Monday, October 31, 2005

Alito bit of questioning

Gee, wasn't that clever?!!

Peter Baker of the Washington Post reports:

President Bush nominated U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court yesterday, rallying his estranged Republican base back to his side and triggering a torrent of liberal attacks that could foreshadow a bruising ideological showdown over the future of the judiciary.

Samuel A. Alito Jr. is a fun name. If you scramble its letters, you get, "A Salem/OJ trial" with a U left over. Shorten it to Samuel Alito and it spells, "I'm a sellout." Telling stuff. But what else should we know about the man Bush has chosen to replace Harriet Miers?

Side note: Apparently, that was my first-ever reference to Harriet Miers on this blog! My bad. Then again, it was Harriet Miers; what was there ever to say about her? That she thought Bush was the most brilliant man she'd ever met? (He taught her that the sky was green.) There. Done. Back to your regularly scheduled blog:

In order to acquaint ourselves with the proposed future justice, who if confirmed will likely be the deciding factor in Jesus v. Roe v. Wade (2006), I have assembled a panel of Dumb Questions to see if our hero stands up to the rigorous Not Right nomination process. Buckle up!

Dumb question 1: Where does Alito stand on the political spectrum, and why the hell would we not see this coming?

Bush selected a long-standing New Jersey judge with an extensive record of conservative rulings on abortion, federalism, discrimination and religion in public spaces. If confirmed to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the swing vote in recent years, Alito seems likely to shift the court to the right. We would not see this coming only if we were blind and were looking the wrong way.

Dumb Question 2: Which far-right joker does Alito remind me of?

Conservative leaders who helped force Miers to pull out Thursday rejoiced at the selection, seeing in Alito the philosophical equivalent of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Oh, right. Almost managed to forget that.

Dumb Question 3: What insanely banal and unintentionally ironic platitude did Bush speak about his latest nominee?

"Judge Alito has gained the respect of his colleagues and attorneys for his brilliance and decency," Bush said in introducing his latest choice. "He's won admirers across the political spectrum. I'm confident that the United States Senate will be impressed by Judge Alito's distinguished record, his measured judicial temperament and his tremendous personal integrity."

Though to be fair, Bush didn't say across what political spectrum.

Dumb Question 4: Have universally respected members of the opposition expressed reservation about Bush's latest choice?

"After insisting that Harriet Miers shouldn't even get a hearing because she couldn't prove she was extreme enough, the far right has now forced the president to choose a nominee that they think has views as extreme as their own," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Reid, who had encouraged Bush to pick Miers, said the Senate would have to investigate whether Alito "is too radical for the American people" and complained of another white male nominee. "President Bush would leave the Supreme Court looking less like America and more like an old boys club," Reid said.

Trick question! Opposition "universally respected" by the GOP? Hell, Ted Kennedy's car has killed more people than my gun!

Dumb Question 5: What qualifications render Alito worthy of a seat as a Supreme Crony?

Alito earned degrees from Princeton and Yale universities and served in President Ronald Reagan's Justice Department and as U.S. attorney in New Jersey. [...] Alito has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit since being nominated by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 and has addressed a range of society's most volatile subjects.

Hey, let's be positive about this; at least Alito has a resume as opposed to mere greeting cards.

Dumb Question 6:
What is the textbook definition of "backpedal"?

The same president who touted Miers a month ago as a nominee with real-world experience far removed from "the judicial monastery" yesterday emphasized Alito's lengthy history on the bench, noting that he "has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years." Bush even chose to introduce Alito in the main hall of the White House, rather than in the Oval Office, where he announced Miers's nomination.

If that stance were a bicycle, Bush would have fallen on his ass just like he did off that Segway.

Dumb Question 7: Can this nominee's oxymoronic ideology be summed up in one cutesy Bushie nickname?

The Trenton, N.J.-born son of an Italian immigrant, Alito has drawn comparisons to Scalia, to the point that some have dubbed him "Scalito" -- as if he were the next generation of the Supreme Court's most powerful conservative intellect.

Imagine that: Scalito from Joisey! Visualize broken kneecaps as precedents. Capiche, paisan?

Dumb Question 8: Mr. Alito, would you care to make a very banal, yet unsettling, comment about the role of the Supreme Court?

"Federal judges," he said, "have the duty to interpret the Constitution and the laws faithfully and fairly, to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans and to do these things with care and with restraint, always keeping in mind the limited role that the courts play in our constitutional system."

Because we all know that the executive branch is more equal than the others.

Dumb Question 9: Is there any light at the end of this very long tunnel?

Alito wrote a ruling upholding a city-sponsored holiday display in Jersey City that included a creche and menorah as well as secular symbols such as Frosty the Snowman. He struck down a Newark Police Department policy forbidding officers to wear beards after two Muslims complained that it violated their religious rights.

Dumb Question 10: Okay, what's the "but"?

Perhaps his most famous opinion came in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey , when in dissent he voted to uphold part of a Pennsylvania law requiring a woman to notify her husband before obtaining an abortion. [...]

He argued that Congress did not have the power to ban the intrastate sale of machine guns. In a variety of other cases, he showed skepticism of court intervention in discrimination claims. [...]

Since Alito has expressed opinions on "every hot-button issue" in American society, Sekulow added, "you've got to prepare for a slugfest."

There are more "buts" than a Sir Mix-A-Lot video.

Dumb Question 11: Does Alito have sufficient qualifications to be a true business criminal?

Alito, along with two other judges, threw out a lawsuit against Vanguard Group while having invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Vanguard mutual funds. Alito rejected an accusation of conflict of interest, but the case was reheard by another panel.

Lame for the Bush administration, but it's a start.

Dumb Question 12: What piece of stupid, yet apt, advice did Bush pass on to Alito's children?

"Don't pay attention to what you hear about your dad," the aide quoted Bush as saying. "The process can be tough."

Bush giving advice to children! Can we add "negligent father" to the Alito record?

Dumb Question 13: How violently anti-abortion is this guy?

"Alito's confirmation could shift the court in a direction that threatens to eviscerate the core protections for women's freedom guaranteed by Roe v. Wade or overturn the landmark decision altogether," said NARAL President Nancy Keenan.

In other words, ridiculously so.

Now it's your turn, Congress. Do us all proud.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Caption central

"Suspension of disbelief" edition

--George H. W. Bush provides motion capture for the upcoming Playstation game, "Madden Presidential FUBAR 2006"
--"Look, son, I know just what to do when your approval ratings go into free fall"
--In the interest of catering to its customers' pro-decency tastes, Wal-Mart set out to shoot a new cover for Nirvana's Nevermind
--"When Michael Dukakis ran against me in 1988, he embarrassed himself by looking a lot like this!"
--When Bush 41 needed advice, he always trusted his inner Cirque du Soleil
--Bush always tests the kid gloves he uses to treat his eldest son
--Why did I go there?: Preparation is key when spending the night with Barbara
--Bush used Dubya's foreign policy as a bungee cord, knowing it stretched just right
--"Clinton beat me by this much!"
--What do you know...he really is a lightweight!
--No wonder Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney broke this what it would have come to?
--"See, Dad? I told ya down is up!"
--Don't you just love Houston pollution?
--I am never, ever, ever going to a rave again!
--The nightmare that compelled Peter Pan to never grow up
--You know, this picture reminds me of the days when presidents were reserved and dignified, unlike today

Junior high journalism

I can explain...really! Click on my ID to hear me out:

this is an audio post - click to play

In Stereo
By Ian McGibboney

Music is getting better and better. Today, there are many choices in not only the music, but also in the ways you can play it. The CD (compact disc) and the cassette are the most popular mediums today, but it was the phonograph record invented 105 years ago that started recording.

