Aug 31, 2008

Recap: The Ann Arbor Trip

I just returned from my weekend trip to Ann Arbor, where I had a little mini-reunion with some of my college fraternity brothers at the Michigan-Utah football game. (Or, as it was known to my wife, the “Mid-Life Crisis World Tour.”) Five of us old guys who hadn’t seen each other in 12 years were ready to show Michigan how aging, bald frat guys do it up right.

My gruff little Chicago buddy Hal and I pulled up to the hotel early Friday afternoon after six hours in the car. We were immediately met by our former housemate Hutton, who reportedly had done a stint in AA last year. Of course, Hutton had a beer in hand when we met up. We asked how that whole AA thing went, and he said “I’m on vacation.” Pretty sure that’s how it works.

We met up with Chris (from Jacksonville) and Rob (from San Diego), and hit a sports bar for dinner. Those guys had been ribbing me mercilessly via e-mail for my TV appearances, as if I was some kind of star in Wisconsin. They thought the whole trip was going to be like “Entourage,” where I foot the bill for the weekend. They were a little disappointed to find out that I can’t afford to pay attention.

(Actually, Rob had gained a brief amount of celebrity himself when he made SportsCenter's Top 10 plays one night. He was at a San Diego Padres game holding his son in one arm, when a line drive came screaming at him. He lunged and caught the ball with his other hand, managing to hold on to the ball and the baby at the same time.)

It didn’t take long for us to go through the whole “what ever happened to…” list. Rob and Chris have kept track of what more people are doing, so they filled us in on the dirt – primarily who had the worst wives. There’s a guy that lived in our house that always had the most horrible girlfriends that nobody could stand – and, as it turns out, his wife is a real treat, as well.

For example – and I have no reason to doubt this story, as strange as it is – this guy and his new wife showed up at Chris’ wedding, which was held on a pier on a Florida lake. This woman refused to go out on the pier, because it was… ahem… her time of the month, and she was afraid that sharks were going to sense this and attack her. Let that sink in for a little while. We spent a good half hour deconstructing how absurd the story is, and I’m still not sure I understand it. Anyway, much catty gossip was had – I almost felt we should follow up with some shoe shopping.

As it turns out, we had a tour guide for the trip – a guy who Hutton took a pharmaceutical sales class with, and who claimed to be the social king of Livonia, Michigan. His name - and I am not kidding about this – is Osama. You heard that correctly. And, I’m telling you – no fictional character has ever been written that topped Osama for pure comedy. He’s a little curly-haired gold chain-wearing Arab lothario, who boasted that he would be able to get us into any bar in Livonia. He’s like an unstoppable cyborg from the future, sent here to make sure no woman he comes into contact with leaves still wondering whether or not she has a great rack. He honed his skills by working at the sports bar where we ate, and demonstrated his substantial social gravitas by getting us free potato skins.

After dinner, we hit an arcade and played some aggressive air hockey games. We then moved upstairs one floor to do a little bowling. (Osama told us not to put his name on the overhead projector, as the bowling alley usually harasses him because they think he's kidding.) While we had a good time (I came in second with a strong 102), we failed to notice that Hutton was occasionally sneaking off to the bar for clandestine shots of tequila. As per his college days, when he drinks too much, he becomes “that guy.” Eventually, he began walking up and down the bowling alley eating off people’s pizza plates. At one point, when he was about to bowl, Osama took a running start and tackled him, sending Hutton sliding down the lane two lanes over – where a guy was just about to roll his ball. At that point, we decided we had probably better get out of there – but with Hutton so drunk, we couldn’t get into any other bars. So we dropped him off at the hotel, and went out for an uneventful couple of more hours, before ending up back at the hotel. The evening ended with Osama changing his clothes in his car, as his wife (gulp!) and two kids thought he was at work all night.

9 AM came early the next morning, as Osama had organized a catered tailgate just for us. We all felt like death warmed over on the ride over to the campus, where we parked on a golf course near the stadium. On the ride over, we opined about Hutton, and I launched into a half-assed speech about how the lesson of the previous evening was that nobody ever really changes. Ever. Nobody really disagreed with me.

Of course, an hour later at the tailgate, I found myself involved in a couple of majestic games of beer pong. These Michigan college kids had challenged the master, and in both games, I came from four cups down to win. In the middle of my trash talking during my second dramatic victory, Chris came over to me and said “you remember that speech you just gave us about how people never change? You’re playing beer pong and trash talking people.” I have to admit, he had me.

