June 2006 Archives

still

Day Two of Lynn and Sue's visit

So far, so good. They've been on their best behavior. Not much criticism has been leveled, although Sue, given a chance to amend her statement that I'm the bitchiest person she's ever met, including people at the Japanese internment camp where she grew up, politely declined. Props to Lynn for saying that I'm not bitchy but "an iconoclast. I can't read H.L. Mencken without thinking of John." It was a marvelous compliment but was immediately undermined by the ditziness that followed. Lynn has made only one remark about the tragedy of my not being married, but it came in the extraordinarily irritating form of her Wishing Importantly that things had worked out with Allie, with whom I'm "perfectly suited." She's never met Allie.

"We are exactly what we are supposed to be," I said.

"Still, it's too bad."

"No it's not. She has a great guy."

"Still."

She makes a good point. Everyone might be delighted with the current arrangement, but we shouldn't be. We just don't understand the situation.

fat man's crease

I've surrendered to mother nature and shaved my head.

I'm mostly pleased. For the first time in years, I can look at the top and back of my head without being horrified by signs of aging typically (and most conveniently) unseen. I started examining my newly shorn head from the front.

"Hey!" I was pleased.

Around to the side: "Hey!'

The top: "Not bad!"

The other side: "Excellent!"

The back: "Fuck me."

I've got the fat man's crease, like Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction. So, so attractive. I go back and forth on whether this is preferable to being balding. Katrina, bless her heart, tried to spin it.

trivia_08.jpg"It's not a fat guy crease," she said of the crease composed of fat. "It's a tough guy crease. You look like that Nazi Indiana Jones had a fistfight with on the plane in Raiders."

Thanks?

can you read my mind?

Here's what movie-going in your 30s is like, kids.

On the way home from the theatre, Katrina and I were debating the merits and flaws of Superman Returns when...

Katrina: "I had issues with Lois Lane and her boyfriend. I thought they were really poor parents. I mean, taking the kid on to Luthor's yacht? I would never do that."

Me: "Congratulations."

Katrina: "What?"

Me: "You just made tomorrow's Stank post."

Katrina: "OH NO NO NO NO NO what I was saying was that in terms of the plot, it wasn't credible that she would take him on to the yacht."

Me: "Mmm."

• • •

The movie was good. Brandon Routh ably takes over the mantle, often hitting notes so eerily like Christopher Reeve, they're kind of creepy. Every scene Kevin Spacey was in, my eyes were riveted to him. Both performances were note-perfect. Kate Bosworth looks 12. (Where movie math and real math collide: to be Bosworth's age, Lois would have had to have slept with Superman when she was 17). Parker Posey's performance and role are overpraised. The Luthor scheme was just plain dull. Despite some plodding indulgences, the film tries for, and occasionally achieves, grandeur. That's rare.

Now, on to the bitching.

The tagline of the '77 Superman was "You will believe a man can fly." Seems quaint now, doesn't it? In this day and age of Bobbing Tigers, Pendular Dragons, every movie has flying men. A flying man comes with the medium popcorn combo, now, so the tagline clearly needs updating. How about:

You will believe a man can dangle an entire cruise ship by a single strut.

You will believe sound waves can travel to Superman's ears in the vacuum of space.

You will believe that a small helicopter can make it from New York to the Bahamas.

You will believe that faulty release pins can hold a space shuttle to the roof of a 747 if the shuttle's rockets fire.

You will believe that NASA would just happen to fill the 747 with reporters for the shuttle's maiden launch.

You will believe a 747 can be held by its nose at a 45 degree angle and be gently lowered to the ground without snapping.

You will believe that Superman can lift into orbit the same suburb-sized chunk of kryptonite that, just 10 minutes ago, sapped all his powers.

You will believe that Earth orbit escape velocity is that of a love tap.

I'm willing to believe in Kryptonian physics for two hours, but can we keep the Earth physics vaguely recognizable?

low fidelity

One of the very last real conversations the AW and I had was in the hot tub, where we each answered the following throw-it-out-there question: what guy/girl did you mistreat most?

Her answer was her first husband, who she'd cheated on and left, who on her way out she'd unjustifiably vilified as having a "frightening temper." I'd long smelled bullshit there, and I was impressed by the rare display of self-awareness on her part. Little did I know she was preparing to similarly smear me a few months later. Ah well. Just so long as she and the "Us" magazines are gone.

