Jun 27, 2008

"Here and Now," I Love the 70's Edition

See which part you think I improvised:

Pulitzer Prize winning author David Maraniss was also on the show. As I've mentioned before, he's one of my favorite authors - and I got a chance to shake hands with him on his way out of the studio.

Jun 26, 2008

Bucks Select Caucasian: World is Right Again

In June of 2005, with the impending selection of Andrew Bogut with the #1 pick by the Bucks, I put together the team's "All White Stiff" team. It looked like this:

Paul Mokeski
Randy Breuer
Jack Sikma
Larry Krystkowiak
Fred Roberts
Brad Lohaus
Frank Brickowski
Danny Schayes
Mark Pope
Joel Pryzbilla

I left off Toni Kukoc, as he was European and didn't count. And I'm happy to announce the addition of Jake Voskuhl to the list. My fingers were crossed that they'd snag Brian Butch with their second round pick.

In any event, the Bucks returned to their roots tonight with the selection of Joe Alexander. I actually think it's a really good pick. We keep hearing about what a great athlete Alexander is - I watched plenty of his games this year, and I think he has a lot more vertical athleticism than lateral. But near the end of the year, he was one of the best players in the country. He carried West Virginia through the Big East tournament and through a couple NCAA tourney games in impressive fashion. It also appears that he plays with a bit of a mean streak, which I'm always a fan of. I specifically remember him making a block during the NCAA tournament and glaring at the guy whose shot he threw.

Of course, I think the Bucks' best work was done earlier in the day, when they traded Yi Jianlian and the corpse of Bobby Simmons to the New Jersey Nets for Richard Jefferson. RJ will give them some athleticism and defense at the small forward position, as well as some decent scoring punch. I had thought getting rid of Simmons' horrible contract would be near impossible, but John Hammond managed not only to pull it off, but get an all-star in return. Those of you who read my draft night meltdown last year may remember that I'm not a fan of Chairman Yi, so I'm not shedding any tears that he's gone.

And there's no chance the Bucks are done dealing. Defensive dead weight like Charlie Villanueva is as good as gone. With the Bucks in desperate need of a pass-first point guard and a guy like Kirk Hinrich out there to be had, it only makes sense that Hammond would make a play there. Sure, they could have drafted a point guard, but guys like Bayless and Gordon are in the Mo Williams mold - and DJ Augustin is a midget.

Other draft night observations:

It was a bad night for Travis Diener. Not only did the Indiana Pacers trade for T.J. Ford to run the point, they traded for Jerryd Bayless to back him up. Diener actually played quite a bit for the Pacers last year, and did a serviceable job when Jamaal Tinsley got hurt. Now it's pretty clear he'll be looking for a new team.

ESPN went on and on and on about how they were setting draft "records" for all the freshmen being taken in the first round. First of all, draft "records" are completely meaningless, so it boggles the mind that they would spend so much time talking about them. Secondly, it's the second year of the requirement that players play in college for a year, so all the players that would have skipped college before are now freshmen. So of course there are going to be more freshmen drafted. ESPN owes me a half hour of my life back.

Can Jay Bilas discuss a draft pick without discussing someone's wingspan? What on God's earth does that have to do with anything? At one point, he tried to talk up Virginia guard Sean Singleton by saying he had a longer wingspan than Allen Iverson. Really? Then he must be a Hall of Famer, too.

The extra attention the Knicks get simply because the draft takes place in New York has got to stop. Yes, we know their fans always boo their pick. Yes, we know the team stinks. But this attitude that somehow New York fans "deserve" a winning team simply because they're in New York is complete nonsense.

How easy is "foreign correspondent" Fran Fraschilla's job? Just plug a player's name into these sentences: "[NAME] is really young, but he's got a lot of raw ability and the [TEAM WHO DRAFTED HIM] are going to be able to stash him away in Europe for a couple years while he gets better." That's pretty much it. For EVERY foreign player. Pretty soon, Europe is going to be the favorite place to hide for seven footers and serial killers.

The person I feel most sorry for tonight? Dominic James. Just think - at about midnight tonight, he could have been celebrating being the first pick in the Developmental League draft.

