Sunday, October 30, 2005

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!

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.

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

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!

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.

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.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Humor is not supposed to be funny!

This one is for Saturday Night Live fans. I watch very little television, but SNL is one show I've been into for many years. The idea, to me, remains one of the best in television. But as much as the SNL model has become mainstream over the years, today's viewers still seem to think its humor is too edgy for its own good. What the hell?

Like many others, I eagerly anticipated the season premiere (with host Steve Carell and musical guest Kanye West) and wasn't disappointed. I won't go into it bit-by-bit (that would be redundant, and also that isn't the point of this post). Suffice to say, I liked it both for its successes and its failures. That dichotomy is what makes the show so compelling.

Easily the most talked-about sketch of the night was a Girls Gone Wild commercial parody, in which the GGW guys promise water and other supplies to flood-stranded New Orleans women in exchange for titillating glimpses. The girls (who are of diverse ethnicity) respond by eagerly flashing themselves; there's no real sense of exortion implied, and indeed works well as a parody of the real GGW commercials.

As a Louisianian acquainted with both storms, here's where I stand on the sketch: I thought the premise was great and very timely. What everyone has to remember is that the sketch makes fun of GGW, not the stranded people themselves. The only issue I had with the clip was that it lasted too long without expanding on its premise (a typical SNL flaw).

On the SNL message board, however, this one earned almost unanimous scorn from fans. The general consensus is that the sketch was tasteless and offensive, and several people drew a parallel to 9/11 and how the show waited a long time to talk about that. Most of them are demanding an official apology from NBC, though the day SNL apologizes for doing its job is the day I quit watching.

But the debate about the sketch misses the point about SNL in the first place: the show is SUPPOSED to be edgy, clever and controversial. Skits like the GGW commercial are supposed to be outrageous, provocative and questionable. All of the best humor is. I guarantee you that if the show had ignored Kat-Rita, then the critics would have jumped on SNL for its "increasing irrelevance as a contemporary spoof." --Variety

Maybe it's a product of the Bush era, but when did everybody decide that humor should never cross any boundaries? Several Louisiana people asked as much on the message board, with one saying that we've cried enough, and now it's time to laugh. I agree.

What did you think about it?