When I'd posed the question, I was focused on her answer and not mine. When it came my turn to reciprocate, I had nothing. Not that I haven't done my share of uncool things toward girlfriends, but I would be damned if I could think of a case where it wasn't in response to something worse. "Honestly, I think I'm a pretty good boyfriend," I said, knowing it was weak. "A lousy enemy, but a good boyfriend."

I pressed on in my memory, past the carnage of my adult years, past even high school. I landed in eighth grade. "This is going to seem stupid, but in terms of mistreating the undeserving, I think this is my worst offense." I then told the story of Shelly. She was a friend and a complete doll. I had a huge crush on her; a lot of guys did. And in the manner of an attractive girl just starting to discover her powers, she enjoyed the attention. She actually—gasp!—talked to these other guys. Enjoyed their attentions, even! My eighth grade brain could not process how the object of my affections could behave in such a reprehensible manner. What. A. Filthy. Whore. She must be punished, or at least made to pay attention to me.

So in the manner of boys that age (and some women in their 30s), I froze her out. You know the drill. I wouldn't make eye contact, she would make an attempt at sane human interaction, I would pretend she wasn't there, she would weep, repeat. This went on for months. Ice and tears, ice and tears. Every time I made her cry, I felt warm tinglies inside. She sent the kid who sat between us as her intermediary. "What's the deal?" Tim would ask.

"She knows," I'd growl self-righteously, having no actual answer.

We went on to high school, and I moved on to other unrequited crushes and learned to cope with competition. But I never did speak to Shelly again. Too awkward.

"That's pathetic," the AW said, quite rightly, as we climbed out of the hot tub. "Why did you even bring up this topic if you didn't have a good story?"

Fair question. Perhaps because it would lead to a better story?

Recounting my mistreatment of Shelly made me curious as to whatever happened to her. Information on the Internet was spare, but after a few hours of searching I found my first breakthrough: a genealogy record. Oh no. Look at that. Holy crap. Her mom died right when I was freezing her out? Jesus. I am less than a human being. I am a contemptible pig.

What a few minutes earlier had seemed like inconsequential teen drama suddenly had some gravity to it. I was already feeling down on my eighth-grade self when the bombshell surfaced. She was married. To our intermediary, Tim.

Karma has one long-ass reach.

pity this

When I took my leave of grad school and Spokane, I promised my friends Sue, the Creative Writing secretary, and Lynn, my boss, that I would stay in touch.

They laughed. "Yeah, we've heard that one before. We'll hear from you for a year, maybe two, and then never again. You'll just fade away. They always do."

This Thursday, 12 years and three weeks after that conversation, Lynn and Sue arrive at my house again. I will remind them of their scoffing a decade ago. They will beg me to fade away with dignity.

• • •

Mothering. You can't spell "smothering" without it.

mopping.jpgWhile I love being with my old friends, there's one component to their mothering I could do without. To their generations, it's positively freakish for a man over 24 to be unmarried. He is presumed helpless—drowning in his own loneliness and filth—whatever the case might actually be. Without a wife to mop the floors, my floors must be disgusting. They must be. That the maid mops them a couple times a month is immaterial, at least until I marry her. And thus will our time together include many a comment about my complete inability to function. Good times. Good, sexist times.

I will have heaps of pity piled upon me during this visit, and not for my stupid elbow injury, losing all my friends at once, Percy continuing to live—or anything else for which I might actually deserve pity. Nay, I will be pitied for not making the same choices they did.

This leads us to an emerging peeve of mine: when people profess pity for you about something with which you're actually quite happy.

"No, you're not," they seem to be saying. "Snap out of denial and be miserable."

Any time I'm less than elated, it's because I'm single. My feh time at the Super Bowl? It had nothing to do with Detroit or corporate sterility or a crappy game. "I just wish you'd been able to take someone with you," ached Lynn.

"Um, there wasn't exactly a shortage of volunteers. I just thought that given my good fortune in scoring tickets, the money from the second ticket should go to char—"

"I think you would have had a better time if you weren't alone." She sounded ready to weep.

"I go to games alone every year. I love doing that."

"Still..."

Ca-righst. Do graduating students really fade away, or is it more of an all-out sprint?

pat riley does the funky chicken

This isn't Supreme Moment in Whiteness-worthy, because Riley was goaded into dancing and surely knew he looked like an idiot. But it's still amusing stuff.

