February 2007 Archives

for every action

Whenever people first tell me they like this site, I caution them: read it long enough, and I will eventually get around to offending you. For it is on this page that I record my irritation with humanity, and "humanity" is a rather inclusive group. If I have sacred cows, I don't know what they would be. Skewering whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans? Check, check, check, check, check. Christians, Mormons, and Muslims? Oh my. Young, old, rich, poor, left, right, me, you—I've belittled 'em all.

When I'm posting, I sometimes wonder "Have I gone too far this time?" Almost invariably, though, reader reaction is supportive. I attribute this to the reactive nature of my posts. This is one of the things I learned from Bugs Bunny, in fact: the ethic of attack. If you only attack when provoked, no one can really accuse you of unfairness. You don't see me mock Jews, for instance. That isn't for a lack of material supplied by my Jewish brother-in-law. He's eminently mockable. Just ask him. But collectively, Jews have left me alone. They do not offend me. They do not demand my endorsement, they do not threaten to kill me, they do not attempt to ram their views into the curriculum of the schools for which I pay, and they have not damaged people I love. Thus far, Jews get a pass. I have no particular love for them; they've simply given me nothing to which I might react. They're Canada.

For the most part, I never hear from parties who might be offended. Or if I hear from 'em, they usually aren't critical. When I mock rich old white farts (ROWFs) and their overdeveloped sense of entitlement, I get supportive mail from that very demographic. When I mock young blacks for asserting that their blackness makes them better qualified than me to declare what white people are thinking, I get words of support from fed-up blacks. Ditto with parents, perhaps my most surprisingly supportive demographic. (How many shots do I have to take, people?) In the end, only one demographic consistently feels compelled to respond with hostility. Every time I post about religion, I know exactly what's coming.

And these people, dear reader, are why I disallow comments on this site. You don't want to read what I read.

You'd think God's chosen people, the heaven-bound elite (whatever religion they practice) would have loftier things to do than portray themselves as my victims. I'm a hideous, tiresome Mormon-basher, for instance. Just look at last week's posts. I'm just another in a long line of persecutors in their history of innocent and quiet self-reflection. I'm Pilate to their Jesus, they tell me as they busily nail their own limbs to a cross.

Better yet are the mails that declare that I'm a stupid, miserable person and it doesn't matter at all what I think. My opinion is so inconsequential, in fact, that they took the time to write. The logic is plainly evident.

Just once, I'd like to see a religion post elicit rebuttals that don't put words in my mouth or cherry-pick phrases out of context in order to imply a different context. Just once, I'd like to get feedback that argues with the actual content of the post, as opposed to claiming victimhood or vilifying me.

Are you people intellectually capable of this? And why does that feel like such a pointless question?

chasing hilary

I must admit that when I re-entered teaching, I entertained hopes of recapturing the social part of grad school. Back then I had my pick of bright, well-read, creative friends. True, all that remains nowadays is the dubious Mariko, but back then my life was swarming with the intelligence and energy of my fellow grad students. People even Joe Biden would doubtless deem clean and articulate.

In this second go-round, not so much. My fellow teachers are deathly dull, pretentious, embittered. Thanks, but I can get that at Microsoft, and it pays a lot better. They flood my Inbox with silliness, usually some attempt to create an "adjunct-faculty only" lounge or otherwise mitigate a station they perceive as too lowly.

Yesterday's unending thread was typical. It started with a flourish, with their calling an "emergency meeting of the Latino/a search advisory board," because people of a certain ethnicity keep rejecting their overtures. Smart Latino/as. I wish I'd had their foresight. The thread then degenerated into talk of drinking after work, which piqued my interest until this exchange:

"Is the bar kid-friendly? I'll have my five year old."

"If you bring your five-year old, I'll bring my six year-old."

"I'll bring my 8 and 10 year olds."

