Congratulations Are In Order

Congratulations to El Guapo and La Linda, who are expecting El Guapito or La Guapita any day now; although they’re refusing to divulge the name of the child, sources (scrying bubbles in a schooner is very effective regardless what the so-called “scientists” say) indicate the couple have chosen Guinness if it’s a boy or Abita if it’s a girl.

Also, a note of condolence to El Guapo, who will lose his nine-month-long designated driver at roughly the same time.

Perspective for Geek Gamers

Hey, geeks, you think the world revolves around you and your predilections for HALO, Half-Life, Counter-Strike, EverQuest, Asheron’s Call, and other high-end FPS extravaganzas?

David Kushner in Wired magazine begs to differ. He knows that the biggest audience for online gaming is older women who like simple, easy to pick up and easy to put down games.

Gentle readers, I know this is true. For the two most hardcore gamers I know, in terms of time spent at the keys, are my aunt and my mother-in-law. Even more than Heather and her StarCraft, even more than me with Civ III. Take it to the bank.

Book Review: Bob Greene’s America by Bob Greene (1993)

This volume contains two previously published collections of Bob Greene’s work, 1983’s American Beat and 1985’s Cheeseburgers. Twenty years old. The pieces, collected from his column in Esquire called “American Beat” (who would have guessed?) and his columns in the Chicago Tribune, have held up rather well.

As part of his style, Greene often introduces the man, the visitor, or the writer into the story just like that. An abstract common noun, which allows the reader to pour himself (or herself, I suppose) into the story. This abstract serves as an observatory proxy, and appreciate the narrative device. I tried to identify what, specifically, I like about his columns, and I like this technique.

The subject matter, as well as the length, vary from piece to piece, but since this comes from the near apogee of his professional status, Greene gets to travel all across the country and talk to any number of important people, from Gerald Ford to Meryl Streep. I like the writing style, and I’m impressed with the lifestyle affected by the narrative voice. The book was well worth the $6.00 I spent on it, especially since it’s really like $3.00 for each book contained in the volume.

Listen, friends, I know I promised I would zing Bob Green a couple of times for the indiscretion that led to his downfall, but jeez, I read a couple of bits about him after finishing the book, including “The Sad Saga of Bob Greene” from Chicago Magazine and “The Confessions of Bob Greene” from Esquire, and I don’t want to jump on the petty bandwagon with other, more-refined and urbane columnists from Chicago and the media watchers who chatter like nightingales trying to capture the souls of the departed and downfallen.

Say It Again, Steyn

Mark Steyn, from his Chicago Sun-Times column today:

    But that’s the difference between then and now: the loss of proportion. They had victims galore back in 1863, but they weren’t a victim culture. They had a lot of crummy decisions and bureaucratic screwups worth re-examining, but they weren’t a nation that prioritized retroactive pseudo-legalistic self-flagellating vaudeville over all else. They had hellish setbacks but they didn’t lose sight of the forest in order to obsess week after week on one tiny twig of one weedy little tree.

What he said.

Book Review: Midworld by Alan Dean Foster (1975)

I picked this book up at Downtown Books, Milwaukee’s premier used book store, last weekend. I felt like I needed some good throwaway fiction to intersperse amongst the serious fiction I read (and by “amongst” I mean before). So I bought a lot of Alan Dean Foster because I like Alan Dean Foster. The Spellsinger series, the movie novelizations, and so on.

At 179 pages, this book promised a quick read, which is important to a young man on a quest to read at least sixty books this year (and since this is book 29, I am ahead of schedule, but why wait until December to start taking shortcuts?). It was.

The book takes place on a heavily-forested world, where descendents of errant colonists have gone back to nature to survive. The tribe thinks a hunter named Born a trifle mad, or perhaps a trifle smart; he’s brave in an often incautious way. So when a strange metal demon falls from the sky, Born leads a troop to view it. When the rest of the group flees, only Born remains to discover the strange giant people within it. They tell him fantastic things and enlist his aid in returning to their station.

Foster does a marvelous job engrossing the reader in a strange and wonder-filled world. Although the setting is fantastic, Foster introduces the character, the environment, and the social structures well. That reflects what’s best about good sci-fi, and unfortunately about all that’s good about this book. Because the plot’s really a puffed up short story or novella, and the world in which it is set ultimately resolves into a Gaia-humping, collective-consciousness-espousing piece of mid 1970s drivel. Of course, that’s my visceral reaction to my disappointment. The texture and the colors are so well-executed that I wish the whole picture depicted something better.

I mean, I paid three whole dollars for it.

Pop-Up Mocker Updated

Don’t forget to check out my snarky site devoted to the worship of pop-up ads. If you’re smart and using one of the newer browsers or some other suppressent techologies, this might be the only way you get to see these peculiar forms of art.