Meanwhile, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and U.S. soccer fans are all still whining about officiating. Cough.

he's back. and he's pissed off.

Actually, this is Percy happy. Safari getup = happy suit

Is that belly-button camel-toe I see?

Help me get this back into my ass

rape is cool

The Denis Leary series Rescue Me used to be about firefighters, but this season it's spiraling into wretched melodrama. This week's episode struck bottom with such ferocity, it may well have been the most revolting thing ever aired on television.

Shortly after having sex with his teenage nephew's lover/high-school-teacher, our hero visits his soon-to-be-ex-wife to discuss the division of assets. She's leaving him for two reasons: 1) she blames him for the death of their son, who was killed by a drunk driver, who in turn was then murdered by Leary's uncle, who's a hero in prison, and 2) she's having sex with Leary's brother. ("This is about firefighters, this is about firefighters," I found myself chanting in denial.) Which brings us to the scene in question.

Angry about his wife bedding his brother, Leary assaults her, throwing her down, bloodying her face, ripping her clothes. He then graphically rapes her. R-a-p-e-s her. Her struggles and protests turn to moans, and when all is said and done, everyone is better for the experience. She's calmed and reasonable, and he smirks triumphantly as he leaves. The world has righted, and our hero is the badass king of his universe once again.

What the hell was that?

I'm still numb. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to think. Whatever I think, it ain't about the characters. That illusion has been shattered. No, all I could think about was the show's creators. Are they so cynical, so out of touch that they actually think this is entertainment? That this is a protagonist? That I still care what they have to say? That I want to ever watch this show again?

I'm stunned that there's been no backlash.

fine company

Once again, I'll start the conversation at its very end:

Allie: "Nope. Just you and Ted Kaczynski. You're the only ones I can name."

worst jobs of sports acting

costner_sarandon.jpgIf I were to make this an award, I'd name it after Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham. (An aside: I loathe this actress. Why she bewitches so many men confounds me; I find her utterly revolting. I always have.) In Bull Durham, she plays baseball groupie/guru Annie and supposedly coaches Kevin Costner on his swing. There was a bump on the road to .400, however, as Susan Sarandon in a batting cage is as fluid and graceful as a little old lady swatting at drunken hornets with a 30-foot broomstick. Or Susan Sarandon reading poetry. Whichever. It was utterly preposterous and made me roar in the theatre.

Robert Redford, The Natural. God, I love baseball! Sorry. This isn't about cringe-inducing dialogue; it's about cringe-inducing sports acting. Did creaky 48 year old Redford pull off playing athlete Roy Hobbs at 19 and 35? Let's just say he grounded into a double play.

Jennifer Aniston, in the football episode of Friends. I've long thought Aniston to be America's greatest living actress. After all, this woman woke up next to Brad Pitt every morning and then went to work and convincingly pretended to be attracted to David Schwimmer. No small feat. Alas, her runs and "catches" here betray someone who has never, ever been outside in her life. If there were a rule that you must catch passes with your eyes closed and use your elbows, not your hands, the game would look something like this. I wonder how many takes it took.

benditlikebeckham2.jpgKiera Knightly, Bend It Like Beckham, and Janet Jones, American Anthem. The exact same performance. Pay attention to how long we're permitted to watch their ball-handling/gymnastics skills in a sustained shot. The record is .72 seconds straight, I think.

Mr. T., Rocky III For me, half the fun of watching this film is seeing Mr. T's head snap back four times when Rocky throws two jabs. Pathetic.

Vlade Divac, center, Los Angeles Lakers Worst. Sports Actor. Ever. His theatrics would make soccer players blush.

supreme.pngNow that the SMW award exists, I gotta retroactively hand one out to this especially excruciating moment.

• • •

Originally published May 17, 2006

• • •

Another cringe-inducing moment, and this time it was actually planned.

real men, part iii

Three cheers for Dorkass, who tore her plantaris tendon while base-running yesterday and finished the game in pain before driving herself to the emergency room.

"I even batted better," she says. "But I couldn't so much as hobble to the base. I would have left earlier, but we would have taken an out because we didn't have enough females. So I was just trying for RBIs."

