an interesting point when talking about fame, and how the bar has been lowered for who is now considered "famous." This fact, I think, is indisputable - but he actually had a salient point linking it to blogging.

The point was this - when bloggers start a blog, they essentially declare themselves a public figure. Whether you have 10 readers a day or 10,000, you have made yourself "eligible" for fame. You are in the realm. As a result of this decision to live your life in public, you tend to think of anyone who has more readers than you do as more "famous." If I get 100 readers a day, and my friend Jay gets 200, I consider him to be famous - and since there are millions of bloggers, there tends to be millions of people who are gaining both real and imagined fame in cyberspace. If that makes any sense.

He also made some other points worth mentioning. He commented on a strange phenomenon with regard to the presidential campaign: that you won't find very many Democrats that will say that Barack Obama is more qualified to be president than Hillary Clinton - yet you find a lot more Democrats who really want Obama to be president. A really strange disconnect, if you think about it.

I also agree 100% with some points he made about the internet and its effects on music. Basically, he said that too much music goes unappreciated in the era of CD burning and downloading. Back in the day, if you spent your hard-earned money on a tape, you would really put the effort into liking that album, since you invested cash in it. Now, you can get so much more music for free, it's hard to really feel any connection to it - if it doesn't hit you after one listen, you can always just move on to something else. This could spell the death of the complete album, and could dissuade artists from recording anything that takes repeat listens to appreciate.

Then I came home.

Measuring Up McCain

Prior to John McCain sewing up the Republican presidential nomination, there was a lot of angst about his conservative credentials from the right wing. Even now that he has the nomination wrapped up, conservatives (myself included) continue to gripe about his moderate views on certain key issues.

In essence, McCain has become a yardstick by which conservatives can measure their own ideology. Want to show all you blog readers how conservative you are? Just take some shots at McCain. Congratulations, William F. Buckley, that moves you to the front of the line. It reminds me of the Packer fans that paint their house, car, and dog green just to show you how much more of a Packer fan they are than you.

Of course, all this hand-wringing about McCain will be short-lived. By the time November rolls around, Republicans will be so horrified at the prospect of either an Obama or Clinton presidency, they'll turn out in droves for McCain. The McCain campaign and its surrogates will do everything in their power to make it seem like the apocalypse will be upon us in the event a Democrat is elected.

As George Will has said, an election is about choosing the best person to lead our country - we don't have any "right" to choose someone that satisfies every one of our ideological desires. I'd like a president that does my laundry, but I'm not sure that's going to happen.

So here's a message to my fellow conservatives: You're conservative. We get it. But the game is over, and you now have a choice between McCain and Obama/Hillary. Take some time to think that over.

In the meantime, I have created a suggested ad for the McCain campaign to use in convincing conservatives to give him their vote:

Barb Lawton Unleashed

Well, at least one person is fired up about Hillary's chances in Wisconsin:

Feb 14, 2008

Your Source for Presidential Campaign News

How many people do you think can say they attended both a Mike Huckabee and a Bill Clinton campaign rally in the same day? Well, there's at least one, since I did it today.

Check out my posts at WPRI. They're long, but I think pretty eventful:

The Clinton rally wrap-up is here.

The Huckabee rally wrap-up is here.

They were a lot of work - at least pretend you like them.

V-Day Hot Links

My sister stationed in Iraq (at Camp Bucca, near the Kuwait border), sends along this touching Valentine's day message:

Also, Stephen Thompson at National Public Radio has passed on his five most depressing Valentine's Day songs of the last five years. Sure enough to help you cope with your misery.

Feb 13, 2008

Go, Democrats, Go

I watched a good deal of the Roger Clemens/Brian McNamee testimony today, and I was most struck by how criticism of both men mostly fell along partisan lines. Republicans were generally favorable to Clemens (including my former congressman, Tom Davis of Virginia), while Democrats hammered Clemens, harping on his inconsistencies. Maybe Clemens is a big right-winger - who knows?

But I have to say that I am 100% behind the Democrats in this instance. I want to give Elijah Cummings a hug for the aggressive way in which he questioned Clemens. Massachusetts Rep. John Tierney blew holes a mile wide in Clemens' deposition interview.

I have no idea why Republicans would line up behind Clemens. Politically, that seems like a losing proposition, since Clemens' case is pretty weak. Dan Burton and John Mica embarrassed themselves. A few committee members had no idea what they were talking about.

A couple more points:

Apparently, we're supposed to believe that Clemens was taking injections, but they weren't steroids or HGH. And his wife was taking HGH, but he wasn't. And Andy Pettitte "misheard" on several occasions whether his best friend was taking steroids. And that after McNamee injected his wife with HGH, (which apparently "horrified" him) he kept McNamee on as his trainer.

A lot of attention was paid to McNamee's conflicting statements throughout this ordeal. While lies are never good, it appears McNamee may have been withholding information to protect Clemens. Clearly, he wanted to give as little information possible and let Clemens hang himself, which he did. So in that sense, the lies by both men were meant to benefit The Rocket.