Scintillating. Hold. Me. Back.

let us all bow our heads and pray for a positive

Al Sharpton might be related to Strom Thurmond?

Deeeeelicious! Oh man. There's only one regret, really. Let's exhume Thurmond and prop his ass up, 'cause I have got to see the look on his face when the DNA results come in.

giving the media devil its due

It's been 10 hours or so, and to my knowledge, white reporters have yet to ask Forrest Whitaker or Jennifer Hudson "How long have you been a black actor?" This is progress. Or maybe the media is just bored with coloring their stories that way. Which would also be progress.

"The Departed" won, and as it was the best movie I saw last year, I'm pleased. Doubly so because the pleasant but wildly overpraised "Little Miss Sunshine" seemed poised to steal the award. It's a testament to the media hype machine that in a two-month span I went from thinking "Well, that was a cute little movie" to thinking "THEY BETTER NOT SAY 'LITTLE MISS' ANYTHING, OR I'M NEVER WATCHING AGAIN."

10 hours, six minutes. Go media! You can do it!

gay old time

At work we collectively recoiled at some bad news. Yet again, we would have to compromise our project because of someone else's ineptitude. I was about to say something pissy when Michael, a delightfully uncloseted homosexual man, snarked first.

"This is so gay."

"It's okay to say that?" I asked in surprise.

"Knock yourself out."

Now I know how Florida State felt when they got some obscure Seminole Indian to endorse their using "Seminoles" as their mascot.

Game on.

rest in peace, d.j.

poll revisited

A note to the trolls who voted...

Now you know why Mormons and Me has been sitting in my queue for years. The damned thing is probably the longest post I've ever written.

I have to admit surprise that it was the runaway winner. It got twice the votes of second place. I have no idea why; I'd figured it might even be last.

A special thanks goes to all those who corrected my spelling. After 7+ years of my discovering long-published, horrific misspellings and typos, after 7+ years of wondering why on Earth no one ever tells me about such things, two thousand of you wrote about this one. Thanks.

mormons and me, part ii

Continued from yesterday

It was a special kind of heartbreak, something I'd not felt before. Or since. Someone had told me about a heinous stereotype with which I was utterly unfamiliar and had arrogantly predicted my friend's descent into it. I had defended my friend. "No, not Leanne! You don't know her at all!" And then I watched my friend descend ever lower, exactly as predicted. Not a little. Not partially. Exactly.

I was ashamed for her.

But the decision was made, and after the obvious conversation about the rashness of the engagement—"Actually, John, for people in my church this isn't fast at all!"—I was supportive. I decided to work on my relationship with Lump.

It did not go well.

Lump was dim, lazy. It was impossible to imagine him getting his degree, let alone getting a job. He slurred his words lazily and never let his utter lack of merit stop him from holding forth about himself, especially to women. Three of my girlfriends have met him: Fucking Amy, the Approval Whore, and Allie. A tomboy, a show pony, and a hippie. Three very different women with really only one thing in common: they despised Lump. Of him, Fucking Amy once sighed in exasperation, "It's kind of hard to respect a guy who has to close his eyes to finish every sentence."

Allie and the AW would later applaud that description.

He was thoughtless toward Leanne and clearly expected her to defer to him on every subject, whether it was where to eat or where to live. Men are on our best behavior when we're first dating, and his best was anyone else's worst.

A trivial example: one time the three of us were eating at a buffet. Lump and I sat down first. I took one of the two booth seats, and he took the other, leaving Leanne a chair. "Don't make me embarrass you by offering your fiance my seat," I growled, and he grudgingly moved. She returned and praised him for leaving her the booth seat, praise he gobbled. When he next left, Leanne whirled at me. "You told him to do leave me the booth, didn't you?"

I said nothing, instead imagining the paucity of consideration that must come her way in order for her to have arrived at this conclusion.

"You know," I said later as she washed his clothes in the dorm washing machine. "What you get when you're dating, you're gonna get in spades once you're married. This is him at his very best."