In the late nineteenth century, Thomas Edison had been working on a device which would record sound. He perservered, and in 1877, Edison (with his colleagues to help him, since he was deaf) tested the primitive phonograph. It was a metal apparatus, operated by a crank, built by his mechanic, John Kruesi. This "record" was actually a white cylinder made of wax. Edison put it to work, singing "Mary Had A Little Lamb." (Whether or not he could actually sing, we will never know, for that record no longer exists.) He then played it back using the same process. It worked, and that's when the first analog medium came to be. Over time, records changed to become flat black discs with four speeds and sizes.

Then came the invention of audio tapes. The BASF Company of Germany created "cassettes," a small plastic reel-driven tape in a plastic shell, in 1932-1935. It was marketed in 1950 by Recording Associates of New York City, and caught on fast. The user could record his own voice with just a microphone and a tape recorder.

Another development in music, "multitrack recording," was invented by noted singer Les Paul in 1954. Called an "8-track tape," the user could select one of four "programs" to play, each containing a few selections. Like the cassette, the user could record on an 8-track cartridge.

Another big advance in technology came in 1978 when Philips, a leading electronics manufacturer, announced that they had come up with the first digital medium. Digital means that the sound is truned into "number pulses" which are read by a laser, distortion free. The CD (compact disc) was perfected in 1982 and marketed a short time later. Over time, CD quality has skyrocketed while the price has gone down.

The recording industry has definitely advanced since its introduction 105 years ago, and it will continue to rock.

Until next time, keep the beat!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday Random Top 10

What a coincidence! All of my most recent music made my top 10. Odd...

1) Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dancer--R. Kelly
2) Some Metallica song I stole from Napster
3) Money is No Object (At Least That's What They Tell Me at My Bank)--Johnny Paycheckless
4) This Red State's Got the Blues--Louisiana Satellites
5) Our God is an Awesome God (Who'll Smite Your Sinning Ass If You Dance to This Song)--Baptist Beat
6) I No Longer Believe (2005 remix)--Blessid Union of Souls
7) No--Yes
8) Nothing--Nirvana
9) That Used to Be How We Did It--Montell Jordan
10) God Bless the White House--Prussian Blue

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Arsenio Gall Show

Today I introduce to you a local writer named Arsenio Orteza. Each week, his articles in The Times of Acadiana tackle several different sources of liberalism, tearing those jokers down to size. Indeed, Orteza's pieces are often some of the best conservative political writing in the area. Here are two excerpts from his latest work:

Jagger seems oblivious, for example, to the fact that the term "neocon" often refers to Jewish ex-liberals (i.e., Norman Podhoretz) and that to single them out for attack is to flirt with an anti-Semitism at odds with rock 'n' roll cool. Stranger yet, in citing President Bush's espousal of Christianity en route to labeling him a "hypocrite," Jagger fails to realize that as a non-Christian himself, he is by definition someone who does not practice Christianity either and therefore someone who has quite a bit in common with the very caricature of Bush that he assails.


Intelligence and talent don't always go hand in hand. So it's no surprise that this talented hip-hopper was stupid enough to conclude from the havoc wreaked by a natural disaster that George Bush hated black people. Word up, Kanye: Republican politicians in a representative republic don't want to kill voters, not when those voters are from a demographic that could render America permanently Republican, if only 10 percent of that demographic were to quit voting Democrat.

Oh, did I forget to mention he's actually the music columnist? Aw, shucks! Well, he is.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Caucasian Crooning

Given our fine-tuned concept of prioritization in the news media, the name on everyone's lips today is Prussian Blue, the teenage duo of precocious white supremasisters. These young girls, known as the Olsen Twins of the Stromfront set, sing sweet songs about Nazis and wear the most adorable t-shirts with Hitler smiley faces! Time will tell if these girls can put their talents to better use as time goes by, preferably by strongly rebelling against everything their family has taught them. I believe in redemption.

Chances are, you already know all about Prussian Blue by now. If not, you will. As far as the genre of hate rock goes, it is finally (for better or for worse) getting the attention it deserves. Hell, I was a fan from way back; who can forget the classic 1991 release "You Gotta Fat for Your Rat (to Be Wat!)" by Vanilla Rice? I'm telling you, once you get that sucker in your head, there's no getting it out. Unfortunately, Vanilla Rice committed suicide in 1992 on the day Bill Clinton was elected, so his output was somewhat limited. Instead, I showcase to you a contemporary hate-rock act that, more likely than not, are Prussian Blue's role models.

White Hot hail from Vidor, Texas, where they still live today and hope to never leave. The duo consists of 24-year-old twin sisters Sarah and Sonja Worthy, the only children of Erich and Elsa Worthy. The family is a close-knit one, with the girls having been home schooled at the hand of their mother while their father worked as a cotton farmer and part-time oil prospector. Erich Worthy, a onetime soldier, joined the Knights of the White Kamellia (a local KKK chapter) in 1980 and is immortalized in White Hot's ode, "Veteran Aryan."

Sarah and Sonja began singing in earnest as young children, the very first song they learned being, "Daddy Swiped Our Last Clean Sheet and Joined the Ku Klux Klan." From there on, the sisters perfected their perfect pitch and harmonies between doing their chores and whatever else it is hot twins do. They credit their marvelous physiques to practicing karate, though they quit after learning that the white belt is a far lower rank than that of black belt. Over the years, the girls sang at local fairs and Church of the Creator meetings; they also won such illustrious competitions as the annual Vidor Battle of the Bigots. Their musical influences range from Hank Williams Jr. to Enya to the Dixie horn from The Dukes of Hazzard. If Prussian Blue are white supremacy's Olsen Twins, then White Hot are its Hilton Sisters.

In 2003 they recorded their first album, a low-budget cassette entitled Tighty Whitey. Supposedly, the young girls were angry that the title was printed in black letters, though eventually they relented. Featuring such songs as "Blue-Eyed Girl," "Hitler Euthanasia" and "My Heart Burns Like a Cross for You," the tape serves as a solid document of racialist American thinking at the outset of the War on Iraq. To wit, a representative verse from "Sand Nigga":

Gifted leaders who are Caucasians
Have a right to enforce their persuasions
So let's coalign the willing
And commence to Iraqi killing!

Though Tighty Whitey was a huge hit at Klan rallies, tractor pulls and gun shows (having sold an estimated 221 copies), the Worthy sisters still maintain a collection of unsold cassettes in a large box in their closet. Nowadays, the duo prefers to hand them out to selected listeners--namely, journalists who might get them a spot on MSNBC or Fox News.

Sarah's turn-ons: children, pickup trucks, whiskey, a GED, a sense of humor (she's got jokes), mayonnaise and extremely narrow excerpts of the Holy Bible. Turn-offs: Guns (because they're black), computers, big cities and watermelon.

Sonja's turn-ons: sparkling beaches, guys in uniform (if you know what I mean), dinner by cross-light and national exposure absolutely any way she can get it. Turn-offs: literacy, spices, crayons and Heidi Klum (because she married Seal).

