Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween vs. Christmas: An Unofficial Comparison

Pushing aside the backburner issues of war, election stealing, North Korea, global warming and other bothersome matters, ABC News gets to the heart of everything with the riveting question, “Is Halloween the New Christmas?” Hmmm … I have to admit that I didn’t see that coming. But after further consideration, I present to you a 15-step comparison of Christmas and Halloween:

Christmas: Occasionally awkward religious overtones.
Halloween: Thinly veiled Satanic overtones.
Winner: Halloween

Christmas: Get to act like a kid.
Halloween: Get to act like a kid.
Winner: Push

Christmas: Excuse to get ripped on egg nog to get in the “spirit.”
Halloween: Excuse to smash pumpkins to get in the “spirit.”
Winner: Christmas

Christmas: Have to give creepy Salvation Army guy your change at Harris Teeter.
Halloween: People give you chocolate and such.
Winner: Halloween

Christmas: “Dressing up” constitutes wearing a Santa Claus hat and a horrific sweater with a deer or a snowman or snowflakes on it.
Halloween: “Dressing up” means wearing a Bush costume and everyone knowing you came as the antichrist.
Winner: Halloween

Christmas: Good family bonding time in a comfortable setting.
Halloween: Pushy strangers with snot-nosed kids knocking on your door.
Winner: Christmas

Christmas: Giving gifts makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Halloween: Shotgunning Hershey’s kisses makes you feel all cold and gurgling inside.
Winner: Surprisingly, Halloween

Christmas: The one time of year that you give in to mom and go to church.
Halloween: The one time of year you feel justified in whipping raw eggs at passing cars on “Mischief Night.”
Winner: Halloween

Christmas: “Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer.”
Halloween: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”
Winner: Christmas

Christmas: Kissing under the mistletoe.
Halloween: Drunkenly making out with a chubby chick just because she dressed up as Paris Hilton.
Winner: Christmas

Christmas: Making a snowman.
Halloween: Putting witches and cobwebs and shit all over.
Winner: Halloween

Christmas: Turkey dinner, football, fall asleep.
Halloween: Sugar rush, dry heave, pass out.
Winner: Christmas

Christmas: Decorate your cubicle, maybe wear an elf hat.
Halloween: Come to work in costume, have everyone awkwardly tell you how “great” it is and then sit around the rest of the day wondering what the christ you have done.
Winner: Christmas

Christmas: The North Pole.
Halloween: ‘Salem’s Lot/Chapel Hill.
Winner: Christmas

Christmas: Marco and Etoria trying to find a common language in putting up a Christmas tree.
Halloween: Ken Magee dressed up as Donald Trump.
Winner: We all win—and lose.

So there you have it: Christmas in a nailbiter, seven to six (with two ties). In the event of a tie, I was willing to go with Halloween based solely on Brandow’s horrific-yet-I-cannot-look-away Devil’s Tramping Ground video.

Happy Halloween to the merry band of disturbing limerickists!

Monday, October 30, 2006

I'll Gladly Pay You Tomorrow for a Hamburger Today ...

In our culture, showing an oil-caked pelican drowning next to a melting glacier isn’t enough to capture our attention anymore. We’ll shake our heads, mutter, “That’s a shame,” then quickly click to “Survivor: Downtown Detroit.” We know we’re destroying the planet, but we also know that we’ll be OK for the rest of our lives. Eventually it will be our great-grandchildren’s problem, and then it will really be a shame—for them. To take our minds off the tragedy of it all, we hop into our 12-ton, six-wheeled SUV to drive the 0.11 miles to Starbucks, then order a mocha that didn’t harm a rainforest to make us feel a little better.

That’s why the recent release of the Stern Review Report actually caused a few raised eyebrows around the world. The 700-page report didn’t exactly go out on a limb, saying that climate change trending is leading to a lot of certain, bad things. Where the exhaustive report—lauded as a revolutionary and forward-thinking document compiled by former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern—seized attention is when it correlated the issue into the impact it will have on the world’s economy. Now that it’s clear that it will be our leather wallets that will suffer and not just some unnamable Amazonian creature, our ears perk up.

The global gross domestic product was estimated at $60.7 trillion in 2005. Stern posits using one percent of this total to combat the issue of climate change. That’s a lot of clams, right? Not when you consider that his report concludes that this problem could lead to a 20-percent shrink in the global economy by 2050—a figure estimated to be $368 trillion. Stern even discusses a variety of intriguing ways of reducing emissions, including “taxes, regulation and emissions trading.”

Even though the only way things seem to make sense to us these days is if you put issues into the context of dollars and cents, you can pretty much write the world’s biggest polluter—the U.S.—out of the game until at least 2008, when we’ll finally see a change in administration and, hopefully, policy. “W” would rather cut his two-month vacations to one and use the extra month to enter spelling bees than to get on board with a change that would affect his oil cronies. In fact, I believe he’s already dispatched Dick Cheney to invite Sir Nicholas Stern on a “hunting trip” …

“What say, gov’nor? Where are the foxes and all that rot? If we don’t tarry, we can fancy a spot of tea before … Eh, Sir Dick … Why are you pointing that shotgun at me, good chum?”