Report to the nearest counter and pick up your penis.

supreme.pngWatching "Actor's Studio" host James Lipton try to casually slip dated black vernacular ("I'm a honky") into a conversation with Dave Chapelle is cringe-inducing, in that familiar oh-please-Dad-just-please-shut-up way. And the honky moment might have won the award, were it not for a moment 30 minutes later. Commenting on Chapelle's dead-on impression of a stuffy white anchorman, a genuinely perplexed Lipton asks the following: since Chapelle's so good at speaking white, why doesn't he "just speak that way all the time?"

bobby pin, please

Reader contest! If anyone knows the source of the headline, shoot me an email.

john's second law

I invented the Second Law early: never blame your misfortune on how rough your life has been, because you never know when your audience had things much, much worse. Quite justifiably, they will think you a whiny maggot. This isn't to say I don't occasionally get caught bellyaching about having no shoes to men who have no feet, but such moments are rare now. More often lately, I'm the footless guy.

A couple of baby boomer parents were remarking to me about their miracle baby, age 31. He's a miracle because he has three kids and the occasional job. "Oh man," the parents chuckled. "We didn't think we'd ever say that, there for a while."

It turns out that from 19-21, he did some drugs. He stopped doing them. Good for him.

Apparently I was insufficiently impressed with the miraculous nature of a 19 year old white college student doing drugs and living to pay taxes at 30. "You have to understand, John, he had a really rough life."

"Very rough," added the other parent, sadly shaking his head.

"How so?"

"Well, he started associating with the wrong sort of people. Drug users. Real nasty people." It became apparent to me that they were done making their case. Their kid didn't screw up; someone else screwed him up.

My mind flashed back to all the crack dealers and, very likely, murderers that I used to ball with. Odd that d'Andre and I so effortlessly escaped those associations without drug habits or arrests. And with our degrees. This kid's friends must have been insidious indeed to have been a lower element than ours. Perhaps his friends specialized in selling crack to orphans.

"Let me get this straight," I replied. "And stop me when I'm wrong. This kid is born healthy and into a middle class family. Gets the finest medical care from word go. Never worries for a moment about where's he's gonna sleep or get his next meal. He has every material thing he could reasonably want. His only job as a kid is being a kid. His whole life, he has two healthy parents who love him and one another. He's never beaten or molested. When he turns 16, his dad buys him a car on a credit card. When he turns 18, his housing and college are paid for. He decides he doesn't like college, so he drops out and does drugs and never returns and starts a menial career...and this, this is the 'rough life' that's supposed to buy him sympathy? Sounds like a spoiled kid tripping on his own good fortune, to me."

"Well, when you put it that way..."

As if there's another way. Whiny fucking maggots.

• • •

This post is affectionately dedicated to Becky, the first person to ever make me hug my own hardships, so grateful was I not to have had hers.

father's day 2006

It's Father's Day, for many of my friends the first. I'd like to take this opportunity to extend my heartiest best wishes to new dads Rob, Carl, Barry, d, Frank Frank, Dirt, and whoever I'm forgetting. And of course, I gratefully acknowledge he who raised me.

II supreme moment in whiteness award: me

supreme.pngLet it never be said that I'm any easier on myself than on others.

I don't know if it's a midwestern thing or a white thing or just a John thing, but I'm one of those people who tag those irritatingly folksy terms of endearment to the ends of sentences.

"Hey, man."

"Whoa, dude."

"Think, boy."

"Back of the line, pal."

"Love you, hun."

"Thanks, buddy."

"Listen, sweetheart." (Former officemate Leslie: "How come when you coo "sweetheart," I hear you snarl "bitch?")

It's reflexive. I don't give any thought whatsoever to it. Which leads us to the other night at a nearby Indian casino, when I mindlessly thanked my Native American neighbor for the steak he'd just sliced me with "Thanks, Chief."

Jesus H.

Say, would you be a pal and hand me that rusty potato peeler?

He glared, then sighed, and I had one of those awkward moments of self-awareness. I hate self-awareness.

the supreme moment in whiteness award

supreme.pngI've been meaning to create this award for a while, but I was finally motivated to do so by comedienne Aisha Tyler. (She's scary-brainy, clicker-freezingly gorgeous, and hilarious? Gotta be gay.) The topic was American Idol, specifically the monomorphological stylings of Randy "Dawg! Dawg? Daaaaaaawg." Jackson. Of him, the black Ms. Tyler groaned, "Every time he opens his mouth to speak, black people everywhere just cringe."