"When it's the right one, you know it," she replied, looking forward into space, descending lower.

They got married, and as Hilary foretold, I was not allowed to attend. Years passed. Lump avoided any kind of work for seven years, and for a time they subsisted on Costco tortillas. Toiling as a substitute teacher, Leanne was sick constantly. When I would visit, I would bring gifts of groceries. And when I would visit, Lump would clumsily hint that he too would like presents.

"Did you wee this cool [insert artist's name] book? I love it. Love it. But it's $200," he would lament forlornly.

"That's a damned shame."

"I really need it, but I can't afford it," he'd try, frustrated with my obtuseness.

"It's crazy what books cost, isn't it?"

My favorite hint of all time: "Leanne sure needs a faster modem for our computer."

Poverty be damned, they started procreating. To this day, I honestly have no idea how many kids they have. Every time I talk to her, she has the same "great news." Mind you, they still haven't paid the hospital bills for kid #1. Isn't that sort of like, um, stealing? When I point out this apparent ethical lapse, Leanne is oddly untroubled. "I just trust that God will somehow provide," she says, knowing, but not feeling, that I think she's an idiot.

Therein you have my dominant impression of Mormons. They're famously and conspicuously kind and happy, even during obviously miserable situations. But there's more. There's a highly compartmentalized intellectual stunting. I've met many really bright Mormons who converse expertly on science or politics or philosophy. And then you'll enter what I've come to know as a "Mormon blind spot," where church culture and dogma trump all else, and suddenly you're dealing with a reflexively, astoundingly unthinking person. Leanne, for example, would never imagine stiffing a hospital for the cost of repairing a broken leg. But baby bills? That's different. Creating more Mormons is a Mormon girl's highest possible calling, and the stealing is not only justified, it's somehow not even stealing.

As time has gone on, the blind spots have grown. Leanne's entire life is her litter of kids and the church. They're predictably atrocious parents. As she's descended further into stereotype, as my friend has been willingly usurped by this misogynistic culture, our friendship has strained and broken. We still give it lip service, but she's effectively out of my life. The wonderful woman who was my friend is gone now, dead by her own hand.

• • •

When she was nine months pregnant with her second child, I spent a weekend fending off Lump's hints for money and sadly regarding my friend's life of Lump servitude. He was without shame, putting his wife before his own selfishness not once. I attempted to embarrass him by insisting that I, not his ridiculously pregnant wife, do the cooking, dishes and housework, but my shot impacted harmlessly on Lump's surface. Depressed by this, I said nothing as I did the dishes.

Before I left, Leanne and I got our first opportunity in six years to be alone together. We went to lunch, and for a fleeting, miraculous moment, my friend came back to me. She was herself. There was no posed happiness, no rationalizations, no Lump. It was grand. I told her I missed her, and she cried. Oh my god. That's an honest emotion for the first time in years, I thought. Was there a flicker of self-awareness after all?

Then Leanne surprised me. Quietly, ashamed, avoiding eye contact, she spoke. "John, do you remember what you tried to tell me back in the dorms, when I was doing laundry?"

Of course I remembered. I'd thought of little else all weekend.

"Well," she said softly, almost inaudibly, "I get it now."

Oh god.

And with those four heartbreaking words, I went from wishing my friend would stop rationalizing happiness to wishing that she were even better at it. I don't need to be right. I don't want it. Not here. Not this time.

mormons and me, part i

Before I left Ohio, what I knew about Mormons could be summed up in four words: "the Osmonds" and "Danny Ainge." Like with out-of-closet gays, I couldn't name a single Mormon I knew.

When Maddie and I simultaneously went to grad school, she in Indiana and me in Washington, I paid for her expenses by keeping mine very low. I took out a student loan, sent her the money, and myself lived in a dorm. My living in that dorm for a year led to my meeting Elizabeth, which is all well and good, but it also led to my meeting Fucking Amy and Mormonism.