So the choice becomes whether to spend a fraction of the money and energy on a collaborative effort to curb emissions now … or wait until we can enjoy something that will make the Great Depression look like a bad day selling lemonade on the corner.

“The task is urgent,” wrote Stern. “Delaying action even by a decade or two will take us into dangerous territory. We must not let this window of opportunity close. Government, businesses and individuals all need to work together to respond to the challenge.

“Strong, deliberate policy choices by governments are essential to motivate change.”

Powerful words. But just out of curiosity, when’s the last time you saw a successful policy choice by your government, especially on a global scale that involved working well with others? Right.

Better load up on the sunscreen and bury that piggy bank in the backyard now … I hear we’re headed for some warm weather.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Limerick Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Back by popular demand ... it's Limerick Friday! Last week's version generated a staggering 42 responses ... plus a visit by Amnesty International. Apparently, along the way, we offended every creed, race, animal, country and 'neck. But like a white Che Guevara, I will not be silenced ... I will continue to provide a forum for expression. Have at it, comrades ...

In the locker room did Casie undress
Dozens of boys did she really impress
Excitedly, off they went
Now they'd like to thank Brent
Because of him they have her IM address

About tae kwon did he constantly whine
Jelly was what made up his spine
Spent his days eavesdropping and spying
Then assumed the fetal position and began crying
The truth hurts even when it’s through the grapevine

There once was a shoddy coach named Nick
In his public persona, he was a dick
And I don’t mean private eye
His excuses never did fly
Hope next year he’s fishin’ in some crick

Like Nicholson in “The Shining”
His manic depression was quite binding
Looked like a worn Fred Flinstone
He tried to dig up dirt alone
Then got offended at what he was finding

Right wing attacks on Alex P. Keaton
Ironically, they think he’s cheating
They’re trying to use his disease
As a way to distract the votees
Hope this election gives them a severe beating

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Of Coaching, Qui-Gon Nick Knows Not Of ... Not ... Or Something

Nick Saban was named coach of the Miami Dolphins on Christmas Day 2004, to near-universal acclaim. He won a BCS national championship with LSU and had won everywhere he went. Sure, there were rumors about his enormous ago, the way he berated secretaries, how he was a cruel taskmaster, how assistants despised him. In a poll of college assistants, he was named the most difficult coach to work for in the nation. But hell, my ‘Fins were coming off a 4-12 season and had endured Dave “My ‘stache distracts you from my incompetence” Wannstedt and Jimmy “As a coach, I am a great tuna fisherman” Johnson, so I would have endured Pol Pot as our coach if he knew how to find the seams in a cover-2 defense. Little did I know that our new coach was a colossal prick who fancied himself a Jedi.

Armed with a five-year, $22 million contract, Saban set to work trying to fix the ‘Fins. Well, actually, his first order of business was to ban the media from the facility. Then he made his coaching staff off-limits to reporters. But then he got into the war room to come up with a draft strategy. What did he come up with? Pick only players he had coached, coached against or once recruited in college. That’s how we ended up taking the second-best running back on his own team as the No. 2 overall pick in the entire draft. We wanted him to share duties with Ricky Williams, though, so to make sure he didn’t learn too quickly and get all uppity, we made sure he held out as long as possible so he wouldn’t be able to contribute until later in the season. That was a resounding success. After starting out 3-7, we won our last six games so we could create a false sense of confidence and get the worst draft pick possible without making the playoffs. Mission accomplished.

Back to the war room for draft prep. Again making sure to target only SEC or Big 10 players—the two leagues he had most recently coached in—he scooped up Jason Allen from Tennessee with the 16th pick. No one knew whether he was a safety or a cornerback, he missed most of his senior season with a shoulder injury, he needed knee surgery and a YouTube video popped up showing him getting steamrolled repeatedly by Brown … how was he possibly available? Giddy with delight, Saban grabbed the defensive back, then allowed him to have the second-longest holdout among the entire rookie class. When he got to camp, Saban—reputedly a defensive backs guru—moved him to cornerback for just long enough to make sure that Allen was as confused as Lance Bass at a groupie convention, then moved him back to safety. This ensured that Allen would go six games without playing a defensive snap, cementing his status as the biggest bust of the entire first-round draft class this year.

Perhaps the Allen debacle was a way for Saban to distract everyone from his pursuit of overweight, one-legged Daunte Culpepper of the Minnesota Vikings. After outrageous contract demands and his obstinacy in working out at a strip mall instead of team facilities, the Vikes could not wait to have someone take him off their hands. He was coming off a devastating injury after throwing six touchdowns and 12 interceptions, so he was a prized commodity to just about every—well, every team in Miami. Luckily, San Diego had let Drew Brees enter free agency, meaning that a more polished quarterback was available—for no compensation! And his salary demands were more reasonable! In his infinite wisdom, however, Saban decided that he had one second-round pick too many and too few underachievers on the team, so he traded for Culpepper and let Brees head to the Saints. The sighs of relief in Minnesota could be heard all the way in Boca Raton.