Jun 25, 2008

Burning Up Your Airwaves

Here's the audio of me on Wisconsin Public Radio discussing 3rd party candidates. I was at the Memorial Union Terrace last night, so you can tell I start off a little groggy.

Not Related

Okay, a quick admission - occasionally, I google my name to see what people are saying about me on blogs. Don't judge me - you know you've done it too.

In any event, this morning I found out this wonderful tidbit about some German dude named Christian Schneider:

From Wikipedia:
"I Am Your Gummy Bear (The Gummy Bear Song)" is a novelty dance song by German composer Christian Schneider and released by Gummibear International that received international and internet meme success, in part, due to its corresponding 30-second video clip.[4][5] The song has since been released in at least seven languages and has virally spread worldwide with more than 30 million plays of the corresponding videos on YouTube and MySpace.[4] With the song ready-made for ringtone use one critic commented "he's the ultimate cross-platform, cross-cultural phenomenon YouTube was designed to unleash."

Naturally, I had to see this "Gummy Bear Song" that bizarro Schneider had composed. Here it is:

"Hey Jude" it ain't.

I've always thought one of the keys to racial reconciliation in our country would be for people of all races to figure out what they have in common. In this case, I think we can all agree that no matter what color or creed you are, we can all get together to loathe Europeans. Unity!

Jun 24, 2008

Fire in the Hole

About a week ago, the Today Show was on in the background as the Shuff-haus was getting ready for the day when one of my favorite things occurred. Today aired a segment it's producers likely would have been deemed completely non-newsworthy if not for the sensational video they had.

The seven minute story was about jerky teen boys playing Fire in the Hole. Apparently FITH is the act of ordering a soda at the drive thru, yelling "fire in the hole" and then pretending your soda is a grenade and the server is Charlie peeking out of a tunnel in 'Nam. Now teenage boys being destructive and mean may happen all the time, but it becomes national news when they have videotaped their A-holishness and posted it on YouTube.

Now some TV programs, like Maximum Exposure and World's Wildest Police Videos, are up front about their products. They show shocking and titillating videos because they know viewers can't turn away. There is no moralizing or any attempt to find some deeper truth. It's, "check out these awesome explosions and skateboard accidents." I enjoy these shows and so do you, whether you admit it or not.

But the Today Show fancies itself as being a little more high-brow than that. We're news, dammit! So what we got instead was a very serious Matt Lauer interviewing a FITH victim and condemning these mean teen boys. Taking a cue from a Bart's People segment, Lauer runs up the score by lamenting, "here's a hardworking single mom just trying to earn a living" who doesn't deserve this kind of abuse. Well no kidding she doesn't deserve it, Matt! But she's not on your show so you can make your bold defense of hardworking single moms. She's on your show so you can play over two dozen clips of drive thru workers getting humiliated with Mountain Dew facials! (I counted.)

"Oh gosh, that's just terrible the way you got drenched with pop. Let's see that again. OK, now once more in slo-mo. Oh, that's just awful, this video we're showing over and over again that will get people buzzing and boost our ratings. Oh that's just awful. You didn't deserve that. Don't run that clip again. OK, maybe just once more."

National TV news does this kind of thing all the time. Just once I'd like some honesty like, "OK, here's what we have for you tonight. First, we have some gently-edited Obama campaign talking points. Next we have some alarmist stuff about a disease you'll never catch. Then we're going to do a story about porn later. C'mon, you know you're intrigued. Stick around to see provocative clips where we've fuzzed out just enough nudity so we won't lose our FCC license."

And speaking of honesty, here's something else I'd like to see. I'd like every national news broadcast to start out with the reporters and anchors announcing who they voted for in the last elections. Government officials have to release information about their business and investment dealings so the public can be assured they aren't doing things to line their pockets. Similar disclosure from the mainstream media would be nice so the public would be constantly reminded that decisions about what is presented as news and how that news is reported is coming from liberals.

OK, I got a little sidetracked there. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, someone needs to throw a soda at Matt Lauer.

Mark Your Calendars

Tomorrow morning (Wednesday, June 25th,) I'll be on the Joy Cardin show from 7 to 8 AM to discuss third party candidates in Wisconsin. It's a follow up to this piece I wrote for the Wisconsin Interest magazine. Be sure to tune in, and call if you want to chat.

