Friday, November 30, 2007

A joke to make your Friday fun

"Why do some people instinctively believe it when they are told that President Bush is somehow less than intelligent?" (Actual rhetorical question seen on a message board)

(I don't know. Why do some people instinctively believe it when they are told that President Bush is somehow less than intelligent?)

Answer: His lips are moving!

(I didn't say it would be a good joke.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm not a Patriot

The New England Patriots suck.

Not abilitywise, of course; they're still undefeated, even after Week 12. What sucks about them is who they are and why they represent anything that's wrong with the media and the world.

First, the team:

Tom Brady - Good-looking. Talented. Dates supermodels. Funny on Family Guy. What doesn't go right for this guy? I hardly ever hear or see one thing go wrong; he might as well be Jesus. What adversity has Tom ever had to overcome? His story is about as inspiring as George W. Bush's.

Bill Belichick - is there any less likable coach to go all the way? Last year was especially special. Sean Payton was coach of the year, and Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith made history at the Super Bowl. On the other hand, Belichick's stern glance, secretive demeanor (on Sunday he pulled Wes Welker away from an NBC interview as soon as a tough question was asked of him), distaste for the coaches' union and videotaping of other teams almost makes one wonder when Dick Cheney quit politics, got a toupee and went into coaching.

Randy Moss - He's Terrell Owens without the literary credits or the clean driving record.

Donte Stallworth - Just the latest of a long line of ex-New Orleans Saints who saved it for later.

Kevin Faulk - crushed every football team in my high school's district almost singlehandedly, including several times against my brother (leveling him at least once). Has played for Carencro High, LSU and New England, which means he's played only for ridiculously stacked teams that I frequently root against. His cousin Trev Faulk, on the other hand, is cool. I say that because I played with him in high school (though he was way bigger and way better than me. Ever seen Lucas? Practice footage of me trying to tackle Trev looks a lot like that.)

In 2001, shortly after 9/11, I wrote a satirical article titled, "Patriots to go to Super Bowl no matter what." Then they actually did, which took all of the humor out of it. Bastards.

The Patriots have won three of the last six Super Bowls. They're the Halliburton of the NFL. I don't think al-Qaida could beat them at this point (though a quagmire is possible).

But even more than the team itself, the sports media sucks for its coverage. They've officially jumped the shark. Yes, the team's good. Yes, some interesting human-interest pieces have come about. But I get tired of the "Are they Supermen?" type puff (blow?) pieces. At this rate, the media is one step away from writing Chuck Norris jokes: "Tom Brady doesn't play for the NFL. The NFL plays for him."

I could understand all of these articles if they were coming out now; 11-0 is hardly anything to sneeze at. But they've long predated any real show of greatness. The Saints started 7-0 in 1991 and 5-0 in 1993, but you didn't read anything like, "Is Bobby Hebert God's favorite player?" Whereas the anointment of the 2007 Pats began almost from Week One.

Watching the Patriots squeak by the Eagles, I saw a good football team. But I didn't see the greatest team in history. There was no invincible Tom Brady, or perfect Kevin Faulk, or uncatchable Randy Moss. Brady is right when he says the team has flaws and just finds ways to improve and/or work around them. And that's what they did Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Nothing more, nothing less.

So, please, media. Keep this in perspective. I know you will the first time they lose. Like with every other team.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thought on Black Friday

I'm sure glad I don't need medicine today. If I didn't die in a massive trampling accident in the parking lot, I would have died from the sickness before I got to the counter. Also, medicine is expensive. I'd get it as Christmas gifts for my friends and relatives, but then they'd ask why I didn't get them something cheaper, like a Lexus.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

And the award for Most Amusingly Appalling Billboard goes to...

It sits along Missouri Highway 13, tantalizing commuters with its promise of sparkling jewels that originate primarily from virtual slave labor in Africa. Fittingly, it faces the road leading out of downtown toward the suburbs. I couldn't make this up if I tried.

"You like me! You really like me!" was White Flight's reported response to winning this honor. "HMOphobic?" said it was an honor just to be nominated.

Yes, White Flight diamond fever is catching on. While driving along a major Springfield freeway yesterday, I noticed a guy spelling out this message in cups along a pedestrian bridge:

I guess he's ready for a commitment after years of flying Solo cups. Zing!