Apparently scared of Culpepper’s posse, Saban allowed the quarterback to convince him that he was “fine,” so he allowed him to start the season. Obviously hobbling, Culpepper was sacked 74 times in the first five games, throwing two touchdowns and three picks. Then he yelled at Saban during a practice, so Miami pretended he had a shoulder injury and benched him—for fellow underachiever Joey Harrington. Then, during a rambling press conference, Saban said that Culpepper had forgotten to rehabilitate his knee while he tried to play, so he wouldn’t be playing anymore. “But what about his shoulder injury?” asked reporters. “He can’t play until he’s more mobile,” answered Saban. “But he runs on his legs, not his arms, right?” asked reporters. “You’re all assholes,” Saban ruminated.

As the team slipped to 1-6, Saban was asked whether the team had apparently forgotten about Brown and Pro Bowl receiver Chris Chambers, who had both disappeared faster than Joey Lawrence’s career. The media constantly asked about the under- and misuse of both Brown and Chambers, making Saban turn red.

“I think the game circumstances dictate that,” the coach told them. “If we could script it and have two backs out there we would want Ronnie Brown to carry the ball between 15 and 20 times a game. But we haven’t always had two backs carrying the ball out there, so we haven’t run the ball enough.”

When everyone in the room scratched their heads and wondered what in crikey’s name Saban was talking about, he became incensed and called on his little-used Force skills to silence the plebeians.

“Ronnie Brown is of no interest to you,” he said soothingly as he waved his hand in the reporters’ direction.

“Ronnie Brown is of no interest to us,” answered the mindless media.

“Our running game you would like to know of not,” Saban said, warming to the Jedi speak.

“Your running game we would like to know of not.”

Qui-Gon Nick came in with a holier-than-thou attitude, speech filled with philosophical meanderings, a smartass demeanor and an open disdain for reporters. When your team wins six games in a row under his guidance, as a fan you look the other way and say, “Hey, that’s just part of the package. I don’t care if he sacrifices a ballboy before every game as long as we beat the goddam Patriots.” When your team loses six of seven games, you say, “Not only can this guy not coach his way out of a paper bag, but he is a dildo on top of that? No way. Toss him the hell out.”

Wannstedt and former NC State hoops coach Les Robinson were likable guys … the types of guys you wouldn’t mind grabbing a brew with … you just didn’t want them anywhere near your freaking team. But you can root for those guys because they’re salt-of-the-earth, aw-shucks, good people. You can’t root for someone like Nick Saban. He overcompensates for being a West Virginia hillbilly by trying to confuse the media with big words and rambling dissertations, but reporters have a way of cutting to the chase. And the end of this chase says 1-6 for a team that was picked to go to the Super Bowl by multiple media outlets.

As Obi-Wan Kenobi said in “Revenge of the Sith,” “Wait, how did this happen? We’re smarter than this!”

John Bunting is dumb and a poor coach. Qui-Gon Nick is smart and supposedly a good coach. But they are both 1-6 and one of them is out of a job. Will the other join him eventually?

“Your employment is of no interest to us,” say Dolphins fans, adding, “You Jedi jackass.”

*Much thanks to fellow disgusted Dolphins fan Cory for his excellent portrayal of Qui-Gon Nick.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Maybe Death Really Is Nirvana ...

ITV News reports that Kurt Cobain made $50 million from beyond the grave last year, making him the highest-paid dead celebrity. He was not available for comment. However, his representative, Courtney Love, vomited in response.

Cobain edged past Elvis, who had held the top spot for four years. Presley's income dipped to just $42 million last year. I guess he was sleeping on the job (*rimshot*). Johnny Cash edged into the top 10 and is certain to soar through the rankings in coming years, but Tupac was a notable exception. Hasn't he been putting out like five albums a year since he died?!

I'm not sure why, but every time I see a picture of Kurt Cobain, it makes me wonder why David Spade is trying to look like him. Is Spade going for the disturbed-artist, I-don't-care-because-I'm-creative look to try to get another "Hollywood Minute"? Is he trying to reinvent himself since his career went into the grave with Chris Farley? I guess I'm most curious because one of my friends has a girlfriend that looks like David Spade, and even she got a call for the "Just Shoot Me" reunion show while he didn't.

Kurt Cobain, troubled soul, lost muse of Generation X

David Spade, a straight man with no funny man, star of the E! True Hollywood special, "When the Mullet Grows Back: The Downward Spiral of'Joe Dirt'"

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Happy United Nations Day!

Has a year already passed? Is it United Nations Day again already? What do you get someone for United Nations Day? It was a lot more fun to celebrate when Boutros Boutros-Ghali was the secretary-general of the UN and you had a valid reason to just say his name a lot during the course of a day. Kofi Anan, the current secretary-general, is sort of funny to say, but just doesn’t have the same bite to it. He just sounds more like an olde English way of saying you'd like coffee now.

Come to think of it, UN Day was a lot more fun when the United States was a member instead of an outcast. Back when everyone recognized that the UN was a valid, potentially effective means of global justice and compromise, you could get on board with United Nations Day. But internationally, we’re the evil empire, the only superpower that refuses to vote for logical environmental legislation, the planetary version of the ‘roided-up, belligerent redneck who fires beer cans out the window with one hand while firing at tumbleweeds in the desert for no reason with the other, in a blinged-out, extended-cab Hummer with a "Kill 'Em All and Let God Sort 'Em Out" sticker on one side of the bumper and "WWJD" on the other. Good times.