Jun 22, 2008

What's Another Word for "Thesaurus?"

Shame on both you and me. Here we've been going on, living our daily lives, without recognizing that the single greatest television show in our lifetimes is currently airing deep down on the cable channel dial.

I am talking, of course, about "My Big Redneck Wedding," which currently airs on CMT (formerly known as Country Music Television, I think.) Each episode features a set of two self-described "rednecks" planning their wedding - generally on a budget akin to what you spend on pizza every month.

I can't do the whole series justice in just one post, but let me describe just one episode, in which Gail and John from Maryland get married:

  • John proposes to Gail by writing "Marry Me" in urine on the street.
  • John constructs a wedding arch out of beer cans, which is used in the ceremony.
  • As his wedding gift to his wife, John gets a stuffed animal out of an arcade claw machine.
  • John and Gail get married upstairs in a flea market.
  • Centerpieces are made by stuffing flowers into Budweiser tall boy cans.
  • Before the ceremony, Gail can't find her dentures, and John's mother offers to lend Gail hers.

Yet the high point of the episode occurs when John sits down with his grandmother to write out his wedding vows. They read as follows:

I wish I could put your love in a locket;
Because you're hotter than a hot pocket;
We did it in the back seat, we did it in the zoo;
I don't care where we do it, as long as it's with you.

Like manna from heaven, YouTube has provided me with a clip of this inspired poet at work. And be sure to catch the last line of the clip, in which I'm pretty sure John means to say "Thesaurus."

I have about four more episodes waiting for me on TiVo, so I better get to them ASAP. And when you're watching with tears streaming down your face, as I was, feel free to cut me a check to thank me for the tip.

Everyone's a VIP to Someone

A friend alerted me to the fact that there appears to be a music festival coming to Madison this September. It has been dubbed the Forward Music Fest, and features a couple of my faves, Neko Case and Bob Mould.

What I found funny is the quote the festival organizers used to promote Neko:

"I'm a die-hard Neko Case loyalist, so it should surprise nobody that I went to see her at the Barrymore last night. The show was sensational - and I can't really describe what it was like for fear of sounding too much like a lovestruck teenager. Let's just say I was catatonic - other people in my area were dancing and clapping, and I stood frozen with my hands jammed into my pockets. She's just impossibly good."

What music expert wrote that? Well, it was this genius.

So I'm thinking that at the very least, the use of this quote to promote the show has earned me a backstage pass. I'm fairly certain that when people see this show gets my seal of approval, it will bring hundreds of new bodies in the door. Let the letter writing campaign begin.

The Legend of Butterbeard

For those of you who haven't seen me recently (that means most people, I think), I am sporting a lush, flowing urban beard. My original thinking was that a beard was a good way to go incognito, but I have recently begun to think that it actually makes more people look at you, which wasn't the intent.

What I figured out tonight, however, is that a beard is completely incompatible with eating corn on the cob. The family grilled out tonight, complete with steak and corn. And by the end of the meal, I believe half my food had nestled comfortably in my facial hair. I wiped my face with a napkin, thinking that would do the trick. But an hour later, I actually had to go into the bathroom and shampoo my beard in the sink to get the smell to go away. (At the time, my two year old son was doing his Beavis and Butthead impression while trying to go potty, and he stopped to look at me, as if I was the weirdo.)

Incidentally, the beard will be making its world debut on the "Here and Now" show this week, but it has yet to decide what it wants to talk about. What I do know is that the beard is already being difficult, demanding the TV set be catered with corn on the cob.

UPDATE: Savvy commenter reminds me of this video. And it all comes full circle.

Jun 19, 2008

Three Minutes You Won't Regret

"You see, there's a point in the song where we mention the devil, and we think the viewers may not get the reference, so put this devil costume on and walk around."

Jun 16, 2008

Never Underestimate the Heart of a Champion

Monday was an epic day for golf, as two events took place that will forever change the course of golf history. In one event, a golfer was crowned champion after years of dedication and hard work, earning the praise and adulation he so richly deserves, and forever altering the way children and their parents think about the sport. In the other event, Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open. (Yawn.)