Up next for White Hot is a brand-new Christmas CD, I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas...and America (Purity Records). This new album features a mix of traditional holiday hymns and the trademark original compositions that define White Hot, including "Love Thy Neighbor's Hood," "Lynch the Tinsel" and "Jesus Was SO Not Black!"

The Worthy twins hope that their unparalleled combination of faith, sex appeal, and racial hatred will keep the fire of the cross lit in everyone's hearts this season!

The sisters of White Hot leave you with best wishes and these parting quotes:

Sarah: "We're not racist; we just love the white race. If God had wanted us to mingle, he'd have put us all together!"

Sonja: "Always keep your eyes on the prize. Wait, why is that ironic?"

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks, 1913-2005

Why she rules. And why we don't.

The death of Rosa Parks is one of those events that completely dwarfs any other recent obituary. Hers is one of the few high-profile deaths for which I actually grieve. Granted, she was 92, a staggering fact considering that most revolutionaries don't live half that long; still, the death of Rosa Parks is one of those things you still think would never happen. The woman is as tough as the metal of the bus on which she made history. If there's a heaven, I hope she gets a front-row seat.

Rosa Parks is proof of just how much power a regular citizen can possess. Though she was the hardly the first civil-rights advocate (and her famous bus incident was not the first act of its kind), Parks was the catalyst for much of the movement in the 1950s and 1960s. She inspired the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Imagine that: one of the most significant social revolutions in history, one decades in the making, ultimately sparked by a seamstress armed with little more than courage and political interest.

We can all learn something from that.

No one has to be told that today's society has lost its edge. We're such subconscious slaves to corporate culture that no one would think to engineer such a bold and massive political statement. If the Montgomery Bus Boycott had been necessary today, it would have never happened. Instead, Rosa Parks probably would have faced this exchange:

Driver: Excuse me, ma'am, but you can't sit there anymore.
Rosa: I have a right to sit anywhere. I'm a human being just like anyone else.
Driver: Nope. City regulations clearly state that negroes must move for whites.
Rosa: Well, I'm not moving.
White passenger: Wow, what a stirring statement! I see major positive change in the air. But do you have to do this right now? I have a board meeting in 20 minutes.
Driver: I'm not moving until you do, ma'am.
Rosa: [Turns to back of bus] Surely my brothers and sisters got my back.
Black guy: I'm down with racial equality. But come on, lady, why rock the boat?
Black woman: What are you trying to do, shut down the entire bus line? How else will we be able to spend our $300 tax-refund checks from a few years ago?
White passenger: Down with the Tax Man!
Driver: The corporate office won't stand for this! You're cutting into my bottom line by a significant fraction of a percent. And our other pickups will be angry that we reached their stop a few minutes late.
Black guy: Did you hear that? Hey, lady, the busses gotta run on time!
Rosa: Screw this. I'll walk.

Some might argue that political activism is alive and well in this country, and no one can dispute that. Its current effectiveness, however, is debatable. An oft-cited example of today's activism is Cindy Sheehan, whose actions rightfully embarrassed George W. Bush. However, I'd hold her up as an example of precisely why activism is in such a crisis in America; in the 1960s, she'd have been but one of a huge group. And that would be a good thing. But Sheehan is such an anomaly in today's culture that her very presence invited as much ridicule as reflection.

At least Sheehan is out there. We owe it to Rosa Parks and everyone else who has devoted their lives to social change to carry on the cause. Where are our generation's heroes? We need them now more than ever. And as Rosa Parks showed us, sometimes all it takes to make a stand is to sit.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Caption Central

"Empty round things" edition

--Laura was the go-to expert on all things dense, seedy and big-headed
--"No, Mrs. Bush, I said bumpkin..."
--Looks like the Bush Cinderella story has finally reached midnight
--Jenna's beer, cigarette and actual face were digitally removed from this photograph
--"So YOU'RE Agent Orange!"
--Laura's purchase of the Great Pumpkin was appropriate, since she was already wearing Linus Van Pelt's security blanket
--Later that day, Dubya broke his foot when he tried to dribble
--As Republicans, the Bushes looked down on fruit
--In her hallucinatory state, Jenna's imaginary pumpkin was teal blue and sang "Yellow Submarine"
--After seeing these pumpkins, an alarmed White House jacked up the Terror Alert to "High"
--Catching Jenna Bush wasted is as easy as pumpkin pie!
--"Sir, these pumpkins are a gift from the corporate superfarm that took away your livelihood thanks to our agricultural policies."
--For Halloween, the Bush women scared the hell out of everyone by dressing up as GOP tax cuts
--"Christopher Reeve! You're alive!"
--"Mrs. Bush, I knew Jack O'Lantern. Jack O'Lantern was a friend of mine. Your husband, ma'am, is no Jack O'Lantern."

Feeling out of sports

this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Dream jobs? Keep dreaming!

Warning/Promise: today's entry is probably more cynical than the tame stuff you're used to from me. But sometimes, you just have to let it all out. And sometimes, you get the perfect fodder for which to do it.

I should also mention that in no way am I putting down these people or even the thrust of the article. But I am ridiculing their uses as examples for the lesson of this article. You'll see what I mean...

Dream Jobs Do Come True: Learn How to Land Your Own

Koch began his career in business consulting at a Boston-based firm. After six years, he felt he had reached his potential on that track, and decided to test his career taste buds by brewing beer for a living.

He repeatedly says, "I have a great job." You hear similar sentiments from Deborah Lotz, gold and platinum record designer, and Laurie Weltz, owner of the upscale and celebrity-frequented Cerulean Villa resort in the Caribbean.

Koch, Lotz, and Weltz are beacons of hope in the working world--successful professionals who have found the way to their dream jobs. And you might think, "Well, if my career was as glamorous as theirs, I'd be happy in mine, too." But their success isn't the reason for their happiness--it's the other way around. These three excel because they love what they do.

So how can you grasp the holy grail of the working world? For Koch, Lotz, and Weltz, it was a combination of trial and error and formal education coupled with some valuable life lessons. Read their stories and follow their lead--but only if you want to experience fantastic success doing something you love.

Now keep all of this in mind, because it encapsulates the point of this article: that anyone can land their ultimate dream job with a little pluck and ambition. And no matter what you love, the perfect job awaits you with open arms if you're willing to look for it. Isn't America great? Let's read on!

After graduating from Harvard...

Whoa, wait a minute! After graduating from Harvard?!! Excuse me, but you have already lost me. I thought this was an article about how average people such myself can land my perfect job. Isn't the point supposed to be that I don't need a Harvard degree to land the job of my dreams?

But I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that a prestigious college degree bears little impact when it comes to following your vocational aspirations. Surely other, more common factors come into play. Let's press further into what it takes:

So how can you land a job like Koch's? "To get a job this good, you have to start the company," he says.

Sure, okay. Nothing discouraging about that.

But even if being your own boss isn't in your plans, you can still blend success and happiness, according to Koch. "Pursue something that's going to make you happy, even if it won't make you rich," he says. "Given the choice, I think most people would choose happiness over riches."

While what he's saying may be true, keep in mind that this guy is super rich, and he isn't exactly encouraging others with everything else he's said up to this point. But I'm not bitter. I've seriously never intended on being rich, because having wealth does not appeal to me. On the other hand, I never thought people could be as poor as they are, either. It should never be a penalty to do what you love.

Your Dream Job Plan: There is no set path to securing your dream job. Koch has a pretty diverse resume: Three degrees from Harvard (including the school's rigorous J.D.M.B.A.); a three-year break working with Outward Bound, a nonprofit educational program; and his six years as a business consultant all eventually led him to his destiny as a brewer.