So, happy United Nations Day!

And I still plan on saying Boutros Boutros-Ghali a lot today. Just for old times’ sake.

Monday, October 23, 2006

John Bunting, We Hardly Knew Ye

Gone is John Bunting, leaving the ACC bereft of coaches who look like flounders. We will miss the aw-shucks declarations accompanied by a troubling impediment; e.g., “I want to she all of our fansh out at Kenan Shtadium.” We’ll miss his drunken, batshit-crazy wife putting a voodoo spell on Georgia Tech. We’ll miss seeing all his best players flunking out or getting kicked off the team for assault or marijuana or bringing firearms to "study hall." We’ll miss him frantically spray-painting a bell for beating … Duke?! We’ll miss the bug-eyed, strained-neck interviews. We’ll miss him standing for the alma mater after yet another loss as “fans” hurl insults at him. We’ll miss seeing his players flip off opposing fans on national TV before a game between a 1-5 team and a 2-4 team. We’ll miss year after year of highly acclaimed recruiting classes, followed by “student-athletes” rolling over for foes. We’ll miss the blinding gleam of aluminum in Kenan. We’ll miss Wal-Mart fans pretending that football really is important at UNC-Chapel Hill, then saying, “Wait ‘til basketball season!”

We’ll miss it all, until the Heels fan with a red UNC hat promises that Steve Spurrier is on the way, that Vince Lombardi is secretly visiting, that Mack Brown is coming back, that Pete Carroll is really an East Coast guy or that Urban Meyer has been biding his time until the Tar Heels job came open. We’ll miss the crash back to earth as reality sets in and the real candidates emerge.

Matt Doherty, anyone?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Limericks: Your Frothy Friday Friend

Fabricate news to swing midterm elections
On our government, quite a reflection
With North Korea our talks often ramble
We shoot at every passing desert camel
Who will be left to pour my Slurpee confection?

To attend EZU you gotta be buzzin’
They measure their SAT scores by the dozen
They wish they were a real school
But their students mouth-breathe and drool
In Greenville they let you marry your cousin

Once there lived a monster with no neck
He was dumb, loud and obnoxious as heck
His favorite big word was literally
He led in a way referred to as pitifully
Now he’ll have to sell knishes off Hooters’ deck

There’s no better sport than bocce
You can play it while using a hibachi
I turned pro and ruled bocce lawns
‘Til I could do it while fighting back yawns
To lie about your career, consult Literace

Another close call for my star-crossed Mets
Cheering for them is a good way to lose bets
It’s “Wait ‘til next year!” once again
Hell, I don’t know if I can
When I watch them I sound like I have Tourette’s

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

15 Ways to Avoid an Embarrassing Tattoo

Tattoos are now trendy. I’m sure pirates and convicts are quite flattered. But that also means that number of stupid tattoos is now reaching epic proportions. Here are some things you might consider before you voluntarily mutilate yourself:

1. Have something specific in mind before you get there. Don’t go in and look at something on the wall and say, “That’s pretty neat. I wonder how it would look forever on my body.”

2. Get something that goes with your body.
Tramp stamp.
I think you know where I am going with this.

3. Don’t get a flower or a butterfly. This is not original.

4. Make sure the artist sees the same vision. It is not their job to read your mind. Don’t say, “A landscape would be cool” and then be pissed off when the skyline of downtown Baghdad appears on your chest. You’ll be staring at this thing in the mirror for the foreseeable future, so make sure it’s something you actually like and has meaning to you.

5. Plan for the future—and gravity. Will you proud of this tattoo when you are 73 and you are sort of droopy all over and the shape of this art has not been helped by these occurrences?

6. Don’t get a Chinese symbol that you don’t know the meaning of off the top of your head.

7. A sun? Really? You’re going with that?

8. Don’t get a person’s name unless you are honoring someone. This rules out “I love x” or “Will you marry me?” tattoos. If she refuses to marry you or the divorce goes through, what then? Are you going to spend the rest of your life trying to date people with that name? Even if she says yes, what then? That doesn’t make a “cute” story at cocktail parties … it makes people leave early and blame the babysitter’s curfew.

9. Don’t complain about how much it hurts. They like to think you know that needles are involved before you plunk down your money.

10. Be prepared to pay. Like anything else in life, the best things are the most expensive. Permanent artwork on a body part is not something you are looking for a bargain on, is it? Skip a couple of meals instead of hitting up Dirty Hector’s Loco Tacquerio Hut, Bait Shop and Tattoo Parlor.

11. Sleeves seem really dumb. I guess I could be convinced otherwise by a compelling argument. I’m also guessing I have nothing to worry about in that department.

12. Unless you are in a motorcycle gang or have killed someone, skulls or daggers are out. If you’re a computer analyst, a bad-ass tattoo won’t convince people that you are “hard” or that Bruegger’s is your “turf.”