After my two wins (which may be the pinnacle of my athletic career), I turned to one of the girls Osama had rounded up to tailgate with us and said “that was like the Miracle on Ice of Beer Pong.” She looked at me blankly, and said “Uh. Oh.” Clearly, she had no idea what I was talking about. I then ingested a bottle of lighter fluid and some hot coals.

As I talked with people during the tailgate, one theme seemed to pop up with most of the Michigan fans - they all seemed to be miserable living in Michigan. Every single person wanted to move somewhere else. This seemed to be the exact opposite of Wisconsin, where it seems like everyone loves living here, and people think that everyone else should live here, too. Regardless of ideology or background, Wisconsin people love Wisconsin - and it took meeting just a few cranky Michigan fans to make that clear.

The tailgate stretched on from about 10 AM to game time, at 3:30. We left at about 2:30, just to make sure we got in on time, as Michigan Stadium is under construction. I was shocked at the number of Utah fans there – apparently thousands made the trek from Salt Lake to Ann Arbor. And I think Hutton talked to every one of them. The extended tailgate made him a little chatty. I had always questioned the policy most colleges have of refusing to sell alcohol at their games. After sitting with Hutton for a game, I am 100% in favor of dry games. Had he continued to drink, the only way he was getting out of there was in a body bag. He seemed to enjoy taunting 107,000 Michigan fans, who would have absolutely no second thoughts about throwing him over the top of the stadium.

As for the crowd, I was a little underwhelmed. As a neutral observer, I can say that the Camp Randall crowds, though smaller, absolutely put the Michigan fans to shame. They sat dead quiet, for three quarters, until their team started to make a run at the end. Granted, they didn’t have much to cheer about, but you could almost feel their air of superiority – as if they knew they were going to win, so there’s really no reason to waste their breath until it actually mattered.

Fortunately, they didn’t win, and as the game moved along, the crowd in our section turned ugly. Profanities rained down on the Utah fans from behind. Even with little kids omnipresent in the crowd, some crude fans launched into tirades that would make an Ol' Dirty Bastard CD seem like the Osmonds. There honestly is no place you can take your kids anymore. Most of the bile was aimed at a black Utah fan sitting two rows ahead of us, who was cheering a little too aggressively for their taste. Alluding to his ‘80s haircut, he was serenaded with profane versions of things like “sit down Carl Weathers,” “go back to Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton,” and “You suck, Lando Calrissian.” This went on all game.

Of course, Utah won – and since I barely remember going to school there, I was happier to see the Michigan fans in pain than to see my alma mater victorious. All day the heat was oppressive, and we were dying to get out of the sun and back to our hotel. (Osama had kept his car running with the air conditioning on through the whole tailgate, but only ladies were allowed to join him in there for chats.)

On the way back from the stadium, I told Rob my story about trying to potty train my son using jelly beans. He said his strategy was to throw a "potty party," complete with party hats and whistles, every time his son went on the toilet. I told him I thought this was a little extreme, but in his defense, every good party should end with your pants off.

Saturday night was time to recover – tired from the game, we ate dinner and hung out in our hotel room, watching some of the unspeakably awkward videos I had from our college days. We said our goodbyes and went to bed, although I couldn’t sleep because Hal’s snoring sounds like a grizzly bear getting a vasectomy.

So now I’m back in one piece for one night, ready to head up to Minneapolis to cover the GOP convention for Wispolitics and WPRI. I don’t even have to unpack my bag. Make sure you head over there and check it out – I am going to bust my ass to make it adequate.

Aug 28, 2008

Obama's Speech: Clean, Articulate

I suppose that since I am now officially a pundit, I should weigh in on what is purported to be the most important night in politics since Joe Biden's name moved to the top of the hair donor list. In fact, Biden (who once described Obama as "clean" and "articulate") was probably surprised his running mate was able to deliver the speech without wearing gold teeth or taking a drink of Pimp Juice from a goblet.

Leading up to Obama's speech tonight, there was plenty of criticism with which I disagreed. I heard several of my pals wonder whether it would be creepy for Obama to give a speech in front of so many people, even likening the event to a Nazi rally. (Apparently, we don't like Nazi references until we need to utilize one.) I actually thought the idea to have Obama speak in a large outdoor arena was a good one - whatever "creepiness" people felt about the venue was more than offset by the the bottom line - 80,000 f'ing people showed up to a political speech.

(My inside sources have told me that as a response, John McCain has now upgraded and asked for the smoking section to be reserved at the Denny's where he is expected to make his acceptance speech next Thursday.)