In case you haven't yet seen highlights on ESPN, yours truly netted the lowest score in the Monona Municipal Golf Course men's Monday night league this week. This is about as likely as John Daly being named "Sexiest Man Alive." Sure, Tiger won one of the most exciting major tournaments in history, and sure, he gets a big trophy and millions of dollars for his efforts. But I feel I have won the coveted "trophy within."

My golfing history is a long and sordid one. I actually played a lot as a kid, even making my high school golf team. (Thus, I can say I played "three sports" and sound as legitimate as all the guys who played football, baseball, and basketball. I played golf, baseball and basketball.) At some point after high school though, I put down the clubs for a decade. I just couldn't handle the stress of the game and suffered a David Duval-style meltdown. Those who have played with me will tell you that my language on the course has probably earned me a full years' worth of rosaries when I finally get around to going to confession. At one point, I threw three of my clubs up in a tree at the Mee-Kwon golf course north of Milwaukee. But that's another story for another time.

What's important now is that my game is starting to come around. Nobody is happier to see this than the golf courses themselves. In my golfing career, I have probably single-handedly undone most of Gaylord Nelson's environmental achievements with the damage my golf game has wrought on Wisconsin's sensitive habitats.

Of course, nobody's going to confuse me for Tiger Woods just yet. But in a strange way, I think watching as much of the U.S. Open as I did actually helped me. I realized that even the best players in the world don't hit perfect shots every time, and that helped me relax. Of course, my ample handicap helped, too - but every stroke of that was earned, given how poorly I had played in the past couple of weeks.

There's so many people to thank for this achievement, but I would be remiss if I didn't first credit myself for all my hard work, dedication, and willingness to starve my children so I have more money for greens fees. Imagine how hard it is on me when my starving little children come up to me, begging for bread crumbs. It just breaks my heart when I have to push them away and say "maybe next week."

And if I may, I'd like to offer some words of encouragement to the other golfers in my league - keep practicing, and maybe one day, you will get to touch the trophy. Until then, I plan on being insufferable. (I told my wife I beat a bunch of scratch golfers, and she said I should fit right in, since I scratch myself all the time.)

Jun 14, 2008

Mini-Brewers Rant

With the possible exception of those who root for the Washington Generals, does any other team's fans get their hearts broken harder and more frequently than Brewer fans?

Like the most naive Obama supporter - and that's really saying something - I am full of hope every spring. But 2008 was going to be the year for change. HOPE: Brewers finally have it all coming together in 2008. Solid pitching. Explosive offense. CHANGE: This is the year the Brewers finally make the playoffs. Yes we can.

But every year, disasters both expected and unexpected come together to tube the season. And tonight's game had plenty of that.

Rewind a couple hours. Brewers up 3-1. Now its 3-2. Now its tied at 3. Now we're down 4-3 in 9th. Stomach queasy. Cubs won already today. Brewers can't afford to fall further behind in the division. Slow dread of watching another lead slip away as what should be a great hitting Brewer team can't score runs again. Compounding the indignity is watching Twins fans acting like they own Miller Park.

Bottom of the ninth. Two outs. Russell the Muscle Branyan comes in to pinch hit. It's the scenario you fantasize about as a kid ever since you take your first cut in a t-ball game. Tape-measure blast. Home run. Crowd goes wild. Tie game. Extra innings.

After escaping in the top half of the frame, its now the bottom of the tenth. Prince Fielder connects to center and deep. His follow-through is a high, one-handed flourish that you've seen dozens of times. Will this game-winning homer be the turning point of the season? Will this homer rank with now-third base coach Dale Sveum's Easter Sunday 1987 walk-off dinger that still gives me goose bumps just talking about it? Get up, get up, get...one #@%*ing inch away from outta here.

Prince "Veggies" Fielder missed the glorious game-winning home run by a McNugget. I will go to my grave convinced that a shake of Baco's on the salad he ate for lunch today would have given him the extra protein oomph needed to get that ball over the fence. This was the chance to win it and I don't need to belabor what happens next.