This is not helping.

Deborah Lotz felt she had outgrown her position at ABC doing production work on entertainment programs. The New Jersey native originally moved to Los Angeles to be a jeweler. In her second round of career changes, she took the plunge and emerged with one of the more unique careers in the world of popular music.

Aw, poor baby. I feel sorry for her already. Can you imagine rising from--uh--producer at ABC to do something really cool? I guess she had to pay her dues in those early years.

Lotz, who's been designing gold and platinum records for the last ten years, has produced awards for the Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Eminem, Kelly Clarkson--and even the Beatles. "It makes me really proud to know that I'm one of the few people who've designed records for them," she says. "If I find a record I love, I call up [the record company] and ask if I can design the award."

I have to admit, this is exactly the kind of niche job I love in a person. But why are they presenting Lotz as an average Jane? She clearly is not. That's what's wrong with this whole article.

But it wasn't so easy for Lotz to get her artwork hanging in Paul McCartney's mansion and on the walls of other superstars. It took her five years to get approved by the RIAA, a feat she attributes to persistence. "We are our only obstacles," says the 47-year-old. "If you have a vision and you work hard, I feel you can do anything."

You know what would have lent gravitas to her quote? If it didn't come from someone whose artwork hung in Paul McCartney's mansion. Hell, even McCartney himself would have sounded more genuine saying it; at least he grew up from nothing and then became a major superstar. None of this well-connected, "I-used-to-work-for-ABC" business.

If you want to find yourself as happy in your career as Lotz, take note: "It's the same advice I give my teenager," says the single mom. "Find something you're good at and do it. You have to be hard-working, passionate, and honest. I know that sounds corny, but it's the truth. I've always followed my dreams, and I've wound up right where I should be."

I'd like to pair this quote with what my dad once told me about the Hollywood acting scene: "For every actor you see who made it, there's 100 who will never even come close." Then again, he can be pretty cynical.

Your Dream Job Plan: Lotz had no formal degree for her stint at ABC or her current design career, because, as she says, she "took every elective there was and left." Still, she acknowledges that times have changed. "Education is much more vital in pursuing your dreams," she says. "I don't think you could do [what I did] now." A quick way to discover your dream job is to take a few classes to find what makes you happy.

Oh, great. More stuff I already know to be wrong. Fantastic.

It's not always what you know …


To some, Laurie Weltz's job is a vacation in and of itself. As owner of Cerulean Villa, a posh ($60,000 per week) and celebrity-frequented (she declines to say who) resort in the Caribbean, Weltz's duties include quality-checking the spa treatments, planning the decor of the lush accommodations, and sampling the room service.

There is, however, one downside. Weltz's staff members jokingly refer to her as "Leona," after the hotel mogul Leona Helmsley, who was dubbed "The Queen of Mean" for her insidiously perfectionist ways. The ribbing doesn't bother Weltz, who knows that in order to be successful, you have to relate to your clients and use that knowledge to stay creative.

And we all know what a great role model Leona Helmsley is.

Weltz has no formal training in hotel management, but believes that in some ways the lack of experience works to her advantage. In her opinion, blind ambition is the best asset you can have in pursuing your dream job. "What you don't know helps you," says the 45-year-old. "People who don't know are more enthusiastic. Sometimes people who know how things work say, 'No, that won't work,' before they even try."

This might explain why so many college graduates can't find jobs. Is college actually an elaborate practical joke? I'm beginning to think it is.

Your Dream Job Plan: Try something new, take on a new project, think outside the proverbial box, or look to your hobbies for inspiration in finding your dream job. Weltz's first love is filmmaking, but architecture and design are close behind. Taking time for some self-reflection can make your current position take an exciting turn.

Too bad I'm into blogging. I've already been told (in writing) by one major employer that "having a blog in no way makes you special." I guess what Weltz means is to find a hobby that can be turned into money--say one of your hobbies is hostile takeovers, for example; then maybe you can be the CEO of MegaCorp.

You've probably noticed another thing Koch, Lotz, and Weltz have in common: optimism.

And wealth. And fame...

If you find yourself skeptical about their "You can do it!" mentality, it may be because you have yet to find your dream job.

Oh, thanks for the head-up! Was this article written by the Skull and Bones at Yale? Or perhaps by the Harvard Condescension Society?

Remember, as these three so perfectly illustrate, with happiness comes success--not the other way around.

Well, I'm glad at least someone is happy. So, Jennifer Merritt, I suppose you are going to follow this article up with one on how the average unemployed person can find happiness in the cesspool of reality that they face? Perhaps, an article on how struggling 20-somethings can make the best of what's around? We aren't all Ivy-League graduates with multiple degrees who have thousands of dollars to fund our wildest dreams. That would actually be easy. What can the rest of us do to be as happy as these people? We don't fault them; we just want our part of the American dream as well. What do the rest of us have to do?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Gotta love corporate subversion

This ad initally grabbed my attention with its words; that was before I noticed the chosen footwear of one of the attorneys. In the likely event I ever get sued, I want to hire this guy. He seems like someone I can relate to. Besides, no attorney would be that bold if he or she were mediocre.

(This flyer comes from the Glenn Armentor Law Corporation. I wanted to name this post "G.A. Law" for that reason, but I wasn't sure anyone outside of Lafayette would have understood the reference. But now you know it, and I don't have to totally waste a good pun.)

A glove compartment full of fun

Yesterday, I spent the day junking my vehicle and clearing every bureaucratic hurdle that goes along with that. I kept the owner's manual as a souvenir. The 1993 Chevrolet S-10 manual is one the most thorough of its kind ever printed; you can literally learn how to drive using this thing. It's also chock-full of great art and photography. While going through it again, I marveled at the comic possibilities of much of its content.

The manual begins with a handy guide to symbols used throughout:

Study this one carefully, and take notes if necessary. Got it? Good! Let's continue.

Section 1: Check out this sweet ride!

First, let's take a look at some of the equipment on your new vehicle:

Do not play "Bohemian Rhapsody" around this wheel. Ever.

Every Chevy truck comes with a theft-proof AM radio (really, who's going to steal it?).

Each vehicle comes equipped with a crowbar, and at least one companion hole. In an emergency, the crowbar can be used on other vehicles as well. Just remember to steal something more interesting than the spare tire.

Section 2: Drive it like you stole it

In addition to familiarizing you with the simple logistics of your vehicle, the manual also offers helpful tips on being a sharp motorist. The lesson here is that you must always be in the proper state of emotion and preparedness for the driving conditions that you face.

Under no circumstance should you ever carry nine glasses of alcoholic beverages in your vehicle; most models are limited to four or fewer cup holders. If necessary, down the first five drinks prior to taking the wheel.

When chasing down deer or other road-dwelling game, it is best to engage overdrive and turn violently in a zigzag motion to confuse your target. Horrible weather, conveniently broken windshield wipers and a look of extreme psychosis all add to the fun! In the picture above, we can deduce that the motorist is driving away from her ex-boyfriend's house, where she has just been served a "Deer John" letter (get it?!!); she has thus learned the value of taking out life's little frustrations by strapping on the racing gloves and maximizing the full potential of her 4-cylinder Demon of Death. Practice often.

When driving to the roller derby, it is understandable that you might want to practice your craft during the ride. Always exercise proper judgment when doing so. By not wearing a seat belt, for example, the man on the Red Team is better equipped to whisper trash talk into the enraged driver's ear. By contrast, all the buckled man on the Blue Team can do is adjust his lights and fume quietly in a fetal position.