That being said, while I think the venue was electric, I thought the speech itself was a little under-done. It was basically a paint-by-the-numbers Democratic speech - sprinkle in some personal examples, overpromise a laundry list of new programs that will never happen, and offer a pre-buttal to the GOP convention next week. As I'm sure most GOP observers will note (and already have in the post-speech analysis on television), it seemed like a pretty static speech for the candidate of change.

(In March, on this very blog, Dr. Emil Shuffhausen posted his "Do-It-Yourself Democrat Speech," which is worth a re-read.)

In fact, the most appealing aspect of the speech is the way in which Obama delivered it. He looked and sounded up to the challenge such a large crowd commanded. You could have watched the speech with your television on mute and you would have known just based on his delivery what point of the speech he was in. Obama could read the back of your cereal box to you in the morning and it would sound like he was saying something profound.

"And I say to you this morning... YOU NEED MORE RIBOFLAVIN!" (You applaud, perhaps start crying.)

But the speech didn't really offer us anything new (and if McCain's next week doesn't, I won't be afraid to say so.) At one point, he used the example of out of work auto workers to hit McCain on the economy - yet just minutes later, he pushed for higher fuel economy standards, which would have left many of those workers jobless even sooner. He finished his speech by trying to convince us he is a uniter by saying that there is no "Red America" or "Blue America," while spending the first 40 minutes explaining why Republicans would really rather you not have health care. He called for more parental involvement in their kids' lives, but opposes allowing them to send them to the school of their choice.

(Incidentally, I appreciate the line about more parental involvement. John Edwards, not so much.)

As I mentioned, a good portion of the latter half of Obama's speech was spent pre-emptively protecting himself against charges that are likely to surface at the GOP convention next week. He told us not to listen to charges that he's a celebrity, or that he hates America, or that he is untested. What would have been a good strategy, I think, would have been to throw the GOP completely off by pre-butting arguments that they never would have made:

"And don't let the Republicans tell you I don't like peanut butter and jelly. I have enjoyed a variety of spreadable dressings throughout my life growing up fatherless in Hawaii."

Guarantee half McCain's staff would start scrambling, looking for inconsistencies in Obama's sandwich consuming habits. Lexis Nexis would be deluged by searches for "Obama" and "salami."

At the end of the speech, the music started playing, and it was... some horrible country song. Thousands of African-Americans showed up in Denver for this watershed civil rights event, and the DNC punishes them with that crap? Wouldn't that have been a good time for a nice Isaac Hayes tribute? Playing country music after Obama's speech is akin to following McCain's speech up with a video tribute to Alec Baldwin.

As the music played, unable to stomach coverage on MSNBC, I switched over to Fox - and immediately heard Brit Hume refer to to "Barack Hussein Obama." I remain firmly planted in the camp that this is obnoxious and plays to the least common denominator. I also think any network that features a reptile like Dick Morris so prominently is undercutting any legitimacy they may be trying to convince us they have.

And... scene.

I'm off to Ann Arbor for the weekend - have a good one, honkies!

Aug 25, 2008

Biden's Selection a Huge Step Forward for Gender Equity

Political observers on both the left and right are slamming the uninspiring selection of Senator Joe Biden as Barack Obama's running mate. The left thinks Obama missed a chance to have a truly historic ticket by passing over Hillary Clinton, who could have been the first woman elected Vice President. The right simply recognizes Biden as a blowhard's blowhard, capable of fitting both feet in his mouth, yet still able to hear the sweet sound of his own voice.

But while some think Biden's selection was a step back for gender relations, it's clear that it's just the opposite. See, for years, female politicians have been held to a different standard when it comes to appearance. While the physical features of male politicians are rarely discussed, women are constantly criticized for their hair, makeup, scarves, and the like. Just look at coverage of Hillary Clinton over the past few years.

Now, with Biden, we have a perfect opportunity to level the gender playing field, as his outrageous hair plugs lend themselves to a discussion of his appearance. Now, when women accuse us of unfairly criticizing their appearance, we can always point to Biden as an example of where we ridiculed his hair. It's open season on both genders, and we have the ghost of Biden's old hair to thank. Equity!

Biden's plugs also raise other questions. Wouldn't it be cool to be the guy who donated his hair to the Vice President? Shouldn't that give you at least a say who should be labor secretary or something? Maybe partly eligible for the VP's pension when he leaves office?

There are some other weird things about the Biden selection. First, they announced it late on a Friday afternoon, at exactly the time when politicians are trying to bury stories. When your congressman is caught trolling for dates at Chuck E. Cheese, chances are he's going to tell his side of the story while you're driving home on Friday. Apparently, the same goes for announcing the name of a running mate who wears other people's hair.