The latter came in the most insidious form of all: an utterly charming, bright young redhead named Leanne. Hoping to just serve my time and move to proper accommodations, I hadn't wanted much to do with my fellow residents, but Leanne wore me down. She wouldn't take no for an answer, pounding on my locked door until I relented. There was no resisting her. We became friends.

Many a night we'd sit in my dorm, she sharing the excitement of her newfound love with the guy down the hall, me sharing the pain of what turned out to be the end times with Maddie. Leanne was becoming an English teacher, and I was teaching for the first time. We talked about teaching, life, love, plans, dreams. I got sucked into this fantastically warm, kind woman's orbit.

Religion didn't come up that much, but I knew hers was important to her. It was that Osmond thing I knew nothing about. Rather than admit ignorance, I went to the library. There was a surprisingly deep collection of books about Mormonism, both admiring and damning. I skipped past those and cracked open a more neutral, academic source, the Harvard Theological Review. An hour later, I shut the book and stared out the window.

This was the most moronic religion I'd ever heard of.

Some American teenage brat claims that he's talked to an angel and now leads the one true religion, and these morons actually, like, believe him? I thought. What the fucking fuck? For God's sake, the angel was even named "Moroni." And then there were these magical gold plates no one ever saw, instructions from God to revise the bible and, presumably, to marry as many teenage girls as possible before it became politically inexpedient.

It turns out I hadn't known any Mormons previously because Midwesterners ran 'em out of the Midwest in the 1800s. I too wasn't in danger of becoming a Mormon anytime soon, but I also didn't hold it against Leanne. I believed in her, if not her especially silly religion.

Meanwhile, I became friends with another young woman, Hilary. She hailed from Salt Lake City and had been raised Mormon, but she had walked away as a teenager and never looked back—except when the church came knocking on her door, which was apparently very, very often. Hil was mildly amused that I was becoming close to a Mormon and even more amused by my ignorance. She took it upon herself to get me up to speed. I learned about the Holy Mormon Underwear. I learned that wouldn't be allowed into the Temple when my friend got married. I learned about the vow of masturbation. I learned about in absentia baptisms of the dead. I learned about the baby heaven full of souls waiting to be birthed by good Mormon girls.

This religion just kept getting stupider and stupider.

Hil got personal. "Let me guess. She's the most upbeat, kind, cloying person you know."


"Let me tell you what's going to happen with your friend," she declared with jarring confidence. "She's going to marry the first Mormon guy she meets here, and she's going to marry him fast. He'll be just back from his mission and horny as hell. They'll start crapping out kids by the bushel, and she'll spend the rest of her life in total subjugation, dropping litters and doing chores for the church. Guaranteed."

"Not Leanne," I said. "You don't know her like I do. She loves teaching. Her whole world is teaching English to ESL kids. Yeah, she's dating the only other Mormon in our dorm, and yeah, he's just back from his mission, but she's even told me she won't get married for six years. Until her career is established."

"Mmm hmm," Hil replied.

"Besides, the guy is a thoughtless lump. She'd never marry him."

"Of course not."

After Christmas break, Leanne came back with an engagement ring on her finger. Lump had proposed exactly three months after they had met. Leanne had accepted. They were getting married in the summer and would celebrate their three-month wedding anniversary a year to the day after they met.

"What about waiting until you were 27?" I asked.

"Oh, forget that!" she squealed, delighted.


Tomorrow: I become a follower of the latter-day Prophet Hilary.

place your bets

All right, I need to start flushing out the clog of long-dormant post ideas in my queue. Time for a reader poll. Whichever gets the most votes, I'll write tomorrow.