Feb 11, 2008

A Much-Needed Breakthrough

This year seems to be the year where underrepresented groups break through in politics. We could have the first woman or African-American as president, which would represent a huge leap for gender or race status in government. Yet there's one group that is still woefully underrepresented in electoral politics - hot people.

As the old saying goes, "politics is Hollywood for ugly people." People who may not necessarily deserve recognition for their looks can force their own celebrity by running for office. This theory shakes out nicely when one looks at the Wisconsin Legislature, which often looks like the Creature Cantina from Star Wars. ("Senator Greedo, you have the floor.")

This weekend at the Defending the Dream Summit, I happened to meet Jill Didier, who is running for Mayor of Wauwatosa. Incumbent Mayor Theresa Estness has decided not to run again - presumably to spend more time hugging Michael McGee. I think it is fair to say, without reservation, that Didier would be an anomaly in the world of political looks. (Like how I said that diplomatically?)

I have no idea what a single one of her positions on the issues is, but she'd have my vote if I lived in Tosa. She could be for mandating lawn elves in every Wauwatosa yard, and I'd still vote for her, in the interest of having a smoking hot mayor. She'd be like the exact opposite of Adrien Brody (an ugly actor breaking into the world of beautiful people).

So, people of Wauwatosa, this is your chance to help out a much-neglected political minority. Once this domino drops, it might provoke more hot people to come out of the closet and run for office - suddenly, the local news will become watchable.

Until then, though, Wisconsin is stuck with dreamboat beefcake State Senator Ted Kanavas as its sole political eye candy:

(Photo taken in 1983)

(Footnote: This post may make things uncomfortable if I ever run into Didier again, but it's not likely, so I'm not worried. I'm merely reporting the facts. Plus, she should be so thankful, she should make me the Tosa Secretary of Lawn Elf Administration.)

Defending the Dream Summary

My post rounding up my experience at the Defending the Dream conference this weekend is up at the WPRI blog.

It was snowing in Milwaukee after the conference, so I stayed with my friend Johnny Roast Beef, rather than driving back to Madison. The night ended up at Jo-Cat's bar on Brady Street, which made for a long Sunday. And I am willing to declare that the Apollo Cafe on Brady Street has the best gyros in Milwaukee. Hands down.

Major Breaking Wisconsin Primary News

My four-year old daughter has officially changed her endorsement from Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton, she announced yesterday. This is sending shock waves through the Wisconsin political landscape. Hillary should quickly declare my daughter a super-delegate.

On the other hand, I'm close to getting my two-year old son to switch over to the John McCain side - although he dislikes the McCain-Feingold law as much as his dad. However, he's impressed by the fact that they both wear diapers.

Feb 8, 2008

Scheduling Note

Tomorrow (February 9th), I will be at the Americans for Prosperity “Defending the American Dream” conference in Pewaukee. There’s an impressive list of speakers, including national figures like Dinesh D’Souza, John Fund, and Steve Moore. Pop on out if you’re in the neighborhood - or register here.

Time Saving Tips

I pulled out the old Mr. Show DVDs last night, and was reminded of this outstanding running sketch. I actually had to wait about a half hour to go to bed last night, since I couldn't stop laughing, and I didn't want to wake my wife up.

There are three minute-long videos that you have to watch in succession, as they build on each other. The last one nearly killed me.

Slow Day at the Capitol

The office of State Representative Jeff Stone deserves a special award for this press release, in which Stone supposedly settles the copyright issue between the University of Wisconsin and Washburn University. Washburn has apparently been using a "W" logo that looks too much like the UW-Madison's logo.

Perhaps the Stone office should get back to their other work hobby, leaving comment after incoherent comment on blogs.

Feb 7, 2008

Historically Bad Dressing

I got a new pair of tires today, so I had the chance to wander around the mall as they were being mounted. I figured the fact that they went flat once a week might be a hint something was wrong.

A took a stroll through the Gap, and found one of the more welcome sights I've seen in a long time - they were selling flannel shirts. Apparently, flannel is creeping back into style, which means I will be able to pull out my college wardrobe and be cool once again.

Back in 1997, I started grad school at Marquette. On my first day of classes, I thought I'd try to immerse myself into college life once again. So I showed up on campus wearing what I thought the kids were wearing those days - big flannel shirts, Doc Martens, the whole deal. I quickly realized that I was the only one on campus that wore that stuff anymore. The early '90s had come and gone, and I looked like a fool. Instead of a student, I looked like a historical artifact from the grunge era. You could go to a museum and see me on display - right between the statues of the American Indians making corn maize and the skeleton of a pterodactyl.

"Come see the homo grungus in his natural habitat - see his perpetual look of indifference, coupled with his ironic facial hair and untucked shirts. Watch him as he condemns any music you listen to as too "corporate," and complains incessantly of his middle-class upbringing. Sadly, the homo grungus was extinct by 1994, although one was spotted on the Marquette University campus as late as 1997."

So world, here I come - just give me an excuse.

Feb 5, 2008

The Fame Game

Has anyone else noticed that former Badger Joe Thomas made the Pro Bowl? As a rookie? I always theorized that the Cleveland Browns' surprising season was due in large part to Thomas' blocking, and it turns out other people may have noticed that, too. Then again, I'm a homer, so it's hard to tell.