This odd timing might be part of the reason Obama hasn't seen any kind of bump from making the Biden selection. It's possible not enough people have even heard Obama even selected a running mate, much less be able to judge how good of a pick he is. (For those who aren't sure how great Biden is, just listen to Biden himself - he'll tell you.)

Perhaps the funniest part of the whole Biden selection is the talking point, repeated religiously by Obama's surrogates, that somehow Biden would help Obama with "blue collar" workers. Apparently, people working in Washington DC have become so insulated, that they actually believe this. The idea that a 35-year U.S. Senator reflects "blue collar" America is simply preposterous. It's not like the guy's been soldering pipe or sweeping the sawdust out of new homes for the last 20 years. The last time he drove his own car, he was probably listening to the hot new Spandau Ballet hit on the radio.

In the end, the pick of Biden won't make any difference either way - just as McCain's pick likely won't, either. But at least McCain has the decency to man up and sport a good old-fashioned combover. That guy's tough as leather.

Other fun fact of the day: An anagram for "Obama/Biden" is "Babe Domain."

Aug 24, 2008

Conventional Bloggers

As I'm sure you read in last week's Wispolitics Report, I have signed on to cover the GOP convention in the Twin Cities next week for I'm a little nervous, as I have never been to a national convention, and I'm not exactly sure what goes on there. I imagine a full 60% of my posts will deal with funny hats. I'm also not sure I have a hotel room, so I'm thinking it might be a good week to try crystal meth, as I will need to stay awake for four straight days.

I also am not sure what kind of credential I'll have - although I think there's some value in describing a convention as virtually all the attendees experience it - from the outside. If you want hard hitting interviews with Ralph Reed, you should probably stick with the fully credentialed bloggers. But I imagine trying to put together some man-on-the-street stuff like I did for the Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee campaign rallies here in Madison.

Coincidentally, the New York Times today ran a story about bloggers at the conventions. (I think I'm a blogger, I guess.) You can always count on bloggers for examples of healthy self-esteem. From the NYT article, some lefty blogger who thinks he deserves full access:

But some bloggers see the procurement of credentials as less of a privilege and more of a right, in recognition of their grass-roots influence. “This is stuff we deserve — we helped the party get people elected,” said Matt Stoller, a political consultant and a contributor to the blog Open Left, who worked as the volunteer in charge of getting credentials for bloggers at the Democratic convention four years ago. “Maybe in 2004 it was about being accommodating and innovative — but this time around there’s a real fight for power in the party.”

I'd love to see a list of candidates this dope thinks he helped get elected. Or any blogger of any party, for that matter.

The article goes on to detail bloggers who are raising money to attend their respective conventions by soliciting contributions on their blogs. I won't do that (although I will happily accept tips on good sandwich places in Minneapolis). Just read the stuff I post on Wispolitics and the WPRI site while I'm there. Deal?

The Official Dork Alert

Next weekend, I'm heading to Ann Arbor to watch the mighty Michigan Wolverines suffer their first loss of the Rich Rodriguez era to one of my alma maters, Utah. (For those who keep track of these things, I have three former colleges - Virginia Tech, Utah, and Marquette.* There will be a quiz.)

On this trip, I'm going to be meeting up with some of my fraternity brothers from college, most of whom I haven't seen for at least 12 years. So I'm excited for the reunion.

In getting ready for the big event, I went back and watched some of the unfortunate video that exists of me from my college years. Sadly, almost none of it is appropriate to post. But I did find one clip that should silence those who don't buy my whole story about not being able to get a date in college.

Here's the setup: in March of 1994, I piled into a car with my housemates George and Hutton, and we took a bargain basement spring break trip to Arizona State. (It was pure genius to go to a college campus during spring break, incidentally - as it was completely empty.) We were virtually penniless, and the trip involved a lot of sleeping in the car. George, who was from Seattle, remembered a girl he went to high school with (nicknamed "The Watts") who went to Arizona State, so we decided to crash her apartment and plead with her to let us stay there.

As it turns out, she said yes - but the best part was, she had some smoking hot roommates that we convinced to drink with us. What follows is a video of the general tone of the evening - you'd think I had never seen a woman before in my life (I was a month short of 21 years old.)

Good grief. As I recall, we spent the night there, were asked to leave, and ended up sleeping in the car on some side streets in Vegas for a few nights. And, sadly, I kind of miss those days.

* - Sadly, I was unable to complete my degree at the Institute for Equine Therasage, as I never figured out whether it was the horse giving or receiving the massage.

Aug 22, 2008

Pardon the Delay

Sorry things have been slow over here - I've been writing like a sweatshop blogger over at WPRI.