I know the feeling. Dawg.

And thus is the Supreme Moments in Whiteness award finally rolled out, to commemorate those all-too-frequent occasions when a transcendentally clueless white person makes me want to take a rusty potato peeler to my own skin. I think it's only fitting and proper that Tom Cruise's booty-clenchin' stint on BET receive the first award and be immortalized on the icon.

anti-piffle

My Inbox has been filled with piffle this week.

It turns out that I'm an anti-choice freedom-hater. And I'm also anti-Freedom of Choice. I'm not sure if there's a difference, 'cause, well, it's all so much meaningless marketing piffle masquerading as philosophy.

I blame the abortion debate. I'm sure the Piffle Wars predated the abortion dialogue (dueling monologues, really, but I digress), but if in modern times there were ever an issue in which everyone hid behind meaningless euphemism, that's the one. I, myself, am both pro-choice and pro-life. I like choosing, and I sure as hell like living.

At any rate, as soon as I hear such a slogan invoked, I tune out. "Use your words," I say in my imagination.

Which brings us to this "Freedom of Choice" nonsense with regard to motorcycle helmet laws. How noble that makes vainglorious stupidity sound. How heinous someone must be to oppose "Freedom of Choice." Bravo.

Alas, merely casting helmetless motorcycle riding as a civil liberty does not make it one; it is a privilege, not a right, and as such it is reasonably regulated by the people who issue you a license and ultimately pay for the roads and your reconstructive surgery.

In the spirit of compromise, though, I'll ally myself with helmet "Freedom of Choice"... just so long as that freedom extends to my health insurance company choosing whether or not they'll pay for repairing the fruits of motorcyclists' vanity.

Hell, I'll even support this imaginary civil right as soon as I hear women assert its existence, which would disprove what I really think: helmet "Freedom of Choice" isn't so much a moral stance as a vain, unimaginably stupid penis thing. Somehow I doubt they'd protest as much if, say, bad-ass leather jackets were required.

why i love sports fans, part ii

Steelers fan Nichol Mitchell, tailgating outside Ben Roethlisberger's hospital

95b215fc-5ad4-4fe9-b697-d5e81532950d.jpg

If there are indeed football gods, Steeler fans just might be their most beloved children.

In 2003, the following Pennsylvania legislators voted to repeal the longtime helmet law.

Why? Because helmets aren't cool. No? Helmet hair, then?

The jagovs in question:

Source - Remember, "Freedom of Choice wins!"

carrie

By the time Carrie arrived at Microsoft, I'd been there about a year. Which is to say, I was already broken, disillusioned—my standards in a breakneck freefall. She was all the things I do not trust: cheerful, earnest, hard working, pretty, Canadian. She looked like a sorority girl, and at first I looked right past her. A mistake.

Her body might have spent hours in interminable meetings about MPEG compression, but her mind was on more elegant things. For one, the girl loved writing. Everything about it, really. And in this, we bonded. Long after we'd both left that team, we kept in touch. Usually it was to share an article or some buffoonish instance of illiteracy perpetrated by a peer—"My hand to God, today a PM used the noun bucketization"—but sometimes there were impassioned dialogues about our mutual longing for travel, for more meaning and beauty in our lives. For more, period. A year farther on the burnout train, I was well ahead of her. She listened with interest as I prepared my exit, as I researched doctoral programs and small towns and African safaris.

And then one day, I got goodbye mail. Carrie was leaving, intent on a bigger life. The burnout train has a passing lane.

"All our conversations got me thinking," she wrote. "I have to get out of here and live a little."

Time passed. I settled on a small town, Metamuville, and re-entered the world of teaching I had loved and missed. But I also cheated—I stayed within range of Microsoft, unwilling to spit out its golden teat. After about a year without contact, I googled Carrie.

She was in the very same graduate program I had chickened out of joining. Bitch!

nepal.jpgI gagged out congratulations, even though it felt like my dream had been usurped. She did so unknowingly, of course—it was just a big coincidence. And even though I forsook twelve dreams so that I could live the one, seeing my doppelganger there, walking that path not taken, made me feel all the more soulless. And it would get worse.