In a patented move, Yost sticks with a tiring reliever too long and the Brewers are now down two runs. (Upon further review, this is unfair. Yost barely had anyone left in the bullpen and he couldn't know how long he'd need to stretch it in a tied game.) Anyway, whatever. Twins tack on a few more and win 9-4.

All I want is to live to see one Brewers World Series victory - but I'd be almost as thrilled with a back-in-on-the-last-day-and-then-get-swept wild card bid. The Packers could never win another game, but I'll always have Super Bowl XXXI. 1996 might as well have been last week the way I remember that season. Will there ever be such a season for the Crew?

Brewers, you're breaking my heart. Watching you is not good for my health. I have officially sworn you off until 1 pm tomorrow.

Behind Enemy Lines

So I figure if my position as "citizen journalist" means anything, I should be willing to experience things to which no man would ever willingly subject himself, then report on it. Which is why on Friday night I agreed to watch "27 Dresses" with my wife. Almost as if I was embedding myself with the female gender, like a war correspondent.

First of all, the Brewers were getting hammered, so it's not like I was giving up a lot. Plus, you could do a lot worse than watching Katherine Heigl for an hour and a half. And as busy as she is cleaning up after me and the kids, my wife doesn't get a whole lot of chances to do "girly" stuff. So I agreed to suck it up and go along - which I kind of had to do, since I picked the last movie, "I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With."

The first thing you need to know about this movie is that it's pure science fiction. It's one of these flicks where Katherine Heigl somehow manages to get into her 30s without having a single meaningful relationship - which is preposterous, because Kate is other-worldy hot. This movie makes "Kung Fu Panda" look like a Ken Burns documentary.

It's also one of these movies where everyone is either a newspaper columnist about love issues (seriously, there have to be maybe three of these people in America), or works at a high-powered ad agency. And for effect, they throw in that it's an "eco-friendly" ad agency, at that. Barf. At one point, Heigl's character's sister really hits rock bottom and has to go get a job designing hand bags. It's absolutely true.

Anyway, eventually she falls for some marriage columnist, who - gasp! - actually has some misgivings about marriage. Of course, this guy doesn't make a single humorous or insightful comment throughout the entire movie - yet, somehow, he is the guy that this woman finally falls in love with. That's what's frustrating about movies in general - people don't really talk the way they do in real life. Think about it - those are the times when you laugh the most. When you're with friends discussing things that come completely out of the blue. But, sadly, your regular conversations don't serve the purpose of moving the plot along. Anyway, all this guy has going for him is that he's (I guess) good looking, although he has a weird haircut that clearly is meant to draw attention away from his big ears.

So Heigl's character's sister falls in love with Heigl's boss by pretending she's a vegetarian and into the outdoors and animals and stuff. But Heigl is secretly in love with her boss (the columnist comes later), so she sets out to ruin her sister's engagement by telling her boss the truth about her sister. So at the rehearsal dinner, to "out" her sister, she shows a slide show that shows a picture of her sister eating ribs and being afraid of a dog that it appears is attacking her. Naturally, despite being engaged for what seems like months, the boss immediately calls the engagement off, given the horror of seeing an old picture of his future wife eating meat. I can only imagine what my wife would have said if she had seen me attacking the pan of Rice Krispie treats she made this week.

The rest of the movie is pretty irrelevant. Trust me, you know where the whole thing is going 5 minutes in. Heigl's acting is somewhat hit or miss, but I was actually surprised in some spots where she was kind of funny. (Oh, and did I mention she was hot?)

So I don't have any grading system, but whatever it is, this movie gets two of them.

And as long as I'm on movies, here are my grades for some I've seen recently:

I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With - B plus. A cute, funny movie that's almost like a chick flick for fat guys in their '30s.

The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford
- A. Really slow moving, and certainly not for everyone. But I loved how it unfolded, and the last third is really thought-provoking. And I didn't even know Brad Pitt was in it until I started watching it.

Michael Clayton - B minus. Entertaining, but a goofy lefty anti-big business fantasy. Certainly the cops wouldn't be smart enough to figure it out when all the attorneys working on a case relating to this chemical company start dying. I'm still waiting for the big Hollywood movie where some poor woman gets breast cancer, then gets the treatment she needs and beats it because of the insurance benefits provided by her employer. I imagine that happens ten thousand times more often than the scenario in this movie, where some chemical kills over 200 people. (Incidentally, if a company made a chemical that killed two people, it would go under. If someone found a rat head in a Wendy's frosty, they'd have to spend millions of dollars to stay afloat - much less killing hundreds of people.)