13. Don’t get a logo. Do you really want to be someone’s billboard for no reason? What does a Nike tattoo convey to the world—that you dig sneakers a lot? I’m thinking you have a better message about yourself that you’d like to get out there.

14. Don’t get gang tattoos. This is akin to flashing gang signs while you’re patrolling the food court at Crabtree. No one’s buying it and you really shouldn’t be selling it.

15. Nothing on the face or neck. The “you’re the new Mike Tyson” or “you’re a white Alan Iverson” jokes will get old toot-sweet.

Just a few simple rules for you to consider before you head to Wendell and have a tattoo of a girl’s name in a heart tattooed on your neck for $29.99. Because not only will your neck hurt, your Adam's apple get infected and the girl will think you’re a stalker … but you’ll be made fun of unmercifully for the rest of your life.

And deservedly so.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Monsters of the Midway Dash Desert Dreams

Yesterday was spent cursing the gods about the pain of being an NC State fan. So let’s take today to smile about the good things sports can provide, instead of dwelling on all the inevitable downs that seem to stick in our memories longer than the ups.

I was born in Chicago, so the “Windy City” has always held a special place in my heart. My little brother is a huge Bears fan, so there has been many a Sunday when our displaced-fan butts have sat side by side in a sports bar, me watching the Dolphins play while he rooted on the Bears. Between the rapid-eye movement and attention jerks that it takes to follow two games, it’s a wonder one or both of us didn’t develop Tourette’s, but by combining the two games, we usually found a way to find something to cheer about during the course of those hours.

When I cursed the “Hebrew Hurler,” Jay Fiedler, he tried to boost my spirits by reminding me that his quarterback was Craig Krenzel. When he wondered why the Bears offense was more pathetic than a high school team’s, I reminded him that the Dolphins hadn’t won a Super Bowl in more than 30 years despite having the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. When I lamented the fact that I might have to look for an A.J. Feeley jersey, he gently brought up the fact that I had once bought him a Rashan Salaam jersey for Christmas. Of course, each exchange usually ended up with us sighing and ordering two more Miller Lites.

Chicago was 5-0 going into last night’s game at woeful Arizona (1-4). Talk of an undefeated season and comparisons to the dominant 1985 Bears title team were rampant, though my brother is just cynical and jaded enough that he was refusing to believe. When the Cards boosted their lead to 23-3 in the third quarter, he looked prophetic. He began cursing the offensive coordinator, Cardinals fans, Joe Theismann, DVR, his sister-in-law’s dog and our country’s foreign policy. I thought, "I’m pretty sure my little brother is going to fire a small collie dog off his back deck pretty soon."

But in the background … things sort of began to happen.

Arizona quarterback Matt Leinart was waylaid and coughed up the ball, and a scoop and score cut the lead to 23-10. A little glimmer of hope. Grossman throws his 19th interception of the game? No problem. The Tasmanian Devil, Brian Urlacher, ferociously tears the ball away from Cards’ running back Edgerrin James, Peanut Tillman picks up the ball and runs for another touchdown. Holy crikey. It is 23-17. Here come the jokes about how if the Chicago offense simply punted on first down every time they got the ball, they would actually be in better shape. Nervous laughter comes from my brother, who has stopped downing rum & Cokes like Mel Gibson at a bar mitzvah. Unbeknownst to the rest of us, he switched jerseys from Urlacher to Grossman at halftime. He begins threatening to wear the Grossman jersey every day for the rest of his life if they somehow find a way to win this game. I thought, "I’m pretty sure my little brother is going to start dry-heaving at any moment."

The Bears defense holds again. Rookie Devin Hester hauls in the ensuing punt and begins calmly bobbing and weaving up the field. Then the “Windy City Flier” finds another gear, jukes the punter and stumbles into the end zone for an 83-yard touchdown with 2:58 left, giving the Bears a 24-23 lead. Chest bumps, babies crying, dogs barking and drinks knocked over ensue. I thought, "I’m pretty sure my little brother is weeping at this point, though he tries to hide it well."

Somehow, Arizona moves the ball down the field and into field-goal range. Their kicker, Neil Rackers, made roughly 400 field goals last year, singlehandedly winning many a fantasy football championship. But the Bears are destined to win this game, right? Wide left. Pandemonium on the field. The stack of flapjacks on the back of Arizona coach Denny Green’s neck almost move. Joe Theismann spoons with Leinart as consolation. Somehow, Chicago completed a 20-point comeback without scoring an offensive touchdown. I can confidently say that that has never happened, ever, in any football game in the history of the world. I thought, "I’m pretty sure my little brother just wet his pants."

With NC State struggling at 3-3 and the Dolphins making a mockery of their season at 1-5, I find myself living vicariously through my brother. I take solace in the fact that the team from my birthplace just might be a team of “density.” I can’t help but smile as I drive home, shaking my head.

I’m pretty sure my little brother called in “sick” to work today. I’m pretty sure he’s still wearing a Rex Grossman jersey, I’m pretty sure he is still mildly drunk … and I’m pretty sure he is pretty ok with that.

Congrats, Devo. You deserve it.