She showed me the articles she'd written from Nepal, the photos she'd taken from Kilimanjaro. Fume, fume. "So enough about me. What are you up to?" she asked sweetly, clearly not knowing I was trying to reach into the monitor and strangle her.

And then she married a doctor and returned to Canada, and another year passed until I googled her again this weekend. I found more of her writings, from as recently as last month. When she was trekking Mount motherfucking Everest.

Can the space program be that far behind, really?

real parrots

In discussing the depths of Andrew Jackson's real-manliness, I forgot this delightful tidbit about his pet parrot.

Like President Jackson himself, the parrot was bi-lingual. The bird had to removed from Jackson's funeral because it was shrieking profanity in both English and Spanish.

interest: nil

Distinguished Stank troll (and Godless hate-America-firster) Tamara declared this morning that the reason most American men would rather listen to mold grow than watch a soccer match is that fat Americans prefer similarly rotund football and baseball athletes to "HOT guys who can go for HOURS." Because, you know, svelte American women and gay men are flocking to soccer stadiums.

In honor of the World Cup, which I'm told is is a soccer something going on somewhere sometime soon, here's an alternative take on the subject.

why I love sports fans

Did you see this clip on the news? During a single-A game in Buffalo the other day, an unlucky seagull flew between the pitcher's mound and batter's box. The bird was hit by the pitch but (apparently) lived. As the grounds crew carried the bird off the field of play, the scattered fans accorded it the honor any injured player receives: they stood up and applauded the fallen.

real real men

The Report to the Nearest Counter post elicited much discussion, all of it originating from women, about whether the ring purchaser was a real man or merely an idiot. Therein lies a fundamental difference in perspective, as I do not see the two as mutually exclusive. I could wax about what constitutes manliness, maybe draw venn diagrams about where maniliness and stupidity overlap, but I'd much rather just rattle off the first five visceral "real man" moments I thought of.

galileo.jpgGalileo Galilee, astronomer. Oh sure, anyone could have pointed a telescope at the heavens and discovered craters on the moon or the Galilean moons around Jupiter. And others might have withstood persecution by the tyrannical Catholic Church, whose teachings the discoveries disproved. But only one man would respond by writing a novel in which a scientist comically humiliates a priest in debate—and base that priest character on the reigning Pope. Galileo paid for his ballsiness with his freedom, but I suspect he thought it was worth it. And 400 years later, the Catholic church apologized. What sports. (Fun fact: Galileo's right middle finger is stored in a jar in Florence. I can only hope that it faces the Vatican.)

alan-shepard-1-sized.jpgAlan Shepard, test pilot and Mercury astronaut. They were all real men, of course, but he was the realest and man-est and my favorite. The first American in space, he was ice-cold under pressure. When his Apollo flight risked cancellation because two spacecraft couldn't dock, he offered to leave the ship and pull the two spacecraft together by hand.

jack_lambert.jpgJack Lambert, linebacker. Any number of athletes could be here (I very nearly chose Steve McNair). But Lambert has my favorite single moment. He played at tiny Kent State, and the day that the Steelers scout visited, the marching band was using the field and the football team was walking through plays in the parking lot. Lambert lunged to make an interception, and from then on between plays could be seen nonchalantly picking shards of broken glass out of his arm and tossing them aside. The Steelers quickly drafted him.

200px-Jrobinson.jpgJackie Robinson, baseball player Okay, I need two athletes on the list. It's popularly excepted that Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball, is a civil rights hero. As such he's attained a sort of sanitizing sainthood, and that's a shame. He had a first rate temper, and it saw him through the unrelenting and unprecedented abuses to which he was subjected from all sides. When a particularly clever umpire told him to "go back to the jungle, you little nigger," Robinson punched the umpire square in the mouth. History does not record the size of Robinson's testicles, but they must have been like bowling balls. (Fun fact: Today, no one on any baseball team is permitted to wear Robinson's #42. The umpire's identity is not remembered.)