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
- B minus. Begins with a completely superfluous sex scene with Marisa Tomei, who is naked through the entire movie. That's worth a whole letter grade. But there are three major movie cliches in this film that must be addressed:

1. In movies, whenever someone pours themself a drink, it's always scotch, straight up. You never see someone mix their whiskey or scotch with anything. How many people do you actually know that drink this way?

2. In movies, whenever someone is watching television, they are always watching something that no reasonable human would watch. They're always watching Looney Tunes or some kung fu movie or something.

3. In movies, when someone points a gun at someone else, the victim always either gives a long speech, or says "just go ahead and do it." As if, somehow, they have spent their lives perfecting the speech they're going to give when someone finally sticks a gun in their face. Needless to say, if someone pointed a gun at me, they would hear a lot of crying and pleading for my life. I would not go out like a man. If they shot me, they'd have to shoot a whimpering, sad little man.

Lars and the Real Girl: B. This one really divides people - but I tend to be on the more favorable side. Plus, any movie that brings mustaches back is welcome in my book.

It's All So Clear

One of the more outstanding commercials I've seen:

It's just like HDTV! Only in real life!

Jun 13, 2008

Educator of the Year

Teacher Banned for Classroom Strip

supply teacher was asked to leave a secondary school after removing his shirt in front of a class of 13 and 14-year-old pupils, education authority officials said today.

The incident at Sudbury Upper School in Sudbury, Suffolk, in April was filmed by a pupil on a mobile phone and footage broadcast on internet website YouTube.

Education authority Suffolk County Council said the man was asked to leave the school and the agency which supplied him informed.

"It is not the case that children were put at any risk," said a council spokesman. "But the school felt his behaviour inappropriate."

In the 40-second YouTube footage the teacher is seen to remove his shirt and point to his left bicep - as girls and boys giggle and scream - before getting dressed again.

Jun 12, 2008

Wisconsin's Third Party Animals

My new magazine article is up over at the Wisconsin Interest site. It talks about Wisconsin's history of being friendly to third party candidates, mostly within the context of the Ed Thompson campaign for governor in 2002. But I talked to a lot of people who gave me some really entertaining examples of some nutty candidates who have run in Wisconsin.

If I may be immodest for a brief moment, I think it's the best thing I've written. If not, at least it was enjoyable - and makes a good point, I think.

Anyway, you can read it here.

Jun 10, 2008

Are You Threatening Me?

If I haven't been posting a lot lately, it's because I've been spending a lot of time with my kids teaching them valuable life lessons:

For those educated before 1993, this is a reference to the following excerpt of modern classic literature:

Jun 8, 2008

Teach the Children Well

When I submit my application for 2008 Parent of the Year, this story will be at the top:

On Friday morning, I walked into my 4 1/2 year old daughter's room to wake her lazy bones up for school. I started to shake her gently until she opened her eyes, rubbed them with the back of her hand, and said:

"Daddy, Ben Sheets is pitching today."

When you're a male and your first child is a girl, there is always an unspoken worry that you might miss out on the days of bonding with your hypothetical son over sports. Of course, girls can enjoy sports too, but you always know the father-daughter sports dynamic is going to be different. Even in the toughest days of my relationship with my dad, we could always talk about the Brewers or Packers. The most quality time I ever spent with him was in our front yard, playing catch. (One time, we were tossing around a Ben Oglivie ground rule double I had caught, and it went in the sewer.) To this day, when I call him, that's primarily the focus of our talks, and likely will be until the day one of us dies. (Ironically, my death will most likely be caused by the Packers or Brewers.)

But, as it turns out, my daughter is way more into sports than I was as a 4 year old. Most of this is because of her day care.

At some point, a parent has to realize that your kids are going to learn things at school of which you may not approve. That's the balance you strike when you pay someone to take your kids off your hands for a few days a week. (It has often been said that one of the great joys of parenting is spending time away from your children.)