Turning the Irony to the Wool Setting

Congratulations once again to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In today’s print edition, the story entitled Hosts of sports-talk shows should follow a few basics contains rule number one for radio sports talk show hosts:

    Be as informed as your listeners: Hosts should know at least as much about current events as those who are on the other end of the radio. And it doesn’t take that much work.

Accompanying this piece is a photo of Tony Twist, who has recently been ousted from a hosting position on one of the radio stations discussed in the article. The caption for the photo?

    Former Blues defenseman Tony Twist was a casualty of changes at radio station KSLG.

Here on the Internet, we have a saying: Double-check your spelling when you criticize someone’s grammar.

Note to the unhockey-savvy, including the sports photo caption writers for the Post-Dispatch:Tony Twist was a winger, a forward, not a defenseman.

Sending a Message

This story in the Denver Post sends an interesting message to citizens following DOJ instructions to BOLO for terrorist suspects:

    2 suspected al-Qaeda agents dropped in for meal, says Denny’s manager in Avon

    The FBI office in Denver has received “numerous” calls about the seven people believed to be associated with al-Qaeda pictured Wednesday in newspapers.

    Monique Kelso, spokeswoman for the Denver office, wouldn’t characterize the calls as “sightings,” but at least one was reported as such.

    Samuel Mac, manager of the Denny’s in Avon, isn’t happy with the response he got from the FBI when he reported that two of them ate at his restaurant Wednesday.

That’s the set-up. Here’s the punchline:

    But she [Monique Kelso, spokeswoman for the Denver FBI field office] said the FBI has no reason to believe any of the seven are in Colorado or traveling through.

Got that? If you think you see any of the suspects, call the authorities, who won’t find your information believable.

Swell.

Hockey Has Made Me Multi-Cultural

Dudes, I don’t know how to explain it. I pronounce Martin marTAN, and when I see a name like Branko Radivojevic in print, I know how it’s pronounced (which might differ from how it’s pronounced on the radio, werd).

Of course, I’ll cross the final Radivobicon into worldly when I can spell Radivojevic from hearing it pronounced. But that will be a couple years.

Perhaps One Should Learn Slang Before Hiring the Band

More kudos to the fools who took a perfectly good Masonicesque Veiled Prophet celebration (seriously) and made it into a family-friendly (called sometimes “public-avoided”) event. The people who bring to you Fair St. Louis, which is an apt description of the city and metropolitan area itself, have rescinded their booking of main attraction Smash Mouth:

    Smash Mouth, the pop act that was supposed to deliver a hipper, younger crowd to Fair St. Louis, has been booted from the July 4 lineup. Fair officials dropped the act after lead singer Steve Harwell offended employees of Enterprise Rent-a-Car at a corporate party in Orlando this month. Witnesses said Harwell called audience members obscene names.

    Fair St. Louis executive director Rich Meyers said that he received a call from Pete Wyatt, a former entertainment chairman for the fair and an employee of Enterprise, who said that “the performance was the most vile, profane thing he had ever seen.” Meyers said, “We can’t take that sort of risk that there will be that sort of behavior in front of families, especially on the evening of the Fourth.”

I suspect that the target of the profanity, St. Louis Illuminati-level string-pulling Enterprise Rent-A-Car, has as much to do with the abrupt change of plans as the obscenity or profanity itself. But jeez, you happening old dudes, let’s just count up the clues that might have indicated the mindset and style of the group, shall we?

  • It’s named Smash Mouth, which describes a style of speaking that’s sort of, um, colorful.
  • Its first hit album was entitled Fush Yu Mang, alternately entitled on Amazon.com as Fush Yu Mang [EXPLICIT LYRICS]. Fush yu mang is a slurred pronunciation of a Nuyorican spoken unwritten mandate, if you get my drift. If you don’t, you should read this blog more frequently.
  • The first line of their first hit (“Walkin’ on the Sun“) is It ain’t no joke I’d like to buy the world a toke. You know, a marijuana cigaret.

Family-friendly? Geez, man, this is rock and roll. Smash Mouth will only be family friendly in thirty years, when the inured children of this generation curse the next-generation corruptive musicians who have scientific methods of actually altering brain waves through sound to cause orgasm or uncontrolled sobbing, or both when Chris Carrabba, Jr., sings.

Looks like the public/private partnership titans in charge of Fair St. Louis hired the wrong six-figure consultants to tell them what’s cool.