Seat belts work because they act as the first line of resistance against the force of a human body. The makers of your vehicle already knew that; they didn't really have to scar this poor kid for life to hammer that point home. But it was fun to watch! Besides, it taught the kid to never again ride his bike without wearing his safety belt. Now he knows. And knowing is half the battle.

Section 3: The vehicular game of risk

Some motorists are surprised to learn that a motor vehicle is not a toy, and that some practices are unacceptable in the operation thereof. Below are some tips on how to avoid doing some very wrong things. Remember that challenging circle-slash symbol you learned at the beginning of this manual? Well, it's here to show you that the following things are BAD:

Q: What's wrong with this question?
A: Anyone who needs to read this is probably too dumb to read

God may be your co-pilot, but even the baby Jesus is impossible to hold in a collision. But if you love your baby so much that you simply cannot bear to secure her in a car seat, then at least leave her with this parting thought: "This will hurt me a lot more than it'll hurt you."

NEVER let kids drive your car!! They fail to understand the current fuel crisis that has oil prices at record levels, nor can they comprehend the ramifications of carbon-dioxide emissions on global temperatures and the contributions of pollution to the desiccation of the ozone layer. Oh, and also because most young children can't even feed themselves without wearing half of their lunch on their shirts. And that gets on the seats. Icky!

Remember, teens: when you share a seat belt, you're sharing that seat belt with every other person who wore it before you. Always carry an air bag for protection.

As if it weren't bad enough that fashion magazines and television shows have caused such severe self-loathing among young girls with their impossibly ridiculous definition of beauty, now car manuals are getting into the act? Girl, don't listen to the mean car people. You're beautiful just the way you are!

When slipping your roofie-tanked date into your car for a night you'll never forget (and she'll never remember), it's bad form to buckle her in. In this position, belts offer little protection and actually restrict access to your girlfriend's comatose body. Still, it's probably the only protection you have, right, you forgetful loser?

And for god's sake, DO NOT PARK IN FIRE!!

Section 4: Yep, it's eventually going to crap out on you

Eventually, your vehicle is going to die out. Make sure you're near a payphone when it happens, and dress accordingly so Roadside Assistance will assume you just drove away from a peepshow (or perhaps a Columbo convention).

When your vehicle dies, you may witness its ghost rising from the engine. Make the sign of the cross with your left hand. But avoid a cheap feel with your right hand, necromaniac.

On behalf of ourselves and our models, we hope you enjoy years of driving satisfaction!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The captions are back!

A picture "Super Moist" with easy puns

--"It'd be a heck of a lot easier if they would eat cake, so long as I'm the dictator"
--Unfortunately, you can't have your cake and walk it too
--"Psst, John...I said pure white COKE..."
--Like the band Cake, Dubya is "Never There"
--"Yellowcake" has a whole new meaning
--At left, John McCain squanders a one-of-a-kind wrist-flicking opportunity
--Now we know exactly how Debbie got so Little
--A square, attractive platter of empty calories, baked up for short-term gratification and wholly without any layers....yep, that's the Bush foreign policy!
--Apparently, Bush was a C-student in home economics as well; that wedding cake sucks
--"It can't be both our birthdays, can it?"
--The unfortunate parallel drawn between Bush and Marie Antoinette was simply the icing on the cake
--Usually, Bush has nothing to do with things in boxes that come off airplanes
--Cake, Bush and's like a 1990s mix tape, melted on the dashboard of time
this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Ink has been used on this

A sampler of my real-world stuff

Today's entry is a compilation of some of my favorite published writings that I put together for a prospective employer. Because virtually all of these are online, I thought you might enjoy them as well. They represent what I feel to be my best work in news, editorials, features and sports. You might already be familiar with some of these articles; but aren't all the cool kids?

A father renewed: Man has sons 21 years apart
(Appeared in The Daily Iberian on 6/16/02)

Having two children almost 21 years apart brings special meaning to Father's Day for Rodney Champagne.

"I rigged this up because Rod just turned 21," Champagne said Wednesday. "So by the time Hunter's old enough to play T-ball and catch, Rod's already old enough to drive me around to stop and get my beer, and I'll let him practice with his little brother while I sit down supervise and tell them what they're doing wrong."

This sense of humor marks the rapport between Rodney, a self-employed caterer and driver for ACME Trucks, and his wife Pam, a home health nurse for AAA, who recently welcomed their son Hunter into the world May 1. [...]

"We conceived the same week as the World Trade Center attack," she continued, "and I have a lot of friends who did so, too. It's just unbelievable."

Greatest crisis in the church

LAFAYETTE - Promising "to reach out to those who have been sexually abused as minors by anyone serving the Church," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Dallas voted 239-13 Friday to adopt a uniform code for handling abusive priests and assisting victims.

Edward O'Donnell, Bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette, discussed the actions of the bishops Monday at a press conference in Lafayette.

"I was not overly confident that we could accomplish a whole lot," O'Donnell read from a prepared statement, referring to the three-day event held in Dallas June 13-15. That span of time, he said, seemed insufficient to address "the greatest crisis the church has faced in (our) lifetime."

NFL players come together for youth

Stoked for victory, the 49ers take the field ready to capture the championship. The NFL stars on each side await a tough game, and the evenly matched squads promise a compelling battle. But this is no typical gridiron match.

There are 22 players on each side, and these 49ers are ready to take on a team called the Renegades. The NFL players are helping to call the shots rather than take them and the young boys lining up couldn't be happier. This was the vibe for Day 1 of the ninth annual Johnny Hector-Corey Raymond NFL Football Camp.

New Iberia Senior High played host Thursday to the 9- to 12-year-old portion of the two-day camp, which concludes today with the 13 to 18-year-old session. Free of charge, the camp attracted more than 100 young players and will amass an even larger number today.

Hornets stung by Beau Chene

FRANKLIN - Losing to Beau Chene 21-7 Friday night, the Franklin Hornets put out their second losing effort in as many weeks. For Franklin head coach Jerry Martin, however, calling the game any kind of effort at all was a stretch.

"That's the worst excuse for a football game I've ever seen in my life," a visibly angry Martin said following the rout. "My kids had no effort and no desire to win, so we lost."

The offense's single biggest blunder, Martin said, was "when (they) walked on the field."

NI native keeps spirit up despite illness

In the past, Kellie Couvillier has competed in the Miss Louisiana USA pageant. Today, she faces a much tougher competition.

Couvillier suffers from a network of disorders so complex and unique that it has led to extensive studies at Yale School of Medicine and has led her case to be called by some "the mystery of the 21st century." Simply explaining the daily ordeal can be difficult for Couvillier.

"There are no typical days, unfortunately," she said, though she easily summed up the worst aspect of her condition. "I spend most of my time in a fetal position, really hurting." Even so, she has not lost her amiability or spirit.

Acadia jurors OK contract to build jail

CROWLEY -- The Acadia Parish Police Jury signed a contract to construct a new parish jail Tuesday, thus ending four years of debate.

The Police Jury approved a $6,129,000 bid from Lewing Construction of Lake Charles to build the new Acadia Parish Correctional Center. Total cost of the project is $6.88 million.