  1. Mormons and me
  2. Lines I wish I'd written
  3. Things I learned about life from Bugs Bunny
  4. Why I'm grateful to have been poor
  5. Women who coattail on men and are, like, proud of it
  6. Working with a guy with Tourette's Syndrome. For real.
Use the Contact link at top right.

such a chickdom

A female friend was bouncing her relationship troubles off me, and my response was not what she expected. Enough about him, I said. Let's start by working on you. And so we did, for several hours, me being alternately supportive and, as needed, gently critical. Finally the conversation led to an observation I've heard several times previously.

"You're such a chick, John."

I suppose it's meant to be a teasing affront to my masculinity, but truth be told, my masculinity's just fine. I actually consider the remark high praise. I've never really had much use for men, beyond pizza and football. I don't get them. They don't get me. With a few exceptions, the men I've known have been slugs who did the bare minimum necessary to keep my friend from leaving them.

baby chick on jar.jpgWomen, meanwhile, have been huge influences. I was raised to adulthood by a single mother and raised to manhood by a handful of girlfriends. It was the latter—not my dad, not my brother—who taught me how to be a man. From them, I learned what families should be. They taught me how to love, how to empathize, how to deal with life's triumphs and setbacks, how to control my temper, how to stow my shit-childhood away in the past where it belongs. Mom and the girls had help, too. Most of my bosses and professional partners have been women. All of my closest friends are women. My mentors and proteges are almost exclusively women. Even my heroes have been women.

"Such a chick?" So be it. Every redeeming quality I possess, I learned from a woman.

my favorite part is that the tv was still on

From Allie came this link, along with the comment "I'd probably find you before a whole year passed by."

special request

Allie has a dubious superpower. If she were a character on Heroes, she'd be the mild housewife with the mysterious ability to call you when you're reading "Entertainment Weekly" in the bathroom.

It took me forever to answer the phone, and when I did, I explained that I'd just painted, and that had required that I remove the doorknob, and I was locked behind a knobless door, which required some effort to get past.

"So you're alone in the house, and you locked yourself in the bathroom behind a door with a locking mechanism but no knob?"

It sounds so stupid when she says it.

"I can neither confirm nor deny that," I replied.

"How come you never blog about this sort of stuff?"

• • •

In that spirit, here's another lesson I learned after it was too late.

If you're walking on a treadmill, and for the first time you notice that its control panel has numbers 1 through 10 around its periphery, and you wonder "Are those buttons?"...well, don't find out by pressing "10."

happy birthday

Normally I only post about rudeness I've personally observed, but this one was just too ripe not to publish.

Sarah and a group of co-workers went out after work to an elegant restaurant. At a neighboring table, a man quietly sat alone. He ordered a dessert, which came with a burning candle. One of the women, upon seeing this, drunkenly declared that "We need to sing Happy Birthday to him!" His mouth full, the man held up his hands in protest, but the drunk ignored him. He had to interrupt the song with pleas for them to stop.

He showed them the picture on his table. It was a photo of his dead wife. It was her birthday, he explained. She was recently killed in a traffic accident.

"THEN LET'S SING TO HER!" the unflappable drunk squealed. And then, over his protests, she boisterously sang to the dead wife, butchering her name.

• • •

Nested rudeness: when the man ruefully said that his wife's death was the reason for a new local traffic light, another member of the party felt compelled to point out that "See? Some good comes out of everything."


Really, it's football's fault. Whenever the season ends, I get myself into fantastic trouble. I spent last Sunday painting my kitchen a color that, in the end, I truly loathe. Its shade varies wildly during the day. For about five minutes, it's the warm amber I'd intended, but then it morphs into Pea Green and finally into a color that I can only describe as Multivitamin Urine.

I was already in mourning when I started pulling up newspapers and discovered that my stepladder, missing a rubber shoe, had gouged some 30 holes in my floor.

Message received, God. I will never leave the couch again. Be a dear and hand me the remote, will ya?

ed's debra winger moment

When my dog, Ed, was a newborn pup, Elizabeth was staying with me. This cemented two things: 1) Ed forever adored 21 year old girls, and 2) to Ed, Elizabeth was Mom forevermore. They don't get to see one another often anymore, but when they do, Ed goes positively batshit.