So-Called Watch

In an otherwise good, Spoons-approved column for the Chicago Tribune, Steve Chapman identifies the slippery slope that gun banners are encouraging with the Assault Weapons Ban. Unfortunately, he deploys a stink bomb of clich (pronounced, yes, clitch):

    The guns used by the Red Army and assorted guerrillas around the world are indeed automatic weapons, firing up to 100 rounds a minute with a single squeeze of the trigger. But the so-called AK-47s allowed before the ban were semiautomatics, which fire only once each time the trigger is pulled. They are to authentic military weapons what a beer-league softball player is to Barry Bonds.

Yick. Poor form, Peter.

Back to the Future

So I read in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Marquette University might return to the Warriors as its mascot:

    A $2 million gift isn’t tempting enough to get Marquette University to change its nickname back to Warriors, but the fact that an important alumnus asked for the change during a public event is forcing the university to think about it.

    Wayne Sanders, the vice chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, said at the end of the commencement address to Marquette graduates Sunday that he and another, unnamed trustee each would give $1 million to Marquette for the switch from Golden Eagles to Warriors.

    School officials declined the money Monday, but they said that in coming weeks, the board will consider formally revisiting the decade-long debate.

Jeez, I feel old. A decade-long debate. Here’s what I wrote in the Marquette Tribune in 1993(?) in my column “Through These Eyes”:

    Through These Eyes #6: The Great Mascot Controversy

    In the interest of saving the university some money, I would like to make my contribution to the “Name the Mascot” competition. There’s no need for them to go throwing away money to a private consultant, even though I realize they just stuck us for ten percent more for just such academic emergencies. Let that much-needed cash go to making some dean’s office more competitively decorated like that of other schools.

    Okay, the Native Americans got a little bent out of shape that the university used an image of a Native American for a while there. I know what great strain and emotional upset some of them must have gone through attending basketball games and seeing the mascot, even if it was a descendent of the original Native Americans. This great debate is not limited strictly to the campus. All over the country, groups of Native American are protesting the use of their heritage on athletic teams. I mean, I can understand. I abhor the New York Yankees. How dare they?
    So now the university needs a new, non-offensive mascot. Something that can be identified with the Warrior. I humbly submit the following.

    How about a white man dressed in skins carrying a club? Think about it, a nice barbarian figure for our sporting events. No, wait. That might be deemed too something-ist for our school if we featured a White European Male mascot like that. Besides, it is not a sort of figure easily identifiable with a Warrior. We’d hate to be mistaken for the Marquette Neanderthals.

    Okay, idea two. A nice knight figure. In armor. A chivalrous warrior. No, wait. That’s still a European figure. Besides, some Arabic or Islamic groups might get angry because every few years a bunch of these guys would get together and try to take over the Middle East, or select parts thereof.

    Okay, check this out. An African tribesman. With a spear and paint. No, can’t do that. The African Americans would have the same objections as the Native Americans.

    Well, how about a samurai in his battle robe and armor, helmet adorned with ox horns, quiver, gold-studded sword, his ancestral crest, the whole bit? Maybe a neat little pseudo-seppuku when the sports team is down? Oh, there’s that blasted heritage argument again.

    How about that lone American warrior, the cowboy? Why not, Rick Fields classifies that historical figure as a warrior in his book The Code of the Warrior. Since I’m running low on ideas, why not? A six-gun and ten gallon hat, idealizing the American spirit of independence and swift justice. Uh-oh, wait a minute. Cowboys tended to shoot Native Americans, didn’t they? Maybe this version of our mascot wouldn’t placate them so well….

    I have to admit, I’m getting a little frustrated here. When I think of a Warrior from history, I tend to think in terms of different heritages like that, and that’s already proven to be taboo. Either the Warrior was the member of a distinct ethnic group that can and will be offended, and/or they killed people of an offendable group.

    I mean, that’s the way I see it. Of course, that is ignoring the common denominator among all Warriors, which is some sort of hardiness and bravery, a willingness to risk their very lives in pursuit of what they thought was right, the skills of life and death intertwined into a person who would kill or die for honor and justice. The Native American Warrior did this. Maybe having a brave as our mascot is not so much a way of spitting on a race of man and saying “Nyah nyah, you injun,” as it is a way of showing respect for a gallant breed of our species and the finest their culture produced.

    Or, I guess we could have Patty Smythe mousse up her hair and paint her face up and start singing, “Shooting out the walls of heartache, bang-bang…” But that might get a bit expensive.

(Pssst. Want a bit of irony? The Marquette Tribune had four rotating columnist of varying political viewpoints–Right, Right to Center, Center to Left, and Left. I was Center to Left–less a tribute to the “right wing” nature of the Marquette campus (as a Jesuit university) and more to the preconceived notion of what long hair meant. A mullet. You got something to say about it?)

The Wheels of Justice Crush at Ex’s Direction

Check this out, gentlemen:

    A man has been charged with child abuse for not applying enough sunblock to his 12-year-old son before a day at the beach.