Pizza Subterfuge

In the year or so that it's been open, my wife and I have grown to be fans of the Roman Candle pizzeria in Middleton. A couple weeks ago, we got together with our neighbors and decided to order a pizza from there. I looked at the menu, and decided on a pizza they call the "Animal Lovers."

As it turns out the "Animal Lovers" pizza is actually for vegetarians. It's "animal lovers" as in "I really wouldn't want to hurt that poor animal," not "man, these animals are tasty!"

So consider yourself warned. They really need to change the name of that pizza.

Aug 19, 2008

Just For Confusion

Okay, so explain this:

Just For Men hair coloring sauce, or however you'd describe it, is really pushing the fact that you only have to keep it in for 5 minutes. They actually have one commercial (that I can't find online, you'll just have to take my word for it) where a woman offers a guy her hair coloring product, but he eschews her proposition, complaining that it takes a whole 30 minutes for her hair coloring to sink in.

Now, I recognize there are guys out there who color their hair. That's fine. The amount members of Congress collectively spend on hair dye probably dwarfs the GDP of Tanzania. In fact, according to this ad, once I start coloring my hair, I will immediately be able to go onstage and start playing guitar while a 25 year old blonde sticks her tongue in my ear.

But how many men choose their hair coloring product because they're always in a rush? Has any guy ever been like, "I'm meeting with my boss in 20 minutes to ask for a raise - if I only had time to color my hair. Oh really? Just five minutes? Give me that."

That point is made in a more subtle fashion in this ridiculous ad:

What in the hell is going on here? Did Mommy leave because Daddy has gray hair? Was Daddy bringing home some substandard tail because he looked too old? Was this all some elaborate plot to get the old man out of the house so they could watch more Hannah Montana videos?

The real oversight is obvious - everyone knows that if these girls wanted to get hot women to throw themselves at their dad, they would have just told people he was a blogger.

Aug 18, 2008

Whither the Statue?

A few weeks ago, I started to wonder why we don't memorialize our government leaders with statues anymore. Thinking about that issue, coupled with the dedication of the Fonzie statue in Milwaukee, led me to write my current WPRI column, which is now up over at the mothership.

Aug 15, 2008

The Toilet Attorney

When you have little kids, it's kind of hard to tell where exactly on the intelligence continuum your children are. I mean, I don't really hang out with a lot of three year olds (unless I'm buying them beer) so I'm not sure whether my son is smart compared to another three year old, or smart compared to cauliflower.

But there's one thing that he does that just kills me, and has me completely convinced he has a career as a lawyer ahead of him. Right now, we're trying to potty train him. And as "incentive" to tell Mommy or Daddy that he has to go potty, we offer jellybeans as a reward. (The burning him with cigarettes as punishment for pooping his pants didn't seem to work well.) The rule is: tell Mommy or Daddy that you have to go on the toilet, and you get two jellybeans, payable upon washing your hands afterwards.

Naturally, once the pants are off and he's squatting on the can, the negotiating process begins. "I get five jellybeans," he announces, knowing he has to start high, to get me to up my offer. "Two is the rule," I say. "Okay, four jellybeans," he retorts. I'm telling you, in a past life this kid had to be running a Turkish bazaar. But it's just so cute, it's impossible not to give in. I have to admit, I have occasionally caved and upped my offer to three jellybeans, because when he looks at you with those big eyes while crapping, it really tugs at the heartstrings.

But this is why I'm convinced his negotiating skills are going to lead him to be a good lawyer. In effect, when he's on the toilet, he's "passing a bar" anyway. Although when he finally is serving as U.S. Solicitor General and arguing cases before the Supreme Court, he may need to refine his tactics a little:

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: "Mr. Schneider - exactly what constitutional principle is your client invoking when he asserts his right to publicly offer 'mustache rides for five cents?'"

SOLICITOR GENERAL SCHNEIDER: (Pulls down pants, squats in the middle of chamber, looks at the Chief Justice with sad eyes and quivering lip) "Chief Justice Roberts, I will gladly answer that question for five jellybeans."

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: "I only have four here, and one of those is a black licorice jellybean. And as the Court ruled in 2013, black jellybeans don't really count as regular ones."

As a side note, we had to go to the grocery store this morning to pick up more jellybeans (the Starburst kind, which are outstanding), and as we wheeled through the store, he would hold up the bag and announce to whoever passed by that "THESE JELLYBEANS ARE FOR MY POTTY TRAINING." Some people seemed annoyed, but others appreciated knowing the true purpose of the jellybeans. As a result, I think I am now going to announce why I'm buying certain products to everyone in the store. I'll walk by people and yell "I'M BUYING THIS SOAP, BECAUSE QUITE OFTEN, I SMELL BAD," or "I'M BUYING THIS JACK DANIELS BECAUSE MY DAD DIDN'T COME TO ENOUGH OF MY LITTLE LEAGUE GAMES."