When things looked so bleak recently, I sent Elizabeth a message that I was afraid Ed's end might be very near, and would she like to say goodbye? Ed bounced back, of course, and the goodbye never happened. But given Ed's prognosis—"horrendous" spinal arthritis that will cripple her in months, not years—I resolved to take Ed to see Elizabeth the next time we got together.

The sheer sadness of it all struck me as I was bathing Ed Sunday night, trying to make her pretty for her mom. It walloped me again when I was brushing her Monday morning. It was impossible not to think of the scene in Terms of Endearment where a dying Debra Winger, about to say goodbye to her kids, pauses to put on makeup. If you gotta check out, check out pretty, I guess.

Elizabeth and I chatted a while, but inevitably it was time for the main event. Elizabeth sighed and pulled some tissues out of her pocket. "Just a sec. I'm gonna go get some more," she said and disappeared.

The reunion was complete pandemonium, as always. Ed climbed all over Elizabeth, unable to get close enough even while standing on her lap and tunneling her face into Elizabeth's abdomen. Elizabeth held it together, which is more than Ed and I can say. Ed trembled with...joy, I guess. She couldn't stop shaking, a behavior I'd never seen before. Even her teeth were chattering. She was overwhelmed with joy, but the joy had a sad desperation to it. As I drove home, I wondered if this was like when I was a kid and hurt myself—how I so desperately needed Mom more than all the other people on Earth combined.

Curled up on the back seat, Ed stared into space and whimpered softly the whole way to the ferry.

reader mail: anna nicole

Involuntary Stank troll Katrina writes to say that although she agrees everything I said about Anna Nicole Smith being a gold-digging corpse-humper, I let the corpse off easy.

He was an equal partner in slime, and he was in his right mind. He knew exactly what the deal was.
I disagree. He exchanged cash for sex, and he got laid. She exchanged sex for cash, and it's someone else's cash now. Advantage: corpse.

Esteemed Stank troll Sean writes:

I'm wondering whether Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, et al. will be wearing their panties at half mast in tribute...
Wouldn't this require that they first put panties on?

crispin glover on letterman

I've been looking for this clip for, well, about 20 years. This interview was two years after Back to the Future and a bit before Crispin Glover was dumped out of its sequels. As I recall, the interview up until this moment was weird and banal, but then it became just weird.

What's most unsettling is how tame this meltdown seems to me now, in this age of constant coverage and effortless dissemination. At the time, though, it was shocking. Without precedent.

A half-scripture quoted on the sign outside the Kingston Christian Church:

"Do not fear those who kill the body."

the very best of america

I commented to Stank troll Rob that it was gratifying to see a gold-digging corpse-humper die before she could enjoy the money. He sent back this picture of Anna Nicole and some media friends. He entitled it "The Very Best of America."

why i don't watch the nba anymore

Participating in the slam-dunk competition next weekend: Gerald Green, Dwight Howard, Nate Robinson, and Tyrus "I'm just going to go out there, get my check and call it a day. I'm just into the free money. That's it. I'll just do whatever when I get out there." Thomas.

Judging the contest:
Dr. J., Dominique Wilkins, Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan.

Attention, judges—please bring white-soled shoes.

I was settling into a restaurant booth with young Courtney. (Not the old Courtney, mind you, but do you really care about Courtney discontinuity? Me neither. Courtneys are the Bic disposable lighters of college students. This one's empty? Here's another.) This younger and better model was in my writing class two years ago and, for reasons still unclear, kept in touch after she got her letter of recommendation out of me. She a got Microsoft-related job, and proximity has led to lunches. I like her, and I want to see how she turns out.