180px-Andrew_jackson_20bill.jpgAndrew Jackson, General and President. President Jackson was taking a stroll one day when an assassin leapt out and fired a gun at him, point-blank. The gun misfired. Then the assailant's second gun misfired. And then President Jackson beat the guy into submission with his cane. (Fun fact: the odds of two misfires occurring were 1 in 150,000.)

real men

The Report to the Nearest Counter post elicited much discussion, all of it originating from women, about whether the ring purchaser was a real man or merely an idiot. Therein lies a fundamental difference in perspective, as I do not see the two as mutually exclusive. I could wax about what constitutes manliness, maybe draw venn diagrams about where maniliness and stupidity overlap, but I'd much rather just rattle off the first five visceral "real man" moments I thought of.

galileo.jpgGalileo Galilee, astronomer. Oh sure, anyone could have pointed a telescope at the heavens and discovered craters on the moon or the Galilean moons around Jupiter. And others might have withstood persecution by the tyrannical Catholic Church, whose teachings the discoveries disproved. But only one man would respond by writing a novel in which a scientist comically humiliates a priest in debate—and base that priest character on the reigning Pope. Galileo paid for his ballsiness with his freedom, but I suspect he thought it was worth it. And 400 years later, the Catholic church apologized. What sports. (Fun fact: Galileo's right middle finger is stored in a jar in Florence. I can only hope that it faces the Vatican.)

alan-shepard-1-sized.jpgAlan Shepard, test pilot and Mercury astronaut. They were all real men, of course, but he was the realest and man-est and my favorite. The first American in space, he was ice-cold under pressure. When his Apollo flight risked cancellation because two spacecraft couldn't dock, he offered to leave the ship and pull the two spacecraft together by hand.

jack_lambert.jpgJack Lambert, linebacker. Any number of athletes could be here (I very nearly chose Steve McNair). But Lambert has my favorite single moment. He played at tiny Kent State, and the day that the Steelers scout visited, the marching band was using the field and the football team was walking through plays in the parking lot. Lambert lunged to make an interception, and from then on between plays could be seen nonchalantly picking shards of broken glass out of his arm and tossing them aside. The Steelers quickly drafted him.

200px-Jrobinson.jpgJackie Robinson, baseball player Okay, I need two athletes on the list. It's popularly excepted that Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball, is a civil rights hero. As such he's attained a sort of sanitizing sainthood, and that's a shame. He had a first rate temper, and it saw him through the unrelenting and unprecedented abuses to which he was subjected from all sides. When a particularly clever umpire told him to "go back to the jungle, you little nigger," Robinson punched the umpire square in the mouth. History does not record the size of Robinson's testicles, but they must have been like bowling balls. (Fun fact: Today, no one on any baseball team is permitted to wear Robinson's #42. The umpire's identity is not remembered.)

180px-Andrew_jackson_20bill.jpgAndrew Jackson, General and President. President Jackson was taking a stroll one day when an assassin leapt out and fired a gun at him, point-blank. The gun misfired. Then the assailant's second gun misfired. And then President Jackson beat the guy into submission with his cane. (Fun fact: the odds of two misfires occurring were 1 in 150,000.)

results show

With an astounding 37% of the vote, the masses have spoken: the new dog will be named "Other."

Actually, that's a pretty funny name.

Among the names I suggested, Sam was the clear winner. My favorite, Bob, didn't fare well. It even came in behind Hank Bob, for chrissakes, and that was a private joke.

Other: 37%
Sam: 22%
Hank Bob: 15%
Hank: 11%
Bob: 8%
Al: 7%
Comment of the day goes to esteemed Stank troll (and fellow Steeler fan) John: "A Golden Doodle? Christ. Talk about reporting to the nearest counter."

name that hairy fetus!

In '95, when I was pondering what to name my new puppy, I happened upon Raising Arizona on TV. As if in answer to my question, there was Holly Hunter's unforgettable turn as "Ed" the cop. It stuck.

Well, Ed's little sister was born a few days ago. She's one of the hairy fetuses here pictured.

pups.jpg

golden doodleWhen she grows up, she'll look something like this. She's a standard poodle/golden retriever mix, a whip-smart doggie cocktail known better as a "Golden Doodle."

Allow me to take this opportunity to assure you that I will not post about this often. This site is not about boring you with stories about pets. It's about boring you with stories about ex-girlfriends, football and Percy.

Which brings us to what to name Ed's little sister. Jen and I kicked around a few ideas, which I've put into poll form. Have at it.


reporting to the nearest counter

Dorkass coined the expression when I was agonizing just-a-little-too-much about the intentions of the girl I was dating. Dorkass had seen enough. She was disgusted.

"Report to the nearest counter and turn in your penis," she sneered.