Now where’s my Joey Harrington jersey …

Monday, October 16, 2006

God No Likey Wolves

Friday was a good day to be a Wolfpack fan. The football team was riding the high of back-to-back wins over ranked opponents behind the arm of Daniel Evans, who is so much straight out of a Disney movie that he sort of looks like Ichabod Crane. A Saturday home game against Wake Forest awaited, with the smells of the State Fair sure to be wafting over on a crisp fall morning. State hoops had finally gotten some great news with the commitment of standout big man J.J. Hickson. I had just written a story on Evans for Pack Pride and had just had a phone interview with former star Monte Towe, now an associate head coach for NC State. I was about to get paid to write about my alma mater … things were looking up on the Pack front.

As pointed out by Evan in his heartbreaking blog post, that’s when everything sort of fell apart. I got sunburned, State unloaded both barrels on its own feet, we lost at the last minute – and then we got stuck in traffic for 90 minutes leaving the parking lot.

Ugh. If you need a support group, share your story over on Evan’s blog. It won’t make you feel better, but … well, there’s no but. You won’t feel better; but you should do it anyway in the interest of releasing the pain.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, this is a lot of whining and moaning that will amount to nothing. But we've earned the right. Carry on.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday the 13th: Attack of the Limericks

The State Fair has arrived by and by
Mullets, fried Coke and goats, oh my
Traffic is sure to be ruined
At the turkey shoot, you may be mooned
But you can people-watch and laugh 'til you cry

State welcomes a big kid named Hickson
Now, foes better get their licks in
'Cause Sid is well on his way
As Pack hoops enters a new day
True fans should get their money for tix in

A job for bilinigual Serge Zwikker?
He's so gangly coworkers might snicker
Yet he's smarter than Henrik Rodl
You should hear him let loose a yodel
No one on his UNC team could spell quicker

Farewell to lovely Sy Snootles
We're sure to all miss her oodles
Triangle rock will never be the same
Stockings will go back to being lame
But soon she'll be back home eating Cup o' Noodles

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

M-E-T-S, Mets, Mets, Mets!

It has been 20 years since the New York Mets of Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, et al, captured the hearts of the Big Apple and won the 1986 World Series over the Boston Red Sox. Ah, but cocaine is a fickle mistress ... the dynasty was short-lived, with players quickly scattered to other teams, incarcerated or sent to rehab. The only thing we have to remember this team by accurately is one of the greatest pieces of short-action video in the history of filmmaking. *Sigh*

Yet, twenty years later, the Metsies are set to go for a World Series title again (editor's note: the 2000 Subway Series never happened, you fact-checking bastard), with the National League Championship Series starting this evening against St. Louis. I would feel better if a brave member of the team would show some stones and grow a Gary Carter-like jerry curl/perma-mullet or even a Keith Hernandez-like porn 'stache, but I understand this might be a tad much to hope for.

So Mets fans everywhere will be listening to the greatest team song ever as they look to rediscover the glory years. In honor of the past ... line me up a bump, will you?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Study: Orange-And-White Barrels Cause Road Rage



I couldn’t think of a real “Y” word that fit, so I made up an approximate of “useful.” Sorry; it has been a long day. Why has it been so long? Because I have to navigate @#!$%&*^!! U.S. 1/64 twice a day.

An estimated 100,000 vehicles travel this stretch of road every day. For nearly two years, they have had to do so while dealing with difficult interchanges, nonsensical lane assignments and a plethora of orange-and-white barrels that pop up in different places every day. The reason? Ostensibly, it is because of a $58 million “improvement” project geared toward adding lanes and making our lives easier.

Except that since the project began in 2005, there appears to be very little actual progress being made. From day to day, you just don’t know which lane is going to end up where. The lane that took you where you wanted to go yesterday may usher you directly into a noise wall today – or send you back in the other direction tomorrow. Even the Town of Cary deems the seemingly random weaving and merging “perplexing and potentially hazardous.” If you translate “potentially” as “there is a forking accident every morning and afternoon,” then they’re on the right track.

With that volume of vehicles on two-lane corridors, if something as minor happens as a flat tire, traffic will automatically be backed up for an indeterminately lengthy amount of time because there are no shoulders on the road in long stretches and because people apparently like to come to a full stop on their commutes so they can stare at someone changing a tire.

Yesterday, it took me 45 minutes to go 11.5 miles. I’ve seen so many instances of road rage that I’m half-expecting to look over and see Yasmine Bleeth flipping me off any day now.

I could deal with it if there was tangible proof that improvements and advances are being made. But it appears as if they are simply moving the barrels to different lanes every day to throw us off, like they’re playing some sick game of “Frogger” on unsuspecting drivers. Do they really think that if they just switch up the lanes that are blocked off and alternately move the barrels there, it will simply project the image of progress and we’ll give them a big thumbs-up? This isn’t Whack-A-Mole, DOT … this is people trying to simply get home after slaving for the man all day long. That doesn’t seem like a lot to ask, does it?

Based on the projections, the project is slated to be completed early in 2007. Of course, believing that Santa Claus will come and fill your chimney with orange-and-white barrels will prove just as fruitful as putting any faith in that date.

And if Santa does show up at your house with an armload of cones, just don’t ask him to “improve” your driveway by adding lanes.