"Man," I thought as I looked around the restaurant. "These people probably think I'm totally robbing the crad—"

And then something occurred with a jolt. No, John. They don't think that. I buried my face in my hands, now merely hoping that no one thought I was her father.

willed misery

Two friends were mid-conversation when they ambushed me. "John, when you wake up in the morning, are you generally in a good mood or in a bad mood?"

I had to think about it. That morning, the first thing I'd thought of was: I go into Redmond today. Who do I have lunch with? Ah. yes. Dorkass. Great! I haven't seen her in months.

"A good mood," I replied. "I tend to concentrate on whatever the highlight of that particular day will be."

"Jesus christ!" Jill sneered. "That's so gay."

Why? It's just a question of emphasis. Life is, of course, a steaming sack of assholes, chores and other unpleasantness, but every day, I do something fun for myself. I naturally focus on that.

"It's so...pop psychology."

It is?

• • •

Jill is one of those people. Being depressed is her "thing." It's what identifies her. Rather, it's how she chooses to identify herself. "My life is horrible," says the healthy, wealthy mother of an adorable child in her funky new home. "Just look at my life. You wouldn't be depressed?"

No. No, I wouldn't. Depression is something I tend to reserve for unimagined tragedies. How about you, Justin?

"No, I'm actually a pretty happy guy," he said.

"I hate you both."

• • •

I was still wondering about the pop psychology remark when Jill pressed on. "What if you have no highlight of your day?"

Since she was sitting in a bar having beers with her buddies, I thought this a telling, not to mention vaguely insulting, remark. Was she not with her friends? Did she not play with her kid? "You didn't do one fun thing today?" I replied. "Not one positive thing for yourself?"

"Like what?"

I mentioned the friends, the kid.

"That's stupid. Those aren't things to look forward to. Tell me what my highlight should be."

Her perpetual foul mood was starting to make a whole lot of sense. She works damned hard for that mood. I suggested that perhaps, if she took a break from doggedly chasing misery, happiness might naturally occur. The suggestion was, of course, deemed stupid.

super bowl notes

The media, God bless 'em, waited until the second question after his Super Bowl victory to ask Tony Dungy how it felt to be black. I'd feel worse for him if his response wasn't basically That's not important. What's important is that we're the first Christian team to win it. And as you can see in the final score, the Lord took care of his own. How graspingly sad. How tasteful. I'm sure the non-Christians on his team appreciate it.

I think last year's suckfest has skewed perceptions. This wasn't a particularly good game. Stop saying it was. While I typed this sentence, three more balls hit the ground.

In the BCS championship and Super Bowl this year, both the opening kickoffs were returned for touchdowns. Both teams eventually lost.

Rain good.

I congratulated an Indiana native friend yesterday. "Thanks," he said sheepishly. "I sure could have done without all the jesusing, though."

If Philly fans want Garcia over McNabb so much, I can think of a team on Lake Michigan that could really, really use McNabb.

the last kiss

Recent movie rollup: liked The Departed and Pan's Labyrinth; bored senseless by Smokin' Aces; hated The Last Kiss. This being the Stank page, I'll skip straight to hate.

There's not much to like about The Last Kiss. A remorseless contrivance machine written by Paul Haggis, it makes his Crash plot machinations look downright plausible. I'm going to focus, however, on the most implausible contrivance of all: Rachel Bilson's character. Once again, we have a fantasy girl that can only exist in movies. the-last-kiss-240px.jpgFor no reason other than looking at Zach Braff's back in line, she hunts him down in a photogenic treehouse and asks him if he has a girlfriend. When told yes, Bilson suggests he pursue her anyway. That is the sum of their flirtation and, really, of her character. There is no reason for her to be interested in this schlub, not even the faintest whiff of pretext. He is the male lead, and the writer needed an implausibly hot young thing to throw herself at him, and so was she concocted.

I am so very tired of this character in films. How come you never see a female scribe write women-as-accessories like this?