    The boy was severely burned as a result, authorities said.

    Walter McKelvie Jr., 43, of Vineland, was indicted Tuesday and charged with one count of child abuse and neglect in the July 20 incident, in which he took his mentally disabled son to the beach in Wildwood.

A sunburn as child neglect. Great. Were this the case, my father would have been up every time he toook us swimming at his new wife’s parents’ pool. Sunblock? In the 1980s? Are you kidding me? Wear a t-shirt while swimming? Naaah! We were young and we could take it.

Granted, this child is “mentally disabled”. but its meaning is not clarified in the article and can be nebulous to say the least. Dyslexic? Incapable of speech? “Mentally disabled” is all we have, so I will assume the worst for the father, which is “not very.”

Because:

    The son, identified only as R.M., suffered large, bleeding blisters on his back and face. Authorities were alerted by the boy’s mother, who has custody of him but was not with him at the beach, according to Assistant Cape May County Prosecutor Meghan Hoerner.

Hell hath no fury. And back off, you hosers, I’m the product of a broken home, so I will tell you so.

Perspective: Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps the old man was flirting with the beach bunnies, impervious to their disinterest to the mid-life-crisised, pierced, and balding man with the child with Down’s syndrome and said child boiled during this several hour beerspan. But the article doesn’t give me that. I reserve the right to judge this a case of ex-wife seeks revenge through the criminal courts.

(Link seen on Drudge.)

Add It Up

I ask you, is it coincidence that the movie The Tomorrow after Day or something tells about the impudent meddling of man awakens Godzilla and he fights El Niño is opening, Al Gore is ranting about, well, whatever the voices tell him to, and here in St. Louis we had hail the size of small frogs yesterday, power outages, and tornado warnings tonight?

You know it as well as I do.

Democrats are playing politics with the weather reports.

It has nothing to do with Doppler radar chatter, the information gathered and projected by trained professionals, and the world conditions as they exist–it’s all about unseating George W. Bush in the presidential election!

I Need a Shower. A Hot Shower, With Lots of Soap

You gentle readers who do not pay much attention to the chatterings of the blogosphere or the might have missed the story of Wankette and Wankienne, two taste-challenged, promiscuious women based in Washington, D.C. One posts semi-obscene, semi-profane gossip nuggets and the other has sex with married men for money and then talks about it. The whole thing turns my stomach, so I’ve tried not to think of it.

So for the uninitiated, read what Michelle Malkin has to say about it to get an inkling of how much the Washington Post and those coastal connected types laud the duo, and keep in mind that when one of these coastal-take-all-comers types claims that people from the middle of the country are overrepresented in the government, whether through Senate representation or the Electoral College system, these women are among those who are purportedly underrepresented.

(Link seen on Nealz Nuze.)

His Picture Is in the Thesaurus for Class (Antonym of)

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Man Who Would Have Been President (If Only He Had Won):

    George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility. Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world.

    He promised to “restore honor and integrity to the White House.” Instead, he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.

This from a man who served in an administration that solicited campaign funds from Chinese nationals and whose president was impeached for lying under oath and later lost his law license for perjury. Visit the whole remarks at Move On, an organization founded to help America move on from the scandal wherein the former Senator from Tennessee’s former boss was investigated for shady land deals and later for having adulterous sex in the White House.

Jeez, Gore, you don’t hear statesmen talking that way. Did you hear George H.W. Bush or Dan Quayle barking like that after Clinton? Can you imagine George W. Bush, former governor of Texas and presidential candidate, laying into a Gore presidency like that? No?

And I bet you don’t even understand why not. Timidity? Fear of your righteousness?

Just face it, you’re losing that type of class warfare.

(Link seen on Drudge.)

But He’s Not A Scientist

Mike Nichols of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel provides a little perspective on the cataclysmically-worsening climate:

    In Elm Grove and Brookfield, so much rain fell in an eight-hour period in 1997 that it was labeled a “300-year-storm” – just about the worst thing to happen, we were led to believe, since the invention of the loincloth.

    That’s definitely bad – though not nearly as bad as the “500-year storm” that reportedly hit the exact same area the very next year.

    Not nearly as cursed, either, as what transpired in the late-1990s in New Berlin.

    Here’s a real paragraph from a story about New Berlin that ran in this paper three years ago:

    “Storm water management efforts were under way in New Berlin long before 100-year storms hit the city in 1997, 1998 and 2000…”

    That’s right. The only year between 1996 and 2001 that there was not a so-called 100-year storm in New Berlin was 1999.

But take his perspective with a grain of salt. He’s just a newspaper columnist, not a scientist seeking funding for his particular project or trying to better the lives of lesser men through dictating policy in his field of expertise, damn its impact on everything else. That is, Nichols has an agenda of some sort.