While the creator of this masterpiece deserves originality points, I suspect the whole thing was mere showboating. Even for a proposal. For one thing, the girl's name is not mentioned. Every woman in a relationship driving down this road is going to think they're the target audience (which is particularly damaging if someone's actually expecting to see this and it's some other guy). Second, it requires expert timing - if she's driving the other way, for example, the whole thing's shot. Third, assuming the right person sees this at just the right time, how's she going to say yes? At best, she'll have to park and run about half a mile up the pedestrian bridge, all the while hoping that it isn't the wrong dude. This engagement must be earned, dammit!

Perhaps it was a publicity stunt. There were a lot of cute women crossing the bridge at the time. I noticed at least one or two stop to talk to the guy. Smooth...

(Incidentally, I apologize for the headache-inducing images. My camera wasn't cooperating and I had to enhance the hell out of the pics just to make them palatable. So to speak.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Now appearing on clipboards across the NFL

Speaking of Texans with ties to New Orleans, my dad noticed this:

That's all for now. I've got NFL Blitz to ignore.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Money: Yet another thing I don't like

Every football fan has undoubtedly seen the Saints Visa commercial:

(Well, that was the best I could do. Roll with it.)

As a lifelong, die-hard Saints fan, I have decided that I do not like this commercial. And not because of the Saints imagery - indeed, I enjoy that - but because of the spot's message. This commercial has existed in other forms, too, but they all boil down to this:

In a store or restaurant, we are all cogs in a flawlessly fascist show of efficiency. This production constantly straddles the danger zone, and if you so much as hesitate, the next person's lunch is all over the Catherine Zeta-Jones lookalike behind you. Similarly, Saints fans will get irate if you pay for your tennis balls (douche) with cash (double douche!!). The message here, then, is that cash is as old-fashioned and creaky as grandma's corset. And about as visually appealing.

So at this point, we have two stupid messages: 1) Shop/eat as fast as you can at all times and 2) Why slow down the line with cash when you can swipe your card, press a million buttons and await verification?

But wait...that's not all!

Rounding out the trifecta of wrong stuff being taught here is the worst lesson of all: that credit cards deserve to be made smaller and more instantly swiped. Like a wronged Sean Payton, I call a challenge on this one. In all my years as a debit-card carrier (no credit cards for me, thanks), I have rarely, if at all, had my card checked against who I am. And that's with a full-sized card and rapidly outdating technology! Now they want to make it smaller and easier to steal, with clerks prizing ruthless speed and efficiency over ID verification? That's not why I go to the French Quarter, dammit! Or anywhere else.

Visa may be Everywhere I Want to Be, but I would like it to stay with me. Not that anyone else would honestly want it.

That reminds me...I should really buy a Saints knit cap for these frosty Rams/Chiefs winters. And not with cash, lest I be branded a bleeding-heart freethinker.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thanks Jim Haslett

You finally figured out how to win in the Superdome. You and Rick Venturi both. Congratulations.

[Update after the game actually ended: At least there was the 4th quarter. Josh Bullocks' hands almost made for a threat there too.]

[Update at 6:51 p.m.: Tonight, one of my duties at work was to create a Rams-Saints online photo gallery. That's just piling it on. One of the captions read, "Both Haslett and Venturi severed as head coaches of the Saints." I thought it was a typo, but maybe it isn't.]

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Strike one, writers!

Lately I've been marveling over the concentration of good fortune that some cities seem to have sports-wise, such as New Orleans (Saints and Hornets) and Boston (Red Sox, the Patri-rots).

Knock on wood for New Orleans.

Conversely, Denver has to be so disappointed in its recent heartbreaks (Rockies and Broncos) that there's nothing high about the city.

Right now, America's most high-profile writers are living in Denver. Metaphorically speaking, of course. And because they are, you'll just have to settle for stupid observations like that one. Because I'm the best you've got right now!

In what may be the only labor movement in decades that might ultimately work out for labor, Hollywood writers have gone on strike. Actors have joined them on the picket line, which means that our steady supply of passive entertainment should dry up at about the same time that Atlanta will. And guess which one of those will prompt a larger outcry.

I wonder if I should cross the picket line and prove my Hollywood mettle, a la John Fourcade for the Saints during the 1987 NFL strike? Or should I show my solidarity with the striking writers as they hold out for Internet and other outside royalties? Fortunately, that quandary is eased somewhat by the complete fiction of the first option. Solidarity, scribblers!

Further darkening the world for people who like to read good things, Norman Mailer died. And so did Kurt Vonnegut before him. Both at 84. I guess 84 is the new 27! BAM! I'm on fire, baby!

Please hurry back, Hollywood. I don't think anyone can take much more of this.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Is this the dumbest thing Bush has ever said?