Incidentally, as far as potty training goes, we have now been accident-free for two straight days. Or, I should say, "he" has been. Daddy is still hit-or-miss.

The Fountain of Youth

I've been out of town for a few days, but let me catch you up on the story everyone's talking about - Ernest Borgnine's key to living a long time:

Yes, it's gross. But I'm hoping it works - If so, I'll probably live to be 207.

(H/T: SportsBubbler)

Aug 12, 2008

Tell Us What You Really Think

I was going back through some old campaign clippings, and found this gem from the Sun Prairie Star, from 2004. A couple of the locals are musing on Jim Doyle's connection to casinos: (Click on the picture to make it bigger.)

Aug 10, 2008

Catching Olympic Fever (Or At Least a Rash)

It has been years since I've paid any attention to the Olympics. In fact, since the 1996 games in Atlanta, I've pretty much been openly antagonistic towards the Olympics, and tried to avoid them at all cost.

But this year, I've decided to buy in. Maybe it's because I just read David Maraniss' excellent book on the 1960 Rome Olympics. Perhaps I need a diversion from the Brett Favre hostage negotiations. Maybe it's because I have a secret desire to gaze at Michael Phelps' abs. Who knows.

Speaking of Phelps, I was discussing his medal chase with a female friend of mine, and she expressed her undying love for him. I mentioned the fact that he happens to be somewhat ugly, and she indelicately shot back with the following: "If he can swim, you know what else he can do." Is this a common perception by women of swimmers? If this is actually the case, expect a lot more guys to show up at the bank wearing Speedos. (And much more confusion about whether this is some kind of "stick up.")

Also, I think America owes me a debt of gratitude - I am currently holding all of Phelps' fat for him. When he gets back to the states, he gets it all back. Right now, it currently resides in my abdomen, on loan.

It was actually just a few minutes ago that the US mounted their miraculous comeback against the braggadocious French in the men's freestyle relay. When we won, I let out a yelp of excitement for winning the gold - something I couldn't have imagined just three days ago. (In defense of the French, it is hard swimming while wearing a beret and smoking.)

I do, however, have a complaint about the swimming. When they show the female swimmers, it's too hard to tell whether they're hot or not when they wear the swim caps and goggles. In the absence of any American in the specific heat, is there really any better criteria on which to choose for whom to root? I propose making them wear swim caps that has hair on them that matches what their real hair looks like.

Actually, one of the best parts of the Olympics is watching them with my daughter, and showing her all the sports that women can compete in. She seemed pretty enthralled with women's volleyball, which is perfect, since she's probably going to be pretty tall (so far, she's in the 90th percentile in height for a four-year old.) However, my wife took it a little too far when she suggested women's beach volleyball as an option. Not in my lifetime, as long as they continue to wear the nearly invisible bikinis as uniforms. In fact, I did plenty of research on the topic, watching a good 3 hours of women's beach volleyball. (And I noticed George W. Bush spent a lot of time knocking the volleyball around himself. His approval rating just skyrocketed to 4%.)

Speaking of presidents, I read that John McCain spent $6 million and Barack Obama $5 million on TV ads during the Olympics. Can't they just call it a truce, leave us alone, and let us watch the games in peace?

I love the Home Depot commercials that brag about how many Olympians work at their stores. That's just wonderful - maybe when they start giving out medals for "helping me find a bolt that fits this screw," then maybe I'd be able to get some service around this damn place.

So far, aside from the fatal stabbing, I think China has acquitted itself well. How many medals their teams will will is still an open question. I do guarantee this, however - if they ever held a Pet Olympics, China would have hands-down the fastest dogs.

As a final note, I absolutely detest the predicament steroids has put us viewers in. Take Dara Torres, for instance - she's 41 years old, just had a kid, and now she's breaking swimming world records. Trust me - I've seen a child emerge from a woman first hand. If another human being ever emerged from my loins, it would take me a decade to be able to balance my checkbook, much less become an Olympic swimmer. So Dara Torres is either the most amazing story we'll see during any recent Olympics, or she's the most detestable human being alive. And there's really no middle ground. And it's just sad.

(Incidentally, during an NBC story on Torres, she mentioned that her new baby inspired her to get back in the pool. In fact, she had to get back to making a living, seeing as how John Edwards was late with his support checks.)