Monday, October 09, 2006

If You Think Democracy Is Sorta Cool ...

… these are must-reads. I mean, c’mon – you have time to read blogs about horrific dating fiascos, Nihilism, sexy Halloween costumes, obscure Japanese poetic forms, “Lost” and a variety of other nonsensical subjects. Would it kill you to mix in a little politics? Well, considering some of the headlines these days – did you hear the one about how a Bill became a lay? – I understand your trepidation. Nevertheless, I urge you to forge on, good citizen …

A pair of articles by public activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in the Rolling Stone cast light on the polling abuses perpetrated in the 2004 and 2000 elections. In “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?”, Lou Harris, the “father of modern political polling,” tells the author, “'Ohio was as dirty an election as America has ever seen. You look at the turnout and votes in individual precincts, compared to the historic patterns in those counties, and you can tell where the discrepancies are. They stand out like a sore thumb.”

The article concludes with the following statement: “American history is littered with vote fraud -- but rather than learning from our shameful past and cleaning up the system, we have allowed the problem to grow even worse. If the last two elections have taught us anything, it is this: The single greatest threat to our democracy is the insecurity of our voting system. If people lose faith that their votes are accurately and faithfully recorded, they will abandon the ballot box. Nothing less is at stake here than the entire idea of a government by the people.

“Voting, as Thomas Paine said, ‘is the right upon which all other rights depend.’ Unless we ensure that right, everything else we hold dear is in jeopardy.”

Kennedy follows up with, “Will The Next Election Be Hacked?” In that article, an election supervisor in Leon County, Fla., tells him, “Every board of election has staff members with the technological ability to fix an election. Even one corrupt staffer can throw an election. Without paper records, it could happen under my nose and there is no way I'd ever find out about it. With a few key people in the right places, it would be possible to throw a presidential election.”

Think about it.

Now get back to reading about creepy adoptions, the questionable merits of ice cream vs. coffee on a first date and rampant spelling problems in Greenville, N.C.

Carry on …

Friday, October 06, 2006

Limerick Friday Returns ...

New-fangled Carter-Finley was rockin’
Gave those whining Seminoles a sockin’
A season that has been restored
For Pack fans restless and bored
Hey Bunting, that is the clock that is tick-tockin’

Apex ain’t safe from a big screwup
Looked like that damn factory did blew up
Now from traffic there is no reprieve
Folks out that way can’t hardly breathe
Hey local politicians, why don’t you look a clue up

I hope this weekend Will finally finds love
Hope Brent finds a kid that fits like a glove
I hope my former coworkers keep jobs
In a place that is run by complete ‘knobs
That joint can’t be saved even from above

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"Lost" In A Sea Of Questions

Amidst plenty of fanfare, Season 3 of “Lost” debuts tonight on ABC. Rumors are that the season premiere was postponed due to the show’s Emmy snub, but that has not slowed audience anticipation at all. Blogs and media outlets are frantically trying to guess what this season will – or won’t – reveal.

Here are just a few of the questions that are foremost on the minds of “Lost” diehards:

• Did Michael and Walt actually use the coordinates to find a way off the island? Will they actually turn their backs on Jack, Kate and Sawyer? What kind of “tests” was Walt forced to take?
• Where have Jack, Kate and Sawyer been taken? Why? And are they supposed to symbolize some weird reincarnation of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo?
• Will Sayid wake up from his sleepwalking and do something proactive? Will he and Jin team up to track down those taken by the “Others”?
• Why was Hurley rejected by the Others? What will his role be – if he doesn’t get over the death of Libby and stop seeing visions? Is it possible that he could get any fatter on a deserted island?
• What happened to Mr. Eko and Locke? How severely were they injured in the hatch blast?
• What is up with Charlie – why was he acting so strangely after the blast? Will he and Claire become an item again? What will be the result of Aaron taking the vaccine?
• What will happen with Sun’s pregnancy?
• Will we have anymore flashbacks involving Boone and Shannon?
• Is Henry Gale really an authority figure for the Others or is he the right-hand man to someone higher up the ladder? What are the roles of Mr. Friendly and Ms. Klugh?
• Where the hell did Desmond go? Will we find out more about his relationship with Penny Widmore, and why Penny’s father was so determined to keep them apart?
• Will there by any more explanation of the “smoke” creature?
• What the frick was going on with the enormous four-toed foot statue?
• Will we hear any more about Kelvin and the message he was really trying to pass on to Desmond?
• Will there be any type of resolution to Bernard and Rose’s differences?
• Will Rousseau pop up again out of nowhere for no apparent reason? Will her daughter Danielle make any more appearances?
• Will the connection between the various hatches be explained any more clearly? Will anymore hatches be revealed?
• How do the Degroots and Dr. Candle fit into all of this? For that matter, what do the Hanso Foundation and the Dharma Initiative really represent?
• What’s up with the guys in the snow speaking Portuguese and finding something they had to call Penny about?