We were both immediately delighted with the expression. We use it all of the time now, whenever we see some guy being weak, needy, simpering. "Report to the nearest counter, pal," we'll chide.

"Huh?" he'll reply.

• • •

I am less than a man.

This realization hit me Saturday night, when I sat on Dirt's back deck and listened to Dirt and his cousin trade stories. Both are former star college athletes and former pro players, one in football and the other in hockey. So right. What can I possibly offer this conversation? The Hunkering story? The Best Pass I Ever Made story? No, I decided to just shut up and smoke Dirt's expensive cigars and drink his '77 tawny and listen.

I listened to tales of their grisly injuries, both those they inflicted and those inflicted upon them. About the insane, testosterone-crazed characters they met. About the many, many teammates' little sisters they boinked. About border runs after bed-check. About what it's like to play against the best athletes in the world.

I spent college studying literature and going home every night to my girlfriend and setting picks on morbidly obese guys and having sex with one woman, I thought. Hmm. Perhaps it's best not to share.

The story that sent me over the edge follows. Dirt's cousin took a 100 mph slapshot in the eye, shattering his eye socket and leaving hamburger-like tendrils of meat where his face used to be. The state of New York determined that the injury entitled him to $10,000 in workman's comp funds, to be put toward plastic surgery. What did he do with the money? He smeared Vitamin E oil into the facial hamburger and bought his girlfriend an engagement ring.

"Report to the nearest counter," Dorkass said in my imagination as I drove home. "That is a man."

Wait; maybe that's a violent spasm of pride I'm feelin'. Yeah. That's it. My bad.

steelers super bowl ring

Yep, the Steelers got their rings today. Or to put it in terms with which you're more familiar: today Jerome Bettis, the future hall of famer whose parents never missed a game and who concluded his storied career in his hometown of Detroit, received his Super Bowl ring. Him and several dozen of his closest friends, who may or may not have also been from Detroit.

True story: when Chuck Noll received his ring for Super Bowl XIII, he joked that if you pressed a button, it flipped open and you could "hear a recording of Tom Landry bitching about the officiating."

chicago stuffed pizza

Concerned that all the New York-style pizzas weren't giving me a diverse enough diet, this weekend I branched out into Chicago-style stuffed pizza. I have to say, the first one turned out better than I could have reasonably hoped. The secret, as usual, is using the right equipment—in this case, seasoned steel pans with tinned plating.

chicago style stuffed pizza

I'm in love with this dish. It ain't really pizza, but it has so much promise. You can stuff its perfect, flaky crust with pretty much anything. For my first pie I skipped pizza toppings entirely and stuffed it full of spinach and mozzarella, creating a flavorful and unique Italian dish all its own. I inhaled it.

chicago pizza2.jpg

come, let us adore them

I hereby nickname these guys the "Jesus Seals."

jesus seals harbor seal



"What the Fucking Fuck?" awards 

  george w. bush

To the Steelers, at their White House celebration today:

"I was a Texas Cowboy fan, you know."

back east

It will no doubt surprise people in Iowa to learn that they're "back East." It surprised me, too, when I first moved to the West coast and learned that Ohio had somehow moved to the Eastern seaboard. Pretty much anything East of Denver is "back East" out here. Columbus? Pittsburgh? Austin? Atlanta? Charlotte? Back East all. Change your maps.

will work for tix

I forgot a Dirt anecdote. When I told my buddy what his pseudonym was, he blinked and asked how I knew his nickname during his playing days was "Dirt." How's that for nicknaming accuracy?

• • •

Dirt is strong-arming me into going to see Ohio State play his alma mater, Iowa, at Iowa City. That would make a third trip back east for a sixth huge game. I'm not sure what percentage of this year's income is devoted to seeing football games, but I know I really don't wanna know.

point, dorkass

Giving Dorkass credit goes against everything I believe in, but credit must be given. On Memorial Day, she packed up her child and visited me in the sticks, a friendship-maintainance effort unparalleled by any other parent. I so appreciate it that I've removed the Dorkass-mocking counter from the sidebar. And replaced it with a Katrina-mocking counter.

When Dorkass arrived, she spied Percy watching from next door. She pulled the baby from the car, turned to me, and yelled, "Yes. She's yours."

99 bottles of 'roids on the wall

Note to my fellow gridiron fans: only 99 days until our long nightmare is over and football supplants baseball once again.

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