At any given time, George W. Bush is one of two things: hypocritical or stupid. Well, OK, he's always stupid. But sometimes that stupidity is accompanied by statements so hypocritical that it's a wonder Bush wasn't president in 1984. For example, weapons of mass destruction - Bush rattles his sabers over the horrors of WMDs, as if his aggressive foreign policy and nuclear threats aren't the reason most nations want them in the first place. At this point, I genuinely can't decide whether Bush is 1) simply a moron or 2) so drunk with power that he feels he can impose standards that don't apply to him. Either way, he has become one of the most arrogant and ignorant men ever to hold power. Too blunt? You tell me:

"You can't be the president and the head of the military at the same time."

Yes, he actually said this about Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday! Not to his face, of course; that would have set Bush up for criticism, and dialogue is just not the man's style.

Bush made the statement in reaction to Musharraf's tendency to don military apparel. Yes, we certainly wouldn't want a reckless leader undermining world diplomacy by flexing his warrior muscles, now would we?

On the other hand, I'm more than willing to hold Bush to his word. Since he's both the President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, he should be asked to step down from one of those posts. When he drops the presidency (which you know he would), he would no longer be bound to honor the Constitution and its whole trip about being the president and the head of the military at the same time!

For someone so fond of telling others what they should and should not say, Bush sure can't control his own idiotic mouth. I say he should follow the recipe for success comedian David Brenner prescribed to him in 2000: "Don't say anything else!"

Sound advice.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

God is love

Here's a note for you - we have no agenda and we need no half-truths [...] You choose to ignore it at your own peril and the cost is so great you will bare it for eternity. But ultimately, it is your choice. Your blog saddens me for you really. And just an FYI, as a person married for 7 years, I am honored to be called Mrs. - marriage is a beautiful relationship between two committed people who are willing to sacrifice self to serve the other. That's what is wrong with all you liberals these days - you have no values left (if you ever had any to begin with) and no sense of honor, community and love. All you care about is spreading hatred and bitterness around the world. You are in our prayers. D. D. P.

The above is from a comment I received today on this post from 2004. It was a response to an e-mail forward I received claiming that those darn atheists were at it again, trying to remove all references to God from the public airwaves. It made reference to so-called recent successes by Madalyn Murray O'Hair in working toward that end. Seeing as how she was killed in 1995, my B.S. detector immediately went off. By now, it's common knowledge that petition 2493 is an urban legend.

My point in the post was that people aligned with the religious right will forward anything they think helps their cause, even when they are the flimsiest and most easily disprovable fakes on the Internet. I received one just recently, in fact. And it's likely to happen again.

D.D.P. has pointed out - correctly - that Focus on the Family has distanced itself from this e-mail and spells out the same facts that I did. Fair enough. Assuming that this notification was published prior to 2004, then I was wrong to say James Dobson or Focus on the Family was behind the forward's visit to my inbox.

But my point still stands that fact-checking is a distant priority for those who wish to keep the alarm train wailing. These e-mails serve no purpose other than to stoke the self-diagnosed "victim" status that the religious right puts on every time its aggressive revisionism is rightfully called out. Oh, but by pointing this out, I'M the one who needs prayers from these righteously judgmental do-gooders?

Look, I don't care what you believe in or don't believe in, as long as you aren't crashing planes into towers or trying to stop scientific (or gay) advances. But don't tell me I'm an evil, hateful person because the American theocrats are unwilling to sift fact from fiction. That says nothing about me and everything about you. And why I am proud not to be aligned with the increasingly desperate religious right.

Oh, and I'm certainly not against marriage; in fact, I support gay marriage, which means I support more marriage than the religious right does. What I do object to - and this transcends any political or religious view - is people who get married and trade off any semblance of individuality they once had. Commitment can be wonderful, but it doesn't have to turn anyone into the Surrendered Wife. I don't want anyone to "serve" me. I'm not a country. Love should conquer all, not judgment. Remember when God was love?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Give this word up

Nothing tests the free speech waters quite like the infamous N-word. I've recently been asked - on two different occasions - for my thoughts on the issue. I thought I had a simple answer; but the more I thought about it, the more complicated my answer got.

My short answer is this: I don't think the N-word has any place in intelligent conversation. No matter who speaks it, the word exists only to provoke and inflame. Even in the best context, such as denoting brotherhood between African-Americans, the term shows a lack of sophistication.