Aug 7, 2008

In Case You Missed It

Last week, I showed up on Charlie Sykes' TV show again. We discuss minimum markup, why government won't let me drink, and Trenni Kusnierek.

Watch it here.

And yes, I am aware that my hair remains one of the great mysteries of our time. It looks okay in the mirror beforehand - not sure what happens to it on the way to the set.

Clear the Schedule Tonight

Tonight, the incomparable Eef Barzelay will be performing at Cafe Montmartre here in Madison. Show starts at 9, but there's an opener. You should totally go.

I know I've posted this before, but here's a song Eef performed at Indie Coffee here in Madison a couple years ago:

I know nobody likes having someone push their music on them, but I sincerely believe you will be enchanted. And I know your tastes pretty well.

Jeff Suppan Loves Your Eggs

You may recall the election of 2006, when the issue of stem cell research was at the forefront of political campaigns across the county. At the time, Missouri had a constitutional amendment before the voters that protected embryonic stem cell research - the advertising in favor of which featured Michael J. Fox.

The opposition to the stem cell bill included some Missouri-based celebrities, including current Brewer (and noted God enthusiast) Jeff Suppan:

It's fitting that Suppan takes his faith in the Lord so seriously - since I manage to use God's name in various creative ways while he's pitching.

Aug 6, 2008

And So It Ends

In 1776, General George Washington began pulling out of New York after the American army suffered a string of humiliating defeats at the hands of the British, and he had a decision to make. Does he leave the City of New York standing for the British to enjoy, or does he burn the place down, so they can't occupy it? Before fully retreating, he got a letter from Congress ordering him to leave the city standing. As he would later write to his brother, "Had I been left to the dictates of my own judgment, New York should have been laid in ashes."

Brett Favre has been traded to the New York Jets. And I have to say - I'm with Washington.

And so it goes. Historians will now remember the humid evening of August 7th, 2008 as the night Brett Favre chose to play for a 4-12 Jets team, virtually guaranteeing an ignominious end to his career. I've written plenty about this nonsense, and there's no need to rehash it all here. I just wish I had Doc Brown's Delorean so I could climb in, fire up the flux capacitor, and skip having to watch the embarrassment of Favre trying to throw to Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles. (Although Bubba Franks is on the Jets' preseason roster - maybe they can exhume Dorsey Levens and Antonio Freeman for old time's sake.)

The biggest winner in Favre's move to New York is clearly the drugstore closest to Sports Illustrated writer Peter King's house, as he will now be buying a lot of lotion for Brett's daily rubdowns.

So as I write this as ESPN is on in the background, it appears they are parading every douchebag, bloodsucking reporter they have out, one by one, explaining how it is Fox Sports scooped them on a story they had 32 people covering. So far, we've seen Sal Paolantonio, Rachel Nichols, Chris Mortensen, and noted "being washed up" expert Trent Dilfer chiming in.

Incidentally, all day ESPN kept playing up the interview Rachel Nichols got from Favre outside his plane before he took off from Green Bay this morning. Honest to God - why do we even have a Department of Homeland Security if Rachel Nichols can chase down a plane on a runway?

As a final thought, just remember - the Packers still have the best QB in the NFC North. And absolutely nothing has changed with regard to the Packers' roster from March of this year - except that Brett Favre will be playing in another city. No tears were shed when Reggie came back with the Carolina Panthers, and none should be in this case.

America Wins War on Poverty

Sparking a nationwide party whose scale hasn't been seen since Victory in Europe Day in 1945, Americans from coast to coast today celebrated the successful end of the United States' 44-year War on Poverty.

Democrat President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his declaration of war on want in his State of the Union Speech on January 8th, 1964. LBJ's "Great Society" anti-poverty programs expanded upon the legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt. While FDR's "New Deal" programs were really just a slap-fight against poverty, it took LBJ's bold action to escalate the battle to full-scale warfare.

Heartless conservatives initially derided the War on Poverty and decried its expense. They absurdly suggested that no amount of taxpayer dollars would ever truly end poverty as long as some individuals chose to drop out of school, abuse drugs, join gangs and give birth to children out of wedlock. Those reactionaries who predicted War on Poverty welfare policies would institutionalize a culture of government dependency are eating crow today.

History will not be kind to the conservatives' now-discredited assertions that the only real way for an individual to climb out of poverty was through education, gainful employment, marriage and thrift.

"The Democrats said we could end poverty as long as we spent enough of my money for enough time on government programs," said taxpayer Alice Anderson. "By golly, they were right! Nobody is poor anymore."