Last spring, after he was drafted, my friends and I went to a bar here in Madison. Late that night, I actually ended up sitting on bench right next to Thomas. As it turns out, he went to the same high school as my wife. During his career here, I always figured that if I ever met him, that would be my opening line. But sitting a foot away from his 6 foot 8 frame, that conversation starter seemed like pretty weak sauce. So I just kept quiet. (Incidentally, he seemed like a great guy.)

You see, I have this thing about meeting famous people. I generally try to think of what my opening line will be well in advance of actually meeting them, even if no such meeting is planned. So I have something in my back pocket just in case I run into, say, Barry Alvarez at the grocery store. (I realize how irrational this is, given the fact that most famous people don't hang out near my couch, where I spend most of my time.)

Not adhering to this practice almost got me in trouble a few months ago. I was heading down to the Wisconsin Public TV studios to tape my little commentary, when I got news that Tammy Baldwin was on the show. So I thought there was a chance she'd be there at the studio. Then I realized that I have no line for Tammy Baldwin. The "Baldwin File" in my brain was empty. So I panicked, thinking we'd meet, and I'd just stand there like a dope. (Fortunately, she did her interview via feed from DC, so embarrassment saved. Although I still need a good one - suggestions are welcome.)

This got me to thinking about which people would be immune to opening lines. The people who you'd be so nervous meeting, you couldn't spit out a word. Then you'd feel stupid, and it would wreck your life for all eternity. Here's my (admittedly, eclectic) list:

1. George Will

2. Michael Jordan

3. Michael Stipe

4. Tom Wolfe

5. Brett Favre

I asked some friends for their lists of people they'd be nervous meeting. I got answers like Paul McCartney, Charles Manson, Jessica Alba, George Bush, Pope Benedict, and James Hetfield of Metallica. (Five bucks for anyone who can get all those people together in a hot tub.) Two of my friends separately said they'd be nervous meeting Bill Parcells, since they thought he'd yell at them. A female friend said her list was Osama bin Laden, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney - which means if bin Laden shows up in "Ocean's Fourteen," she might have a stroke.

Your Super Tuesday Primer

This morning, I just happened to be listening to the song "America is Not the World," by noted British provocateur Morrissey. In the song, which is about 4 years old, he takes a shot at the United States, saying:

"In America, The land of the free, they said,
And of opportunity, In a just and a truthful way.
But where the president, is never black, female or gay, and until that day,
you've got nothing to say to me, to help me believe"

Fast forward to the 2008 Democratic Presidential primary:

Take that, Morrissey!

Feb 4, 2008

Weekend Movie Roundup

Having seen pretty much all the decent movies out right now, the Mrs. and I decided to go see "Atonement" on Friday night. This is a weird year, as I have now seen four of the five Best Picture Oscar nominees (Michael Clayton being the only one I haven't seen.)

So here's the official review: It was looooooooong. I fully expected my first Medicare check to be in the mail when I got home. The ending was decent, but it took forever to get there. Two hours of British costume drama is too much for me, although you can do a lot worse than Keira Knightley (pretty much the whole reason I agreed to go in the first place.)

Saturday night, I watched a movie called "Rocket Science," and thought it was outstanding. There was an element of "Rushmore" (which happens to be my favorite movie) and other high school flicks, but it quickly came into its own. (It also steals Alec Baldwin as the narrator, which is stolen directly from Wes Anderson's "The Royal Tenenbaums.") I thought it perfectly captured the feeling of changing who you are to attract a girlfriend in high school.

Here's the trailer:

I checked the reviews of "Rocket Science" at RottenTomatoes.com, and it gets an 85% favorability rating. But then I noticed how much money it had made - a pitiful $601,000 since it was released in August.

That is part of my frustration with movies like "Meet the Spartans," which has now made $28 million in two weekends. A smart, well executed movie like "Rocket Science" can't draw any viewers, but bottom feeding dreck rolls in the cash. As the saying goes, no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

Feb 1, 2008

Roadkill on the Information Highway

Some of you may remember when I "came out" of my anonymous persona last February. I chose to do it in a Melanie Conklin interview in the Wisconsin State Journal. She seemed to be under the impression that I was somehow worth interviewing, so I happily agreed.

Fast forward to yesterday, when I got a flurry of e-mails from people pointing out that Melanie's latest "Drinks With...." column features another blogger (Ryan Zeinert) here in Madison. They gleefully highlighted the fact that Melanie has found a "new flavor of the week," and that I am now "old news."

So it is true, my carcass had now been cast aside. The empty shell of a once-interesting blogger, replaced by a newer model. I always knew Melanie would leave me for a younger man, but it doesn't blunt the sting much. I feel like an aging stripper, clinging to the pole for one last teary rendition of "Kickstart my Heart," while men turn away in horror. Or something like that.

Anyway, I wish Ryan Zeinert the best of luck on his newfound fame and the untold riches that are likely to follow. I just hope he thinks about us trailblazers when I'm begging him for loose change down on State Street.