Cajun brass 1, Cajun music 0

If the university truly cared about noise abatement, then they should address such diverse elements as traffic, construction and lawn mowers buzzing during classes. Why not shut down the massive heating and cooling units next to academic buildings while you’re at it? Or post signs on every sidewalk reminding students to zip their lips?

And say goodbye to those periodic block parties at the same intersection as well. Is it too late to cancel the rest of Lagniappe Week? That affects the ENTIRE campus! I have no doubt that the vast throng of students who traverse St. Mary and Rex each day would thank you for keeping their sanctuary quiet.

Somehow, I suspect that the noise disturbance was not the real issue at hand. How do I know? Because I was there. As I walked across campus from Griffin Hall to Martin Hall that day, I saw the Pine Leaf Boys doing their thing. Their volume wasn’t exactly at Festival International levels; in fact, I considered standing right by them to get a better listen. I would have even dropped change into their cup, had I not been bereft of change (a situation often shared by musicians and writers alike). As far as I was concerned, having a Cajun band there was a welcome change from the usual huckstering.

What is Louisiana smoking?

The ban would prevent smoking in public facilities including campuses, auditoriums, government buildings and busses. At last, a smart Louisiana law! The Lafayette Parish Consolidated Government has yet to consider it, though President Joey Durel has promised that it will. And before you smokers get too pissed, note that bars, hotel rooms, casinos, tobacco shops and alcohol-selling restaurants will not be covered by the ban. That’s not so bad, is it? You can exhale with relief now, just as long as you don’t do it downwind.

Maybe I'm biased because I don't smoke. Whether it was the stifling dead-ashtray odor of my house or simply watching my parents and relatives smoke, something ruined it for me very early on. Is there anything less cool than what your parents do? Thanks, mom and dad! You truly are the anti-drug.

The smoking debate is a peculiar one because of its political complexities. On one hand, you have (or should have) the right to ingest whatever you choose. On the other hand, you have the diabolical tobacco industry and its greed, lies and political clout. On the third hand, people have the right to breathe smoke-free air. So where is the line (or triangle) drawn?

Your guide to an empty stomach

Lately I’ve been thinking about this Mad Cow business. It’s amazing to think that meat could ever be bad for you!

Is the Mad Cow threat being overblown? It’s easy to think so, considering all the fear that’s been pumped into us like heroin over the past couple of years. And I surely do not follow the Official List of Scary Stuff put out hourly by the government. On the other hand, we’re talking about food here. Beef is a lot more common in our daily lives than terrorism. [...]

MCD goes by all sorts of different names: bovine spongiform encephalopathy, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, etc. Snore. If health officials really wanted to effectively warn people, they’d refer to it by one of its other names: scrapie! The term Mad Cow is unintentionally amusing; that brings to mind a picture of Elsie on crack. But who wouldn’t be afraid of something called scrapie in their body? Just a thought.

It strikes me as strange how so few people seem uptight about the domestic Mad Cow outbreak. The same people who burned their mail during the anthrax scare and who taped plastic sheeting all over their homes think that the idea of bugs in beef is sheer paranoia. But it’s no surprise that people do not want to give up their beef. Meat is one of the eight major legal American addictions, along with caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, Ritalin, money, guns and gasoline.

Adventures in acceleration

While it has received no attention in the media, the state of Louisiana has decided to throw out its driver education manual in favor of locally produced ones. Their reasoning is that each parish has its own unique driving conditions. As anyone who has driven through south Louisiana knows, that is just common sense. With that in mind, I have secured permission from the Department of Public Safety to reprint choice excerpts of the new Lafayette Parish Driver’s Manual. With these enlightening bits of information, the parish—and myself—both hope to publicize proper driving habits:

“Cell phone use: it is in every driver’s best interest to stay on a cell phone as often as possible when on the road. This way, when an accident inevitably happens, at least one of the conversational parties (depending on the injury) can gossip about the accident faster.

“Driving while intoxicated: acceptable between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Sunday through Friday and all day Saturday. If you are under 18 with a learner’s permit or intermediate license, you may drive intoxicated only with an adult 21 years or older in the front passenger seat. [...]

“Work zone speed limits: being that road construction is a full-time hobby of the consolidated government, all drivers will from time to time see a reduced speed limit in work zones. This is a practical joke, of course. Drive faster than usual.”

I have to admit that I am impressed by how quickly and eagerly the motoring public has embraced the new rules.

Field of Reams

UL sides with Alan in the green-space/Greenspan debate

From The Independent:

In an interview last Friday morning, UL President Ray Authement and Wayne Denton, director of the University Research Park, said the university will exchange 35 acres of the horse farm land for four acres of Girard Park Drive property owned by Lafayette attorney Jimmy Davidson III and his family. BRE-ARD is purchasing the property from Davidson for the swap with the university. Authement says UL Lafayette is in desperate need of land closer to campus for expansion of its nursing program and additional student housing. He says both properties are worth $3.25 million, a valuation that has some developers and real estate professionals questioning the financial wisdom of the transaction for UL.

If you've had the fortune not to drive down Johnston Street, here's a tasty of morsel of what you see (courtesy of The Independent). Imagine six or seven miles of architerrifying saturation, among some of the worst gridlock and the most inattentive drivers you've ever seen, and you have this road.

So many signs pack this thoroughfare, that an illiterate man can begin at the Evangeline Thruway and read at a fifth-grade level by the time he reaches Bennigan's.

By contrast, the field, used as UL's Equine Center until about 1999, is a pleasant, enclosed 100-acre pasture with a barn and several magnificent oak trees. It is a welcome (and, frankly, jarring) sight among the cramped clusterfuck of businesses that makes Johnston Street one of the ugliest eyesores in the United States.

So, in a numerical nutshell, here's everything that's wrong with this deal:

1) It was clandestine, and approved by the University of Louisiana system despite its usual instant rejection of such deals;

2) It's received almost universal outcry from university students, surrounding residents and the local press;

3) The land, in the middle of a commercial and middle-income residential area, is being appraised far too low, while the property for which UL wants to swap is appraised at almost double the rate of the most posh neighborhood in town;

4) If Girard Park residents once thought placing a business on the property UL wants would present a disturbance, imagine how much they'll love the frenzy of nursing school and the unlimited coed ruckus of student housing;

5) The field is in the middle of Johnston Street, and has not yet been blessed by Pope Benedict XVI despite its shoo-in status as a certified miracle.

Authement claims that part of the land (for which he intends to swap the field) would be used to construct facilities for nursing majors. Well, judging by the need for nurses here (it's virtually the only job around), I'd say a mere four acres isn't going to be enough. Why not just build another University Medical Center? Or another Cajundome?

If Authement is so desperate for space, then why doesn't he consider the Abdalla's building? It's right next to the University Art Museum, and thanks to the Bush economy, Abdalla's is about to go under anyway! Hell, with local business trends being what they are, UL will have its pick of half of Lafayette's existing property soon enough.

I understand it's a reflex for Lafayette developers to turn every blade of grass into Taj Mahal, Inc., but just this once can't we leave one field alone? Please? And anyway, I hear cops hide in that field with radar. Just a rumor I heard from a high-ranking police officer. Cough.

Despite the sad fact that most of the bull sessions concerning this affair have already passed (thanks for the head-up!), Vermilion features editor Rachel Worthy captured both the secretive and the antagonized moods in one spectacular sentence:

This news was released with little time for campus publication reaction before the Monday, Oct. 17 meeting at 5 p.m. at building B of the Clifton Chenier Center, located at 220 W. Willow Street.