Of course, it isn't necessarily that cut-and-dry. On one hand, words have only as much weight as we give them. On the other hand, this particular word is so loaded with hatred that it has become too heavy to speak. On one hand, many in the black community have adopted the word as a means of defusing its prejudicial taint. On the other hand, doing so is a convenient excuse for racist whites to ask, "If they can say it, why can't we?"

But does that mean we have any right to ban the word? I don't think so. In Germany, display of Nazi regalia is illegal, and some Nazi-themed movies are also banned. Though well-intentioned, such bans are a weak substitute for education and honest dialogue about cultural impact.

Bringing up the word itself during racial discussions may be inevitable. Bob Herbert uses it in dispassionate terms while discussing racial dynamics. Chris Rock uses it to brilliant effect in his classic comedy bit about how some in the black community are dragging the rest down. In a sense, the word has been co-opted by blacks, in much the same way the gay community has adopted gay-bashing slurs.

But until this nation can have an honest, dispassionate conversation about race, it's probably best for everyone to voluntarily ax its use. Growing up, I heard the N-word casually spoken as much among black friends in my neighborhood as among whites. Deep down, I knew the word was wrong on some level; then again, I thought, how bad can it be if so many people say it?

Fortunately, the word has never been in my vocabulary, and I learned hard lessons the few times I did say it as a kid. I credit that to good influences and some very honest friends. But what's going to happen to impressionable kids without such a foundation? Vocabulary starts at the very beginning; education can't always keep up. But if we're going to make headway on race relations in America, it has to start in childhood. Maybe then, arguments to ban the term can be pushed aside and people will be enlightened enough to voluntarily not say it.

At best, the N-word represents the worst of American society. Historically, it serves as the embodiment of an important lesson in race relations. Its effects must never be forgotten if we are to move forward. But that progression can only begin by discarding contemporary use of this divisive insult. That will not happen through suppression of speech; it starts from within.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Getting sick from viral campaigns

As sick as I am of receiving suspiciously similar campaign e-mails each day from candidates I never supported in the first place, I'm even sicker of seeing messages like this in every single newspaper and YouTube forum I visit:

Yes indeed, the Saints are on a roll. Drew Brees has found his rhythm, Reggie Bush seems intent on running aggressively, Deuce-style, and the secondary is finally stepping up in the long game. They have a tough row ahead with the Jaguars, especially since the Superdome hasn't yet been an advantage for New Orleans this year. But I think they have what it takes to seize the game and, ultimately, the NFC South.

When the media pundits and most Americans have written off someone, that's when they're most motivated to make a triumphant comeback. RON PAUL is that kind of candidate. He is exactly what we need to make a comeback in America! It may be fourth and inches right now, but trust RON PAUL to get those inches in our time of need! He has a tough row ahead with the jackals in the Republican Party, but only RON PAUL has the integrity to win the American south, and everywhere else! He's finding his rhythm, and is ready to step up his own long game!

Vote for RON PAUL. He's a Saint!

It's almost enough to put some pesticide on those grassroots.

Facing a long uphill battle against established GOP also-rans, Ron Paul is running as the supposed antidote to all the corruption currently corrupting the Republican Party. Which should tell you a lot about the guy's opportunism. But I digress.

In Springfield, you can't drive past most telephone poles without seeing a homemade wood sign stenciled simply, "Ron Paul 2008," in red, white and blue colors. Just so you know he's on America's side, of course. Our newspaper ran a story on these signs, noting at one point that they actually violate city statutes. This was apparently the case in Lafayette when I was 12, when a Bill Clinton flier I posted on the telephone pole across the street from my house was taken down within an hour. But because Ron Paul is polling among local Republicans more than every other candidate combined, that apparently doesn't matter; the signs are still all over the city. I guess you could say that, unlike George W. Bush, Paul listens to the poles. (I'm here all week, folks.) Online, sentiments like the message above are in every local Internet forum, no matter how dubious the connection to the actual topic.

Which is why I predict the RON PAUL REVOLUTION® will sputter even before the real campaigning begins. Let's face it - he's as likely to win the nomination as Duncan Hunter or Tom Tancredo. At some point (which may have already happened), Paul's support will reach critical mass and the PR blitz that's working so well now will become a mere exercise in self-congratulation. And then it could backfire into the Republicans as well, being that it shows the increasingly aggressive ideological split within the party. Which almost makes me want Paul to keep going, obnoxious though his campaign is.

In the campaign's defense, though, it is great to see grassroots energy being harnessed with the idea of changing the wretched status quo. All we need to do now is channel it away from Ron Paul and use it for good.