Outside of “The Sopranos,” no show currently on television has the ability to infuriate its viewers – while still retaining the entire lot of them. Will J.J. Abrams & Co. be able to continue to get away with bringing up five new questions for every answer provided in Season 3 or will the audience finally begin to throw up its hands? Or will some tangible, logical, connected truths at long last be revealed? Hopefully, the answers will begin to come into focus starting tonight.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Oktoberfest Vs. My Liver: Call It A Draw

What could be better than spending a gorgeous Saturday afternoon watching a football game, smelling the cut grass from the stands, under a cloudless sky and a lazy sun? Empty the stadium. Remove the teams from the field. Add 350-plus different kinds of beer from more than 100 regional, national and international breweries.


Even better.

The eighth annual Charlotte Oktoberfest Beer Festival was held at Memorial Stadium this past weekend. The six-hour event featured porters, bitters, IPAs, ambers, stouts, seasonals, varietals and ales of every type imaginable. A 45-minute wait to get in dulled the festivities initially – who knew you would have to tailgate while you waited to get into a beer festival?! – but once you got your ticket punched and someone handed you a six-ounce tasting glass, it was hard to hold back the tears.

Live bands played in one end zone, while the other end of the field featured cornhole (fill in your own joke here), foosball and a disturbing version of Twister. You could head up to the concourse to grab something to eat or use the restroom (a popular place when you have 5,000 people drinking beer for six hours), or sit in the stands if you wanted a break -- or, apparently, if you were a confused old man who expected a football game to break out at any moment.

I’m sure you’re saying, “Thanks for painting such a pretty picture. Now, tell us about the beer, dammit!” Gotcha. You can learn more about some these beers at Imbibr.com, but here are a few thoughts. Some of the highlights among the regional breweries included Peachtree Pale Ale from Atlanta Brewing Company; Cottonwood Endo (American India pale ale) and Cottonwood Pumpkin Spiced Ale from Carolina Beer & Beverage Company; Indian Head Red and Firewater I.P.A. from Catawba Valley Brewing Company; Uncle Nut’s Nut Brown Ale from Edenton Brewing Company; the Oktoberfest brew from Ham’s Restaurant; the Hefe Weizen from Olde Hickory Brewery; the Palmetto Porter from Palmetto Brewing Company; Sweetwater Summer Hummer from Sweetwater Brewing Company; and the Summer Wheat (hefe weizen) from Weeping Radish Brewery.

On the national level, Purple Haze from Abita Brewing Company; Brooklyn Oktoberfest from Brooklyn Brewery; 60-Minute IPA from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Jinx and #9 from Magic Hat; Red Tail Ale from Mendocino Brewing; Apricot Ale from Pyramid Breweries; Uberfest from Rogue Ales; and Celebration from Sierra-Nevada Brewing Company all struck a chord. With beers from North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Missouri, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, New York, California, Maryland, Colorado, New Hampshire, Delaware, Michigan, Vermont, Texas, Washington and Pennsylvania represented, there was plenty to choose from.

From the international brewers, Monty Python’s Holy Grail Ale from Black Sheep Brewery (UK); Carlsberg Pilsner from Carlsberg Breweries (Denmark); Original Flag Porter from Darwin Brewery (UK); Grolsch Premium Lager from Grolsche Bierbrouwerjj (Netherlands); Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (UK); and Duvel (golden ale) from Duvel Moortgaat Brouwerjj (Belgium) were standouts. Of course, the international and national lines were much longer throughout most of the day, so you tended to drift toward the regional beers as the afternoon wore on. The object went from trying a host of exciting new blends to finding a) the shortest line and b) remembering which breweries give the most generous pours.

A neat aspect of the festival was the offering of homebrewed beers from established breweries. These varieties are not bottled or available, but are often good ways for brewers to test out new mixes and experiments on the public. And these beers tended to feature the most objectionable, creative and, in some cases, frightening names. The best names? Moose Drool and Pale Berry Nipple Ale (Carolina Brewmasters), Beligerent (sic) SOB (Alternative Beverage Homebrew Store), Blue Balls Blueberry Cream Ale and Fire in the Hole Jalapeno Ale (Battleground Brewer’s Guild), and Big and Busty Porter and Slacker Pale Ale (Palmetto State Brewers).

Among the homebrews, Trouser Trout Stout from Battleground Brewer’s Guild, Mocktoberfest from CARBOY Homebrew Club, Captain Mo’s Coffee Porter from Palmetto State Brewers and Stone Mountain IPA from Winston-Salem Wort Hawgs were ones that left you hoping they eventually reach the marketplace.

The best news was that unlike a football game where a pee party breaks out or a concert where a vomit fest takes place, the PDD count – Public Displays of Debauchery – was quite low, considering the environment. I guess you can chalk it up to having a lot of people who understand beer, know their limits, are practiced drinkers and have high tolerances gathering to take it all in. Or you can just say that some of these people's livers all look like something taken from the body of a 73-year-old Guatemalan peasant woman. Tomato, tomatoe.

Additionally, much of the proceeds went to the Mid Atlantic Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Getting hammered for a good cause … who knew you could help cure a disease simply by drinking lots and lots of beer? If that were always the case, I’d be the Louis Pasteur of alcohol by now.

And who knew that a football stadium with no football could be this much fun. I’ll be back next year … but if you’re there, just make sure your Cornhole game stays away from my Blue Balls cream ale, and we’ll get along just fine.