As it turns out, one of my daughter's day care teachers is a HUGE Packers/Brewers/Badgers fan. (Rumor has it there's also a pro basketball team in Wisconsin, but I haven't been able to find any evidence of it on the internet.) And this teacher is passing on her love of all things Wisconsin sports to my daughter and all the other kids in her class. Some days they even have "wear your Brewer gear to school" day. (My girl proudly wears her Prince Fielder t-shirt, as she still has questions about Ryan Braun's ability to hit the change-up.)

Naturally, I approve of this. In fact, if my daughter learns to love the Brewers and Packers in place of learning math or science, I might be okay with that. Love of sports will last her a lifetime. She's got plenty of time to learn to read. In fact, if I can push off her being able to read this blog for an extra couple years, that might be a good deal.

But consider the flip side of this whole sports indoctrination process. What if I was a Cub fan and my daughter was being taught to be a Brewer fan at school? What if I was living in Chicago and the day care teachers were holding "wear your Brian Urlacher jersey to school" day? (I don't have to worry about offending Cubs or Bears fans, as they are unlikely to be able to read this post.) I seriously might complain to the school. I think an immediate parent/teacher conference would be in order.

This might be sacrilege to say, but I think I would actually be more offended if my daughter was being taught to be a Viking fan than if her school was inculcating her with Hinduism or something. At some point, my kids are going to be going to Madison public schools and be subjected to preposterously liberal classrooms. I can handle that - but I couldn't possibly handle my child wearing a Fukudome jersey. Never. Ever. Never.

In the meantime, I am psyched about taking her to her first Brewer game. I believe my first one was in 1980, against the Yankees. I also went to the game in 1982 when Rickey Henderson tied the all-time steals record against the Brew Crew. Hopefully, when she walks into Miller Park, she won't have to wait until she's married with kids to witness a playoff berth.

Jun 3, 2008

Me, Environmentalist

So I was in the public library today. (Yes, they still allow me to check books out there, even though this column put me on the Dewey Decimal Mafia hit list.) As I approached the checkout desk (wearing a disguise*), I noticed a sign that said the library was "going green" by not printing out receipts if the patron requests it. So I proudly announced my environmentalism by declaring that I didn't want a receipt. Coincidentally, the book I was checking out was "The Story of My Boyhood and Youth" by John Muir, which meant the universe was briefly completely in order.

I have long thought that receipts are the great environmental issue of our era. I was at Panera the other day getting a single sandwich, and they printed out three receipts, two of which I got to keep. Go buy a CD at Best Buy (as if anyone does that anymore). Do I really need a three foot long receipt? And no, I don't want to go to your damn website and fill out your damn online questionnaire and get a dollar off my next purchase. Basically, I just want something that proves that I bought the CD there, and lets me return it for store credit after I burn it to my hard drive. Can I get an Amen?

Hopefully, my anti-receipt position has bought me enough carbon credits to continue swearing at the people who bike to work in front of me. Next up, I will take on the excessive use of bagging small items.

*My disguise was frowning excessively.

Jun 2, 2008

Ear, Nose, and Throat

On Friday night, I headed down to Indie Coffee to see singer/songwriter Chris Otepka, who is the former singer for the now-defunct Chicago band Troubled Hubble. Their 2005 album "Making Beds in Burning Houses" was one of that year's best. Otepka is just another example of the injustice of the music industry - he's good enough to warrant nationwide recognition, yet it's people like Fergie who become household names by discussing her "lady lumps."

Anyway, here's "Ear, Nose, and Throat, Pt. 1" from Troubled Hubble. The best song you've heard that argues for universal health care. (As I have mentioned before, you have to make some concessions when you're a conservative music fan.) Enjoy.

Local Boy Done Good; Other Local Boy Jealous With Rage

I'm relatively late to this news, but it's worth mentioning anyway. On Saturday, I turned on CBS news to check on the Universal Studios fire, and saw that Marquette political science grad Ben Tracy is now reporting for CBS' Los Angeles bureau. At least someone with a graduate degree in poli sci from Marquette is making something of himself. Sure, he and his perfectly groomed sideburns are originally from Minneapolis, but it's nice to see a Warrior make it big.