• • •

Actual dialogue that comes out of Bilson's mouth, after she's sprinted braless through the rain to Braff's car:

"Oh my god, my shirt is all wet and clingy. You can see everything!"
No, it wasn't a porno flick. It was just written that way.

• • •

Points out Stank troll Tommy:

By quoting that line of dialogue from Rachel Bilson, you've made sure a whole bunch of adolescents (or adolescent-equivalents) will now be eager to see "The Last Kiss"
God forbid I help its DVD sales. For the record, you hear about 'em, but you don't see 'em.


Katrina called and implored me to step away from my laptop for a sec. "Look out your window," she said. So I did.

moon rising over cascades and puget sound

What a beautiful scene. I took a picture so that I could put it on my laptop and see it whenever I want, without moving.

i want my hoverboard and i want it now

It just dawned on me that we're a mere eight years removed from the "future" events in Back to the Future II. Flying cars, hovering robots that walk your dog for you, hydrated pizza, and the like would all be in active development.

I'm so old.

i'm sold

The sign outside the Kingston Christian church for the last three weeks:

Keep continually comig
to Jesus the light.
Just so long as you continuously continue with the sign my material. (Or is it "with the sig?")

company loves misery

I'm a little ashamed. It's not like me to take eleven years to notice that people are steaming sacks o' crap. But here we are.

When my Steelers lost Super Bowl XXX, I heard from everyone. E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e. Acquaintances and a ex-girlfriends came out of the woodwork to say they'd watched the game and thought of me, and I must be really miserable, huh?

Cut to:

When my Buckeyes won the championship in 2003, I heard from no one.

Cut to:

When the Steelers finally won in 2006, I heard from no one.

Cut to:

Present day. It's been almost a month, yet several times a week, some dimwit from some peripheral crevice of my life will go out of his way to remind me that the Buckeyes just got thumped.

"I don't even watch football," says the ninth-place trophy wife instead of taking my order. "And I was all, like, 'GOD, they SUCK!'"

"Ha, ha. Thanks."

Yesterday, it was the UPS guy. He spotted the Ohio State decal on my Jeep.

"Ohio State?!?" he said incredulously. "Ohio State?!?"

I nodded. "I'm an alum."

"Whoa!" He shook his head gravely, yet his tone bordered on delight. "They just got their asses kicked!"

I glared at him. Is this because I didn't tip at Christmas?

"Really? I hadn't heard. Say, where did you go to school?"

The answer was both mumbled and untypically complicated. He petered out and backed toward his truck.

I grabbed my box and went inside to seethe. Enjoy backing down my driveway, motherfucker.

mother google earth

I was traipsing through my hometown by satellite, using Google Earth to check out my high school, my mom's flower bed, and my first girlfriend's house. Suddenly I came across a graveyard, and with it, a long-suppressed memory of my sister Nadine slamming on the brakes, rushing to a grave, grabbing a bouquet of flowers, and then speeding off.

Yep. I come from the very finest stock available.

• • •

I want to share my favorite feature in Google Earth (which you can download for free here). You can turn on various "layers" that provide, among other things, labels and three-dimensional views. Combine that with the ability to change the angle of perspective, and you have something special. This morning I was zooming and panning all around Mount Everest, tracing the route all the way from Base Camp to the summit. It's easier to show you than to tell you. Click the thumbnails to open a larger version in a new window.

Here's the initial-bird's eye view of Everest. Note the position of Camp Three.

Here, I've lowered the perspective. My "camera" is now hovering above Base Camp and looking at the whole route, revealing the perch upon which Camp Three sits.

And here I've panned right, putting my "camera" at Camp Three and looking up the ridge to the summit.

Pretty cool stuff. The software is even able to represent the bluff visible from my house and approximate my view.

To replicate my Everest experience, turn on the Terrain and Geographic Web layers. To change the camera angle, use your mouse to wheel-click and drag. I'm not sure how you'd do it if you don't have a mouse with a wheel.

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