[I said spectacular, because at this point she originally said something like, "So much for keeping that a secret," though that sentence has since mysteriously been deleted from the article. Just when I thought I saw a little backbone at the Verm!]

Worthy invites anyone interested in fighting back to e-mail Zoning Commissioner Coordinator Jim Parker at jparker(at)lafayette Poor guy's probably in for an avalanche. After all, it seems like the only people who like this deal are the two people who stand to profit most from it. Unfortunately for Lafayette, that might just be enough to make this ugly deal a reality.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Signs we're living in 2005

--Between terrorism, hurricane madness and avian flu, there's always some imminent complete devastation to keep us sufficiently afraid.

--Everyone seems to be at a very low point in their lives, yet we are constantly hearing from our leaders how great everything is in the good old USA. And half of those people continue to buy into that bullshit.

--As much as we pride ourselves for being a compassionate Christian nation, we nevertheless flinched when we realized that the victims of Katrina were largely poor and black.

--American high school students must spend 10 minutes each day (even in P.E. classes) preparing for standardized tests, a practice that takes away from actual learning. And people support this because it supposedly Leaves No Child Behind.

--The biggest threat to the American way of life is someone derisively known as "The Peace Mom," her crime being that she wants to ask the president why her soldier son died.

--Deaths in Iraq are seen not as a sign of the futility of war, but instead are seen as an excuse to continue said war.

--Calling the Iraq War what it is--a failure--is the same as wanting Iraq to be a failure.

--Despite all of the world events that have saturated our national consciousness for the past few years, young people still believe military recruiters who claim that they'll never see battle.

--A national figure who has spent decades supposedly spreading the teachings of Jesus gets off scot-free for advocating the death of a foreign leader, yet an obscure college columnist can get visited by the Secret Service for criticizing a Republican's policies.

--You come to the realization that there can never again be a groundbreaking show like Saturday Night Live or I Love Lucy because no network wants to take risks or otherwise trust an individual's vision.

--You get the impression that the lagging job market is a deliberate attempt by the government to funnel people into the military, which itself isn't exactly the best-paying gig in the world.

--Job engines are now gearing toward employers instead of employees, simply because jobs are so scarce and employers are so stingy.

--The old saying, "It isn't what you know, it's who you know," has never been more depressingly appropriate.

--Your number of degrees is inversely proportional to how employable you are.

--Admission of mistakes, changing one's mind, intellectualism and tolerance are all considered weaknesses of character.

--You get the feeling that, in the coming years, there will be an incredible karma shift in which all of the jerks now making life difficult (or are otherwise enjoying undeserved power and glory) are going to get their due. But it doesn't seem like it'll happen anytime soon.

--You wish you were living in another era, one that wasn't so bleak and fractious--an era like the sixties or seventies.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The going-out-of-business section

Beauty of free market closes down 110-year-old fashion stalwart

When I see the Abdalla's logo, I think of Mom. Not in the mom-and-apple-pie sense, but because in my childhood she used to drag me there all the time. She still buys clothes there, I think. Also, the logo looks exactly like her handwriting, which I saw often on my signed papers in the days when she was dragging me to Abdalla's. Ah, youth.

Abdalla's has been in operation since 1895, and has always been run by the Abdalla family. The store weathered the Great Depression, both World Wars, strip malls and all eight years of Reaganomics. As recently as 1999, it had two locations in Lafayette (the other one shut down that year and is now an overrated hipster nightclub). As far as Lafayette businesses go, Abdalla's was a pillar. It's older then the University of Louisiana, for crying out loud!

What's probably most disturbing about this is that, in this decade, a plethora of longtime (or otherwise popular) Lafayette businesses have shut down: Lily's for Books, a small bookstore run by a sweet old lady; Gaidry's, an 83-year-old fashion retailer; Jourdan's Engine; D & H TV and Appliances; Raccoon Records, one of the best independent music shops in the state; Toys Alternative Music; and Furniture Centers (a decades-old shop), just to name a few. Many more countless local places have also come and gone--including most my neighborhood shopping center, which suffered the loss of a grocery store, the aforementioned furniture showplace, a crafts shop, Sonic and a major nightclub. Even Louisiana Hot Stuff closed at the mall! Hell, so did Super K-Mart.

When shutting down, most of these businesses cited the poor post-9/11 economy (their words, not mine) as a primary factor. Most of these people probably still vote Republican anyway, at least when their current employers at Mega-Lo-Mart deign to give them free time to do so.

This decline in business is an acceleration of a 20-odd-year trend toward the end of longtime local vendors in the area. These were places that, to my child's mind, were national chains given their presence in the area, thought not all of them were: Heymann's Food Center and Clothing Store; Sound Electronics; Woolworth; The Fair; Shoe Town; Old America Store; and many more. It all makes me wonder if this unfortunate screen capture from The Advertiser doesn't, in fact, have it entirely wrong:

And while franchises eventually return, locally owned places never can in quite the same way. Fortunately, numerous family places in Lafayette still thrive even as Wal-Mart threatens to suck them all into a vortex matched only by the vacuum within George W. Bush's inner skull. Best of luck to you guys, and I promise to visit you as soon as I am able to purchase goods.

I should note, however, that while small businesses in Lafayette are dying off, at least one family joint is thriving. The Family Christian Bookstore recently left our mall and set up its own huge store across the street. If that isn't an indicator of our times, then I don't know what is.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Why Brett Favre is scum

Yes, I said it! Brett Favre is a scumbag. True, I say that about lots of talented and famous people whom everyone loves and to whom nothing even slightly negative ever happens. But right now, I mean it.

No, I'm not mad because he helped trounce the Saints 52-3 on Sunday. After all, New Orleans gave him one of the worst days of his career (and probably life) back in 2002. The Superdome turf rubbed off quite nicely on his pea-soup jersey.

It's not because his 36th birthday is today, a fact noted by fans at Lambeau Field who sang "Happy Birthday" in creepy unison toward the end of yesterday's game.

I don't think he's scum because of his cruddy cameo in There's Something About Mary.

Nor is it because he is a dip-chewing redneck of the highest degree.

Or because he is a future hall-of-famer who has shattered NFL records and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Or even because Flamingo Jones can now ride my ass about said greatness for the rest of eternity.

No, the real reason Brett Favre is scum is because of this:

Really? Brett Favre is ONE BAD CAJUN?!! Yo, no one from Kiln-fucking-Mississippi is Cajun! Not by a long shot; Acadiana, the Cajun haven, is concentrated within a few parishes in southwest Louisiana. Hell, I'm from Lafayette, Louisiana, the very epicenter of Cajun/Creole culture, and I'm not even Cajun! But even if Brett were from this area, I still can't envision him saying, "A-EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!" and really meaning it.

Incidentally, I have been to Kiln (pronounced "Kill," as in what all Saints fans want to do to Brett Favre right now). Well, okay, I've been on the highway that leads to it; when you reach the exit, you make the same observation that you noted at the Kentwood exit (from whence Britney Spears arose) a few miles back: "There is nothing here!"

I will, however, give Favre props for attending a school named Hancock (I'd sure love to see that locker room); I'll bet that's one reason he can hold his own so well in the face of opposition. Also, he gets props for his Playboy interview, which is actually pretty good; I especially like his line about how his team feels safer on a charter flight than a regular one, because of the bizarre notion that "if the plane goes down, we can save each other. We're the Green Bay Packers!" Interviews like Favre's were the reason my brother and I used to buy Playboy in the first place. I swear.