As it so often has been in its history, the United States was behind the curve on defeating poverty. Wealth redistribution and forced collectivization in places like the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and communist China ended poverty in these countries decades ago.

On the campaign trail today, Democrat Presidential candidate Barack Obama marked the historic event. Mr. Obama chastised Republicans who had long sought a timetable for America's withdrawal from the War on Poverty.

"The Democrats saw poverty could be eliminated, but only if we spent trillions upon trillions of taxpayer dollars over 44 years on government handouts," said Mr. Obama. "We saw poverty was the enemy and we knew war was the only answer and we promised to fight. And Democrats would never just up and quit in the middle of a war!"

"Hope. Change." added Mr. Obama.

The smashing success of the now-ended War on Poverty has given hope that similar wars may be waged and won. The tax hikes and strict government regulations that make up plans for the Democrats' War on Climate Change are expected to be just as effective in the fight against global warming.

Aug 5, 2008

Time For a New Jersey

Fun fact: I only own two NFL jerseys: Michael Vick and Brett Favre. And honestly, I'm not sure which one I'd be more embarrassed to wear in public. (On the bright side, in a couple of days my Favre jersey will officially become a "throwback," and be worth triple what it is now.)

So the search is on for a new jersey, but I'm not really sure who my second favorite Packer actually is. The problem is, most of the guys that I like the most (Woodson, Driver) are old - so if you go out and buy their jersey now, you're really not maximizing your dollar. Seriously - a Charles Woodson jersey should come with a 2009 expiration date.

All the other guys are too young and inexperienced to warrant a jersey purchase. Ryan Grant? Nah. Aaron Rodgers? You'd be better off waiting a couple years and buying a Brohm jersey.

The one guy that kind of falls right in the middle is Greg Jennings. Young, productive, just hitting his stride, and (as far as we know) doesn't fight dogs. So unless I can be convinced otherwise, Jennings might be the winner. The downside, of course, is that if you wear a jersey of a player 10 years younger than you, it kind of looks like a cry for help.

The other direction to go would be just to get a jersey of some random ex-Packer that makes people chuckle when they see it. You still occasionally see people at games with a Jurkovic or Lamont Hollinquest Jersey. And, of course, those guys are unlikely to sully the name on their jersey - mostly because their names will never be uttered in public again.

Then again, I could just go out of the box and get a Clinton Portis jersey. I like his wacky disguises.

Oh, and as a postscript to the whole Favre thing, I have to mark this momentous occasion - very rarely do I disagree with Rick Esenberg on anything, but on the whole Favre issue, he is absolutely dead wrong. And given the poll numbers my employer just cranked out, it looks like most of Wisconsin is with me.

As my friend Mike put it in an e-mail:

Prima donna ingrate. If TO were pulling this stuff, Green Bay fans, Michael Hunt, Tom Oates, and all the radio guys would be screaming about what a piece of trash he was. But because it's Saint Favre, the rules are different.
Favre's been lying and leaking and scheming to wreck the Packers for 8 weeks.
If he cares so damn much about not wanting to be a distraction, he should go home and sit on his tractor.

Aug 4, 2008

My Proudest Parenting Moment

Okay, real quick story from this weekend that demonstrates what a stellar parent I am:

On Saturday, my wife took my 4-year old daughter to the grocery store. But when they get there, my daughter starts throwing a fit and refuses to go in the store. Why, you may ask?

Because the store was "Cub." And my daughter kept telling my wife that she hates the Cubs.

Honest to God true story. That is a young woman that is on the right path.

Aug 3, 2008

Brewin' Up a Common Goal

I have a column today in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel discussing the prospective healing powers of the Brewers for the City of Milwaukee.

Interestingly, I wrote the editorial a week ago, with the Brewers coming off a streak where they won 9 of 10 games. Everyone knows that the team imploded during the Cubs series last week, losing four straight. This was partly why I took the Brewers' losses so hard - if they went on a disastrous losing streak, it would render my column moot and make me look like a moron. (I still might be a moron, but it's not because of the column.) In fact, during the week, it looked like the only unifying effect the Brew Crew would have is that people of all races would be out with torches, burning Miller Park to the ground. Fortunately, a couple road wins against the Braves have turned the ship around a little.

Anyway, you can read the column here.

Aug 1, 2008

"Harry Was Very Excited"

For those of you who don't recognize what a gold mine local Wisconsin newspapers are for entertainment, I give you this: A photo essay of a local resident enjoying a day at a Wisconsin Badger cookout...

All in all, a big day for Harry Baller. I mean, come on - someone at the paper had to know, right?