But still, I'm a little low on patience for yet another superstar favorite touted as an underdog so that everyone is pleasantly surprised when he wins yet again. With that in mind, I came up with one final haiku when I was half-asleep earlier today, wondering why my support is the kiss of death for any team or party that receives it (Go Packers!!):

First Bush, and now Favre.
Another rich redneck boy
Crushing my morale.

Happy birthday, Brett. Maybe somebody will find you the last thing you don't own and give it to you as a present.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

On this day in history

According to Dave Barry, everything that happened in history happens on October 8. In Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States, he explains that keeping your facts straight is made simpler by assigning the same date to everything that has ever happened. On that note, he chose October 8 because it is a date he remembers (his son's birthday). To cite one example, Dave explains that the Pearl Harbor attack happened on "the December morning of October 8." Simple and snappy.

My 11th-grade American History teacher read this book aloud to us in class. My grades slipped when I realized that he wasn't accepting October 8 as an answer. Damn you, educational double standards!

Anyway, have a great day. It's a busy one, you know.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Pro-Football Poetry Corner

This Sunday, The New Orleans/San Antonio Saints travel north to play the Green Bay Packers. Such a matchup has prompted a trash-talking free-for-all between myself and Not Right's resident Cheesehead, Flamingo Jones. We've been volleying the tirades and insults for several days now.

The hook? They're written entirely in haiku. Don't ask.

Here are some selected haiku from the thread, which currently contains more than 100 about the game. Mine are in green and Flamingo's are in red.

This year's Packers win
The Lombardi Atrophy
And not much else

Brett Favre can play ball
But "Something About Mary?"
His cameo sucked!

Wimpy Fleur-de-lis
is no foe for bold-face "G."
Symbols go to war.

The cold is our friend.
We play better with frost-bite.
Can you say the same?

Brett Favre is too old
To be playing pro football
Did Bart Starr start last?

I don't want your hat
Cheese is good, but hard to wear
When it has been creamed!

I can't wait to see
what happens when the Saints lose.
Will you weep, Ian?

Rabid Packer fans,
tail-gate in Lambeau's lot
anxious for your loss.

Cheddar is sharp, yes,
Like former Packer Sterling.
Don't you miss his ass?

Laugh with the sinners
Or cry with the Saints? Hell no!
No crying this weekend!

Sterling was quite good.
We all miss him dearly, yes.
We'll still kick your ass.

I hope all your plays
get flags of a yellow hue.
Penalties galore!

Saints fans don't need bags
Because the D will have sacks
On your boyfriend Favre

The ghost of Curly
Lambeau will haunt your team.
Ghosts hate Saints, you know.

Lambeau, Lombardi,
Reggie White. They must channel
Patrick Swayze now!

The Green Bay Packers
Are nothing without Brett Favre
And also WITH him!

How many Saints then,
to screw bulbs? None. No

How many light bulbs
Can Brett Favre screw? Only one.
Then his manhood bleeds.

Not if, WHEN Saints lose
you should wear a cheesehead hat
grocery shopping.

Your grocery trip
Should consist of crow for you
To eat Sunday night!

The trash-kus continue here.

Join in, or just watch.
Either way, you'll be in for
Bizarre trash-talking!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

More things you don't see anymore

From Rolling Stone, New Year's Double Issue 1998:

And they say the media never gives us the good news!

From Ecch! Rated MAD, December 1995:

Cuts a nice racial profile!

And finally, also from MAD, October/November 1994:

To the White House, this needs no explanation

Terrorism sucks, just as it always has. But you have to admit, the 1990s were good times compared to these. Too good? Perhaps, but I'd take that again.

Here's another thing definitely made before 9/11, also from Rolling Stone.

Report: UL Lafayette fattest college

That's right: the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the university I attended for seven years, is officially the fattest school in the nation (and, apparently, is posting anorexic enrollment).

Why I believe that: Lets face it--Lafayette is the hub of Cajun culture, one that revolves heavily around food. Indeed, everyone knows about the Cajun fascination with food; we eat fatty food and we eat a lot of it. Oftentimes with a Tabasco chaser.

As an undergraduate journalist, I interviewed Enola Prudhomme. Like her world-famous brother Paul (creator of the self-explanatory Turducken), she is herself a renowned chef. She's cooked for such diverse personalities as Ronald Reagan and the Rolling Stones, so she clearly knows her stuff. Enola's hook is low-fat Cajun cuisine, which she virtually invented. In fact, she told me that no one thought that healthy Cajun recipes were even possible before she nailed them. So you can imagine the level of caloric intake we're talking about here.

Additionally--as if this even needs to be said--south Louisianians drink beer. Lots of beer. Open alcohol consumption is everywhere during the festival season (January-December), as well as at football games, barbecues, certain UL functions and (probably) funerals. When The Vermilion ran an April Fool's issue a few years ago announcing that Bud Light vending machines were soon to be all over campus, people took it seriously. I drank beer as a child. On those fronts, I can understand why Men's Fitness ranked the Ragin' Cajuns so dismally.

Why I don't believe it: While the method of research for the article is thorough, its questions are somewhat sketchy:

Together, we surveyed nearly 10,000 students from more than 660 of the nation's top colleges and universities, asking them everything from the personal ("How many pounds have you gained or lost since you started going to school?" "How often do you work out?") to their thoughts on the big-picture issues ("How would you rate the fitness facilities on your campus?" "Does your school appear to care about how fit you are?").

I will use myself as an example of why net weight-gain, even if technically true, doesn't quite paint the right picture: when I started college in 1998, I weighed 133 (I was, then and now, 5-foot-7). I know this because my high-school football coach weighed me at 131 during my senior season, and I remember thinking how funny it was that I gained only two more pounds in the following year. With that figure in mind, let's review the stats:

August 1998--133 (coming off seven years of athletics)
December 1998--142 (after one semester as Morgan Spurlock)
August 1999--154 (after another Super-Size semester)
December 2002--161 (bachelor's graduation)

Thirty pounds in 4 1/2 years might seem like a lot, but 133 to 161 is hardly the stuff of Bluto; yet, according to Men's Fitness, this makes me fat. For the sake of messing with their heads some more, here's my graduate stats:

April 2003--150 (weighed for driver's license renewal)
Fall 2004--176 (not exercising, bad diet, crappy year)
May 2005--164 (master's graduation, after much running)
October 2005--157 (exercising, better diet, crappy year)

In summation, in seven years at UL Lafayette, I gained a net total of 31 pounds. And I'm still pretty fit-slash-skinny, which should prove that at least some distinctions must be made when talking about weight gain. And for what it's worth, UL Lafayette has a pretty good fitness facility in Bourgeois Hall, where at any time of day or night you can see sexy (and not-so-sexy) people getting their fitness on. No matter how you slice it, Lafayette has an above-average spate of sexy guys and girls, as well as a bevy of those who are not model-perfect but beautiful nonetheless.

Here's the final tale of the tape:

REPORT CARD: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Student Bodies C
Exercise D-
Bad Habits D- (That high?)
Other Lifestyle Choices D+ (ha ha)
Culture of Fitness D-
Final D-
Enrollment 14,564

Ultimately, I'll accept the fact that UL has a long way to go in terms of promoting fitness (as does its home city in general). That said, however, such a survey cannot be taken on its face with the methods employed here. But if Men's Fitness actually meant to say that we are the phattest campus in America, then that I'll accept unconditionally.